8th Dec, 2022


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Wendy McLean (00:05): Welcome to Common Ground, a podcast series discussing new research and interesting projects in the field of complementary medicine. Hello, my name is Wendy McLean, Senior Writer & Presenter at vital.ly.

Firstly, I'd like to begin by acknowledging the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation as the traditional custodians of the land on which we gather here. I would also like to pay my respect to their elders, past, present, and emerging.

Today on Common Ground, I will be discussing mindfulness with life coach and body-mind practitioner, Melissa Wright.

Melissa is also a dedicated student of Pilates and began her teaching career in 1999. It has been a mix of both teaching, coaching, educating and business and staff management. For over eight years, Melissa owned MG Pilates, a large successful Pilates studio in Erskineville, Sydney, before relocating to the Central Coast in 2013.

Melissa has two certifications in Pilates from the Australian Pilates Method Association, and a full diploma in Pilates instruction from Polestar Pilates, Australia. And after completing her qualifications, she was asked to become a mentor for Polestar Pilates students and was then further promoted to assistant educator.

Her passion for mindfulness stemmed from her love of the mindful movement method of Pilates, and she is now a diploma certified life coach and body-mind practitioner who continues to learn and apply the coaching methodology in her own life and specialises in stress reduction through mindfulness.

In 2019 Melissa was asked to come on board with Farran Street Education to create and present a ninety-minute mindfulness webinar for educators and leaders in the childcare industry. This went on to expand into a national tour around Australia presenting half-day workshops.

Her adaptive coaching style, deep listening skills and ability to read people foster trust and loyalty with her clients. Over the years she has provided transformative experiences for her clients and teachers through her knowledge, ongoing education and intuition. It brings Melissa joy and great satisfaction to help others overcome barriers so that they function at the highest level in their best health.

We welcome you warmly today, Melissa.

Melissa Wright (02:21): Thanks, Wendy. Thanks for having me on the podcast.

Wendy McLean (02:24): I did give a bit of an intro there, but we would love to hear a little bit more about your background and how you got into mindfulness and how did you become a body-mind practitioner and life coach?

Melissa Wright (02:35): Yeah I think my love of movement, as you mentioned, comes from being a dancer as well many years ago, and I can remember being on a cruise ship at the front of the ship, in the dressing room, sitting on the floor, and I somehow just thought to centre myself and calm my nerves by sitting and breathing and closing my eyes. But at that stage, I actually really had no idea what I was doing. I just knew that it felt good and it helped me go out and be really present with the audience. And it was from dance that I discovered Pilates as many people dancers do and go on to become a Pilates teacher. And I just loved the mindful movement that it is, and sort of going from there, I think, and having a big studio where I was really stressed out. Some of that was as a single mum as well and working all the hours around the clock and got myself into a place of burnout, basically, where I was completely burnt out. I was having anxiety attacks, doing other things other than trying to sooth myself in this way. And it wasn't actually until I moved to the Central Coast that I started to think more about meditation again and practice it more formally and study and understand it more. And I found that the path to getting out of burnout was to practice mindfulness meditation for me, it really helped improve my health. It helped lower those stress levels. It helped me to see things more clearly and in a way that I hadn't really seen before. And that's what actually led me to selling the studio, just becoming more mindful that I needed something different now. And what I needed to do is look after myself. And it's ironic because Pilates is in the health and wellness industry, yet we work ourselves pretty hard.

Wendy McLean (04:28): Absolutely, yes.

Melissa Wright (04:31): So it was from there that I suppose I started to practice more fully in mindfulness and started to create classes that we actually now the name of it's slipped my mind, but we used to do it on a Sunday morning and use Franklin balls, and it was a very slowed down version of going through the body using Franklin balls and mindfully feeling sort of things as we moved through the class. And I just found that I loved it so much and added meditation to that. And it became quite a popular class on a Sunday morning, which shows it was needed.

Wendy McLean (05:06): Absolutely.

