Hi everyone! As you all know, I am a advocate of mindful practice and mindfulness based stress reduction, and you may recall Bob’s recent guest post on working mindfully. I would like you to welcome my friend Rachel Hawes here on Dexterous Diva, as she shares some mindful lessons with us. Rachel, over to you!
How do you feel today? Do you feel overwhelmed? Stressed and anxious? Too busy? Is your to-do list growing longer with each passing hour? Have you lost sight of the light at the end of the tunnel?
I know how that feels. Back in early 2011, when I was building up my business, I didn’t have time to stop. I worked so hard, spent late nights on the computer and often went weeks without a day off. It won’t surprise you to learn that I completely burned myself out.
While burnout isn’t something I’d recommend, I learned a very valuable lesson from it. If I wanted to continue to do this work that I loved for the rest of my life, then I absolutely had to find a more sustainable way to work. And so began my adventures in serenity!
One of the most important lessons I learned was to inject a little mindfulness into my routines every single day. Sometimes the word “Mindfulness” can conjure up images of long formal meditation practices. It can feel as though it’s something else to add to our growing to-do lists. Our natural instinct can be to feel that we just don’t have time, which is exactly why I explored the idea of little pockets of informal mindfulness.
Things like: taking two minutes to stretch and really notice how much we needed it; taking five long deep breaths in and out through the nose when stuck in traffic or waiting in the world’s slowest queue; taking five minutes every morning or evening to sit quietly in silence; writing a gratitude list – 5 things you are grateful for each day (this is especially good when you aren’t feeling very happy with the world.
You could also try mindful eating; one morning during my yoga teacher training we were each given an orange. Rather than this being a cue for a tea break, it was the start of an exercise in mindful eating. It is an exercise that can be done with any fruit (or indeed any food), but citrus works well because you have to peel it. I have repeated the excercise again over the years both on my own and when teaching.
At first just hold the fruit, be aware of the vibrancy of its colour, feel its texture, its firmness. Roll it against your skin and feel its coolness. Inhale its aroma. When you are ready begin to peel.
Notice the citrus aroma getting stronger. Be aware of the feeling of the skin of the fruit in your hands. Is is easy to peel or difficult? Does the pith come away with the peel or do you have to take that off separately? How does that make you feel? Does it annoy you that it takes so long to get into the fruit? Breathe and be patient. Enjoy this moment.
Begin to tear the fruit into segments. Slowly. Piece by piece.
Feel the juice on your fingers, how do the segments feel in your hands? Begin to anticipate how the fruit will taste. Tear each segment separately before you eat. When you are ready take a few more deep breaths to notice how you are feeling.
Finally eat! Savour each mouthful. Chew slowly. Notice the sensations in your mouth. Notice any memories. Be aware of the fruit nourishing you, refreshing you.
Eat mindfully and be thankful!
I know we cannot eat every meal with such awareness but take a moment to think about what you are eating and why you are eating it. I often find, when I think about it, I don’t want that chocolate biscuit after all! And then again sometimes only a cupcake will do!
If you want to find out more ways of letting go of stress and anxiety and finding peace, joy and serenity throughout the year then why not join me on the Serenity Seasons e-course, or the Serenity Sessions one-to-one yoga mentoring programme. Registration opens on 2nd Decmeber and new sessions start in early 2014 so sign up for the newsletter to be the first to find out more, receive a free relaxation MP3, get a free call recording for the “Help! I’m too busy…” call on 28 November, get the early bird pricing AND have a chance to win one of 10 Serenity care packages!
Thanks Rachel – let me know if you try mindful eating or any of Rachel’s tips to regain some space.
Rachel Hawes is a yoga teacher, holistic therapist, stressbuster, serenity seeker and owner of Fusion Studio. She is passionate about helping people eliminate stress and anxiety by tapping into their inner energy and joy to find wellbeing, mindfulness and pain-free movement. She has worked with a wide variety of people from stressed-out office workers to new mums, from people recovering from chronic illness to trainee yoga teachers. She has a toolbox of techniques and practices to suit you, at whatever point on your journey you find yourself.