What is it we are doing when we make space for ourselves amongst the hubbub of our busy lives? What does mindfulness practice mean, and how does it link with writing for wellbeing? Mindfulness – and reflective writing, are about our relationship with ourselves, and have in common the conscious setting-aside of some time that is simply for focusing on us – switching to what presents itself only in the present moment, quietening the inner chatter – and through simple exercises, observing in the moment what comes up for us. Mindfulness typically stills us through focusing on the in-and-out motion of the breath and observing that which is brought to us by all of our senses; reflective writing uses a variety of simple exercises as ways of mindfully tapping into our inner worlds.
What happened yesterday, or troubles from the past, as well as the unknown ‘what ifs’ of an over-catastrophised future have a habit of dominating head-space and conscious thoughts, leading to our whipping ourselves up into an anxious frenzy; a bit like then carrying around a sack of rocks. These mental burdens weigh us down, compromising our ability to care for ourselves kindly and wisely, and also having the potential over time to interfere with the functioning of our immune, digestive and reproductive systems. Once our body and mind become used to being in a hyper-vigilant state, waiting for the next thing to come along and challenge our defences, it can take time to convince the system to unwind and let go, but regular, mindful writing practice can help us get back to simply being calm, and in the moment, without negative self-judgement. Cultivating a kinder attitude to ourselves is very much the ethos here!
Preparation for reflective writing and mindfulness practice are essentially the same. Carving out some undisturbed time, free from interruptions and distracting electronic devices and giving ourselves permission to tune into simply being; quietly, kindly, and without judgement, just having a curiosity for what is going on – noticing and reflecting on it. It is at these times that we can be open to shifts in our thinking, new perspectives, or perhaps letting go of ingrained beliefs or ways of viewing things, helping us to move forward in a more positive way.
Life today can all too easily feel like a roundabout spinning constantly round, with no space and time to climb off. Writing for wellbeing and mindfulness practice have the effect of teaching us how to still our bodies and our minds, taking some quiet time, and having an openness to seeing what unfolds. It is at these moments that the conscious, thinking mind can be silenced enough to allow what lies just underneath the surface to emerge, to be acknowledged, and to be reflected upon.