Like many of us Laura Payne had a wake-up call in her life. Some decades ago she had founded a start-up business and had a young family and had just discovered yoga. “One morning I found myself in my car, children in the back, pulling up outside their school. My eldest daughter said to me ‘Mummy, why are we going to school today?’ And then I had the dawning realisation that I had driven to school on a Saturday. That was when I realised I had a problem.”
Her solution was to sell her business, go back into journalism and studying and when she was 50 to retrain as a psychotherapist. “And I’ve loved it ever since.”
What she’s also loved doing is writing her new book ‘Under the Lime Tree: Nine Steps to a Mindful Life (Without Meditating)’ which is packed with exceptionally wise tips on how to improve your quality of life, live in the present and deal with stress using mindfulness techniques. “US based Jon Kavat-Zinn is the psychologist who started the modern day mindfulness movement,” explains Laura, “his mindfulness definition is ‘paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally, to things as they are.’” And Laura actually trained and worked with Mark Williams, an acolyte of Kavat-Zinn’s who introduced mindfulness to the UK.
Laura has three tips for Goldster members looking to become more mindful, calmer and more accepting of the ebb and flow of emotion and thoughts in their minds and bodies.
“One is to stop being boring: we live the same old lives. Make a unique calendar and write down something unique you do every day – whether that’s walking a different route home or switching what you eat. Do something different and change it up.”
Two is to switch off your phone, tablet and computer for a minimum of 15 minutes a day. (or longer if you can manage it) “Brains are losing their attention span,” continues Laura. “The phone is encouraging pseudo Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). The older generation are now like teenagers with their phones. Switch off your phone and give your brain a chance.”
The third tip is to do a three minute exercise called ‘Breathing Space’. “This takes the form of an hourglass,” says Laura. “Spend one minute scanning your body, scan your emotions, scan your thinking. This is the broad bit of the hourglass.” You then spend the next minute (the narrow focus) paying attention to the breath. The third minute is spent breathing in and out of tense or stiff areas in the body to help heal them – again this is a broad focus exercise - the bottom of the hourglass if you like. This exercise is very helpful if you need to push the pause button and find a place of stillness in your life in a stressful or busy day according to Laura.
There are many, many more helpful tips and guidelines in Laura’s book, all with practical applications. A more mindful life beckons.
You can buy her book 'Under The Lime Tree: Nine Steps To A Mindful Life (Without Meditating) here