Monthly Archives: January 2016

  • How to Mindfully Tackle a Big Project

    mountain

    Perhaps you’re planning to start your own business, refurbish a house, train in a new career, etc., and you’re wondering to yourself ‘how on earth am I going to do this?’

    The scale of the project may seem overwhelming. There’s just so much to do, and because our minds want to keep jumping ahead to what the end result will look like, we can find ourselves experiencing a range of unpleasant feelings, such as anxiety, despair or intense self-doubt. Our fixation on the end goal can make the process of getting there really quite miserable.

    Yet mindfulness can offer some relief. The problem isn’t that we have a lot to do on our project; after all, our entire lives tend to be full of things that need to be done. Rather, our stress and doubt come from our disconnection from the present moment.

    Our desire to race to the end of the project means that we’re not fully engaged with what we’re doing right now, and therefore we have little chance of actually enjoying it or finding fulfilment in it.

    A good way to approach a big project is to first make a plan, although it’s helpful to give ourselves permission to veer from it if we need to. This way we have a guide to follow, yet our project stays fresh and organic at the same time. Being mindful means we are regularly checking in with what’s happening and re-adjusting to meet new challenges and experiences.

    Then, once we have a list of tasks, we can take each one and give it our full attention, rather than feeling we have to somehow do everything all at once.

    So for example, if we’re studying in order to start a career, we can relax a little and enjoy the process of learning; if we’re starting a business we can view each step as a new challenge to meet with curiosity, rather than seeing them as blocks in the road to our goal; or if we’re tackling a big creative project we can use mindfulness to put our heart into each small detail.

    By breaking our big tasks into smaller ones we can give each one the attention and presence they need, and perhaps even find some joy in doing them!

    "Things take the time they take. Don't worry." – Mary Oliver

     

    Find out more about our mindfulness courses and workshops. Or contact us to ask about Corporate Mindfulness.

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    • Dez

      I think it's also a good thing to step away from the tasks occasionally when you feel like you just aren't as focused anymore. Then, when you step back in, your mind refreshed, you can see the steps you've set clearly again.. Thanks for an inspiring read! :)

      Reply
  • Can Observing Our Dark Side Make Us More Compassionate?

    dark

    A key element of living a mindful life is being able to observe feelings (how they arise and fall away) and learning to be objective enough to allow that process to happen naturally. However, when it comes to extreme emotional experiences, such as hatred or intense anger, should we still be so accommodating? Can we really cultivate compassion if we make space for these destructive emotions?

    Mindfulness encourages us to become less judgemental, and so we are faced with a dilemma. If we don’t negatively judge feelings of hate, might it not just start to fester within us and start affecting our behaviour?

    It’s important to find some balance between knowing and living from our core values (i.e. being a compassionate person) and acknowledging that despite our best efforts we are not immune from experiencing the darker side of our humanity. People, events and tragedies are bound to sometimes trigger dark emotions within us; emotions that we would likely not want to admit to others for fear of judgement or misunderstanding. And this is where we might start to see the importance of allowing space for such experiences.

    Judgement leads to a denial of our internal world, and of the experiences of other people. This way of being is not in line with living a compassionate life. As dark as these feeling may be, it’s useful to look at them with the same openness and curiosity as other feelings.  Doing so creates a strange paradox; by looking at our very darkest emotions, we get to know them better, we get to see that they are fleeting experiences that we don’t need to hold onto or act upon, and also that we are not alone in experiencing them.  Therefore we are more able to become genuinely compassionate to the full spectrum of human experience, rather than simply the nice or comfortable parts.

    Being unafraid of our dark side, and honest about its existence, can help us live with greater presence and authenticity. And by shining the light of kind awareness on our darkness we reduce the risk of developing the types of cruel beliefs and ideologies that can grow from that darkness if left unchecked and ignored.

     

    Find out more about our mindfulness courses and workshops.

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    • Dez

      I think it's also a good thing to step away from the tasks occasionally when you feel like you just aren't as focused anymore. Then, when you step back in, your mind refreshed, you can see the steps you've set clearly again.. Thanks for an inspiring read! :)

      Reply
  • Finding Your Inner Balance in an Unpredictable World

    centre

    In this uncertain world, we try our best to find routine and predictability, hoping that these things will make life easier. However, life isn’t so great at cooperating with our plans! Life is messy, so what can we do?

    Using mindfulness to find some inner balance can help us cope when life gets hectic with the ups and downs life throws at us. Finding our centre can help us navigate this ever-changing world with more ease.

    The first step is to recognise the beliefs and ideas we have about how our experience ought to be. For example, when something painful happens and we react with thoughts of ‘this isn’t fair’ or ‘this isn’t right’, we can use these as prompts to check in with our beliefs. What we may find is that our beliefs stem from simply wanting to avoid pain or discomfort.

