Marcella, aroundanaround, MMP and others have all made posts recently which are tuning me in to the idea of mindfulness and the impact it is having on my life. Not (as A&A suggests) that I am in any way an expert - in fact, I am still hunting and hoping for a very basic level course to become available on mindfulness based stress reduction in my area. As posted before, I did receive details of one run by my local Day Resource Centre, which I would have willingly (and enthusiastically) signed up for - but it is on a weekday afternoon. So not possible.
But I am thinking about it and working on it, in my own very small ways. And I am starting to think small ways are the best. For example, my morning routines have changed. No longer do I try to multi task, attempting to make the tea while emptying the washing machine and refilling the dryer, remembering halfway through that I haven't refilled the coffee maker ready for W when he comes down. Instead I focus on one thing at a time. drinks first, then the washing up, then the washing. Within each area I focus on what I am doing. At the start I often had to remind myself, "No, I'm not doing the washing machine at the moment - I am emptying the dryer first." Now it seems to happen more automatically, and I seem to be becoming more efficient (and less stressed) in the mornings. (Mind you, I would still love our dishwasher to work again...)
I was discussing with a friend at work today how I am trying to carry this through into my feelings and reactions too. I've been trying to use body scanning to manage my anxiety levels. Specifically, I've been trying to identify, when I feel anxious, where in my body I sense that emotion. Gradually I am tuning in to my stomach churning, or my heart racing, or my breathing becoming faster and more shallow. Rather than consciously trying to change those feelings, I am focusing on them and observing them, trying to cultivate and interested detachment. As I do so, particularly with the breathing, the physical sensations often change. It's interesting, because changing the sensations is not the objective. It's all about observing, accepting, noticing. I'm starting to try to use this with the issues around anger too. But as I still don't identify my own feelings as anger, it's rather hard to observe bodily sensations associated with anger. Instead I am coming at it from the other end. D had me research the common experience of anger, and as part of that I listed the physical sensations. Now I am watching for those sensations, trying to tune into them to indicate to me when what I am feeling might actually be anger.
But also, mindfulness is about living in the now. So I'm trying (it's hard!) to focus on what I am feeling and experiencing now, and not dwelling on what has happened or what will happen. I'm using another strategy I was given. of allowing myself worry time - time to obsess or think about things, to go over them and hopefully process them. But outside of those times, I am trying (it's hard, as I said!) not to dwell on them. I'm trying, instead (yes, it's very hard, and I'm not very good at it!) to redirect my thoughts to what is happening now.
Is it working? Well, this week I have had three people, completely independently, tell me how well I seem, how well I seem to be coping. Given that this time of the year has been, for the past three years particularly, my very worst, and that I have at this time for the past three years ended up taking time off work, that is something I am pleased about. Despite the ridiculous pressures at work, despite my exhaustion, despite everything else, I am enjoying my job, and I am coping. It isn't all down to the mindfulness (I'm not doing enough of it for that!) but the mindfulness is definitely helping.