I love when my work makes a difference to how my busy women clients develop stress management techniques and I really appreciate when I get a glimpse into this transformation.
Recently I heard from a full of life, busy professional woman who has been diagnosed with cancer since we worked together. ‘ The day before treatment I decided that I would go out into the hospital garden every day no matter how bad I was feeling to do my mindfulness….and I’m now having treatment every three weeks to keep me alive I am so thankful for everything I have and every day is a blessing. if it wasn’t for what you taught me Dee ,I would not be as strong as I am today.’
I also got this feedback from another busy woman who started working with me after she crashed and burned, and who is now back on top of her game though in a completely different way:
‘ Doing the mindfulness practice gives me time to create a calm space for myself for a few minutes every day, where I can let the stress and tension of the day go and allow myself to relax and unwind ‘.
This feedback is not about me. I have long realised that my role is only to provide the container, to hold the space for these amazing women who learn in the way that best suits them to move from a place of overwhelm, stress or burnout to self regulation, inner peace and happiness.
A common thread in the two quotes above though, and among many women I have worked with is an initial distaste for meditation or mindfulness….’not for me,… my head explodes when I try to sit still,…. I’m not religious,…..I don’t want spirituality.,.. I’ve lost the capacity to go inwards….I just want to feel better, please don’t ask me to breathe…….I HAVE NO TIME……. Any resonance here for you?
I have a question for you: Where would you put yourself today on the reactive-responsive continuum when dealing with stress, overwork and overwhelm, or just simply in general as an always switched on 21st century human being ?
A lot of us subconsciously enjoy a little (or a lot) of drama in our lives–the old brain REACTIVE response- our cultural cult of ‘over-business’ is a great example of this which many of us can easily relate to. But operating too much ( usually unconsciously) from this old brain response, while sometimes giving us a moment of drama or frizzon, also causes a real buildup of stress and symptoms as we find ourselves slipping towards overwhelm or burnout.
We do not normally realise when we are stuck on this old brain response, when we are relentlessly REACTING to our circumstances, relationships, or events rather than RESPONDING to them.
Mindfulness and Meditation teaches a route to stress management. These practises allow us to notice when we are stuck on this old brain response , so that we learn how to become better observers of our situations. As we strengthen this skill of observing or pausing before acting, we become responsive rather than reactive. This is gold dust if we want to strengthen our wellbeing, and build our resilience so that we not only cope better, but habitually live from our own inner wiser, calmer, happier place.
Observation or ‘pausing’ as I like to call it slows us down enough to give us the power of choice over every situation we encounter–even in emergencies. (First responders and emergency workers of all kinds know this well and train for it.) Think about it–would you want a REACTIVE emergency responder in your emergency, or a RESPONSIVE one?)
You do not need to work with me to find this inner calm. Here are my top three tips for getting started or returning to this nourishing selfcare practice of ‘pausing’ which you can begin to implement yourself from today.
A short, small practice that suits you, a micro step that is too small to fail
– light a candle and look at the fame for a few minutes
– follow an mindfulness, practise guidance that you like ( breath, body,
senses, gratitude, safe place, loving kindness – you choose one.
You do not have to meditate or do whatever your practice is for an hour – one, two or three minutes is enough. The whole trick is to do it regularly- the same time every day or the same three times every day.
One micro step that best suits you , your current situation an your capacity – that is perfect and that is all you need to do.
Commit to a practice you can do
Be aware of the ‘shiny object syndrome ‘.Sure there is always another meditation, app, teacher to try, but you only need one to find your own inner calm, and it does not matter which one. Choose one and stick with it, five out of seven days for six weeks.
Include kindness to yourself
So if you are human you will not suddenly find yourself in a place of unicorns and rainbows. When you intentionally ‘pause’, especially in the beginning your inner chatter may be loud and critical – it’s boring, it doesn’t work, I’m too stupid to learn to self regulate, I can’t switch off my thoughts”….All perfectly normal and no bother at all. The trick is to practice being kind to yourself each time you notice this negative self chatter.
As you begin or rekindle your practice of pausing I invite you to read aloud this wonderful poem which I think aptly describes the important work we do for ourselves, our beloveds, those we serve and in reality the whole cosmos when we gift ourselves these little spaces where we learn to come home to calm.
Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself to this world
so worthy of rescue.
by Martha Postlethwaite
I hope you will also consider joining me and others in this community for this day of pausing ( promise no teaching just lovely gentle practices to support us). Coming together in this way we draw on the strength of others as we also support others. Learn more and book your place here:https://mindfulfacilitation.com/courses/at-home-retreat/
I am so excited to be offering my At Home Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Retreat on Saturday Nov 27th. This is one of my core retreats – a gentle, relaxing, restorative day. I really hope you will consider gifting yourself this time and joining me as we create a space to relax, decompress, and come home to the peace that is inside each one of us. Read more and Book your place here: https://mindfulfacilitation.com/courses/at-home-retreat/
Some of our other Posts
Mindfulness Exercises For The Beginner
Start to learn mindfulness with a course to suit you
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