Croydon HeartWorks and Mindfulness


By - Friday 20th September, 2013

John Lawlor introduces the neuroscientific and Buddhist concepts behind the upcoming Croydon HeartWorks events at Matthews Yard


Photo by Irmeli Aro. Image used under Creative Commons license.
http://goo.gl/gx2owp

Croydon HeartWorks starts up at Matthews Yard on September 24th at 7:30PM. This is curtain up for a project which has been in development since February.

The idea behind the project is: ‘How can we tell people about mindfulness in an entertaining way?’ We see mindfulness emerging rapidly from Buddhist circles into the mainstream, and believe it to be a radical force.

So what is mindfulness? Mindfulness, as a concept, comes from Buddhism and describes the ability to focus attention continuously on the present moment (removing attention from the past and future). It encompasses acceptance of how things really are, together with an attitude of kindness towards oneself and others. There are various ways to develop mindfulness – typically these are around meditation, ‘body scans’ (a kind of meditational journey through the body), yoga and other body disciplines. The analogy between brain training and body training at the gym is apt – it need not be for long, but it has to be regular to be effective.

Neuroscientists now spend a lot of time peering at MRI scans and asking subjects to perform various mental tasks, typically comparing meditators with non-meditators. The general conclusion is that mindfulness practices help us to ‘re-wire’ the brain in a positive way. (These experiments aim to prove empirically the truths that Buddhism has enshrined for centuries).

Apart from neuroscientists and Buddhists, there are developing therapeutic practices that incorporate mindfulness. The most famous one is Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy which is used with recurrent depression. Ruby Wax, who describes herself as the ‘poster girl for mental illness’, has a book out this year called ‘Sane New World’ in which she relates taking an MA at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre in order to master this treatment. It is fully described in her book.

We have a guest appearance by Captain Sensible on the opening night singing his 1982 miss ‘Croydon’ live for the first time

In the Croydon evenings we are providing six talks on different aspects of mindfulness, everything from the research side to the Mindfulness in Schools project. Coupled with that are six talks on aspects of community in action, i.e. good things that are going on in Croydon and beyond. This includes the Food Bank, architecture and planning, cultural competence, the healing arts, and a charity for mothers who for whatever reason have lost custody of their children.

Mixed in with the talks are a compere slot, an opening song, and a poem, together with a full hour of music at the end of the evening, curated by Croydon-born Shuva Das who also appears playing in different styles throughout the evenings. There are also other established acts such as Homebrood, Gabriella and The Planets, (recently played the 100 Club) and Lotte Mullan. And, finally, we have a guest appearance by Captain Sensible on the opening night singing his 1982 miss ‘Croydon’ live for the first time, and ‘Happy Talk’.

So, come down to Matthews Yard on September 24th at 7:30PM – we promise you an interesting set of evenings. The price of entry is the donation of a non-perishable food item for the Food Bank.

John Lawlor

John Lawlor

I am a mindfulness enthusiast and co-founder of Croydon HeartWorks (www.heartworks.org.uk) organising and participating in community events with an emphasis on mindfulness, community, arts and fun.

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  • Adrian Winchester

    I attended this – lured by the opportunity to see Captain Sensible – and I must say that he contributed a very entertaining performance. It was an original and thought-provoking evening but it was sad to see that well over half the audience didn’t stay for the final third, which featured an energetic and impressive set by Homebrood. They were clearly enjoying themselves despite the empty seats, but if I’d been in their position, I would have considered it insulting that so many considered their contribution to be of no interest. So I’d say to anyone attending future events in the series: if you go, please stay until the end – it’s not a late night!

  • Ruth Wilson

    Wish I could be there.

    Love the way you have described yourself.

    Wonder if :
    (a) your occupational sartorial splendour included “gorblime trousers”; or
    (b) you darkened the parental doorstep of a double negative perpetrator whose societal niche was “just another brick in the wall”; or
    (c) you hankered to follow the example of “Geraldine”?

    Systems analyst poses a bit of a lyrical challenge – May need to take it under advisement!

    As you can see it’s “just another day” ‘in the life of an Antipodean Housewife’ sorely in need of some ‘Home Counties Dreaming’

    All the best for the next session,

    R

  • Ruth Wilson

    InCroydenable! Google tells me that a programme called “Community” ( synchronicity here !!!) contains a ditty entitled “Wish I Were in Greendale” allegedly about systems analysis. Will have to wait until a responsible adult is at home to check this! Needs to be seen to be believed!