Mindfulness Week 8: The Rest of Your Life

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So, here I am at the end of my Mindfulness journey with the biggest, most important task so far: to live the rest of my life. A very interesting chapter, this week all the book talks about is attempting to go through the rest of your life with a mindful outlook. No scheduled meditations, no tasks, just sort of contemplating my journey up to this point. This week I've just been very lax with myself, observing how the way I regularly live my life has changed through these eight weeks of practice. From these observations I will be able to judge what I need to focus on for...well, I suppose for as long as I want.


Peaks

It's pretty intimidating, the idea of no longer having a regimented amount of meditation or things to ponder. The interesting thing, however, is that the idea of meditating is starting to become my default reaction to a stressful situation. I've observed that when I feel myself becoming stressed or tense at work I'll do a quick Breathing Space when I get a quiet moment. If I realise I've been in my head all day, or I'm anxious and can't quite unpack my feelings to find the root of my self-focus I'll think "okay, when I get home today I'll do an Exploring Difficulty meditation and figure out these emotions". I'm sort of working out which meditation work for what and when, and slowly getting into the habit of understanding meditation as a tool for not only relaxation, but for understanding myself and my anxiety better.

P.s.: I never actually meditate like this

Valleys

Unfortunately, the lack of regiment has made me lazy and sometimes reluctant to meditate, preferring to stay in the bad feeling because it's familiar in its discomfort. I'll know that I need to do an Exploring Difficulty meditation for example, but as soon as I get home there's something else I want to do, or I feel too tired (isn't that funny - too tired to relax) or drained to focus on a meditation. I don't seem to have as much drive to push myself as I did when I had goals. I think the solution to that, however, is to give myself goals in relation to mindfulness and self-help. Maybe to-do lists, maybe rewarding myself - I'll figure out a system that works for me.
Image credit: Jillian Ditner

Final Thoughts and What's Next

I honestly think I've done well - I'm proud of myself for making it to the end of this programme. It was tough, rigorous at times but always provided what I needed when I kept up my side of the bargain. The list I started working on last week, with things to aid in balancing nourishing and depleting activities in my everyday life, has made progress. I do walk to work now, using that as a mindfulness bell to remind me to observe and take in my surroundings, I read a little bit more often, I use meditation in high-stress situations, but I'm still having difficulty not doing the little things in a more mindful way.

Another thing I'm proud of myself for is my change in attitude. I'm saying yes to things, going out, making plans, taking risks. Sometimes all I want to do is curl up and be still until I have to go back to work because my assumption is that the less I do the less stress I have. As we saw last week, that is entirely incorrect. Now it seems like going out with a friend, for a walk, or to the gym is helping me feel better about work the next day. I get to carry some of that buzz around with me all day and use it as fuel.

The fact that I can even congratulate myself and appreciate what progress I've made rather than dwelling on my mistakes and problems shows that this programme has had some kind of effect on me and my outlook.

So there are two things that I know are next for me now that I've completed this course, other than attempting to always be more mindful and to regularly meditate. The first is more research into self-help: new books, new concepts, new things to learn about. The myriad of different approaches to dealing with anxiety and stress are really interesting, and there may be some things I can learn and talk about on this blog site, things that might help one of you more than Mindfulness.

The second thing is going back for more therapy. That might sound strange because it probably reads like I'm in a good place emotionally, and actually I am. I'm a lot better than I have been, the problem is that when I finished my IAPT sessions I knew I had a lot more to learn and get to grips with. The thing with therapy is you don't have to wait until you're at rock bottom to seek treatment - just because I'm in a good place now doesn't mean I will be in a month or two's time, and what I can learn with IAPT, using it along with my Mindfulness training, will help me deal with those highs and lows and learn about what triggers my low moments at a deeper level.

Image is from the blog of Julianna Swaney http://blog.juliannaswaney.com/2014/01/thanks.html


Thank you for following me on this unexpected journey! I've enjoyed this little project, and it seems other people have too. I will attempt to keep my posting schedule as regular (ish) as it has been but with new, different things! I have an ask.fm if you have questions or suggestions, you can follow me on twitter @JaxxOLantern for updates and strange things, and I am working on re-launching my old fiction blog! I thought it would be better to have a space specifically for writing fiction and a space specifically for blogging, and I may do little commentaries or blog posts about my stories or about aspects of writing so there can be a nice connection between the two places.

I'm excited for the future, and for doing better, but I shall be mindful for right now and appreciate this good feeling, this here and now.


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