Tomorrow I am attending a friend’s wedding (I can’t wait!), and I was advising the bride and groom to soak up the excitement in the run up to the big day. Yet that’s not always an easy thing to do. Weddings are one of the biggest most stressful life events we can go through. So much to organise, difficult decisions to make, and money disappearing at an alarming rate. We also can’t underestimate the impact that tricky family members or even well-meaning friends can have on us, the ones who forget you are under a lot of stress and probably don’t need to be reminding you of the dodgy looking weather forecast, or the fact they probably won’t like your vegan food offerings, or giving a rather unhelpful opinion on your choice of venue. On the day itself, you may be panicking about whether everything you have planned will come together, perhaps worried that the best man will remember the rings or maybe you get overwhelmed when the transport doesn’t arrive on time! So how can you remain calm and fully take in all the love, fun and laughter that weddings are meant to be about, all that you have been working so hard towards?
Mindfulness may be the answer! Practising mindfulness has been scientifically proven to help people who are stressed out to enhance present moment awareness and increase wellbeing. And if there was ever a day to want to be present, to take in all that is happening around you, it’s your wedding day!
As a qualified psychologist, trained in mindfulness based therapies and published author on the subject, I have observed through my own experience and hearing the feedback from my clients that mindfulness really does work to help manage stress. Being able to be more present on my own wedding day, helped me to let go of things I didn’t have any control over and bring my attention to what was happening around me, helping me to soak up so much more of the day. The memories feel tangible and the feelings as I look back on the day, so much more alive. I also believe that the challenges I faced I managed more successfully with the help of my practise. I’m so grateful to discovering mindfulness and want to share a little practise with you, for you to try out. With regular practise, you can feel the benefits too.
A Mindful Moment
Read through the following instructions a couple of times, then find somewhere to sit down, close your eyes and try it out for yourself for a few minutes. You might find it easier to start with the first part, focussing on breathing, and then try moving towards expanding your awareness when you are more practised.
> Take a moment to pause….. Noticing what it’s like not having to be anywhere, do anything or change anything…… Just simply sitting here noticing and being here, in this present moment…. right here, right now.
> Notice that you are breathing…..See if you can feel the sensations of breathing….. Not so much thinking about breathing but feeling breathing.
> Follow your breath as it moves in and out of your lungs.
> And as you continue to focus on your breathing in this way, you will find that many times the mind will wander. This is normal, it’s what minds do. Each time you notice this just gently guide back to the breath.
> Notice the part of you that is able to notice you are breathing.
> Using this part of you that can observe, begin to expand your awareness beyond your breathing….. Noticing your body as a whole, from head to toe.
> Notice the weight of your body, as gravity pulls you towards the ground.
> Begin to welcome any sounds in to your awareness, notice what you hear. Allow sounds to take centre stage of your awareness.
> When you are ready, gently open your eyes and acknowledge where you are. Notice what you can see around you.
> See if you can continue to drop into the present moment by focussing on your breathing, throughout the day.
Developing a daily mindfulness practise might just be the best wedding gift you can give yourself, ensuring you can enjoy your day to the fullest. It doesn’t need to be a formal practise, but a space where you focus your attention on what is happening around you. Perhaps a mindful walk – noticing the sounds of birds or the movement in the body; listening mindfully to your favourite music – noticing the tempo and rhythm and the joy that arises, or mindfully drinking your coffee – noticing the richness and body of flavour.
I’d love to hear how you found practising and whether you have anything you would like some advice on to help you stay more present and less stressed out for your wedding. Get in touch by clicking the contact link above or send me an email.