Stress Reduction

  • 3 Mindfulness Tips for When Life Gets Hectic

    Busy Bee on Lavender

     

    Wouldn’t it be lovely if life was just a gentle unfolding of events? If work and family stuff and exams and big changes were all neatly spaced out and we never had to think of more than one thing at once?

     

    Although we may find ourselves regularly wishing for such a life, the truth is that life gets hectic! And sometimes there’s so much to get done or to think about that we might feel like our minds might overflow.

    Wishing for life to be different tends to make our to-do lists seem even heavier, so what’s the alternative? How can mindfulness help when we seemingly don’t have any spare time for it?

     

    Write It Down

    Trying to keep mental to-do lists can be highly stressful. We worry whether we’ve forgotten anything, or become anxious about potentially forgetting something unless we tell ourselves about it again and again.

    This constant stream of forward planning can make it hard to sleep at night, or makes us grouchy with our loved ones.

    Instead of storing everything in your mind, try writing it down. This can give the mind an opportunity to let go and relax for a while. As well as being practical, this is also a great way to take care of your well-being.

     

    Journal & Pencil

     

    Join our next half-day Mindful Journaling Workshop and learn to keep a journal with purpose - 17. October.

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    Make Use of the Breath

    There are lots of great quotes out there about how we must ‘make time’ for the important stuff, and while the sentiment is true and sometimes useful, at other times it can just make us feel guilty or irritated.

    If we’re rushed off our feet it can be really hard to find time for things like a seated meditation, even though we know it will help. During busy periods it may be more beneficial to simply make better use of something we’re already doing, and that is breathing.

    When we’re busy trying to meet deadlines, moving home, revising for an exam, looking after the children, etc., we’re breathing throughout all of these activities. So whilst we’re breathing anyway, we might as well make the most of it!

     

    Take the breath out of "breathwork" on our Mindful Breathing Masterclass with author and psychologist Dr. Pavel Somov - 6. October

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    Whenever you notice that you’re feeling tense, or that you’re not paying attention to what’s happening because you’re thinking ahead to everything else you need to get done, try just deepening the breath for a short while.

    It won’t slow you down or get in the way of what you’re doing; in fact by becoming a little more present and mindful you’ll probably make less mistakes, and feel less stressed out too.

     

    Heart-shaped Coffee

     

    Small Acts of Self-Compassion

    The stress of being busy can take its toll, and we may find that we’re feeling angry, irritable, tearful or depressed as a result.

    It’s during these moments of distress or discomfort that we could really do with a little self-compassion. And a little goes a long way! Regular, small acts of self-compassion can drastically transform your day, as can weaving mindfulness into our day.

    Research shows that treating ourselves compassionately triggers the production of oxytocin – a hormone which helps us feel loved and safe.

    In her book, ‘Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind’, Dr. Kristin Neff explains how when we give ourselves a comforting hug, oxytocin is released in the same way as when someone else hugs us.

    So we don’t have to wait until someone else reaches out a caring hand; giving ourselves the same kind treatment has the same effect.

    Next time you notice that you’re feeling distressed or uncomfortable, try wrapping your arms around yourself for a compassionate hug, or try gently stroking your own arm or face, whilst gently acknowledging how hard things are for you right now.

    Talk to yourself, either out loud or inwardly, in the same way you would to a friend who was feeling overwhelmed or pressured by having so much to do. See how it changes your experience.

     

    Learn to cultivate self-kindness and compassion on the 8-Week Mindful Self-Compassion Course - Starting 11. Oct and 9. Nov.

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    • Gail King

      Thanks for the great reminder of three personal practices I've personally found helpful when I'm stressed-out.

      I've done all three suggestions, but have found that the deep breathing more than calms my mind: it lowers my blood pressure and eases my pounding heart, too. I usually try to breathe IN, with my tongue to the roof of my mouth, to a slow count of four, then breathe OUT to a slow count of eight. After about three of these "breaths", I can actually feel everything calming down. Once when I was at the doctor's office about ready to have my BP taken, I knew it'd be off the charts because I was so stressed, so I did my little breathing "exercise" after the first reading and asked the nurse to take the BP again. She did - and my systolic pressure (top reading) was 15 points LOWER and the diastolic pressure (bottom reading) 10 points lower.

      Deep breathing, even for a few breaths, really works well. Be Blessed!

      Reply
    • Mindful Living
      Mindful Living 21 April, 2016 at 8:02 pm

      Wonderful post! It is so true how much self-compassion helps to reset the negativity that can run rampant during times of stress!

      Reply
    • TMP Admin

      Thank you for your comment, we're glad you enjoyed the tips :-)

      Reply
    • Raj Sharma

      Hi,

      Thanks for the great post.

      I find that practicing mindfulness yoga for half an hour in the morning goes a long way in helping me cope with the stress levels for the rest of the day.

      Cheers,
      Raj

      Reply
      • TMP Admin

        Hi Raj, thanks for your comment. We're so glad you enjoyed the blog post, and it's great to hear that your yoga practice is helpful for you! Warm wishes, Emily

  • Communicating Mindfully When We Are Upset


    communication

     

    Communication is the bridge which links our innermost thoughts and feelings to the outside world. Yet, if our emotions get the better of us we can cause problems with unskilful communication.

