I’ll be the first to admit that mindfulness has not been a large part of my life of late. All the lessons I learned doing my 7 Week Mindfulness Challenge have gone out the window. That being said, I don’t naturally replay conversations over and over in my head any more. I notice when I am doing that and deliberately stop myself. So maybe not *all* my hard work has been undone.
I brought my yoga mat to work today to start getting back in to a mindful mindset and I am trying to eat healthier as well as drink more water. My eating really took a nosedive over the Christmas break.
I’m not one for formal meditation on a regular basis, I prefer having practical techniques to use throughout the day to keep my mind clear and focussed on living and loving every moment of my life. One of the things that helps me quiet the chatter in my head is being aware of the sensations around me. We get so caught up in juggling every task we need to complete that we eat lunch at our desk, make calls while commuting and make mental lists of more things to do while running errands.
While it is important that we perform our jobs to the best of our ability, it is also important to nurture ourselves so we have the energy and desire to keep going. Living a mindful life does not mean we need to check out of our current lives and move to Byron Bay. Though, if that’s your dream then more power to you. It doesn’t mean you have to embrace hummus and hemp (I say while eating green beans dipped in hummus) but again, if that’s your thing, then off you go and live and love that life.
For those of us who simply want to live our existing lives in a more mindful manner before we finally end up shouting “what the fuck is wrong with all of you idiots?” out loud rather than in our heads in the middle of another pointless team meeting, sensory awareness can help you avoid an awkward HR meeting.
Quick and Easy Sensory Awareness Techniques for Mindfulness
Five for Five
- Five Mindful Breaths
Remember how I said I do not like formal meditation? That is not because I do not see the value in it, it is more that it doesn’t fit into my lifestyle particularly well. I do love sitting at the beach or near a waterfall and meditating on the sounds and sensations around me, but that doesn’t happen on a regular basis. If I have half an hour free, I prefer to spend it in the company of my loved ones or indulging in a spot of escapism into my favourite fictional worlds.However, focusing in on my breathing has been a very helpful technique for me in overcoming many of the symptoms of my anxiety. If you feel yourself becoming stressed throughout the day, take five mindful breaths. Close your eyes if you have that luxury. As you breathe in, be aware of the sensation of the air flowing in through your nostrils, filling your lungs and exiting from between your lips. Feel your shoulders, stomach and ribcage move as you breathe.
Or How to Relax Better By Not Relaxing
So, My Gorgeous Wayfarers, you’ve packed your carry-on with everything you might need for your first day on board in case your bag takes a few hours longer than expected to make it to your cabin; you’ve booked a car to pick you up upon your return and you’ve run the gauntlet of customs and check in? Ready to hit the buffet and the pool? Hold up, it’s not time to take it too easy just yet. To make the rest of your holiday run as smoothly as possible now is the time to get sorted and get settled.
7 things you must do after embarkation
(or how I sat in a tangle of tentacles and made fun of a white man’s winkie.)
Warm and sunny greetings to you, my Beach Loving Vagabonds
For the past year my daughter has been talking about wanting to revisit Sculptures by the Sea @ Bondi one day. And a slight miscalculation in how early we needed to get up in order to make it to the Opera House in time to see a screening of Neil Gaiman short films, coupled with all the road closures in the city afforded us the opportunity to turn the day into an unplanned adventure.
We arrived starving and parched having left the house without breakfast and quickly found a cafe to please us all amongst the myriad of eateries along Campbell Parade. It was a blustery day, however the chance to eat in the sunshine and fresh air won out over nature’s plans to keep me indoors.
Ash: “It’s hard to believe we’re so close to the beach”
Me: “Yeah, it’s quite busy and touristy.”
Ash: “No. It doesn’t smell right.”
…and you know what? She was right. The smell of salt and seaweed was curiously absent from the air. It was almost unsettling once we noticed its absence.
Fed and watered we headed towards the iconic Bondi Icebergs Club to begin our arty adventure. I had never done this particular coastal walk before, but I could soon see that this walk would be stunning at any time. While I think that beaches like Bondi, Surfers and Manly are overrated due to the sheer volume of people trying their best to find personal space in an outdoor sardine tin, I have to admit that the small town South Australian girl in me was thinking ‘how cool is it that I live so close to somewhere so iconically Australian’ as I walked towards the Bondi Icebergs Club. I still get excited by the sight of the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge as we drive into the city.
