• 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.

    SIGN UP

     

    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

    SIGN UP

     

    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.

    SIGN UP

    • 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

  • Enriching Parenting with Mindfulness

    Child in Field With Mountain Backdrop

     

    It’s often said that time seems to speed up as we get older. Weeks whizz by, then months and then seasons, and before we know it we’re shaking our heads in disbelief as another year has passed. Adding children into the mix intensifies this feeling.

     

    With so many precious milestones we have more opportunity to wonder how they can be crawling already, or putting sentences together or waving goodbye at the school gates for the first time. Surely we only brought them home from the hospital yesterday?

    Mindfulness offers many benefits to parents, but a key one is that it helps us to truly appreciate the fleeting moments we have with our children.

    As parents, life is often hectic: we feel we must focus on the logistics of getting things done and ushering everyone through the day’s schedule. Continually planning our next move prevents us from being mindful.

    But when we pause and engage with the present moment we are more likely to notice the little things that make life so sweet. This helps us to strengthen our connection with our children, as well as adding to our sense of wellbeing and feeling of gratitude.

    Being mindful also enables us to appreciate the transitional times, rather than just focusing on the agenda items: sometimes the walk to the park can be as much of an adventure as the park itself.

    Mindful parents take as much opportunity to connect with their kids as they can. We tend to talk about ‘quality time’, but really any time spent together can be made meaningful. Being present during seemingly mundane interactions is just as beneficial as making time for mindful play or other focused activities.

    Pausing for a quick cuddle during the breakfast rush, or making a game out of packing bags for the day, makes our daily schedule more enjoyable as well as building closeness.

    Morning and evening routines sometimes feel like chores when we’re tired or stressed, but approaching these mindfully can make them more pleasurable. Mindfulness can be a way to ease parental stress.

    Modelling mindful behaviour is also the best way for parents to encourage kids to adopt it for themselves, and mealtimes and shared routines are a great opportunity to do this.

    Giving someone your full attention is a great gift, and making the effort to truly listen to our children has many benefits. As well as allowing them to feel heard and understood, we are better placed to uncover any issues that may be hiding behind words or behaviour. When we allow ourselves to tune into and be led by our children’s cues, we ensure we are meeting their needs.

    And, although it may feel like it at times, of course parenting isn’t all about the child! Practicing mindfulness also ensures that we are attuned to our stress triggers and are able to regulate our responses. This enables us to parent from a place of calm, with kindness and empathy, and encouraging us to remain positive even during challenging days.

    Mindful parenting helps us to really value the transient time we have with our children and they, in turn, will thrive as we strengthen the parent-child bond.

    Explore our introduction to mindful parenting article or join a course or workshop to learn more.

     

    The Mindfulness Project runs a range of courses and workshops. View our calendar of upcoming events. 

    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

  • 9 Common Misconceptions of Mindfulness

    Flower and Mirror

     

    Mindfulness is a simple yet powerful practice that can offer many benefits. It’s popularity has led to an explosion of information through apps, podcasts and blogs over the last 20-years.

     

    Some of this information has led to misconceptions of mindfulness and what it means to practice it. These misconceptions can often act as obstacles to the practice, resulting in feelings of failure and sometimes even causing people to stop practicing altogether.

    With this in mind, we’ve highlighted some of the most common misconceptions around. Are any of these holding back your mindfulness practice?

     

    1: Mindfulness Is About Emptying the Mind

    The goal of mindfulness isn’t to get rid of thoughts and to get the benefits of mindfulness we don’t need this to happen. If you’ve ever actually tried to ‘clear your mind of all thoughts’, you’ll notice it’s virtually impossible!

    If we think of emptying the mind as the goal, we may quickly become frustrated in the practice and may want to quit.

    Rather, the intention is to focus our attention on something in the present (e.g. the breath), and when the thoughts arise see if we can keep bringing our attention back, with kindness. 

     

    2: Mindfulness is Only Cultivated Through Meditation

    A common misconception of mindfulness is that it’s about meditation and nothing else. 

    Whilst practicing mindfulness meditation in a formal way is important, we can also practice mindfulness informally, by bringing mindfulness into our daily activities.

     

    Can we be present with nature when we’re out on a walk?

    Can we mindfully listen to someone speak, rather than thinking about how we might respond?

     

    The essence of this informal practice is can we be fully present with whatever we’re doing.

