The official definition of mindfulness by Jon Kabat-Zinn who is the Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
“The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmental to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.”
After recently returning from my residential Teacher Training Introduction for Breathworks, where I’ve started the first steps in becoming an accredited mindfulness teacher, here’s my view in a video I did this morning…
I’ve had a couple of days to process the information from the course and wanted to write this blog to share my experience and journey.
I’d like to say I’d eased myself back into my daily routine gently, however, it was more of a bang, when I returned to discover the bathroom had leaked and water was pouring from the ceiling into the kitchen, plus the minute I got through the door the estate agent selling the house we are looking to purchase, rang to say they may have to put the house back on the market as our mortgage was taking a long time to get offered. The reason being, my accountant had just submitted my end of year accounts and was waiting on documentation from the tax office. So Saturday morning after my cleaner had messaged me to say she was ill, instead of spending quality time with my family, I did two hours cleaning before pre booked viewers came to see the house. Somehow, I managed to convince them the water from the leak was where I had been cleaning the kitchen floor… I also had to arranged for my car to be repaired after someone reversed off the drive into my bumper and console my Mum who was very stressed re our forthcoming move as she has sold her house and fears being homeless until she moves in with us!
Thankfully, my new found love of daily mediation and mindfulness has helped a great deal and I’m somehow keeping on top of things in a relatively calm manner. I’ve increased my daily practice to 30 minutes and I’m back into my yoga and listening to daily audios routine. A great way to start the day is to work on you first.
Life can be stressful at times for anyone, moving house is listed as one of the top known stressors that most of us go through at one time or another. Mindfulness and mediation do not get rid of stress or pain, they do however, provide you with the tools to limit the secondary emotional suffering that more often than not goes hand in hand.
What is primary and secondary suffering?
I’ll try to keep it in simple terms, the primary suffering is the actual stressful situation or the actual physical pain you may be in. For example if you suffer from a chronic long term back ache that is your primary suffering. This may or may not ever get better Or disappear depending on the individual circumstances. The secondary part however, is more of a mental or emotional suffering we often unnecessarily put ourselves through. The thoughts we associate to our primary suffering, by blocking it, fighting or resisting or drowning in overwhelment.
How can mindfulness help?
The tools we can develop through a consistent mindfulness practice can help elevate some of our secondary suffering and perhaps over time help us to lean in more compassionately with an awareness and acceptance of our situation and the thoughts and feelings that surround it.
The Taraloka retreat.
After a four hour drive from Essex to the edge of Wales, I was greeted warmly by one of the trainers, I was early, the first student there and felt keen, relaxed and excited for the first step into this unknown adventure! After doing the online version of the mindfulness for health course, I had an idea of what was going to take place. However, in hindsight I was no where near prepared for the intensity of the week ahead…
On Wednesday after dinner, my sister texted me, too much connection with the outside world was discouraged in order to remain focused, however, I had sneaked out to call the kids before bedtime as promised.
Lisa ‘ hope your having a lovely time? 😊’
Me ‘Yes very intense, emotionally, mentally and physically’. I replied through tears.
The day before I was all but ready to get in my car and drive home, giving up on my dream of ever qualifying as a mindfulness teacher. Convinced it wasn’t for me and I didn’t have what it took, by Wednesday pm thankfully I’d turned a corner and could see the light! I’m pretty sure my sister as thought I’d gone on a spa retreat for the week lol.
The days were long and started beautifully with a 45 minute morning meditation in the shrine room, up til now the most I had meditated in one sitting was 20 minutes, so after 45 minutes my back was in bits, the second day I opted for a seated chair meditation and by the end of the week had discovered the most effective position for myself and my back was a kneeling position with enough cushions for support. This personal experience will aid me in helping others to experiment what is the best position for them. A myth associated with mindful meditation is that you are sitting there cross legged in the lotus position! Meditation is most effective if you are settled and comfortable, wether it’s laying down, seated, cross legged, kneeling or even standing, and you can always go for a mindful walk or experience mindful movement as part of a daily practice.
Silence is golden, or is it…
Being silent is something that is a tad alien to me in company, now don’t get me wrong I love silence and after dropping my two lively kids at school, relish the quiet calm atmosphere alone. However, waking in silence and eating breakfast in silence when in the company of almost 30 strangers you’ve just met and are acquainting yourself with was very strange at first! I love to say good morning, thank you for someone opening a door and have general polite chit chat whilst eating together. On Day three between classes we were silent until after lunch, I’m pretty sure the teacher heard me gasp when this was announced! However, I remained silent and over the course of the week could appreciate the reasons behind this practice. The Sunday after I returned, we even had a family morning silence until after breakfast, and stayed offline until the evening.
