Month: November 2014

Moments of Mindfulness Matter Week Two

Week Two- Personal Experience of Practicing Mindfulness

The first thing I noticed when I woke up this morning were my thought’s, I barely had time to open my eye’s until I was bombarded with my thought’s, negative thought’s, judgmental thought’s and what I should and should not be doing thought’s. STOP !!!! I called out in that moment……
…….and then, there was silence………..It was very empowering, the fact that I even recognized that this was happening was extremely liberating. I realized in that moment that I actually had control over these thought’s, and so I just let them go. I’m not saying that I suddenly realized that “I had control over my thoughts” for the very first time, I’m just saying that it’s the first time in a while that I have actually acted upon this realization. I actually made the decision in that moment to activity take part in this decision, this choice. I had made the commitment of allowing myself to fully embrace this 8 week course of mindfulness. It seems very simple but in fact it is not that simple at all. It’s only now since I’ve started this course that I am becoming more aware of my thought’s. I am learning to notice them, catching myself in that moment before my mind begins to run away with all these thought’s. It’s almost like a muscle that I’m learning to use for the first time, the more I use it the more it grows and develops.
It might sound strange, but it almost feels like a sickness of the mind. It’s only now that I’m coming to realize that I have been living with these thought’s, this racing mind, and it has started to spiral out of control. When I look back over the last 18 months, I realize that it had actually been quite a stressful year. This “racing mind syndrome” has been gnawing away at me over the last 18 months and the scary thing is, is that I wasn’t even aware of it.

Meditation Practices

This week I am practicing the “breath awareness” meditation. I notice that when I am fully relaxed and in the moment that I am breathing into my tummy area, an exercise that I have practiced many time’s and taught in my stress management classes. But then I noticed my thought’s creeping in, these thought’s were usually in relation to something I needed to do later, something I might have been worried about and in those moments I noticed that my breath would shift from my tummy to my chest, a perfect example of how stress effects our breathing. I had gone from being relaxed and breathing fully and consciously into my tummy at one moment, to my tummy actually tightening as I experienced these racing thought’s, and my tummy was actually tense in those moments.
As the week progresses to day 3 I notice that I feel happier within myself. I feel I am beginning to learn how to have more control over my thought’s. I can just notice these thoughts, whether they are negative or optimistic, there need not be any judgement. Just notice them and let them go. I’m not allowing myself to get sucked into my “racing mind syndrome” for the most part. I’m also more aware of where I might be holding tension in my body, and I now have a new understanding of how my “racing mind syndrome” was draining my energy. Quite literally sucking the life out of me.
I even felt more relaxed in relation to having to practice these meditations everyday, in fact I now look forward to them because I have a deeper connection with myself during these moments. Even if my mind does drift away from time to time, I don’t need to get annoyed and “try” to focus my attention, in fact that’s not what meditation is about, it’s about learning to simply notice them as just thoughts and simply allow yourself to come back to the breath.
So now I am in day 5 of week two and I really do feel more present during my meditation. Practicing meditation allows me to live in the present moment without judgement and just notice my thoughts. I am not living in the past, “should have”, “I wish I had”, nor am I living in the future…. planning or worrying. I am just in the now.
As the week comes to an end I feel happier, more content and relaxed. I really do feel more positive about things in general such as goals I might have, and things that I am passionate about. Not just about things that “I have to” or “should do” but things I actually want to do. I’m not even going to act on any of these passing thoughts right now, which is definitely a huge step back for me, or maybe by me taking a step back from diving in at the deep end AGAIN is actually a huge step forward. I have a sense that I am allowing some space in my life to breath again, so that creative energy can be allowed to flow more freely back into my life again. I’m not constantly feeling that worried state of mind that was almost like a disease effecting my judgement and corrupting my mind before I even got a chance to open my eyes first thing upon waking up each morning. I am learning how to slow down a little in the day to day running of my life. It feels really good, and I’m glad that I was able to make that choice for myself, and understand that there is always a choice. I remember thinking to myself that in order for me to get the full benefit of this 8 week mindfulness course, that I was going to have to make some changes. One of these changes was to simply turn of the data on my mobile phone, and put it on silent every evening going to bed so that when I woke in the morning I wouldn’t be distracted with emails and other notifications and allow my mind to be sucked into the world of social media. I could start my day with mindfulness.

