2 down, 6 to go. Great to have you here and great that you are sticking with Bazaar, good on you.
Before we begin, how have things been?
Last week we looked at how our thoughts, feelings and behaviour work together and have an overall impact on our mental health and wellbeing.
We also looked at CBT and how it is a useful form of psychotherapy to use when challenging negative beliefs and patterns of thought about the self or the world around you.
This week is going to cover Mindfulness and Gratitude. Mindfulness meditation is a powerful way to maintain our equilibrium as we deal with difficult emotions and challenges throughout life.
Before we go any further let’s do our Drill Review for last week. If you haven’t done it, or have only done a bit, we’re not going to shout or anything, but it’s worth giving a gentle nudge that generally with Bazaar you get out what you put in. So have a go next week 😉
Did you manage to capture any of your negative or positive thoughts throughout the week?
How did you find practising your chosen coping strategies?
We have mentioned mindfulness a couple of times already throughout the programme, and you have already completed two mindfulness introductory sessions.
But what exactly is mindfulness? Discuss with your mentor and make some notes.
Mindfulness is a useful skill and like any skill, practice and patience are key to improving.
Did you know so much of our unhappiness and unease can arise from our response to the things that have nothing to do with what is in this moment?
If you pay attention to what your mind is doing, you’ll notice two strong tendencies:
The mind focuses on things other than what is happening right now
The mind continually evaluates our reality as either good or bad
These tendencies can cause us needless suffering. Focusing on the future can lead to fear and worry, most often about things that will never happen. Whereas ruminating on events from the past can lead to distress and regret about things that are no longer in our control.
When you wake up in the morning, do you mindfully brush your teeth or do you worry about the day ahead and not even pay attention to that experience?
Mindfulness is awareness of the present moment, by paying attention, non-judgementally.
Let’s have a quick recap of the mindfulness exercises you have tried so far at the end of each session.
How have you found these? Were they helpful/difficult? What did you learn?
Make some brief notes.
The Benefits. Mindfulness allows us to get more out of what is happening so that we don’t sleepwalk through our lives. Life is valuable. Let’s live it and let’s enjoy it when we can! We can discover the abundance in our reality, even doing boring activities. Here are some of the benefits:
- Greater awareness of our thoughts and emotions
- Better control of our emotions
- A different relationship with our thoughts
- Decreased reactivity
When we’re present, we’re not ruminating about the past or fearing the future which is a big part of why mindfulness practice improves wellbeing.
By taking our thoughts less seriously during mindfulness, we can improve our mood, decrease worry and reduce stress. With all of this taken together, mindfulness can help improve our overall wellbeing and reinforce positive thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
How can we practice?
Like any habit, being more mindful takes practice. This is like exercise in a sense. There are two major categories of mindfulness practice.
List 1 is like going to the gym - its really helps build the muscles and stamina. List 2 is like the exercise we get in everyday life from just getting up and going.
Activities designed specifically to engage mindful awareness:
🍃 Spend Time in Nature
🔈 Ambient sounds
❤️ Practice gratitude
Bringing mindfulness to our ordinary life activities:
⏰ Slow Down
🥗 Eat Mindfully
📚 Reading, writing, creating
📱 Reduce Screen Time
From these lists, pick three that you would find most suited to you and write them down now.
You’re not bad at meditating. Losing focus again and again when meditating is normal and is going to happen. It's even part of marking our success as we have become aware of what our mind is doing.
The goal isn’t to become “good at meditating”. The point of meditation is simply to train focus on the present and to let go of judgements.
Let go of attachment to a specific outcome. We never know what we will experience during meditation. We can practice opening to whatever happens in a particular session.
🛑 Mindfulness is a religious practice.
💚 Mindfulness can be applied to daily life without adherence to any religious tradition.
🛑 Mindfulness is not objective.
💚 Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to change the brain.
🛑 Mindfulness means spending a lot of time in our heads.
💚 Rather than dwelling in our minds, mindfulness is about connecting with our basic experience and letting go of the stories and narratives that can rule us.
One way we can acknowledge the goodness in our lives is through gratitude. Through gratitude, we can feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve our health, deal with adversity and build strong relationships. Gratitude can be defined as ‘the quality of being thankful and the readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.’
You have already written down two of the things you are grateful for in your life at the end of week one and week two.
Have a quick chat with your mentor about what you have written. What is it about these two things that you are grateful for?
One of the ways we can make gratitude more of a daily practice in our lives is by keeping a gratitude journal. Keeping a gratitude journal is the habit of recording and reflecting on the things that you are grateful for. This is a popular practice that derives from positive psychology and the benefits of keeping a gratitude journal include:
- Improves self-esteem
- Improves awareness
- Reduces stress and decreases the risk of heart disease
- Is a form of mindfulness
- Encourages better sleep
- Increases creativity
- Improves overall mental health and emotional wellbeing
Another fun way of making gratitude a daily practice is creating a gratitude jar, box or envelope. A gratitude jar creates a visual reminder of all the blessings in our lives. We can record and store everything we are thankful for in a jar. Whether it's a person, a kind act or a positive detail in your everyday life, write it down on a slip of paper and stick it in a gratitude jar.
Write down three things you have which are important to you. Are you grateful for these three things? Talk it through with your mentor.
This week we covered mindfulness and what it is, how we can practice mindfulness, how to be more present and accepting of our thoughts.
We also talked about gratitude and how being more grateful for the smaller things can have a huge impact on our life.
Now, you have a choice between spending the next 5 minutes trying out mindful colouring OR listening to a Body Scan Audio:
Colouring Activity or Body scan audio
Use your worksheet to start a gratitude journal. Each day before you go about your day or before you go to sleep, record three things you are grateful for.
Trial three to five different mindfulness techniques you have learnt about today and see which works best for you.
What are you grateful for?
Write this down now.
❤️ I am growing and I am going at my own pace.