News & Events

Meditating is good for the soul

November 8, 2021

Ten years ago Rushall Park volunteer Alex Tarpkos was advised by his GP to take up mindfulness meditation to still his mind.

That suggestion was a turning point in his life and two years ago it led him to sign up as a volunteer so residents could have the opportunity to experience the benefits that flow from the practice of meditation.

It has been a stop-start experience for Alex and residents who signed up.

“The plan was to start off doing individual mediations and then move to group practice.  Nothing has escaped Covid though, and the progress has been slow.  But a few group sessions have been held,” Alex said.

He sees himself as an enabler of mindfulness, passionate about making it as accessible as possible for people to experience and learn more about meditation.

Alex acknowledges that it is not easy.

“When I first sat down to practice, it was tough trying to still the mind.  Carried away by one thought after another, it was challenging to stay in the moment. Because I had this mind that wanted to wander, that was why I needed to practice meditation.”

For Alex meditation isn’t a part of life, it is life.

“Bringing attention without judgement to whatever task you are doing means the things you like doing are going to be more enjoyable, and the things you dislike doing are going to be less bothersome,” he said.

Years later and the effect of meditation has made Alex realise that he was missing out on some fundamental aspects life, actually being there for it.

“I could not imagine my life now without mediation, it helps ground me in the present moment. I have a mind that wants to constantly dwell on the past or project in to the future, constantly.  When you aren’t engaged in the moment it is like you are only going through the motions. My life is infinitely better because of meditation.”

Alex has always wanted to share his enthusiasm for meditation practice with older people.

“Older people have lived through so much, there is a living history there that you could never get from books. And there is a wisdom that can only come from time and experience,” he said.

His parents are both around 80 years old, and are facing issues of aging and ill health.

“I have seen some of the issues that face people as they age, and the help and support they need, and how much of a difference it makes to the quality of their lives having that help and support,” he said.

A significant relationship Alex has enjoyed was with his great uncle.

“Life was much richer for me having someone like that in it. He was a big part of my life growing up and a strong influence, and as he aged I was fortunate to be a part of his life.”

There is the formal practice, and that is something you have an opportunity to do many times during the day.

“If you’re sitting in the car at red lights, you can take a few moments to notice your breath, or if you are making a cup of tea while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil you can take time to notice the sounds the kettle makes,” he said.

His advice to get through lockdown is to remember that this lockdown will pass.  Disruptions happen, we don’t have as much control of circumstances as we think we have, That is when we can practice acceptance. Be kind to yourself, and be grateful for even the small things.

I love the ‘magimix’ of people who make up the community and that it is a safe and happy place to live. - Jo Portlock

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