An interview by Judy Vizarri in April 2020.
How many of us know what mindfulness is?
We have all heard of meditation and some readers may have practised it, but what’s mindfulness; is it a different technique?
Nola Marshall has the answers. She is well qualified to tutor our her group Mindfulness and Meditation class – she’s a neuro-psychologist who studied psychology at Melbourne University before completing a master’s degree in neuro-psychology (which involves understanding brain functions).
Nola explains that mindfulness is “a technique to be just in the present moment. To calm and control your inner critic through release from negative thoughts and self-criticism“. She says that it’s is a way of being completely “in the moment” in a non-evaluative and non-judgemental way, seeing things as interesting or amusing rather than creating worrying thoughts. The technique helps us to be more emotionally calm and stable.
Mindfulness meditation, she says, is a technique used mainly to bring your awareness to your breathing and follow your breath in and out of your body. It usually brings calm, a sense of relaxation and mindfulness. Nola refers to the advice of some to “take a deep breath” and says that her technique has a similar basis.
Nola’s aim is to help others to practice mindfulness meditation in a purposeful way.
So what happens in her classes? First, new members are acknowledged then a discussion follows which focuses on group members’ progress and concerns. Nola then puts on a 20-30 minute tape teaching and instructing meditation for members. Most people, she says, feel very calm, relaxed and encouraged to continue mindful meditation at home with or without a tape. “It is not hard“, she says.
Beverley Wignall is Nola’s Class Representative and an enthusiastic member of the group. Nola appreciates Beverley’s support and says that she is expert at “making people feel welcome” – she encourages group interactions and discussion. Both Nola and Beverley agree that mindful meditation is a valuable tool, especially for those who become anxious. Nola and Beverley are a team. They welcome participants and invite group members and others to call them on 0437 424 144 (Nola) and 0438 594 580 (Beverley) if they would like to ask questions or want to chat.
Nola was born in Lithuania in the 1940s and remembers how she and her mother were displaced and eventually forced to leave their country post-war and to emigrate to Australia. She talks of her mother as a strong and resourceful woman who overcame many difficulties. Nola says that she was an inspiring role model, as was her husband John who she remembers fondly. Her family has always been a strong guiding influence in her life.
Nola is a vocal supporter of Nillumbik U3A which, she says, is a “great organisation” which provides us with “wonderful ways to learn and to socialise“.