Mindfulness for Busy People One Day Intensive Retreat – Beckenham July 22 2018

The focus is on practical experience backed up deeply with the information that gives you the why of mindfulness and not just the what.

The Venue

You can step out of your daily grind and into our beautiful training space to experience a serene and inspiring escape from your busy life.

The retreat will be run in the sedate 18th century Georgian Drawing Room of the Grade II listed Beckenham Place Mansion which has a panoramic view of 237 acres of carefully tended gardens, lawns and flowers and woodland.The Mansion is a decorate and graceful space that sits in natural stillness, offering an inspiring and ideal place to practice mindfulness and meditation without distraction. You will feel better, happier and more relaxed from visiting our pleasant retreat designed to bring calm, comfort and quiet.

Beckenham Place Park is being recovered for the wider community with £4.9M of Lottery funding. We are fortunate to have access to such a perfect location which enables a connection to the stillness and serenity of nature into our meditation experience in such a graceful way.The Mansion is aWe are surrounded by transport links with four stations less than twenty minutes walk away, many buses and free parking directly outside the building. See below for details.A light lunch is included. The Mansion also has a cafe which is the social centre of our community.

Pricing

Fees
£85
Click here to book

Content

The retreat introduces the most effective mindfulness techniques. The retreat is packed with with real life examples. There is personal guidance and support combined with the latest tools and techniques. The retreat will equip you with the tools and techniques you need to learn mindfulness and resilience.

You’ll leave the day with skills to:

  • Reduce negative thoughts and emotions
  • Increase your wellbeing and happiness
  • Reduce the impact of difficult experiences

What you will get from the retreat

  • Intensive in-person multi-channel training
  • Key meditation practices
  • Supporting handouts for the day
  • Online video clips
  • Guided online meditation MP3s
  • Supported homework for a month after the retreat
  • E-book recommendations, scientific papers, news articles, literature and references
  • A springboard for your personal development or further study
  • Membership of the Bromley Mindfulness student community with regular meditation classes, retreats, retreat and social events
  • One month’s telephone, text or email support
Click here to book

Agenda – Sunday 22 July 2018

Arrive at any point before 11 as the cafe is open downstairs. We will be in the Drawing Room from 11am.

Time Activity
11:00 Introduction
11:10 Emotional Intelligence
12:00 Stress, Anxiety and Worry
12:30 Mindfulness
13:00 Lunch – a light lunch with vegetarian options is available
14:00 Peace of Mind and Relaxation
15:15 Tea
15:30 Integrating Mindfulness and Meditation into your busy life
16:30 Finish
Click here to book

About The Retreat

About Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a natural trait. Anyone can learn the state of mind that is mindfulness. You will learn to step into the present moment and get the very best from it. Our mindfulness training helps you to observe your thoughts, feelings and behaviour without being overwhelmed. You can unlearn unhelpful attachment and judgement.

The History of Mindfulness

Mindfulness training is an ancient collection of tools and techniques taught in a modern way. Thousands of scientific studies have produced evidence of reductions in stress and anxiety from meditation and mindfulness.

How Mindfulness is being used

Global organisations use mindfulness to advance themselves. Examples are: the NHS, Google, Intel, Bank of America, as well as sportsmen, athletes, the US military and many others.

What changes with Mindfulness?

We learn to step back from compulsive or repetitive thoughts and feelings. We learn to observe our surroundings with a sense of connection that brings fulfilment. These are simple yet powerful techniques. They can change how we think, feel and act in the face of the challenges of everyday life.

Who can benefit?

Our retreats are not just for stress reduction.
For high-achievers, our tools and techniques can accelerate your personal development. Everyone leaves with new skills and for some, the experience can be transformational.

About Resilence

Resilience is learning to cope with adversity in a way that helps us cope with future adversity. Resilience can be learned and there are a number of techniques that allow us to do so. We focus on these techniques during the retreat.

Dealing with stressful experiences

We teach tried and tested stress management techniques that you can use in the moment when you are expecting or experiencing stress. We teach techniques to deal with the aftermath and also how to return to a happy and balanced state of mind.

Finding calmness in the turmoil

By attending our mindfulness day-retreat, you will learn how to manage high-stress situations. You will learn to recognise and manage the after-effects. You can find that deep well of calm that only seems to be available to a few.

Click here to book

 

One Day Forgiveness and Compassion Retreat May 2018

Letting Go and Moving on

A one day Retreat at The Mansion in Beckenham

_Robert_meditation-retreat_3_680x423

The Day Retreat

The day is an opportunity for healing and growth

Robert will guide and support you on a day of self-enquiry where you will learn to gently and cautiously discover, identify and question the beliefs, thoughts and fears that are the root cause of all of our suffering. It’s a way to understand what’s hurting you, to explore the cause and source of your suffering with clarity and focus.

Each topic will be supported with appropriate meditations that will enable you to strengthen your practices and assist you in your inner journey.

The process consists of acknowledging, accepting, releasing and moving on to a place of inner peace and happiness.

The day retreat at the beginning of August was wonderfully uplifting and my mind was almost still for 3 days after!
(The inner chatter of my mind subsided markably)”

Click here to book  
Robert
Robert set up Bromley Mindfulness in 2013. Since then he has developed the intensive Mindfulness-based Resilience course from which over three hundred students of mindfulness have graduated. Each week Robert teaches numerous students at a number of venues in Bromley and at a variety of organisations from local charities to global household names.

Mindfulness-Based Resilience offers a different way of being, a way of experiencing life from the perspective of the present moment rather than from the past, the future or an oppressive life-situation. Using the tools of Mindfulness-Based Resilience, we can learn to leave our pain out of our present moment and find the new perspective that really does lead to happiness.

Activities
The day will be a combination of activities and meditations designed to help retreatants to release the burden of memories and fears and doubts that we all carry courtesy of our complex artificial and unnatural lives.

The Venue

You can step out of your daily grind and into our beautiful training space to experience a serene and inspiring escape from your busy life.

The day-retreat will be run in the sedate 18th century Georgian Drawing Room of the Grade II listed Beckenham Place Mansion which has a panoramic view of 237 acres of carefully tended gardens, lawns and flowers and woodland.The Mansion is a decorate and graceful space that sits in natural stillness, offering an inspiring and ideal place to practice mindfulness and meditation without distraction. You will feel better, happier and more relaxed from visiting our pleasant retreat designed to bring calm, comfort and quiet.

