In Search of the Good Life #dailyinspo365

“Once you get the good life feeling
Let me tell you no one can take it away” – Good Life, Inner City

We live in a world in which we are constantly striving for work/life balance. Seems to me, we’ve got plenty of the work, but could someone please find me the balance?

Sticking to any kind of a schedule is pretty difficult at the best of self-employed times, but when you’re juggling a demanding family life with single-handedly running your own business its nigh on impossible. Nine to five goes out the window, and that initial joy of doing your own thing, in your own time, at your own pace can quickly turn sour as the hands of the clock move past stop-o’clock and you find yourself battling a rapidly approaching deadline.

If only switching off and staying switched off could be as simple as unplugging the television! When you’re the solopreneur owner of a small start-up business, you’re more on than off. That in itself can be exhausting not to mention demoralising, invariably leading to a very lopsided work/life im-balance.

How does one cope?

As boring as it sounds, I ‘walk away’. I walk away both mentally and physically. First and foremost I swerve social media for large chunks of whatever downtime I have, hopping on only in short bursts, and leaving wide open spaces or traffic-free zones for the things I enjoy like radio dramas, books, and my latest downtime staple – gardening.

“The good life is a term for the life that one would like to live, or for happiness, associated (as eudaimonia) with the work of Aristotle and his teaching on ethics. Eudaimonia is a term that means happiness and is a central aim of stoic philosophy.” – Quora

During ‘free-time’ – I’ll come back to that one another time – I try to keep ‘t’internet’ to a minimum. I dabble with net-free Sundays, and ‘socially silent retreats’ when I force myself not to read any work-related emails outside of opening hours!

Social media doesn’t frazzle me the way it used to when I was ‘brain-deep’ in Facebook. What I’ve learned though, is that like with many 21st century trends, I’m happier away from it. Life is, well, normal.

I used to run a ‘music blog’ – I still sort-of do, but it’s no longer a ‘religion’.

What started out as a bit of a laugh and a way to release my inner John Peel, turned into an obsession, became all-consuming. Having battled to get some industry recognition for my little blog, especially from music PR types, I suddenly went from writing ad hoc reviews of music I loved to trying to pump out endless posts about everything and anything in a vain attempt to ‘keep people happy’, to maintain churn, and to win followers.

And for what? It wasn’t as if I was making any money from it. I rarely if ever got sent any freebies and most of the guesters I was offered were for UK gigs!

Then one day I woke up to the realisation that I was no longer enjoying DervSwerving. So I did the right thing for me. I downed tools and walked away. And you know what? I didn’t miss it. Not a jot. Ever. Not once. In fact, if anything, I felt as if I’d shifted a huge weight from my shoulders.

As for the professional ‘write-stuff’? I’ve bought the organisers, daily planners, diaries and post-its. I’ve no idea what I was hoping to achieve there as nothing works for me except a pen and jotter. Simple as. I organise my working life in one simple hand-written list. If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t get done. It’s worked for me for years, only failing when human error or poor memory kicks in. And let’s face it. I’d be as likely to forget to input a task into an app as I would be to omit it from ‘the list’.

Meditation, mindfulness and other M’s aside, to combat work-related stress I default to nature and music. Being outdoors, especially in the garden or by the sea, changes everything for me. Likewise, being with animals just takes me into a different realm, while music can serve as both an ‘upper’ or ‘downer’. I used to be an avid walker, but recently I’ve been indifferent. The gym is a great buzz, but the getting to it a mare.

For the most part, I try to listen to me. As with the food I eat, I follow my nose when it comes to doing or not-doing whatever I need to uncoil from the stresses of the grind.

Going freelance has brought its worries, but it has also given me liberties I never enjoyed when chained to an office 9-5. I’ve learned to take the rough with the smooth, the ups with the downs. My life often needs a little recalibration – the key is understanding what works best for me. Then and only then, can I enjoy a little Good Life.

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

Should I Listen to the Gods? #dailyinspo365

“Baby you can drive my car” … yeah right? I wish!

At this present moment, ‘baby’ can neither drive this nor any other car. Why? Because – and it shames me to publicly admit this – I’ve never qualified as a driver! There, I’ve said it. Runs into corner and hides face scarletina-ed with embarrassment.

