Introducing Mindfulness: A Practical Guide Review

For my first post I have read Introducing Mindfulness: A Practical Guide by Tessa Watt. There are so many different resources out there nowadays on mindfulness, meditation and how to reduce anxiety and stress. From books to apps, to recordings, websites – the whole lot! But it’s quite difficult to know what is good and what is not.

Although nothing beats first-hand experience and one-to-one or group training I decided to provide you with a review of Introducing Mindfulness: A Practical Guide. This way you have some more insight into what a mindfulness book involves, what the results of doing the exercises of the book have been for me and what Tessa Watt did well. You will have a better idea of the type of outcomes you may (or may not – everybody is unique!) get from a mindfulness techniques book, what to expect and what to look out for in a high quality mindfulness guide.

The structure of the text begins very well with an informative introduction into the history of mindfulness. It describes where mindfulness began, how it developed, and its purpose. For somebody who didn’t know much about mindfulness beforehand it provided useful insight into what I was about to get myself into.

The clearest part of the text for me was where Tessa Watt gave the difference between mindfulness and meditation, since I had no idea there was a difference! Meditation is the act of pulling yourself away from your day to day to make room for practising the breathing exercises. Mindfulness is the act of remaining present in the activity you are doing at that moment in time.

Many chapters gave people’s experiences from practising particular mindfulness techniques. This made the process much easier and relatable especially in times when the exercises were tricky.

Meditation and mindfulness focus on not judging how you are feeling at that moment in time and treating it with good humour or lightheartedness. It is also good to not force or focus on the expected results. So it seems counter intuitive to include what to expect as an end result in the Guide. Unfortunately the book does do this. A lot of times when doing the exercises I found I would already be aware of what the intention is, therefore become frustrated if I didn’t achieve what the book had said would probably happen. I understand that this is a very difficult balance to strike, as it is human instinct to want to know what the end result will be. Less given expectations would have allowed me to concentrate better on the exercise. The book builds up the expectations we want to avoid in mindfulness for new participants.

Generally though, all other people’s experiences and thoughts on the practises are given after the exercise. This allows you to carry out the exercise without judgement and expectation – when mindfulness has the most effective results!

As the chapters become more about feelings (attitude, kindness, slowing down, reacting) and less about physical techniques (space, breath, brushing your teeth, body, feet etc.) deeper insights are revealed such as the use of mindfulness to manage emotions, sensations, and reactivity. It introduced me to various techniques for understanding and becoming curious of my emotions and sensations. As a result I am more open and less judgemental of the suggestions the text made on the outcome of meditation.

One element I found extremely interesting was that of changing the tone of voice we use for our internal dialogue. Along the process I felt my internal voice shift from harsh, criticising and angry tones to a calmer, much more understanding and gentle, accepting tone. From being present in the moment I felt a lot more grounded and ‘in my own body’. So I was less reactive. I also became much more accepting of my emotions and inquisitive of them – definitely better than being frustrated at myself for being frustrated!

My main finding was that with greater understanding of myself I have been steadily able to reduce the level of judgement I have towards my emotions (good and bad). I have become much more inquisitive, calmer and kinder of my thoughts and feelings than before. The change in my approach to myself, many times, makes the negative feelings dissolve.

I promised to tell you how I got on with the exercises in the guide… here goes!

Before starting any of the exercises I wrote down my intentions. I wanted to feel more centred, present and improve my concentration. My mind has a tendency to be on 100 things at once. This means a lot of the time I can’t express myself as well as I would hope because I interrupt one trail of thought with 7 others.

The start was SO difficult.

For the first exercise I was focusing on my breathing and the 5 different senses to be aware of my surroundings. I lost concentration many times and then when I realised I had I would get quite frustrated that I couldn’t do the exercise properly. But I pulled my focus back to my surroundings. I noticed the dusty, damp smell after it rains mixed with the musky perfume of the lady sitting next to me, the sticky mess left from removed adverts on the sides of the bus and the texture of the thin cushion padding of the bus seat under my thighs.

