I have been asked to share with you my experience as a social worker with “homeless people” and how meditation has helped me to develop my vocation with them.
The first thing I can say is the satisfaction I get from these meetings. They are meetings without aims or expectations. I enjoy this daily dialogue, I pay attention to what is going on, I feel that we are ONE and I don’t worry about what I’m going to get out of this activity. When, for example, I say “Nice day” to a homeless person I come across in the morning, I’m not only referring to the weather but just by talking to him I acknowledge his existence and let him know spontaneously that I’m willing to be with him. I take this moment just as it is; I empathize and try to understand him. I would like to express my gratitude to all those homeless people that have allowed me to share these intervals, conversations and moments of silence.
I’m going to point out a few details of the different contexts in which they have taken place, giving not only some of the words and phrases, but also a brief outline of some of the stories of these people.
Towards the end of 2010, I visited “Parque Berlin” (Berlin Park), which is a small park located between the streets of Principe de Vergara and Concha Espina in Madrid. I had heard about this park from a hostel where I collaborate on weekends and I knew it had homeless people that can’t get a room in a hostel. Early in October that year I decided to visit the park. I went without any kind of aim or expectation. The first morning I was there, I came across several people sitting on a bench, so I went over to them and that’s how I met María, Andrés and Michel.
“Hi, nice day”, I said, “My name is Miguel, do you mind if I sit here with you?”
María did not answer, her face looked tired, she was smoking a cigarette that she was sharing with Andrés, they did not look up; Andrés didn’t say anything either, I felt they were ignoring me. But Michel did say hello and invited me to sit down with them. I watched and listened to them for a while, before Michel asked me who I was and what I was doing there. I told them that I was a social worker. On hearing this, María and Andrés joined in, saying that all social workers were the same, inefficient and without resources.
As the days passed, Michel built up more confidence than the others and started telling me his story. He had been on the streets for two months, was divorced, with a daughter who lived with her mother, whom he did not get along with; he had worked in bars and had a drinking problem. One day he asked me to accompany him to his Embassy to find out his sister’s address, as he was thinking about going back to his own country.
After a few days I could sit on the same bench without feeling rejected, nobody was bothered by my presence there, it all seemed natural. One day, Michel told me that some night volunteers had offered him a place in a Shelter for the Homeless, so I told him I thought it would be a good idea. He asked me if I could get him a razor for a shave before going to the Shelter. He would usually wash himself in a fountain in the park. We said goodbye with a hug.
Michel had told me that María and Andrés were a couple, and sometimes María would get cross with him for talking with me for so long and telling me too much. They slept in cardboard boxes in the Park. They always seemed quite reserved. One day, María asked me for clothes for Andrés. The next day I turned up with some clothes; Andrés hardly ever talked, he just took the clothes and walked away. One morning, María had an eye problem, she told me she had slept badly, so I offered to take her to a healthcare centre but she said it wasn’t necessary and thanked me.
Weeks went by and I felt closer to them, especially Maria and Michel. Sometimes people would go by and offer us something to drink, coffee or tea, so we would share it, amid laughter and daily conversation. Occasionally the police would come, wanting to see our documentation, and asking us what we were doing there. They would just check our documents and then leave.
The couple told me very little about their life and soon December came. I recall that one morning it was very cold and as soon as I sat down I could smell the stench of the wine they were drinking; they offered me some but I reminded them that they knew I don’t drink wine. María told me they were going to live with her parents-in-law, my intuition told me this was a farewell. Andrés did not say a word, but she approached me, gave me a kiss and we said good-bye.
One day, I met Juan who had been on the streets for 10 years; he lived opposite the Park, under an arcade next to a bar. The owner of the bar gave him free coffee every morning and he would run errands for the owner of the newspaper kiosk, in order to earn some money. We arranged to go to social services and had an appointment with the social worker; he seemed convinced about going into a Home, as he was over 65 years old. We gradually prepared all the documentation he needed for admittance, and I took him to a healthcare centre for a medical check-up. So he had all that was needed to get a place in the Home. One day, we were told that a place was available but outside Madrid, so I went to find him to tell him the good news. But when I told him that the Home was outside Madrid, he told me that he preferred to stay on the streets because in the Home he would not be able to spend the day in the park with his friends in his familiar environment. I called the social worker in the Social Security Department, asking her to try to convince him but there was no way to make him change his mind and so he lost the place. The following winter he caught pneumonia and was admitted to hospital. I stayed in contact with him while he was hospitalized. Thinking over his personal situation, he agreed to let us try to apply for an emergency place in any Home. When he left the hospital, he entered a Home; although he found it hard to adapt at the beginning, he finally made it thanks to his own willpower and the help of others.