Here’s the thing. Fado, fado, I worked in the city centre-based department of a bank. I was a minion, ipso facto, no car parking space. I had to pay bus fare out of my pittance, along with everything else, so the last thing I needed was the additional expense of a car that would literally be of no use to me five days per week.

Time goes by …

I’m now in my early 30s and working in the ‘burbs’. I have parking at work but as it’s only 20 minutes away, driving is once again a moot point. However, I’ve already wasted the first provisional, so decide to take the plunge and book myself in for some driving lessons. These do not go well.

The driving instructor is an overweight, overwrought little man who chain-smokes his way through the lessons, screaming every time I make a life-threatening error in his precious Ford Fiesta. Fifteen lessons later – yes, 15 expletive lessons – and I can drive in a straight line, do a hill start, and a three-point turn, but as yet have not been shown how to reverse or perform parallel parking. A friend suggests I might consider changing instructor, so I switch to a female instructor working with one of the more reputable driving schools. Within three lessons she has me driving to Blessington, overtaking with ease, and reversing up a hill.

Life intervenes and somewhere along the line my driving lessons get lost along the way. My second prov has run out so it’s apply for the test or sling your hook time. My hook gets well and truly slung.

Anon, it’s 2012 and I’m working out in the sticks of Co. Kildare. I’ve to get up everyday at 6.40am to make the 7.10am bus which drops me a twenty minute walk from the job. I’m walking the guts of 40-45 minutes and gone from home eleven hours every day. I decide to retake the plunge and phone the DoE who are sorry to inform me that the rules have changed, and not only am I back on a first provisional but I have to sit a driver theory test. It’s too much. I decide the walking is keeping me fit. Why bother?

2018 later and I’m now a self-employed freelance writer. I don’t need to drive to work ‘cos work is just at the bottom of the stairs. However, once again life has intervened, circumstances have changed, and long story short, I need to be able to drive. And quick.

After much prevarication, I start studying for the theory test, and happy with my progress decide after Christmas to book myself in. First week in January I get onto the website but the earliest available date is 12th March, a full six week wait. Moving swiftly on, I pass the test and immediately set about booking an appointment with the NDLS to lodge my application papers for the Learner permit. First available appointment, 15th April. Another month, another wait. Unfortunately, we have a bereavement in the family which means I have to reschedule. Next available date 10th May.

Time goes by … again.

It’s a three+ hour round-trip to the NDLS offices in Leopardstown but I do the do, pitch up, lodge my application, pay the fee, and have my photo taken. Fifteen minutes later I leave with a promise that my licence will be with me within 7-10 working days.

Seven working days later, a letter is posted to my home address advising that my application has been declined because “someone has tampered with the form”. What? Who? “Well, you!”. A full scale, ill-tempered row breaks out but it soon becomes clear that the un-customer service person is not for turning. Not only is there no talking to him, he refuses to post me out a new form. As I’ll need another eyesight report, and I’m just around the corner, I pop to the GP’s surgery foam frothing from my mouth.

Today, I called back to pick it up. All smiles, the receptionist hands me the completed report, which I shove into my bag, nodding my thanks before scooting out the door. Two hours later, I sit down to write an accompanying letter, but …. WHAT?

The eyesight report is not an eyesight report, it’s a ‘no-use’ medical report! I phone the surgery. Once again I’m promised an eyesight report will be completed and ready for collection … tomorrow.

Friday 31st May. Which I’ll then have to post to the NDLS.

And wait.

Yesterday evening, having recounted my driving permit tale of woe to a neighbour, she asked me if I didn’t think the Gods were trying to tell me something. I laughingly agreed, albeit half-joking.

Today, I’m not so sure. Are the Gods trying to tell me something, and should I listen to them?

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

David’s Roses #dailyinspo365

Last evening, a neighbour dropped by to say hello. She arrived armed with a small posy of yellow roses, freshly cut from her garden.

“They’re David’s roses,” she said, as she put them into my hands.

Not they were, they are. They are David’s roses.

David is no longer with us, and yet he is. I can still see him in my mind’s eye, sitting at his computer in the front room of his house, tapping away, plumes of cigarette smoke rising to create a foggy cloud above his head. I can still hear the shocked indignation in his voice the day my 16 year old self told him “ABBA’s crap” (I was going through my Leonard ‘Suzanne’ Cohen phase at the time).

And now here he is, in these beautiful roses, bringing some much needed fragrant sunshine to a dull, dreary day.

