Akai Jackson's mindful practice has remained constant through the pandemic and so has the message behind what he does. "Stress has always been here, anxiety has always existed, and depression has been a constant in many lives. The current global health crisis also reminds us that what affects one family has to be addressed by all of us. The constant is: people need help, and they need the proper mental tools and principles to connect and cope with whatever they are experiencing," he says.
You get an opportunity to know yourself- Journaling helps you get to the deep-rooted causes and emotions. It helps broaden the spectrum of your emotional intelligence. You have the ability to see patterns, collect data, know and understand the things that make you happy, sad, angry, overwhelmed, etc. It’s incredible in a real-time tool that you can reflect on consistently to not only identify behaviors but to grow.
What is mindfulness, and how does it help? Mindfulness is intent awareness of one’s thoughts, feelings, and the environment surrounding them. In best practice, a person can “sense” how they feel and thus act upon those feelings with no judgment. This allows for presence or being in the moment, rather than mulling over past experiences or worrying about the future.
He states “In 2019, about 20 percent of Americans experienced a mental illness. That’s about 50 million Americans.” Mental health and wellness is a topic not talked about enough. It is stigmatized and most people don’t know how to excel and not just exist.” The most common fears I help my clients overcome are the fear of change, loneliness, rejection, uncertainty, something bad happening, and the fear of failure.” The two ways Akai treats depression in his practice are CONNECTIVITY & COPING SKILLS. When people are depressed they tend to isolate themselves. I.X.L. ‘s Cognitive Behavior Therapy matched with Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Behavioral Change in Exercise approach is second to none and very applicable and effective immediately.
“Stress disrupts sleep, can stall weight loss, creates anxiety, increases fatigue, and raises blood pressure,” he says. “Stress, whether it’s physical stress on the body or in the mind, can cause major damage in a person’s life—so it’s very evident as to why it’s usually the primary reason people meditate,” Jackson adds that meditation is something you can do anywhere without any equipment—that means that you can easily meditate in bed, which is very convenient. Meditating from any comfortable place, including your bed, can make you feel a lot more relaxed and allow you to have those precious moments of peace and quiet.
“Most of us realize things are different now. The pandemic forced changes upon us, some for the better and some for the worse, but many changes nonetheless. A byproduct of those rapid changes is increased stress, anxiety, and isolation. Emotions begin with the mind, and healthy coping of those emotions is vital now more than ever,” said Jackson.
Beyond bringing to light how common and serious experiencing chronic stress, anxiety, and having an activated fight or flight response, registrants will learn actionable steps that can be implemented immediately. Tools such as curated affirmations, settling the conscious and subconscious mind, and how to begin to think differently will be taught. Participants will also receive a free journal with clear instructions on how to use the journal, intending on helping them get to know themselves deeper.
There’s no smooth road to the future. It will come with bumps, dips, curvy roads, and sometimes even a little headache. Some of the most recent struggles I think everyone reading will be able to identify with losses during the Covid Pandemic. Some of the other real-life struggles are when you are your own boss, there’s a lot of flexibility and freedom with no one to keep you accountable. I’m very structured when it comes to business and life; however, I do struggle with discipline.
Episode 36 takes a deep dive into the role fitness professionals can play in mental health with Akai Jackson, who was recently voted America’s Favorite Mindfulness Coach. This discussion extends far beyond mindfulness to explore many areas that which fitness professionals can help improve our client’s mental health. For so many years fitness pros have been focused on what we can do for the body, we didn’t realize what we were doing for the mind and the spirit was even more impactful. This great conversation with Akai will discuss how fitness professionals can ensure they are engaging with their clients in a way that intentionally and compassionately improves their mental health. Great actionable takeaways from this conversation!
Becoming an elite athlete takes strength, endurance, and conditioning, but mindfulness is another piece of the puzzle. . No one understands mindfulness more than my guest and America's Favorite Mindfulness Coach Akai Jackson! Akai owns I Excel Today- a personal development agency
Q: You are America's Favorite Mindfulness and Meditation Instructor. What did that mean to you?
It was such a blessing and a journey to get here. It's such a humbling and incredible experience. When I got the email, I was on my way to see a client and I pulled up the email as I was parking. It was such an emotional day for me. I actually lost my grandmother about a year ago, and she was, and is, the most important person in my life. Whenever I do a speech or something big happens, I call my father, and then I call my aunt, and then I call one other person that's really important to me. In particular, that morning, I just wanted to call my grandmother to say, “we did it.”
I’m not Cinderella! Nothing at all was going to change when the clock struck midnight. I don’t need a new year to give me false reassurance that the changes I want to make will be waiting for me to wake up on New Year’s Day, nor do I need a new year to begin a new journey. And neither do you. resolutions Here’s what I am saying– change is hard. It’s not impossible, but it’s hard. And even the most determined people on earth will tell you that hard work alone is rarely enough. Life-altering, tangible change begins with a shift in the mindset. Mindset shifts break the patterns that hold us in cycles of starting and stopping new behaviors. resolutions
Bullying Story I have a student that I work with now. So on the spectrum, he has sensory processing issues. He actually has suffered from bullying all year. To the point where his parents and I are having conversations about him, not returning to school. It's going to be his senior year. Firstly, he would miss the social aspect of what his senior year would look like, he would miss all the interactions, from senior trips, the prom, and all those things. So when I first got started with him, the first thing we put in is a list of what to say, when you talk to yourself is extremely important. We build some affirmations.
This reflects the tremendous impact of the pandemic on mental health over the past year, and the transformative role mental health professionals are playing in people's lives.
The "America's Favorite Trainer" competition celebrates the work of holistic wellness instructors and their impact on hundreds of thousands of lives, across nine core categories, and reflects wellness trends across the country. More than 100 instructors across physical, emotional, and financial wellness categories were nominated, receiving 1,000s of votes and 100s of supportive comments. Voters ranged from high school students to seniors, representing the diversity of users across BurnAlong, and come from employees at companies spanning government, healthcare, retail, sports, tech, and finance.