mindfulness

BeKindtoyourmind – mindfulness comes to Sale West

Bekindtoyourmind is a community interest company based in Manchester offering classes in Sale West and beyond, with the aim of reaching out to help people in the community suffering with their emotional well being.

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Mindfulness offers peace of mind

Their mindfulness classes and workshops work with residential, public and commercial sectors, in both group and individual settings, inviting the attendees to look at their thoughts, feelings and emotional states from a different perspective.

Set up by husband and wife team Thom and Julie, Bekindtoyourmind classes have been running on Sale West for over a year.

BeKindtoyourmind at Sale West Community Centre

BeKindtoyourmind at Sale West Community Centre

Thom said, “I’ve been a resident of Sale West since I was 12 years old and as I grew up I identified with a lot of the issues that people who live on the estate struggle with. I am proud of where I live and when I discovered the revelation of mindfulness it was only natural for me to want to share the tools and concepts that have made such a positive impact to my own well being with the community.”

The response from the community has been very impressive to say the least – the first session saw 19 people attend, the majority from Sale West. Thom has been encouraged with the growing numbers since, explaining it normally takes around three or four sessions for people to ‘get it’ before they feel empowered to take back control of their own lives and make clear, proactive choices.

Thom is especially thankful to Marie Price and Dan Shelston of Trafford Wellbeing / Housing Trust, as well as Irwell Valley Housing Association for the support and encouragement they have given him, including funding from the latter which enabled him to undertake training in order to become a fully qualified mindfulness teacher.

IMAG0026When asked for ‘top tips’ for getting the most out of mindfulness, and if it is something that anyone can master, Thom replied, “Mindfulness is about learning to ‘BE’ rather than ‘DO’.

“Our society constantly promotes ‘doing’ – reaching goals, making lists, setting agendas, thinking of new ideas, etc. There’s nothing wrong with this, in fact if we look around we can see that it has produced things that make our life easier and enjoyable, but too much of this ‘driving’ part of our nature is the cause for much of the stress, anxiety, depression and other states that hinder our well-being. Now, if we can learn to ‘BE’, meaning to accept things as they are at this very moment and to pay attention to what we are doing right now, we begin to soothe our minds and give the thinking mind a rest. 

“Mindfulness is very easy to learn and once the concepts are grasped it becomes a valuable part of life that can help us to become more calm and content, as well as helping us become more resilient towards states of mind that cause us suffering.”shutterstock_95792515

Bringing mindfulness to Sale West is obviously important for Thom, I asked him how he thought the possible closure of the community centre would affect the classes held there and while he said people could adapt if it was a temporary situation but it would be “a sad day for the people of Sale West” if it were to be permanent.

Thom said, “ I believe the community centre has the potential to be the pulse of Sale West. With the right people, right ideas and right services it can literally change lives. The nucleus it already there, it just needs some fresh ideas. I was motivated to offer my services to the community and wouldn’t want to move away from Sale West but if I’m pushed, I’m pushed. I’d have to take my services elsewhere and that would contradict my initial drive for starting Bekindtoyourmind.

After attending a Bekindtoyourmind session at the community centre I agree it would be a terrible shame to lose such a fantastic service.

Costing just £3 a session, on a pay-as-you-go basis the classes are exceptional value for money. I was made to feel welcome and have never seen the Sunshine Café looking so cosy with dimmed lights, incense, the lot – wonderful.

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The session began with a mindfulness chocolate eating exercise – we had to really take our time, noting the smell, texture and, last of all taste. I really enjoyed this part although when eaten in a mindful manner, one chocolate was definitely enough J

Moving on to a mindful meditation I was soon relaxed and feeling calm for the first time that day, maybe a little too calm as I almost slid off my seat and was squinting when the lights came on at the end of the hour long session.

I can’t recommend Bekindtoyourmind highly enough and would encourageimages-2 copy everyone to give it a go – after all there’s nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain.

Bekindtoyourmind currently run two weekly classes with plans for more in the future. Monday they are at Sale West Community centre on Newbury Avenue for an hour with the class starting at 7pm. On a Thursday they hold a class in Timperley, in the meeting room at Timperley Village Library, again for an hour and also starting at 7pm.

