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Mindfulness Meditation

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I thought it might be useful to start a thread on this subject as have seen a few comments relating to mindfulness recently and it’s a big interest of mine and wanted to share some thoughts and some of the experience I have had with this.


I had explored meditation long before my SAH and also used to do yoga regularly right through my twenties and then I had children and life and busy got in the mix and I let it slip away but about 12 months before my SAH I was running a wellbeing programme for work specifically about how we could Improve resilience and started reading and learning about Mindfulness.


I visited the Oxford Centre of Mindfulness which is one of the leading organisations in the world and thanks to my meetings there I started to practice mindfulness. Then in March 2012 I had a major SAH but interestingly once I started to be ‘in the room’ a bit more I realised that I was just naturally practising some of the mindfulness techniques I had learnt, like staying in a moment and being kind to myself. Now I couldn’t have told you I was doing that or what it called but reflecting back I can see my mindfulness practice and habit was helping me learn and adapt with my newly aquired condition. 


That said there were were times when my brain did not want to be still or meditate and I learnt never to push through that. It’s about respecting where you are in any given moment and what worked yesterday and may work tomorrow may not work today and that’s ok. 


nearly six years on and I still practice my own adapted form of mindfulness. I do mindful movement and also a loving kindness meditation most days and last year also was invited to  train from my contacts in Oxford as a Mindfulness in Business trainer which I blog about and run S essions at work. That has got me wondering whether I could maybe put some basic sessions on here for dealing with difficulty, and breathing space. I’ll check with Karen and the other moderators and see what the thought is as to whether that is useful.


I attended a talk at the end of last year and heard Jon Kabatt Zinn https://www.mindful.org/jon-kabat-zinn-defining-mindfulness/ speak and got to do some meditation with him and hearing his views and why he developed MCBT has strengthened my view that bringing peace and pause into each and every day has been an important part of my recovery and continues to be a key component. Wins not far off when she says ‘no stress’ ...I also am a big fan of uni - tasking now. 


The best ‘self teach’ course I recommend if anyone is interested in doing this on the book by Professor Mark Williams and Danny Pelman. Finding Peace in a Frantic World. . http://franticworld.com/ it allows you to do a 6 week programme and use this to establish a practice.


like anything it doesn’t ‘ fix’ anything or make you better but if it’s for you then it may help you navigate the ups , downs and bumps with a little more breath.


Always happy to answer  questions on this as a subject. I’m still learning but happy to share what I know 







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Just putting this out there. I have never been a meditation/chrystal energy/vegan type of guy. But in the hospital, my brother introduced me to mindfulness and its meditation, and this has really helped me!! If you think about it, this is a mind injury, so meditation and working with the mind may be just what you need.


Just as, if you have a bad ligament injury of the knee, then physical therapy of your knee is good. Why not phy therapy of your mind??


All I can say is I had no idea what it was until "the event", but now that I do it, it has helped me immensely!! It is not hokey-pokey. It is physical therapy for your mind. I can't recommend it enough. It has changed my life.


 I read a small book (really only 5 chapters!) And got an app on my phone called headspace and now meditation is part of my life. Every day I do it and everyday my mind thanks me.


It teaches your mind to relax, so it can heal. That would be my best description of it.

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I've never properly looked into mindfulness but I think I've probably been practising it naturally since I had my haemorrhage. For me there was something about the shock of the event and the way it forced me to slow down that made me naturally open to experiencing the world around me in the moment.


I absolutely love to walk now - I can spend hours tramping around on my own in some beautiful parkland near where I live. It has become a necessary part of my recovery - I really miss it if I go too many days without a good walk somewhere tranquil.


I can also spend inordinate amounts of time lying on the settee just watching the view from my window - the wind blowing the huge leylanda bushes opposite and the sky slowing changing from day to night.


I've definitely learnt how to chill more since my event.

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What a wonderful description Susan. I really appreciated that. You sound ripe for reading about it. I was surprised how simple it is.  Like I said, it really only took me 5 chapters of my book, and I really think I have it.  A week of light reading and I feel completely literate in it.


