In a world that doesn't stop meet the woman hoping to slow us all down
When was the last time you stopped, took a moment and just focussed on your breathing. Chances are not that often, or at all in some cases.
“We all need to have that time where we just stop,” explains Bognor Regis based therapist Melaina Welland who has recently become a mindfulness practitioner.
“We need some time to focus on our breathing and try to not listen to our thoughts. It can be hard and even for mindfulness practitioners like myself, I will be mediating and thoughts will creep in but it is giving yourself that time to just stop.
“It is about being in the moment, not thinking about what happened yesterday, what has been or worrying about what will happen tomorrow as there is no way of knowing.
“What is important is to focus on the here and now.”
Melaina’s journey to becoming a mindfulness practitioner started after a period of bereavements which lead her to feel anxious.
Looking to holistic treatments over taking medication saw her do meditation and mindfulness classes in Chichester.
“When I started to learn the techniques myself it got me thinking that not everyone wants that spiritual element that you are aware of in Buddhist teachings,” she reveals.
“I looked at Jon Kabat-Zinn an American scientist who looked at the science of the brain.
“He created the Stress Reduction Clinic and Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society. He also founded MBSR (Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction), which helped me combat my anxiety and depression.”
She headed to St Johns College in Oxford, which is affiliated to the licensing body - UK College of Mindfulness Meditation (UKCMM), and attained teacher training accreditation from Mindfulness Now.
Melaina offers an eight-week programme to improve health and wellbeing.
Clients learn about mindfulness, the science behind its practice and how to develop awareness of emotions, thoughts and physical sensations. They also learn how to separate recurring thoughts from constant ‘mind-chatter’ and will be motivated to develop their own mindfulness practice and techniques.
“It isn’t something that can happen overnight, you need to work on it,” explains Melania.
“We have the initial consultation where we talk through everything and see if it is for them, then we have an eight week course of one hour sessions.
“I think it is important for people to make that commitment to themselves.”
For those that feel an hour a day or week isn’t possible Melania comments that meditating can be a few minutes in length.
“You can just take three minutes in the bathroom at work to focus on your breathing and refocus your mind,” reveals Melania.
“Once you have the tools in your kit they are there whenever you need to use them.
“You can just do a one to two minute breathing space exercise if you need to. What is important is stopping and taking a moment.”
Stopping has a number of benefits including helping you to feel calmer.
“Refocusing your mind can help with flight or fight as if you stop and think you can see clearer and make better judgements.
“I have a jar filled with glitter in water. I shake it and say this is when you are stressed and trying to figure out what you want to do but you can’t see clearly.
“Then I put the jar down and once the glitter settles I say this is when you have stopped, taken a moment and the glitter falls to the bottom and you can see the whole picture.
“It does take practice.”
Melaina had previously worked as a holistic therapist for more than 25 years, treating clients of all ages and with a variety of symptoms, using a combination of reflexology, massage and meditation relaxation techniques. She also teaches baby and toddler reflexology.
Her passion is to bring mindfulness into schools and businesses.
“I think it is so important for everyone from toddlers to teens to just stop, we are all so busy and over simulated that it is important to just sit and be,” she says.
“Today, many of us live on auto-pilot without ever paying attention to the task at hand and we are soon lost in our thoughts.
“Rarely, are we in the here and now. By practicing mindfulness, people will learn how to cope with these unwanted thoughts that take us away and we learn to shift from a ‘doing’ mode into a ‘being’ mode.”
“We aren’t human doings we are human beings and we all have to remember that sometimes.”