Beckenham Place Park is being recovered for the wider community with £4.9M of Lottery funding. We are fortunate to have access to such a perfect location which enables a connection to the stillness and serenity of nature into our meditation experience in such a graceful way.We are surrounded by transport links with four stations less than twenty minutes walk away, many buses and free parking directly outside the building. See below for details.A light lunch is included. The Mansion also has a cafe which is the social centre of our community.

Click here to book

Agenda

Morning

Start at 11am
Compassion How can we practice it?
Self-Compassion Selfless Selfishness
Acceptance Can we really accept difficulties
Love How to love without being hurt
Lunch About 1 pm
Mindfulness The Foundation of Recovery

Afternoon

Gratitude How our modern perspective fails us
Inner Peace What is it and how do we find it?
Afternoon Tea
Forgiveness How we can release our baggage
The Truth How to discover our own personal truth
 Finish  16:30 pm


Day Retreat – Pricing and Payment

Cost for the Day
Day session including a light lunch and refreshments – £75


Day Retreat – Date and Times

Date and Times
Date: Sunday May 13.
Please arrive before 11am.
Lunch: 1 pm
Finish at 4:30 pm

Book your place now to avoid disappointment
Click here to book

One Day Mindfulness and Meditation Retreat Sunday June 24

Learn to meditate or learn to deepen your meditation practice.

By attending our meditation retreat, you will learn the skills that will help you to build a sustainable and helpful meditation practice. Our meditation training will help you to build your repertoire of meditations. You will learn how and why they work, which meditations will give you what you need. This will help you to bring mindfulness, calmness, relaxation and peace of mind to your day.

The focus of the retreat is meditation. Robert will take you on a journey from the basic practices of mindfulness meditation, through intermediate techniques that exercise our perception and through to advanced meditation in a variety of styles while also including his personally devised meditations such as The Presence Meditation, The Four Tens Meditation, The De-Stress Meditation and The Candle and the Breath meditation featured by Ruby Wax.

Join us for our first this year’s first One Day Meditation Retreat on Sunday, June 24, 11 am – 4.30 pm at The Mansion at Beckenham Place Park.

This day-long session will see you benefit from feeling more relaxed and less stressed and anxious, happier and empowered. You will also leave with tools and techniques you can practice and benefit from in your own time.

This intensive training session for the mind will leave you feeling refreshed, happier and more balanced.

The day retreat at the beginning of August was wonderfully uplifting and my mind was almost still for 3 days after!
(The inner chatter of my mind subsided markedly)”

What new meditation skills will you leave with?
By attending this meditation retreat, you will benefit from five hours of carefully selected mood-boosting, mindfulness relaxation and gratitude meditations accompanied by practical, expert guidance.

Location
The Meditation Day Retreat will be held at:
The Mansion, Beckenham Place Park, Beckenham BR3 1SY


Mindfulness Day Retreat – Pricing and Payment

Cost for the Day
Day session including a light lunch and refreshments – £85


Mindfulness Day Retreat – Date and Times

Date and Times
Date: Sunday June 24.
Please arrive before 11 am.
Lunch: 1pm
Finish at 4:30pm

Book your place now to avoid disappointment
Click here to book

Mindfulness for Busy People One Day Intensive Retreat – Beckenham April 29 2018

The focus is on practical experience backed up deeply with the information that gives you the why of mindfulness and not just the what.

The Venue

You can step out of your daily grind and into our beautiful training space to experience a serene and inspiring escape from your busy life.

The retreat will be run in the sedate 18th century Georgian Drawing Room of the Grade II listed Beckenham Place Mansion which has a panoramic view of 237 acres of carefully tended gardens, lawns and flowers and woodland.The Mansion is a decorate and graceful space that sits in natural stillness, offering an inspiring and ideal place to practice mindfulness and meditation without distraction. You will feel better, happier and more relaxed from visiting our pleasant retreat designed to bring calm, comfort and quiet.

Beckenham Place Park is being recovered for the wider community with £4.9M of Lottery funding. We are fortunate to have access to such a perfect location which enables a connection to the stillness and serenity of nature into our meditation experience in such a graceful way.The Mansion is aWe are surrounded by transport links with four stations less than twenty minutes walk away, many buses and free parking directly outside the building. See below for details.A light lunch is included. The Mansion also has a cafe which is the social centre of our community.

Pricing

Fees
£85
Click here to book

Content

The retreat introduces the most effective mindfulness techniques. The retreat is packed with with real life examples. There is personal guidance and support combined with the latest tools and techniques. The retreat will equip you with the tools and techniques you need to learn mindfulness and resilience.

You’ll leave the day with skills to:

  • Reduce negative thoughts and emotions
  • Increase your wellbeing and happiness
  • Reduce the impact of difficult experiences

What you will get from the retreat

  • Intensive in-person multi-channel training
  • Key meditation practices
  • Supporting handouts for the day
  • Online video clips
  • Guided online meditation MP3s
  • Supported homework for a month after the retreat
  • E-book recommendations, scientific papers, news articles, literature and references
  • A springboard for your personal development or further study
  • Membership of the Bromley Mindfulness student community with regular meditation classes, retreats, retreat and social events
  • One month’s telephone, text or email support
Click here to book

Agenda – Sunday 29 April 2018

Arrive at any point before 11 as the cafe is open downstairs. We will be in the Drawing Room from 11am.

Time Activity
11:00 Introduction
11:10 Emotional Intelligence
12:00 Stress, Anxiety and Worry
12:30 Mindfulness
13:00 Lunch – a light lunch with vegetarian options is available
14:00 Peace of Mind and Relaxation
15:15 Tea
15:30 Integrating Mindfulness and Meditation into your busy life
16:30 Finish
Click here to book

About The Retreat

About Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a natural trait. Anyone can learn the state of mind that is mindfulness. You will learn to step into the present moment and get the very best from it. Our mindfulness training helps you to observe your thoughts, feelings and behaviour without being overwhelmed. You can unlearn unhelpful attachment and judgement.

The History of Mindfulness

Mindfulness training is an ancient collection of tools and techniques taught in a modern way. Thousands of scientific studies have produced evidence of reductions in stress and anxiety from meditation and mindfulness.

How Mindfulness is being used

Global organisations use mindfulness to advance themselves. Examples are: the NHS, Google, Intel, Bank of America, as well as sportsmen, athletes, the US military and many others.

What changes with Mindfulness?

We learn to step back from compulsive or repetitive thoughts and feelings. We learn to observe our surroundings with a sense of connection that brings fulfilment. These are simple yet powerful techniques. They can change how we think, feel and act in the face of the challenges of everyday life.

Who can benefit?