    I was a science and evolution major in college and so evolution was something that always Interested me. My book described the human mind, and it's bad inner workings, as something that arose from evolution when we lived in tribal societies. The frustrating actions of your mind (ie:staying on autopilot, its restess - adhd nature, it 's tendency to move from past to future to past and back a million times) are evolutionary traits that helped us 100,000 yrs ago when we were hunting wooly mammoths and warring other tribes. As a science major, I found these ideas fascinating!!!!!!Just as your hand evolved a certain way, so did your mind. And to have the ability to leave it, rise above and watch it in action, what a gift!!!!!


Daffodil, great to hear you are such an expert! I'm a newby, but interestingly, it seems like the kind of thing where once you get it, and can do the meditations, you kind of get it. I have never been on a retreat or listened to a speech, but I'm not sure it's necessary. The challenge for me is incorporatng it into my life. I find myself trying to spend more of the day "turning the autopilot off."


    I am going to read your "finding peace in a frantic world" book. I have been doing a type of mindfulness of slow reading. Absorbing each sentence and the meaning.


Dont get me started on mindfulness, I will talk your head off and bore you to death!!! Just today, my book was talking about a type of mindfulness called "slow cooking." You go to the market and really smell and touch all the ingrediants of your dish. Then, you slowly cook it, absorbing all the sensations. I cant wait to try it! I wish we could meet over coffee or something, but Im in America. Oh well.

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Susan, you are describing ‘being in the moment’ very well and essentially that is the basis of mindfulness. It’s about staying in the moment, noticing where you thoughts take you but bringing focus back onto what you are doing, or how you are feeling. Nature is a good study as are the seasons. 


FM. I am no expert by any stretch  of the imagination and still learning but I definitely think it has helped me to be calmer in some of my extraordinary moments since SAH/ Shunt and equally to find some peace when things are Frantic. I hope to learn more and I’m curious about the brain, the chemical states and ancient reactions and how we can better train ourselves to cope with this new state of living and not be running on high alert too often, 


like you Susan I worry less these days and don’t sweat the small stuff. The key is to try and keep the focus on what you are doing at any one time, be absorbed by that sensation, that movement, that sound. Really notice and pay attention to it but without judgement. That’s mindful practice and I agree FM you can find ways to do that throughout the day. walking, cooking  I call them pauses but it’s healthy whether you have had a bleed or not. 


I’ll draft some short exercises and add them here if you like . 

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I started meditating after losing my first boyfriend suddenly in 93 at IMC USA here in Maryland.


Since then, I have done uncountable weekends whenever they have classes and quite a few full nine day courses. I got a job with a private group about 30 mins from them after finishing residency and that was 2006.


I'm very lucky to be local and been going there many times.


They start the retreat on a Friday evening. There is dinner. Soup/ bread/ salad etc. we start our first sitting Friday night for one hour and the teacher explain the rules. There s noble silence meaning no texting, reading, talking, watching tv etc so the mind is free from external stimuli.


We start early in the morning at 4:30. Some wake up at 4 and drink tea/ coffee but I get up at 4:25 and brush my teeth and go straight for sitting. I try to stick to the schedule . It s not bad since you can sleep at 9pm.


We sit from 430 to 530 then you can take a short break and come back and listen to the discourse at 6. At 6:30 we eat breakfast. Sometimes I help cleaning up after breakfast but you can rest till 8am. 8to 9 am is group sitting. The first five days we focus on samadhi or concentration to get one pointedness of mind.


You focus on the inbreath, the out breath and the touch of the breath. Your duty only is to keep the mind focus at one point. We do that first because without a calm mind , you cannot practice insight/ mindful meditation.


It is not easy since the mind will not want to stay and wonder all the time all over the world. Trust me. We are trying to change the habit of a lifetime ( or many life times) and the mind won’t stay focus.


And that is the reason why we go to a quiet center / place and train with a teacher who had done many courses.

9 to 9:30 is a break and at 9:30 there s checking in with all students. If there are many students, or if they are new and asks questions , it takes longer. I take a break at 10:10 to go to rest room and come back and sit till 11 am lunch time.


They have ample delicious vegan food. 

I mostly help at lunch time to clean up so I can take a shower and wash my clothes with hands. I m so used to my routine now that I have been there many times. I have nobody to talk to so my mind sometimes become obsessed with washing the clothes. 


Then I can take a break till 1pm and we sit again till 1:40. Then we take a break till 2. 2 to 3 is group sitting . At 3:30 there s checking only for new students. Some are brand new. Some had been to many other centers and are not new to meditation.


We have a pediatric er physician who drives up from South Carolina and come sit with us. 

