Sherry: I was given heavy responsibilities at work and dealt with stakeholders who demanded a lot of time and energy. I would start each work day feeling unrested and drained, and over time I had to summon a lot of self-control and use a great sense of responsibility to complete whatever I needed to do. Other challenges in life depleted my energy further and I needed to find a better and more constructive way to manage my stress and mental fatigue. After months of social isolation, I met up with a friend who benefited from Erin’s MBSR program so I started reading up about mindfulness and discovered that it was exactly the skills I needed to handle life’s challenges!
MiMo: Tell us about your experience in the MBSR program.
Sherry: Erin gave us weekly practices with guided meditation audio recordings to keep up with daily meditation. These weekly practices helped me to reflect on how I had been dealing with life and how I can apply mindfulness for better quality of life. When things were busy at work, it was tempting to skip practices but the MBSR program will be effective only if one makes the best out of these 8 weeks and follows the weekly practices closely. The Circle of Awareness to break the habit loops and Erin’s theoretical explanations about MBSR were most helpful to me as it clearly articulates the neuroscience behind why the MBSR program will work. The 1-day silent retreat was my favourite part of the program as it was only at the retreat that I felt like “I finally got it!” – I was better able to embrace the skills taught in the first 5 weeks and understood how meditation can be practised on-the-go, every day, every moment!
MiMo: How has mindfulness contributed to your personal well-being?
Sherry: Mindfulness has helped me to look inward and gain fresh perspectives about life’s challenges. It has helped me to reduce mental noise and break habits of cyclical thinking to be more present with life’s moments. I realized that the anxiety and worries in everyday life could be halted simply by being more aware of the present and to let things “be”, instead of doubting and judging whether things should be another way (in the past) or could be a certain way (in the future). I am able to build my natural resilience by acknowledging the present difficult situation with the help of mindful breathing and then calmly deciding my next course of action without unnecessarily depleting my mental (or physical) energy. I am also better able to appreciate the present for what it “is”.
MiMo: How has mindfulness supported you in your professional work?
Sherry: I am better able to manage my anxiety and be more open-minded to alternative approaches to issues at work. I can appreciate each moment better instead of constantly worrying about the next task. Whenever I encounter challenging situations or people at work, I am better able to re-centre my mind so as not to emotionally engage with the situation or person. I have also learnt to be less judgmental of my negative emotions and thoughts and acknowledge them instead of berating myself for having them.
MiMo: How have you incorporated mindfulness into your daily life?
Sherry: I do simple meditation practices daily to take a pause from the hectic work schedule and improve my foundation in mindful living. Instead of habitual cyclical thinking, mindfulness brings me back to the present moment and reduces my anxiety. It helps me to be appreciative of life and embrace its moments, to be kinder to myself so that I can extend compassion to others. Whenever I encounter a stressful situation, I am able to break the stress reactivity cycle through mindful breathing so that I can respond more constructively.
MiMo: Any words of advice for people who are thinking about learning mindfulness?
Sherry: Mindfulness reminds us to “be” as we are and helps us learn to accept life and its challenges as they come. We are caught up in “doing” things, searching for solutions by constantly analysing problems. Our minds are overworked and we feel unrested and continue this cycle either until we bounce back by seeking a change (which might or might not be helpful), or until we want to end our suffering. By practising mindfulness, we do not forget or escape from our challenges, and still need to face them and overcome them eventually, but we can handle stressful situations more constructively and not destroy ourselves in the process. By observing stressful feelings moment by moment and noticing things as they are, we can allow our minds to rest, then return to it when we are less emotional and more rational to handle it.
About Sherry Lim
Sherry grew up in Singapore and has worked in the education industry for more than five years. Through her work, she seeks to understand how people learn, and why people are the way they are. She enjoys reading books and articles, particularly in the areas of neuroscience and psychology, to complement her work. She is an avid seeker of meaningful experiences and loves to learn new things across varied topics. She believes in balanced living and is self-motivated in doing at-home workouts, eating a variety of foods, and practising mindfulness in protecting one’s physical, emotional and mental health.
Are you a mindfulness practitioner or do you know one who would like to share their mindfulness experience on the MiMo blog? Do drop us a message!