Who Should Learn Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is literally for anyone.
There are no sets of requirements or pre-requisites.
You simply have to be a human being who like us all, is having to cope with the demands of a fast, ever-changing home and work life and who would like to learn new ways to help them to manage those demands more easily and effectively.
There are no age-limits or restrictions to learning and practicing mindfulness and anyone can experience the benefits of it – young, middle-aged and those more senior in years.
All anyone needs is a desire to experience their lives in a calmer, more relaxed and positive way, and improve their health and wellbeing overall in all areas of their lives.
How Do You Incorporate Mindfulness into Your Life?
Mindfulness is a process of active, open, non-judgmental awareness.
It is paying attention in the present moment with openness, curiosity, kindness and flexibility.
There are many forms of mindfulness people can use to integrate mindfulness into their lives and there are two main types – formal and informal
Both practices include an intention to cultivate awareness and focus and to be more in the moment.
Let’s look at the difference between them:
It includes an intentional commitment of time to carry out a particular mindfulness practice, and could be anywhere between one minute to 45 minutes (or longer) on a regular basis or more, for example, once or twice a day or even throughout the day, usually at the same time.
These formal practices invite us to dwell with awareness on one thing, which might include our breath, an aspect of sensation or stillness or a focus on our whole body as in the Body Scan meditation.
The purpose behind practicing formal mindfulness is to train our brain in ways that help us to bring mindfulness into our daily life in a structured way.
Some examples of formal mindfulness practice would be:
- Practising a particular mindfulness practice such as a specific meditation – Awareness of Breath meditation.
- Practising the different postures for meditation – sitting, lying, walking.
- Regular journaling.
All of the formal practices above can also be adapted into informal practice or “everyday mindfulness.”
When we practice mindfulness in a more informal way, we are noticing our experience from moment to moment and bringing our attention to one thing as many times as we can throughout the day.
It allows you to continue to train your mind to be present in whatever activity you are doing.
You can do it with any activity and at any time throughout the day.
It is a process of “continuing” the meditation practice, so it not only becomes something you do at a set time, but it becomes a part of who you are.
Informal practices of mindfulness can include:
- Washing the dishes
- Noticing nature, whilst walking
How Do You Learn Mindfulness?
In a mindfulness course, whether in a 1-1, group or by an online or face to face teaching, you learn to actively train your minds to be ‘in the moment’ deliberately and on purpose.
In learning mindfulness practices and meditations, you learn to forge a strong connection with your mind and body.
You learn how to train your minds to change the habitual ways we all sometimes react to our everyday experiences of the world around us.
This enables us to handle the difficulties we may experience in our lives and importantly learn to appreciate and truly respect the good things we have in our lives to too.
Through structured teaching, training and coaching, you are taught a powerful set of practices and meditations that individuals and groups can learn to do and incorporate them into lives on a daily basis.
Mindfulness can be learnt in individual 1-1 sessions with your teacher or in small groups with your teacher guiding and coaching the group and both would be based on learning and using these mindfulness based practices and meditations.
Mind Being You offers a wide range of courses and these range from basic introductory sessions that teach mindfulness meditation for relaxation and stress relief to structured teaching programmes that can be tailored to individual and group requirements.
Individual and group treatment programmes are also offered for stress reduction, anxiety, panic attacks, emotional trauma and pain control and could be taught through all or part of the full 8 weeks Mindfulness for Life programme.
Experience mindfulness right now….
You may remember that I suggested that you might like to try mindfulness for yourself and now is your chance.
It will take around 15 minutes and you can record it on your mobile device, ask someone to read it to you or just listen to the Coming to Your Senses mp3 recording below.Download Coming to Your Senses Meditation
Mindfulness Practice: Coming to Your Senses
For this practice, you will explore mindfulness through the Five Senses.
The only equipment you need is yourself, a chair, and a glass of water.
Allow about three minutes for each stage.
- If possible, sit upright (although not stiffly so) on the chair, with your back self-supporting and feet on the ground.
- Let your hands come to rest on the thighs, and, if you like, close your eyes.
- What sensations do you notice? How are your feet feeling: perhaps there’s contact between the soles of the feet and the socks, shoes or the floor?
- Can you feel the weight of your sitting bones on the seat? How about your back—what sensations are here?
- Do you feel air on your face? What temperature is it just now—warmer or cooler?
- And what about internal sensations? Are you noticing any aching, itching, or buzzing? Or maybe there’s not much sensation at the moment—a numbness, perhaps?
- Be aware of the location of any feeling (or lack of feeling), and whether it’s changing in intensity.
- You don’t have to try to hold on to or get rid of sensations, or even to name them. See if you can just let them be experienced.
- Now, allow sounds to be noticed.
- What are you hearing? You don’t have to go searching for sounds: wait for them to come to you, as if your ears were microphones, receiving and registering vibrations.
- Louder, softer, closer, further away, short or long sounds? Or sudden, repeating and continuous sounds?
- Are they high or low pitch? Perhaps there’s silence, or gaps in-between sounds—are you noticing these too?
- Open your microphone ears and let hearing come in, whether the sounds seem pleasant or unpleasant. Whatever symphony is playing right now, can you let it be heard?
- Now open the eyes to seeing.
- Rather than fixing on what you can see as ‘things’ (e.g. table, chair, book, carpet, etc.), see if you can let the visual field be colours, shapes, shades, or lines.
- Allow the eyes to linger rather than darting about.
- Be interested in depth and height and shade.
- If you find yourself thinking about what you’re seeing—drawn into a memory or a concern, or automatically giving things a name as they come into view —that’s fine, just acknowledge that the mind has wandered into thought, and gently come back to seeing.
- Perhaps closing the eyes again, allow yourself to smell.
- Whether what you’re smelling seems nice or not so nice, let there be a connection with the odours.
- Is there more than one fragrance, and if so, how are they mixed together?
- If there are no smells, what’s the smell of ‘no smell’?
- The in-breaths don’t need to be deep—see if you can let breath happen naturally and offer curiosity to the coming and going of smell sensation. You may think to yourself, “Isn’t it amazing to have a nose?”
- Pick up the glass of water and take a sip.
- Notice the arising of sensation on the tongue as the liquid makes contact.
- How does it taste? Clear, cool, refreshing? Let the describing words fade into the distance, allowing the sensation of taste itself be known.
- Gently swirl the water around your mouth, and notice if the flavour changes – perhaps as it mixes with saliva.
- Does it become warmer, duller, thicker?
- Let these sensations be experienced.
- Decide when you’re ready to swallow the water; notice the dissolving of taste—does any trace remain, and if so, for how long?
- Now take another, maybe bigger, sip and repeat—are the sensations the same, or do they seem different?
What, if anything, has changed?
When you’ve practised working with each of the senses, you might reflect on any differences between this way of sensing and how you normally relate with your environment.
If it seems different, how so?
What were you doing that made it this way? Be interested in the answers that come up.
Is the quality of your experience changed by how you attend to it?
And when you’re ready, you can bring this meditation practice to an end, take a gentle deep breath and let yourself prepare for the rest of your day.
With thanks to Ed Halliwell