Being Mindful means being more intentional in your choices to good mindfulness habits. As I have pointed out in my past blogs, there are also many additional physical and emotional benefits to a Mindfulness practices
Mindfulness practices have been researched extensively and shown to:
· Decrease stress by lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
· Reduce rumination and overthinking.
· Help maintains owering levels of the stress . Improve relationship happiness. (Yaaa)
· Improve memory, concentration, and performance.
· Reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Improve sleep. (nite, nite)
· Just as exercise habits will change your body, mindfulness habits will literally reshape your mind. (renews your mind)
· Protects against mental illness and provides natural pain relief.
· With the repetition and consistency, mindfulness creates changes in your brain function and structure. (always a plus)
Probably one of the easiest ways to start your Mindfulness journey is through journaling. The act of reflective journaling is a way of practising Mindfulness, and It is Free!
Mindfulness journaling is used as an intervention method because it lowers depressive symptoms, anxiety and overwhelm. Mindfulness is so easy to implement. It can be practised anywhere, and only requires your time and consistency.
Despite the ease of implementing Mindfulness, like any new habit, it can be overwhelming for beginners. Where should you start? Should you implement a daily meditation session, mindful eating, mindful exercise, or mindful walking? The answer is you should start small, with one thing at a time. Then when it becomes a Well Habit, you can move to the next thing.
In this post, I share with you how and why I started with reflective mindful journaling, and how I struggled with it at first. This is not about journaling for organising but for self awareness. This is not the whole story but a snippet from my new book about Holistic Living, which features Mindfulness and issues around mental health. I am in the process of writing it. It will be published and made available to you later in the year – so keep a lookout for that! If you struggle to make self-care a priority or do not know how to start your mindfulness journey, check out my course, which will be available in the Summer of 2021- subscribe free to this blog to get updates on this! Maybe you are at the beginning to start a habit. Regardless of where you are on your journey, I hope you will find something useful here- if so, please let me know down in the comments.
I have been on this planet for a long time now in my 66 years of life. Like you dear reader, I have experienced trauma, joys and much sorrow. I am also very dyslexic, so I shied away from anything to do with writing as much I could. Through the years, I tried journaling but never was consistent with it. Due to my dyslexia, writing caused me GREAT anxiety and overwhelm. So, I would abort my efforts only after a few weeks.
Then I discovered Mindfulness, and everything changed for me. All my life, I have enjoyed practising holistic living but never really ventured into mindfulness territory. I was always busy, busy, busy, and stopping to be mindful of what I was doing seemed almost a waste of my time.
Then one day, I escaped a very abusive marriage which caused me to be physically ill, developing bodily weakness and I became susceptible to colds and flu. The lifestyle of abuse I was under wreaked my immune system, making me feel like an old lady before my time – not only in my body but in my mind as well. I spend over a year with women’s aid and had weekly counselling. I was still working full time, and no one knew what I was going through. I am the ‘stiff upper lip type of person, which has served me well because I ‘just got on with things’ despite the circumstances. However, although I didn’t want to let that go of my stiff upper lip attitude, I had to acknowledge that being busy, busy, busy, was hindering my recovery.
Then I had an accident that ripped my shoulder, and two of the main tendons snapped. I lost the use of my arm for three months. The divorce went through, now living alone, I was trying to manage one-handed which was not easy. I prayed and cried and repeated that – a lot! I didn’t have a strategy for recovery, I was becoming an invalid and thought of taking early retirement. I lamented about my situation as I crawled up the stairs on my hands and knees. I was so weak. Of course, my tendency to ‘get on with it’ kicked in. I couldn’t allow my life to down the gurgler- or my Lord Jesus would not allow that to happen either. So, I accepted that I had to slow down. I had physically slowed down because I lost the use of my arm. I could not drive and took over 3 months off work. However, my mind was still in work mode; it had not slowed me down permanently at all. So, I surfed the web, bought books to study, researched the mind and its workings, and discovered Mindfulness. From then on, I began to practise mindful journaling and approached everything I did intentionally, including my faith. But it didn’t last. I could not grasp ‘the mindful thing’, and as my shoulder healed, I began to drive again and returned to work.
That very same year, I was involved in two car accidents. Neither of them were my fault- thankfully! The first one happened when a bike slammed into the passage side of my car, causing me whiplash and many emotional and financial problems, which added to the trauma. It wiped out the whole side of my car, which was in the workshop for 10 days. After I got my car back, then only three days later, I was sitting at a 6-way roundabout ready to enter the motorway – WHEN – bammm!!!!
A humungous lorry slammed into the back of my newly repaired car- wiping out the back end, sending me into shock! The driver said he didn’t see me- (I didn’t believe it). Everyone was stopped, including me as we gave way to our right, and the guy didn’t see me! Anyway, my car ended up in the same shop, and I then became very ill.
I obviously didn’t the message slowing down message through my head. Was this God speaking to me? Who knows, This situation was was what caused me to make a vow to myself and God, to slow down physically and mentally (after all I was no spring chicken any more). I asked God to help me to get a grip on this mindfulness thing because I knew that this would be my way to the lasting healing of life.
So over time, with starts and stops, I began reflective journaling. I did it for six months straight – Amazing! I would sit down at 6am, with coffee in hand and pray, read scripture and then journal. I enjoy it, I found it helped me to get out of bed, looking forward to putting pen to paper. Its was a struggle, but happily I can tell you that the habit continues till today. the journaling habit gave me the confidence to write two books during the COVID lockdown, and I regularly write blog posts, one of which you are reading.
Well, dear reader, this is part of my mindfulness journey, I hope you enjoyed it and was of some help to you. My next post is part two; lookout for that. In that post, I will outline a few basic steps to get you started on your mindfulness journaling journey.
If you are struggling as I have, you’re in good company – just keep going!
Thank you for visiting me here, I hope this post was helpful? Then please like, subscribe or leave a comment with any questions you may have!
If feel you would like further support, please contact me. Details of How to get in touch is found in the top menu on my home page.
HEAD OVER TO YOU TUBE AND CATCH UP WITH MY VIDEOS – its Free!
I look forward your visit to my next blog post!
Paula Rose Parish