Mindfulness: A different perspective on difficulty
About me as a Mindfulness practitioner
I am a regular meditator and have been practising Mindfulness for many years now. I teach Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR ) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT ) groups in Sheffield and in Manchester. I am I have trained at Bangor University and Finished my Msc in Teaching Mindfulness based practices as well as passed an assessed teaching practice module. I am on the UK Network for mindfulness teachers listing ( www.mindfulnessteachersuk.org.uk ). I believe that Mindfulness is a compassionate and real way of approaching suffering in our day to day , moment to moment life.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a life-enhancement skill and approach to living which can deepen a person’s sense of well-being and fulfillment. It involves cultivating awareness in which one learns to notice what is occurring in one’s present moment experience, in all of our senses, the body, the emotions, the mind and the wider environment, with an attitude of openness and non-judgmental acceptance.
It is about “coming back to our senses”, being in touch with ourselves, with others and our surroundings in the present moment. It is a natural and an intuitive state of presence in which we can feel more connected, real and alive.
Mindfulness is a state of being which is accessible to every one of us. It is also a skill which we can cultivate more deeply in our lives. Some experience of mindful presence will have been felt by all of us during some moments of our lives, but perhaps we did not know what is was when we experienced it.
Perhaps we have felt this in more peaceful moments, when we have been present in places of natural beauty, and simply “breathing it in”, whether this was a beautiful sunset or standing next to the sea or a waterfall. Perhaps we have felt this in some heightened moments, being with a loved one, during the birth of a child, or even being present with someone who is dying. These are the moments we may be more likely to remember and are less likely to be distracted by other more trivial concerns. Maybe we have just felt qualities of such mindful presence when we have been fully engaged in an activity which we love, playing a musical instrument, dancing, riding a horse, or sitting on a sunny plaza on holiday, sipping a cappuccino.
We will be aware that this is not perhaps our usual mode of operation. During our stressful lives, our attention is usually dispersed. We are usually busy juggling a number of tasks and pre-occupations at the same time, and none of our actions or thoughts receives our full attention. We are usually leaping stressfully from one thing to the next, like a monkey in a tree, grabbing at things that interest us or demand our attention, then drifting on to something else, being distracted, day-dreaming, being caught up in our thoughts and worries about what happened yesterday and what we need to do tomorrow, only giving things half of our attention, not hearing fully what is said to us, pre-occupied with our own issues and concerns, judging our experiences constantly as good or bad according to our own preferences and often reacting against the way things actually are. This is our ordinary state of mind, and not exactly a peaceful one. We can spend a good part of our lives like this, not being fully present and therefore missing most of the moments in which we live.
This habitual state of mind and being is unfortunately very familiar to us. We find we are living our lives on a sort of automatic pilot, relatively ungrounded, cut-off, out of touch with our selves, our bodies and emotions. It sometimes feels as if we are “living in our heads” and our bodies are just vehicles for getting us around. Our stressful lives certainly contribute to this way of being, but when it becomes our habitual state, it can also be associated with a number of stress related health problems. Learning to cultivate the opposite of these ways of living our lives can be beneficial in so many ways, and may be a valuable means of changing our lives into something more wholesome.
When we can get in touch with qualities of mindfulness, we will feel a sense of coming back home to ourselves in a more meaningful way. We may find we can get in touch with a sense of brightness, a clarity of purpose, a sense of playfulness, creativity and inner peace. It is said that mindfulness practitioners develop a more optimistic stance in their lives, and a courage which enables them to approach rather than avoid life’s challenges. Certainly, mindfulness is not just about having more blissful moments, it is about being more fully present in our lives, embracing all of our experiences, and most importantly, changing the relationship we have towards our suffering.
" One of the best groups i have ever attended "
"I entered into my 8 week course not knowing quite what to expect. I had suffered from depression for a long time and wasn't sure if I could open up in a group situation, but what I found was a method of relating to my life, and the situations within it, that enabled me to create the space to look deeply into the causes of my depression and my happiness. I learnt that being mindful enhanced every aspect of my life; my weekly shop no longer needs to be drudgery, it can be a source of refreshment and nourishment simply by practising mindful walking in the supermarket"
“A+. Just DO IT!..The teaching sessions were excellent.”
If I Had My Life to Live Over
If I had my life to live over,
I'd dare to make more mistakes next time.
I'd relax, I would limber up.
I would be sillier than I have been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances.
I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I'd have fewer imaginary ones.
You see, I'm one of those people who has lived sensibly and sanely,
Hour after hour, day after day.
Oh, I've had my moments, and if I had to do it over again,
I'd have more of them.
In fact, I'd try to have nothing else.
Just moments, one after another,
Instead of living so many years ahead of each day.
I've been one of those people who never goes anywhere
Without a thermometer, a hot water bottle,
a raincoat and a parachute.
If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.
If I had my life to live over,
I would start barefoot earlier in the spring
And stay that way later in the fall.
I would go to more dances.
I would ride more merry-go-rounds.
I would pick more daisies.