Mindfulness as a tool for transformative learning. Mindfulness meditation
Growing educational, psychological and neuroscientific research attests to the beneficial and transformative effects of mindfulness practice. The following tool, Mindfulness Meditation, is introduced to facilitate, accompany and encourage transformative learning, a type of learning that happens on a deep personality level, and is one of the most challenging types of learning. In this article you will be introduced to 2 exercises for practicing mindfulness.
Why did I choose this tool?
Mindfulness meditation has helped me and many people I know to undergo deep and transformative changes on a personal level. It is therefore a powerful tool for developing the competence to acknowledge & deal with unexpected learning moments & outcomes because it teaches us to accept whatever comes up during the learning process in a judgment free state.
How does this apply to being a trainer?
As previously mentioned, transformational learning can be demanding and straining. Mindfulness meditation helps the trainer keep his mind open and be receptive to whatever comes up during the learning experience. Therefore it is helpful for developing the competence to be open and ready to balance between planned & unplanned learning objectives.
A specific form of lifelong learning and personal development is transformative learning, a type of learning that takes place on a personality level and involves deep reorganization of the existing mental schemes. (Illeries, p.44)
Transformative learning involves restructuring the organization of the self. It goes beyond simple accumulation of knowledge; it alters the individual’s behaviour, attitudes, personality and the choices they make about their future actions. It is pervasive learning which permeates and alters every portion of their existence and leads to deep changes in the individual’s personality. (Rogers 1961, p.280)
It is a process by which we transform our current perspectives, mindsets and mental habits to make them more inclusive, discriminating, open, emotionally capable of change, and reﬂective so that they may generate beliefs and opinions that will prove more true for our intended life course. (Mezirow 2000, pp.7–8)
Historically, this type of learning has been known for a long time in the ﬁeld of psychotherapy under the term catharsis—experience of a mental and often physical release after which one often reports to feel reborn as a new and better person. (Illeries, p.47)
However, transformative learning is difficult and demanding as it requires change in the perception of oneself, which can often be felt as threatening and painful and tends to be resisted. (Rogers 1969, pp. 157) It mostly happens when the learner is in a situation where there is no other option perceived as sustainable. It can often ensue as a result of an existential crisis in which a learner faces a situation or challenge exceeding what they can manage using their existing potential and which they must overcome to fulfill their life goals. (Illeries, p.47)
Read the following text:
I act mindfully
I act mindfully.
I engage fully in each moment. I look for ways to be more mindful in my daily life. I meditate and pray. I strengthen my concentration skills. I notice the goods things in life and remember that my life is precious. I take responsibility for my actions.
I check in with my body and mind. I scan my back and shoulders for signs of tension. I relax my muscles and correct my posture. I let go of resentments and disappointments.
I acknowledge my thoughts without making judgments. I notice my mental chatter without clinging or rejection. I accept things as they are. I replace judgments with curiosity and love. I regard myself and others with compassion.
I connect with what is going on around me. I listen to my senses. I sharpen my awareness.
I give each activity my full attention. As I wash dishes, I notice how the soapy water warms and softens my hands. As I eat dinner, I savor each mouthful of food. I delight in the flavors and textures.
I reflect on my purpose. I explore the meaning behind my choices. I align my actions with my values. I invest my energy in the things I care about.
Today, I am open and accepting. I feel vital and alive. I focus my attention on what I am experiencing right now. As my mind expands, my peacefulness and clarity grows (taken from tcpdf.org).
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What does it mean to cultivate the seeds of mindfulness?
- What do I miss when I forget to be mindful?
- How does practicing mindfulness make me more resilient?
- What is my favorite mindfulness practice? What keeps me most present?
- Sit comfortably in a cross-legged position. Lift the shoulders up, back and down and keep them relaxed. Keep the back straight, tuck the chin, relax your face, and close your eyes. Gently press the tongue against the upper palate and keep the lips slightly apart.
- Take 3 deep and slow breaths to relax.
- Next, breathe naturally and bring a very gentle attention to your breath. You can either bring attention to the nostrils, the abdomen, or follow the entire movement of the breath. Become aware of the inbreath, outbreath and space in between. (Short pause)
- Imagine the breath to be a resting place and let the mind settle on it, very gently. Just be.
- If at any time you feel distracted by a sensation, thought or sound, simply acknowledge it, experience it and very gently let it go. Bring your attention very gently to your breathing. (Long pause)
- Invite joyful inner peace to arise:
Breathing in, I am calm.
Breathing out, I smile.
When you are ready, gently open your eyes and smile.