Published on 28/09/2021

Samantha Flook (The Core Health), is a keen surfer who lives on the northern beaches is Sydney. She is Strategic Psychotherapist, Coach, Mindfulness Practitioner and Clinical Hypnotherapist in Training and has been working 1:1 with clients for the past 7 years. She specialises in Habit & Pattern Management, Anxiety, Stress, Emotional Eating and Self Esteem issues.

We welcomed her in 2020 to Her Wave as our Her Wellness program delivery partner, where we collaborate with our local surf schools to provide our communities a practical approach to wellbeing through Surfing + Mindset group coaching experiences.

This article written by Sam will help introduce you to Modern Mindfulness. After reading, you will understand how incredibly capable and resourceful you are.

An Introduction to Modern Mindfulness; by Samantha Flook (The Core Health)
As we learn to navigate and adapt to immense amounts of change, responsibility and isolation, this is where we can find ourselves going into the what if’s, ruminating on past experiences and often drifting far away from our present in the times where we have to sit with ourselves. We spend an immense amount of time trying to avoid discomfort, change or that which might cause us hurt, pain or rejection, but what we must remember is, most of what we think and believe to be true, isn’t always and is usually a reflection of a past experience. In essence, we either have really good evidence to back what we are thinking or feeling, or we are just feeling lack within ourselves so go searching for information to back our judgements, making what we think and feel to be true, to make the discomfort of the unknown a little more comfortable. So, “How do I actually determine whether this thought or feeling is valid or true or not?” in essence, “How do I come to the conclusions that I do?”. When we learn to make a more compassionate, open and supportive responses to our thoughts and feelings, this is where we can find ourselves experiencing a completely new way of viewing ourselves and our experiences. When we begin to do differently, we see and experience differently and often surprise ourselves of how truly capable we are and to do this, we need to learn to start simply and make our “toolkit” realistic.

Mindfulness is more than just “being present” it offers a realistic starting point, to interrupt unhelpful patterns and behaviours, that lead us to over-think, compare, judge, criticise ourselves and the list goes on. We must remember that we play the most important part in our experiences and that we are technically only “doing something, until we are not”, e.g “I’m only worrying or comparing until I’m not. What am I doing when I am worrying and comparing, what am I doing when I am not?” For a pattern to continue it has to be validated with the same choice or response, to put it simply, when we do the same, we experience and receive the same, so when we learn to create little pauses in the times we find ourselves the most overwhelmed or reactive, we create the space to offer ourselves a new, different a more supportive response and choice forward.

The benefits of Mindfulness are endless and the varying tools that encompass a mindful practice are something that you can take with you anywhere and is commonly known as a “walking meditation”. A simple explanation of Mindfulness that I give to clients is “Non judgemental attention to everyday experiences”, over time, we develop associations, beliefs, labels and meanings to things in our lives and that includes our feelings. Mindfulness helps to grow our awareness with a more curious and observant approach, learning to remove attachment and judgement, to instead creating separation between ourselves and our thoughts and feelings, as if we were to see and view them for the first time, which helps us to sit with, feel and experience a vast array of feelings and emotions, as is the human experiences. We must remember that no emotion is “good or bad, right or wrong”, simply signs and signals guiding us to listen and support us to grow and evolve, when we have the strategies in place to effectively decide what thoughts and feelings are worth listening to and engaging with and which ones aren’t. 

When we are in a fear or stress response, we are usually trying to control what we can’t, getting in to our heads, which limits us from making a self respecting choice in the moment. As I start with, with clients is to begin with Mindful Breathing, yes it sounds very simple, but that is the point. We have to create a base to learn to come back to ourselves, in times of change, reaction or discomfort, and connect with that slow, deep, grounding breath of breathing in for 4 seconds, holding for 2 seconds and out for 4 seconds, which helps to create presence and an association to focus back within the moment and to a choice of “What I can do and What I can choose”. 

Simple things remind us of all of the feelings we are capable of experiencing, we can go about our days, doing much of the same thing and feel as if we aren’t experiencing anything new which is where we can feel stuck, directionless and overwhelmed, it is not our external experiences that ultimately change our experiences for us, it is our choice to do differently, to experience differently. It is that choice to stop and observe a flower on your walk, to sit and observe the colours and completely taste every texture and flavour of your meal, to feel the sun on your face when you step outside or to stop and listen, intently to the words another is expressing to you. Each and everyday you have the opportunity to see yourself and your experiences in a new light and perspective, to get started I have included one of my favourite Mindful Tasks; Mindfulness of Body Awareness. Our body is a two-way street: what happens in our body has a significant effect on our mind, and what happens in our mind has a significant impact on our body. Being able to react towards our sensations without judgment will help us build awareness around unpleasant situations, clearing our minds for more in-depth exploration. We must embrace our curiosity towards what these sensory reactions are, what they mean, and question why we have never honestly thought about them in this way, which helps to alleviate stress and anxiety. 

Mindful Task: TAP-IN or “Mindfulness of Body Awareness” First, come back to taking your deep inhales and exhales, in for 4, hold for 2, our for 4.

TUNE IN- to the part of the body where you are feeling the emotion, choose to observe it without attachment or judgement, just curiosity

ASK & ACCEPT: Ask yourself what you are feeling, without saying “I am” turn that into “I am aware that I am feeling”… again our aim is to dis-identify from our feelings and again choose to observe them as if we were watching tv, as “external to us”, something that comes and goes

PREPARE: by breathing in deeply, with intention again into that part of the body INVESTIGATE; further compartmentalising, get curious on where this emotion responded from; “Is this emotion present to me now or is it a response to a thought from the past/ a reaction to a thought from the future.

NEGOTIATE: create a supportive step forward from this feeling, coming back to asking “What next step will respect my needs moving forward”

Turn that “What if, into a What can I do”? 

If you would like further information on The Core Health’s 1:1 Mindset, Emotional Well-being and Self Maintenance Strategy Coaching Sessions, get in touch here

Follow The Core Health on socials: @thecorehealth

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