I often get asked how I use mindfulness in my own life, so I’ll try to answer that question as best I can.
Do I meditate daily? I try to. I don’t have a fixed time – or a fixed meditation – I use whichever one is appropriate to how I am feeling on that particular day. If I want to start the day feeling mentally strong I will do a meditation which sets an intention. Or if I am feeling stressed for whatever reason during the day, I will take a 3-step breathing space to ground myself. Irritability can be calmed by a 20-minute Body Scan and if I’m very tense then the 30-minute Body Scan will ease tensions in my body that I wasn’t even aware of.
There are two areas of my life in which I have found mindfulness extremely beneficial. The first is in dealing with the constant what-ifs that crop up throughout my day – those two words used to be capable of launching me into all sort of imagined future scenarios. But now, when I catch myself saying those words, I know that I need to ground myself in the reality of a situation and deal with each moment or problem as it unfolds. What if I miss the train? What if I don’t get there in time? We waste so much energy worrying about something that might happen.
The second area is to do with feelings. My daughter is currently studying in the UK and I miss her very much. Often, that feeling can be overwhelming, especially when I open her bedroom door as she’s not there. That used to be enough to make me close it quickly again, but now I have learnt to sit with it, to explore that feeling and instead of thinking of it as something negative I see it as a sign that I care about her. With it comes the excitement of knowing that she will soon be home again. And that fact that I now have two empty bedrooms (my son is now working and living in his own flat) tells me that my children have grown up and that the years are passing and precious moments must be made the most of.
There’s one thing that has surprised me about mindfulness and that is the power of the breath to act as a calming and grounding anchor. It’s effective either as part of a formal meditation or a few deep breaths when situations, thoughts or emotions are overwhelming.
Try it and see!