     

    3: Mindfulness is The Same Thing as Relaxation

    There is often the perception that when we practice mindfulness we should feel relaxed.

    The reality is that during our meditation we sometimes feel relaxed, but often also experience frustration, boredom, restlessness and the whole range of human emotions! This doesn’t mean that the practice is going ‘wrong’. It’s part of the process.

    There are more longer-term benefits to be gained from mindfulness than feeling relaxed. By observing our experiences and allowing them to be as they are, we can cultivate a sense of contentment and gain freedom from habitual thought patterns. This can help to release us from loops of stress, depression and anxiety. 

     

    Sleeping Cat

     

    4:  Mindfulness Is a Quick Fix

    Mindfulness is a long-term approach to help us to cope with worry, stress, and anxiety. It’s not a quick fix. Stressors, unfortunately, are simply part of being human. They will always be there, one way or another, big or small. 

    Mindfulness can help us to respond to stress more effectively, to be less overwhelmed,  and to build resilience for when it’s needed. Over time, we may find it helps us to deal with whatever life throws at us, without pre-empting what that might be! 

     

    Find out more about our mindfulness courses and workshops.

    VIEW CALENDAR

     

    5: You Have to Sit to Practice Mindfulness

    You do not have to sit on the floor to practice mindfulness. In fact, you don’t have to do anything. It’s your practice. 

    Meditation can be done in any posture. Seated, standing, lying down or walking are usually recommended, but we probably want to avoid lying on the bed, as this usually results in sleep!

    The most important thing is finding a balance between comfort and alertness, and what works for your body.

    If you’re not sure where to start, we’d recommend beginning with sitting on a chair with your feet on the floor and using a cushion or rolled up yoga mat to support your back.

     

    6: There Is a Goal in Mindfulness

    If there is a goal to mindfulness, perhaps it’s not to have goals; to just let things unfold. 

    That said, we all come to mindfulness practice hoping for some benefits. We can try to hold these lightly rather than making them the focus. We often find that the more we try to get somewhere, the further that place gets from us.

      Autumn Leaves

     

    7: We Can Have a ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’ Meditation 

    One day we might find mindfulness comes naturally, the next it might be more difficult. It might be exactly the same practice, with a different result each time. The effect of each practice can also vary immensely from person to person. 

    If you’ve had a difficult morning – your alarm didn’t go off, you spilled your coffee, etc. you might find it hard to settle. Another day, it might come more easily.

    Just as the season changes, so too does our meditation. If we find a practice simple or difficult, it doesn’t mean it’s ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it’s simply as it is.

    It’s reassuring to note that we can often learn more from our practice when we come up against challenges, approaching them with curiosity and self-compassion. 

     

    8: Mindfulness is a Religion

    Mindfulness is not a religion. It can be practised almost anywhere by almost anyone. 

    Meditation and mindfulness have been practised for thousands of years as part of some religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Stoicism and Taoism.

    Additionally, many religions include aspects of mindfulness, such as patience, non-judging, compassion, and generosity. These are human values, as opposed to being religious. 

    Secular mindfulness specifically – which is what we teach at The Mindfulness Project – is rooted in scientific evidence. This means that whether you have a religion or not, you are welcome to practice it.

     

    Pelican on Calm Sea

     

    9: Mindfulness is Easy 

    On the surface it might look easy, but mindfulness is a work in progress for even the most committed. 

    After decades of practice, there may still be challenging days. And these won’t always come when we’re expecting them. 

    In fact, in a world where our attention is turned from one thing to the next, simply being present can be tricky, but with time it does get easier on the whole. As with many things it takes practice, accepting that there’s no ‘makes perfect’ in mindfulness.  

    It’s not uncommon for people to expect to feel tranquil after a single meditation, dismissing it as ‘not for them’ if that’s not what happens. Whilst it’s true that it isn’t for everyone, we can be doing ourselves a disservice by not exploring it more fully. 

    To really feel the benefit of mindfulness, consistent practice over a sustained period of time is recommended. It doesn’t have to be an hour a day; five minutes of practice each day can be much more useful. It’s a bit like training for a marathon – we can build it up bit by bit.

    If you are finding the practice really difficult, then you can take action and reach out for support, you don’t have to go it alone. Our inbox is always open, or you can join a class, course or drop-in session for more guidance and support.

     

    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

  • What Is a Retreat Day?

