Category Archives: Blog

Mindfulness Autumn

I am reminded yet again how the Seasons come and go anew. Each one with its own weather pattern. Now Autumn rolling in again. With some lovely sunshine days and emptier beaches.

The gratitude here in the Algarve as the bulk of tourists leave us too to the sweet rain, rainbows scattered as the sun and rain meet, after the dry heat of the summer that is full of tickling all our senses. The Smell of damp earth, the Sound of busy musical tweets of birds, the Sight of the returning green of nature as if by magic as the first rain drops fall, the Taste of chestnuts on the snug indoor fire and the Touch of warmer clothes on our skin. These and more all combine to remind us of the beauty that surrounds us, if we just slow down a little to notice it and settle it in our memory banks.

Lovely Mindful Morning sessions, many new faces amongst the returning ones and bookings taken for more formal courses for early next year.  This is a time of mindful gratitude, of feeling alive with sensations of now, openness and curiosity to what comes next…Best Wishes to all for the season and a small reminder to slow down to the beauty that is all around us here and now.

Sofia

Welcome New Mindfulness Algarve Team Member

 

A bit about mindfulness, and me…

Hi I’m Susie, a mum of two boys who made the move from the UK to the Western Algarve last year. I’m really delighted to be embellishing life’s tapestry by working with Mindfulness Algarve!

I was introduced to mindfulness a few years ago and have found that it has both enriched my everyday life as well as helping me through some difficult times.

Some of the boxes that mindfulness ticks for me is that it’s suitable for virtually everyone; requires no special equipment, facilities or experience; it is not a religious or spirituality dependent approach and its principles, methods and effects are supported by solid scientific psychology and neuroscience research – the body of which is rapidly increasing. Practicing mindfulness can lead us to being more contented and fulfilled by everyday activities, and help us to deal with stress and difficulty more wisely which is always handy!

It’s taught me techniques to cope with the daily challenges and pressures of parenting; enabled me to make the most of my time with my Mum as her life came towards its end and to grieve as freely and fully as possible for both my parents; it’s given me the acceptance to deal with stepping back from my career and work life which I felt had defined me for so long;  to let go of past events and mistakes; to make bold moves to change my life; to accept the person I am and to know myself better.

Mindfulness is also really fascinating and, I believe, a much-needed antidote to some of the stresses and speed of modern life. I decided to train as a mindfulness teacher to extend and deepen my own knowledge and practice, and to start being able to share with others the many benefits which are wide ranging with many supported by recent studies including clinical research. Neuro-science studies are now starting to look into actual physical changes to the brain following periods of practicing mindfulness meditation. It is gaining more and more momentum as a useful and beneficial tool within schools, healthcare, and business.

There is published scientific evidence that mindfulness can assist with:

Stress reduction, clarity and focus

Sleep enhancement, improved health, well being and ability to relax

Greater resilience and enhanced creativity

Improved relationships and improved concentration

Pain reduction, reduced anxiety and depression

Greater work satisfaction and improved work-life balance

Mindfulness is indeed a wonderful way to learn how to relax and can help with a wide range of physical and emotional challenges. As a well being approach with learnt and practiced techniques, mindfulness will hopefully become intrinsically part of your daily routine for the rest of your life. It is an active process and in order to bring about change in your life and to reap the benefits, it requires a deliberate engagement on your part. No one can do it for you! That said, Jon Kabat Zinn, considered to be a founder of

modern secular mindfulness said “You don’t have to enjoy it, you just have to do it!” and there are benefits to be had just by sticking with a regular daily practice, it is suggested for a minimum period of 8 weeks.

A central principle of mindfulness is cultivating the ability to be present, paying attention to our experience as it happens as opposed to effectively missing our present lives – by being stuck in our heads, thinking about the past or the future, remembering, imagining, or listening to the chatter of the inner critic most of us have.

Practicing mindfulness includes formal mindful meditation carried out in designated space and time, usually seated on a chair, as well as the informal practice of ‘being mindful’ within day to day activities. There are many exercises to help us to achieve the latter, and in time it becomes a blissful ‘healthy habit’.

