Mindfulness is bringing your awareness to the present moment without judgement. It helps you to respond instead of react to situations as they arise. In theory it is a very simple concept. Although it is very easy you can make it very difficult. Even though I have practiced the physical aspect of yoga for over 15 years it is only in the last 3 to 4 years I have settled into my meditation practice. My belief for years was that meditation was something very challenging and that it required a very still and quiet mind. This is an idea that many people feel. We struggle to become still and quiet. It is a futile action, like driving around a quiet lake in a speed boat trying to find a still patch of water. Thankfully I have been blessed with many wise meditation teachers who have guided me into a gentle practice. With a few gentle tools and techniques and a gentle attitude toward the practice it becomes easy. Of course it is a "practice" so the more you do the easier it becomes.
"Mindfulness does not change your reality directly, but it does change your relationship with it" Padraig O'Morain
Anyone who is alive and conscious can meditate. In my beginner classes I will break the meditations into a few short sessions of between 5 to 10 minutes and I will guide you through the meditation. The meditations will focus on the breath, body and senses and thoughts (not all at once), just being aware, no need to change or judge anything thats going on in the present moment.
Do I have to sit cross Legged?
Although some people find sitting cross legged very comfortable for meditating many of us find it agonising. You may sit in a chair, maybe bring along a cushion for extra comfort. If you find sitting difficult on your body you may lie down, bring a blanket to keep warm. However for people who like to sit cross legged or sit Japanese style, kneeling I will have bolsters available. The most important thing is that the body is comfortable and that you are not injuring your body by forcing it into inapropriate postures.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers prove that mindfulness reduces pain, enhances mental and physical wellbeing and helps people deal with the stresses and strains of daily life. Here are some of the findings:
- Mindfulness can dramatically reduce pain and the emotional reaction to it.
- Mindfulness improves mood and quality of life in chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia and lower back pain.
- Mindfulness improves working memory, creativity, attention span and reaction speeds. It also enhances mental and physical stamina and resilence.
- Meditation improves emotional intelligence.
- Mindfulness is a potent antidote to anxiety, stress, depression exhaustion and irritability.
- Mindfulness reduces addictive and self-destructive behaviour.
- Meditation enhances brain function. It increases grey matter in the areas associated with self awareness, empathy, self-control and attention.
- Meditation improves the immune system. Regular meditators are admitted to hospital far less often for cancer, heart disease and numerus infectious diseases.
- Meditation may reduce ageing at the cellular level.
- Meditation and mindfulness improve control of blood sugar in type II diabetes.
- Meditation improves heart and circulatory health by reducing blood pressure.