I felt a lot less judgemental during the meditation exercises compared to the mindfulness tasks. This was because meditation was already out of my comfort zone and the normality of my day. But with mindfulness the integration into my day to day activities made it more difficult to focus. These were tasks like brushing my teeth during which I was used to my mind wandering. So when I had to focus on the actual process rather than thinking about other things it was a struggle. It became easier once I stopped being annoyed with myself and just analysed my feelings. This was without a need to determine why my mind had strayed and solely accepted that it had, beginning anew each time I refocused.

Activities such as the body scan really let me zoom in and out to any areas of tension or stress. I have quite a bad back. So what I did was locate the precise area in pain, zoom into it with curiosity and exhale a lot of the discomfort away. Then I developed the skill of widening my focus again on the entire back. I’m really progressing with this skill. It is also starting to seep into other areas of my life, like work – I look at particular details but then need to zoom out and consider the bigger picture.

An exercise I haven’t been able to get to grips with is trying mindfulness in moments I dislike. I have noticed when I am angry I feel a tingling, vibrating sensation throughout my body, which feels like my blood is boiling, I start to feel warmer then hot until it is too much and I ‘explode’ (which can come in the form of crying, emotional outbursts, etc.). I have managed to feel the uncomfortable sensation without exploding or feeling I need to react but it is a hard task. Bringing my awareness to the reactions so I can control them, rather than have them control me, is still something I am getting to grips with.

Overall, after two months of developing my mindfulness practises I am feeling a lot more self-aware. This has led me to be more mindful and less reactive, much calmer and kinder to myself. So, the exercises have been effective for me. Refocusing is no longer so difficult and I am much more understanding of myself when my mind wanders.

Having told you what the Guide consists of, what my experience has been with the exercises and what I have developed as I have consistently practised them, I would definitely recommend the book. The level of empathy provided and simplicity of the techniques given make them very easy to follow. Since Adrian began teaching me mindfulness techniques to act as a guinea pig for all of you and give you my account, I can tell you: a book, an app or any other resource cannot compare to the benefits gained from one-on-one tuition. But besides this fact the book is definitely one I would recommend for those beginning their mindfulness journey.

 

 

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Introducing Lina G

Hello everyone.

I will be working with Adrian over the course of the next few weeks/months/years? Who knows – let’s just say indefinitely! I will be delivering you all blog posts and collaborating with Adrian on them for the foreseeable future.

We thought the best possible way to raise awareness, remove the stigma associated with mindfulness and hypnotherapy, and to inform you all on what they both mean and do was to get somebody who isn’t trained in methods for either of the wellbeing techniques to explain it to you as they go along.

That’s where I come in.

So I am just like many of you who will be reading the blog. My name is Lina G and I only came across hypnotherapy and mindfulness a few months ago when its techniques were recommended to me by a friend who was astonished by the results of having seen Adrian and done the work. I had read some of the books, downloaded a couple of meditation and mindfulness apps and listened to some recordings but nothing compares to the one-on-one learning and practising of techniques.

I will be learning as much as you as I go along so please join me on my journey to really understand the wonderful world of mindfulness and hypnotherapy.

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Mindfulness Bandwagon

Two years ago I wrote about the Mindfulness bandwagon and how as it becomes more and more popular badly trained therapists are being attracted to it.

On FaceBook today I see a Mindfulness Online Diploma Course reduced from £330 to just £49.   The thought of people paying less than £50 and then running their own Mindfulness courses or even seeing clients on a one-to-one basis fills me with dread. This is a money making scheme for the people selling the online course and for anybody taking it then working with members of the public.

Pay £50 to learn and be able to run a group course of 10 to 12 people charging them £200/£300 per head or £50 to £100 per one-to-one session is ridiculous. The problem is that there are so many of these courses and poorly trained unprofessional Mindfulness practitioners out there trying to make quick money.

Would you see a therapist or pay over £100 per head to a trainer with £49  of training?

I truly believe that Mindfulness therapies should be added to the Complementary and Natural Healthcare  Council Register that protects the public from unprofessional, unethical  and bad therapists.

Before you try Mindfulness make sure you check the qualifications and experience of the therapist / teacher you will be working with.

