Mindfulness and how it can help you

Mindset

 

So What is Mindfulness Meditation?

 

Mindfulness is the awareness of what is going on within your mind and body or outside in your environment in the present moment, without judgement, simply accepting what is. It is the ability to still the mind, or at least to slow it down for a period of time. Being, not Doing. It is one of the most helpful and healthful outcomes of meditation.

 

Mindfulness Meditation is the process by which we can reach that awareness, even for a very short time.

 

Why is it worth doing? – if we can slow down the constant tumult of our thoughts (it is estimated we have 70,000 thoughts a day – Laboratory of Neuroimaging at the University of Southern California, cited by Bob Stahl) and focus on the only two consciously changeable elements of the Stress Response (breathing and muscle relaxation), we can reduce the levels of the stress hormones racing round our bodies, reduce the pressure on our hearts, lower our blood pressure, sleep better, work more efficiently and calmly, altogether be nicer people to be around! And that’s just for starters!

 

There are numerous practices to get you there. Practice makes for …. Well, if not perfection, at least a moment’s peace in our noisy lives.

 

How to get there? Through paying full attention to something in the present moment, either internal or external. The simplest starting point is the breath, the background to all of life. If we are not breathing, we are not alive. The miracle of breath goes largely unnoticed, but it is our fundamental vitality. Inspire to be Inspired.

 

We can also pay attention to eating mindfully, listening to music mindfully, noticing the sounds around us mindfully – being IN THE MOMENT.

 

So much of our time is spent in thinking and feeling about either the past or the future, and sometimes behaving in unhelpful, reactive ways out of those thoughts and feelings. Here are some of the ways we can stress ourselves out with our thoughts and feelings:

 

  • Catastrophising about something we fear might happen: we might be playing the ‘what if’ game: what if x happens, what if I fail at y, what if I’m not good enough at z? What if … ? What if … ? What if … ?

 

  • Blaming – we might be blaming ourselves or others for something that happened. When we are blaming something/someone other than ourselves, we give away our power to effect change.

 

  • Rehashing – going over and over something that happened sometime, often trying to figure it out – why did I/they do that?

When we learn how to practise Mindfulness it is a very simple yet powerful tool to bring into and enhance our lives.

 

Feedback from ladies that have the groups:

“Very helpful to learn the simple breathing exercises”
“How to manage my emotions before I break down”
“Casual and relaxed atmosphere Di made me feel very at ease”
“The ABCD model of stress is something I will use in both my private and work life, really good”
“It covered so much and so many techniques, in order to help me manage at times when I feel overwhelmed”
“Helped me feel in control of my choices”
“Loved it would love more”
“Learning the importance of taking care of myself”
“Loved learning about gratitude and how powerful it is”

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Diane Pulley

Owner and Director of AspireYou
Diane Pulley is a BACP accredited and UKRC psychotherapist and Life Coach having graduated from Warwick university. She has worked in private practise for many years with clients presenting various issues, from trauma, depression, anxiety and self confidence. Diane works with both individuals and couples. Her experience has lead her to work with corporate clients delivering stress management training for both staff and management. Aspire You has been born from a personal journey, of Diane's own marriage breaking down after 28 years, when she identified there is a need to support women through this process and help them rebuild their lives. "everyone has the potential to lead fulfilling lives and i am committed to helping individuals achieve that desire"
x

Diane’s Story

Two years ago I made the jump ….. I did a sky dive and jumped 15,000 feet from a plane in New Zealand. I knew if I could do that I could do anything.

I then returned home with my family and left a 28-year marriage, three businesses a beautiful home and a lifestyle!!!!

 The marriage in it’s final stages had become very much an abusive one.
However in the early years it was a happy marriage, driven by young love.

I married at 24, coming from a strict family upbringing.

I was not allowed to move into the house I had bought with my fiancée until I was married.

After being married for three years, aged 27, Hannah was born and at 30 I then had a son.

My son we later identified having ADHD and dyslexia.

My husband committed adultery when our son was just one.

