Another way in which we have been practising mindfulness at Pillar is via meditation. We have discussed how meditation need not be associated with specific religious beliefs or entail difficult body postures. It need not take longer than five minutes and does not involve an ‘emptying’ of the mind, but rather an effort to take some control of our thoughts. Meditation has been shown to increase the grey matter associated with wellbeing and compassion, and decrease areas associated with stress. On a physical level, it has been shown to lower high blood pressure and lessen chronic pain.
At Pillar, we have been using two practices derived from the Buddhist tradition and based on awareness of the breath. The most basic meditation requires us to adopt a comfortable but alert posture, first trying to become aware of our thoughts without judgement before letting them go. We then take our attention to the sensation of the breath for the remainder of the meditation, gently but firmly drawing away from distracting thoughts as they emerge. Before ending each meditation, we determine to take away any sense of peace we have generated into the rest of our day. Recently, we have also been using a development of this practice which adds a visualisation to the sensation of the breath. In this meditation, we imagine all disturbing and painful thoughts are released on the outbreath in the form of black smoke. After a few minutes of this visualisation, we add the idea of breathing in positivity in the form of white light. Practising meditation in this way is undoubtedly more challenging than the colouring activity. Some members have found the practice difficult at times, others were already using it at home, and some newcomers to the practice have surprised themselves by finding meditation both accessible and beneficial.
Fiona Scott – Mental Health Support Worker @ Pillar Kincardine
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