My mindful moments- dishwasher and beer festival

So I’m changing the format of my blogs a bit. I hope you don’t mind, but I’m bored of writing posts about how to meditate, or how to find mindfulness. Those posts are everywhere on the internet, and better people with more experience than me are writing them, so I want to try something new.

So I’m mixing it up…

Instead of informative blog posts about mindfulness, I’m going to write more about me. I know, exciting right? I’m going to write more about my experience of living mindfully. I might link up to some mindful experts, but sometimes I’ll just be telling you what works for me. I’ll also be sharing my life, and how I manage my mental health through mindfulness, which is the reason I found mindfulness in the first place.

Hopefully you’re still awake

For some of you I know you’ll still be looking for advice, or information about how to approach different aspects of mindfulness. So here’s the good bit. I’m going to be developing my mindful tools section of the website to make it lots bigger. I want the mindful hub to be exactly that…a hub full of useful information for people who could probably use a bit of mindfulness, or who already know about it but want to do more to live a mindful life

Mindful tools

So I’m planning the following sections:

  • books – there are thousands of books on mindfulness, but I’ll be providing you with a reading list of the ones I’ve read, or that I know are well respected, well loved and recommended by other mindful people in the know
  • courses – an 8 week course is the recommended way to get into mindfulness and it’s how I started. There are some great ones out there, so I’ll be letting you know all about them
  • practice groups – One of the key differences to establishing mindful living rather than just doing a course and forgetting it is going to a regular group with others who want to be mindful. I’ll be listing these groups so let me know if there’s one in your area.
  • websites – All the best websites for finding out more about mindfulness, what it is and how it makes a difference, including all the great mindful bloggers
  • apps – there are so many apps out there to help your mindfulness
  • coaching – using mindfulness to change areas of your life you’re not happy with and set your self achievable goals
  • downloads – as well as my worksheets and e-books, there are loads more other booklets, e-books etc. and you’ll find these here
  • places to find meditations – places to try different meditations you can access on the internet, both paid and free
  • gifts and stuff to buy- there are some great gratitude journals, colouring books and mindful gifts to buy that mindful person in your life, so i’ll be linking to those too
Here’s where you come in

Got a book you loved that you can’t see on the list? been on a course that’s changed your life? running a practice group and want people to find out about it? Let me know and I’ll look at adding it. I want everything on the hub to be useful, really about mindfulness and something others can easily access.  So jot a comment below with anything you’d like to share and I’ll check it out and add it if it’s relevant.

I’m still working full time, so it’s going to be a work in development for a while but I hope next year there’ll be loads of resources for you to access, to help you be your best self!

What about the blog?

Well I’m still going to be blogging. In fact I hope now I’ve got to grips with what I want the mindful hub to be I am hoping I will be blogging regularly. This post will be a weekly update on my life through all my mindful moments (check out mindfulhubuk on Instagram to see them as they happen).

As readers will also know I am also turning 40 very shortly ( I know it feels like a loooong time since I started mentioning it but in November I will in fact finally arrive at destination 40!) I am planning to start a new, year long mindful project which I’ll blog about too but I am planning to reveal all once I have stepped into my new decade.

So all that over with we can start the business of an actual weekly update

My week in mindful moments

So a mindful moment, or a #mindfulmoment if you’re using the hashtag on Instagram on Twitter (I’m kidding myself I’ve started a global viral hashtag or something) is something that reminds me either a) to use mindfulness in my daily life b) how grateful I am for what I have and for my life

So I started creating and tagging #mindfulmoment posts to help remind myself of these things, and to hopefully inspire others. If you’re following me on Instagram (just a reminder – mindfulhubuk) then you’ll know a lot of my mindful moments are in nature.

Nature is a massive reminder for me of how to’just be’. How can you be lost in thought and stressed when the wind is rippling on a lake, or rustling the leaves on a tree that’s hundred of years old and has stood the test of man’s (ridiculous at times) worries?

But this week I was also reminded to be mindful in two other ways:

my dishwasher blew up

Well it kept blowing the trip on our electric circuit meaning everything else kept switching off.  We bought it second hand from the previous owners when we bought our house 18 months ago, so it wasn’t expensive, but we had loved being able to chuck everything in and switch it on.

our old dishwasher complete with canine models!

