Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Book Review - My Mindfulness Journal


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This beautiful journal written by Anna Black, a mindfulness expert herself, brings to you a step by step introduction into mindful ways. This journal will show you how to combine mindfulness into your every day life. There are so many benefits to living 'in the present moment' and this one step at a time approach will help you to grasp the concept of mindfulness, guiding you to develop your own practices and skills. Click here for My Mindfulness Journal

By implementing mindful practices into your life, your mind will feel calmer and at peace. Mindfulness will help you manage stress and stressful situations which will benefit your overall health and well-being.

So what is mindfulness?

" Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where you are and what you are doing and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what's going on around you and without judgement"

A Short History of Mindfulness

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. is internationally known for his work as a scientist, writer and meditation teacher engaged in bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society. He is a professor of Medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he founded its world-renowned Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic (1979) and the Centre for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society (1995)

The following video is Jon Kabat-Zinn explaining the practices of mindfulness:

In today's world of stress and anxiety, mindfulness is a way to add calm to our lives and help us focus on the things that make us happy. Mindfulness encourages us to mono-task rather than multi-task which is another expectation of modern day living. Mindfulness needs to be practised to become a lifestyle change. Mindfulness habits need to be formed with consistency the same way that we need to exercise to become a fitter person, or watch our food intake to become a slimmer person.

My Mindfulness Journal - Mindful Challenges

A Personal Retreat

A personal retreat can be anywhere......it does not mean that you have to pack your overnight bag and find a zen haven. Your retreat can be in your own home. If you can make some time for yourself with no distractions then your home is ideal. Make sure that there are no interruptions......no phones 'pinging' or phone calls, no background 'Netflicks' or other tech disturbances to take your mind away from your thoughts. You may want to light scented candles and make a comfortable space, filled with cushions, mats and fleece blankets or pillows and soft mats for movements such as stretches or yoga. 

A personal retreat is a small space for just 'you'. A place where you can remove yourself from everyday obligations and distractions. This space needs to be a peaceful place with no reminders of your 'to-do' list, appointment times or work/family obligations. The challenge for you is to find some time and a way to create your space. Start with an hour or two........later on, with more mindful practices, half a day in a mindfulness retreat would be ideal. Make your plan for the time you have. Here is an example:

5 minutes - sit comfortably and try to notice any emotions that you are feeling or expectations you may have and reflect

10 minutes - breathing exercises, concentrating on the breathe. Count your breathes. Count from 1 to 10 breathes and return to 1, counting to 10 again. Or listen to calming music as you breath. 

15 minutes  - journal reflection. Read your journal and reflect on what you see. Think deeply about your expectations and emotions.

30 minutes - stretching and relaxation or Hatha yoga.

10 minutes - concentrate on your breathing....once again counting from 1 to 10 and stay focused.

30 minutes - read a chapter of a book you enjoy or a magazine you have been meaning to read (but never have the time).....focus only on what you are reading. 

10 minutes - soak your feet in a warm bowl of water and then cover your feet in a soothing foot cream.

10 minutes - sit in reflection, feel any emotions, write down how you feel and about the experience in your journal.

Theses are mindful practices used during a 2 hour plan. You may have other practices that you prefer and you may have a longer time to spend in your personal retreat. A full spa treatment including a facial, warm soapy bath or full manicure and pedicure maybe something that you feel would make your ideal personal retreat. My Mindfulness Journal has many practices and ideas to help you make your personal retreat perfect and sets you a task to create this perfect mindful challenge. You can share this personal retreat with a like-minded friend or partner, but you both must commit to being silent through reflection.

Setting Yourself a Goal

This is a challenge to help you to focus on what you have. We waste so much time and effort focusing on the things we don't have and wish we had, such as more money, a better job, a better spouse, a slimmer figure......the list goes on. The challenge is to start noticing the things that you have and to learn gratitude. But you first need to notice and acknowledge. The things you are grateful for need not be material objects. It can be personal qualities such as skills, humour or interests. It could be friends, family or colleagues that you love working with or nature and your surrounding environment. You can practice this on realisation once you have acknowledged or, on reflection when you write in your journal. 

A 10 day challenge is set for you here and it teaches you to set a goal to practice acknowledgement. To be specific about what you are grateful for and helps you to see the positive aspects of your life. This challenge sets you a list of 5 things to acknowledge a day that you are grateful for and on day 6 to 10, acknowledge 10 things a day. You may not see or acknowledge 5 a day, so don't 'beat yourself' up over this, or force yourself to see this amount per day? It teaches you to be as specific as you can about what it is you appreciate and why, rather than a particular number per day. 

There is time to reflect after this challenge to see how you feel after 10 days of gratitude and see how many positive things there are in your life.

There are several challenges in My Mindfulness Journal to teach you various mindful practices and how to integrate them into your daily life. The final challenge is for 21 days "Just one thing - a 21 day challenge". This challenge brings together all the practices in the journal. The intention is for you to focus on one mindful task per day. Every day will be a different activity. 

After your 21 day challenge and reflection, there are some list pages to follow, so that you can write down your favourite mindfulness practices. 

There are also two list pages that you can complete on podcasts you would like to listen to and books you would like to read. Both these subjects are easier to complete when you see or hear something that you would like to do in the future? If you read a book review or hear a 'snippet' from a podcast on social media, it may not be at a time you can stop and enjoy. Both podcasts and books are great ways to be inspired or motivated and can be used in times of a mindful retreat session. There is also a 'resources' list that you can refer to and learn more about mindfulness and mindful practices

Please have a look at another article that you may find interesting Stress, Mindfulness and Health


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