A Movement for Beneficial Change

Be the change you want to see in the worldMohandas Karamchand Gandhi (Changer of the World - 1869-1948)

In the process of teaching mindfulness I encounter many wonderful people working extremely hard to effect beneficial change.

I thought it would be good to highlight some of these fellow travellers and help to raise their profiles using what has become a considerable social reach for Bromley Mindfulness.

So here are the first entries in that process:

Positive Pete Positive Pete - 70

Denise Riley has been a regular attendee at Bromley Mindfulness’s classes at least since 2015. She runs a charity called Positive Pete that does great work in schools around the London area by engaging volunteer mentors to work with young people that are struggling to cope with our ever-changing and ever-more-challenging world. Some of the transformations for these young people has been quite spectacular and has helped to turn them from destructive behaviours to help them grow and flourish.

Positive Pete trains volunteer mentors that can find some time and who then go into schools to mentor the young people. This is a win-win situation as the mentors grow and flourish along with the mentees. I can testify to the transformative nature of this process as we have mentors as part of the Bromley Mindfulness community.

Visit the Positive Pete website here: http://www.positivepete.co.uk/

Masismasislogo3

Peter Lyne is someone that has dedicated his time, with great effect to championing mobility for the disabled. Through his charity, MASIS, he is providing an information service for disabled people to understand how they can gain more mobility and a clearing house for information in that area. Peter works with other charities and organisations to make this available and to help and inform disabled folks about what they can do.

Check out MASIS here: http://www.masis.org.uk/

The Get Better Boxget_better_box

If you know someone that is poorly, then The Get Better Box is for you (and them). Marie is a Bromley Mindfulness student that has set up a business delivering get better boxes to the poorly, infirm or simply stressed. There is a get better box for most ailments and they are curated and packed and shipped by hand.

Spread the love to the poorly with The Get Better Box here: https://www.thegetbetterbox.co.uk/

Practicing the 4-6 Breaths Stress Management Technique using the Heartrate Coherence+ App

The Breath and Stress

When we breathe in, we are activating the sympathetic (fight and flight) nervous system. When we breathe out, we are activating the parasympathetic (relaxation) nervous system. By increasing the ratio of time spent in relaxation, we relax the body. This sends signals to the brain that all is well.

By breathing regularly and smoothly we are sending signals to the brain that all is well. This results in reduced heart rate variability. Our heart beats with less variation of time and helps to induce calmness.

4-6 Breaths

The 4-6 breath breathing pattern is an easy breathing pattern that helps many students to become calmer. If this causes you and discomfort in any way please do not practice it. Instead you can learn some of the relaxation exercises.

To practice the 4-6 breaths follow these steps

  • Breathe in while counting to four seconds and breathe out while counting to six.
  • When you have achieved a comfortable natural rhythm, breathe in and out as smoothly as possible
  • To breathe smoothly, inhale the same amount of air at the beginning, the middle and the end of both the in breath and the out breath.
  • When you have achieved a comfortable natural rhythm again, focus your attention on the point where the out-breath stops, just before the in-breath begins. I call this the bottom of the breath.
  • Notice how it feels, each time the cycle of the breath returns there.
  • Maintaining the rhythm and cycle of the breath, as you breathe in, focus your attention on the top of your head
  • You may have to touch the crown of your head with your hand to focus on it, but once that is done you will have tuned in
  • As you breathe out, focus your attention on the movement of your belly button as it moves in
  • As the out breath finishes notice the bottom of the breath
  • Repeat this cycle with each breath for a few minutes
  • You will find that you become calmer

 
To assist in practicing this exercise I have added a youtube video that explains how to download, install the app, use it and analyse the results.
 

 
Let me know if any questions arise.

How to press the pause button and calm your mind in 90 seconds

How to calm your busy mind in 90 seconds – works for 80 percent of people

Have you ever tried to meditate and found that your mind is so busy that it is an exercise in frustration?

On those rare occasions when life isn’t quite so hectic and we get the chance to stop the hectic carousel of our lives we can sit down for a moment to notice the workings of our minds. When we do that, we discover that there is an awful lot going on.

For many people there is a constant inner dialogue. The inner dialogue is that voice in our heads that labels, criticises, compares and comments. For many, this can be a continuous process. Our become permanently occupied by going over our infinite lists of infinite tasks as they infinitely overflow. Or we can spend days, months or ever years, dredging up events from the past and replaying them or constructing future outcomes and repeatedly rehearsing for them.

