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Clear Water

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Many of the mindful meditations that are offered in our eight week mindful beginners course are simple to understand and appreciate, the explanations are straightforward and direct, delivered in everyday language, free from jargon.

The just sitting practice which has been explored in the article – The Best Meditation Practice for a Busy Mind – entails us just sitting and observing what is happening.  In some respect, not-doing.

In the mindful breathing training, we try to simply abide with the sensation of the breathing, following the process as it enters and leaves our body.

The challenge comes in trying to step back and not believe the complex thoughts that arise in our mind.  These conceptions are often related to our meditation ability.  Judging our practice and progress.

Believing any preconceptions that we may have about meditation practice can lead to worry.

Our stressed and anxious thoughts can convince us that we need to do more than simply follow the instructions or that we are not suited to the training.

Or we may recall previous meditation instructions learned, which offer a slightly different explanation – thus creating confusion in our mind.

Our mind is like water in a lake, the base of the lake is muddied, the appearance is clear if the water is not disturbed.

If the water is disturbed by the movement of over thinking or applying too much effort to gain experience, then the water of our mind is no longer clear.

Less is often more and this applies to mindful meditation.

As Yoda stated; ‘You must unlearn, what you have learned.’

Letting go of any thoughts that we may have about our practice and allowing the simplicity of the training to influence us.

The key to making progress and experiencing first-hand, all the well documented benefits of meditation practice, is being able to establish a habit over time, which will start to influence our way of thinking and redirect our mind.

We begin to settle into the simplicity of the practice.  The noise in our head regarding the practice is not pushed to one side, it naturally pacifies as we sit.

One comment that is often made about meditation, especially from beginners, is ‘I am finding it hard.’

With an understanding of our mind, we can appreciate that this is just a thought passing, we can believe it or let it pass.

The same can be said for a mind that thinks ‘this is boring.’
It is just a state of mind, we can believe it and follow the thought or let it pass.

The ability to let the thought pass comes with being able to step back in our practice.

Our mind is continually making discrimination about our self and the world around us, these can often lead to judgements.

Mindfulness is a non-judgemental awareness.

We are training in being able to develop this ability.

It is natural to have thoughts arising in our practice saying, ‘I am not doing this correctly’, or ‘I am not good at this.’  We can learn to let them pass.

The instructions are simple, the practice becomes easy with familiarity.

Familiarity arises overtime.

With mindful meditation, the key is being able to patiently dwell in the moment and let whatever judgements and commentary pass, the mud in our mind settles and with patience, the clear-water of our mind will arise naturally.

Take the eight-week online mindful course here.

Mindfulness for all Ages

by Daniel Fulton

I’m taken by the idea that our ability to be awake, to the present, to be mindful, is something that whilst coming naturally to small children, becomes increasingly difficult as the demands and complexities of modern life build up.

Adam Ford’s simple observations on this topic (adapted from ‘Galileo & the Art of Ageing Mindfully, published by Leaping Hare Press’) capture this reality for me perfectly:

“I recently stood by a window and watched my two-year old grandson playing out in the garden.

Most of the time he was running about, chasing his sister, demanding attention from his grandmother, and so forth, in continuous activity.

Now for a moment he was on his own, sitting on the lawn.

Holding in his hand a piece of Japonica fruit, watching birds fly overhead and smiling to himself.

A burst of wind stirred the trees in the garden and he looked up.

The branches of a tall eucalyptus tree swayed, waving in the heavy gust, bending towards him.

At this moment he put down his piece of fruit, hesitated a moment, and then waved back to the tree.

That, I am sure, was a mindfulness moment, wakeful and absorbed in the present, yet with no words to describe or acknowledge it.”

As we age it’s common to spend more time ‘living in the past’.

Looking backwards to happy times now past, we spend less time enjoying the present and embracing the possibility of new experiences.

There’s an interesting dichotomy at work here that I find intriguing:

The past, and our memories of the good times, play an essential role in what makes us uniquely ourselves.

However, at the same time, as we age, our tendency to lose interest in new experiences, and to retreat into the past, limits our participation in the present and closes the mind to the possibility of revitalising experiences.

Adam Ford, shows us that contemplation of the night’s sky provides an opportunity to puts things into perspective, encouraging an inner stillness that refocuses the mind on the present.

