Week 1: Mindfulness, Skills for Life Training

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose in the present moment and non-judgementally” (J. Kabat Zinn)

My team and I were given the opportunity to attend mindfulness training which was rather fitting for October Wellbeing month. As I have recently learned more about the importance of wellbeing, I signed myself up for the course and my colleague, Wing, did the same. See how we both got on below.

Rebecca’s session:

I attended my first session last week and what an interesting yet slightly peculiar experience it was. I was quite apprehensive leading up to it; I didn’t know what to expect. When I entered the room there were about 20 other people present and I joined them where we sat in a large circle on chairs. 

To start, the ladies warmly welcomed us and told us what to expect from the 4 week course and how, if we take it seriously, it could improve our wellbeing and potentially change our lives (big statement, I know). 

We completed our first activity which involved holding a raisin in the palm of our hands and staring at it. We were instructed to look at the different colours on the raison, how the light reflected onto it, how it felt in our hands and then, bizarrely, we were asked to move it close to our ears and listen. We then slowly put the raisin in our mouths and gently chewed it whilst recognising the different flavours we tasted and how it felt on our tongue.

The aim of this exercise was to focus on the moment, to ensure our minds didn’t lose concentration or divert to autopilot which in many real life situations, this is what many of us tend to do, particularly when we feel stressed.  

The next exercise involved lying on our backs on the floor with our feet resting on our chairs and legs at a right angle. We were told to take deep slow breaths and focus on every part of our body from head to toe. 

This exercise was rather calming however I did struggle to focus on everything the lady was saying. My breathing reverted back to normal at times and at one point I was focussing on the clock ticking rather than focussing on what the lady was saying. I was eventually able to bring myself back to the moment though and continued listening to each instruction. 

The one hour session was up; we were instructed to take home a booklet and complete homework every night for 6 days to ensure we make the most of the course. This homework consisted of a similar activity to the second exercise we did, noticing every part of our body from head to toe amongst a couple of other smaller exercises. 

This past week, I have found it difficult to fit in my exercises at home due to my busy home life however I was determined to complete them and managed to for 5 out of the 6 days. After all, we were told, ‘You don’t have to like it, just do it.’ 

I am certainly curious about our second session – stay tuned, I will keep you updated next week.

Wings experience:

I enjoyed the session and it didn’t feel too alien to me as I have attended meditation classes before. I had already heard about the raisin-eating exercise so I knew what to expect and I found it hard to be non-judgmental because I don’t like raisins. But the experience of eating a raisin mindfully made me realise that the raisin was actually quite nice when I finally got to eat it. 

Will I eat raisins from now on? Probably not, but it was an important lesson in what you think you know may not be what is true. We all learned how to look at raisins differently with that exercise.

As the trainers said, mindfulness is not about sitting in the lotus position on a mountain with a clear mind. Mindfulness in real lives is being aware of your thoughts and acknowledging them, especially the negative angry ones and the ones about self-doubt and letting them go. Your body reacts to negative thoughts and they can continue to affect you if you don’t accept and release them. 

Mindfulness is about being with yourself at that moment in time and trying to shut out all the other thoughts. It takes a lot of effort as we are all constantly thinking of anything and everything!

I confess I didn’t have time to do the exercises following the session and for me this is the main issue. Meditation was one of my New Year’s resolutions I hadn’t got round to doing so I’m going to make an effort next week to make time for mindfulness. I look forward to the next session.

See how we got on the following week, Week 2: Mindfulness, Skills for Life Training

Have you read our blog post, Goodnight, sleep tight?

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