Melissa Wright (05:08): Yeah. So from there I decided to study mindfulness in more depth and become a mindfulness coach. And this is where I've landed, and I absolutely love it. I still teach a bit of Pilates, but my main focus is coaching and mindfulness.

Wendy McLean (05:23): Wonderful. So you've had quite a varied background and quite, I can understand how hectic it has been at times in your life and that you've found this wonderful tool that is mindfulness and meditation. So perhaps you could actually share what is mindfulness? Go into that in a little bit more detail.

Melissa Wright (05:46): Yeah, the best way I've found to describe it is that it's a state of active attention to the present that is non-judgmental and cultivated through practice. So that's quite a long sentence. I like to kind of break that down a little bit to help people understand really what that means. So a state of active attention to the present, so that we're present in the moment, understanding that what we are doing, we're not doing one thing and thinking a million other things, which is really common. The non-judgmental part is interesting because once you start to get into mindfulness practice and you'll hear people say, My mind's too busy. I'm just too stressed. I can't do this. I, I've got a monkey mind, Oh, there I go again. I can't believe I can't focus on my friend. So we start to really judge ourselves and the whole idea of mindfulness is that you become the observer and you are looking at your mind and your thoughts and your feelings in a way where you're not judging yourself. So I like to think of it a little bit in the same way that if a friend came to you with lots of problems, you wouldn't judge them for having those problems, you'd be caring and kind towards that friend. And this is where I suppose we start to become our own friend. We start to become aware of what we are doing, how we are feeling, how our thoughts and feelings contribute to our actions and just kinder to ourselves in general.

Wendy McLean (07:21): And it can be just, it is challenging. It's so challenging to be in the moment. I read a study today actually saying most people are not in the moment 47% of the time. I don’t know how that came up with that statistic. That's quite a lot of the time. So it’s really important to try and bring yourself into the moment, I guess, and not always worrying about the future. And I think in our society it's quite challenging to do this, and particularly with social media and devices and things like that.

Melissa Wright (07:55): Yeah, absolutely. It is. It's so hard. There was something I read today just thinking of, I write my own copy for my website, and the idea is that you're supposed to write a lot of copy so that it comes up in a Google search, but the fact of the matter is that people are not on your page for no longer than 30 seconds because they can't even hold their attention to read something that they've searched up that they're interested in. Let alone something they're not interested in. So yeah, that sounds about right. 47%.

Wendy McLean (08:28): I have to say I'm absolutely guilty of that myself. So you mentioned it briefly when you were talking how mindfulness has benefited yourself but what are some of the other benefits of mindfulness?

Melissa Wright (08:44): Yeah, look, I think one of the things that always comes to mind is that we don't know how to stop and become still anymore. And that in itself is a benefit. How many times would you go to make a cup of tea at the same time you are sending an email? Or if you've got kids at home, you're making a cup of tea and you're making the lunch and you are thinking about, so we don't really give ourselves this luxury, which it is now of time, of just sitting down. If we're sitting down where're looking at our phones, we’re with the TV on or we don't actually just sit and stare. And so I think that's a really big benefit is that we can cultivate some discipline in just doing nothing, which gives our brain and body rest again, that sort of is a way to lower our stress levels.

And I think by taking that time out and making that space for ourselves we start to see those needs and those thoughts and our feelings come up and we, rather than running around on our emotions all the time, we start to understand what it is we really need and want. And that's a really big benefit in terms of living a life that you feel where you feel fulfilled and happy. But of course there's other things like it lowers our stress levels by teaching us how to manage our stress because we live in a world that is stressful. It's not going away. There is even stress, I would say, if you went and lived in a temple because you'd have sit cross-legged on the floor for a while and the stress would be the pain of the cross-legged position. So it's a thing that we have to learn to live with.

