It’s been a little while since I posted because of going away and the preparation for going away. During my holiday, I enjoyed many entirely pointless hours, in the grand scheme of things, doing mindful colouring. Here’s an example of what I got up too:

You may ask…”why is colouring mindful and what is mindfullness anyway?”

What I found with the colouring is that these intricate images in particular force the mind into a particular kind of focus. The concentration is built up without the colourer having to try. It is a very similar experience when you experience meditation, in the traditional “sitting on a cusion” format. The mind becomes single pointed in it’s focus, which is very different to the usual experience of mind which is very grasshopper-like – darting from thing to thing – full of intense imaginings of what might have been, what should and should not have been said, what’s for tea etc etc. An endless chatter of nonsense to the point where, if you took the time to watch your mind, without comment, you would see that you are quite mad!

Whilst colouring I could feel all my vitals slowing down. It is well documented that mindfulness as a way of being is shown to reduce stress, heart rate, breath rate and blood pressure as well as increasing immune system efficiency and possibly even reducing the risk of cancer – who wouldn’t practice it really?

Everyone knows that physical exercise is the key to health and yet most aren’t even doing a quater of the government recommendations (half an hour of heart raising activity 7 days a week for all adults, even those over 65 years, and I would say, especially these people). It is the same with meditation and mindfulness – we all know it works and is good for you…so why aren’t people compliant or why do they engage for a short time then give up?

Top misconceptions

It takes lots of Time: it only takes a few moments to make a difference to your life with mindfullness. 10 mins a day is enough, even 1 minute will help…. Easier than the committment to exercise which means getting into that higher heart rate zone for a minimum of 30 minutes (though of course any kind of moving more is better than nothing). It’s best it it is daily rather for a long time, sporadically.

Not doing it right: There is no need to clear your mind. It only happens if you are enlightened (supposedly) or dead!!!!! The idea is to focus your mind on the here and now. Focusing on the breath is like a bicep curl for your brain! Training the mind is letting go of the constant chatter. Letting that go, like clouds passing by in the sky.

Fear of uber-religiosity (do I have to be Buddhist / Hindu etc?) You may also see it as an advantage that you don’t need to be of any particular religeous orientation to practice it. Everyone can benefit and it is especially useful if you suffer from a racing mind or an anxious mind (that’s probably all of us unless we do something to counteract the natural tendencies of the human mind). Even without a religious belief, many people are drawn to live a life of good citizenship (olympic atheletes of compassion) which often comes from a committment to spending time training the mind.

You have to sit on a cushion to be effectively mindful: Although many benefits come from sitting on your cushion quietly every day, it isn’t necessary to be so place / activity specific. So long as you are genuinely focusing single pointedly on being fully present, without engaging in the mind’s chatter. For instance, I do a meditation walk every day in which I am out with my dogs and Rob and Lucy’s naughty Spaniels. I inhale and walk for 3 steps, exhale and walk for 4 or 5 steps (unless I’m going uphill, then it is 2 and 2 as I need more breath). I focus on the breath and on the feel of my feet inside my walking boots as the toes spread and greet the ground. That’s it. No other thoughts! Everytime my mind wonders to my worries, I draw it back to the breath and the feet. Occassionally there are real life interruptions (Harry going missing usually) but I’m not in any kind of dangerous trance that I can’t deal with that. I just go back to the counting as soon as the distraction has passed. I think it’s important to practice in a real life like this as it trains me.

Yoga is automatically a mindful practice: Not really! It depends how you practice it! It is perfectly possible to practice Yoga mindlessly! Just worry that you are doing it wrong, suddenly find you didn’t hear the instructions because your mind was elsewhere etc etc. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a cracking opportunity to get control of the beast of your mind. Many of the ways I put the class together (such as combining movement with breath) is to encourage that activity and to minimise distractions so that you can develop the most mindful practice possible.

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