Session two, done.
I really enjoyed last night’s session and although the group isn’t designed purely for my entertainment (honest!), I’m pretty pleased with how it’s going so far.
Some of the people who came last week, and a few new faces, joined me to try out the three different types of mindfulness I’d organised for this week’s session.
As people entered the hall, I played come free meditation music I had downloaded from:
It was called ‘Om tara’ and although it was much better than silence at setting the mood, I think I’d better keep looking for the ‘right’ music to start the session with. This one reminded me of the opening credits to Disney’s Frozen.
I stopped the Frozen music and we began with the housekeeping and a general overview of the group. This felt like a much smoother start to the session than last week and I was glad to be able to clearly articulate the aims of the support group as a way of encouraging us to be mindful in our daily lives and not just once a week in the hall. I was also pleased to be able to recommend Bristol Wellbeing therapies, should anyone experience any unwanted feelings or emotions as a result of taking part. Once that was out of the way, I managed to relax a bit and get on with the session.
The original intention was to start the session with a discussion on last week’s homework challenges, however due to dynamics of the hall (and the Line-dancing troop that occupy the main hall) I brought the walking meditation forward.
The group spent 7 minutes walking around the room, in silence, focusing on their movement, their foot-fall, the air, and anything else that caught their attention in the moment.
I noticed the group had got into a very rhythmic pattern of walking after about 4 minutes and invited them to try slowing their movements down. After 6 minutes had passed, I invited the group to slow their movements down further, for the final minute.
One member commented that she was paying so much attention to her feet that she felt almost off-balance.
Another member had detailed a frantic exit from her house to get to the session and informed the group the walking meditation had helped her to regain her cool.
Someone else noted how much of their body’s movements are on autopilot and that we take the fact that we can move for granted.
I definitely relate to that statement. I have found whilst trialing mindful running (mindful running post coming soon), I completely take my feet and leg muscles for granted…right up until I pull something, or forget to stretch, or wear the wrong shoes and then I get quite a harsh reminder of the areas I’m relying heavily on, day in, day out.
I suggested to the group this walking meditation works particularly well if you are by yourself, perhaps outside, walking around the block on a lunch break or to stretch your legs as it can really help one to reconnect with the body and let go of any unwanted thoughts.
7/11 Breathing Exercise
We then turned our attention to the breath and I introduced the 7/11 breathing exercise.
The group inhaled to the count of seven and exhaled to the count of 11 (hence the name), three times.
I’ve never counted to 7 so quickly in my whole life!
We then repeated this cycle whilst paying particular attention to the movement of our chests and stomachs as we inhaled and exhaled.
This ‘rapid mindfulness technique‘ was well received. The group were asked to try and incorporate this 7/11 exercise into their week as part one of their optional homework challenges.
Discussion: Week 1 Optional Homework Challenges
We went on to discuss last week’s homework challenges, mindful colouring and Jon Kabot Zinn’s free body scan on YouTube:
Mindful Colouring Discussion
One of our members had brought in the colouring-in she had completed this week and informed the group how enjoyable and relaxing she had found the exercise. She explained that several people had given her ‘Adult colouring books’ over the years, but she’d never really got around to trying them. Another point she raised was the fact that the colouring-in pages I had given out at the first session were quite simplistic, repetitive patterns, which she found more appealing than some of the very complex ones you can buy. Good ol’ Poundworld, Avonmeads. She claimed knowing she was coming to this week’s session really helped her to set aside some time to try it.
As this is exactly what I am trying to achieve with the group , I was thrilled!
A new member shared her passion for mindful colouring. She advised she liked to do it in her bedroom, with nice twinkly lights and a lamp on and she will happily colour-away for hours, and has done for several years.
Another member informed the group of her friend who likes nothing more than to do some colouring-in with a glass of wine when her husband is out for the evening.
It may have been the mention of wine, but I believe we all left the session with an extra bit of motivation to give the colouring-in another try over the coming weeks. I’m hoping to share some more of the group’s creations here soon.
Jon Kabot Zinn’s Body Scan Meditation Discussion
One Member had followed the suggested guided meditation one evening when her husband had been snoring next to her and reported that she found Kabot Zinn’s voice clear and easy to follow. So relaxing in fact that she didn’t make it to the end of the meditation.
I informed the group the body scan meditation is often advised to insomniacs as it successfully takes your focus away from your thoughts and onto the body (again, hence the name) which allows many to relax and finally fall asleep. This member was encouraged to try the meditation again during the day to see if she could hear the entire meditation.
Guided Meditation: Lori Granger’s Body Scan (99p)
The group either sat or laid on the floor on mats and listened to the above body scan to enable us to experiment with different mindfulness teachers and styles to see if we are more likely to tune into a female or a male voice.
The session ended with the setting of some more Optional Homework Challenges.
Optional Homework Challenges
- Mindful Cooking
The group were encouraged to pick a recipe or a meal and to prepare and cook it mindfully, paying attention to every movement and actions the process requires.
- Real Life Application of 7/11 Breathing
The Group were encouraged to consider using the 7/11 breathing technique this week in a moment of need. Obviously we hope they wont need it!
The Group were asked to consider making a donation to help cover the cost of hiring the hall.