So it helps us to lower those stress levels by teaching us how to manage that stress by becoming more mindful. We also know or start to understand what our triggers are. And that allows us then to intercept that stress response in our body before it fully plays out, which is really important. That also gives us the ability to act rather than react to what's going on inside ourselves in our mind or the situation that is around us as well. The other things that I like to really focus on is that it increases our ability to deeply listen to ourselves, as I've already said, but to other people. So in turn, that improves our relationships with the people around us in our life at home and at work because we are more able to listen on a deep level and understand what it is the people around us need and want at the same time. So it improves relationships with others, but it's also understanding that stress also has an impact on our overall health, like increasing our blood pressure, lowering our moods. It can mess with our hormones over time and digestion. And so by lowering our stress levels and learning how to live with life stresses, you can improve your overall wellbeing. And generally feel more content and happy and healthy because isn't this kind of what we're all striving for?

Wendy McLean (11:42): Absolutely, striving to thrive.

Melissa Wright (11:44): That’s It. Yeah, I love that.

Wendy McLean (11:45): Yeah. And certainly stress has a huge impact on our immune system as well. And particularly the current environment or the last few years we've been through with the pandemic and it was a stressful situation and lowering your immunity and making you more susceptible to potentially catching the virus.

Melissa Wright (12:09): Absolutely. That was a big thing for me in lockdown, was trying to help people through that stage by helping them understand that by keeping stress at a level, we are going to help improve our immune system. Yeah, absolutely.

Wendy McLean (12:24): And so I guess that leads onto the next thing. We've looked at benefits, but how does mindfulness actually work?

Melissa Wright (12:32): So mindfulness actually works by activating that relaxation response in the nervous system. And we're all quite often in that fight or flight or freeze mode, the sympathetic nervous system that's activated all the time. And as lots of people are more educated, I guess about the stress response and how it works, but I like to just sort of go through it again because we now think that stress is not sending that email, forgetting to buy the milk on the way home, leave locking the key in the house. Okay, that's a bit stressful, but it's not the kind of stress where our life is in danger. And that played a really important role way back when we did have to look around and be alert for danger all the time, but now we are so stressed over the smallest things, so we have a thought it can trigger that stress response in an instant. If we don't catch it, your breathing rate increases, which expands our lung capacity. And that's so that we can run away faster. Our heart pumps more blood to the muscles and that's how we can again run away at high speed. But we're not running away, anywhere. We're just sitting at our desk, something really simple. And as we mentioned earlier, how that impacts the digestive system and immune system is that it takes a backseat in order to conserve that energy to allow us our sight and hearing to become more acute and be on the lookout for any impending danger.

And the other thing that is interesting is that your liver converts glycogen to glucose and gives you more energy to keep running. So if we've got a lot of glucose running around our body all the time, again, that's another effect on our health. And that's where this mindfulness practice comes into play here, because by activating that relaxation response in the body, we can dial down or switch off that sort of stress response. If a stress response is already started it can take some time to dial that down using the breath essentially most of the time.

Wendy McLean (14:42): And a little bit of stress certainly can be beneficial. We know this, it can enhance performance, things like that. But certainly, when it becomes to that day in, day out chronic phase, and it's affecting sleep and it affecting your health, that's not good stress. And that's where I guess the mindfulness is so important.

Melissa Wright (15:05): Yes. That's right. And yeah, like you said it, and sometimes it might be day in, day out and multiple times in a day. And if we're not aware of that, that that's happening, then we are not aware of the damage sort we are doing long term to ourselves. And again, that's where having a little mindfulness practice in place really helps each time you notice these things come up.

Wendy McLean (15:28): Yeah, absolutely. and mindfulness, it's not a new concept, is it? I mean it’s been around two and a half thousand years maybe from Buddhist times, but certainly you don't have to be Buddhist to practice mindfulness. It's for everybody. And I guess there's been a lot of focus in the research over the last 30 years, in particular. And so I guess is there any research that you've come across recently that you'd like to share with us?

