"Your Body Your Mind" - A Day Retreat with our little sisters
On June 19th we had the absolute pleasure of taking our first Day Retreat for our little sisters. Yep, it was a retreat just for girls aged 12-16 to learn all about mindfulness and meditation, to try some yoga and Pilates and just to have some fun with us (ummm or maybe it was the other way around. Not sure who had the most fun).
We collaborated with the lovely ladies from Rural Health who were kind enough to help us find some funding so that it was accessible to all - a big thank you to Kate Cross and Karen Cardillo!
Thirty young ladies graced Highfield House with their presence on a chilly morning wearing beanies, gloves and scarves and with blankets in tow. We kicked off with some sun salutations to quickly warm up in the newly renovated Threshing Barn prior to getting straight into a chat on Mindfulness.
What is mindfulness? And why does it matter? And does it make a difference to their lives?
Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose to the present moment without judgment. It's learning to train certain parts of the others so that we can better manage our emotions, stress and when we get anxious learn the best way to cope.
We chatted about how easy it is for our mind to be often off in thought with planning the future or remembering the past. We talked about how in life we have a broad range of feelings, both pleasant and unpleasant - and that the "just be positive" or "just be happy" pop psychology doesn't really work... Anxiety is something that affects us all at times and the search for a pain free life is unrealistic and can lead to more anxiety!
Our first meditation was "Saying Yes To What Is". A brief exercises where we thought about an unpleasant recent experience and noticed what it felt like in our bodies - what feelings it created and where. The second part of the exercise was comparing how it felt when we mentally said no to it compared to how we felt when we said yes to our feelings, or just allowed them to be there.
Next we were into a Pilates session to strengthen the core and improve posture to warm up again... Think lots of time spend upside down to help improve body awareness!
We then went straight into a "Breath Meditation" with lots of pillows, blankets and wearing eye masks to learn some more attention training prior to a structured yoga session, which was followed by a delicious lunch of hearty soups. We went through the practice of mindful eating then we were back to a long session of yoga and a long meditation that included a body scan and a loving-kindness meditation taught simply by bringing to mind someone they loved and offering that same love to themselves.
It was such a pleasant surprise to find out just how much the girls like to meditate! Yep, numerous requests of "can we do that thing where we go to sleep again?!"
The final hour of the day was spent with a mindful listening exercise and a loving-kindness circle, extending out to others the compassion that each had learned to give to themselves.
It was a truly lovely day for us and we were ecstatic with the enthusiasm of the group.
Perhaps the best feedback would come down to when one of the feedback forms read as follows:
Q: What did you learn today?
A: I learned to give myself the love that I give to everyone else.