“I can then reflect, with greater strength and confidence on the brevity of life, particularly when viewed against the cosmic backdrop.

The universe is almost unimaginably ancient; our lives, even the biblical three score and ten, are mere flickers of consciousness in comparison”.

You can catch Adam discussing his thoughts on Astronomy, Ageing and Mindfulness at a free talk on Tuesday 11th April, 2pm at the Library of Birmingham.
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Article written by Daniel Fulton, Ph.D. A Neuroscientist, glial Biologist and Birmingham Fellow.

Dan works at the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham.

Follow on Twitter here.

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Interested in writing for mindspace? Apply here.

Mindfulness and Physiotherapy

 

Reflections from a Physio and Busy Mum

by Sarah Duncton

I became interested in Mindfulness a good few years ago now. All of a sudden it seemed to be the buzzword in Physiotherapy and the management of pain and other stress related disorders.

Having worked as a Physiotherapist for around 20 years and also having carved out an interest in helping people with chronic pain disorders I thought I’d better find out a bit more.

I read a few books and listened to a few CD’s, but I was fairly underwhelmed.

Mindfulness wasn’t going away however, which is when I decided I better enrol on a course to learn more, seeing as I was recommending it to my patients.

Attending a live class

I did my first beginners course, 3-4 years ago, really with the intention of understanding better this ‘method’ I was recommending to my patients who were stressed, depressed and/or in pain.

What I gained from then attending several courses over the next two years or so was far from underwhelming.

Learning ‘how to be mindful’ has helped me both professionally as a physiotherapist but also personally as a mum/wife/daughter/business owner and friend.

The nature of my work is that there is a knock on my door every 30 mins, and a new person enters with their story of pain often associated with worry/fear/distress/frustration…..

Importance of Mindfulness at work

For me, the need to be ‘in the present moment’ is vital so that I can keep up with the pace of the diary, as well and being able to create a therapeutic bond with every person that comes in to my room.

At times I may be hearing a particularly traumatic story, or be dealing with someone who is highly anxious, and practicing mindfulness during the consultation can prevent me from getting ‘swept away’.

Simply the focus on my breath at these times gives me a level of resilience I didn’t use to have.

I feel I can be much more present with people’s discomfort, without it having a negative effect on me.

I also now recognise when I’m being mindless.

It used to take me three attempts to leave work, and I’d go back to pick up my keys, and back again to turn off the computer, and maybe a third time to collect my lunchbox! I pack up ‘mindfully’ now, and usually only leave once!

Mindfulness practice helps being a Mum!

Another key aspect of my life, where I feel Mindfulness has helped me no end is in my role of Mummy.

Having children has been the highlight of my life by a long, long stretch, but it has also introduced me to level of frustration, fury and rage I didn’t know existed!!

Naturally now I am more able to gauge ‘where I am at’ I have strategies to use at particularly frustrating times like meal times and bedtimes when they were really little and now homework times and switching off the iPad times that stops me from ‘flipping my lid’.

I’m able to recognise when I need to walk away and just ‘re-connect and breath’ and somehow I’m just able to be a bit kinder to myself and to them around these times.

I’ve also taught them little mindful practices, which they do for a few minutes if they are particularly over tired and struggling to sleep or if they have hurt themselves.

We use an image of a flower opening and closing on my phone and they will ask ‘can we breath into the flower’. I wish I’d learnt to do that when I was 5!

Better late than never…
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Article written by Sarah Duncton.

Sarah runs Physio Art, a Physiotherapy and Pilates practice based in Edgbaston, Birmingham. She has an interest in all things health, exercise and wellbeing related and has developed an expertise in helping people with long-term painful conditions.  To find out more take a look at www.physioart.co.uk

Follow Sarah on Twitter here.

Interested in writing for mindspace? Apply here.

 

 

THE BEST MEDITATION PRACTICE for a busy mind

Listen to the article here.  Or read below the player.

by Adam Dacey

Introduction

In the fourth week of the beginners’ mindful course that I teach there is a session called the mindful mind.

This class arrives once the practitioner has engaged in the introductory mindful listening, body and breathing practices.

This is the signature practice of the mindspace training, the effect of it, being that we experience an authentic and immediate mindspace.