Melissa Wright (15:58): Yeah, I'm a big fan of the app, 10% Happier, which is Dan Harris, who was an ABC reporter, so it sounds completely odd to say this, but he started it up because he had a panic attack on air and in the United States and he was a total nonbeliever of mindfulness or meditation. Anyway, finally he came around to the idea that he probably needed to do something and started doing it. But anyway, so they have a great app. Within their app they've got courses and wonderful things to do as well. But one of the studies that they did with a cognitive neuroscientist at the Oscher Centre, the Harvard Medical School, they basically scanned the brain of some regular meditators. And what they got them to do is practice some breath meditation while they were having the scan. And what they saw is at the area of the brain where focus and memory and concentration occurred, they saw that area light up and the area of the brain where the stress response often occurs, they saw that dampen down and they saw that over and over and over again with different people.

So I love that because seeing is believing for some people. You can watch the video in the app too, I'm sure you can probably watch it on their YouTube channel, but I absolutely love that. And there's another one by a radiology teacher, again at Harvard Medical School where she scanned the brain of meditators while they were meditating and they got them to practice meditation for two months straight before they did this. So they were underway making those changes and while they were doing their general activities throughout the day, and what they saw was that the changes in the brain that they saw in while they were meditating sort of stuck beyond that time. So whilst they were doing their daily routine, washing up, making the dinner, those changes within the brain stuck. So what it shows is that the benefits of mindfulness go beyond the time that you're actually sitting and practicing mindfulness. And I think that's the key takeaway is to know that it's not just working while you're doing the meditation, you're making long lasting changes that go beyond the sitting time.

Wendy McLean (18:17): Right. That was a question that I had in mind actually. Was just when you're in the moment. But now you've answered that. And I guess just following on from that, what is the dose of mindfulness, I guess, is one sitting going be beneficial or is it something that you need to practice for a few days or few weeks.

Melissa Wright (18:42): Yeah, look, I think of mindfulness, like fitness for the mind. You can't just go to the gym and lift a 10 kilo weight 10 times and then expect to have great guns.

Wendy McLean (18:55): True, unfortunately.

Melissa Wright (19:00): So if you're really new to meditation, if you're quite resistant to trying it because of all the reasons I listed before, you feel too stressed or you don't think your mind will, your mind's too busy or any of those kinds of things. I like to say to start out small. The dose I would say is that yes, we do need to practice it every day in order to make those changes, but there are some people that only fit it in three times a week. And what I would say is if it's going to stress you out trying to make it every day, then you probably need to back away. So it is a little bit of case by case, but certainly the more you do it, the bigger your guns are going get.

Wendy McLean (19:44): I love that. That is a good incentive. And I guess that does lead nicely onto the  next question, because it is challenging, it is difficult, but there are different types aren't there? So that may be more suitable for certain people. So would you care to talk about some of those different types?

Melissa Wright (20:07): Yeah, for sure. So you've got formal and informal meditation. Formal is where you would sit down on a chair. And by the way, you don't have to sit cross-legged on the floor. So if you can't get on the ground or you don't sitting like that because of your knees, it's totally fine. But formal is where you make the time. Let's say we say every day for 10 minutes in the morning, I'm going sit down and focus on my breath. With the informal meditation, you have open awareness and focused attention. I'll just talk about informal before I come back to that. Informal meditation practice is something you can apply to your daily tasks. So nothing too complicated to start with. Brushing your teeth is a good example, but that actually might even be too many things to think of at once. So if you've got a pet, particularly a cat, I find them quite calming. Just sitting and patting your cat and doing nothing else and really focusing on the sensation of your hand against their fur, listening to their purring, filling your body, sitting in the chair. This is an informal type of mindfulness meditation. But again, so you could try things like if you're a person that doesn't like to sit still, go for a walk. But don't take your smart watch or your smartphone. Just actually go for a walk. Feel your feet on the ground, feel how it moves. The foot moves through from the toe, ball, heal. Feel how the foot comes up, places down on the ground. You don't have to walk slowly, but you're just really aware of how your body's moving through space while you taking the walk. You might be more aware of sounds around you, of smells, look at the sky. I mean these are all really lovely things to do, but things we just don't. Another one is washing up, which most of us have dishwashers, but there's a few things that you still have to hand wash. So that's also a really good place, particularly because that could be at the end of your day when you're, you've had dinner and you're winding down that you take your time to feel the water against your hands, hear the tap running. So it's really opening up your senses and becoming more body aware and aware of what's going on around you. So that there's some great informal ways of starting if the thought of sitting down makes you want to run away.

