Weekly Mindful Reminder – Goodbye Lou

I’m writing this weeks reminder with a heavy heart. My good friend Louise very sadly passed away last week. 

Why I’m writing this

I reflected on whether to share this or not and decided I wanted to for a number of reasons. For the memory and legacy of my beautiful friend, for a way of offering help and kindness to anyone who also knew Lou and is struggling (or for that matter for anyone going through a bereavement now, struggling from a past one or worrying about future loss) and finally for a reminder for us all to try and spend the precious time we have on this earth living it in the moment.

 Thoughts and grieving 

I feel there is often nothing that “wakes us up” more than the shock of a loss. Especially when, like with poor Louise that the person we lose is so young. It makes us think of our own mortality, can shock us into thoughts about what we would do if we found out we were dying soon and thoughts about our loved ones and what would happen. These thoughts may be useful as a way to help us plan or decide to make changes in how we are currently living our lives. However it can be helpful to be aware that they are just thoughts when we feel we are getting dragged off into a stream of worrying rumination or unhelpful thoughts.

How our body responds 

Engaging in unhelpful thoughts often leads to our body responding with physical sensations- often uncomfortable tensions such as a tight chest, shaky tummy or headache amongst many others. These physical sensations then feed messages back to our brain, creating more thoughts and the cycle begins. This is very common during a bereavement- maybe having thoughts like “why did this happen?”, “it’s so unfair”, “how will I cope without this person?” “how will their family cope?” Etc etc. 

 What to do to look after yourself 

Mindfulness practice can help us to step off this unhelpful cycle. The first way to do this is by bringing your attention to the body. Notice what physical sensations are present. Allow them to be there by simply being curious about them. Gently explore where in the body you can feel the physical sensations, notice what type of feeling it is – a tension? Tightness? Heavy feeling? Or maybe something more subtle than that, maybe something that just doesn’t feel quite right. Whatever you find, if you can just be curious about it, give it some space. This helps as your body then stops resisting it – what we resist persists and instead we need to “feel to heal”. By “feeling” uncomfortable sensations we can allow them to disperse naturally. 

The next step is to simply notice your thoughts – you can gain control of your mind by noticing them without getting engaged with them. You may find it helpful to label the thoughts. 

Then finally gently bring your attention to something “real” in the present moment – your breath, body, sounds or anything you can see or feel. Connecting to any of your senses. 

This can be done informally by following the above details or formally through a guided mindfulness meditation. The formal version of this is called Turning Towards Difficulty. A ten minute version of this is available on mine and Roz’s free app Present Mind Mindfulness. 

The more regular, formal and informal mindfulness we practice the more we get to know our own body and where we tend to hold tension created by thoughts. We can then more easily and quickly notice we need to take a pause and focus on them to step off the cycle. The more we practice mindfulness also gradually dampens down the power of our thoughts which is so helpful. 

Thank you Lou

Lou was without a doubt one of the most selfless and caring people I have ever had the pleasure of calling a friend. Therefore my closing remark is to encourage people to practice mindfulness and spend more of their precious life being in the present moment. When Lou was first diagnosed with cancer we chatted about this and I was so proud and in awe of her when she told me she was doing this. She described how she was using the techniques she’d learnt on a previous mindfulness course she’d attended to try and let go off the future worrying thoughts she was having. I have a fond memory of us both having a glass of red wine in a bar saying that was the only “real” thing in that moment – us simply stood there, drinking the lovely wine, hearing the laughter around us and chatting to each other. Lou was such a happy and positive person, someone who really tried to keep her focus in the present moment as much as she could. What a wonderful way to be and that’s how I intend to live the rest of my life and honour my beautiful friend Louise.

If anyone would like to contribute to Louise’s memorial fund to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis here is the link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/donationsforlou

 Much love xx

 

Mindfulness Tip

How about having a mindful cup of tea or coffee this afternoon? 

Notice the steps you follow to make the drink. Let go of any thoughts whilst drinking it and give your mind a rest by simply noticing the taste, smell, temperature in your mouth and enjoy ☕️

Weekly Mindful Reminder – Making Friends With Our Internal Monsters

This weeks reminder is written by Roz. 

When we experience difficult emotions, our initial reaction is to push them away or ignore them because they feel unpleasant. This only results in the emotion remaining in our bodies and it can really affect the way we think and behave in a way that is perhaps unhelpful to us.

Mindfulness practice helps us to gently turn towards these difficult emotions and allow ourselves to actually feel the physical sensations of perhaps a heaviness in our tummy, a tightness in the throat or a knot in our chest….etc.  We can be present and pay attention to the unsettled feeling.

Whenever we allow ourselves to just feel sensations in our bodies, we allow ourselves to also heal.

If we can find the courage, kindness and time to make friends with our internal monsters, we can begin to live a life of happiness, contentment and peace.

Warmest wishes,

Roz x

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App update – our new app has had some more updates added and is FREE to download. It features a variety of guided practices, stories, FAQs and resources to support your own practice. Enjoy!

Download for iOS

Download for Android

You can also find them in the stores by searching: Present Mind Mindfulness

Weekly Mindful Reminder – Stay Curious

I have recently been on a fascinating course learning all about Voice Dialogue. It’s about how we all have different selves or personalities, some more dominant and some more ignored or disowned. Voice Dialogue enables you to become aware of and know about these selves and creates more balance in your life.

What struck me from this course was about how important curiosity is. Understanding and awareness of our own selves is very connected with mindfulness.

Less judgment and simply having more curiosity and interest about things leads to a much more contented life in my opinion.

 

Weekly Mindful Reminder – Mindfulness 🌱

I’ve been very busy over the past few weeks (which I’m grateful about with it being early days of my new business!). I have noticed however that this has had an impact on my regular mindfulness practice. What was 30 mins slipped to 20 then some days to 10 or even less on those very busy days.

Now, with a mindful attitude, I have tried not to be judgmental to myself about this and treated myself with kindness. But to add to this I got ill last week – only a cold but it meant I had to take a break from my running (now one of my regular mindful activities). I began to notice the impact this was having on me – not too dramatic but I started to feel a little more “frazzled”, more stressed than usual about workload and generally unable to think as clearly. This made me a little more snappy and reactive than usual too.

All in all I realised what I needed to do – more formal mindfulness practice! So I set the intention a few days ago to do a longer, daily practice and I’m already noticing the benefits. I’m feeling more in control, calm, logical and focused even my cold is improving so I hope to be running again soon (there’s quite a few studies including this http://www.mindful.org/flu/ showing the link between regular meditation and fewer colds)

Reminders like this are useful sometimes as you notice the reason you may have started mindfulness in the first place – to feel happier, calmer, more focussed and more in control. You really see how useful it is do especially at your busiest times.

With love,
Emma