I can vouch that this mindfulness stuff really works! I know I would say this – I am a passionate practitioner and teacher but today I had a moment or several, when I could feel such a fundamental change in my perspective. Today my perspective on several events were so different to how they would’ve been a year or so ago. First walking the kids home from school with two of their friends we see a fire engine outside our house. A while ago I would have assumed the worst and thought my house was on fire but today I felt only curiosity. The kids got to sit in a fire engine as well which was a nice start to any play date! Then the play date itself: two five year olds and two four year olds under one roof, this was the type of situation that would see me feeling stressed but today I surprised myself by enjoying it. Today’s total practice time: 20 minutes
A rainy Sunday in winter when you are cooped up in the house with two energetic small children can be a trying affair. Luckily today it has felt something of a rare luxury instead of a bind. It is a rarity to have a whole day with absolutely nothing on – no commitments to meet our friends or obligations to take one or both of the kids to a party or class. Today we’ve done home made porridge – I make this every Sunday but today, knowing there was no hurry to be anywhere I let the kids ‘help’. This inspired a family made batch of flapjacks which smell delicious as they cook. So far there has been no TV, saving the ‘big guns’ till later, the kids have been promised a film this afternoon which might even allow me and the hubby a well earned cuppa and read of the paper. We could probably all do with more go-nowhere Sundays. Total practice time today: 30 minutes
In the spirit of using gratitude to live more mindfully I was thinking today about reasons to be cheerful in this, the deepest mid winter month. A time when many are more financially challenged than usual and yet seeking solace in wine is not an option as so many of us now undertake a dry January. ‘Roll on February’ may be a logical response but it’s not really observing the most fundamental part of mindfulness: that of living in the moment. So here are my reason’s to be cheerful despite all the above ringing true for me:
- It’s the weekend!
- I went for a lovely walk this morning with a friend. Two whole hours outdoors chatting, moving and discovering a hidden corner of my small town.
- The children were a delight today.
- I squeezed in 20 minutes of silent meditation.
- I just had a nice meal with the hubby to kick off the weekend (OK it was accompanied by nothing stronger than fizzy water but se la vie!)
- My son’s hyacinth, which he planted himself at the school Xmas fare and then carried proudly all the way home has finally bloomed and is filling the kitchen with the sweet smell of spring soon-to-come.
- This latter point inspired me to put a snowdrop Sunday event in the diary – truly the loveliest way to mark the start of spring
I know, it’s Tuesday already but still tips for beating the blues, Monday or otherwise, can sometimes help at this time of year. If winter is getting a bit too wintry these things often help me.
- Get out for a walk even on cold days, it can really lift the spirits. Look at the sky as you walk, be aware of where you are and what you are doing.
- Reward yourself when you get back from your walk with a mindful cup of tea or a hot chocolate.
- Be kind to yourself if you have broken your NY resolutions – many of us pile too much expectation on ourselves at this time of year. In future it might be better to try breaking resolutions down into manageable chunks and change your routine to support this.
- Make time for yourself. Next time thoughts are overwhelming sit down, breath and observe the breath for three minutes. It’s possible to feel greater clarity after only three minutes.
Not wanting to sound like a dubious 1980s pop song, Mondays are always manic. I am getting better at handling the low level stress that comes with Mondays, I can focus a bit more on the here and now rather than fret about things that may or may not happen. And despite it’s manic quality, hurrying from A to B, I do always meditate on the train. Even whilst standing up if needs be (quite frequently). Next time you spot someone on the tube or train with their eyes closed, remember they might not be sleeping. I used to feel self conscious, I never snooze in public but I soon let all that go when I realised, with a busy life and two young kids, sitting on the train is as close to a retreat as I often get. Maybe I need to rename today manic yet mindful Mondays. Today’s total practice time: 30 minutes
It’s been a busy day, contracts signed on the Muswell Hill venue, flyers distributed. Now the waiting begins. I didn’t take a book with me on my commute to work – I am between books. So I meditated, a lot! It’s a long round trip so I reckon I clocked up around an hour which is not bad for a work day and unheard of when I am with the kids at home! Today’s total practice time: 1 hour
Getting rid of the strive for perfection and being your own best friend are two great lessons mindfulness can teach. I saw old friends over the holidays and there was a lot of comparing – who is doing what, living where, earning how much? I listened and realised I have let go of striving some time ago. I also realise the more I practice the better life feels – can you become addicted to meditation like some people do to running? I guess there are worse addictions to have and my time on-line still mostly outweighs my time meditating, so I am not concerned as yet! Today’s total practice time: 30 mins
Every January for the last ten years I have detoxed. It has become part of my calendar, alongside Christmas, New year and loved ones birthdays. It sits at the beginning of January like an old friend and some years I have longed to get on with it. Other years I have thought I don’t really need to do this. When I was pregnant it was a perfect excuse for not drinking so no one suspected for months! I usually do a 3 day fruit detox to kick things off followed by a few weeks of vegan, alcohol free living. By February I have usually had enough. But this year I could not complete my 3 day fruit detox, I felt awful, hungry and slightly ill so after two very long days, during which I still had to cook for the kids, I decided life is too short. The vegan part of the detox feels like pure bliss in comparison. I can easily go without meat, dairy and alcohol, just don’t deny me carbohydrates! Meditating was the one enjoyable part of the fruit detox this year, to quieten my hungry thoughts and focus on the breath was pure relief! And today having cast aside the fruit detox I did yoga, chi qong and an extended meditation. Total practice time today: 1 hour
It was possibly the best festive season I have had for a while. I didn’t drink too much, I did eat far too many chocolates but I managed to meditate everyday even though surrounded by family and merriment. I felt like it’s now so embedded in me – to meditate everyday – that remembering it was no longer an issue and amidst all the mayhem of Christmas I loved my 15 minutes of peace that I carved out for myself each day. It has inspired me to attempt to get a course running in Muswell Hill – I have a venue in mind, have ordered flyers so watch this space for more news! Today’s total practice time: 15 minutes