So cue decision about what to do since we don’t have much money right now, and also cue either opportunity to get pi$$ed off with the universe for blowing up the dishwasher when we can’t afford to replace it. 

Well old me would have lost it, got angry because we need a dishwasher, stormed off, calmed down and bought a new one on her credit card.

New me? Oh no…well I was still fed up that it’s broken right now, because to be fair I have loved having one and being able to put all the cat and dog bowls in there (4 cats and 2 dogs accumulate a LOT of washing up) but as I no longer have any credit cards the buying one on impulse is out of the question.

So we decided to try something really old fashioned…washing up as we go! No I know this is like from the 20th Century but we are actually finding it’s OK to not have a dishwasher. The bonus of not having one is we actually have more space in the kitchen. We’ve been able to change our table round to have it opened out more, which means it’s more comfortable to sit together and chat.

We didn’t NEED a dishwasher, we just liked having it. It’s one less thing to go wrong, one less thing to buy, fix and clean. So from a decluttering perspective I feel like I’ve upped my minimalist rating.

My reaction though is one that is better for my mental health – taking the time to see if we really feel it’s necessary. Stepping back from impulse spending and being aware that it is only a dishwasher, not a life ending scenario, which is how I would have reacted pre mindfulness.

My other mindful moment

I want to share with you the trip to our village beer festival yesterday. The annual Ulleskelf Beer Festival brings our village alive, and as well as giving me an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone, by meeting people I don’t know, and trying beers I wouldn’t usually try.

So stepping out of my comfort zone, meeting new people, and announcing ourselves as the’ only gays in the village’ (we aren’t actually as far as we know but we were the only ones there I believe) is difficult for me.

I am also quite rigid in my ideas sometimes of what I like and don’t like so when offered a chocolate tasting stout was ready to announce ‘ I don’t like stout’. The whole point of going to a beer festival though is trying different things isn’t it? So I put my little ‘try new things’ head on and had a try. It was called Swoon and tasted really chocolatey. It wasn’t what I’d usually drink but I have to confess I really liked it.

I felt warm and happy and my mindful moment came when I realised how a) it’s important to be part of a community.  Whether that’s your geographical community, a like minded community of people similar to you. It could be a family community, or a community of friends, but actually that a feeling of belonging is crucial to my wellbeing.  b) stepping out of my comfort zone and what I think I like and don’t like is important for me. That fits with the beginners mind tool we use in mindfulness, where you drop assumptions about a situation or a feeling or an experience, and see it with new eyes , without judgement.

I’m on a journey, and no doubt there will be many more downs, some lovely ups, and lots more times when I need to bring myself back to mindfulness, to anchor myself here firmly in the present but I can honestly say I’m really enjoying the experience of practicing mindful living too!

 

How turning off the TV has helped me turn on life

It’s been over a week now since we turned the television round and put a lovely colourful crochet blanket over it (to make it look nice – obviously!). We’re trialling a month without watching TV with a view to giving up having a TV in the house permanently. You can read my blog Perhaps the biggest lifestyle change to date here, about the reasons why I wanted to give it up.

So it’s been a week and two days now, and it’s been a really interesting time. First of all I barely miss it, which is surprising given the fact I could happily while away about three or four hours a night watching it pre ‘TV turn off’. Some of that is due to the fact it’s been a busy week, but it’s also due to the fact I have found other things to do which are much more interesting.

Secondly it’s already given me a better quality of life. My wife and I have sat down to dinner at the dining table every night since we turned it off. No phones. We’ve even used that old fashioned medium of communication; conversation. Prior to this we would sit together and eat side by side in front of the television. Having dinner together, and really tasting and enjoying the food (and the odd cheeky class of wine) has already made a big difference to how we communicate and our quality of life.

We haven’t stopped watching TV altogether. I was really keen to catch up on a couple of programmes, one about Camila Batmanghelidjh and the fall of Kids Company, which I watched on catch up on my tablet, and I am also trying to catch up with Happy Valley, which is BBC 1 drama at it’s best, but we haven’t had time yet. The beauty of catch up is it will be there for the six weeks it’s on so there’s time to schedule it in.

The only time it felt slightly strange was the weekend; we’re used to watching TV during the afternoon, catching a film, or catching up on programmes we love, but instead I napped, stuck on some tunes on Google Play, listened to Radio 4 Women’s Hour podcasts, did some baking, and a jigsaw. OK I sound like I’m fresh out of the 1950s, but actually I feel a richness to my life that I haven’t felt for a long time. TV was sucking the life out of me, and I am very sure we won’t be going back to it in three weeks time.

