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Mindfulness – What is it and how can you apply it?

Tropfenspiel in blau und grn

Mindfulness – What is it and how can you apply it?

Mindfulness, it seems to be the buzzword these days, and you may have seen us mention it in some of our blogs. Everyone from Oprah, to some of the world’s top business people to us here at Wavelength, we’re all talking about mindfulness.

So what exactly is it?  How can it help you and more importantly, how can you bring it into your life?

There are many references directly and indirectly to mindfulness throughout the world these days. Perhaps the most obvious association is with Buddhist monks.  But would you believe me if I said you can find reference to it in Groundhog Day with Bill Murray?  If you want to see how mindfulness fits into modern day life, go back and watch that film, then read the book ‘ The Wisdom of Groundhog Day – How to improve your life one day at a time’ by Paul Hannam.  But if you don’t have the time to watch or read either of them, a problem in itself maybe, let me give you a brief rundown.

We live in a busy world.  From the moment we wake up to when we go to bed there are so many things vying for our attention – the kids, our partners, work, the radio, email, social media, people with their blogs – I could go on and on.  And, what’s  worse, we try to cram it all in.  Flitting from here to there.  Listening to this, reading that, trying to remember what we saw this morning, thinking about what we still have to do later.  On the journey to work, we are stuck in our newspaper, (unless we’re driving obviously) doing our notes for work or lost in the music on our earphones. 

 

But what is actually going on around us.  Who are we with?  What might we see if we only looked?

And that’s mindfulness right there.  Being aware of what you are doing now, savouring the now, seeing the now, hearing the now.  Not thinking about what was or will be.

Because the ‘now’ is the only thing we really have control over.  Just think about the Groundhog Day phenomenon.  For those of you who haven’t seen it, Bill Murray plays a narcissistic weather man who thinks about nothing but what will further his life.  He ends up getting stuck in the same day, over and over again, until gradually he comes to realise that what is important are the actual moments of the day and the people in them.  That concentrating on helping others actually brings more to his life than anything else.  Until he is finally mindful of each and every moment in the day rather than looking at the past or the future. This is what finally makes him happy and allows him out of his loop.

So, how can we achieve this?  Obviously we can’t loop the same day over and over again.  But we can start noticing more about what goes on around us.  Start small, don’t suddenly expect to be aware of every second of your day.  Set yourself the challenge of once every hour of stopping, looking around and truly take notice of what is going on.  What colour is the sky?  Who around you may need help? What sounds can you hear around you?  The more you do this, the more of a habit it becomes.  You reprogram the brain to work in a slightly different way and so it becomes a habit and soon is something that happens automatically.

But there is also something else you can do.  And that’s learn how to meditate.  Now there are articles and books written on this subject and you can also  go and take courses.  So I realise I can’t teach you how to do it in a few sentences. But you know,, despite all that is written, there are just a few basic things you need to know about meditating and you can start trying right away.  Firstly, you don’t need to sit crossed legged on the floor.  Just find any position where you feel comfortable and aren’t actually aware of your position.  Secondly, you don’t need to completely empty your thoughts. You just need to be aware of them, see them as separate from you.  So when one arises, instead of flitting from one to  another to another to another, just acknowledge it and let it go.  I tend to imagine it floating away down a river.  Thirdly, you need to know how to breath.  And I guess you can all do this.  Then, just focus on your breathing, notice it moving in and out of your body.  If you get carried away with a thought then go back to noticing your breathing.  With these three simple things and practice you can rapidly become a better meditator.  And the more meditating you do the easier mindfulness during the day becomes.

So why not give it a go.  I promise, you will find life infinitely richer and more enjoyable and be able to relax a lot more easily.   I was going to tell you about the next blog in the series, but then I remembered that I’m supposed to be focusing on the now.  So I won’t….see – I’m learning.

Karl_Wav3

When to Stop Worrying

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 preset

Over the years some of my friends (you know who you are) have gently teased me for my self-help book obsession.  If a problem arises they might make a pointed comment about my ever growing library and ask which author might provide the answer this time.

