Embracing Change # Mindfulness

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‘The only thing we can rely on in life is change.’

I like to think I’m spontaneous, open to new experiences, adventures, but at the same time, I like my routine. Structure. My little bit of normality.

My life has altered enormously over the past few years and more change is steamrollering towards me. My best friend is moving to Wales on Monday, my son leaving home, exciting things happening career wise. A real mixed bag.  Emotions are heightened. There’s a sense of waiting. Waiting until things settle. Longing for the stillness. The quietness that comes when you know where you are; feet planted on the floor. But that quietness only comes through acceptance of present circumstances. Things are what they are, not necessarily what we want them to be; and that’s not always a bad thing. How often has something happened and we’ve thought it the end of the world at the time, only to feel relief later as we look back?

I often tell the story of the Farmer and the Horse in my Mindfulness classes. A little reminder to hang-fire with judgements. Things aren’t always what they seem.

And so I wait.

And I choose to believe the fluttering I feel in my stomach is excitement, not anxiety. That my future will be bright, because ultimately we get to choose how we feel and today, I choose to be happy. How about you?

 

The Farmer and the Horse (origin unknown)

 A farmer had one old horse that he used for tilling his fields. One day the horse escaped into the hills and when all the farmer’s neighbours heard about it, they sympathised with the old man over his bad luck. “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?” said the farmer.

 A week later, the horse returned with a herd of wild horses from the hills and this time the neighbours congratulated the farmer on his good luck. “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?” said the farmer.

 Then, when the farmer’s son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone agreed that this was very bad luck. Not the farmer, who replied, “Bad Luck? Good luck? Who knows?”

 Some weeks later, the army marched into the village and forced every able-bodied young man to go fight in a bloody war. When they saw that the farmer’s son had a broken leg, they let him stay. The neighbours congratulated the farmer on his good luck. “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?” said the farmer.

 And on it goes….

 

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Mindfulness and Writing

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Mindfulness is a huge part of my life and has really enhanced my writing. Being present not only allows me to feel the often tiny physical sensations that accompany emotions I might otherwise miss, but I also have a connection to my environment that has really enhanced my prose. Noticing colours, smells, the feel of air against my skin, those little nuances that really do make a difference.

Of course, Mindfulness also keeps me centred, focused and calm, it’s more than sitting in formal meditation, it’s being fully absorbed in the task in hand, not engaging with distracting thoughts. Yesterday I didn’t want to do a long meditation, I wanted to spend some quality time with my son so I got my creative on and we transformed a pair of his socks into Morris the Mindful Monkey. It’s hard not to be present when doing something expressive.

Morris will now sit on my desk and judge me when I don’t reach my word count in a non-judgemental, encouraging fashion.

 

Join me on the Peace Path

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Those of us that have been blessed enough to have spent time around children will recognise the look of utter contentment babies have as they observe the bright, shiny new world they have been thrust into.

Fast forward a few years, throw a career, a home, financial stress into the mix (aka real life) and those once serene babies look as frazzled as the rest of us.

What happens to that inner peace we are born with? Where does it go?

It doesn’t actually go anywhere, but as we grow and get busier we lose touch with ourselves. We come defined by our relationships, our job titles, always busy, always striving for more, waiting for the right time to be happy. Happiness won’t come when you are 14 lbs lighter, when you have a different job, financial security. Happiness isn’t a destination.

When I lost my mobility the physical effects were hard to deal with, the emotional effects almost impossible. I see-sawed between depression when I thought about all I had lost and anxiety when I thought of all the obstacles I would face in the future. I was completely missing the present moment. Through mindfulness I have managed to make peace with the past. I take time each day to meditate and reconnect to that place inside, the place were we are enough, whatever our circumstances.

Inner peace isn’t an absence of emotion, it’s being comfortable with whatever we are currently experiencing, even if that emotion is uncomfortable. It’s about releasing the need to be in control, to let go of judgements, relearning self compassion.

The Dalai Lama once said. “We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” 

I am privileged enough to teach mindfulness now. If you want to try one of my short mediations click here to listen or download. Ten minutes a day can make a significant difference to your physical and emotional health.

Join me on the peace path.

 

Written for Streams of Consciousness Saturday. This weeks prompt is Peace/Piece.

 

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SoCS – Close your eyes and wake up

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“Your vision becomes clear when you look inside your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” – Carl Jung

 

Mindfulness meditation has enabled me to reconnect to the inner peace inside, that contentment we are born with but lose as we develop the ability to wish things were different. We put off happiness, endlessly waiting until things are fixed, changed or improved to find our nirvana. How often have you said to yourself ‘I will be happy when I get a new job/earn more money/lose 10lbs?’

External changes often don’t dispel the inner gnawing discontentment and then what? Call off the search, you have everything you need within. Become a consciousness explorer. Close your eyes and wake up.

Mindfulness has been so life changing for me I am now privileged enough to be able to share it with others. I now teach it and offer Skype coaching, 1-2-1 sessions and group courses.

 

Written for Stream of Consciousness Saturday. ‘Your prompt is “side.” Add a prefix or a suffix or use it as is’.

SoCS – Are you eating mindfully?

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I must confess when I saw this week’s prompt I was tempted to ignore my initial thoughts as I felt like writing a story today, but then figured there was no point taking part if I wasn’t going to do it properly.

The ‘senses’ prompt is quite timely as I have been teaching mindful eating to a group on my current Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy course this week. We carried out an exercise with a piece of food and really engaged all our senses, noticing, as if for the first time, how the food looked, the smell, the texture, the taste, the feel of food in our mouth, how it felt between our teeth, the sound of chewing, swallowing.

A simple exercise but a great demonstration of how intentionally bringing our awareness to something in a different way than usual can transform the nature of the experience.

Mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment. It’s not about sitting in meditation for hours on end, but rather developing a mindful awareness in each moment.

Through carrying out routine tasks such as eating mindfully we can learn to tune back in to the present moment experience. Being present helps to eradicate low mood resulting from thinking about the past too much and anxiety stemming from worrying about the future.

Make a few moments today to totally engage with your senses, you may be surprised.

 

Written for SoCS. Writing the first thing that comes to mind following a prompt (this week the 5 senses).

http://lindaghill.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-may-1714/