A few months ago, I met Mauro. He is 52 and had been working in Italy until last year when he lost his job and decided to come to Madrid. He was living on the streets for several months until he found a hostel. His dream was to find a job and stay in Madrid. We would meet in the Park in the morning and talk about the weather and politics, etc. He gradually revealed his story. He had problems finding employment. One day I accompanied him to the Consulate to renew his passport. That day I told him that perhaps it would be better if he went back to Italy because he had mentioned having a relative and friends that lived there. I explained that by being registered in his own town, it would be easier for him to obtain subsidies and funds than here in Spain. A few days later he told me that he had been thinking about going back and had decided to return to his home town. That day, Mauro was smiling and satisfied with the decision he had taken. I agreed to accompany him at the end of April to the bus station.
In Palma de Mallorca there is a small church that gives out sandwiches and fruit juice every morning. The homeless call it the “sandwich line”. For a few years now, whenever I am in Palma, I join that line along with all the others. It is a way to establish informal contacts while waiting for the sandwiches to be given out. Afterwards, a few of us go and sit on a bench in the town square to enjoy our sandwich. This way, I have had the chance to meet people that, in spite of a precarious economic and personal situation, still find a meaning to life. For example, I met Rafael, 65 years old, who slept in a park. One day he asked me if I could help him apply for a retirement pension. I told him the documents he needed and that he could count on my help. He replied that he did not need me to go along with him but would keep me informed of the process, which he did. Rafael and I established a relationship and enjoyed our daily conversations while we shared our sandwiches.
A group of volunteers meet every weekend in a hostel in Madrid. The activity on Sunday afternoons is focused on the spiritual dimension of the people living there. At these meetings, they have the chance, if they wish, to express their spirituality, whatever their religious beliefs. The volunteer is free to set the dynamics. Usually it is in the form of distribution of photocopies with a text to read and comment on. It might be a bible text, a prayer, or an educational story, etc. On other occasions, it might be in the form of body movement by means of a contemplative dance. Some Sundays we practice meditation. I make a brief introduction and explain how to create moments of silence. After the established meditation time, participants have the opportunity to express what they have felt, to share their personal experience and some join in, although there are few comments, some say they have felt some kind of peace, others say they were bored and others say they felt nothing at all. After these activities we all have coffee together.
Lastly, I want you to know that meditation has helped me to see and feel the true manifestation of the presence of the SUPREME BEING, in all these people. To acknowledge what we all are. And that spiritual practice is still transforming my way of life and helping the homeless.
See other projects on mindfulness for homeless: http://shambhalasun.com/sunspace/?p=23152
Queremos agradecer tu presencia y dedicación a la práctica de la atención plena en la web www.mindfulnets.co/es. Espero que durante este tiempo como usuario de Mindfulnets hayas podido sentir los efectos positivos de la práctica del mindfulness en tu salud y bienestar mental y emocional.
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This Manual does not expose thoughts, beliefs or theories about attention to the present. This Manual focuses on the important point of “attention to the present”, which is its practice. No knowledge about “attention to the present” is more important than practice. Download it FREE here.
En la plataforma web La atención al presente se pueden encontrar videos y audios que pueden ser utilizados para entrenar la atención plena o mindfulness.
Se encuentra disponible tambien este Manual de Atención al Presente que no se detiene en exponer pensamientos, consideraciones, reflexiones ni teorías sobre la atención al presente. Este Manual está centrado en lo importante de la “atención al presente”, que es su práctica. Ningún conocimiento sobre la atención a uno mismo es más importante que su práctica. Descarga GRATIS aquí:
«Quizá algo tenga que ver con aquel viejo consejo, que a veces daban nuestras abuelas: cuenta hasta diez antes cuando estés enfadado o pierdas el control», reflexiona desde Estocolmo vía telefónica el canario Miguel Quintana, que con su proyecto Mindfulnets se propone mejorar la vida de las personas a través de la «atención plena».
Como parte de lo que entiende es una fuerte tendencia de integrar las nuevas tecnologías con las técnicas para lograr una mente saludable, el sitio web mindfulnets.co ofrece un «desafío»: transformar el sufrimiento en sabiduría y combatir el estrés a través de sencillos ejercicios online.
«Bienvenidos al presente», saluda el portal al visitante y le invita a realizar un ejercicio de prueba o bien a registrarse, de manera tal de poder someterse a él con regularidad, como ya lo han hecho a través de más de mil personas, en los más de medio millón de minutos de práctica que llevan hasta ahora.
El procedimiento del «ejercicio de los clics» se centra en la respiración y solicita al visitante que, en una posición cómoda y lo más relajada posible, suelte tensiones y apriete con el ratón (o con el dedo si lo hace a través de una tableta o smartphone) cada vez que espira. El resultado determinará el grado de atención y de estrés de cada persona.