Left to it’s own devices, the modern mind is constantly busy. Silent, still calmness seems as remote as anything could possibly be and our society craves for those calm wooded mountain streams or the rhythm of waves on a sea shore that seem to be the only times when we can find this deep well of calmness that we all know, intuitively, can be found within us.

The busy, working day can become a blur of activities, internal and external.

How do we switch it off?

Everyone is different but there are some techniques that work for more, or less people. The technique that I am describing in this article helps, in 90 seconds, to calm the minds of about 80 or 90 percent of the people I teach it to. It is a combination of other techniques that I have learned from various sources and it is very effective in bringing calm to an overactive mind. I call it character counting.

Character Counting

Character Counting

Character Counting

Close your eyes and count random numbers between 1 and 10 in your mind, using your inner voice.
Each time you count a number, imagine you are writing the number in the air on a dark night with a sparkler. You need to notice how it would feel to move your hand and also, if you are a visual person, imagine how the number is displayed in the air.

Do this exercise for at least 90 seconds.

The majority of people notice that their mind becomes calm and still. The inner voice is often silent.
This is the most effective way to calm a busy mind in a short period of time.

If this doesn’t work for you, don’t despair, check out some of our other training on this site or come along to one of our events where you can learn something that works for you.

An insight into my personal meditation practice

A question I get asked a lot is: “What does my personal meditation practice look like?”.

This post is for those guys. I hope you find it useful and feel free to comment.

I dictated this during my meditation on the morning of the 24th July.

I meditate in a variety of ways, places and times: everything from a regular morning practice to meditating wherever I find myself during the day, travelling or waiting in a queue or in a quiet five minutes. I also sometimes meditate in bed after I wake up or before I go to sleep (beditation). When I add the meditations that I teach (I always meditate when I am guiding a meditation), I probably meditate for a couple of hours per day on average.

I decided a while back to go over to using my Zen Bench as often as I can which is the best meditation bench I have been able to find. I usually meditate on one of a number of different cushions depending on my mood but I think that my posture is better on the Zen Bench so I am working on moving over to it. This is because when I teach I often find myself on random cushions or various chairs/stools or on the floor/ground.

If you are interested you can buy one here: http://zenbench.co.uk/ I have no association with the makers.

This article is an insight into a one hour regular practice meditation I did on the morning of the 24th of July. This is just an insight into my experience. It isn’t anything in the way of a regular experience as, for me, there is no regular experience. My meditations vary considerably. Sometimes I might meditate with an intention such as to gain some insight on a choice I need to make, or to just follow the breath, or to calm a busy mind or resolve conflicting thoughts or release some emotion (increasingly rare), or focus on the body, or relax or do compassion practices or open awareness or whatever. But most commonly now, I allow my meditation to go wherever it goes. This is one of those sessions.

I used an app on my iPhone called Drafts to dictate every so often so this is in the nature of a running commentary. I have edited it as much of the grammar was incorrect and many words had been captured incorrectly but there isn’t much change from what I dictated. I dictated a few sentences to describe my experience whenever I became aware to do so. After half an hour I noted the time into the meditation that I had reached. I have left the drafts dictation end bars === in place. These are created by Drafts at the end of each dictation. Any comments that I have added after the meditation, I have enclosed in brackets.

I did my morning yoga before I started which consists of Makka Ho stretches and a set of sun salutations: I do between three and ten depending on how I feel.

I didn’t meditate with any intention (except to dictate my experience) and just allowed the meditation to go where it wanted to go.

I sit so that my torso and head are at the point of equilibrium where leaning back causes my head or torso to fall back and leaning forward causes them to fall forward. This means no muscles are operating and I will be the more comfortable for longer.

My Meditation Space July 2017_680x907

My meditation
“Becoming aware of my connection to the Earth. Allowing myself to feel gravity pushing me down into the ground and adjusting my balance.
My eyes are open. I allow my body to relax with my arms by my side and no muscles are tense. Just maintaining my balance and allowing myself to notice where my awareness settles.

Aware throughout this of the breath. Also aware of the breeze moving the plants and trees in the garden and of the colours and shapes, textures, reflections, contrasts, patterns, shade, light, dark.

===
Allowing myself to become aware of any discomfort in my body and adjusting if necessary. Checking to see if I’m relaxing. Adjusting my balance again.

Checking in with my body
Noticing I’m calmly alert: not tired, no headache (I had a headache the previous night), a tiny amount of brain fog. Noticing it’s quiet, that there is movement somewhere in the house and traffic noise in the distance.

I can’t taste anything, there’s just a hint of a smell of some sort, not obvious what it is, now closing my eyes.

Becoming aware of my physical sensations: balance, comfort, relaxation, warmth, alertness. Noticing I can feel my heart beat, my attention moving to the breath in my chest. Noticing the rhythm.

===
Focusing on the sense of air in my nostrils, Again checking my balance. (I’m surprised to know how often I do that. Possibly it is because I don’t usually use the Zen Bench and I have an underlying intention to focus on my posture).

Now focusing on the breath I’m surprised to notice that I have now been meditating for 15 minutes.

===
Following the breath
The mind is quite calm this morning. When I allow myself to be aware of thoughts arising I notice very quiet, almost distantly in my mind, the beginning of sentences forming as thoughts: half formed sentences arise which stop when I become aware of them. (It is as if the mind is trying to get a train of thought going and my awareness of it doing so cuts it off).

I sit listening for thoughts. No images arise, just half formed sentences of the inner voice.
Adjusting my balance again.
Relaxing in the gap between half formed sentences arising. Slowly focusing on the breath and seeking the source of thought in the background. Now just the occasional word popping into my awareness and words not getting as far as forming into even the start of sentences. I’m aware that there is a potential for the inner voice to arise, but it is not transforming into a coherent statement and it slowly diminishes in the background as I focus on the breath, particularly the coolness of the in breath. Adjusting my balance again. Relaxing again.
Now just focusing on the coolness of the breath.

===
A calm mind
No thoughts arising now at all now. I’ve been sitting for 30 minutes.
Allowing myself to notice how I feel emotionally at 35 minutes. What emotions are there? There is nothing obvious so I’m just sitting, allowing any emotional state, any unsatisfactoriness, any discomfort or anxiety or joy or happiness to arise.
Nothing arises. Making a space for insights. (Sometimes when my mind is quiet, intuitive insights arise but not on this day).

===
Forming an intention to connect to the sensory present moment.

===
Open Awareness
Opening my eyes at 40 minutes. Moving over to open awareness meditation. Allowing myself to connect to all of my sensory experiences. Allowing my vision to roam around as it wishes. Closing my eyes from time to time to focus on the body, sound, smell, taste, the sensation of sitting, the breath, sounds, distant sounds, the sound of the breath, my balance.
Gently scanning my body, readjusting my balance, relaxing, noticing the sensation in my legs, noticing slight discomfort now in my right knee (an old injury). Allowing my sense of feeling and touch in my body to move out around me beyond my body. (I didn’t realise I did this. To me it was just a sensory experience where the sense of connection came into my body. Possibly that varies). Allowing my sense of feeling to move beyond the body and extend out into the room including all of my surroundings, down into the ground and above my head. My mood elevating and a sense of physical connection like a tingling and the best massage ever arising as I connect. Still aware of the sensations of discomfort in my right knee now but it is mildly improved with an adjustment of posture by repositioning my thighs on the bench.
Noticing the breath rising and falling feeling the sense of connection.
Eyes still closed, exploring my feeling of connection and noticing the joy arising. Smiling, noticing the discomfort in the knee, adjusting my body, checking in with my shoulders, ensuring I’m relaxed, tipping my head back to balance, a smile on my face, joy continuing to arise.

===
51 minutes now, I’m aware of the warm sensation throughout my body where the joy is filling it. Grateful and thankful for this.
Basking in the sensory pleasure of the feeling of connection to my surroundings, the rhythm of the breath in the body, the sound of the trees being blown in the breeze mixing with the traffic noise, the airplane noise and the sound of my breath. Connecting with the sound, connecting with feeling, noticing the same sense of pleasure and joy in my fingers and hands as there is in my chest and shoulders.
Settling back to calmly witness all of this, the quality of the joy changing from one of near euphoria to one of a calm collected connection.

===

55 minutes, eyes opening, observing the source of thought again, noticing that there is no thought and also no potential for thought.
Noticing the breath, noticing a sense of compassion
===

57 minutes
Noticing distant sounds, police sirens, airplanes, movement of the plants and trees. The sense of joy has become a calm relaxation.
===

One hour.
Ending the meditation and stretching.”

Namaste.