Why should we all practice Mindfulness?

Vesna has been running Mindfulness training for adults for about 5 years now and what fulfills her the most in that work are the impressions of the participants after eight weeks of mindfulness training. Most of the people who come with some ideas, thoughts and opinions of Mindfulness and come out with completely new insights and impressions of what actually is to train our conscious attention. Most of the impressions after the training sound like: “This is something everyone should learn”, “I’m so much more focused and in peace on my work” or “And why isn’t this introduced in schools?”

Therefore, we would like to share with you a couple of impressions of participants who went through our eight weeks of mindfulness training “Mindfulness attention and stress control” and what it brought them (or in many cases – what set them free from).

Mindfulness is not just our concentration and focus.

In recent years, there have been numerous criticisms of Mindfulness programs in the West, because unfortunately most of these programs have been reduced to training the attention, concentration and focus; to create small robots who will be able to control their stress better in order to become more productive workers. This is where all the charm of all that you can actually get from true Mindfulness training is lost. Yes, the point is attention training, but attention training focused on yourself and awareness of everything that happens in us, and which can gradually lead us towards solving the eternal human question: “Who am I?”.

Sometimes, unfortunately, the process of learning Mindfulness can be painful, because we train our focus to keep coming back to ourselves, “How am I in the body now?” “What feelings do I have when I’m in this and that situation?” “What are my thoughts now?”, The answers to all these questions do not always have to be pleasant, and the conclusions and discoveries we come to do not always make us happy. What often happens after 8 weeks Mindfulness training is that we often end some relationships, change interests or take totally different actions and decisions. Thanks to Mindfulness we become more aware of what we want, what we don’t want, what we like and what we don’t, where is our limit and when we need to say no to something or someone.

So as you can conclude, this is not just another training that will help you cope more effectively with your daily responsibilities, this is a practice of, as I often define it – “going back to yourself“.

Practice self-compassion

One of the favourite parts of my eight-week training to which I give special importance is the week when we deal with the topic of self-compassion, giving ourselves empathy, care and support when we go through difficult moments and not identifying with thoughts, feelings we have as part of our personality but accepting thoughts simply as thoughts, feelings simply as feelings. The fact that I am angry or nervous or sad does not make me a weak person or incompetent. Very often we are on autopilot without any introspection how the chaos of negative thoughts is impacting us, so they easily turn into self-judgments and self-criticism as “truths” about ourselves.

Over the course of eight weeks, we learn how to distance ourselves from our feelings and thoughts and develop values such as patience, forgiveness and acceptance that increasingly help us allow ourselves, as one participant said, “It’s fine if I can’t do or be something and I’m okay with it”. Therefore, there is less stress because we do not expect to be able to do everything, and somewhere in the background we unconsciously build our resilience which helps us to rise up more easily after life’s falls.

Mindfulness is for everyone because first of all, I think we have never been taught how to live with ourselves in our own body, with our own feelings and thoughts and everything that happens inside us. Realistically, in order to realize that, we need help and support, sometimes we unconsciously make traps for ourselves, choose harder paths and create problems in relationships, and things could be simpler, easier and more pleasant. This learning process may not be simple and easy, but it will be worth it.

Maybe happiness is this: not feeling

like you should be elsewhere, doing

something else, being someone else.

– Isaac Asimov

Mindfulness is, in my opinion, the basis for taking care of your own mental health. When we are more aware, we are not only able to better control our stress and unpleasant feelings, but we are also more aware of everything that is valuable, that fulfills us and makes us happy.

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What to have in mind when teaching Mindfulness to teenagers

Recently I was a guest speaker in one high-school on which I was supposed to introduce teaching Mindfulness. Since I usually teach about Mindfulness to youth who are familiar and motivated to learn about it and most of the time in small groups, I didn’t prepare anything special. I just do my usual talk and few simple exercises. After a few minutes, I’ve noticed that most of the class in which there were more than 30 pupils aged around 17, were completely unaware of my existence.

The importance of self-compassion

Sometimes there are things in life you just can’t avoid. There are certain moments, feelings and situations you have to go through whether you like it or not. Life happens and you can’t escape it, move around it, or ignore it. “The only way out is through.” It’s like a big pink elephant in the room we all try not to see, but we are all aware of its presence. It’s the same with unpleasant emotions and tough times in our lives.

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