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Amanda James

Going Nowhere - Being Still

Going nowhere, with the inforced boundaries that living in lockdown has given us and many changes to become familiar with, everyday life completely altered for some of us and we are still living in uncertain times.

Being underlockdown for me has been a strange and sometimes challenging experience, in complete isolation with my elderly vulnerable parents, not able to see other members of my much loved family, my dearest friends and work colleagues. But it has also been a time of reconnecting with my parents, playing board games, doing jigsaw puzzles for amusement, watching nature in the back garden, cooking and appreciation for the shared meals, and all of the small simplistic things in life, I am no longer waking up to an alarm clock, having a full daily to do list, organising my diary so everything can be completed on time, but instead there is time for drinking the first cup of morning tea in the garden, listening to the birds chirping, the lack of traffic driving past makes the morning song seem louder and more pleasant, enjoying breakfast with parents, their talking about what they're planning to fill their day with, small but to them essential things, that keep them going mentally and physically day to day.

Stillness - what does it mean to you? maybe you think it's the opposite to movement, being energetic, or is it absence of noise, quietness, tranquility. Stillness is a choice for us, it can be felt by being fully aware, in the present moment, connected to our physical body sensations and our emotions, it is our natural state of being. So why can it be so difficult to find for some of us, today we live our live's with constant distractions, so much noise both inside and outside of our brains, several screens that demand our attention, daily to do lists, stimulating food and drink, it seems we are all trying to juggle many balls at the same time.

Lockdown may be the perfect time to cultivate Stillness and feel its benefits, it is possible that you have naturally reduced your external stimuli in these times of restriction. Stillness soothes our nervous system, helping  to lower the stress and anxiety we may feel in these uncertain times, it can lower blood pressure and help boost our immune systems, you can start by just taking a few minutes (10-30mins) out of every day and practice, it takes a little time to learn, so keep going, lockdown being the perfect opportunity to have a go.

Stillness can come in different ways, there is no right or wrong way to do it, you can find a favourite place to sit inside or outside, as long as you won't be disturbed, and focus simply on your breath, the physical sensations you feel from breathing, the rise and fall in the abdomen and rib cage, there is no need to change anything stick with whatever feels natural to you, if your mind wanders away, and it will, bring back to focus once again on your breath, it may be that you prefer to focus on a soothing image, nature in the garden, using your sight as if you are seeing for the first time, noticing all the small intricate details, or listening to a low, calming piece of music, the sounds of nature, the birds, a slow trickling stream, or some natural motion like a candle flame flickering,  you are using your senses to be fully aware and completly experiencing the present moment. It is not problem solving nor is it planning, it is not regretting or reliving the past, it is not worrying or dreaming of the future, It is just being Still and breathing in your own natural calm rhythm.

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Amanda James

Appreciation for what you have

Take a moment now and scan through your life, notice which memories or parts of your life that you feel appreciation for, I'm guessing that its something that happened rather than something that you purchased.

We are not usually focused on what we have, more often than not we are focused on what we don't have, If only I had a better job or that promotion I went for, if I only had a bigger house, If only I had a better car, a state of most of the time, wanting more, but some of the people who have all of the things, that we think we need are not less stressed or have higher self esteem levels and cope with life better than we do.

People who can appreciate what they have are more satisfied in their relationships with their family and friends, they have lower levels of stress hormones helping to improve their general health, lower blood pressure, stronger immune systems and are generally happier within themselves.

Appreciation can be learnt, look around you, find the silver linning, instead of looking at what you haven't got, look at what you do have, you may not always be able to control what happens in your life, but you do have the choice in how you handle the situation when it arrives,

Recently I came across by accident a video on YouTube called Brightside, be grateful for what you have, by Igor Kalashnikov,  It starts with a helicoptor flying above a yellow sports car, the man in the car is looking up wishing he had the helicoptor, as the clip focuses to the left of the screen, there's another man sitting in a red 4 wheel drive vehicle looking at the yellow sports car, wishing he had the sports car in his life. The video moves to a man in a blue saloon car and a man in a small 2 door car both wishing they had bigger and better vehicles. Eventually you see a man riding a bicycle wishing he just had a car to drive and then a man waiting at the bus stop for his bus, he to wishing that he just had a bike to ride. The last shot in the clip is of a man sitting on a balcony, looking down on the street below wishing he had the mobility to walk that street, He was in a wheelchair. The freedom to walk whenever and wherever we wish, is something that most of us forget to really appreciate.

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Amanda James

GRATITUDE (A feeling of Thankfulness and Appreciation)

We all know that focusing on the things that we are grateful for in our lives, can help us turn negative thoughts and feelings into more positive ones (although this can sometimes be a challenging process to achieve).

Maybe today start by slowing down a little and try to be aware of your senses, the things we see, smell, taste, hear, touch noticing the small things that we are grateful for.

This morning I had the pleasure of seeing an elderly couple holding hands across a table, drinking their mid morning cup of coffee, obviously enjoying each others company without to much notice of what was going on around them.

How wonderful for them to be totally immersed in a moment.

If we are extremely fortunate, we have eyes to see these moments, a nose to smell, ears to hear, a mouth to taste, our bodies to touch and our hearts to feel all the emotions connected to these senses.

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