Welcome to How To Stress Less!
This online course has been specially-designed for heart-based business women living in a head-based world.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be bring you 7 practical, yet inspirational mindfulness and NLP-based techniques to take you from stressed to smiling in under sixty seconds.
You’ll get to de-stress, to reconnect with your heart and to step back into your soul-shoes, whatever is going on around you.
But before we dive in, I’d like to talk about the Elephant In The Room – Being ‘Mindless’, because it’s one of the biggest barriers to living from your heart – and it’s one of the biggest causes of stress.
What’s The Problem With ‘Mindlessness’?
Being mindful is a state of being – a particular way of choosing to experience life, in the present moment – rather than letting your mind run riot over past mistakes and future worries, whilst sleep-walking through what’s actually going on around you.
We’re normally too busy doing “mind-full” to be mindful.
Some common symptoms of ‘mindlessness’ or being ‘mind-full’.
- Do you find yourself ‘listening’ to someone, whilst actually thinking more about your response? Do you realise you didn’t really hear what they were saying?
- Do you sometimes find that you’re so busy concentrating on what you have to say next in a meeting that you missed that last 3 discussion points?
- Do you find yourself getting to the bottom of a cup of tea or coffee, without remembering drinking it?
- Do you forget where you put things?
- Do you find yourself arriving at a destination, but not remembering the route you took?
- Do you find it hard to remember people’s names?
- Do you find yourself getting stressed about not having enough time?
All of these – and plenty more – are symptoms of a mind so full of yesterday, tomorrow and ‘what ifs’, that it can’t enjoy the present moment.
What Is Mindfulness?
I’m going to give you a practical definition of what mindfulness is, rather than a spiritual or religious definition:
Mindfulness is about actually experiencing life, while you’re living it.
We tend to spend most of our time running away from our experience of life – hiding from it – perhaps because the stories our Monkey Mind tells us can create pain. Mindfulness is about being present to your experience of life, as it truly is, rather than wanting to change it or believing the drama and the stories.
The ‘present moment’ – ‘here and now’ is the only time you have.
Yesterday is done and dusted. Tomorrow isn’t here yet. If you want to actually live your life, then now is the only time you can do it. Want to make changes in the future? Then you need to do them now. Want to create a past that you’re proud of? Then you need to take action now.
But that’s tough, when we don’t even notice eating our breakfast or driving to work!
Being mindful means dragging yourself back into the present moment – away from the ‘to do’ list, the housework, next week’s big meeting, last week’s presentation and everything else that normally fills your mind to bursting point.
When we are ‘mindless’, we’re living in the past or the future, rather than the ‘now’. We are disconnected from the part of us that makes the unconscious choices about how to think, feel and act in every moment. It is hard to see what is ‘real’ and what is our Monkey Mind’s story.
Are you too busy pretending you’re a ‘human doing’ to be a ‘human being’?
We might feel scared that, by being in the present moment: the ‘to do’ list will get forgotten; the shopping won’t get done; the kids won’t get fed. (Don’t worry – they’ll remind you!) But, in fact, it’s the other way round.
By focussing our experience right here, right now, we can develop a clarity that somehow creates more time in our day, meaning the ‘to do’ list gets shorter and becomes less of an obsession. It creates more spacing for living and actually experiencing life, as it is happening.
When you are totally aware of what you are doing – ‘doing with awareness’ – it’s amazing how much more easily life flows.
This then gives you the clarity you need to take inspired action, to make the changes that matter the most – more easily and effectively.
As a meditation technique, mindfulness is about using your focus and concentration to be aware of the present moment, rather than being lost in the future or worrying about the past. However it’s not about pretending that there isn’t a future or a past.
It’s about drawing your awareness back into your physical body and experiencing life through all of your senses; being truly present – and alive!
It is the kind of experience you get when you look into somebody’s eyes and you really connect. You know that they’re there and so are you. Rather than talking to them whilst perhaps thinking about your shopping list and what you have got to cook for dinner, you’re really ‘present’ with them.
Mindfulness is about living life as the sensory experience that it really is, in your physical body, rather than being stuck in your thinking mind.
