Tag Archives: disability

Mindfulness and Mobile Games

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First of all, apologies if you thought this post was going to be about Pokemon Go, it’s not. It’s actually going to be about my first attempt to come up with my own mindfulness technique.

It’s based around the idea that an important part of mindfulness is about loosening our grip on things and trying not to take life quite so seriously.

I realised when I was playing a mobile game that I am quite addicted to that I was getting really frustrated for no reason, I was gripping my phone really strongly (I often put too much pressure in my grip anyway because of my CP) and there was lots of tension building up in my arms.  When I noticed this I decided to try and use it as my newest way of  bringing mindfulness into my every day life, in the hope that if I practice not getting too drawn in or frustrated by a game hopefully I will be able to apply it to other situations too.

So the next time you are playing your favourite mobile game, see if you can notice when you are getting too involved..

Notice the sensations that are there. Are you gripping tightly? Are there areas of your body that are full of tension? Notice whatever is there for you

Take a breath and bring yourself into wider awareness for a few moments.

If you want to you can spend a few moments focusing on relaxing the areas where you noticed tension or exploring any other sensations that you became aware of.

Repeat this technique  whenever you notice you are getting too involved or frustrated

Let me know what you think of this idea in the comments, did you find the technique helpful?

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Mindfulness in My Day to Day Life

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simple thingsImage shows a cartoon of  a monk smiling, wearing orange robes, holding a bowl sitting cross-legged on the grass, he is holding a bowl and next to him is a cat. Caption reads: Enjoy the little things. Picture by Molly at Buddha Doodles

 

I feel like a lot of this blog has become focused on the  theory of mindfulness and that means I haven’t talked so much about mindfulness in a more practical way.  This is partly because reading informs a lot of my practice and I want to share what I learn  in the hope that it will be useful to other  people.  I have been keeping up a daily meditation practice and while I don’t feel I have become particularly skilled at meditation, I do feel like  it is having a positive effect on my life outside of practice, so I thought I would share with you some of the ways that I have noticed this.

The first example would be being  able to respond rather than reacting so that  in a discussion, things are able to stay a lot calmer and not escalate into situations that become a lot more difficult to deal with.

The second area where I have noticed changes is  when it comes to dealing with rejection, I’m applying for a lot of things at the moment and that inevitably leads to a fair amount of rejection. in the past, I have really let situations like this get to me and not dealt with them very well. Mindfulness has been helping me turn that situation around and help me see the positives within the situation. I found this article really helpful,  but the number one thing I am trying  to remember about getting rejected is that  it means you’re putting yourself out there and doing something.

I used to  be very susceptible to being dragged down by my own negative thought processes about what I could have done better or how things could have been different. Now I find it a lot easier to see it all as  a learning process and just keep going. This is not to say that I don’t get dragged into  conversations with my inner critic at times, but  I am a lot better at metaphorically walking away if that makes sense.

My third   observation is related to mindful eating but is a bit more specific than that, lately, whenever I have been having a little treat, be that  a chocolate bar  or a favourite drink I have been remembering  to pay attention  to all the reasons why I love it.  This has 2 advantages in that I get more  enjoyment out of it and I’m less likely to over indulge because I am paying attention properly. This is  particularly useful when you have a sweet tooth like I do.

I think this shows (to me at least) that even when I feel that meditation isn’t going well, commitment to the practice can still make a difference, just maybe not in the ways I first expected.

 

 

 

This is Happening Book Review

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rohan book coverImage has black background. The words This is Happening are in blue neon text (block capitals) underneath that in white text is ‘Redesigning mindfulness for our very modern lives’. Near the bottom of the page in sky blue text is ‘Rohan Gunatillake’ Underneath that in white text is ‘Creator of buddhify’.

 

This is the second time that I read this book through and I have found a useful both times. It is written in a way that if you want to, you can just  pick it up and read specific chapters, each of which focus on a different core technique within meditation, but I would recommend reading it all the way through at least once. The unique thing about this book is that as well encouraging you  to develop meditation techniques in the traditional way ,it also really encourages you to develop what it refers to as “mobile  meditation” where you take aspects of a core technique and use it while you’re out and about.

This book is written in a really accessible way but it still manages to be a really useful reference text. I like the way that each chapter starts with introducing the core technique and immediately relates it to a real life example of someone who had found it useful, which then made it easier to see how to apply the technique to myself. Each chapter then has ten exercises, a mixture of formal and mobile practices. A couple of my favourites are ‘Shoot Kindness’ and ‘Watch TV’   I have already used the book multiple times when I needed to refresh myself on a technique, for example when I was discussing the Loving Kindness technique and the RAIN technique, this book was one of the resources that I went to.

