Tuesday, June 30, 2015

It had to happen....

I've been sprung! A school mum came up to me today and said 'are you doing a bit of mindfulness in your car?!" (or something like that). I said 'yes! - oh gawd I've been wondering if anyone would spring me!!' and she said 'Oh I just saw you there having a quiet moment with your eyes closed...'

She's actually bloody cool and is in touch with that sort of stuff herself (she's a professional coach helping people in high performance workplaces) and super smart and lovely. We've had some good chats at the pool in the past while our kids have been doing their swimming lessons.

Ha ha. Being sprung won't stop me doing my car meditations while I wait for the bell to ring. Meditating in this place at this time of the day absolutely works for me.

Today's audio was track six from here - 'Exploring Difficulty'. It's so useful to just be reminded again and again to be hyper aware of your thoughts from an 'outside perspective' and not getting lost in them.

Am finding with this awareness of the power of my thoughts I am able to use them to turn my mood around (if that makes sense). I had a shit sleep the other night and after I'd been up a few hours wrote this in the Members Feed at Living Sober; "Found myself with a terribly negative thought-spiral running around my head ‘woe is me I’m so tired woe is me my life is so hard’ but I just had a long hot shower and a stern talk to myself and have decided to turn my thoughts around so I don’t ruin my own day! (maybe this is my mindfulness work kicking in). Have been bombarding myself with positive thinking ‘how fantastic it is that I’m not drinking, wasn’t half-cut at 1am for my son who was in such pain’ ‘how bloody brilliant that I’m only tired this morning and not awfully hung over with a sick churning guts, pounding head and overwhelming guilt’. ‘How lovely is that sun as it is rising over the hill line this morning’ ‘how lucky that I have a house with running water – hot AND cold! – and a fridge full of food’. 

And from making a conscious effort to turn my thinking from negative to positive I actually had a great day in the end and got super-busy decluttering parts of my house. Go the mindfulness!!

Love, Mrs D xxx

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

'Clunking' into the moment

I'm totally rocking the car meditations. Every school day I do them! Lately I've just been listening to the ones found here

Favourites for the car so far are numbers One, Four and Five but am going to try and work in Six and Seven next week. They're just 8-10 minutes long which is perfect as I wait for the bell to ring.

I love it!

There's been a moment lately when I'm listening where I literally feel myself 'clunk' down and drop into my body and the current moment. I 'clunk' and arrive and find myself in a car! The air is cold.. I'm 43.. look where I am in my life.. I'm breathing in and out... waiting outside a school where my three sons are at .. breathing in and out.. fully in my body and in the moment.

It's fan-bloody-tastic.

Ideally I'd still like to increase/improve my practice to spend longer on it each day and make it more regular (early mornings would be ideal) but I'll work toward that.

Will keep this blog posted as it works well as a motivation tool to keep me on task with the mindfulness practice.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Mindful about being Mindful...

Ah, so this is interesting. Further to the 'the brain is a muscle that can be retrained' discover I made when retraining myself out of a lifetime of drinking alcohol, I am discovering that the longer I push my thinking towards mindfulness the easier it is getting.

I have been very mindful about being mindful and it has been great. Simply taking a moment here and there to notice what is right in front of me. Literally thinking 'this moment right now is calm and lovely' and not letting my brain run away. It's so great!!! So freeing.

Noticing the way the morning sun is lighting up the condensation on the window. Noticing the silence. Noticing that I am driving in my car in a nice neighbourhood to go pick up my nice boys. Noticing what I have.

Work in progress of course, but getting there.

I did a Tara Guided Meditation in the car yesterday while waiting for school to finish. It was lovely.

So I'm still sporadic in my mindfulness/meditation practices but I have not abandoned the concept.

This is good.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Breathing Spaces...

I've been doing the odd 3-minute Breathing Space meditation (I'd forgotten about them, isn't that terrible!) which I learned about from this book a couple of months ago. Thought it might be worth revisiting what they are all about.

They call it an 'emergency meditation' which helps you see clearly what is arising from moment to moment when under pressure. It's meant to be something you do when you don't have time for the longer more formal meditations (which I am doing sporadically) and the demands of everyday life are continuing on (of course, because life's like that).

There are three steps....(and you can listen to the free audio of Mark Williams guiding you though this here - track 8).

1) First Become Aware. Straighten your back if standing or sitting (to adopt a 'dignified' post) and close your eyes. I do this sometimes just standing at the kitchen bench or sitting on my bed. Bring your awareness to your inner experience and acknowledge it, asking: what is my experience right now?
* What thoughts are going through my mind? Try acknowledge these thoughts as mental events.
* What feelings are here? Turn toward any sense of discomfort of unpleasant feelings, acknowledge them without trying to make them different from how you find them.
* What body sensations are here right now? A quick scan to pick up any sensations of tightness or bracing, again acknowledge them without trying to change them.

Do that for one minute.

2) Then Gather and Focus Attention. Redirect your attention to a narrow 'spotlight' on the physical sensations of the breath. Move your thinking in close to the physical sensations of the breath in the abdomen, in and out, in and out, in and out. Use each breath as an opportunity to anchor yourself in the present. If the mind wanders gently escort it back to the breath.

Do that for one minute.

3) Finally Expand Attention. Expand your attention from just awareness of the breath to a sense of the body as a whole, your posture and facial expression, as if the whole body was breathing. If any particular sensation, discomfort or tension comes up focus in on that and then back to the body as a whole. Stay aware of the whole body, moment by moment.

