Discovering Mindfulness in Spain

Tina Romenesko is currently in Solterreno, Spain attending a Mindfulness teacher training course. The following is an excerpt from her blog post on 9/23/14.

The trip to Solterreno from Alicante was amazing. The crowded bus ride hugged the Costa Blanca, revealing stunning high rises, rocky craigs, and beautiful blue seas. The area around Alicante is very dry, but as we headed toward Denia, to the north, the earth became green again. Bodhin, the retreat director and an ordained Buddhist, met me at the bus station in the family van. We headed into the mountains for about 45 minutes, passing through numerous quaint villages, twisting and turning through hairpin curves, until we turned off onto what looked like a foot path. Up, down, round and round, and then we arrived. The views here are spectacular with orange, cherry, and olive trees dotting the landscape. Big sky. Big mountains. and little tiny hummingbirds!

Our group is small – only five. Two Brits. Two Hollanders. and me. Accomodations are simple and very comfortable. We began our class this morning with a 50 minute Body Scan and then jumped into a lively discussion centered on What is Mindfulness. Awareness. Kindly awareness. Waking up to what is really happening without blocking, engaging, judging or replacing. Bodhin explained how Awareness leads to Choice which leads to Freedom. Sounds simple – but of course it isn’t. Brain neuroplasticity is the new buzz word – the proof that with regular practice over a period as short as 2 months, and a commitment of at least 27 minutes of meditation daily, the brain actually changes. The amygdala shrinks (our stress center) and the insula gets more dense (our center for empathy and body awareness). Alpha waves also increase – which can actually change the way we experience our lives. The field is in a constant state of expansion right now. What Jon Kabat-Zinn began 25 years ago with his stress reduction clinic (MBSR) has expanded over to England where Cognitive Therapists found that Mindfulness effectively prevents relapse for patients that have experienced depression in the past. Now the work is expanding to chronic pain, cancer, and beyond. Again and again Kathy and Bodhin stress that Mindfulness isn’t about “fixing” anything. It isn’t therapy. The role of Mindfulness is to open awareness and increase our ability to change our relationship with our experience, especially when life isn’t going the way we want it to.

Tina Romenesko, PYT/RYT, is a Professional Yoga Therapist and Teacher at INVIVO Wellness. She has been studying and practicing yoga for over 30 years. Her focus is on the therapeutic potential of yoga to heal body, mind and spirit. You can read more about Tina on her blog, Yogatina.