on my mind this week.....
take a moment to appreciate....
Mindfulness practice helps us to cultivate the ability to notice in a non judgemental fashion exactly what is going on in our lives, becoming conscious rather than running on auto-pilot. Once we become aware, we can start to notice the 'stories' that we are telling ourselves and the ways we are habitually behaving. Then we can choose to keep that way or make an intention to adopt a more fruitful course of action/behaviour.
As an hypnotherapist, I ascribe to the view that much of what we do is programmed into us during our early years and we continue to run those 'programmes' until we develop a need to change our behaviours. Recently there has been much more work on the area of neuroplasticity, proving that the old adage 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks' isn't true in this respect. It is never to late to learn new and more positive ways of behaving and Mindfulness practice gives us a way in, because once become aware of what we say and do we can make choices...look up Rick Hanson and Bruce Lipton for more work in this area
Then we can start to become aware that our thoughts are just that, thoughts, not truths, and we don't have to believe them. We can change them, and choose the thought that feels best. If you're not sure whether that will help or hadn't ever pondered how your thoughts affect you....try this - recall a time when you were really happy, bring to mind an event that went really well....maybe a party or your birthday, a date or some other fun time, with no negative connotations. Close your eyes and really think about that event, recall how you felt, who was there, what you were wearing, what people said, what time it was, now really revel in that feeling......do you feel better than when you are dwelling on a day that went really badly?
So we can influence how we feel by which thoughts we choose to think, yet somehow we often go for the worst ones! the worries, anxieties, the 'what it's'...Rick Hanson describes it as our brains are velcro for negative thoughts and teflon for positive - harking back to a time when we needed to be on the alert for danger and threats. Nowadays though we live in a constant state of high alert, over small and not always 'real' things, maybe concerns over what may happen, or what someone thinks of us, which may all be highly subjective and open to our perception, so if we are looking at it from a pessimistic angle it may be a whole lot different to the eye that we use on a 'good day'. The good news is we can all learn skills to help us train our minds, so we can get the best out of them! Here is where mindfulness and meditation come in
I recently ran a course on Mindfulness, Meditation and Relaxation - here's what one of the attendees said....
"I thought I was going to learn how to make the most of the present , but it goes so much further than that - the course touched on general psychological and emotional well-being, and has helped me to handle my darkest moments, choosing not to let them affect me as they usually do......I don't work in a high pressure environment....but I do get entangled in emotional turmoil and mind games, paranoia, giving myself a hard time etc and that's where it helped me - to distance myself from myself - to go a bit easier on myself and stop giving myself such a hard time"
So wherever you are, stop and take a deep breath, and let it out, now take another one and let that out....good, thats a start. Your mission for the next few days is to start to notice your self talk, and observe, would you speak like that to anyone else? Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to a trusted and loved friend.....so no to the 'oh you're so slow' 'damn that was a stupid mistake' and don't go anywhere near the judgements on how bad/old/etc you look!!!
As the Dalai Lama says, 'Be kind, whenever possible. it is always possible' and that starts with yourself.
So back to the pauses.......
Stop and take a couple of deep breaths next time something presses your buttons, providing that pause time and observe what is going on, without judgement, with kindness and without the need to change it.
It may help to follow these steps from Tara Brach (check out her work) with the handy acronym RAIN
R Recognise what is happening
A Allow life to be just as it is
I Investigate with an Intimate attention
N Non-identification, rest in Natural awareness
or how about this one, I saw a dear friend of mine at the weekend and she has come up with her own, we had a chuckle that it spells SNAP - so use it before you do!
....in finding short ways that work for us under pressure, humorous ones are good, we increase our ability of accessing this wisdom. For more info on Mindfulness check out my page and get in touch for one to one sessions and courses
I am taking over a yoga nidra class this evening, at The Wild Dove centre in Hassocks, so am very excited about that.
For those who have not heard of it, yoga nidra is a powerful guided meditative practice, whereby the listener reaches a deep state of relaxation, yogic sleep, which is deeply restorative, connecting them back to themselves. It is not commonly taught, it is a fairly unknown treasure in the world of yoga, which is very surprising given its benefits. Anyone can practice it, there is no religious affiliation or knowledge required. There is no movement, the listener just lays down or remains seated for the practice, which can be from 15-60 minutes long.
I first came across this practice a couple of years ago and have gotten so hooked, that since January I have made it part of my daily routine! It is a fantastic resource for helping you cope with stress, improving energy, improving sleep amongst other benefits. Yoga nidra offers 'tools' to cope with the stresses and strains of daily life. It rests, restores and renews the whole body, mind and spirit. The nervous system benefits from total relaxation, and it is effortless, the listener just follows the spoken word to be guided into a state of yoga nidra.
Other benefits reported are enhanced creativity, better clarity, improved concentration and fewer physical symptoms....all with no side effects. All that is needed is a quiet space and a guide, there are many cd's and recordings available, or better still find yourself a class and give yourself the ultimate in relaxation!
I will be teaching on Thursday evenings at 7.30, so drop me a line if you are interested in joining the class