The first meditation during Mike Scanlon’s sixth session in the Mindfulness series was the ‘Mountain Meditation.’ At the beginning of the meditation we were asked to visualise our favourite mountain. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I had a favourite mountain but found myself imagining Scafell Pike because it was the last mountain I climbed. Mike also had a beautiful mountain on his PowerPoint slide for anyone who was finding it tricky to picture a mountain. The purpose of this meditation was to embody some of the qualities of the mountain. With changing seasons and weather, people coming and going, the mountain remains solid throughout all that happens around it. The core of the mountain remains unchanged during good times and the more difficult situations. I felt very relaxed after this first meditation and perhaps it helped that it reminded me of the sense of achievement conquering this mountain.
Following on from this meditation, Mike spent some time reminding us that thoughts are not facts. There’s no denying that thoughts can have very powerful effects on how we feel and subsequently, our behaviour. Usually there is an event that triggers an unpleasant thought from pattern recognition (one of our strengths in this profession!) and consequently we respond automatically often with a well-rehearsed coping strategy. How good is this coping strategy? Disassociation, attachment and avoidance are the main ways that people respond in times of stress as previously discussed in session four. Being mindful would help to break this automatic cycle by being aware of all the facts, not jumping to conclusions and being attentive to your thoughts and behaviour. Mike provided an example of stingless Partamona bees. For someone who has a fear of bees, their automatic response would be fear, panic and avoidance. However, if you knew the bees were stingless, would you let them stand in the way of where you want to be?
During the question and answer session at the end of the webinar, an attendee shared that they were having troubling thoughts about the recent loss of a loved one and as a result was finding it hard to meet their feelings with a smile. Mike advised to try directing the smile towards memories and the qualities of that person. Don’t forget that next week is the penultimate webinar in this series, and if you have missed any, the recordings are available on our website.