With an 8-week course in mindfulness running twice per year at Radiant Yoga Marbella, we explore this modern psychological tool – and give you pointers on how to tap into it, to improve the quality of your thoughts, and therefore your life.
Mindfulness and Yoga go hand-in-hand. Mindfulness is a type of meditation that brings the attention to the present moment – so that we can tap into the power of now. It sounds simple, but is easier said than done when our thoughts, worries and stressful events get in our way. This is where mindfulness training comes in, to help pave the way forward.
Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment,which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training.The term “mindfulness” is a translation of the Pali term sati, which is a significant element of some Buddhist traditions. The recent popularity of mindfulness in the West was initiated by the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn a molecular biologist whose stress-reduction mindfulness courses are implemented widely on a global scale for the health benefits the courses promote.
Large population-based research studies have indicated that the practice of mindfulness is strongly correlated with greater well-being and perceived health.This is applicable to society at large as well as specific settings such as workplaces and schools.Studies have also shown that rumination and worry contribute to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, and that mindfulness-based practices are effective in the reduction of rumination – constantly churning over the thoughts in your head, negative self-talk and worry.
5 Good Reasons to Practice Mindfulness
- Connecting Better - paying attention when talking to or engaging with others.
- Coping with Pain - physical or emotional. It may be a fact of life but it doesn’t have to control you. Mindfulness will help reshape your relationship with pain.
- Lower Stress - With stress cited as a major cause of illness, mindfulness is a great tool to reduce stress and improve health.
- Focusing the mind - Keep your mind’s attention on what you want instead of being pulled in many different directions by life’s distractions.
- Reduce the Chatter in the mind. Wouldn’t it be good to get a break from the noise of your thoughts going round and round in your head?
The essence of mindfulness is “paying attention to the present moment” without judging it. When your thoughts do wander, gently bring them back – and don’t judge yourself for it…
Mindful awareness is said to makes us more aware of the relationship between stimulus and response – giving us the skills to think and contemplate before we react – to create a mindful gap.
“All of our freedom is in the gap.”
Preparation for Mindfulness Meditation
Getting into the right position physically prepares your mind for mindfulness practice. Focusing on the breath is a good place to start – as you can always come back to thinking about the breath if your mind wanders. See the following link for tips on preparing for mindfulness meditation.
Get mindful.org – compares the mind to a glass of murky water. It needs to settle and calm before it becomes clear. 15-minute meditation – 3 x 5 minute sections.
Calming the mind with breathing, 2nd part. Observe the mind. 3rd part analyze what you observed.
Follow the link to reach a guided 3-part 15-minute audio meditation.
Yoga is a form of mindfulness practice. It’s moving the body with awareness and with attention on the breath. Yoga enhances mindfulness in everyday life because what we practice on the mat is what we bring out into the world.
How easy is it to master mindfulness? Find out for yourself – with the two-month course coming up at Radiant Yoga Marbella.
Mindfulness Meditation Literally Changes the Brain
There is growing research to indicate that when you are mindful, you are actually restructuring the physical structure of the brain – as an article in the Washington Post featuring Harvard neuroscientist Sarah Lazar explains:
“We found long-term meditators have an increased amount of gray matter in the insula and sensory regions, the auditory and sensory cortex. When you are mindful, you’re paying attention to your breathing, to sounds, to the present moment experience, and shutting cognition down. It stands to reason your senses would be enhanced.
“We also found they have more gray matter in the frontal cortex, which is associated with working memory and executive decision making. Our cortext shrinks as we get older – it’s harder to figure things out, and remember things. But in this one region of the prefrontal cortex, 50-year old meditators had the same amount of gray matter as 25 -year-olds.
The article goes on to explain how the brain is improved by mindfulness meditation, and how it leads to improved health, reduced stress and better relationships.
8-Week Mindfulness Course – held at Radiant Yoga Marbella
Radiant Yoga Marbella will be continually hosting an eight-week long course in mindfulness, with trainer – Lydia Mellaart.
During the eight weekly sessions, Lydia will guide the students in a mindfulness practice that aims to end destructive mind patterns that ultimately transforms your behaviour leading to greater health and happiness.
Mindfulness is said to release anxiety and depression, improve self-esteem, reduce stress, improve emotional stability and help you to find mental clarity.
Lydia outlines below the foundations of the upcoming course:
“My 8-week program is based on the clinical program of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) where you learn how to get out of your head and focus your full attention on your experience in the moment, without the constant stream of comments in your thoughts. MBCT is a mindfulness-based stress reduction program grounded in traditional spiritual practices and teaches you tools to incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life.
“MBCT helps you to recognize automatic thought processes, bodily sensations, and feelings that have the strength to pull you down into fear, anxiety and depression. MBCT uses different cognitive behavioral techniques, meditations and mindfulness tools to help you see these destructive mind patterns and break them permanently.
“By gaining a deeper awareness of what’s going on in your body and mind, from moment to moment, you develop incredible control over your mind. This ultimately sets you free. When you do the work, the results and benefits are truly unlimited, affirms Lydia.
Taking a Mindful Walk
One way to introduce mindfulness into your life outside of the yoga and meditation studio is to take a 15-minute, mindful walk every day in nature. To train the mind to concentrate on the now, focus on one beautiful object, such as the sea, sky, a tree or flower, and keeping your thoughts serene and positive, when the mind wanders, bring it back to the next beautiful item you see on your walk. As you are walking, you will see how you can pull your attention back to the beauty of the moment – and end the walk more peaceful and calm than when you started. The blog of Deepak Chopra’s prestigious Chopra Centre outlines 9 reasons for mindful walking.
This is the essence of mindfulness meditation. By calming the mind, and creating awareness of our thoughts, we find it easier to keep the mind focused on the positive, which in turn has a positive impact on our lives.
Radiant Yoga Marbella offers a variety of yoga classes in our Marbella studio including Hot Yoga (similar to Bikram, but with more varied sequencing), Vinyasa Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga Flow, Anusara Yoga, Traditional Hatha Yoga and Kids’ Yoga.
Please keep an eye on our Facebook page where you’ll find up-to-date information about our classes, workshops and other yoga information.
Blog by: Louise Cook Edwards