Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Summer holidays - be mindful!

It's a strange thing but many people's memories of childhood summer holidays are full of sunshine and of generally having a great time. I'm sure there must have been some rainy summers in my own childhood somewhere, after all I was raised in Manchester, but somehow they are not the ones that stick in the memory. Children have an inbuilt ability to live in the moment and not concern themselves with yesterday or worry themselves about tomorrow. Most of the time they are just enjoying themselves, and that is often in their own imagined internal worlds if the outside world has wished a rainy day on them.

As teenagers we tend to lose this habit. The secondary education system and beyond does not encourage daydreaming, and the world of work definitely does not! However, the current growth of interest in mindfulness and self-awareness is perhaps beginning to see a reversal in this trend. Every time you live in the moment and really appreciate the beauty of what is around you, every time you notice tiny little fascinating details in your surroundings, every time you notice how good you actually feel inside you are adding a store of good memories and thoughts in the same way you did as a child during those summer holidays. When the not-so-good times come, you have installed a wealth of great moments to dip into so you can re-live those treasured moments and can feel good at any time.

This is particularly effective if you deliberately surround yourself with things that are associated with the good memories, The triggers are there when you need them. A photo of your loved ones or a holiday souvenir are obvious examples, but you could install others too. If you take the time to really appreciate a blue sky, or a leaf, or a particular bird song, or even a tiny valiant plant forcing its way through the cracks in a city pavement then that sense of wonder rapidly becomes attached to that image and you have the equivalent of that holiday souvenir inside your own head!

Catch yourself in a good moment and then notice something that you can connect to it - a sight, sound or smell maybe. You can use that same sensory stimulus later to re-live the good feeling. The more you practice it, the better at it you get. The better at it you get, the more good feelings you have!

Happy holidays!

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