Where was it taken? On FutureLearn (FL) which I have used a few times and highly recommend to visit to see if anything peaks your interest. Full course name: Mindfulness for Wellbeing & Peak Performance, courtesy of Monash University.
Price? All courses are FREE and some offer a participation certificate which you can purchase after completion of your course.
Can I join in the fun? YES. The course returns to FL, Monday 23rd May so if after reading you find yourself curious to learn more, head over there and save yourself a spot!
What did it consist of? We were given lots of resources in the form of: videos / audio / pdf / web links / books. There were also recommendations for further learning and ways to incorporate what we were taught into our daily lives. One major way we were encouraged to do that was by keeping a journal. Alongside our journal, we explored different mediations and asked to note down our experience.
The journal could also be used throughout the day to jot down thoughts we had, and over the next six weeks it was referred to throughout as a reminder to sit with our thoughts a while longer than we usually would, in keeping with a mindful practice.
Now for a recap of weeks five to six.
This was a short week in terms of information we received, but still relevant. The main focus was on ourselves beginning with self-awareness.
Attention and self-awareness are at the heart of not only remembering what someone has said but is also prerequisite for picking up non-verbal communication as well as enhancing empathy and emotional intelligence. FL
What exactly is emotional intelligence? I have heard this being thrown around quite a bit and still find it a little confusing. Psychology Today identifies it as being made up of these 3 important skills:
- Emotional awareness, including the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others;
- The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problems solving;
- The ability to manage emotions, including the ability to regulate your own emotions, and the ability to cheer up or calm down another person.
It’s definitely a quality we could benefit from practicing, as I don’t believe that we just ‘have’ this within us. We should aim to master emotional awareness, even towards people you don’t particularly like. Which is a lot easier said than done … but NOT impossible!
Which leads us onto the subject of Compassion.
Research shows that when we learn to be more compassionate for ourselves, we actually do experience more compassion for others. And this comes directly from being more aware of ourselves. FL
Once we build on compassion, it can still come with obstacles. One of them being something I had never heard of before: Vicarious Stress which means,
When we experience the distress of other people. FL
This adds an internal stress on our system which unnoticed can greatly interfere with our ability to feel both empathy and compassion. Instead of us listening and caring about the other persons need, it becomes more about ‘’how can I put myself out of my own distress’’, which doesn’t help either of you.
We ended the week by breaking down the differences between Compassion and Empathy.
Empathy refers to our ability to step into the shoes of somebody else and to understand their experience, emotional or psychical experience. Whereas compassion has an extra component, it really entails that we also have a desire to act, to relieve the suffering or discomfort of somebody else. FL
It’s basically all about responding rather than being reactive.
Our final week was full of advice to help us continue our exploration into mindfulness. The mentors took the time to remind us that because we were all trying to do something pretty difficult, i.e retraining our brains and hopefully replacing them with new and well developed neural pathways, it is of course inevitable that
At times you may find that you’re practicing regularly with seemingly little effort. And other times, you may find that obstacles arise such as forgetting or a belief that you’re too busy. This is perfectly natural. FL
Below a few short reminders of what we can do, to help us stay on track and on our way to understanding + achieving a more mindful way of living.
Attention is a central quality of mindfulness. Once we notice that our attention is caught up in default mode, it becomes possible to bring it back to whatever is happening in the present. As we repeatedly, through sustained effort in both meditation and informal practices/ applications, we find it becomes easier to do.
Gentleness. We may have realised that when we let ourselves fully feel the discomfort (or even pain) of being rough, and notice the times we were kinder and gentler, we were naturally drawn to this kinder way of being. Become really curious about the difference between these two ways of relating to yourself and the things around you.
Letting Go. Once we have started to experience gentleness and acceptance of what is happening, we can start to understand what it really means to let go. Letting go is a lifelong process, one which happens in each moment. Moment by moment.
Communication. To really listen to what (people) are saying, not just the words, but to the non-verbal component of communication (which actually makes up 80% of overall communication), such as the tone of their voice, the rate of their speech, their posture and eye contact.
Pausing. It is very useful to do this when we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, and also punctuating the day with brief pauses, to disrupt the pattern of rushing from one thing to another in a blur. Pausing is a good way to stop and smell the roses, so to speak.
To wrap up,
Mindfulness is about much more than meditating. It’s about being present to whatever is happening in each moment, developing discernment and the ability to lean from our experiences. And it’s also about becoming more intimate with deeper parts of ourselves. FL
Thanks so much for reading, I hope you have had as much fun as I have exploring mindfulness! Lastly a reminder that if you’re curious to learn more why not sign up to the free course, HERE.
Have a wonderful day ahead.