🙏🏼Year of Living Mindfully: Week 7🙏🏼

EXPLORING FELT SENSATIONS

Being aware of sensations in our body is a major part of mindfulness yet we all seem to be very disconnected from our bodies. This exercise taught me how to simply be curious of any felt sensations without any intention or consequence.

When we feel different emotions we feel different sensations throughout out body. Sensations we feel when we are angry are different to those we feel when we are content and happy. Often we don’t have words to describe these sensations. The book provided some suggestions of sensations in a word cloud which I have attached below.When we experience these feelings and sensations we may have a sense of judgement associated with them. For example when feeling sad you may experience sensations of numbness, confinement, heaviness. This experience may be associated with a judgement of ‘You are weak for feeling sad’. Be aware of the judgement or thought associated with these feelings and sensations.

The main aim of this exercise is to recognise sensations in the body but to also be aware that these sensations are linked to our thoughts and emotions too. This will help build your self awareness. We may be aware of our thoughts, emotions or sensations at first. Whatever triggers your awareness, zone in on that. Remain curious but do not analyse the  experience. Take a step back and observe. Unpack the experience and break it down. Be aware and acknowledge that each experience is made up of many different sensations, thoughts and emotions. This will help you from getting caught up in what is going on.

This is quite hard to do especially in feelings of great pain and anger but the main aim of mindfulness practice is to not analyse the experience but just be aware of it and live in that moment and experience. Practice will enable you to bring this into an automated response.

The book also provided a simple exercise to help guide you:

J X 

🗣How to speak to your inner selves🗣

Voice Dialogue

Recently, I attended a 2 day workshop on Voice Dialogue with Rufus May and Elizabeth Svanholmer in the Wellness Centre in Dublin City University. It was Before attending I didn’t really know what I was getting myself in to. I thought it would just teach us how to speak to client’s voices or teach the client themselves how to hold conversation with them. To my surprise, it taught me a whole lot about myself too. There were also a lot of grounding exercises thrown in and the whole vibe of the workshop was very relaxed and meditative. It taught me how to build my own self-awareness and how to facilitate others to build upon their own. A lot of emotions came about throughout the workshop and with each emotion completely different energies were felt. Personally, it gave me a whole new outlook on mental health and those who come into difficulties and times of distress. I think its an amazing approach and helped me understand myself and others more easily. I know its not an approach for everyone and there are people out there who are very medical and scientific based but if you’re a bit more free spirited and open-minded than those then you’ll love it!

 I wont go into too much detail on this new approach but I’ll give you a  synopsis and then leave some links below that you can click if you want to learn more.

So what is Voice Dialogue?

  • It is a psycho-spiritual approach to consciousness which was founded by Dr Hal Stone and Dr Sidra Stone in 1972.
  • It believes ‘we are not one but many’. It teaches us how to contact, learn about and work with our many selves that make up each of us.These different selves can determine how we see the world, how we interpret different situations, how we cope and how we communicate.
  • Different people we meet along the way will bring out different parts of ourselves either hidden or obvious.
  • The relationships we are part of can be shaped by these selves. This approach helps highlight problems in these relationships and teaches us how to use the problems to gain more control over our lives.
  • It is also believed we are all made up of different energies and different people we encounter can drain us of these energies.
  • Our dreams are trying to communicate and guide us from within. Our dreams teach us a lot about our selves and we can learn great wisdom from them. This approach teaches us how to interpret our dreams in a different way.

So basically the exercise we done was as follows:

  1. We learned about the theory.
  2. We identified our primary selves by mapping them out. I chose DREAMER, PASSION, JOY. These are selves that are prominent in our lives.
  3. We identified our hidden selves. These are selves which have been pushed to the back of our subconscious because people or events have not deemed them acceptable. One of the hidden selves I chose was ANGER. As a child we’re told to refrain from being angry. It’s socially acceptable to hide this part of ourselves.
  4. We then chose one self we wanted to hold dialogue with. We were given a piece of paper and a pen and told to ask this self the following questions: How are you? What do you want for ____? What would ______’s life be like without you there? How does ______relate to you? How long have you been in ____’s life? Would you like anything to change in your relationship with _____? Do you have any advice for ____? Thank you.
  5. Reflect on the answers the self has given.

It was nice to zone in on different parts of ourselves, recognising they’re still there, acknowledging their purpose, and understanding that each part has a meaning and purpose in our lives. It may all sound like a load of hippie crap again, but each approach won’t suit everyone. Each to their own and all that jazz.