     

    Sometimes we may be so caught up in our emotions that we’re not even sure of what it is we are trying to say. If we are mindless of our tone and the type of language we are using, we may appear hostile, angry or just confusing to the people we are trying to communicate with. This could leave us feeling misunderstood and isolated.

    But if we can communicate mindfully, we have a much better chance of being heard and understood, as well as understanding others.

     

    Understanding Ourselves First

     

    The first step to mindful communication is to become really clear on what we’re thinking and feeling. Unless we pay attention to our own experience, we don’t have much chance of successfully expressing that experience to others.

    Say, for example, that we are angry with our partner. We are upset because they have been neglectful in some way. We may spend days, or even weeks feeling angry at this person for what they’ve done, or haven’t done. Without us necessarily being aware of it, our emotions may affect how we communicate with them.

    We might become snappy or unkind, and although this might give us the impression that we are expressing our feelings, it isn’t a mindful, clear way of communicating. What’s likely to happen is that the other person picks up on our upset, feels upset or defensive in return, and we end up in a vicious cycle of bitterness and emotional outbursts.

    Through practicing mindfulness, however, we become more in tune with our inner experience, and recognise fluctuations in our mood.

    If our partner has upset us, instead of holding onto the resentment we feel, or wishing it had never happened, we can acknowledge our feelings and the situation with honesty. For example, “My boyfriend didn’t remember our anniversary, and that makes me feel sad/angry/unappreciated, etc.”

    By seeing and owning our feelings first, we can approach communication with clarity and build stronger relationships.

     

    What Do I Want From This Communication?

     

    As well as being mindful of our true feelings, it’s also useful to become clear on what we want to get out of communicating with a particular person.

     

    Do we want them to feel bad about how they’ve made us feel?

    Do we want to punish them with our words?

    Or do we want to feel understood?

    Do we want to find a resolution to a problem?

     

    Maybe we want to understand the other person better, as well as helping them understand us.

    If we feel like we want to use our words to get revenge on someone because they have hurt us, this is a natural feeling and doesn’t mean that we’re a bad person. Yet do we really want to act on these feelings and say things which might cause someone pain?

    It may be a good idea to just sit with these feelings for a while, rather than verbally lashing out and saying something we may later regret.

    If we want to feel understood, or find a solution to a conflict or problem, it’s helpful to take a few moments to think about the kind of tone or language we want to use in order to help us meet our communication goals.

     

    Why not join one of our friendly drop-in meditations every Tuesday (Beginner Friendly) and Thursday (Beyond Beginners)?

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    Noticing Our Tone & Language

     

    How we choose to phrase our feelings is important. The types of words we use can make a big difference in how we are understood, as can our tone. Even if the words we are using seem diplomatic, if our tone is bitter, sarcastic or mean, those words will count for very little.

    Most of us get defensive when we feel attacked, and so it makes sense to try and limit this if we want open and meaningful dialogue with someone. After all, the person may not even be aware that they have caused us any bad feelings!

    Rather than listing all the things we feel that the person did wrong, it might be more helpful to speak openly about how we feel, and why.

    For example, instead of saying, “You ignored me! I’m really angry at you!” we can mindfully rephrase it and say something like, “I don’t know if you meant to, but I felt ignored by you earlier. It made me feel really hurt and angry. Can we talk about what happened?”

    We can notice our tone, and try to take as much blame out of it as is possible. This way, we are allowing space for a real, two-way conversation. We are staying open-minded about what really happened; although we feel upset, we recognise the fact that we may have misunderstood something, or that the other person is going through their own emotions.

    Mindful communication isn’t about getting it right all the time. We’re all dealing with our own internal worlds, and sometimes we just can’t avoid misunderstandings and heated conversations. But we can become more mindful communicators at any time, just as soon as we notice that we’re stuck in a blaming mindset.

    Even if we notice half-way through an argument, we can make efforts to re-evaluate our stance and approach the situation with more mindfulness and compassion.

     

    MEDITATION

    Mindfulness of Breath

     

    The Mindfulness Project hosts a calendar of workshops, courses and retreats to teach and support mindfulness practice.

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    • Gail King

      Thanks for the great reminder of three personal practices I've personally found helpful when I'm stressed-out.

      I've done all three suggestions, but have found that the deep breathing more than calms my mind: it lowers my blood pressure and eases my pounding heart, too. I usually try to breathe IN, with my tongue to the roof of my mouth, to a slow count of four, then breathe OUT to a slow count of eight. After about three of these "breaths", I can actually feel everything calming down. Once when I was at the doctor's office about ready to have my BP taken, I knew it'd be off the charts because I was so stressed, so I did my little breathing "exercise" after the first reading and asked the nurse to take the BP again. She did - and my systolic pressure (top reading) was 15 points LOWER and the diastolic pressure (bottom reading) 10 points lower.

      Deep breathing, even for a few breaths, really works well. Be Blessed!

