A little bit of research..

There is so much research these days on the benefits of Mindfulness and Yoga – I do my best to keep up myself, but usually forget to share. Here’s a link to a nice short article a friend sent me on how even 8 weeks of Mindfulness benefits the brain.
I’ll put something up soon about Yoga – lots of studies show that Yoga practice affects the brain in much the same ways as Mindfulness …enjoy!
http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/01/eight-weeks-to-a-better-brain/

Compassionate Presence to Body and Emotions

Do you often give yourself a hard time? Have you a very active inner critic?
Can you imagine what it would be like to be your own best friend?

Have you grown to tolerate tiredness and minor aches and pains?
What might it be like to recover a sense of ‘firing on all cylinders’?

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by what life throws at you?
Would you like to explore ways back to your own natural resilience and passion for life?

If you can relate to any of the above, you just might be interested in….
A one-day workshop with Mairéad Flynn & Mairéad Heaney

  • Reflecting on aspects of Body and Emotions
  • Understanding & valuing compassionate presence to self
  • Exploring practices which help us integrate mindful compassion in daily life (this will include some gentle movement)

The workshop will be offered at 2 venues:

August 22nd: Wellington Hall, St. Mary’s Rd., Dundalk

August 29th: The Wetlands Centre, Ballybay.

Times10am – 5pm

Please bring along a lunch to suit your own taste!

Tea/ Coffee breaks will be catered for.

Cost:     €50

Booking: Closing date is August 15th

If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact one of us…

CONTACT: maireadflynn8@gmail.com /086 8120332

                       maireadh66@gmail.com / 087 6889822

Both Mairéads are experienced Mindfulness Teachers alongside having other professional qualifications:
Mairead Flynn in Yoga and Stress Management; Mairéad Heaney in Psychotherapy.

They offer regular themed workshops as on-going nourishment and support for those who have completed the 8 week MBSR. However they welcome anyone who wishes to explore the possibilities of mindfulness for personal growth and wellbeing.

Watch this Space!

It’s been so long since any activity here!

But at last there’s lots of new stuff on the horizon…
I’ll be posting fuller details over the next few days/weeks, but can’t wait to flag up what’s coming down the line – strange that I haven’t put anything up since January, and now I can’t wait! I have to admit I am a little bit excited about what’s on the way, so here it is……

First of all, I always love starting new MBSR courses – every group is so different and even thought more or less the same material is covered, it always seems new, thanks to the uniqueness of each participant…

MINDFULNESS BASED STRESS REDUCTION (MBSR)
new 8-week courses starting 
Monaghan Wellness Centre on Mon 22 Sept
Free Information Session ∼ Mon 15 Sept at 7pm
and
Cavan Crystal Hotel on Thurs 25 September
Free Information Session ∼ Thurs 18 Sept at 7pm

for full details and Registration Details, download Mindfulness Information – Sept 2014

Next…I am so happy to be doing a number of one-day workshops this term with my friend and fellow mindfulness teacher, Mairead Heaney – some of you might have met Mairead before. Very conscious of the value of follow up and on-going support for people who have already done MBSR, we are offering a number of themed workshops in venues which might suit folks who have done MBSR either in Monaghan, Cavan or Dundalk. For starters…

Mindfulness and the Body

The Magnet, Dundalk on Saturday 20 September
Ballybay Wetlands Centre on Saturday 27 September
Both will run from 10am to 4pm
Much more detail will be posted very soon

Mindfulness and the Emotions

Dundalk on Sat 18 October (venue to be confirmed)
Ballybay Wetlands Centre on Sat 25 October
Both will run from 10am to 4pm
Much more detail soon, but you might want to pencil in….

And yet further excitement –

From Stress to Resilience, reducing stress, restoring balance, rediscovering pleasure!

A new course I’m working on based the latest research findings regarding the human nervous system and how it’s wired to handle stress. Some of you may know I have been studying Somatic Experiencing over the last 2 years. Somatic Experiencing is a body-based approach to healing trauma and accumulated stress. Over the last 30+ years, I have worked with many approaches to manage and reduce stress but somehow Somatic Experiencing is bringing all this experience and learning together. It is very exciting for me to put this material together (with the help of a mentor on the Somatic Experiencing faculty)…here’s a bit of blurb about what the course will entail…more to follow

A 6 week body-mind journey to combine the practice of Yoga and Mindfulness with the latest research findings on the human stress responses.

