• Understanding the 7 Types of Hunger

    Dog Eating a Cake

     

    How many times have you reached for the snacks at a party and munched through them without thinking, or ordered dessert even though you were already full, just because it looked so good?

     

    We eat for many reasons - because we’re stressed or feeling sad, because we feel like we deserve a treat or simply because it’s our scheduled mealtime.

    Eating mindfully is about expanding our awareness around food habits, so that we can make more conscious decisions about what we eat and when. According to Jan Chozen-Bays, MD, author of the book ‘Mindful Eating’, there are seven different types of hunger relating to different parts of our anatomy - the eyes, nose, mouth, stomach, cells, mind and heart.

    Once we are more aware of these different types of hunger and their reasons, we can respond consciously and more appropriately to satisfy them.

     

    1. Eye Hunger

    We are highly stimulated by sight, so a beautifully presented meal or treat such as a birthday cake will be a lot more appealing to us than a bucket of slop - even if the ingredients are the same.

    TIP: To satisfy eye hunger, we can really feast our eyes on the food before we put it in our mouths. If we mindlessly throw our dinner in our mouths while watching TV, we’re wasting an opportunity to fully appreciate it.

     

    2. Nose Hunger

    Most of what we think of as taste is actually smell. Our sense of smell is much more subtle than that of taste, as anyone who’s had a head cold and a stuffed up nose will tell!

    TIP: To satisfy your nose hunger, practice sensitising the smell of your food, isolated from taste, by taking a pause before eating to really take in the aromas.

     

    The Mindfulness Project runs regular workshops and courses, including mindful eating.

    BOOK NOW

     

    3. Mouth Hunger

    What we think of as tasty, appealing food is often socially conditioned or influenced by our upbringing. This includes how sweet or salty we want our food, and the kinds of seasoning and spices we enjoy. What is considered a delicacy in one country can repel those of another culture. Anyone for deep-fried cockroaches?! Many people’s aversion to raw food is a prime example of this social conditioning of the mouth hunger.

    TIP: Generating greater awareness and a sense of open curiosity around the flavours and textures in our mouths as we eat can help satisfy our mouth hunger.

     

    4. Stomach Hunger   

    A rumbling tummy is one of the main ways we recognise hunger. And yet, it doesn’t necessarily mean our body needs food. The hunger cues from the stomach are self-taught and linked to the schedule we have give our imposed upon it. It takes practice to sense when a grumbling stomach means actual hunger.

    Often, we can confuse the sensation with other feelings that affect our stomach such as anxiety or nervousness. If we feed anxiety with junk food, then get more anxious about our diet, we can spark off a negative spiral of emotional eating.

    TIP: What to do? This takes practice. Listen to the stomach’s cues and start to familiarise yourself with them. Try delaying eating when you feel hungry and become aware of the sensations. Assess your hunger on a scale from 1-10 before a meal, then halfway through check-in again.

     

    5. Cellular Hunger

    When our cells need nutrients, we might feel irritable, tired or we may get a headache. Cellular hunger is one of the hardest types of hunger to sense, even though it is the original reason for eating. When we were children, we intuitively knew when we needed to eat, and what our body was craving. But over time, we lose this ability.

    TIP: Through mindfulness, it’s possible to become more aware of our body’s cravings for specific nutrients and to develop some of the inner wisdom we had when we were children. As Jan Chozen-Bays says, “To learn to listen to cellular hunger is the primary skill of mindful eating.”

     

    6. Mind Hunger

    Modern society has made us very anxious eaters. We're constantly influenced by the current fad diet, the latest nutritional guidelines or research paper. We are deafened by our inner voice telling us that one type of food is good and one type bad. This can make it very difficult to pick up on our body’s natural cues. The mind is very difficult to satisfy, as it is fickle and will find something new to focus on if one craving is satisfied.

    TIP: Mindfulness can help calm the mind and allow for a more sensitive awareness of the other cues our body is sending us.

     

    7. Heart Hunger

    So much of the time, what and when we eat is linked into our emotions. We might crave certain comfort food because we were given it as a child, or because we’ve associated it in our mind as a treat for when we’re feeling down.

    Often emotional eating boils down to a desire to be loved or looked after. We eat to fill a hole, but that hole often can’t be satisfied through eating. To satisfy our heart hunger, we need to find the intimacy or comfort our heart is craving.

    TIP: Try noticing the emotions that you’ve been feeling just before you have an urge to snack and you might be able to find other ways to satisfy them, such as calling a friend or having a cup of tea or a hot bath.

     

    So, next time you feel hungry, check-in with yourself and work out what kind of hunger you're sensing. If eating is appropriate - go ahead and eat! Try to be mindful of what and how you eat, take in the aroma, feast with your eyes and savour every flavour. Only then will you be truly satisfied.

     

    The Mindfulness Project runs regular workshops and courses on mindful eating.

     

    BOOK NOW

    • Sonja Petersen Amundson
      Sonja Petersen Amundson 25 June, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      I love this division of hunger types! I've never seen a division between stomach- and cellular-hunger before, as I read the distinctions, it makes perfect sense.

