Staying afloat in life’s mayhem…

by Laura Gilmore

At times when I find myself with more on my plate than I had bargained for, I try to maintain meditation practice over asana practice at the very least. This month has been a time of mayhem and emotional turmoil, when I became a home-educator Mum, unintentionally and rather suddenly, having come to the end of our options at the school.

My first meditation teacher, of some 20 or so years ago, was the now well-known Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. At the time, I was in my late teens or early 20’s – the calm and concentration required of Zen practice seemed totally beyond me. At the Zen centre in the South of France I probably spent as much time feeling tortured as I did peaceful. However those early teachings – essentially a form of Mindfulness practice stayed with me and over the years have become the bedrock of my whole yoga practice.

I can’t claim that I simply bob along in a tranquil meditative bubble, but I am genuinely thankful for the increase in mental clarity and stability that the practice has afforded me.

After time, with Mindfulness, I became better at being able to decipher my habitual response. With that awareness came a degree of freedom to choose and not fall into my old bad habits. It gave me a skill to have a quiet attentiveness, that fed into a work meeting, or calming my child and even something as mundane as washing the dishes.

It took practice to maintain the ability to recognise my own mind. It was easy to fall into a trick of creating drama or self-pity, or whichever neural pathways that is well trodden. I learnt through Mindfulness that “what fires together, wires together”. This is the framework for our thought and emotional patterns. And so the longer I believed the same things about myself, the more deeply embedded they became.  What was really rewarding about mindfulness is that “neuroplasticity” means that there is always some mental malleability, and by offering myself new thoughts and reinforcing these regularly, new neural pathways began to emerge.

I feel mentally more free, empowered to apply changes to how I handle what life has to throw at me and as though I have accomplished some of my mental hurdles.

Bristol City Yoga is delighted to have partnered with Mindfulness UK, the UK’s leading organisation in the research and teaching of mindfulness techniques. New for Spring we have two 8 week courses beginning in April and May. To book yourself onto this course or to learn more about the content of this course, click here.

Recent studies of neurology have uncovered how and why the techniques of “mindfulness” work, and so we can now follow very scientific, tried and tested methods to allow our lives to remain that bit more manageable.