You will learn:
How accumulated stress responses get locked into the body
How many physical, mental and emotional problems are caused by nervous system dysregulation
How to use yoga, mindfulness and a range of easy, enjoyable awareness exercises to work directly with the body and restore nervous system regulation
How presence and pleasure and key to restoring inner balance

A blend of fascinating input and nourishing practice, the course aims to be informative, entertaining and deeply encouraging – a genuine step towards living with greater ease and resilience in our pretty crazy world!

Free Information Session: Wednesday 17 September
Course Begins: Wednesday 24 September ~ 6 Wednesdays, 7 to 9pm
Venue: Monaghan Wellness Centre

More to come on all of these – so do watch this space!

 

Singing Meditation!

We had a lovely day yesterday in The Station, Belturbet – mostly attended by the group from Cavan who have just finished MBSR, also a few folks from Clones and previous MBSR groups.

We ended the day with a lovely guided Meditation from Thich Nhat Hanh, which to the surprise (even horror!) of some, included singing. In fact it was a really good way to end, was enjoyed and well received by all. Some wanted to know the words, so I promised to put them up today. Here is the full version of the guided meditation

Breathing in, I know I am breathing in
Breathing out, I know I am breathing out
Breathing in, my breath grows deep
Breathing out, my breath goes slowly
Breathing in, I feel calm
Breathing out, I feel ease
Breathing in, I smile
Breathing out, I release
Dwelling in the present moment
I know it is a wonderful moment

And the simpler version which we sang…

In, Out, Deep and Slow. Calm, Ease, Smile, Release. Present Moment, Wonderful Moment.

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Zen monk and one of the world’s greatest meditation teachers. An absolutely charming man, he was in Ireland last year and led a 6-day family retreat in Kilarney.  He is praticularly fond of teaching meditation to families and children. He often uses little songs like we sang yesterday. There are many benefits in this way of working – as you probably experienced, it makes the meditation very memorable – like a jingle, it tends to follow you around! As you can imagine, children love a simple little song, but it can also lead adults to a very profound experience (if we can get beyond our adult ‘sophistication’ and allow ourselves to enjoy something so simple!). Meditation can also be a lonely activity – we may have very profound experiences, but they are in splendid isolation – so using voice and song helps to build community – reminds us that we are not alone as we tread this path.

Thich Nhat Hanh is also a poet and peace activist. He has written many books including the little gem   ‘The Miracle of Mindfulness’, which first brought the world’s attention to the word ‘mindfulness’ 
The meditation which we used yesterday can be found in a CD set called ‘Calm Ease Smile Breathe’. It can also be found in the book ‘The Blooming of a Lotus’
Although in his 80’s Thich Nhat Hanh still travels all over the world giving talks and retreats to those interested in learning about meditation and mindful living. He is base in France in a meditation centre call Plum Village. If you google his name, or google Plum Village, you will find lots of information.

Finding your feet again in practice…

A follow up day for MBSR has been a long time coming – thank you for your patience.

Maybe it’s a bit like waiting for a bus – you wait and wait and then 3 come at once!
Why 3?
I was planning a day in September – Saturday 14 – and then a friend reminded me that just because evening classes stop in July and August, not everything comes to a standstill. Not everybody is away and for those who are at home, this might be an ideal time to take a little time out for personal nourishment.

Hence, with a little shove from friend,
I decided to offer 2 possible dates in August as well – Sat 10 and 24th
I am putting all three dates out there and will run with whichever suits the most people. Who knows maybe 2, or even 3 will run!

‘Finding your feet again’ seemed like a good title for a number of reasons. I’m sure I’m mistaken but for just a few of you practice might have got a little sidelined since finishing MBSR. Difficult to keep going when life is busy and at times practice might seem dry and not particularly rewarding – a feeling that you’re ploughing a lonely furrow. We all need an injection of inspiration from time to time and a reminder that others are also walking this path. Hence the first aim of a follow up day is to help you find your feet again in practice. Just in case you’ve fallen by the wayside, the day will be an opportunity to revisit the Core Practices of MBSR (Sitting, Body Scan, Breathing Space and Walking Meditation) and to catch up with others who share your commitment to letting these practices find a place in their lives.

It’s also helpful if each follow day offers something new, or puts extra emphasis on some aspect of mindfulness  – body, emotions, thoughts etc. For this first day, I’d love to offer some input on mindfulness of the body in everyday posture – and where better to start than the feet, the foundation of posture. We will do a very simple self-assessment of our normal ways of standing and walking, (did you know that on average we take about 10,000 steps a day?), and a series of delightful exercises with feet resting on the wall. Of course we’ll do some formal walking meditation, but the emphasis will be on mindfulness of the feet as a doorway to being present to life as it unfolds moment by moment, step by step…..10,000 opportunities a day!