I had a very hyperactive child who liked to wake at 5am.

Business took my husband away from home a lot and finally it became apparent there was someone else in the relationship.

These were the first cracks in the marriage.

However I chose to forgive him, as I still very much loved him and he in turn said he had made a huge mistake and he loved me dearly.

In hindsight …. which is a wonderful thing, I should have ended the marriage then.

Why didn’t I? I had two young children who I felt needed a father in their lives and I did not want to share my children of a weekend. Also who would want me with two children. In turn, one being both beautiful and hyperactive, all at the same time.

I chose to stay with a very low self-worth.

From the outset it was always a happy marriage, with dark episodes every 6-12 months. The dark episodes left me feeling very disempowered and wanting to leave the marriage. However some family event would be happening.

It was my sons birthday my daughter was graduating, my father was ill the dog was poorly…. Does this resonate!!!!

It was never the right time to leave.

We would then have a family holiday, this left me feeling, this is not as bad as I think it will be ok I just need to try harder.

I was a dedicated wife and mother, however I always worked and enjoyed it immensely. I chose to sacrifice a career, for my family, as they were my priority.

My husbands business was always his priority and I supported him in every way to enable that to become a success.

When the children were still at school I realised I was not utilising my academic skills and needed more mental stimulation.

I decided to retrain as a psychotherapist and Life Coach. This was incredibly empowering and rewarding, I felt alive again.

Having retrained I then became a senior BACP Accredited therapist.

I initially worked with children who had been sexually abused within Barnardos. I then moved on to work within Higher Education.

I eventually set up my own business with a private practise as a Counsellor, Life Coach and Trainer, winning a contract to work with doctors and nurses within the NHS.

In turn I also delivered Stress Management and Group Work to corporate clients, Jaguar Land Rover being one of those clients.

My work still always revolved around my role within my husbands business and the children.

Yes you may ask when did I sleep?  ….. I did, but had very little life other than work and my family.

Something had to give, so more of me disappeared ……

Whilst everything else on the surface looked like the perfect life.

I developed M.E.

When I was diagnosed my husband said go away for the week and have some rest… Not I will take you away for the week and look after you.

I would shower in a morning and have to lie down afterwards for 15 minutes to recover, the illness is so debilitating.

I could not even remember the way home from work. I can remember driving on the motorway thinking where am I going. I was on the M42, a journey I had done hundreds of times. I had to pull over and stop for a while until it came back to me where I was.

But I still continued to try to be the prefect wife and mother.

I overcame the M.E, again with the help of Hannah who took a week off work and took me away to a hotel to just relax and do nothing except sleep. Something I would not have been able to do at home, as my husband still if I was there expected me to do the ironing or pay the wages or whatever else needed doing. I was also privileged to be in the industry of self care and I knew from my knowledge of the illness and my understanding from a therapeutic perspective of how to take care of myself.

I had done a really good job of becoming burnt out!!!!

I was the epitome of a graceful swan on the outside, desperately paddling underneath the surface in order to keep afloat. A neighbour knocked the door one day as our new home did not have a door bell and said “What do you buy the lady who has everything”

I wanted to scream “If only you knew how unhappy I am”.

Breaking away from the marriage was the hardest yet most empowering thing I have ever done.

Yet then the next challenge came along ……. getting back into the world as a single woman!!

x

Hanna’s Story

People underestimate the understanding children have of circumstances around them, from such a young age. But children are very inquisitive, they know what is happening.

People talk about a mother’s maternal instinct, I believe as a child you have that instinct within you for your parents well being and in my case very much for my mother.

I can remember many things throughout my childhood and teenage years. I can remember being sat on the corner of the spiral staircase, hidden whilst my parents argued. Throughout all of the arguments I did not need to hear the words that were being said, but just to know that everything was ok.

I can still remember distinctly I was around five and I heard my mom crying in the hall, there had been raised voices. I did not know if he chose to or, she had told him to leave. But at age five I just remember wanting to be there for her so I could stop her pain. It was later on I understood it was because he had had an affair.