      Where would you say thirst fits, since we often mistake thirst for hunger? Is it mixed in with stomach, or would you say thirst confusion is it'its own issue?

      Reply
    • Diane ( Dee) Laverdure
      Diane ( Dee) Laverdure 5 July, 2016 at 6:20 pm

      I enjoyed this article and see how it makes so much sense. It's also timely as I am about to step into seeking help for over eating. This has given me different ways to think about it, to differentiate and assess what my motivation is for the food in the moment. Great article!

      Reply
    • Bep20 Tokens

      Having read this I thought it was very enlightening.
      I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put
      this article together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time
      both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still
      worthwhile!

      Reply
      • TMP Admin

        Thank you so much for your kind words. We really appreciate your feedback and hope you will enjoy more of our articles in the future. Warm wishes, The Mindfulness Project

  • Developing Mindfulness Skills To Better Understand Race

    Selection of Varied Potted Plants

    Tina Basi is a mindfulness teacher and guest lecturer on the subject of sociology at the London School of Economics, specialising in culture and technology.

     

    In developing the Introduction to Mindfulness and Racial Awareness Workshop and Racial Awareness Monthly Drop-ins, Tina has brought together two of her lifelong passions, sociology and mindfulness.

    Tina is currently researching the concept of community and the role it has played in traditional mindfulness practice, bringing to light the work that is yet to be done in contemporary western mindfulness practise. She contributed an essay on the subject of community for the Mindfulness Initiative’s publication ‘Mindfulness: Developing Agency in Urgent Times'.

     

    What motivated you to develop the Racial Awareness Workshop and monthly drop-ins?

    This came out of my own experience in having challenging but necessary conversations with my own friends and communities. I found that as a woman of colour I often felt apologetic in putting my views forward or creating a conversation, and that my white friends were often very defensive and sometimes aggressive in the way that they were engaging with the conversation.

    I wanted to bring together my skills and experiences as a meditator and a teacher of mindfulness to help bring about this very necessary social change of creating racial awareness and ending racial injustice. 

     

    What do you hope participants will achieve from attending?

    I believe that being able to sit with unpleasant experiences when having discussions of race are going to be vital in progressing this period of social evolution for all of us. For all of society and for all the world.

    At the moment, there are lots of internal flashpoints when discussions of race come up and I think we understand from our studies of mindfulness that this is the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) kicking in.

    What we want to do is to be able to notice the way in which terms of race trigger the SNS. We want to notice it in the same way that we do with overthinking, signs of depression or any other triggers that take us into negative spaces. 

    It’s really about cultivating an awareness and a sense of spaciousness when we’re dealing with race. 

     

    For more information about the Introduction to Racial Awareness Workshop and monthly drop-ins.

     

    VIEW CALENDAR

     

    What's different about the Racial Awareness Workshop and monthly drop-ins?

    The workshop introduces guided meditations, exercises, discussion and theory over the course of two-hours, focusing on the subject of racial awareness.

    The monthly drop-ins are an hour long and focus on a different race-related topic each month. They offer different practices each month, such as body scans, mindful movement, seated practice, awareness of sound, etc.

    Both the workshop and drop-ins are intended to help build a community and safe space to discuss race, allowing participants to share the journey of racial awareness in a sustainable way. There is an opportnuity to share what comes up for you and a really open invitation to share how those experiences have connected with racial awareness. 

    We wouldn’t usually talk about something so thematically organised on a mindfulness course, and here we’re going to actively invite opportunities to notice, experience and then articulate anything that might connect with race, racism or racial awareness. 

     

    Are the workshop and drop-in sessions suitable for everyone? 

    Absolutely, the course is suitable for anyone. My hope is that the topic of racial awareness might bring people who have previously thought mindfulness wasn’t for them into the conversation because this is a new way of engaging with race, racial awareness and conversations of race. Mindfulness is another tool to engage, just like debate, discussion, reading, learning, seeing, watching, and hearing. 

    Please note, you do not need to do the workshop prior to joining a drop-in session. 

     

    How many people will be in the group? 

    The workshops are small groups - up to 12 people. We have found that smaller groups mean that you have the chance to connect and share with almost everyone in the group and that really does help in the articulation process.

    When the group is too big it can be a bit intimidating to share what’s come up in your practice, but in a small group there’s a sense of intimacy and trust that is built right from the outset. This makes the learning process a little smoother and softer. 

    Quite often in mindfulness we find that others are having similar thoughts and feelings, and it can help to have someone else articulate what you have been through. 

    The drop-in sessions vary from week to week, depending on how many people have signed up.

     

    What do I need to bring? 

    There’s nothing in particular you need to bring with you. If you are doing the course online, it's a good idea to tell those you are living with that you are doing the workshop or drop-in session and to find a room where you can close the door and not be disturbed for the duration. This includes not just partners, family, friends, but pets as well.

    You want to be comfortable enough that you can focus on the practice itself, but not so comfortable that you will fall asleep. For the practices themselves, you might find it handy to have a blanket, cushion for your chair and a pair of warm socks -- there’s no need to have meditation cushions or to sit on the floor, unless you want to.

