You know when a good plan has worked, not because everything went by the book, but precisely because of the surprises.
That is the true joy of any meaningful human encounter; while we all share common experiences and live in the same frantic world, but we internalise reality differently. We have different perceptions and emotions and ways of expressing what we think and feel.
The first in my series of mindfulness workshops had this effect. As a group we entered into a space and created something fresh and new out of well-established mindfulness exercises.
The definition of mindfulness, with which we worked, had a powerful impact on the insights participants gained.
We shared two guided meditations with the group; the Three minute breathing exercise and Mindful Eating, using a piece of chocolate. It was the reflections stimulated by engagement with the activities that created the surprises.
Judge for yourself; a sample of the reflections are reproduced below. I was blown away by their honesty and clarity.
"Slowing down makes you appreciate the small things, and you enjoy them more. "
"The workshop has forced me to slow down and notice how I am feeling. I never slow down or switch off except to sleep. I feel tingly all over and uncomfortable. Not at ease. I would like to stop feeling like this."
"I have realised that I can slow down: I am normally on edge. I can train my mind to pull back, focus on the positive and re direct myself away from negative thoughts."
“I have recognised the importance of turning off judgment, of noticing and accepting."
“Mindfully eating that small piece of chocolate has made me realise how much more I can get from less.”
“Being more in the moment increases the meaning and significance and intensity of the experience and the effects linger for longer.”
“Immersing yourself in the moment, makes you appreciate the purpose of the task how to approach it in the right, in a way that is more effective.”
The group shared both the joyful and uncomfortable sensations that can arise from slowing down. Focusing on the breath and noticing what is going on in our minds and within our bodies is profoundly moving. It is both a slowing, stopping and a propulsion into action. The things we notice can be either more intensity enjoyed or provocations to make changes in our lives.
The focus on accepting what we noticed, stepping back from judgement, was one that we struggled with. Instead of fighting ourselves, beating ourselves up with negative thoughts, we are encouraged by mindful practice to be gentle. To accept and let go. But this is so difficult! That is why having a group to practice with is so important to breaking old habits.
I am currently battling with feelings of being overwhelmed by the prospect of building my new business. Setting up the website was the easy bit. And that process was frustrating enough. Now comes the hard part- getting myself out there in front of more of the kinds of clients that will benefit most from what I have to offer. I often become either paralysed or distracted by small tasks keep me busy but which do not move me toward my goal.
So I am learning to approach tasks mindfully. To stop before I sit at my laptop, focus on my main goal, notice when I am drifting into opening non-essential emails, or starting to surf the web and gently re-direct my attention back to my plan for the day.
I have also started noticing when I am too tired to continue doing productive work. So many hours have been wasted doing stuff I later have to junk because I was just not awake enough to do it well.
So I am looking forward to workshop number two. Everyone is returning and, the biggest surprise, my husband has joined the group too!
If you would like to try the two meditations we used for our first session yourself you can find them below.
Why not join us? It is essential that you book in advance. Call, text email or use the enquires form on the website.