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Meditation and Mindfulness, what is the difference?

I am often asked what kind of meditation do I teach. This is a good question. I teach meditation full stop. I don’t teach a particular type of mediation as such, I don’t label it. I learnt Transcendental Meditation about 17years ago, which is where one is given a mantra and that mantra is repeated to oneself within oneself, not out loud, twice a day for 20minutes. This mantra is not to be shared with anyone else, it is specifically for the individual it is given to.

As I practiced TM, my mantra disappeared, am not sure when and how. All I remember is that one day I found myself observing myself sat in silence, with a quiet and still mind and body and no mantra. I was not able to recall the mantra, but it did not seem to matter, so I continued without it.

I came across many different ways of meditating after this and today usually meditate twice a day for 20 minutes or more at each sitting, depending on what feels right. I teach those that come to me to meditate as I do, to sit in quiet meditation, with no mantra or chanting, to embrace the silence and the stillness and to observe it and oneself, as one sits in meditation.

I teach a number of different techniques to help those that come to me to learn, to be able to sit in meditation. These are techniques that I have found beneficial over the years that have helped me, prepared me to sit in meditation. At times there is too much going on within oneself that one can’t sit, one is agitated or feels filled with jumping beans or intense emotion and to sit in silence and stillness is to big an ask, to big a jump, without preparation. I teach my students these easy and simple ways to settle themselves, release and rebalance, so that they can sit in meditation with greater ease. I teach meditation to children from the age of 4years and upwards, pre-teens, teenagers and adults.

For me meditation is a balance of awareness and relaxation, to put it most simply. Hence it is uncommon to lie down in meditation with me. This is because if you fall asleep you are not meditating you are sleeping. When asleep your body is relaxed but you are not aware of what is going on around you. I teach meditation, in a sitting position as this helps one to stay aware even when one is relaxed.

One question I am often asked is, “Do you teach mindfulness?” and, “What is the difference between mindfulness and meditation?”

Mindfulness sits under the large umbrella of meditation. Mindfulness is a good stepping stone for many to move towards meditation. Mindfulness is the act of putting all of ones attention on one thing that one is doing e.g. Drinking a cup of tea. Your intention is for your entire focus to be on drinking the tea. So for example, how does the mug feel as you lift it up? Is it heavy or light. Is it a bit too hot to hold or is it warm and comfortable to hold. As you bring the mug towards your mouth, can you smell the tea? What does it smell of? Can you feel the steam coming off the tea? As you bring the tea to your mouth how does the mug and the tea feel as they touch your lips? How does the tea feel as it touches your tongue, inside of your mouth, teeth, back of the throat. Is it hot, hot, sweet, strong etc. As you swallow the tea, observe how the tea passes to the back of your throat and then down your throat and wind pipe. Do you notice at what point do you stop feeling where the tea is within your body. You observe yourself as you put the mug back down or as you take another sip. I trust this example demonstrates what it is to be mindfully drinking tea.

The act of being mindful can be applied to anything you are doing. You can cook a meal mindfully, walk mindfully, speak mindfully, listen mindfully and the list can go on and on. As you do something mindfully the act of being mindful slows down your mind, your body and your breath, which is calming and relaxing, and a release in itself and hence a good stepping stone to sitting in meditation.

I teach meditation with the intention for those that come to me, to exprience being the observers of themselves, their actions and their lives, so that they can respond rather than react, hence feel calmer, balanced and more at ease, so that they are better able to self regulate their emotions and process them in healthy and appropriate ways. I teach meditation as a life skill, as I wish it was something I wish I had learnt earlier in my life.

If you have any questions regarding meditation, mindfulness and the course I teach, please feel free to email me, or call me on 07779228206.

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