ESTABLISH A MINDFULNESS PRACTICE
Guided by a trained mindfulness teacher
The challenges of the pandemic have had an adverse effect on the mental health of many people in our society- anxiety, isolation, worry and fear have increased. During 2020 – 2021, I trained to become teacher of Mindfulness Based Approaches with Mindfulness Scotland.
In order to offer greater support, I now offer Mindfulness appointments in addition to Massage Therapy appointments. Some clients attend for only Mindfulness, some attend only for Massage Therapy. Some attend for both Mindfulness and Massage Therapy. Some alternate between them. The choice is yours. No-one knows your mind and body better than you do.
Massage, Mindfulness and My Teaching Practice
As a Massage Therapist, I’m acutely aware of the negative effect that physical and emotional discomfort, stress and tension has on the musculo-skeletal system. I’m also aware of the profound effects that massage can have in calming the para-sympathetic nervous system, alleviating fascial restriction and increasing range of movement. The mind and body are closely correlated.
It can be argued though, that the effects of massage are relatively short lived. For this reason I feel that Massage and Mindfulness complement each other very well. After receipt of massage therapy, fortunate clients may well improve fully after one session. More often however, in the case of chronic pain or unpleasantness, regular maintenance is necessary. Discomfort often has an emotional connection and physical restrictions due to stress, tension, or anxiety is not likely to disappear completely following a massage especially if the underlying emotional aspect is there. The remedial therapy may have been done on the physical body but the mind needs attention too for enhanced quality of life in the longer term. For a client to be able to influence their own health and taking an element of responsibility for their own self-recovery by practicing mindfulness, there is a greater chance of a positive outcome.
The concept of self-regulation is relevant. It implies a sense of self-care and ownership, tying in with Locus of Control theory. Presented by Julian Rotter in 1966, this postulated that people holding the belief that they control outside events have a high internal LOC whereas those who believe they are powerless to control outside events have a lower LOC.
Why cultivate a Mindfulness Practice
As humans on the whole we are pretty good at knowing when, and how to nourish our physical body with healthy food, exercise, stretching and therapies. We know we need to commit to a regular practice to keep our bodies in shape and to focus a bit harder or put a little more effort in when our body lets us know its time to do so. We have evolved such that we no longer get our exercise when we hunt for food so we have to make a dedicated effort to look after our physical bodies.
Wild animals on the other hand, still hunt for food. They get their exercise and keep in optimum shape by eating and hunting. They do not need to schedule in time to go for a run or engage in combat. They are doing it for their survival. As far as we know, their minds are not chattering to them about tomorrow, next week, next year or whether the giraffe they just ambled past has never liked them. They just ‘Be’. They are fully present in the moment. Not stressing about the future or ruminating over the past. Human beings do not just ‘Be’. We are human ‘do-ings’, not human ‘be-ings’.
Our minds don’t need encouragement to be active. Constantly chattering in the background. Thinking, worrying, ruminating……. even at rest we are dreaming. It’s a relentless onslaught of noise in the background, distracting us from the precious present moment we are in.
We don’t give our mind the same nourishment and maintenance that we give our physical bodies. Often we operate on auto-pilot. Most of us will have experienced that feeling of wondering how you got somewhere, the experiences and events of the journey passed unobserved because our minds are off somewhere other than what s here and now.
Living on auto-pilot means that the reality of each moment is missed. Its also unhelpful because it can allow negative thinking habits to repeat themselves. Thoughts are not facts – they are just events that pass, however when the mind is distracted towards random thoughts, there can be negative feelings and emotions attached that can attract too much importance. It is easy to catastrophise and create fake news out of the thoughts that occur. The suffering that we feel is not limited to the physical or emotional pain that we feel – it is exacerbated by the resistance we have to it… worry…fear in other words the negative narrative that we afford it.
Paying attention to present moment experiences in a particular way.
A solid mindfulness practices teaches us to tune into our body and mind experiences in each moment. The experience we have of felt sensations – physical or emotional- that are unique to us. The thoughts, feelings, impulses and emotions that are ours and no-one else’s. There no right or wrong because what is experienced is our experience.
By cultivating this awareness, it allows us to bring the mind gently back to the present moment and take a lighter approach to thoughts that pass. It allows us to learn to notice when the mind wanders off. Minds will do this over and over again.. it’s what they do. We can’t stop it wandering off, but we can change our relationship to the thoughts and place less importance on them. We can begin to observe the felt senses with curiosity….with a beginners mind. Learning to notice what is in the moment, fine tuning our awareness of what’s actually here. Paying attention to the present moment in a particular way. Cultivating a sense of compassion and kindness to the self while the thoughts, feelings and emotions are observed. Not judging. Not striving to feel a particular way. Just accepting. Letting Go of resistance.
Learning through practice to notice and bring wandering mind back, becoming aware of breath and body, sensations and emotions helps us to live life more fully in each moment.
The guided practices that I offer include short body and breath practices, longer sitting meditations and body scan meditations. Additionally, I will be leading walking meditation, loving kindness meditation (metta meditation), raisin meditation, and gratitude practices. Mindfulness can be applied to almost any day-to-day activity and I will provide guidance on how to apply mindful approaches to aspects of your daily life.
An important benefit of a guided practice led by a trained teacher over listening to an app is the process of enquiry which follows the practice. This process – a conversation with a point – encourages participants to reflect on mind and body experiences and to tune in to thoughts, impulses and emotions that may have arisen. This also helps participants to cultivate and embody the core attitudes of mindfulness as defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Acceptance, Trust, Non-Striving, Beginner’s Mind, Non-Judgement, Patience, Letting Go, Gratitude
Curious and ready to begin?
One-to One guided mindfulness sessions led by myself are for 30 or 60 minutes. Book via the booking system
Mindfulness Sessions are held within my clinic or over Zoom. In the case of clinic sessions this can also be added before or after massage therapy.
Group classes led by myself are available on Tuesday evenings (Guided Mindfulness Practices) and on Thursday mornings (Guided Mindful Movement). Book via the booking system. Classes are limited to 5 people.
Classes are 30 minutes on-line over Zoom.
8-week MBSR Programme
During 2022, I will be also be teaching the full 8 week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Programme. This will take place weekly over Zoom for two hours plus any reading / resource time. Details will be made available once dates are confirmed. Please let me know if you are interested in joining an 8 week programme.
Interested but still a little unsure?
If you want to know a little bit more before diving in, it may be helpful to have a short taster session. Please try a free of charge ‘Mindfulness Intro’ session. During this we can have a conversation about mindfulness, and include a short guided practice as a taster. Book via the booking system
Attending a Zoom or clinic based session may not suit your current circumstances. If this is the case and you are interested in exploring mindfulness approaches, there are many resources available on-line that you may find helpful.
Mindfulness Scotland have a range of audio practices which you can access via their website free of charge.
Palouse Mindfulness offer an 8 week On line MBSR course free of charge.
If you would like to read more about Massage and Mindfulness, please follow this link: Massage & Mindfulness Shelagh Bryce