There are lots of things I will take away from reading this book, but the main ones are: thoughts are not facts, try not to take life too seriously and most of all how important it is to try and make mindfulness fit into your life rather than changing life to fit around mindfulness because that wouldn’t be sustainable.

The other unique thing about this book is that the last chapter is dedicated to encouraging you to develop your own meditation techniques. Something which I haven’t yet managed to do completely but I am working on. This book was also one of the main reasons that I  was inspired to start this blog, because it made me realise as I felt there was no information that was completely suited to people with specific needs then why not create it? this is a book that I will definitely keep coming back to and I am confident that I will always find something useful every time I read it. I would recommend it to anyone that is trying to find or develop mindfulness techniques to really suit them.

Dealing with Change

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change doodle

Cartoon drawing of a little monk in orange robes, smiling with his arms out to his sides. there is grass beneath his feet and blue sky surrounds him. Next to him is a diamond-shaped yellow sign that reads ‘Change Ahead’ Caption is “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them that only creates sorrow” Lao Tzu. Picture by Molly at Buddha Doodles

Change is something I struggle with at times. One of the reasons I began my mindfulness practice was to try and deal with the anxiety I felt when changes were happening that I could not control.  (Like not knowing what was happening with my care funding).

Another thing I have noticed is that when you need mindfulness the most and when you would get the most benefit from it is when  it seems the hardest to do. So my first piece of advice is simply whenever you feel like you should be meditating,  but  for whatever reason you can’t find the motivation to do a more formal practice, simply fake it for a few breaths. Once you do this you may feel like you want to meditate  for longer  and you may not,  whichever is fine, either way, hopefully you’ll feel a little calmer.

If you can it is helpful to keep up your mindfulness routine whenever you are going through a period of change. If you can’t manage to do that, try and bring mindfulness into your day in a more flexible way, like really focusing on  enjoying your favourite treat or focusing on the breath whenever you find yourself waiting for something.

There are a few other things that mindfulness practice has taught me that I find helpful:

Allow yourself to feel however you are feeling just acknowledge those emotions and try and let them pass without getting too involved in them. If you beat yourself up for not being as good with change as you would like to be that just adds another layer of resistance.

Make sure you continue to communicate. This can be particularly important when you have specific needs. It’s important to try and be honest with the people around you and even if it is hard to start with, it might make things easier in the long run.

Give yourself space and time to adjust to the difference, whatever that may be. Try not to fall into the trap of expecting things to be perfect straight away or being disappointed when they don’t live up to the image that you had inside your head.

Most of all remember that you can always come back to your breath

Let me know how mindfulness has helped you deal with change, or if you find any of these ideas helpful.

Thoughts From Practice

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practice doodle

Cartoon drawing of a girl with brown wearing a green robe sat cross-legged on top of the stacked words Practice Practice Practice next to the last one is large red heart. In the background are imulti-coloured dots, some blue, some yellowy gold, siome green, some pink.

I have been doing meditation regularly for about three months now, so I thought I’d share some ideas with you from my practice.

I am managing to do about 10 minutes a day on a regular basis. The first thing that I think is important is finding the right time for you to meditate.  In my case I am unlikely to be able to  meditate first thing in the morning, this is when I have most of my support so it doesn’t make sense for me to meditate at this time and if I tried it would not be sustainable. Instead, I like to meditate in the early evening, as it helps me relax  at a time when most of my tasks for the day are done.

I don’t have a totally dedicated meditation space, but I do have a part of the room that is decorated by buddha doodles cards (one of my favourite images is shown above) and has my buddha-esque  statue (pictured at the top of this post) on the windowsill so although it is not a completely dedicated space it is definitely meditation-themed. I think having a space that is at least a little bit separated from the rest of your environment can be helpful, especially if you are just getting started with meditation.

One thing that I have been  finding difficult within my practice is that I don’t  seem to be able to keep my eyes shut for the entirety of my practice. Even when I try and have them semi-closed I still haven’t got the hang of staying in my meditation state fully.  I suppose I just need to get used to  noting when my eyes flicker  open and not letting it distract me or at least going straight back to the breath.

My spasms aren’t really a problem during my practice, they do happen if there is an unexpected loud noise, but I am able to bring my attention back easily, which is a definite improvement.

I would say I am seeing the benefits of my practice  as when I have negative or anxious thoughts I think I am quicker to pull myself away from them rather than letting them spin out in the way they used to, although I think this still varies very much from day to day depending on what’s happening.