Then we can sit or relax till 5 pm and there s light dinner. Some keep eight precepts and only drink juice but I eat because I don’t want to be hungry and sit. I don’t help after dinner because I already taken a shower.


Discourse is at 6 pm and ends at 6:30. I usually take a walk. Then group sitting again at 7:30to 8:30 with the teacher. Then we can sleep.


So you see it s not horrible. I think there are many external stimuli at home. I can never sit for more than total of two to three hours at home. There s always tv to watch, chores to do.


The mind doesn’t and cannot get calm when it s noisy.

we change to wisdom /insight/ vipassana on Wednesday afternoon.  


It is looking at bodily sensations as they arise and seeing the impermanence. If you see impermanence you will see life is suffering/(not in a depressing way but in a as it is way).


Our goal with meditation is also to realize that there s no self / person etc that way we are not attached too much to ourselves or loved ones.


I recommend doing the whole course in April/ May or October. The weather is nicer then. But some might like the hot weather. Hubby usually goes in august for ten days.

I usually keep my phone in the kitchen or the car. It s too tempting.


The course goes on till Monday morning but most people leave by Sunday after lunch. We talk again on Sunday. 

For me it is a part of life. I want to do more but I have a full time job. I plan to slow things down later in life for I have worked in dog years.

some sittings are better and some might not be.


Sometimes you might be lazy/ sleepy/ day dreaming. It doesn’t matter . Your job is to just sit and calm the mind.

I will be going there next weekend early March. After that I go off for family med board review in March/ Baltimore. Yes it does help with work and studying even though I don’t need to take the test till 2025. 


There is a bigger center IMC uk and they have more courses per year. 

We do believe we are very lucky to be able to learn this practice . We can only practice it ourselves. No one can do it for us. Family cannot do it for us.


Our mind always react to something and make stories. If you see something you like on tv you might say I want to eat that pizza too. If you dislike something you get mad thus creating karmic results . 


I can be a very self absorbed/ angry person at times. So it does work for me. It is also a very good therapy. I lost my first boyfriend due to aneurysm suddenly. My second boyfriend in med school left me, in 1997never even picked up the phone to check and see how I might be doing.  That was very painful, very dark/ depressing time/ going thru school and residency many ups and downs.


May Be I have done something in my past life to deserve this. But in retrospect because of that I focus more on meditation and doing good things. I never dated anyone till I met my current husband and we married within six months. That was in 2007. 


Can you meditate to gain wealth, power etc ? May be. But if you truly meditate you won’t be greedy , angry, hateful much anymore. I came to the US at age 17 from Burma. Parents are educated but we struggled.


Today I have two homes ( I still keep the townhouse to be near work on days that I work late.) a good job, Parents still alive, still heathy despite working many hours. 


Meditation is the best form of good deed but there is a prerequisite and that s sila or morality. That s the foundation. Not killing, not stealing, not lying/ cursing/ no adultey/ not taking alcohol or drugs are needed to get a calm mind. That is also why we go to a center to sit.


It is like eating sugar. You can be from any race/ religion/ background - you ll still taste sugar. Of course everyone s different and some might do better than others.

I never sit leaning the wall because I might become dependent and lazy. But I think it s ok to lean if you have back issues.


Some elderly sit in the chair. I have cushions to sit and I take my own shawls/ blankets to wrap myself in. 

Well I should stop now. Do I think it ll help with one s health? Absolutely. 

If you want to read one book only about meditation “ be an island” is the one to read. It s very compact . You might have to pay lots of attention. But worth it. 


I will read the frantic world book and will let you know. 

For me going to the center is the best vacation. It s the vacation for the mind. I have been to many places in the world but there s nothing quite like it. I m going for a full course in oct and can’t wait.

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I should also tell you that our tradition of insight meditation is from the teachings of the Buddha.


We are keeping the very old and very traditional teachings as taught by the Buddha many years ago.


Some meditation methods were changed by some monks/ as the years has gone by but ours is the original.

You do Not have to be Buddhists to benefit from this.


We respect every race, religion and background. Buddha taught loving kindness, compassion , sympathetic joy and equanimity. 

Burmese are very generous people.


Sadly most never realize how precious this practice is. They do the traditional things such as praying, chanting, offering but most never get to the mindful part. They are also fond of the drink.


