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  • Kathryn Hulland

Mindfulness


There is a website www.bemindful.co.uk which is full of useful information about Mindfulness. You can find out about courses in your area by clicking here

There is also a stress test which can be quite interesting - click here

Mindfulness helped me learn how to deal with the things life threw at me, my health was a huge issue and how I dealt with it wasn't helping and in turn I would suffer from stress and depression which only made any health issues last longer. Learning how to live more mindfully has helped me manage my life and enjoy it again even when my health has its "moments". I'm not saying I'm perfect..! I still have days when whilst suffering a fibromyalgia flare-up I feel angry and that I am letting people down because the pain and tiredness results in time off work and cancelling plans but instead of letting these negative feelings grow and control me I am mindful of them, I acknowledge them, deal with them and so before I know it they've drifted off and the positivity has returned.

Mindfulness can come in to play in many different ways these are some of my experiences and what I have found helpful:

Meditation

Mindfulness meditation has been life changing for me, this was the first type of meditation I ever did which then opened me up to the other types I now also do. The body scan meditation was very strange the first time I was introduced to it on my 8 week course, it involves being guided through a meditation, slowing your breathing and then working through every part of your body (and I mean every part including individual toes). It's a great process to go through as you really learn about your body, where the aches and pains truly are; it makes you stop and breath two very important things to do. Initially I found it hard to concentrate on areas of the body where pain was, surely it's better to block it out and ignore it as best I could? Turns out no... I found breathing in to and through the pain, letting the breath expand out around it some how helped lift the pain a bit, it took time and practice but it has helped.

Other mindfulness meditations I enjoy are a sitting one concentrating on breathing in and out slowly and also a walking meditation concentrating on the movement of the body, the step, your balance, shifting your weight and your breath. This is a great one do to walking around with the herd of ponies.

Inevitably when meditating especially when new to it thoughts will enter your head and race around the way to deal with them is to just let them be, acknowledge they are there and let them pass by, imagine the thought just passing through in one ear and out the other - and whatever you do don't beat yourself up for letting them come in during a meditation it's going to happen so simply acknowledge it and move on.

My favourite mindfulness meditations are by Jon Kabat-Zinn who has also written various informative books, you can find out more information about him here. His books and CDs are available on Amazon.

Mindful Touch

This one hit me hard one day when I was a volunteer for a trial of a mindfulness meditation course at the Dartmoor Pony Training Centre. I was there for a day which was a lead up to their 3 day course and I was asked to stroke a mare and feel her, feel how her fur felt on my fingers, take in her presence, her smell everything. I couldn't do it I had to walk away touching her and actually thinking about it had me instantly in tears; it wasn't too long after I'd had to re-home my pony because of my health which I'd struggled to deal with, losing him had sent me in to my biggest depression and although I'd been around some horses and ponies since I'd obviously been on automatic pilot and touching this mare brought so much emotion out of me that I felt I had to walk away. It's a brilliant example of horses being such incredible natural healers. I know the horse was sending her own healing pushing me to acknowledge and release these emotions and it took me to be in the right mindset to feel her and let it happen. Although I walked away I was able to acknowledge those feelings I'd suppressed and as a result deal with them.

Mindfulness Practice

This too was a revelation to me, we were set various tasks as part of my mindfulness course including being mindful when cleaning our teeth, when eating dinner and even washing up. Doing this made me realise just how much we rush through life not really taking in what we are doing. Next time you clean your teeth feel the bristles, taste the toothpaste, feel the movement on your teeth and gums; next time you eat your dinner chew each mouthful lots of times don't rush it savour the flavours, the texture and note how your body reacts to it and swallows; when you wash up take note of the bubbles, the warm feeling on your hands and perhaps the horrid grease from the plates!!

Mindfulness Outside

This includes mindfulness walking but also being mindful of everything that is around you, the smallest details out in nature, breathing it all in and taking note, clearing the mind and just watching and listening. You can focus on one thing like say a spider making its web (I've done this many times sat under the oak tree in the fields behind my house), I get lost watching the spider busying itself noting each tiny leg movement. It could also be walking along, clearing your mind and looking at all that is around you, the little detail on the brickwork of the building you walk past every day but never really looked at, the way the sun shines and glistens causing a sparkling effect on the floor, the different colours and textures on the individual leaves of a tree - there's too many to name but you get the idea look and you will see and as you do this your other thoughts stop, you get drawn in to the tiny details so it's all you're really focused on leaving the stresses behind!

For more information including:

  • What is Mindfulness

  • How mindfulness can help

  • How you can be mindful

  • Formal mindfulness practices

See the NHS website here


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