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The Busy Woman’s guide to learning mindfulness

The Busy Woman’s guide to learning mindfulness

Are you struggling coping with isolation?

If the prospect of lockdown with your beloved spouse/children/family members for an indefinite period has you reaching for the wine, now is the time to start practising mindfulness.

As a former Busy Woman, I know you might have just mentally rolled your eyes, or thought “Ain’t nobody got time for that” but please read on.

I’ve been there.
I’ve been you.
You need this.
Now.

The most common objection to mindfulness and meditation from busy people is that they don’t have time for it. The anxiety a crisis fuels adds to the sensation that there are more urgent things to be doing than sitting around ‘contemplating your navel’.

In reality, a crisis like the Coronavirus pandemic is the perfect time to start practising mindfulness, because you will reap the benefits quickly.

Busy woman, busy mind

Busy women have a very long list of Things I Must Do.

At any given time, that list probably has about 2,864 items on it, and because we have full minds, it’s a real struggle to be mindful.

We’re continuously adding to the list, shuffling the priorities around and mentally scanning the environment for other Important Things to take care of. Which means we are not in the present. Instead, part of our brain is off in the future, scheduling learn at home actitivies, planning meals, composing drafts of emails.

If we are busy people pleasers (join my club!), we are also Olympic level athletes when it comes to putting our needs last, but we cannot take care of other people if we don’t take care of ourselves first.

Mahatma Gandhi, when busy trying to stop Hindus and Muslims from slaughtering one another, meditated for an hour twice daily. At the start of one especially busy day, Gandhi said, “I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one.

What is mindfulness anyway?

Mindfulness at its essence is connecting with yourself in the present moment. Mindfulness and meditation are essentially the same thing. The association of meditation with Eastern religions led to the promotion of the term mindfulness in Western countries. In religious traditions and in some Western secular movements, there are some rigid practices but you don’t have to join a movement, or follow anyone else’s rules to practice. There are three parts to a great mindfulness practice: 1. Present moment attention 2. Non-judgemental acceptance 3. Action with awareness. You can literally do anything mindfully. You don’t have to sit cross-legged. You don’t have to be still. Playing with your cat can be a mindful practice.
mindfulness playing with cat
Me with my cat Rizzo

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

Whilst proven benefits of mindfulness include improved mental health and resilience to stress, there’s some evidence that intensive practices like silent retreats may be harmful for people who have suffered trauma.

Professional help is recommended if silent reflection brings up traumatic memories.

For me, mindfulness has been key to me coping with a sudden death, getting through breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, and surviving bullying at work. The peace I have longed for as long as I can remember is available to me on a daily, even hourly basis. All I need to do is practice being mindful.

When should start?

Right now!

A simple breath practice is the easiest form of mindfulness.

Try mindfulness of breath now:
• Check on your breath. Are you breathing? Notice how you are breathing. Is your breath shallow and high in your chest, or deep and making your belly move?
• Breathe in slowly through your nose, then breathe out slowly through the nose. Do this 4 times, noticing how each inhale and exhale feels in your body.
• If thoughts arise and you lose count, notice the thought, then focus on your breath again. How does the air feel passing your nose?
• After just four slow, deep breaths, you should feel noticeably calmer.

Try this technique while you are doing ordinary activities instead of running through the open tabs in your mind, and notice the difference it makes!

Another easy way to get started with mindfulness is to have someone else guide you. If you listen (with focussed attention) to a 5-minute guided meditation every day, that is a mindfulness practice.

I started practicing in 2015 and listening to guided meditations is still a cornerstone of my practice.

My favourite guided mediations

Mindfulness Daily – a free 40-day course by two leading Western teachers, Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield. I’ve done this twice now to help create a habit. 10 minutes a day.

Saying Yes to Life – This 16 minute meditation guided by Tara Brach is one of my all time favourites. The first time I did it I ended up with a big grin on my face, and it almost always has that effect on me.

Walking meditation – So much lovelier than power-walking (just remember to pay attention to others and observed physical distancing guidelines during the COVID19 Coronavirus pandemic).  This guide from Headspace is a great introduction.

Remember, there is no right or wrong. The point is in the practice.

Make a habit of stepping away from your busy mind a few times a day!

About the Author

Robyn Evans is a business owner learning to pivot (thanks, Coronavirus pandemic!).

A marketing and communications specialist by trade and a born book-worm, she loves sharing wisdom and helping connect audiences with stories through her blog.

Robyn lives in Brisbane with her partner and a small bossy cat. 

Robyn Evans - Coping with divorce or isolation

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