Tag Archives: mood

The Sound of Silence

On January 31st, I made a list of goals for February. One of those goals was to sit in silence for five minutes first thing every morning. Since before Christmas, I’ve been emphasising the importance of silence to my Positive Living group. However, even I hadn’t managed to set aside just five minutes each day.

For the last nine days before I get out of bed, I’ve been giving gratitude for about five things in my life. This instantly brings me joy. Then I wash my face and, if my body feels the need, I do a bit of yoga. Next, I move into the living room and sit in silence for about five minutes. I don’t switch on my phone until I have completed this ritual. This really centres me for the day ahead. And if I feel unsettled in the evening, I give myself time to sit in silence and observe what is going on for me. This allows me to get in touch with my body and the subtle messages it’s giving me. Often, I feel compelled to write afterwards or I get an idea for a class or a solution to a problem I’ve been mulling over. Other times, I simply enjoy the space and quiet I’m giving myself. I feel an expansion and a blurring of all those things I used to think were so important. There is freedom and peace and connection in these moments.

Last night, I did a meditation with someone who said: “Your mind is just another organ. You can’t stop it from thinking. Just like you can’t stop yourself from breathing. The trick is to focus on the breath. Allow the thoughts. Do nothing. Try nothing. Just observe.” We sat in silence, focussing on the breath for at least 15 minutes. The time flew. And I felt totally relaxed. When I came home, I didn’t open the laptop straight away as I usually would because I just didn’t need the noise.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to improve health and mental wellbeing. It lowers blood pressure and boosts the mood and immune system. When we are stressed, our breathing speeds up and we find it difficult to take a deep, satisfying breath. Meditation helps us to unwind. When we relax, our breathing slows down. This benefits the heart and blood flow to the organs, which in turn allows for healing to take place.

When we meditate mindfully, the idea is not to change anything. We don’t attempt to slow the breath or change or banish the thoughts. It’s all about awareness. Observe the breath. Bring awareness to the sensations in the body. Allow the thoughts to occur. And when we don’t attach to the thoughts or bodily sensations, they will move on like clouds in the sky.

Many people who are trying to change their lives for the better come to the realisation that happiness is a choice and that their negative thinking is impacting their lives. Therefore, they try to change their thoughts. While I believe that it is beneficial to introduce gratitude for all the good things in our lives and focus on that which brings us joy rather than pain, I also feel that it is counterproductive when we begin stressing over the negative thoughts we are having. Awareness is key. Don’t judge your thoughts or deny the parts of you that you perceive to be “bad”. Simply observe, let go and focus on the breath…

"You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you're too busy; then you should sit for an hour." Old Zen saying

“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” Old Zen saying

Image: bendalayoga.com

For more on meditation, check out: https://betterthansurviving.me/2012/03/04/time-takes-from-the-essence/

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Falling into Winter

Right about now, people are starting to complain about the cold weather and shorter daylight hours. “Oo, it’s getting wintry,” they’ll say as they shiver and rub their hands together forcefully. Some of us have not so happy memories of low moods during the long, dark season. Spring and summer are like autumn and winter’s bubblier, more popular cousins; the ones we long to be around and can’t wait to see. However, autumn and winter do have their own unique, positive attributes. Here are some tips for surviving (and enjoying) this time of year:

  • Follow in nature’s fashion footsteps and treat yourself to some autumn-coloured accessories.
  • Wrap yourself in cute woolies and go outside. Who needs makeup when you’ve got fresh air to blush your cheeks and brighten your eyes?
  • Walk through a park or by the water and watch the leaves dance.
  • The most important thing is to continue getting exercise and daylight so, if it’s raining, pull on the waterproofs and connect with nature.
  • Take a good book to your favourite café and allow yourself to relax and enjoy just as much as if you were on holidays.
  • Put together an amazing costume and throw a Hallowe’en party for adults. Except do all the things you used to do as a child – play bob the apple, eat coconut and colcannon, watch movies and buy stuff in for the trick-or-treaters.
  • Make plans. If you’ve something to look forward to, it’s less easy to fall into an apathetic mood. Book a January sun or snow holiday or a city break. Or buy tickets for an upcoming show or gig.
  • Grab your best mates for a comedy night or get all dressed up and go for dinner followed by dancing.
  • Join a dating website and use the never-ending nights to chat up some potentials. Then, line up a few dates.
  • Enrol in a new class like pilates or flower arranging or take the time to learn a new language or instrument. Or be proactive and start your own book or film club.
  • Keep warm. Light a fire and snuggle up in a blanket with a mug of tea or hot chocolate.

If you’re worried that you have all the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), get support from loved ones and professionals. Then, to help yourself further, try out alternatives like homeopathy and acupuncture, take a vitamin D supplement, and do some research on purchasing a lamp. Also, make sure to get at least 30 minutes exercise in daylight each day.

And if it’s (dare I mention it) Christmas you’re (already) dreading, take the pressure off by buying the odd present here and there, starting from today. Or even better, suggest a Secret Santa arrangement so you only have to buy one or two presents each. Remind yourself that Christmas is a time to spend with loved ones, many of whom will travel home from abroad. So, you can look forward to being together, to fun nights out, good food, movies, hilarious board games, magical fairy lights and the inimitable scent of pine.

And just remember, if it weren’t for the cold, dark times, you wouldn’t appreciate the sunshine, would you?