Fundraising for this challenge has ended so we're no longer accepting donations. Thanks to everyone who supported this challenge.
Total raised so far£0.00
Total plus Gift Aid: £0.00
Raised offline: £0.00
[p][b]Wellspring Therapy and Training [/b]are a centre in Starbeck, Harrogate that provides professional and affordable counselling for adults, children and young people. Their service gives people of all ages an opportunity to explore thoughts, feelings and difficulties that help them to make fundamental and far-reaching changes to their lives. [/p][p]What makes Wellspring's work unique in the Harrogate area is that they offer affordable long-term counselling. Unfortunately this type of therapy is not currently widely available in the NHS and there are many people unable to afford private counselling. By offering their services at a fee that is affordable, Wellspring is working to help people in the local community receive the support they need. They rely heavily on volunteers and donations for their continuing existence.[/p][p]As part of Wellspring's Lockdown Challenge, my younger sister Gill and I are challenging each other to practice mindful meditation every day to raise money for people suffering with poor mental health. [/p][p]I know that regular mindful meditation is good for physical and mental health and over the years I have tried to discipline myself and learn. But with the distractions of everyday life I have found it extremely difficult to practice, even though I know my health would benefit. Many research studies have shown that mental and physical health can improve with regular meditation practise. Even though we had said we will embark on this challenge for a month, it is my hope and intention to continue this practise for at least three months. It is known that if something becomes a habit for at least 3 months then it is likely that this can be maintained.[/p][p]I suffer from what I would describe as a quiet form of anxiety i.e. it is not so obvious to other people, but I have never been able to fully relax and focus on myself and I want to change that. I have been in and out of counselling at particular traumatic periods in my life and it has been a lifesaver for me at these times. [/p][p]The lock-down has provided me time and opportunity to contemplate why I cannot practise mindfully meditating regularly when I know how beneficial it is and I have the time! When I learned about Wellspring's One Day Challenge I realised this was an opportunity to challenge myself and it gave me the motivation I needed. [/p][p]I casually mentioned it to my sister and she agreed it would be good for her too and said “let's do it together”. [/p][p]This is a fantastic opportunity for me to do something I've talked about doing for many years, but also to help an amazing charity to continue offering affordable and much needed counselling services to all sections of our society in these difficult times. If you want to learn more about Wellspring please click on the link below and select their website where there is lots of information about Wellspring and other events they are involved with. Also if you have anyone who might be interested in sharing this with others please use the links shown below to Facebook,Twitter and Linked In, email or even pick up the phone.[/p][p][b]Gill and I are committing to practising a mindful meditation every day for at least a month (hopefully longer) for 30-60 mins minutes each day and we'd love you to sponsor us or join us![/b][/p][p]Gill says “When my sister talked to me about the challenge I thought it was a great idea and tentatively suggested I could maybe do it as well. I have led meditation sessions with the children I used to teach and have seen some of the benefits through their sharing of their experiences; however, I’ve never actually experienced them. In a group, meditation is about letting go and I’m afraid I was, as a student teacher, just like those students I later taught who couldn’t let go enough to take part fully. I regretted it immediately when the other student teachers waxed lyrical about their meditation.[/p][p]In my mind, there’s a difference between mindfulness and meditation; meditation seems esoteric and requires a degree of learning and self-discipline while the other merely requires focus. My understanding is that mindfulness is about being completely in the moment – whether washing up, gardening or whatever. It’s about not letting time pass you by or not filling it with lots of different things at the same time (i.e. multi-tasking). I’ve been likened to a butterfly because my mind is always flitting from topic to topic, job to job, idea to idea. Like my sister, I’m always busy, busy... In short, mindful meditation is both my worst nightmare and yet also a future goal. [/p][p][b]We are both keeping a diary and we will regularly post our progress.[/b][/p][p][b]We are also hoping that this could be an invitation for other people to consider joining in with the challenge! Anyone interested in participating with the Mindful Meditation Challenge can contact Wellspring by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01423 881881. [/b][/p][p][b]Elaine's Progress at 17 June 2020[/b][/p][p]My sister Gill and I have now been practising mindful meditation daily since the beginning of June.[/p][p]The first challenge for me was to decide how to meditate as I know there are various different ways and I wanted to find out what would suit me. I searched on Google and discovered [b]Jon Kabat-Zinn [/b]who has been practising, studying and teaching meditating for over 40 years.[b] [/b] I'd seen his name before and wondered if I had any of his books and the following day almost by accident I fell upon [b]"Falling Awake - How to Practise Mindfulness in Everyday Life."[/b] I started reading it and quickly became entranced and I knew I'd found something special. He writes with a poetic style like a philosopher and I felt as though he was taking to me and it somehow felt "right". In the first chapter he introduces the mystery of the senses, then goes on to concentrate on each sense using his own experiences. I was soon transported to where he lives in New England and was mesmerised. This was when I realised I could do this myself without the use of external aids such as a CD player or Youtube videos.