You will hear people say the impact it has on a child when parents separate and you yourself will have your own opinion, of what is right and what is wrong.

Well I was a child of a ‘failed’ marriage whose parents did not separate until later on in life. A Large part of me wishes my mother had left when I was younger, because I witnessed every part of the love that was in their relationship disappear and turn to hatred.

But it did not effect my education – it was instilled in me that school and education were essential; it led to opportunities in life and gave you choices. I had left school, got though colleague, and because of my parents I went on to do a degree at Westminster University in business and fashion buying which I loved. Realizing for the first time, I am intelligent, I can achieve top grades despite my dyslexia, I just have to try a lot harder and put in more hours than others to attain it. I was able to use my passion and drive to push my capabilities, and achieve a first class honors degree.

But I know it could have been a very different story if my parents had separated as a child and it had happened during my school years.

A key part of my story is the relationship we share as mother and daughter. We have always been so close. We shared some dark times together, however we supported each other.

It helped having a mother as a therapist and counselor, although rather annoying at times for a teenage girl, I was very much aware of her understanding of human behavior, she did not miss a trick but it bought us closer.

Over the years, the bond we shared compelled me to support my mother even more. I recognise I compensated for my father.

Not being there for her when my grandfather passed away.

The emotion and pressure I felt to support her when she explained she had M.E. Begging him to be more understanding to take it seriously, to take some pressure off me because I could not always be there.

It is safe to say he always worked, he loved success but stress affected him. Work was the priority it came first before his family. I felt he did not really know me because of his absence. There are always secrets behind closed doors but to me it was clear day-to-day that there was a lot of unhappiness in my mother’s life. Although he tried to compensate with a beautiful home, nice cars, expensive gifts. It was not real, it does not build a relationship and it does not make you happy. It was just his way of showing love and saying sorry.

I knew when my mother left I would have to be very strong. I had wanted the marriage to end many years before, I question maybe if I had been strong enough to support her like I have now we might have left sooner.

When she had finally had enough. I knew it would not be easy, I knew my mother would need to be very strong to do it because my father would make it very difficult. He did not want his wife to leave that cooked, cleaned, the mother of his children, his personal assistant and joint director in the businesses. I knew how strong she would have to be, and I knew in turn how strong I would have to be.

I was right because it has been two years and there have been and still are so many hurdles. I reduced my social life felt guilty anytime I spent away from my mother, even when I was at work. I felt responsible and I knew mom had no one else that understood the pain like I did. You can talk to friends but you know they do not understand because they are not living it as you are and it is hard to imagine the raw emotion until you are. There are only so many times you can cry to your friends about the same issue.

But who supported me, I needed support in supporting my mother, as a child you want to help and being older, I did support her but I felt a big weight on my shoulders. I always picked myself up but there were dark days, times when I just wished someone understood the pain. We supported each other, as she likewise was the only person who I felt understood my pain. In the end I decided to see a counselor to help me manage my emotions, to have an outsider to talk to.

There are hurdles before you leave and there are the ones we face now. Divorce impacts your life for many years.

I am proud of what I have done; I am proud to say that I supported my mom and I would not have changed a thing. I also would not wish it on anybody; it is heart breaking, emotionally exhausting why should it have to be that hard?

The question everyone asks me is do you still have a relationship with your father. To that the simple answer is no. The pain he put me through, at this time I have no forgiveness left for him. You can only forgive someone so many times when they continue to make the same mistake for years, I did and I now have to think of myself.

A man that I am meant to feel the most love and safety from look up to and go to for advice is someone that has hurt me the most in the world. He was someone I most feared before we left.

He continues to hurt my mother and our freedom will come when the divorce comes through. We left two years ago and he still impacts our lives.

We have already overcome so much and from our situation AspireYou, has been born, in order for us to be able to help other women to make the change, to support them and to make a difference in their lives

A quote my mother showed me resonated, you have to climb a mountain before you can see the view.

We are so close now I can nearly see the view.