But if I come back to formal meditation your open awareness teaches you how to maintain a presence of mind while allowing other outside stimuli to pass through your awareness. This was a bit of a funny one in lockdown when I was doing meditation in groups, is that perhaps someone didn't have their camera on mute and you'd hear the background noises of the person making dinner or the construction that was going on outside. And what is interesting is that these distractions, and we know these are around us all the time at work, when we're on the bus, train, but the idea is to let those noises, those things come in through our awareness and instead of getting attached to them, we see or hear them, they come in and we watch them go out the other side.

So we don't latch onto that and be kind, it doesn't become a story about what it is. Oh, how annoying it is. Why can't I get any peace today? Again, we don't live in a temple. And for some people that can be a bit harder style of meditation because it is easy to get distracted. But in saying that, sometimes people find it quite calming. I think that after a while if you've done a bit of focused attention meditation, which I'll explain now that open awareness can become a little bit easier and more relaxing. Your focused attention teaches you how to maintain and focus on an object like the breath or a body part, while filtering everything else out. So you may hear those other things or your thoughts and your mind may distract you from focusing on your breath, but you see that you've been distracted and come back to the breath and come back to the breath and come back to the breath. And honestly, that might happen 256 times.

Okay. And that is totally normal. But the idea is that if you notice that while you're focusing on your breath, all of a sudden you're off on some story about the future and you realise that that's where you should really give yourself a pat on the back because that's you being mindful. Right there I've gone again, here I go on the next story. Well we're not doing that now. We're focusing on the breath. Come back and you'd be kind. This is where that kindness comes in and you start again. One of my favourite teachers, Joseph Goldstein says two things that I love. One is that it's simple but not easy. And the other one is simply begin again. And that's life.

Wendy McLean (25:17): Yes. I love that

Melissa Wright (25:18): We simply begin again over and over and over many times through our day, and then big for big events through our life. So it's really great training for just learning to begin again, being kind.

Wendy McLean (25:30): Yes. That's so important. Well, so with the few different types then there's surely there's something for everybody out there. And I guess it's just a matter of trying them and seeing what works the best for you.

Melissa Wright (25:43): Yeah, absolutely. And like I said, if you've got quite a bit of anxiety and you're very stressed, I would start with something that's a bit more informal. Like brushing your teeth. Making your tea and doing nothing else. And then actually sitting down to drink the tea as well.

Follow right through to the end, which can seem like so long, but it's not. We're talking 20 minutes.

Wendy McLean (26:10): Exactly. Yeah. Totally guilty of not sitting down with the cup of tea, walking around, doing jobs, on the computer again.

Can you talk about some of the mindfulness techniques?

Melissa Wright (26:27): Yeah. So some of the things like I was mentioning before that you could do throughout your day, and I like to think of it a little bit like banking mindful minutes. So it's like you’re earning compound interest, so it all adds up. So it's even a little small contribution will add up in the long run. And as I said, some of those techniques that you could do would be making cup of tea. And if I'm to be really specific about that, you know, want to be able to pick up the kettle before you fill it up, feel the weight of it in your hand, feel that you've turned the tap on, feel the weight of the kettle change, place it back on. If you drink it, if you're a tea drinker, the smell of the tea, taking that in, the sounds of the kettle boiling. And as I said, don't be tempted to go and do something else while that's why that's happening, you're really opening up your senses. And again, as I mentioned before, going for a walk without your phone or smart watch. Another really good thing to do, which we don't tend to do, is listen to a piece of music from beginning to end, but put your phone somewhere else, have your headphones on so no distractions are around you. And I said, as I said, washing the dishes and patting the cat or the dog for a dog person. Clearly I'm a cat person.

