⭕️A Year of Living Mindfully: Week 14⭕️

MOVING OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

As we get older and morph into old grannies we develop habits and routines. We can tend to do the same thing day in day out. We’ve conquered our own particular way of doing something and continue to do it that way because “we’ve always done it like that”. It is easier to stick to what we know, what we are used to. Change can petrify people. The unknown can petrify people. The brain uses less energy when it sticks to a routine. It becomes lazy. By staying within its comfort zone it means few less unpleasant surprises. However, when things do not go according to plan we can experience great amounts of unhappiness.

How do we prepare for the unexpected?

Building up resilience! Deliberately get out of your comfort zone and prepare yourself for the unexpected. Allow yourself to become more adaptable to change. Build up your tolerance levels by practising small inconsequential things.

This exercise asked me to make a list of things I always do the same way:

  1. I always have a coffee first thing in the morning.
  2. I always check the train and bus times a million times before it is due.
  3. I always check all social media apps before I go to sleep and when I wake up.
  4. I always sleep on my stomach.

Then I had to choose one thing to do differently each day. I chose not to have my morning coffee first thing when I woke up. I approached it with a ‘beginners mind’ and allowed myself to be ‘curious’ throughout the experiment. These are two very important attitudes to attain to improve your mindfulness practice. We spoke about these in more detail in ‘Week 3: Cultivating the Attitudes’.

Personal reflection

What did you notice that arising before?

Thoughts: I am going to fall asleep on the train to work. I will not be able to function. I can just imagine how irritable I am going to be.

Emotions: I feel tired already. Irritable.

Felt sensations in the body: Heaviness in my chest.

What did you notice arising during?

Thoughts: Ok, I’m still awake. I can make it to work. Its not the end of the world.

Emotions: I feel tired. I feel anxious. I feel asleep (is that even an emotion?).

Felt sensations in the body: Headache

What did you notice arising after?

Thoughts: I didn’t fall asleep. It wasn’t actually that bad. I completely over-rely on coffee. I need to change my morning habit to something less addictive. Maybe I can get my caffeine buzz from a healthier green tea? I think I still need coffee though? I am an addict.

Emotions: I feel tired and sleepy. I miss coffee. I feel sad.

Felt sensations in the body: My body is a bit drained.

The book recommends using your breath to keep you anchored during this exercise. I thought I would be a bit of a drama queen if I started to do deep breathing exercises because I missed my coffee. BUT I DID. I ❤ COFFEE. OK, so my experiment was not extremely ‘out of my comfort zone’ but it did bring up some nasty feelings and made me become more aware of my over reliance on coffee. Am I addicted to coffee or am I addicted to the routine? I was certainly out of my comfort zone sitting on that train, day dreaming about coffee beans. I felt anxious and uneasy. Usually I am quite content on the train to work. My poor brain is usually slowly sipping my coffee mug day dreaming about nothing. But there it was on overdrive having unnecessary nightmares about coffee. Maybe next time I’ll do something a bit more spontaneous like walk to work instead of getting the train? Confuse my little brain up completely.

 

 

J x

 

👂🏼A Year of Living Mindfully: Week 10👂🏼


LISTENING MINDFULLY 

We listen to respond rather than listen to understand.

When we communicate with others, a large part of our time is spent in our heads, rehearsing what we want to say, rather than paying attention to what is actually being said. We often miss important information and only concentrate on what we are going to reply. A big part of good communication is listening. Sometimes when someone is telling a story, they just want to be listened to. Personally, I can feel under pressure sometimes to reply or respond when someone is speaking. Over the years I have learned that being comfortable in silence and just listening can be just as effective. Our minds often drift away when we are listening to long stories. This weeks exercise gave pointers of how to be present whilst listening. 

  • Stay present. When you find your mind wandering off, bring it back to the present, just like in meditation. 
  • Let the speaker finish before you speak. Don’t interrupt. 
  • Listening is much more than just hearing words with your ears. Be mindful of the speakers body language and facial cues, their tone of voice.
  • If you become aware of yourself rehearsing what to say next. Acknowledge this and stop it. Let it go. 
  • You may get an urge to fix or make things better when listening to someone’s problems or stories. You don’t have to give the person advice. Most of the time they just simply want a listening ear. 
  • Notice if there is a ‘me too’. I always do this. I used to think it was kind to emphasise and let the other person know they weren’t alone because it had happened me too. Sometimes it can be helpful. But sometimes you are just waiting to jump into the conversation instead of listening. 

Listening VS Hearing 

Listening is intentional and active. As opposed to hearing, which is the passive receiving of sound vibrations passing through the ear. We can choose to listen- or not. 

 As you become more aware of mindful listening, try widening your awareness to include experiences happening within the body. Notice any felt sensations happening when you are hearing. You may feel a sense of calmness and relaxation when listening to someone speak. Or you may feel your face frown and your belly contract. What emotions come about when you are hearing. A story someone tells you might make you angry or sad. Notice these emotions. The book advises to view these emotions as a passing state: “anger is here” rather than “i am angry”. 

 When we listen mindfully we are able to view the person speaking as a whole. Delve deeper into the history underlying the words that are being spoken. You might notice pain in the persons story and can response empathically. 

 This isn’t an easy practice. I’m known for jumping into conversations and being uneasy until I can jump in again. I find it hard to remain silent and can easily drift off into a day dream if a story is long and boring. The main thing to remember was is, it may sound long and boring to you but it is important to the speaker and they are you telling you it for a reason. Listen to the reason behind the story. Be gentle with yourself when you forget this practice and interrupt the person speaking. It takes time. Be aware of yourself doing this. The more you acknowledge it, the more chance of it becoming a reactive response. 

How do you feel when someone actively listens to you? 

How do you feel when someone interrupts you?