We have been taught to look outside of ourselves to feel worthy or good enough and to create this perceived perfect version of our self.We think by being busy, chasing our goals, creating this perfect version of ourselves or attaining that relationship, we will feel worthy and good about ourselves. But it doesn’t work, it isn’t enough.Read More...
Mindfulness is defined as paying attention, on purpose in the present moment, in a non-judgemental way. Mindfulness or meditation doesn’t mean sit there and think of nothing. It is simply a practice of awareness. In the practice you bring your awareness to your breath, to your body to whatever thoughts or emotions are floating around and instead of being consumed or overwhelmed by them you just observe as they pass by like clouds.
Think of a snow globe, when you shake it the snow goes everywhere, and it is hard to see anything except the snow. When the snow globe is placed back down, eventually the snow settles and it is easy to see again. When we are stressed, anxious, overwhelmed it is hard to have clarity about the situation or life in general. However, when we slow down, breath and allow all the thoughts or emotions to settle we can see clearly again. Our mindfulness practice allows us to do this.
There are so many benefits of practising mindfulness, here are few;
- Less stress and anxiety. Felt not only on a mental and emotional level but felt on a physiological level from the nervous system first and then the other organs.
- Improved focus and concentration
- Makes us feel better, happier
- Increased patience and compassion
- Lowers blood pressure and regulates our heart rate
- It calms and balances us in mind, heart and body
- Increases our energy levels
- Increases the strength of our immune systems
Apart from the health benefits on a physiological, emotional and mental level mindfulness practice can realign us with who we really are. Most people are running and racing from one activity to the next, never slowing down or pausing to check in with themselves. They become accustomed to stress, anxiety, ‘busyness’ or switching off in front of the TV for hours as a part of modern day living. They see and believe that they will feel better when they get over what happened in the past or reach the point in the future that will make them feel better.
This way of thinking however is not very helpful or beneficial to us. When we think like this we are like a boat floating without a rudder in the middle of nowhere. Sure, we may be staying afloat and moving but we have no real direction or destination in mind. Mindfulness helps us to stay in the present moment, to respond instead of reacting unnecessarily to things that bump off the side of our boat. It helps us to settle the boat when the water is rough. It fine tunes our awareness so that we can see the big waves coming towards us and instead of trying to fight the wave (that is coming either way) we let it pass and say, ‘surf’s up’ or get ready for a ‘wipe out’. It also allows us to take control of the oars or the wheel again and move toward the destination we want.
3 Steps to getting started
The first step in starting any new skill or habit is to commit. Commit to yourself first. Maybe even sit with your thoughts on this for a few minutes. Why do you feel drawn to this? What is your intention for this practice, what do you want to get out of it? Less stress or anxiety, more peace? Then tell a friend or a loved one about the challenge you have set yourself so that they can support and hold you accountable (in a non-judgemental way – if you feel you have no such person then you can share with me in the daily posts)
You don’t need any special equipment to start your mindful practice. You just need somewhere to sit comfortably with a straight spine (on a chair, in lotus position, on a cushion or bolster) where you won’t be distracted or interrupted. You can set the timer on your phone (then turn it on aeroplane mode) and bring your attention to your breath. If you want to light a candle or play some relaxing music this can help to get you into a relaxed state.
- Pick a time that will best suit your lifestyle and routines and try to stick that time as best as possible. Of course, things will get in the way but if you pick a time that is least likely to be interrupted it will be easier to establish and maintain the practice for the month and hopefully after.
Remember as with everything in life the practice is an informance not a performance, informing us of where we are at that particular day on that particular time.
Join me on my instagram page for the Mindful March challenge and take 5-10 minutes each day for yourself to establish a mindfulness practice and reap the benefits in mind, body and soul!!! I will be sharing lots of tools and techniques each day to help you to create a practice that suits you best!
Love and Light,
Tonight, the clocks go back, giving us an extra cosy hour in bed in the morning but also reminding us that winter is upon us.
Some of us may be reluctant to accept the cold, dark mornings and evenings. As the dark nights approach the shadows grow stronger, we are either running away in fear or getting ready to embrace this time of reflection and introspection of our growth and journey throughout this year.
I love this time of the year, the colours, the sounds, the smells, the crisp and fresh mornings. I love getting wrapped up in winter woollies and going for a walk or having a hot cuppa and a chat.
However, I also know that the darkness of these seasons can be daunting or scary as they can reflect the darkness with us all. The dark places within our physical bodies that are not illuminated in activity. The dark places within out emotional bodies that hold onto hurt, fear, betrayal and pain. The dark places that we act from when we are tired, angry, pissed off or being judgemental. The dark places within our mind that we dip in and out of in varying depths, depending on our own experiences and challenges. These dark places cast shadows that we ignore, suppress, hide from because to lean into them means discomfort, pain and necessary healing.
Instead of fearing or repressing these dark places, within us, that cast shadows on other areas of our lives, why not try to accept them?
Accept them for what they are, not good, not bad, just what is.
Accept them as without them we would not be able to acknowledge and revel in the brightly illuminated places within us.
Without the contrast there is no dark or light, no up or down, no good or bad, no left or right. One cannot exist without the other to compare it against, as within everything is a piece of its opposite.
Think of the yin and yang symbol, the ancient symbol of harmony, balance and duality.
With a gentle and compassionate heart (because exploring the dark and shadows within is scary business) accept the darkness, accept the shadows as part of who you are. Embrace the shadows and dig deeper to see what is lurking behind. Maybe it is just like walking into a dark room, a little scary at first but once you turn on the light the fear seems unjustified.
Maybe you need to confront the dark shadow causing you fear, call it out and work on it by bringing it into the light.
Here are a few powerful questions for thinking about or journaling about as we embrace both the light and dark within us all in the coming months.
- What are the traits you don’t like about yourself, the ones you suppress and pretend don’t exist?
- What emotions trigger these traits within you?
- How are you judging yourself about these traits within your shadow self?
- How can you embrace them, learn from them and shed some light on them?
- What are most scared about in acknowledging / sharing these shadow qualities?
“Your life will be transformed when you make peace with the shadow. The caterpillar will become a breathtakingly beautiful butterfly. You will no longer have to pretend to be someone you are not. You will no longer have to prove you’re good enough. When you embrace your shadow you will no longer have to live in fear. Find the gifts in you shadow and you will finally revel in all the glory of your true self. Then you will have the freedom to create the life you always desired.”
Author Debbie Ford
Be kind to yourself and the emotions that may some up as you write. Seasonally it is a time for letting go, maybe you too can let go of some things hiding among the shadows.
Love and light,