 

And it’s true.  I love self-help books.  Not always because I feel I need help in any particular area, but I suppose I am looking for a way to be more content with my life, to appreciate what I have and not spend time obsessing or worrying about the future and what it might bring.  To live in the here and now or, using the 21st century buzz term, be mindful.

 

Such reading is also a way of reassuring yourself that you’re not the only person to feel or act the way you do sometimes and that in itself can be a great comfort.  To have your thoughts and feelings validated makes you feel that you’re not being silly, you’re not weird (ok – not that weird) and that, crucially, that you are not alone.

 

The problem I have found though, is that while it can make perfect sense while you’re immersed in the book of choice – especially if you make notes as you go along (what?  That’s not weird – is it?), once you’ve finished it can be really difficult to stick to the ideas you’ve been reading about.  And then one thing leads to another and before you know it you’ve bought another book, or subscribed to another course promising life fulfilment – and so the cycle continues.

 

But now, I truly believe I have found the answer.  And it didn’t come from a book.

 

It came from a mother whose two sons died on the same night. 

 

A woman who has been through the most unthinkable tragedy has honestly taught me what appreciating life is all about.  A woman who told me that she used to spend her life worrying and stressing about everything, the way we all do.  And above all of course, she worried about her boys.

 

But her boys aren’t here now.  So there’s nothing to worry about is there?

 

That sentence has had more of an effect on me than anything I have ever read.  This mother has been through the worst experience I can imagine.  And she is still here.  She is still choosing to live – but she is choosing to live on different terms.  She does not want to be defined by her grief, despite the days when it is still impossibly overwhelming.  She does not want to block out the memories of her sons as little boys who played together, who fought sometimes and who, as they grew up, became very protective of their mum.  She talks about them, celebrates their birthdays and Christmas.   Father’s Day.  Mother’s day.  None of them ignored. 

 

But above all she is living proof that even when the worst happens –  life will go on. 

 

 

This mother has, possibly for the first time, put my whole life in perspective.  I’m sure she would give anything to have the worries and stresses I focus on every day just to spend one more day with her boys.  And while I’m not going to regret the time I have wasted on worrying instead of just doing what needs to be done, I am for the first time truly motivated to live for the here and now.

 

 

 

Karl_Wav3

Listening to your gut……..

Old retro radio with green eye light on table

There was an advert on the television a while ago where a man heard this little voice calling out to him.  It turned out to be his gut who, in a very squeaky little voice, was essentially wanting some attention.

 

In that instance what the gut (shall we call him Gary….) required was a yogurt drink filled with bacteria, but the sentiment behind the advert is actually incredibly poignant.

 

The expression ‘gut feeling’ is one that is widely used.  If you’re facing a dilemma – people might helpfully ask what your gut instinct is.  But sometimes it can be hard to tune in and hear what little Gary is saying.

 

The reasons for that are many and varied – but essentially that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you’re feeling nervous, excited or even happy or sad is governed by your thought process.  If you think it, you feel it.  Try and imagine a time when you have felt really nervous about something, an exam, a dental appointment or having to deal with an issue you’d rather avoid.  Where did you feel it?  It was obviously going round and round your head – but what were the physical sensations related to these thoughts?  Chances are you experienced what we call butterflies, that churned up feeling in your stomach area – related to the fight and flight response we have talked about in previous blogs.

 

And so with all that going on – how can you possibly know what your gut instinct is?  How do actually tune in and work out what is going to be the best possible outcome for you in any given situation?

 

At Wavelength we have developed the TUNE IN method.

 

The first thing you need to allow yourself is Time – set aside a chunk of time where you can truly focus on the issue at hand, know you won’t be disturbed and have the freedom to fully focus on what you need to sort out.

 

Next is Understanding – how can you make a decision about anything if you don’t fully understand the potential consequences of your actions?  Think about what the possible outcomes could be of any direction you take.