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Being Mindful in a Digital Age

Last week I went on holiday to Turkey, which was an amazing holiday with my wife. Obviously because I am a self-employed Mindfulness-based therapist and hypnotherapist  I was concerned about my existing and possible new clients not being able to contact me so I ensured I had roaming on my phone and that there was WiFi internet at our hotel. I made the decision to not have roaming internet service as this was a holiday and I wanted to relax, unwind and be mindful with my wife.

When we arrived 9pm on Saturday night I found that the WiFi was only available in the lobby, bar and restaurant of the hotel which was absolutely fine with me. So for the next six days I was only able to check my email and use social media in the morning at breakfast or when we got back to the hotel. I found this very refreshing and mindful as I only spent a few minutes checking my mail in the morning and perhaps 5 minutes in the evening. What struck me was the people who seemed to be constantly on their phones checking Facebook, twitter and other social media.  This made me think of clients I have worked with who suffer with Social Media Anxiety Disorder or addiction to social media. How being Mindful in this digital world is becoming more and more difficult when we are in instant contact of everyone else.

Today I have 94 friends on Facebook and that seem’s to be a small number compared to many. How many friends do I really have or how many friends could I really cope with? Dunbar’s Number suggests that the human brain can cope with, maintain 150 social contacts. So how do people with 500 or 1,000 Facebook friends cope?

I am 48 this year and my childhood was very real world, meeting and playing with friends without mobile phones or the internet. I can remember arranging to meet friends at Morden Tube station on Saturday at 9am or going around their houses to see if they could come out to play. Being Mindful is so much harder when there are constant distractions and virtual worlds to be exploring.

So I will continue to use mobile phones and the internet, but will be much more mindful about how much time it takes up and distracts me for.

70% of teenagers say they suffer from NOMO phobia a fear of being without their mobile phone.

FOMO  Fear Of Missing Out

On average we check our phones 34 times a day.

Clinical addiction to Facebook and other social media sites is now recognized.

I find myself working with more and more clients who suffer from some of the above

 

 

 

 

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Hypnotherapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS

Last week I saw a new client (a 15 year old girl) with suspected Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This is the youngest client with IBS that I have seen. I explained to her and her mother that hypnotherapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction was not a cure for IBS but that it is very effective at controlling and reducing the symptoms. When I asked what made them consider hypnotherapy they explained that it was recommended to them by the IBS specialist they saw. The symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome are made worse by anxiety and stress which this girl was struggling with, cased by school work, exams and her friends problems. I am looking forward to helping her reduce her symptoms.

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Ask Adrian, What is so special about hypnotherapy

I am often asked what is so special about hypnotherapy compared with every other talking therapy and form of counselling.

The answer is very simple, all forms of therapy are developed to allow us to make changes to how we think, feel and act. With all other forms of therapy and counselling this is done on a conscious level, with hypnotherapy we are making changes on an unconscious level. We are working directly with the unconscious mind, the hard-drive of our computer which stores and sorts all of the information we are exposed to and is constantly running programs in the background.

We all have a conscious and unconscious mind, with a barrier filter protecting our unconscious mind called the Critical Factor. If I were to tell you that 2 + 2 = 7 you have instantly rejected that suggestion. That is your Critical Factor at work. In a light hypnotic state, where you are still consciously aware and alert the Critical Factor comes down to allow positive suggestions to be given to and accepted by your unconscious mind.
Suggestions such as “you are a non-smoker and will remain so for the rest of your life, you will never smoke” or ” you are feeling positive, calm and relaxed, you are feeling really good”. So this is the difference between hypnotherapy and every other talking therapy and form of counselling.

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Ask Adrian

I have just received an email asking me if I can recommend an excellent  hypnotherapist in Newcastle. My response is the same as whenever I am asked how do I find a good hypnotherapist. You must do three things.

1) Use the General Hypnotherapy Register or Hypnotherapy Directory to find therapists your interested in.

2) Ensure they are members of the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council which was set up with the Department of Health to protect members of the public from bad therapists.

3) Only see a therapist with more than 10 independently verified reviews I use FreeIndex.

This way you will see a well qualified, experienced, professional therapist who will be able to help you.

 

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