Feeling so overwhelmed by the things on your to do list that your head’s like the spaghetti junction, spinning round like a headless chicken?
Focusing on the negative or difficult things in your life and unable to appreciate the positive ones?
Finding it difficult to let go of unhelpful thoughts going around your head like a hamster on a wheel, telling you that you’re not good enough and you can’t cope etc.?
It’s likely that you are, and we’re here to tell you that you are not alone! It’s also probably not your fault. Apparently, we’re evolutionary hardwired to instantly react to and retain the memories of any perceived threats to our survival, however small, and our untrained mind can easily give credence to a whole load of self-critical thoughts that are unlikely to be even true!
Mindfulness is very much in our news and media at the moment, if you haven’t come across it yet, chances are you will be very soon.
Books are jumping off the self-help shelves hailing its benefits; MP’s are holding policy meetings about it; Google and other such blue-chip businesses are offering training for their staff. It can certainly feel like it is being sold as the next panacea for all the trials and challenges and conditions of first world 21st century living.
Neuroscientists, quantum physicists, politicians and policy makers, doctors and health care professionals, educators, artists and sports people alike are all getting very excited by research that supports that the idea that mindfulness practice has great potential benefits for the mental, physical and spiritual well-being of individuals from all walks of life and for society in general.
So, what’s it all about and how can you get started?
Well firstly, mindfulness is not a magic pill or cure all for all the malaises, stresses and strains of modern life. It is not a therapy or something you get done to you. It’s not a relaxation technique or the latest new age fad.
It is, however, increasingly well evidenced and researched in areas such as anxiety, depression, pain management, eating disorders, education and performance enhancement.
To fully explain mindfulness in a nutshell is not easy and there are lots of components to consider, it also requires training and practice.
Science seems to be proving what Buddhist philosophy (and other contemplative practices) has known for over 2000 years. That the practice of bringing our attention into awareness of the present moment, to what is happening right here and now, can influence the journeys of the neural pathways in our brain. That we can learn to literally change our minds!
Put simply, mindfulness practice invites us to direct our attention to our experience as it unfolds, to take notice and be with whatever is really happening in the moment (be that good or bad) and in a non-judgmental, accepting kind of way. So, instead of being caught up with worrying about what has already happened or what we imagine might be going to happen, we can learn to move beyond habitual reactions. We can respond skilfully and with clarity to what is happening right now, making choices based on what is actually happening with inner wisdom and clarity.
Whatever the challenges life’s up and downs presents to us, we can learn to approach them in a clearer, calmer, kinder and more creative way. Stepping back from our often unhelpful habitual reactions, learning new ways to respond.
Sounds appealing? Are you curious?
Here are 3 small steps to getting you started:
- PRACTICE. Find a breathing space at any time in your day. Pause. Become aware of your surroundings. Feel your feet on the ground. Take your attention to the sensations in the lower half of your body. Notice your thoughts, emotions and feelings. Feel your breath in your body. Gather your awareness around it. Stay with the sensations for 3 breaths, in and out. Just be. An ‘anytime anyplace anywhere’ practice, portable and accessible.
- PROCURE. Check out Mindfulness: A Practical Guide To Finding Peace In A Frantic World (Mark Williams / Danny Penman). This book is an extremely user friendly and accessible approach to start you off. It is full of helpful suggestions and a guided CD to get you practicing.
- PARTICIPATE. The Restore Juice Company has joined forces with Andrea Cygler to bring you Restore Your Mind. Andrea is a very experienced and highly qualified mindfulness teacher on our team. She has trained as a Mindfulness teacher with Breathworks CIC (www.breathworks-org.uk). She teaches on their Manchester mindfulness programme and is part of their senior teaching training team. She has 20 years’ experience working in field of well-being, complementary health and personal development, working with all ages and diversities all over Merseyside and the North west.
From January 2017, Restore Your Mind will be bringing to you Introduction to Mindfulness taster sessions, Mindfulness Training sessions and Breathworks ‘Mindfulness for Stress’ 8 week courses.
Check out the ‘Mindfulness’ tab on our homepage for session and course dates and to book online.
Why not find out more and give it a try? It could be a New Year’s gift to yourself that may well last beyond the most well intentioned of resolutions!
“You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf!” (Jon Kabat-Zinn)