Monthly Archives: February 2016

Starting out: A Book That Really Helped Me

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Quiet the mindImage shows Quiet the Mind book cover, red spine,  white background, with the text Quiet the Mind above an illustrated image of a man in a landscape of green hills and blue sky with a few white clouds. The man’s eyes are closed he is smiling and blue sky and a cloud are shown where his brain would be. Underneath in blue text is ‘An illustrated Guide on How to Meditate. Underneath that in black text by Matthew Johnstone.  .

Starting out with meditation can seem daunting,  if you’re anything like me it can take a long time before you stop making excuses about why you  have got no time,  or why it wouldn’t work for you anyway.  Something that really helped put an end to these thoughts was  a little gem of a book called Quiet the Mind by Matthew Johnstone: An illustrated Guide on How to Meditate.  It’s a small and beautifully illustrated book, a great introduction or refresher as it probably  only takes 10 minutes to read. I  have personally used it over and over again, when I first  started meditating and was finding things difficult,  I used to read through this book before every single time I meditated and I still use it to remind myself of certain things, like not beating myself up when I get distracted.

Another reason I think this book is great if you are just starting out is because  when you first start to meditate a 10 minute guided meditation can seem a lot to achieve (at least it was for me). I   just read this and set a timer when I’m ready to start meditating. At first, I would advise starting with a really low target, set your timer for 1 or maybe 2 minutes and just focus on your breathing. It’s pretty much guaranteed that you will get distracted, whether it is by something in your mind or your body. That is fine, the important thing is to try not to get upset or frustrated, just acknowledge it and go back to focusing on your breath.  Once you  become comfortable with this then move up to 5 minutes, then gradually increase the time if you want to.

This book also gave me an alternative  when it came to what to do with my hands when meditating. Having my palms flat on my knees often wouldn’t work for me, as it would be difficult for them to stay that way throughout my entire meditation which would be distracting so in this book  it suggests curling one hand comfortably inside the other (like a cat in a basket.) The important thing is to find what works for you.

Although this book is instructive, I found it good to think of this as a base  for my meditation. I use the things I liked and ignored things that I found didn’t work for me (for example, this book suggests using a mantra to help with focus, but I found that I would get too  caught up in whether I was saying the mantra right and this would take away from my meditation practice so I have never followed through with that.)

This week  I finally found an accessible meditation class, which I have just started, so I will be writing about my experiences with that soon.

If you want to purchase the book you can do so here: http://www.bookdepository.com/Quiet-Mind-Matthew-Johnstone/9781780331188. (Or ask if they can get it in your library)

I hope this post was helpful it is in no way meant to be an advert.

*This blog was mostly typed with speech recognition software, please forgive any mistakes or oddnesses that have slipped through my proofreading process. Thank you.

 

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A More Inclusive Mindfulness

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IMG_little red buddha (Image is of a small red Buddha figure sat in front of books on a dark wood shelf)

As part of the usual New Year re-focusing, I have been working on making mindfulness and meditation a more regular part of my daily life. I have had an interest in meditation for a long time, however as I have Cerebral Palsy and use a wheelchair I have found it difficult to find a style of practice that suits me. Many of the resources I found often had a strong and sometimes prescriptive focus on certain postures and sitting positions, which made me feel like I wouldn’t be able to  get the same out of meditation as someone who could easily get into a lotus position.

However with the advent of smartphones and now the development of mindfulness apps that  have guided meditations,  meditation  has become a lot more accessible and I have found it really helpful in dealing with everyday anxieties and stresses, particularly when it comes to not getting carried away by anxious trains of thought. This has made me really enthusiastic about what it can do for people and this blog is a way of sharing that enthusiasm, as well as sharing any resources I come across along the way.

The more I read on the subject the more I see that there is still a focus on doing things in ways  that aren’t always accessible to people who have limitations and this is the main reason I wanted to start this blog.  It may be that there are not so many people that have physical difficulties who are interested in mindfulness which is why I couldn’t find many other references to mindfulness and disability on the Internet. If this is the case then this blog will simply be a nice way to document my own experiences and  development within mindfulness. However, I hope to create something that will help other people realise that mindfulness can be adapted to whatever your needs may be.

After all, mindfulness is simply:

mindfulness
ˈmʌɪn(d)f(ʊ)lnəs/
noun
  1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
    “their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition”
  2. a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

In this blog  I hope to explore my experiences of mindfulness, including my practice,  my use of apps  and my reading in a way that I hope will  make  it more accessible for people who may have  otherwise dismissed it as something that wasn’t open to them.  I hope to post something once or twice a week and I hope you will find it useful.

 

*This blog was mostly typed with speech recognition software, please forgive any mistakes or oddnesses that have slipped through my proofreading process. Thank you.