Flanked by craggy rock formations and jaw-dropping ocean views, the two-kilometre cliff-side walking trail played host to over a hundred public artworks. Scattered throughout grassy parklands, rocky cliffs and sandy beaches between Bondi and Tamarama Beaches, artists displayed their talents in one of Australia’s largest free public sculpture displays.
Or What to expect when you’re embarking.
Hello my Ocean Bound Vagabonds,
I love cruising, but that first time you travel with a cruise line can be a little confusing; especially if you are new to the hustle and bustle that is cruising and customs. Every company does things a little differently, not every line even leaves from the same port in a particular city. So, from my experience, here’s what to expect on embarkation day with Royal Caribbean when you are travelling from Sydney, NSW.
The Explorer of the Seas was so large that it could not fit under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and we got to leave from the International Terminal in Circular Quay. Although I was a little disappointed that my kids would not get to sail under the bridge for their first cruise, it was delightful to be moored where we had a lovely view of both the Bridge and the Opera House out on deck. It also made it easier for anyone staying in the city before embarkation or catching public transport to get to the ship. White Bay is a particular pain in the hole to leave from with its lack of public transport and nonexistent onsite long term parking. My parents, who are not familiar with Sydney or the cattle crush that is the city, stayed in the city before embarkation and had navigated the whole process alone to check in before we even made it to the port from the Coast.
Upon arrival at the terminal it appeared to be a little chaotic with so many people getting out of taxis, limos and walking up from the train station. Before jumping into the fray, this is the ideal time to take the obligatory pictures of the ship in port, once you’ve gotten into the fracas it will be too late.
Before you enter the terminal you will be directed by staff to drop your checked luggage with them and line up. Once inside the terminal you will be given coloured cards and your Outgoing Passenger Card to fill in. If you’re a first time overseas traveller and you have not seen one of these before, there is an example from the Department of Immigration and Border Control here.
Or Does Anyone Know if I Should Order Dinner for My Children from the Seat of an Outback Toilet?
I’m sitting here watching a series on Netflix called Very British Problems. The episode in question is discussing how to deal with other human beings. What is and isn’t acceptable and how discomfiting any interaction with other members of the human race is. Thankfully I was born in Australia and am not nearly British enough to have had all of this social awkwardness passed down to me through genetics, I do harbour enough of this Very British Problem that anything outside of the social norm is a veritable nightmare for me.
Listening to these droll, British comedians navigate the minefield of social niceties sparked a memory of living in Outback Queensland for me. About twelve years or so ago, give or take, I spent a short time living on a station out past Adavale in Queensland. Not sure where Adavale is? You know The Gold Coast? It’s not there. Head to the middle of nowhere in Queensland, open the gate, turn left and keep going. Or, if you’re in Brisbane, point your car towards the Northern Territory and drive for over fourteen hours. Once you get to Adavale, it is only a two hour drive north to the station we lived on. I like to call it a working holiday. My (then) husband worked, I holidayed.
When you live that far out in the Outback, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) is something you rely upon heavily. If something goes wrong, that is the only ambulance you have access to. So every month at the Adavale Pub there is a pot luck fundraising dinner for the RFDS. Now, I’m using the term Pub loosely. Think place where you can buy booze and a can of beans in the same place. The Outback is a wondrous place, and if you ever have a chance to visit the Adavale Pub, I highly recommend it. The people are friendly, the beer is cold and there is a surfboard hanging out on the front verandah emblazoned ‘Adavale SLSC’. Only in Outback Australia will you see a sign for a Surf Life Saving Club 900 km from the beach and not think it out of place. But I digress. Back to the Pot Luck Dinner.
So here’s a thing I discovered last Thursday night.
In an effort to combat the violence our binge drinking culture has created, 2014 heralded the beginning of Lockout Laws in Sydney. In the interest of public safety hotels, clubs and nightclubs in the entertainment precinct of Sydney’s CBD and Kings Cross were no longer permitted to allow entry to patrons after 1:30 am, with last drinks for those inside needing to be called by 3am.
Now, I would like to be able to say that I discovered this while sitting behind my computer reading the plethora of articles on the pros and cons of this legislation from the perspective of emergency workers and business owners. I really would like to be able to say that. However, I cannot.
The reason I know about lockout laws is because I got lost down a rabbit hole of wine and geeking out about Firefly and the new Voltron reboot while chatting with a friend in a pub on Angel Street. By the time I struggled out of that blissful warren of tipsy, nerdy comradery I was brought back to reality by an unfortunate coincidence that changed the carefree direction of my evening.
