Lifestyle

Mindfulness: the the state or quality of being mindful…

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Mindfulness. Meditation. Taking a minute. Navel-gazing. Self-indulgent contemplation of oneself. Useless? Maybe. Maybe not.
If you are like me, and you struggle to take a minute for yourself, you may be in the same boat I am – struggling to wrap your head around mindfulness. My mother bought me a book called ‘Hurry up and Meditate’…six years ago…I never finished it.
It turns out mindfulness is much more simple than barricading yourself in a zen room and chanting to whale music with the smell of incense around you. It can be short, simple little exercises which I have really tried to practice myself.
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  1. Taking a minute to have a stretch, rest your eyes and have a yawn. Don’t feel like yawning? Pretend, then you will actually yawn pretty soon after. Particularly if you work in front of a computer, the eye rest is really important. Try to do this every hour, event if you just pick 1 or 2 stretches.
  2. Breathing exercises. How many of you, like me breathe very shallowly? When was the last time you really took a deep breath in and paid attention to it? My Mum passed along to me the 4-7-8 breathing exercise, also known as the ‘Relaxing Breath’. It takes no equipment, can be done anywhere and helps with stress almost immediately. How? Exhale completely through your mouth, make it audible. Close your mouth and inhale through your nose, counting to four. Hold your breath for seven. Exhale again, through your mouth over eight. Now do this three more times.
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  3. Mindfully eat something. It sounds funny, but if you are scoffing food mindlessly at your desk, on the couch, or whilst working (who else eats their lunch at their work desk and forgets to take a breath?). Use all of your senses to eat something, touch it, smell it and sense it. Savour its taste. Grapes are a good starter food for this.
  4. Be kind about where your mind wanders. Our brains are such amazing things, really – don’t fight your thoughts. Just for one minute, go with it, follow the trail your brain wants to go down. Don’t react, just go with it. Practice your breathing and pay attention to any common themes. It might be what your brain wants to focus on.
  5. Listen to a song you love. Put your headphones in. Listen to the song, listen to the words, feel the music. Take a moment for yourself and enjoy the senses of music.
There are also a stack of mindfulness apps available for your smart phone. The top five which pop up in the App store when I search for them are:
*Calm
*Headspace
*Smiling Mind
*The Mindfulness App; and
*Mindfulness: The Art of Being Human
man wearing gray black zip hoodie jacket praying in between black tree during daytime
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I have tried Calm, Headspace and Smiling Mind and have liked all three of them. You will need to find what works for you, please share with me any hints or tips you have!
These may or may not work for you, but the above five I have found to be very helpful. One day I might even have the patience for mediation, but for now – those listed above are what helps me :).
Thank you for reading, as always.
x C x
Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post. I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!
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x C x

 

Lifestyle

Finding my Zen – Part 4 (tea, candles and colouring-in)…

I woke up nice and early this morning, I have been sleeping with the blinds open and waking with the sun, which is quite nice. Mum’s dog has become my new best friend since I got here on Saturday, our family dog passed away last year and it has left a gigantic hole in all of our hearts, so it is nice to bond with Greta. Typically our dogs have always slept in our laundry, so Greta was beyond excited to be sleeping in my room with me.

When I did get up, I found myself automatically reaching for my phone – to (as per usual), start my day by looking through my social media account son my phone. This is toxic, I am convinced that this habit is one of the worst ones our generation has. So I deleted FaceBook and Instagram from my phone. I haven’t deleted my accounts but I have taken them off of my phone. I don’t want to be obsessed with my phone and this is not the first time I have had to do it. At first it builds out of habit, then boredom and then before you know it, it is as automatic as breathing and that is not healthy.

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Guess how many times I automatically went to my phone throughout the morning to check? I lost count, how sad is that? Once lunch had passed, I knew not to check and I felt good – felt as though I was not a slave to my phone. Which is always nice! I also turned off all of the notifications which were coming through to my phone, so I could actually enjoy a proper break.

I spent the morning out in the garden, playing with my camera and trying to work out all of the new settings, I had no idea how markedly different my 80D was going to be to the 550D and I really want to be able to master it, before our big trip this year!

I also managed to force myself to go to the gym and get my blood moving, try to get some movement. It just felt like the same old routine though, so was not at all relaxing. I really need to learn yoga or pilates or something.

