Meditation and Yoga Teacher
I am a retired Yoga Teacher, a Mindfulness Meditation Teacher and currently studying Qi Gong.
I bring over 30 years of teaching experience in the Iyengar and Hatha Yoga styles. I am a member of the International Yoga Teachers Association, and a registered full member of Meditation Australia.
I have been practising meditation since the late 70s, and have a daily meditation practice.
I worked in Arts administration for many years then became a Digital Artist, but always taught yoga in my lunch breaks to my colleagues and also taught in the evenings in yoga studios. I did this from the mid 1980s through to 2000 before becoming a full time yoga teacher. I then opened my own studio in Leichhardt.
I had a break from teaching yoga in 2012 to follow my other loves - art and photography, but have kept up my own personal yoga practice and meditation.
I am still creating but also have a great desire to help others live happier and healthier lives.
I am back teaching.
This time it is also Meditation and Qi Gong.
So let me guide you to living life more fully.
What is Mindfulness?
Meditation is the ‘practice’ of using a technique to help focus your attention, consciously.
Mindfulness is a particular ‘quality, condition or state of mind’, that is enabled by the 'practice' of meditation.
Meditation is a 'skill'. To learn a new skill we have to practice it.
Through the regular practice of meditation one can develop 'Mindfulness'.
Mindfulness is paying attention with intention. When you sit for a formal meditation it helps train the mind and one’s attention to concentrate more fully, whether it is on our breath, thoughts, body, or surroundings – this then reflects back into our everyday life – we become more aware of how we interact with the world around us, ourselves, enjoying all of it right now.
Meditation is the practice of this conscious attention. When the mind is consciously, fully focussed, aware and attentive; that can be called meditation. The ‘practice’ of meditation is when one uses on of these techniques to help keep the mind in that conscious, aware state.
Mindfulness Meditation is when we use one or several ways of trying to keep that attention; such as watching the breath, or the sensations in the body, or sounds around us, or using a mantra or word to help us stay focussed. Whichever technique or method one uses, it still has the same effect on the mind and the body. Choosing which method feels easier or more comfortable for you makes it easier to keep a regular practice. One then looks forward to this time for ourselves.
These practices, combined with accepting and calmly and kindly letting go when thoughts arise, which they will, constantly, but with regular practice the brain gets used to this noticing that we have wondered off in thought, that is the practice. Thoughts are not our enemy, we just learn to watch them and being kind to ourselves we let them go. These practices of meditation then transfer into our everyday life; we understand our thoughts and the emotions that arise from them have less of a hold on us.
How Does Meditation Help?
What are the Benefits?
Increase in Memory
Research has also shown that there is an increase in memory, particularly working memory which is the temporary memory we use for storing information and decision-making processes. There is also an increase in creativity, innovation, problem solving, and very important – a decrease in mind wandering!
Promotes Emotional Health
Our mind and feelings, our emotional and mental state benefit greatly from mindfulness. Research has shown that there is an increase in happiness, compassion, life satisfaction, relationship quality, and a real sense of purpose and meaning to life. It helps us to manage existing stress and protection from future stress; a positive mindset is developed.
Improved Physical Health
To appreciate the profound physical benefits of meditation, it’s important to understand how chronic stress can wreak havoc on the body.
Stress stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, causing a surge of natural stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) in the bloodstream, which can negatively affect the body. If these hormones are continuously released into the body over a period of time they can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Too much cortisol can increase blood sugar levels, suppress the immune system, and constrict blood vessels. Eventually, chronic spikes in stress hormones can lead to an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol levels, disrupting immunity, energy levels, and sleep.
When the body and mind are relaxed, however — through meditation practice — the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated, causing the body to stop releasing stress hormones. Many people who meditate regularly have learned to more effectively manage stress.
Why is stress reduction so important? It lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen consumption, which results in higher energy levels and better immunity and sleep. Plus, stress reduction is key for diminishing the physical symptoms of many health conditions.
Resiliency to Stress
When the amygdala sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus, it activates the sympathetic nervous system which then sends signals to the adrenal glands. These glands respond by releasing the hormone adrenaline into the bloodstream. As adrenaline circulates through the body, it causes physical changes to enable ‘fight or flight’. The heart beats faster, pushing more blood to the muscles, heart, and other vital organs; our pulse rate and blood pressure go up.
When we meditate, we bring in the effects of the parasympathetic nervous system; the ‘brake’! When we meditate the reversal of the stress response is immediate.
Through meditation, you are essentially deactivating your sympathetic nervous system and turning on the parasympathetic nervous system. Meditation helps decrease metabolism, lowers blood pressure, and improves heart rate, breathing, and brain waves. During meditation tension and tightness are released from muscles as the body receives a quiet message to relax.
Increases Compassion to Ourselves and Others
We can use meditation, mindfulness and self-compassion to quieten our inner critic.
Meditation can help us learn how to silence our mind-chatter and focus our attention on being present. It encourages us to observe our thoughts in a nonjudgmental way, rather than getting lost and caught up in their specific content.
Other closely related meditation practices like compassion meditation (CM) and loving-kindness meditation (LKM) also offer health benefits. In studies conducted upon healthy populations, they, too, have been shown to reduce stress-induced distress and immune stress response, enhance positive emotion, and reduce negative emotions.