Mindfulness Moments 001

Up at Strzelecki Lookout, above the sea, autumn breeze freshening off the Pacific Ocean, sitting in stillness with the wind eroding the thoughts from my mind.  

Enjoyed sharing some beautiful moments with this guided introduction to mindfulness this morning, hope you like it….

As you come into stillness, we are starting this mindfulness experience with the understanding that we have the power to control our mind.

We take a nice deep in breath, noting the quality of our breath. And we exhale, taking a little longer to exhale, so that it fully empty our chest.

Take another in breath and explore the opening of your chest, and letting the exhale release a little slower.

Now we will scan our body gently, like rubbing our hands together under running water.

We sense our brow – the space between our eyes, and we bring our attention there, to allow the naturalness there to float and soften so that we relax. And as that space loosens and opens, we drift down to our shoulders, and we sense if they are tight or lifted and we make space so that the shoulders are alert but not alarmed, focus but not frightened.

It’s simple – when your mind drifts away – just notice it, and gently bring it back to centre. To the sensation of your breath, your skin, the air, the sounds around us.

We have the power to control our mind, as we touched on before. And it’s is demonstrated when we can choose how we respond.

As Victor Frankl said – Between the stimulus and the response there is a space and in that space is your power and your freedom

Between the stimulus and your response – that space. That is where we are going in this mindfulness moment today.

Can you bring your attention to that in this mindfulness experience? Sense a softening – a letting go – but also a sense of awareness and focus on what it is like to be here now.

See if you can experience the sensations without putting them into words – just sense them. What does it feel like. No words, just feeling and sensing.

And lengthening the in breath, and slowly releasing the out breath.

It’s like we set our awareness up and then just let it rest there, without judgement or comparison, without needing anything other than our awareness of the moment. The sensations, the thoughts, the sheer physicality of being here in the moment.

It’s about noticing when our mind drifts away in a thought and gently, with deep understanding and self love, gently, bringing it back to center. To the breath.

It's simple - when your mind drifts away - just notice it, and gently bring it back to centre. Click To Tweet

Once more – between stimulus and response – that space. Let’s linger there right now and explore that juiciness for ourselves. It’s about being simply present in the moment. Letting your awareness be here, and staying here.

As we do, we sit in stillness and at some point you’ll hear the bell ringing.

Solace of Stillness

Many people I meet say something like “I probably should move onto something new, but why should I?” It’s said in different ways, with different aspects of life, but essentially it’s the same sort of idea.

Eventually we all reach a level of competence in one area and it actually a becomes a comfort zone. So why would anyone volunteer to leave a comfort zone and start over from scratch?

It’s as if only people who have suffered tragedy or personal challenge or live circumstance that forces them to change have to go through the process. Otherwise, leave me alone, I’m sticking with what I know.

It makes a whole lot of sense on one level – why risk going through the stages of learning, discovery, trial and error, re-setting your course, maybe changing focus – and then doing all this with no guarantee of anything at the end?

It can seem like it is actually just a big mistake – or a type of mid life rebellion that will only bring struggle and uncertainty.

But, on the other hand, it can be like opening a new door into a new life. Like actually venturing in and seeing for yourself if the grass is actually greener, and how amazingly light and giddy with excitement and newness it might be.

My personal experience with stepping off my nine-to-five train has been filled with freedom and discovery. But also the quiet patience learned from being comfortable with less, and the humble acceptance of an indeterminate status along with a sense of not quite knowing when I will finally arrive.

During this journey I have gone from spending my spare time wandering around electrical appliance stores, looking for the next purchase – to walking with small groups along the beach or through the rainforest sharing mindfulness.

I’ve gone from depending on crowds and things and events to keep me distracted from myself – to actually thriving on the solace of stillness and the composure of calm.

“I cannot see or hear but I find hundreds of things to interest me,” she said. She loved to feel the smooth skin of a silver birch tree or the rough shaggy bark of a pine. “If I’m lucky,” she said, “I can put my hand on a small tree and feel it quiver as a bird sings in its branches.” Helen Keller

I can put my hand on a small tree and feel it quiver as a bird sings in its branches. Helen Keller Click To Tweet

It’s a journey into self acceptance and that gentle space where I can reflect that nothing I do to the external world can truly shape my internal world like mindfulness and the quiet breathwork of meditation.

And that’s where I’m inviting you to come along for an experience of mindfulness. You can join me walking around the scenic spots of Newcastle, mornings and afternoons, sunrise and twilight, by going to MindBodyCalm.com.au

We are constantly evolving the schedule to suit the needs of our wellness walkers, as well as seasonal conditions, so be sure to check what’s happening on our Facebook page at https://facebook.com/mindbodycalm

Self Defence for your Soul

Bright shiny objects.  The latest trend.  Following click bait.  Chasing butterflies.  I was trained to be never fully satisfied and always seeking more, as though the final, definite answer was just a click or event away.  But it wasn’t – all along it was right here within me.  And that’s why I call mindfulness a form of mental self defence.

