One to one and group meditation and mindfulness
"Suppose you read about a pill that you could take once a day to reduce anxiety and increase your contentment. Would you take it? Suppose further that the pill has a great variety of side effects, all of them good: increased self-esteem, empathy, and trust; it even improves memory. Suppose, finally, that the pill is all natural and costs nothing. Now would you take it? The pill exists. It is meditation."
I offer 1:1 and group meditation tuition. My meditation classes are 100% inclusive; they are suitable for absolute beginners of all ages and creeds. I teach meditation as a secular practice, a training of the mind, which is equally compatible with a skeptic view as it is with any religious belief. For my programme of classes, please visit my Classes page, and if there is no class that suits your needs please contact me. I may be able to set something up that suits you. If you are stuck in your practice or fight with some inner resistance, you might benefit from a 1 to 1 intensive. I am qualified to teach adults in the Lifelong Learning Sector and have trained to be a meditation teacher with The British School of Meditation.
My own journey with meditation...
...was long and be no means straightforward. I learned autogenic training, a relaxation method popular in the 70s, when I was a teenager, and it was very effective in helping me cope with exam and social stresses. Age 19, I started TM (Transcendental Meditation), a method based on ancient Vedic teachings which uses a mantra (sound) to focus the mind. For the next 2 decades, I struggled with procrastination and resistance, and my meditation practice went up and down like a yo-yo. I just never seemed to be able to stick to a routine for long enough to fully embed it into my daily life! As a result, I am very familiar with the frustrations and feelings of guilt and letting oneself down that are the side effects of intermittent practice. My initiation to Reiki introduced me to the Chinese and Japanese concepts of Tan Tien or Hara, both describing the main human energy centre in the abdomen - a knowledge that deepened when I started practising Chi Kung. For a long time, I have found conscious movement as practised in Chi Kung, mindful Yoga or Tai Chi more accessible than sitting still. Over time, I became familiar with Vipassana (Insight) meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka and was greatly inspired by the Vietnamese Zen monk and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. For the last four years, my teacher has been Burgs and I sit on silent retreat with him once a year. My personal practice these days is mindfulness, which combines periods of mindful movement with sitting still and also bringing more and more mindful moments into everyday life.
What my own journey with meditation has taught me is that there is no one “right” path. Instead, there are possibly as many “right paths” as they are meditators out there! I therefore aim to give my students a flavour of many different techniques so they can experiment and get a feel for what works best for them. I particularly welcome absolute beginners and students who may have tried to meditate before but gave up for whatever reason. You may simply not have found the right method yet! Give it another go! Also, a session of EFT can work wonders to overcome resistance and procrastination. Once you have found your favourite technique or combination of techniques, I will support you in establishing a daily routine. One piece of advice from my own practice is: Even if you are not a "group" person, it can be very helpful to commit to a meditation group in order to give yourself a support network which helps to establish a daily practice.
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What is meditation, actually?
There are so many different meditation and mindfulness techniques and practices that it is difficult to find a short definition. There are thousands of teachers and books about the topic, covering all the different aspects and methods and how you can use them in your life. Let me try to give you a digest in a few lines:
Meditation is …
… becoming still in body and mind. There can also be stillness in motion, for example in Tai Chi, Chi Kung, mindful Yoga or walking meditation. There are even more dynamic meditation techniques, designed to empty out tension through movement to allow body and mind to become still.
… the art of letting go and being instead of doing.
… focussed attention on an anchor such as breath, a physical sensation in the body, a sound (like a mantra, which can be silently repeated or chanted), a mandala or a visualisation.
… to be fully present to the moment, observing one’s emotions and sensations with mindfulness, alertness and without judgement, from moment to moment.
… a mental technique leading to insight, truth and liberation from our cravings and aversion, by allowing us to understand the impermanence of all that is. Through meditation, especially Metta (loving kindness) meditation, we cultivate loving kindness and compassion towards ourselves and all living beings.
… being fully in the NOW.
And here are some quotes from teachers wiser than myself...
"Meditation is to be aware of what is going on in your body, in your feelings, in your mind, and in the world."
Thich Nhat Hanh
"Meditation is simply about being yourself and knowing about who that is. It is about coming to realize that you are on a path whether you like it or not, namely the path that is your life."
"Prayer is when you talk to God; meditation is when you listen to God."
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Why is it good for me?
There is a vast amount scientific evidence (the Institute of Noetic Sciences lists over 6000 abstracts of peer reviewed and published studies on the effect of meditation in its searchable online database) that daily meditation or mindfulness practice offers benefits on all levels of the human existence: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Why? Simply because during your periods of practice, you are training your body to be fully accepting of yourself in this moment as it is - no judgement, no resistance (even if you resist, you acknowledge and accept the resistance) and no craving for something else. In that moment, as you are in the NOW, your body and mind switch from the fight and flight response to the relaxation response. This switch triggers many hormonal and metabolic changes, which in turn create a beneficial effect on many different organ systems. Different types of meditation have been researched to different degrees, but in short, some of the scientifically recognised benefits are:
- increased ability to focus and concentrate
- better memory, increased mental clarity,
- lowers symptoms of ADHD and depression
- relaxation, improved stress resilience, alleviates anxiety
- lowers high blood pressure,
- reduces plaque and inflammation in hardened and congested arteries
- strengthens the immune system and body’s self-repair mechanisms
- improves digestion and alleviates digestive disorders
- can prevent diabetes and helps to lose weight
- alleviates chronic pain, especially tension headaches and back pain
- helps with PMS and during menopause
- alleviates insomnia
Beyond the physical benefits, regular meditators also experience an increased ability to stay calm in all of life’s challenges and an increased ability to be happy, grateful, forgiving and compassionate. Ultimately, meditation can be a powerful tool on your path to discovering your spiritual self.
The effect of daily practice is cumulative: over time, you will be able to experience the benefits not only during your periods of practice, but throughout your everyday life.
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