I’ve been doing the “Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance” six week e-course, run by Monash University via Future Learn this month. It’s a free course and can I just say outright how wonderful it is.
I used to try and meditate for 15-20 minutes on a regular basis. I would sit and try to empty my mind and blank everything out in the hope I’d achieve some level of calmness that was ‘divine’. But through the course I’ve learnt meditation is actually a practice where I am meant to be mindful, to just be in the moment and practice a non-judgmental awareness, to notice “what’s happening and just to be with it as it is and make space for it.”(1)
Dr Craig Hassad and Dr Richard Chambers have used the analogy of a untrained puppy to describe our minds in meditation. “We want it to stay on its mat or stay in one place, but it just keeps wandering off. That’s the nature of a puppy and it’s the nature of our untrained minds.” (1)
So I’ve being trying to train my puppy mind to be present. I now sit for 5 or so minutes, morning and night, and just be aware. If thoughts come in I noticed them and then try to let them go. If my mind wanders I try to bring it back to the present without judgement, over and over again. I’m trying to teach my mind to get used to being in one place. It is a simple technique, but it is not easy.
Practicing mindfulness has made far more of a difference to me than my 15-20 minutes of, unsuccessfully, trying to blank out my thoughts. I feel as though I’m more aware of things around me. I recognise when my mind is wandering off in meetings or conversations and I can ‘bring it back to the mat’. It has helped ease feelings of anxiety.
I often need to recommend a regular meditation practice to clients. In fact it comes up a lot. And thankfully I’m now in a position to give better advice and guidance on how my clients can train their own puppies.
(1) Dr Chris Hassad, Dr Richard Chambers. Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance. Monash University via FutureLearn. 2016