Wandering mind syndrome is the worst.  It’s where you flit from one thing to another, meeting everything at the level of appearance, running your fingers across the surface, never quite connecting with the who or the why.   I was trained to be like this from a young age – by a cartel of corporate juggernauts eager to for me to join the unthinking army of mindless consumers.

It ended for me, one day, when I collapsed, bulging with fat from over eating, sallow and pale from over drinking, and sticky with sweat on the debt treadmill.  I was broken.  I felt like the last Roman Senator, slumped over the feast table, pawing at crumbs.

Coming to mindfulness has meant I am focused and connected to the present.  My previous life of daydreaming, ruminating, drifting and being lost in idle thought – is over, and now I savour the stillness and basic integrity of the here, the now and the authentically mundane.

My wandering mind is something I do not control, or judge or compare.  It is just something.  I can watch with genuine curiosity as I realise my mind has wandered -skipped of on some tangent and rumbling headlong into a past episode or fantasizing about the future.  And gently, with a measure of self acceptance and self compassion that I am only just beginning to polish, I can bring my attention back to just sitting and observing.

It’s a practice and a routine and something that doesn’t come effortlessly or get dramatically easier.  But it’s not meant to – and I don’t expect it to.  Being mindful, and bringing my focus back to center over and again is the practice.

bringing my focus back to center over and again is the practice. Click To Tweet

In real life, away from when I am sitting in mindfulness, I notice how much I have grown.  It might be just a subtle inflection, a momentary withdrawal, or deflecting myself away from the heat of unnecessary conflict.  But it is there.  I can walk through a room and feel the heat rise in my cheeks – thinking what will they think – and now it is so much easier to wave it away and assure myself – it doesn’t matter what they think.

Mindfulness is my mental self defence.  A living, breathing, organic part of me that supports me when I falter.  And lends me a clarity and calm composure.  No longer at the whim of my wandering mind syndrome,  I feel grounded with mindfulness.

Getting Affirmations to Work

I have been listening to affirmations more than usual these past few weeks.  A hushed voice, repeating in a stern tone, I am – like a tall tree with thick and strong roots, connecting deep into mother earth, My potential to succeed is limitless – and so on. Some of the versions have a tribal drum keeping a heartbeat pace underneath the voice.  Or an omm, or sounds from deep space.  It’s a powerful focal point to have vying for my attention, and I have to admit that it is really seeping into me.

Affirmations work on the premise that, over time, our natural tendency to be uplifted and joyous is becomes eroded.  Eroded by being jostled about by the negativity and noise of our day to day environment – hearing about traffic on the radio, listening to others complaining, being coerced into dreaded ‘meetings’ – things like that rub against our essentially positive and good nature so that over time we can become jaded and dull with indifference.

“This is a new day, I am a new me, I am completely responsible for my new day.”

The idea is to see ourselves as bright shiny diamonds that, through the course of the day or week, becomes chipped and clouded through our environment.  It’s part of our life journey that we feel obliged to return over and again to the fray – to go to work, to navigate relationships, to confront the present with the shadow of our past always just behind us.

I note that my low times are in the mid afternoon – around 3pm – 5pm – when I have a natural lag and my good nature dips and I can be vulnerable to being impatient, overly judgmental and intolerant.  Another vulnerable time is in the middle of the night if I can’t sleep – the combination of tiredness, being alone and darkness can lead me inward to not so helpful places.  These times I rely on the scaffolding of affirmations to help me climb out of the depths.

“I am the creator of my experience – I am inspired to do whatever it takes.”

But this does not mean I jump up and listen to affirmations – as this is the crucial part I was getting wrong for so long.  Affirmations are not installed when you are at the crisis point, in need of making a switch in mindset.  No, it is simply not effective – it just doesn’t help me to hear “I am the master of my destiny” when I am lying awake at 3am ruminating on a past failure.

Instead, affirmations are best installed when you are in an abundant flow – when you are in a positive, light and even ecstatic mood – so that the words enter into you subconscious with the same energy vibrating through your body.  Then, when you nest encounter you darkness, you will have a ready supply of helpful phrases to reflect upon to help steer you out of the morass.  It works – it really does.  I used it yesterday running up a hill – “I am alive and I am strong” as well as this morning when I opened an email and got ‘rejected’ – “I am worthy and I am being led in the right direction” 

affirmations are best installed when you are in an abundant flow Click To Tweet

A particularly helpful insight was the understanding that things will not unfold for me until I am ready – there are no short cuts – there are no easy ways to cut to the front of the line.

Next time you want some inspiration for affirmations – perhaps try one of my favourites –