[/p][p]It has been a challenge for various reasons such as noise outside. There were workmen updating internet cables outside and they seemed to be drilling for days. Then there was also the fear of being disturbed by the door bell or the telephone. Then of course there's the mind-talk "I'll just put some washing on!" The list could go on.....[/p][p]It didn't take me long to decide to practise my meditation as soon as I woke up in the morning whilst I was still in a relaxed state as I knew there would be no disturbances or distractions. I started with concentrating on the sounds outside, the many different bird sounds, the slow build up of traffic and the sound of the weather outside. Then I focused on the sound of my breathing and the sensations on and in my body and of course my thoughts. I was shocked to realise how much thinking I do! I tried to allow thoughts to come and go, but this was not easy. Sometimes I was overwhelmed by my thoughts. I could see that one thought would lead to another and it would go on and on and I realised that sometimes I became judgemental about by thoughts. I also would feel various feelings and emotions such as anxiety, frustration, annoyance and even guilt.[/p][p]I could see how I was being the observer of my own thoughts and when this started to happen, which was only a few days into practising meditating, I realised that I could actually control my thoughts and accept that they were just thoughts. I could alter these thoughts and ultimately stop them even if only momentarily. Sometimes of course I would fall back to sleep and wake up in the middle of a strange and vivid dream and start meditating again.[/p][p]It hasn't been plain sailing though, some days I was in pain or the noise outside became unbearable, or I felt I should be doing other things. However, I am persevering as I am determined to continue as I realise that things can change in a moment as nothing stays the same, so I am learning that there is no need to react to my thoughts, however, that isn't so easy. [/p][p]I am hoping I will inspire others to consider practising mindful meditation to help them and most of all I want to contribute to the survival of this much needed worthwhile charity that provides vital help to most the vulnerable people of our society, our children, young people, the elderly and others during these difficult times. [/p][p][b]Gill's Progress at 20 June 2020 [/b][/p][p]As I expected, I have been finding this meditating to be a real challenge. While I have time to dedicate to it, there are other requirements, it seems! With both my husband and seventeen-year-old son both working from home during lockdown, and both being pretty derisive about the challenge, finding somewhere quiet(ish) where I am unlikely to be disturbed has been tricky. They are both inclined to take the mick out of me or tell me to go off and meditate now. Grrrr. Very annoying.[/p][p]One one occasion, while lying on a beach (I live in North Norfolk), listening to the sound of the waves and enjoying the interplay of sun and breeze on my skin I found the experience of focusing only on these two senses to be simultaneously relaxing and invigorating. My Husband Colin was quiet - staring at the nearby waves, and I imagined that he was really having a similar experience, as I know he loves the sea. When he afterwards suggested that I couldn't possibly have been meditating, or he'd obviously have been able to tell. It was very frustrating and annoying. He seems to think that meditation must involve sitting in the lotus (or similar) position and chanting strange words - or at least he did until I set him straight about just how many different ways there are. He asked the other day whether meditating was supposed to make me feistier; my reply was no, that was his influence, and possibly no bad thing![/p][p]There have been a few highlights in the last couple of weeks, and I've learnt a few things. I much prefer meditating outside, when the weather allows. There's something being closer to nature, having the sounds and smells as well as the fresh air to enjoy. The local playing field, which is almost always totally empty is a great place, after I've worn out the dog with a walk and a game of fetch. I also have to be in the right frame of mind - I can't meditate to order, which I imagine I ought to be able to, but maybe in time. I still get distracted easily, but it's also easy to come back to focusing on whatever it was I was trying to concentrate on. My hope is that this sort of training will spill over into everyday life, and I am already starting to be more aware of incidences when I become distracted, which is, I imagine, the first step to avoiding them.[/p][p]My next step is to try to find some music or guided meditations which will help, and offer a bit of variety. I'm sure there are tons on the internet. If I find any great ones, I'll attach links, in case anyone else wants to have a go. I imaging it'll be a lot easier to stay 'on task' if someone else is guiding my thoughts. Of course, if I find that he/she has an annoying voice it'll be a challenge to stay focused. I'll also try to use some of the meditation ideas I used to use to get students involved - like imagining a waterfall in a rain-forest, and stepping under it to find that it cleanses and refreshes both outside and inside, removing anxieties, insecurities and other negative thoughts, replacing them with hope, peace and calm. [/p][p][b]Elaine's Update as at 1 July 2020[/b][/p][p]After what seemed like a good start to the challenge and I thought I was doing really well I came into difficulty in focusing during my mindfulness practice. I can't put my finger on why, but I found I couldn't stop the thoughts floating in my mind, however, I did manage to bring this to my awareness. I experienced various feelings and emotions: uncomfortable, frustrated, bored, annoyed, depressed and had difficulty stop the mind from racing. At least I was aware! [/p][p]I'm trusting this recent experience is just a little setback as I want to continue practising this mindfulness meditation daily as I know it is helpful. Just thinking about it, if I hadn't been mindful of the feelings and emotions then I might actually have felt much worse. When you are aware of something it seems to take the sting out of it even though it doesn't make it pleasant.