«Las técnicas de mindfulness que aplico nos permiten estar presentes en el aquí y ahora, observar de forma ecuánime lo que sucede, en una actitud preventiva para el bienestar psicoemocional», explica Miguel Quintana, nacido en Las Palmas en 1974, licenciado en Educación Física y doctorando en psicología con «Mindfulness para el bienestar psicológico», el título de su tesis en la Universidad Complutense.
Quintana destaca la importancia de la respiración, que entiende como una forma de estar en contacto con nuestro cuerpo. «Cuando llevamos todo a sentir la respiración, automáticamente el pensamiento abrumador desaparece», porque «el estar muy estresados merma la capacidad de atender».
Los resultados de sus trabajos los ha presentado en un congreso de ciberpsicología, y ha llegado incluso hasta Google, «que está financiando proyectos que integran la meditación con las nuevas tecnologías», apunta. Recuerda, asimismo, que la familia Gates apoya algo muy relacionado, el desarrollo del estudio de la compasión desde una perspectiva científica.
A la hora de enfrentarse a las posibles críticas, por ejemplo, la de si todo esto no es más que una pseudociencia, responde que en los últimos cinco años «se ha constatado la importancia de la atención plena», a través de la neurociencia. «Nos ha dado la razón, con estudios, por ejemplo, a través de resonancias magnéticas que demuestran los logros de la mayor concentración, que actúa a la vez como un elemento protector, una manera de combatir el estrés».
Otra de las críticas es que se los tache de simples budistas, a lo que responde que si bien contiene tradiciones que enlazan con el budismo, esta disciplina «es transconfesional, porque reúne algunos elementos que están en todas las religiones».
Uno de los más conocidos beneficiarios de estas técnicas es Matthieu Ricard, hijo del filósofo Jean-François Revel, catalogado como el hombre más feliz del mundo en un estudio de la University of Wisconsin–Madison sobre felicidad, en el que apareció con enorme ventaja sobre cientos de voluntarios que fueron parte de la investigación.
Miguel Quintana aconseja 10 minutos diarios de meditación, que a lo largo de al menos seis semanas lograrán «mejorar la atención y la concentración». Y desde Suecia, donde encontró apoyos necesarios para su proyecto, confía en el «crowdfunding» —pequeñas aportaciones de muchas personas— para financiar el crecimiento de su web, de manera tal de desarrollarla, crear comunidades de usuarios y llegar a la mayor cantidad posible de personas.
There are several ways to practice mindfulness and awareness-based exercises. Have a look to the tools and choose one to explore how it works for you.
Check out these exercises for attention, concentration, awareness and mindfulness
All content provided by James Sillcoxead. Read more: http://m.mindfulnessinfo.com
I am so happy that Mindfulnets ™ is helping so many people to train mindfulness online. So far, we are more than 1,100 users reaching almost half million of meditation minutes online.
Now is moment to further evolve this great platform with more features and contents. Please help me and let me know your comments and feedback on the current beta version:
1. What do you like the most?
2. What do you like the least?
3. What would you like to be included?
Please send me an email with your answers to email@example.com I will work mindfully with your feedback to further evolve Mindfulnets ™.
Thank you for your presence, with your help we will keep climbing.
Fouder of Mindfulnets
Runners are very much likely to experience what it has been described as a flow state, being in the zone or just become a mindful runner.
Here it is described, a pure mindful experience when running: “When I run, I am very focused on the signals from my body, the sensation within my body and its interaction with the external environment, and time seems to slow down… but thoughts come to mind, mostly simplified in the form of images or ideas. Anxiety and worry and depressive feelings disappear, and you are more in contact with yourself, or your core. That feeling is very pure. ” Lindsey T. (a marathon runner from Sweden).
Here there are 20 reasons why you might want to consider incorporating mindfulness meditation into your daily life. This is just the first:
#1 It lowers stress — literally. Research published just last month in the journal Health Psychology shows that mindfulness is not only associated with feeling less stressed, it’s also linked with decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Read the full article HERE
A CONSCIOUS LIFESTYLE. We are happy to introduce Mindful Eating – a conscious lifestyle involving food, health and change with mindfulness. The program is the first of it´s kind in the world.
You are invited to explore, challenge, and respond to bodily signals, thoughts, feelings and behavioral patterns that have led to, unhealthy eating habits, stress with food, overweight or maybe even to experience ill health.
The program is about looking after your body and health with greater awareness. The challenge lies in becoming aware of when, where and how you eat and in being able to change your habits. You will be exploring and challenging them for eight weeks.
The goal can be losing weight or simply enjoying your food more, befriending your body, being able to eat with others in a natural way or being less stressed about food. Visit www.mindfuleatingnow.com to explore it.
This program has been created by Åsa Palmkron Ragnar, MD and Katarina Lundblad, MBSR-teacher