Our retreats are not just for stress reduction.
For high-achievers, our tools and techniques can accelerate your personal development. Everyone leaves with new skills and for some, the experience can be transformational.

About Resilence

Resilience is learning to cope with adversity in a way that helps us cope with future adversity. Resilience can be learned and there are a number of techniques that allow us to do so. We focus on these techniques during the retreat.

Dealing with stressful experiences

We teach tried and tested stress management techniques that you can use in the moment when you are expecting or experiencing stress. We teach techniques to deal with the aftermath and also how to return to a happy and balanced state of mind.

Finding calmness in the turmoil

By attending our mindfulness day-retreat, you will learn how to manage high-stress situations. You will learn to recognise and manage the after-effects. You can find that deep well of calm that only seems to be available to a few.

Click here to book

 

One Day Meditation Retreat Sunday March 4 2018

Meditation session at the Connection Retreat in March 2018

 

Click here to book

 

Learn to meditate or learn to deepen your meditation practice.

By attending our meditation retreat, you will learn the skills that will help you to build a sustainable and helpful meditation practice. Our meditation training will help you to build your repertoire of meditations. You will learn how and why they work, which meditations will give you what you need. This will help you to bring mindfulness, calmness, relaxation and peace of mind to your day.

The focus of the retreat is meditation. Robert will take you on a journey from the basic practices of mindfulness meditation, through intermediate techniques that exercise our perception and through to advanced meditation in a variety of styles while also including his personally devised meditations such as The Presence Meditation, The 10×10 Meditation, De-Stress Meditation and The Candle and the Breath meditation featured by Ruby Wax.

Join us for our first this year’s first One Day Meditation Retreat on Sunday 4th March, 11.00am – 4.30pm at The Mansion at Beckenham Place Park

This day long session will see you benefiting from feeling more relaxed and less stressed and anxious, happier and empowered. You will also leave with tools and techniques you can practice and benefit from in your own time.

This intensive training session for the mind will leave you feeling refreshed, happier and more balanced.

The day retreat at the beginning of August was wonderfully uplifting and my mind was almost still for 3 days after!
(The inner chatter of my mind subsided markably)”

What new meditation skills will you leave with?
By attending this meditation retreat, you will benefit from five hours worth of carefully selected mood boosting, mindfulness relaxation and gratitude meditations with practical guidance.

Location
The Meditation Day Retreat will be held at:
The Mansion, Beckenham Place Park, Beckenham BR3 1SY


Mindfulness Day Retreat – Pricing and Payment

Cost for the Day
Day session including a light lunch and refreshments – £85


Mindfulness Day Retreat – Date and Times

Date and Times
Date: Sunday 4th March.
Please arrive before 11am.
Lunch: 1pm
Finish at 4:30pm

Book your place now to avoid disappointment
Click here to book

Mindfulness for Busy People One Day Intensive Workshop – Beckenham February 4 2018

The focus is on practical experience backed up deeply with the information that gives you the why of mindfulness and not just the what.

The Venue

You can step out of your daily grind and into our beautiful training space to experience a serene and inspiring escape from your busy life.

The workshop will be run in the sedate 18th century Georgian Drawing Room of the Grade II listed Beckenham Place Mansion which has a panoramic view of 237 acres of carefully tended gardens, lawns and flowers and woodland.The Mansion is a decorate and graceful space that sits in natural stillness, offering an inspiring and ideal place to practice mindfulness and meditation without distraction. You will feel better, happier and more relaxed from visiting our pleasant retreat designed to bring calm, comfort and quiet.

Beckenham Place Park is being recovered for the wider community with £4.9M of Lottery funding. We are fortunate to have access to such a perfect location which enables a connection to the stillness and serenity of nature into our meditation experience in such a graceful way.The Mansion is aWe are surrounded by transport links with four stations less than twenty minutes walk away, many buses and free parking directly outside the building. See below for details.A light lunch is included. The Mansion also has a cafe which is the social centre of our community.

Pricing

Fees
£75
Click here to book

Content

The workshop introduces the most effective mindfulness techniques. The workshop is packed with with real life examples. There is personal guidance and support combined with the latest tools and techniques. The workshop will equip you with the tools and techniques you need to learn mindfulness and resilience.

You’ll leave the day with skills to:

  • Reduce negative thoughts and emotions
  • Increase your wellbeing and happiness
  • Reduce the impact of difficult experiences

What you will get from the workshop

  • Intensive in-person multi-channel training
  • Key meditation practices
  • Supporting handouts for the day
  • Online video clips
  • Guided online meditation MP3s
  • Supported homework for a month after the workshop
  • E-book recommendations, scientific papers, news articles, literature and references
  • A springboard for your personal development or further study
  • Membership of the Bromley Mindfulness student community with regular meditation classes, retreats, workshops and social events
  • One month’s telephone, text or email support
Click here to book

Agenda – Sunday 4 February 2018

Arrive at any point before 11 as the cafe is open downstairs. We will be in the Drawing Room from 11am.

Time Activity
11:00 Introduction
11:10 Emotional Intelligence
12:00 Stress, Anxiety and Worry
12:30 Mindfulness
13:00 Lunch – a light lunch with vegetarian options is available
14:00 Peace of Mind and Relaxation
15:15 Tea
15:30 Integrating Mindfulness and Meditation into your busy life
16:30 Finish
Click here to book

About The Workshop

About Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a natural trait. Anyone can learn the state of mind that is mindfulness. You will learn to step into the present moment and get the very best from it. Our mindfulness training helps you to observe your thoughts, feelings and behaviour without being overwhelmed. You can unlearn unhelpful attachment and judgement.

The History of Mindfulness

Mindfulness training is an ancient collection of tools and techniques taught in a modern way. Thousands of scientific studies have produced evidence of reductions in stress and anxiety from meditation and mindfulness.

How Mindfulness is being used

Global organisations use mindfulness to advance themselves. Examples are: the NHS, Google, Intel, Bank of America, as well as sportsmen, athletes, the US military and many others.

What changes with Mindfulness?

We learn to step back from compulsive or repetitive thoughts and feelings. We learn to observe our surroundings with a sense of connection that brings fulfilment. These are simple yet powerful techniques. They can change how we think, feel and act in the face of the challenges of everyday life.

Who can benefit?

Our workshops are not just for stress reduction.
For high-achievers, our tools and techniques can accelerate your personal development. Everyone leaves with new skills and for some, the experience can be transformational.

About Resilence

Resilience is learning to cope with adversity in a way that helps us cope with future adversity. Resilience can be learned and there are a number of techniques that allow us to do so. We focus on these techniques during the workshop.

