Happy Students at the end of the Mindfulness in Everyday Life Course (Level 1)

Last night was the last class as part of the 6 week `Mindfulness in Everyday Life’ Level 1 course at the Glen Eira Adult Learning Centre in Ormond.

`This course has opened doors for me to another way of being. A calmer and more peaceful way of being and living. It has enabled me to handle stress better and see it differently so that the stress has less power over me. Thank You Lise.’ Kaye

`I believe the course was evenly balanced. It was of great benefit to discuss mindfulness. If you are interested in mindful living then this is the course to teach you the fundamentals. It will help you learn to be relaxed and focused.’ Paul

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Washing Dishes to Relieve Stress!

washing dishesIn my classes or workshops I always give washing dishes as an example for bringing mindfulness to some of your everyday activities.

Washing dishes is often not one of our preferred activities – certainly not one of mine!

However, washing dishes mindfully not only changes the relationship to the activity -making it more pleasant- it also helps relieve stress as the study below has found. Try it and see for yourself!

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-10-dishes-decreases-stress.html

 

Top 5 Questions about Mindfulness that I Am Asked the Most

meditating families

  1. What is the difference between mindfulness and meditation?

There are different forms of meditation but meditation also overlaps with mindfulness, which is is why we also talk about `mindfulness meditation’.  Mindfulness is the awareness of what is going on in the present moment without judgement.  Some forms of meditation, ie mindfulness meditation, focus on being present while for instance sitting and connecting your breath and body sensations or just paying attention to whatever is there in the present moment.

Other formal mindfulness techniques that require to set time aside for being present include walking meditation, mindful yoga and the body scan.  However, mindfulness can also be practiced informally, which means that you can learn to do any of you daily activities by being fully engaged with them in the present moment, such as eating, brushing your teeth or taking a shower.

  1. Since I can apply mindfulness to my everyday activities, do I need to also do formal mindfulness practices?

washign hands mindfullyYou can start by bringing mindfulness to some of your everyday activities. For instance, to wash your hands mindfully, you will be focusing on the sensations of the soapy water against your hands, the palm of your hands, the top of your hands, between your fingers, on the sensations as you rub your hands together, and the sensations as you dry your hands.

However, it is also important to take time out to practice mindfulness formally because we are so used to thinking about the events that happened in the past or anticipate what might happen in the future that we need to train our minds to being present, accepting what is arising in the present moment and developing compassion towards ourselves and others.   Cultivating mindfulness through formal practice makes it easier to then apply it to your everyday activities and be increasingly present in your daily life.

midnful family

  1. How often do I need to practice mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a way of life, it is not a quick fix. You can learn some mindfulness techniques but ultimately mindfulness needs to be cultivated on a daily basis in order to be able to make a difference to your life.

As research has shown mindfulness can bring many benefits to your health and well-being but it requires a certain commitment and intentionality.

The truth is that mindfulness is hard work but it is worth persevering.  You can start with just watching your breath for a minute or 2 once a day, then adding a couple of minutes every few days and doing at least once activity mindfully.

You can then increase the length of your practice and how much you apply it to your everyday day activities as long as you are committed to it.

butterfly

  1. Do we try to stop thinking when we practice mindfulness?

We are not trying to stop our thoughts when we practice mindfulness, we are just observing our thoughts without getting caught up in them.

Each time we find ourselves getting caught up in a thought, we can note the kind of thought ie ‘this is a thought about the past’ and bring ourselves back gently without judging ourselves to our breath or whatever we are focusing on at that moment.

We not trying to suppress any thoughts either, we let whatever thoughts and emotions come but we let them go.

If judging thoughts come in while we are practicing mindfulness, like `I can’t do this’ or ‘I am doing it wrong’ , just acknowledge that these are judgments and bring your attention back to your breath.

family conflict

  1. Who can benefit from mindfulness the most?

Not only we spend a lot of our time thinking about the past or the future, we have very busy lives focused on always doing and we are also bombarded with information these days. This means that it is very easy to be disconnected from ourselves and others.

Therefore, everybody can benefit from mindfulness.  We also all experience stress, frustration, difficult communication in our daily lives and we all respond emotionally to certain triggering situations. You can also introduce mindfulness to your partner and children and practice together to improve your overall family well-being and improve your family dynamic.