      Reply
    • Mindful Living
      Mindful Living 21 April, 2016 at 8:02 pm

      Wonderful post! It is so true how much self-compassion helps to reset the negativity that can run rampant during times of stress!

      Reply
    • TMP Admin

      Thank you for your comment, we're glad you enjoyed the tips :-)

      Reply
    • Raj Sharma

      Hi,

      Thanks for the great post.

      I find that practicing mindfulness yoga for half an hour in the morning goes a long way in helping me cope with the stress levels for the rest of the day.

      Cheers,
      Raj

      Reply
      • TMP Admin

        Hi Raj, thanks for your comment. We're so glad you enjoyed the blog post, and it's great to hear that your yoga practice is helpful for you! Warm wishes, Emily

  • How Animals Help Us Live in the Moment

    The company of animals certainly seems to have a healing effect in many of our lives. This is probably partly due to the fact that they don’t judge us in the same way fellow humans do.

     

    They may get annoyed with us if we stroke them the wrong way, but they’ll never judge us for our flaws. A cat or a dog will never reject us because we eat too much, have credit card debts, or don’t call our mothers as often as we should. It’s not unusual to see dogs sitting beside homeless people on the street.

    Our animals love us, even if we don’t love ourselves. In many cases, they embody mindfulness; they are non-judgementally present in the moment. When an animal is sitting with us, they aren’t busy thinking about yesterday or tomorrow. They are simply there. This is probably why they have such a special place in many of our lives.

     

    Being Mindful with Our Pets

     

    In our busy lives it can be all too easy to take our pets for granted. However, if we can make the time, our pets can provide us with great ways to practice mindfulness.

    Next time you’re with your pet, why not take a few moments to really notice everything about them. When you stroke them, pay close attention to how their fur or feathers feel beneath your hand. Maybe even imagine that it’s the first time you’ve ever felt them, and see what difference it makes to your experience of them. Notice their appearance, taking in every whisker, every feather or patch of coloured fur, every paw and claw. Watch how they’re breathing. Listen to their heart beat if you’re snuggled up with them.

    Perhaps most importantly of all, cultivate a sense of gratitude for having them in your life. Remember all the difficult or painful times that you’ve been through, and how your pet has been there with you through it all. Let that gratitude fill you from top to toe.

     

    Find out more about mindfulness on a mindfulness course or workshop.

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    Animals & Meditation

     

    One of the great things about animals is that they don’t care about our plans. They have a habit of interrupting those streams of thought that we feel are very important. Although this may at first seem like a negative thing, it can actually help us become unstuck from living in our mental chatter by bringing us back to reality. For this reason, animals can help us in our formal meditation practice.

    Have you ever been meditating, and then heard a dog barking in the distance, or had your cat try climbing on you for a cuddle? Far from being distractions from our meditation, they can enhance it. Meditation is not about escaping from the present moment, but about embracing it. While we’re taking our meditation very seriously, animals are just living their lives. And so that dog barking in the street or that cat determined to have your attention act as anchors to the flow of the present. They are reminders that we are not in control, and that the best way to cope with life is to let go of our pre-conceived ideas of how things should be and join in with the dance of how things really are.

    We can do this by noticing our reactions to them. If we feel annoyed about our meditation being interrupted, we can look at why that is. Perhaps it’s because we have an inaccurate idea of what meditation is about. Or perhaps we’re attached to an idea of how we’d like to be. In this way, animals can have a very humbling effect. They can remind us that our meditation practice doesn’t place us in an elevated state above the rest of life, but that in fact our meditating is just like the barking in the street, just one small part of life as a whole.

    Animals are indeed great mindfulness teachers, if we take the time to notice them. What mindfulness lessons have you learnt from your pets? We’d love to hear them in the comments below!

    Find out more about mindfulness on a mindfulness course or workshop.

    VIEW CALENDAR

    • Gail King

      Thanks for the great reminder of three personal practices I've personally found helpful when I'm stressed-out.

      I've done all three suggestions, but have found that the deep breathing more than calms my mind: it lowers my blood pressure and eases my pounding heart, too. I usually try to breathe IN, with my tongue to the roof of my mouth, to a slow count of four, then breathe OUT to a slow count of eight. After about three of these "breaths", I can actually feel everything calming down. Once when I was at the doctor's office about ready to have my BP taken, I knew it'd be off the charts because I was so stressed, so I did my little breathing "exercise" after the first reading and asked the nurse to take the BP again. She did - and my systolic pressure (top reading) was 15 points LOWER and the diastolic pressure (bottom reading) 10 points lower.

      Deep breathing, even for a few breaths, really works well. Be Blessed!

      Reply
    • Mindful Living
      Mindful Living 21 April, 2016 at 8:02 pm

      Wonderful post! It is so true how much self-compassion helps to reset the negativity that can run rampant during times of stress!

      Reply
    • TMP Admin

      Thank you for your comment, we're glad you enjoyed the tips :-)

      Reply
    • Raj Sharma

      Hi,

      Thanks for the great post.

      I find that practicing mindfulness yoga for half an hour in the morning goes a long way in helping me cope with the stress levels for the rest of the day.