Dealing with stressful experiences

We teach tried and tested stress management techniques that you can use in the moment when you are expecting or experiencing stress. We teach techniques to deal with the aftermath and also how to return to a happy and balanced state of mind.

Finding calmness in the turmoil

By attending our mindfulness workshop, you will learn how to manage high stress situations. You will learn to recognise and manage the after-effects. You can find that deep well of calm that only seems to be available to a few.

Click here to book

 

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.

Mindfulness for Busy People One Day Intensive Workshop – Beckenham August 20th 2017

The focus is on practical experience backed up deeply with the information that gives you the why of mindfulness and not just the what.

The Venue

You can step out of your daily grind and into our beautiful training space to experience a serene and inspiring escape from your busy life.

The workshop will be run in the sedate 18th century Georgian Drawing Room of the Grade II listed Beckenham Place Mansion which has a panoramic view of 237 acres of carefully tended gardens, lawns and flowers and woodland.The Mansion is a decorate and graceful space that sits in natural stillness, offering an inspiring and ideal place to practice mindfulness and meditation without distraction. You will feel better, happier and more relaxed from visiting our pleasant retreat designed to bring calm, comfort and quiet.

Beckenham Place Park is being recovered for the wider community with £4.9M of Lottery funding. We are fortunate to have access to such a perfect location which enables a connection to the stillness and serenity of nature into our meditation experience in such a graceful way.The Mansion is aWe are surrounded by transport links with four stations less than twenty minutes walk away, many buses and free parking directly outside the building. See below for details.A light lunch is included. The Mansion also has a cafe which is the social centre of our community.

Pricing

Fees
£75
Click here to book

Content

The workshop introduces the most effective mindfulness techniques. The workshop is packed with with real life examples. There is personal guidance and support combined with the latest tools and techniques. The workshop will equip you with the tools and techniques you need to learn mindfulness and resilience.

You’ll leave the day with skills to:

  • Reduce negative thoughts and emotions
  • Increase your wellbeing and happiness
  • Reduce the impact of difficult experiences

What you will get from the workshop

  • Intensive in-person multi-channel training
  • Key meditation practices
  • Supporting handouts for the day
  • Online video clips
  • Guided online meditation MP3s
  • Supported homework for a month after the workshop
  • E-book recommendations, scientific papers, news articles, literature and references
  • A springboard for your personal development or further study
  • Membership of the Bromley Mindfulness student community with regular meditation classes, retreats, workshops and social events
  • One month’s telephone, text or email support
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Agenda – Sunday 20th August 2017

Arrive at any point before 11 as the cafe is open downstairs. We will be in the Drawing Room from 11am.

Time Activity
11:00 Introduction
11:10 Emotional Intelligence
12:00 Stress, Anxiety and Worry
12:30 Mindfulness
13:00 Lunch – a light lunch with vegetarian options is available
14:00 Peace of Mind and Relaxation
15:15 Tea
15:30 Integrating Mindfulness and Meditation into your busy life
16:30 Finish
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About The Workshop

About Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a natural trait. Anyone can learn the state of mind that is mindfulness. You will learn to step into the present moment and get the very best from it. Our mindfulness training helps you to observe your thoughts, feelings and behaviour without being overwhelmed. You can unlearn unhelpful attachment and judgement.

The History of Mindfulness

Mindfulness training is an ancient collection of tools and techniques taught in a modern way. Thousands of scientific studies have produced evidence of reductions in stress and anxiety from meditation and mindfulness.

How Mindfulness is being used

Global organisations use mindfulness to advance themselves. Examples are: the NHS, Google, Intel, Bank of America, as well as sportsmen, athletes, the US military and many others.

What changes with Mindfulness?

We learn to step back from compulsive or repetitive thoughts and feelings. We learn to observe our surroundings with a sense of connection that brings fulfilment. These are simple yet powerful techniques. They can change how we think, feel and act in the face of the challenges of everyday life.

Who can benefit?

Our workshops are not just for stress reduction.
For high-achievers, our tools and techniques can accelerate your personal development. Everyone leaves with new skills and for some, the experience can be transformational.

About Resilence

Resilience is learning to cope with adversity in a way that helps us cope with future adversity. Resilience can be learned and there are a number of techniques that allow us to do so. We focus on these techniques during the workshop.

Dealing with stressful experiences

We teach tried and tested stress management techniques that you can use in the moment when you are expecting or experiencing stress. We teach techniques to deal with the aftermath and also how to return to a happy and balanced state of mind.

Finding calmness in the turmoil

By attending our mindfulness workshop, you will learn how to manage high stress situations. You will learn to recognise and manage the after-effects. You can find that deep well of calm that only seems to be available to a few.

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Retreats

Bromley Mindfulness runs regular retreats in and around Bromley, Kent and London. Our retreats are all themed on subjects associated with mindfulness and meditation. Check our retreat schedule by clicking the button below.

Visit our site regularly to discover the latest events or contact me for details or keep up with our events on our facebook events page.

One Day Forgiveness and Compassion Retreat July 2017

Letting Go and Moving on

A one day Retreat at The Seeker’s Trust in Kent

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Agenda

Morning

Start at 11am
Forgiveness
Michelle The Butterfly Effect
Robert The Gaia Process
Lunch About 1pm
Mindful Walk In the Seeker’s Trust Grounds (weather permitting)

Afternoon

Compassion
Michelle The Phoenix Effect
Robert The kevlar vest for the 21st century
Afternoon Tea
Self-Compassion
Robert and Michelle Selfless Selfishness

The Day Retreat

The day is an opportunity for healing and growth

Michelle and Robert will guide and support you on a day of self-enquiry where you will learn to gently and cautiously discover, identify and question the beliefs, thoughts and fears that are the root cause of all of our suffering. It’s a way to understand what’s hurting you, to explore the the cause and source of your suffering with clarity and focus.

The process consists of acknowledging, accepting, releasing and moving on to a place of greater calmness and happiness.

The day retreat at the beginning of August was wonderfully uplifting and my mind was almost still for 3 days after!
(The inner chatter of my mind subsided markably)”

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Michelle
Michelle has lived in or around London all of her life and knows first hand how stressful it can be. She has had careers in fashion, advertising and the media as well as running a shop, an interiors company and also has two kids – It’s exhausting just thinking about it.Michelle has experience of how our modern day life brings very high expectations, costs, time restraints and stress.

Michelle teaches meditation, relaxation and offers holistic healing to women and families in Hither Green. Her focus is on sharing practices, exercises, ideas and research that can assist YOU in increasing your own ‘zest for life’.

