I am offering a range of Mindfulness and Meditation programmes in Sheffield though a new collaboration called Meditation Up North.
The process of Mindfulness is being aware of what’s happening in the moment – right now. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is usually taught as an 8 week course, with a lesson each week and daily practice in between. It teaches ways of controlling stress and pain by using mindfulness to help you in your daily life.
“We must become the change we want to see in the world”
Mahatma Gandhi – Indian Philosopher
Since your past is gone and your present hasn’t yet arrived – you’re left in the here and now. But our thoughts often don’t reflect that. Too often you’re dwelling on the past or anticipating or worrying about the future, rather than paying attention to now.
With Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction you’ll learn how to let go of the past with all its demons, and you’ll learn to approach the future without fear or anticipation, being calm and in control, now.
Most of us are not fully aware of what’s happening right now. If you would like an experience of mindfulness, take ten minutes to do the following exercise and experience the shift in your awareness.
- Close your eyes
- Breathe in steadily through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Pay attention to your breathing.
- Slow it down and make your breaths longer.
- Listen to the rhythm of your breathing.
- As you begin to relax, focus on each part of your body – slowly, one at a time – starting from your feet.
- Notice any sensations – discomfort, tickles, aches, hot/cold, tightness of clothing etc.
- When you’ve completed your full body, notice what sensations there are still in any parts of your body.
- If your mind wanders, genteelly refocus again on your breathing.
Stay like this for at least 10 minutes (you’ll manage more if you practice.).
- Now open your eyes, but keep your awareness of your body and your breathing.
- Let your focus rest on something in the room
- Look at that object as though you’re seeing it for the first time.
- Don’t ‘think’ about it – just ‘see’ it.
- After about 30 seconds, move on to another object and do the same.
You are now starting to practising Mindfulness. When being mindful your mind is not whizzing around with random distracting thoughts. This means it’s very receptive to the reality of what’s around you. There are no distractions caused by ‘thinking’. Your mind is totally receptive, you are ‘in the moment’ and ‘mindful’ of yourself and your surroundings.
In this state you will be much more able to tackle difficult tasks, learn new things, concentrate. You will think more clearly, have greater brain power and your stress levels will be much reduced!
A Buddhist monk – the Venerable Henepola Gunaratana, says:
“Mindfulness is non-judgmental observation. It is that ability of the mind to observe without criticism. With this ability, one sees things without condemnation or judgment. One is surprised by nothing. One simply takes a balanced interest in things exactly as they are in their natural states. One does not decide and does not judge. One just observes”.
Given that we all, at some time in our lives, will be subject to stress, moods, difficulties etc. and that some will experience this far more frequently than others, we need to be aware of what’s happening right now, and we must accept that it’s happening without judging it. Thus, if I’m aware that I’m afraid, or uncomfortable or angry, or stressed, I need to acknowledge it but without attaching any kind of value-judgement to it.
But acknowledgement by itself may not be enough! So if you’re stressed, for example, you first need to notice it, then you need to identify precisely what is the cause. You may be concerned about a project you’re doing, about a relationship or an incident that’s happened, or perhaps your health. (You may need to dig because it could be something that’s hidden deep in your sub-conscious mind.)
Now, one-by-one, attend to these distractions.
- Make the phone call that’s nagging at you and deal with that issue.
- Write an email to the person you need to say something to.
- The things you aren’t able to deal with immediately or simply, at least acknowledge them.
- Finally, make a list of the outstanding things you’ll do later.
- The process of Mindfulness-based stress reduction will help you to work on the task in hand with less unnecessary interruption and with greater concentration and focus.
These techniques of mindfulness are often taught on an eight week course with participants attending one class each week and practicing in between. It is possible to find classes that you attend as well as classes that are based on the telephone if you find it difficult locating a local venue. This programme has been developed after many years of detailed clinical study to provide the most effective and briefest course practically.