I am really enjoying being home in beautiful Yungaburra with its community of good people and dear friends! Thankyou to everyone for your well wishes and encouragement. I really appreciate your continued support and care. xxx
I will write a little more about mindfulness, now that I’ve finished the course. Thanks to Lou and Maria for your questions (answers below). The challenges of mindfulness meditation are so engaging that I am continuing to find it an interesting process. I’m surprised that boredom and impatience haven’t been more of a struggle for me, nor cramps or pain from sitting still. For me the main difficulties include staying awake, letting go of judgement and striving, and finding a balance between discipline and kindness towards myself.
…any attempts I make at meditation quickly end in me falling sound asleep.
That is exactly how it was for me too, nodding off! I was advised to meditate with eyes open (gaze lowered) for the first 2 weeks or so, and even sit in a less comfortable position. I tried one of those meditation stools that are specially designed for kneeling. Cushions also work well. I experimented with different times of day and was astonished to find my mind is sharpest in the evening. We are told that practice is the key – stick with it and trust. It is one of the reasons for committing to 40+ mins daily for 8 weeks, to give a chance to overcome this sort of obstacle.
…does your increased mindfulness practice change your behaviour or emotions?
Yes, I think these might be changing. I have had glimpses of the rewards 🙂
Research shows that such an 8-week course causes actual physical changes to the brain, enabling the feeling of peace and centredness to be an easier response, if not default.
There are different types of meditation, all of them relaxing but some not at all mindful. Mindfulness meditation is training the mind to pay attention so I can better notice what my mind is doing, including recognising when my thoughts and emotions begin to run on old tracks, as if on autopilot. I am very keen to improve my skills for dealing with stress. As one poet said, I want more actual troubles in my life and fewer imaginary ones! (Nadine Stair) I’m aiming to cultivate enough awareness that I can choose to respond more effectively in stressful moments.
“In many situations, emotional arousal and physical tension are totally appropriate. At other times they may be inappropriate… your feeling threatened may have more to do with your state of mind than with the triggering event itself. When you bring awareness to stressful moments you might see more clearly how your own unbalanced view could be contributing to an inappropriate overreaction on your part.” Jon Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living
“Emotional reactions are often the product of our interpretations of events. Often we find ourselves in a situation and end up with a feeling. We are usually not aware of the process of thinking that links them. It is as if there is a stream of thoughts or interpretations present all the time, just under the surface, of which we are not aware. By bringing them to awareness we have greater ability not to be carried away with them and the subsequent emotions.” Elizabeth Foley, Living Mindfully Queensland Cancer Council workbook.
ABC Radio National recently held a 6-week meditation challenge and they supply some guided meditations on their web site. Here are links to the resources and episodes if you want to listen to them or download the mp3s:
Meditation Challenge Week 1
Week 2 How are the meditators faring?
Week 3 Kids & Meditation
Week 4 Choosing to choose a teacher How?
Week 5 What the science says
Week 6 Finale
Health Report 20/8/12
Meditation for Kids
Also here is a page of free ACT resources (ACT is Acceptance & Commitment Therapy based on mindfulness)
including some great interviews with Russ Harris (recommended!)