As we are half-way through the Week 8 class, we are now ready to start observing our mind. When we start noticing that thoughts arise by themselves, we observe that we have no control over which thoughts arise. Our thoughts are self- displaying and if we do not engage with a thought, it will pass on and become self- liberating. The Mindfulness Association use a model called the ‘The Observer and the Undercurrent’. By using this metaphor, we can sit on the river bank as an Observer and observe/watch our thoughts pass by. When we engage with thought and become lost into thinking, we (Observer) fall into the river. When this happens, we bring ourselves back to sitting on the river bank (to be in the present moment) and watch our thoughts pass by.
Loving Kindness for other
We introduce a Loving Kindness practice at this stage of our Mindfulness training. The participants are becoming aware of negative inner chatter towards themselves and speaking to themselves in a harsh, critical voice. We can struggle to offer kindness to ourselves. The Loving Kindness practice is offering goodwill wishes to a friend or pet that we have an easy relationship with. As we do the practice, the participants are asked to notice how that feels in their bodies. Next week we expand the practice by offering loving kindness to ourselves.
Mindfulness Breathing space incorporating a smell
We re-visit the 3-minute Breathing Space but this time I introduce a smell when we are focusing on breathing in and out of the body. Coming from an Aromatherapy background, I have noticed when you ask someone to smell an Aromatherapy oil, they breathe in deeply. This is the favourite Meditation in the class and at Retreat Days so I am sharing it with you.
Feedback from Breathing space Meditation with smell Breathing space with smell was an interesting twist to Geraldine’s Breathing Space meditation. I found that having a smell to use as something to focus on allowed me to focus better on my breathing. I found that using smell was a good way to bring myself back whenever I got lost into thinking. This meditation is a lovely way to take a short break in tense situations. It really allows you to bring yourself into a relaxing state that will leave you feeling a little more refreshed and at ease.
In the Week 2 Mindfulness class, the participants get to lie down on the floor and I guide them through a 30 minute Body scan. The aim of the Body Scan is for participants to train their minds by focusing their attention on body sensations. The normal pattern of their mind is jumping from one thing to the next (butterfly mind). The body is always here and in the present moment. It means we can come back to the sensations in our body when our mind wanders away from the present moment.
Why is the Body scan beneficial and how can it help with pain?
This formal Mindfulness Mediation provides an opportunity for us to experience our body as it is without trying to change it. It also allows us to notice tension we weren’t aware of such as a tight muscle in our shoulder or tension in our jaws. It is best to do this in a place in which we feel comfortable, secure, and without interruptions.
The Body Scan was developed by Jon Kabbit-Zinn (https://www.mindfulnesscds.com/) to help participants deal with pain and tension in their bodies. By using our breath, we can soften and soothe areas of tension we are experiencing in the body. The aim of systematically scanning our bodies is to stay with the experience of our body in the present moment. By resisting and being annoyed by the pain can increase the pain. This can also increase the distress associated with it. According to research, by simply noticing the pain we’re experiencing without trying to change it, we may actually feel some relief.
Body scan Meditation: Feedback from a group participant.
Learning the Body scan Meditation was a relaxing and peaceful experience. It felt wonderful to have a moment where I was able to disconnect from thinking and focus only on the sensations of my body. The 30-minute Mindfulness Meditation really helped to alleviate the tension and stress that I had been feeling throughout the day.
Mindfulness in Daily Life
Mindfulness in Daily life helps us to break out of the pattern of being in the automatic pilot by becoming aware of what we are doing in the present moment. It might be paying attention when doing the dishes rather than letting our mind wander off fretting about the day ahead.
When we notice that we have drifted away from the present moment, we can:
bring our attention to our posture, whether sitting, standing, lying down or walking
Feel our feet on the ground
Being aware of physical sensations within the body
Bring our awareness back to breathing In and Out of the body
Bring our attention back to the task that you are presently doing e.g having a shower, cooking
Mindfulness in Daily Life: Feedback from a group participant.
Mindfulness in Daily Life: Geraldine taught us how to implement the practice of Mindfulness into our everyday lives. This included being Mindful when doing simple tasks and also slowing down to notice nature. For example, she explained that simple things such as brushing our teeth in the morning or washing up dishes are ideal times where we can practice Mindfulness. I saw this rainbow on walking home from the Mindfulness class in Musselburgh.