My mindfulness journey 
Last year I discovered this amazing practice and it’s taken me on a bit of a journey. It has reawakened my love of holistic therapies and made me so much more aware of me and who I am. I feel I need to share with you a little history of how and why I got to this point. 
I have suffered with depression most of my adult life, I have become a master of hiding it but always struggled to deal with it. I have been at rock bottom and found myself with dark thoughts and feelings of hopelessness and despair. I was first diagnosed with post natal depression after my first child and was put onto medication, Again with my second child but I was able to recognized the signs and yet again put on medication. I quickly realized that medication did not work for me, it simply just masked the cause and made me feel numb. I struggled with counseling too, unfortunately I did not meet the right one and they ended up making me feel worse ( give me a great friend and a coffee any day, that’s the kind of therapy that works for me ) I am not saying this is the case for everyone, counseling has been fantastic for some people I know and still very much helping them, it just didn’t work for me! So I found that what helped me was exercise, punching my stress out with boxing, hitting the treadmill all helped me deal with stress and keep a more balanced mind. But I constantly felt like I was running up hill trying so hard to keep this illness at bay continually judging myself and questioning how I could possible feel like this when I have such a wonderful life but anyone who has ever suffered with this illness knows there is no answers and no rhyme or reason for it. Your thoughts become irrational and your mind plays games with you. I have read every self-help book written (or so it feels that way) but always still running up hill. Then something terrible happened something so sad It changed me. We lost a beloved colleague and friend to the evil that is depression and she lost her battle with it. I can not begin to tell you what an impact this had on everyone that knew her. I swore that I would do something to help others to try and avoid this happening again. But before I could do that, I needed to help myself …. And that’s what has brought me right here. I found mindfulness meditation. 
Mindfulness mediation is all about being present, being right there in any moment, being self aware of your emotions, sensations feelings in a non-judgmental way. Makes perfect sense, right? But how many of you take your kids to the park and continually think about what you should be doing at home, planning what you need to cook for dinner instead of enjoying and appreciating the smile on your little ones face. How many of you walk your dog and don’t notice the beautiful blue sky or the cherry blossom on the tree, the birds singing because you’re on your phone checking how many likes you got or thinking about paying the window cleaner, preparing for tomorrows meeting, making a shopping list, planning that visit, the list goes on and on all the while you’re missing so much beauty around you because your not present in that particular moment. 
Mind Full, or Mindful?
It’s about calming a busy mind and creating an anchor when you’re feeling overwhelmed, fearful, or even in pain. Our minds tend to make up stories and make us fear the unknown and often the stories or scenario’s it conjures up are simply not true, I think if some of my thoughts had been played out on the big screen they would of won Oscars ! Through mindfulness meditation and mindfulness movement we can learn to become more present, more aware. Taking slow deep breaths and focusing on our breathing, what we are feeling, letting our thoughts come and go but always coming back to the breath. And the most amazing thing about mindfulness is its easy, its free and it can be done anywhere at anytime, it just takes a bit of practice. When I first learnt mindfulness mediation I found 10 minutes seemed like an age and I was waiting for the timer to go off, now it goes by so fast and I find myself almost disappointed when the 10 minutes are up and I find my body and mind craving the quietness of a meditation. Even when I drive, I try to use mindfulness and every red light I stop at I use it as a queue to take 3 deep breaths. 
What I enjoyed and found the most helpful was learning about the science behind my mood and the effects on my brain, it’s really helped me to see and understand my feelings and why I feel the way I do. I have learnt that we have a happiness system and a pleasure system and we need these to be in balance. 
 
Serotonin – gives us long-term happiness 
• Green fresh unprocessed food 
• Rest and relaxation, allowing your body to recharge 
• Exercise and being out doors in nature and sunshine 
• Mindfulness and mediation 
 
Dopamine –pleasure and instant gratification (short lived and can be very addictive) 
• Sugary foods /fast food create a instant pleasure feeling but leave you hungry and craving more, give you instant high then a low. 
• Alcohol – I love a good glass of wine and a natter over a bottle but when you happiness depends on when you get your next drink this becomes a problem 
• Shopping – I love a shopping trip but when it gets you into debt and you loose control of what you spend, and you use it as a way of feeling happy then its bad 
• Drugs –As we know very addictive and has devastating effects on mental health and health. 
• Smoking – very addictive and extremely bad for your health. 
• Social media – I love social media it can be such a great tool for business and friendships. But when your happiness is dependent on how many likes your getting and your constantly needing that validation it can have such a negative effect on your mood and mental health. See it for what it is, it’s all about perception at the end of the day. Enjoy it but remember it doesn’t need to define you. 
 
Our modern day society prays on our cravings and the need for instant pleasure. And we all buy into this, it makes money at the end of the day! The most important thing is to balance the instant pleasure and long-lasting happiness for a good balanced mind. Not always easy I know but understanding how it all works can help you make small adjustments. 
 
Mindfulness is not a magic wand and I still get bad days trust me, I will still at times feel sad, feel negative and angry and I still have a lot to learn, but I can now at anytime use the skills I’ve learnt to re focus, slow down that downward spiral of despair and hopelessness by changing my thought patterns and recognizing the triggers. I am so excited to soon be passing on my experience and knowledge and help others live a more balanced life, feel just a little happier and teach them techniques to cope with our stressful, daily demanding lives, I feel so passionate and strongly about this and attending my mindfulness course has been one of the best experiences for me and I find I’m using it all the time, I can use it in every area of my life. 
Mindfulness mediation is great tool to bring into any work environment, schools and colleges, it can be useful for staff to learn to help support them through tough times but to help increase productivity and potentially help reduce time off with stress and depression. A way of helping to balance the busy modern day lives we all lead. 
Using breathing techniques as a relaxation tool for your clients prior to a treatment can enhance their overall experience and enjoyment; there are so many opportunities to work mindfulness into your business with endless benefits for yourself, staff and customers. 
 
So learn to take time, look after yourself be kind to yourself, you are wonderful and deserving of a happy life. 
Lisa S. 
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