    Warm Drink and Cosy Blanket

     

    What does the word retreat conjure up for you? Sitting quietly in an empty room? Hiding under the duvet? Heading out into nature? 

     

    When we talk about a retreat in mindfulness, we’re talking about setting a prolonged period of time aside to tune into our senses and the present moment. To notice what’s going on in our bodies and minds.  

    We’re disconnecting from the distractions of everyday life to investigate beneath the surface; to restore, reset, and reconnect

    Just as we might set time aside to spend with our friends or family, we’re setting some time aside to catch up with ourselves and recharge our batteries.

     

    What is a Mindfulness Retreat Day?  

    In a nutshell, a mindfulness retreat day is a day dedicated to our practice, where we set aside our usual tasks and responsibilities and simply take some time for ourselves to be present.

    A full-day guided retreat is included in all of our Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) Courses. 

    The retreat’s an important part of the mindfulness course, where we can further explore the practices, deepen our own practice and consolidate learnings from the course. 

     

    What’s the Purpose of a Retreat Day? 

    It’s very easy to become stuck in a trance of ‘doing’. Retreat days allow us to take a pause and help us to slow down. They create a sort of circuit break and can provide us with clarity. 

    With a retreat day, we create a bit of extra space which can allow us to go a little deeper than our regular meditation and mindfulness practice. 

    As we immerse ourselves in mindfulness, it’s also useful to embrace mindful attitudes such as acceptance, curiosity, and non-judgment.  

    Things we might ask ourselves during the retreat include:

     

    How do we feel as we begin and end the retreat?

    Does anything change as we move through the day?

    Are we experiencing any difficulties or challenges?

    Are there any recurring patterns?

     

    A retreat day can be deeply relaxing, challenging or both. It’s not often we have a full day to ourselves, so we can learn a lot more than we might expect. 

     

    Where Can I Do a Retreat Day?

    There are plenty of places you can do a retreat day -- a meditation or mindfulness studio, retreat centre or from home. Anywhere you can meditate, you can do a retreat day!

    You might seek out the support of a teacher and group (particularly if you are just starting out with mindfulness or haven’t done a retreat before), or do a self-guided retreat at home. 

    All of our retreat days are currently run online. We might instinctively feel that doing a retreat day at home isn’t really a retreat, but there are benefits to doing a retreat day from home, beyond home comforts and the need to travel.

    Doing the retreat day at home still offers the same guidance from a teacher, practices and group support, albeit through a device.

    Most powerfully, it also allows for the opportunity to more closely integrate our mindfulness practice into daily life, weaving in our usual distractions.

    Some participants reported having a more joyful presence with others in the home during the break or realising ways they can bring the practice into their day to day -- which continue to benefit them beyond the course.

     

    N.B. Please note, due to Covid restrictions, all retreats are currently offered online only. In the future, retreat days will be offered online and in-person.

     

    Bath, Candle and Coffee

     

    Do I Have to Stay Silent? 

    A lot of people ask this question. Do I really have to be silent all day? Perhaps they even wonder if this is possible if they’re a natural chatterbox. 

    If the idea of being silent fills us with trepidation, we can try to take it as and when it comes. When we feel uncomfortable with something, it often presents a valuable opportunity to learn something new about ourselves.

    It might also be helpful to reflect on the purposes of the silence. One, is that it’s simply offering an opportunity to let go of our external communication and turn inwards, so we can deepen the connection with our practice.

    No matter how you feel about periods of silence, by the time you come to the retreat you will have built up plenty of guided meditation practice which may make it easier than you’re expecting. Most people find it goes much quicker than anticipated. 

    Try to approach the day with a curious beginner’s mind.

     

    Find out more about our mindfulness courses, retreat days and workshops.

    VIEW CALENDAR

     

    If We’re Silent, Why Is a Mindfulness Retreat in a Group?

    There’s a sense of community when we practice mindfulness with other people. When a retreat day is part of a course, participants will also be able to discuss their experiences either at the end of the day or in the next session. When we listen to others articulate their experience, or share our own, it can help to make sense of it all. 

    Just as with signing up to a mindfulness course, the act of scheduling in and committing to a retreat day can be useful. In signing up, we’re setting an intention to make some time for ourselves and our practice.

    Finally, a group setting can also remove any niggling temptations we might experience alone, such as taking a quick peak of our phone! 

     

    Will I Be Sitting All Day?

