As part of my CPD I have been doing a six week reflective practice journal. The idea is you do one practice for a full six week’s and record any reflections or responses to it. It was useful and it is something I will certainly do again. There is no doubt doing just one practice for this duration of time deepens your understanding of that practice. It was also quite pleasant to not have to think about which practice to do everyday, the decision was already made at the beginning of the six weeks.
Saying all of that though the six weeks has now come to an end and I am free again once more to pick and choose my daily practice. That has been something I have really been enjoying this week. Lots of breath work, lots of movement and a fair few befriending meditations. It won’t be long before I do another round of reflective practice journal keeping but in the interim period it feels nice to do a bit of off-road rambling!
Today’s total practice time: 40 minutes
A fellow mindfulness teacher told me she tries to incorporate pausing into her day. She stops for a few mindful breaths, creating a pause in every hour on the hour. At work yesterday I remembered this and as I felt stress and tension rising in me, I felt compelled to give it a go.
It was 10.15 when I first paused and I continued it throughout the day. What unfolded was an extremely mindful day. I have been doing daily meditations for some time now but it often feels compartmentalised. I also do the three minute breathing space several times a day but this shorter pausing is perhaps the missing link between the formal and the informal. Bridging the gap between sitting quietly in your room and the real world.
I haven’t paused as much today but next time I feel stress rising I will observe the hourly pauses to keep check on myself and to appreciate the moment as it unfolds.
Today’s total practice time: 30 minutes
Last year I was lucky enough to be an examiner for the first time. I can’t claim it was my dream job but it gave me a great opportunity to put into practice all the things I had been learning to teach. Get up, stretch, breathe. It helped me to avoid repetitive strain injury. Examining wasn’t the laid back affair I had imagined of having a pile of papers to work through as I sipped a cup of tea.
It’s all on line now. So there was much clicking of the mouse, much eye strain, much stiff back and arms if you got locked into a zone of not wanting to leave. Mindfulness ensured I didn’t get sucked into that funnel of exhaustion. I took a stand up break on the hour every hour and just walked round the room for a few minutes until I was ready to sit down and face the 1,000 paper mountain I was working towards.
Teaching mindful movement, the walking meditation and a bit of Qi Gong is one of my favourite parts of an eight week course, finally for those unable to sit still there is solace. Meditation doesn’t have to be about sitting still we can inhabit the here and now with kind compassion as we stretch and walk. I frequently do it on the school run, aware that as I walk those last ten minutes before the kids re-enter my world, it’s that final grab at calm before the cycle of park/homework/dinner/baths/bed demands all my attention.
Those ten minutes of mindful walking make me more ready than ever to be hijacked by those oft demanding off spring of mine!
Today’s total practice time: 40 minutes movement and body scan
The body scan meditation has been much on my mind of late, I have been doing it everyday for a month so I am feeling intimately acquainted with it. I haven’t done it with such gusto since I first came to mindfulness, it almost feels like revisiting an old friend.
The body scan provides the firm foundations for an eight week mindfulness course. It often makes up the bulk of home practice from week one or week two in an eight week course. Often described as the marmite meditation because people sometimes love it or hate it. Very few feel ambivalent towards it.
Why does it trigger such a response? Because it shows the doing mind participating in some of it’s most doing mind antics – it judges, analyses, compares. Perhaps all good things when you are working. But when you are lying on a yoga mat trying your best to feel your big toe perhaps the body scan shows the doing mode as a tad impatient and reticent to just let go and be in the moment.
So why bother, as early as week two especially, with a challenging meditation?
It’s precisely this challenge that gives participants an opportunity to really try to be mindful. The body scan allows participants to better connect with their body. It also allows them to see the doing mind in all it’s chattering glory. It provides ‘resistance’ training. If you can do the body scan twice a day for the next week having never meditated (at least daily) before, then the rest of a mindfulness course will be peachy!
Today’s practice time: 30 minutes (the body scan of course!)