    Please note, the safety and welfare of all participants is a priority for us in running the workshops and drop-in sessions. 

     

     

    For more information about the Introduction to Racial Awareness Workshop and monthly drop-ins.

     

    VIEW CALENDAR

    • Sonja Petersen Amundson
      Sonja Petersen Amundson 25 June, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      I love this division of hunger types! I've never seen a division between stomach- and cellular-hunger before, as I read the distinctions, it makes perfect sense.

      Where would you say thirst fits, since we often mistake thirst for hunger? Is it mixed in with stomach, or would you say thirst confusion is it'its own issue?

      Reply
    • Diane ( Dee) Laverdure
      Diane ( Dee) Laverdure 5 July, 2016 at 6:20 pm

      I enjoyed this article and see how it makes so much sense. It's also timely as I am about to step into seeking help for over eating. This has given me different ways to think about it, to differentiate and assess what my motivation is for the food in the moment. Great article!

      Reply
    • Bep20 Tokens

      Having read this I thought it was very enlightening.
      I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put
      this article together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time
      both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still
      worthwhile!

      Reply
      • TMP Admin

        Thank you so much for your kind words. We really appreciate your feedback and hope you will enjoy more of our articles in the future. Warm wishes, The Mindfulness Project

  • Meeting Imperfection with Kindness

    imperfection

     

    This post was inspired by Tara Brach’s talk ‘Relating Wisely with Imperfection’. You can listen to the full talk here.

     

    When we bring to mind our imperfections, how do we feel? Perhaps we feel a sense of guilt, embarrassment, shame, regret, depression or anxiety. We may feel a tightness; an urge to keep our imperfections hidden from others. We probably wouldn’t want everyone to know of our addictions and failings, all the times we acted stupidly or selfishly, the times when we’ve lost control, lost our courage or lost our minds.

    And yet, in the act of me writing these words and of you reading them and relating to them, we’ve both tapped into an important point to consider: these imperfections are not unique to us alone; they are universally shared by all human beings. We all know the fear of being seen as ‘not good enough’.

    If we take just one of our imperfections and look at it for a moment, what happens when we ask ourselves the question...

     

    “Imperfect, compared to what?”

     

    What standard are we holding in our minds that we feel we are falling short of? Is it a person, or an imagined ideal? Whatever the answer may be, it’s useful to bring awareness to the standards we are expecting ourselves to meet, and to question their validity.

    We may feel concerned about normalising our imperfections, however, because if we don’t feel bad about them how will we ever change? Some of our imperfections may cause hurt to others, and so how can we be okay with that?

    Yet, we may also know deep down that reacting to imperfection with judgement never really works. We will never run out of imperfections to judge, and so where does that approach leave us? A life of self-loathing and anxiety simply because we are human?

    True healing and change arises from acceptance and compassion. These qualities can only flower from mindful awareness. In order to cultivate this new approach towards imperfection (in ourselves and others), we can use mindfulness to help us remember to pause before we judge.

    Kindness rarely makes a person lazy. In fact, kindness and acceptance often gives us the strength to be able to make better choices, and to forgive ourselves more easily when we make ‘bad’ choices so that we can move beyond them.

     

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

    << VIEW CALENDAR >>

    • Sonja Petersen Amundson
      Sonja Petersen Amundson 25 June, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      I love this division of hunger types! I've never seen a division between stomach- and cellular-hunger before, as I read the distinctions, it makes perfect sense.

      Where would you say thirst fits, since we often mistake thirst for hunger? Is it mixed in with stomach, or would you say thirst confusion is it'its own issue?

      Reply
    • Diane ( Dee) Laverdure
      Diane ( Dee) Laverdure 5 July, 2016 at 6:20 pm

      I enjoyed this article and see how it makes so much sense. It's also timely as I am about to step into seeking help for over eating. This has given me different ways to think about it, to differentiate and assess what my motivation is for the food in the moment. Great article!

      Reply
    • Bep20 Tokens

      Having read this I thought it was very enlightening.
      I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put
      this article together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time
      both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still
      worthwhile!

      Reply
      • TMP Admin

        Thank you so much for your kind words. We really appreciate your feedback and hope you will enjoy more of our articles in the future. Warm wishes, The Mindfulness Project

  • Using Mindfulness When Things Are Beyond Our Control

    control

     

    As much as we like to plan and make our own choices, there will always be times in our lives when we have little or no control over what happens to us.

     

    Say we have an accident and have to stay in hospital for a while, or we’re involved in a legal procedure and are awaiting a decision that could change our lives, or even something less serious as waiting to hear about how we did in a job interview.

    That waiting, lack of influence or loss of autonomy can be incredibly stressful or depressing. Our minds may be full of solutions that we simply are unable to put into use, or we may be plagued with regret, rumination and thoughts of 'if-only'.

    However, we can use mindfulness and self-compassion to help us get through these difficult or uncomfortable situations.

     

    ‘Fight or Flight’ Reactions

     

    Ever noticed how stressful situations get your blood pumping, your heart beating faster, and your whole body buzzing with nervous tension? That’s a ‘fight or flight’ reaction (also known as ‘hyperarousal’ or ‘acute stress response’) – a physiological response to a perceived attack or threat.