      Cheers,
      Raj

      Reply
      • TMP Admin

        Hi Raj, thanks for your comment. We're so glad you enjoyed the blog post, and it's great to hear that your yoga practice is helpful for you! Warm wishes, Emily

  • A Dose of Meditation: Mindfulness for Mental Health

     

    ‘Mental health’ is defined by the World Health Organisation as ‘a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community’(1).

    Today, we know that this is not the case for millions of people worldwide. In fact, one in four people experience a mental health problem each year. According to mental health charity Mind, the way in which people cope with mental health problems is also getting worse – with the number of people who self-harm or have suicidal thoughts on the increase.

    While mindfulness is no magical cure-all elixir, there is emerging evidence to show that it could support a state of mental wellbeing. In instances of mild to moderate depression and anxiety, for example, mindfulness-based interventions hold great promise to ease symptoms.

    With regular practice and the support and guidance of a teacher during an eight-week mindfulness course (MBSR or MBCT), studies have shown that the benefits include stress reduction, emotion and attention regulation and reduced rumination. It also has as much power to prevent depressive relapse as antidepressants, shown by to a large-scale study published by the Oxford Mindfulness Centre.

    Essentially, mindfulness works because it gives us better access to resources that may help us deal positively with our experience of anxiety and/or depression. Firstly, we are introduced to the skill of awareness – which is the ability to notice our thoughts and feelings as they arise. Awareness creates space and allows us to observe our mental processes more objectively so we identify with them less.

    Secondly, we cultivate an open and accepting attitude, which allows us to welcome whatever arises, rather than trying to suppress it, avoid it or become overwhelmed by it. In this way, there is less internal conflict – which can make things a little lighter. Beyond the power of attention training, practicing mindfulness in a community may also play an important role in easing symptoms. Anxiety and depression can heighten feelings of isolation and self-judgement -- which may further feed our suffering.

    Learning mindfulness and sharing our experiences in a group setting such as an MBCT, helps us realise there is a common humanity to these conditions and that we are not so alone.

    There are instances, however, in which mindfulness should be approached with caution where mental health is concerned. As we turn towards ourselves to face our thoughts and feelings, mindfulness can often heighten our experience and perhaps even intensify symptoms for a short period. In this way, it can be incredibly difficult to maintain motivation. For those with a history of certain mental health conditions, such as psychosis, borderline personality disorder, bipolar or PTSD, mindfulness needs to be approached with care and often a tailored one-on-one approach with the specialist knowledge of a mental health professional is advised.

    While mental health awareness has improved dramatically over the past decade, we still have a way to go to change the conversation we have around it – to break social stigmas, encourage education and strengthen our response.

    Mindfulness may not be a short-term fix, but with continued practice it could provide a long-term solution for mild to moderate disorders, by giving us the power to respond to unpleasant emotions and distressing situations more reflectively rather than reflexively. We know from emerging neuroscientific research that mindfulness also facilitates plasticity, and herein lies the hope -- that each time we respond differently, we create new, more positive connections and pathways in the brain.

     

    Find out more about our mindfulness courses and workshops.

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    References (1) WHO: Mental health: a state of well-being

    • Gail King

      Thanks for the great reminder of three personal practices I've personally found helpful when I'm stressed-out.

      I've done all three suggestions, but have found that the deep breathing more than calms my mind: it lowers my blood pressure and eases my pounding heart, too. I usually try to breathe IN, with my tongue to the roof of my mouth, to a slow count of four, then breathe OUT to a slow count of eight. After about three of these "breaths", I can actually feel everything calming down. Once when I was at the doctor's office about ready to have my BP taken, I knew it'd be off the charts because I was so stressed, so I did my little breathing "exercise" after the first reading and asked the nurse to take the BP again. She did - and my systolic pressure (top reading) was 15 points LOWER and the diastolic pressure (bottom reading) 10 points lower.

      Deep breathing, even for a few breaths, really works well. Be Blessed!

      Reply
    • Mindful Living
      Mindful Living 21 April, 2016 at 8:02 pm

      Wonderful post! It is so true how much self-compassion helps to reset the negativity that can run rampant during times of stress!

      Reply
    • TMP Admin

      Thank you for your comment, we're glad you enjoyed the tips :-)

      Reply
    • Raj Sharma

      Hi,

      Thanks for the great post.

      I find that practicing mindfulness yoga for half an hour in the morning goes a long way in helping me cope with the stress levels for the rest of the day.

      Cheers,
      Raj

      Reply
      • TMP Admin

        Hi Raj, thanks for your comment. We're so glad you enjoyed the blog post, and it's great to hear that your yoga practice is helpful for you! Warm wishes, Emily

  • Mindfulness in the City

    By Amy Wood

    Frenetic and fast-paced, the city can present the greatest challenges to our mindfulness practice. Urban environments are hives of activity, and the smells, sights and sounds of the city can provide an overload of sensory stimulation that impacts us on a physical and psychological level.

    “Life in the city can be both exhilarating and exhausting,” says Tessa Watt, leading mindfulness teacher and author of Mindful London. “It's easy to find ourselves in a state of constant rush and agitation, swept up by the crowds and the hectic pace of work and play. So it's all the more important to take time out to nourish ourselves – to simplify things, stop rushing around and make time for ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’ ”.