Robert
Robert set up Bromley Mindfulness in 2013. Since then he has developed the intensive Mindfulness-based Resilience course from which nearly three hundred students of mindfulness have graduated since 2014.

Each week Robert teaches numerous students at a number of venues in Bromley and at a variety of organisations from local charities to global household names.

Mindfulness-Based Resilience offers a different way of being, a way of experiencing life from the perspective of the present moment rather than from the past, the future or an oppressive life-situation. Using the tools of Mindfulness-Based Resilience, we can learn to leave our pain out of our present moment and find the new perspective that really does lead to happiness.

Activities
The day will be a combination of activities and meditations designed to help retreatants to release the burden of memories and fears and doubts that we all carry courtesy of our complex artificial and unnatural lives.

Location
The Meditation Day Retreat will be held at The Seekers Trust near West Malling in Kent.

The full address is:
The Conference Centre, The Close, Addington Park, West Malling, Kent, ME19 5BL.


Day Retreat – Pricing and Payment

Cost for the Day
Day session including a light lunch and refreshments – £75


Day Retreat – Date and Times

Date and Times
Date: Sunday the 16th July.
Please arrive before 11am.
Lunch: 1pm
Finish at 4:30pm

Book your place now to avoid disappointment
Click here to book

One Day Meditation Retreat May 2017

Meditation session at the Connection Retreat in March

 

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Learn to meditate or learn to deepen your meditation practice.

By attending our meditation retreat, you will learn the skills that will help you to build a sustainable and helpful meditation practice. Our meditation training will help you to build your repertoire of meditations. You will learn how and why they work, which meditations will give you what you need. This will help you to bring mindfulness, calmness, relaxation and peace of mind to your day.

The focus of the retreat is meditation. Robert, Mike and Graham will take you on a journey from the basic practices of mindfulness meditation, through intermediate techniques that exercise our perception, activities like mindful walking and Qi and through to advanced meditation in a variety of styles while also including his personally devised meditations such as The Presence Meditation, The Candle and the Breath meditation that was recently featured on Ruby Wax’s site and the De-Stress Meditation.

There will also be an emailed handout of the practices so that you can review what you have learned.

Join us for our first One Day Meditation Retreat on Sunday 21st May, 11.00am – 4.30pm at The Seeker’s Trust, West Malling.

This day long session will see you benefiting from feeling more relaxed and less stressed and anxious, happier and empowered. You will also leave with tools and techniques you can practice and benefit from in your own time.

This intensive training session for the mind will leave you feeling refreshed, happier and more balanced.

The day retreat at the beginning of August was wonderfully uplifting and my mind was almost still for 3 days after!
(The inner chatter of my mind subsided markably)”

What new meditation skills will you leave with?
By attending this meditation retreat, you will benefit from five hours worth of carefully selected mood boosting, mindfulness relaxation and gratitude meditations with practical guidance.

Qigong
Graham Warren is a long-time and regular student at Bromley Mindfulness.
Graham has practiced Qigong for decades and has taught Qigong on a number of retreats run by Bromley Mindfulness which have proved very popular. Graham teaches Qigong in West Wickham every Wednesday at 7:30pm.
The venue is West Wickham New Church Hall, 142 High Street, West Wickham, BR4 0LZ.
There is a car park across the road in a rather hidden slip road by Carpet Right and there are many buses and trains to the area.
You can contact Graham on:
07711 733058
gwarren851@gmail.com

Meditative Walking
The day also incorporates ‘walking as a meditation’ within the The Seeker’s Trust’s  39 acres of grounds and gardens, a light lunch (menu available on request) and a range of non-alcoholic hot and cold drinks throughout the day.

To learn mindfulness in our lives, we need to transfer the experience from our meditation practices to our day-to-day experiences such as eating and walking. Mindful walking is a wonderful introduction to this. We can both do a mindful walk in the grounds and also visit the Seeker’s Trust’s famous healing tree.

Click here to book
 
Location
The Meditation Day Retreat will be held at The Seekers Trust near West Malling in Kent.

The full address is:
The Conference Centre, The Close, Addington Park, West Malling, Kent, ME19 5BL.


Mindfulness Day Retreat – Pricing and Payment

Cost for the Day
Day session including a light lunch and refreshments – £75


Mindfulness Day Retreat – Date and Times

Date and Times
Date: Sunday the 21st May.
Please arrive before 11am.
Lunch: 1pm
Finish at 4:30pm

Book your place now to avoid disappointment
Click here to book

The Candle and The Breath Mindfulness Meditation

In search of the quick fix

We live in a world of instant gratification. This is actually a built-in survival trait. We are are hard-wired to find shortcuts to rewards and to avoiding threats. Marketers know and understand this well. Many experiences in our lives have been designed to deliver this for us. Our ancestors had to work hard to change their circumstances or improve their experiences but technology is delivering the holy grail of having it all and having it all now. We have many comforts and pleasures at the touch of a button or the end of a phone.

For guided versions of the meditation, try SoundCloud or YouTube by clicking the buttons below:
Click here to go to SoundCloud  
 
Click here to go to YouTube

The traditional approach

Traditionally, mindfulness meditation teachers have always stressed that meditation is a long road, not a shortcut and needs persistent practice over many months and years. Progress cannot be predicted but will come in time. The advice for someone for whom meditation ‘isn’t working’ is usually to meditate more, and more regularly. Someone that is suffering from stress and overwhelm simply doesn’t want to hear this. They are probably already making many, many sacrifices to maintain this level of work. Meditation homework on courses is heavily stressed. There is a commonly repeated anecdote about the monk that goes to his teacher to explain that he can’t find twenty minutes each day to meditate. The master ponders this for a moment and says that the solution is to meditate for an hour.

A significant proportion of students struggle to find and maintain a daily meditation practice, despite experiencing clear benefits from a mindfulness course or classes. The reason for this is that those that can benefit from mindfulness the most, are often those that have the time and resources to introduce the practices the least. This isn’t just about time though it may seem like that to the student. Many factors can coincide to appear as time pressure such as: stress levels, work requirements, sleep deprivation, personal pressures and optimistic expectations from the practices. When life is going at 1,000 miles an hour, having daily practices that will return their benefits over an indeterminate future time just isn’t enough to gain and maintain our attention. Meditation is competing with so many experiences that promise instant relief from yoga to exercise to a glass of wine, to just switching on the T.V.

Mindfulness is the most transformative and the best researched personal development practice there is and mindfulness meditation is the key to that transformation. Mindfulness teachers must deliver what its students need which is quick results. They need this not because it will transform their lives in an instant, but because they need to build a sustainable practice and the busyness of the mind limits their motivation.