Isn’t it wonderful how a small random act of kindness can mean so much, and bring such simple happiness to a person’s day. And isn’t it a beautiful thing, that the people we love can still live on, around and beside us every day.

Today I’m thankful for David’s Roses. And simple, kindly gestures by people we know, but don’t know, if that makes sense?

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

Little Horned Happy Moon #dailyinspo365

“Slipping softly through the sky
Little horned, happy moon,
Can you hear me up so high?
Will you come down soon? “- The Crescent Moon, Amy Lowell

When we think of the Moon we tend to conjure up images of full ‘golden wonder’ Moons with their shimmering flaxen hue and perfect discoid shape.

Crescent Moons tend to get relegated to kiddies’ picture books and fairy stories alongside hey diddle diddling cats and wee Willie winkie wearing his nightcap.

There are eight Moon phases, of which there are four main phases- New, First Quarter, Full, and Last Quarter – occurring at specific times of the month, and measured by lunar luminosity and what stage of its lunar cycle the Moon is at. I won’t pretend to understand the machinations of all that so moving swiftly along …

A full lunar orbit of the Earth takes a month or 29.53 days to be exact, during which the Moon will go through the four main phases. At halfway points between these main phases, the remaining four ‘minor’ or interim phases occur: – Waxing Crescent, Waxing Gibbous, Waning Gibbous, and Waning Crescent.

Tonight’s Moon is a Waning Crescent. In the week following the Last Quarter Moon, the Moon continues to wane, appearing as a waning crescent. At its most visible in the east just before the dawn, it is often called ‘old moon’.

In this phase the Moon’s illumination is growing smaller (each day until the New Moon) as it gets closer to the Sun as viewed from the Earth. With just the night side of the Moon facing Earth, only a small slice of the Moon is illuminated, thereby creating the crescent moon effect.

The waning crescent is at its most beautiful in the hours immediate before sunrise. when the craters and mountains of the moon, casting long shadows across its surface, are easier to observe from the Earth.

So, if you fancy some waning crescent wonder, sunrise will occur at 5.07am this coming morning, meaning you should be setting your alarm anytime between 3am and 4am. Best of luck to you with that one then!

While American poet Amy Lowell and English Romantic William Wordsworth both thought highly enough of crescent Moons to write poems about them, Scottish singer/songwriter KT Tunstall dedicated a whole song to the lunar slice of light. You can listen below.

The Crescent-Moon, the Star of Love – William Wordsworth

The Crescent-moon, the Star of Love,
Glories of evening, as ye there are seen
With but a span of sky between —
Speak one of you, my doubts remove,
Which is the attendant Page and which the Queen?

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

What Matters? #dailyinspo365

What matters … to me, to you, to your family, to the people around you … ?

Every where I turn on social media, I see blurbs asking me what motivates me, or what drives me to be the ‘best me’? But what is the ‘best me’? How do I know what that is, and does it matter if I aspire to ‘mediocre me’ instead? Will my life change significantly if I become a better version of the one that already exists?

Then there’s the rounds of countless ‘wellness workshops’, at which participants sit in big circles, name badge and nervy, rictus smile firmly in place, being their best ‘on show’ selves. Where the words immersive and interactive are typically bandied about, and for which people pay top dollar to explore their emotional, psychological, and intellectual inner sanctums.

Which begs the question – When did we lose the ability to understand ourselves, to follow our instinct, and to be aware of our conscious, even unconscious choices? Since when did we need to pay to get the tools we need to ‘move forward’ and be our ‘best selves’?

When did all this ‘best self’ malarky begin anyway? How did countless generations of successful explorers, innovators, scientists, farmers, shopkeepers, writers, mothers, fathers, etc flourish, thrive, achieve without all this inner-microspection. They couldn’t dip into motivational textbooks for ‘inspo’ or dial up the jingoism to get them out of bed in the morning.

So, what matters? To me, to you?

What matters, does it matter, should it matter? Do you know, I can’t remember the last time I asked myself that/those question(s)!

I used to think a lot of things mattered. Getting out on a Friday night. Buying that top in the window. Going on a holiday ‘abroad’ (remember that?). Being on my best behaviour for at least the first two weeks of a new relationship. These days, very little matters. Don’t get me wrong, lots of things matter – being able to pay the bills, being fulfilled in my work, being healthy, having friends I can trust, and yeah, the odd top in the odd window. But they don’t ‘matter MATTER’, if that makes sense.