    Finding ways to carve moments of silence and space into city living is crucial, and the conscious practice of mindfulness is a simple way to do so. Here are some of our tips on how to find calm in the chaos of the city.

    Into the wild

    Nothing is more grounding and nurturing than time spent in nature. Rooted in the here and the now, the natural world is alive and ever-present - an idea that's central to the practice of mindfulness. Nature's restorative benefits are backed by research and accessible to us all at any given moment. Studies have shown that nature can not only improve cognitive function, but can also immunise our brains against the effects of urban stress.

    Despite its reputation as a concrete jungle, London has over 3,000 green spaces and eight million trees within its radius, so we are never far from flora and fauna. Lunch breaks and walks to work are ideal opportunities to reconnect with nature and restore equilibrium with our mindfulness practice.

    We can cultivate mindfulness by tuning our awareness to the sensory experiences of nature around us: the sound of bird song, the breeze on our skin, the warmth of the sunlight on our face.

    Calmer commutes

    Many of us feel the uncomfortable nature of commuting on overcrowded buses and trains. It can leave us energetically drained and mentally disconnected before the day has even begun. There's a compulsion to switch off and autopilot our way through the experience, but that only leads to a sense of disconnect from the present moment.

    We can find a new perspective on our commute by incorporating simple mindfulness practices into the journey. Giving our attention to the subtle movements of the train or bus and letting these sensations fill our awareness can bring us back to the here and the now.

    By focusing on the breath, we can create internal space where we may be lacking it externally. When the mind wanders, as it has a natural inclination to do, we can gently bring the attention back to the breath.

    Silent sanctuaries

    Spaces and places that promote calm are hard to come by in the city, but they do exist. Churches, museums, libraries and bookshops all provide a welcome respite from the city's soundtrack of sirens and traffic. No belief system is required to enjoy a church's space. We can simply appreciate it for what it is - a tranquil environment untouched by technology.

    Moments spent in these types of spaces are important to our mindfulness practice as the emphasis is on the experience of ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’. We can embrace them for the opportunity they bring to slow down and breathe.

    City challenges

    From the roar of the rush-hour, to the tedium of queuing, everyday irritations are an inescapable part of city living. But what if we could use these sensory experiences as prompts to be mindful? As challenging as that may seem, these experiences present the possibility to grow and strengthen our practice. The next time you find yourself waiting in line, embrace it as a reminder to stay present. If feelings of irritation arise, acknowledge them with non-judgement, notice how they are impacting you and let them fall away.

     

    Join a mindfulness courses or workshops with The Mindfulness Project.

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    • Gail King

      Thanks for the great reminder of three personal practices I've personally found helpful when I'm stressed-out.

      I've done all three suggestions, but have found that the deep breathing more than calms my mind: it lowers my blood pressure and eases my pounding heart, too. I usually try to breathe IN, with my tongue to the roof of my mouth, to a slow count of four, then breathe OUT to a slow count of eight. After about three of these "breaths", I can actually feel everything calming down. Once when I was at the doctor's office about ready to have my BP taken, I knew it'd be off the charts because I was so stressed, so I did my little breathing "exercise" after the first reading and asked the nurse to take the BP again. She did - and my systolic pressure (top reading) was 15 points LOWER and the diastolic pressure (bottom reading) 10 points lower.

      Deep breathing, even for a few breaths, really works well. Be Blessed!

      Reply
    • Mindful Living
      Mindful Living 21 April, 2016 at 8:02 pm

      Wonderful post! It is so true how much self-compassion helps to reset the negativity that can run rampant during times of stress!

      Reply
    • TMP Admin

      Thank you for your comment, we're glad you enjoyed the tips :-)

      Reply
    • Raj Sharma

      Hi,

      Thanks for the great post.

      I find that practicing mindfulness yoga for half an hour in the morning goes a long way in helping me cope with the stress levels for the rest of the day.

      Cheers,
      Raj

      Reply
      • TMP Admin

        Hi Raj, thanks for your comment. We're so glad you enjoyed the blog post, and it's great to hear that your yoga practice is helpful for you! Warm wishes, Emily

  • Enjoy Some Mindful Gardening This Spring!

    gardening

    Although it’s still a little chilly outside, the daffodils and crocus’ are blooming which can only mean one thing: spring is just around the corner! So now’s the time to find those gardening gloves, buy some seeds or bulbs, and roll up our sleeves for some mindful time in the garden. Even if you don’t have a lot of garden space, or any at all, there’s still plenty of things that we can do to go outdoors and get our hands dirty with some lovely soil.

    In our fast-paced, technology-driven lives, gardening offers some much needed reconnection with nature, and ourselves. In the garden, nothing is instant. We can’t force plants to grow overnight.

    Instead, we must practice patience, awareness and some tenderness so that we can turn seeds into shoots, and shoots into full-grown plants. This makes gardening an ideal way to practice mindfulness: we can’t jump ahead to the end result, therefore we’re naturally steered toward being present in the process.