To assist busy-minded students in their quest for some respite from their incessant mental chatter, I have devised this meditation for this purpose.

The Candle and the Breath

Visualising the candle

This is a visualisation meditation but don’t be concerned if you find visualisation tricky. Visualisation is difficult for about 50% of meditation students but this meditation does not require the construction of a clear, detailed image in the mind. A dim image or an image that collapses and is continually reconstructed is fine.

The Candle

There are two parts to the candle and the breath. The first is to visualise a candle. You just need to close your eyes and imagine it in your mind.
If you are not a visual person, you may find that visualising a candle is extremely difficult and either you can’t see much in your mind or the image keeps collapsing. This is fine. Rebuild it in your mind or just try to stay focused on the dim image of the candle flame. It can help if you light a candle for a few moments and use that to help you construct the image.
If you are a visual person, you need to work hard too. Your job is to construct a highly detailed image. As detailed as possible. Imagine an ornate candle holder and focus on the details of the candle such as the wax dripping down the side and puddling in a transparent pool the top of the candle while reflecting the flickering light of the candle. Try to create the details in your mind as much as possible and move your mind from one detail to another.

The Breath

The other part of the mindfulness meditation is following the breath which is a basic mindfulness meditation. It is incredibly simple. Focus your attention on your breath, when the mind wanders, return your attention to the breath and repeat. That’s it. It’s the simplest thing in the world but it’s often difficult to stay with the practice as the mind will wander. Ideally you should focus on the sensation of the breath entering and leaving the nostrils as that feeling is usually more noticeable. If you find the sensation of the breath in the nostrils is uncomfortable or if don’t really notice much feeling, you can focus on the breath wherever it is comfortable for you such as, noticing the filling and emptying of breath in the lungs, the rising and falling off the chest or the feeling of breath as it hits the back of our throat.

The Candle and The Breath Mindfulness Meditation

Begin by focusing on the breath. Notice the sensation of the breath. When the mind begins to wander, instead of returning our attention to the breath as we do in the traditional following the breath meditation, move the focus of attention to the candle which we visualise at head height a foot or two in front of us. Construct as much of an image of the candle as you possibly can with as much detail and colour as possible. it helps to notice the flickering of the candle. Focus your attention on the candle, maintaining, exploring and adding details until your mind begins to wander. At this point return your attention to the breath and continue from there.

Order of activities in the basic candle and the breath meditation

  • Focus your attention on the breath
  • When the mind begins to wander, move your focus to the candle
  • When the mind begins to wander, move your focus to the breath
  • Repeat

Duration of the movement between the candle and the breath

You can move your attention back and forth either when you notice the mind wandering or after a number of breaths – usually about 5 or 6. With the first option you are intervening once the mind has wandered, with the second one you are keeping one step ahead of the thoughts by noticing how many breaths it takes before the mind wanders and moving ‘before’ you reach that number of breaths.

Additional elements for stubbornly busy minds

The simple version of the candle and the breath meditation will be sufficient for many people to silence the thoughts but for others we can add to the cognitive load and silence the thoughts. These are listed below

Flickering of the candle in time to the breath

When you focus on the candle, notice how the candle flickers towards you when you breathe in, and away when you breathe out. This way you can be aware of the breath in the back of your mind when you are focusing on the candle.

Noticing the candle flickering while we follow the breath

If you use the above technique ‘ flickering of the candle in time to the breath’, you can notice the candle’s flickering as you focus on the breath as a background experience.

Counting the breaths during the candle and the breath

If you use the above technique ‘ flickering of the candle in time to the breath’ you always have access to the breath in you mind, so you can count the breaths throughout the meditation. The way to do this is by counting from one to ten with each breath, when you reach ten, return to one. When you lose count, move your attention from the candle to the breath or from the breath to the candle and continue.

Moving the eyes behind closed lids from the candle to the breath and back

As you imagine the candle directly in front of you at head height, you can move you eyes from looking down at the breath, up to looking directly in front of you at the candle and back again behind closed lids. This helps to focus attention on the current element of the meditation.

Listening to the breath

If you are in a quiet place, it can help to listen to the breath as well as notice the sensation of the breath. This helps to maintain your focus.

How to use The Candle and The Breath in your mindfulness meditation practice

Our goal from this practice is to help the incessant, noisy train of thoughts to subside. There may be many reasons for this. you may just wish the mind to shut up. Your mind may be spinning out of control as you try to get to sleep or you might be frustrated by the busyness of the mind when you try other meditations. Like all meditations, you need to give it time to become an expert at it. You can mix and match all of the additional elements to give you what you need from the meditation. Remember that the goal is to fill the mind with the experience of the meditation to the level that random thoughts no longer penetrate into our consciousness. Our consciousness, our awareness, our attention should be fully focused on the meditation.

How it works

We have a common illusion that we can switch our attention in an instant. This is not the case. To notice the lag, move your attention from one part of your body to another and back. We can move a dim awareness quickly but to become aware of all of the sensations in each part of the body, we need a small but discernible time to say we are completely refocused.
What we can do is refocus our vision incredibly quickly from one element of our visual experience to another but when we move our attention from one sense to another or from one intensive element of our experience to another, there is a significant lag of several seconds. The more heavily focused we are on an experience, the slower it is for us to refocus on something else. This is why it can be frustrating when we are concentrating and we are constantly interrupted. In The Candle and The Breath meditation, we are moving from noticing our breath, using a part of the brain called the insula, to an intensive process of visualisation which uses the visual cortex. These are both quite unusual experiences for us to focus on if we are new to meditation. We need to both learn how to do these things and they are also cognitively intensive. I imagine that plugging someone into an MRI scanner while performing this meditation, we will be able to see these totally distinct parts of our brain activating in turn.

Because of the cognitive load and the lag, there is no room for thought. We are crowding the thoughts out by exercising other areas of our brains. We are crowding out our thoughts for the duration of the meditation.

How to measure your progress in mindfulness

I often get asked “How do I know I am making progress with my mindfulness practices? My mind is just as busy now as it always was. I sit down to meditate and my mind is still busy and clouded with thoughts.”

If we look up ‘mindfulness progress’, we will find a few responses from the Buddhist/Spiritual contingent. The secular contingent seemingly has nothing much to say on the subject and what advice there is largely boils down to “If you feel you’re not making progress, meditate more and/or more regularly”. There is no clarification of exactly what progress is and how we can measure it.

Here is that clarification.