Simple Awareness Practice’s

This week I had to practice being more aware of how I experience and process pleasant events. Something as simple as noticing the sun on my face or someone smiling at me. I sat in my living room and just gazed out the window for a while just appreciating the beautiful Autumn morning. The colours of the morning light filled up the room I was in and I could feel the warmth of the sun coming in. I could hear the traffic and the birds, I could see the birds resting on the bare tree’s. A person walked by, I just watched them, they didn’t know I was there, and I wondered what thoughts might they be thinking. Were they worried, stressed or maybe happy and grateful? I was experiencing my own stillness in these moment, just watching and noticing how the world just continues to move with each passing breath. It was a very calming experience, I felt feelings of gratitude for this wonderful world we live in and how beautiful my home town is, the wonderful community that lives here and all my close family and friends that surround me. I am truly blessed.
While practicing simple awareness this week, I noticed that it always brought me fully into the moment, and experiencing living in the present moment. Being fully there. This is not a land that I have been use to living in over the past while, and I think that it’s actually a little sad in a way. To give you a few examples, I have many conversations with different people as I go about my day to day life: my partner, my family, my friends, the shop keeper or passers by on the street. But to be brutally honest there are many time’s when I’m talking with these people, that in fact my mind is else where, I’m not actively listening to them, truly hearing them or even connecting with them. I’m talking to my partner, while in my mind I’m deciding what I’m going to cook for dinner, or I’m visiting mum and dad and I’m rambling on about myself or scanning my face book feed at the same time. I have a phone call with a friend and I’m figuring out in my mind how I can best advise them about something they are telling me rather that actually listening to them fully, or I’m paying for my groceries and I’m too busy fussing over my purse and wondering why the cue is taking so long cause I need to get back in time before Eastenders. Are we all guilty of this? Has it become the norm? If the answer is yes then……what impact could this be having on our lives?

Thank you for taking the time to read this post, and i hope it may be of interest or help to you. I’m looking forward to taking part in week 3 of the Mindfulness Course and sharing more of my “moments of mindfulness”.

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Moment’s of Mindfulness Matter Week 1

I’ve decided to do a course mindfulness . I actually came across this course a year ago, but I didn’t have the time to do it. Being a Life-Coach I have always had an interest in holistic practices, and up until recently a lot of these practices would have been at the fore front of how I chose to live my life. Up until recently, as in the last 18 months or so I would have signed up to this course which is why it’s quite ironic to think “I didn’t have the time”. It’s funny how the days, months and even years can go by in the blink of an eye, especially when you are living your life mindlessly. That’s literally what I had been doing over this period of time,I thought I was in control of my life, especially being a life coach and being great at helping others sort their lives out. The problem was I wasn’t in control, and I was unaware that my life was controlling me. Even now as I type these words, it brings that realization even closer to home.

During this course, I will meditate for 30 minutes a day, I will practice mindfulness by bringing simple awareness into daily activities and I will log all these activities on a daily basis. I also have reading and video material. For most people I would imagine finding 30 mins a day to practice meditation would be difficult, even now I am noticing that the floor needs hovered and mopped, and that I’ve a million other things to be getting on with. I also slept in because I had an unexpected late night, so I’m already half a day behind on everything I need to do today. But there is a little voice inside of me telling me that I need to do this for me, and so on some level of consciousness I know that I need to do this for me right now, to fully commit to this course and embrace it, and that none of the other stuff really matters.

By the end of this course I hope that I will have more clarity in my life and that I will be more in control of my life. I hope that my creative energy will be flowing more freely. I hope that I will have more peace from within and that I will feel more centred and enjoy being in the moment. I hope it will open new doors of opportunity in my life and that I will be a much more positive and relaxed person. I would also like to learn how to slow down, to stop pushing myself so hard and placing so many demands on myself and others. I have a tendency to plan things in my head, I’m constantly in my head…planing, planning, planning. It’s getting to the point where all this mindless thinking is actually causing me stress, and I’m spending more time thinking and planning than actually doing!

Each week I’m going to post a blog about my progress throughout this mindfulness journey. I want to share my experience with others, and maybe my experience will help or be of interest to others who may be experiencing stress, or have a sense that their life is out of control.

Week 1 Personal Experience

The first things I noticed were my thought’s, my limiting beliefs niggling at me…telling me 30min of meditation a day is a long time, why couldn’t it be like 10 or 15 min? Christmas is just around the corner and I’m going to be busy, how am I going to fit all this in? My negative thinking patterns were already trying to sabotage this before I really even begun. It’s almost like I’m resisting, and I realized that it just feels a little uncomfortable now because I’m resisting to change. So I just allowed myself to feel these feelings, and just notice them and not react. Even that act made me recognise that I had a choice.

During the first couple of days I found it hard to let go of my thoughts, during the meditation and mindfulness practice’s as I tried to still my mind, I would find that thought’s kept creeping in and my thought’s were controlling my mind. One minute I would be feeling the sensations in my body through the guided Body Scan meditation and the next thing I would be planning the day ahead, what I was cooking for dinner, that I must not forget to do such and such, and then I would hear the voice of the guided mediation way in the background and suddenly realise my mind was drifting off with my thoughts AGAIN! There were even parts of the guided meditation that I had missed, then the next day I would think to myself, I didn’t hear that part of the meditation yesterday. I couldn’t still my mind for 30 sec never mind 30 minutes and this was a huge realisation of how out of touch I was with myself, and how my thoughts were controlling my life and ultimately shaping my future. I knew then in that moment that I didn’t want to allow this to happen.