    An initial response from the amygdala then starts a chemical chain reaction within the body, which is why our blood pressure goes up (among other things). The nature of the threat doesn’t really matter to the brain; the fight or flight response could be triggered by a vicious dog jumping out at us, or just the prospect of speaking in public.

    Basically anything that we perceive as being potentially harmful to our physical or psychological well-being will send us into that stress reaction.

    In general, this is no bad thing; it’s designed to help keep us safe from danger. However, if this reaction is triggered regularly, it can make us feel constantly anxious and on-edge.

    This can happen in situations that are beyond our control; we naturally feel threatened or at risk, however, there’s nothing we can do to avert that risk.

    For example, say we’re waiting for an important medical scan, the results of which could show whether or not we have cancer. We have to wait for the scan, and then we have to wait for the results, and throughout all this time there’s nothing we can do other than worry.

    Our anxious thoughts of not-knowing, of not being able to ‘do’ anything will keep triggering our fight or flight responses, trapping us in a perpetual state of stress. Aside from the health issues this can cause, it’s simply not pleasant! So what can we do when we find ourselves helpless against our circumstances?

     

    Noticing When We’re On High Alert

     

    The first step in helping ourselves cope is to notice when we’ve gone into a stress reaction – sometimes this can happen just from thinking about the situation we’re in. By bringing mindful awareness to our bodies, we can notice if our breathing has become rapid, or if we are holding tension in parts of our bodies.

    What usually happens when we bring mindfulness to these things is that we naturally let go a little, simply from noticing that the tension is there.

    Of course, this won’t always be the case though. It’s not always possible to relax ourselves. In these cases, it may just be enough to simply acknowledge how we’re feeling. If we’ve been going through a trying time, we may have got stuck in the belief that we must keep soldiering on, that we can’t allow ourselves to feel sad, angry, anxious or whatever else.

    And so we hold it all inside. Being honest and accepting of whatever is arising for us at this time will allow those feelings to come and go more freely, rather than getting held tight in the body.

     

    Find out more about our mindfulness courses and workshops. 

    VIEW CALENDAR

     

    Mindfulness Shrinks Amygdala Volume

     

    Studies have found correlations between increased mindfulness and decreased amygdala volume. Remember that it’s the amygdala which kicks off the whole stress response process. So in other words, people who practice mindfulness benefit from a reduction in stress and anxiety.

    That’s not to say that we won’t still feel stressed during stressful situations! Yet we are more likely to be able to cope better when those things arise. Therefore, practicing mindfulness isn’t just a good idea for in-the-moment stress relief, but is useful as a sort of ‘preventive’ measure for future stresses too, in the same way that strengthening your back muscles may help prevent so many aches and pains in later life.

     

    Self-Compassion in a Crisis

     

    There’s never really a time when some self-compassion isn’t a good idea, however when we’re helpless and in a difficult situation that’s when we really do need it the most. When there’s nothing else we can possibly do, we can at least be kind to ourselves.

    In a beautiful talk (The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self Compassion), self-compassion expert, Kristin Neff describes a particularly challenging experience she had on board a plane with her four year old autistic son, Rowan. As can sometimes happen when autistic children are very young, Rowan had a terrible tantrum. He’s flailing and screaming on the plane, while all the passengers are staring disapprovingly. Kristin decides to take him to the bathroom to comfort him away from everyone else, but when they get there it’s occupied:

     

    “So imagine being in that little space, outside the bathroom door, with this tantruming child, and I knew that in that moment the only refuge I had was self-compassion. So I put my hands over my heart, and, I tried to comfort him but I was mainly focussing on myself: ‘This is so hard right now darling, I’m so sorry you’re going through this, but I’m here for you.’ And you know what? It got me through.”

     

    So although there are some things in life that we can’t control, we can at least choose to be kind and caring towards ourselves; to take a deep breath, acknowledge how hard things are right now and that we’re doing the best we can, and show ourselves some compassion.

     

    The Mindfulness Project runs a full calendar of events, including the 8-Week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Course. 

     

    VIEW CALENDAR

    • Sonja Petersen Amundson
      Sonja Petersen Amundson 25 June, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      I love this division of hunger types! I've never seen a division between stomach- and cellular-hunger before, as I read the distinctions, it makes perfect sense.

      Where would you say thirst fits, since we often mistake thirst for hunger? Is it mixed in with stomach, or would you say thirst confusion is it'its own issue?

      Reply
    • Diane ( Dee) Laverdure
      Diane ( Dee) Laverdure 5 July, 2016 at 6:20 pm

      I enjoyed this article and see how it makes so much sense. It's also timely as I am about to step into seeking help for over eating. This has given me different ways to think about it, to differentiate and assess what my motivation is for the food in the moment. Great article!

      Reply
    • Bep20 Tokens

      Having read this I thought it was very enlightening.
      I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put
      this article together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time
      both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still
      worthwhile!

