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#2017habits: Jo Roberts on mindfulness

· Entrepreneurship,Mindfulness,Habits

This article was originally published on my blog Wantrepreneur on 23 January 2017.

Jo Roberts has currently racked up a count of 150 days of consecutive practice on Headspace. She is a big advocate for mindfulness, and very kindly agreed to be interviewed as part of #2017habits. My habit for January is mindfulness.

What is mindfulness to you?

JR: Mindfulness is something that has taken me a number of years to fully embrace. Not through want of trying I might add. It's just been something I have felt I have had to work at and work at, but really, all it took was for me to disengage with my feeling of being busy and trying to cram everything in to my life. Mindfulness can be as simple as not wearing headphones on my daily commute and being aware as I walk over a bridge to work of the presence of a bird, flying overhead. To a memorial garland placed somewhere symbolic. It's about not being so self-focused and being aware of things around me; things that don't necessarily impact me directly, but being aware of the butterfly effect. If that bird wasn't flying above me, how would that affect me eventually?

I meditate daily, and see this as being different to mindfulness. It's very much an enabler to mindfulness, it helps to quieten my mind. I used to compare my mind to a busy LA style freeway with huge volumes of traffic and busy-ness .... (see pic) and now, I feel like my mind is the M25 on a good day, traffic flowing, but no great confusion and befuddlement!

Describe your mindfulness practice

JR: I use Headspace daily. I usually meditate on my train journey into London, it's my 12 minutes that helps set me up for the day. If I work at home, I usually mediate over my second cup of tea in the morning! I like Headspace for the variety of different packs that I can undertake, that may be personal to my situation at the time. Packs on self esteem, on relationships, on focus, patience... the list goes on. I also enjoy Headspace because the more I meditate on a "streak" the more I am able to give back to others. When I hit 30 days, Headspace offered me 30 days free for a free, 60 days, 90days etc.... it all adds up. And hopefully I can help someone else at a time that they might need it too!

Why did you get into mindfulness?

JR: I have struggled with depression, anxiety and OCD for many years; I had a particularly tumultuous episode in 2013 and I remember having seen someone Tweeting about Headspace. I was at a stage where I struggled to leave the house, so wanted to give it a go. I learnt then that helping quiet the "background noise" of worries and anxiety in my brain helped me a huge amount. However, I also undertook counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy at the same time, so won't go to the lengths of saying "mindfulness cured me"!!! Because it hasn't and it won't. It merely is a tool I use to help me manage my anxiety, depression and OCD.

What difference does it make to you?

JR: See above. If I haven't done my meditation, eg on the weekend by about 2pm I feel cranky and then realise why!! It is my time and helps my mind!

What tips would you give to someone who is trying to develop their own mindfulness practice?

To those who say they are too busy - it's 10 minutes out of your day. You can't spare 10 minutes? Get up 10 minutes earlier.

To those who are in the early stages, I say stick with it, you'll begin to truly feel the benefit within 4-6 weeks and then you'll wonder how you ever managed without it!

The lovely Jo Roberts - Headspace and mindfulness advocate.

This article is part of a year-long series called #2017habits, where from the first of each month, I will start to develop a new habit. January 2017 is mindfulness month. Follow these links to read more about #2017habits, and to learn why I decided to take on this crazy challenge.

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