Mindfulness – a step in the right direction

Last Thursday (28th August 2014) around 20 core CALA staff members attended a mindfulness workshop day as part of CALA’s CPD (Continual Professional Development) training plan. The idea came from our Chief Executive, Valerie Gale, who had completed mindfulness training herself.

angela-mccuskerOur trainer for the day was Angela McCusker. Angela has an MSc in mindfulness which, as she told us, she gained long before ‘Mindfulness’ became the next best thing. You can find out all about Angela’s interesting life here.

We learned from Angela that mindfulness has been around a long time and has its roots in Buddhist practice. Today, it’s just another set of techniques we can use to help us get through the stresses of our busy daily lives.

Angela was a great advocate for mindfulness and took everyone through the day with an easy, gentle manner.  She covered the key ideas and we had time to try everything out for ourselves. We tried out various types of relaxation techniques of different lengths, concentrating on breathing, appreciating tastes, sights and sounds, being ‘in the moment’.

At lunch we were supposed to concentrate on our soup and sandwiches – like that was going to happen! Being spread throughout such a wide geographical area, CALA staff rarely get the chance to get together to chat so lunch time was about what we do best – sharing, listening, supporting.

Feedback from the day was very positive. However, putting into practice what we learned, and keeping the momentum going, was a concern. We’re setting up an online support group to help us try to do that. When I say ‘we’, I mean our young, helpful Third Sector Intern is going to steer us through the mysteries of Yammer which may prove helpful for some.

Very early last Sunday morning I set off with Molly to find my riverbank. I tried to ‘be in the moment’ and took some pictures while I was at it – hope you like them? (The ‘Be Mindful’ image is from a wooden chest at Cawdor Castle. Campbell of Cawdor’s motto is ‘Be Mindful!’)

Janine Donald, CALA Communications & ICT Support Officer