Wendy McLean (27:46): Me too. Well the way you describe it, you make it seem not as overwhelming to try and incorporate it into daily life.

Melissa Wright (28:02): Yeah, exactly. And I'd just like to say you can't walk around being mindful every minute of the day. It's not possible. And our brains are designed and wired to think and solve problems, and they're amazing machines. And if you think about the power they have over us in a negative sense, if we want to call it that in the way that they can make us feel quite stressed, our thoughts can change our health and downgrade how we are feeling. Think about how powerful our brains could be the other way. So like I said, it's not that you have to walk around being mindful every minute of every day. It's just that once you start becoming more aware, you'll incorporate these little moments where you'll stop and think, Oh, I'm driving the car here. I can feel my hands on the wheels, on the wheel, rather, and tune back into the moment that you're in.

Wendy McLean (28:57): I don't know about you, but the number of times I've gone from A to B and I think how did I get here? Not just totally thinking about 5,000 other things while I'm driving.

Melissa Wright (29:08): Exactly. And we all do it. Or you go into a room and you're like, why did I come in here?

Wendy McLean (29:16): Do you have any other top tips for getting started and practicing your mindfulness?

Melissa Wright (29:23): Yeah, look, I think start small and as I said, informal practices first, if you don't want to sit down and meditate and don't be hard on yourself if that's you, because you've got to start somewhere. Again, just be kind to yourself. We're so judgmental in our mind. You'll really start to see how many times a day you say nasty things to yourself. So be kind and be curious about what you discover in the silence. So you might have stories and images and things pop up in your mind as you start to sit down and you'll be surprised sometimes at what comes up. And you'll think that I thought I dealt with that years ago. Why is that there?

Wendy McLean (30:09): Yes. I imagine that could be quite confronting for some people.

Melissa Wright (30:13): It absolutely can be. So instead of I suppose being hard on yourself, be curious and inquire and which is then a really great time to afterwards sit down and take some notes, write down what you discovered, how it felt. Write down that story that you felt. What does it mean? Where's it come from? Can I let it go now? Is it valid anymore? So I think they're the things to really help you, but the one thing, and I said this earlier today, I'd be a rich woman if every single person that said to me, I'm too busy, I'm too stressed, I'm too tired to set up a mindfulness practice, then if that's you, you definitely need to do it.

Wendy McLean (30:56): That's right. Guilty. I think probably a lot of us are.

Melissa Wright (31:03): Yeah, absolutely.

Wendy McLean (31:05): And you are going to go through a little mindfulness meditation with us, but before we do, do you have any take home messages for our listen listeners?

Melissa Wright (31:17): Well, look, I think it's just really, again, like just I said, just starting small and being kind to yourself. I think it takes time to establish a practice and it's not going to turn into a magical unicorn, not about becoming more enlightened. It's not about suddenly having, I don't know, massive realisation. If you do have a massive realisation, that's a bonus. But I think it's more about just starting where you are at and building up from there. And you'll start to see your life enhance, I suppose, and you'll start to salt and pepper it through your life so it becomes more flavoursome, I suppose. And that's what I love about it. It's got me through some hard times in the past and enabled me just to keep going by thinking I just simply begin again. So start wherever you're at and know that the small amounts that you do really have a big impact on your life.

Wendy McLean (32:21): That's so good to know. It's a real incentive to incorporate it into daily life and have long lasting effects on your health and wellbeing and relationships.

Melissa Wright (32:33): And relationships. So important.

Wendy McLean (32:36): Oh, that's wonderful. So yeah, I guess over now to guide us through the meditation.

Melissa Wright (32:45): Lovely. Okay, so I'll take you through a couple, a bit of focused attention, meditation and body awareness, and also a bit of open awareness meditation. So wherever you are listening to this podcast, just sitting in your chair with your spine lengthening tall towards the ceiling and the hands resting in your lap. Take a moment to feel your body sitting in the chair. So feeling your buttocks on the seat, the weight of the buttocks, and whether it's even across both hips and perhaps even the temperature of the back of the legs against the chair. Noticing those bodily sensations grounding you into the present moment.

