Happy weekend everyone, I hope that you are all well.
Today was my second session volunteering on the Mindfulness for Health course in Manchester. It feels like a good time to share with you all my experiences of volunteering in aid of National Volunteer week here in the UK:
If you’d like to learn more about some of the benefits of volunteering please check out my last blog post: ‘Volunteering on a Mindfulness for Health course – session one.’
We started off the session with a breathing anchor meditation practice, which was very much needed as some of us had very stressful journeys into Manchester.
Here’s a link to a breathing anchor meditation practice led by Vidyamala Burch if you would like to give it a try:
My job was to give out extra blankets and cushions if people needed them in order to increase their comfort.
Here is a quote that was shared with us which I found to be quite helpful:
‘Use the breath as an anchor to tether your attention to the present moment. Your thinking mind will drift here and there, depending on the currents and winds moving until, at some point the anchor line grows taught and brings you back’
We then had time to share our experiences of our home practice in pairs. One person would talk mindfully and the other person would listen mindfully. Helping the person to explore their experience more deeply.
Home practice is where we are encouraged in between the taught face-to-face sessions to practice the meditations on our own at home for 10 minutes twice a day.
My experience of home practice is that it has been challenging! I shared with my partner that I have the meditations on my phone and will tend to do the meditations on the go. For example, I might get to work early, park my car and then meditate in the car. I might go for a walk in nature and find a quiet spot by the lake to meditate:
Alternatively I meditate last thing at night whilst in bed to help me relax and get to sleep:
If you are looking for online meditations I recommend You Tube, Soundcloud, or downloading the Mindfulness for Health book via Audible, which you can find at the following: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Health-Personal-Development/Mindfulness-for-Health-Audiobook/B00EOT9NPG?ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=c6e316b8-14da-418d-8f91-b3cad83c5183&pf_rd_r=GA2E2ZHT5ZB01KC5NZ6H&
If you are not already a member of Audible it is free to download your first book.
The next part of the session was mindful movement, which was described as a moving body scan. Mindful movement is all about learning where your soft and hard edges are. Soft edges where we are maybe not moving enough and hard edges where we are pushing the body too hard, beyond it’s current limits and risking increased pain and discomfort and possible injury.
Here are a couple of examples of mindful movements:
Mindful movements can be done laying down, seated and standing.
You are encouraged not to work beyond your current level of comfort and physical capacity and adaptations to each move can be offered if needed. Such as a smaller range of motion, resting between movements, or leaving a particular movement out.
I find mindful movements really helpful at improving confidence in moving the body when in pain and helpful when it is difficult to stay relaxed in a seated meditation due to pain, agitation.
The last parts of the afternoon included practising the three minute breathing practice, an example of a three minute breathing space is here:
This meditation can be used throughout the day as a means of checking in with the body and the breath. I quite often use this meditation as an emergency meditation if I am stressed, or have a stress event ahead, such as a presentation, or job interview.
The compassion practice was next, if you’d like to try this practice here is a link to a led meditation (the compassion practice is track 5):
So all in all the session was a busy one! It was lovely to be back at the Buddhist centre again and I enjoyed helping on the course and hearing about the participants experiences of meditation.
Here are some pictures that I took there today:
As ever if you have any questions, or you’d like to learn more about Breathworks mindfulness, or volunteering please get in touch.