Hello New Year’s Diary

Only one entry in this diary folks and it’s basically our warmest and sincerest best wishes to you all for 2014.

All alive and well here in Carrigaline, another gale last night, all in all the weather has been pretty miserable for the Christmas break. (Mind you we are having a whale of a time compared to parts of the UK, USA and Canada and some parts of our own little Island have been without power for days now)

2014 approaches rapidly and the usual ‘palaver’ of ‘Happy New Year’ and ‘Auld Lang Syne’. I’m not a big fan of this particular celebration, mind you some would mumble ‘Bah Humbug’ when around me at the Christmas also. The fact is, I truly love the Christmas but the excess that goes along with it I could do without.

The irony is that I’ve spent my Christmas break reading a lot as I got some especially thoughtful books as presents from the wonderful women in my life. So to you my very special ladies I thank you sincerely. One of the books that I got for Christmas is ‘The Time Keeper’ by Mitch Albom who I have always liked as an author. I’ve read quite a few of his books and this book also delivers a particularly powerful message.

I’m not going to spoil the book for anyone but the story is about a man who was punished for measuring God’s greatest gift: Time. And to free himself he had to teach two people the true meaning of time.

Two particular passages I like in the book are as follows.

  1. ‘There is a reason why God limits our days. To make each one precious’ and

    2.     Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays. Man alone measures time. And because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creatures endures. A fear of time running out.

Instead of the constant worry, clock watching and being so busy that life passes us by and so much precious time is wasted. Why not make 2014 the year that we all draw breath and savour the minutes, hours , days and weeks that we have.

In 2013, I attended ‘mindfulness’ classes that were held in work during our lunchtimes (organised by our kind and enlightened Occupational Health Nurse) and I recommend it highly. It will teach you the importance of savouring the ‘Now’ and pausing, resting, call it what you like, our very overworked and stressed out minds.

If you have an enlightened employer who would allow such a class during lunch, (and see the huge benefit to their employees) better still get them to consider contributing towards the small costs then get organising or if you spot a class for it in the next semester of ‘Adult Education’ classes in your locality take the opportunity. You won’t regret it I promise you. Practicing it on a regular basis will take determination however.

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So, we come to the end of 2013, and not a minute too soon I hear some of you say, and start the New Year with a plethora of resolutions, dreams and wishes. I wish all of you luck with them, January can be the toughest of months. However, if you fail sometimes, pick yourself up, dust yourself down and start again. Enjoy being human, protect the precious gift of time you have been given and smile.

Smile as much as you can.

“A SMILE FOR YOU!”

Smiling is infectious; you catch it like the flu, When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too. I passed around the corner and someone saw my grin, When he smiled I realised I’d passed it on to him. I thought about that smile then I realised it’s worth, A single smile, just like mine could travel round the earth. So, if you feel a smile begin, don’t leave it undetected. Let’s start an epidemic quick, and get the world infected!!

Corny I know, but you get my meaning!!

 

 The quite short guide to mindfulness
by Padraig O’Morain

Mindfulness is a very old technique which is becoming increasingly popular at the present time. Although it is linked to Buddhism, most of the people who use mindfulness in the West today are not Buddhists. People use mindfulness because they find it reduces stress and gives them a greater sense of control over their lives. Mindfulness helps people to get more enjoyment out of their good times and to handle their bad times better. 

You can read this document in a couple of minutes. Practising takes a little longer. The good news, though, is that you can begin to use mindfulness straightaway.

What is mindfulness? 

At its simplest, mindfulness means being aware of what you are doing while you are doing it. This means being aware that you are breathing, walking, driving, running making a phone call, cooking a meal and so on. When you have thoughts, notice that you have thoughts and come back to awareness of what you are actually doing. When you are emotional just notice the emotion – not trying to deepen it and not trying to push it away – and come back to awareness of what you are doing.

Is mindfulness the same as living in the now? 

Yes. When you practice mindfulness, you gently bring yourself back into the present moment every time you notice that you have drifted in your mind back to the past or into the future. Also, you gently bring yourself back to the present moment whenever you realise that you have drifted off into your imagination. The word “gently” is important. Never, ever scold yourself for drifting away from awareness. Drifting is what minds do. Accept this fact and take your awareness back to the present moment.

Can I still plan and think about things I need to think about? 

Yes. In fact mindfulness can be really helpful in planning because it can reduce the chances that you will get lost in a fantasy. You can plan mindfully by being aware that you are planning and by bringing your mind back to what you are doing whenever it drifts off.

Are there some quick exercises I can do to help me to cultivate mindfulness? 

Yes. Here are three:

1. Get in touch with your senses. Notice the temperature of your skin. Notice that you are breathing in and out. Notice background sounds around you. Notice your breathing again. 

2. Just notice your breathing. Just notice that you are breathing in and out. Notice the in-breath and the out-breath. When thoughts come into your mind just return to your breathing. Do not get involved with them. Simply go back to noticing your breathing in and out. 

3. Create mindfulness triggers. Pick some everyday things that you do routinely. Decide that whenever you do them you will be mindful and will be aware that you are doing them. Examples are: using the telephone, going up or down stairs or steps, arranging your desk or other workspace, tidying, washing up, taking a shower. 

Are there other more intensive exercises I can do? 

Yes. If you want to cultivate mindfulness more seriously, try one of these: 

Awareness of breathing. Sit still. Notice that you are breathing in and out. Notice the in-breath and the out-breath. If you are breathing through your nose, notice the air is colder when entering your nose than when leaving. When thoughts come into your mind just let them float on by. Do not get involved with them. If you like you can just label your thoughts: when you get a thought, just say to yourself “thinking”. Then simply go back to noticing your breathing in and out. If you like, you can count your breaths, counting from 1 to 10 and then back to 1 again. If you feel uncomfortable in your body, simply take your awareness back your breathing. If you feel pain, simply take your awareness back to your breathing. Do this for 5-20 minutes, once or twice a day.

Awareness of walking. Walk along slowly. Notice the feeling of the ground against your feet. Notice your breathing as you walk. Walk in a straight line or a circle or up and down in some place where you will not be interrupted. Again, when thoughts come into your mind just let them float on by. Do not get involved with them. If you like you can just label your thoughts: when you get a thought, just say to yourself “thought”. When you drift into your imagination bring your mind back to your walking. Do not look at your watch too often. Just be aware that you are walking, of the feel of walking and of your breathing. Do this for 20 minutes once or twice a day. 

When do I start?

Right now! Mindfulness and its benefits are available to you whenever you decide to practice awareness. Enjoy it.

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