Volunteering on a Mindfulness for Health course – session two

Happy weekend everyone, I hope that you are all well.

Today was my second session volunteering on the Mindfulness for Health course in Manchester. It feels like a good time to share with you all my experiences of volunteering in aid of National Volunteer week here in the UK:

 

If you’d like to learn more about some of the benefits of volunteering please check out my last blog post: ‘Volunteering on a Mindfulness for Health course – session one.’

We started off the session with a breathing anchor meditation practice, which was very much needed as some of us had very stressful journeys into Manchester.

Here’s a link to a breathing anchor meditation practice led by Vidyamala Burch if you would like to give it a try:

My job was to give out extra blankets and cushions if people needed them in order to increase their comfort.

Here is a quote that was shared with us which I found to be quite helpful:

‘Use the breath as an anchor to tether your attention to the present moment. Your thinking mind will drift here and there, depending on the currents and winds moving until, at some point the anchor line grows taught and brings you back’

(Jon Kabat-Zinn)

We then had time to share our experiences of our home practice in pairs. One person would talk mindfully and the other person would listen mindfully. Helping the person to explore their experience more deeply.

Home practice is where we are encouraged in between the taught face-to-face sessions to practice the meditations on our own at home for 10 minutes twice a day.

My experience of home practice is that it has been challenging! I shared with my partner that I have the meditations on my phone and will tend to do the meditations on the go. For example, I might get to work early, park my car and then meditate in the car. I might go for a walk in nature and find a quiet spot by the lake to meditate:

 

Alternatively I meditate last thing at night whilst in bed to help me relax and get to sleep:

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If you are looking for online meditations I recommend You Tube, Soundcloud, or downloading the Mindfulness for Health book via Audible, which you can find at the following: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Health-Personal-Development/Mindfulness-for-Health-Audiobook/B00EOT9NPG?ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=c6e316b8-14da-418d-8f91-b3cad83c5183&pf_rd_r=GA2E2ZHT5ZB01KC5NZ6H&

If you are not already a member of Audible it is free to download your first book.

The next part of the session was mindful movement, which was described as a moving body scan. Mindful movement is all about learning where your soft and hard edges are. Soft edges where we are maybe not moving enough and hard edges where we are pushing the body too hard, beyond it’s current limits and risking increased pain and discomfort and possible injury.

Here are a couple of examples of mindful movements:

 

 

Mindful movements can be done laying down, seated and standing.

You are encouraged not to work beyond your current level of comfort and physical capacity and adaptations to each move can be offered if needed. Such as a smaller range of motion, resting between movements, or leaving a particular movement out.

I find mindful movements really helpful at improving confidence in moving the body when in pain and helpful when it is difficult to stay relaxed in a seated meditation due to pain, agitation.

The last parts of the afternoon included practising the three minute breathing practice, an example of a three minute breathing space is here:

This meditation can be used throughout the day as a means of checking in with the body and the breath. I quite often use this meditation as an emergency meditation if I am stressed, or have a stress event ahead, such as a presentation, or job interview.

The compassion practice was next, if you’d like to try this practice here is a link to a led meditation (the compassion practice is track 5):

 

So all in all the session was a busy one! It was lovely to be back at the Buddhist centre again and I enjoyed helping on the course and hearing about the participants experiences of meditation.

Here are some pictures that I took there today:

 

As ever if you have any questions, or you’d like to learn more about Breathworks mindfulness, or volunteering please get in touch.

Warm wishes,

 

Mary

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Mindfulness:MK new year retreat

Saturday 6th January was a lovely day. Went for a full day mindfulness retreat ran by one of my mindfulness teachers Helen (below in the photo).

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I have attended this retreat for the past few years and it is always a fabulous opportunity to step out of the usual day-to-day routine, to slow down and to reflect on the year that has been and the year to come.

The following quote from the day I found particularly helpful:

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The story that went with this quote was a famous violinist who had polio and frames on his legs to enable him to walk, had a really important show to perform. He walked on stage and took his frames off and couldn’t stand. In the process of falling he broke one of the strings on his violin. Instead of giving up, he got back up and continued to perform his music piece (with the violin and the broken string) and was ultimately successful and his music well-received.

I felt this was a really important metaphor for those of us with chronic pain, a chronic health condition, body parts missing or not working so well. If we can still continue to make music, to live well whilst making the most of what our bodies can still do, then to my mind we will have lived well.

I found this to be truly inspirational. It sits well with all of  the ideas taught on the Breathworks 8-week courses and definitely represents how I aim to live my own life.

Living with pain, growing around it and flourishing…

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Shine on friends,

Warm wishes,

Mary

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all of my page followers.

As we leave 2017 behind are there things that you would like to let go of?

Do you have any resolutions, or goals for 2018?

I have been in quite a contemplative space today, it has been a challenging year and I have got some big plans and new job opportunities ahead for me in 2018. As well as more jaw surgeries to look forward to!

When you want some space to think things through, what do you do?

Walking by my local lake is a favourite thinking spot for me and I try to walk most days, even if I am really busy and can only manage 20-30 minutes. Here is how the lake was looking today. Fabulous looking sky and memorising ripples in the water.

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Poetry and quotes can be really useful prompts to contemplation as well. 

Here are some nice Rumi quotes that I’ve been looking at today, do you have a favourite?

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Love and best wishes for 2018, whatever it brings to you.

Mary