Take a long, slow breath in through your nose, drawing the breath right down into your belly, allowing it to expand, pausing for a moment before you breathe out through the mouth for as long as you can. So extending the length of that exhalation, allowing that relaxation's response to kick in, pause at the bottom of the out breath before breathing in again through your nose, in and down, all the way into the belly. Pausing and breathing out through the mouth all the way as long as you can and pausing again.

Next time as you breathe in, focus your mind on the breath, drawing it all the way in right to the bottom where you feel the belly expand, being mindful of the pause before you breathe out through the mouth, following the breath all the way out through the mouth with the mind. Pausing at the bottom of that exhalation before drawing in through the nose, watching the breath come all the way in and down, pausing there and breathe out following the breath all the way out to the very bottom.

And just letting that way of breathing go now. Allowing the lips to close, the jaw to relax and the breath just naturally flowing now in and out through your nose. And here, we're not trying to change the breath in any way, we're just observing how the breath comes in and out on its own through the nostrils, watching the breath all the way in and all the way out, following the rhythm of the breath. And as we move through this, watching the breaths, you may notice that your mind will wander off into the future about a story or a conversation that you haven't had yet. Or perhaps it's reliving something from the past. And each time you notice that your mind has wandered away from focusing on the breath, gently and kindly bring your mind back to the breath, just watching it come in and out.

Notice the difference between how your body feels when your mind is wandered away compared to when you are focused on the breath. Again, it's just noticing, not judging, being curious, observing.

And this is our focused attention style of meditation where our focus is the breath, increasing that awareness and our capacity to concentrate on one thing.

Now we'll move into more of an open awareness style of meditation. So allow your attention to expand outward, noticing any sounds, smells, change of temperature, feeling that expansive sense of self while the world moves on around you. Allow your attention to travel from sound to sound or smell to smell, not really fixated on one thing. Those outside distractions just come in and leave on the other side without getting attached to the story about what they are or how they make you feel.

Simply observing. I'll go silent here for a moment while you allow yourself just to hear the sounds and smell what's happening around you.

But if at any time that feels too hard or stressful, just bring your attention back to your breath, back to that focused attention. Notice how this style of meditation makes you feel. There's no right or wrong way to feel here as simply being the observer.

I’ll now guide you back to some more focused attention to finish off the meditation. So now just allow your attention to come down to your hands and feel them in your lap. Notice the position they're in, the temperature of the hands where you may feel some buzzing or tingling. We're just taking note of those sensations, focusing our attention on the sensation in the body. Notice how this makes you feel generally and draw your mind back to your hands as many times as necessary. Now just take a few deeper breaths here, the same way that we did at the beginning of this meditation. So drawing the breath in through the nose all the way down into the belly, allowing it to expand, pausing, and breathing out through the mouth all the way. And again, breathing in through your nose, drawing the breath all the way down to the belly, pausing, breathing out through the mouth for as long as you can.

One more breath like that. Breathing in through the nose all the way down to the belly, pausing, following the breath out with the mind all the way through the mouth. When you're ready, opening the eyes, but having them cast downwards before you bring your eyes back up to eye line. Bring your awareness back into the space that you're sitting in. Thank you.

Wendy McLean (43:09): Thank you so much, Melissa. I must say I'm feeling much more relaxed now. And thank you so much for the great insights that you've shared with us today and the research. And I think you've really highlighted that we can all incorporate mindfulness into our everyday, and we really will have physical and mental health benefits and even our relationships will benefit.

Melissa Wright (43:33): Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me on the podcast. I've really enjoyed talking with you today.

Wendy McLean (43:38): You too. And to our listeners, thank you so much for tuning in today. And please feel free to leave us a review. We'd love to hear from you. Thanks.


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