This question was the title of Mike Scanlon’s seventh Mindfulness webinar within the series. To start to answer this question, Mike suggested asking yourself two questions; what increases your sense of being alive compared to merely existing? Secondly, what drains you? There are aspects of life that cannot be changed but making sure that you are devoting more time to the activities that enhance your life instead of leaving you feeling drained can help. This was followed by our first meditation which was the breathing space with an action step. The action step is when you breathe out, ask yourself, what do I need right now? Think about an action you can take right now to help you feel better about the current situation. For example having a hot bath, going for a walk, listening to music or simply making yourself a brew! If you refer back to the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Manual, Mike has suggested a variety of simple action steps that could help to lift your mood.
Next Mike asked us to think about a situation he called, “Demons on the boat.” I’ll let you listen to the recording because Mike’s description was very detailed and he made several good points about reaching a destination and the seemingly big demons often preventing us from reaching a place we would like to be. I really liked the way at Mike concluded the description of the situation by reminding attendees that they are JUST demons. This made me smile which is something that Mike is always encouraging us to do more of!! He has succeeded J
The second meditation during this webinar was a self compassion break. We were asked to think about a difficult and stressful situation. Mike in his soothing voice reminded us that this is, “just a moment of difficulty, I can be mindful and this will pass. Experiencing difficulty is a part of being human.” Try to think of a sentence that offers compassion to yourself, for example, “May I be kind to myself.” Use this as the theme for the week for any difficult encounters you may experience. Mike advised attendees to follow this up with an action step to take you closer to where you want to be but remember to enjoy the journey too.
At the end of the session Mike discussed the importance of having a ‘relapse prevention plan’ by being mindful of your warning signs that stress is taking hold of you and have potential action plans in place to enhance your life to help you through difficult times. I would recommend going back to previous recordings and referring to the manual to formulate your plan before the demons hijack your boat. During the questions and answers session, someone asked how to find nourishment in everyday life. Mike recommended that your nourishment should come from your ‘life pie.’ Think about a quartered pie with each quarter representing; home and family, friends, work, and nature and the world. For each quarter, identify three good things in each of those areas and remember it’s the little things that count. I think it’s time to go and feast on your life pie!