However, depending on our childhood experiences and upbringing some people will have better inner resources to cope with stressful situations than others.

So those who can benefit from mindfulness the most are people who find themselves:

  • stressed out at work
  • stressed out from having to combine work and family responsibilities
  • having difficulties communicating in their professional or personal life,
  • being impatient and irritable with their partners and/or children,
  • experiencing anxiety
  • getting caught up in cycles of depression
  • feeling often fearful
  • lacking in self-confidence
  • feeling dissatisfied with some aspects of their life

 

Dr Lise Saugeres is a Doctor of Social Science who specialises in delivering mindfulness training to deal with stress and improve your communication skills so you can have a fulfilling life.

Lise has practiced mindfulness for 15 years and has a Certificate In Mindfulness Therapy.  She also has over 20 years  research and teaching experience in the areas of gender roles, families, health and well-being, and employment.

To find out how Lise can help you or your organisation, visit: experientialmindfulnessmelbourne.com.au

 

 

 

How to Improve Your Focus and Concentration

ConcentrationThese days we are all running around like crazy trying to fit as many things as possible in one day and we are also bombarded with information all day long.

As a result we can easily get distracted from what we are doing or need to do because we receive an incoming email or text message or we get distracted by something on the internet or there is a TV show we would rather watch.

So why is it important to concentrate?

When we concentrate on what is really important in our lives, we stay calm and confident but when we allow our concentration to drift to the wrong stuff, then we get nervous and start to have all kinds of self-doubts about our abilities to be productive and achieve our goals.

So let me show you a simple technique to focus your mind and increase your concentration.

A Simple Technique to Improve your Focus and Concentration

The technique I am going to show you doesn’t take long but is very effective to help you focus your mind. You can do this at work or at home if you find yourself unable to concentrate on what you are doing.

  1. Pick up any object, for instance a pen and put your all attention into this pen.
  1. Move your fingers up and down the surface of the pen, not thinking about the pen but just feeling the different sensations.
  1. Notice how different parts of the pen feel against your hand, the smooth and rough parts and, how different parts of the surface of the pen feel differently against different parts of your hand
  1. Smell the pen
  1. Observe the colour
  1. Note the inscriptions if any
  1. Feel the tip of the pen between your fingers
  1. Really experience this pen in ways you probably never have before for a few moments
  1. Now put the pen down slowly and again be aware of your movements and the sensations in your arms and hands as you put the pen down again.

You will find yourself feeling calmer more focused and with more thought clarity after such an exercise.

You can do this with whatever object is handy several times in the day and it will increase your ability to focus and concentrate.

Practice Makes Perfect

Now this is just one simple technique but keep in mind that mindfulness is a not a quick fix – you need to practice it regularly to get the benefits. Try to incorporate it into your daily routine and if you have to, schedule it into your calendar to block out specific times where you can practice it properly. Remember, like any new skill you want to learn, if you make mindfulness a part of your routine, you will start to create the life you truly desire.

If you want to learn more about using mindfulness to improve your focus and concentration, please get in touch through the website.

 

How to Use Mindfulness to Relieve Stress

We all experience stress at some point in our lives in one way or another. If you think of a moment when you were stressed, did you feel anxious, irritable or emotionally drained? Did you have problems sleeping?  Maybe you even ended up with an illness or an injury, having to take time off work, causing even more stress?

Stress affects us all in different ways and has become a major problem here in Australia. Key findings from the Australian Psychological Society’s Stress and Wellbeing in Australia Survey 2015 reveal that 35% of Australians have a significant level of distress in their lives.

In the same survey, 26% report above normal levels of anxiety and this has been the highest level recorded during the five years that the survey has been done.

So we know stress is a problem but what can we do to help relieve it for ourselves?

A Simple Technique to Relieve Stress

Let me show you this simple mindfulness technique that you can do at home, at work or even in the car. All it takes is one minute and it will make a difference.

