Happy New Year!
In my previous post I set my intention to stay in the moment over the Xmas holidays.
This can be an anxious time of year for many people; loss of regular routine, contact with family members you may find difficult or rarely see, the stress of planning and preparing special food, gifts to find and purchase…the list goes on. Mindfulness – the practice of being in the moment – can help ease this anxiety.
So…how did I get on?
Honestly – I am not a naturally mindful person!
My monkey-mind likes to flit between thoughts constantly, particularly if they are about things that make me anxious. Because I had set the intention to remain in the moment I found that I was more aware when these periods of over-thinking happened, which meant I was able to break the cycle by focusing on my breath and coming back to myself in that moment.
This may have helped me feel less overwhelmed by all the choices and more tolerant of changes to my routine. Because of this I felt less anxious and I was able to express my needs more clearly, without resorting to snapping instructions at those around me!
I think this may have been the first Xmas I can remember without at least one argument – even wrapping gifts seemed less stressful than it normally does! Of course it wasn’t perfect; there were all the usual annoyances as well as dealing with a cold and withdrawal symptoms from my anxiety medication (which I am slowly weaning myself off). But it felt as though I was more able to mentally take a step back before reacting; giving me the space to choose my best reaction to each annoyance in turn.
Being mindful takes practice. There will be many times when you realise you are over-thinking again, or worrying about things outside of your control. The monkey-mind loves to dwell in the past (“Look at all the mistakes I’ve made!”) or the future (“Which path is the right path? What if…?”) instead of living in the present.
By bringing the awareness back into the moment – as many times as necessary – the inner critic is calmed and the mountainous problems tend to shrink back to something approaching molehill-size. One gains the space to consider how best to deal with each situation as it arises, avoiding a knee-jerk reaction that could exacerbate things.
In my next post I will share the breathing technique I have been using to bring myself back into the moment.