As some of the regular readers may know one of the main aims of this blog is to inspire other busy parents to give Mindfulness a go and to help us help the next generation embrace mindful living.
However, a very happy and unexpected by-product of the blog (and something I am extremely grateful for) is that I have become acquainted with some lovely like-minded bloggers who have some fabulous blogs of their own.
So I invited some of these bloggers to explain a little bit about their relationship with mindfulness and add their voice to my blog through the ‘Mindfulness and Me’ guest series explaining how they have incorporated mindfulness into their busy lives and why it is an approach to life that they value. If this sounds like something that you would like to participate in then please do contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is also a chance for us to have a great insight into how flexibly mindfulness can be applied to our lives. The idea for this series was first conceived from the somewhat tongue-in-cheek interview which I did with my hubby recently. You may want to read this here.
Nicole from The Mum Reviews is our fifth participant. I am very grateful to her for taking the time to answer the questions. Below are the questions and Nicole’s responses.
- When and how did you first come across Mindfulness? Mindfulness is one of those words I’d heard bandied about for years and I just assumed it was the same as meditation. I’ve since learned they’re not quite the same thing. I think I was also introduced to some mindful meditation techniques when I did pregnancy yoga when I was pregnant with each of my children. But I was just following the teacher’s instructions. It’s no joke, but I never thought that mindfulness was something that could help me or apply to me or my life until I read Hayley’s guest post on another blog: ‘Right time, right place to be a Mindful Mummy (or Daddy)?’ It told the story of a busy weekend of solo parenting, and how she incorporated mindfulness when she could to help her through it, but only when it was realistic!
- What were your initial thoughts about it?
When mindfulness was just a word to me, I just thought it was something for hippy crunchy types! As I learned more about it and started to relate it to things I’d tried in yoga or things I was doing anyway, I started to realise its potential. I think mindfulness is something that people already do – but they haven’t necessarily put a name to it. We all, at least on occasion, stop and appreciate the moment we’re in. Giving it a name can help you take turn this normal part of life into something that improves your mental health. I think of it as being mindful about being mindful!
- How has Mindfulness helped you personally?
In the last year, I’ve started to suffer with some anxiety. I’ve been having “episodes” where my heart suddenly races and feels like it will jump out of my chest. It got to the point that my anxiety about having one of these attacks was making me have them in the first place. I’m having medical tests to get to the bottom of it all, but I’m finding that mindfulness reduces my anxiety about having an episode, and helps me cope if I do have one.
In a more everyday sense, mindfulness is also helping me stay calm in situations that test me, for example when my children are winding me up.
- How do you fit Mindfulness into your busy life?
I try to simply take moments when I notice something good happening and give them my full attention. When my cat is on my lap and I’m stroking her soft fur, I take a moment to just think about that nice feeling and how lucky I am to have a lovely pet. When I sing my 2yo his song before bed (always “Row row row your boat”), I try to take deep breaths between phrases and think only about what I’m doing. When my boys both sit with me to watch TV, I surreptitiously sniff their hair and revel in their cuddliness.
- What are your ‘go to’ – informal or formal – practices (if you have them)? Beyond what I’ve described above, I also have a technique for when I’m freaking out about something. I particularly tend to get stressed when I’m driving, and of course this is a time when I need to stay calm. So I use a mantra I learned in my pregnancy yoga class. I just repeat “I breathe in with a cool head; I breathe out with a warm heart”. It helps me remember to breathe. At the same time, I also try to imagine being bathed in what my yoga teacher called “the colour of deep relaxation”. I visualise being covered in purple relaxation paint (your relaxing colour might be different), and it seems to calm me down!
- How important do you think formal meditation is to someone who is trying to approach life mindfully? I don’t think it’s necessary. I think if you are too worried about finding time for formal meditation, it might put you off the whole thing. I think it’s just important to remember to be in the moment from time to time, and to take time to breathe.
- How would you like to extend your Mindfulness practice further?
I would actually like to do more formal meditation, but I find it difficult to find time. I got a Fitbit for Christmas, which has a little 2-minute guided breathing program. I have a goal of doing this once a day and seeing where I can go from there.
- Do you have friends or family who use Mindfulness techniques too? If they do, they haven’t mentioned it!
- What ‘top tips’ do you have for someone thinking of trying Mindfulness for the first time? I feel like I’m hardly someone who can give advice about mindfulness. I like to think I’m doing it but I don’t know if I’m doing it right. So I suppose my advice is, read what you can about it and try one aspect of it that appeals to you. Don’t expect to incorporate it into your life like turning on a light. It takes time to build new habits.
- Who would you recommend Mindfulness to and why?
I particularly recommend it to anyone who has any issues with anxiety or stress, because in my experience it really helps. I also recommend it particularly to parents to help them stay calm during those supermarket tantrums!
I’m sure you agree it is great to get someone else’s perspective on mindfulness and what it means to them. This post is extremely special to me as without it I would never have known the impact my guest post on Zoe’s site had had. Nicole writes incredibly articulately about her mindfulness journey and I think it’s so great for people to hear it from someone only a few months in. I’d like to thank her for taking part in the ‘Mindfulness and Me’ guest series.
If you’d like to read more from Nicole she blog over at The Mum Reviews about all things parenting. She lives in Surrey with her husband, two boys aged 4 and 2, and a black & white cat. She started blogging in July 2016 and says she finds it a great way to work through her thoughts about whatever is going on in her life. She also said about blogging: “I’ve loved the amazing community of bloggers that I’ve joined – which I didn’t even know about before I started. Hayley is one of my favourite blogging mates. Her posts on mindfulness have changed my thinking quite a bit and I’m really honoured to have the chance to guest post here.” Goodness – excuse me while I shed a few happy tears (Nicole I am honoured to have your post on my site lovely). Anyway back to business…
Next time I am very excited to be welcoming Ursula from Mumbelievable for ‘Mindfulness and Me’ #6 so please look out for this post. Please don’t forget to email me or fill out the contact form on the blog’s homepage if you are interested in taking part in this series.
If you would like to write a comment to Nicole or myself about the series than please do so in the comment box below.
Thanks and bye for now.