 

It is then often helpful to make some Notes.  Sometimes clearing it out of your head and onto paper gives you the mental space to make a clearer decision.

 

You might want to refer back to past Experiences.  If you have faced a similar situation before – how did you handle it?  What would have done differently if you’d had the chance?  What would you do the same?

 

If you’re still struggling, it might be time to Investigate your options.  Who can you turn to who will act as a sounding board?  It might be a trusted non-judgemental friend or a professional like a Coach or counsellor. The important thing they can offer is to stop you overthinking. To help you listen to your gut but not over analyse it. Often this is the best thing a coach can do for you.

 

And finally it’s time for Next.  What is going to be your next step.  By the time you get to this point you will have considered your options in a calmer, more focused manner.

 

 

By deciding to Tune In to your gut feeling, you will be giving yourself a chance to work out what it is that will really work for you in any given situation.  The worst thing you can do when facing any issue, is to let it go round and round your head.  To speculate about what may or may not happen.  Not only does it stop you from truly living your life, it has real physical implications.

 

So next time you’re struggling with a decision, be it big or small, just stop and Tune In to Gary….

 

Karl_Wav3

How our Focus can change our success!

 

purple flower growing on crack street, soft focus, blank text

How our Focus can change our success!

 

Problem centric thought is the problem!  What’s that I hear you ask?  Well, when we have an issue in life we often look at it from the point of view of the problem.  It’s not our fault, it’s just the way our brains are wired.  So it’s natural that we focus on mistakes, the past and barriers we put up in the way of success.   We look at what we don’t have rather that what we have and that’s where we fall down.  We are very good at taking the positive stuff for granted then taking the negatives and turning them into a bigger problem.

And when I say it’s not our fault, it’s because it’s the way our brains used to work.  The primitive part of our brain, the Amygdala, is involved in our flight or fight scenario, remember, we discussed that recently?  When it sees a danger it prepares us physically to handle it.  That was great when we lived thousands of years ago when dangers were real dangers.  Look at those wildlife programs on the television.  When a herd of gazelle is under attack from lions they all respond rapidly, running away from the danger.  However, when the danger is gone, they just settle back down to eating grass – everything is back to normal.

While we have evolved over the years, this primitive response unfortunately hasn’t.  We still respond to perceived dangers but we can’t tell the difference between external and internal dangers.  Even worse, we can’t switch off the fight or flight mechanism.  So, we take the current perceived danger or problem and the brain looks to try and solve it, to close the gap between it and what we want. To do this it starts dragging up similar issues from the past to compare and contrast. Suddenly, we are re-living problems from the past.  So, what started as a perceived danger suddenly can turn into a dragging up of the past and a joining together of lots of problems and if you are not careful you can find yourself spiralling downwards.  Drawn into an emotional quicksand.

So, how can we solve this?  Well, I have two answers for you. First, now that I have told you how it all works, the awareness becomes your friend.  You can’t stop the mind delving for past experiences to compare to, triggering unhappy memories, self critical thoughts.  But, you can stop this wave of thoughts from feeding off itself, dragging up more negative thoughts and going on and on.  Stop the run of destructive emotions that will lead to stress and exhaustion.  Being aware is the first step.  But to move on from awareness we need to cultivate mindfulness.  Our thoughts are not our mind, but it can take time to realise this.  Regular meditation, and we will do a blog on that soon, calms the mind and allows you to become better at seeing this and stepping back from it.  It only takes a few minutes a day to start with.  Build from there and it will get easier.

The second suggestion I have for you is about the way we approach problems.  Instead of having a problem centric thought where we focus on the problem, make sure you focus on solutions.  Think about what you have in your life.  What resources do we already have at our disposal.   Make it a game, turn it around.  When you have a problem based thought, challenge yourself within 60 seconds to come up with solution based thoughts.  Imagine a blackboard, with the problems on the left side, now, place the solutions on the right.  What is the one thing you can do differently that will make the problem better?

