How was your festive break? Has it left you feeling rested, recharged and raring to get back to work? Or are you in need of some rest and relaxation after all the energy expended in shopping, wrapping, cooking, visiting or entertaining?
Unfortunately for some people the Christmas period can generate anxiety. Being out of the natural routine of things can be a trigger for some, whilst others worry about having bought the right gifts, or visited the right relations in the right order. Even people who ordinarily, are emotionally robust, report feeling out of sorts, sometimes being catapulted into their family ‘roles’ can create generalised anxiety.
Whatever your current ‘state’ it might be nice to take a few moments out from doing anything at all. Will you rise to my challenge here and take ten minutes to sit still (preferably upright) and do nothing, absolutely nothing?
When you’ve finished reading this blog, come away from any distractions such as TV, computer, tablet or phone. If possible sit near a window with some natural light.
Keep your eyes open yet heavy-lidded and settle your gaze slightly ahead of you and sit still for 10 minutes.
Allow your mind to wander if it wants to and periodically come back to an awareness of your breathing.
Notice what arises when you keep still in this way. What happens physically? Do you get an itch or irritation somewhere on your body, do you suddenly need to cough, or want to shift around? Just notice.
What happens mentally? Is your mind darting rapidly from one thought to another, from the future to the past? Does the mind draw you into one particular memory that you begin to run over and over? Just notice.
What happens to you emotionally when you sit doing absolutely nothing? Do you feel uncomfortable or peaceful? Do you start to feel sad, anxious or agitated? Do you begin to feel sleepy? Is there an overwhelming desire to get up and move? Override it by calmly bringing your attention back to your breathing.
Taking small chunks of time in this way to practise the art of ‘being’ allows us to become more and more familiar with how it feels to be peaceful and we can then carry that over into other aspects of our day, approaching daily tasks with a calmer detached manner.
Over time these mindfulness techniques can help us to conquer some of the negatives that the mind throws up, so that we use the mind rather than allowing the mind to use us.
Making space to spend time with ourselves can provide opportunities for insight and understanding of ourselves and others. The Chinese book of philosophy the Tao Te Ching says ‘To understand others is to have knowledge. To understand oneself is to be illuminated”.
I hope 2016 brings enlightenment, peace and joy into your hearts and minds.
Will you accept my challenge? As always I love the feedback so please leave your comments to let us know how you got on.