Thanks for taking some time out to chat to us today about your new 6-week Mindfulness Course which starts on Friday 6th October at 7pm.
1.Are you a yoga and Pilates teacher?
I am a yoga and meditation teacher. I am currently training to be a psychotherapist and I am fascinated by the effect our thoughts have on the quality of our lives. I started doing pilates whilst pregnant and have been doing mat and reformer pilates for a year and a half. I love learning and I may do a pilates training course in the future… watch this space!
2. What does Mindfulness mean to you?
Mindfulness is being fully present, awake and aware. It is experiencing the truth of the moment and all that it encompasses.
I think mindfulness needs to be experienced to be better understood. For example, right now I am sitting at my computer writing. Let's practice together - what are you doing? I can see the bright pixels of the screen, I can hear the whirring of the computer processor, I can feel the finger tips on the smooth screen, the carpet beneath my feet and the comfortable chair under my legs. Pause and notice what you can see, feel and hear? I’d like to guess that you heard a sound that is normally attributed to ‘background noise’ but is a sound in its own right to be heard, I’d guess you saw an aspect of your surroundings that your eyes have glanced at before but never made the effect to gaze at and I’d guess that a sensation that you have felt many times but never focused on before has more layers to it than you may have realised.
Practicing mindfulness is an attitude of experiencing the world with fresh eyes (or as if you know it’s for the last time).
When on holiday or in a new place, fully experiencing the surroundings is easier because they are new and exciting. Having the same awareness in day to day life is practicing mindfulness.
3. Do you meditate every day?
I aim to meditate everyday. Before my baby boy was born (he’s 10 months old) I could structure my day so I had time for long meditation practices. Now I take each day as it comes, if I do a long practice - great, if I do a shorter practice - that’s fine too, if I miss a day, I show myself compassion and pick it up again the next day. Meditation isn’t a chore, or an item on my list to do, but something that I choose to do each day because it enhances my life and relationships, makes me calmer and more content.
4. What is the importance of quieting the mind?
Firstly, its important to note that for beginners, mindful meditation may not quieten the mind. Instead you many find that the mind activity becomes louder (as you focus on it) and that there are infinite distractions that draw your attention away from the inner stillness.
Mindful meditation practices teach concentration or focus on one thing which helps to bring the attention back from the distractions. The mind activity is therefore not still but focused on the body or the breath, for example. Over time, there will be moments of stillness in the mind, but this is not the aim of mindful meditation.
The important thing is the process of quieting the mind (through mindful meditation), rather than having a quiet mind. Through the process of mindful meditation, insights are gained into how you live your life, your hopes and dreams and your fears and these can lead to a richer, more attuned life. Another outcome of the process can be a calm and contented view borne out of a deep knowing of your inner mind state and that external influences won't change that centre.
5. How can Mindfulness help someone's Pilates?
Mindfulness can help someone’s pilates because it heightens awareness of the body. The teachers cues in pilates (remember I’m not a pilates teacher) can be very specific, internal parts of the body, for example, “squeeze sit bones together,” I am not bendy enough to see my sit bones (is anyone?!), I definitely can’t hear, or taste them, so I have to feel where they are within my body. Practicing mindfulness over time can increase the receptivity of the senses and so in a pilates class, the student is better able to experience the body’s movements.
The breath is another cross over between mindful meditation and pilates. Mindful meditation of the breath will increase awareness of your breath and may help with the coordination of the breath and the movement in a pilates class. You may feel on a deeper anatomical level how the breath and movement are cleverly linked in pilates classes to facilitate the pilates moves.
6. How did you get into mindfulness?
I read a book by the Dalai Lama age 14 given to me by a Buddhist school friend so I would say that mindfulness is something that has always called to me. Doing yoga classes since university days, meditation and stillness infiltrated subtly into my life under the guise of doing a yoga class. Further reading, practice and self study, taking courses in meditation meant that my mindfulness practice grew and evolved into the practice I have today.
7. What are your top tips for being mindful?
Plant your feet on the ground, straighten your spine (without being rigid) and take three deep breaths; a deep inhale and a deep exhale.
Be aware of what you are doing as you are doing it. Say “I am typing,” or “I am reading,” or “I breathe in as I type.”
On your commute or journey, notice the process of travelling rather than being focussed on the destination. Perhaps notice a building or a tree, see something beautiful or inspiring on your way to where you are going. If you are driving, you can safely focus on the process of driving, say internally “I hear the engine revving louder, I breathe as I change gear.”
The next time you ask someone “How are you?”, notice their body language, their language, tone and and be fully present in your listening.
Sit or stand doing nothing. This could be in the kitchen, simply be still for a few moments.
Take a course, or buy a book on mindfulness.
If you are interested in joining Rebecca for her Mindfulness course which starts on Friday 6th October at 7pm please click the link below to book your space.
Book Chapel Allerton Pilates Mindfulness Course
To find out more about the content of the course please click here.
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To view our class timetable please click here.