I’m really looking forward to working with Sofia and Mindfulness Algarve to deliver a series of sessions – ‘Mindful Mornings’ – at my treasured space The Hideaway, a tranquil spot near Luz and Burgau in the Western Algarve. Maybe you can join us? Sofia and I will be here on Thursday mornings in November from 10.30am, exploring different themes within mindfulness and practicing meditation together. You are most welcome to join us, for one session or all of them (see event info on mindfulnessalgarve.com or our Facebook pages)

Our upcoming sessions will be informal, insightful and most of all useful for you. Both trained and accredited in the UK, Sofia and I each bring our knowledge of and passion for mindfulness, as well as our experiences of personal practice.

Within our sessions, guided meditations are used and these help to ‘train the mind muscle’ or to hone the focus of attention. Most people not used to meditating find this practice simple, though not always easy!

The best thing is there is no right or wrong way to do it, and people tend to feel comfortable and au fait with doing it after just a few days. Mindful meditation helps us slow down, and allows a gentle awareness of our present experience, our sensations, thoughts and emotions. We also use exercises, examples, and discussion to help us see how these affect our habits, reactions and view of reality, and how we can change these for the better. There is no requirement or pressure for anyone to share any information or feelings – mindfulness is a personal practice, although some people simply find it useful to reflect and discuss their experiences of the meditations or exercises, and this is welcomed.

Susie Keenan

Qualified ‘Mindfulness Now’ Teacher

Trained by UK College for Mindfulness, British Psychological Society Accredited

The Hideaway see Facebook @hideawayluzlagos

Mindfulness Algarve see www.mindfulnessalgarve.com

Mindfulness – Daily Practise Will I ever learn to do it ?

Many students ask will I ever begin to practise Daily Meditation and Mindfulness Practice. For me the answer is most often the same – a resounding Yes and more, here a smile, you will miss if it you don’t.

It is at the core of a Mindfulness Invitation, particularly if engaging with a course, to become more mindful in our lives. Part of the enthusiasm for this “Is” to become more Mindful and wether it is finding time to practice a meditation, or simply to notice your breath as it comes and goes, to check in with your mental and physical weather pattern, each practise, each day, like baby steps opens us up to living a more Mindful life.

Becoming aware of this with practices within awareness of Compassion, Kindness and Non-Judgementalism are not always easy but so too they are not always difficult. So whilst we may all find ourselves asking the question all we need to do is to realise we do it every day and recognise it. The emotions associated with this may come and go but the Daily Practice remains. 

Gratitude – Spring has Sprung

       Here, now it feels

….after such a cold winter, that at last the days have been getting warmer and the evening light longer. Blossom adorning the Algarvian Almond trees grown originally, the mythology says, by a Portuguese Prince for his Swedish Princess so she would not feel “Suadades” – an un-translatable  word for longing or homesickness for her native snow. New shoots fresh green leaves and velvet fields, leading to the high spring tides on our sandy beaches.

Gratitude is in abundance at the new shoots and heat in the air. Mindfulness quotes posted on Social Media too reminding us of the growth of lovely ideas and people practicing and sharing. A growth of spring loveliness that can but grow a gentle lifting of the ears into a smile of #gratitude and happiness for now.

Hello to all and Thank yous for inspiring ideas and reminders of why and how to Practice daily Mindful meditations and movement as we live this “our wild and precious life.

by Sofia

The breathing space – take it

 

A Reflection on the importance of The Breathing Space Practice and how wonderful a tool it is. Our Breath is an anchor – one that is continually there for us. As we slow down and feel the sensations of our breath for its full duration in and its full duration out, we can practice mindfulness of breath.

In this space we are able to simply following it, we can notice if our mind has wandered and gently bring it back. We can  be aware of the sensations in our body, of the movements, moment by moment, as we inhale and exhale.

In our busy lives this is a simple gift given freely that we do not always take. A space possibly labeled as something that we do as we, catch a breath, hold our breath, feeling the pain in our neck, tension rising in our shoulders and more….Take a breath…As we practice simply to be with what is here…

The Mindful Practice of the Breathing Space is drawn from many beautiful sources. It is a great meditation to make your own, use your own words, translate it to your own language make it yours – A lovely one to learn and practice daily – to check in with yourself. To offer to yourself an act of kindness.

It is simple in this – breath in – breath out – notice the sensations that are here. A tool to anchor us in the present.

So why not! Be kind and compassionate to yourself and practice this often. 🙂

My intention is to offer a version here as free meditation guided to start you off – sorting upload issues first!

 

 

(more information in franticworld.com – originators of this Mindfulness course)

by Sofia