Firstly…

What progress is NOT

  1. Progress is NOT less thought when meditating
  2. Progress is NOT any experience you have when meditating
  3. Progress is NOT keeping to any schedule you have committed to or building up your time spent meditating
  4. Progress is NOT ANY goal related to meditation

Progress is nothing to do with meditation. Progress can only be measured in your day-to-day experience.

The reason for this is because the meditation is the TRAINING.

We know we are making progress not because of what happens in our training but by the skills that training gives us. Skills that become part of us and that we can call on without thought or preparation.

How to measure progress in mindfulness

Just after Christmas I was speaking with one of my students who told me about how her sister had invited her Dad unexpectedly to their Christmas meal. My student clearly had issues with her Dad in the past. She told me how this encounter would have invariably led to fireworks in the past but she kept her cool and the Christmas meal went off without incident.

She then told me that she was worried that she didn’t appear to be making any progress with her mindfulness.

The key to measuring our progress

We can measure progress in our practices by the amount of conflict in our lives, internal and external.

Internal conflict can be seen in experiences like: anxiety, resentment, anger, fear, stress, procrastination, impatience, boredom and the level of intrusive thought in your day. If you are unaware of your levels of these experiences and how they compare, start a journal so you can look back and see how far you have come.

External conflict is obvious. Look at your relationships and ask yourself whether they are improving or not.

If you stick with the practices and keep a journal you will see positive changes over every three to six months.

Namaste.

 

Mindfulness Meditation – The Evidence

2014 has been an important year for the awareness of mindfulness meditation in the United States. In February, Time Magazine announced on its cover that there is a “Mindful Revolution”.

The November 2014 cover of Scientific American announced that meditation “changes the brain boosting focus and reducing stress”.

August saw the release, by the American Journal of Psychiatry, of what I feel to be the single most compellingly credible study to date on the benefits of mindfulness meditation which bears the impressive title of: ‘Modifying Resilience Mechanisms in At-Risk Individuals: A Controlled Study of Mindfulness Training in Marines Preparing for Deployment’. This seminal research (more of which in a future post), is part of an ongoing, rigorous, controlled study of the effects of mindfulness meditation on the levels of stress encountered by US Marines during their counter-insurgency training prior to deployment. The study reported ‘significant’ reductions in stress for the meditating group in each of the five measures used in comparison to the control group. I shall also post at a later date on how mindfulness meditation is being used to assist in managing Post Traumatic Stress in operatives that have returned from combat.

There is a significant and growing body of scientific evidence that increasingly proves that the wellness benefits of mindfulness meditation are significant and far-reaching. This body of evidence currently consists of over 3000 research publications filed on the NCBI databases. This is being added to at a prodigious rate. 477 studies were initiated in 2012. Mindfulness Research publishes the highlights on a monthly basis which consists of 30 papers per month.

 

About mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness is a state of mind that cannot really be explained. It has to be experienced. Fortunately, the technique used for learning mindfulness, called mindfulness meditation, is simple and accessible to anyone with patience and an open mind.
There are many, often unhelpful, definitions of mindfulness that can lead students to mistake a stage in their development for the achievement of a mindful state of mind. This happened to me on numerous occasions, so I am wary of trying to define mindfulness but I think that I have a responsibility for explaining it as well as I can so here goes. Remember that the words are not the thing itself. They are pointers to it like a finger pointing at the moon is not the moon.

Mindfulness
For me, the experiences that I had in the past that were closest to the state of mindfulness that I currently experience were what have been described by psychologists as ‘peak experiences‘.
Peak experiences are those rare moments where a combination of extraordinary peace of mind, calmness, a sense of connection and purpose transcend daily life to a level that is quite remarkable.
Whenever I experienced this, everything seemed  just right. Time slowed, colours appeared richer and more vibrant, momentarily, life seemed to be enhanced. These moments soon passed, leaving only a memory as I returned to my relatively mundane life.

Mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness meditation is a collection of simple practices that, over time, can lead to mindfulness as an accessible state of mind in our daily lives. This leads to an otherwise elusive calmness and peace of mind.
The basic practice consists of focusing attention on the breath and repeatedly returning that focus to the breath when the mind inevitably wanders. There are a number of other meditations that support this basic practice.

The body scan meditation

Our culture disconnects us from our bodies. We have to relearn that connection along with the connection to our emotions and other people.

If you don’t think this is correct, ask yourself when was the last time that you felt the feeling in your feet from walking along, or even, when was the last time you were aware of your feet at all?

For our first foray into this new world of bodily self-awareness we shall try a little exercise that has been popularised by Eckhart Tolle.

Sit in your favoured meditation position. Hold your hands out, almost parallel in front of you but slightly higher than your shoulders with your arms extended.

Close your eyes and ask yourself how you *know* that your hands are connected to your body.

You should feel your hands now more directly and fully than you will have, possibly for a long time. You may feel tingling, you may feel the blood flowing in your hands and the life in them. Just do this for a few moments then stop.

Now take your shoes off, let your feet rest on the floor and allow yourself to feel, not the floor but the feeling in your feet and see if you can find similar sensations in your feet to the ones you did with your hands.

You are focusing your attention on your feet. You are now actually fully aware of your feet, possibly for a number of us, for the first time ever…

Now move the focus of your attention, body part by body part, slowly up your body leaving your attention on that body part for a few seconds each time so that you allow yourself to be fully aware of it.

As you move your attention, allow that body part to relax. Allow yourself to feel the tension leave your body. For parts of the body that carry a lot of stress such as the shoulders and neck leave your attention there for long enough to enable it to completely relax.

Move along your body, relaxing as you go: feet, ankles, calves, knees, thighs etc. When you get to your neck move the focus of your attention to your head and face then back to your neck and finally your hands.

If you’re doing a body scan alone then it’s now finished but if you’re doing it as an initial technique in your meditation routine you can now move the focus I your attention directly to your breath and continue.

Namaste

That is a body scan.

mirror meditation

Of the two kinds of meditation, focused attention and open monitoring, mindfulness meditation is normally focused attention and usually focus on the breath.

The other kind of meditation, open monitoring takes a bit of getting used to if you have only ever done focused attention. Here is a simple open monitoring meditation called the mirror meditation.

Sit comfortably with your back straight and focus on the breath for a while to help still the mind.

Once you are calm open your eyes and look down at the floor in front of you.

Allow yourself to be as aware as possible of  whatever you can see from the very corners of your eyes.

Don’t return to the breath but allow yourself to take in what you can see with your peripheral vision.

This may feel a bit strange for a while but it adds some variety to your practice and exercises your awareness and your mind.

That’s it, the mirror meditation.

