On the 1st of this month, I made a personal commitment to do something mindful every day, whatever that may be. I also committed to sharing a variety of resources throughout the month on the topic of mindfulness with a view to helping increase awareness and understanding of what mindfulness is. Finally, I made a request to those of you out there on your own mindfulness journey to share your experiences with me.
Having been a fan of mindfulness for some years and dipping in and out of it a few times, I wanted to commit to bedding in mindfulness as a daily habit, something that is simply part of what I do every day without even thinking about it or questioning it. I wanted it to become part of who and how I am.
At the time of deciding to do this, it was a common theme with several of my clients and I was seeing first-hand the positive impact mindfulness was having on their lives. So, in essence, my clients inspired me to jump in and try it on for myself.
It is a subject which receives increasing attention in more and more circles nowadays. Organisations offer mindfulness at work courses, schools are bringing mindfulness into the way they teach children, Doctors are referring patients to mindfulness courses as part of their recovery from illness. It is everywhere it seems and so I wanted to learn more about it i.e. what is it, how to do it and what are the benefits?
As the end of my Mindful March approaches, I wanted to share with you what I have discovered about mindfulness along the way, hence this blog. What follows now is an overview of some of the ‘mindfulness’ activities I tried, an insight into how being mindful every day has benefitted me plus examples of some of the challenges I had along the way.
My Mindful Activities
At the start, I really focused on the meditative side of mindfulness as that seemed like an obvious place to begin my journey. Using an App called ‘Headspace’ I started small with some daily 3 minute guided meditations and over the month, I gradually increased these to 10 minutes a day.
One of the fab things about Headspace is that you can choose a topic to meditate on over a period of days e.g. creativity or you can do what they call ‘singles’. There is a selection of singles to choose from or you can simply go for the topic of the day. Using the singles, I have meditated on a variety of subjects from ‘breathing’ to ‘waking up’ to ‘attitude and approach’ plus many more.
I have loved it and was particularly surprised by the fact that the daily topic has always been on point with something that was on my mind. It may have just been coincidental of course but it definitely helped.
Throughout March, in addition to doing my meditation (which I renamed as ‘me time’), I explored other mindful activities, as I realised quite early on that mindfulness is more than meditation.
That being said, meditation has helped me learn how to slow down, be present and notice what you notice. For example, when I took a walk around my garden recently, mindfulness showed me the difference between life and death – seriously! I realised that the plant around our conservatory was actually alive and well, not dead which was my first thought as I gave it a passing glance. It was only when I stopped and looked, and I mean, really looked, that I saw all the buds of life on the branches.
Another example of this is when I listened mindfully to my daughter’s favourite song at the moment (“The Greatest Show” from the movie ‘The Greatest Showman’ – awesome film by the way!) which is currently played numerous times on a daily basis in our house. Rather than being fed up of hearing it all the time, I actually took the time to ‘hear’ it and was blown away by how much more I heard. I was able to pick out some of the different instruments and the different voices and also, the different animals, yes animals! Who knew?
What I am saying here is that bringing mindfulness into my daily routine (not just with meditation) has turned what can at first appear as the ‘mundane’ stuff I do into magical experiences that I am so grateful for. Which takes me nicely on to the next part – the benefits I have experienced through being mindful.
- Helped me build time in at the start of my day that I call ‘me time’ which sets me up with a positive mindset for the rest of my day
- Highlighted all the different things I do each day which can feel magical rather than mundane simply by being present in the moment and paying attention
- Created a pause button in my mind before I reacted to emotionally charged situations. Whilst I may still react in the same way I would have done previously, it is now with thought and consideration rather than raw emotion
- Increased my feelings of gratitude to so many areas of my life including my health, my family, my business and my environment. By noticing what I notice about things and people around me, I feel more and more blessed every day to live the life I live. If nothing else, I would recommend mindfulness to everyone for this benefit alone because when we start taking things for granted, that’s when we lose them. Being grateful is now a key part of my daily routine, just like mindfulness.
The two key challenges of being mindful were……
- Honestly? Me! Me and my expectations of myself, of mindfulness, of everything. For example, I had a go at having a mindful lunch, expecting to savour the sight, the textures, the scent of the food as I took each bite. Instead, I really struggled to keep focused on actually eating, never mind what I was eating because my mind constantly ran off in other directions like – ‘oh, I must remember to email so and so’ and ‘ah, I never picked that parcel up from the post office’ and ‘mmm, what will we have for tea tonight’ and on and on and on……Consequently, I finished the meal feeling utterly deflated that I had failed at having a mindful lunch. But had I?? Looking at it another way, I had probably been more mindful than ever because I really noticed the busy-ness of my mind. I noticed I found it hard to concentrate on my meal because I was thinking about so many other things. The fact that I did that was clear evidence that I was, in fact, being mindful!
- Moving away from the idea of mindfulness being just meditation. When I made the commitment to be mindful every day, I think subconsciously I meant that I would meditate every day and that quickly started to feel very pressured and stressful. Then when I started to read around mindfulness more and to hear about other people’s mindfulness practices, I realised I could actually be mindful anywhere at any time. As I sit typing now, I am being mindful of the sound of my fingers tapping on the keys of my Mac, I am mindful of the weight of my body in my chair, I am mindful of my rumbly tummy telling me it is almost lunch time. In short, I am being mindful!
Life after my Mindful March
I would like to think that my mindful approach to life will continue and that I notice the ‘magic’ in everything around me. To help me along that journey, I plan to be more active in the mindfulness community that was introduced to me on line by the lovely Priscilla Palermo (www.openarmshealing.co.uk) – thank you Priscilla! I will continue to learn and explore all things mindfulness that I can get my hands on and most of all, I will ensure that my ‘me time’ happens on a daily basis, no matter what!
Thank you for joining me on my mindful journey this month, it has been a fantastic experience and one which has taught me so much about myself as well as mindfulness.
With love and mindful wishes,