Have a spoonful of Mindful!
But what IS Mindfulness, I hear you shout!?
I was introduced to the word Mindfulness about five years ago, and I haven't looked back.
I'm not going to beat around the bush here. I am not afraid to talk about mental health. Many people struggle with their thoughts and feelings, often feeling isolated and unable to share it with anyone for fear of not being understood or being seen differently. We are all human beings who can sometimes feel overwhelmed, and this is totally ok.
And I intend to write blogs from the heart. From my own knowledge and experience to discuss things that I hope can show people that they are not alone in their experiences and to give some insights into what has helped me along the way. I'm not going to write in a style that I think is expected, or try and follow any one elses example.
I was talking to somebody (a therapist actually) about feeling overwhelmed by my emotions a few years back. About whirling thoughts, having panic attacks, feeling that I couldn't cope anymore and feeling out of control. She asked me if I had heard of mindfulness, to which I shook my head. She gave me a shell to look at, and asked me to describe it. "It's just a shell" I responded. Really look at it, she said. I started to describe the colour of it, feeling silly at first. I talked about it's texture, the marks on it, it's size, how it felt in my hands. I didn't understand this exercise at first, but she was trying to show me how often we ignore what's around us. We are too busy stuck in our heads, thoughts and feelings, that we forget to really notice things and our surroundings.
She recommended a book to read - "Wherever you go, there you are" by Jon Kabat-Zinn. This is a wonderful book to gently introduce you to the concept of mindfulness and is a great companion when you need some guidance to yourself.
I began to start to allow myself to notice the beauty in simple things, that I had ignored for so long. How it feels nice on my hands when the washing up water is warm, and how the liquid smells so fresh. How good it feels, to put warm socks on, on a cold day. The smell of burning incense, the smell of books. Fresh air on my face, autumn leaves and the beautiful colour orange they go. Old buildings with beautiful architecture I had never looked at or noticed before. Smiles from strangers that I had barely acknowledged because I was so busy listening to distressing thoughts.
After reading some of the afore mentioned book, I tried to sit with myself quietly for a few moments. Simple right? Wow was that difficult. I had never noticed how negative and hurtful my inner voice was - the inner voice that we all have as daily commentary. If we don't listen to that voice and check that it is being helpful and kind, rather than negative and unhelpful - then its like having a friend putting you down constantly, always with you. Tiring right? This is when our damaging and habitual behaviours come into play. We want to distract ourselves from this discomfort, feelings and thoughts that we don't like. We might over eat, drink too much, keep busy to the point that we burn ourselves out, or never settle to keep moving aimlessly. I know I did all of these things- but I couldn't run from myself forever. Because it turns out, wherever I went, there I was :). See what I did there?
Sitting, comfortably with yourself and just noticing. Following your breath, maybe noticing the temperature of the air around you. Noticing nearby sounds, and watching your thoughts go by like clouds or passing buses. Without trying to judge them or change and act on them. This is a really good starting place to becoming more mindful, and aware of yourself, how you feel and what nature your inner voice is taking. It can be quite difficult at first, but even just starting with five minutes at a time will give you great insights and somewhere to begin.
Another tool I love to use is a gratitude list. You can write a list every evening of the nice experiences you had that day. My biggest tip here, is to avoid trying to write what you have "achieved" or thinking these need to be big grand moments. Choose moments you truly enjoyed, no matter how small. Here's my list today:
- I found a gorgeous orange leaf on the floor, so I picked it up and took it with me.
- A ladybird landed on my hand out of nowhere in coffee shop today!
- I had forgotten how much I love James Bay, it was lovely to rediscover some of his songs.
- I ate a yummy vegan chocolate brownie today, it was so tasty I really enjoyed it.
- Me and my mum sent silly photos to each other, and had such a giggle! Was lovely to connect.
Once you have written them, re read the list. And put those experiences in the "bank". That's what I call it when I acknowledge a nice experience. Any compliment or nice experience, I put it in my mind "bank" by writing it down or being grateful for it. I can be richer this way in terms of shifting my perception to a more mindful, grateful, happy and glowy existence. YOU create your reality, with what you choose to notice and what you choose to focus on. What do you choose?
So start today, give yourself permission to look up. Look around you, allow yourself to feel, to sense, to smell, to touch and notice and enjoy. Heck, I give you permission! The world is beautiful, if we take the time to notice. Pick up the book I mentioned above - its like having a coffee with a really wise and kind friend.
Send me messages with the beautiful things you have noticed no matter how small! And I will post them here s inspiration and support for everyone looking to find more peace and happiness. :)
Kirsty @ Energy Holistics