    The simple answer is no. You are unlikely to be sitting cross legged for a pins-and-needles-inducing period of time! A retreat will cover many mindfulness practises from the course throughout the day. 

    You’ll probably find yourself lying down, sitting, mindfully walking, and perhaps even jumping around or nibbling (not at the same time)! Everything is broken down into bite-size meditations. 

    For those guided meditation practices where we do sit still, there’s always the option to move (mindfully). It’s not a test or exam and there’s no good or bad way to meditate. 

    So, whilst we can gently resist excessive fidgeting, if it’s helping us to stay more present then we can move. 

     

    Cushion on Wooden Chair

     

    What Do I Need for a Retreat Day?

    As the motto goes, be prepared! Have a think about what might be useful and set up your space the day before, if possible.  

    A drink, cushion, blanket, fan; have options available so that you’ll be comfortable. Perhaps light a candle or bring a plant into the room. 

    It’s worth considering what you’ll eat for lunch too. It might be nice to prepare something nourishing in advance, or have the ingredients ready to prepare something in the allocated break.  

    And it’s a good idea to let anyone else in your household know what you’re doing - especially if they might think you’re not speaking to them!  

    Finally, turn off those alarms, mobiles, laptops, and any other distractions (Alexa /Google Home, we’re talking to you). If you need to, hide them in a cupboard. 

     

    How Will I Feel After a Retreat Day? 

    This will vary from person to person and there is no right way to feel. You might notice that you’re particularly tuned into your senses after a retreat, and it can take a while to adjust. 

    Give yourself time to slowly move back into the day and soak up the practice. It’s a bit like leaving a serene spa - you’re unlikely to want to go straight to a nightclub! 

    We recommend planning a relaxed evening. This might include time spent journaling, submerged in a bubble bath or outside in the natural world, away from technology. You might even book a massage or treat to end the day for an extra dose of self-kindness. 

    If possible, schedule the rest of the day as ‘me time’ and continue your digital detox

     

    What If I Find the Retreat Challenging? 

    Just as it can take time to settle into a meditation, it can take time to settle into a retreat. 

    We might try to sit with these feelings for a while, but if we feel overwhelmed at any stage, we can adjust what we’re doing, take a break and / or let the teacher know. The teacher will be there to guide the entire session and offer support with anything we might find difficult.

    You can message your teacher directly in the chat box or put your hand up (virtually or in- person). Alternatively, you can simply sit out a meditation and come back to it, if and when you feel ready. 

    Whilst many of us will leave a retreat feeling inspired and highly connected with our practice, it’s OK if you don’t. If you come out of the retreat day feeling like you need to speak to someone, drop us an email. 

     

    How Often Should I Do a Retreat?

    After completing a mindfulness course, we recommend joining a retreat at least once a year to support your mindfulness practice. This might be a single day, a weekend or more!

    Many people find it supportive to do a retreat more often than this, so perhaps perhaps the best way of knowing is to simply ask yourself, are you in need of a mindfulness retreat? 

     

    Find out more about our mindfulness courses, retreat days 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

  • Mindfulness in Relationships: Connecting with Others

     

    Horses Grooming One Another

    Written by Jenni Chante

     

    Relationships of all kinds can be a minefield of unrealistic ideals, old baggage, hang ups, habits and misunderstandings. All too often we find ourselves stuck in unhelpful ideas and beliefs, rather than genuinely connecting with people.

     

    Thinking that we know those around us inside out can sometimes block us from being present and really hearing them. Or we may feel so sure of our role within a relationship that we find ourselves repeating unnecessary behaviours which lead to the same old arguments again and again.

    In arguments we often place the blame on the other person – they’re not listening to us, they don’t understand, they’re being difficult or purposely trying to wind us up. Conversely, people can feel the same way about us.

    Yet by becoming more mindful, we can start to accept some responsibility. Taking responsibility for our feelings and actions is not the same as blaming ourselves. We can take responsibility without layering guilt over the top.

    By introducing mindfulness we can start to let go of the repetitive dramas and reach a much deeper, more meaningful level of connection with our partner, family, friends and also ourselves.

    Here are some useful questions to ask ourselves when things feel difficult or strained within a relationship.

     

    1. What are my beliefs about relationships?

    Relationships are important to most of us. We may even attribute our self-worth to our relationship status or circle of friends. It’s useful to be mindful of what we think a relationship should provide us with, or what feelings and experiences we believe shouldn’t arise in a successful relationship.

