Welcome to Mindful Manda!
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 not-so-willing children. (I must add, most kids were willing and enthusiastic learners!) I thoroughly enjoyed this experience, particularly observing how young minds work. This has given 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 found that the frantic pace of life was starting to have a negative impact on my health. Thus, I sought help and advice from various sources to calm my turbulent mind. One wise friend 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!);
- mindful driving – a safer alternative to ‘automatic pilot’ driving that most of us practise – by paying close attention to the road in front of you and things in your peripheral vision, even paying attention to the feel of the steering wheel as you drive, or tuning your ears into the sounds around you;
- turning even the simplest daily tasks – eating, drinking or brushing your teeth – into conscious, mindful activities.
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 guided meditations. Through mindfulmanda.co.uk I hope to share more of this knowledge with the world and continue to learn from you as well!
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness, or present moment awareness, is the conscious awareness of every movement, breath or word that we make. It is sometimes simply referred to as “paying attention” to the present moment. The mind has a habit of wandering through time and space searching for memories or planning new visions. Sometimes this can be helpful, but sometimes this turbulence in the mind can lead to immense stress in the body which manifests into disease and illness. For a brief idea of how the body reacts to stress, please click here.
By anchoring our minds in the present moment, through mindful practises, 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 and private lessons; friends; my wonderful partner, Ignaty; 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. I aim to bring mindfulness into my daily activites at home and during my work where I can pass on mindful tips to the young children and adults that I teach to help them enhance their learning potential and quality of life.
Please feel free to share your own ideas of mindful activities in the comments section below and ask any questions about mindfulness. I will very much look forward to hearing from you and happily take suggestions for further writing and activities to post on my website.
Be present. Be peaceful. Be creative.