But grounding all of this in practical details:

PROPOSED DATES: August 10, August 24, September 14 (all Saturdays)

VENUE: Ballybay Wetlands Centre. TIMES: 10 am to 4pm

GUEST TEACHER: I am hoping that  Mairead Heaney a Mindfulness Teacher / Psychotherapist from Dundalk will be able to join us for these dates – some of you have met Mairead before: she has a particular interest in Mindfulness and Self Compassion and hopefully will share some this with us on a later follow up day…

REFRESHMENTS: Tea, coffee biscuits provided; please bring your own lunch

COST: €35 

BOOKING: please let me know by Monday 22 July whether you are interested in one of these days, and which one, so I can confirm the booking with the Wetland Centre

FURTHER DETAILS: delighted to hear from you if you want to give me a ring for more information…

Practising Presence…

My friends and family know that I have a penchant for starting new blogs but I’m not all that good at maintaining or adding content. I’ve done it again – started a new blog/website the other day called Practising Presence.

Over the holidays I had recorded a short practice called ‘Practising Presence’ – sensing into the body, breath and senses – simply being present to life unfolding moment by moment. I had in mind to put this up on-line as a taster practice for those who are exploring Mindfulness Meditation for the first time, and also for experienced meditators who want to do a short guided practice once in a while. Since this site can’t upload audio files I decided to start up a new one which does. Then I realised that because I have upgraded my new WordPress site to carry audio – this one can now do so as well – it seems the one upgrade applies to all my WordPress territories – I don’t really understand, but won’t complain! You can’t possibly be interested in my tentative explorations into cyberspace – suffice it to say that I may begin to use the Practising Presence for further practice material,both audio and written, and continue to use this site for occasional reflective pieces and for news of up-coming courses and events. We’ll see…

The thing about Mindfulness Meditation is that we’re not trying to achieve any special state – we’re not going after anything esoteric or sublime. The aim is just to be here – present to things exactly as they are. You could say that rather than having an ‘out of the body’ experience, we’re actually trying to be present right here in the body! You might think that you already live in your body – watch out for a later post on Automatic Pilot….

I hope you take time to listen to this short practice – it’s home made, so not perfect quality – but bear with me, I hope to get around eventually to making more professional recordings. Meanwhile, a simple practice like this is a very good way to not only practice formally  but also to begin creating the habit of being there ‘practising presence’ wherever you are. enjoy!

Please click here for Practising Presence, a 20 minute practice of just being wherever you are…

How was your shower?

One of the big themes in the MBSR courses is Automatic Pilot and its opposite counterpart Being in the Present Moment.

For newcomers it is entertaining to gradually realise that we are very rarely present – just doing what you’re doing, being where you are. Doesn’t seem like a big deal and yet we spend so much of our lives time-travelling – rehearshing the future, rehashing the past. How often have you finished a cup of tea and the only evidence of having drunk it is that the cup is nearly empty, just a dreg of cold tea in the bottom! Nobody else was in the room, so you must have drunk it! Like I say, this kind of realisation is amusing for beginners and humbling of the more experienced – yes, no matter how long we practice mindfulness, yoga and meditation, most of us find that we still have frequent and long lapses in our awareness.Nobody – I’ll guarantee – is mindful 100% of the time!

The other morning I had a ‘eureka’ moment getting out of the shower – is there something about water that leads to realisations?
As I stepped out a little voice asked ‘How was your shower?’ You know what – I hadn’t a clue! I was wet all over, so was the shower, but I hadn’t really been there at all. I hadn’t enjoyed the gush of warm (expensive!) water – I hadn’t smelt the gorgeous shower gel my sister had given for recent birthday, nor did I feel the ‘rich luxurious foam’ of carefully chosen shampoo. I hoped that I had washed all the important bits and hadn’t used body wash on my hair. Most likely I hadn’t – I guess most days I shower on automatic pilot – very skilled at washing myself while I sort out the big issues of my life, or more likely lose myself in daily trivia!

So, the little voice was a wake up call. While the long-term aim is to be with our experience while it is happening – wake up and smell the coffee, shower gel or whatever – sometimes it’s easier to do it in retrospect. Try tuning into a recent experience… For example as you get up from the table ask yourself  ‘How was your lunch?’ Perhaps like me getting out of the shower, you haven’t a clue. But you know, the more we ask ourselves, ‘How was your drive?’ of ‘How was your cake’, ‘How was your walk?’  the more our attention might just perk up and begin to notice more and more of this wonderful life as it is actually happening!

Warm wishes,

Mairead