I have started reading more about where we are traveling this year, looking up fun activities we can do while we are away. It is the equivalent of daydreaming and I love every second of it. I am really glad I have taken some time just to relax, to stand on the grass and be in the sun and have cuddles wth a tiny sweet dog. As well as be able to say goodnight to my Mum in person and go to sleep in our home together. It is definitely the thing you miss the most when you move out!

IMG_9316Mum and I had dinner together, we watched some t.v and then I decided to finally have a go at the therapy colouring-in book. I have tried to do this in the past but have become bored within 5 minutes, so never finished one. Last night however, with my relaxation music playing in the background, I spent around an hour on one picture and it worked, I felt relaxed. It calmed me, I could almost feel myself taking deeper breaths. Amazing!

As much as I am loving being here, I am also really missing my Husband. I am going to try to do something lovely tomorrow, before I head back up to Brisbane. Not too sure what that is just yet, but sure I can put something together.

Happy Tuesday!

x C x

 

Lifestyle

Finding my Zen – Part 3 (storms and sprinkles)

Day 3, of my initial 5-day ‘reset’ plan moved much slower and more peacefully than day 2 and that gives me hope! I woke up relatively early and decided to do a jail-break with my Niece and head out of a look at the beach and get a coffee. My Niece has just turned four and she is one of my favourite humans.

 

It has been raining pretty intensely here in Queensland, so the weather was not the best heading out, but in saying that – have you ever seen the coastline after there has been a storm? It is absolutely beautiful!

There is something so calming about watching the surf roll in, especially when there is such power behind the waves, we took our picnic blanket and an umbrella and sat by the water and just enjoyed the view for a while.

IMG_9676On our way back my Niece ‘shouted’ us a drink (Mum had given her some money, adorable) – we stopped into the local coffee shop near Mum’s house and I watched little L ask the server ‘Hello, can I please have a baby-chino with one white marshmallow and one pink marshmallow….and a toffee for my Bunty’  (toffee = coffee & Bunty = Aunty). It was so sweet and when she found sprinkles on her baby-chino there was a perfectly delivered ‘I didn’t see that coming!’. So cute.

My Niece also held me hostage into the ‘when are you having a baby’ conversation. We don’t really discuss that in our family, we get that it just is not anyone else’s business to pry or harass each other. My Husband and I have been together for nearly five years now and I would say people have been asking us for four of those (people outside of my family). In saying that though, a four year old asking is cute, not invasive. I feel like at the end of the chat she was semi-satisfied with my vague responses.

I had a really nice and calm dinner with my parents, watched some lazy t.v with them and also just listened to music and did…nothing. It was nice.

IMG_9686Then I realised I had not really challenged myself for the day, I had been comfortable and had a real sense of peace after such a nice day, but I had not done anything to challenge myself or push my limits. So (and don’t laugh because this was big for me),  jumped on AirTasker, decided to push myself – tried to get a couple of jobs. Came close but ultimately no cigar. The extra cash would have been nice, as well as doing something outside of my comfort circle, but it was not meant to be. Which was okay.

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I was a tradie for the evening when all the power went out, it was raining and everyone was asleep. I would like to say I did it all on my own, but really I had to ring my sister and asked her where the fuse box was. Anyway, somehow I managed to solve that at midnight and I was pleased as punch in myself. My Husband has asked me to refrain from calling myself a tradie for this one heroic act though.

I guess the best part of Sunday evening, was knowing I was not working on Monday and realising that taking some time off just to relax and spend some time with my family was the best choice I could have made.\

x C x

 

Australia · Lifestyle

Finding my Zen – Part 2 (a five day turnaround is not looking good…)

Day one. Okay, so there were no earth-shattering revelations or learnings in terms of self-help, no defining Eat, Pray, Love moment and I am far from centred. I did do a few things out of order though, to shake things up.

pexels-photo-904616.jpegI slept in. Until 9am. This was super weird, I felt lazy and all in all a bit strange.
I did not go to the gym. On a Saturday. Which is normally habit for me.

I drove in sh*tty peak-hour traffic down the coast on a Saturday, in the rain. Again, something I passionately avoid. I did NOT lose my mind doing it. Made it to mums, discovered my step-father had AGAIN left the wrong keys out. Could not get into the house. Again did not lose my mind, just tried every one of the 73,467 locks/doors around the house until I had success with the screen door and got inside.

