Mindfulness on Your Healing Journey: Six Secrets to Get You Started
by Catherine G. Lucas
Mindfulness will soon be widely acknowledged as being as essential for our emotional and psychological wellbeing as exercise is for our physical wellbeing. In the meantime, allow me to let you in on the Six Secrets, secrets which deserve to be widely shared, secrets which will help you begin to integrate mindfulness into your journey towards ever greater health and wellbeing.
1. Mindfulness is really simple.
They’re teaching it to small children in school now, it’s that easy. We basically come into the present moment through our senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Have a go right now – if you’re sitting down, notice what the surface you’re sat on feels like, notice the contact between that surface and your ‘sitting bones’. You’re not feeling that an hour ago (in the past) or in an hour’s time (in the future). You’re feeling it right now. That’s the immediacy of our senses – anything we see, hear, taste, smell or touch is in this moment.
2. You can incorporate mindfulness into any and every aspect of your day, any activity.
Whether you’re having a shower, eating your breakfast or cleaning your teeth you can bring your attention to one or more of the senses, noticing what is present for you. If the mind wanders off, which it naturally will want to, we simply, gently bring it back. Notice the fragrance of your shower gel, the flavour of your toothpaste, always bringing yourself into the present, enjoying the sheer simplicity of the moment.
3. Mindfulness doesn’t need to take any extra time.
If your days are already pretty full, pretty busy, practising doesn’t need to take any extra time. As we’ve just seen, you can incorporate it into what you’re already doing. If you want to make extra time to practice, however, that would be great. It would mean you’re giving yourself some space and attention, taking time to nurture yourself. There’s a teaching from an old Zen master: meditate for half an hour a day, unless you’re really busy, in which case meditate for an hour a day!
4. Self-compassion, self-care is a crucial aspect of mindfulness.
On our healing journey it’s all about learning to look after ourselves, to take good care of ourselves. Some of the practices are more explicitly self-caring, such as my Breeze Bathing which you can listen to for free (the link is below).
That means giving ourselves the time and space we need to catch up with ourselves when life is full-on and intense. It means taking time out regularly, half an hour, half a day here and there, to just look at a flower or sit down with our favourite hot drink. To make sure we don’t miss our down time, the mind wandering off to compose our next ‘to do’ list, we focus on the senses, noticing the colours and contours of the flower, feeling the warmth of the mug in our hands…
5. Stress can derail us if we don’t catch it early.
Mindfulness helps us catch stress early. It’s the ultimate stress-buster. By being more mindful, more aware, it helps us spot the early warning signs when stress is starting to build up. We can notice it in time to make choices, to take action to stop things escalating and getting out of hand. The Body Scan is a wonderful practice for that. Essentially a body awareness practice, it has the added benefit of being very relaxing. It can take 20-40 minutes. Like the Zen master says, the busier you are, the more stressed you are, the longer the body scan needs to be!
An alternative would be a practice like Mindful Walking which you can build into your day any time you walk somewhere, even if it’s just out to the car. Listen to the link below to get the idea.
6. Mindfulness comes with a health warning.
Beware! If you really embrace mindfulness it will transform your life as it did mine. If you have a sense that mindfulness can help you on your healing journey, look around locally for an 8-week class you can join or come on one of my retreats, suitable for beginners and more experienced practitioners alike.
Here are two of my practices for you to have a go: Breeze Bathing http://www.catherine-g-lucas.com/free-mindfulness.html and Mindful Walking https://insighttimer.com/catherinelucas Enjoy!
Author: Catherine G Lucas is the author of four books on the holistic approach to mental health. Her latest in the Sheldon Press Mindful Way series is out now: Life Crisis: the Mindful Way. She also published The Rainbow Journal, for young people who self-harm, whilst working for the national charity Self-Injury Support. In her writing Catherine draws on both her personal and professional experience as a mindfulness trainer see www.catherine-g-lucas.com