Good Morning!

Do you jump out of bed in the morning revitalised, refreshed rushing to get into another day? Big smile on your face and hugs all round; the cat, your partner, your barista.

Or is it more like this.

The way we greet the first few minutes of our day can have a profound affect on how the rest of it will unfold. It makes it possible to be more mindful, self-compassionate, connected, and resilient throughout the day.

Try to do the following 3 simple things EACH morning for one week and be curious about the outcome.

  1. HEARING. Rather than starting the day off tense and startled by loud alarms choose one that’s gentle and soothing — chimes, bells, more relaxing music. Instead of hitting the snooze button or peeling yourself off the ceiling take the time to indulge in three mindful breaths… or maybe even five (radical!). Deep in-breath, long slow out-breath till you can no longer exhale. And then another, and then another.
  2. TASTING. Drink a BIG glass of water. You will be dehydrated after the long night. The coffee or tea can wait a few minutes, even if you think it can't. Your gut will be grateful.
  3. SEEING. This is the biggest but most profound. Before grabbing your phone, computer etc. go outside or open the window wide. Look at the sky, a tree, a pot plant. Observe something natural. Most likely your day will hold plenty of technology and I promise you won't miss anything in these few minutes.

Give yourself a moment giving these a try. Then move on to the rest of your day.

Agghhh! I Need Some Impulse Control!

I have been spending time lately looking at my impulses. I am learning to watch when desire takes over and I become grabby. I must have that, this or whatever. NOW. I am trying to being more responsive and less reactive. It’s a wonderful skill but easier said than done.

It’s tough but I’ve learnt a lot. I am less reactive around family. Not all the family but hey I am seeing growth. I am eating more mindfully, unless there is alcohol involved. If there’s alcohol I can eat anything. EVERYTHING!!! I have limited my coffee intake from four a day to one and realise I don't actually like coffee that much. And I am trying to not get up from my meditation cushion on impulse because I remember something I need to do NOW. I’ve found that one of the ways to tame an undisciplined mind is to watch an impulse arise and take a pause, check in with your quiet mind and watch what happens to the impulse if you don't act upon it.

But here’s my downfall. Ask me to sign up for any summit, teaching, new online course and my fingers hit that keyboard as fast as I can get that credit card out of my purse. Ah now I am about to do something constructive, learn some new skills. Grab grab grab. Gimme gimme gimme. The problem is I don't actually log on to do it, BUT I feel like I’m doing something.

On the good side though I used to do the same with books. So many impulses, so many unread books. But at least I HAD them on the bookshelf. Again I felt like I’d done something! I rarely buy a book these days. There is so much good stuff online and my bookshelves can now breathe easier. My kindle on the other hand…

So why am I writing about this. Well this week I decided to attend to my wardrobe. Younger sons’ birthday present was to sort out my clothes, get rid of stuff and then take me shopping. Great present. So there was younger son texting on the phone on the floor in my bedroom directing me to chuck, keep and more than a few times asking ‘What were you thinking?!”

I need to paint a clearer picture here. This son is seriously cool. I know he won’t read this so I feel very safe saying so. He has hair half way down his back, one of those awful beards, wears black t-shirts, torn black jeans, worn R. Williams boots and rides a black Harley. I am telling you that guy is gorgeously cool. So he is telling his mum what to dispose of and I am left with a very spacious wardrobe of black white and denim. Happy Mother.

I had so many clothes in there that I never wore. Boots that weren’t made for walking but looked great in the shop. Dresses that were fine when I bought them but could never be worn because I never had the right shoes. There was my denim period, my primary colour lets-be-happy time, my corporate outfit that I could never wear because it was so uncomfortable. My three pairs of exactly the same coloured sandals in case they ever wore out. I was over them before the first one left the house. My hippy summer beach cover ups that never ventured onto any beach. And lets not go anywhere near the swimming costumes! The list could go on and on... All bought on impulse, all gave me that retail therapy high, for a few moments at least. All now ready to give away.
So the next step was to fill in the empty spaces. YAY! This time I will be more discerning. No impulse buys.

And then same son sends me a link to a documentary he had just finished watching - The True Cost. A good documentary will make you stop and think, a great documentary will make you change your behaviour. I urge you to take some time to watch this. Sometimes we just need to be exposed to the right thing at the right time to curb our impulsivity. I think this was it.

Switching Off Autopilot

As the word ‘Mindfulness’ becomes more mainstream so is another, related word - 'autopilot’. 

What is autopilot?

Being on autopilot means that you are able to do things without paying any attention to what your doing. It’s like driving a car. When learning how to drive our senses are heightened to EVERYTHING… our hands on the steering wheel, the brake, the mirrors, the cars around us… it's a wonder with so much information we can learn anything at all! But with practice it all becomes more familiar, driving becomes routine and we are unaware of what’s going on unless something out of the ordinary calls for our attention - like a child on the road or a very big truck. Eventually we can end up driving on autopilot.

Autopilot can, in certain situations, be a useful skill by enabling us to bring our attention to other things. The trouble is when we live most of our lives on autopilot. We are aware of when things are fabulous or terrible but in between we are off some place else. Daydreaming about the future, regretting or remembering the past while ignoring what is happening now – our current slice of reality is lost. It’s a seductive mind pattern.

We spend time about 95% most of our thought-time either rehashing the past or rehearsing for the future, and only 5% in the present. 

To cope we often like to get preoccupied with projects. Putting things into boxes. For example, if we have a big project on we tend to put aside the things that we normally enjoy, promising ourselves that when it’s over we’ll do all the other nice stuff. But the end of one project is just the signal to the start of another one. And we never truly start enjoying the life that we promised ourselves.

So the question is, how can I nourish myself in the next hour? What can I do, some small thing, in the next hour or two that will actually make a difference? How can I practice at attending to my life in a more wholesome way? Not just giving my thinking a break but actually switching on a different mode of being.

If you are interested in exploring a new dynamic for living and changing life draining habits, comejoin the July Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course.