I begin the class by telling a story from one of my teachers who spent ten years in solitary meditation retreat. Upon leaving retreat, having been requested by his teacher, to start sharing wisdom and compassion with the community.  He concluded regarding training in the art of meditation – that there was one practice most effective and relevant for our busy minds in these distracted times – that brings relaxation, stress relief and insight.

The practice allows us to enter a relaxed balanced state, where we can gain a direct experience of mindfulness.

There are tens of thousands of different types of meditation, many being very effective to bring about peace, calm, clarity and awareness, however their effectiveness is dependent on how we approach them.

He explained that our approach to meditation can be slightly impatient.  When we try to focus and concentrate, we almost apply too much effort.  Our mind becomes too tight.

For example, when we practice breathing meditation, we are told to focus on the sensation of the breath. Of course, if we are aware of the breath in a relaxed manner then this will bring good results into our experience.  The issue is being able to focus in a ‘relaxed manner.’   To just abide with the breathing.

Usually we are not relaxed when we sit down to practice, so our meditation can feel uncomfortable and slightly strained.  We try hard to focus, almost too hard.

To help with this issue, he presented a meditation, which known as ‘just sitting’.

We simply abide in the present moment, with awareness.  Not trying to focus or make anything happen, just sitting.

We watch our thoughts.

We observe what is happening around us…

We notice what is happening inside of us, but we are not distracted.

The Frog

The analogy is used of a frog.  Still and attentive, while at the same time being completely alert.  It’s important to note this is an analogy, we don’t need to visualise a frog!

Just Sitting

When we are practicing especially for beginners there is a tendency to assess one’s experience.

Many people often say to me, ‘oh I find meditating hard’, or ‘I am a very distracted person.’

This meditation known as ‘just sitting’ can address these thoughts.

We recognise that these are just conceptions arising in our mind.

We can choose to believe them or we can let them pass.

We are just sitting.

How can you be good or bad at just sitting?

So, when I introduce this practice on week-four of the beginners course, it creates a completely new relaxed atmosphere in the group.

Some practitioners feel a sense of liberation and freedom.

Buddhist Tradition

Within the Buddhist tradition, this meditation is sometimes introduced at the beginning of the practitioners training.

It’s also one of the most advanced practices, introduced within the Tantric tradition, presented later for practitioners on retreat, with a slightly different instruction.

Our mind has limitless potential, this practice helps us to explore this and start to gain experience of the peace, beneath the distractions.

Like diving into the ocean, instead of being tossed around by its waves.

The ‘just sitting’ meditation helps us to step back from the busyness.

We are able to take an objective view.

We are no longer fighting our mind, or trying to make an experience happen.

We are just being aware.

Emotional Intelligence

This mental skill cultivated in meditation, helps us to develop emotional intelligence, which not only aids us in our meditation, but also in our daily life, when we need to be able to step back from a difficult or challenging situation.

We have the mindspace to respond with wisdom, instead of reacting with our distracted emotions.

The Meditation

We abide in the present moment.

We sit and watch.

We try to sit still and just notice.

We abide.

With awareness.

With non-judgement.

Not expecting anything.

Not making anything happening.

Just sitting.

Enjoying mindspace.

Get started here.

Article written by Adam Dacey.
Submit an article here.

Meditate for Inner and Outer Beauty

Having a Peaceful Mind is the Main Cause for Inner and Outer Beauty

by Cassie Brewer

In a world that sometimes appears to be filled with turmoil, confusion, and conflict, you can use meditation to maintain a sense of peace, even amidst life’s storms.

As it turns out, stress, or rather the inability to handle it, can have a physical impact on your well-being – an impact that can affect your appearance and your state of mind.

Dr. Bank, who wrote Beautiful Skin: Every Woman’s Guide to Looking Her Best at Any Age, said previously that stress can play the role of “beauty burglar.”

He explained that stress can constrict blood vessels, which can rob the hair follicles of vitamins, oxygen, and minerals required for proper growth.

Stress can also make your muscles tense, which rob’s skin of its rosy and vibrant glow as well as creating ripe conditions for the development of wrinkles and fine lines.

If stress is truly the “beauty burglar,” then it makes sense to learn how to cope with it skilfully and learn to develop a peaceful mind.

If you have a positive mindspace, you will be able to avoid some of the beauty-robbing problems caused by improperly handled stress.

