What is Mindfulness?

What is Mindfulness

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is one of the most over used word of the last few years. We equate it with meditation and being quiet and on our own. Most of us think about mindfulness with dread and guilt because we know we should be doing it but it seems like something we just don’t have time for right now, life is just too hectic. However, mindfulness is simply being in the moment.

We can be in the moment whilst surrounded by others, eating, drinking, socialising, before sleep, whilst exercising, with the kids and of course in stressful situations like work, driving, travelling and basically anywhere at anytime!

There are so many studies, articles, blog posts, books and classes about mindfulness, but what are we looking for and how do we find it and make time for it? It is my wish to try and help you through the minefield!

The whole point of mindfulness, I believe, is to access and switch on the body’s rest and recovery mode. Have a look at my post on how the immune system works here. Most people (especially children) are wired into the fight or flight response long term. This has a massive impact on the body’s ability to repair and heal. Inflammation CANNOT we switched off when in fight or flight. How many of you can list some kind of inflammation (digestive weakness, skin issues, muscle aches and pains, back issues, immune weakness, hormone disruption, fatigue and energy issues, lack of libido, sleep issues and brain fog) among their symptoms of unease. Without even having a diagnosis, you can assume we all have inflammation and these symptoms from time to time, we need inflammation to survive and repair. the real problems come when these symptoms become the new normal, when we adjust to thinking that this is how life is. 

Mindfulness insta

Being mindful is first and foremost re-connecting to your body and listening and learning to what all of these symptoms are telling us- AND ACTUALLY RESPONDING.

So many of us think that there has to be a huge change to heal these symptoms, that a strict and impossible diet change has to happen, that a ‘detox’ needs to be done, that a radical upheaval of how we live our lives must be undertaken. So we make small term promises to ourselves to make changes tomorrow or next week, after New Years, in the Spring etc. However you can make a change right here and now.

  1. Feel your body sitting/standing/lying right now, nothing changes you are just checking in.

  2. Listen to your breath naturally and without effort coming in and out.

  3. Say ‘Thank you” to your body and repeat “I am safe”

Welcome to mindfulness, welcome to stopping everything for a second and being in the moment. Even just for a that short time. It is as simple as that. Be mindful as to how you feel, did anything change in that moment. Those tiny changes have a big ripple effect. You may have awakened your intuition a little, did your body prompt you to adjust your position spontaneously or to remember to do, say, take care of something in that moment? Your body will begin to let you know what it is you need to do if you take the time to listen, even for a second.

Once your body begins to return to rest and recovery and you change your beliefs slowly but surely towards self care and nourishment rather than punishment, guilt and shame for not doing more for your body, life will become easy.

In rest and recovery so much healing can begin. When you feel safe in your body and in your environment you can feel energy, motivation, hope, gratitude, faith and happiness. Mindfulness is simply the route to seeing your life for what it already is, wonderful and full of possibility. Not what it has been prior to this moment or even what it will be beyond right now. It is the ability to accept the past and release control over the future by being here now. Subconsciously if you believe life is hard, full of danger and work, where does joy fit in? If there is no joy how can there be health? Maybe it is hard to see life as wonderful, bring mindful can simply be the belief that there can and will be change, that you are open to finding joy, even if it is not in front of you right now.

Mindfulness is accepting that you actually have the ability to be happy even if it is not how you are feeling in this moment. That it is ok to feel what you feel now, that you can thank your body for the chance and opportunity to accept and therefore move forward. It is only when you feel your presence in the here and now that you can make changes. This is true for all ages and I have been teaching my kids mindfulness skills since they were babies so they have lifetime methods to adapt and react to their day to day lives. To try to build core beliefs based on the ability to change and have the responsibility to choose their own paths. Now I have co-written Inner Rainbow Mindfulness as a 7 week course directed at specific ages groups and adaptable for all. Soon to become an online course too.

Inner Rainbow logo (1)

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5 Reasons to Rest to Be Your Best

5 reasons to rest

Recently I have been feeling overwhelmed (excited, inspired and motivated) but overwhelmed all the same. Tired and forgetful – always key feelings and ways of showing me I need some time out.

