mindfulness

When was the last time you scanned your Body?

We tend to notice things around, us such as the weather, the traffic, the environment we are in but we forget about the body we occupy. Have you ever noticed how when you are stressed your body feels all tight and wound up? That is because we carry our emotions within our body.

It can be difficult to just relax, sometimes it can even causes physical pain. I’ve had days when I have been so busy to even sit down. When the time does come to relax I find it physically painful.

The body scan or body sweep has helped me numerous times. It may be helpful if you have had a busy day and you need to relax, or even when you are trying to fall asleep but are restless. The benefits are endless of mindfulness but you have to choose what is right for you.

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I would suggest doing this in an environment where you feel safe to lie down, I prefer to do this before I go to sleep. Where ever you are, find a comfortable place and don’t forget to get a blanket incase you feel cold or drift off to sleep.

While lying down notice the contact your body makes with the floor or bed. Is it hard or soft? are you comfortable?

Closing your eyes, take a few deep breathes in and out letting your body relax slightly each time you exhale. This helps me because if I relax all my body all at once I do feel pain especially in my lower back.

Check in with yourself? how are you feeling? are you agitated, relaxed or even just sleepy? allow yourself to feel however you are. Did you have any expectations about this method? if so let them go as it will feel different each time.

Now scanning the body begins from your toes. Bring your attention to them, what do you feel? hot, cold or tension? Notice it and let it go.

Then shift your attention to your feet. Are you feeling any sensations? Just be aware of them and let it go.

Continue to ask yourself what are you feeling, as you scan up your body slowly, your ankles, lower legs, knees, thighs and continue. You’re noticing any sensation you may have and then letting it go.

I imagine a knot that is tied and when I see myself letting go, the knot unfolds. Each time you exhale imagine tugging on the knot to open it. Up to your lower back, Belly. Your chest, shoulders, upper back. Scanning all till you reach your head.

The idea is that you are seeing how each part of your body feels, not trying to change it, but recognising it and the image of the knot just unfold.

Its normal for our thoughts to drift away if they do just bring it back to your body.

As you finish scanning just notice you’re breathing, as you inhale how your body moves, in and out with each breath. Take a moment and enjoy the silence.

I found it difficult at first to get into the mindset of trying to do this alone. So I enlisted the help of an app called Calm. There are many sleepcasts that guide you through this process and the ones I used were for free.

Once it became part of my routine I then started doing it without the help of the app.

In the book by Kim Davies called Pause, there is a section where you can journal how you felt doing this exercise. The method of journaling can help you gain a more better insight into your experience and reflect on a deeper level.

Mindfulness is a conscious effort to recognise what is going on within you. Life is busy as it is, so don’t put pressure on yourself and its okay to recognise that now might not be the right time for you. But when it is, take a moment and try to reconnect with yourself, your body and your feelings.

Let me know how you got on, did it work? Did you fall asleep or did it not work for you? Leave a comment below.

mindfulness

The Waiting Game – My Quest to Inner Peace Continues

How often is it that we stand in a queue, or are waiting for an appointment and we become impatient. I always notice that people, including myself, tend to distract ourselves with either our mobile phones, reading posters or flyers, or by getting annoyed that the queue is long.

I guess the appeal of pulling out our phone is easier, we can check the latest news feed on facebook, insta or we can even let everyone know how annoyed we are with waiting by posting a status. “#can this queue be any longer!”

I am definitely one of the people that shift from foot to foot, waiting, observing, silently getting irritated that the shop assistant isn’t going fast enough.

But wait a minute? Where do I have to go so quickly? Yes I know, I have that mental checklist which I’m working through for today. House clean? Check, Emails followed up? Check, Washing done? Check, Supermarket? Nope not yet check!

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I can use these moments where I usually respond with irritation and annoyance as a chance to practice mindfulness. I am going to try being patience and accepting of this opportunity.

But while I stand in the queue I’m making a mental note that there are 4 people in front of me. It’s so easy to start thinking about the length of time I am waiting. I need to stop making mental notes, so what if the lady in front has a whole trolley full and I only have a basket of small items.

Let me get into the mindframe, come into the now how Kim Davies has suggested. I am attempting to become more aware of what this moment has to offer. 

I am bringing back my awareness to what is going on around me, I can see someone is attempting to queue job, Naughty naughty. What are these two ladies behind me talking about. Am I being nosey? ooohhh Fox Christmas biscuit pack for £3 its huge, What a bargain! Into my basket you go! 

Back to being present, so what am I irritated about? Am I still irriated or impatient? Well no. I’m ok now. I’m feeling calmer, maybe the biscuits have already helped? I am seeing what items are around me, eaves dropping into other peoples conversations.

The initial irritation I felt was more annoyance at having to wait. But i’m accepting that this is what I have to do to get the items I want. I fell for their marketing technique of purchasing more items then I came for but I am aware of that and I’m okay with it. 

While I am waiting there is another technique I can try called; get into your feet. I am attempting to bring attention to the soles of my feet and their contact with the ground. What can I feel? I can feel the soft cushion of my insoles. The hard floor underneath my shoes. 

To Enhance the physical sensation I can lift the heel of one foot off the floor and bring all my weight onto the other. Bit like I am already doing while I shift from one foot to the other. But now I’m more aware that I am doing this as before I wasn’t and it is a way of releasing some of the irritation I am feeling in my body.

So how easy is it to adopt the waiting game? I felt my attention was more on how long the queue was taking But when I asked myself the question; “What was causing the irritation?” It was that mental checklist. 

