How I discovered Mindfulness
Guest Blog by Nurture Happy
A few weeks back I was in the staff kitchen at work. Now and again a company comes to our Trust with hand picked books at discount prices. One of the books recently on offer was that of Mindfulness.
I’d had an interest Mindfulness a few years back and thought it was just another form of mediation. It seems I never pursued the benefits of practising it. However I wanted to clear my mind from the shenanigans of my morning clinic, so decided to have a freebie flick through the book while I ate my lunch. There was no one else in the kitchen, which gave me ample time to read through the first few pages and actually carry out the taster exercise at the beginning of the book. It only took a couple of minutes.
Experiencing a Clarity of Mind
The exercise involved
staring at observing an object such as a cup and really taking notice of it. The shape, the curves, the colour, how the light hits it and is reflected back. You get the gist. I can’t remember whether I chose the lid to my lunch box or the crumpled up tissue which I used to get my lunch out of the microwave.
To get value out of the exercise, I observed as
instructed guided. I thought that before I made up my mind about the whole topic, I might as well give it a proper shot.
What really surprised me was that even with just a couple of minutes of being mindful of something in front of me, I was able to experience clarity of mind.
What do I mean?
In that short period of time I felt the release of tension in my body. My job involves a lot of individualised care planning, making sure that a woman receives not only the appropriate physical examinations for her and her baby, but also all the referral to the obstetric or other multidisciplinary teams as required.
As you can imagine, if you’re seeing several women in one morning it can get easy to develop tension headaches. This was what made me flick through the book in the first place – the headache and the tension.
In those short minutes, not only did I feel the release of tension in my shoulders, I also felt the tension headache lift. Briefly mind you, but lift it did.
This fleeting experience gave me the motivation to explore the subject further. I did order the book and I’m still waiting for the company to deliver our orders to the Trust.
I wanted the feeling of tension release for longer periods of time and scoured Amazon for books which I could maybe order on Kindle. There are times when instant is good! I flicked through the books on Mindfulness and a lot of them seems so serious on the subject then I saw that Ruby Wax has a book on the subject.
Why Ruby’s book? I’d always thought of Ruby as quite a funny comedian and I never realised that she who seemed to make light of things suffered from depression. I felt that she would be able to add some lightness to the subject and present it in a more digestible way than other ‘experts’. That she did. Okay I’ll admit that although I got the book on Kindle – which means I could read it through my IPhone during my commute, I also ordered it on Audible. This means that when I’m too tired at the end of the day, I could also listen to the audio version.
I found myself chuckling on the train at the humorous anecdotes she adds to the subject. However she explains Mindfulness in a way that is easy to understand and apply.
What I’ve Discovered About Myself Through Mindfulness
I am rarely present
If you’ve ever read things on Law of Attraction you’ll know that one of the things you’re supposed to do is think and act about what you want. I have to say there’s been lots of things I’ve achieved through doing this. Ok, I know, it’s a bit woo woo. But what I didn’t realise was that I spend so much time in my head, I’m rarely aware of what’s going on in the present. My mind is always somewhere else, wishing things were different or planning about what I need to do, want to do or what needs doing.
There were times when I find myself present in the moment and think back as to how I got there? How often do we find ourselves in this scenario? Pretty often it seems.
My mind gets easily distracted
One of the skills of mindfulness is to observe your breathing and when you’re mind wanders, guide it gently back. Wow! This revealed how my mind is like one of those Domino tricks, you know the ones where domino’s are arranged in intricate patterns and the fall of one domino sets one pattern after another to fall.
That’s my mind on free flow.
I’ve not realised how my mind has been allowed to follow one thought to another and another. It doesn’t only follow an image I can see in front of me, it follows images it creates in my head, it can follow a scent, a feeling, anything it seems! Oh heck, how did I ever let it get out of control?
Thoughts Affect Your Feelings
Here’s another ouch revelation. Do you even have those times when you think I’m feeling really cr*p, but I don’t know why or you’re angry and again you don’t know why.
It’s cause you’re thoughts are running down roads you’re not even aware of!
Do you find yourself getting angry at someone and they haven’t done anything? Have you been having arguments with them…IN YOUR HEAD?!! Or maybe you’ve been repeating an argument you had with them, in your head. Are you anxious about something, got that sinking feeling in your stomach? That’s maybe because you’ve been thinking about something going wrong, even though the event hasn’t happened or may not even happen. Got a headache? Have you been spending time thinking too much and letting your mind run riot?
These are just things I’ve observed about myself in my early experience of Mindfulness and I know that I’ve got lots of learning and practising to do. I have to say it’s been a challenge keeping mindful and present. But the fact that I’m now aware of when I’m following a train of thought means that I have better control of my thoughts and am spending more time being present.
I have a long way to go.
Immediate Benefits I’ve Noticed So Far
Being more present has meant that I have better times with those I’m closest with. I’m not on the continuous autopilot of thoughts and I’ve found that our time together is more enjoyable.
There is less tension in my body and I feel more relaxed generally.
When I am present, I feel that my eyesight is better and I view things around me with a clearer vision. Maybe this is because I am present and my eyes are more focused, rather than that vacant, in the distant look about them.
I have a sense of greater inner peace. I don’t have that constant feeling of striving to achieve something in the far distant. Don’t get me wrong, I still feel that there’s things I want to achieve now that I have the time. But I have a more relaxed attitude of, I will do the work necessary and success will come in the form it’s meant to come.
So these are the early benefits I’ve gained so far from my early days of practising Mindfulness. Do you practice and how have you benefited?
This article was written and very kindly shared with us by Shirly from Nurture Happy, her blog is about the freedom of being forty something and young at heart, empty nesters.
“I never realised what a challenge this stage in life can be. It can be easy to feel lonely and alone when your role as a parent changes. However I also never realised what adventures and new doors open up when you no longer have full-time responsibility for young children”.
To find out more about Nurture Happy click on the link above to go to her blog or follow @NurtureHappy on Twitter.
To buy Ruby Wax’s book ‘A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled’ on Amazon click here
Click here to purchase ‘Practical Mindfulness’ on Amazon
To get the book in the picture click here ‘Mindfulness for Women’, it has some good reviews