February gets bad press. The excitement of Christmas and New Year is over and the weather is usually pants. But we love February at Happy Coulson as it’s the month of our family skiing holiday. For most of the year our house is full of pilgrims, workaways, students and other visitors, which we love. But our February holiday is just for us.

There was a slight hiccup this year when we phoned the owner of our usual apartment to say we were nearly there and she said there was already somebody there! She had made a mistake with the dates and put us down for the following week. So home we went, to try to rearrange all the work we were committed to, including a French student from Paris who was coming to stay for the week.

We were all disappointed, it took a lot of work to change our plans and we lost a fair bit of money. What do you do when things like this happen? I felt like crying, or getting angry. But with who? And would that help? I didn’t cry or get angry as I noticed these feelings creeping up and consciously chose a more helpful response. I can do that (most of the time) because yoga helps me practice and learn mindfulness.

Mindfulness meditation is trendy at the moment but what does it actually mean? Exactly this. Training yourself to be more aware of what is going on in your mind and learning techniques to help you master your reactions. It’s like the Cherokee tale of the Two Wolves – choosing to feed the good wolf inside you and not the bad. How we actually do this is through mindfulness, becoming aware of our feelings and emotions and choosing which to follow. This is brilliantly explained in this two-minute film.

You don’t have to do yoga to practice mindfulness. It can be as easy as becoming aware of your breath. But like anything worth doing, it takes time to get good so you will need to stick with it. The easiest way to start is with a guided programme – check out Happify or Headspace. Just 10 minutes a day of sitting quietly, being aware of your breath and what’s going on in your head. Give it a real go.

I still get angry. I am still practising. But the great thing is that you can help others learn mindfulness at the same time. When you get angry and don’t catch it in time, don’t beat yourself up, just think about how you could have responded differently. Talk about it with people around you. Admit out loud that you could have chosen a different reaction and it will get easier every time. Children learn by watching us. So let’s teach them how to be more mindful. It is a skill that really does make the whole world a happier place 🙂

Filed under: Happy Coulson

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