This week's guest blogger is Daniela Bragato - Mindfulness teacher and Founder of Women MAKE Stories.
Mindfulness and writing go hand in hand and they can be very powerful tools to have in your self-care box. This is one of the many reasons why I decided to set up Women MAKE Stories: to offer women a safe space to reconnect with their body and mind and write. But what exactly is mindfulness?
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of mindfulness-base stress reduction (MBSR) mindfulness encourages us to be aware, to pay attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and with no judgement. This means being aware of everything, including distractions and discomfort.
There are so many definitions of mindfulness out there and I know it can feel a bit of a buzzword at times but at its core mindfulness is about being less human doing and more human being.
How to start with mindfulness
First of all, there is no right or wrong to practice mindfulness and you can start by simply going for a walk and paying attention to your surroundings rather than checking your emails on your phone or by closing your eyes and listening to your breathing for a few minutes when you feel stressed and overwhelmed. This will encourage you to slow down and will make you feel relaxed and out of autopilot mode.
Mindfulness isn’t a quick fix
What I love about mindfulness is that it doesn’t give you any false promise. There’s no ‘quick fix’ or ‘drink this and your life will be better.’ Mindfulness takes time and commitment. You can’t expect to see the benefits if you don’t keep at it. As much as you can’t get rid of all the negative stuff that happens in your life and pushing the pain away will only make it worse.
Mindfulness teaches you how to navigate life though uncertainty and challenges. It makes you become more aware of how you’d normally react to certain events and shows you that, even when things are out of your control, you always have a choice in how you want to respond: you can either fall back into old unhelpful patterns or intentionally choose to face difficulties in a different and more meaningful way.
What does mindfulness have to do with writing?
Being curious and paying attention to the small details that are around you is a powerful skill when you are writing too. When you journal, it gives you a chance to check in with how you really feel both physically and mentally. When you create fiction, it’s helpful because it makes your story more believable by using all the sense, for example when you describe a particular landscape or the facial expression of your characters.
Like mindfulness, writing can offer you some space and calm away from everyday stresses. When you’re so immersed in your writing, whether it’s journaling, a poem or a short story, the past or the future don’t seem to matter anymore because all that matters is the here and now. All that matters is those words flowing down on your piece of paper (or laptop!).
Being a writer myself, I know that the words you write can be messy and imperfect but that’s the beauty of mindful writing. When you’re stuck in your negative bubble, it’s important to create some distance between you and your thoughts. By jotting them down, you can see that those words, emotions or feelings don’t define you. They are just passing by like clouds in the sky and you are much more than that. And when you’re having a bit of a writer’s block and can’t make any progress with your story, mindfulness can help you to stimulate your imagination and keep you going.
Mindful writing is about you. It’s about writing your own story without any judgement, filters or masks. It’s about tapping into your potential and creativity and unlocking your voice. It’s liberating and empowering. It’s about discovery, self-discovery and so much more.
Mindfulness and writing can improve your wellbeing
When you’re constantly stressed and overwhelmed, you’re unable to pay attention to your present moment and to how your body feels. And without realising it, you miss out on what’s in front of you and what is really important for you.
Both mindfulness and writing can help you to shift your perspectives on things, to gain more clarity, to be more compassionate about yourself and empathetic towards others.
I strongly believe that taking care of ourselves is an act of self-love and writing and mindfulness can be great tools to make positive changes in your life. They aren’t necessarily about reaching a destination but about being present and enjoying the journey without worrying about what other people think about you and your story. Both offers you some sacred time and space for you to fully be. To just do you.