Meditation is one of the most effective methods for reducing stress and bringing mindspace

The benefits of meditation include, but are not limited to, the following:

Reduce Stress

If you practice meditation for as little as five minutes daily, you can increase your ability to control stress, lessen anxiety, bolster cardiovascular health, and more.
You can start to reduce how stress controls your emotions and life.

Lifestyle Improvements

Meditation encourages a healthier lifestyle. You will be more likely to eat better – consuming the good stuff and staying away from the bad stuff. As you improve your dietary health, you will experience improvements both to your physical well-being and to your mental well-being.

Natural Beauty Amplifier

Christine Cabell, a dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at the Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, was cited in the article mentioned above (by Dr Bank) stating that meditation can help to reduce the visible signs of wrinkles, fine lines, and even acne, and it can give your skin a healthy, vibrant glow. You could even see the positive impact of meditation on your hair and skin, not to mention your mental health, in as little, as a couple of weeks.

Increases Self-Awareness

When your start to practice meditation, you will increase your self-awareness.

With a clearer mind, you’ll be able to critically analyze and assess your strengths and weaknesses.

Developing the ability to reflect on how to best cope with any issues you may be experiencing.

When you’re more in tune with your emotions and feelings, you will be more comfortable with who you are as a person.

Changing the way you view yourself, will give you a better self-image.

Boosts Happiness

Studies have demonstrated that meditation can increase the signalling activity in the portion of the brain that is responsible for good emotions, so getting into a routine of meditation will make you a happier and more contented.

Happy people tend to see the glass as half full, rather than half empty.

Having a peaceful mind is the main cause for inner and outer beauty since a positive mindspace is the key to seeing yourself and the world around you from a fresh, new perspective.

In addition to meditation, you might also want to try proven strategies to detox your body and mind. By achieving unity of body and mind, you’ll more easily obtain a peaceful mindset.

As has been shown, meditation can have an impact not only on your mental state, but also on your physical state, bring unity to our body and mind.

So nurture your inner and outer beauty by establishing the habit or routine of achieving a peaceful state of mind, through a regular meditation practice.
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Article written by Cassie Brewer, freelance writer and make-up artist, living in Southern California and lover of all things fabulous.

Follow Cassie on Twitter here.

Interested in writing for mindspace?  Apply here.

Mothers Day Meditation – Gratitude and Affection

In this practice we are going to spend one minute pacifying our mind through gentle breathing meditation. The next minute we bring to mind someone who has shown us motherly love and affection. This could be our mother or someone else who has shown us great kindness and send this back to them.

Thank you for practicing!

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Download to your device by clicking on ‘Listen in Browser’ and the click the arrow in the right hand corner.

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Take an online course here

Happy St Patricks Day – Guided Meditation

Stream and download this 10 minute Guided Meditation as our St Patricks Day gift for you!

Making Wishes in Meditation

Extract from the teaching from the New Year Meditation session.

In the Tibetan tradition of meditation the translation of the word prayer is Monlam. Which translates as ‘wish path.’

We make the wish to experience inner peace.
We wish that others in our life can experience inner peace.

Why a Silent Retreat?

 

Throughout the year I run silent meditation retreats, in peaceful locations to provide practitioners with the opportunity to deepen their experience of mindfulness and meditation.

If you are learning meditation, then perhaps you are attending a class, practicing through a mobile app, or following instructions in a book.

This is a wonderful start, giving you a platform to gain experience of the peace within, however often the process of training can be rushed.

With the drop-in evening classes that I run, many people need to rush to the venue and then rush home to their families and busy lives. Often in the meditation sessions due to the power of distractions, thinking about what needs to be done later.

Of course they gain some glimpses of peace which sustains them through the week, until the next class, however we have the potential to have a much richer and deeper experience.

Or maybe you practice through an app 5, 10, 15 minutes a day. This is a great way to establish a regular habit. However it can simply be squeezed into our busy life

Going on retreat gives us the chance to spend quality time with our mind and enjoy the experience of peace within.

We have the whole day, weekend, week to just focus on cultivating peace.

There are many types of retreat; silent retreat helps us to really experience the inner peace within our mind and reduce distraction.

How does a day silent retreat work?

You make your way to the venue, ideally setting out early, giving yourself plenty of time to find the location.