I am a giver – I give energy to people, I feel the need to help, nurture heal and make happy. Every now and then I give too much- so I have learnt how to pull back and give to myself. It is a really important skill to learn and respond to. Most of us feel it and hear it but not many of us know how to respond and will keep pushing through. However it known that productivity, health, memory, strength, speed and most of all ability all come quicker after and including a rest period. Here is why…

 

1. Feeling run down can lead to depression. By ‘running on empty‘ you run the risk of becoming nutritionally deficient and sleep deprived. Two things the brain needs for mood enhancement. Sleep (good quality and Quantity) is important and can be difficult to balance especially with deadlines, children, life events and other pressures all take their toll. It is important to eat well and take time to sit and be mindful of what you are eating, how you are eating (chewing, sitting or on the run, time taken to eat) who and where you are eating. It is not just calories and nutrients that are important. You can be taking all the right nutrients (either in foods or in supplements) but unless you are mindful and respectful of the role that they will play, it is expensive pee and poo at the end of the day. You need to reconnect with yourself, your family, your friends and to enjoy life and food is a big part of that. Taking time to plan, prepare, and share food is fundamental to health. So take a break from other things to make food and eating important within your day especially in the morning at breakfast. Also be mindful about stimulant (coffee, alcohol, sugar) intake and try and reduce these if you are becoming reliant upon them.

R's

2. All the R’s Reconnect, Recuperate, Relax, Restructure, Recognise and Re-energise. Periods of rest are normally followed by epiphanies of how to surge forward again. They are great ways to allow the mind, body and spirit to Realign and Regain strength to continue forward. This can be in many shapes from Resting for a few minutes to concentrate on Remembering the breath, to a nap, a days break or a Refreshing few days holiday (ok enough alliteration!).

 

3. Stress (meaning a reaction to stimulus) affects the body in so many ways. Hormone imbalance (stress hormones include Adrenaline and Cortisol) has a massive impact on our health and in this way stress has an affect on our immune system (stress hormone corticosteroid can suppress the effectiveness of our immune system by affecting our immune cell production), our reproductive system (oestrogen/testosterone and adrenaline/cortisol imbalance can affect both male and female fertility) our respiratory system (stress can lead to anxiety and panic attacks as our body takes more shallow and rapid breaths, whilst at the same time  increasing the demand for oxygen), our digestive system (cortisol affects our insulin levels and also affects our blood sugar balance, our food cravings, our ability to digest and absorb nutrients amongst other effects), our circulatory system (fight or fight mechanism draws blood away from the organs to feed the muscles ready for a reaction to stress), our skeletal system (muscles are primed for action also using key nutrients such as calcium and magnesium can cause muscle stiffness and tension) and our nervous system (being constantly alert and concious of a perceived threat or something to respond to can cause insomnia and drain nutrients essential for messages sent from the brain and for memory function). By taking some time to return to the Rest and Digest (opposite of fight or flight) mode we can see a return to balance many of our body’s signs and symptoms. Meditation is just listening to breath. It does not have to be something to stress about! Taking 1 min of our day to close our eyes and listening to our breath coming in and out whilst letting our thoughts filter through is a great start!

Meditate

 

4 It is mandatory when exercising to allow the body to recuperate and strengthen. When building muscle, you need to allow fibres to repair and recruit more (thus developing muscle tone and strength), to allow the body to change shape and to  re-learn muscle patterns and movements. Therefore changing training types and intensity is also important. Doing the same thing over and over will not allow the body or mind to develop and stagnation and boredom may occur. This is especially important in all forms of training whether for an event, weight management and strength or endurance goals. Over training can be really detrimental to physical and mental health.

 

5 After a period of illness (from colds to more serious bouts) it is essential to convalesce. Taking an extra day or two to allow the body to return to balance and heal is so important and will help to ensure that there is no recurring illness. Making sure you determine the cause of the illness rather than suppressing symptoms is key to returning to health. Otherwise the body will continue to find ways to show you imbalances ad those signs and symptoms will just get bigger and bigger. It is well researched that peoples productivity is far enhanced if workers are healthy and happy. Breaks and rest are key to that. Make sure you are both.

 

Most things can wait – make lists of things to do for when you return, make sure you prioritise what is important in life and always make room to breathe and appreciate what you have and what is around you. You will be happier and healthier for it as will those people around you as you set an example. Saying Yes to yourself can be so rewarding

 

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