Time to take a breather

Over the course of this past year, we have all been catapulted well and truly out of our comfort zones and change can be difficult, even at the best of times. We have been required to cope with a series of rapid and unexpected events and then a much longer-than-anticipated time period where things have remained quite unsettled. This has undoubtedly had an impact on our health and wellbeing, both positively and negatively. Dealing with such an inordinate amount of change and uncertainty has been very stressful and we need to take our time now to process the ways in which Covid has impacted us, on a wide range of levels, not least, physically, mentally, and socially. So much has changed, for all of us, and there is such great value now, in literally taking a breather, making time to meditate and reflect, to appreciate the positives, as well as softly touching in with the more difficult stuff.

Many people are feeling depleted by the impact of rolling lockdowns and this prolonged period of stress that we continue to endure. The exhaustion and fatigue that I am hearing about needs to be attended to, but sometimes lives and minds can seem so full and so busy that we might not know where or how to begin. Practising mindfulness meditation is one way in which we can create precious time for reflection and space to process all that has happened, how we are feeling about it and how we are managing through it. During recent months, I have found myself working increasingly, not only with individuals and small groups, but with several organisations and staff teams, focusing on creating valuable space for people to reflect on how they are living and working, exploring what has already resourced them through this time of change, and what is needed now for sustained health and wellbeing.   

Research shows that mindfulness meditation has a range of health and wellbeing benefits and can make us less reactive and less irritable. Mindfulness meditation also helps us to deal with stress and anxiety and with managing difficult emotions. I would encourage everyone to try it out, not just once, but repeatedly, as practising this type of meditation regularly is hugely supportive during times like this, when we may be feeling a little frayed around the edges or a bit anxious. When we consciously take the time to pause and reflect, we may discover that it brings a little ease to our everyday lives and in fact creates a sense of having more time, by settling the mind and making a little space to notice and tend to how we are feeling.  

Maybe we can decide now to clear some space in our day for meditation and/or reflection. Creating little self-care rituals can be useful, like writing things down to help de-clutter our minds. Plus, putting things on a page or a list can help us see what needs to be done on any day. What about including mindfulness meditation on this list every day? Can we afford this equal importance to anything else on the list? A participant in one of my groups recently suggested making a ‘to be’ list, instead of a ‘to do’ list, which I thought sounded like a good idea. What about combining the two? If you are anything like me, you might forget things if they are not written down and by including mindfulness meditation and/or some other form of self-care in our daily plan, we are giving it a sense of value, as something that is non-negotiable. Self-care will not happen automatically nor should it be left to chance, it needs to be ‘intentional’ and plentiful, especially given the year we have all had. Try not to wait until you are totally depleted; begin now, by taking a few nice, long deep breaths to calm and soothe the mind and body.  

It can be hard sometimes to begin or maintain a practice by yourself, so if you need some support to begin or deepen your mindfulness meditation practice, you are very welcome to get in touch with any questions or queries. My online meditation sessions via Zoom run consistently on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8pm, please do consider joining in, whether you have tried mindfulness meditation before or are new to it. These small group sessions are personal, down-to-earth, informal and donation based. Individual sessions are also available.

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

Susan O Regan

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

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