When you arrive at the venue, the kettle will be ready for you to have a drink and possibly a snack if you wish!

At this time you get chance to meet fellow retreaters’ and have some orientation of the venue and beautiful grounds.

The actual silence begins as soon as we enter the meditation room, so this will be at 10.15am.  If it is a day retreat the group will then keep silence until the discussion at 4.30pm.  At this point you will have the opportunity to share you experience, if you wish, with a fellow meditator next to you.

The benefits of keeping silence during the retreat is that you can go deeper into your experience, have more concentration and less distraction in the breaks between the meditation sessions.

As the day progresses your concentration improves and your mind begins to settle.

In the breaks between meditation sessions, you can take relaxing, reflecting walks in nature or simply chill-out in the meditation room or dining area. At lunch and break times you can also gain experience of mindful eating and drinking in a concentrated group..

The silent retreat provides a relaxing, supportive environment to progress with your training. Although you are silent you still have a bond and connection with others around you.

Many people find the experience very helpful and feel once they have completed the retreat, that they have made a significant step forward with their practice.

I hope you’re able to make a silent retreat in the future and enjoy the following benefits:

Increase focus and concentration.
Sense of contentment and well-being.
Improved confidence in your practice.
A relaxing holiday for your mind.
A deepened experience of meditation.
Discovery of the inner peace within.
Enjoy a day without distraction.
Take home a special, peaceful experience which you can share with those around you.
Disconnect from technology and connect with inner peace and nature.

Click here for information about retreats.

Article written by Adam Dacey.
Submit an article here.

Guided New Year Meditation

Recorded live at the mindspace New Year meditation party 2016/17
(head to the soundcloud player at the foot of the page to download the file, click on the arrow in the right hand corner)

Bringing our attention into the room.

Lets just spend a few minutes observing our breathing, observing the sensations of the breath as it passes through our body.

Bringing our attention fully into the present moment.

Letting go of the past.

Naturally letting go of the past, by bringing our attention into the present.

Leaving the past behind and becoming aware of where we are now.

Going into the New Year, fully awake and alert.

So much has happened in this past year, both in our outer world and within us.

We respect all our experiences.

We learn from them and move on.

We take this end as our opportunity to move forward into a peaceful experience.

Our experience of our life is through our mind.

If we can cultivate a peaceful mind, then we can have a peaceful life….and so can other people.

So we extend the wish to ourself and to all those in the room and all those outside the room, that we can experience inner peace, happiness and freedom in our lives.

So we can all experience inner peace and happiness.

May everybody be happy.

We extend this wish to ourself, our family, our friends, to the people in our society, to the people across the world.

All faiths, all nationalities, all walks of life.

May they experience happiness in their new year.

May everyone have a happy new year.

Hold this special wish over the next few minutes.

We reflect on all the good energy we collected this evening from practicing meditation and we dedicate so we can progress with our training, so we can lead a positive, peaceful life, move forward and let go.

Thank you very much.

Happy New Year everybody!

Recorded lives at the mindspace New Year meditation party 2016/17

Bringing our attention into the room.

Lets just spend a few minute observing our breathing, observing the sensations of the breath as it passes through our body.

Bringing our attention fully into the present moment.

Letting go of the past.

Naturally letting go of the past, by bringing our attention into the present.

Leaving the past behind and becoming aware of where we are now.

Going into the New Year, fully awake and alert.

So much has happened in this past year, both in our outer world and within us.

We respect all our experiences.

We learn from them and move on.

We take this end as our opportunity to move forward into a peaceful experience.

Our experience of our life is through our mind.

If we can cultivate a peaceful mind, then we can have a peaceful life….and so can other people.

So we extend the wish to ourself and to all those in the room and all those outside the room, that we can experience inner peace, happiness and freedom in our lives.

So we can all experience inner peace and happiness.

May everybody be happy.

We extend this wish to ourself, our family, our friends, to the people in our society, to the people across the world.

All faiths, all nationalities, all walks of life.

May they experience happiness in their new year.

May everyone have a happy new year.

Hold this special wish over the next few minutes.

We reflect on all the good energy we collected this evening from practicing meditation and we dedicate so we can progress with our training, so we can lead a positive, peaceful life, move forward and let go.

Thank you very much.

Happy New Year everybody!

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