They also offer mindfulness workshops at a discounted rate of £40, held at the Friends Meeting House, Park Road in Sale – for more details or to book please contact Julie@bekindtoyourmind.co.uk

For more information visit www.bekindtoyourmind.co.uk or find them on Twitter @kindmindgb

This article first appeared in the launch edition of Sale West Voice Magazine 🙂

Mindfulness double page feature in Sale West Voice Magazine

Mindfulness double page feature in Sale West Voice Magazine

 

 

 

 

 

Mindfulness – A new way of thinking?

Rain hammering on the windscreen, traffic at standstill, kids bickering in the back and the Frozen soundtrack stuck on repeat again – what better time for my phone to ‘ping’ to let me know it’s time to be mindful.

Mindfulness offers peace of mind

Are you looking for peace of mind?

Just to clarify things a little, I am not a hippy, my children have never eaten organic quinoa and I am not at all eco friendly or spiritual – truth be known I’m rubbish at recycling and am cynical to a fault.

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Be in the now

 Chances are that either you, or someone you know has recently started the practice known as mindfulness. With roots in Buddhism and an array of handy downloadable apps to help you practice at leisure, mindfulness is a form of meditation focusing on ‘being in the now’ that has, in the space of a year or so, gone from being ‘another faddy craze for the eccentric, modern day hippies’ to a new and extremely popular ‘pseudo-religion’ across the UK, one that could have been tailor made for the west, it sits so well with our secular ideals.

Trying to find peace in a hectic, digitally dependent and often rushed world may just be a matter of thinking differently and, after a week of sessions, I’ve discovered that mindfulness may be the way forward.

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It can be difficult to be self accepting in a world where Kim Kardashians bottom makes the 6 o clock news

It’s all about being in the present moment – being aware of your breathing, body and surroundings as well as emotions and thoughts. Mindfulness involves viewing both yourself and others with compassion and kindness, in a totally non-judgmental way. This is something that many of us struggle with, in a society where Kim Kardashian’s derriere makes the evening news and we are constantly bombarded with adverts and imagery telling us how to be thinner/taller/less wrinkled; being nonjudgmental of oneself is a refreshing, if not long overdue concept.

Being mindful is a way to cultivate a ‘less emotionally reactive awareness’ to thoughts and feelings, the inner self-talk many of us struggle with – or, as in my case, the constant chatter of a busy brain. Mastering mindfulness means learning to be aware of what’s happening without becoming overly preoccupied with any of it and the benefits have been well documented, backed up with scientific research following years of studies, mostly carried out in America.

Over in California many schools have embraced the mindfulness technique, with some very impressive outcomes.

Twice a week the children at an Oakland school have a mindfulness class – 15 minutes of calm each session, in what is otherwise a very busy schedule. The class begins with the sound of a Tibetan

Mindfulness can be practised from any age

Mindfulness has proven benefits for children too

singing bowl as the children close their eyes and focus on their breathing, guided to try and imagine ‘loving kindness’ in the playground. The results speak for themselves as teachers have reported an improvement in the behavior of many pupils, with less violent outbursts and an overall calmness for those that were struggling with anger issues.

So, what about here in the UK? Mindfulness classes are popping all everywhere and the NHS have even started to fund sessions for depression in some long-term sufferers, as an alternative to costly medicinal remedies and interventions that appear to be less than effective.

Military personnel, professional sportspeople and several prisons have already incorporated mindfulness in their regime so it may only be a matter of time before it makes its way into our classrooms, rather like yoga did a few years ago.

This can only be a good thing; the UK has seen a rise in the number of children being excluded from school due to behavioural and anger issues, anything that can address this at an early age and equip these children with the tools they need has to be a positive step, after all, prevention is always better than intervention, especially when it comes to kids behaviour.

Children that have received mindfulness training in America show greater compassion, more self-control and better behaviour overall so if we can help our children to slow down and take time to think, they can often discover that they actually have the answers within themselves. Parents and teachers tell children a hundred times a day to ‘pay attention’ – but are we expecting too much if we have never taught them the skills to be able to do this and spend most of our time over stimulated with no time to catch our breath?

