WAKING UP TO LIFE
Tue Aug 28 2018 16:42:01 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Do you ever look back on situations, experiences or memories, and feel like you were completely checked out?
Sometimes I wake up and think; have I been asleep for the last 6 months? What have I missed?
This realisation came to me a few years after I finished school. During my final year, my eating disorder was at its peak. I was fortunate enough to do some traveling in that time, but due to the fact I was going through my own internal ‘stuff’, I felt like I was pretty checked out for those experiences.
Since then, I have always tried being really present in each moment.
Its pretty easy to go into ‘auto pilot’, without truly connecting to our experiences. We are taught to just ‘get through it’, rather than to stop and take it all in.
There are many practices you can implement to help you stay present, and its just about figuring out what works best for you. You can use your senses; touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing. I also like to focus on meditation, mindfulness, yoga and self care.
Using your senses can be the fastest way to bring you back into the present moment:
Look up from the task or activity you are doing
Look at nature, what do you see?
Stop and breathe
Touch your surroundings and focus on the different textures, I like to do this outdoors with plants, dirt, frost etc
Listen, what do you hear?
Something else to consider, is mindfulness.
Mindfulness is practice which cultivates awareness of thoughts, emotions and sensations in the body. It encourages curiosity and compassion and has an array of health benefits which are supported with scientific research.
You can cultivate mindfulness through meditation and journaling. Now, if meditation isn’t your thing, I highly recommend trying guided meditations. I use the ‘Isight Timer’ app for this, which is free.
Benefits of mediation:
Increases resilience to stress
Increased tolerance to pain
Can result in changes to the grey matter in certain regions of the brain, which are responsible for emotion, learning and memory
Mindfulness training can assist in improving symptoms related to digestive issues
I want to share with you a little story I read recently in a book called Peace Is Every Step, by Thich Nhat Hanh:
"One day, I offered a number of children a basket filled with tangerines. The basket was passed around, and each child took one tangerine and put it in his or her palm. We each looked at our tangerine, and the children were invited to meditate on its origins. They saw not only their tangerine, but also its mother, the tangerine tree. With some guidance, they began to visualize the blossoms in the sunshine and in the rain. Then they saw petals falling down and the tiny green fruit appear. The sunshine and the rain continued, and the tiny tangerine grew. Now someone has picked it, and the tangerine is here. After seeing this, each child was invited to peel the tangerine slowly, noticing the mist and the fragrance of the tangerine, and then bring it up to his or her mouth and have a mindful bite, in full awareness of the texture and taste of the fruit and the juice coming out. We ate slowly like that.
Each time you look at a tangerine you can see deeply into it. You can see everything is the universe in one tangerine. When you peel it and smell it, its wonderful. You can take your time eating a tangerine and be very happy."
This story is such a lovely reminder of how we can apply mindfulness into every day.
So now the ball is in your court, what can you do to be present in your life?
Pannowitz, D 2015, ‘Clinical Applications of Mindful Eating.’, vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 168 – 171, viewed 7th September 2016