Mindfulness – Being Mindful while playing in the snow!
We’ve had snow! It seems winter strikes even here in the tropics of East Anglia! On Sunday we had lots of lovely snow that poured down all through the morning and led to lots of fun in the snow with my kids.
Although actually, that Sunday was the first Sunday ever I had agreed to work with clients (usually Sunday is a no-go zone reserved for my family time). These two clients however were planning to travel quite a distance to work with me to quit smoking after being referred by a friend of theirs who had also been to see me to stop smoking. But the best laid plans can fall by the wayside once the snow arrives in the UK! Thirty minutes after leaving their house they had only made it two miles through the ungritted roads and so we had to postpone to another day.
On the plus side, I had the most awesome walk in the fresh snow on my way to my office! I love the freshness of the snow and how it transforms the landscape (even if it does tend to bring life to a standstill in the UK, unlike in the USA where the American football game between Buffalo and Indianapolis was played in a blizzard and the pitch could hardly even be seen!!).
Here I am on my snowy walk through the streets of Ely!!
The snow was falling thick and fast through the morning and there is something beautiful about fresh snow covering buildings and paths and trees in whiteness.
Mindfulness in the Snow!
As well as being beautiful to admire visually, the other thing I love about the snow is how it promotes being mindful. Rather than thoughts being elsewhere, perhaps on something that happened in the past, or something that might happen in the future, snow has a way of making you focus much more on the here and now.
That may be because you find yourself concentrating on your footing so you don’t slip, or you may like to listen to the crunch of the snow with each step, or perhaps you just find yourself pausing and watching the snow fall from the sky. So often during our day our thoughts are elsewhere or we are lost in the ongoing chatter in our own minds, that it is wonderful to have a reason created by nature to just be in the moment.
Of course, if you are out on a walk with my kids, you need to be very mindful or you may find that you don’t see that snowball flying towards your face!
Mindfulness is considered to help reduce anxiety, stress and depression. By paying attention to the present moment we shift our awareness to what is going on right now, rather than being lost in rumination, dwelling or imagination. This can allow us to break free from stressful thoughts and avoid getting caught up in them. After all, we can’t change the past and much of what we think about the future may never even happen; even so, we often find ourselves confusing thoughts with facts in our own minds.
By learning to pay attention through practice we can become more aware of, and less caught up in helpful thoughts and so consequently reduce our stress and increase our well-being. Of course, much like hypnosis and self-hypnosis and any other strategies for improving well-being, the key is often to practice and practice with a positive mindset of improvement and growth.
Now of course there is a place for sometimes thinking about our past: it provides an opportunity to see how far we have come, to remember good times, to recognise our resilience which allowed us to get through challenges and to learn for the future. And of course there is also a place for thinking about the future as we need to think about the potential consequences of what we do and to plan and prepare for upcoming events and situations. Yet sometimes we can get lost in rumination and anxiety and completely lose our perspective in the now (just ask someone who has anxiety – those worst-case scenarios can quickly escalate beyond anything that is going on right now).
So there is a place for being able to come back to the now and this very moment so we can reset our perspective.
Perhaps one of the most straightforward ways to do this is to just pause and notice your breathing. There is nothing more in the now than the very breath you are taking. With your eyes open or closed you can just watch your breathing, the rising of your abdomen as you breathe in and how it falls with each breath out. You can continue to do this and then spread that awareness to the rest of your body such as the points of contact between your body and the floor, moving your awareness around each part of your body and letting go of any tension. If your mind wanders at any point you can just gently bring it back to your breathing.
You can also start to notice the sights in your environment and describe to yourself what you observe. You can bring your attention to the sounds around you, those nearby and those further away. And perhaps you also start to notice any external sensations such as the breeze on your face or the warmth of the sun upon you.
And if you are out in the snow you may find that you notice these things much more readily, just as I did the other day. You may notice the white covering on familiar buildings or how it covers the branches of the winter trees. You can hear the crisp crunch of the snow under your feet and the sounds around you. And you can feel the snowdrops as they land on exposed parts of your face.
There are also opportunities to be more mindful in other everyday situations. You can just listen to the person you are talking to rather than thinking of what you want to say or drifting away in your mind. Or you could put your phone away and actually look around you, paying attention to the sights and sounds in the environment. One thing I love about living in Ely is that every time I go for a walk I see something I had never noticed before. Whether that is a little house hiding behind another, an historical feature or discovering that an event is taking place by the Cathedral.
And if you have kids who like to have fun like mine, then being mindful is a very useful skill – you want to make sure you can see exactly what they are up to or you suddenly may hear the snowball just before it hits you full on in the face!
To your mindfulness and happiness,
Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket
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