Mindfulness; what is it and does it work?

I have to admit – when someone first mentioned to me the idea of ‘mindfulness’ being an all-healing, life-changing premise, I scoffed. Well… I wanted to scoff, however social etiquette reared its cowardly head and urged me to respond with a more acceptable ‘smile and nod’. Thank god. 

I remember trying extremely hard not to laugh and instantly deciding that this woman was a deluded hippie; – the type of person to take part in an obscure street protest about how women shouldn’t use feminine-hygiene products, the type to own an old, beaten-up Nokia 8210 in show of her intense repugnance towards technology, the type to go for a number two and not wipe her arse because it’s more ‘loving to the planet’. 

You get the idea.

Oh, to be young and morally shallow! Like I said, thank god for that ‘cowardly’ social etiquette.. Comes in pretty handy! It prevented this (perfectly nice) lady from seeing what an immature, narrow-minded, jumped-up little turd I was. 

Nearly 10 years on, I will happily declare that she was absolutely right. Only now becoming more well-known and practised, mindfulness is a refreshingly simple concept that exists as an answer to one of the worlds’ most complicated problems, – mental health.

Mindfulness is, by definition, “A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”.

Yesterday evening, just before dinner, I logged into my app, ‘7 Cups’. I have a subscription that gives me unlimited access to exercises, articles and audio-tapes that are all related to mindfulness and personal growth. Not only that, but if there’s a specific issue you want to overcome, for example, agoraphobia, you can tailor your own ‘growth path’ and it will offer daily activities that fixate on that subject.

I had a good day yesterday; my boyfriend returned home on Monday night after 10 days away in the US and I was lucky enough to spend the day with him. My heart has felt light and my mind, calm. With no particular requirement on this occasion, I opted for a generic audiotape entitled “Sunrise on the Beach”. 

I took myself into the next room, laid on the bed and closed my eyes. For 12 minutes, a softly-spoken lady conducted me through a beautiful scene. Accompanied by relaxing, uplifting music, she described every detail, from the colour of the changing sky to the sound of the waves splashing against the rocks. She encouraged me to take in all the senses, such as the feeling of the warm sand beneath me, the smell of the salty sea-air and the distant sound of seagulls calling overhead. 

Contrary to what you might be thinking, a good imagination is not a necessity for this to work. As long as you are focused and open-minded, you will feel the benefits. 

Mindfulness is all about being in the moment. If you think about it, how often do we actually appreciate a moment as it’s happening? We are always on the go… always thinking, always worrying about something. In my experience, I have found that, by taking just a little time out each day to let go and relax, I feel refreshed and cleansed afterwards… It’s hard to describe, but a good way to explain it is through this image:

Perhaps your head won’t always feel that busy, and perhaps you’ll feel reasonably at peace beforehand, but there is a difference to be felt for everyone.

If you think about it like this – subconsciously, we are all constantly filling a space in our heads. Influenced through the feelings and thoughts we encounter every second of each day, the markings we make on this space can be positive or negative, colourful or dull, abstract or lucid, loud or quiet. They may not produce a dark, frantic mess like the one you see above, but it’s still important that we take time to clear this space regularly. 

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves”

– Buddha

Upon finishing my session last night, I joined Tom for dinner feeling purged, re-energised and utterly content.

Do you practice mindfulness? What’s your take on it? 

As ever, thanks for stopping to read 🙂
K xx

The 20 most random and absurd thoughts I’ve had on a bad anxiety day

Anyone who’s experienced bad anxiety will tell you that some crrrraaazzyy things can work you up at times. We’re talking about the most ridiculous, pointless ideas that somehow pop into your head then refuse to leave without making a scene… Familiar?

I know what you’re thinking – “everyone worries like that sometimes”. Well, maybe so, but the problem comes when those, seemingly meaningless, daily aspects of life are able to trigger a feeling of panic and make you feel physically sick. 

These examples might sound hilarious, and in fact, it is hilarious in retrospect. There’s something really bittersweet about looking back on a painful moment and thinking ‘hahaha you silly cow, Kirsten’; Sweet to have that clarity of mind afterwards, bitter to know it’s also very real at the time. Pretty exhausting too… 

All of the fruitless worries below have, at one time or another, catalysed me to feel symptoms of nausea, panic, fear, palpitations and headaches.

(Saying that, feel free to enjoy them!)

