Mindfulness but not as you know it
Mindfulness is a well know word but it’s easily misunderstood. Especially if we think we need to devote a lot of time to being mindful, that we need specific products to be mindful and it all feels like too much hassle. But there are many ways you can have mindful moments as you go about your ordinary day.
In this episode I share:
- What we miss out on when we eye-roll mindfulness
- The value in even the shortest mindful moment
- A wide variety of mindful opportunities in your everyday life
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Pressing Pause Episode 118 Mindfulness but not as you know it
Welcome to Pressing Pause, I’m your host, Gabrielle Treanor, a coach, writer, introvert and sensitive soul with an inclination to ponder over the stuff of life. Join me as I explore how we can create, find and feel more calm, ease and joy in our daily lives.
I took an unexpected break from the podcast last week because life was simply too hectic! Mostly because we have a new member of our family – a rescue puppy we’ve named Bailey. Our beloved dog, Georgie, died in May after 13 years in our lives and when we decided we wanted to love another dog we wanted them to be a rescue. We chose to wait until after our busy summer and start to autumn before we started looking for our new pup, and then things happened very quickly and last week Bailey entered our lives!
Getting ready for his arrival, meeting the requirements of the rescue charity who understandably are quite particular about who their dogs go to, and then introducing him to our home meant that last week had to be pared back to the most essential – finishing my Break the People-pleasing Habit mini course, one to one calls and writing magazine articles. So there was no podcast or email letter!
Now, I know I don’t owe you an explanation, the podcast is a free resource I create for you, but I wanted to tell you because this is an example of when we have to make changes because we simply don’t have the bandwidth to do it all. And yes, thoughts run through your head like are you letting people down, it’s bad to be inconsistent, but striving to stick to a plan that isn’t working because life took a side turn, and it’s going to stress you out to try to continue like nothing’s changed when it has, is perfectionism and people-pleasing in action.
We get bogged down in this stuff because we think that other people pay as much attention to what we do as we do, but you know what? They don’t! It’s very likely that there are plenty of folk who haven’t even noticed that the podcast skipped a week or they didn’t get a regular email from me
So I wanted to share this with you as an example of it being okay that you change plans, you skip things, you don’t do what you said you would. That it’s not the end of the world, you’re not a terrible person and people don’t think it, and there’s a good chance that no-one is sweating it nearly as much as you are. You’re allowed to do what you need and want, to change plans and it does not automatically mean you’re unreliable, selfish or flaky.
If you’ve been listening a while you’ll have heard me talk about this many times before because I know that it can’t be said enough, you can’t hear it enough. It’s what comes up over and over with my coaching clients. And it’s why I decided to create the free Break the People-pleasing Habit mini course, which has started but it’s not too late for you to join in. The course is delivered to you as a private podcast and the episodes will be available for another week or so, so if you haven’t signed up for free and you want to, go to gabrielletreanor.com/please.
Okay then, on with the episode.
Welcome to episode 118. Something I used to talk a lot about years ago when I first started to help people to overcome overwhelm and feel more calm and joy was mindfulness. Over time the word has become part of common parlance, it’s bandied around so much that it’s often met with eye-rolling. But a couple of conversations recently reminded me that it’s still easily misunderstood. It can seem like we need to devote a lot of time to being mindful, that we need specific products to be mindful (thanks, capitalism) and it all feels like too much hassle.
But here’s the thing, mindfulness is simply about being present in this moment, without judging it or trying to change it. And that’s what I hear people wanting to experience. They want to be more in the moment, instead of rushing to the next thing, busy in their heads thinking about what already happened or what’s going to happen. They know they’ll benefit from it. They know that being more mindful will lower their stress, calm their minds, soothe their nerves and it will mean they’ll find more joy in the small, everyday stuff.
But when you’re used to a busy brain and a non-stop life it’s hard to really be in the present moment so expecting yourself to become mega zen-like for a long stretch of time is a big ask! And unnecessary because you don’t have to be focused on the here and now for a minimum number of minutes for it to count as legitimate mindfulness.
It isn’t something that needs to be done in isolation, that you set a timer for like meditation. You can choose to be mindful at any moment in your day, anywhere you like. To illustrate this I thought I’d share with you several ways you can have mindful moments as you go about your ordinary day. Moments where you’re noticing the reality of the present, without judging, criticising or changing it. Yes, some may only last a few seconds but that’s still really valuable because for those seconds you are right here in this present moment, not in the past, not in the future and your brain gets to take a breather.
So, right from the start of the day, when you wash your face in the morning pay attention to how the water feels on your hands, the temperature on your skin and the sensation as the water splashes your face. Notice the silkiness of the soap or cleanser on your face, the texture of the towel as you dry off and how the moisturiser soaks into your skin.
As you make a hot drink listen to the sound in the kettle change as the water reaches boiling point. Notice how the water pours out of the spout and the motion of the tea bag or coffee under its pressure. Look at the steam rising from your mug, how the spoon feels in your hand as you squeeze out the tea bag or smell the coffee’s aroma.
As you walk down a street, through a park or along a corridor, engage your senses. Single out each sound you can hear – a car engine, tree branches rustling, or people talking. Say to yourself silently what you can see – road signs, a flower bed, or colours of clothes. Pay attention to how your feet feel on the ground – how your weight shifts from foot to foot, the rhythm of your stride.
At lunchtime give yourself a few minutes without checking your email, scrolling social media or working. Give all your focus to what you’re eating, look at the colour and texture, notice its aroma, think about how it feels to bite into and chew, and the taste.
When you’re in conversation with someone, be it a friend, a work colleague or one of the family, really listen to them. Try not to think about what you’re going to say next or drift off to other thoughts. Pay full attention to what they’re saying and how they’re saying it. Notice their facial expressions, their body language.
As you’re making dinner give all your attention to what you’re doing rather than thinking about what happened earlier or what you still have yet to do. Focus on what you’re chopping, notice the weight of the knife in your hand, how it slices through the food and the sound it makes. Observe, for just a few seconds, the pan on the hob with food browning or steam rising. As you dish up notice the colours and textures, how they contrast to the bowl or plate
When you get ready for bed think about how it feels to be free of the clothes you’ve been wearing all day. Notice how your body feels, any tiredness or acheyness, maybe taking a few stretches.
And when you’re finally lying in bed at the end of the day, give a little attention to how it feels to be horizontal, for the weight of your body to be supported by the mattress, how you’re breathing.
If it helps to remind you to take a moment to be mindful you can set an alarm on your phone to go off a few times a day. When you hear the alarm notice where you are, what you’re doing, who’s around you, what you can hear.
And remember that to be present in the moment is to observe, to notice, not to judge, criticise or try to change. If your attention only lasts a few seconds before wandering off that’s okay, it’s still mindfulness. And the more you practise it, the more of these little micro moments you’re present for, the more your brain learns to do them and the more you gain from them.
Thank you for listening to Pressing Pause, you can find details of what I shared in this episode in the show notes at gabrielletreanor.com/podcast. I’d love to hear what you take from the episode so do email me at [email protected]. You can leave a rating or review on iTunes too, and that helps other people to find the podcast.
And as I said at the start of this episode the Break the People-pleasing Habit free mini course is still available for you to join. By the end of the mini course you will be well on your way to breaking the people-pleasing habit which uses up so much of your energy, your time and your resources, which sucks up your calm, your peace and your joy so that you’re left exhausted, overwhelmed and resentful.
To join the free mini course go to gabrielletreanor.com/please.
Thanks again for listening, until next time.