    The next step is to understand that this is completely natural. No one wants to suffer. In this way, we are the same as every living being, and we can use this understanding to give ourselves, and others, some compassion.

    Seeing these reactions as universal, and not due to some personal failing, we can then loosen a little around these beliefs. We can’t shake them off entirely of course, but they may become a bit less heavy.

    Once we recognise and understand what’s going on in our minds, we can then take some practical steps to find our centre. By ‘centre’ we mean that deeper part of you; the part that is more spacious and therefore more accommodating to what is currently happening.

    You could try thinking of it as stepping out of the beliefs and ideas that make life painful (i.e. this is wrong, this is bad, this shouldn’t be), and into a wider space, the space that exists between those thoughts. Here in this space there is room for what actually ‘is’, and it is always there for us to take refuge in.

    How we connect with that centre may vary depending on what works best for us personally. We may find that simply focussing on the breath is enough to get us there. Or we may need to take some time away from everyone else to meditate for a while.

    Perhaps we might find our centre through mindful movement practices, or by going for a walk outside and getting some fresh air. Maybe it’s by placing our hand on our heart. Whatever it is, it will be something that reconnects you with this moment right here. This is where you’ll find your balance again.

    Find out more about our mindfulness courses and workshops.

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    • Dez

      I think it's also a good thing to step away from the tasks occasionally when you feel like you just aren't as focused anymore. Then, when you step back in, your mind refreshed, you can see the steps you've set clearly again.. Thanks for an inspiring read! :)

      Reply
  • There’s More to Looking After Our Bodies Than Diet & Exercise

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    Let’s start by saying that a good diet and exercise are super ways to nurture our bodies! However, there is no shortage of advice on eating well and working out. Instead, we will look at other, less obvious ways to ground ourselves in body and find enriching physical experiences.

    Becoming more connected and in tune with our physical bodies is an effective way of being more mindful. In bringing awareness to our physical experience, we naturally come to the present moment, using our senses as anchors. It can also help us adopt a more self-nurturing and self-compassionate approach toward ourselves.

    Mindful Movement

    Mindful movement practices sometimes double up as exercise. For example, yoga is great for strengthening muscles as well as practicing mindfulness. Yet, there are other ways we can practice mindful movement; ways which focus less on fitness or weight loss, and more on enjoying simple bodily movements.

    Those of us who spend all day at a computer may particularly benefit from connecting with our bodies more. How often do we reach the end of the working day and discover tightness in the shoulders or an achy back? We can be so focussed on our work or studies that we disconnect from the body. Yet if we make a habit of regularly checking in with the body, we can give it more movement and flexibility.

    So right now, tune in for a moment. How does your body feel? Sense into your feet, legs, back, shoulders, even down through your hands to your fingers. Are there any parts of the body that want to stretch or wiggle? If you feel comfortable with it, why not stand up for a moment and get curious about how your body wants to move.

    Maybe you feel like bending forward to touch the ground, rolling your shoulders, circling your hips, or raising your arms above your head for stretch. You can’t get this wrong; it’s all about noticing your current experience, and meeting it with openness. Notice how any stretching or movements affect your mood or energy levels. Have some fun with it!

     

    Sign up to our 6-Week Mindful Eating Course with Dr. Cinzia Pezzolesi, starting 1. November.

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    Comfort and Cosiness

    There’s nothing like putting on your favourite pyjama’s and curling up in a freshly made bed to read a good book. Or perhaps your favourite comfort is to wear some fluffy socks as you watch TV with your cat. Whatever makes you feel cosy, try to do these things regularly, as a way of treating your body with kindness and care.

    Sensory Pleasures

    This could mean so many different things; from finding a shower gel in your favourite scent, to being touched by your partner in a certain way (or touching yourself). Getting to know what feels, smells, looks or sounds good to us, and consciously gifting them to ourselves, is important for our well-being. It helps us engage with the physical world around us.

    We can use these pleasurable sensations as a type of meditation. For example, we can listen to our favourite songs and notice all the musical elements. We might place things around our home that we enjoy admiring in detail. Bringing more awareness to our sensory experiences may help us start to enjoy things we normally do in auto-pilot, such as brushing our teeth or applying moisturiser.

    Our bodies don’t need to be perfect in order for us to enjoy the physical world around us. Having fitness or healthy eating goals can be very rewarding, however taking the time to look after our bodies in other ways is important too. When we step out of thinking of our bodies as a ‘project’ that needs work, we can start to enjoy the fact that we have a body that can move, feel and experience the world.

     

    Find out more about our mindfulness courses and workshops.

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    • Dez

      I think it's also a good thing to step away from the tasks occasionally when you feel like you just aren't as focused anymore. Then, when you step back in, your mind refreshed, you can see the steps you've set clearly again.. Thanks for an inspiring read! :)

      Reply