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.

Thinking outside the ‘8-week’ box

After a mega-slump of energy around the New Year (anyone else feel that?) thankfully I bounced back and got the spurt I needed to put the show on the road once more!

Getting excited about new 8-week MBSR courses starting in Monaghan and Cavan over the next few weeks. But I’ve also been doing some thinking about other ways people can learn Mindfulness. The 8-week courses are of course tried and tested – there is no doubt that if participants make a reasonable commitment to the programme there is a lot to be gained. But not everyone can invest the time and energy  – and indeed the money – needed. So I thought it only fair to offer other options….

To begin with, between now and September I’m offering a number of one-day workshops – these will offer some general background and introduce the core practices of MBSR. For some it might be all they need – they may find the day is enough to launch them into a regular personal practice, they may enjoy the day as a welcome and nourishing respite from something they are currently struggling with, or indeed they might discover that it’s not quite what they’re looking for. For others, the one-day workshop will be a good opportunity to ‘dip in a toe’ and if they decide to commit to an 8-week course they will have a clear sense of what they are committing to.

I’m attaching a document with details of these workshops Ways to Wellness 2014
I do hope you have time to check it out.
You will also find details  of one-day workshops on Yoga and Mindfulness – these are intended for folks who have already done MBSR, but students of Yoga are welcome as well. Been thinking a lot lately about how Yoga has been somehow ‘upstaged’ in recent times by the tremendous popularity of Mindfulness. Of-course its not a competition, and I have nothing to gain from taking sides …. but I may be about to climb onto a soap box, so I think I’ll leave it for another post!
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…

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