    Whether we’re cutting back an overgrown garden to create a vegetable patch, or simply potting flowers on our windowsill, there are many sensory ‘anchors’ that we can use to enrich our mindfulness practice and our gardening at the same time. For example, we can pay attention to the rich smell of the earth, the silky strands of young roots, or marvel at the potential held within a tiny seed.

    If we’re working outside, we can take some time to fully appreciate the fresh air entering our lungs, the water in our watering can, or if you want to get really deep, the natural cycle of life as we clear away the old, dead overgrowth to make way for fresh, new life. Being outdoors can also help us find a sense of being part of something bigger than ourselves; like the plants around us, we’re also part of nature.

    As well as being a great way to ground ourselves in the present moment, gardening can double-up as an act of self-care too; by nurturing plants we also nurture ourselves. Taking time out to do something we enjoy is important for our well-being, and helps us reconnect with ourselves. Regularly giving ourselves time to do things which help us feel balanced and centred makes it easier to navigate life’s ups and downs.

    Being practical with our hands can help us step out of our busy thinking for a while, and we can easily turn gardening activities into meditation. Whenever we notice that our minds are wandering, we can use our sensory experiences to guide us back to the present.

     

    Find out more about our mindfulness courses and workshops.

    VIEW CALENDAR

    • Gail King

      Thanks for the great reminder of three personal practices I've personally found helpful when I'm stressed-out.

      I've done all three suggestions, but have found that the deep breathing more than calms my mind: it lowers my blood pressure and eases my pounding heart, too. I usually try to breathe IN, with my tongue to the roof of my mouth, to a slow count of four, then breathe OUT to a slow count of eight. After about three of these "breaths", I can actually feel everything calming down. Once when I was at the doctor's office about ready to have my BP taken, I knew it'd be off the charts because I was so stressed, so I did my little breathing "exercise" after the first reading and asked the nurse to take the BP again. She did - and my systolic pressure (top reading) was 15 points LOWER and the diastolic pressure (bottom reading) 10 points lower.

      Deep breathing, even for a few breaths, really works well. Be Blessed!

      Reply
    • Mindful Living
      Mindful Living 21 April, 2016 at 8:02 pm

      Wonderful post! It is so true how much self-compassion helps to reset the negativity that can run rampant during times of stress!

      Reply
    • TMP Admin

      Thank you for your comment, we're glad you enjoyed the tips :-)

      Reply
    • Raj Sharma

      Hi,

      Thanks for the great post.

      I find that practicing mindfulness yoga for half an hour in the morning goes a long way in helping me cope with the stress levels for the rest of the day.

      Cheers,
      Raj

      Reply
      • TMP Admin

        Hi Raj, thanks for your comment. We're so glad you enjoyed the blog post, and it's great to hear that your yoga practice is helpful for you! Warm wishes, Emily

  • 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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    • Gail King

      Thanks for the great reminder of three personal practices I've personally found helpful when I'm stressed-out.

      I've done all three suggestions, but have found that the deep breathing more than calms my mind: it lowers my blood pressure and eases my pounding heart, too. I usually try to breathe IN, with my tongue to the roof of my mouth, to a slow count of four, then breathe OUT to a slow count of eight. After about three of these "breaths", I can actually feel everything calming down. Once when I was at the doctor's office about ready to have my BP taken, I knew it'd be off the charts because I was so stressed, so I did my little breathing "exercise" after the first reading and asked the nurse to take the BP again. She did - and my systolic pressure (top reading) was 15 points LOWER and the diastolic pressure (bottom reading) 10 points lower.

      Deep breathing, even for a few breaths, really works well. Be Blessed!

      Reply
    • Mindful Living
      Mindful Living 21 April, 2016 at 8:02 pm

      Wonderful post! It is so true how much self-compassion helps to reset the negativity that can run rampant during times of stress!

      Reply
    • TMP Admin

      Thank you for your comment, we're glad you enjoyed the tips :-)

      Reply
    • Raj Sharma

      Hi,

      Thanks for the great post.

      I find that practicing mindfulness yoga for half an hour in the morning goes a long way in helping me cope with the stress levels for the rest of the day.

      Cheers,
      Raj

      Reply
      • TMP Admin

        Hi Raj, thanks for your comment. We're so glad you enjoyed the blog post, and it's great to hear that your yoga practice is helpful for you! Warm wishes, Emily

  • Hygge: Cultivated Cosiness

    mug
    There are many words from other languages that we don’t have an equivalent word for in English. Like the German word ‘schadenfreude’, which means to take pleasure from the misfortune of others, or the Spanish word ‘sombremésa’ which is used to describe the time spent after a meal, talking to the people you shared the meal with. Although we are familiar with these emotions or situations, somehow having a singular word for them can make them more tangible; naming such things can help us become more mindful of them.

    The Danish and Norwegians have a concept known as ‘hygge’ (heurgha). It’s used to describe things or situations which give us a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. ‘Hygge’ is an integral part of Danish life, and so it may come as no surprise that Denmark is considered to be one of the happiest countries in the world.