In the greater scheme of things, my regular self will do me just fine. I’m sure there is a ‘best self’ version of me lying under a pile of old clothes somewhere, but if I’m honest, striving for perfection has never really mattered to me.

All that truly matters is love and happiness. Being able to love, being loved, and being happy – aka being my best loved and happy self – that’s what matters to me.

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

The Perfect Harmony of Nature’s Evensong #dailyinspo365

“All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free”

Sunday is special. It’s a day for sharing with family and friends, or for revelling in splendid isolation. For ‘nesting’ at home, or for exploring outdoors. Whatever our personal preferences, it is the day on which most of us enjoy some well deserved downtime.

Sunday is a day I try to dedicate to as much calm as possible. It’s a time for me to both tune in and tune out … if that makes sense. Time to tune into myself, to my immediate surrounds. Time to tune out from the noise, stress, and bigness of the outside world.

I don’t know about you, but on Sundays I tend to get a bit insular or inward-looking, almost to the point of myopic in a ‘can’t see beyond the end of my nose’ kind of way. I like to immerse myself in the papers, the garden, or even some DIY (needs must!), surrounded by the sound of silence, or if the Gods are smiling, nature’s soundtrack. A little birdsong to gladden the heart.

Speaking of birdsong, there’s nothing quite like the serenity of sitting in the garden on a Summer’s evening listening to the gloria of blackbirds singing their evening service. I like to think of it as nature’s evensong, and is there a more fitting day to indulge?

evensong – a service, rendered chorally, of evening prayers, psalms, and canticles, conducted according to a set form

If I do listen to music on a Sunday, it’ll typically be something of the BBC Radio 3 variety. While I have been known to dabble with Choral Evening and Words & Music, most recently I’ve found myself drawn to the late night splendour of ‘Unclassified’.
The programme, which is presented by the lovely Elizabeth Alker, features music by a new breed of unclassified composers and performers, and has so far included Thom Yorke, Daniel Avery, and Erland Cooper.

I digress. 

The perfect ending to a short ramble about blackbirds and evensong comes in the form of the touching Beatles’ ballad, ‘Blackbird’ (link below), a line from which brings us 360 back to Sunday. Sunday, the day we spend the week waiting for, waiting for this moment to be free.”

.
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free
Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night
Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs #dailyinspo365

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Disharmony and discord in families can be a source of much heartache and sorrow. An unkind word blurted out in haste, an off the cuff remark made in passing, he-said/she-said tittle tattle carelessly and needlessly conveyed; each innocuous in their own right but with the power to trigger a cataclysmic faultline within even the tightest of families.

Families are precarious at best, as most of us know only too well. Like finely balanced chandeliers hanging from a high ceiling, one loose fitting and the whole thing comes crashing down [bit like the ‘chandelier’ episode of Only Fools and Horses].

So, when things said, or even unsaid, are left to fester, they can eat away, like insidious rot, at the most solid of bonds. And, while silence can often be golden, it can also be extremely destructive.  A breakdown in communication can often lead to the complete collapse of a once loving family unit.

Two members of a family known to me have died in the past few years, both segregated from their siblings of their own volition. Celebrated for their Christian values, each coolly erased their siblings from their history so that when their death notices were published and eulogies read, it was if those same siblings had never existed.

And yet, neither of them had ever once addressed grudge or grievance with the other family members. Never once had they attempted to air or resolve their differences with the siblings with whom they had a grievance. When approached by those same siblings, they either refused to communicate, or deflected any direct line of questioning, one coolly remarking: “You live your life, and I’ll live mine.”

“Bear with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgive each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” – Colossians 3:13

Their death has left a myriad unanswered questions, and one half of a family wondering when, where, and why it all went wrong. Worse still it has left a once large and loving family deeply divided, the chasm so cold and wide it’s hard to see how it can ever be repaired.

Cousins are strangers, grand-nieces and nephews unknown. Funerals, weddings, celebrations and sorrows have come and gone, unmarked and unacknowledged by one or the other party.

While not a hugely religious person, I still hold to Christian values, the cornerstones of which are love and forgiveness. If we cannot forgive those we love – whatever their transgressions – then how can we ourselves expect forgiveness? It’s simply a matter of emotional give and take. A necessary part of the up and down see-saws, and swings, and roundabouts of life. Do unto others etc.

