Winter is now in full swing with the first signs of snow making an appearance the past couple of weeks. I started to think about the connection I have with winter, winter is the time to hibernate, over eat and be merry. But more often or not its a time of reflection, personal reflection and reflection about the world around us.
Summer has long left us the vibrancy of heat and healthiness has faded. The cold weather has stripped away the lush colours and left a bare landscape, the bare landscape reveals things we have put to one side and brings things back to the forefront of the mind. Winter days are shorter, colder and people spend more time indoors leading to Winterblues.
This brings me to the topic of this blog Mindfulness, In the lead up to the new year I find myself reflecting on the past year, which has had its fair share of ups and downs. One thing I do is dwell on the negatives and I must admit I get very down. My mind tells me that ‘I’m not good enough’ and ‘I wish I could change’ I get bogged down with negative thoughts and negative attitudes. I decided it was time to combat and change my mind on these negative thoughts.
Time to bust those Winterblues with some mindfulness. The oxford dictionary definition of mindfulness ‘a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.’ This definition makes it sound very complicated but I ensure you its not, you don’t need to go any where or even buy anything you just need a few minutes a day and some concentration.
I finally picked up a book on Mindfulness which has been sitting unread on my shelve for nearly 2 years now and took it to the woods to read. I didn’t think it would help me much but I thought it was a step in the right direction. I was surprised that only from reading a few pages I had started to think a little differently, my thoughts where not controlling me as much or as negative.
The book contained some very helpful exercises, the first exercise I found was very helpful to achieve some inner peace and it clears my mind so I thought I would share it.
Notice Every Breath
Setting aside some time each day to do the following exercise is a wonderful way to experience mindfulness .
- For a few breaths, use the muscles of your abdomen and chest to empty all the air out of your lungs, then allow them to fill naturally. As you do this, notice what it feels like to breathe in this way.
- After these few breaths, allow your breathing to find its own rhythm. Let your breathing be as shallow or as deep as it is while noticing;
– the rise and fall of your shoulders
– the expansion and contraction of your abdomen
– the sensation of the air entering and exciting through your nose or mouth
3. Continue to notice how it feels to breathe. Also, pay attention to the pause between in and out breaths. Notice the silence created by the gap between breaths.
4. Do this for as long as you wish
5.Allow thoughts to come and go without getting lost in them
Doyle, O (2014) Mindfulness Plain and Simple, Orion Publishing Group, Great Britain.
I hope to continue on this journey of mindfulness and will read on with the book, I expect that with persistence It will help me become the best person I can be. The book by Oli Doyle is quite short and an easy read, It works for me but may not work for everyone, I would recommend to search around and find one that suits your learning style. Ebay and Amazon sell second hand options which can be slightly cheaper and promote you to recycle. If you don’t want to spend any money there is phone applications such as Headspace and online articles which are a great starting point here .
A Final Note
Not everyone is lucky enough to have the comforts I take for granted and not everyone joins in the merriment of Christmas and new year. The cold months are very hard on some people especially the elderly, poorly, homeless and even stray animals. Winter is a good time to donate some old jackets and clothes , summer tents and sleeping bags to the homeless or just simply checking up on elderly neighbours to make sure there safe for the winter months.
Enjoy the festive season