Welcome to this weekly online resource. Wellness professional Jo Foster, offers self care tips through her insights on mindfulness and positive psychology, her weekly online yoga classes and nutritious recipe recommendations. 

This week we are getting curious about the practicalities of mindfulness in daily life.

Mindfulness and yoga are all the rage, as such you may frequently come across content relating to your wellbeing and advice on how you could manage it (in this case, weekly!).  Often such content is accompanied by images of beautiful people meditating in serene mountains, beaches or peaceful and pristine rooms. Such images set up an expectation that if you practice yoga and mindfulness, then tranquility and happiness will be forthcoming.  This is a powerful selling point and may be one of the reasons such forms of wellbeing have boomed in popularity, but are such expectations representative of the reality?

In my personal experience, this picture of instant peace and harmony is far from the reality. Truth be told, yoga and mindfulness is often uncomfortable! Getting to that place of calm is a process of working through the chaos and discomfort of in sitting in the company of our thoughts and feelings. It can be frustrating, bewildering and for some it's boring and it's a struggle to maintain patience with the repetitiveness. However, it is worth it. With practice and repetition comes more frequent moments of clarity, improved competence in how to navigate the 'ups and downs' and greater fulfilment from everyday life. For many, the practice of mindfulness and yoga over a sustained period of time improve their overall happiness and quality of life. So if you are committed to that as an eventual outcome (there are seldom quick wins) and you are prepared to take on the reality of the challenging process, then yoga and mindfulness might be just the ticket.  

This week lets begin to explore meditation with 5 minutes of Anchoring.



In the practice today we are using your breathing as an 'Anchor' for the wandering mind. The objective is to notice your minds wandering tendencies and act when your focus drifts, which it will do, repeatedly! 

  • To begin, sit comfortably.

  • Set a timer for 5 minutes and close your eyes.

  • Then notice your breathing.

    • Notice your pace of breathing.

    • Are there any sensations that accompany the breathing, such as movement of the tummy or chest?

    • Can you feel the sensation of air flowing through the nostrils?

    • Can you hear the sound of your breathing? 

    • Observe you breathing without analysing or trying to overly control it. 

  • When you notice that the mind has become distracted by thoughts or other observations, accept the distraction. Then set it aside and see if you can patiently steer your focus back to your breathing. 

  • Repeat the process of observing your breathing. Re-anchor back to your breathing time and time again, resisting the temptation to allow the mind to go deeper into it's wanderings. 

  • When the timer goes off, take a deep breath and open your eyes. 

You may notice whilst practicing this that feelings of frustration that crop up. Frustration with how readily the mind wanders. Or frustration with how many distractions there are in your surrounding environment. Remember, it is natural for the human mind to wander, our curiosity and enquiring minds are one of our greatest assets when used well, we are not looking to stop these wanderings, rather to become better directors of them. The practice is making a choice and knowing when to choose to allow the wanderings to develop and when to "park" them. A large part of this practice is to sit through the discomfort, let go of frustration, accept the distractions that we can't control and be willing to engage with the repetitiveness of re-anchoring time and time again. Repetitiveness is after all a fundamental element of practicing any skill.

Image by Aləx Buchan
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Rice noodles with shrimp and coconut-lime dressing by Bon Appetite

Something light and satisfying on a hot summers day. High in Omega 3 and low in calories, this is a dish you can both enjoy and feel virtuous about eating.

NB: Shrimps are a common allergen so if you are sensitive to shellfish try substituting with tofu.