At night, being silent was probably a good thing to keep the social butterflies like myself from staying up all night chatting, it also took pressure off the introverts amongst us that quite often find social interaction a daunting experience. It was also a great opportunity to practice mindful eating and to become more aware of your surroundings in the present moment. Going out on a silent walk alongside the canal and observing nature with my colleagues was a beautiful experience, making time to stand still and listen for the sounds of the wind rustling in the trees and watch the natural beauty that surrounded us.
Another challenge I found was the practice of mindful listening and speaking throughout lessons, 3/4 years ago this would of been a greater challenge, so whilst I have improved both these skills a great deal, I still have a way to go! Our excellent and sometimes extremely tough trainer often called me out for speaking inappropriately during feedback sessions. I felt a bit like I was back in school, what can I say, I’m a work in progress…
After my mid week wobble and my 121 session with my trainer Karen, I opened up about how I was finding the experience tough emotionally and after that and hearing her side of the situation, I did feel a lot better. I had made some great connections within the group fairly quickly and if I’m honest I found it difficult that I had not connected more personally with my trainer. As a trainer, you have to maintain Balance in order to gain respect and understanding you cannot always be everyone’s ‘friend’ if you want to get the best from them. So whilst I initially had a lot of secondary emotional suffering and resistance with this situation, I could after speaking privately understand where she was coming from.
The course was also very interactive and we had to learn and teach various key concepts and meditations to our group. I’m pretty confident speaking in a group, however leading a meditation is a very personal experience, and although you are not ultimately responsible for each persons individual experience, as a beginner still learning the scripts, methods and processes and receiving and giving detailed feedback it certainly feels like it! I practiced a meditation on the ‘treasure of pleasure’, where we look for the small things in our situation to balance out what maybe be painful or uncomfortable. There’s a lot to remember in the content alone, add to this attempting to sound natural, soothing, compassionate and in flow and you can imagine it’s a skill that requires some practice…
My palms were literally clammy and sweating for the whole of the lesson previous to mine, my stomach was in knots and I was aware that my mind was also adding to my discomfort with secondary suffering! However, I got through it by using some of the mindfulness techniques I had already learned and even managed to focus on ‘what went well’ in the feedback with some self compassion. My colleagues were lovely to me and I was relieved to have got my first full meditation over and done with. I had co delivered a key concept of the training and 3 minute breathing exercise 2 days before, this was more in my comfort zone and I found it fairly painless in comparison to the full ten minute meditation. On the last day I delivered a mindful movement mediation and was pleasantly surprised that I thoroughly enjoyed the session! We do an enquiry afterwards, this part I’m still wobbly on and mindful of not interrogating people or probing too much, instead asking questions in a gentle warm and kind manner, whilst being genuine. My natural ability is more probing so again this is another skill to practice as some of the people I will be delivering to may be very emotionally vulnerable.
The week was very hands on taking turns in the cleaning and washing up after each meal, the food was vegan and we enjoyed delicious soups most lunchtimes, one day we had jacket potatoes with beans and the variety was like a meal at the ritz and very welcome. One of my dear friends on the course shared a personal emotional moment, where she found herself getting cross in her head during the silence at the prospect of another bowl of soup! It’s crazy the small things we get cross at when emotionally and mentally challenged!
All in all I found the course, stimulation and challenging, a mix bag of emotions and a steep learning curve, after bonding and listening to many different stories of people’s lives, I do realise how blessed I am and am excited for the future learning on this journey. My next step is to redo my meditation diaries I completed in the wrong order (the online course did not really clearly explain this) book my mindful movement weekend in London and find an 8 week mindfulness for health course locally that I can attend and help out with. As we are looking to move soon, I may wait until then, and get in touch with re mindfulness teacher in the Norwich area. Once that is completed, I will attend a further retreat on the Teacher Training Advanced course, focusing more on mindfulness for stress. Then once completed, run a supervised 8 week course before applying for accreditation. The whole process takes a minimum of a year to complete. I’m very excited to be following this path wherever it may lead.
I returned to some minor house/car/tax chaos in life aimed with a new found appreciation of my mindfulness practice, I also returned to a bunch of beautiful flowers and the arms of my family, my gorgeous supportive husband and two amazing kids. ❤️❤️❤️
I was also pleased to return to over 600 euros from two of the passive income streams I run online. I didn’t even have to login whilst I was away…My vision is to carry on with my online business’s to provide a solid financial foundation in order for me to give back fully and unconditionally to my passion in helping others discover a path of mindfulness. It will not cure any health or mental condition you may have, however, it may just unlock the power you already have within to lead a happy and fulfilling life whatever the circumstances.
Love x light x inspiration x
Claire (Positiveminds Coaching)
P.S if you would like further details of the course I’m attending or details of the online business’s that are supporting my passion and journey, please drop me an email at Claire.email@example.com or message me on FACEBOOK