Mindfulness: from Minefield to Magic

 Louise takes the plunge into mindfulness.

louiseLouise Campbell

I’m scared. Pooing-my-pants scared. My quest for better self-care is moving from the safety of tea on the back doorstep into an unknown land called Mindfulness. It’s a place where staying present, not being subsumed by thoughts about the past and future, and judgement-free acceptance help to develop awareness, appreciation and clarity in everyday life. Mindfulness has even been shown to help with stress management, mood regulation and a host of other health issues. Wow! Sounds like the perfect underpinning for self-care practice.

So what am I afraid of? I worry that there will be too many things to be mindful about: my thoughts, my feelings, my life, what I eat, sugar intake, how much water and caffeine I drink, sleep; how I spend my time, my money, how I parent my kids, the environment; what I wear, what I write; conversations, relationships. Can anything seriously quiet my flitting mind? What if this mindfulness caper really works, and my naughty inner child becomes a total goody-goody. I kind of like her as she is: living on the edge, shooting from the hip; she is silly and fun, and still makes me laugh at fart jokes.*

But she is the one who always distracts me from the present. While I have been writing this post the little ratbag begged me to check the fridge for snacks, when I’m not even hungry. Then she tried to make me get up and pluck the hair off my chin, the wiry one I’ve been twiddling all week, waiting for it to get long enough to grip. It has been coming and going since I was fourteen, when it was first pointed out by my best friend’s older sister in front of some really cool, spunky sixteen year-old guys. Thanks for that, Katie T! By the way, I wonder what she is up to these days? Must look her up on Facebook, and maybe Twitter. I’m half way out of my chair. “Hey! Keep writing!” yells my sensible inner adult, bringing me back to the present and onto my bottom. “Tweet and tweeze later!”

mim logoWhisker intact, I’m driving full speed ahead into Mindfulness. Luckily, I just found a roadmap to get me across the border safely. I signed up for the perfectly timed Mindful in May – Pause for a Cause – (MiM) meditation campaign, founded by fellow WonderWriter, Dr Elise Bialylew.  I just received the first of my online mindful meditation resources, and I sighed with relief. They are not scary at all, and are perfect for the time-poor novice. Ooh, the mindfulness fairies are smiling upon me today. I have just been granted an unexpected bit of time alone to test them out. Back in ten…

“If you let cloudy water settle, it will become clear. If you let your upset mind settle, your course will also become clear.”

(From Buddha’s Little Instruction Book (Kornfield: Bantum Books, 1994)

And that was all it took. Ten minutes to do a ‘body scan’ meditation, guided by an audio file, tuning into myself, experiencing without reacting. I managed not to fall asleep, and I came out of it calm and centred. My brain battery got a tiny recharge – fantastic! To bring this mindfulness with me throughout the day when I catch myself drifting, Bialylew recommends, “gently bringing your attention back to the body, over and over and over again.” Although registration for MiM may have just closed when this post goes online, you can follow on Facebook or even donate/sponsor MiM participants to help raise funds to provide clean water for those in desperate need.

Inspired by my first go at mindfulness, I found more exercises to start building mindfulness in everyday life from the Black Dog Institute. They include mindful eating, mindful walking, breathing and de-stressing activities that even the scattiest and most sleep-deprived amongst us can manage. We live in a fast-paced, distracting world. The benefits of mindfulness are very appealing, and I am on board. I will report back on my progress with MiM and mindfulness after the end of the campaign. Meanwhile, I urge you to join me in taking the not-so-scary plunge into mindfulness, even just dipping your toes, in the interests of self-care and wellbeing. Now I’m off to pluck my chin.

*After reading my first post on self-care, a few of my dearest and oldest friends were worried that I’d gone all serious. Not entirely true!

Louise has been a wonder woman for 43 years (less the girlhood years, nobody is sure precisely when, or if indeed they have, really finished). Louise spent more than a decade working in senior marketing, sales and public relations roles in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry.  She has since made a career switch to full-time parent and part-time writer. Every day Louise asks, “Surely, there must be a better way?” She is passionate about helping modern wonder women to extract more personal satisfaction from their busy lives. Louise lives in Sydney with her husband and two young sons. Louise can be contacted at: chorecuts[at]gmail[dot]com
Life Balance = Read. Move. Laugh.