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MINDFULNESS FOR BUSY PEOPLE

Can you spare a minute?
Can you spare 5 minutes?
If I said you could change your life if you could spare 5 minutes every day would you do it?
5-minute mini meditations are for people who genuinely are too busy for anything more. We have ridiculously busy lives. As vets we multitask in our sleep.
Maybe we go to yoga once a week which is a formal way to practice mindfulness and that’s great. However, what about the other days?
Everyone’s talking about mindfulness for a reason. The benefits are immediate and multiple. It costs nothing. You can do it anywhere, in any clothes, at any time.

What is it?
John Kabat-Zinn says, mindfulness is “Paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment, non- judgementally, as if your life depended on it”.
The simple (note, I never said “easy”) act of pinpoint concentrating on the here and now, can have such profound effects on our psyche that it can be a very powerful tool for each of us, whether distressed or having the time of our lives.

How do I do it?
Mindfulness can be anything from taking a moment to appreciate a beautiful view, to taking a few deep breaths, to mini meditations, to full meditation in cross-legged posture for an hour or more every day.
No act is better or worse than the others. What matters is that you choose what works for you.
Have you ever felt a bit overwhelmed to such a degree that you wish you could step off the rapidly revolving world for a few moments for a break and then step back on?
Yoga, Pilates even tennis can be “escapism” from the rollercoaster of life where we concentrate on our bodies, posture, breathing etc. This can be a form of escapism, and, is useful for those of us who find it difficult to concentrate on “nothingness”. We may need a “thing” to concentrate on to keep us in the present moment.

But while mindfulness is another way of freeing oneself from automatic and unhelpful ways of thinking, it is NOT a method of avoiding our emotions or escapism.

Mini meditations are a calming, anxiety-relieving strategy which we can do at any time of the day.
While mini meditations are a good place to start, they are essentially “fire brigade treatment” for those of us who are experiencing a difficult time in our lives; a “band aid” until we make the time to use mindfulness more deeply.
There are literally thousands of meditation apps out there to download, however proceed with caution. I would suggest instead disappearing to a place for 5 minutes without your phone, sit and focus on nothing other than your breathing for 5 minutes. Toilet cubicles are an obvious place in a busy veterinary hospital. Closing your eyes while on the tube is another. Walking to work concentrating on only your feet is another. It’s much harder than you would think to maintain this clarity of concentration for a full 5 minutes.

Deeper meditation is easier than you would think. Start with “Guided mindfulness “sitting meditation” by Kabat-Zinn from You Tube where you can learn how to get into that deeper state of consciousness.

Then learn to do it by yourself. Posture is important.
Focus entirely on the present moment, your breathing, clear your mind of all thoughts which are trying to get your attention. Gently push them to one side. Push the past to the left and the future to your right and concentrate fully on the here and now.
Once your mind is clear, then reintroduce and observe your emotions, in a direct and open manner one at a time. Face it, give it a description and a name. Be non- judgemental. No thought or emotion is right or wrong. Just accept it as the emotion it is. This is difficult. Once analysed, decide how much you want to hang onto or let go of that emotion. Then gently push that emotion aside. This is where you are powerful. Because you can literally choose the degree to which you feel that emotion from now on. If it is anger, you may wish to feel it less. If it is joy, you may wish to grow it so that it fills your mind for the day and makes you the person your colleagues want to work with.
Enjoy. All feedback welcome www.laurawoodward.co.uk