I have attached some useful links below if you are interested and want to learn more:

Voice Dialogue International

 

🐠A Year of Living Mindfully: Week 6🐠

Exploring the Beam of Awareness 

Mindfulness is all about paying attention. This attention can take different forms. From as small as an itchy nose to being aware of our breathing and ‘the feet on the floor’ (see Week 5). We notice sounds and smells around us. We feel the breeze against our skin, and we see whatever comes into our vision. Busy lifestyles and buzzing mobile phones have caused us to lose this habit of focusing. Distraction has now become our default way of being. Through meditation we let go of distractions and focus on our attention. This week allows us to experiment with our attention. Attention is described as a beam of light you direct wherever you like. You can widen or tighten the beam depending on what and how much you want to focus on.

Some questions this exercise allows you to ask yourself :

How wide can you spread your attention and still be aware of the sensations of breathing? How focused can you be? What do you notice in either mode?

Operating on ‘Default’

We’ve all experienced a state of ‘auto-pilot’ or ‘default mode’. It demands little energy and allows us to zone out from stressful situations like the crowded lunch room or boring conversations. 

Auto-pilot can be very helpful in completing everyday tasks such as driving to work or getting to work on time when you have missed your alarm. However, functioning on auto-pilot also has its downfalls.

Happiness comes from feeling good about life. Life is filled with experiences. If we are not present or aware during these experiences we miss out on the positive effect they have on us. By zoning out of negative experiences we can also zone out of the positive. These experiences might include the smell of the freshly cut grass, the sound of the birds singing in the trees and so on. Naturally the mind has a bias towards negative experiences. This is a result of evolution and general survival. By zoning out of positive experiences we create a very bleak picture of life. It leads us to zone out of every experience, including feelings, emotions, thoughts, sensations. This can result in feeling empty and dead inside. Not a nice feeling!

Have you ever sat there in a meeting or lecture completely zoned out and when you zone back in you’ve missed a complete topic and have no clue what the person presenting is talking about. Or a friend asks you what you were thinking of and you say ‘Oh nothing’ because you genuinely thought of absolutely nothing and were only there in body. I was always described as a ‘day dreamer’ in school and one who lost attention quickly. Since then I have held my title. My friends would say I have the attention span of a fish and often refer to me as ‘Dory’ from ‘Finding Nemo’. I find it very hard to hold concentration for long periods especially if I have no interest in the story or topic the person is speaking about. My sister would describe this as ‘selfish’ and I would describe her as simply ‘boring’.

Humans operate automatically, therefore when we are on auto-pilot, our emotions are more likely to be hijacked when our buttons are pressed, and we will be in react, rather than response, mode. When we react impulsively we often regret it and wish we had behaved differently. This can then lead to overthinking, regret and rumination. The suffering is never ending!

The opposite of zoning out is called tuning in. We deliberately pay attention to our experience in a non-judgmental way. This is mindfulness. 

You often hear people say they prefer to zone out when they experience unpleasant things as it makes it easier. For example a child might zone out when they hear their parents arguing.  This could also lead to the question of ‘Why would we want to pay attention to negative things?’. The choice is up to you. I often like being aware of a negative experience as I can learn a lot about myself, my reactions, my thoughts, emotions and feelings whilst it happens. It teaches me how I can avoid this in the future or how I can try change my reactions to it. The present moment is the only moment we have any control or influence over. We cannot control the past or future. If you go through each day, month and year without being present or fully aware, are you really living? Or are you simply existing?

Which would you prefer?

J x

👞A Year of Living Mindfully: Week 5 👞

Breathing through the feet on the floor 

Repetition becomes Routine 

The more we do something, the more our brain allows it to become part of our daily routine. This then becomes an unconscious action. This also happens with unhelpful behaviours. We find ourselves completing an action without consciously deciding to do it. 


 Breathing through the feet on the floor is something we can do to help us feel grounded at any given time. It can help us feel at ease when waiting for an appointment or interview for example. But if it becomes part of our routine when we are not anxious then it becomes part of our routine for when we are. The more we practice the easier it becomes. 


 The past week I have tried to do this practice as often as possible. I was quite unwell during the week and had to visit the doctor. In the waiting room I became very anxious as I felt the room was spinning. I used this technique to help reduce my anxiety and control my breathing. I found it really helpful especially because I had vertigo at the time and definitely did not feel my feet were anywhere near the ground. I tried this practice numerous times throughout the week. I was off work on sick leave so I had a lot of time to practice. I reflected instantly on the effect of the action and each time I remember thinking “Wow that actually worked”. 

