Mike Kewley is a mindfulness teacher on the island. You might know him from Mindful Mann, the well-being festival he has run for four years . Mike’s mindfulness journey began at a young age. His father is a practising Buddhist so meditation and mindfulness have always been a part of his life. After suffering from mental health issues in his early teens, Mike was encouraged to practise mindfulness and meditation. He “meditated rather than medicated” and, for the last 30 years, has reaped the benefits. Through teaching, the Mindful Mann festival and the workshops he shares with others what he has learned and what he continues to learn about the power of mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is simply being present in the current moment. In today’s society, we are never really present and constantly live in our thoughts. Whether you are looking at the past or the future, you’re essentially missing out on your life. Through mindfulness, you can begin to truly live in the moment. Mike reveals, “every single moment is special” so you don’t want to miss out.
Mike explains that by practising mindfulness you retrain your mind and build up a new muscle. Like any new skill, it is difficult at the start. However, the benefits are in abundance. To begin, sit somewhere and close your eyes. Focus on the feeling of breath flowing in and out of your nostrils. For the next 10 breaths see if you can stay with that feeling. After that, take note of what is happening in your mind and body.
The beauty of mindfulness, Mike reveals, is you don’t have to be completely still and silent. Mindfulness can be practised while doing the dishes, going for a walk or just being with your family. Give it a go and see the positive effect it has on you and the people around you.
Mindfulness and the Environment
One of the main benefits of mindfulness is the positive effect it has on the world around you. Mike believes there is a huge connection between mindfulness and climate change and by practising it you can nurture the planet. He explains that through mindfulness you connect and relate to everything around you including the environment. “By feeling more interconnected you’re part of something bigger and that’s where you get more purpose.” Through feeling more attached to the Earth, the more you want to care and look after it.
Mike reveals that you can notice differences between cultures. For instance, within Bhutan where mindfulness and meditation are practised regularly, there is a stronger connection to the Earth and the desire to look after it. The Bhutan government also imposes a tourist tax. This money goes towards keeping the environment alive well and safe.
Although developed countries are more technologically advanced, there is a downside to the creature comforts it provides. Mike believes that, “we have an unhealthy relationship to the natural world because we don’t feel part of it anymore.” When you don’t feel part of something, you don’t take care of it and, as a result, you may just spoil it.
Mike explains we are all a part of a much bigger system and receive what we give out. “If we continue to spoil our external environment then we meet the consequences of that as microplastics in our bodies and air pollution in our lungs.” Mike encourages everyone to become more mindful and,in so doing, become more connected with the Earth. A mindful person is more aware of the changes in their own attitudes towards the environment.
Mike’s Eco-Friendly Life
Mike and his family are very passionate about connecting to and nurturing the environment. During one of the lockdowns, Mike bought his kids litter pickers. They regularly go on walks around Onchan to clean up their local community. They have also recently started recycling at home and are always looking for ways to cut down on their plastic usage. Mike is grateful that he and his wife can work mostly part-time so can spend a lot more time with their children in nature.
When they aren’t going on family walks, Mike is writing for his new book or holding monthly mindfulness walks with the wildlife trust.
If you wish to learn more about mindfulness and become connected with the environment contact Mike on his Facebook page – Mike Kewley / Mindfulness Teacher.