  1. Oh my god it’s getting really cloudy, the sky is a horrible dark colour – I’m feeling okay now but I’m going to feel so down if the sun goes in.
  2. If I don’t learn to make coq au vin soon, my boyfriend will definitely leave me. 
  3. If my parents weren’t genetically conditioned to love me, would they just think I’m a massive arsehole like everyone else?
  4. I have to go into the staff room to get something but there’s a meeting in there and I’m terrified to draw attention to myself; they all think I’m a joke.
  5. I want to see my friends so much but socialising to me, is what climbing Mount Everest would be to a morbidly obese person with vertigo. 
  6. If I carry on like this I will waste my life away and perish alone, unloved and leaving no trace. There will be 6 people at my funeral and it will be shit.
  7. I’m overpaid and I don’t deserve it. I’m rubbish at what I do and feel guilty taking money for it. My boss is so nice to me too – I refuse to feel good about that and will instead question why daily.
  8. Everybody’s laughing at me. 
  9. I love movies but I can’t watch anything because I’m frightened of what emotions they might bring. “Upbeat comedy, let’s see… Anchorman? Haha! Will Farrell’s funny! …I’m not funny. I’ll never be funny. NOPE”
  10. I wonder if my friends secretly feel nothing towards me and only stick around because they’re good people.
  11. What if somebody I love dies tomorrow? 
  12. My parents and brothers will probably die before me and I can’t survive without them. I will never cope. 
  13. No man will ever stay with me because I’m like this. I’m waiting patiently to see when my current perfect relationship will go tits-up.
  14. I’m convinced that I will get burgled or mugged or attacked at some point. What will I do when it happens?
  15. If I wear this dress people will think I’m x, y and z – it’s easier if I just don’t go.
  16. If I go on this night out, I’ll need to drink a lot so that I’m confident enough to enjoy myself without worrying… but I feel so depressed on hangovers. I can’t have fun like a normal person, eurgh.
  17. My gran is probably looking down on me in utter disappointment. I see her face in tears as she realises what I really am.
  18. I have plans to leave the house in a few hours but I’m dreading it; – I don’t think I can go. I’m such a pathetic loner.
  19. Me or someone I love is going to get cancer. 
  20. I can’t reply to this message or even open it because it makes me so anxious. I’ll just leave it for as long as possible until my rudeness pisses the other person off… and then worry about that instead.

So there you have it… a little bit heavy, I know, but nobody worries about being too fabulous, do they? 

Can you relate? Do you have a top-tip for anxiety sufferers? I’d love to see your comments and thoughts on the subject guys!

Once again, thanks for reading.
K xx

Hello. I’m Kirsten.

If you’re reading this then it means you have an interest, however small, in what I’ve got to say – so firstly, thank you for being here!

I wanted to start this blog as a new way of exploring my thoughts, feelings, trials and tribulations.. To an outsider, I may look like a young woman who has the world at her feet and everything to live for, but it’s a constant struggle to believe that when you are a raving pessimist and a religious worrier with mental health issues and little-to-no self-esteem.

Through sharing my experiences, both trivial and significant, I’ll document the cloudy days aswell as the sunny ones, and hope to come out to clearer skies and a brighter view at the end of it. Please, appreciate my honesty as I leave no stone unturned and bare my soul to you.

It’s not all doom and gloom though; – I take pleasure in the same things every other sheila does: laughing babies, scented candles, strawberry laces, michael mcintyre, viral memes, boxset marathons, sexual innuendos, good pizza, practical jokes, fresh bedding, talking to my dog… you know the rest. 

I have a sense of humour (although juvenile), complete with a loud, obnoxious laugh to go with it, and crows feet from smiling that are the biggest wrinkles you’ll ever see on a 25 year old woman…

 It’s just… 

Thus far, I feel like I’ve lived my life with an over-imaginative, self-destructive mind that holds me prisoner and prevents me from reaching, – or even realising, my full potential… It likes to dangle the idea of happiness on a string and then snatch it away from me when I go to grab it. It likes to repeatedly recite reasons past, present and future of why I’m a worthless loser that won’t amount to anything. It has the power and ability to paralyse my entire body, both physically and mentally, leaving me helpless in a place where time stands still. 

I’m positive that I’m not the first person to feel like this, nor will I be the last, however it’s my biggest goal to break free from the “I can’t”s that have, up ’til now, dictated my mediocre life.
Being a nice person is all I know, and the rest I’m yet to figure out, but I’m hoping that by publishing my honest, naïve and, sometimes, senseless journey, I might just find more of the good stuff in myself, and the universe, on my way.

Come along for the ride, it would mean the world to me…


K xx