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Definitely not a mindfulness blog...

There are few things worse than being told to do something because it’s good for you. I don’t think anything irritates me more. I’m likely to say ‘OK...” and just never do it. So, before we even begin, I don’t want to write a blog asking you to do some mindfulness stuff ‘because it’s good for you’, even though it is. I want to let you know about it in case you find it useful. We commonly use the word ‘invite’, so I invite you to practice some mindfulness sometimes and as with any invitation, you can politely (or not so politely) decline.

So, in case you don’t know of me (what?!), I’m a health Psychologist. I currently work in a medical school teaching medical students and Physician Associates about how real people work when they are trying to stay healthy or being ill. Increasingly I talk about how healthcare professionals can look after themselves in a very tough job in a very tough climate. I research the psychological impact of working in emergency medicine. I don’t do enough exercise, I eat too many cakes and I get stressed out sometimes. So, I’m no zen like teacher...

You’re busy, I know, and switching very quickly from one thing to another and the last thing I am going to ask you to do is sit down for 20 minutes mindfulness practice. In this blog I want to invite (see?) you to consider the possibility of being present in the moment, for a moment. We know that mindfulness does marvellous things for people and maybe you will work up to a daily practice but you have to start somewhere and these micro-mindfulness moments will also have a beneficial effect. Having spoken to some of your colleagues, I hear the blood gas machine is a good place to start. While you’re there waiting, you could experiment with noticing your feet, try standing squarely on them, on ‘all four corners’ of your feet, really notice what that feels like. You can mentally name the parts of your feet if you like, you can notice that they ache, it doesn’t matter much. Once you’re standing squarely on them, notice what that does to the rest of your posture, how does it feel? Can you lift your toes inside your shoes? And ping! Goes the blood gas machine (do they ping? No clue...) and you’re done. Congratulations, you just undertook your first mindfulness exercise. By focussing on your feet. The important part is not to drift away in your thoughts (“Wow my feet hurt, I should buy some of those insoles, oh God I forgot to buy bread....etc etc..”) because that’s taking you away from the present moment. When you’re in the moment, you’re not fretting because you don’t engage with your thoughts, you just let them go. Thinking about bodily sensations helps with this because it gives you something to do. Handwashing is another place you could try this. If you’re washing your hands at a sink, watch the water coming out of the tap onto your hands and really see it, what does it look like? How does the light play through it? What sound does it make? What does it feel like? Watch your hands turning over themselves as you wash them, watch soap bubble up and feel how it feels slipping through your hands, maybe you can smell it? None of this takes any longer than washing your hands, which you have to do anyway. You might slow down a little, but really ask if that matters, I imagine sometimes it will and sometimes it won’t. All you’re doing is noticing, and while you’re noticing all that’s happening Right Now, you’re relaxing because you’re not caught up in what might happen or what has happened. Let me know how you get on....

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