Before the lockdown we were living at such a fast pace, lurching from one activity to the next and never really paying attention on purpose to anything. We were juggling multiple demands and carrying out a range of tasks and duties including juggling family life, home life, housework, errands and so much more. But now we’re being asked (kindly), to remain indoors and to only go out to work if we’re a key worker or cannot work from home. We are being restricted on our daily exercise outside the home to once a day and we are being asked to shop for essentials only.
This way of living is new to us and we’re all trying to adapt as best we can. Some of us love being indoors with our families and are enjoying working from home, whereas others are struggling with the reality of living in this way. Many are feeling anxious about what’s going on in the outside world and many are suffering with anxiety or unwanted/unhealthy thoughts. It’s a worrying time for us all however, this new way of living can provide us with many benefits and for some it can provide us with a welcomed ‘reset,’ to the way we’re living our lives.
However, you’re feeling right now there’s a place for mindfulness in all of this. Mindfulness can help us to live life in the present moment and it can provide us with the tools and techniques we need to help us change the way we think and behave. It can help us to retrain our brain, understand our own unhealthy habits and patterns and it can teach us how to change them. It can encourage us to adopt positive ways of thinking and enable us to live in the present moment.
Mindfulness is a journey of exploration and self-discovery and it’s an opportunity to start thinking about the way you truly want to live, think and behave. There’s no better time for a little self-discovery.
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH MINDFULNESS
During my early thirties, I should have been the happiest girl alive as I had two lovely children, a loving husband, a job I enjoyed and a lovely family home but, I wasn’t, I was unhappy. I was suffering with headaches, fatigue, nausea and several other ailments and I feeling overwhelmed, lost and stuck in my life and I felt like something was missing but, didn’t know what.
I suffered with low moods and felt a sense of sadness, I was living in the past and future and never being able to focus on the present moment. I suffered with a lack of concentration, a lack of purpose, was struggling with everyday life and didn’t feel as present as I wanted to be with my husband and children. At the time I was an ‘all or nothing girl,’ I put 110% effort into everything I did and I wore this like a badge of honour but, I soon realised that living in this way was no good for me. I was continuously pushing myself both mentally and physically, beyond my own limits and the cracks were starting to appear. I struggled to maintain a sense of balance on my life and perspective in my life and this was not only affecting my mental health but, my physical health, my personal relationships and many other areas of my life too. Does any of this sound familiar?
Around the same time I was diagnosed with M.E/CFS and I had to learn a new way of living and then I hit rock bottom. I took time off work as I just couldn’t continue, and it was during that time I stumbled upon mindfulness and then meditation. At first, I wasn’t sure about it but, over time practised it and since then have reaped the rewards. I benefitted so much from it that I re-trained as an Advanced Mindfulness and Meditation teacher and these newfound skills complimented my coaching and trainer skills immensely. Over the last 5 years I’m proud to say I’ve worked with hundreds of individuals and delivered the Mindfulness for Stress 8-week course to them to help them gain some perspective in their lives and helped them to live mindfully, consciously and fully.
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
According to Merriam-Webster, mindfulness is ‘the quality or state of being mindful’ or ‘the practice of maintaining a non-judgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.’
Mindfulness is bringing your attention to what you are experiencing right now without judgment. It’s paying attention to your thoughts and feelings. It’s being aware of what is happening in and around you.
For me, mindfulness is about living in the moment and being present in that moment, whether that’s when you’re alone, with others or with loved ones. After all, if you’re not living in the moment, you’re missing the moment.
8 BENEFITS OF MINDFULNESS
From my experience, mindfulness has many benefits for your life. Mindfulness has completely changed the way I live, the way I view life, and the way I approach any given moment and I’m so much happier as a result of having found mindfulness.
1. LIVING IN THE PRESENT MOMENT
The way we live our lives today is a result of the experiences and events that occurred so far for us in daily life and these events/experiences have shaped and moulded our characters, our personalities and have influenced the personal relationships and friendships we have surrounding us. Many of us live in the past or the future and find it hard to let go of some of the unhelpful experiences that have occurred for us and as a result of this some people may hold hurt, guilt, shame and/or resentment in their hearts and this can prevent them from living in the present moment. It can steal joy from daily living however, mindfulness can help us to raise our levels of consciousness to the experiences we have encountered and help us to make peace with our past and help us to live in the present moment.
2. SOOTHES THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
Meditation helps to soothes the nervous system as it is the sympathetic nervous system that is affected the most by stress, anxiety, tension, fatigue and depression. When we live in the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ state on a regular basis it can encourage our bodies to produce adrenaline and cortisol and this can be harmful for our bodies over a prolonged period of time. It can lead to depression, illness and chronic conditions to name a few however, it has been scientifically proven that meditation alone can dramatically reduce the many negative effects brought about by these emotions. Luckily for us meditation activates the ‘good’ nervous system (the parasympathetic nervous system), and this induces dopamine (the feel good hormone) and there is so much evidence that shows that this slows down heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, sweating, and it has a soothing effect on our body’s functions leading to increased wellbeing.
3. IMPROVES MENTAL HEALTH
As we grow older our brain function gradually declines and memory loss is common. Based on studies with aging populations, scientists now believe that a consistent mindfulness practice can help bolster brain function and decelerate memory loss. Research shows that regular 20-minute meditation sessions can boost memory and improve brain function in those with early-stage dementia or other cognitive issues. And meditation not only supports memory and attention, it also enhances mental agility, focus and alertness.
4. IMPROVES QUALITY OF SLEEP
There are times in our lives when our sleep gets affected and this can really hinder our performance at work and our quality of life. 21st century living is so fast paced and we have so many different roles to play and different demands placed upon us that at times we can often all get pulled out of shape by life and it’s mindfulness that can help us to get back into shape through the benefits it brings through sleep. Studies show that people who practice daily meditation enjoy better, longer sleep than non-meditators a Dutch study cited by UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine found that even ten minutes of guided meditation and other accessible practices a day for just two weeks led to an enhanced quality and duration of sleep.
5. REDUCES & BANISHES NEGATIVE THOUGHTS & EMOTIONS
During the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) 8 week course we cover the links between our thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviours and we uncover some of the unhealthy/unhelpful habits and patterns that we adopt on a daily basis. We learn mindful practices, strategies and techniques that can help us to learn how to control these thoughts and emotions and replace these unhealthy habits with new mindful practices.
6. LEADS TO A HAPPY, HEALTHIER & MORE ENJOYABLE LIFE.
Mindfulness can lead you to enjoying your life more. Not because life got better, but because you see it differently. It helps you to notice the little things, appreciate the people around you and it helps you to stay mentally healthy too as you’re no longer ruminating or overthinking.
PERSONAL MESSAGE TO YOU
Mindfulness truly is the difference that makes the difference so if any of this has resonated with you why don’t you click here and out more about our Mindfulness for Stress 8-week course that’s coming up very soon.
Stay safe and well during these unprecedented times.