Welcome to Mindfulmanda!
From here you can watch my world grow…
I started my adult life as a primary school teacher where I gained many valuable life skills: dealing with colleagues, managing my workload, balancing this with life outside of school and of course developing my powers of persuasion to help educate unwilling children. (I must add, most kids were willing and enthusiastic learners!) I thoroughly enjoyed this experience, particularly observing how little minds work. This gave me a deeper insight into human psychology, a topic which I studied at university for three years before going into teaching.
So, why have I become Mindful Manda? By around the age of 27 I was finding the stress of life quite overwhelming and sought help from a counsellor to help calm my turbulent mind. She suggested a number of techniques which served to keep me grounded in the present moment, simple ideas such as:
- focusing on one’s breathing, counting the breaths up to four then starting again, or paying attention to the sensations in your nose and chest as you breath in and out slowly;
- taking a walk in the park and noticing the sounds your feet make on the ground, listening to the sounds around you or pausing to watch the world go by. (I like “people watching”… it isn’t as creepy as it sounds, it is just like watching TV, only a live show!);
- driving became a much safer activity by paying close attention to the road in front of me and things in my peripheral vision, even paying attention to the feel of the steering wheel as I drive, or tuning my ears into the sounds around me;
- even eating, drinking or brushing my teeth could become a mindful activity.
I was suddenly paying attention to all sorts of tasks that I had previously taken for granted. Automatic processes that usually happen all by themselves (such as breathing, eating and walking) became a source of curious exploration – like a toddler who experiences these actions for the first time, I was also looking at the world through “beginner’s eyes.”
As the years went by, I continued to improve my knowledge of Mindfulness through reading books, websites and blogs. I also starting listening to some guided meditations. Through mindfulmanda.co.uk I really hope I can share more of this knowledge with the world and continue to learn more from you all as well!
Mindfulness, or present moment awareness, is a useful tool for reducing stress. If you would like to read more about how the body reacts to stress, please click here. By anchoring our minds in the present moment, we can reduce the constant flow of thoughts which keep transporting us through time into the past or the future. Our memories are constantly being activated by what we see, hear, smell, taste or touch as the mind searches for similar experiences in the past that might help us now. However, this process can lead us automatically into detailed happy or sad stories which take over our thoughts and distract us from what we are currently doing, for example driving! Equally, the mind wants us to prepare for the future, so will constantly remind us what is ahead of us and, if we are not fully prepared, the mind will cause us to worry and stress about what we need to do to manage this “future” situation. The “crazy monkey mind” inside us will often think of the worst case scenario and start to plan for all possible dangers and problems!! Before long, the poor human is wrought with stress and anxiety… about a situation that doesn’t even exist yet.
So, mindfulness is a valuable tool we can all use to keep our minds calm and focused on the task we are presently doing. When an opportunity arises, I like to pass these skills onto the people around me: pupils in my school classes; friends; my wonderful partner; and of course my dear family too. Whilst friends and family have many other names for me, I felt that “Mindful Manda” was the simplest and clearest title to give my blog.
Please feel free to share your own ideas of mindful activities in the comments section below. I will very much look forward to hearing from you!