Making Sense of Mindfulness

Have you ever done a mindfulness program or tried meditation? Perhaps yoga or a wellness retreat?  I always have had an interest in most things that have the potential to slow me down but my fall back preferences seem to have a cork in the top or an airline ticket in hand. But the interest is there. Some of you may remember transcendental meditation in 1970’s or the Beatles explorations with the Maharishi? Now Richard Gere and Leonard Cohen are the thinking woman’s icons of meditated calm. But I keep trying to tame this monkey brain and live in the present and I’ve found a program this is working for me. We all respond to different things but Mindful in May 2020 is reawakening my interest in living mindfully and using meditation as one of the tools to do this, and I have been able to ” stick with the program” for 14 days now.

Dr Elise Bialyiew is founder of Mindful in May, The Mind Life Project and Power of Presence. www.mindlifeproject.com The cost is $A53 for a month of daily programs and content,  which funds clean water projects for villages in Ethiopia. They have raised nearly $1 million. While this program in already underway there are others in the suite so make contact if you’re interested.

Each morning I wake to an email from Elise containing a thought for the day, an interview with a guest and then the meditation for the day.

What I like

  • There’s no pressure to sit in flowing robes in lotus position. Sit in a chair or lie down.
  • It’s practical and flexible. You missed the meditation today? Ok do it another day. You don’ t like this simple 10 minute meditation ? Ok there are options for more advanced 20 minute sessions.
  • The program design is beautifully simple and excellent quality. There are workbooks and journals if you want to use them. The content and practice is all there. Pick it up when you can. The amazing thing for me is that I look forward to my mindfulness session so it’s not a chore. Sometimes it’s my –before I go to sleep  – mindfulness session. At other times I wake antsy and unfocused and I do my session in the morning. It seems to ground me and smooth the creases of restless disorientation.
  • It’s global. The participants are global and the practitioners/ experts Elise interviews are leading meditators and mindfulness coaches.
  • It combines a range of ways of practising meditation with the theory and different perspectives. This morning I listened to a wonderful interview Elise did with Dr Cortland Dahl who is a research scientist at the University of Wisconsin centre for a Healthy Mind. Dahl and the team of researchers have drawn together the science on the impact of meditation on pain management and also the ageing brain. It’s a fascinating discussion about the way the brain and body can be taught to respond differently to stress, pain, trauma and other stimuli. It’s not just about thinking differently (although that helps!) the research is about the positive impact of meditation on brain function and structure. Similarly there are interviews with Jon Kabbat-Zinn, Tara Brach, Amy Saltzman, Shannon Harvey, Kelly McGonical, Jeremy Hunter, Elizabeth Lesser, Patricia Jennings, Daniel Goleman,  Shauna Shapiro and  many others. Each presenter/ teacher brings a different set of skills and perspectives. It’s joyful, inspirational and much needed in these crazy times. I loved the session with Tara Brach on applied mindfulness, who taught a simple technique using the acronym RAIN (Recognise the feeling, Allow time to sit with it. Investigate where it sits in your body..whats tense, what are you thinking? Do these thoughts serve you well? Nurture yourself and you’ll move past these feelings to a different place. Don’t judge yourself just open the door and move on.  Thoughts are real but not necessarily true.

I practise some of the techniques in the car, when I’m walking or just sitting quietly. I use them when I feel worried or fragile and needing to find my stable core. I also use mindfulness when I’m happy and seeing something beautiful for which I want to be fully there- present-  It’s listening to the miraculous story my 2 year old granddaughter is constructing before my eyes and and my joy in being able to witness this. Or it can be a frosty autumn morning and I stop, to be fully present in noticing the colours and icy tingle on my face. I practice being fully present and calm when I’m having a conversation with someone who is struggling with grief and anger. It serves me well and although a complete novice I’ve reawakened practices that I know have been useful in the past and are reborn and reshaped in the present. Learning new ways to live mindfully in an ongoing journey and one worth exploring.

 

 

14 May 2020 | Living Well

2 Comments

  1. I am pleased to hear you are getting so much from MIM 2020. I am doing it again this year for the third time. I have found it immensely restorative in these Covid-19 troubled times.

    1. Welcome!Thank you so much for the comment. Yes its a really wonderful program – Mindful in May- and I use the practices every day.I’ll do it again next year too. Last night I was watching old concert videos on YouTube…Big, loud, 80,000 people squeezed into a stadium, music thumping, people dancing and having a good time. It was wonderful. Then I felt increasingly sad and wondered if this life will ever return…. Grief, sadness, longing for connection and the shared joy of such big events in this Covid era. I drew on the RAIN practice that Tara Brach teaches (Recognise Allow Investigate Nurture) The feelings remain but the anxiety lessens. Thanks Kim for being here. It’s lovely to hear your voice.

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