    My Danish friend, Daniel says: “You can make something hyggelig; you tidy your home, you bring cake for your class, you light candles, etc. And something can be hyggelig too; an old house, or a bench in a park, or a campfire... It's very ingrained in the language and social interaction/tradition but we're also very relaxed about it in the everyday. It can range from the very small to the big things.”

    So how can we use mindfulness to help us bring more hygge into our lives?

    One way is to bring awareness to what makes us feel nice and cosy, and then to consciously incorporate more of those things into our lives. For example, if fairy lights make us feel happy, we can hang some in our bedroom, or if we haven’t seen our friends for a while we could invite them to our home for a candlelit meal. Or we can just set aside some time to snuggle up under our duvet and read a good book.

    Another way is to be more mindful of the hyggelig things that are already around us! We can, for example, slow down and savour a lovely cup of tea, take time to enjoy a beautiful scene, or delight in the warmth of a knitted jumper or blanket.

    How do you cultivate cosiness in your life? Leave a comment sharing your best hygge moments!

     

    Find out more about our mindfulness courses and workshops.

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    • Gail King

      Thanks for the great reminder of three personal practices I've personally found helpful when I'm stressed-out.

      I've done all three suggestions, but have found that the deep breathing more than calms my mind: it lowers my blood pressure and eases my pounding heart, too. I usually try to breathe IN, with my tongue to the roof of my mouth, to a slow count of four, then breathe OUT to a slow count of eight. After about three of these "breaths", I can actually feel everything calming down. Once when I was at the doctor's office about ready to have my BP taken, I knew it'd be off the charts because I was so stressed, so I did my little breathing "exercise" after the first reading and asked the nurse to take the BP again. She did - and my systolic pressure (top reading) was 15 points LOWER and the diastolic pressure (bottom reading) 10 points lower.

      Deep breathing, even for a few breaths, really works well. Be Blessed!

      Reply
    • Mindful Living
      Mindful Living 21 April, 2016 at 8:02 pm

      Wonderful post! It is so true how much self-compassion helps to reset the negativity that can run rampant during times of stress!

      Reply
    • TMP Admin

      Thank you for your comment, we're glad you enjoyed the tips :-)

      Reply
    • Raj Sharma

      Hi,

      Thanks for the great post.

      I find that practicing mindfulness yoga for half an hour in the morning goes a long way in helping me cope with the stress levels for the rest of the day.

      Cheers,
      Raj

      Reply
      • TMP Admin

        Hi Raj, thanks for your comment. We're so glad you enjoyed the blog post, and it's great to hear that your yoga practice is helpful for you! Warm wishes, Emily

  • Finding Refuge in the Breath

    bambi
    The mind is a constant whir of activity. Without any effort, our minds can jump from past regrets to concerns about the future to mentally noting that doctor’s appointment we have next week. If our minds are particularly busy, this stream of thinking can sometimes become too much for us to take. The non-stop nature of it can be overwhelming.

    Naturally, we want to retreat. And we might do so in a number of different ways. We may have a glass of wine, or a cigarette, or some cake, or switch on the TV and zone out. We might constantly check social media for distractions, or go on shopping sprees, yet this only increases the busy-ness of our minds. Rarely do these things give us that sense of respite we so badly need.

    Thankfully there is a better refuge available to us, one which we can access at any time, no matter where we are or what we’re doing. It doesn’t exist outside of ourselves, so we’ll never be without it.

    When we find ourselves in the midst of stress, anxiety, depression, sadness, or even intense excitement (this can be overwhelming sometimes too), simply taking a deep breath can bring great relief. When our minds have become tumultuous with thought – each passing thought like a wave that rocks our little boat in a stormy sea, and the rocking never seems to end – we can take a deep breath and…. ahhhh, the waves settle; sometimes just a little, but sometimes a lot! The more we practice, the easier it gets to remember to take those important moments of refuge.

    Try it now. Take a deep breath…. and let it out slowly. How has it changed the quality of this moment?

     

    Find out more about our mindfulness courses and workshops.

    VIEW CALENDAR

    • Gail King

      Thanks for the great reminder of three personal practices I've personally found helpful when I'm stressed-out.

      I've done all three suggestions, but have found that the deep breathing more than calms my mind: it lowers my blood pressure and eases my pounding heart, too. I usually try to breathe IN, with my tongue to the roof of my mouth, to a slow count of four, then breathe OUT to a slow count of eight. After about three of these "breaths", I can actually feel everything calming down. Once when I was at the doctor's office about ready to have my BP taken, I knew it'd be off the charts because I was so stressed, so I did my little breathing "exercise" after the first reading and asked the nurse to take the BP again. She did - and my systolic pressure (top reading) was 15 points LOWER and the diastolic pressure (bottom reading) 10 points lower.

      Deep breathing, even for a few breaths, really works well. Be Blessed!

      Reply
    • Mindful Living
      Mindful Living 21 April, 2016 at 8:02 pm

      Wonderful post! It is so true how much self-compassion helps to reset the negativity that can run rampant during times of stress!

      Reply
    • TMP Admin

      Thank you for your comment, we're glad you enjoyed the tips :-)

      Reply
    • Raj Sharma

      Hi,

      Thanks for the great post.