      Reply
      • TMP Admin

        Thank you so much for your kind words. We really appreciate your feedback and hope you will enjoy more of our articles in the future. Warm wishes, The Mindfulness Project

  • Chronic Pain & Illness - How Mindfulness Might Help

    Written by Tina Stallard

    The Breathworks Mindfulness for Health course helps people living with long-term pain or illness to improve and even transform their quality of life. During the eight-week course you learn how to pay more attention to the present moment, rather than living in the past or the future. Mindfulness helps us to open to our experience with compassion and care – an approach that can have many benefits: improved physical and mental health, increased resilience, better concentration, more fulfilling relationships and greater enjoyment of life.

    Mindfulness has been shown to be effective for people with a wide range of conditions, including chronic back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, multiple sclerosis and cancer. Long-term illness and pain can often lead to sleeping difficulties, anxiety or depression. Clinical trials show mindfulness practice can be as effective as prescription painkillers and it also boosts the body’s natural soothing and healing systems. Neuroscience demonstrates that it can cause physical changes in the brain’s structure, allowing us to feel less anxious and more contented.  Its benefits are now widely accepted in modern psychology and health care.

    Over the eight weeks, the course teaches simple breathing techniques, gentle movement and guided meditation to help deal with chronic pain, stress, illness and other difficulties.  I’ve been teaching this course for many years, and I have been privileged to witness how powerful these simple practices can be. I see people arrive on the course, some who have exhausted all other avenues, often feeling desperate, frightened and powerless. I see how during the course, people begin to open to their pain and difficulty, rather than using energy to fight them, how the simple act of committing to regular practice gives a chance to develop new responses, how the gentle movements encourage us to relate to our bodies in a different way. And gradually, in subtle and deep ways, the bleak landscape of pain and suffering shifts, and rays of light start to shine through the cloud.  At the end, people tell me the experience was “life-changing” and “empowering”.  One person said it gave her a “more joyful quality of life, …regardless of how much pain I am in”.

    ---

    Tina will be leading a Breathworks Mindfulness for Health workshop starting Monday, 18. November. The course is based on a meditation programme developed by Vidyamala Burch, the founder of Breathworks, to help her cope with the severe pain of two spinal injuries. Her book, Mindfulness for Health, won an award from the British Medical Association and is recommended by doctors around the world.

    You can read more about the course and book here: https://www.londonmindful.com/8-week-breathworks-mindfulness-for-health-course.html

    • Sonja Petersen Amundson
      Sonja Petersen Amundson 25 June, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      I love this division of hunger types! I've never seen a division between stomach- and cellular-hunger before, as I read the distinctions, it makes perfect sense.

      Where would you say thirst fits, since we often mistake thirst for hunger? Is it mixed in with stomach, or would you say thirst confusion is it'its own issue?

      Reply
    • Diane ( Dee) Laverdure
      Diane ( Dee) Laverdure 5 July, 2016 at 6:20 pm

      I enjoyed this article and see how it makes so much sense. It's also timely as I am about to step into seeking help for over eating. This has given me different ways to think about it, to differentiate and assess what my motivation is for the food in the moment. Great article!

      Reply
    • Bep20 Tokens

      Having read this I thought it was very enlightening.
      I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put
      this article together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time
      both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still
      worthwhile!

      Reply
      • TMP Admin

        Thank you so much for your kind words. We really appreciate your feedback and hope you will enjoy more of our articles in the future. Warm wishes, The Mindfulness Project

  • Unleash Your Creativity with Mindful Photography

    photography

     

    Mindfulness is about more than just sitting down to meditate. The wonderful thing about mindfulness is that it can be used to enrich all aspects of life, including our hobbies and creative pursuits.

     

    With smartphones and compact digital camera’s now being common place, it’s never been easier to get into photography. By adding some mindfulness into the process, we can not only start taking more interesting pictures, but can also start to see the world around us from a fresh perspective.

     

    Be Present with What You See

     

    In our daily routines, we may spend little time really noticing what’s around us. When we’re walking, we tend to have a destination in mind (work, the bus stop, a shop, etc.), rather than contemplating the many sights along the way. However, by setting aside some time to go out and take photographs, we can give ourselves an opportunity to be more present with our surroundings. By not having anywhere that we have to get to, we become free to explore our world.

    Before we start taking photos, we first need to look around and seek out interesting things. Many of us don’t do this often, so we may be pleasantly surprised by what we find! It could be some unusual architecture, a street view, the sky, a tree, or something more abstract like the play between light and shadow on a pavement.

    We can experiment with different angles, discovering how common sights look from new perspectives. Trying to look at something as if we’ve never seen it before can help us to truly see it, rather than seeing our pre-conceived idea of it.

     

    Find out more about our mindfulness courses and workshops.

    VIEW CALENDAR

     

    Where to Look?

     

    Colour – This could be single blocks of colour or contrasting shades. They could be beautiful hues that remind us of some happy memory, or colours that make us wonder what people were thinking! Notice how different colours affect your mood. What thoughts arise as you look at them? Can you get across some of those emotions through your photography?

