The specialness of the every day

The specialness of the every day.

The every day of life. Pause. Look. See.

I just finished a novel about two friends. It’s called Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession. Nothing much happens and yet it was immersive. Why? Because the author does a great job of describing the every day of their lives. And in those every day moments – making breakfast, topping up the bird feeders, getting the shopping in, doing work, interacting with friends and family with moments of togetherness and moments of misunderstanding – there is joy.

What’s in your every day today? Pause, Look. See. Don’t miss the joy alongside the tough stuff.

This is Mindful Monday on 2 August 2021.

Thankfulness, overflowing

Thankfulness. Let it flow.

Notice . . . and be thankful.

I have been intentionally noticing water, possibly because of a few days’ heatwave in the UK! And as I have practiced noticing it – being aware of it rather than just taking it for granted – I have been so thankful.

Turning the tap . . . to drink, to wash, to water plants. Going to a swimming pool and enjoying the coolness of the water. Watching (brief) rain . . . and breathing deep afterwards to smell the earthiness in the damp air. Watching a documentary about the Earth’s oceans and how their flow nurtures life.

Water, vital for life. Notice. Be thankful. Know the richness of what you have.

Just the act of choosing to notice and being thankful for one thing will change your perspective on so many things. Give it a go – today.

This is Mindful Monday on 26 July 2021.

Day after day

Discipline, day after day

Whether you are a committed sports fan or not, you can’t avoid sport in the UK at the moment. Alongside millions, I have been watching great sportspeople perform at massive sports events. (And yes, you win some and you lose some!)

Behind each event are sportspeople who have trained, day after day. Without the crowds. Without competition adrenaline. Without sure reward.

Let’s share the joy (and the pain) of these events. Let’s also note the discipline.

Is there something you would love to achieve or do? Mindfulness is about living in the present but it is also about planning for the future, taking actions in the present which increase the likelihood of something happening in the future.

These sportspeople train each day with a future win in mind. Is there something you need to do each day to prepare for a better present and future? Sure we can’t always win but we can influence being well placed!

This is Mindful Monday on 12 July 2021.

Your pace – not theirs

I walked up hill behind someone this week. I tried to match their stride. I could do it for a short time but they were taller than I am – and perhaps fitter! – so it didn’t last for long. I couldn’t match their stride for any period of time.

Why was I trying to? Okay, that was just a momentary individual game on a walk but what if I was trying to do that generally in life? That would cause me to be constantly living at other people’s paces, seeking to be like other people, comparing myself with others.

It would mean I am missing finding my own pace, my own pattern, my own beliefs and values – the way I choose to live life and make sense of life. That would be a shame.

Each of us is unique. Our pace is unique. Explore your pace (not someone else’s). Celebrate your pace. Yes, we learn from the experiences of others. But we remain – uniquely – us!

This is Mindful Monday on 27 June 2021.

Break the routine

Break the routine

We can boost our awareness of ourselves and what is around us by choosing to break our usual routines. In the routine we are used to, we will notice less; we will think our ‘usual’ thoughts.

Holidays naturally create new patterns and new locations. But, not on holiday, we can choose to break our usual routines and benefit from being more aware.

Often when we break our routine, we will notice more good things that encourage and energise us, as well as new thoughts that can take us to more creative spaces.

Try a change; observe what new things you notice!

This is Mindful Monday on 21 June 2021.

Like a child

Like a child . . .

One of my childhood associations is eating a cold ice lolly on a hot day.

I found a treasure trove of different lollies recently made to be reminiscent of childhood sweets: Fruit Salads, Sherbet Dib Dabs, Nougat, Cola Bottles, Black Jacks. It is good to recall a positive simple memory from childhood and I am enjoying repeating the experience!

I can still really immerse myself in enjoying eating an ice lolly on a hot day. It is a simple pleasure. It uses all my senses.

Sometimes children seem to naturally be more mindful – be fully immersed in a moment – using all their senses.

Let the child in you live on. Enjoy a simple pleasure. Immerse yourself fully in it. There is a simplicity in the moment that you will relish.

This is Mindful Monday on 14 June 2021. Join a session of mindfulness in the outdoors on 15 June, 4.30-6 pm. Email hello@essencecheltenham.org for details.

Acceptance is key

Many of us will at times suffer from poor sleep. And I find any insights on how to improve sleep are usually gratefully received.

There is a lot of advice available on how to replace thoughts and behaviours that are keeping us awake with thoughts and behaviours that increase the chance of sleeping. It’s advice based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT for short.

But I was struck with a new approach, described as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT for short. Here the focus is on accepting the thoughts, feelings and sensations that go with lying awake. Rather than ‘battling’ against our wakefulness, instead we simply accept it as it is. ‘Letting go’ of the struggle to get to sleep can help restore the natural biological process.

It’s actually a practice at the heart of mindfulness: accepting things as they are. And there are rich rewards as we – often courageously – do this.

This is Mindful Monday on 17 May 2021.