Coaching and learning to live with yourself and your life is all about learning how to think differently. If you are currently dealing with a problem, take the 60 second challenge.  You’ll be surprised how a little change in focus can solve a big problem.  Go on, I challenge you………

Karl_Wav3

What gets you behind the sofa…….

Scared kitten hiding at home.

I remember when I was younger, something came on the telly and it would terrify me.  You know the sort of thing, a Dalek, a creepy scene from Ghostbusters…Noel Edmund’s hairstyle.  Now I don’t quite remember diving behind the sofa but there’s not denying that I experienced the feeling of fear.

 

Of course, sometimes it’s important to be frightened.  In a dangerous situation, without fear to drive us, we could end up seriously injured or even die.  However, since we no longer hunt wild animals and live in the bush, fear is not always our friend.

When the brain thinks you are under threat it responds in one of three ways – flight, fight or freeze. This is based on a flood of cortisol and adrenaline flooding through the body.  In the short term or in real danger, this is a good thing.  It prepares the body to respond in a way to escape danger.  But long term, cortisol will damage the body, make you ill and drain you.  This is not a good thing.

Unfortunately, our brain has not quite caught up with modern society, and what it perceives as danger is often not actually dangerous to us in the real physical sense.  This is the basis of the modern problem of stress.  We are called in to see the boss, we have an exam next week, somebody says something negative to us.  All of these things the brain interprets as a danger and so it sets off the fear response.  But really, it’s not actually dangerous.  But what isn’t good is that if we are in an environment that constantly sees things in this way, we will rapidly become stressed due to the constant release of cortisol.

So, what can we do about it? Well, first of all remember that most of the time all we are fearing is fear itself.  Hang on – that would make a great book title….I digress.

What we need to do is think about what it is that is actually happening.  Not what we think is going to happen, not the story we make up in our mind about what is going to happen, just the bare facts that we have.

Next of all, think about the worst thing that could actually happen, how bad is it?  How would you handle it?  What could you do?  And do you know what, it’s very unlikely to be the worst thing, but you are now prepared for it.

So put it out of your mind. You are going to face up to whatever it is. And that’s the important thing. Face up to it, put fear out of your mind and use your rational thought.

Yes, it might be something difficult, a new challenge, a problem to overcome.  But until you know what it is you’re actually dealing with, it is none of those things.  The biggest thing we fear in life is fear, and most of the time it’s not as bad as we think.  Remember those movies we spoke about last time?  Well, this is the time we most definitely don’t want to create a horror movie.

Of course, if it’s the Daleks that’s a completely different story……….

Karl_Wav3

Play it again Sam…

Klawisze pianina

Play it again Sam……

Probably one of the most misquoted lines in cinema history.  Most people will be aware of the famous scenes from Casablanca.  A legend of a movie in my opinion.   But what’s it got to do with coaching I hear you ask?

Well, it’s all about how we make movies in our minds.  We frequently base our life on what has happened to us in the past.  Our experiences, our beliefs our morals, how we were brought up. When something happens to us we create a movie in our mind of what happened.  But the really important thing to remember is that this will be a movie reflecting our perception of what happened.

And that’s not the only time we create movies.  When we think about the future we create movies about what we think will happen.  When we hear somebody say something or when we see someone  do something we create a movie about what they we will do and what we will do in response.  But we ‘create’ it… it’s all in our mind.

Now, I love the cinema and have seen some amazing movies and some total trash, but fundamentally they are all the product of  someone’s imagination.  Even those based on a true story are created from imagination, from someone’s perception of what has happened. And that’s exactly what we are doing.  Taking some information and turning it into a movie of what we think has happened or will happen.  There are two important lessons to take from this.

If it’s a movie from the past it may not be relevant to what we are doing now.  What worked for us in the past may not work for what we are doing now.  Even worse, what we’ve done in the past may not have worked but because of our movie we will do the same again!  And you know what they say, if you keep doing what you’ve always done you keeping getting the same results.  So, you can look at the movie you’ve made, but don’t take it as the whole truth.  Take what you need from it but then reflect on what you know now as well.