One of the most touching quotes I’ve ever come across reads, “love keeps no records of wrongs”. If only we could all apply that tenet to our lives, our world would be a much brighter, happier, more unified, and more forgiving one than it is today.

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

 

My Gin has lost its Zing #dailyinspo365

Truth be told, my ginaling no longer rings my bell …

There are IT girls, and then there are Gin and IT girls, and I’ve always been more of the latter than the former. A ‘ginnoisseur’ since my early 20’s, I was drinking the clear stuff long before the words botanicals, small batch, and GINovation became part of the daily vernacular.

Back in the day (of the dinosaur), G&Ts came in one form and one form only – Cork Dry – accessorised with C&C or Schweppes Indian tonic water, full stop. There was no such thing as ‘slimline’. There was also no such thing as choice. It was CDC, take it or leave it.

Then the rest of the world came crashing into Ireland, ramming down our socio-cultural borders, hammering our traditions, and walloping our noses in our own unique identifiers. Out went bacon and cabbage, Lyons tea, and CDC; in came smashed avocado, barista coffee, and a myriad of small batch, over-priced, over-hyped, every colour under the sun gins. Suddenly, gin drinkers were socially acceptable, no longer pariahs of the ‘round‘.

2019 me still loves a good, ice-cold g&t, but not in the same way I used to when I was younger. Because, when I was younger I didn’t so much enjoy the drink, as the drinking. I drank without giving it much thought. A bit like smoking. I just did it. It didn’t mean anything other than it was a means to a temporarily more bonkers and slightly lopsided end.

Then I hit 35, and hangovers happened. It was then – and only then – that I began to question my relationship with alcohol. And, to look back on a litany of ‘oops’ moments that should never have happened, and would never have happened had I not had the extra one or two “a go on, go on” drinks.

These days, I have a much happier and healthier relationship with gin, and alcohol in general. I stay ‘dry’ for long periods, mainly because I prefer my head in one piece, and my brain without the fugg. I don’t like that sloth-like feeling drinking alcohol induces. I hate the off-grey pallor it gives my skin.

All the peppercorns and pink grapefruit and curly cucumbers in the world can’t induce me to drink if I don’t want to, and that’s most days. Gin is now something I enjoy, the taste of which I savour, its junipery after-taste to be appreciated.

When I do imbibe it’s usually a Bombay Sapphire, ice and a slice of lime, in a standard tumbler. I’m just a regular gin and it girl at heart. I don’t need a full Broadway musical in a glass to enjoy a drink!.

I no longer need to neck seven shots to ‘get there’. Likewise, I no longer need that “God, I need a drink” drink after a bad day. More importantly, I don’t need a drink to do things like walk into a gig on my own, I’m quite happy in my own skin thanks.

For years, I thought drink was an ally. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Luckily, I woke up to my own reality before it became a serious problem. These days I get my buzz from having a clear head, from being able to bounce out of bed in the morning, from drinking water because I want to not because I have to.

I now know how to enjoy a drink in the true sense of the word ‘enjoy’. I sip rather than slurp, taste rather than gulp. Lil’ old gin drinker me has hung up her skates, and is now enjoying the slower pace of mindful drinking.

Whoever thought up the phrase “drink aware” got it spot on!

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

The Power of Boring #dailyinspo365

boring –  

adjective
not interesting; tedious; dull; monotonous.
While I don’t like being bored, I love doing ‘boring’. Boring is good. Well, it’s good for me.
Right now, my life is pretty full-on stressful. It’s rare that I get more than a few moments to myself, quiet or otherwise, so same-old, unexciting, reliable boring can be a godsend.
Boring might be anathema to the very young, very free, and breezily single, but for those of us weighed down by the responsibilities that come with family, employment, finance etc., the mundane has its attractions.
Bright lights, big city? Great but exhausting. I flew to London yesterday – in/out, shake it all about. My 8.10pm flight home was delayed by over an hour which meant that I walked through the hall door at 10.45pm last night, a full 14 hours after I’d left home that morning. To say I was drained is an understatement. I was hot, sticky, frazzled, hungry, sweaty … in other words I was beat. And that was just after two flights, one meeting, an hour’s shopping, and a lorra lorra walking, talking, and ‘tubing’.
Mindfulness, meditation, yoga, chamomile tea, are all great stress-busters, if we can find the time, patience, and space needed to let them do their job properly. Like everyone, I don’t always try, and when I do, I don’t always succeed, so sometimes the road less consciously travelled suits best.
The banality of the everyday can be in itself a panacea for stress. When the melodrama of chasing the extraordinary becomes too much, why not settle for the ordinary. A ten minute conversation with your mother, father, sibling, friend, neighbour will mean so much more than hours spent poking, arguing, and commenting on Insta, Snapchat, or FB.
Become present in the routine tasks of the day; park the melodrama and discover the wonder of understated; get over your fomo and say no, even if it does mean missing out.
It is possible to embrace boring without being bored. By recognising that boring can live in perfect harmony with exciting, it can be become possible for us to appreciate that we can be happy and fulfilled being and doing both.

