Click on the line about to hear the radio discussion I was part of in July 2015, on BBC Radio Leicestershire with Jonathan Lampon.
Mindfulness is a great skill and strategy for every part of life … especially when life’s going well and when there are challenges and issues
A lot of the time our minds are very much on the ‘go’, searching for solutions, problem solving and generally if we don’t tell our minds that we’d rather be more calm, less active, less stress then our minds will continue going around and around doing the same activity.
Sometimes it’s nice to take some time out of all this doing, and just be. Just sit or lie and breath. Maybe just notice the simple process of breathing. Just being us, just breathing. Not asking anything other of ourselves than breathing and realising the other qualities of just breathing.
Sounds ridiculously simple?
Just take some time out and have a go …
There’s are some suggestions below.
So, how do we go from one mode of doing to the other of just being?
It’s time to make a decision, a change
Mindfulness is a long standing practice that allows us to decide and change how we react, think and behave – in a more considered way. We can still react as we wish to, but we’re making better decisions for ourselves and possibly those around us.
Emotions are what causes our reactions, be they at the heightened scale of fight, flight or freeze … or get angry, get upset. There are other options available to us.
Introduction to Mindfulness
- It’s been around for a very long time.
- Very simply, it’s the management of our thought processes and routines.
- Mindfulness is a great technique and tool to help manage our thought and thinking processes.
- It can help with stress management and negative thinking.
- It helps the process of enjoying the current moment, be that eating an apple or enjoying a beautiful view, rather than being stuck in the past or worrying about the future – getting the most out of our lives in the moment we are in.
With practice, it is an effective way of slowing down the fast and furious racing of our minds.
Thoughts, by themselves are not real, although they can feel that way.
Thinking about thoughts, and the fact that they aren’t real is the first step for improved management of them – that’s like putting the brakes on the whole run away thinking process.
You can consider your thoughts and categorise them. You can then decide what’s useful and what’s not. Some thoughts are downright chaotic in their nature, causing hurt and pain to you (and others if you voice them).
What’s useful, what’s not, what’s rubbish and what you’d like to keep all helps you have improved management of your thoughts, rather than the thoughts having influence and power over you.
You can have a greater awareness of what you’d like and prefer think about, which is another positive step forward to better thought management. You can decide whether you go on the rollercoaster ride of chaotic thinking or not even get on the ride and do something you’d much prefer to do.
This intentional consideration about what you’re thinking or would like to think about can be an awareness of something quite specific, decided by you, that you want, wish or need to think or consider or discover or evolve.
Mindfulness thinking – Just being me, in the now
Sometimes it’s very beneficial to just “be”. What this means to me is that I sit and lightly consider how I am and what I’m doing. This may include considering how I am physically and also mind based activity. This light concentration (not heavy thinking) allows me to be in the piece of time/space called now. I’m not shuttling into the future and I’m not going back to the past as I have actively decided to concentrate on being me, right now.
Past, present, future
We call upon our experiences and knowledge many times a day, without thinking about the sequences consciously, for instance waking up, brushing our teeth. As well as this, we actively find information from our database of information, which again is a very useful tool.
However, it’s very easy, when feeling stressed or uncomfortable, to shuttle into the future, worrying and pondering, then throw ourselves back into the past, digging around for information, routines and results and maybe even picking at old emotional scabs.
Of course, thinking about the future and pondering about the past is useful and required. Being in the now is good, it’s just getting the balance right. Not digging around in the past too much nor worrying about the future, and completely disregarding the now.
What is useful is knowing where you are – are you in the past and what are you doing there and why are you thinking about the past? Are you worrying about the future? Have you spent some considerable time shuttling between one and the other? Has this been useful or has it made things worse for you?
A different approach – mindfulness
Stop being a pin ball!
Instead of being alike a pin ball in a pin ball machine, where you’re being pinged about all over the place and being hurtled from past to future and back again, you can develop a different approach. Such pinging about emotionally is very tiring and exhaustive.
Get off that crazy fair ground ride!
If you hate fair ground rides, like me, you’ll understand that this zooming about with seemingly very little control, is similar to being strapped in for a fair ride you really would prefer not to be on.
So, no more crazy fair ground rides or being a pin ball … so what is the other choice? Intentional Thinking (mindfulness) and taking back management of your thinking routines, patterns and processing.
