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Mindfulness Course from Brahm Centre Virtually

I started my first Mindfulness course by the Brahm Centre on 8 Apr 2020 via Zoom.

The facilitator was Ms. Lily Gan. The participants are all ladies except myself.

Although some technical issues such as not being able to use the Poll initially, as it was a way to mark attendance required by Brahm and SSG, most of the time, things were smooth sailing.

I spent most of the time writting digital notes; hoping to share. I tried to setup a Whatsapp chat group; only 1 signed up. Let’s see how others will sign up later.

After one round of introduction, where some are retired, home-makers, a lawyer, a former editor and a mother-daughter pair too. One lady has to login using 2 devices as one is without audio, and the other has a better video image; on both are not equipped with any video cameras – we cannot actually see her.

Mindfulness is about focusing on the present – and accepting the present. It is about awareness. This reminds me of the intentionality and adaptability that i read on the Brooking Institution site. There is an intend to focus on the very present time, without judgment. Normally, we would be judgemental; and the natural instinct to react to the situation; the adaptability is to accept the moment; be it bliss, anger, weary or happy – to immerse and accept it without judgement (it is tough not to judge at this stage).

As I started to read “Mindfulness Made Simple”, foreward by Dr. Elisha Goldstein, Calstoga Press (not sure who is the author??), it mentioned on p.12, “…in a clinical setting, awareness is thought to enable individuals being treated for depression to recognize depressive thought patterns early and thereby prevent depressive moods or relapse.” I especially like the part that follows, “The practice of mindfulness allows individuals to notice their automatic response process and to move from reaction to reflection.”

What puzzled me was the following paragraph on p.12 that “…using mindfulness-based treatment to separate the sensation of pain from the emotional reactions to its causes the pain experience to decline.” Let me poke you with a needle and see if you can divert the reaction to this pain. Just kidding.

In this 4-session course, you will learn and practice mind-body skills to help you cope with stress to bring about Balance, Stability, and Well-being.

Some expected outcomes include reduced stress level, improved sleep quality, happier interpersonal relationships and a more positive outlook on life.

It is good to start the presentation with some ground rules – as what Lily did – on Confidentiality of informaton shared in this online course (wrt the personal experiences and sharing of the participants). The commitment to the course by dutiful review, reflect and doing the necessary exercises like the Body Scan daily. Lastly, Lily stressed the need to be disengaged from Mobile devices to ensure participation and attention to the course. (hmmm, this is tough) – and when the course was conducted in-person at the Macpherson centre, they would collect the mobile devices from the participants as a safety net to breaking this last rule – which i am guilty as charged most of the time.

As everyone explained their reasons for being online, I chose to say that I did it because I am writing this book; it will help me to unlock “secrets” to help indirect care-givers (I am still struggling to find an appropriate term to define the target research group of people I am writing about) to cope with the death of people under their charge.

Nevertheless, when I eventually revealed that I am a Bipolar-Disorder patient (BD), and I was explaining further, I can see the intense look of those sharing their videos. I think they were shocked, and at the same time, curious to know why this guy is exposing his mental “illness”, or it might just be an interesting story for some who has never hear about BD – that I spent a little time to explain the peak and trough of BD. I really hope the course will open the pandora box that has been triggering my Ups and Downs for the past umpteen years.

Here are some notes and thoughts as I weaved through the course:

When someone experiences a stressful event, the amygdala, an area of the brain that contributes to emotional processing, sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus. This area of the brain functions like a command centre, communicating with the rest of the body through the nervous system so that the person has the energy to fight or flee.  The hypothalamus is a bit like a command centre. This area of the brain communicates with the rest of the body through the autonomic nervous system.

From the Brahm Centre notes

My body feels ________________________ and my mind feels ______________________.

(With ample sleep), my body feels at ease and my mind feels calm.

(The converse is true, without ample sleep), my body feels tired and my mind feels heavy.

Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a name that I will soon be very familiar as I write more about the use of Mindfulness to bring people out of the grief cycle in a narrower time-span (objective of remedy), dictates the need to be “Paying Attention in a particular way on Purpose, in the Present Moment, non-judgementally.

Resilient is about being CALM on DEMAND. Then we covered the Brain and Neuroplasticity; also mentioned in the book . It involves the firing of electric signals across the brain , forming the synapses – the path newly created due to the constant and continuously movement of the electrical signals to form a pathway of connection within the brain (I hope I am right on this).

One of the mindfulness technique taught in the session was .B (dot B). The “.” represents STOP. and b is to feel your breath. (hence the sound B as in Be is to be in the present moment).

We went on to explore the 6 foundational attitudes:

  1. Kindness – not just showing benevolence to others, but also to thy self;
  2. Non-judging – like what a dog does, it does not judge but live in the moment of happiness when it sees you coming back home;
  3. Focus on what you can do: focusing not on what we can’t do; what we can do;
  4. Acceptance: to embrace the feeling and accept it with no reservations, be it positive or negative;
  5. Gratefulness: a trait of behavior that many have problems, by forgetting how others have help you to be what you are today. It is also about being able to appreciate nature that gives us the fresh air, the transquility and the elements of life to the World;
  6. Letting go – not your gases though; but what bothers you in your head (it holds all your feelings – your heart pains or beat faster is a reflex action to anxiety or anger; your head is the one that will hold the feelings [thoughts]).

To remember, try “Keep Nothing For A Good Lunch” – K, N, F, A, G and L.

If we can change our thoughts; we can change the World.

I have been practising the Body Scan daily, so far, without fail – usually at night before I sleep, or in the early morning before I get out from the bed physically.

Written on 11 April 2020, 5.48am.

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