The Chaplaincy offers several opportunities for you to practice mindfulness. You don’t need any prior knowledge or experience of mindfulness, and you don’t need to hold any certain beliefs. Absolutely anyone at King’s is welcome to join in. Mindfulness isn’t a ‘religious practice,’ although many consider it to be spiritual in some way. Whatever your beliefs, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that mindfulness is good for us – body, mind and soul.
Intrigued? Email us to express an interest, to find out more, or visit our Special Services & Events page for details of available sessions (Microsoft Teams), or simply drop in to our Case for Pause session:
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is, quite simply, conscious awareness. It’s paying attention to whatever thoughts, feelings and emotions are flowing through your mind, body and breath without judging or criticising them in any way. It is being fully aware of whatever is happening in the present moment without being trapped in the past or worrying about the future. It’s living in the moment.
Mindfulness is absolutely not about ‘opting out’ or detaching ourselves from the world. It’s actually about connecting and embracing life with all of its chaotic beauty, with all of our faults and failings. Many people mistakenly believe that the aim of mindfulness is to intentionally clear the mind of thoughts. But it’s actually about understanding how the mind works; seeing how it unwittingly ties itself in knots to create anxiety, stress, unhappiness and exhaustion. It teaches us to observe how our thoughts, feelings, and emotions rise and fall like waves on the sea. And by observing them, we often find that that changes them. We are used in our culture to managing things by busyness: doing and speaking. Instead, mindfulness enables being and listening as important ways of understanding and navigating ourselves in the world.
We can also recommend the work of Light Watkins.
A simple mindfulness exercise
Find five minutes when you won’t be disturbed. Set a timer if that will help you to ‘switch off.’
Comfortably sit up with a straight back and your hands in your lap, coming to a place of stillness. If you feel comfortable doing so, close your eyes. Breathe through your nose if your able.
Without trying to change it, focus your attention on your breath, as it flows in and out. Stay in touch with the sensations of each in-breath and out-breath.
Notice where you feel your breath most. Is it in your nose or throat. In your chest, your tummy? Don’t consciously alter it, but rather observe where it is, what’s going on with it. Simply note: ‘it’s shallow’ ‘it’s deep’ ‘it’s fast’ ‘it’s slow’ ‘it’s jagged’ ‘it’s smooth’. Become aware of the air as it comes in and goes out through your nostrils. Feel its touch on the skin between your nose and your upper lip, perhaps cooler as it goes in and warmer as you breathe out. You may become aware that the quantity of air that passes through one nostril is greater than the amount that passes through the other.
Can you sense an echo of your breath in other parts of your body – your shoulders, your pelvis, your arms, your legs? Your upper back, your lower back? Perhaps you feel your whole body soften with your breath, or perhaps you notice no change or echo at all. Whatever you experience is simply fine.
When your mind wanders, which it will, simply note that too: ‘I was thinking.’ Just bring your attention back to the sensations of your breath. Don’t follow it.
Our breath is our strength. It is from our breath that we move, that we act. It is because of our breath that we live. Whenever we are stressed or anxious, we can always return to the breath. Shepherding our awareness back to the breath is central to mindfulness.
Keep counting and noticing the breath. If your mind wanders, don’t judge, just notice, and gently bring your attention back to your breath.
Some of the content on this page comes from Mark Williams and Danny Penman Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World (2011). There’s also a website is you want to know more: franticworld.com.