Mindfulness, Walking, Well-being, Yoga

Mindful Musings

So far, so good!  At the end of three weeks I have successfully completed at least 20 minutes of mindful meditation every day!  Within that I have also attended a mindfulness class and practiced yoga at least 4 times per week.  I’ve also set up a small accountability group to make sure that I maintain the practice.  So far so good!

What I have learned thus far.

  • Primarily, that if I want to do something badly enough I can do it – motivation isn’t an issue.
  • That exercise doesn’t have to be target driven!  Until now my exercise has been based around challenges, distance, or times.  Speed sessions, interval sessions, long runs, tempo runs.  None of that matters with yoga.  Yes, you need to watch your alignment if you want to prevent injury and yes, there is quite a lot of structure to it – but thereafter it’s entirely up to you.  There is no way to measure this week’s performance against last.  Already I can see some improvements in some postures – for the first time in forever I can actually nearly touch my toes!  What a delightful way to be measuring progress!  All that matters is how you feel in your body today and what it can achieve today and if it’s not as good as last week, then never mind!
  • Exercise can be fun!  I tried Zumba this week.  Looking at the range of lessons on at the gym at a suitable time, I was left with the choice of Zumba.  Never been my first choice – obviously being a choice of older ladies.  Oh, how wrong I was.  After 10 minutes I wanted to collapse!  But as with the yoga – there is no target.  I can’t possibly measure my performance this week against that of subsequent weeks – other than will my arms and legs ever be co-ordinated with each other.  One thing I also found at Zumba was normal sized ladies, of a certain age, exercising for fun – followed by a cup of tea and a natter.  I may have finally found my tribe!  And socialising is definitely a key aspect of exercising.  I will definitely be going back again.
  • That I walk much further than I anticipated.  I’ve set myself the challenge of walking 1000 miles during 2018.  I thought I would just count all the steps / miles on my FitBit.  By the end of three weeks I have walked 100 miles.  This would make in the region of 1700 miles in the year,  I either need to just count miles where I deliberately take a walk, or increase my target to make it a challenge.
  • That yoga – or mindfulness meditation – I’m not sure which, gives you energy!  Only a few weeks in I am already feeling more enthusiastic and full of life than I have in many years.  It’s also been surprisingly easy to fit it in to my daily life.  I’ve been using two apps – Headspace which is subscription based, very accessible and very straightforward; and Insight Timer, which has the advantage of being free and has a huge range of different meditations to choose from.
  • That it doesn’t take long to feel the benefits of yoga and / or meditation.  As I started both at pretty much the same time I’m not sure which is the creator of the benefits – but already I creak less when I get out of bed.  Already, I am more aware of my posture when I am walking and sitting.  Already, I am more aware of my surroundings and appreciating them far more.
  • The gym has an empty twilight zone at 8:00 am in the morning. The workers have left and the ladies that lunch have yet to arrive.  It’s just bliss!

pexels-photo-374101.jpegAs part of this journey I have come across a couple of really interesting Mindfulness courses.  The first is Positively Mindful which I have been attending at Breathe Bristol yoga studio.  This is an hourly drop in session with a mixture of meditation and self enquiry.  I’ve also started a more formal Mindfulness living course at My Awareness yoga in Montpelier.  So far I’ve only attended one of nine sessions, so I’m interested to see where that journey will take me.  The key thing I have picked up is that this is a journey – one to be taken at a pace that best benefits me.    In my head I look like a super sleek toned yogi – the reality the image is as far removed from that as it is possible to be – however, already I can see that I have made some progress on postures and this gives me hope.


18 for 2018


This year I have discovered Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcast.  I’m a little unsure of it, aspects of it I love, but it is very American and sometimes find myself wincing at some of the suggestions for a happier life – especially those that don’t really translate to well to Britain.  Episode #147 was about writing a list of 18 things to do in 2018.