Check out more about Molly and Buddha Doodles here

Body Scans: Observations and Ideas

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It might be expected that it would be more difficult for disabled people to do body scans. In my experience,I am more aware of sensations in my body and I think it might be possible to use this to an advantage in meditation. When the body tries to make a movement such as a spasm or some other unwanted sensation then I  try and use this to my advantage by focusing on the sensations and breathing with it for a few seconds. In that way instead of these things becoming frustrations they can actually become really helpful and an important part of the development of practice.

The one negative I have found of being hyper aware of the sensations that I experience on a daily basis can mean that it’s harder to  sink into awareness rather than trying to analyse every sensation for some deeper health meaning.

Most body scan instructions advise you to do a body scan while lying on your back. However this is my least comfortable position and therefore, I don’t find it conducive to relaxing or meditating. I personally do a lot of my body scans in my wheelchair as part of my meditations. I have also been working on doing one before I go to sleep at which point I am on my stomach. My point is that you can do a body scan in any position as long as you are comfortable and can focus on the sensations that are occurring at that moment.

When I am doing a body scan I normally work from head to toe. However if you feel it works more naturally for you the other way then that’s the way that you should do it. I would advise going slowly at first, as long as this doesn’t mean that you are stopping to analyse what is behind every sensation. I normally do a body scan at the start of my meditation, but doing a quick body scan can also be a good way to bring yourself back to the present at any time throughout the day.

Starting from the head (Or at the feet if you prefer) simply hold each area of your body in your awareness for a few seconds and then move on. If there  is any pain or uncomfortable sensations be aware of it but  try not to resist it. The same goes for if you have any spasms or other involuntary movements, be aware of them but just let them pass.

It took me a while to not get frustrated when my body felt like it was interrupting my meditation by doing things that didn’t want it to or couldn’t control, (and I still find it difficult sometimes) but I now believe that this has added another element to my practice.

Thank you for reading, I hope this has been helpful. I haven’t been posting as much as I would like, but I’m hoping to get back to posting regularly over the next couple of weeks.

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

Meditation Classes: Part 2

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I almost called this Meditation classes The Final Weeks, but I thought that sounded too much like a bad  blockbuster movie sequel  so I changed my mind.  I had some technical issues last week, hence the lack of a post so apologies if you missed me. I attended  my last meditation class this Monday, so I thought I would write about my experience over the last two weeks.

The Final two weeks  were about being and doing. In the third week we spoke more about how much time we spend  thinking about the past or the future and  how if we manage to be present, it feels better for us because we  spend less time being pulled in different directions by our thoughts.

We  also spent more time in actual meditation exercises. One of the things that attending these classes has made me realise is how much easier it seems to stay in meditation when you are doing it  as part of  a group instead of just on your own. I have found after 4 weeks that some of that stability (not sure if that is the right word, but I mean that I seem to be slightly less easily distracted) that I felt in class has been starting to transfer to my solo practice.

The final week was about trying to transfer as much about meditation practice as possible into our daily lives, this can sound  difficult to start with but when our  teacher explained it, it seemed  a lot less daunting and a lot more helpful. It is easiest to explain in relation to doing something you don’t enjoy. Normally you would spend the entire activity thinking about what you were going to do when it was finally over,  which only makes  the activity seem a lot worse and take a lot longer. Whereas if you can try and bring yourself in and focus completely on the activity, without thinking about before it or after it, firstly you are taking  away a layer of  resistance and secondly you will hopefully be able to access a sense of flow which may make the activity pass a lot more quickly. I don’t think this is something that will happen for me immediately but it is definitely something that I am going to be practising.

Our main technique has been Vipassana meditation, which is focusing on the breath and then labeling any other experiences as simply, thinking, feeling/sensation or hearing and then going back to the breath. In this session we tried a new meditation technique which was about having a wider sense of awareness. I really enjoyed trying something new, but wish we had alternated a bit more as I would have liked to get more comfortable with it before the classes ended.

I thought I would find meditating this week very difficult as my head has been very busy with the news about the cuts,  but to my surprise if anything I found it easier than usual.

I will definitely be looking out for more classes that I can attend in reality,  but in the meantime I will be doing more research into  online group meditations  to try and maintain some of that benefit that I got from the classes.

I have just watched a really interesting film which mentions using meditation while recovering from a stroke. It’s called my Beautiful Broken Brain and it is very interesting and beautifully realised. If you want to watch it, it has just been added to Netflix.

If you would like more info on the classes I attended that can be found here: http://www.beanddo.co.uk/our-programmes.html#community