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.
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. 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. If this sounds like something that you would like to participate in then please do contact me by completing the form on the on my own ‘Mindfulness and Me’ page. It is a chance for us to have a great insight into how flexibly mindfulness can be applied to our lives and to see how other parents have embraced mindful living. 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.
Ursula from Mumbelievable is our sixth participant. I am very grateful to her for taking the time to answer the questions. Below are Ursula’s responses.
- When and how did you first come across Mindfulness? I think it was around 10 years ago. A couple we know had begun practicing mindfulness after the concept had been introduced to them through his work as a psychiatric professional in the Royal Navy, and they told us about how they were working on incorporating it into their lives.
- What were your initial thoughts about it? Before I really understood what it was or had looked any further into it than those first conversations we had with our friends, I remember thinking that taking the time to be more aware and consciously noticing everything must make everything you do take longer. That probably says quite a lot about how much my life would benefit from it, doesn’t it?! I didn’t have a clue how beneficial it could become in helping me to deal with, process and recover from different events that would happen as life unfolded.
- How has Mindfulness helped you personally?
I like to think I’ve always been pretty good at being present ‘in the moment’ and recognising the value in truly noticing and taking in my surroundings, but learning about mindfulness and building it into my everyday life has definitely made me calmer, more accepting and less likely to overreact. I’m also very aware that my three-year-old is naturally really mindful and I try to take his lead on that. He stops and sees things we normally wouldn’t, and he sees the beauty and complexity in ordinary aspects of life that we’ve tuned out. I love that.
Several years ago I was in the throes of overcoming an eating disorder, and using mindfulness helped me immeasurably in dealing with the car crash of feelings that swamped me permanently. It has also given me some tools I’ve relied on heavily when dealing with my husband’s illness in the past couple of years. One example I will never forget was driving back to the hospital on the morning of his kidney transplant surgery. I knew I shouldn’t be driving, but it was a stunning August day and witnessing the serenity of the sky, the contrast of the colours and listening to some music that I could absorb into helped me to stay in control when I was on the verge of losing it.
- How do you fit Mindfulness into your busy life?
I try not to think of it as ‘fitting it in’ but rather as adapting my normal way of being, changing the way I see the world and respond to things. I make effort constantly to remind myself to slow down – even a tiny bit – and soak moments up more. I try to be mindful about my body, my mind and my surroundings when I remember to. And that’s been the key to it for me; reminding myself to remember to. It takes time, and of course there’s more I can do to make time for mindfulness given the huge benefits it brings, but I can put my hand on my heart and say that I do feel like I’m quite a mindful human.
- What are your ‘go to’ – informal or formal – practices (if you have them)? If I’m feeling stressed, tense or worried, I can start feeling quite sick. I get these physical sensations which are deeply uncomfortable. When that happens, wherever I am and whatever I’m doing, I breathe as deeply as I can and focus on releasing it until I feel better. And I always do feel better for it. I sometimes do a quick body scan meditation too, but that’s rarer as I find it’s harder to do on the go.
- How important do you think formal meditation is to someone who is trying to approach life mindfully? I do think it’s important, and it’s certainly something I know I’d love to be doing more of. I think that to have a formal structure and guidance when you’re incorporating new ways of living is always helpful, but I don’t think it’s a deal breaker in working the principles of mindfulness into your life. It hasn’t been for me, anyway. I do meditate in moments, but not formally anywhere near as much as I would like to.
- How would you like to extend your Mindfulness practice further? I’d love to get to a stage where I can dedicate a small amount of time every single day to meditation. Even if it’s 10 minutes. I just haven’t quite mastered that bit yet. I know it’s not long, and that sounds pretty pathetic, but other than right before I go to bed I can’t see when I could practically and realistically do it. I’ve known for ages that this would really help me, and it’s on the list of things I’m going to work on in 2017.
- Do you have friends or family who use Mindfulness techniques too? I know quite a few people who do. I think it is becoming more widely known and as information and apps become more readily available, more people are being introduced to the benefits it can offer us.
- What ‘top tips’ do you have for someone thinking of trying Mindfulness for the first time? Open your mind and your heart to what it can offer you. Relax, and take from it what you need. Stick at it, be disciplined and you’ll notice what it will give you. Treat it like playing an instrument, in that you wouldn’t expect to be accomplished at playing the piano if you only tried it once or a few times.
- Who would you recommend Mindfulness to and why? I think every single person on the planet would benefit in some way from using mindfulness, but if I had to pick one group of people, I would say children. Our world expects our children to cope with so much and there is so little for them in the way of coping mechanisms to support their emotional development and wellbeing. I truly believe that if mindfulness was taught from the outset either at home or in schools that many of the social problems we have right now could either be drastically lessened or even eradicated altogether. I admire the work so many people are doing to arm kids with these tools and I’ll absolutely be doing that when my little one is a bit older.
I’m sure you agree it is great to get someone else’s perspective on Mindfulness and what it means to them. Ursula makes some excellent points, especially about teaching our children about mindful living, and I’d like to thank her for taking part in the ‘Mindfulness and Me’ guest series. If you’d like to read more from Ursula who is a blogger from Hampshire on a mission to help a million women to feel the way they deserve to about themselves then please visit her blog. She set up her website and Facebook community in 2015 to support and empower mums to rebuild their confidence and reconnect with themselves, after her own confidence took a nose-dive when she became a mum. Now Ursula supports employees and individuals to manage the demands of being a working parent through live events, online programmes and confidence-boosting products.
If you would like to write a comment to Ursula or myself about the series than please do so in the comment box below.
Thanks and bye for now.