By Simon Heale LCSP NRHP
Mindfulness Teacher and Coach
Are you suffering from any of these: anxiety, stress-related conditions, work crises, family issues, hopelessness, boredom, career issues, relationship stagnation, unhelpful and damaging habits such as smoking or eating issues…..then perhaps this article could give you the space you need to change what doesn’t work for you.
In my practice as a body-worker, Mindfulness teacher and coach and hypno-psychotherapist I am witness to many different conditions, injuries and psychological issues. The more physical conditions range from sport and exercise induced injuries to work-place postural concerns to general life incidents. Whereas the more psycho-emotional issues which present in my treatment rooms range from sport and exercise stress and anxiety, work-place issues, stress, anxiety or depression, and general life incidents: relationships, finances, personal hopelessness to name but a few.
If you haven’t made the connection already, not to worry, it took me years to see the light. To see that it wasn’t just what we are doing that may be damaging or affecting us, or the amount of it we are doing, but the way we are doing it. In other words it is the ATTITUDES we bring to any action that will determine the quality of the outcome. I realise this is not ground-breaking stuff, but where it might be of interest is within the health and exercise arena, not so much to do with the ‘think yourself well or thin’, or ‘you can heal your life’, but more to do with the internal pressures we may or may not apply on ourselves when we approach our behaviours.
The red-flag that may well show up at times in our lives is when we do things ‘without conscious thought’, when certain behaviours, unhealthy and unhelpful, become automatic. Our bodies and minds can cope with a lot of pressure or stress, but there are limits at which we will begin to experience warnings: bodily aches, fatigue, pain or illness. We will tend to see these warnings as our ‘unwelcome guests’ and shut them out of our conscious awareness…we ignore them.
However, these ‘unwelcome guests’ are gold-dust. They are clues telling us that perhaps what we are doing is not working, that another approach might be more beneficial.
The focus of this article is to shine a light for you to see the effect that our thoughts, feelings, sensations and intentions have on our health and well-being, our relationships, work-life, parenting and personal growth.
So the big question is how do we alter our thoughts, feelings, sensations and intentions to have a softer and healthier approach to our wants and desires?
The answer is…..we cant, well not strictly speaking. We cannot stop these from happening, but we can alter how we respond to them.
It is by noticing. That’s it, just noticing what is there: your thoughts, feelings and sensations.
The trick then is to learn to be with these elements, to be with your pain, your troubles, your crap, your fears, doubts and uncertainties, and allow these to just be. To not try and change them, but to observe them from a new vantage point, from a mindful place.
“You cant stop the waves, but you can learn to surf”, so says Jon Kabat-Zin, the originator of the form of mindful training called Mindfulness Based Stress reduction.
Watch Jon Kabat-Zin explain what Mindfulness is in this short video.
What he means by this is that you cannot ever stop the mind from thinking, or the body from feeling, but you can experience these in a healthier way. A way to take the pressure/s off myself for a brief moment in order to have the space or freedom to make a clearer choice or decision.
Mindfulness is simply: Paying attention in a deliberate way, in the present moment, non-judgmentally, with kindness and curiosity. In this attention, you are stepping out of Automatic Pilot (reacting to our inner and outer experiences) and into a space of considered choice and awareness.
Try this short exercise…….
Body and Breath Exercise
Sitting in an upright, comfortable position, as you read this just get a sense of what your body is feeling like right now, just scan your whole body from top to toe with a wider sense of curiosity, becoming aware of every sensation there might be, or lack of sensation, listen too to whatever thoughts are passing through your mind, this is what the mind does, as best you can just observe these thoughts, no matter what they are, and now bring your awareness to your breathing: to where you might be feeling your breath, now just let your attention rest here, on your breath, on the ebb and flow of each breath, bringing your attention back gently, each time your mind wanders off…..
What you have just done is SLOW health in practice, you have:
Stopped and Sat
In the mindfulness based work called ACT, which stands for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, there is a simple formula devised originally by Steven Hayes which is beautifully applied here and moulded into the SLOW formula. It allows you to self-assess whatever needs changing or isn’t working, and alongside mindful practice and applying your values through values guided action, you move to a more workable solution.
- Stop: Assess and acknowledge that there is a problem, that something needs changing
- Listen: To unhelpful, challenging patterns of thoughts
- Observe: Physical feelings: painful, strong and overwhelming emotions. Physical pain. Fatigue.
- Workability: Does this work for you? If not, what next?
If you are curious about what Mindfulness or ACT is and how it can benefit your life and help you to move towards a life of richness and fulfilment, then please see the following video of Jon Kabat-Zin.
If you would like to know more and experience Mindfulness for yourself, to learn how to meditate, to apply the solid principles and exercises of ACT, then make an appointment for my:
Introduction to Mindfulness.
Wednesday 16th September 2015 £20
The Next MBSR 8 Week Course Wednesdays from September 23rd
Sessions are on Wednesdays evenings at Chelsea Natural Health Clinic.
If you are interested in learning mindfulness, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Many thanks and begin noticing….everything….
Mindfulness Teacher and Coach