What is mindfulness meditation?

mindfulnessMindfulness has its origins in Buddhist teachings and has been around for a very long time.

More recently it has become well known in the Western world and it’s becoming more popular day by day. You may have read something about it or knows someone who practices it. Mindfulness is a form of meditation which doesn’t ask us to ‘clear’ our minds of thoughts.

  • When we practice mindfulness, we bring our awareness and curiosity to our present experience.
  • We practice mindfulness with an attitude of gentle and loving acceptance. There is no need to analyse or judge what’s happening– just being in the present moment and being aware of the thoughts and feelings and the body sensations that come up for us is enough.

Curiosity is a very important part of mindfulness – because if we can be curious, particularly about ourselves, we have the potential to learn so much more about ourselves and our relationship with the world around us. With that learning comes the opportunity for us to develop greater clarity, self-acceptance and peace within ourselves.

What are the benefits of mindfulness meditation?

stressThere’s so much scientific evidence which shows that practising mindfulness can have significant health benefits. One of the most important and proven health benefits is that mindfulness can help reduce stress.

For those of you who are leading very busy lives and trying find a balance–mindfulness can help you find a pathway towards feeling more relaxed, healthier and happier.

Most people will notice that something changes for them even after a brief practice of a few minutes. Many people report that they feel more calm, relaxed and generally happier since they have begun a regular practice of mindfulness meditation.

So if you’re having a stressful day, I really recommend that you try it. There are lots of books and CDs and information on-line which can help you get started.

How can we practice mindfulness meditation? How much time does it take?

mindfulnessOne of the best things about mindfulness is that it’s easy to learn and you don’t need to find a spare half hour and a quiet place to sit. You can feel the difference even by practising for 5 to 10 minutes each day, and you can do it while walking and doing many other activities.

Many of us have brief pauses in our busy days when we find ourselves with a few minutes of free time. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to ‘fill up’ those pauses with more activity. Do you find yourself quickly checking emails and texts in those brief periods? If so, why not try a few minutes of mindfulness practice as an alternative and give yourself a real break. A few minutes of mindfulness can feel like a relaxing massage for your mind.

Mindfulness meditation can be practiced through a guided meditation – you can listen to CDs, or you could try joining a mindfulness meditation group. A group is a good way to begin, because you’ll have a dedicated time and place for your practice. You’ll usually have an opportunity to ask the group leader questions about mindfulness and you’ll be with other people who are also interested in reducing stress and leading a healthier and happier lifestyle.

Talking about the pain of infertility

pictureIn a recent article published by the Guardian Australia, Louise Williams writes about the emotional pain and stress that she has experienced in her journey through infertility. (I Know the Pain of Infertility–and Talking About it Helps; http://gu.com/p/3pnkc)

I was deeply moved by the author’s courage in writing about an emotionally painful experience which is both deeply personal and one which will resonate for many people who are also facing the challenges associated with infertility.

The author touches on the feelings of grief many women experience and how the expression of this is grief is not really understood in our society.  I was saddened to read that some women may feel that their grief is ridiculous because ‘nothing is lost.’

As I reflect on these words, I am reminded of the fact that the grief experienced by those who experience infertility is deeply felt and very painful. At the same time it is a grief that isn’t really acknowledged and openly accepted. This leaves many women wondering whether their grief is real or even necessary.

The fact remains that many of us who have experienced infertility do become attached to the dreams we hold about our imagined future child. Entwined with this is the vision we may hold of ourselves as future parents.

With infertility, all of our tenderly held dreams, plans and fantasies about our future selves and our dreamed-of babies are completely shaken, and this can be a terrible blow to our inner worlds.  It is as though what once seemed really solid beneath our feet – the concrete, the asphalt, the soil, suddenly seem to cave in and fall apart in front of us. As we walk along, we realize that what we had assumed to be solid and secure is now fraught with uncertainty.

When this happens, we are reminded of our vulnerability and we will experience grief about all that we have lost and wonder if anything will ever be resolved.

It is very normal to hold deep feelings of sadness, anger, frustration and hopelessness when we experience infertility. Unfortunately, the grief surrounding infertility often remains unspoken and in our silence we remain unsupported by others.

I wholeheartedly agree with Louise William’s views on the importance of talking about infertility. It is time for change and for people experiencing infertility to feel that they have a voice that will be heard. It is time for our society to wake up and be more sensitive, compassionate and responsive to those who are suffering from the deep emotional pain and stress that surrounds infertility.

Mindfulness

mindfulness

Human beings have a tendency to function in ‘auto-pilot’ mode. We are hardly ever fully aware of what we are doing, how we are doing it, or even why we are doing it!

Our minds are often a jumble of thoughts and feelings, about the past or the future and rarely about the present moment.  With so much going on, it’s no wonder that we unconsciously shift to auto-pilot mode.

Being in auto pilot is useful because we can access certain well established patterns which allow us to function more easily in our day to day lives. But there is a down side to this…we then tend to lose our curiosity about ourselves and about the outside world.

Curiosity is a very important part of mindfulness – because if we can be curious, particularly about ourselves, then we are not necessarily stuck with our emotional pain. We have the potential to learn so much more about ourselves and with that learning comes greater clarity, self-acceptance and hope.

So what is mindfulness?

  • It is a state of consciousness which allows us to be just a little bit outside of ourselves and to observe and be curious about what is happening in our minds as well as in our bodies.
  • We practice it with an attitude of gentle and loving acceptance. There is no need to analyse or judge what is happening– just being in the present moment and being aware of our  thoughts  and feelings and the body sensations that come up for us is enough.

In the May program of Fertility and Emotional Well-Being, there will be ma

ny opportunities for you to learn how to practice mindfulness and to experience its healing power.

If you know someone who might be interested in the program, please pass on an invitation to join the group. Places are limited and bookings are essential.

Fertility and Emotional Well-Being: A mindfulness based program for women

If you are experiencing a fertility problem (and this includes failed IVF cycles, pregnancy loss and miscarriage) you may sometimes feel as though you’re the only one with this problem. Actually, there are many women who face these challenges. In fact, there are statistics which show:

  • About 9% of Australian couples are experiencing infertility at any given time.
  •  One in four pregnancies ends in a pregnancy loss.
  • In 2010, approximately 61, 700 ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) treatment cycles were performed in Australia and New Zealand.

Of these, 18% resulted in a live delivery (the birth of at least one liveborn baby).

Having a fertility problem is one of life’s most stressful events, but at the same time, the emotional pain and stress which is experienced by many women is often down-played. All of this, combined with the normal stresses of everyday life, can have a negative impact on your emotional well-being.

A flyer for Fertility and Emotional Well-Being mindfulness program

Fertility and Emotional Well-Being is a small group program which will help you regain a sense of balance. Meeting once a week for 4 weeks, you will have an opportunity to:

  • connect with other women
  • learn the techniques of mindfulness
  • learn the best strategies for managing stress.

Please take a look at the flyer for all the details. If you would like to make an enquiry about the program or to register, please contact me