Let me start by saying that I am not a mindfulness and meditation expert in any way shape or form. I am just your average working woman with a family, two rabbits and a predisposition for feeling stressed who is learning to be more mindful. A while back I realised I was short-changing the people around me because my mind was always somewhere else thinking of other things.
I often feel overwhelmed by responsibility and endless to-do lists. I am easily distracted (usually by my phone) and focusing on a single task can be challenging. Does this happen to you too? I feel frustrated and anxious and I realised through speaking to my friends that finding balance is a struggle for most of us. We are all so busy! Our lives, our brains are always ‘on’, all the tabs are open at once and it’s exhausting.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us – Mindful
Mindfulness first came into my life in the form of a colouring book, I coloured in for an evening and put it in the drawer where it has gathered dust ever since. That didn’t work for me. Then a friend recommended Headspace, a mindfulness App and the first time I tried it I slept like a baby, something I hadn’t done in weeks*. I use Quility now which is designed with mothers in mind** and I’m finding that the more I practice the better I get at doing it on my own.
Since I made the conscious decision to be more mindful I have made some small but positive changes to my life like
hiding putting my phone away when I’m working towards a deadline, focusing on the food I am eating rather than checking social media at lunch time and leaving my phone in my bag when I pick the children up from school. I don’t actively meditate every day but I find that I actually look forward to it when I do, it’s ‘me time’ after all.
If mindfulness is something you would like to try then I have put together a few tips with the help of Tessa Watt Co-Founder of Quility that will help to get you on your way.
- Get stuck in! – Absolutely everyone can benefit from adopting a mindful approach to life. You might worry that it’s not for you or that you can’t do it but the ability to be mindful is something we are all born with. Try it – 2 minutes or 20 minutes, just have a go!
- Download a guided meditation App – There’s a lot of choice out there, I have used Headspace and Quility, both offer free sessions so you can try before you buy. There are some good recommendations from Jess Lively here.
- Find a comfortable space – You don’t need much to practice mindfulness and meditation: a chair, the floor or your sofa. Some people make themselves a cosy corner with cushions and blankets to meditate. It’s up to you, the point is to do it. All I would say if that it is important to be able to feel grounded, to feel the floor under your feet or your body if you decide to lay down, if you get too cosy you will fall asleep!
- Persevere – This part is a bit like going to the gym, you have to keep going, the more you workout the better you will get at it at changes will become apparent in time. Mindfulness works in a similar way, changes are happening at a deep level even if you are not immediately aware of them.
- Mindfulness and anxiety – This isn’t a tip to get you started on your mindfulness journey as such but rather a positive outcome. Tessa explained that when you begin to adopt a mindful approach you are better equipped to deal with negative situations and emotions because you are more aware of what’s actually going on. Small things can tip us over the edge and some days spilling your coffee down your shirt can send all sorts of negative thoughts racing through your mind. With a mindful approach you can see it for what it is: simply an inconvenience, you are not stupid or a loser because and it certainly doesn’t have to set the tone for the rest of your day. Because we are more tuned into the moment, we are able deal with upsetting situations that cause stress and anxiety in a more positive way.
As for me, I have learnt breathing techniques that help me to drift off to sleep and I’m getting better at emptying my head of other ‘noisy’ thoughts that stop me from living in the present moment. I’m constantly falling off the mindfulness waggon but I’m determined to get back on again and that’s the point, I’m more aware and I’m trying to so something about it.
This topic is very close to my heart and I would really love some feedback from any of you out there who want to share their experiences, as always you can leave a comment at the bottom of the page.
I would also like to thank Tessa Watt for her contribution to this post.
*Practicing mindfulness exercises in bed is not recommended because you tend to fall asleep but if that’s something you need then I say go for it!
**Don’t let this put you off, anyone can benefit.
Thanks antonia, it’s interesting to hear how you have benefitted from mindfulness so quickly. I will check out the app. Do you think its something we can teach our children too? My favourite book is The Tao of Pooh which uses Winnie the Pooh analogies to explain a Taoist approach to life. I have read it many times and it’s always helped me deal with very difficult situations in life. Great for kids 🙂 x ps love the new logo!
I must check The Tao of Pooh out, I haven’t heard of it until now, sounds really interesting. In terms of my experience, I am starting to notice some positive changes. Progress is slow but I can see a difference in myself and I have actually used the app with one of my daughters a couple of times and she enjoyed it too. I think from her point of view we were doing something together and she could be like Mummy so she was very open to it. One area where I am definitely seeing a difference is that I am more able to (slowly) to detach myself from stressful situations and that is something I really want to focus on because my default setting is ‘nuclear’!!
A great blog about something so close to my heart but often so far from my head! Reading it made me realise how I often let one inconvenient incident, a cross word or an anxious moment set the tone for my entire day, so I’m inspired to stop doing that straight away! Coincidentally, this morning I was listening to the highly decorated scientist/baroness etc Helen Greenfield talk on the radio about her new book ‘A Day in the life of the Brain’. It was fascinating to hear her talk about the neuroscience behind how to calm and centre your thoughts, so that’s next on my reading list methinks ☺️
A great blog…. I” fairy new to Mindfulness but have been using Headspace for a couple of months and Smiling Mind with Joshua… he’s been very nervous starting a new junior school and Smiling Mind has really helped him settle. He loves doing it and the bubble journey is right up his street. Keen to check out Quality too… thanks for the pointer
I haven’t formally tried it with the girls yet but I’m interested to head Joshua is getting a lot out of it, I just find I’m more chilled all round which is exactly what a I needed. Hope you are all ok and thank you so much for taking the time to get in touch! xxx
I definitely get distracted too and find myself checking my phone every 5 minutes but as we said the other day, I think I have some version of mindfulness because I’m taking time to stop and appreciate little moments every day and it definitely helps the frenetic pace of life. Will have to check out some apps and see how I get on! Xx
Mindfulness came into my life 2 years ago and changed my way of viewing my world. It helped me through period of time where I was feeling lost and confused about what I really needed to be happy in my life. In many ways it propelled me into the life I enjoy now, my writing, my blog and my happiness. Lovely post x
You are well ahead of me Mackenzie, my phone is the bane of my life and largely responsible for my inability to concentrate. It has been so helpful to me in the last few months and I’m looking forward to getting better at it. Thank you for taking the time to read my post! Antonia xxx
Great post Antonia, I love a bit of mindfulness – I’ll be looking at those Apps too XX
Thanks so much Ems, glad you enjoyed it. Let me know how you get on with the apps and let’s catch up soon! xxx