How Mindfulness Can Push Us Out of Our Comfort Zone

Yesterday afternoon I went along to Sunita’s (Lucky Things Blog ) third ‘Lucky Things Meet-Up’ in the City of London.

Tomorrow afternoon I take myself off to Thamesmead, south-east London to begin teaching a mindfulness course to primary school children.

Obviously these are two very different appointments. In two very different parts of London.  And yet they do have one thing in common.  Until recently I may not have found myself in either setting.

You see both have needed me to push myself out of my comfort zone.

Perfect Moment

I turned up at the ‘Lucky Things Meet-Up’ by myself, in reality knowing nobody (though feeling like I knew Nicole and Claire a little already having read their eminently readable blogs for some time now) and knowing that it was also what some would term, a ‘networking opportunity’ – (though Sunita’s phrase of seeing it as a chance to “share your news” is a much lovelier way of putting it).  This is the type of event that I would most likely have avoided a couple of years ago.

Teaching mindfulness in Thamesmead sees me return to teaching in a socially deprived area and facing the challenges that can come with this.  Again something that I probably would not have put myself forward for a couple of years ago.

Both involved self-promotion ‘or sharing your news’ to return to Sunita’s phrase.  Something I generally balk at.      Having conversations about the blog and my passion for mindfulness with people I hadn’t met before, and having to ‘pitch’ to a Headteacher about the benefits of mindfulness and the positive impact the course would have on his students were not altogether things that come naturally to me. And yet I did them.

I did them because, as I mention here  I am passionate about ‘spreading the word’ about mindfulness and I KNOW that I can’t very well do that just from the comfort of my own laptop.  However, I also went for it on both counts because practicing mindfulness has undoubtedly helped my confidence.  Not that anyone would have called me particularly lacking in confidence before, but I would shy away from situations where I may have had my confidence tested.

So mindfulness has helped me to notice:

  1. When I may be putting my own obstacles in the way of doing something due to how I anticipate I may feel or react at the time.  This is called observing the ‘story-telling mind’.
  2. When I am falling into a fixed mindset (see more about Dweck’s theory of mindset in this post here) which can be a barrier to learning, development and embracing challenges.
  3. When I begin to potentially be ‘paralysed’ by worrying what people may think of me.  Remembering that ‘thoughts are not facts’ is really helpful here – more about this ‘mantra’ of mine in this post.

Mindfulness has also helped me to be more non-judgmental of myself.  I used to hate that I blush fairly easily.  Now I see that this would sometimes mean I would subconsciously stop myself being in situations where this may occur.  However, I am much kinder to myself now.  I remind myself that it is a natural physical response that doesn’t just happen to me.  Suddenly it becomes less important.

I’m so pleased I have begun to push myself out of my comfort zone.  It means that not only am I going to help some fantastic young people develop mindfulness skills in the next few weeks, but it also means that I met some really interesting and lovely new people yesterday too.  People like  Livvy, Natalie, and Talya to name but a few.

So one of the documented benefits of mindfulness is that it helps raise self esteem and increases self confidence and I have certainly felt more empowered since beginning to practice it.   In turn this meant that at the ‘Lucky Things Meet-Up’ I met some fascinating people, learned about clothes and confidence and  generally left with a spring in my step.

I feel sure that tomorrow will leave me feeling equally as positive too.

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