     

    Do you have ideals of what your perfect relationship should look like?

    Or the type of people you think you should spend your time with?

    Or how your family unit should function?

    How does it match up with the truth?

    Are confrontations arising because of some discrepancy between your fantasy and reality?

     

    The truth is real relationships will rarely meet idealised expectations. Life is messy and unpredictable. Not only will your expectations cause rifts, they may also be holding you back from experiencing the true joy which can come from honest, real connection.

     

    2. What are my beliefs about my partner, family and friends?

    We can very quickly fall into the trap of thinking we know a person. We experience a few of their idiosyncrasies and bam – we’ve made up our mind up about them. When we do this with a partner it leads to us experiencing people through our limited lens of who we believe they are, rather than seeing them as they truly are – a perpetually evolving human being with great capacity for revealing new facets of their character.

    Be mindful of whether you’re being present with those around you, or whether you’re stuck in an old idea of who they seemed to be at some stage in the past.

     

    Discover how mindfulness can support healthy relationships on a course or workshop.

    BOOK COURSE

     

    3. What are my beliefs about myself?

    Just as we can become caught in old ideas about others, the same can be true of ourselves. We may believe we have a certain role to play within a relationship, or that certain aspects of ourselves are not good enough.

    But like others, we also contain deep potential for change. By bringing attention to the limiting thoughts about ourselves, we can break free of old cycles of behaviour.

     

    4. Do my verbal expressions match my true feelings?

    It’s an ongoing joke that women expect men to be able to read their minds. However, most of us are guilty of wanting others, particuarly our partners, to guess or uncover what we’re really feeling, and that’s true of both men and women.

     

    How often do we really explain our feelings in full?

     

    Or when misunderstandings arise, how often do we truthfully look at what we’ve said, rather than staying stuck in how we feel. Of course, sometimes we ourselves aren’t entirely sure of what’s going on inside our minds, so it’s not always possible to be clear.

    Yet even during these times we can still bring mindfulness to our confusion, and express that our loved ones. Sometimes just saying “I’m sorry, I know I’m not making sense, I feel really confused” can take the edge of a heated argument or miscommunication.

     

    5. Am I exaggerating?

    Often when we are upset, we project our current feelings into the past and future. For example, say that we are upset that our partner didn’t help us with a household chore. This may trigger some old emotions around not feeling supported, and that emotion colours our view of the past.

    Suddenly instead of it just being “You didn’t help me with ___”, it’s “You never help me” or “You always let me down”.

    An alternative suggestion might be “I’m feeling frustrated / unhappy / stressed because the house is a mess. I’d like us to make this more of a priority”, placing the onus on how we’re feeling and offering a solution without the need for an argument.

    By being more mindful and honest about the truth of the situation, and of dealing with the present problem instead of raking up the past or projecting our suffering into the future, we can avoid a lot of conflict and remain closer and more connected with those closest to us.

     

    Discover how mindfulness can support healthy relationships on a course or workshop.

    BOOK COURSE

    • 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

  • 5Rhythms: A Call to Dance!

    Woman Dancing

    Written by Alexa Frey

     

    Mindfulness can be practiced in many different ways. Not just by sitting on a cushion. Dance is one of the many ways we can practice and it is indeed a very fun and beautiful one.

     

    The most widely-known mindful dance practice is the 5Rhythms approach to movement meditation, which was founded by Gabrielle Roth in the late 1970s. As a practice it is very much about about being in our bodies as they are being put into motion, while at the same time allowing the mind to quieten.

    Teachers of 5Rhythms offer a gently guided framework for exploring our inner world and outer experience, creating a "dynamic movement practice ... that ignites creativity, connection, and community." Here are a few ways in which this beautiful practice can enrich our lives and our mindfulness practice.

     

    Connecting with the Body

    As we dance, we naturally connect with our bodies. Moving to the beat, we might feel our feet on the ground, our arms swinging through the air, our head shifting back and forth. We might notice that our shoulders feel tense and start loosening them up through movement. We notice our body, the pleasant and the unpleasant, the tingly sensations and the drum in our hearts. The mind quietens, and we become present.

     

    Moving Through Emotions

    Emotions arise in every dance, as they do in every day life. Just as we move consciously, we notice our emotions with more awareness. We might notice that our belly feels cramped from anger, or that our chest feels heavy from sadness, or we notice an expansive feeling of joy spreading out from our head. During a 5Rhythms session, we get to know our emotions, we move with them, shake with them, we breathe through them and we move. We just keep moving.