 I would recommend trying to introduce this practice into your daily routine as much as possible or even just keeping it in mind when you feel anxious or worried about things (which we all do). It’s a handy tool to keep with you in all aspects of life! 
J x 

📚Organisation is KEY📚

“Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail”

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 Mindfulness seems to be about living in the present. BUUTTTT I just love organizing and planning waaaaay too much to constantly live in the moment. I don’t organize in extreme but I do like to have an organizer or diary with me where I write down upcoming appointments, trips planned, bills, budget. It keep’s me focused and help’s me remember. Budgeting is a must for me as I have my wages spent before I even get it. I work 3/4 days per week and do 13 hour days. My days off have to planned efficiently so I can ensure I make appointments, fit in socializing with friends. At the moment I’v got a personal trainer, I’m learning how to drive, doing a Masters part time, working full time and have to try fit in my friends and family in between. If I didn’t organise then I’d get nothing done!

 Organisation is key in the workplace. It help’s you keep on top of things, meet deadlines, ensure quality and give yourself some free time for a cup of coffee. The following are some tips to help keep organised in the workplace. I’ll do future posts on organizing at home and other environments in later posts.

Set yourself goals

Having a plan for the future will help you prioritize your activities and have something to work towards. The whole ‘Where do you see yourself in ten years time?’ question works well for this part. Have short term and long term goals that plan strategically how you will get where you want to go in your career and how you are going to make the next steps towards a promotion, or towards a new role. I’ll explain goal setting in its own seperate post soon.

Write a list

I LOVE LISTS! Whether first thing in the morning, or last thing at night, writing a list of the tasks you need to achieve will help you stay focused, and give you a sense of achievement every time you tick something off.

Limit distractions

If you’re constantly distracted from your work by emails, phone calls or social media, you need to practise concentrating on the task at hand. Try to manage a 45 minute stretch without checking any communication channels, followed by 15 minutes answering emails and phone calls and so on. This is a form of mindfulness.

Banish multi-tasking

Doing two things at once may seem like good time management but in fact, you will do both things less well than if you concentrate on one thing at a time. Quality over quantity.

Prioritise and delegate

We all get bombarded with a lot of information and tasks on a daily basis. Learn to filter out the most important or difficult tasks and tackle them when you are at your most alert. If you can, delegate less important tasks, but don’t micromanage other people’s activities as this will only add to your own workload. I personally find it difficult to delegate tasks at times. I’d be the awkward person who’d ask someone to do a task in a jokey half arsed way or end up doing everything myself instead of asking others. I’m just an awkward f**k really. BUT I’m getting better and I do delegate a lot more nowadays. I suppose it comes with experience and confidence in your workplace.

Be a ruthless filer

When a task lands on your desk, don’t leave it to gather dust. Decide when you are going to do it, and then either do it, file it or bin it according to what needs to be done. Having an organised folder system will help, so ensure every piece of work gets filed in the appropriate place as soon as it’s completed. Personally, clutter makes me anxious, stresses me out. When I clean and organise my workplace or bedroom or even my sitting room, the tension relief is amazing and the inner peace I achieve is just FABULOUS!

 

J x

⛺️How to stay Mindful at Music Festivals ⛺️

 As Electric Picnic approaches, I spend endless hours making lists, packing, re-packing, figuring out how much drink to bring, organising lifts down, finding the most unique bindi out there, checking and re-checking the weather forecast, picking all the acts I wanna see and making more lists. With all the stress and anxiety of preparing for a music festival, it’s important to not let that effect your experience once you’ve arrived. Iv created some tips to help you stay mindful this weekend and to ensure you get the most out of your EP experience! 


Body & Soul 

 This year festival goers can stay as mindful as ever at the Body & Soul area. With beautiful art pieces dotted across the expanse of the Body&Soul realm, a world of imagination has been created by a collaborative of artists from all over the country and overseas including sculptors, painters, carpenters, weavers, welders, dancers and ringmasters, all dreaming under the Body&Soul umbrella to bring you a little piece of their own magic.

The Zen Gardens

 The Zen Gardens located in the Body and Soul area offers hand-picked therapists and stunningly constructed Peace Pagoda. Step into creative workshops, healing journeys and pretty corners where you can sit back, relax and watch the surrounding electric energy as it passes you by.

