Three different ways to be mindful

What does the National Gallery, Thorpe Park and the sea have in common? Answer? Ways I’ve found to manage my hormone imbalance by being mindful, and fully in the moment I’m in. Did you know that we only spend *six days!* of our life in the present…the rest are scarily spent in the past or in the future. But…it is possible to see your whole life in HD after having a crappy TV, so to speak. This has been my experience.

I’ve Β been studying and practicing mindfulness for over a year now. To my amazement, I have found it to be a really effective method to ward off depression when my hormone condition makes days a bit ‘wobbly’.

My study began with reading Ruby Wax’s book, ‘Sane New World’, where she shows and explains how mindfulness works for her, in the brain and how to do it. From there, I had some sessions with mindfulness coach, Shaun Lambert. He showed me how to ‘notice’ thoughts and realise they are not events. To take a step back, to consider, before leaping in.

From there, I read his 40-day study book, ‘Book of Sparks’, which really cemented this new way of thinking. I then attended MCBT (Mindfulness Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) with a wonderful lady, Georgina, at my local hospital. This required an hour’s study every day.

If you’ve tried this stuff and it didn’t work, this is the key – the practice. I have found that this new way of being is so firmly rooted that I don’t have to think about it.

When wobbly days have come, instead of going, ‘Oh no, I’m going to be ill for three months…there goes the summer’, it’s more like, ‘Mm, that’s interesting. Ok. I’m feeling a little nervous but that’s ok. How about I take some breaths, go and see someone, do something I enjoy or do a mindfulness sitting?’

And to my amazement, over six seperate days in the last few months, the first whispers of ‘black dog’, had gone by the following morning.

So, back to my opener. Three things I have done recently where I have been fully present, all five senses taken up by the thing I was experiencing.

The first was Thorpe Park. I had a somewhat stressful day there recently for various reasons but I could forget all that the moment I strapped in to Stealth, took my hands off the restraints and spent thirteen seconds of bliss racing, my stomach lifting, wind in my hair, amazing view then jolting to a halt. I felt refreshed, and able to carry on with the day. Here’s some brave soul who filmed it (I wouldn’t do that!)

 

The second, was going to ‘Soundscapes’, the fantastic exhibition at the National Gallery. Six sound artists chose paintings in the collection, including Holbein and Cezanne, and through study and meditation, created sound art to accompany the piece. The poster read, ‘Hear the painting, see the sound’. The result was me seeing things in paintings and techniques I’d never noticed before.

'Coastal Scene' by Theo van Rysselberghe, soundscape, 'Ultramarine', by Jamie xx, at the National Gallery
‘Coastal Scene’ by Theo van Rysselberghe, soundscape, ‘Ultramarine’, by Jamie xx, at the National Gallery

My favourite piece by a mile was the painting, ‘Coastal Scene‘, by Theo van Rysselberghe and the soundscape, ‘Ultramarine’, by Jamie XX. The sound artist echoed the technique of pointilism by creating music that kind of turned to dots and marks, too, as you approached the painting. It was truely mesmorising and I could have been there all day. I wish I could have this piece in my house!

The third…was jumping in the sea with all my clothes on. Mindfulness means being fully present, not thinking about the future or the past. I went to visit my lovely friend Natalie in Brighton last Saturday, when it was so very hot. We finally reached the glimmering, sparkly sea and got that gust of salt air in our lungs. Neither of us had swimming costumes on, but we kind of looked at eachother and said, ‘Shall we?’ We egged each other on and waded into the water and finally made the leap, it was so refreshing and wonderful to just be floating, supported and looking up at the blue sky and listening to the sound of pebbles being washed up and down the slope by the waves. Here is a little video my hubby, Mike made of the moment.

 

I cannot recommend mindfulness highly enough. It has changed my life. I am calmer, more measured, more focused, assertive and more present. It has warded off the black dog! Here are some other activities I’ve found helpful to be mindful:

  • baking
  • volunteering
  • jigsaws
  • Heat Magazine and chocolate (insert your ‘guilty’ pleasure in here!’
  • doing my nails
  • talking to a dear friend
  • gardening
  • walking
  • flower arranging
  • being creative
  • eating
  • sorting
  • making mint tea from scratch
  • just. being. silent. (very hard for me, that one!)
  • writing this blog post (mmm, isn’t that inception, or something??)

So, there’s my two pence worth. I am most happy to talk to you more about mindfulness if this has piqued your interest. I hope I am a good advert, for those who have known me a while! Please do let me know your thoughts, tips and tricks in the comments.

Katie.

 

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