'This Way Up' Programme materials and resources
Session 2: The A of the ABC - Awareness
In a narrow sense, mindfulness is about training the mind to pay attention… and to pay attention to your attention. In a broader sense, it's a different way of being: seeing things as they really are, and opening up the broadest perspectives.
The primary mindfulness training 'tool' is meditation. In the ‘Waking up to yourself’ meditation, you are training two skills:
1) Concentration or ‘absorption’. This is your ability to pay attention to your experience. You just notice what you notice. Don’t force your concentration, rather allow your mind to become naturally absorbed in the sensations.
2) Mindfulness. This is the ability to notice what is happening to your attention. Your mind will wander, that’s natural. Each time it happens, you just bring your attention back to your body/breath with kindness and patience.
You can mediate either sitting on an upright chair, on meditation cushions, or lying down. It's helpful to find a posture that supports a balance of relaxation and alertness. So it's good to ensure that your back is straight without being rigid; and to allow a sense of your weight being equally distributed on both sides of your body. It's best to experiment with a posture that works for you, and also not worry about getting it perfect.
The main aim of this practice is to become aware, and not to make relaxation happen. But if you are very agitated, stressed or restless, you can do some conscious deeper belly breathing to help you establish some calm. Some people also find that counting their breath helps them stay focused. So, you breathe in and breathe out, and say silently to yourself ‘One’, and so on up to ten, and then go back to one.
You don’t have to be completely still to practise mindfulness. The movement meditation:
Strengthens your ability to pay attention and to bring back your attention
Realigns many of the body’s muscles and joints, which helps to release stress in the body.
Some helpful pointers about how to approach this meditation:
Focus on the physical sensations
Notice how your mind relates to the sensations
See if you can find an ‘edge’ for each movement.
Starting to get to know yourself
Mindfulness is about seeing things more clearly – including yourself. As you practise more, you will see how your mind jumps about a lot from one thing to another, especially when it is either pushing something unpleasant away, or holding onto something pleasant. Start to notice this tendency. You can also start to notice the kinds of places your mind habitually tends to wander off to – and the kinds of thoughts, emotions and body sensations that accompany this. When you do this, you are really getting to know yourself – and that’s the foundation for making changes in your life.
Home practice after session 2
1. Alternate each day between these two practices:
‘Waking up to yourself’ meditation – follow the instructions on the audio meditation
‘Movement meditation’ – follow the video / audio instructions.
2. Keep doing a routine activity ‘mindfully’:
3. Mindfulness in nature: choose a regular walk in your local area and bring mindful awareness to the experience. Notice things around you. Perhaps choose a few particular objects of interest and spend a few moments really noticing everything about them - using all your senses.
4. Jot down some notes about how certain events are connected with habitual thoughts, emotions and body sensations. You can use the format of the table below to capture what you discover:
Mindful movement video