Begin Mindfulness with me

hmm mindfulness

The breath is the vehicle into your everyday awareness. © Laura Eades

I’m starting an online mindfulness programme. It’s 8 weeks long, but I’m doing it at half speed (I only have time to do the half-hour meditations every other day), so if you want to join in, I’ll be doing it for 16 weeks so there’s plenty of time to catch the bus! I’d really like to do this in parallel with you!

What is mindfulness? 

Technically it’s called MBSR or Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. It sounds simple – but it’s easier said than taken into your being: it’s present awareness, without judgment. As Simon Parke, author of the beautiful collection of gems One Minute Mindfulness introduces it,

Mindfulness is awareness of your present experience with acceptance and trust

I’m not going to try to explain it, I’ve only just begun! Read more here.

It’s a non-religious practice that aims to bring you into your aliveness, your awareness of the present moment. You practise it, by doing simple bodyscan meditations for example, and it’s concurrent with scientific proof that you can strengthen your ability to be aware and alter the makeup of your mind doing this – leading to actual physical healing (studies were done on scloriosis patients, among others), greater capacity to deal with physical pain, greater ability to ride with and live through life’s slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

What do I hope to get from mindfulness?

Well, I don’t want this to sound like a shopping list, but it’s good to be sure of what brings one to a practice like this.

  1. Attention I’d like to pay better attention to others during conversation. And to my family. I think of my closest friends, and how it feels to be on the receiving end of their interest, their listening, their attention. I’d like to be able to be that present for others.
  2. Relaxation Relaxation doesn’t visit me often. I noticed when I was using hypnotherapy relaxation audio before giving birth that I was more relaxed in general. I’d like relaxation to be part of my personality; to cherish the pleasure that can be got from relaxation, and to make it a more frequent experience in my life.
  3. Improved eating habits I’d like to be able to use mindfulness to focus in on my appetite and eating, and to help slew off the ways in which I eat without really being conscious that I’ve even done it.
  4. Habit change I’d like to use deep breathing and steadiness to overcome urges. Leo Babauta mentions using deep breathing in his techniques for quitting smoking. If it worked for him, perhaps it can help me quell my constant urge to consume, which feels as complex and all-pervasive as a smoking habit sometimes.
  5. Focus I’d like to end the psychologically anguish of scattered focus. I’d like to find concentration and immersion in my activities.
  6. To meet life halfway When I did Steve Pavlina’s True Life Purpose exercise, this was the thing I wrote down which resonated the most strongly for me. (I’m not entirely convinced about this exercise but it was interesting) I think I sometimes race around thinking I’ve got to generate all the energy for my life myself; drive it forwards. But some of the best things that happened to me (like my daughter) happened because I allowed them to and opportunity met me halfway. I think Mindfulness could be key in learning this.

So, I’ve scoured what’s out there for those of us who’d like to learn more but can’t attend a class, and this is the best of what I’ve found: I’m following the Palouse Mindfulness self-study programme (in the absence of a group I can join here in Berlin, which would probably be a better option if there’s one near you). I should already say, I’ve been doing Week 1 of the course for the last fortnight, and I’m really really enjoying it. The reading materials alone are fascinating.

Do you fancy doing it too? I’m doing it at half speed – that is, it’s 8 weeks long but I’m doing it over 16 weeks, so if you want to pick it up and do it in parallel with me, I’d be very honoured to have your company on the road. Just email or FB message me and we’ll work out a way to make the most of doing it in company.

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Have you tried mindfulness? What effect has it had on your life? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below (click on the grey plus sign to open the comments box)