I made the decision very early on to only make and create blog posts – and anything I post online really – that will give some form of value to those who choose to read/watch it! I may have gotten lost along the way whilst trying to fill up Blogmas posts and vlog daily but it is a concept I always come back to. I don’t want to just fill your mind with unnecessary stuff, I even feel a slight pang of guilt when I write something about my travels because although my intention is to share an experience with you, to connect with you, unless I can give you a detailed itinerary I feel like I’m doing too much showing off and not enough of providing value.
Thats why, when it came to writing this blog post I struggled, was I just trying to TELL you something that I had been experiencing recently or could someone out there relate to it? Could they feel less alone? Perhaps you might give these new thought patterns a try if you haven’t already! So, with the hope of giving you value by maybe giving you something new to think about here goes…
A Journey to Mindfulness
Mindfullness is something I had heard about a lot online but never really thought to practice, I saw people share their good results but felt too busy to be mindful! One thing that a phycologist has said to me that has stuck in my mind is that we can be “too busy to be alive” and thats entirely true and certainly is one of the big things that has lead me down this weird and wonderful path!
A lot of people have ideas and expectations around mindfulness, I know a lot of people – in the beginning- feel like they have to concentrate SO HARD on their breath and if they stop concentrating then they have FAILED!
But actually, mindfulness isn’t about concentrating on one thing, or thinking about one thing, being mindful is about NOTICING your thoughts, you use your breath as a focus point, something to hold onto and bring you back and your mind WILL wander because you’re HUMAN but you notice that and then you let that thought go and you go back to the breath… Not focusing on the breath, just simply going back to it, becoming aware of it as you let the thoughts go.
Scared of My Own Thoughts
As some of you may know, I am pretty open when it comes to my mental health, I try and talk about it after the fact, share my experiences and let people know that they are not alone!
Around a year or two ago, I was in sixthform, I had become severely depressed to the point that it was becoming quite debilitating, along with my other chronic illnesses getting worse I pretty much went within myself. Then my body decided that it could no longer handle pain, depression or even a giggle, it was all too much so I became numb!
I could not only not remember the last time I laughed but the last time I cried, I didn’t care about anything or anyone – including and especially myself – and to be quite honest, I entered some of the darkest months I have ever had to face in all my 20 years!
Since then I have been working hard on getting better, I took any and every tip whether it was get outside or allow yourself to be sad sometimes and I have been figuring out what works for me and what doesn’t but thats a whole other blog post! I thought I was doing ok until one day I was asked to practice some mindfulness. The guy – lets call him doc – would tell us to “be in the shower when we’re in the shower” and do things like the raisin meditation.
It wasn’t until I attempted to do these things that I noticed something very worrying about my life and the way I behave..
I go out of my way to make sure that I am not alone with my own thoughts at any given moment in time!
When I am in the shower/bath I have music on, I take my sleeping medication and wait until I am literally snoozing before I turn the TV off, if I have to wait 2 minutes for my mum to come and pick me up I put my earphones in, if I am not working at home I have a podcast on or I am talking to someone or watching something.
I have a constant need to keep my brain busy through fear of it travelling to those dark places again – even though theres no reason for me to suddenly become as depressed as I was 1-2 years ago while waiting outside the cinema for my mother to come and get me. Taking time to be mindful – even if its just for a few moments before I feel I have to move on has made me realise that what I am doing right now, the way I am behaving and trying to not only keep myself busy all the time but distract myself from my own thoughts is EXHAUSTING.
Things I do to Help
- NOTICE your thoughts -My journey to being more mindful has only just begun… literally like, 2 weeks ago, but I am already seeing a change in behaviour! When I am trying to meditate for example, I push back the fear of my mind travelling to dark places and instead sit back and WATCH where it travels. If I feel I need to I will pull out of the meditation I will, but most of the time just going back to the breath and using that to anchor me again really helps!
- Pray – Of course another thing that helps me is to pray, or use meditation to focus on God and what I am grateful for, that way, especially if I feel like my mind is travelling to dark places I can easily snap out of it and quickly find comfort in the things I was just being grateful for – hopefully that makes sense!
- Don’t be too hard on your self – Meditation and mindfulness isn’t about focusing on one thing as I have already said, it is about noticing where your mind goes and then bringing it back to the breath as an anchor! So if you find yourself wandering off to all sorts of places and feel like you have to constantly be bringing yourself back to the breath don’t worry! That just means you’re being mindful! You have realised your mind has wondered and you have then brought it back and anchored it again!
- Actually Set Thoughts Free – I didn’t understand the concept of setting thoughts free for a VERY long time! Actually, while you’re meditating or practicing mindfulness, whether you’re in prayer or not… letting your thoughts go free, especially the ones you don’t need or the ones which are just causing stress is SO important! So when you’re practicing mindfulness and you notice your mind wander slowly think to yourself, INSTRUCT yourself to let that thought be free, to do this you have to accept WHATEVER it is and either decide to change from it- if you want to- or not. Then as you come back to the breath knowing that you have let that thought go will make you feel MUCH lighter!
- Remember It’s Hard In The Beginning – you might feel stupid, you might feel like you’re not doing it right but EVERYONE feels a bit weird listening to their breathing at first because our bodies and minds have taught us to ignore it and get on with our lives for so long! When actually, if you focus on it, even for 30 seconds if thats all you can manage, you will notice how much calmer and lighter it can make you feel!!
As I said, I am still very new to all of this and am lucky to have ol’ Doc helping me out but I wanted to document it and the change I am already feeling in my mind, body, soul, I am even trying to EAT healthier foods which is a BIG change for a chocolate snacker like me!! Even though I am very new to this journey, I have learnt so much about myself and mindfulness in general that I thought it would be nice to go on this journey together if you’re interested!!