Fancy having a go yourself? Here’s some of the things I’ve done this week as an alternative to TV…

Radio 4 Women’s Hour podcasts are great. I love listening to them, but only get to do that when I’m not working. So now I can take some time in the evening to catch up.

On a similar theme, the glorious Archers is also available in podcasts. I am always behind so fab to get to listen to them.

I practice mindfulness, which I find is a brilliant way to live a fuller, simpler life in the present. I am however rubbish at meditating. Now I don’t while away hours on the TV I have caught up on  my meditating. Here is a mindful meditation for you to try.

Jigsaws- I swear by them. Despite a number of efforts by our darling cats to break my spirit by knocking it on the floor, I have completed one this week. OK it’s pretty retro, and not very of this century, but there’s something absorbing and very calming about piecing little bits of cardboard together. If you go to car boot sales, you can pick them up for a few pence or pounds, but be prepared to accept that there may be a key bit missing!

Ditto adult colouring books. What is not to love about colouring in pretty patterns using pretty colours?  It’s just a lovely way to while away the time. This one from Amazon is one I have and it’s also handbag size, perfect for doctor’s waiting rooms, long train journeys and boring meetings. It’s also half price for the frugal amongst us.

If you’re crafty, take up knitting or crochet. I cannot do either, but I love the thought of being able to.

Start a blog…OK I already have but now without TV as a distraction, I actually keep it up to date!

Spend time with family, loved ones, and furry friends – TV is a good excuse to stay in one spot and watch back to back programmes. You’re not going to want to do that on a laptop or a tablet. You suddenly get a lot choosier about what you want to watch. I spend more time with my wife, with my cats, my dogs, getting in touch with people and giving myself time.

And finally….read! It’s my favourite activity. I can’t get enough of it. I now have time to read a book in the evenings, curled up and absorbed somewhere exciting. I’m currently in Laos with Colin Cotterill’s Coroner in The Coroner’s Lunch.

Hope it inspires you to at least switch it off for an evening!

 

The beauty of a building full of books…

I admit it. My name’s Jo and I’m a bookaholic. I suppose my Latin name is a bibliophile. Hell I just love books. As a minimalist this can be a problem. Books take up space, you need storage to put them in or on and they cost money.

In recent years the beauty of digital means storage is not so much an issue although it doesn’t aid minimalist buying tendancies. Also it’s not the same as an actual physical book. I admit it , I sniff books. I like looking at the covers and then turning them  over and reading the backs. I like feeling how far I am through a book and finding cool free postcards to use as my bookmark. Books are a massive part of my life and so this was an issue for me until I discovered something fairly radical a few years ago; my local library. Yes a place where you can take a book from free of charge, read it, take it back and its still free. This seems a fairly radical proposal in the modern world where everything costs money. You get to read it, you don’t have to own it and you don’t have pay for it. In our local library you can even rent out digital books both in e-book and audio book version. On top of this there’s a shocking discovery to be had. Libraries have cool stuff in them now, like nice cafés and archives and digital hubs and even gardens. Libraries are actually nice places to hang out these days.

So if there’s such an amazing resource available why don’t more people use them? It’s a mystery to me, an avid library user who visits more often than I go to a supermarket. Linked to http://www.goodreads.com I can reserve books online and pick them up at my nearest library. Is it because people don’t know about libraries? That they’re seen as stuffy institutions where you can’t talk that smell slightly of charity shops and old newspapers. Is it that books are so cheap now they’ve become throwaway? With significant discounts in supermarkets and online retailers books are cheaper to purchase than ever.

Library-Books

As a minimalist I have a recommendation for purchasing books. ALWAYS get books from the library first. If its a book you particularly want or a reference book and its something you can’t get you can easily get second hand books for a fraction of the price on EBay or Amazon. Occasionally a book makes such an impression on me that I will buy it to read again and again; try reading the Cellist of Sarajevo. Amazing book. Here I come across a conflict. As a financial minimalist and an eco champion its against my principles to buy brand new when I can get second hand but I also keenly feel the need to support writers. See its not easy being a minimalist at times?

So do you use libraries? How do you find yours? If not try getting down to yours and seeing if it surprises you…