In summary, you can be aware that
- thoughts aren’t real
- you can have better management of your thoughts and thinking processes/routines.
- You can decide what you do and how to use with your thoughts in a more positive way, for you.
- Developing and processing differently is possible, and can be learnt and practiced for all parts of your life.
For more information on developing the above, please contact me, but first, here’s something to try, just some simple practice.
Ok, let’s start with simply breathing
So, lets start with our breathing, practice slower breathing and notice where you feel the air flow most, is it up you nose, at the back of your throat or in your chest area?
Just a little concentration is all that’s needed – you are now directing, guiding your mind to just stay with this process for a little while longer.
All you need to do is notice the breathing process, it’s changes and it’s feelings.
Alongside the physical process of breathing is the mode of guiding our mind to keep light concentration on what we’d like our minds to take notice of, rather than zooming here and there.
Quite naturally, our minds will go walkabouts, that’s ok, that’s what happens. You now know you can guide you mind back to where you’d like it to pay attention to – you just being you and breathing.
Our minds will keep doing these walkabouts – it’s entirely natural, and we can continue to regroup and redirect where we’d like out minds to be instead. It’s not about giving ourselves a hard time about these walkabouts, it’s gently guiding us back to where we’d rather be. Our minds will eventually get the idea that this is the preferred way of being for a little while.
So now, it’s practice time.
Practice thinking and concentrating lightly about really simple activities, for example drinking our favourite drink.
Really notice the mug or cup, notice the spoon or handle.
Actively take time to notice now the smell coming from the drink.
Then actively notice the colours and textures.
Take notice of the taste, the heat/cold.
Notice how this makes you feel (ie you like this, you’d rather it be different).
Notice then as you drink … the physical effects of holding the liquid in your mouth and swallowing, feeling maybe as it goes down your throat and even into your stomach.
All the while you’ve been concentrating on one element or another of simply drinking. Maybe your mind was so busy noticing the drink and drinking that you now realise that your mind didn’t go walkabouts quite as much as usual. You decided to only take notice of the sensations and physical processes involved.
It really can be that simple
Expand your experiences
If you’d like to, have another go as some other routine and simple activities, for example, brushing your hair, brushing your teeth, sitting in a chair, lying on the floor. Go for whatever you’d like to try next – all you need to remember is to actively notice, log in you mind what you’ve noticed, then move onto the next element/sensation.
Mind still going walkabouts?
No problems, just keep gently herding it in the right direction for you. You may even like to say to yourself that you’d rather be taking notice of your selected activity rather than going off somewhere else.
Remember be kind to yourself, it’s just practice, there’s no must do’s or have to’s here – every mindfulness practice will be different – that’s who we are, each moment changes, passes and a new one comes along. One day is never the same, we change and develop as we go.
If you find you’re not in the mood for this, then let it go for now. Have another try some other time.
Remember, be kind to yourself.
Sometimes it’s only possible to do short stints of mindfulness, that’s fine too. It’s all excellent practice, and building up our experiences of being mindful.
Want some further help?
Contact me with you enquiry and I’ll be glad to help
My version of mindfulness
I use mindfulness, or as I prefer to call it, intentional thinking and even when I let my mind wander or ponder on something, I’m deciding to do this intentionally.
Sometimes if I find my mind heading off to routines and thoughts that aren’t really helpful or useful, I stop and divert that process and guide my mind more positively.
I’ve personally found it to be a very worthwhile and positive technique for stress management (and life in general); rather than letting those thought processes and patterns take hold, you can decide what happens next.
If you have a part of you that that needs help to manage your inner thought processes and have more positive thought patterns and routines, then some mind coaching could prove to be helpful.
If you’ve decide you’d like to develop these very useful strategies and an intentional way of thinking, please contact me for more information.
Mindfulness thinking – Creative Solution Finding
There’s something I’d like to think about and possibly find a solution …
So I settle my mind so I can start thinking about the elements surrounding the subject. As I continue to concentrate lightly on this area, new ideas and considerations are formed (and either kept, put in pending or struck off). This continues until I decide I’ve got something useful. Alternatively I can shelve what I’ve got now and pick it up later.
There’s some great books by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn, whose definition of mindfulness is:
Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally