Why would you want to go on a mindfulness course and what would it look like? I suppose the best place to start is by giving you an idea of the content. Depending on the course you choose, the content will differ to some degree. Typically the beginning involves a discussion around what mindfulness is and what it isn't. We explore the idea of living a mindful life, a life where you are present with thoughts and emotions. Starting off with a practice of following the breath, this engages the mind in the present moment. By being with sensations and emotions in the body, it reduces the over active mind. It allows us to move through experience rather than get tangled up in thought.
The body is often ignored due to the fact that we live so often in our minds. So, the course will introduce body-scan meditation, which develops an awareness of each part of the body. It's not so much a relaxation technique but an exercise that brings curiosity to the entire body. Feeling things just as they are, without trying to change them. This leads naturally to exploring movement, developing a way of noticing how movement feels, the sensations of fabric on our skin, feet touching the ground as we walk. You see how we are gently breaking away from the entrapment of spending so much time in our heads? There is space for so much more creativity, peace and laughter.
The mountain meditation generates questions and people love this one. Using imagery we explore strength and courage. There is plenty of time for discussion and thoughts and any challenges to practice are welcomed. The course takes people back to the oneness of the mind and body. Introducing next a session on calming the chattering mind. We are not trying to get rid of thoughts, there is more emphasis on letting them go. When you become aware of how thoughts create our moment to moment experience you start to realise that it's not experience that makes life fun or difficult it's often the thoughts we have about it. We explore techniques to stop being carried away by the inner critic or perhaps the perfectionist and more.
The next few weeks explore working with difficult emotions, turning towards uncomfortable things. Feeling more ability to be with things just as they are. After all what we resist persists. It's about developing a wisdom over our experiences, being aware and gentle towards ourselves. The final weeks explore loving kindness amongst other topics. Loving kindness meditation is wonderful. It enables change and movement in our lives, relationships, sense of self and how we view the little things. The magic often happens around now, when I talk about magic I mean just simple gratitude and greater understanding.
There isn't a type of person who comes on courses, everyone and anyone! Whether you have a reason to go on a course or it's just something that appeals is good enough. We see young and old, executive people and stay at home mums. It fits everyone's agenda.
I sometimes get told I am a bit fluffy and this all sounds a bit soft. Well, try it, it's not all hearts and flowers there are some tough moments when developing mindfulness. You have to face things that are not always easily faced, but it's worth it. Give it a go, online or in a group, I guarantee something might just feel a bit different!