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The mindful oasis

A portrait photo of Graeme Turner

How can you deal with the stresses of everyday life? Recently I tried mindfulness meditation, which is the process of being mindful of your own thoughts. I learned that it's okay to let ideas come and go. It's also okay to notice whether your chair is hard or whether the light is buzzing. Mindful meditation is good for people with disabilities who find it difficult to hear, see or move.

Posted by: Graeme Turner, on 01/02/13

Woman meditating on a white background

Mindfulness meditation stills the mind, making it especially valuable for those with issues of anxiety

A mindful meditation

The air in this quiet room shivers with the sound of a chiming bell. As the vibrations resolve into silence, our meditation session begins.

Half a dozen willing spirits have gathered in a community centre in Port Melbourne to spend some quiet time, in what group co-ordinator Lyn Howard calls mindfulness meditation. It is not simply about letting the mind go blank, nor is it about panicking over the images that float into your head. When these thoughts drift into your mind it is best not to deny them, but to acknowledge the idea or image and then to just let it go.

Closing your eyes

Naturally having blindness, I don't need to worry about closing my eyes to shut out the visuals, except to leave them open can look to the others as if I am cheating or not taking the exercise seriously. This meditation will last for forty minutes, the kind of timeframe you might figure is an eternity, but the time always passes with surprising swiftness.

An image of a beach floats gently in, a rogue thought about what I might do tomorrow. I incline my head a little, a small nod that accepts these little flurries of the mind. This is a technique that I find helps keep me centred during the meditation.

I know I don't need to tune out entirely from my surroundings, that it's okay to notice the chair I'm sitting on or the buzz of a florescent light. This is my second attempt at mindfulness meditation, and I am acutely aware of my stomach rumbling in a manner which sounds nothing like an ohm.

Releasing the stresses of daily life

Suddenly, I'm aware of a chiming bell, calling me back to full awareness of my surroundings. I am almost reluctant to break from the peaceful process of our group meditation. Lyn asks us about our experiences and all reports are favourable.

These sessions are useful for dealing with stress and for enhancing your overall level of relaxation. During this type of meditation, concerns about work, or about how to deal with a difficult character in your life, are released with simple, gentle acceptance.

Creating your own journey

As the meditation involves sitting still with your own awareness, it is not necessary to see or hear. No movement is required, so those with physical mobility issues can participate alongside everyone else. This practice stills the mind, making it especially valuable for those with issues of anxiety.

This particular form of meditation is not guided. In the silence, you create your own journey. Whilst some techniques might derive from the Buddhist tradition, there is no need to adhere to any religious philosophy. It is sufficient to come to the practice with respect and a commitment to, literally, sit with the process.

A different oasis

It's not competitive and there's no set way to do it, no right or wrong method of achieving a mindful state. At the end of this session, we will adjourn for another week. Next time, another oasis will be there to nourish us, and yet it will not be the same oasis as before, because each journey is influenced by differing conditions, various images. And all are worth the experience.

This particular group meets once a week at the Liardet Community Centre in Port Melbourne. I found the group through Meetup, which hosts a range of special groups in all areas. It is worth looking on-line, or researching adult education or council resources near you.

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Readers comments (1)

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Posted by: karli Dettman, Blackburn 01/02/2013 at 04:37pm

Wow. I am glad to hear you found meditation beneficial. Have you tried Hatha Yoga ? There is a new recently released Hatha Yoga that has audio description for people with blindness. I'll be happy to loan you the DVD for you to try and give me feedback?

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