#Mindful Thought Practice

aerial view of mountain

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At the beginning of a new year after the celebrations are over how do we feel?  Focusing back on our daily lives. My week ahead is busy with everything I’ve ‘put off to the new year’. Unfortunately I seem to have crammed it all into the first week!

I’ve kept one New Years resolution so far; to focus on being mindful in my day to day activities.

I bought a journal and have been using it to keep a record of how I’m doing. It’s also served as a tool for ideas to explore and practice. 

Why practice mindfulness?

Clinical researchers have carried out a number of tests which have shown that mindfulness can improve your overall health and wellbeing in these ways:

  • lower stress levels
  • lower depression
  • improve the quality of sleep
  • reduce anxiety
  • encourage positive thinking
  • alter the way the mind reacts to difficult situations
  • improve decision making

How can mindfulness be described?

In a nutshell, it’s focusing our attention purely on the present moment. Doing this without letting the mind drift back to past memories or thinking about future events. Mindfulness is embracing the present with acceptance, without judgment.

The monkey mind🐒

There are so many distractions for us to focus our mind on. To illustrate the monkey mind, try this exercise for a couple of minutes.

Focus your mind on your breathing.  Think about where you can feel movement in your chest from your breathing.  Concentrate on this area, for a few minutes. You will notice your thoughts stray, thinking about numerous things other than the breath.

These thoughts are from past or future experiences. The mind is rarely focused on the present. It jumps from one subject to another, like a monkey playing. This practice is called the monkey mind.

How do I start to practice mindfulness?

Start by focusing on your senses when you carry out your everyday routine. By thinking about the feel, touch, smell and the sound of everything you are experiencing.

If you carry out a task such as washing the dishes, think about the heat of the water, the texture and feel of the plates, the scent of washing up liquid and the sound of water filling up the bowl.

“If you have a regular daily routine build some time into it every day to practice mindfulness.”

You could try changing your daily activities. For example if you regularly go for a walk and always walk the same way; try changing the route to one your not as familiar with. Or try a completely new walk.

By changing your routine to something different or new it will get your mind to focus on a familiar task in a different or new way.

blue cloudy sky

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Thought watching

If you find while you are concentrating on tasks thoughts interrupt you. Just observe them, try not to be side tracked by them.

Introduce a label for each thought that arises; ‘I’m nervous about a exam result’, label it ‘thought’, or a feeling ‘I feel worried’ label it ‘emotion’; and go back to the task you are carrying out.

This practice will help train the mind to not follow a thought and get sidetracked by it. Just observe thoughts without judgment, acknowledging them, and labelling them. Going back to the task.

Mindfulness meditation

Taking mindfulness a step further incorporating it into daily meditation practice can encourage the mind to work in a regular pattern.

Mindfulness meditation works by silently spending a few minutes every day thinking about one aspect of the body, such as breathing awareness and acknowledging thoughts, when they arise and bringing back attention to the breathing.

Have a look at my page on Meditation for more information about suggestions for meditation practice.

 

#NewYear New Hobby

white painted papers

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A Happy New Year to all my readers.

For a fantastic way to kick off 2020. I have a guest post from a friend BM; he’s a real family history guru who has a wealth of experience and knowledge. He’s done extensive searches into my family history and uncovered fascinating facts about my relatives. 

I understand more now about the lives they led and the hardships they endured in their daily existence. So, read on and uncover your own family’s secrets….

A new hobby for a new year- a simple guide to family history.

Have you ever watched a programme on TV about someone’s family history and thought I wish I could do that but it looks too complicated?

Well you can start it in a few easy steps. When you have got into family history; you’ll find it so interesting that the impetus will spur you on.

Step 1:

Write down everything you know and arrange it in an easy to refer to format.

Step 2:

Speak to your relatives to see what they know or can find out for you.

At this stage just make notes of any interesting stories that come up – you can pursue these later.

Make a note of any discrepancies without questioning them too -these can also be followed up later.

Your ultimate aim is to reach back in your family tree to about 1911 as useful records are available up to this date.

Step 3:

You can access census records online via a subscription website such as Ancestry, Find My Past or The Genealogist.

Some of these are also available from many library authorities.

They have a wide range of resources including the censuses which for England and Wales for example date back every ten years from 1911 to 1841. Other nations feature as well e.g. the United States and Scotland.

With luck these will allow to compile family groups back to the beginning of the Victorian period.

Step 4:

Repeat step 3 each time clarifying and checking what you know and using whatever relevant resources you can- not only from the internet but physical ones as well.

Find out about the areas your ancestors lived in and the types of lives they led which will help to explain much of what you find. There are many websites and magazines which can aid you.

You can also go down the route of DNA testing to find modern day relatives.

I hope this will introduce you to a hobby which millions of people are becoming fascinated by.

I’ve found researching my own family story helps you to understand your place in the world and the things that have come to be; as we are at a time when identity has become so important.

Great post BM. Maybe you can do a follow up sometime with details of relatives stories you have uncovered? Thanks Nick.