Mindfulness - a word we hear a lot of recent but what does it mean?
Mindfulness through meditation workshops are becoming more widespread and aimed at busy professionals, hospitals patients with long-term health conditions and recovering addicts but how can this help me?
I first heard of the term 'mindfulness' over a year ago when I was an in-patient at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, Middlesex UK, on the Pain Self-Management Programme.
Sufferers of a chronic pain condition such as Neuropathy, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Arthritis usually experience extreme fatigued and lack good quality sleep due to insomnia. This alone can lead to 'brain fog' - the inability to string a sentence together searching for descriptive words, forgetfulness in general, short concentration span, depression, de-conditioning and anxiety.
The practice of mindfulness through meditation is to live in the moment, with the awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations (including pain) and your surrounding environment but to feel at peace with acceptance of all of these. Sounds a bit hippie-like? I initially thought so too but if you are able to adopt this attitude instead of feeling frustrated that your life didn't map out how you or others expected, we are then able to let go to grow. Hindus and Buddhists have been practicing the art for many years BC so there has to be something in it, right!?
If you have a disabling medical condition, focus on the ability in 'disability' learn how to 'pace' to try and manage your flare ups of your condition. I will write more blogs on management of such over time. A quote I like to keep in mind is;
Not everyday is a good day, but there is good in every day.
Sounds good but not sure where to start? 'Sleep Hygiene' - not referring to how often you wash your bed sheets but the steps you take to wined down before bedtime such as drinking chamomile tea, having a warm bath, and using an app such as 'Calm' practising the art of guided meditation focusing on your breath, can all contribute to better quality sleep if practiced regularly.
The app won Apple's App of the Year 2017. Once downloaded, you get a 7 days free trial and then if you subscribe it's £35.99 per year. I'm currently trialling it and last night fell asleep before the session had finished where as it usually takes me a few hours to nod off. Reviewers say the subscription is worth every penny, however if pennies are hard to come by at the moment... how about creating your own 7 days of calm by visiting a park or lake early morning when no one is around so you are at one with nature and film a 3-5 minute video on you phone. You can also do this on the beach or on a hill watching the sunrise / sunset, anywhere you feel at peace and able to momentarily escape from your worries. Watch these back before bedtime or take time out in your busy day to find some 'calm'. Click on the Calm logo to read more on the app's website.
Another helpful tool is to keep a book and pen beside your bed to jot down things that may be playing on your mind and likely to keep you awake such as your never ending to-do list or a great creative idea. Get the burdens out of your head and onto paper for a better night's sleep. This pretty '3AM' journal of inspiration by Kikki K costing £10 would look elegant on any bedside table. There are positive quotes throughout and the pages are rulered making it easier to write if you haven't kept your spectacles at arms reach.
Kikki K are so on trend with the brand they have created, if you check out their range you will find a Gratitude book, Goal setting and planners for all aspects of your life. They even hold workshops based on the products they sell to show you how to gain the most out of them and yourself. For more information on Kikki K's workshops click here
From time to time negative thoughts can enter our minds, we can be our own worst critics with self body image, agonising over relationships and work milestones, what society expects us to achieve such as a degree, a driving licence and vehicle, marriage, getting a mortgage and popping out two children (breast fed) and a family pet dog. Social media feeds, can have us compare ourselves to others so when things aren't picture perfect and we're thrown a curve ball, the one thing we do need to take care of is our mental health. Be kind to yourself. If you are strong mentally you can overcome many things.
This book 'Sassy One Thought A Day' available at Wiko priced £2.50 has the date and a rulered line for every day of the year allowing you to write a quote, affirmation or something that you are grateful for. Once filled you can look back over 3 years worth of motivation. It's the gift that keeps on giving.
I first heard of The Serenity Prayer this year in a recovering addicts meeting where I had attended to support someone who was wanting to seek help for their addiction. Serenity is from the Latin Serenus meaning "calm, peaceful". Although not an addict myself, I found that I also gained out of the 'open' meetings. The mediation sessions, affirmations and the 12 step book work are based on mindfulness. Yes you have to deal with your past in order to move forward but it's a healthier approach living in the now for a more contented life, regardless of your hurdles. Russel Brand has recently uploaded a couple of videos on his Facebook page regarding spirituality titled 'You oughta build yourself an alter'. Click here to view part 1 and part 2.
I hope you find these small recommendations as useful as I have and are able to incorporate them into your daily life too. I will leave you with the serenity prayer.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.