Mindfulness Blog: Part 2 - East Cheshire Hospice

Mindfulness Blog: Part 2

Mindfulness – A blog by East Cheshire Hospice’s Lindsay Dobson

Today I wanted to explore how we can train our mind.  We know that our mind can be changed – physically and literally, by what we choose to interact with and how we behave.  Like a road, the more we use it, the more ingrained it becomes.

So what we choose to focus on, can be important.  It’s very human and natural, and in fact biologically ingrained, for us to focus on threat and negatives.  Because as cave men, it was imperative that we did, if we forgot the time we trod on the snake, or where we went wrong on the path and wandered into the lions cave, we died!!  So we became wired to remember threat and negatives more than positives.  However, sometimes this does not serve us well, as what we focus on, we tend to see more off!!

Think of our minds as like a flashlight. What we focus on, we highlight and sometimes we can choose what we shine our light on, and other times, a loud bang for instance, means our flashlight flies over to that place without our conscious choice.   Sometimes it shines on something we would prefer it didn’t, and we can’t seem to bring it back!  And whatever the light is shone on we are more aware of.  So if it’s shining on the threats right now, we perhaps forget to see any of the gifts.

Another way to look at it, is our minds like a little puppy, its excited, it wanders around peeing on things, and it definitely has not yet learned to come back when we call it!!

But we can train our puppy mind.

How do you do that, well kinda like we would the puppy!  I would like to think, you wouldn’t train a puppy by shouting and threatening- because if you told it off everytime it came back to you, it would soon learn not to!!  Instead we treat it with kindness and compassion.  We understand that it needs to learn to come to call and stay when you want it to.  That it’s hard at first!  And we would patiently and consistently keep on trying!!

Kindness, consistency and joy are how e train puppies and minds!!  With treats often thrown in too J

So how does this apply to your mindfulness learning?

Well it means we need to be gentle and kind with ourselves when our mind wanders.  To understand it’s the nature of the mind to do that (in fact even in India when i was training with some of the world’s best yoga teachers, they would tell you, your mind never stops wandering, the practice is about noticing when it does and gently bringing it back to where you want it!) and to consistently and gently call it back when it gets distracted.  If we do this, then with time it will get better at sitting and staying where you ask it to (but even after over a decade of practice I would like to confess that there will be times your minds better at this than others.  Right now for instance there is so much going on that is scary, it takes a lot of kindness and compassion to sit and constantly call that mind back!)

The joy and the treat comes in by choosing the practices that feel good to you.  Mindfulness is not a one size fits all approach – some types of practice will work for some people, some times.  Give things a go, but pick that ones that feel good to you, that leave you feeling better and don’t increase your stress, that’s the treat and the joy.  If we pick a practice we don’t enjoy, naturally you won’t want to keep doing it.  So on our wellbeing page – there will be audio practices and meditations by different people, that do different things.  Use the ones that work for you J

Our brains however, do like to be given something to do, which is why we will use anchors – i.e. something for your mind to hold on to, to anchor it, like watching your breath, or a visualisation, or body scan.

With that in mind, my offering to you today, is a little practice you can adapt and use for as long or as short as you like

It’s using your breath and your hand.

It’s called finger breathing.  Very simply you will put out one hand, with the other hand you will use your finger to trace up one finger and down one finger – taking each finger at a time.  Sync your breath with this – so as you go up the finger you breath in, as you go down the finger breath out.

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