This blog was sent to me by a client. She shares her experience of the Mindfulness Now programme.
"I was frazzled, my stress levels were sky high, I was having anxiety attacks, my psoriasis had really flared up and I was in a downwards spiral with my weight.
"Something needed to change.
"Then I came across Ann from mindfulness @ equilibre, who is a Mindfulness Now Practitioner and Teacher. Ann runs the programme as an eight-week intensive and in-depth course that combines Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stressed Reduction (MBSR), and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) which was developed by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams and John Teasdale; the latter recommended by NICE.
"I had dabbled somewhat with meditation before, but had never built up a regular practice. Or rather, I had become frustrated with thoughts that kept popping into my head and I could never be free of them. (Spoiler Alert: Everyone has thoughts during meditation, and by its definition, it is the art of letting go of the thoughts that flow in a non-judgemental way, not the absence of thoughts altogether). I was keen to learn if the course could teach me how to meditate in a way that I could connect to and would become part of my daily routine.
"I went in with my eyes open, wanting to make a change. It was clear that over the coming eight weeks, I was going to learn the tools that would be instrumental in that change. The programme consists of meditations, breathing techniques, relatable stories and poems, exercises on perspective, mindfulness movement and mindfulness eating. These practices start to carve new pathways in which we think and act, to build up our resilience and reduce symptoms of stress.
"So, how did I go from frazzled to clarity? The biggest takeaway that I got from the course, and what has been so instrumental to my change, was developing a toolkit. Exercises, meditations, thought processes that would help me in times of need to regular daily activities, and everything in between.
"I also fell in love with journaling. Something that may sound insignificant, but it has made a huge impact on my outlook. Being able to write my thoughts down at night is like lifting the weight of the day and placing it in a box, which then helps me to get a good night’s sleep, something that the majority of adults living in the 21st century need more of. I now find that if I don’t journal before bed, or at least meditate if journaling is not convenient, then my sleep is not as good a quality as when I do.
"Of course, I am only human. I’m sure there will be the odd occasion when my practice slips. But the good thing about Mindfulness Now is that the mediations and activities become part of everyday life. Small snippets of being able to bring yourself back to the present instead of needing to dedicate hours at a time to it, is the key to success.
"Fast forward to the end of the course, I now have good sleep, I am calmer, less judgmental of myself, less paranoid about what others think of me and respond in a kinder way. I am also starting to lose weight; my skin is far less flared and my outlook on life is positive. I am able to respond to situations instead of reacting, I feel more in control of my life and I even notice far more small moments that make me smile than I ever did before."
My top tips for getting the most out of Mindfulness Now:
- 1 Open your eyes to the possibilities. The difference it has made to my everyday life is simply amazing, but the want to change was there in the first place.
- 2 Try all the activities. There are some practices that really struck a chord with me and some that although I enjoyed, haven’t become part of my routine. The course is so full of content that there will always be enough resources to build your own toolkit, but you won’t know which ones work best for you until you try them all.
- 3 Keep a log of your practice. New habits take time to develop, so remember to use the log sheets you are given as a prompt and also to track your progress.
- 4 Don’t judge! Mindfulness is all about kindness and being non-judgmental. If it takes time for you to relax into meditation or learn a breathing technique, then so be it. This is your journey, no one else’s.
- 5 Embrace change. As Heraclitus said, ‘There is nothing permanent except change.
Mindfulness is about appreciating the here and now. We will never re-live the past, nor can we predict the future. Enjoying life moment by moment is not only the key to managing stress and anxiety, it’s the recipe for a happy life.
Written by: JW – 23.01.2018
Contact Ann for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org co.uk