 Just some of the workshops on offer include AcroYoga, Kum Nye Tibetan Yoga, Hatha Yoga, The Art of Deep Listening, Laughter Yoga, Golden Egg Sound Meditation, Yoga & Pilates to Raise your Vibration and more. Therapies include Sound Healing, Deep Tissue Massage, Shiatsu, Indian Head Massage/Reflexology​ and Chi Energy Treatments. You can book your treatments and workshops here:

http://bodyandsoul2016.appointy.com/

Spa Time

 In the Immerse Spa you can soak in the healing waters of the open-air wood-fired hot tubs with your fab friends or family. The Immerse Spa Experience has been designed to revitalise and heighten the senses, restoring radiance and vitality. 

 If you’re looking for a more personal touch, there are open-air seaweed and epsom salt baths with an unlimited supply of hot water on tap. Freshly harvested by hand on the west coast of Ireland, the seaweeds (FucusSerratus) are naturally detoxifying and leave your skin feeling silky smooth. Epsom salts are an effective treatment for sore and tired festival feet, tension headaches and cramps. Book in advance here: 

http://bodyandsoul2016.appointy.com/

Be in the moment 

 For the most part of music festivals people are usually mindful and living in the moment. You’re not thinking about work next week or a bill you didn’t pay last week. Not everyone has the patience to que to charge their phones so phone use is limited. Unless you have a portable charger of course (I have two😌). Most of my tips in the past 4 weeks of mindfullness will help you stay mindful throughout (see week 1-4 of a year of living mindfully). 

Fail to Prepare,  Prepare to Fail 

 Keep stress and anxiety to a minimum by preparing like a boss! Once you’ve organised everything you need before you go down then you’re prepared for all sorts. Iv created a list of some must haves for heading down: 

  • Wet wipes ( this is your shower and emergency toilet roll. Always bring a small pack in your fanny pack everywhere you go) 
  • Dry shampoo (they have hair salons down there if you wanna be really glam) 
  • Combination lock (trust me you’ll lose the key if not)
  • Glitter and more glitter (cause why not?)
  • Duct tape (it will fix anything) 
  • Trolley (cans are not fun to carry so borrow your Nannys trolley for a few days)
  • A light rain coat (easy to fold into a backpack) 
  • Fanny pack (safer and efficient) 
  • A big warm jacket and other hundreds of layers 
  • Leggings/shorts/ tights (jeans are not fun to walk around in when they’re wet) 
  • Socks, socks and more socks (even if it doesn’t rain your socks will 100% get damp. Over the knee/ knee high socks. Wellies burn is not fun) 
  • Wellies (I also bring my Dr Martens) 
  • Foot powder and spray (foot hygiene is essential at festivals) 
  • Bring any accessoriesthat are weird/ funky (anything you couldn’t wear out on a regular night in town) 
  • Furry Pjamas( you know those really soft ones from Penneys🐻 because you’ll be a bit fragile in the mornings) 
  • A small pillow (you’ll thank me) 
  • Yoga mat for under your sleeping bag (I got an inflatable one in Argos for like €9.99)
  • Camping chair (hide it in your tent when you leave the camp site) 
  • Don’t bring expensive things (there’s always a chance of being robbed so squirt your expensive foundation into a little tub)
  • Warm layers (it may be scorching in the day but I promise you at night it will get nippy) 
  • Munchies (no one wantsto walk 10 minutes for food when hungover. My nanny makes me sandwiches for the weekend😂)
  • Hat, gloves & earmuffs if you have them (sitting on a camp chair at 6am drinking cans and you’ll appreciate them) 
  • Festive friends (be careful who you go with as this can make or break your experience) 
  • Only drive down if you’re confident enough you’ll be able to drive your car home the Monday 🙈
  • Keep water at the camp site (we all know what’s it like to wake up with their mouth like ghandi’s flip flop) 
  • Camp with a gang (easier to find your tent and a lot safer for your belongings. Also it can be way more fun) 
  • Make friends with your neighbours (more than likely those who will rob you will be near your tent and know what drink or whatever you’ll have in it. ALWAYS befriend them)
  • A tent with a groundsheet and two skins (you want to be able to survive a storm)
  • Black bags (lay them under your sleeping bag for heat and use them to keep your wellies in at night cause no one wants dirty wellies in their tent)
  • Mouthwash (nasty morning breath) 
  • Sun cream, sunglasses and plenty of water (no one wants to get sunstroke or sunburn) 
  • Portable charger
  • Cable ties (they can help you tie things to your backpack etc.)
  • Sippy cup (really handy to when you’re lying down and need some alcohol) 
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste obviously 

Read over my previous posts to gather some new skills and tips for making the most of your EP! 

P.s always expect the unexpected at festivals 
J x