The mental checklist is something that we all fall victim of. Where we try to achieve as much productive things as we can. This adds pressure to our day and when we aren’t achieving the things we want then comes the annoyed, irritation feelings. I also find that going through these checklists at times even when i’m doing one thing, i’m worrying about the upcoming task.

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I felt accepting this process helped, I need to be in a queue to purchase the items I need. Acceptance helped me get past the annoyed feeling. Also bringing myself into the moment just for a while helped me calm down. 

Grounding does help to stop the inner dialogue I have going on. Maybe next time you see yourself getting irritated or annoyed with waiting why not try asking the question: “What is it that I am feeling annoyed about?” “Where is this feeling coming from?”

It is something that can be easily incorporated into our day, whenever were waiting so I will be using this more often. What about you?

mindfulness

Mindfulness – How to Shine a light

I have always tried to include an element of mindfulness into my therapy practice. It is a useful tool when working with clients who suffer from anxiety, which can include but not limited to; worrying thoughts, feel overwhelmed and pressured to do things outside of their comfort zone. 

You may have heard about mindfulness but what does it actually mean?

Mindfulness is making the conscious effort to include techniques such as pausing and a form of meditation that helps to build your awareness to yourself, your body and your environment. It involves an attempt to be truly present by stripping away all the noise that covers up your core. 

Kim Davies Pause 50 instant exercises to promote balance and focus every day

Within the book there are 10 ways pausing can help you, but for me what stood out was wanting to achieve a feeling of being calm, less reactive and stressed. 

Your reasons may be different or a combination of the 10 Reasons Kim Davies has highlighted in her book.

01 How to Shine a light

This technique is similar to what is used within counselling to help someone who may be anxious, is feeling panicked, overwhelmed and finding it difficult to be calm.

It knows as the 5,4,3,2,1 method for grounding. It helps you to distract from the thousands of rushing thoughts in your mind.

Taking a deep breath in and out at all times during this method.

I will now go through the method:

5 – What are the five things you can see? You can say them out loud or in your mind. 

I can see a candle burning, my fireplace, TV, Flooring, a Wall Clock.

4 – What are the four things you can hear?

I can hear Two people talking, muffled sounds of possible radio, cars driving by and a Clock ticking.

3 – What are Three things you can feel? You can move or reach for different objects.

The sofa I am sat on has soft upholstery, the pillow I am leaning on has rough pattern on it, my own hands are cold.

2 – Notice two things you can smell. 

This might be harder; I can smell the scent of my candle that is burning. It has a sweet undertone to it but not overpowering and another oil base in the candle and I can smell blueberry. 

1 – Notice one thing you can taste. 

I just ate dinner so I can taste sewai aka seviyaan which is a sweet dish, made of vermicelli, sugar and milk. If you can’t taste anything you can take a sip of cold water and just bring your attention to it. 

image from clipart.com

By engaging my 5 senses I am able to become present in the moment. It helped me by clearing my mind of the inner chatter. It is something that I will attempt to do more often as I found that it just brought my attention to where I am within the room.

If you are struggling with some of the tasks such as smell or touch maybe move about the room don’t limit yourself to one spot. 

How do you feel about including this technique into your daily life? Leave a comment below to let me know how you got on.

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Mindfulness – When can I find the time?!

Sometimes trying to find a balance between focusing on our everyday tasks and finding time for ourselves can be difficult. In all of the chores, work commitments and other mental checklists we tend to forget to pause and we end up putting our own needs on the back burner. 

This can result in us feeling overwhelmed, rushing from one task to the next, never finding a moment to relax. If we do, we feel guilty that we are not productive enough. 

I myself find it difficult at times to switch off and just be present in the moment. If it’s not rushing around trying to get the odd jobs done, its more about what have I done that I can class as being productive. 

The pressure we can put on ourselves can result in us feeling burnt out. It becomes a vicious cycle of irritation, moodiness and unfulfilled feeling that we should be doing better. 

We all have heard of the benefits of mindfulness, even I have purchased Pause by Kim Davies which provides 50 instant exercises to promote balance and focus every day. But to actually find the willpower to sit down and start is another thing that I struggle with.

Browsing the Works store, first what attracted me to the book was the bright colours and the word PAUSE in bold. “I need to pause.” I remember thinking to myself. “I need to find some Me time.”

You would think a stay at home mum, part time volunteer and qualified counsellor attempting to start my own private practice, would in fact have plenty time to pause. But I felt like I was wasting my time. If I sat down to do nothing, if I didn’t achieve that mental check list then I was failing somehow.

I myself feel that doing daily chores such as cleaning, washing up, laundry and weekly shops are unpaid, thankless, and let’s face it things we have to do to live jobs. But what about feeding our soul? Who am I?

So, I picked up the book and paid for it, brought it home and then placed it on my desk. “I will get to it”. I kept telling myself. Then I decided to renovate my downstairs which meant that even if had wanted to, I couldn’t surely find 10 minutes to do some mindfulness exercises. The house is a mess like someone had just picked it up given it a good shake and set it down. When I wasn’t doing the redecorating, organising and cleaning I was just too exhausted.

So now all the work is done, I say all but who am I kidding. Most of it is done. I want to try to find some inner calmness. 

Each day I will try to find time to do one of the instant exercises within this book. I will share the technique and how easily they can actually be integrated into every-day life. I am committed now to this, because truth is you need to practice what you preach. As a counsellor I always encourage my clients to carve out some time for themselves. Where they can be relax and reconnect with who they are.

I plan to reconnect with my surroundings, be present in the moment and try and find some inner peace which can be difficult to achieve in the busy lives lead. Will you come on this journey with me?