I decided to explore the bush out the back of my mums house. I was overly ambitious and thought a toy poodle and i would go for a casual stroll down to the creek. It turned into a mild rescue mission, with a historical poodle losing her mind and me billy-goating my way back up the hill. Followed by intense sweating and all in all, a dismal physical display. There are likely bush turkeys laughing somewhere.

 

My sister and niece showed up at mum’s not that long after and then my mum, step-dad and nephew showed up. Cue mass excitement and noise. Again, this is not something challenging, in fact it is one of my favourite things in the world – loud noises, and mass family excitement is something which will always make my heart happy.

IMG_9267I went swimming in the rain (in the pool, not the ocean – I’m not quite that brave). It doesn’t sound that crazy, but I had already washed my hair and I threw caution (stop laughing) to the wind and leapt into the pool, in the rain – without even checking the temperature (stunt-woman?). Then my four year old niece and one year old nephew also came barrelling into the pool on top of me. We had an amazing time and swam until our lips were blue. To top this day off with another ridiculous thing I did, I slept without closing the blinds, and stared out at the moon and the stars as I drifted away.

I am out of control. Seriusly, somebody stop me! Okay. So I did a few things differently. I would give myself probably a 1/5 in stretching myself beyond my comfort zone. I will try harder on Sunday.

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How do you challenge yourself? Do you have any tips for me? I would love to hear them!

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see!

Please note, I am not paid any sponsorships at all, I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

x C

 

Australia · Lifestyle

Finding my Zen – Part 1 (P.S – I have no zen, I am zen-less)

woman-hand-desk-office.jpgAs of 2016 there were 7.442 billion people in the world, 24.13 million in Australia, 4.691 million of these in Queensland and of that, there are 2.4 million are in Brisbane. As one of these 2.4 million people, I am very happily married, have a decent social life, work full-time in the Brisbane CBD (which I do love). I live in a set of 6 units, in a busy area and also take public transport to work. I go to the gym (also quite busy), try to run my social media / blogging accounts, message/call and FaceTime my friends and of course shop/clean/cook and immerse myself in books and tv where I can. So taking all of this into consideration and admitting that I am not living in Betoota, how can someone with such constant exposure to human contact and people feel so…alone?

pexels-photo-867453.jpegFor the last month I have gradually (and then very rapidly) felt my mind disconnecting itself from my body. I feel as though I have been observing myself, rather than living my day to day practices. Gym + work + routine +sleep – repeat. I get it, this is life, it is how every other functioning adult segways from Monday to Tuesday to Wednesday and so on. I have worked full-time since I left high school, without a break. My reward for working hard has always been travel every 1-2 years, normally for 4-5 weeks, sometimes for less and just once for more.

pexels-photo-287240.jpegOur next big trip (the trip of a lifetime if you will) is in September this year, we have been talking about, planning and dreaming about this trip for five years. It is coming up on us fast. yet six months is still you know, SIX months away. I think the constant routine, saving money and the same day in, day out repeat has finally weighed on me. What a bizarre situation to find yourself in – no real acute event or clear source to pin where things changed, where you lost your spark. It has happened though. On a humorous note, I commenced a 12 week no-drinking challenge as of New Years Eve and it has been brought to my attention that my attitude is 100% worse than what it was when I was drinking. So pro-tip, quitting drinking does not make you feel better, it has in fact, made me feel bloody dreadful.

pexels-photo-372281.jpegSo seeing it is only March and I feel like I have been dragged through a hedge backwards, I clearly need to do something about this. This is not a normal or appropriate amount (or lack thereof) energy to have at 31 (I will not say 32 until my birthday looks me in the face). I normally save my annual leave days the way a butcherbird stockpiles snacks, but given the state of mind and intense feeling of fatigue (and an unwelcome reoccurrence of high cortisol and hypertension), it is time to take a few days off and re-set the clock.

I have come down to one of my favourite places on earth, my mum’s house. I am armed with x2 books – which I plan to read.I have my togs for swimming. Will try to get some swimming in, will have a crack at meditation and will also try to take some photos. I actually have zero clue on how to relax. Can you be rejuvenated after only a week? What are your tips?

I would love to hear them!

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see!

Please note, I am not paid any sponsorships at all, I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels