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The Six Stages of a Mindful Swim…

by Tessa Wardley

Mindfulness is the practice of being fully engaged in the present moment, letting distractions pass as you focus on what you are doing right here and right now; making the most of life and living in the moment.

When we go for a dip in the wild world we have the perfect opportunity to engage with ourselves in the present moment.

The water and the wildlife combine with the physical activity of swimming to provide the perfect combination of factors to help disengage with the frustrations of the past and the worries of the future.

By engaging with the following steps you can make the most of your swim and be well on the path to zen.

STAGE 1 – On your way

As you travel to your swim savor the anticipation and make your preparations and approach into a meaningful ritual.

Think about why you have chosen to swim and what steps you have taken to make space in your day for this adventure.

Think about your journey to the water and dwell a moment on the water’s journey here – clouds, rock layers, rain, snow, ocean currents, river channels…


STAGE 2 – Stripping off

As you get to your wild swim take your time and enjoy every sensation as it develops.

Enjoy each moment.

As you shed your clothes, shed the stresses and constraints those clothes may signify, peel off the layers and get ready to leave it all behind.

Focus on the sensations of air on the skin and the earth between your toes.

Think about how you are feeling… you may feel excited or maybe you are anxious and trepidatious, whatever the sensation, they are beginning to displace the distractions of everyday life and you haven’t even hit the water yet.

Stage 3 – Teetering on the edge

Before you set off on your swim stop on the edge of the water, close your eyes and take a moment to breathe.

Breathing is one of the most automatic of actions, life-sustaining but often unnoticed; in-out, in-out.

Breathing control is fundamental to meditation and for swimming.

The first action of entering cold water is often to lose our breathing rhythm, we tense up and our breathing becomes shallow and irregular, sometimes we even forget to breathe for a bit.

Stand on the bank and focus on keeping your breathing regular and even, in through the nose and out through the mouth.

As you breath try counting your breaths….

Be aware of the air flooding into your body and expanding your chest.

Stage 4 – Get Immersed

As you relax into a steady breathing rhythm open your eyes and start to get in the water.

Try to maintain your breathing pattern as you lower yourself in.

Notice any tension around your diaphragm and chest and try to keep all the breathing muscles relaxed, lengthen your neck, push out your chest and allow the air to flow smoothly into your lungs.

Feel the sensation of the water on your skin and wriggle your toes into the ground to give yourself a good solid base.

Wild swimming challenges the body and the mind in ways we otherwise rarely experience, so start slowly and enjoy every challenge as it presents itself.

Feel every sensation and log it away as a bright memory to be taken home and cherished, to bring out and dwell on at the end of the day.

Stage 5 – Get swimming

Once you have relaxed and found a calm rhythm in your breathing, think about lifting your feet from the bottom, finding your buoyancy and starting to swim.

Continue to focus on your breathing.

Feel the air expanding your lungs as you breathe in and bubbling through the water as your breath out.

Whatever your stroke, you need to find your rhythm to get the most from your swim.

Swimming strokes that flow smoothly and rhythmically are the fastest and most energy-efficient; they are also essential to your mindfulness practice and to get in the flow.

If it helps swim to the rhythm of a song.

Let the beat dictate your breathing and fit your arm stroke to your breathing and the leg cadence will take care of itself.

Enjoy the marriage of your breathing and the stroke with the beat of the music.

Stretch out and have fun, just go with the flow.

Stage 6 – The afterglow

After your swim is when you will really start to reap the rewards.

Positive feelings flood your system as the endorphins surge around your body converting your pre-swim angst into post swim elation.

Feelings of well-being and positivity wash over you as you stretch out on the bank.

Focus on these emotions, try to keep them with you as long as possible, but know that whenever you swim you will always leave the water feeling better than you did when you arrived.

Just knowing that those positive feelings are only a dip away can be immensely reassuring.


By Tessa Wardley, author of The Mindful Art of Wild Swimming: Reflections for Zen Seekers.  Published by Leaping Hare Press. Find in any good bookshop or online here.






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Mindfulness and Cycling

The Ride of your Life.

by Nick Moore

The link between cycling and mental health has been recognised since the sport’s very earliest days.

The first true modern bicycle, the Rover Safety, rolled onto the road in 1885. Just 11 years later, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, no less, was moved to write in an article for Scientific American:

‘When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking’. 

What he was really talking about, of course, was mindfulness: being entirely present, fully engaged with where you are and what you’re doing at that precise instant – and nothing else.

More than a century on, the bicycle remains a supremely effective, enjoyable and human way to maintain what the Roman poet Juvenal famously termed mens sana in corpore sano – a healthy mind in a healthy body.

“So whatever it consists of, your ride today will be enough. You don’t need to call it anything, get dressed up, pin on a number, record every detail, set a personal best or receive a free goody bag at the end. Nor do you need to film it in order to make it real. All that matters is that you were there.”

Unlike most other sports and activities, cycling is something you can take part in entirely at your own pace, alone or in company, and without any element of competition.

It requires little by way of specialist equipment, and no particular physical gifts.

There are no membership fees, no opening hours, no minimum commitment, and you can do it right from your own front door, any time of day (or night) all year round, whatever the weather. It is always there when you need it.

“By accepting whatever the elements throw at us, we grow as cyclists, and as people. It also helps us forge a deeper bond with the bicycle – as true partners, not just fair-weather friends.”

From a purely physiological perspective, riding a bike produces feel-good chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, endorphins and cannabinoids in the brain.

Regular riding also helps keep hormones like adrenaline and cortisol in check, reducing your stress levels and enabling you to deal with anxiety more easily.

Scientists still don’t fully understand the mechanisms involved – but they and countless cyclists know beyond doubt that it works.

Unlike medical professionals, partners or therapists, the bicycle is a machine, so it is entirely neutral, impartial and non-judgemental.

The fact that it simply ‘is’ can help us simply ‘be’, too.   As it has no moods and requires no appointment, the bike stands ready to help us with whatever is on our mind at any given time.

We have no need for doctors or pharmaceuticals: we can be our own physician, and write our own, entirely natural prescription.

“The bike doesn’t care, the mind whispers, so why should we? Hence there is always the temptation to push that little bit harder, go that little bit further.  To do so mindfully is to find that precise point of balance between what we can do, and what we just can’t.”

Sometimes, that will be nothing more than a gentle spin around the block to settle the dust of a hectic day.

At other times, it might be an all-day marathon, a one-for-the-ages epic in a biblical downpour, or simply going full-bore for ten miles and leaving it all on the road.

The bike doesn’t mind. And if you don’t require it at all for a day, or a week, or half a lifetime, it’s happy to wait patiently until you do.

What’s more, quite apart from riding, almost every aspect of cycling can become a meditation.

Getting ready for a ride has its own rituals that switch us unconsciously from civilian to cyclist: a mental shift of gears, so to speak, in which we make a transition from one energy state to another; from the potential to the kinetic.

Making some basic pre-flight checks reconnects us physically and spiritually, elevating the bike from passive, servile machine to equal partner in the coming enterprise.

When we get home, giving the bike a quick rub-down, re-lube and once-over is a chance to decompress and gather our thoughts before re-entering ‘Real Life’.

Even a roadside puncture can be an opportunity for learning and growth, whether you fix it yourself or fall back on the kindness of strangers.

“Dealing with a puncture restores a sense of self-reliance and self-sufficiency we’re rapidly losing in today’s hi-tech world.”

The bike is all things to all people, and will be whatever you want and need it to be.

For many of us, it represents freedom: an escape from home, work, the phone and the inbox – a chance to drop out of time, regain our anonymity and disappear for a while.

It is about reconnecting with feelings, physical sensations and the world around us, confronting fears and limits, overcoming challenges and becoming self-reliant and independent – all fundamental to our mental wellbeing.

It allows us to recapture a sense of childlike wonder, turn back the clock to simpler, more innocent days; to be in nature, and gain new insights into the physical laws that shape our universe and our place within it.

“To be mindful is to identify, accept and understand what’s under our wheels right now. It is also to recapture the magic we knew and believed in as children. And how many things in our busy, rational lives can promise us a miracle like that?”

The awareness we develop on the bike can help us to detach ourselves from desire, regain perspective, escape entrenched thought patterns and view ourselves and the world more objectively.

It’s raining. It’s cold. This hill is steep. The bike is working normally. No value judgments, no good or bad, right or wrong. The moment is sufficient unto itself.

Enjoy the ride!


Nick Moore is a cyclist and cycling journalist.
His new book, Mindful Thoughts for Cyclists (which is quoted in this post), is published by Leaping Hare Press and is available now.


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Mindfulness Practices for Urban Dwellers

by Keri Badach

If you are an urban dweller, you can probably relate to the chaos that comes with city living.

We are constantly surrounded by all kinds of distractions coming at us from every direction and assaulting all our senses.

How do we get calm in the midst of the bright lights and incessant sounds of the city, so we don’t get swept away in a sea of distractions?

Having a daily, formal mindful meditation practice enables us to focus, so we can become grounded and act intentionally.

However, we can do even better by taking our practice off the cushion into our everyday experiences.

Instead of just sitting and meditating for 5-10 minutes a day, we can also find moments to be mindful throughout the day by actually paying attention to the objects around us.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

    • Feel the water kiss your face during your morning shower, as you wash away the activities of yesterday.
    • Get out the kinks caused by your stiff mattress with some mindful stretching.  Breathe in as you expand your body, breathe out as you contract.
    • Take time to sit and prepare a healthy breakfast.
      Whether it’s at home or in your office cubicle, take a moment to reflect with gratitude on all it took to get your food to your belly.
      Take the time to see, feel, smell, touch and taste your bounty.
    • Walking down the same street can seem like the same experience every day, but every time is actually a completely new experience.
      Really pay attention to all the sensations in your body and everything around you.  Challenge yourself to notice something new.
    • Focus your attention on your footsteps as you rush along to compete with the morning crowds.
      Or instead, place your attention on the sounds of emergency vehicle sirens, car horns and endless tidal waves of verbal chatter.
    • Take a moment to stop and smell the delicious aromas coming from the food cart vendors, or the whiff coming from your cup of joe or matcha latte du jour.
    • When you’re waiting for the subway to come, instead of reaching for your phone or pacing anxiously across the platform, feel your feet firmly planted on the ground and do a quick body scan, noticing how you feel in your body.
    • When you arrive at the office, take a breath as you reach for the door knob and perhaps try to develop a sense of appreciation, knowing that your growing peace and calm will benefit all those you interact with.
    • In your work meetings and/or conversations with friends and colleagues, actually listen to what people are saying, without thinking of what to say next.
    • Single-task.  (Studies repeatedly show you’ll actually be more productive and make fewer mistakes than when you’re multi-tasking.)
    • When you’re waiting in line to buy your lunch salad or green smoothie, rather than continuously checking your watch, bring your attention to the natural sensation of your breath to take your mind out of any stress from the morning or anxieties about the afternoon.
    • After work, prioritize some self-care activities on your to-do list.
      Take a short walk in the park, move your body, put on music and dance like no one is watching, work on a creative project and/or take a hot bath.
    • As you lie in bed to close out the night, take a moment to reflect with gratitude on some of the wonderful things you experienced during the day, feel the cozy wool blanket swallowing you up and then allow the rising and falling of your hands against your stomach, lull you into a deep slumber

Article by Keri Badach.
Keri lives in New York City and works at Colombia Business School.

Keri has taken the Mindspace training programme and is now teaching in Upper West Side, Manhattan.

Visit Keri’s website here.

Interested in writing for Mindspace? Apply here.


Why Mindfulness can help you if you are a busy Mum (working or not).

by Fabienne Vailes

I discovered mindfulness after the birth of my second child who will turn seven next month.

When we came home the next day, I remember the distinctive feeling and worry about not being able to cope and my emotions being all over the place.

These feelings stayed with me for a long time and led me to a series of training courses (first NLP – practitioner and Master practitioner).

I was introduced to Adam by a friend who explained all the great work Mindspace does with introducing Mindfulness to schools.

I am a language teacher so this really sparked my interest.

In 2012, I embarked on a real journey and took my first steps into Mindfulness.

I developed my own regular practice and trained with Adam to be able to teach and lead my own meditations.

To say that Mindfulness has completely changed my life is an understatement.

As a busy mum of two children, who works full-time, mindfulness has brought me out of my life on autopilot.

I now get up early every day and meditate for fifteen-minutes before every one gets up and I also try to meditate in the evening before going to bed.

Some days I don’t do as much but I definitely see the difference if I don’t create time to sit down and BE.

Giving myself ‘me time’ and a ‘space to BE’ has become the bedrock of my practice.

Initially, the thought of taking fifteen-minutes out of my ‘busy’ schedule was completely inconceivable and I often thought I ‘didn’t have time to meditate’.

Now I know that every minute I give myself to appreciate the now and the present moment will benefit not only myself but also all those around me with whom I interact on a daily basis. If I am much more present, my relationships improve. It’s a win-win situation.

Mindfulness is the non-judgemental awareness of the present moment.

It requires us to focus on the object of our meditation single-pointedly and to bring our attention back to it every time our mind wanders (which happens very often and is completely normal, by the way).

My favourite meditations are mindful listening and mindful breathing which require to listen to the sounds around us (like the ticking of the clock as I type this or the sounds of the birds on this lovely sunny and bright spring morning) or to notice the sensation of our breath in our body (the slightly warmer air as it comes out of our nostrils and the colder air as we breathe in) respectively.

Meditating makes me feel alive, alert, and vibrant.

It also makes me aware of my connections to others, to nature and most importantly that everything is transient and that change is the only constant.

Every day I recognise that the only guarantee is this moment, right now and it makes me want to appreciate every minute I have because I don’t know what the future holds (and I also know that there’s no guarantee tomorrow will come).

I also love practising gratitude and my boys and I have a great game we play every night.

We look at 3 to 5 things that went well during our day and what we are grateful for.

It cannot be the same things every day and it certainly makes us appreciate how lucky we are and how many great things there are in our lives rather than moan about what went wrong and what we don’t like in our lives.

Finally, I believe that mindfulness has become a ‘way of life’.

I also try to introduce several moments in the day when I stop and notice either the sounds around me, my breath or I simply close my eyes and ‘be’ whilst I am making a cup of tea and am waiting for my tea to ‘brew’.

Many of my friends and family tell me how much I have changed in these last 7 years. I agree with them.

Mindfulness has made me aware, more appreciative of myself, my family, friends and all the things I have in my life. I said before, there is no way I would want to go back to my previous way of living on autopilot, not aware of my thoughts and emotions.

There is no right way or wrong way of practising Mindfulness.

The main thing is to be willing to try and find what works for you in your busy schedule and to notice the changes and benefits it brings into your life.

All it requires us to do is to ‘sit and be.

It can be for 1 minute only at the beginning.

Surely we can all find one minute to give ourselves when we give others most of our time throughout the day.

We are called ‘human beings’ not ‘human doings’ but in this frantic world with the constant connection via the Internet, our phones, social media we seem to have forgotten.

I truly believe that when we stop and are more, we start enjoying life much more. Why don’t you give it a go?


Fabienne Vailes is Deputy Language Director in French at Bristol University and teaches Mindfulness to Students at the University, she has translated and recorded a series of Mindspace meditations into the French Language.

You can visit her website here.




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Clear Water

Listen to the article.  Read below the player.

by Adam Dacey

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.


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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.

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.

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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…

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

Follow Sarah on Twitter here.

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

by Adam Dacey


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.

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.

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.
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