And what about movies about the future?  Well despite coaching for sometime now I still fall foul of this one.  Essentially it is human nature.  Someone will say or do something and I will take it and create a whole blockbuster.   Turning one or two words spoken in a moment,  into  a trilogy of how my life will turn out.  How do I deal with it?  Well, the most important tool is just to be aware of it.  To know that I am making it up, creating, directing and producing my own movie.  But that’s all it is, a creation in my mind.  Accept this and realise it’s not true.  We have no idea what will happen to us in the next minute, never mind hour, week , month or year.  Recognise this and tell yourself it’s just a movie.  Not true.  A construct.  That’s the start of helping you understand.

So, the next time you turn into Steven Spielberg, creating a movie about yourself and your life…. remember that you may win an Oscar for it, but it’s not your real life.  Enjoy your life now, prepare for the future, but never believe you can predict it.  Because just like Sam, you can play it again and again………..

Karl_Wav3

You Can’t Always Get What You Want…….

Enjoy every moment and Enjoy your life quote. Text, key and old books

……..but if you try sometimes, well you just might find – you get what you need.  Thank you to Mick Jagger and friends for providing us with this week’s thought.  However, if I had been a member of the band I might have tweaked the lyric slightly to read:

 

 “you think you know what you want, then you get it and sometimes it doesn’t live up to expectations and then you feel really disappointed and let down and then after a while you look back and think – oh that happened for a reason and it pretty much turned out ok.  It might have been even better if I’d had some coaching or NLP to get me through it….”

 

I mean it might not fit the tune quite as well, but is inherently more accurate I feel.  You can be coasting along quite happily when suddenly you’re confronted with an event that stops you in your tracks, makes you question everything you know and leaves you worrying about what the future has in store.  Or you can have your heart set on something, a new relationship, baby, home or whatever…..only to get it and feel it’s just not how you thought it would be.

 

It might not make it any easier, but the truth is the vast majority of people will go through phases like this in their lives.  It can be very difficult when you’re in the middle of such a phase to see the positive side, and maybe this is where coaching or NLP might be useful.  Sometimes changing your perspective and challenging your actions can help.  Sometimes you just need someone to give you permission to feel the way you feel.

 

I found myself in this position after I had my first baby.  For years I had imagined what it would be like to have a tiny human.  I had been entirely convinced by the promise of bonding from the moment of birth and the images of new mothers smiling beatifically at their offspring.  So it came as a monumental to shock to realise that instead of that rush of love I was supposed to feel after I’d had the baby, I felt nothing.  Literally nothing.  And as far as births go, it was pretty good – but still nothing.  I waited and waited for that feeling and it didn’t come, not after an hour, a day, a week or even a month.

 

But not wanting to expose myself as the worst mother the world has ever known because she wasn’t capable of achieving that basic instinct, I said nothing.  To anyone.  Because to acknowledge it would have been to reveal my true fear, that as a mother I had failed.  Until one day, a few months down the line, I confided in my health visitor that I felt I was acting at being a mother.  That I had believed I would feel entirely different than I did.  And instead of looking at me with disgust and calling social services, she just said that was absolutely ok.  In her experience that was what the vast majority of people did.

 

We spend so much of our time imaging how things are going be, forecasting the future and planning our conversations that sometimes we forget to just be.  To just accept what is happening and just go with it.  Feel how you feel.  It’s ok.

 

And when life throws you a curveball – be it good or bad – sometimes the best thing you can do is remember that.  Try and stop projecting how things might turn out, focus on what needs to be done, seek support if you need it and just feel how you feel.

 

Basically what I’m trying to say is that life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.  I came up with that line all by myself.  Honest.

Karl_Wav3

Paper Burns at 451F not 450F

Burn book on the sea coast

Paper burns at 451⁰F not 450⁰F!