      I find that practicing mindfulness yoga for half an hour in the morning goes a long way in helping me cope with the stress levels for the rest of the day.

      Cheers,
      Raj

      Reply
      • TMP Admin

        Hi Raj, thanks for your comment. We're so glad you enjoyed the blog post, and it's great to hear that your yoga practice is helpful for you! Warm wishes, Emily

  • Practical Tips for Practising Mindfulness

    NY

    There are so many benefits to be gained from regular mindfulness practice. Research has shown that mindfulness meditation can improve learning processes, memory and emotional regulation (just to name a few things!) by prompting changes in different regions of the brain. However, in the same way that it can be difficult to get into new exercise or healthy eating habits, it can be hard to turn mindfulness into a daily practice, even if we know how much we will benefit from doing so. Once we’ve gotten into the swing of things, maintaining a regular mindfulness practice becomes much easier. But what steps can we take when we’re first starting out that will help us incorporate mindfulness into our daily routines?

    Using Your Phone as a Mindfulness Prompt

    The simplest and easiest way that we can become more regularly mindful is to set an alarm on our phone or watch. By setting alarms to go off at certain times of the day, our present mindful self can remind our future self (who might have become a bit mindless by that point) to take a pause and breathe.

    How long we choose to pause for is completely down to us, but even if we’re working at our desks when the alarm sounds, we can take a moment to adjust our posture and let go of any tension we’re holding in our bodies, so that we can continue with our work in a more present mindset.

    It’s best to choose a gentle alarm tone, rather than something that will jolt or aggravate you when it goes off. Experiment with setting alarms at different times of the day, maybe focusing on times that you know you could particularly use a mindfulness prompt, for example on your commute to work, at lunchtime, or as you’re winding down in the evening.

     

    Find out more about our mindfulness courses and workshops.

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    Making Time to Sit

    Even though we know that meditation is good for us, we can probably come up with lots of reasons not to do it. When faced with the choice between watching our favourite TV show and sitting for 20 minutes in silence, the TV show is probably going to seem more entertaining! Once we’ve gotten into a regular meditation practice, the benefits we feel from it will motivate us to make time for it. Yet until that happens, we might need to give ourselves a little push to make the effort. Setting a regular time for meditation can help us do this.

    Pick a time of the day that you’re most likely to be able to stick to. For example, if you’re always rushed in the mornings, it might be better to choose a time in the evening when things aren’t so hectic. It might be useful to start off with a short amount of time, like five or ten minutes. You can then increase your meditation time once you start to get comfortable with it. Try your best to sit down to meditate every day at your chosen time, even if you don’t feel like it sometimes. Just remember, it will get easier the more you do it.

    And if you do miss a day? Or two, or five? It’s okay! Go easy on yourself. Just try to keep that intention going, and start over again if you need to.

    Find a Meditation Buddy

    Sometimes sharing a routine with a friend can make it easier to stick to. It’s so tempting to make excuses and reasons not to do something when it’s just us, but we generally don’t like to let our friends down. We tend to make more of an effort to stay on track with our plans when we know that someone else is also benefiting from it. Plus the social side of it might make it more enjoyable if we don’t like sitting alone.

    Alternatively, if you want some guidance and a structured routine, it might be beneficial to join a regular meditation group. Here at The Mindfulness Project we host a weekly evening meditation for people who have completed an 8-week Mindfulness Course. Check out our calendar for more information on what’s coming up at our space!

     

    Find out more about our mindfulness courses and workshops.

    VIEW CALENDAR

    • Gail King

      Thanks for the great reminder of three personal practices I've personally found helpful when I'm stressed-out.

      I've done all three suggestions, but have found that the deep breathing more than calms my mind: it lowers my blood pressure and eases my pounding heart, too. I usually try to breathe IN, with my tongue to the roof of my mouth, to a slow count of four, then breathe OUT to a slow count of eight. After about three of these "breaths", I can actually feel everything calming down. Once when I was at the doctor's office about ready to have my BP taken, I knew it'd be off the charts because I was so stressed, so I did my little breathing "exercise" after the first reading and asked the nurse to take the BP again. She did - and my systolic pressure (top reading) was 15 points LOWER and the diastolic pressure (bottom reading) 10 points lower.

      Deep breathing, even for a few breaths, really works well. Be Blessed!

      Reply
    • Mindful Living
      Mindful Living 21 April, 2016 at 8:02 pm

      Wonderful post! It is so true how much self-compassion helps to reset the negativity that can run rampant during times of stress!

      Reply
    • TMP Admin

      Thank you for your comment, we're glad you enjoyed the tips :-)

      Reply
    • Raj Sharma

      Hi,

      Thanks for the great post.

      I find that practicing mindfulness yoga for half an hour in the morning goes a long way in helping me cope with the stress levels for the rest of the day.

      Cheers,
      Raj

      Reply
      • TMP Admin

        Hi Raj, thanks for your comment. We're so glad you enjoyed the blog post, and it's great to hear that your yoga practice is helpful for you! Warm wishes, Emily

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