The Seven Pillars of Mindfulness.
- Non-judging. Our minds assess and judge endlessly, often with either generalisations and extreme black and white views. Noticing this automatic response to any situation can be the beginning of learning to moderate these extreme responses.
- Patience. Patience is the act of allowing things to unfold in their own time. Not becoming distressed when we don’t see immediate results. Set your intention to be in the moment and and not be too transfixed on the future.
- Beginners Mind. No moment is the same as another. Each one is unique in nature and contains unique possibilities. The attitude of a beginners mind is to allow yourself to experience moments as if for the first time.
- Trust. Having trust in yourself, your beliefs and your intuition is necessary to find peace. Being your own person and letting your ideals guide you are the only way to be sure that you are on the right path.
- Non-Striving. This is the practise of acknowledging who you are is enough, who you are is worthy of self compassion and self respect without accumulating anything else. Striving to be better or have more to be worthy can be distracting and disruptive.
- Acceptance. This is an acknowledgement of reality, it is a willingness to see things as they really are without resistance.
- Letting go. Our minds will want to hold onto certain thoughts, feelings or past experiences. These are often distressing and is the mind trying to fix a problem which has already past. Learning to let go, to not focus on these events or thoughts is a way of mentally decluttering the mind.
What we can do to calm ourselves.
Some of our thinking styles are more helpful than other, it is worth monitoring them. Letting our thoughts dwell too long in the future with “what if” questions is throwing fuel on the fire leading to anxiety. Too much time dwelling in the past or on what you have lost leads to sadness and depression. Begin by labelling your thoughts, future, past, present, judging, planning, organising and notice the difference in your feelings as result of these.
If your thoughts go to the future notice if you have strayed into all the possible worst case scenarios which may occur in your life. Acknowledge our minds will do this, that it is part of our survival strategy. Gently nudge your future thoughts towards a plan, or several flexible future plans then bring your focus back to the present moment when possible. This will help towards managing your limbic system and your mood.
We can all relate to “I can’t cope, I can’t bear it” mindsets too, but remind yourself of experiences in your past where you have surprised yourself by your own resilience and strength. I know everyone reading this will have these memories. Use them now to calm your limbic system, it is looking for reassurance from your rational mind, if you tell it you can handle this, it is more likely to get out of your way so you can think clearly.
Our limbic system does not like to feel cornered, if it believes it has no option or choices it will increasingly feel threatened. Offer it some plans, “I could do this, I could have a go at that,” be imaginative however implausible it may seem. We did not choose to have our limbic system but we can choose to engage with it and take the lead.
Some ideas to consider
- Limit exposure to news
- Avoid dwelling on “What if” questions
- Develop new skills
- Seek support from those you trust
- Ask for help
- Accept some things are harder currently
- Label your thoughts
- Nudge thoughts back to the present
- Remind yourself of situations where you showed resilience
- Give your limbic system options
- Accept some things are out of your control.
- Engage in self care
- Mindful Breathing, access online resources
- Listen to or, watch some comedy.
- Do something simple but absorbing, cooking, jigsaw, crossword, gardening, draw, sew, clean. Allow time in the moment and reframe it as necessary not a waste of time.