Monks are also a part of our life but sometimes people think meditation is only for the monks and the elderly. Some might even not talk about sickness or death because they think it s a bad omen. 


I had been lucky in that I can always get counsel from a very learned monk in Sanford Florida. I can always call him and he can answer anything I ask. He was 70s and now he s almost 90s . Very frail and cannot talk for a long time anymore. But you have to understand not all of them are like him.


The after effects of meditating in a center for nine days is very good. Your mind is very pure and sensitive and you can even hear a pen drop. But that tends to fade when we get to our daily lives.


To me sitting at home is like running on your own and going to the center to sit is like training for the olympics. It is not about blind faith. It is testable. Everyone can test it. It is not about evolution either.


These teachings only are heard at the time of the Buddha and that is why we are so blessed.

We can definitely live a normal life. We are just decreasing the attachments so our suffering is less. 


Wisdom/ vipassana/ insight meditation shows you the sensations that comes and falls. Teaching us impermanence, suffering and selflessness but that might be not acceptable to some. But I think everyone can benefit from the concentration ( breathing) part. Because we all have to breathe in order to stay alive so we use that as a focus point to calm the mind. 


Not all of us are perfect. We are not saints. There s always cause and effect and we don’t know when it will come into effect. By meditating we are all changing those bad actions from the past to disappear. One can be a prince or a beggar . It doesn’t matter. One can still meditate and benefit in this life.


One can be a serial killer and still meditate and benefit. The only sins that prohibit meditations are killing ones’ Parents, trying to kill a living Buddha, killing a saint, trying to disrupt the order of the monks etc. I m sure none of us did those things. 


I just got the book finding peace in a frantic world . I ll read and let you know. The writers are psychologists/ scientists. I m not sure how much they have sat. I like the “be an island” book because the writer is a true meditator . Some other light readings might be “ the best of inquiring mind” and “I give you my life” Talk about people s life journey and meditation/ practice. 


Buddha said craving is the factor that makes us attach to things and resulting in more suffering. We are just trying to lessen the cravings by meditating.

no matter what your goal is, try it out.


Everyone is different. Some might be better at grasping it than others but we don’t know it till we try. Goodluck.

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Catwoman, Thanks for sharing your experiences and insight into your  faith of Buddhism . I think you have described a very honest and personal view of what meditative contemplation looks and feels like and what it means to you. 


I guess I started the thread on Mindfulness as this practice for me is more linked to neuroscience And I liked the logic of it but of course this is a westernised adaptation taking  learnings from Buddhism and other meditative practice and blending it together with medical and scientific learning.


i came across If because I was searching for something which would help me with my curiosity to gentle my state of ‘always on’ and as I mentioned I started by visiting And meeting with the folk at http://oxfordmindfulness.org/ and met one of the authors of the book many years ago and it resonated with me and I started from there. I also liked the fact that the study and practice of it has developed from a proven MBSR course created by  Jon Kabat Zinn which science and study has shown has helped people in crisis.


i agree with you that meditation requires  a commitment to practice but I  also think it is about being open to adapt your thinking . There are many ‘ McMindfulness’ approaches now all promising fast access to Mindfulness to reap easy rewards but I think that most people realise there’s is no quick route to this and  if Mindfulness meditation suits for you then you have to work at it and find ways to bring the practice in your life. For some that is the rigour and structure of retreats for others it can be daily habits and patterns that reinforce the mindful choice.


I have a dear friend who is a Buddhist  and we talk about our shared and differing views on meditation. Hers is more traditional, organised and ritualistic. She’s sets time aside and marks key events whereas mine fits to where I am that day, that week, that month. . She is from Sri Lanka and I often attend ceremonies with her and get to chant with the monks . I confess I don’t know entirely what I am doing but I sit with my breath, enjoy the moment and  learn each time but enjoying seeing a broader side of Buddhism too. 


But any practice, be it traditional Budhist Vipassana or mindfulness meditation  is not for everyone , especially post a life changing event and that’s the point of starting this thread I guess . But some may find it helpful.


Mindfulness for me is about encouraging presence in every situation and moment even when that is uncomfortable and not seeking distraction and that takes practice and patience and kindness because our ancient brain is still always going to be telling us there is a sabre tooth tiger coming. And to ‘run run’ . Me I choose to sit with my breath and wait to see if the tiger shows up. 