     

    Find out more about Mindfulness Project's courses, workshops and drop-in sessions.

    VIEW CALENDAR

     

    Processing Trauma

    Each of us carries trauma in our minds and bodies. As we live, we experience trauma. Trauma tends to send us into fight, flight, freeze, and sometimes even into faint. Through the dance, as we move, we make contact with our trauma.

    We might notice that at times our bodies want to freeze in response to a negative thought. Or that we want to grab our phone and text an angry message to a friend. As we dance with the rhythms we notice such impulses and we … keep moving. We move with and through our trauma with self-kindness and acceptance.

     

    States of Transcendence

    As we dance, there might be times when we completely loose ourselves in the dance. In those moments, we might tap into something bigger and experience a sense of interconnectedness and love for the earth, the animals and our fellow human beings.

    At other times, we might clearly see one of our destructive and painful patterns so clearly, that we dance and break through it. Or we might just simply become fully present in our bodies as the present moment just unravels beneath our dancing feet.

     

    Community

    As we dance with our fellow beautiful dancers, we connect. Even if we don’t want to talk to anyone, we can connect through dancing. Maybe just by observing another dancer for a while, maybe by smiling at another dancer and sometimes we choose share a dance with another dancer.

     

    Being in Dance

    As we dance, we don’t have to achieve anything. We don’t have to dance well. We don’t have to look good. We don’t have to be good. We don’t have to dance the way our internal judge might think should be dancing. In the 5Rhythms dance we dance the way our bodies want to move. Moment by moment. We are free.

     

    Dance Is Always Possible

    Dancing is always possible. On some days we might be too weak or tired to fully move. On those days we might just lay on the floor with our legs up the wall tapping our feet against the wall.

    On other days we might feel like giving our bodies a good stretch before we start fully moving to the beats. At other times we feel full of energy and bounce around throughout the whole dance. There’s no pressure during the 5Rhythms.

     

    I have been doing the online 5Rhythms dances with Sue Rickards for the past year and a half during lockdown and have experienced her teaching to be hugely transformative. She is an absolutely unique and wonderful teacher. She makes everybody feel welcome, and embodies pure presence, acceptance and kindness.

    Sue's online dance groups over Zoom take place every Tuesday and Sunday evenings (UK time). Everyone is welcome and you can join by registering directly through the 'A Call to Dance' website.  

     

    Find out more about Mindfulness Project's courses, workshops and drop-in sessions.

    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

  • 8 Ways to Celebrate Your Birthday Mindfully

     

    As we approach a birthday, anniversary, or long-anticipated event, it can bring about many thoughts and feelings. We might experience happiness and joy, but we can also feel disappointment, regret or sadness if our day, or lives, are not as we wish them to be. 

     

    Such milestones can prompt us to look inwardly, to judge ourselves or to make comparisons with others. In doing so, we can prevent ourselves from fully enjoying our day or even cause ourselves and others suffering.

     

    So, what can we do to cultivate joy and ensure a more positive experience?

     

    Here, we offer eight ways to mindfully support a happy birthday and to help us remember that birthdays are a celebration of the unique gifts each of us brings to the world. 

     

    1. Let Go of Expectation 

     

    Have you ever not planned something for your birthday?

    How does the thought of it make you feel?

     

    Perhaps it brings up feelings of discomfort or maybe it’s a refreshing idea.

    We might find ourselves planning our birthday weeks or even months in advance, ruminating over what we may or may not do. In doing so, we can give ourselves excessive time to plan every minute detail in our heads, unintentionally setting expectations.

    When we set expectations, instead of being able to enjoy each moment for what it is, we can end up lost in thought, worrying that everything will go to plan. We can miss out on what is actually happening, letting our birthday pass by without being fully present. 

    For example, if we are planning a party, we might fret about looking our best instead of enjoying the experience of visiting a salon or taking a warm shower in preparation. We might spend time wondering if someone is going to turn up, instead of connecting with those that are already there. 

    Consequently, when things turn out different to how we expect -- as they usually do -- we can be left feeling disappointed.

    Instead of planning, we can consider if a level of uncertainty might help to keep our minds open.

     

    Can not-planning allow us the freedom to choose what we want to do to suit our needs nearer the time, or even on the day? 

