Above: “We Cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” PHOTO BY PATRICIA
By Grant J Everett
Dan accesses Flourish Australia’s Day2Day Living Centre at Queanbeyan, and each week he runs a mindfulness group for the other participants. The class alternates between two ways of approaching mindfulness: Mindfulness Walks, and Mindfulness in the Office. In other words, an on-the-go class, and one that’s stationary. This helps the people who take part to learn how to use mindfulness in a range of settings. Ideally, Dan’s class equips the people who take part with the knowledge they need to use mindfulness anytime they need it.
This group has been running for 2 years so far, and Dan has had a core group of 14 or so regulars who always look forward to their weekly anti-stress top-up. Although Dan didn’t start the group, he has formal qualifications in running mindfulness exercises, read quite a few books on the subject and also had plenty of practical hands-on experience. He’s a major believer in the power of mindfulness.
“If somebody is recovering from a mental health issue, a mindfulness walk can cut their stress levels and bring happiness and peace of mind,” Dan explained. “It’s a very good solution for stress.”
So what does mindfulness actually involve?
“To start with, we get out into nature and listen to music,” Dan told us. “While we focus on our five senses – sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch – we also pay attention to our surroundings. One of these sessions will take between 40 minutes to an hour, and besides having somewhere quiet to walk or sit, all you need is a phone or an iPad so you can listen to music, and the desire to have a calm mind.”
And the benefits?
“This process helps you to relax. It gives you strength, heals the mind, and puts you at peace with yourself.”
All the input that Dan’s had from the class has been glowing.
“I’ve only had positive feedback. People find these mindfulness walks very relaxing, and they enjoy having the opportunity to connect with nature.”
Dan benefits from the mindfulness process, too. These weekly top-ups have worked wonders for many different aspects of his recovery.
“It’s given me strength, and calmed me down,” Dan said. “Mindfulness gives me an option for what to do with my stress if other techniques don’t work. It’s been a very positive experience.”
But does mindfulness only provide benefits for people with a lived experience of mental health issues? Dan has a firm view on this.
“I think that mindfulness isn’t just for the unwell. I think it’s good for everybody. If you are interested in giving mindfulness a try, I highly recommend it. I think a lot of people would benefit if they gave it a shot.”
It’s important to note that Dan’s group don’t practise mindfulness solely during their formal weekly gathering: they are all encouraged to take time out of their daily routines to quietly take stock of the world around them and allow their minds to dial things back a few notches.
While doing a mindfulness activity on your own might sound daunting if you haven’t tried it before, the basics aren’t hard to grasp. In fact, learning how to be mindful when you need it in the real world is the whole point!
“Firstly, look at your surroundings and concentrate on them.” Dan recommends. “Stay in the present moment.”
The Mindfulness group…
- Runs every week at Queanbeyan
- Alternates between mindfulness walks (active) and mindfulness in the office (stationary)
- Teaches the participants how to apply mindfulness in different settings
- Is a great way to relax
- Only takes 40 minutes
- Is good for your mental health, stress levels and focus
Flourish Australia, Level 1, Suite 5,
7-9 Morisset Street, QUEANBEYAN, NSW, 2620
1300 779 270