Coming up for air

Everything changes all the time, that is one thing we can be assured of. Change can happen in the blink of an eye or more gradually so it’s less obvious. The fall-out from Covid continues and is potentially huge in terms of impacting our mental, emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Over recent months I have been working with people to address issues such as burn-out, anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed. I feel many of us are ‘managing’ in our lives but I’m noticing that it can be very easy to tip the balance, causing us to wobble or even topple. I feel this myself, being a family carer who works part-time. There is such a lot to manage all the time that anything extra or unexpected can easily upset the apple cart. Tricky enough when you practice the skills of mindfulness and compassion daily, possibly overwhelming, in my view, without these skills.

If you are finding yourself struggling, know that you are not alone, but now that we are all coming up for air, how can we learn to care for ourselves as much as for others and to rely on ourselves for comfort and care?  We need to give ourselves time and permission to feel our feelings when something difficult occurs and time to process stored emotions. Try not to deny your emotions, even when they are difficult, like anger or sadness. And don’t forget to let yourself fully experience moments of laughter, love and joy. Take a pause and acknowledge rather than resist the feeling in your body, even when it is some form of discomfort. We can take a moment here and there, to literally sit and breathe with however we’re feeling in the body, perhaps doing a little scan of the body with your mind to notice any physical sensations. Mindfulness can help us recognise when we are having pleasant or unpleasant feelings and learn how to be with them, without pushing them away or blaming others for how we feel. My website has a guided body scan in the resource section for anyone who wishes to listen.  

We all have situations and relationships in our lives that are challenging and most of us are not carrying the same reserves as we might have pre-covid and are perhaps a little less tolerant of certain behaviours. Mindfulness helps us to grow in awareness of ourselves and helps us to accept what is, as well as the things that are outside of our control, that we cannot change. For example, we cannot change or ‘fix’ the behaviour of another, or what other people think of us. We can waste so much of our already scarce energy wishing things were different to how they are or wishing those difficult relationships would ease up. So, if there is a clash of values with someone in your life, or you find yourself projecting your own values or expectations onto others, see if you can pause and step back from the situation. Switching the focus to yourself and cultivating the values and qualities in yourself that you live by, or aspire to live by, like compassion, empathy and gratitude is much more impactful than attempting to influence change in another. Spend time becoming someone you want to spend time with.

And time is indeed precious so what are we doing with it and who else are we spending our time with? Are there areas in your life where you find yourself trying too hard? Constantly striving? Trying to keep everyone happy? Sometimes we need to ease up on ourselves and take our foot off the pedal a bit. I’m not sure who coined the phrase, but I love it, can we ‘step out of our own way?’  We are coming into a beautiful time of year now, where nature all around us is budding and blossoming.  There is such an array of natural abundance for us to notice and savour. I spotted the first swallows returning, reminding me of awe and refilling me with hope.

I base much of my mindfulness work at Myross Wood in Leap now, which is a centre for climate action and sustainability ( If you would like to either begin a compassion-based mindfulness practice or deepen an existing practice together in community with others, drop-in mindfulness sessions run on Tuesday mornings 10-11am: €10.  

Online guided meditation sessions via Zoom on Mondays and Wednesdays at 8pm. 45 minutes. Donation based.

For more information on upcoming workshops and courses please like my Facebook page (Mindhaven) or feel free to get in touch by phone: 087 2700572 or by email: 

Susan O Regan

Susan O'Regan teaches mindfulness and self-compassion courses and workshops in West Cork.

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