Finding a way to happiness, contentment and joy

Have you ever noticed how exhausting it is to think? Now, when I use the term thinking, I mean when you find yourself talking and questioning with others or to yourself about ‘over-thinking’. Not only do you label it as over-thinking, but you find yourself going on (and on), ruminating on the same issue, then judging yourself, telling yourself you’re stupid to over-think and questioning why you’re over-thinking this subject, situation, issue as it isn’t really that important…is it? You then find yourself waking up in the middle of the night or the early hours of the morning, thinking about the same thing, over and over again! You might then get angry with yourself for thinking those things and for disturbing your sleep and yet, you continue to think about the subject, situation or issue even more so, looking and searching for an answer or a solution!

And then, you wake up the following morning with the hope of having a less stressful day, feeling like you can conquer everything that occurs throughout the day, only to find that you are exhausted, unable to keep your eyes open during the morning huddle meeting and when you return to your desk, you find yourself staring at the computer screen with the overwhelming number of emails that need an urgent response, unable to focus on the words on the screen and wondering what the hell you’re going to do!
When you feel this stuck, it can be difficult to see the “light at the end of the tunnel” (an indication that a long period of difficulty is nearing an end) and that this is only a temporary phase. And yet, it is possible to find happiness, contentment, joy, fulfillment again.

As Professor Mark Williams and Danny Penman have understood from 30 years of Mindfulness research at Oxford University;

“This work has discovered the secret to happiness and how you can successfully tackle anxiety, stress, exhaustion and even full-blown depression. It’s the kind of happiness and peace that gets into your bones and promotes a deep-seated authentic love of life, seeping into everything you do and helping you to cope more skillfully with the worst that life throws at you.”

WILLIAMS, M., & PENMAN, D. (2011). Mindfulness: an eight-week plan for finding peace in a frantic world. Emmaus, Pa, Rodale Books.

Mindfulness can be a useful, practical resource to self-regulate the body’s response to stress and to manage emotional overload. It can help to prevent and manage anxiety, compassion fatigue (think of those who work in the Healthcare profession), depression, stress and burnout (when your mind and body have been overloaded by unsustainable pressure). Cultivating compassion and empathy begins with our attitude towards ourselves. Mindfulness training can help us to develop an attitude of kindness towards ourselves by increasing levels of self-awareness and teaching us how to be fully with our experience. Mindfulness helps us to face up to challenges by teaching us how to approach with a different attitude; one of openness, curiosity, interest and intrigue. We learn to look at problem-solving differently, discovering how our body reacts with an automatic response of Fight, Flight or Freeze which, if prolonged can cause physical and psychological symptoms such as high blood pressure, aching, tense muscles, anxiety or depression.

Through Mindfulness training, we learn to listen to our mind and body giving us the ‘heads up’, a warning that something is not quite right, enabling us to prevent burnout and to self-manage our anxiety and stress levels. When you are able to recognise the ‘alert’, you then have the opportunity to choose how you respond to this warning and new found, deeper sense of self-awareness.
There many books and apps that can help feed your curiosity and support your learning of Mindfulness. During the experiential, supported training programme that Inner Space Works offers, you are provided with audio tracks (specifically recorded by Jo Clarke for the purposes of the course) and weekly handbooks (written by Bangor University) to support each session. Alongside these resources, you will have the support of Jo to answer any questions for the duration of the course.

References – Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, PhD, CRNP on July 23, 2018 — Written by Jacquelyn Cafasso – Jan 2, 2017. Last Updated on February 8, 2019 – Written by Jessie Zhu
KABAT-ZINN, J. (1994). Wherever you go, there you are: mindfulness meditation in everyday life. New York, Hyperion.
KABAT-ZINN, J. (1991). Full catastrophe living: using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. New York, N.Y., Pub. by Dell Pub., a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Pub. Group.
WILLIAMS, M., & PENMAN, D. (2011). Mindfulness: an eight-week plan for finding peace in a frantic world. Emmaus, Pa, Rodale Books.

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