Mindfulness is very ‘in’ these days isn’t it? Mindfulness is the art of paying attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them – without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. Totally didn’t Google that. All I knew was that well, it was a bit spiritual.
And even though I didn’t know what it was, it does feel like it’s something I’ve naturally been leaning towards lately. Trying to live more intuitively. Learning to listen to what my body, heart, mind and soul need, and doing my best to give them what they need at any given time. Take earlier this week for example. I had a personal training session booked in for the afternoon and a new dance class booked in for the evening. Instead, I had a lovely Nana nap at 2pm and a chocolate orange for tea.
Now I’m not saying that was the smartest decision … the chocolate I mean, but some days, you just don’t feel it, and there’s no point making myself exercise and eat healthily if I can’t muster up enough energy to even do the washing up. So, I took it easy. I did some yoga stretches I got from my new yoga book, on my new fancy yoga mat, kindly given to me, along with a box of other mindfulness-related goodies, from Jet2.com and Jet2Holidays.com, and I just took it easy.
Mindfulness sounds complicated, but in my mind (geddit?), it’s not. Here are 3 ways in which I try to practice (my version) of mindfulness:
1. DEEP STRETCHING – YOGA/PILATES
I’ve started to take some time in the morning to do some lovely deep stretches to try and gently wake up my body. Apart from this week because I’m officially 47 and I’ve had a bad back all week. But the principle remains. It forces me to focus on connecting with my body, if that makes sense, namely because there’s no denying I’m approaching 50 and everything generally aches all the time. Like ALL THE TIME. I also go to Pilates once a week because it’s an hour where I can just calm down my body after a lot of weight training and concentrate on my breathing and I find it very good for my soul.
My budget doesn’t stretch to travelling far at the moment but I think I’ve mentioned before, IT’S MY BIRTHDAY MONTH (as opposed to just having one day) and so I’ve travelled to the beach a couple of times – Brighton and Whitstable, two of my very happy places. The sea air re-energises me and I just find the beach so peaceful, strangely, even when it’s full of tourists. But my top tip is to go mid-week if you can, like I did. (You can read about my trip to Brighton HERE.) I can only imagine how much better ever trip would be with a bit of sunshine thrown in, so fingers crossed I can go abroad next year.
My friend Zoe was over in the UK from Australia and she, myself and another friend, Clare, spent a lot of time together this month. I’ve also made an effort to not just talk to my best friend on the phone, but to actually go round and see her. She only lives in the next town but it’s just so easy to Whatsapp each other isn’t it, that I got out of the habit of seeing her, and it just feels important to me to nurture my friendships, all of them. Besides, there’s nothing better than just chatting shit over a cup of tea or, even better, a cold beer in a beer garden. Connecting personally on that level is so much better than over the phone and I always come away with my spirits lifted … knowing that I have these great women in my life is such a wonderful feeling. I feel part of something you know?
One bit of advice I can give you, apart from the above, is to try and pay more attention to the mundane tasks in life. When you’re brushing your teeth or taking a shower, even when you’re eating your lunch, take time to appreciate the sights, smells, tastes and feelings of what you’re doing, because at the end of the day, mindfulness is just about connecting with yourself and the world around you. I think I’m feeling this way because I’m halfway through my life and I’m aware of how precious life is, and I just want, and need, to ensure that the second half of my life is as happy as it can be.
I’d love to hear about how you relax and connect with yourself, or do you find that life is just way too busy?