Hi, my name is Debbie. Together with Bree, I’ve developed the idea of having a month of Mindfulness tasks similar to the monthly fitness challenges we’ve all seen online.
First, a little background
I want to firstly qualify I’m not an expert on mindfulness. I’ve done some reading and meditation and have a general interest in health and fitness. I am a Social Worker with experience working with people in the community and hospitals.
To be honest up until recently I found mindfulness difficult to engage with, I think I was trying too hard and trying to do it “right” (some perfectionist traits there). Some of the activities seemed, to me, silly and forced. I was finding I wasn’t feeling relaxed and if anything felt a bit of a failure.
However, I have discovered for myself how a few minutes of quiet thought on a regular basis can generally develop a capacity to manage stress better. I stumbled across this by accident and when I recreated the experience I found it actually worked.
My accidental mindfulness experience
One night I woke up around 1am and was having trouble going back to sleep. We’ve all been there, your mind starts ticking over and minor worries start to seem enormous. This night, while lying in bed trying to go back to sleep, I noticed a tree in the distance that I hadn’t paid attention to before. It stood out because it was so much larger than any tree around it and is very symmetrical in shape.
I started thinking about how I would paint the tree, thinking about the brush strokes I would use for the leaves, how I would paint the branches etc. Next thing I knew it was morning and I realised I had drifted off to sleep while thinking about the tree.
The next time I woke during the night I decided to do the same thing and see what happened and was delighted to have the same result.
Mindfulness practice doesn’t have to be complicated
This actually got me thinking about how this mindfulness can work without it becoming overly complicated or over thinking it. I have since used the same technique when feeling anxious in daily life, not always with the tree but other things I’ve stopped and looked at, like a nice water view.
Funny enough it has also lead me to start taking photos when I’m out walking, paying more attention to my surroundings and finding beauty in everyday scenery.
I will add here no one has ever described me as ‘airy fairy’ quite the opposite. I was once described by someone as the most pragmatic person they had ever met ☺ So I’m hopeful that if someone like me can feel the benefits then others can too.
Try a month of Mindful Moments
So Mindful March came into being. On the surface the daily task may seem very simplistic. The trick is to give it as much as you can. For example in the exercise to pat a cat or dog while doing this notice the colour and texture of their fur, how it feels under your hand, how their coat moves as you stroke them. Don’t stress if your mind wanders, this is normal, when you can, bring it back to what you are doing.
For the breathing exercises, you don’t have to try and count on inhales and exhales, I find that in itself just creates anxiety especially for those of us with perfectionist traits. Just breath normally, close your eyes, or not close your eyes, whatever helps you relax into it and just listen to your breathing.
The self care days are free choice, do something that makes you feel good, safe and valued. It can be something like enjoying a quiet cup of tea, having a bubble bath, even watering the garden, anything that gives you a sense of peace.
Most importantly – make this time for you. Find the technique that works for you and I hope it is a positive experience.
Debbie Jackson is a Social Worker with 20 years’ experience primarily in the area of health care. Debbie has a personal interest in health, nutrition and fitness and tries to incorporate these into her everyday life to maintain good health.
Follow Debbie on Instagram – Some of my photos are on here from my ‘mindful’ walks ☺
- The health benefits of meditation and being mindful – sourced from Monash University’s free online course Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance
- Mindfulness in Everyday Life – sourced from the Black Dog Institute
- Free Guided Meditation App – sourced from Smiling Mind, a not-for-profit organisation that works to make mindfulness meditation accessible to all.
- Cultivating multiple aspects of attention through mindfulness meditation accounts for psychological well-being through decreased rumination – sourced from National Center for Biotechnology Information