I’ve attended one session of yoga in my life. A free lession at a fancy hotel in Delhi (a treat after completing the Markha valley trek in Ladakh) a few years ago. I remember finding it good, but couldn’t quite wholeheartedly throw myself into saluting the sun or pretending to be a tree. The session ended with a short meditation exercise – requiring you to make your mind concentrate on various body parts. I thought it a bit odd at the time, but went with it.
This week, I learnt that this was a ‚body scan‘. An exercise which allows you to be fully aware of the physical sensations of the body and in this way to reveal the power of the mind. I learnt this quite unintentionally in 2 articles which I happened to come across this week on a concept called ‚Mindfulness‘ – the title story of Time magazine and my daily newspaper the Guardian. Well if the journalists are talking about it, it must be on trend. Whereas meditation is inevitably linked with Buddhism, Mindfulness represents a secular meditation technique which apparently helps people be more aware of their mind, strengthen it and therefore theoretically be more able to face the trials and anxieties which we invariably face in life.
When you prepare for a marathon, you need to train your core muscles. When you play an instrument, you need to increase the strength and agility of the small muscles of the hand. And when we face stress and hardship, it sort of makes sense that we would need to train our mind.
This is not normally my sort of thing at all. But I know that almost anyone can be pushed to the edge. It’s just a case of where the limit is. An 8-week course in Mindfulness is currently said to be the rage. As much as I am intrigued by this, I couldn’t afford the time for this right now. Headspace is a mobile phone app which promises to teach the basics steps. Well, I’ll admit that my ‚200 sit-ups‘ app didn’t achieve what it said on the cover, but I am willing to give this one a try. I’ll report back!