     

    Perhaps in choosing not to envisage every last detail we can relieve pressure around preconceived ideas about what a birthday ‘should’ or ‘should not’ look like. As we let go of our own expectations, we can also avoid complying with the expectations of others. 

    When we make space to enjoy the anticipation of not-knowing what will happen on our special day, we can let it unfold with curiosity and wonder. 

     

    2. Nourish Yourself

    If there was only one day in the year to feel nourished, birthdays are likely to be up there. 

    If you wake up on your birthday and want to curl up in a blanket with a good book and a cup of coffee, then it’s your birthday and no one is there to judge you, including yourself. If you want to party until 4am for your 80th, then it’s also your birthday!

    When we shift our awareness to observing how we feel, we can more easily accept what is and respond to meet our needs, as opposed to what the world around us might dictate. 

    Regardless of the day, it’s important we regularly set time aside to think about what will nourish us, so that we can learn to restore, reset and reconnect with the world around us. A birthday can provide a good reminder to set such intentions as you move forward into a new year.  

     

    3. Choose Gratitude 

    Instead of ruminating over what a birthday might mean, we can focus on being grateful for what we have as we reach each milestone. We can pause and notice everything around us –- almost like taking a polaroid picture in our head. 

    We might choose to start or end our day by writing a list of things we are grateful for from last year. This might be experiences, people, objects, or the things we might otherwise take for granted, such as our health and mindfulness practice. 

    Gratitude can help us to see the world the way it is and let go of the imagined version of our day or the way we might otherwise feel we ‘should’ be celebrating. In directing our attention to gratitude, we can better cultivate positive mind states.

     

    Find out more about our mindfulness courses and workshops.

     

    VIEW CALENDAR

     

    4. Read (or Start) a Mindful Journal

    As we write down what we are grateful for on our birthday, we might also take a moment to look back on our journal and the year that has passed. 

    We can take note of what we have learnt about ourselves in a compassionate way. We can celebrate the challenges we have overcome, the experiences we have been a part of and the unexpected surprises that might have taught us something along the way. 

    Whilst mindfulness is about the present moment, it can be helpful to reflect on the past from time to time to support us in being more mindful and to help set positive intentions for the future. 

    You might realise that the event that you were so dreading turned out to be enjoyable. Or that the noise the washing machine was making was not a sign that it was broken at all. It might be that thoughts about where we were heading at the start of the year could have turned out to be completely unfounded. This can help us to move forward with greater knowledge and intuition. 

    If you haven’t started one, you might treat yourself to a shiny new journal -- it’s your birthday after all!  

     

    5. Invite a Beginner's Mind

    When we are children, we celebrate birthdays -- both our own and that of others -- with a pure excitement that can be lost or hidden under layers of busyness or stress as we grow up. Rather than being a day to catch up with friends, eat cake and play pass the parcel, it can feel like a chore. 

    When we invite a beginner's mind to our birthday, we forget about making our day ‘perfect’ and centre in on the here and now. We celebrate as if we were a kid again, reverting to a childhood sense of curiosity and joy.  

    For example, we can open a gift with excitement, rather than expectation or worry. We can focus on the cake in front of us, rather than how it will look on Instagram. If we want to, we can even play musical bumps, mindfully listening for the music to stop without thinking about where we might fall! 

     

    6. Mindful Gift Giving

     

    Have you ever thought about giving a gift to someone else on your birthday? 

     

    It might be a small token of gratitude for someone that has supported us over the course of the year or a donation to a charity that we admire. 

    A mindful gift does not need to be expensive; it can be spending time with someone, writing a thoughtful card to acknowledge your appreciation, or simply thanking someone out loud. 

    Mindful giving can strengthen the connections with those around us and help to cultivate joy for both the recipient and ourselves.

     

    7. Before You Blow Out the Candle…

    If you have a busy schedule planned, why not start it with a simple candle meditation, focusing on the flame and helping to move into the day with clarity and inner calm. 

    Alternatively, if you’ve chosen to have a cake to mark the occasion, you could use the candle as a cue to look around you before you blow it out. Perhaps notice who is there to celebrate with you, tapping into your senses and how you feel in the moment.  

    And once the candles have been blown out...  

     

    8. Have Your Cake (Or Not)

    Finally, many of us will celebrate with an edible (or drinkable) treat on our birthday. Why not take a moment to really savour the moment and enjoy that special something in detail with some mindful eating?  

