John Kabat-Zin in the late 70's developed mindfulness based cognitive therapy. His principles for mindfulness included 'conscious choice', 'remaining in the present moment', 'acceptance' and 'nourishing activities'.
We tend to fall into what Kabat-Zin calls the 'doing mode' this means we are constantly striving to get somewhere, achieve and sometimes it is more helpful to be in the 'being mode'. We can look around us and see the constant hustle and bustle for what it is and by changing our perspective in this manner we are altering our experience. To quote from Kabat-Zin
'mindfulness awareness or mindfulness spontaneously arises out of this being mode when we learnt to pay attention on purpose in the present moment, without judgement, to things as they actually are'.
We are often worrying about what has happened in the past and what is going to happen in the future. So in using the 'being mode' we are starting to see the world as it is rather than how our fears predict it or how our expectations shape it in our mind. We can stop for a moment and change perspective rather than getting into an autopilot way of rushing through life from one thing to the next. We can change how we think - patterns of negative thinking are often based on old, repetitive routines that we have got into. Often it is us trying to escape issues or distressing feelings but we can step out of these and stay out of negative ruminating cycles of thought. We can start to stop and take stock of what is around us, we can start to approach situations with a different perspective, we can develop a different relationship to life in general.
So what are you doing this time of year to avoid going into autopilot, reduce stress levels, use more acceptance rather than striving too much, enjoying yourself and having something nourishing in place?
I thought I would put a blog together to recognise that at the start of a new year it can be a really stressful time when we are facing a whole load of new challenges that a new year can bring up, whether in business or personal life. Winter celebrations followed by new years resolutions can be a tricky time but also can make us feel more energised as we devise new goals for 2018. However at any time of year we can feel that expectations can build up and mostly we put them on ourselves right? It can be really helpful at all times of the year to recognise our stressors and see the world as it is and not how we or others expect it to be, to really enjoy each moment.
Here is a helpful mindfulness exercise that can be really nourishing and calming:
Get into a comfy position. Spend a minute or two just resting in the awareness of your body, attending to sensations in your body, just let yourself be aware of what is going on in your body without trying to change anything, you are simply just checking out what is going on.
Next focus on your breath, the lovely thing about the breath is that you can't breathe for the past or the future you can only breathe for now. Check how the breath moves in and out of your body - no need to control your breathing just let it be.
Check out if your mind is wandering. What is your mind doing? Thoughts might be going in or out and don't try to hold onto these or be critical of them in any way, just let them be. Keep coming back to the breath and sensations in your body.
Watch out for any negative thoughts creeping in, it is ok to have them but if we notice negative thoughts before they become a pattern we can avoid going into what is called 'rumination' and a negative spiral that is harder to pull out of. Be compassionate to yourself if you are perceiving a situation as stressful, don't beat yourself up over this or start to feel guilty in anyway just recognise it and put something that works for you into place.
So how can we be more accepting? It is very personal but perhaps by taking a break, getting some fresh air, doing your favourite past time and challenging any perfectionist beliefs that may come in use 'a good enough job' thinking.
Take some time out for yourself, do what you do at other times of the year that works for you. Be kind to yourself first and foremost and try not to stress the small stuff!
I am interested to hear what you think of this article and what works for you at this time of year. Don't forget I offer a free 30 mins initial coaching consultation so give me a call on 07811 740580.
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