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.
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.
Feel your body sitting/standing/lying right now, nothing changes you are just checking in.
Listen to your breath naturally and without effort coming in and out.
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.