Mindfulness education is like ‘talking yoga’, training for the brain and, while it shouldn’t be seen as a quick fix as it does take time to master, initial findings show that it can also help with other, more serious issues such as depression and self-harming behaviours like anorexia or bulimia.

Mindfulness is like talking yoga

Mindfulness is like yoga for the brain

Even the celebs have been getting involved in the mindfulness pandemic sweeping the nation, there’s an ‘all-party mindfulness group’ in Parliament which Ruby Wax helped launch and Madeleine Bunting from the Guardian newspaper has recently suggested it should be mandatory in all schools.

It may appear that mindfulness is a new thing but it was back in the 1980’s when the Dalai Lama first sparked a conversation about science and Buddhism that lead to the creation of The Mind and Soul
Institute, dedicated to studying contemplative science. In 2000 he launched a ‘new’ sub discipline of contemplative neuroscience called mindfulness, inviting scientists to study the brain activity of expert Buddhist meditators – defined as having more than 10,000 hours of practice. Now that is dedication.

These observations revealed that consistent mindfulness practice could actually cause physiological changes in the brain, even creating an increased volume of tissue in some areas and rewiring some brain circuits, producing positive effects on mind, brain and body. Ok, so it may take rather a lot of practice to achieve this level of enlightenment but it all sounds very positive – seems that science is finally confirming what the Buddhist monks have been trying to tell us for years.

If distraction is the pre-eminent condition of our digital age, then mindfulness is the most logical response and one of the major strengths lies in its universality – the ultimate goal is simply to give your attention fully to what you’re doing at any given moment.

There is no need for equipment or fancy work out gear, you just need to assume a comfortable position and relax, think Buddha, feel calm – and don’t forget to breathe.

Available to everyone regardless of gender, race, religious beliefs, culture or financial situation, mindfulness was previously unheard of by the west until fairly recently although its roots are firmly based on ancient Buddhist wisdom. Having said that, the practice is still as relevant today as it was back then, maybe more so, as we attempt to balance the daily demands modern day life presents us with.

One man who has realized the potential in disseminating mindfulness, and the ‘need’ for an app to facilitate it to the digital masses is Andy Puddicombe, inventor of the hugely successful Headspace.

 

Headspace has taken the world by storm

Headspace has taken the world by storm

The fortysomething former Buddhist monk from Bristol, who has a degree in circus arts, has, according to the New York Times, ‘done for mindfulness and meditation what Jamie Oliver has done for food’. This looks set to be an understatement as already, just 4 years after launching the digital health platform, he is worth around £25million with Headspace used by more than a million people in 150 countries.

The Headspace programme, dubbed ‘a gym for the brain’, offers guided meditation resources online which are also accessible through the downloadable app. The first ten days are free, after which users have the choice to either subscribe or continue with the free content, although to get the most from the app it needs to be followed daily, using the 365 sessions of audio content included in the subscription.

Techniques utilized by Headspace combine elements of both calming and insight meditation, to bring about ‘greater calm, clarity and improved feelings of wellbeing and happiness’. Sounds good, right?

Mindfulness is not about idealism or having the perfect life – it’s about embracing the life you have and living in the moment. Taking time out to think and reflect on a situation may even offer new ideas or ways of tackling issues that a busy brain wouldn’t have come up with. My own 8-year-old son summed up his thoughts on what mindfulness means to him with this awesome quote that I think we can all learn from: “ Mindfulness means not hitting the boy who annoys me every day in the mouth like I want to sometimes, it means thinking about why he is acting that way and then moving away

Disney may be on to something...

Disney may be on to something…

from him to take time out and calm down. I don’t get in trouble when I do it that way.”

I’m not suggesting for a minute that we are all fighting a constant urge to ‘smack a workmate’ but I

know there are times when I personally would have acted/reacted in a different way to a situation if I had just taken a minute to think and reflect on the outcome.

Back in the car with the rain still hammering and the kids now sulking I decide to take the advice

being offered by the oracle known as Disney and, as the song reaches its dramatic chorus, I take a deep breath, exhale and ‘Let It Go’ as I take a moment to be mindful…

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