Are you paying attention? Trying to develop that mindfulness habit…

 

Trying to start, let alone maintain, any new habit isn’t easy. Good habits are tough to develop and bad ones are even harder to break. So with that said I’ve recently begun a Mindfulness and Meditation course to quieten my mind and help me better manage my anxiety.

So what actually is mindfulness? Like many non-concrete things there are many definitions. And just like the practice you may stumble on the one which suits you best. According to Psychology Today, “Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

People who successfully practice mindfulness my have started with courses, developed it from another spiritual practice, read and watched clips about it. But however they came across it they maintain the habit. Daily commitment is important and that is a lot harder than I thought. It sounds ridiculous but it’s been tough to find even ten minutes a day to sit and be still. And it’s been even harder to ask to be left alone for that time. While mindfulness techniques can be applied all through the day the focused meditation seems best done at a regular time. I tried in the mornings but my head was too full of my to do list. I tried at night but just fell asleep! So I’ve settled on late afternoon and now I really look forward to shutting myself away, being silent or using a guided meditation. And I honestly feel so much better for it.

I have a beautiful little book which I keep by my bed. I was given it when I was lucky enough to hear the Dalai Lama speak. It’s rich in wisdom about life, happiness and the benefits of a mindful spiritual practice. “The greater the level of calmness of our mind, the greater our peace of mind, the greater our ability to enjoy a happy and joyful life.” The Dalai Lama’s words are something to aspire to and the beauty of the practice seems to be there is no external judgement. No one is involved but you. There is no right or wrong, now or never, in how you develop your own personal habit. Just the fact you begin to practice is a start.

I’ve attached a few links in case you fancy more information…

http://mindfulnessworksaustralia.com.au/     http://mindfulnesscentre.com/

Technology Time Out

casual-tuesdays

Last week there was a black out in the city where I live. Plunged into darkness as the lights went out across the whole state, families and individuals had to change plans. We had to come up with inventive ways to tackle the problems of no power and ways to entertain ourselves without technology.

Once the terror of having no internet had passed, the world didn’t stop and people didn’t sit round like pumpkins waiting to be picked, on the contrary we found other things to do. Over the next few days there were stories of how families had played games together, how neighbours had rallied around the one house with a gas cooker and shared meals, how people helped strangers and the needy. It did get me thinking about why it takes an event like a power outage to make us do what we really like to do anyway; family, community, sharing.

Perhaps it’s more a question of balance. Technology makes our life easier in so many ways. Once you’ve had access to it you realise know how hard it would be to be without it. I’d wrestle any pickpocket who tried to take my smart phone. But the trick is we can, and maybe we should, put technology aside a little more often. In the blackout a lot of people went back to small pleasures, reading a book by candlelight, playing an instrument, board games with children. The fix it folk rigged up ways to heat and light homes and a lot of people went to bed earlier.

The power came back on, modern life resumed, but it showed how resourceful we can be and the entertainment we can find when we go off the grid for a little while.

 

Get out of that comfort zone.

www.jasonhash.comDaughter 

She’s running on the beach, ahead of me, free.

I can’t run, I’m too old.

I can’t run, I’m too old.

The tide tumbles in, less dry sand paths between the trails of seeping sea.

Less places for lazy, sensible feet to land.

Water leaks into my shoes, cold, unwanted, wet.

I trot faster, tiptoeing, to find a way through.

Ahead of me she waves, beckoning.

A surge of eager water swamps my stubborn stride.

I can’t bear it.

The damp toes, tentative, weak little steps.

This isn’t me.

I start to run. And the sea urges me on with childish splashes of spray.

Feet are no longer quick sanded and weighted down, they’re light.

I run. I’m not too old.

I run. I’m not too old.

She waits for me, and we charge on, together.

©Charlie Archbold

Bravery

dogI’ve been thinking a lot about how bravery looks in my life and in the lives of the people around me. It’s such an empowering word, courageous, fearless, bold, no wonder we see it as such an admirable quality in people. But bravery seems to me to be so much more than that.

Close your eyes for a moment and think of the people in your life who you think of as brave. I bet there are a lot and I bet there are a lot of reasons why. We are lucky to have such inspiring people in our lives; to love, cherish and respect.

Their bravery probably takes many forms, sometimes huge demon slaying daring and sometimes fairy steps to battle smaller ghosts. But no matter what mountain those brave people are scaling they share a common trait. They are approaching challenge or chasing challenge with action and tenacity, they are not quitters.

The personal circumstances life throws at us are often beyond our control, illness, loss, despair, and it is out of these events or tragedies that we see remarkable bravery occur in the people around us. When we think on our friends and family who are dealing with these things we admire their dignity in coping with things they did not want or imagine happening in their lives.

You may have thought of other brave people in your life as the ones who seek out and take on the new and unexpected or those who leave the safe for the unknown. Sometimes the bravery we see in them seems easy but it’s probably not. To do anything outside our comfort zone is hard, which is why most of us don’t do it, and why we recognize the bravery in those that do.

You may have seen bravery in the people you know who challenge the status quo, who follow and act on ideals and values which make our world a better place. Swimming against the tide is hard but the brave people we know who do this have overcome fear to champion their causes.

We can see how the bravery of those we know is replicated on the wider human stage. Charities, laws, health care, social and political voice have all risen from the daily acts of bravery of ordinary people. They are living unexceptional lives but doing exceptional things.

I wonder if you thought about yourself when you were thinking of the brave people in your life? Chances are you are coping with and daily facing something which demands you to be strong. It may be small compared to someone else’s mountain but it still needs you to try, so be kind to yourself if you’re facing your fears.

Bravery has many romantic connotations but we mustn’t romanticize it, most very brave people are not immortalized as heroes and heroines. Often unexpected circumstances are the catalyst and it takes a great deal of strength to venture into the unknown. Bravery is thought and it is action, forced on us or chosen, it is responding to life’s bombshells actively and with self determination.