Simple Awareness Practices Week 1

I was out running, and decided I might try the “simple awareness” exercise, so I stilled my mind as I ran along the country path. Almost seconds later, my mind had drifted off again to my thought’s, and planning my to do list. Then I would suddenly remember, I was trying to practice mindfulness. So I really focused my mind in that moment, and turned my attention to the outside world. As my mind cleared, as I focused on pushing each and every thought away from my mind I suddenly found myself with a greater awareness. I could hear and sense my feet pounding the road as I ran, I could hear the tree’s rustling in the gentle breeze, I could hear the birds, the streams, the rivers, the flutter of a birds wings as it was startled by my presence, I could sense the nature surrounding me and just for a few moments I felt at peace. It was beautiful, I felt more alive. I have been running this route for several years now and never noticed any of these things, I was always in my head. I felt a little sadness inside, the world has so much beauty and most of the time we don’t take the time to fully appreciate it.

Conscious eating was another “simple aware” exercise that I practiced this week. Now for anyone that knows me, knows that when it comes to my food I can be a bit of a gulpen! I don’t just eat my food really quickly, I more like inhale it. My close friends and family have teased me and told me off many time’s over the dinner table. So for some reason or other I have developed a habit of eating to fast, not really enjoying my food and usually watching TV or some other distracting activity as I shovel food into my gob. So during this particular meal I decided to totally focus on eating it consciously. The first thing I noticed was I was quite hungry and had to restrain myself from devouring it in seconds. So I slowed down the whole process, and focused on savoring every mouthful. I realized that I tended to chew on the right side of my mouth, so I deliberately chewed each mouthful changing from left to right. I could really taste the food, it was really delicious. I felt more satisfied with each mouthful, noticing all the texture’s as I slowly chewed and sensing my taste buds almost explode with excitement. After the exercise I felt completely satisfied, I felt calm and relaxed. I realize now that I don’t enjoy my food, and I eat far too fast. I want to enjoy my food more, it’s one of the greatest pleasure’s in life. It’s definitely food for thought!

So just to give you a brief over view of how the rest of my week progressed these are the findings that I have discovered as follows:

Day 1 Meditation: I felt aware of the different parts of my body, and I felt relaxed. My thoughts dominated the experience, and it was very difficult to still my mind during the whole 30 min. I had a great sleep that evening.

Day 2 Meditation: I could sense an energy throughout my body, and I could actually feel the sensations of the air as I inhaled running down my throat. I still struggled with my thoughts and trying to still my mind.

Day 3 Meditation: I could sense or I had a new awareness of the sluggishness in my digestive system, I had been a tad constipated, but suddenly could feel the energy moving into my digestive system again. I could sense the stress that I was holding there, and also in my left shoulder. I still struggled with my thoughts but the moments of mindfulness were getting a little longer and I felt more relaxed. ( I was less constipated after that meditation).

Day 4 Meditation: My digestive system came alive again, energy was rushing into this area. I was finding it easier to connect to certain parts of my body that I was finding difficult to connect with before. I felt more relaxed than before, but my mind still wandered off and had to bring it back. I felt an energy throughout my body. I am actually really enjoying the experience more, I feel less resistance.

Day 5 Meditation: There was some distractions in the space I had decided to do my meditation today, so I really need to pick a time with zero distraction as it takes away from it. But I’m enjoying it more and feel more relaxed about allowing myself and embracing the 30 min a day set aside to meditate. I’m starting to realize the many health benefits for myself.

Day 6 Meditation: I felt tired today, and it was late afternoon by the time I got around to my meditation practice. My mind was actually drifting off into sleep most of the time! But even as it was drifting off into a sleep, my mind was still active, it was floating now into dreamlike state with thoughts and images. It was very difficult to practice meditation as I was obviously too tired, but I did feel extremely rested after. Mental note to self, morning is the best time for me to practice meditation.

Day 7 Meditation: I had some longer moments of mindfulness during this meditation. Thought’s did come into my mind but I was more aware of them, and I was able to come back to a mindful state more quickly. I notice that every experience is different. I could sense the beating of my heart for a few moments which was interesting. I feel very relaxed now while I practice my meditation, actually so relaxed today that I feel asleep after the meditation.

That conclude’s my first week of mindful practices, thank you for taking the time to read this post. I’m looking forward to experiencing more moments of mindfulness during week 2.