[/p][p]Despite the recent difficulties I am going to continue this for another couple of months. It will be interesting to see how things progress. [/p][p][b]Gillian's Update as at 1 August 2020[/b][/p][p]Well, I've completed my part of the challenge and managed to continue till the end of July despite it being a huge challenge. It has been a learning curve! It turns out that I am not as disciplined as I thought, which is why I've carried on for longer than the month I originally planned. I have found some Youtube channels dedicated to guided meditation which I found really helpful. I was amazed to read the comments with some describing how they have changed peoples lives. I also looked into phone apps, some of which sounded brilliant and a few costing a lot of money and others have mixed reviews. Free trials are a good idea, but only it it's easy to cancel. A useful link I found was:[/p][p]https://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/g25178771/best-meditation-apps/[/p][p]This link helps identify the top 10 apps, with 'Headspace' being the top one, as it was on some other review articles. Interestingly, on Trustpilot it gets an average of about 2/5 stars. [/p][p]The link to read these reviews is: [/p][p]https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/headspace.com [/p][p]I would definitely do my own research if I was to pay for a phone app. Some are free, but if you want to access extra features and meditations then you have to pay for those. At least this way you get to try out a few to see if they suit you before you offer up any money. There are some Youtube channels like this too, where you can watch/listen to some meditations, but have to pay for others.[/p][p]My favourite was "The Honest Guys". These are short guided meditations and some that last for many hours. 18 minutes is good for a daytime opportunity to relax, focus, switch off, but for those who struggle to sleep, the 3+ hour one is brilliant especially if you are like me you sometimes find yourself waking up many times in the night. This length of meditation might help you drift back to sleep. The main issue I have is not wanting to wake my partner, so I have tiny speakers under my pillow as I don't like earphones or headphones, especially if I'm trying to sleep. I really wish I'd had knowledge of and access to these when I used to work in a stressful profession when I used to spend much of the night fretting.[/p][p]I came across the Honest Guys when I did an internet search for best guided meditations and ended up reading this: [/p][p]https://verywellmind.com/best-guided-meditations-4843806[/p][p]I liked Tara Brach, who seems to offer a lot of different experiences, especially focusing on 'RAIN' (Recognition, Acceptance, Investigation and Nurture) which seems to be about accepting your emotions. A simple internet search will find any number of alternative lists. [/p][p]For example: [/p][p]https://ilivethelifeilove.com/10-best-guided-meditations/[/p][p]Am I now a changed woman, calm, serene and totally 'together'? Nope. But I now am confident that I have the mental tools and other resources I need to help me find calm, relaxation and sleep when they are lacking. I just need the discipline![/p][p]I hope this proves to be a helpful starting point to anyone trying to achieve peace, calm, sleep and reduced stress. However, if like me you find it hard at times, don't lose heart, but be kind to yourself and try again a bit later.[/p][p]As my sister Elaine would say, I wish you [b]"love, light and healing".[/b][/p][p][b]Elaine's Update as at 5 August 2020[/b][/p][p]It has been an interesting few weeks. I am still managing to practise my mindfulness first thing in the morning and last thing at night and I am enjoying it. I actually look forward to practising. It is a time of self indulgence to some degree as it is a time for being me. Having said that I am still having distracting thoughts and emotions come up, but I am able to let them go much easier. I think I have become resigned and accept the fact that distracting thoughts and emotions will arise and am able to let them go much quicker than in previous weeks. I am still able to be aware of my thoughts when not practising mindfulness, so during the day I am able to stop these thoughts and not react to them. It has been an interesting experience to observe my mind talk and realise what my mind is actually thinking. On one occasion very recently I became aware that the thought I was having was quite irrational and probably bordering on paranoia!!! This awareness has I believe made me less anxious and helped to slow down the ruminating. As a result I think I am more focused on what I might be doing. [/p][p]Another aspect I have observed is I have noticed is how the sounds that I hear outside have changed since early June. At the beginning there was plenty of birds sound. The sound of spring/early summer was enchanting and wonderful to observe. Now I am finding because the sound has changed and I hear more silence or the sound of traffic I realise I prefer the sounds of spring. It will be interesting to see how things change in the Autumn and Winter. I say this because I am hoping to continue practising mindfulness as part of my daily routine. I have also noticed how when I start meditating at night my heart rate is quite fast and within a few minutes of focusing on my breathing my heart rate slows down dramatically and this is very calming. [/p][p]I am hoping to try out some of the links that Gillian has tried as they sound very interesting. Only a few more weeks to go before the challenge finishes so I hope anyone reading our story finds it encourages them to have a go or recommend it to a friend/relative and hopefully they would like to donate to Wellspring to help them to continue in the work they do.[/p][p]A big[b] "thank you"[/b] to those who have donated to Wellspring and to my younger sister for joining in and supporting me.[/p][p][br][/p][p][br][/p][p][br][/p][p][br][/p][p][br][/p][p][br][/p][p][br][/p][p][br][/p][p][br][/p][p][br][/p]