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What to do first when the wagon has been well and truly fallen off

Happiness & Fulfilment

I woke up on a warm Spanish Tuesday and noticed a mild anxiety milling around my chest.

I scanned the previous day – bubbling garlic prawns and gluten free beer, reading a brilliant new book on the beach and badgering BGC with all the facts I was learning, and a giant bubble bath where BGC put two tubes of shower gel in the water and we nearly foamed out our whole apartment. All non-anxiety provoking activities.

I frowned and looked over at BGC sound asleep next to me –

was there something wrong I had forgotten?

I did a future scan as well –

anything stressful coming up?

I was definitely nervous about my upcoming workshops in the UK, but they were a few weeks off and I was prepared, nothing to stress about anytime soon.

No, I concluded, Neville was at it again.

Things couldn’t be going better, relationship going great, mid European holiday, work feeling inspiring, tapas-eating going exceptionally well.

But, I’d not been meditating or doing yoga hardly at all during our 6 week holiday, so while Neville had been having a great time and feeling really positive – the random anxiety was simmering there in the background, waiting for a chance to peek out from under the covers.

No matter how long I’ve practiced mindfulness for, no matter how good my life is,

if I don’t keep up the regular practice of taming my mind, things can very easily slide into a shitstorm of anxiety and negativity.

Luckily my mate Mild-Niggling-Anxiety always comes along a few days early to remind me to get back on track before things hit the wall. He’s like a soft knock on my door, a little whispered warning that I used to completely miss:

You’re starting to go numb again Andrea, time to get back to presence.

So I meditated that morning while BGC was sleeping. My mind was racing during it, telling me about all the fun plans for the day (yogurt gelato with a gluten free cone…) I felt more joyous, present, and extra connected to BGC for the rest of the day.

Then I promptly forgot all about my revelation and dropped meditation for another couple of weeks.

And so the cycle goes, over and over!

If you’ve started practicing mindfulness and fallen off the wagon, the most important thing is that you don’t go into a spiral of judgement and frustration with yourself –

mindfulness is about cultivating a non-judgemental, open and curious attitude towards your experience –

including when you bugger things up and fall off wagons!

So the suffering that comes when you fall off the wagon is part of your practice – can you bring an attitude of curiosity and kindness to what you’re experiencing?

Then get your butt back on a comfy chair and get another meditation under your belt – if you haven’t been meditating for long, start with the awesome trainer wheels available – 10% Happier, Headspace, Buddify, 1 Giant Mind, or any of the 146,895 meditation apps out there.

I’ve learnt by now that returning back from an awesome holiday where I’ve hardly meditated or done yoga, then

diving back into piles and piles of emails and work is a recipe for a week of teary overwhelm panics.

So the minute I arrived back I dived straight into drinking too many wines watching the AFL Grand Final.

And then the very next day (or two) I finally pulled my shit together dived back into meditation and yoga.

I’m meditating every day of October, I’ll be a mindful ninja again by the time my birthday rolls around, and I’m tracking each day’s meditation with a ridiculous shiny, puffy sealife sticker that I stick on an A4 print out of the month of October.

Join me?

Pstt - enjoyed this blog post? Splendid news! If you fancy getting these snippets of self-deprecating radical honesty delivered freshly to your inbox moments(ish) after I take them out of the gluten free oven (every week or three-ish), subscribe over here.

I have an online workshop coming up (details TBC) called How to be Less of a Dick to Yourself (AKA Self Compassion for Sceptics)! I would love you to join us — It’s going to be bloody splendid! Click here to register your interest.

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