Mindfulness is something that came into my life when I needed it most. I was actually taught mindfulness through the NHS to begin with as a treatment of Post Traumatic Stress. I now look back on that time with a huge amount of gratitude, not just for what I overcame, but also for all that it taught me including tools to begin to understand my own mind better and to live more in harmony with myself.
Mindfulness is such a buzz word these days that can mean so many things but for me having a Mindfulness practice in your life means two things, taking time out of your day to practice mindfulness meditation and attempting to integrate these practices into your every day life. It’s the later that is so vital for me (and so difficult at times!), taking what you have learned in the quiet and applying in to the great big colourful noisy world of a busy life and a house full of kids!
Mindfulness for me has been about learning how my mind works. That my thoughts are not me and that I don’t have to take every one of them seriously. That I can’t think my way out of every situation and so how to recognise that spiral of overthinking as it begins. For me it has been a way of training the mind to focus on what is right in front of me. This has been infinitely precious in these early years of life with my son. Mindfulness has allowed me to be present with him and soak up each moment for what it is.
It has also been a big lesson in what lies behind the busy thinking mind. That there is a place inside that is still and calm, a place of peace that even when the rest of me feels in turmoil that I can return to. Sometimes I resented having to make time for meditation. It was my ‘treatment’ and I resented needing a treatment at all, much less one I had to do everyday for the rest of my life! But I have come to appreciate now how amazingly cool it is that I have within me this reset button that I can activate simply by closing my eyes and following my breath.
Mindfulness can feel like yet another thing to ‘do’ when you already have a never ending to do list (you have one of those too right?!) but the great thing about it is that you practice it within your daily life, just your ordinary day to day. The meditation I do now is ten minutes long. Yep, ten minutes!! And I can’t even begin to say how much it does for me on those days where I make sure I wake up ten minutes early, before the chaos of the day descends, and take that time for me.
So, fancy giving it a go? Here are my top picks to try Mindfulness for yourself…
Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman
This book walks you through the benefits of mindfulness and offers you a practical ‘how-to’ guide which runs over eight weeks. There is an accompanying CD of meditations and other practical weekly challenges to help you explore the theme of each week. For me this was the best introduction to Mindfulness that I found.
I use Headspace for my daily Mindfulness meditations and have done for couple of years now. To begin you can take the basics course which is a ten minute meditation per day that introduces you to mindfulness meditation and to integrating it into your life. Courses after that are around themes like Self Esteem, Stress, Happiness and so on. I don’t think I’ll ever get to the end of their library of options. Headspace costs about £10 a month so it’s not the cheapest option but I do think the cost factor sometimes draw me back in when I am tempted to give up. Like a true Brit, I don’t like wasting my money!
Wherever You Go, There You Are – Mindfulness Meditation for Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn
This book is packed full of wisdom about Mindfulness but is not for the faint hearted! I bought it about two years ago and I am still only half way through. The book is written as a series of mini reflections, each about three or four pages long, and I find that one of those contains so much to think about that it is enough for one day! I usually take this out with me when I need a boost or need to be reminded why mindfulness matters and is worth persuing.
See, Love, Be and Christianity and Mindfulness by Tim Stead
If you are a Christian or you are interested in Mindfulness and the spiritual life then these are two brilliant books to pick up. I loved reading Christianity and Mindfulness and it really helped me to integrate my faith with my practice of Mindfulness, after all where is God to be found other than the moment we are in? See, Love, Be is another eight week course but focused specifically on the mindfulness and the spiritual life. I haven’t done it yet but the book looks fab and I’ll report back when I do!
So, what do you think? Have you ever tried Mindfulness? Did it help you? Any great resources to share? Do comment below or over on Instagram. I’d love to hear from you!