I’ve had a long break from writing this blog….but it hasn’t been far from my thoughts so here goes again….maybe this will help me to internalise some of my more mindful thoughts and learning!
I’ve just had a bit of a revelation, after moving house, moving states, busily unpacking, setting up house, applying for work etc and feeling REALLY stressed and overwrought… that I can choose to enjoy my life right now OR choose to be caught up in the obligations, expectations and pressure that I place on myself (more than anyone else does)! This revelation came after a friend in the desert texted ‘ you must be enjoying the beach!’ And I realised no….I wasn’t enjoying my new lush coastal surroundings…..instead my head was caught up in a whirl of jobs to be done, stresses to endure! I started to question WHY wasn’t I enjoying this new life and it came to me ( so simple! but so hard to realise!) that I really CAN choose to take some time out each day to enjoy the beach….to clear my thoughts, to nurture myself, to find inner joy…..and most of the jobs still get done!! Most of the stresses and pressures were self created – I don’t need to be a slave to my thoughts/unrealistic expectations…I can take a break from them….they’ll still be there when I want to face them! It is as easy and as hard as that! And as I began to open up more to allowing myself to take time out…..I realised that it had been a long time since I had cherished myself and that Buddhist saying ‘that to cherish others you must first cherish yourself’ rang true as I began to enjoy hanging out with the kids again. It felt transforming to realise it was all a matter of choosing to change my thinking….yet all week I have still struggled to make that choice! The guilt / worry / concern about what others will think and if I am being selfish or self indulgent means that it is very easy to put pressure on to DO more….rather than taking some time to BE! I’ll keep you posted as to how that learning goes……how to cherish yourself in order to cherish others?
I’ve been very lucky to have supervision at work with Sue G. who also teaches / practices mindfulness. Together we have come up with some great ideas on how to be a little more mindful at work:
- Mindfulness Bell clock on the computer (download for free and create your own timing). This is a great little reminder to breathe and scan your body for tension
- Take your shoes off, feel the carpet with your feet, walk to printer feeling the floor beneath you
- 10 minute meditation at lunchtime
- Breathe in your tea / coffee and do a quick body scan
I’m amazed at how UNAWARE I can still be of my body / tension at work but at least these strategies are helping me tune in occasionally!! I’d love to know some other strategies…
Phew….it’s tricky getting back into getting everyone (including me!) to work and school on time! Something I have found so useful….especially when we are running late and I want to deliver that all-time lecture to the kids!….is to breathe out to the very last bit of air I have at least 3 times! For a more effective calming (&funnier) effect I will even buzz like a bee for 3 full breaths out! The effect of this is amazing….I feel calmer and the whole car atmosphere is alot calmer too (generally kids are laughing)!
These strategies come from an amazing parenting programme called Bringing Up Great Kids where they use the research from Dan Siegel that reflects that just 3 breaths can calm us down enough to begin to respond creatively and calmly to our kids rather than from our usual fight / flight / freeze highly charged response!
Google Flipping the Lid or Brain in the Hand for some great short video explanations of how our brains work and how we can calm them down! It really works! My aim this year is to teach my kids more about how their brain works so they too can learn how to calm them selves down! I’ll keep you posted!
Have you noticed that mindfulness helps you deal with strong emotions? Occasionally in the last couple of months I have been overwhelmed with a strong unpleasant emotion……and I have to say initially disappointed that mindfulness didn’t help me to AVOID feeling that bad!!!
So the strength of the emotion is still there…..but somehow all of that mindfulness practice helps me to observe it, to go with it, to express it ( privately), to let the tears out, to label it, to empathise with it, to reduce how much analysing and thoughts spin around in my head about it AND to do something with that emotional energy (guided meditation, walk or ride).
And even though I am ALWAYS disappointed initially to have even felt that bad…..I feel cleaner / clearer afterwards….I have thought more constructively and said less so that the bad feeling seems over and done with alot quicker than the old days when I would hang on to it and fight it!
It’s a small step forward but a significant one…..with so much more growing ahead!
I wish I could say the reason why I haven’t written a blog for so long was because I was being so mindful!! But instead is was because of a big trip to Western Australia, school holidays, returning to work and kids returning to school and lately because my partner has been away….sigh!
I found my meditation sessions turned into….’I’ll just lie down to meditate’ and then I would snooze! Maybe the naps were much needed but I have missed the clarity and sense of being recharged when I meditate! The other day returning to meditate was like returning home…..but I have still found it hard to get back into the rhythm of daily meditating!
Having said all that….daily mindfulness kept me calmer and saner I am sure! Sometimes it would be noticing my surroundings, sometimes really mindfully absorbing my cup of tea…..sometimes a mindful hug, a yummy peach, an interesting bird, or mentally appreciating my children and how fast they are growing up!
Sometimes being mindful was easy….like snorkelling or body surfing or climbing to the top of a lighthouse or feeling the wind in your hair on a ferry! Sometimes it was really difficult like when the kids are fighting or grumbling or when it’s too hot…..still it is an essential part of my life now and I am glad I had some of those strategies to get me through the last few weeks!