Early in July I committed my self to an eight-week course of Mindfulness. It was offered free through the NHS by our local open access mental health scheme called Healthy Minds. After having some one to one sessions to help me deal with anxiety issues, Jackie recommended this course to me. When she called it Mindfulness, I did not realise it was “meditation”. Not that this is a problem, but I guess I always thought meditation was all abit airy fairy if I am truly honest.
I went along to the one hour taster session where they immidiately got down to a sitting meditation and I have to say, I did feel abit silly in a room full of people I didn’t know.
After the tatser session, I knew it was different to anything I have ever tried before but vowed to myself that I would stick to it.
The course was eight weeks, of which the eighth week was this week. I am not professing to be an expert in Mindfulness, that is many many years away but I wanted to share my experience.
So what is mindfulness? It is a form of meditation based on gentleness, loving kindness and being in the moment. It is something that has been practised by Buddhists for thousands of years and in more recent times there has been alot of attention and research into Mindfulness by the likes of John Kabat-Zin and Mark Williams. Mindfulness is perfect for any body that suffers from anxiety, depression, chronic pain or just wants to be more aware and accepting of their being. Mindfulness is a way if clearing ones mind and this leads to being happier, healthier and more self aware.
The course I went on was an 8 week programme, covering an array of different meditations from 3 minutes to 40 minutes. Sitting, standing and lying down. Research shows that it takes 8 weeks to make real changes and the elasticity in the brain begins to stretch after 8 weeks of Mindfulness practice. We were asked to commit one hour per day, but I know all of us the group struggled with keeping up with that due our busy lives , which is part of what has led us to find Mindfulness in the first place I guess. The point is, the more you do it , the easier and more natural it becomes. It does not matter if you have a bad day, bad week or bad month with regards to your mindfulness journey because the whole ethos is that you accept, move on and bring it back to the now. The message is that we are all doing our best and as soon we accept this, life becomes a happier place. Mindfulness is not about thinking about nothing, its taking note of the words on the guided meditations which often promotes aware of breath, thoughts or body. By doing this, it stops your mind wandering (often referred to as monkey mind). If the mind does wander, that’s ok – take note, accept and bring yourself back in to moment of meditation.
All the meditations that we practised throughout can be found here http://www.freemindfulness.org/download.
Also, if you search the internet you can find a vast amount of free mindfulness audio clips and I have listed some here for you.
There is also a number of apps you can get from your appstore / play store which have guided meditations as well as sound and bells. Just search mindfulness and you will find so much.
I have also found some affordable books about mindfulness, used ones on ebay and amazon.
Mindfulness is all over the place at the moment, some schools are doing it with children and it is recommended for cancer patients as a way of coping with the diagnosis and the pain. I will post some article links at the bottom of the post.
I have been able to download the audio tracks mentioned above straight to my smart phone. I have a folder on my home screen where I keep them all, which means I can access them any time anywhere. The great thing about mindfulness is that it can be done formally or informally. Formal meditation means purposely engageing in a meditation in a time or place that is planned and intended. Informal mindfulness is being mindful in your every day activities. This can mean mindfully brushing your teeth -taking note of each brush stroke, the taste of the toothpaste, the sensation in your mouth. Mindfully eating – being aware of the colours of your food, the smell, taste, feel and so on.
We spend so much time rushing around and trying to achieve everything that we spend most of our time in auto-pilot and mindfulness aims to combat this.
As far as my mindfulness journey goes, I have a long long way to go. I need to practise more, develop more of a routine and incorporate it more into my life in terms of informal practise. But that is Ok.
I hope to be able to share my mindfulness journey with you guys and even if it helps one person improve their sense of self, then that is good for me.
Thanks for reading, and please have a nosey as the links below for interesting articles.
Mindfulness for children – http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5611721
Mindfulness for children – http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-18136/7-fun-ways-to-teach-your-kids-mindfulness.html
Mindfulness harvard study – http://www.feelguide.com/2014/11/19/harvard-unveils-mri-study-proving-meditation-literally-rebuilds-the-brains-gray-matter-in-8-weeks/
Moving from Self – criticism to self compassion – https://www.recoverywarriors.com/moving-from-self-criticism-to-self-compassion/?hash=ba2f1204-1268-41b3-a91e-27f9a5e48907