Why being kind to yourself is really important

self kindness

Kindness. It’s something we often hear in relation to other people isn’t it? Be kind to others.  Have compassion for those in greater need than yourself. Offer kindness to those around you.

But when we start thinking about the kindness and compassion we offer ourselves, we often discover we’re pretty low down on our own list of priorities

Why do we put ourselves last?

Continue reading “Why being kind to yourself is really important”

What I’ve learnt from my mindfulness training so far…

Quite a while ago I blogged about starting a mindfulness course with the hope to become a teacher of mindfulness.

I found a course run by the Mindfulness Association  which runs ethical mindfulness training which was important

The course is in three parts; the actual ‘mindfulness’ bit which was four weekends, teacher training skills and a five day teaching retreat. The main body of the first part of the course is run in Scarborough which gave the added bonus of training by the sea. So win win really! The course is secular, but is taught by two fabulous women, one who is a Buddhist Nun and the wisdom and compassion that came from them both had a massive impact on me.

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Samye Yorkshire ; Buddhist Centre in Scarborough where I have completed my training

Oh how naive I was when I started the course. Swaggering into the Holiday Inn where the foundation weekend was held thinking ‘I know all about mindfulness and I am just coming to this so I can get onto the Mindfulness Teachers list’. Cue a year later having had my eyes opened beyond measure to how blind I was to the depths of mindfulness.

I had already done some mindfulness training which to be honest changed my life. Before I I came to mindfulness I suffered with depression, anxiety, I impulsively spent money, and I lived in a chaotic whirlwind of emotions. Having completed an eight week mindfulness course I started practicing the techniques I’d learnt and started seeing the benefits almost instantly; I felt calmer, clearer headed and started learning to live in the present. I found it so life changing I wanted to help others come to mindfulness.

Back to the Holiday Inn…another intensive mindfulness course that would be the first step on the pathway to teaching others. The first weekend covered many basics I already knew; living in the present, meditation and awareness. Nothing too new. Then weekend two came along and oh boy…compassion.

Now compassion is something I have in spades usually. For others. Ask me to be compassionate to myself and then we start to have a problem, but a big part of this course was about self compassion. A lot of self compassion. This course was where I realised I really didn’t love myself. I wasn’t even sure liking myself was even part of the  equation, and it hurt. It really hurt. I pushed against it, I felt blocked in trying to do the exercises. I rebelled against the silent practice and went to sit with the seagulls. I cried in front of a lot of almost strangers. Two weekends went by where compassion were a big part of the work we were doing. Compassion to self and others is a big part of mindfulness , as it should be, to be able to be kind to yourself and to others, even those you really don’t have much time for is a great gift, but it’s not easy.

In between weekends we had to practice the different practices we were learning, read books on mindfulness, meditate and generally open ourselves up the mindfulness journey we had started. I could do this for many areas; demonstrating mindful movement in the practice groups I run, reading more and trying to get a regular meditation practice in place, but somehow I skirted around compassion, finding it too hard to contemplate.

I loved the other work, the acceptance, the mindful movement, the meditation practices, the observing of thoughts, and even though it’s a work in progress I have started to make peace with myself. Weekend four was this last weekend. We pulled together everything we’d been learning and practicing, and suddenly something shifted. I felt ready to start being kind to myself. After all why don’t I deserve that? There’s something fundamental in most of us that feel being kind to ourselves is indulgent but it’s absolutely crucial to our wellbeing. Without compassion to ourselves and to others how can we bring out the best in ourselves and others?

Ironically I now feel ready to have a full mindful practice. I will talk more in another post about the changes that I have already put in place this week to find joy in the present moment.

Are there any parts of mindfulness you are particularly interested in? What have you struggled most with?

Looking forward to my teaching skills weekends starting in June…watch this space!

The Anti-Resolutions

I used to set a lot of new years resolutions. A lot. Then I realised that I didn’t keep to them and that made me feel shitty. I asked myself, why don’t I keep to my new years resolutions? The answer was usually because I was looking for the moon on a stick and actually I could be a bit more realistic.

So now I still set myself something to achieve, but I call them goals. I set them small. The idea being that;

They’re achievable

They’re realistic for what I can achieve

I can see my progress

I can set a time for them

They’re clear and I know what they mean. in the business world this would be SMART. See…?

They’re clear and I know what they mean (S)

I can see my progress (M)

They’re achievable (A)

They’re realistic for what I can achieve (R)

I can set a time for them (T)

Anyone can do this. You can too. If you’re feeling down in the dumps about winter, or about not sticking to any one of a million things you haven’t done that your peers and the media tell you that you should be achieving e.g. making a high salary, driving a big car, losing five stone in a month, annihilating all cellulite. STOP! Take a deep breath and set yourself some realistic goals. When we achieve something, we get a shot of feel good stuff, which makes us feel better. So why don’t we set things we can achieve? Well these days we’re often told to achieve the unachievable, to reach for the stars. To believe. I’m all for believing, but sometimes it’s about the little things. The small , achievable stuff that helps you get to those constellations.

Here’s my goals for 2017…

Catch up with the people I haven’t seen for ages (I took the word all out of this – not achievable). I’m really looking forward to seeing people I haven’t literally seen for years.

To eat better (So here’s the thing. I’m overweight. Very. But I refuse to set myself a goal to diet. Everything about dieting is negative. It’s reductive. It says there’s something wrong in the first place. It makes you think about food just about 24/7. I want to love my body, to treasure it, and to want to look after it. How can I do that if I hate it? So I want to eat better food, more grains, more pulses, more fruit and veg. Less processed stuff. I want to feed myself well. Try catching up with minimal wellness if you’re interested in this.

Which brings me onto my next goal

To give myself more self compassion. I’m doing a mindfulness course at the moment, and when I started I naively thought, oh this will be easy I’ve been practicing mindfulness for a while. It’s just a process. Until I got to self compassion. Whoa that hit me like a train. I don’t actually have any for myself. When asked to give myself some, I broke down. I had literal pain in my chest. So I need to work on that. Being kinder to ourselves is something most of us needs to do. This year I’ll be reading the book The Mindful Path to Self Compassion.

And you know what? That’s it. There’s loads of other things I want to do. I want to get a camper van and travel off round Britain rather than work. I want to be debt free. I want the perfect clematis cover on my trellis this summer. I want to work in a job that doesn’t involve 9 to 5. Actually that’s all pretty overwhelming isn’t it? If I tried to do all those things at once I’d blow a brain gasket. So instead I will set my intentions to achieve these things, and let them organically develop (I hope) in the background while I get on with my goals. If you’d like to try some goals, remember

  1. be SMART. There’s a reason all the business gurus focus on SMART. Because it works.
  2. Start small and achievable. If you’ve got loads of debt and want to eradicate it, start with a credit card, or a catalogue debt with the highest interest and set clearing that as your goal
  3. Have fun. Life isn’t meant to be boring, so have fun with your goals. If you want to see more of the world, create a pinterest board and pin your favourite locations. Set up a travel fund and siphon a bit of your income away each month to achieve your travels. If it goes out directly from your salary you’ll notice it less.
  4. Don’t quit if it doesn’t go to plan. If you find yourself not able to achieve your goals, or you feel you might have set the wrong goals, change it up. They’re your goals. Own them, know them and then kick their ass!

Let me know what goals your setting this year, and good luck with them