Monthly Archives: June 2016

RAIN Technique for Stress or Anxiety

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temporaryCartoon drawing of a little Buddha in orange robes. He stands on a grassy hill, the whole sky behind him is full of dark black and grey rain clouds. Rain falls on him and he wraps his arms around himself. The caption reads ‘Temporary’  Picture by Molly Hahn at Buddha Doodles

It has been another week in my life when things have happened in the outside world that have made me quite anxious and I have found that meditation has seriously helped me stay a lot calmer than I would have been a few months ago.  Political happenings this week mean that there is a lot of uncertainty ahead and it’s likely that will cause a lot of anxiety for people, especially people who might feel more vulnerable.

I thought I would share with you one of my favourite techniques that I go to whenever I am feeling stressed. Again this is something I learnt initially from the buddhify app. I am a lot calmer when I have done this meditation, so I hope that other people will find it helps them to feel better too.

This meditation  takes about 10 minutes and there are four short stages. Ensure you are sitting comfortably in your usual meditation position.

The first stage is recognise, recognise what is going on for you at the moment. Is it anxiety, sadness or anger? Whatever it  is recognise it.

The second stage is allowing, whatever you’re feeling try and allow it,  try not to resist it and add another layer of story to it. If it’s really difficult to allow it then move on. Don’t be upset if this happens, just acknowledge it.

The third stage is investigate, are there any sensations in your body related to how you are feeling at the moment tension, churning in your stomach anything like that, investigate and acknowledge it, but again try not to get caught up in attaching stories to those sensations.

The final stage is non-identifying or not me. In this stage take a moment to remember that your thoughts are not a tangible part of who you are. Moods pass through your mind and change like the weather does throughout the days, weeks and seasons.

To go over the stages one more time they are:

Recognise

Allow

Investigate

Non-Identify or Not Me

RAIN.

A version of this technique also appears in This is Happening by Rohan Gunatillake which I am hoping to post a review of soon.

Thanks for reading, have a good week

 

Be Kind

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That is all I really wanted to say today, there is so much negative and horrific stuff happening in the world at the moment that I find it easy to sometimes be overwhelmed by it all. Mindfulness has helped me recognise when I’m feeling like this and try to do something about it. One of the ways I use  to try and turn my mood around is to do  something that doesn’t focus on me. Whether that is volunteering, donating something to a good cause or simply finding something positive to post online.

If you are feeling upset it is important to take the time to be kind to yourself. Take a nice bath, go for a walk, or call a friend.

I also find it useful to do a loving kindness meditation. Take about 15 -20 minutes (you can change the amount of time depending on how you are feeling)

Begin by focusing on yourself. If some resistant feelings come up acknowledge them and then move on. Just try and focus on yourself without judgement, then repeat the phrases: May I be well, may I be happy. (you can do this out loud or silently whatever you feel most comfortable with.) Don’t worry if this feels really odd at first, it did for me.

Next focus on a good friend and again allow any emotions that come up to pass, focus on your friend without judgement.   Then again repeat the phrases: may you be well, may you be happy.

(If you want you can end  the meditation here or you can continue and complete two more stages. Also, if you find it easier you can switch these two around so you focus on the friend or loved one first.)

Now focus on someone you don’t know very well, maybe someone who works somewhere you visit but that you don’t actually speak to much.  Picture them and then repeat the phrases may you be well may you be happy.

Finally, think about someone who you may be having a little bit of difficulty with. Here it might be helpful to think about what other factors might be causing the difficulty  but be careful not to get dragged into a whirlpool of thinking.

I was initially introduced to this meditation by the Buddhify app, there are many different ways of doing this meditation, as you can choose different focuses for your kindness. Here is an example of choosing a wider focus from youtube, so if you want you can explore different meditations and see what works for you.

Thanks for reading Take care of yourselves.

Dealing with Change

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change doodle

Cartoon drawing of a little monk in orange robes, smiling with his arms out to his sides. there is grass beneath his feet and blue sky surrounds him. Next to him is a diamond-shaped yellow sign that reads ‘Change Ahead’ Caption is “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them that only creates sorrow” Lao Tzu. Picture by Molly at Buddha Doodles

Change is something I struggle with at times. One of the reasons I began my mindfulness practice was to try and deal with the anxiety I felt when changes were happening that I could not control.  (Like not knowing what was happening with my care funding).

Another thing I have noticed is that when you need mindfulness the most and when you would get the most benefit from it is when  it seems the hardest to do. So my first piece of advice is simply whenever you feel like you should be meditating,  but  for whatever reason you can’t find the motivation to do a more formal practice, simply fake it for a few breaths. Once you do this you may feel like you want to meditate  for longer  and you may not,  whichever is fine, either way, hopefully you’ll feel a little calmer.

If you can it is helpful to keep up your mindfulness routine whenever you are going through a period of change. If you can’t manage to do that, try and bring mindfulness into your day in a more flexible way, like really focusing on  enjoying your favourite treat or focusing on the breath whenever you find yourself waiting for something.

There are a few other things that mindfulness practice has taught me that I find helpful:

Allow yourself to feel however you are feeling just acknowledge those emotions and try and let them pass without getting too involved in them. If you beat yourself up for not being as good with change as you would like to be that just adds another layer of resistance.

Make sure you continue to communicate. This can be particularly important when you have specific needs. It’s important to try and be honest with the people around you and even if it is hard to start with, it might make things easier in the long run.

Give yourself space and time to adjust to the difference, whatever that may be. Try not to fall into the trap of expecting things to be perfect straight away or being disappointed when they don’t live up to the image that you had inside your head.

Most of all remember that you can always come back to your breath

Let me know how mindfulness has helped you deal with change, or if you find any of these ideas helpful.

Thoughts From Practice

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practice doodle

Cartoon drawing of a girl with brown wearing a green robe sat cross-legged on top of the stacked words Practice Practice Practice next to the last one is large red heart. In the background are imulti-coloured dots, some blue, some yellowy gold, siome green, some pink.

I have been doing meditation regularly for about three months now, so I thought I’d share some ideas with you from my practice.

I am managing to do about 10 minutes a day on a regular basis. The first thing that I think is important is finding the right time for you to meditate.  In my case I am unlikely to be able to  meditate first thing in the morning, this is when I have most of my support so it doesn’t make sense for me to meditate at this time and if I tried it would not be sustainable. Instead, I like to meditate in the early evening, as it helps me relax  at a time when most of my tasks for the day are done.

I don’t have a totally dedicated meditation space, but I do have a part of the room that is decorated by buddha doodles cards (one of my favourite images is shown above) and has my buddha-esque  statue (pictured at the top of this post) on the windowsill so although it is not a completely dedicated space it is definitely meditation-themed. I think having a space that is at least a little bit separated from the rest of your environment can be helpful, especially if you are just getting started with meditation.

One thing that I have been  finding difficult within my practice is that I don’t  seem to be able to keep my eyes shut for the entirety of my practice. Even when I try and have them semi-closed I still haven’t got the hang of staying in my meditation state fully.  I suppose I just need to get used to  noting when my eyes flicker  open and not letting it distract me or at least going straight back to the breath.

My spasms aren’t really a problem during my practice, they do happen if there is an unexpected loud noise, but I am able to bring my attention back easily, which is a definite improvement.

I would say I am seeing the benefits of my practice  as when I have negative or anxious thoughts I think I am quicker to pull myself away from them rather than letting them spin out in the way they used to, although I think this still varies very much from day to day depending on what’s happening.

Check out more about Molly and Buddha Doodles here