    A birthday cake, for example, might generate eye hunger -- one of the seven types of hunger -- so why not feast your eyes on the detail of the icing or the different layers before savoring each bite, noticing the textures and flavours. In doing so, we can really appreciate it and the effort that has gone into making it. 

    And if you don’t feel like a huge slice of cake… then eat what you want -- listen to your body and save the cake for another time if that’s what it’s telling you. Put a candle in an avocado, a piece of sushi or a slice of cheese. Tune in and give yourself the birthday presence you’re truly craving.

    Happy birthday!

     

    Meditation

    Candle Meditation | 6-Minutes

     

    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

  • Present Perfect

     

    Do you frequently find yourself ruminating over mistakes? Do you give yourself or others a hard time when things don’t go according to plan? Do you find it painful to hand over tasks to others, for fear they’ll mess things up?

     

    If any of this sounds familiar, you may be a perfectionist: someone who spends a significant amount of time feeling anxious about doing things ‘correctly’ and prioritising what you feel you should do over what you’d like to do.

    Almost all of us experience these feelings from time to time, however when our striving for perfection becomes excessive, we can end up feeling exhausted and entirely lacking in self-worth.

    Far from improving our lives, perfectionism can destroy our peace of mind, leading to life feeling more like a chore than a joy.

     

    Obsessed with the Destination

     

    As perfectionists, our focus is primarily on future goals – finishing the project, getting the grades, succeeding, achieving, completing. We’re so busy working towards the “perfect outcome” that we completely miss the journey, along with any happiness which may lie in the process.

    We want to reach perfection, so that we can finally stop and rest. And yet, we never do seem to get there, do we?

    We think that this determination to succeed makes us better at what we do. Yet while it may sometimes make us more productive and hard-working than others, it kills spontaneity, flexibility and ultimately creativity. Creativity requires the space to make mistakes and adapt; perfectionism restricts and confines us to a narrow view of how things should be.

    With so many internal should’s and shouldn’t’s, we are dragged away from the present moment, locked into a rigid view of good and bad, right and wrong, success and failure. Failure in itself is not so bad, yet when we believe that our self-worth exists within success, failure then feels like the end of our world. It doesn’t matter that we did our best, learnt new things, or had good experiences along the way: if we didn’t ‘win’, it didn’t count.

    In his book ‘Present Perfect’, Pavel Somov describes perfectionism this way:

     

    “It is a mindless reaction driven by the past rather than a mindfully chosen action that reflects the present.”

     

    Stuck in our prison of rules from the past, we lose sight of the value of the present moment. Which is ironic, for if we could only slow down for a moment, we would see that perfection has been there all along, waiting for us to take notice

     

    The Perfection of Flow

     

    “Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it.”

    -- SALVADOR DALI 

     

    Even if we were to create something which met our standards of perfection, it could never remain that way. Just as things grow and blossom, they also fade and decay. Seeking perfection in a world of constant change is like demanding that a beautiful sunset never end. We cannot stop the sun from dipping below the horizon.

    However, we can make efforts to become present with the sunset and savour it while it is there. We can use mindfulness to shift our focus from creating perfect outcomes to enjoying the perfection inherit in the moment to moment flow of life.

    This can be done by noticing when our minds are preoccupied with thoughts of ideal outcomes:

    Next time you are working on a task, such as a work project, creative pursuit, or even when you are sitting doing meditation, try to notice when you start thinking about achieving an end goal, rather than appreciating the moment to moment experience of what you are doing. End goals could be anything from wanting to impress your boss, make more money or become an “expert” meditator.

    Once you’ve noticed, gently bring your attention back to the present moment. Focusing on the breath or on physical sensations is a useful way of doing this. However, beware of turning this practice into yet another goal to be achieved perfectly. Gentleness is key here. Whenever you notice that your mind has wandered, bring it back to your current experience.

    Experiment with resting in the sense that whatever you do, whatever you feel, you are already perfectly human, perfectly changeable and ever-evolving just as all of nature is, and that you could never be any other way.

     

    The Mindfulnes Project runs regular courses, workshops and masterclasses, including 'Overcoming Perfectionism' with author of the book ‘Present Perfect’, Dr. Pavel Somov.

     

    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

  • 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)?

    BOOK NOW

     

     

    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.

    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

  • 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.

    VIEW CALENDAR

     

    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

Page:
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. ...
  7. 14