    Texture – In a city or town you’re bound to find some interesting textures on buildings or concrete. Chipped paint, cracks in a pavement or even a pile of litter could make a great photograph if captured at the right angle.  Nature can offer other types of textures, such as the bark of weather-beaten tree, a feather or lush green mosh on a stone. Get up close! Notice every little detail.

    Shape – Traffic signs, curbs, fencing, and corners of structures can all create fascinating shapes for us to photograph. Try looking down from a window or balcony to discover shapes that we can’t see from the ground, or kneel down and look up for another fresh perspective.

    Movement – Movement will be trickier to capture, but is worth experimenting with. A bird mid-flight, a twirling dancer, a flowing waterfall or your best friend laughing. Look for the life around you, and capture those precious, fleeting moments to remember forever.

     

    Let Yourself Play

     

    Taking a mindful photography trip can also be a good opportunity to notice how we may limit ourselves when it comes to being creative. We may find that we hesitate about being too experimental, or notice that we have some thoughts about only wanting to take ‘good’ pictures. These things can block our natural curiosity and creativity from flowing freely, but when we notice them we can start to consciously let them go.

    Digital cameras make it super easy to take lots of photographs, so if we later don’t think they’re good enough to keep, we can just delete them. But whilst we’re out and about we can feel free to try out new things, and just take photographs of anything and everything that grabs our attention. Whether we show them to anyone else is entirely up to us. Mindful photography isn’t about being good at it or not, it’s all about the process of seeing, exploring and experimenting.

    Happy snapping!

     

    Find out more about our mindfulness courses and workshops.

    VIEW CALENDAR

    • Sonja Petersen Amundson
      Sonja Petersen Amundson 25 June, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      I love this division of hunger types! I've never seen a division between stomach- and cellular-hunger before, as I read the distinctions, it makes perfect sense.

      Where would you say thirst fits, since we often mistake thirst for hunger? Is it mixed in with stomach, or would you say thirst confusion is it'its own issue?

      Reply
    • Diane ( Dee) Laverdure
      Diane ( Dee) Laverdure 5 July, 2016 at 6:20 pm

      I enjoyed this article and see how it makes so much sense. It's also timely as I am about to step into seeking help for over eating. This has given me different ways to think about it, to differentiate and assess what my motivation is for the food in the moment. Great article!

      Reply
    • Bep20 Tokens

      Having read this I thought it was very enlightening.
      I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put
      this article together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time
      both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still
      worthwhile!

      Reply
      • TMP Admin

        Thank you so much for your kind words. We really appreciate your feedback and hope you will enjoy more of our articles in the future. Warm wishes, The Mindfulness Project

  • How to Introduce Mindfulness to our Friends

     

     

    When we discover something that improves our lives it’s natural to want to share that knowledge with others - especially our friends. Whether it’s a new way of eating, a new found love of yoga or the benefits of mindfulness, we may feel compelled to tell our friends and family how they too could feel better if they were to try it.

     

    However, as we’ve probably also been on the receiving end of such recommendations, we know that, while intentions may be good, it’s all too easy for these suggestions to come across as pushy or overzealous.

    People, in their eagerness to help, may end up forcing ideas on others that are not always helpful. As mindfulness practitioners, we are not immune from sometimes becoming a little fanatical too.

     

    So how can we share the benefits of this great practice, without losing sight of what we’re trying to promote?

     

    It’s useful to develop some awareness of the kinds of situations that prompt us to suggest mindfulness to others. For example, when a friend tells us that they are feeling depressed, is our first thought to tell them to try mindfulness? If someone tells us that they’ve been feeling stressed at work, do we jump in and start telling them how much mindfulness has helped us with that problem?

    We may find that we sometimes make such suggestions in a bid to ‘fix’ the other person’s problems, instead of engaging in some mindfulness of our own. Sometimes a friend may simply want someone to listen to their struggles for a while, and rather than telling them to sign up for a mindfulness workshop, we could use this time to practice our mindful listening skills.

    That’s not to say that suggesting a mindfulness practice is always wrong in these situations! Yet we should use mindfulness ourselves so that we can better judge whether it’s the right time to discuss solutions.

    We should also keep in mind that mindfulness isn’t a cure-all, and that not everyone will find the same benefits in the practice as we do. And that’s okay. If we feel offended or frustrated by their lack of interest, this may be something for us to meditate on and explore within ourselves.

    Perhaps the very best way to introduce the concept of mindfulness to others is simply to embody it. By focussing on and deepening our own practice, rather than telling everyone else to start theirs, we will naturally become better listeners, more empathic and compassionate, and more emotionally spacious to deal with other people’s problems. This way, mindfulness can arise in conversations organically, without feeling forced or like we’re trying to fix things.

     

    MEDITATION:

    Good Friend Meditation

     

    For those that would like to integrate mindfulness practice into their interactions with others, explore our 8-Week Interpersonal Mindfulness Course. 

     

    << VIEW COURSE & WORKSHOP CALENDAR >>

    • Sonja Petersen Amundson
      Sonja Petersen Amundson 25 June, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      I love this division of hunger types! I've never seen a division between stomach- and cellular-hunger before, as I read the distinctions, it makes perfect sense.

