Letting go of stress through mindfulness
Ever experienced going on holiday where you arrive at your destination and as you exit the plane, train, or motorcar you’re engulfed by the change from our usual seasonal weather conditions, you face less familiar sights and sounds, and you’re greeted by a strong whiff of unusual aromas?
At that moment our senses tingle with the awareness of a new external environment. A place where we give ourselves permission to let go of our concerns and worries, which as we do, we also recognise as a cue for our body and mind to relax, get ready for enjoyment or maybe get excited about a new adventure.
It may take a few days to settle and to shed the stress of the life we’ve left at home. The pace may slow down or become more exhilarating, but ultimately we end that holiday more refreshed, relaxed – with our batteries topped up we rejoin our daily lives.
Depending on where we’ve been we may sometimes experience jet lag and a real culture shock on our return. We arrive and step onto home ground feeling different but being aware of the old familiar place we’re returning to. ‘There’s no place like home’ some people say as the pace of the big city, or just re-engaging with our daily tasks, concerns and endeavours, kick in.
Pretty soon, for some, it can feel like they’ve never been away at all. Laying down our intention to set aside space for activities which will help us to sustain our energy levels and enjoyment of life; which help us cope with the expectations that others have of us, or that we ourselves know to be important. Oh, if only we had more time!
And of course, what’s interesting is that whilst we gear up and become entrenched in our own daily lives there are other people arriving on holiday in our environment. Opening up to the possibilities that a different culture has to offer them, and all those things we take for granted. Be that the roll of the hills and dales or our historic buildings and frenetic cities, and they leave refreshed or invigorated by what was a new cultural experience for them!
It’s all about perspective
So I was thinking about how easy it is to become bogged down in what can seem like the spin cycle of everyday life. What things some people do to enhance their connectivity with the people and their world around them, and the things we don’t do which if we did could allow us brief moments to let go and bathe in an inner sense of calm and joy, by connecting more to the miracle of life and creativity that surrounds us.
How do you do it?
Some people choose a regular exercise which brings up the heart rate, gives strength and endurance in aerobic activity, or healthy muscles in resistance exercise that makes them feel alive and connected.
I’m also a great advocate of meditation techniques, and as a cognitive hypnotherapist, a great believer in the use of self-hypnosis as a constructive way to take control in a variety of situations, as well as easing frustrations, inducing relaxation and washing away tiredness and stress.
It’s true that memories can be very evocative too – reaching for photos, finding that we still have grains of sand in our luggage or mementoes that anchor us to those feelings or thoughts we experienced whilst we were on holiday.
A friend of mine mentally replays a holiday travelling through the Norwegian fjords every night before going to sleep – like watching a DVD she replays in her mind her real-life experience, seeing stunning scenery, almost touching towering peaks, hearing the crashing waterfalls, pointing out the incredible wildlife …she is immersed in sheer tranquillity as she recalls the smell of the sea and her body relaxes, drifting off to a peaceful slumber.
I wondered if by finding a method of ‘reflective attentiveness’ in the midst of our everyday lives we could help ourselves to create a link which is calming to our nervous system or exciting in a positive way, by acknowledging that we can tune in to the vibrancy of our familiar surroundings. This could mean suspending our beliefs for a moment of how we are perceiving the world around us, by taking a fresh look.
Initially, I noticed that we are bombarded by modern-day technology – where natural sounds are consumed or replaced by the ring of mobile phones, repetitive sounds from computer games, motorised engines and appliances – whilst the eye is distracted by visual feasts of advertising and new ways to access film or TV via tablet technology. Even a visit to the countryside can be high-jacked by the bubble of the car we are in and the sound of the music player!
Start to help yourself create a better experience of your day.
So maybe ‘reflective attentiveness’ could also be about taking a moment to connect with our natural or urban environment in a different way. By suspending just for a moment our beliefs and what it is that usually corrals our attention, we could become more open to different ways of seeing, hearing or thinking which means just placing our attention on what’s behind the noise, viewing what’s growing or changing as the season rumbles through, how we’re hearing the sound of the wind and noticing the playfulness of any wildlife around us. Making a choice to take action by trying an alternative route, whether through a park or different street, that engages our senses and opens our awareness in new directions … noticing others taking part in n the cycle of life, highlighting our observations only on the kindness of strangers – where everything including ourselves become ultimately connected.
When we look ahead, around or up, what is it we admire? How the sun reflects on glass, or the rain bounces off the pavement, the ingenuity of architecture or how nature interacts and lives within it – the aromas in the air, the change of wind direction, the flight of birds, the taste of our food, all and everything, down to the feeling of the clothes on our body, the breath and sensation as it enters our lungs and what happens if we allow ourselves to relax with a long, slow, steady release, re-oxygenating our amazing bodies which sustain us.
If we want to then we can take an excursion in our daily lives; just by choosing to refocus our attention for a few moments each day or night, on how we are perceiving those things around us, those things within us and by reaching towards an oasis which is nurturing by connecting to more positive emotions – whatever and wherever we may be.
Cognitive Hypnotherapy offers a range of techniques and hypnotic downloads which can help you to relax or release you from the strains of stress and anxiety. If stress or anxiety are causing you a problem please contact me and let’s see how we can help you take back control and create a much better experience in your life.