 

What on earth am I on about in this week’s blog? Paper burning? How does that relate to life coaching and finding our way forward? Well, it’s not so much the burning of the paper that I’m referring to, it’s more the temperature. If you want to set a piece of paper on fire, you need to heat it up to 451⁰F, Not 440, not 450, 451. Imagine then that you had a very important reason to set some paper on fire (probably something we can’t go into here J ), and you worked hard to stoke up the fire but only got to 450. You then gave it up as a bad job, you’ve failed. All the time not realising you only needed to go that 1 degree more and you were there! How frustrated would you be if you found that out afterwards!

How many times in life do we give up and not make that last little effort? We stop thinking we’ve failed not knowing how little extra it takes to get our problem solved, our goal reached. Olympic champions are the ones who know they have to put in that extra mile, that extra hour, that extra push. Only by doing this will they ignite their drive and reach their goal. We may not be Olympic champions, but we are all striving for something and we can all give up too easily.

Often giving up on something is in our head rather than our ability. As a practitioner of yoga, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been able to push my body that little bit further, quite safely, just by my mind being in the right place. So, it is important, when striving for what we want, not to give up easily. Tell your mind you just want that extra degree because that may be all you need.

Can you tell your mind that you want that little bit more? Have you thrown your whole soul, your whole life force into what you’re doing? Could you reach your goals and achieve more if you gave just one degree more? Let’s remember that the difference between good and great is immeasurably small.

A short one this week, but I believe an important one. We can all achieve the great things we want to achieve so get out there and stoke up the fires for that extra degree……..

Karl_Wav3

Making that Goal Happen!

Successful couple of young athletes raising arms to golden summer sunset sky after training. Fitness man and woman with arms up celebrating sport goals after exercising in countryside field.

Making that goal happen.

 

So, a couple of weeks ago we spoke about how goal orientated we humans are and how to go about setting your goals.  We found out  how important it is to write down your goals as we are eight times more likely to achieve things if we write them down.  Well, this week let’s look at achieving those goals now that you have set them down.

The first thing to do is to look at what you’ve written down.  Have you got SMART goals?  No, I don’t mean are they clever in that sense of the word.  SMART is one of those acronyms we all love to hate, but it does help us to remember stuff.  What does it stand for then I can hear you saying?  Well, it’s pretty simple really, and if you set your goals according to this you’re another step on the way to making them happen.

Specific – Try to be as specific as possible with your goals.  But remember the subconscious needs some leeway to allow for changes on the way.  Identify what you want to accomplish and what you require to achieve it.

Measureable – If we can see success happening we are more motivated and more likely to continue.  The best way to achieve this is to set a goal which allows us to measure our success along the way, preferably with lots of small successes to celebrate

Attainable  – Set doable steps.  Ensure you have the correct self image and belief to achieve the goal.  Set these first. Look at your attitudes, abilities and skills.  What do you need to improve to reach the next step?  How will you create the financial environment if necessary?

Realistic – It must be an achievable goal that you are willing to and able to work towards.  Aim high and challenge yourself.  Have belief in yourself and mission. Exceed your reach but not your grasp.

Tangible/Time  –  Make sure you can experience the goal with all your senses when you visualise it.  Make the vision Vivid.  Specifiy and visualise clear action steps.  It should have a set time/deadline.

So you have your goal written down and you’ve made sure it’s SMART.   Now for the tricky bit – getting started.   How many times have you decided to change something and then just put it off.  Probably because there always seems to be something else to do.  Or Facebook to check out, an email to read, anything but get started.

So how do you get round this? The simplest and the best is just to get started, on anything, even the smallest change or task.  Because once you make a start on one bit of it you’ll be surprised to find out how well it can all start flowing.  Want to write a novel?  Sit down with the typewriter, computer, old fashioned pen and paper and just start.  Doesn’t matter what you write first, just go.  Be prepared to change and not be perfect initially – it doesn’t matter.  And here’s the next tip, don’t expect perfection or all your dreams or things to go right straight away.  They rarely will.  But if you accept that, and don’t see anything as failure but accept it as feedback towards the next step, it suddenly becomes even easier!  Set yourself deadlines or timetables.  People tend to like working  to some sort of structure, so give your goal a structure.  Make it your structure and fit it into your week.

