18.3.14

Guest Post - Mindfulness Tips

I’m very happy to have Katie here today to share some insights on mindfulness with us. 
I might have mentioned before that I’m trying to simplify my life, be more present, and appreciate the small things in life. At the moment I’ve got lots of stuff going on, both personal and work related, so Katie’s mindfulness tips come just at the right time. I hope that you can relate as well - please do share in the comments below if there’s something in particular that resonated with you.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Katie:

This year, one of my goals is to become more mindful. To help me to focus my thoughts and take more notice of my life as it happens. It’s so easy to dwell on the past or on the unknown future when we should take more time just to acknowledge and enjoy our lives as they happen.

To help me on my journey, I started doing a mindfulness programme, as just sitting about thinking ‘I should really stop overthinking things’ isn’t very helpful. The mindfulness programme I'm following is a book and audiobook that feature a series of guided meditations. Each day you're given a number of tasks to help you tune in to your body and your environment, and that help you to see or think a bit more clearly. Most exercises focus on breathing, but there are also other tasks that focus on movement, and others that are about changing the way you see your regular activities.

I’m only halfway through an eight week programme, but have already been feeling the benefits.
When I started, my husband made fun of me a little for being a hippie “off to meditate” but as we’re in the middle of house buying, using mindfulness to help manage stress has been really important for me, and even when we’ve had setbacks, I’ve been feeling pretty calm and generally maintained positive thinking.

I’m obviously still learning every day as I do this, and I can't say that I'm now completely zen and one with the world, but so far the things that stand out to me are:

-Every time you do mindfulness exercise, it will be different - and it’ll get harder before it gets easier. When I started, it was fresh and new and exciting, but after time, there were definitely some days where I had to force myself to do it because I just wasn't in the mood. But those days were when the practice made the most difference. So do make yourself do it.

- Mindful walking is amazing! I usually walk around with my iPod on, but every few days I have started leaving the music at the office and focus instead on sounds - all sounds - of birds, of cars, of people walking, and taking time to smell the air and feel the wind. It’s so refreshing - even 10-15 minutes makes me feel more awake and present. When I come back from a mindful walk during lunch, I actually feel as though I'm starting a brand new day.

- If you’re having trouble focusing on your breathing, choose two words to focus on as you do it. Say one (in your mind) as you breathe in and one as you breathe out. This was really helpful to me when I first started, as it gave my head something to concentrate on and helped to stop my mind from wandering again and again.

It can be hard to find the time to actually do some mindfulness exercises every day. But it makes such a huge difference, so I’d say it’s definitely worth making the time. And now I find that I’m actually excited to do it.

Have you ever taken up a mindfulness programme? How did you find it? What do you do to integrate it into your life?


18 comments:

  1. I have never, but I am curious about it. :-)

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  2. Thank you so much for hosting me today, Helena! It's definitely something worth exploring - all it really costs is time, and it's so worth the investment.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your tips with us, Katie! I'm glad you're so passionate about it, I can definitely tell that it's had a positive effect on you. :)

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  3. Such an inspiration every single time!

    // Nadja
    cinnamonplease.blogspot.dk

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  4. Thanks for sharing! I've been very interested in mindfulness lately and it's always great to hear more tips.

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    1. That's great to hear, Sarah! Would love to catch up sometime by the way :)

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  5. Hi! I found your blog today and fell in love :) Keep up the good work!

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  6. I feel like I could write you an essay in response to this post! I've been using mindfulness techniques to overcome anxiety for years. Many of my friends and family think it's crazy that I don't listen to music when I'm walking around or that I like to be in silence for an hour after work, but it definitely helps me to be the calm person I am today! Thanks so much for sharing this post, it's great to know other people are being mindful too :) Nikki x

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    1. I'm so glad you shared, Nikki! I totally agree - I don't listen to music either when I walk or go for runs. Thank you so much for sharing your story, it's great to hear other people's opinion on this. x

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    2. Hi Nikki, I use mindfulness to cope with depression, amazing how it works. I too prefer to be quiet after work and enjoy weekday days off on my own, fitting in time outdoors alone or being creative at home. Sometimes I listen to music when walking or gardening, but it doesn't stay on for long. Take care, Lyn x

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  7. I normally always like to listen to music when I run, but actually when I'm forced not to (battery/forgetfulness/rules of a race) I'm surprised how I can whitle away 3 hours.
    I love lying in my bed with my window open listening to the birds - so I guess I've been 'mindful' without even knowing it!

    Great tip about thinking of a word for breathing in and out!

    Beanie

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    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences, Beanie! It totally sounds like you're being mindful without even thinking about it - that's great :)

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  8. Hi Helena, Hi Katie,
    Thanks for the great post. I have been practising mindfulness on and off for 3 years, as a tool for depression. It is great, free of side effects and flexible to use. I also found it a bit of drag fitting in the daily practice once the novelty wore off, but then the familiar CD tracks became comforting instead. I too like to take mindful breaks outdoors. Mindful eating is interesting, eating something as if for the first time. I thought I loved a brand of chocolate muffins sold in a local supermarket. When eaten mindfully I found they did not taste so great and I don't buy them anymore! My waist thanks me for that decision, lol ! Lyn x

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    1. Lyn, thank you so much for sharing your story, and how you practise mindfulness in your daily life. I love hearing about other people's experiences.
      Eating mindfully sounds like such a great idea by the way, I will try this with dinner tonight! :) x

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  9. As a creative person, my mind races from one thing to another and sometimes it's a little bit overwhelming…I started practicing mindfulness a couple of years ago and it really does help - though it is very difficult for me at times! I find that lighting a candle and focusing on the flame really helps me to calm down and focus. It makes me feel calmer and somehow energized at the same time!

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    1. I can definitely relate! Thanks for stopping by Starr and sharing what works for you. I might give the candle a try!

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