The session started with the usual welcome and introduction to the evening’s theme of how we have used our senses over the previous five weeks.
The group were asked to listen to a short piece of music for three minutes. The aim of this exercise was to really tune into the music, really listen to it and let go of any other thoughts.
The group were encouraged to sit with a ‘positive posture’; feet and knees slightly apart and on the floor (if they are over five foot and can reach, unlike some of us…), with a straight back, and hands resting loosely on their laps.
I have been using a free meditation music app:
This app has been designed for those of us who are technologically challenged. It uses large icons and very clear fonts to direct you to a list of free songs. I will write a full review of this digital resource in an upcoming post.
I selected ‘Monks Chanting’ and set a timer for three minutes. Can you spot the error?
I had invited everyone to tune their ears into a song and I had managed to pick the one chanting track listed on the app. Doh!
Thankfully the monks were chanting a very palatable ‘Ohm’ and instead of stopping the track when I realised my silly error, I let it play. I was very glad that I did as the three minutes whizzed by. Perhaps this might not have been the case had I played a pop song with a deliberate and obvious beginning, middle and end.
The group were encouraged to try this technique out over the coming week when they felt the need for a few moments of calm. It will be interesting to see if the type of music determines how tuned in (sorry!) one is able to be and whether knowing or liking the piece has an impact.
As this was a session reviewing some of the lessons we had learnt over the last five weeks, I was keen to repeat the eating meditation as it was the first meditation we shared together.
In an effort to avoid boredom, I switched the item from a raisin to a malteaser, a chocolate ball with a honeycomb centre.
I am eating the leftovers as I type. Obviously. Best meditation ever!
Where was I…
The group were given a malteaser each and asked to listen to a short guided eating meditation. I read the one listed in Mindfulness for Dummies by S. Alidina and changed any reference to the word ‘Raisin’ for ‘Chocolate’.
I only said ‘raisin’ instead of ‘chocolate’ once, so I’m pretty chuffed with myself.
As I read the guided meditation out, I realised how aware I was of the sound of my own voice and I was increasingly aware of how sensual some of the actions could sound. ‘Place the chocolate on your tongue…’ I was treading a very fine line between calm and clear intonation and a telephone hotline.Well at least I know if this all fails, I will have something else to keep the wolves from the door.
This meditation was warmly received and we discussed how this could be very easily utilised in everyday life, both to calm the mind but also as a tool for being more mindful of the fuel we are putting into our bodies. We are hoping to explore this further over the coming term.
What works for you?
As a review session I asked the group if they would like to share their experiences of mindfulness and meditation to date.
The general feeling was very moving, as yet again it was plain to see how helpful we are finding having the sessions. Some people have dedicated more time to self-care, other are using the techniques to help them to sleep or to deal with complicated family relationships.
The most obvious thing to me is that we are enjoying coming together as a group, once a week, to support each other in our quests for a bit more calm in our lives. As I had initially suspected, being held accountable by each other really is helping to remind us of how important it is to set time aside to look after your mental wellbeing.
It is wonderful to know that if all the week’s good intentions of living mindfully and staying calm when we leave the group at 20:01 on the Thursday are a distant memory by Monday that we can refocus, get some new tools under our belts and start a fresh the following week.
I took this opportunity to thank everyone for being a part of this experiment. I have been truly overwhelmed by the level of support and positive feedback I have received and look forward to seeing them during the next term.
Guided Meditation – The Body Scan
We all moved to our mats, put on our warm clothes (the hall was a cool 15 degrees celsius last night) and listened the above guided meditation.
At the end of the feature meditation we discussed how this guided body scan meditation compared to the two others we have listened to over the previous five weeks.
We noted how important to work out what helps and what hinders you to stay focused within a guided meditation. We noted that speaker’s voice, their pronunciation, vocabulary, gender, age and nationality are all variables which can impact on the meditation experience.
Optional Homework Challenges:
Select one meal this week to eat mindfully, using some of the techniques used in the Eating Meditation above.
Try and find 30 minutes, three times this week to try out three different guided meditations using only free resources. Youtube is a great place to start. Share a link to any that you found useful via the BS4 Mindfulness Page.