[GUEST POST – Jacqui Zdravkovski of www.empoweryouth.com.au]
Jacqui Zdravkovski is a highly sort after Counsellor based in Sydney, Australia. With a background in Psychology Jacqui’s expertise lie in working with children and teenagers who suffer from anxiety and other mental health issues.
Jacqui has written an article especially for the Growing With Gratitude tribe. It features actionable steps that you and your family/class can take to live more mindfully.
Coming from a background of Psychology and Counselling, one would think I had adopted all the techniques and skills in the world to stress less and calm the day-to-day anxieties. In actual fact, it wasn’t until some time last year when I was introduced to the term ‘mindfulness’ that things started to drastically change, both in my personal life and my work life.
Adopting mindfulness is like bringing it back to the basics- simple to understand and practice yet so powerful at the same time. It is also very liberating to know that you don’t need to sit with a negative emotion all day long or this situation is not the end of the world and I can do something about this to turn it around.
When we are mindful we are literally becoming fully present to whatever is happening, this means that the past and future does not exist and we are giving our full attention to either ourselves, another person or a current situation.
With my practical experience of mindfulness I was also able to pass on this new way of dealing with life to my clients who many were experiencing anxiety.
An interesting fact related to this is that our Amygdala which is the part of our brain that is used to regulate the stress response actually reduces and shrinks from long-term practice of mindfulness. This greatly benefits our mental and physical health as less adrenaline and cortisol are being released as our body has been trained to be less reactive to things that are not an actual threat to our danger.
I am happy to share this knowledge with you today and hope you can adopt this to your life as well as pass on to your children or students, because a mindful life is a fulfilling life.
5 Ways You Can Live Mindfully
Simply becoming aware that we are in default mode is a step toward becoming more mindful. We realize the beauty of the present moment and can continue to practice our ability to ‘wake up’ out of auto-pilot mode.
When we become more aware we are able to shift our attention back on the present moment; hence enjoying life to it’s fullest and engaging more with people and things around us.
We are all born with curiosity, it is an innate quality- just have a look at children and their profound interaction with the world. However, as we get older we tend to take the little things for granted and begin to run on auto-pilot. When we consciously start to bring awareness and curiosity to things we might normally take for granted- such as our in breath and our out breath- amazing things start to happen. This creates a beautiful way of life with not only by being more mindful but also being more grateful for things in life we usually overlooked.
When we are mindful, we become aware of our daily thoughts- whether they are predominately negative, positive, repetitive, etc. Whatever they are, we are now able to recognise them and assess them. We can take the necessary steps to change what we want to change in order to lead a healthier and positive life. This creates self-compassion within ourselves and helps us to be a little more gentle on ourselves as we are aware that our thoughts are not always a clear representation of who we are or ought to be. This self-compassion very easily starts to transcend onto others- when we start to love ourselves, we show more love to others.
Mindfulness is something we can do at any given time. Pausing for even 30 seconds and feeling your breath can be very powerful. Especially during a stressful day, just taking a moment out to pause and look around you can break the pattern of what could have been a day long of auto pilot mode.
As Bill Keane said ‘Yesterday is the past, tomorrow is the future, but today is a gift. That is why they call it the present’.