Mindful in May Is Back For Its Sixth Year
Mindful in May is back for its sixth year. The one month global, online mindfulness meditation challenge, brings the benefits of meditation together, with an opportunity to contribute to bringing clean water to developing countries.
The program, created by Elise Bialylew, a trained psychiatrist, mindfulness expert and bestselling author, teaches participants mindfulness in just ten minutes a day throughout the month-long challenge.
It has attracted thousands of participants including global corporates such as Google (Silicon Valley) and celebrities like Australia's much loved Magda Szubanksi. The program has also raised over $600,000 to fund clean water initiatives in the developing world.
Participants receive daily motivational emails, guided meditations, exclusive video interviews with leading global mindfulness experts including the likes of Tara Brach, Richie Davidson and many more, and access to an online global community over the month to help support each other in creating a new healthy meditation habit.
Elise and her team conducted a pilot research study on the Mindful in May program revealing that just 10 minutes of meditation a day, is enough to improve focus, reduce stress and increase happiness.
Registration for the program opens in April and the program starts May 1st, visit www.mindfulinmay.org for more.
Interview with Elise Bialylew
Elise Bialylew is founder of Mindful in May, the world's largest online global mindfulness fundraising campaign that features the world's leading mindfulness experts and raises funds for clean water projects in the developing world. A doctor trained in psychiatry, and mindfulness expert she's passionate about supporting individuals and organisations to develop inner tools for greater well-being and flourishing. She shares powerful mindfulness practices in her new, bestselling book The Happiness Plan.
Question: What do you hope to achieve from Mindful in May this year?
Elise Bialylew: The Mindful in May program has developed into a global community of people who share a similar desire to bring more consciousness and wellbeing into their lives and take part in having a positive impact on the world. It's spread to over 35 countries and seen thousands of people learning to meditate each May. We've attracted the attention of corporates including Google in Silicon Valley and celebrities like Australia's much loved Magda Szubanski, we also have the world's leading experts on board sharing their mindfulness expertise and helping people on their journey with the program. Like with every year of the program, I hope to grow the program to reach even more people, in more countries. The goal is not just to help people create a clearer mind, but to also raise funds to bring clean water to those in need in developing countries. Continuing to contribute to the hundreds of thousands of dollars we've already raised for clean water projects, is something I wish to achieve each year.
Question: What is involved, per day, in Mindful in May?
Elise Bialylew: The one month meditation program includes an accessible, well researched course, particularly supportive of time poor people that are new to meditation. It is delivered daily to your inbox and includes: audio meditations, exclusive interviews with leading global experts in the field of wellbeing and mindfulness, and cutting edge science to keep you connected to your challenge.
Question: How does just ten minutes of meditation benefit us?
Elise Bialylew: Many people in the West have been drawn to meditation or mindfulness with the hope of finding better ways to manage their stress. However, although these practices are a powerful antidote to the stress in our lives, they have a much deeper capacity to transform us.
I get thousands of messages each year from Mindful in May participants who are quite surprised at how much just ten minutes of meditation have improved their lives. They describe:
Feeling more calm and less stressed
Feeling more focussed and less scattered
Being more focussed and effective at work
A reduction in symptoms of anxiety or worry
Better sleep and an ability to switch off at the end of the day
More patience with their children
Getting less emotionally triggered
Feeling more connected and content
Feeling more courageous
And the list goes on…
Question: How can we learn to meditate?
Elise Bialylew: Make yourself as comfortable as possible, lying on the floor with your head supported, arms by your side, palms facing up, legs straight out in front of you and allowing your feet to comfortably fall to the sides.
Gently close your eyes. Let go of any concerns about the past or future for this short time. Becoming aware of the body lying here, noticing any areas of contact between the body and the floor.
Take a deep breath in and gently let it go.
Now, allow the breath to find its natural rhythm. Become aware of any sensations connected to the breath as it flows in and out of the body.
Notice any areas of tension in the body, and with each outbreath releasing any tightness, allowing the body to soften as if melting into the floor.
Notice any sensations in the body: temperature, movement of air across the skin, tingling or perhaps no sensations at all.
Now, gently bringing your attention to the feet, feeling the pressure of both heels resting on the floor, resting your attention on the toes, the spaces between the toes, and noticing any sensations present in the feet.
Move your attention through the body, part by part, working up the legs to the chest, from the palms up to the shoulders and on up to your forehead. And if thoughts
or feelings arise, just noticing them, letting them go and directing your attention back to sensations in the body.
Allow your awareness to expand and include a sense of the whole body lying in stillness. Take a few moments at the end of this practice to bring gratitude to the many parts of the body that function miraculously from moment to moment, whether with or without your attention.
When you are ready, gently wiggle your fingers and toes and remember you can check in to the sensations of the body as a way of tuning into yourself and becoming more mindful and present at any moment of the day.
Question: How does a mindfulness practice encourage and empower women?
Elise Bialylew: I grew up with a mother who was passionate about personal growth and development and who introduced me to meditation when I was very young. I read books by Thich Nat Han, Jack Kornfield and Sogyal Rinpoche and was always quite focused on the big existential questions, obsessed with living a life in the most authentic, meaningful way possible. I think one of my greatest fears was reaching the end of my life and feeling that I hadn't lived it as courageously and meaningfully as I could have.
Mindfulness meditation has been a fundamental education for me. Not only has it provided me with a powerful way to manage my stress levels, it has really supported me in becoming a more self-compassionate, resilient, courageous person. Mindfulness meditation has been an education in how to live with more wisdom, navigate the inevitable challenges that arise in life, and be more grateful and present to the beauty of our fleeting moments. I have no doubt it will effect and empower women in a similar to way to the impact it has had on my own life.
Question: What mindfulness techniques will help us stay grounded in May?
Elise Bialylew: A mindful tea break
Tune in to your sense of sight and notice the colour of the tea.
Tune in to the smell of the tea.
Tune in to your sense of touch and feel the warmth of the cup on your skin and the temperature of the tea in your mouth.
Tune in to taste as you sip your tea and notice the different flavours and where in your mouth you sense taste.
Doing the dishes mindfully
Tune in to sight and notice the dirty plates.
Tune in to the sound of water owing from the tap.
Tune in to touch as you feel the water on your hands and sense the movement of your hands as you wash the dishes.
When you notice your mind wandering into thinking, activate your direct experience circuits by coming back to your senses.
Tune in to the touch and feel of your hands on the steering wheel and your body in the seat. Notice your posture and release any tension in the body as you drive.
Tune in to the sight of cars around you, notice the colour of the car in front of you.
Tune in to sound and experiment with turning the radio off and simply driving in silence.
Question: Can you talk through the other benefits of mindfulness?
Elise Bialylew: Mindfulness offers us a way to see more clearly and be more aware of what's happening within us and around us in the world this positively effects so many areas of our life. With this greater self-awareness and present moment attention we become better at:
Being aware of our emotions and responding to them rather than reacting
Having better access to what we really want in our lives and then taking action to make that happen
Recognising thoughts and letting them go rather than getting stuck in obsessive planning or worrying
Managing our stress
Being in relationship with others with less conflict
Communicating more effectively as we are more aware of why we are feeling what we are feeling
Staying focussed at work and less prone to multitasking
Falling asleep at night as we have a tool to help us settle the mind
Making decisions that are aligned with what we truly value
Taking healthy risks in life as we have
Interview by Brooke Hunter