      Where would you say thirst fits, since we often mistake thirst for hunger? Is it mixed in with stomach, or would you say thirst confusion is it'its own issue?

      Reply
    • Diane ( Dee) Laverdure
      Diane ( Dee) Laverdure 5 July, 2016 at 6:20 pm

      I enjoyed this article and see how it makes so much sense. It's also timely as I am about to step into seeking help for over eating. This has given me different ways to think about it, to differentiate and assess what my motivation is for the food in the moment. Great article!

      Reply
    • Bep20 Tokens

      Having read this I thought it was very enlightening.
      I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put
      this article together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time
      both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still
      worthwhile!

      Reply
      • TMP Admin

        Thank you so much for your kind words. We really appreciate your feedback and hope you will enjoy more of our articles in the future. Warm wishes, The Mindfulness Project

  • Earth Day

    Take a moment to look around you. The furniture you are resting on, the paper on your desk, the tea in your cup, the food on your plate -- all of this and most everything that sustains us, is thanks to nature and its resources.

     

    The earth is our home, but these days the majority of us live deeply disconnected from it, forgetful of the profound continuity between nature and our self.

    Today, on Earth Day, it is nice to connect with a sense of gratitude for the gifts of nature that surround and sustain us, which day-to-day we take for granted -- water to drink, sunlight to brighten and warm our days, trees to clean the air, earth rich in nutrients to grow our food. When we look with awareness, we see that we are a part of nature and not apart from it.

    Today is also a time to remember that our earth is as risk and we are edging towards an environmental disaster of epic proportions. The time is also now for us each to consider how we can play our part individually in caring for its future.

    As we do, it becomes clear that something deeper must change within us all -- at the level of our mind and our consciousness. In the words of Albert Einstein:

     

    “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

     

    Without an urgent shift in the state of our awareness, the repercussions of this crisis will begin to play out in all areas of life.

    At this critical point, mindfulness has an important role to play. The simple act of cultivating awareness is one of the first steps we can take to help us to begin to rebuild the relationship with have with the earth.

    When we become awake to the interconnection of life on earth, and aware of our dependence on it as a source of physical and psychic nourishment, we naturally deepen our respect and intention to care for it.

    These small shifts in attention and intention allow us to begin to make choices that are better for the planet and have a common humanity at their heart -- and although they may not feel much on an individual level, when they gain pace collectively, we may begin to see seismic shifts taking place.

    To honour both the hope and despair these reflections can evoke, here is one of our favourite Wendell Berry poems:

     

    The Peace of Wild Things

     

    When despair for the world grows in me
    and I wake in the night at the least sound
    in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
    I go and lie down where the wood drake
    rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
    I come into the peace of wild things
    who do not tax their lives with forethought
    of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
    And I feel above me the day-blind stars
    waiting with their light. For a time
    I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

     

    The Mindfulness Project runs a range of courses, workshops and retreats to help us to cultivate awareness.

     

    VIEW CALENDAR

    • Sonja Petersen Amundson
      Sonja Petersen Amundson 25 June, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      I love this division of hunger types! I've never seen a division between stomach- and cellular-hunger before, as I read the distinctions, it makes perfect sense.

      Where would you say thirst fits, since we often mistake thirst for hunger? Is it mixed in with stomach, or would you say thirst confusion is it'its own issue?

      Reply
    • Diane ( Dee) Laverdure
      Diane ( Dee) Laverdure 5 July, 2016 at 6:20 pm

      I enjoyed this article and see how it makes so much sense. It's also timely as I am about to step into seeking help for over eating. This has given me different ways to think about it, to differentiate and assess what my motivation is for the food in the moment. Great article!

      Reply
    • Bep20 Tokens

      Having read this I thought it was very enlightening.
      I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put
      this article together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time
      both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still
      worthwhile!

      Reply
      • TMP Admin

        Thank you so much for your kind words. We really appreciate your feedback and hope you will enjoy more of our articles in the future. Warm wishes, The Mindfulness Project

  • Restore, Reset, Reconnect

     

    After a busy or stressful period in our lives it's important that we find time to reconnect with ourselves and re-establish our inner space.  This can be the perfect time to press the reset button, so that we can enter our next chapter feeling recharged and refreshed.

     

    In order to reconnect with ourselves, we must first disconnect. That means making time and creating space to be with ourselves. In an age where our inner and outer space are encroached upon as never before, by technology, media and advertising, it can seem quite a radical act to disconnect -- but the benefits it offers us are manifold. Below are a few ideas to guide you this month.

     

    Schedule Solitude

     

    Solitude has a crucial role to play in helping us to recharge. Prioritise some time spent in your own company, and plan something nourishing for yourself -- it could be as simple as a cup of tea in your local café, or a solo stroll through the park. Use the time to reflect on your intentions.

     

    Take a Digital Detox

     

    For as many days as you can manage, unplug from technology. Put down your phone and delete news and social media apps for your return.

    Disconnect from the internet. Bring your focus back to the people and places around you. Give your brain a holiday from the constant stream of information it is inundated with.

