Introducing Mindfulness with Katie

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Katie McGreal

Hello! My name is Katie McGreal. I am a mindfulness teacher and a Relax Kids coach from Ireland and I am so grateful to Edith and Blanche for giving me this opportunity to offer you my thoughts, tricks and tips for you to live a more mindful life with your little ones. Life is crazy right now! Ireland and England are both currently in Lockdown 3 of the Covid pandemic and for some of us, myself included, have started to wonder if this will ever end!

I’m hoping some of the ideas and suggestions I have here will help you and your little ones to cope with the ever changing, unpredictable climate of life we are in right now. If anyone has any specific issues they would like guidance with or have any subjects you would like me to cover please email them to me at solasrelaxation@gmail.com or find me on Facebook at Solas Relaxation agus Relax Kids.

My first blog post is going to be a little bit about me, who I am, where I came from and why I am so passionate about teaching big and little people mindfulness and relaxation techniques. About six years ago when I lived in Belfast I became aware of meditation. My life at the time looked great from the outside; I had a job in a television company which was a career I wanted to pursue at the time, I had a great social life. Possibly a little bit too good, there were plenty of hangover sausage rolls bought on my way to work and many a day spent with my head on the desk hoping that the spinning would stop... I had good friends and family but I wasn’t happy and I didn’t understand why. My friend suggested that I try meditating so I started going to classes in a Buddhist centre near where I lived. This was a centre I had passed many times before and I had thought “I should go in there” but I had never quiet gotten around to it, and I may never have if my friend hadn’t given me the push.

I started attending bi-weekly meditation classes and I really enjoyed them. They gave me a sense of peace and calm that I had never experienced before and the gentle instruction and the discussions between meditations kept me returning week in and week out. One day, a few months later, I was in the centre having tea after a class and someone mentioned that they had just been on a 10 day silent retreat. I was shocked at first that this was available and something people did but the idea stayed in the back of my mind and soon after I was told that these retreats were offered in Ireland. Without thinking about it too much I booked my place on the Vipassana retreat happening in Drogheda Grammar School.

People are always shocked when I tell them I spent 10 days in silence, meditating from 4am until 9pm with over 200 other people and I think if I hadn’t done it I may be shocked as well but it was the best thing I have ever done. The control I gain over my mind and my thoughts when I eventually had no new stories to tell myself was incredible. I remember on about Day Seven or Eight I was walking around the small exercise area we had and my mind was going through a scenario that might
happen and I thought “no! Stop! I’ve heard it before. Shut up!” and it did. I was able to focus instead on the beautiful colour of the grass and the way the light hit the pavement I was walking on.

It was this retreat that resulted in me training shortly afterwards as a Relax Kids coach. Meditation has changed my life in so many positive ways that I wanted to ensure children from young ages get to experience the benefits. Since I have done that retreat my sleep has improved, my awareness of my own inner critic has strengthened which means I can now question that inner voice that tells me
to not do things because I will get it wrong or I will look stupid. I have a better understanding of my body and how it feels on a day to day basis and I am more able to appreciate the little, beautiful things in my life like when my cactus grows a new bud or how nice it is to get into a warm bed at night.

My life has improved so much with meditation and my awareness of the world right now is screaming at me to tell me that more people need to practice relaxation and meditation. This is why I offer zoom classes to adults and to families, either in groups for six or four week courses or in a one to one setting. My Relax Kids children’s classes are full of games and pretending to be animals, we do simple yoga stretches and we use the breath to focus the mind. My adult classes follow themes such as kindness and inner peace and we spend time as a group sitting in relaxation and meditation. All of the information about my courses are on my website www.solasrelaxation.com and I look forward to sharing my tricks and tips with you all in the coming weeks!

Katie McGreal


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