In this conversation, South African mindfulness teacher, Jenny Canau, speaks to Africa Legal’s Tom Pearson about how rest and meditation enhances the brain’s executive function developing focus and sharpening a person’s decision-making abilities.
Jenny trained as a human rights lawyer and practised around the time when the government changed in South Africa in the early 1990s.
“It was a very exciting time – especially being part of that generation that developed our new constitution and democracy,” she said.
It was also a time when Jenny began her own inner journey with mindfulness under the tutelage of Rob Nair who was also involved in the academic side of law.
Today, with Rob, she is the co-founder and Director of Mindfulness Africa and facilitates mindfulness, compassion and insight courses, retreats, talks, workshops, and presentations for various groups.
She draws her inspiration from Nelson Mandela who was a firm believer in the power of daily reflection and the importance of stilling the mind.
In a letter to his wife, Winnie, in 1970, Madiba wrote about the benefits of meditation saying, “You may find it difficult at first to pinpoint the negative factors in your life, but the tenth attempt may reap rich rewards. Never forget that a saint is a sinner that keeps on trying.”
Jenny explains to Tom how finding contentment means learning how to manage the nervous system, so that the body's fight or flight response, and the drive system that motivates it, become balanced. This is achievable through using techniques that calm the mind in times of stress – for example through daily practices like “active” breathing.
This discussion forms part of Africa Legal’s Ubuntu mental health series which is aimed at the legal profession. Tom has previously shared his own story about his journey to finding mental well-being in a world where being 100% right 100% of the time takes its toll.
For this reason, Africa Legal is encouraging our community to sign up for Jenny’s mindfulness course aimed at the legal profession and which is to be offered through the University of Cape’s professional development unit Law@work.
The course teaches the discipline of finding time every day to quieten the mind and breathe deeply eventually taking the individual into a place within where they can remain calm and focused even in the most stressful circumstances.
To listen to this lovely informal chat between two kindred spirits go to SoundCloud or Spotify
To register for Jenny’s resilience course visit UCT’s Law@work website here
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