Guest blog by life coach, Nicola Arnold, about mindfulness – what it is and how to practice it.
What if I could just stop for a moment, perhaps even pause time and just let all the thoughts inside my head fade away?
What if I could just feel like I had control for just a second, to really feel alive again?
What if could just lift my head and see the world around me instead of looking down or looking far ahead?
What if all these thoughts filled me with a sense of peace and belonging rather than dread and fear for the future?
What if you just took a moment out to ‘just be?’ I mean REALLY took a moment to just relax your shoulders, take a couple of deep breaths and just soak in your surroundings of the here and now?
What if you just gifted yourself that time – acknowledging that you are a resource in itself?
It sounds so simple, yet we dismiss this true gift of presence by rushing around and thinking about what we need to do next or worrying about what may happen tomorrow. Go on, count on your fingers and toes – how often have you appreciated the here and now in the last week?
Mmm, thinking the same as me? Not very often, even if that at all. So, what would it be like to create that self-awareness and let it become a real part of everyday life. ‘I haven’t got time for that!’ I hear the cycnics say. Well actually I’d like to challenge that thought.
Take your mobile phone, laptop, iPad etc – we are all very conscious that we need to ensure that the battery is well charged – the drama that goes through our head thinking about what could happen if it goes below 40%!! – I know I seem to go into some sort of crisis mode trying to find the charger. Yet with ourselves how often do we check in with our own energy levels, our own resilience and say you know what I need to take a breather.
Time out gives clarity and connection
Taking 5 minutes out each day is a great chance to check in with yourself and ask ‘am I living today with my best self or my inner critic?’ When facing a challenging task, many of us initially react with doubt or lack of confidence, yet inside us all there really is the potential for us to succeed – we just need to release it. Take the London Marathon as an example – hats off to all the amazing people who ran the gruelling and challenging event the other week. The discipline and mental training it takes to prepare for such an activity is immense – yet I can guarantee lots of people who have trained so long for it initially voiced ‘I could never do that’. So what could you check in with and what have you turned down recently or held back on completing something because you couldn’t or were scared to do it – who made that decision for you? Your best self who knows they can achieve anything they set out to or the inner critic who tells you, you’re not good enough, not strong enough, or that it’s too much too soon.
Space brings new opportunities
What I’ve learnt is that giving myself permission to take at least 10 minutes out each day has provided time to just refocus and realise the opportunities that are available to me. Perhaps opportunities I may have missed or dismissed if I have not allowed myself a few moments to think them through. I have protected time to make decisions that are important to me in a quiet space. How rare and precious is that? What could you gain from space each day? What decisions do you need to make but are putting off because you just don’t really have head space or quiet to really think them through, or because you are letting the fear win?
By taking a few moments out during our day we have the opportunity to check in what what’s happening for us. It provides space and clarity to observe situations from a different point of view. We are able to face challenges with strength and stay calm under pressure. Just imagine situations where you may have held back recently or have experienced depression or anxiety and how with a few moments out you could have approached those situations differently?
By practising mindfulness it is suggested you could lower your blood pressure, increase your immune system, sleep better and overall increase your physical and mental wellbeing.
Increasing energy and living in the moment
What would it be like to feel more alert? To be present to your current experience and really fine tune your senses? To be able to listen more attentively, to notice the colours around you, to increase your capacity to focus and through all this reenergise as you become more aware of with what’s going on in your body and how you need to respond.
Regular short mindfulness practices – even a minute at a time can help create space and release tension so that we can see the experience from a different perspective. We get to then step back, see the truth and reality of the situation and even name and tame what’s going on. It provides judge free minutes as we call upon self compassion and even bring gratitude and joy into every occasion.
Connecting head and heart
So now I’ve explained the benefits I guess you might be wondering how to get started?
Here are a few tips to try out. Could you spare ten minutes to try a couple? After all – it’s time to invest a little time in yourself – you’re worth it!
Clap your hands three times – yes that’s right- clap your hands three times and then just look at them. Notice what’s going on – what they look like, how they feel – perhaps tingling – just breathe. It brings you back to the moment and you can do this anywhere – you will always have your hands – struck in traffic, at your desk, at the park, and at home.
Take a shower – When you take a shower – what do you think about? The emails you need to send? The shopping you need to do? The chores that need completing? STOP – notice the temperature of the water, the scent of the shower gel and the sound of the bubbles. Just be in the moment.
Take a ride – When you’re in the car, again we can become consumed with the future, with what we need to do when we reach out destination. So turn up the music, notice the scenery (keep your eyes generally on the road though!) and just enjoy the ‘me time’.
Rainbow walk – Mind wandering when you’re walking the dog? taking the children to the park etc? Choose a colour from the rainbow and see how much you can notice with that particular colour or go for all seven of them as you go about your activity! It will bring you back to the present, allow you to appreciate the beauty around you and also switch off your fight and flight mode of worrying about what you need to do in the next moment.
The Satsuma challenge – What have you eaten today? And how did it taste? Can’t remember? Did you eat it too quickly? Try out mindful eating. It’s about slowing down what you are eating and actually noticing what the texture, smell, taste is like. Sometimes we eat so fast we don’t even really notice it. Try it with a Satsuma. Hold it in your hand for a while – look at it, notice it, imagine what it would be like to rip back the outer skin. The scent as you break into the skin. Now peel it back and notice again, now taking a segment imagine what it would be like to take that first bite, the sound of the burst as you pierce into the skin, the aroma in the air of the citrus juice. The textures as you bring the segment to your lips. And as you do all this notice what’s happened to all the whirring thoughts in your head. Hopefully it’s calming.
So remember if you look at your watch the time is now. I encourage you to honour yourself as a valued resource this week. You’re worth it after all – aren’t you?
Nicola Arnold is a certified life coach who illuminate’s the path of possibilities for individuals ready to overcome self-doubt and connect with their real values. She nurture’s and champions them to connect with their inner confidence and stand in their own spotlight to feel happy in their own skin. She writes regularly for Thive Global and other publications on wellbeing, positive mindset and self-worth. You can find out more about Enkindle at www.enkindlelifecoaching.com or https://m.facebook.com/Enkindlelifecoaching/
Nicola run’s the award nominated ‘Happy to be ME hub’. It’s a closed FB group which provides a safe environment where people can share what’s made them smile and also be honest about their journey to valuing self worth. Everybody supports and champions each other to become their best selves and connect with their self worth. I share regular tips and techniques to overcome self doubt and make self worth a lifestyle not a luxury. The hub is very much a community. We’ll help you be sure that that every step is a step in the right direction