by Bridget Fitzpatrick
Mindfulness is the practice of being really present to your life as it happens. Not being lost in the past or worrying about the future. Just being right here, right now, in your body, aware of your thoughts, aware of your emotions.
From that calm vantage point you can make choices about how you respond to your experiences. For me, it’s those moments of choice that come out of mindfulness that can be so life changing.
It’s very simple and involves skills we’ve all got and have always had, but, in our busy, stressful lives we lose contact with these skills, usually when we need them most. Practising mindfulness, through meditation and other activities we use the breath, the body and our senses as anchors to bring us back into the present and back in touch with the skills that are critical to living with ease and happiness.
As a species we’ve evolved to survive, not to be happy, but the good news from neuroscience is that we can rewire our brains to turn down the stress, anxiety and isolation and turn up the calm, contentment and sense of being connected with others. In mindfulness we learn and practise doing this while meditating (as you would learn exercises in a gym or a yoga class) but we take the ‘fitness’ we develop during meditation into the rest of our lives, helping us to cope a little better with whatever life throws at us.
The wellbeing retreat will give you the opportunity to try out different ways of practising mindfulness. Calming body scans to help you unwind, gentle movement sessions to tune in to your body, breath meditations to help anchor yourself in the present. There’ll be some exploration of the ideas behind mindfulness but the emphasis will be on experiencing the practices together and developing practical and simple ways of bringing mindfulness to our hectic lives back home.
The weekend will offer a down-to-earth, realistic and playful approach to living mindfully; a great introduction for meditation novices and a refreshing reboot for those more used to practising but feeling a bit rusty. And for everyone, a great antidote to the noisiness and busyness of the festive season.