It’s ideal for a multi-tasking mind, because it gives your mind something to do! It gets to help run the process of ‘being here’.
• actually tasting your tea, as you drink it
• really feeling that hug
• really hearing the birdsong
• really smelling your coffee
• really seeing the beauty of the sun, peeping through the clouds
• really hearing what a loved-one is saying – and seeing the look in their face, when they know they have been heard
• actually feeling the comfort of your clothes on your body
• feeling your feet connect with the earth, with every step
Why settle for half-living?
The back of my business cards has a provocative quote, that sometimes gets me into trouble… It is:
Just because you’re breathing, it doesn’t mean you’re alive.
But it sums up beautifully the difference between a life that is lived from the position of the Monkey Mind and a life that is lived with awareness – mindfully.
Mindfulness can bring your experience of life alive.
And if you want to be living from your heart, then it’s an essential foundation.
It is something you can do at any time, in any place, it feels great – and it’s free! One of the great bonuses of mindfulness is that, as you become more familiar with how to practise it, it doesn’t take up any extra time. You can do it wherever and whenever you want to, no matter how busy you are.
Mindfulness can help you to:
- feel more calm
- feel more relaxed
- reconnect with your sense of inner peace
- think more clearly
- feel more healthy, as your body is no longer flooded with stress hormones and it becomes easier for you to make healthier life choices
- consciously choose how to experience your life
- set yourself free from living on auto-pilot
- improve your relationships
- perform better at work
The power of mindfulness to change the way we think, feel and behave is so strong that even traditional medical doctors are now using mindfulness to help people who are suffering from, for example, clinical depression.
Universities are researching it. Mindfulness is also used in the training for many sports, where athletes really need moment-to-moment concentration and focus.
Imagine living your day actually being ‘here’ rather than, as I often call it, off on another planet!
Mindfulness is an amazing de-stressing, relaxation technique, which comes with the added bonus that life comes to life.
So, are you ready to dive in with our first de-stess technique?
Technique #1: 3 Mindful Breaths
This is such a simple mindfulness technique, yet it has the potential to shift you from feeling stressed to feeling calm in just 3 breaths.
The more often you use it, the more your body and mind will become anchored into its effects and it will begin to work even more quickly for you.
Eventually, you’ll find yourself starting to return to equilibrium as soon as you remember to do it – even before you actually do the technique!
• It releases physical tension.
• It releases mental tension.
• It shifts your focus back to ‘here and now’.
Not bad for 3 simple mindful breaths?
This ‘3 Mindful Breaths’ technique is a foundation mindfulness technique and it is often used at the beginning of other mindfulness exercises.
It’s a great way to bring you ‘back down to earth’, when you have been stuck in your ‘stress-head’, getting you ready for the more in-depth techniques. So it’s worth practising this one, until it becomes second nature for you – it doesn’t take long.
- Stop whatever you are doing and sit or stand with your back fairly straight, rather than slouched.
- Take a deep breath from your belly area, breathing all the way in through your nose.
- Breathe out through your mouth, with an ‘ahhhh’ sound’ (it can be silent, if you need it to be!) Really experience the physical sensations in your body as you do this.
- As you breathe out, imagine you are releasing any stress and tension from your body and your mind.
- Do this 3 times. Smile. Notice the difference.
Once you have practised this a few times, it can help you shift from feeling stressed in just 3 breaths.
The more often you do it during your day, the more you will be anchored into it bringing you back to a mindful state of being and the more effectively it will create that shift for you.
How might you remind yourself to do this?
- Perhaps each time you look at your watch?
- Or each time you hang up the phone?
- Or while you’re waiting for that meeting to start? (the ‘ahhh’ bit can be silent!)
- Or while you wait in the queue for lunch?
- Or while you’re stuck in a traffic jam?
- Or each time you boil the kettle?
I would LOVE to hear how you get on with this technique – perhaps you could let me know, over at the private Facebook group?
I’ll be back later this week with our next de-stressing technique.
In the meantime, I wish you sunshine and laughter.
With love, Namaste,