Ali Binns is our Wellbeing columnist, and an accredited CBT therapist and mindfulness coach with her own private therapy practice in Bath. You’ll find her at www.alibinns.co.uk
What’s your daily routine?
Ordinarily the mornings are a bit of rush, ensuring the kids get their skates on and out the door to get to school on time. Then it’s usually down to admin, or walking down to the therapy rooms in Bath where I work. I always enjoy this time – it’s 35 mins walk, and often I walk part way with my husband and we get time to chat, or I use it to just let my mind get a handle on the day ahead. Often I’m pondering over work issues, but if I notice that isnt staeting my day well, there are times when I choose to walk mindfully instead. particularly when I am walking through the park or along the river. I like to pay attention to the landscapes and buildings around me. I am lucky to live in an especially beautiful city. Most of the day is supporting clients, then writing up and preparing sessions at home. I try to clock off in time for the boys when they get home from school to play the role of cash dispenser and nack provider.
What’s your happy place?
My happy place is Shell Key in Florida, a tiny key (an island sand bank) that can only be reached by boat. I’ve been lucky to go there on a couple of occasions and it’s a place I always long to return. Dolphins can be spotted along the wake of the boat, and the island itself is completely deserted. All along the shores you can collect huge shells and sand dollars. Beautiful birds you’d never see at home can be seen along the shoreline. There’s literally nothing there but nature and a few locals and tourists who’ve come to see what shell treasures they can find.
What’s your happiest memory?
A really happy memory that stands out for me apart from the usual ones (such as the births of my children and the day I got married), is a morning a few years ago on holiday when I was doing a lot of running. I’d got up very early for a run along a long beach – it was already hot, the sun was coming up as I jogged along the beach. I always remember it, a few other early risers, walking and jogging along, greeting each other with a nod and the unspoken message that although maybe we were all a little crazy to set our clocks to get up so early, we had truly got the best from the day – the quiet, calm and beauty of a tropical sunrise. I remember it vividly, the feel of the sand under my shoes, the waves and the shells shuffling back with the water, the pelicans flying low and parallel to the long beach, and the condensation on my chilled water bottle. I often bring it to mind.
Who inspires you?
My mum; she is such a patient and caring person. (If you read this, mum, I hope this doesn’t come as a surprise!)
What are you most proud of?
I’m really proud of my kids. They possibly don’t realise it, as days are busy and much of the time it seems like I’m firefighting trying to keep the household running. They’re both so different with unique personalities – they have this power to amaze me when I least expect it.
What’s something about you most people wouldn’t guess?
Ooh – that I once spoke fluent French and German. My skills a bit rusty and dusty now, sadly. Also, that I used to have a Scottish accent until I was about 10, but I can still put one on, much to the joy of my kids!
What are you not great at?
I am not great at gardening. Everyone has said I will like it when I am older, but I am pretty sure it is too late for me now. I just can’t see me being better or enjoying it any time soon.
What’s your most treasured possession?
I have a couple of wooden Buddhas who travelled home with me from Thailand and the Far East. I am not a Buddhist but I do get comfort from some of their philosophies on life.
What’s your ambition?
To see my kids confident and content as they grow up.
What are your hobbies?
I enjoy being active and keeping fit. I like to run, read and relax in cafes with friends.
What’s your current focus in your work?
I dont have a specific focus as I work as a CBT therapist and this means I might see clients with a diverse range of problems, ranging from general anxiety, specific phobias, low self esteem, low mood, insomnia or relationship issues. Talking things through can really help you to see things clearly and put your life back where you want it to be.
What’s exciting you about wellbeing and mindfulness at the moment?
I have just been on a training workshop discovering more mindfulness-based techniques to treat anxiety and depression. I am looking forward to sharing these with my clients.
Why did you get involved with In The Moment?
I was delighted to be asked by Jules, the Editor, as I love using mindfulness-based techniques with my clients; being more present-focused can really help people suffering from anxiety and depression. Present moment awareness of thoughts, bodily sensations, your environment and your emotions gives everyone a small key to unlocking potential to deal with difficult situations. By focusing on what’s here right now, it’s possible give ourselves a little extra space to decide how to deal with situations in a way that’s helpful to us, rather than diving in on autopilot, or following habitual negative thought patterns.
What will you be covering in your columns?
I’ll try to keep things topical, and I’m hoping to always share a technique or exercise that anyone is welcome to give a go.
What’s your top tip for living in the moment?
Even if you can manage three minutes a day, over cup of tea/coffee or a cold drink, and just really appreciate everything about that drink, using all your senses – you’ll have engaged with your present moment.
What’s your next adventure ?
A summer holiday. I may just be revisiting some of my favourite places…