Ill be interested to see how you find the book Catwoman

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Yes. I had lunch with the teachers yesterday and they say it is very important to regularly sit daily. It makes a difference when you go back for a retreat.


I find that to be true. It s much easier to achieve concentration if you work daily. They tell me to get up early and sit for a few minutes daily . Of course i work many hours and that doesn’t happen. I sit now on fridays, Saturdays and sundays. Of course it depends on the weekend schedule too.


Sometimes I have to work and or there might be other functions but I try to make it a priority. The teachers and caretakers from here go and sit at IMC uk because over there they can sit without distractions. Here something might be going on and someone might complain about water leaking etc. I have never been to  the Uk center.


 Hubby worked in uk training to be psychiatrist in Wales and he was there before years ago.

we don’t solicit people. As I said , most people are not interested in this. I say 99 percent of Burmese is not. They want to donate money, dress up nice and do the traditional things and hope to gain money and good things in life by praying.


They don’t see life is impermanent or suffering. It is actually very hard to see and accept. 


My mom and Dad sit at the monestary every Saturday night but they had not done a retreat in a long time. Every summer they have retreats at the monestary but it is a place where people gather, they have business to discuss, money to donate, kids come and play so not much noble silence. And Burmese can be pretty chatty. I don’t go because I don’t think I can stay in their living conditions. But the monk there is good with his teaching.


My younger brother and sister are married/ engaged , have very successful jobs with pharma and so far haven’t been to a retreat in their life. They sit for A few minutes when they come on weekends.

I have to understand we can only control our actions and not others. We alone are responsible for ourselves.


I had worked for many straight hours as a physician before thus abusing my body. I have also trained for a few years in martial arts so I know how training the body can be. These days my knees and my schedule doesn’t allow me to do that anymore. But training of the mind is very different. You need to find the right teacher.  


I am very adhd/ anxious person and sometimes it comes with the job. There are many things to address in a short amount of time and sometimes I get distracted all the time. The nurse knocks on the door telling er needs to talk to me or some patient walked in and demanded to talk to me. I had never taken psych /ADhd meds so I can’t say how they affect but I did cognitive therapy in 2005 and 2006 during residency years. It helped a lot.


I did it every month or  every two weeks for a few months. Now I don’t think I need it. I have monks and teachers to talk to and can meditate. 


I have seen many people who are not happy despite advancements in technology that s why I don’t think it s the evolution. As long as there s anger, hatred, greed and delusions of self, we ll still be in this cycle of rebirth. We do meditation so we can let go of many things and be peaceful.


I have been told by the teachers that most  people want instant results. Mind doesn’t work that way. You need to sit and cultivate that calmness . 


The first few days at the center are tough. By day three, I want to run away sometimes because the mind is settling. By day five it s better. By the end of the course , I don’t want to leave. I usually miss my job but I don’t miss anything much while I m there.  


My mind become very sensitive to sorrounding and sometime even shuffling of others coats can be noted. I start reading toothpaste and lotion bottle labels because there s nothing to read. 


Sometimes books have to come under headings such as mindful meditation or loving kindness or stress reliever because if it says Buddhism, there might be some resistance.


Right now I felt like I read a lot of books and I just need to sit more. I have the notes from the years that I discussed with the monk. He says the goal is to not think and make stories. If we hear a dog barking you just note it as sound. Don’t make it I hate that dog or I wonder what kind it is or I hope it s not biting people.


But the mind is so quick that you cannot note it till all the story had been done in the head. Same with the eyes. Only see the color / don’t make stories into it.

of course right effort is important too. We can go to all the centers and fall asleep and not gain anything or we can use most it by working hard. I don’t know how anyone else is.


I don’t think anyone can know except Buddha himself. I think if you are new to this, I ll try ten day in a center and then sit at home regularly and reassess.  


We have old students who come twice a year from faraway states but they sit regularly at home. 

Some are nurses, therapists, physical therapists, massage therapists etc and they use it in their daily practice.


I m writing this because someone started a thread and I think there s some interest with the topic. It is interesting sometimes people might want to find something but don’t know how or where.

will definitely read the frantic world book later. 


If you truly want to study the mind , the comprehensive manual of abhidhamma is the one to go to. 

Having said that Burmese are not interested in meditation, there are many centers in Burma. Food and lodging is free.


Many people go there including foreigners. I have been to IMC Burma and there were about 100 people at that time.

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