Mindfulness

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I have just started an evening course on mindfulness. This is a contination course: level 2. I took my first course in mindfulnesss two and a half years ago and the impact has been immense, and far-reaching. Returning for this course is partly to refresh what I learnt then, and to travel deeper.

How can I describe the importance of mindfulness in my life? It is hard to remember how it felt before I attended that first course. My daughter was in hospital, my family life was in chaos, I was barely in work. None of this was changed by mindfulness: at the end of that eight week course my daughter was still in hospital, it was still a battle to do something as simple as get to work, or attend a parents evening at school. But I was coping, I was making sense out my predicament, and I was starting to move forwards.

Two and a half years and a huge amount of lived experience later, I still use my mindfulness techniques every single day. I don’t always use them consciously (one reason I wanted to attend this course) but they are woven into my response to life. My family still lurches from crisis to crisis – I can’t alter that – but I don’t forget to breathe.

I can imagine that for a number of people, mindfulness is rather repellant. It can look terribly like a cult. My original course was run by buddhists at the Buddhist Centre and I know that for many people this is too unfamiliar, too alien, too weird. But although the connection to buddhism is not accidental, mindfulness is not a religion, it is not a challenge to religion. There is no need to sign up to a particular world view, to take part in religious services, or to feel reverence for particular things. It is a technique, a skill like swimming. It is as if mosques had a special relationship with swimming pools, and you had to track down an iman if you wanted to learn how to swim.

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7 comments
    • Good question. Technically it’s defined as something like “paying attention in the present moment in a non-judgemental way”. In practice, you usually start by being aware of the present moment and gradually move to being able to observe yourself and your own mental activity. The aim is to become aware of the mind, the way that you think, and your relationship to your emotions and body. Usually you do this through a mixture of setting aside short periods of time in the week for formal meditation practice, but you can also learn to do it while carrying out your normal activities – most people do a bit of both. It can be as simple as just stopping occasionally and thinking about what you are really doing and feeling.

    • If you’re interested in learning about, I’m offering a free introduction e-course on my blog. Kate

  1. dhonour said:

    It sounds wonderful. And peaceful.

    • It can be very peaceful – though it depends a bit on what is happening in your life at that point. If things are very stormy then when you practice mindfulness, you’re still experiencing a storm, just from a different standpoint! But in the long run yes, it does lead to peace.

  2. I too have experienced life changing effects from a mindfulness course. My initial experience was in a psychology centre setting which helped to remove the “religious” connotations. It is so amazing, glad you are finding some peace from it!

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