Done! Open eyes and resume normal business.

These are lovely. They are grounding and calming and great. Sometimes I race through the steps faster than a minute each but even then I think it works well.

At the end of a Breathing Space you can choose to carry on immediately and mindlessly with what you were doing before, or you can pause to consider how you'd like to proceed. Maybe acting more skilfully? Choosing to relate differently to your thoughts? Or doing something that differently (kind or treaty) that will make you feel better.

If I could always achieve moving on mindfully after a Breathing Space with a good awareness of my thoughts and a sense of kindness towards myself I'll be winning! For me, as with everything, this is always a work in progress.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Back on track...

Earlier today I paused and did a 'Breathing Space' sitting on the edge of my bed .. as I could feel my thoughts running away a little. And just now I paused while outside toileting our puppy, shut my eyes, felt the sun on my face and concentrated on all the sounds I could hear.

I've been listening to Tara a little bit and doing Guided Meditations again in the car before school pick up. Some days I do nothing. Other days I do something. And I'm more alert to when I'm getting 'lost' in my thinking and am remembering to pause and ground myself in the moment.

It's not a regular practice in that I'm not sitting at the same time every day (and I know first thing in the morning would be ideal) but it's enough for me and is making a bit difference to how I am feeling and moving through my days.

Have also pulled back on the endlessly-checking-online-spaces habit I have and that has been a little challenging at times but good and the more I resist 'clicking' on my sites constantly the easier it gets. I'm still working online a lot but that is my life, I work from home doing online stuff, and it's up to me to find a balance.

I'm happy with how I am working towards that balance.

Am also eating well, sleeping better (aside from puppy wake-ups!) and my health is improving.

Live is so up and down isn't it?! But I like how I'm working on mine to make it as peaceful-yet-stimulating as I can.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Monday, June 1, 2015

Where attention goes, energy flows.

So I wrote that last post and then I did nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Not one guided meditation. Not one Tara talk. Not any body scans or even an attempt at a self-guided (silent) meditation trying to focus on my breath. Nothing.

Have completely stopped.

And I kept being busy and I kept thinking "I haven't got time to stop" or "I can't be bothered stopping to take any time to reflect or look inward or listen to a guided meditation or ANYTHING".

Too busy. Too tired.

So busy and tired and wired and over-stimulated that insomnia has returned to my life and so has some ill-health so I am now off to the doctors tomorrow because I am a bit poorly. So my body is bloody leading me when it should be my mind!! My body is getting me to slow down.

I need to be lead by my mind and not my body. I must remember this. I need to lead from the front and take time to calm my mind before I get over tired and wired and sick.

I took the boys away this weekend (without Mr D he was travelling for work) and it was super-lovely to get out of the house and to a beach house of a friends full of toys and books etc.

But if I'm honest I was a bit flat and low and tired (as per usual) and a bit worried about my health.. We did have a nice time together eating yummy food and playing at the beach and the park etc..  I was a good mum and they are good sons. But I had bloody insomnia on the first night (for crying out loud Mrs D!! The signs are all there!!) and in the middle of the night I was desperate enough to reach for my phone and finally play one of the Tara Brach Guided Meditations that I worked so hard to save onto my phone. And instantly I felt like crying or dropping my shoulders one million percent or something... and yet I was still wide awake (wired) so I clicked on a talk of hers that was also saved into my new Podcast App and fuck me it was brilliant...

It was called 'Accessing Innate Wisdom' and I heartily recommend it.

She said: "When we're stressed the habit or reflex is to tighten up ... and have our attention really fixate in a way that is very driven by the fear and wanting. We get lost in busy-ness, and we get caught in emotional reactivity, that's the habit."

"The biggest challenge is that the times we most need to meditate, when we really know that the very best thing for us would be to just to pause ... and come back and feel our breath and our body ... are the times when we absolutely are not in the mood. We don't want to do it."

"You know how it feels when you are sensing there's not enough time, you're stressed, you're tight, you're irritable, and the last thing in the world you want to do is pause, right? We're kind of geared to go. So, we're caught in a bit of a catch 22 because exactly what we most need our conditioning has us go at it another way."

Bloody brilliant Tara. It's this basic human conditioning that meditation is fighting constantly. The conditioning is to tighten and attend to the stress and busy-ness, because that's what we need to do to survive! Attend to what needs attending to. But it's not helpful to focus on the stress and busy-ness because attending to those things means more stress and busy-ness. Actually you need to go completely in the opposite direction and pause and reflect and calm yourself down and remember to stay in the moment and not get lost in your thoughts. Do a little rebellious 'checking out' of normal life (which is really 'checking in' with your present moment right here right now in your physical body sitting on your physical chair).

Not sure if this is making sense, except to say to myself, Mrs D.. for goodness sake make this 'looking inward' stuff a priority! Stop. Stop thinking. Stop planning your next Ask An Expert post or your next Sober Story or your next Members Feed Update or your next Mrs D Is Going Without post or your next Mrs D Is Going Within post or your next Instagram photo or your next Facebook update or your next Drink of the Week or your next Twitter update... stop occasionally from all that fun busy-ness (because I do enjoy it greatly) and pause (because you need to balance things out and keep calm inwardly). Come back to the moment.

To quote Tara...  "Where attention goes, energy flows".

That is all.

Love, Mrs D xxx