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

EveryDay Mindfulness for EveryOne #dailyinspo365

What is Mindfulness?

mindfulness – noun

“a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”

In the past, the notion of mindfulness conjured up images of stick-thin, lycra-clad, happy smiling yogi sitting in the lotus position, ‘om’-ming their heads off whilst surrounded by a blaze of candles and the fragrant smoke of incense.

Today, that image has been replaced by one of everyday people practicing everyday mindfulness as part of their everyday lives. Well, almost?

For most of us, mindfulness still evokes images of essential oils, mantras, and stressed out types struggling to slow their speeding minds to attain a few seconds of calm only for next door’s house alarm to go off!

How many of us have tried and failed to sit still only for our inner Bridget Fidget to start acting up? Or, for our mind to have gone racing off before we’ve had a chance to yank it back into place?

I used to diss mindfulness as something that simply wasn’t for me. A couple of drinks and a good night’s sleep and I’d be grand, right? Even when practitioners and ‘people of calm’ advised me to start practicing, I couldn’t push myself beyond three minutes of deep snuffling before legging it to the loo.

It’s only in the last few months that I’ve started to develop an awareness of what mindfulness is, and how I can leverage it to help me manage the stresses of daily life.

Many of us still feel mindfulness is something we don’t have time to practice, with no time in our choc-a-bloc diary to sit and ‘do nothing’. Everyday mindfulness is a way to fit our practice into the structure of our daily routines and activities.

Learning to practice this way, along with sitting meditations, and using mindfulness apps, has not just enriched my life, it has helped me to manage my mental health.

For me, mindfulness is about feeling present, connected and fully aware of what I’m doing, instead of thinking about what I’m going to do, or what I’ve already done. Everyday mindfulness enables me to bring my mind to my body and to feel in the present moment.

Whatever I choose to do mindfully – listening to music, walking, gardening – I apply the following techniques in whichever order feels right at the time. Choose the order that best suits your everyday practice.

Grounding Breaths – With your feet placed firmly on the floor, inhale and exhale, noticing how each breath moves around your body, bringing awareness to the present moment.

Focus your Attention – Whilst continuing to notice your breath, bring your attention to your chosen activity. Notice your surroundings, the tools you’re working with, the space you’re in.

Visualise – Notice the colours around you, their myriad shades and how they’re shaped, right down to granular detail. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ve previously missed by not taking the time to ‘see’.

Texture & Touch – Everything within and without our daily lives has texture, and sometimes that texture can change. When was the last time you ran a hand over the fabric of the clothes you’re wearing, or you noticed how the texture of food changed as you cooked it? Touch can alter our perception of things, bringing us more into the moment.

Taste – Notice how each mouthful tastes. Chew, and then notice again. Is it sweet, sour, salty, smooth or crunchy? Practicing mindful eating can unleash surprising new taste sensations!

Smell – Smell is a powerful way to connect. Scents, and fragrances in particular can change, heightening intensity.

Sound – Sound is an odd one for me as I’ve mega-sensitive hearing. It’s difficult to achieve total calm when your ears can pick up an ant sneezing at the top of the garden. I deepen my breathing to distract myself and muffle sounds until they fade into the background.

Take a moment to Reflect – Before completing your mindful activity or practice, take a moment to reflect upon how you felt before, during and after.

Using these techniques allows me to practice mindfulness whilst carrying out my daily activities. Along with meditation, everyday mindfulness has become both a way of life and of achieving balance.

Namaste!

Derv

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