  1. Sit down with your spine erect, feet firmly on the ground, close your eyes.
  2. Take a couple of slow deep breaths to ground yourself, then breathe normally again, and just become aware of the movement of the breath as it comes into your body and leaves your body.
  3. Be totally there with each breath and do it for 1 minute.
  4. You will notice that various thoughts will come into your mind during this exercise, it is totally normal. We are not trying to stop the thoughts. Each time you notice that your mind has wandered off, just bring it back gently to your breathing.
  5. If any judgmental thoughts come in like `I’m not doing it right’ or `I can’t do this’, just observe the thoughts but do not engage with them, keep bringing yourself back to your breath.
  6. You can take another couple of slow deep breaths again when you finish the exercise before going back to your day.

You can start doing this one minute a day or one minute several times a day then you can build up and increase by another minute every now and then to get even more benefit.

Practice Makes Perfect

Now this is just one simple technique but keep in mind that mindfulness is a not a quick fix – you need to practice it regularly to get the benefits. Try to incorporate it into your daily routine and if you have to, schedule it into your calendar to block out specific times where you can practice it properly. Remember, like any new skill you want to learn, if you make mindfulness a part of your routine, you will start to create the life you truly desire.

Meet Dr Lise Saugeres

Dr Lise Saugeres is the founder and Director of Experiential Mindfulness Melbourne that specialises in delivering unique mindfulness training to improve workplace performance and reduce stress. Lise has a PhD in the Social Sciences from Manchester, UK, and has over 20 years global research and teaching experience in the areas of gender roles, families, mental health, health and well-being and organisations. To find out how Lise can help you or your organisation, visit https://mindfullyserene.com.au

 

 

 


 

Could mindfulness really change your life?

images[2]Mindfulness training has become increasingly popular as studies have shown that there are significant benefits to mindfulness practice.  By learning to be fully engaged in the present moment and becoming aware of your thoughts and emotions without judgment, regular mindfulness practice can not only improve your overall health and well-being, it can also help you manage stress, and emotional and physical pain in more effective ways, improve your confidence and your relationships.

However, cultivating mindfulness requires daily practice and since it is not easy to learn to observe your thoughts and emotions without engaging with them and not react to both internal and external factors, it does require a level of motivation and determination to be able to `stick to it’.   Therefore, it can often take several attempts to establish and maintain a daily mindfulness practice especially if you try to do it on your own which is why mindfulness training or coaching is very helpful in getting you started and helping you maintain a regular mindfulness practice.

You may ask is it really worth it? It is definitely so.  I know from my own experience that mindfulness could really change your life as it has changed mine.  Regular mindfulness practice over the past 15 years has enabled me to get myself out of a cycle of depression and anxiety, feel more connected to myself and others, improve my self-confidence, give me a more positive outlook and find more joy in everyday life.  But it also took me several attempts before I was able to find what techniques worked for me best and was able to practice on a daily basis.  My real first introduction to mindfulness was through a Buddhist form of meditation that involved counting the breath when I attended a Buddhist Centre in the UK. However, being somebody who has an aversion to numbers, this was not the best technique for me so I gave up after a few weeks! I am glad that I tried again attending a meditation course and going to different kind of meditation groups where I was exposed to a range of mindfulness techniques.  I was able to find what suited me best and have been practicing regularly for about 15 years.

Mindfulness is no quick fix, it is a lifestyle, a way of life that needs to be cultivated but the good news is that there are many different ways of practicing mindfulness and integrating it into your everyday lives. There are different types of formal mindfulness practices where you take time out of your day to practice mindfulness such as sitting or lying down meditation, focusing on your breath or using other techniques, walking meditation, or mindful movements and stretches.  But you can also practice mindfulness while doing everyday routine activities such as eating a meal, washing dishes, washing your hands, going for a walk etc. You can also practice mindfulness when interacting with others, giving them your full attention in the present moment, which will enhance the quality of your interactions and relationships.   Mindfulness could really change your life like it has for many others.

Two new eight week mindfulness courses are starting at Elwood St Kilda Neighbourhood House, 87 Tennyson Street, next week on Wednesday 3rd February, Introduction to Mindfulness from 8 to 9.30pm and Mindfulness For Stress Reduction from 6 to 8pm.  Please check the Experiential Mindfulness Melbourne website for more information and book online or contact Lise for more information via the contact form.