I appreciate that last week I said I was targeting 3 things as any more is too many, but this really appealed.  And you will see that there is some overlap!  The premise is that you select 18 things that you achieve during 2018, some based on habits, some based on challenges or things you might like to achieve during the year.  Here are my 18:

  1. Practice meditation every day – I genuinely do believe this is going to help with my stress and anxiety issues and am looking forward to seeing how it impacts on my life.  I’ve started with the John Kabat Zinn Series 1 app – and so far so good!
  2. walk 1000 miles 2018Walk 1000 miles.  I’m all signed up, I have my progress tracker and am raring to go. This is run in conjunction with Country Walking magazine and has a great Facebook page alongside it.  One aspect that appealed to me about this is that there is no ‘Leaderboard’.  This is an individual journey – literally taking each step at a time.
  3. Keep a ‘good things’ jar.  I saw this in ‘The Moment’ magazine.  At the end of each year I really struggle to identify good times in a year.  This encourages you to write down one good thing that happened each week throughout the year and pop it into a jar.  At the end of the year there will be 52 positive memories to reflect on.
  4. Visit Sintra.  We visit Portugal regularly and want to visit as much of the country as we can. This has been recommended as a must see.  Madonna went last year – not sure if that is good or bad!!
  5. Learn to paddleboard.  I’ve always wanted to do this.  I’m scared of the sea.  I see people doing it and really want to try.  There are two options for this – either do a course in Bristol where the water is very flat and it is in a great part of town.  Or go on a day trip in Portugal through the sea caves – conquering my fear of the sea at the same time.  Or I could try both!
  6. Publish a crochet pattern.  I’ve had this on my ‘To Do’ list for about 5 years now.  This is the year it is going to happen!
  7. Slow down – I rush everything.  I want everything completed now.  I am very impatient.  I need to learn to slow down and enjoy the moment.  Yoga is great for helping with this – the improvements are very slow – but as the saying goes ‘slow and steady wins the race’!
  8. Enjoy today; plan for tomorrow – I’m terrible for planning ahead or planning big challenges, most of which I never complete.  I need to learn to enjoy where I am now and what I have now and to plan no further than tomorrow.
  9. Buy one fabulous thing a month.  I am an expert impulse buyer.  I buy, I repent, I throw out unworn clothes in particular.  I intend to buy one thing that I absolutely adore each month – be it an item of clothing, a book, some make-up – just one thing I know I will love and appreciate.
  10. star warsMake all of the crochet characters in the Star Wars book.  I was given this as a gift for Christmas along with another full of literary characters.  This is my dream gift – crochet combined with Star Wars!  I can’t wait to get started.
  11. Tidy up before bedtime.  Most days I wake up to a messy bedroom and I do find it quite dispiriting.  I’m going to try to make sure I tidy everything away before bed every evening so I can wake ready for a new day and not have to tidy up first.
  12. Make an effort with my appearance every day.  When I worked I did my hair and make up every day.  Whole days can pass with me staying in my sloppies.  There is no problem with this, but I know that making an effort with my appearance does impact my happiness levels.
  13. Practice yoga twice a week.  In my head by the end of 2018 I will be a sleek, svelte yogi!  I can dream.
  14. Go for two good walks a week with my husband each week.  We both enjoy walking and spending time together.
  15. Reconnect with an old friend.  I’ve never been very good at keeping in contact with people, but I am really starting to feel the consequences of this.  I think it’s time to reconnect with people and maintain those relationships.
  16. Make a new friend.  As adults I don’t think we do enough of this and spot barriers to friendship that don’t really exist.  This is a real area of development for me and the thought of talking to new people generally terrifies me.
  17. Bake a new cake per month.  I love baking and was given a new mixer for Christmas.  I tend to make the same things week in week out and want to try at least one new recipe each month.   I’m tempted to work my way through a recipe book and try things I might otherwise ignore!
  18. Learn pottery.  Throw a pot.  Being a girl from Stoke-on-Trent I think this is something I should at least try!

I do also have a 19th item for the list – the Bored and Brilliant challenge.  I don’t know exactly what it’s about.  It’s another American innovation / podcast combination and is aimed at reducing the amount of time spent on devices.

When I reflected on my list of 18 when it was completed it was clear that the majority are around maintaining a healthy approach to living.  I was quite pleased that ‘lose weight’ or ‘get to a size ….’ did not feature on the list at all.  They are all things that will help me feel happier and more comfortable with myself.

Part of the 18 for 2018 challenge is to make your list public.  So here it is, and I look forward to posting updates on progress throughout the year.