by Fabienne Vailes
I discovered mindfulness after the birth of my second child who will turn seven next month.
When we came home the next day, I remember the distinctive feeling and worry about not being able to cope and my emotions being all over the place.
These feelings stayed with me for a long time and led me to a series of training courses (first NLP – practitioner and Master practitioner).
I was introduced to Adam by a friend who explained all the great work Mindspace does with introducing Mindfulness to schools.
I am a language teacher so this really sparked my interest.
In 2012, I embarked on a real journey and took my first steps into Mindfulness.
I developed my own regular practice and trained with Adam to be able to teach and lead my own meditations.
To say that Mindfulness has completely changed my life is an understatement.
As a busy mum of two children, who works full-time, mindfulness has brought me out of my life on autopilot.
I now get up early every day and meditate for fifteen-minutes before every one gets up and I also try to meditate in the evening before going to bed.
Some days I don’t do as much but I definitely see the difference if I don’t create time to sit down and BE.
Giving myself ‘me time’ and a ‘space to BE’ has become the bedrock of my practice.
Initially, the thought of taking fifteen-minutes out of my ‘busy’ schedule was completely inconceivable and I often thought I ‘didn’t have time to meditate’.
Now I know that every minute I give myself to appreciate the now and the present moment will benefit not only myself but also all those around me with whom I interact on a daily basis. If I am much more present, my relationships improve. It’s a win-win situation.
Mindfulness is the non-judgemental awareness of the present moment.
It requires us to focus on the object of our meditation single-pointedly and to bring our attention back to it every time our mind wanders (which happens very often and is completely normal, by the way).
My favourite meditations are mindful listening and mindful breathing which require to listen to the sounds around us (like the ticking of the clock as I type this or the sounds of the birds on this lovely sunny and bright spring morning) or to notice the sensation of our breath in our body (the slightly warmer air as it comes out of our nostrils and the colder air as we breathe in) respectively.
Meditating makes me feel alive, alert, and vibrant.
It also makes me aware of my connections to others, to nature and most importantly that everything is transient and that change is the only constant.
Every day I recognise that the only guarantee is this moment, right now and it makes me want to appreciate every minute I have because I don’t know what the future holds (and I also know that there’s no guarantee tomorrow will come).
I also love practising gratitude and my boys and I have a great game we play every night.
We look at 3 to 5 things that went well during our day and what we are grateful for.
It cannot be the same things every day and it certainly makes us appreciate how lucky we are and how many great things there are in our lives rather than moan about what went wrong and what we don’t like in our lives.
Finally, I believe that mindfulness has become a ‘way of life’.
I also try to introduce several moments in the day when I stop and notice either the sounds around me, my breath or I simply close my eyes and ‘be’ whilst I am making a cup of tea and am waiting for my tea to ‘brew’.
Many of my friends and family tell me how much I have changed in these last 7 years. I agree with them.
Mindfulness has made me aware, more appreciative of myself, my family, friends and all the things I have in my life. I said before, there is no way I would want to go back to my previous way of living on autopilot, not aware of my thoughts and emotions.
There is no right way or wrong way of practising Mindfulness.
The main thing is to be willing to try and find what works for you in your busy schedule and to notice the changes and benefits it brings into your life.
All it requires us to do is to ‘sit and be.
It can be for 1 minute only at the beginning.
Surely we can all find one minute to give ourselves when we give others most of our time throughout the day.
We are called ‘human beings’ not ‘human doings’ but in this frantic world with the constant connection via the Internet, our phones, social media we seem to have forgotten.
I truly believe that when we stop and are more, we start enjoying life much more. Why don’t you give it a go?
Fabienne Vailes is Deputy Language Director in French at Bristol University and teaches Mindfulness to Students at the University, she has translated and recorded a series of Mindspace meditations into the French Language.
You can visit her website here.
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