I had someone ask me the other day ‘when did you start learning about mindfulness?’ And my answer was ‘Early 2011 when I started an MBSR course (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) with Nique Murch, an Openground Facilitator’.
But that question (like all good questions) got me thinking and really there have been a lot more twists and turns in my mindfulness journey, is it the same for you?
I’ll just write about a few key moments:
- My Mum & Dad had an informal yoga group in our loungeroom, every Tuesday night (which I disliked as a kid!) but when I turned 15 I was allowed to join in – I had a love/ hate relationship with yoga / breathing meditation at that age – at times I felt more relaxed, at other times I felt pressure to do it the right way and I was all tense!
2. The next key time was at Uni, feeling homesick & in hindsight, depressed – I found a flier advertising a meditation group- I don’t think I would have gone to it, except for the fact that I’d seen Mum & Dad meditate, so it must be OK to give it a go and I was keen to try anything to sleep better and be a bit more relaxed in the day! I wish I could remember the group leader’s name as she had a profound impact on me, each week she would introduce us to a new meditation technique, often using visualisation strategies – some I still use today!
3. A few years later I was invited to join some ‘way out there’ women in Kununurra WA for a meditation evening once a week – they introduced me to reiki, past life regression, and lots of passing healers or meditation teachers who wanted to share their techniques! My favourite thing to do was find a beautiful large red rock by a waterfall and meditate!
4. When I became pregnant with my first child (and every child after) – I was so lucky to be able to do pregnancy yoga – which involved a lot of relaxation, meditation & visualisation exercises and afterwards I did Mums & Bubs Yoga – I am sure Julia, my yoga teacher, was one of the main influences why I just had to have a 3rd pregnancy / baby! (And boy did I need some relaxation with twins!!) The thing that kept me sane in each new born baby phase was to put on a yoga nidra cd (body scan) every afternoon, and every afternoon I would fall asleep – but wake up at the end of the cd & feel refreshed ready to go again for the afternoon! Having used the same cd when I was pregnant it felt like every time I put it on, the baby would sleep / be really calm too!
At this time a parenting counsellor shared with me that if I could focus in on just one thing for one child – they would feel content and I could slow down too and enjoy they moment! I learnt to relish baby toes / smiles or a giggle & a laugh or doing a craft activity.
5. As kids grew and life got busier I remember not doing the yoga nidra cd so much – and then one day I walked into an old church in Ross Tasmania, and just found tears welling in my eyes at the solid peaceful silence from 200 years of silent contemplation. I then knew I had to bring more meditation & spirituality back into my life and began meditating every afternoon when my kids napped or had quiet time!
6. Again kids grew older, and I started work – it was hard to do a lunchtime meditation although sometimes I could manage it – the stress was getting to me when Sarah Napthali’s Buddhism For Mothers Of School Age Children – saved me – and then her pocket book Buddhism For Busy Parents became my daily go to for a paragraph of how to live mindfully.
7. At the start of 2011, I was aware of how much of my beautiful, peaceful holiday I had spent habitually worrying, planning, even when there was nothing to worry or plan about! Luckily I just passed a noticeboard one day to see the MBSR course advertised – perfect timing! This course transformed my life as we committed to 45 minutes daily mindfulness practice over 8 weeks- and a whole day silent retreat and I could really feel the difference – my whole outlook on life had changed and I began to change how I was with other people, especially my kids!
8. In 2012 I was trained as a facilitator in Bringing Up Great Kids & Positive Discipline & both emphasised Dan Siegels work in how it was important to teach parents about how children & adults brains worked & how there were mindfulness strategies children & adults could use to calm down. I have been teaching this to parents in Alice Springs & now Port Macquarie ever since as well as whenever I remember using the strategies at home.
And so the journey continues, I still say to everyone, I am a practicing student of mindfulness because I don’t think you ever reach the stage where you are mindful all the time or have stopped learning!! I am lucky now to have a peaceful verandah, overlooking gum trees, to mediate on in the mornings, out of earshot of the kids for a bit and I hate starting the day without it! I’m heading out on retreat again in September to Alice Springs (can’t wait!) and I love listening to podcasts to continue my learning – my favourites at the moment are Jack Kornfield & Tara Brach.
So I’m keen to hear, what is your mindfulness journey? What would you like your mindfulness journey to be from this day forth – because mindfulness is always about starting afresh with right now!