How I built a mindfulness practice over lockdown
Following a break-up, Keara turned to mindfulness and has not looked back.
Written by Keara Caul
Voices - Experiences
Young people share their personal experiences.
The definition of mindfulness is the ability to be aware of what’s happening in the present moment, both inside of your body and in the world around you.
My journey with mindfulness has been long, rewarding, grounding, challenging and ever-changing but it is also not over yet. I was first introduced to mindfulness quite a few years ago while in secondary school and I tried it while in school but never practised it consistently. When I went through a big break-up last year, mindfulness was one thing I turned to and I have never looked back.
People can sometimes use mindfulness to help with a number of things, including stress, anxiety, chronic pain, depression and insomnia. It can boost attention and improve sleep. I noticed improvements in all of these areas in my life after practising mindfulness consistently for a couple of weeks following into months.
Your version of mindfulness
To me, and maybe a lot of other people too, mindfulness isn’t just mindfulness meditation, it is so much more. It’s the 30-minute self-care walk that I take, it’s the journaling, it’s the shower and skincare hour of the day. Anything I do to draw my attention to myself and my well-being at that moment can be a form of mindfulness.
Mindfulness meditation has been an amazing and rewarding experience for me. I love how flexible mindfulness practice can be. Here are numerous exercises you can do, some more structured than others. Personally, I started off with the mindfulness exercises that had the least structure.
When I’m at work and I feel myself zoning out and going into a daydream, I make myself aware of that and I pull myself out of it by paying attention to myself, where I am and what’s going on. I notice every single one of my senses and I am mindfully aware of myself and my surroundings.
As I progressed on my mindfulness journey, I tried out some more structured exercises. I used these most often at the start or end of my day as a routine. I would do a body scan exercise, at the end of my day before I go to sleep.
To do this, I lay flat on my back in bed and I focus my attention slowly and deliberately on every part of my body from head to toe. I become aware of any sensations, emotions or possible tension connected to any particular body part. I find these exercises immensely improve my day to day life, from feeling content within myself, with much more confidence and self-esteem, to being able to express myself better.
I could take myself out to get food without my previous fear of doing so. I felt so much lighter within myself like I was walking on clouds instead of having the weight of the world on my shoulders.
Like any journey, my mindfulness journey had some bumps in the road and it wasn’t positive the whole way through. A lot of people, including me, use mindfulness as part of their healing journey and these two journeys can be intertwined.
For me, my mindfulness moments were often emotional and a lot of the time it may feel as if you’re on some out of this world emotional rollercoaster. No one’s healing and mindfulness journeys are linear. No two people’s experiences will be exactly the same, and that’s okay.
Mindfulness helped me grow into myself, helped me to love and appreciate myself and my surroundings. I finally found a way to be unapologetically me and finally be at peace within myself. I went into mindfulness without an end goal. At the time, I just hoped it would help me through a difficult time in life and it certainly did plus so much more. It’s okay if you start a mindfulness journey of your own without a final destination because it can surprise you where it may take you.
Taking mindfulness into the real world
I took so many skills from mindfulness activities and use them in my daily life now. When it comes to me being at work and being under pressure or feeling stress, I use breathing techniques from mindfulness exercises to recentre so I can deal with the situation.
All in all, mindfulness really transformed my life. I would recommend just trying some basic mindfulness activities with an open mind and giving it some time to show effects in your life.