The lamentable coincidence I encountered was that at the exact moment our feet hit the rain soaked pavement outside the pub, the last train out of Sydney for the night pulled out of the station. Not ideal, if I’m honest with you.
Or ‘in which things came and went. And in the case of my pay cheque – mostly went.’
Hello, greetings and welcome to the last week of my mindfulness challenge.
In case you have just arrived here, I’ll fill you in on what I’m doing one last time. Over the course of seven weeks (with a few off in the middle for unexpected and potentially fatal female contracted man-flu) I have been implementing principles from Dr. Elisha Goldstein’s article Seven things Mindful People do Differently – and How to Get Started into my life one by one. I am hoping that in living more mindfully I will be able to help limit the debilitating effects of my anxiety disorder in my life. I would like to work my way back to the naturally energetic and outgoing person I am inside. So far it has been rather fantastic in that each of the small changes I implemented has had a large impact on my life.
This week is about the beauty of the ebb and flow of our ever-changing lives.
Accept – and appreciate – that things come and go
Things come and go. It is an immutable law of life, albeit one that is not always easy to accept. I accept that I run the risk of a coconut to the head on a tropical island because of the laws of gravity. I accept that I will fall down the stairs when I am in a hurry because of the laws of Murphy. I accept that I will lose loved ones because of the laws of nature. But I certainly don’t appreciate any of those things.
However, if I reframe the situation, I can appreciate things while I have them even knowing they will leave me eventually. I think this is more the point really. There is nothing to appreciate in knowing the next time I see my favourite uncle it will more than likely be the last. But I can appreciate the hell out of all the time we have had together.
Or In Which I Learned That I was Ahead of the Game All Along
I cannot tell you how good it feels to be back on board with my weekly mindfulness challenge. And I cannot tell you how much all the skills I have learned in the first five weeks of my challenge have helped me get through the last month.
But not telling you things somewhat defeats the purpose of having a blog, so let’s crack on with the things I can tell you.
Embrace vulnerability by trusting others- and yourself
If you’ve been following me on this journey, you’ll know this was another one of Dr Goldstein’s observations about mindful people that I thought I would fail dismally at. In her article at mindful.org Dr Goldstein explains that it is our brain’s default state to guard us against vulnerability. And from experience I can tell you that when you’ve been given reasons not give your trust freely by people who are supposed to care about you, it is hard to allow yourself to be vulnerable to anyone. Even to someone as close to you as your own husband. Now don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not saying I don’t trust my husband. Of all the people in the world I know will never hurt me, he is at the top of the list. I trust him implicitly. But trust and allowing yourself to be vulnerable don’t necessarily go hand in hand.
It feels like forever since I last wrote to you, My Brunch Loving Vagabonds,
I know I have been curiously absent from my keyboard of late, I simply have not had the energy to write. Which is a new phenomenon for me. I love to write more than anything. Even more than I love chocolate and that is an awful lot. Sometimes life has a way of taking over and rushing you forward through time like a raging river. Other times it can meander along gently like a stream, letting you take in the sights of the journey.
The last couple of months I have been white water rafting through river caves. I contracted a two and a half month long virus that made me so tired I could barely stand outside work hours. Gradually I was able to get further through each day without needing to sleep or lock myself in a dark room to ride out a migraine until I was back to my usual effervescent self. As soon as that had completely left me, my father-in-law ended up in hospital (he’s okay) and the last week has consisted of up to three trips to the hospital per day. Not that I begrudge any of it, I feel very blessed to work so close to the hospital that I could spend my lunch breaks visiting with him. It has just left very little time for anything else in life and by the end of the week I was completely and utterly exhausted.
So here I am, having not participated in my own challenge for four weeks and feeling desperate to get things back on track again. I don’t necessarily need routine, but I do need to feel in control and know I have time to hide from the world and recoup my spoons (not as weird as it sounds, I’ll explain more about the spoons theory another day). Next week you can expect me to be reporting in on how I am going with week 6 of my Mindfulness Challenge – ‘embrace vulnerability by trusting others and myself’. This sounds like a particularly difficult one to do and it is one of those weeks I was expecting to crash and burn in when I first started out. I’ll explain more about that next week after I’ve had a chance to flex my burgeoning mindfulness muscles again.