Sheffield's Mindfulness Mavericks are no strangers to life's traumas

You're on a call to your boss, urgent emails are pinging in and then a text arrives from a client.

Monday, 7th March 2016, 5:51 am
Updated Monday, 7th March 2016, 5:56 am

Yet you’re miles from the office, striding through the countryside on a supposedly relaxing day off.

Even in such a peaceful place, you’re accessible - and therefore feel you can’t simply switch off.

Then, next day at work you keep being distracted by texts from your nearest and dearests who can’t seem to wait until you get home.

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Can anyone ever concentrate on just one thing anymore?

“It’s the modern dilemma. We have incredible communication systems which the majority of us now rely on,” says Sheffielder Joy Taylor.

“Our attention is being pulled this way and that by social media and internet connectivity. We’re constantly flooded with information and we think that we should be able to do a hundred things at a time. But the human brain is not designed to cope with this overload. The result is that stress and anxiety are on the rise.”

Joy and her business partner, John Nolan, are helping stressed-out South Yorkshire souls to take back control of their lives – and find an inner calm using mindfulness.

They are The Mindfulness Mavericks, Sheffield experts in a breathtakingly simple technique taking the world by storm.

“Mindfulness is really popular now because it’s a time-tested solution to the modern lifestyle dilemma,” Joy says.

To learn it, you practice simple exercises that help you to train your attention and calm your mind.

It gets such good results that global brands Ikea, Apple and Sony encourage mindfulness meditation at work – and claim it creates a happier and calmer workforce, fewer sick days and increased productivity. Even the NHS is backing it and it’s being taught in some schools.

John and Joy each have more than 20 years of experience in natural health enhancement, personal development and mind/body therapy and claim to be getting remarkable results from their private classes, bespoke coaching and group mindfulness courses.

John says: “Mindfulness, once learned, can be done at any time in your life and anywhere. You could be in bed, or on the bus, on a bench in the park or in your office.”

Based on Oakbrook Road, Nether Green, their own teachers include Paul McKenna of TV fame and Shamash Alidina, author of the best-selling book Mindfulness for Dummies.

“We teach people how to be happier and more resilient so they can deal with the stress of daily life,” says John.

“Mindfulness helps us to be more aware of our own thoughts and actions. Too often people live on auto-pilot, caught in repetitive negative or destructive thoughts that get in the way of them enjoying their life.

“We give people a shed-load of mindfulness tools they can use, and then they choose ones they like best.”

Joy adds: “Practising mindfulness shows you how to mentally and physically put down that ‘heavy, appointments-packed diary’, rest your mind and gather your resources. After a few minutes of mindfulness practice, maybe by sitting quietly with your eyes closed, listening to your surroundings and your own body, you’re rested and better equipped to pick up that diary and deal more effectively with your daily challenges.”

Many clients are professionals and business people leading over-demanding, busy lives but students, busy parents and elderly people have also attended Mindfulness Mavericks courses.

One of their positive outcomes was with local Samaritans volunteers who used the Mindfulness Mavericks’ services.

Answering the service’s 24-hour helpline often exposes volunteers to the gruelling harshness of desperate peoples’ lives.

Joy said: “The feedback was amazing. They told us that they felt calmer and more able to be resilient through a difficult shift.”

The words of one Samaritans volunteer sum up exactly what the Mindfulness Mavericks aim for: “At the end of the course I still have the same work and the same family and all the same stress, but now when a difficult situation arises I find I am looking at it in a different way.

“I am calmer. I don’t dwell on things so much and I can clear things from my mind.”