As you will have heard, the government is recommending that we all take some exercise each day in order to maintain our physical health and well being.
However, in these demanding times, our mental health is equally if not more important.
I have been fanscinated by the workings of the mind for many years now. Some of you may remember that I completed a Yoga teacher training course about ten years ago. This was with the British Wheel of Yoga and took me three years to complete. For two years, I ran evening classes on Wednesdays in the school hall. Many people think of Yoga as a purely physical exercise, but actually breathing practices and meditation are more advanced elements of Yoga.
My interest in Yoga begain in my early twenties, but unfortunately due to a lower back injury I had to give up postures for a number of years from the age of 26. Practicing Yoga had a huge effect on my physical and mental wellbeing and I felt bereft at not being able to practise each morning as had become my habit. So at this point, I turned to meditation and this has been part of my life ever since.
Recently, I enrolled for a course in Mindfulness. A number of friends of mine working in mental health had completed the internationally recognised ‘Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy” course originally developed by John Kabat Zinn. The courses are recommended by the NHS for people suffering with anxiety, stress and depression. The course I am still attending (three weeks to go at the time of writing – and don’t worry we are using Zoom to finish the course electronically) has a mixture of people on it; some are stressed, some are getting over a depression, whilst others like me just want to improve their mental well being even though they do not particularly identify as being stressed, anxious or depressed.
I was a bit sceptical about the course before I started because it consists of elements which I have completed many times over the years, and with 25 years of experience of meditation I was thinking what can I learn? Actually, I was completely wrong and the course has been brilliant.
Essentially, you learn the Mindfulness practices in the face to face sessions and then practise them at home. Ideally you commit to 45 minutes each day although my tutor has been quite relaxed about this. The practices are all of different lengths from 3 minutes to 37 minutes. You need a quiet space and some headphones and your phone. The practices are all guided. Some are body scans, some are mindful movements and some are meditations. My favourite is called the 3 minute breathing space and I’ve started to use it all the time. I was also surprised at how much benefit I gained from completing the body scans. The words are very carefully chosen and guide you to a state of mind where your common everyday thoughts are stopped, giving your mind a chance to rejuvenate and rest. When you finish, you feel refreshed and invigorated, a bit like a really good night’s sleep.
Below are the various recordings I have been given. Please feel free to download them and try them out for your self.
So, if you are stuck at home at the moment then this is a perfect time to improve your mental well being using the resources above. Good luck.
As many of you may know, my wife Louise has been teaching Yoga for nearly twenty five years and has run a class at the Portman Hall in Shillingstone for over twenty years now! There are a lot of Yoga classes available on line but she particularly recommends two teachers whose classes are both available on Youtube. These are
Yoga with Adriene
Yoga with Kassandra (I particullarly like her Yin Yoga classes)
A pod cast that I have enjoyed and that will help you to stay positive and mentally well at the moment is –
The Happiness Lab – A Yale Professor Dr Laurie Santos discovered that her students were not happy at University. To help them, she created a course to help, and it was the most popular course ever run at the University. Since then she has developed her course into a pod cast. Each week she talks to different experts about specific aspects of happiness and well being to produce a really high quality documentary series.
Finally an APP you might enjoy. Tired of hearing the news and its constantly defeatist narrative – try ‘Good News’ – an app that trawls the media for positive and hope giving news stories and then pulls them together into a single uplifiting news bulletin. Search on the APP store for ‘Good news’. Several options come up but the one I prefer is tagged ‘Your daily dose of optimism.’