     

    Create Space for Silence

     

    Silence restores the senses and recharges the mind and body. Stepping away from the distractions and stimulations of life every now and again can do us the world of good.

    A silent mindfulness retreat can offer refuge and space to turn inwards. We may also find it rejuvenates the relationship we have with ourselves.

     

    Relax & Release

     

    Slow down, and take time to be, rather than to do. Give yourself permission to be idle, and to experience periods of openness that you aren’t trying to shape with expectations or fill with thoughts and actions.

    Relaxation slows down brain waves, which refreshes and renews the brain's chemistry. Perhaps consider if you need a retreat day to reconnect with your mindfulness practice? 

     

    Establish a Daily Practice

     

    We can extend the benefits of a reset by carving out the time to dedicate ourselves to a daily mindfulness practice.

    The more we practice, we are better connected to ourselves and our intentions, which guide the direction of our lives.

     

    Join one of our retreat days and make some space for yourself.

    VIEW CALENDAR

    • Sonja Petersen Amundson
      Sonja Petersen Amundson 25 June, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      I love this division of hunger types! I've never seen a division between stomach- and cellular-hunger before, as I read the distinctions, it makes perfect sense.

      Where would you say thirst fits, since we often mistake thirst for hunger? Is it mixed in with stomach, or would you say thirst confusion is it'its own issue?

      Reply
    • Diane ( Dee) Laverdure
      Diane ( Dee) Laverdure 5 July, 2016 at 6:20 pm

      I enjoyed this article and see how it makes so much sense. It's also timely as I am about to step into seeking help for over eating. This has given me different ways to think about it, to differentiate and assess what my motivation is for the food in the moment. Great article!

      Reply
    • Bep20 Tokens

      Having read this I thought it was very enlightening.
      I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put
      this article together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time
      both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still
      worthwhile!

      Reply
      • TMP Admin

        Thank you so much for your kind words. We really appreciate your feedback and hope you will enjoy more of our articles in the future. Warm wishes, The Mindfulness Project

  • How To Make Self-Care A Priority – This Week and Every Week!

    As this week is national self-care awareness week, now might be a good time to ask yourself the question -- how do I care for myself?  

    Self-care in its simplest terms is our ability to care for our own well-being. In the media, the term is often presented with an emphasis on the outer self and the health of the body – including exercise, diet, personal hygiene and grooming. While this is true to a certain extent, a more whole definition of self-care is one that encompasses both mind and body.

    Self-care, then, is as much nourishing and nurturing the relationship we have with our mind as the one we have with our body. The power of this practice is not to be underestimated – when we take actions to protect, maintain and improve our mental, emotional and physical well-being, we can expect to see a reduction in the negative effects of stress, a boost to our mood and improved resilience.

    Mindfulness is so crucial to the act of self-care. With the awareness that the practice gives us, we gain greater clarity of the relationship we have with ourselves. We notice habits and addictions that don’t serve our well-being, or unkind judgemental thoughts about ourselves that have a negative impact on our actions and experiences. Often, this new awareness can precipitate a shift in mindset, and a desire to start treating ourselves with more care.It’s worth noting that mindfulness is especially important in the context of self-care because it allows us to ensure that we use it for the right reasons. Without a mindful attitude, we may use self-care as a form of distraction to avoid our feelings and edge around the reality of our experience.

    At the heart of self-care is self-compassion – an understanding, acceptance and kindness towards the self, and we can use this as a sign-post for developing a daily self-care habit. Building self-care into our lives needn’t be overwhelming – it’s as simple as making time for a few small acts of care and kindness towards ourselves each day, whether that’s yoga, meditation, getting more sleep or cooking a tasty meal. Over time, this will build long-term feelings of well-being and resilience – and self-care will no longer be something that we come to when we need it, but something that we have already embedded within our lives.

    Self-care goes a long way in helping us to better cope with everyday stresses, and far from being narcissistic or selfish, it is in fact the key to a fuller life -- because the more we look after ourselves, the more we have to give to our family and friends, and to the life that we lead.

    WORKSHOPS/COURSES

    Self-Compassion Workshop

    8-Week Mindful Self-Compassion Course

    • Sonja Petersen Amundson
      Sonja Petersen Amundson 25 June, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      I love this division of hunger types! I've never seen a division between stomach- and cellular-hunger before, as I read the distinctions, it makes perfect sense.

      Where would you say thirst fits, since we often mistake thirst for hunger? Is it mixed in with stomach, or would you say thirst confusion is it'its own issue?

      Reply
    • Diane ( Dee) Laverdure
      Diane ( Dee) Laverdure 5 July, 2016 at 6:20 pm

      I enjoyed this article and see how it makes so much sense. It's also timely as I am about to step into seeking help for over eating. This has given me different ways to think about it, to differentiate and assess what my motivation is for the food in the moment. Great article!

      Reply
    • Bep20 Tokens

      Having read this I thought it was very enlightening.
      I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put
      this article together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time
      both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still
      worthwhile!

      Reply
      • TMP Admin

        Thank you so much for your kind words. We really appreciate your feedback and hope you will enjoy more of our articles in the future. Warm wishes, The Mindfulness Project

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