be:still with Mindfulness
The idea of mindfulness is very simple: you pay attention on purpose to an experience in the present moment, while allowing yourself to be open hearted and 'spacious.'
So simple and yet (in my experience) SO, VERY challenging to get started, keep going and build this practice into everyday life rather than once in a while life when we are stressed, anxious, frazzled or actually feel like we have some time!
I'm keeping things super simple when it comes to introducing mindfulness into your everyday life, mainly because I want you to realistically be able to incorporate the practice easily into your day without it being a chore, boring or time consuming. Personally, I really didn't give myself a fighting chance when I started learning about meditating. I understood and fully believed in the benefits, I recognised that I needed and wanted it to be a part of my life because I was struggling with an overwhelmed mind and the feeling of disconnection between myself and my life BUT I just could NOT make it stick. I read all the books, downloaded all the apps and learnt about it during my teacher training but the magic of mindfulness remained elusive. Why? Because I set the most unrealistic expectations, in the shortest of time frames and with little preparation, commitment or boundary setting.
Honestly, as I write this, I am nearing the end of an 8 week mindfulness course and this time it is sinking in and truly becoming a part of me, my mind and my days.
The difference this time is that I lowered my expectations a LOT, I took things slower and I really practiced all I was learning (and teaching in my own classes). The benefits are real, all those books aren't making it all up and over the next 4 weeks I want to share with you the very basics of a mindfulness practice so you get the idea, have a go, experience just how possible it is to incorporate into your real (oh so busy) life RIGHT NOW! This isn't a course, it is a series of activities and meditations that YOU CAN DO to begin to connect with the here and now, you just need to show up with me.
Noticing, waking up & stepping out of auto-pilot mode
Ask yourself this question often otherwise you will lose sight of your why, your reason for investing time and energy into this mindfulness thing. The benefits are endless but they don’t arrive into your life by magic - by buying a book or listening to me guide you through some meditations. Deep down, I think this was my belief. I got ALL the books, downloaded ALL the meditations and talked about it a lot but I assure you the magic did not happen and there were no ‘Eat Pray Love,’ moments like Julia Roberts experienced. Here’s a list and I’ve highlighted my main reasons for going back to the practice of mindfulness time and time again working at creating habits that stick for me.
When I doubt why I’m bothering and putting time to be:still ahead of watching tv or grabbing my phone, I check back in with my why and always (well, almost always as we're all human right!?) realise it’s worth the effort. Here are some benefits (my biggest WHY's are highlighted just for a little context)
To experience better sleep
To feel more awake in your life
To be able to focus on a task
To connect to the people in your life
To feel like you’re present in the here and now. Yep, the ‘live in the moment’ feeling (not 100% of time, but more often)
To become more resilient when life throws really tough stuff your way
To be able to accept things just as they are without judgement
'Pay attention,' reminds me of the deep voice of my year 11 maths teacher booming over to the glassy eyed day dreamers gazing out the window or into space (me included) instead of absorbing numbers. Yes, you can snap your attention back to the task (or the brain bending algebra formula) at hand BUT then give it a few moments and... poof, our mind has gone off again into thoughts... "I'm hungry, when will I ever need maths as a footballer? My jeans are dirty, I must remember to call Mum, squirrel, where did I put my gloves?"... only to be pulled back in line again by either a very weary looking man who is most probably dreaming of the end of the lesson or whatever else breaks the auto pilot and wakes you back up to the moment. Auto pilot is useful and needed so we can easily carry out routine tasks without too many individual thoughts like driving a car. BUT we get stuck in this mode and miss the moment, miss our experiences and how we feel, miss this one chance at living. So this first week is all about noticing when we are cruising along on auto-pilot and waking up to the present. Be open-minded and have a try. Be honest with yourself and maybe enlist a mindful buddy to share it with (plus it will encourage you to do it AND you can laugh together at the act of eating a grape with your full attention!)
1. Pay full attention to one routine activity you do every day
2. Mindful eating (no, it doesn't have to be a raisin!)
3. Mix it up. Change where you sit (your chair in the staffroom), stand (in a yoga or exercise class) and/or drive (can you slightly alter your route to work/the gym/a friends house?).
Have a listen
4 minutes to be:still in
For when you just need a moment but don't feel you have time
The activities and meditations may not be enjoyable! Sorry!
It may be really challenging and frustrating to start with
Mindfulness is NOT about clearing and emptying the mind
There's nothing to 'get right' so you CAN NOT FAIL. There is no one to please or test you. It's just (WONDERFUL, ENOUGH AS YOU ARE) you.
Creating a habit is easier if you do them everyday. When and for how long is up to you