Finally, chunk it all down.  Our brain can sometimes find it difficult to face up to a big goal.  Great if you’ve set where you want to be and what to do, but sometimes setting off to do that can be a bit daunting – where do you actually start.  The best place to start is to take that goal and work out exactly what you need to do to achieve it.  Then break down those parts into smaller parts.  Do this as many times as you need to, until you have loads of small achievable goals sitting in front of you.  Things that are  easy to do, not insurmountable tasks.  And even better, when you do it in small steps which  are measureable, you can congratulate yourself on each one you’ve completed.  Suddenly you are achieving and all your achievements are leading somewhere – to your big goal.  Imagine how motivating that is, how much easier it becomes to reach your ultimate goal.  You can enjoy the process and your progress.

So, hopefully you now know how to set your goals and get started on them.  Yes, there is a little work to be done, but you know how to do it now.  Do the thinking and the planning. Write it all down. Make that timetable.  Be accountable, even better, find an accountability partner!

Well, what are you waiting for?  You’ve got your first goal already! Work out what is it you really want to do – your true goal, and do the planning.  Your future awaits……..

Karl_Wav3

Raisin Moments…..

raisins

The buzzword nowadays seems to be mindfulness. We are encouraged to live life in the present moment, appreciate what we have right now and not worry about the past or future.

Simple.

But for many people it is a concept which, while seemingly straightforward and sensible, is actually incredibly difficult to put into practice. I should confess right now that I am one of those people.

There just always seems to be so much going. I sit and try and appreciate the here and now – but maybe I’d appreciate it better if I vacumned first. Ok. Try again. Just appreciate the here and…..toddler scribbling on wall with permanent marker….eldest son needs football socks immediately…..middle son is hungry…the phone is ringing. Well, you get the idea.

So I had decided to give up on mindfulness. To smile and nod at the people who claim it has radically changed their lives while being very mindful not to stick my fingers in my ears shouting “la la la”.

Then I had a chat with my sister about aforesaid mentioned mindfulness. “Oh you mean raisin moments”. I’m sorry what? And she went on to explain that, for her, they are the tiny snatches of time when you look around and just appreciate what you have right here, right now. So, for example as I type this I have the wonder of technology, a warm house, a lovely cup of tea and cbeebies. (the latter not for me you understand.)

And I realised that while in the past I had been forcing myself to sit down and concentrate on the present moment, I was actually missing what was in the present moment. You don’t need to set aside 30 minutes to do it, you literally just need a few seconds, I had been stressing myself out by worrying I was doing it wrong. But in reality – there can be no wrong. Because mindfulness is different for everybody. My raisin moments are likely to be completely different to yours. In
fact, you might not even like raisins – yours might be peanuts or skittles.

It can even work at those times when you you feel you should be doing something but can’t.

Take sleeping as an example. How many times have you woken in the middle of the night for no reason, you’re exhausted and every second ticking away is like having the worst comedian in the world cackling about how awful you’re going to feel tomorrow especially when you have so
much to do? Find the raisin in that. Well the very thing happened to me the other night. And instead of my usual pillow throwing, duvet grabbing sulk – I decided to heed my sister’s words of wisdom and appreciate what I had right at that moment, a warm bed, sleeping children (that was a moment of true amazement), the ability to get up if I wanted to…..and I can’t remember the rest because I feel asleep. Instead of sleepless hours focusing on what was wrong with the situation, I focused on what was right.

Take a moment to find a raisin moment right now. You might start off with just one or two raisins – but before you know it you can build up quite a collection. A whole bag you might say.

And you know, when I think about it, that wall scribbling in permanent marker care of my three year old
looks remarkably like a raisin….

Karl_Wav3
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