At the end of the Mindfulness Training, Katrin looks back on the changes she has seen in both the participants and the instructors.
We have come to the end of our autumn session of Mindfulness Training and, judging by everyone’s repeated attendance, reports of increased relaxation and decreased pain, and the laughter and smiles that pervaded each session, the classes were quite a success.
Under the skilful guidance of Uz Azfal, an instructor of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, our group learned many new skills to help with the emotional and physical challenges of daily life. We learned the ‘body scan’ technique, in which we direct our attention from place to place in the body with the purpose of working with pain and tension. We practiced noticing with curiosity (not judgment) the fluctuations of distraction and difficult thoughts that are natural to our minds; and importantly we practiced letting go of those states of mind. We even began applying our mindfulness to our daily activities such as walking and eating! In these ways, we were learning to calm our minds and become less reactive and more peaceful, no matter what arises in our lives.
All of our participants tried to attend each session, and said that they were very grateful for the chance to relax, calm their minds, and make friends.
As well as the mindfulness practices themselves it was important that we, as part of JRS, honoured the Ignatian principle of hospitality, ensuring we were good hosts towards our refugee friends.
Therefore, before each session, our group gathered in our meeting room to enjoy tea, pleasant music, and conversation. We began our sessions with ‘check ins’, in which each person was invited to share a bit about themselves, how they have been feeling and what’s been happening in their lives. We ended each group by sharing more hot drinks and biscuits together.
In these ways, Uz and I used hospitality and welcoming practices to build a sense of community among our participants; knowing that people need to feel safe and supported in order to reach their best potential in all areas of life.
At our last class, over Victoria sponge and strawberries, we asked the group whether they would come back to continue learning techniques to build mental resilience and relaxation. Everyone said they would. Conveniently, the instructors feel the same way!
At JRS UK we are fortunate that people volunteer their time and skills to share with our refugee friends. Do you have a skill you’d like to share? Please do get in touch!