Namaste…

trying too hard

Mindfulness meditation practice is not a competition, with yourself or anyone else, to try to spend as long as possible with no thought.

The benefit of the practice of mindfulness meditation is the process of bringing your focus back from your compulsive background thoughts so each time that you do that you progress in your mindfulness practice.

Experienced meditators with any honesty admit their thoughts intervene. Experiencing compulsive thought and refocusing ‘is’ the practice so while that happens you’re doing fine.

An example I use is learning to ride a bike. It’s the falling off that actually teaches you how to ride. With mindfulness meditation it’s the practice of continually releasing your thoughts that enables you to be mindful in everyday life.

Namaste…

a micro body scan you can do anywhere

When you practice the body scan in daily meditation, start at the feet, slowly progress up to the crown of the head and fingers, moving from one body part to the next relaxing as you go, then return the focus of your awareness slowly back down the body to your feet.

Once you have practiced this enough, speed it up so your awareness and relaxation whizzes from your feet to your crown and fingertips and back.
This can be done with a breath in and out:
Breathing in moves the relaxation scan from the feet to the crown and fingers. Hold it momentarily then scan back down the body with your relaxing awareness to your feet.

To help, visualise an old photocopier where the light moved from one side of the photocopier to the other then back again.

Then, when you’re in your office or on your morning commute, or anywhere where you can benefit from relaxing you can do the micro body scan to release the tension from your body and return to the present moment.

Namaste

Mindfulness meditation is difficult. NOT.

If it’s difficult, you’re doing it wrong.

Our culture tells us that if something isn’t difficult it’s not worth doing. We associate achievement and ‘success’ with overcoming challenges, so we only tend to believe that we can ‘succeed’ in ‘achieving’ something if we need an effort of will to do so.

This is just plain wrong, doesn’t apply to cultivating mindfulness and largely doesn’t apply to anything else related to the mind.

When we first discover that our wandering mind seemingly sabotages us as we try to be clear of our thoughts, our cultural conditioning kicks in and we ‘try harder’. This is the worst thing we can do.

To understand why let’s do a little test:
Don’t think of Pink Elephants.
Close your eyes for ten seconds and in that time, don’t think of Pink Elephants.
You thought of Pink Elephants didn’t you? It was impossible not to.
In fact, the more important it is that you don’t think of Pink Elephants, such as if your life depended on it, the more likely you would be to think of Pink Elephants! This is because in the hunter-gatherer existence for which our brains have genetically evolved, there was never a reason not to think of anything so we never developed that facility.

What we need to do instead of ‘trying harder’ is to use another thing that is in short supply in our culture and that is patience.

If we are patient, we can relax. Mindfulness cannot have a schedule applied to it. We have been conditioned to think, so finding a space without thought is a long process. It comes in time.

What we are doing when we meditate on our breath is training our minds to release our unhelpful thought processes and in time also our unhelpful emotions.

In order to become mindful, we first need to be distracted. That is the purpose of mindfulness meditation. It is a process of learning. It is our purpose to be distracted, to become aware of that distraction and return our focus to our breath which is somewhere we always have at hand and that has no emotional content.

Mindfulness meditation is sharpening the tool. Using it is in our daily life.

meditating on gratitude or appreciation

Gratitude and appreciation are things that seem to not be taught out of a religious context.

This is a shame as gratitude is a valuable counterweight to all of the negative context of modern life.

Modern life can easily become one of conflict, both internal and external. Gratitude is an acceptance of the beneficial things in life and helps us to realise that accepting life *as it is*, is as much about accepting the good things as the bad.

There are a number of gratitude meditations. The most commonly known are Metta Bhavana (loving-kindness), Buddhist meditations.

I have a meditation that I use, and which my students really enjoy.
Interestingly for a meditation, you may need to start with a few minutes of thought.

Gratitude meditation

Think of someone or something for which you can feel grateful for or appreciate strongly.

Allow yourself to feel the feeling, the sensation, that comes with those thoughts of gratitude or appreciation.

Bring to mind an image of your family and friends.
Allow yourself to feel that same gratitude when you think of them.

Bring to mind your community, the people that you see every day yet don’t know their names: shopkeepers, commuters, colleagues, people working in service industries.
Allow yourself to feel that same gratitude when you think of them.

Bring to mind your country and all the people in it.
Allow yourself to feel that same gratitude when you think of them.

Bring to mind all of the seven billion people in the world going about their daily lives, imagine all of the creatures, plants and animals that we share the world with, all part of one extended family spinning on a globe through space around the sun.
Allow yourself to feel that same gratitude when you think of them.

Hold that thought…

the bubble meditation

Here is a way to make your commute a bit more fun.

Close your eyes.
Focus on your breath for a few breaths.
Imagine that you are at a desert island.
You are sitting at the bottom of a beautiful blue lagoon.
You are able to breathe normally.
The surface is six feet above you.
The light from the ripples on the surface of the lagoon is dappling the sandy floor.
Around you are colourful tropical fish and coral outcrops.
Whenever a thought arises, breathe out the thought.
Breathe it out as bubbles and watch them rising slowly, wriggling to the surface where they pop and dissolve.

Repeat.

Enjoy…

visualisation meditation

I personally don’t do many visualisation meditations when I am meditating on my own.

I often do visualisations when I am taking a group session simply because it is fun and my students enjoy it.

The gratitude bubble meditation

Focus your attention on your breath
Move the focus of your attention to the bottom of your lungs, let yourself be aware of your breath filling the bottom of your lungs
Bring your attention to a point 3 inches behind your navel – this is called your inner body
Be aware of a tiny dim point of light there, similar to the light of a distant star
Watch it grow to become like a bright star
Be aware of it growing to the size of a tennis ball, then a beach ball, then growing to envelop your entire body so you are sitting in a bubble of starlight
Think of something or someone that you can feel grateful for or appreciative of
Let that feeling fill the bubble
Let the bubble of gratitude grow to the size of the room, then to the size of your town and eventually the entire planet
Be aware that you can extend your gratitude and appreciation to all of the creatures and plants on this planet, spinning through space, one big extended family

Hold that thought then, slowly, allow the ball to shrink back to the size of a tiny pinpoint of light and finally wink out

:)

Namaste…

how do we silence our thoughts?

We don’t.

What we do is to allow ourselves to be aware of our thoughts and we will then find that they subside and dissolve of their own accord. An example is meditating on our breath. We are allowing our thoughts to intervene. The practice is returning to the breath, not staying with no thought.

In my experience we can *never* make ourselves think or not think anything. There is a famous experiment where we can try not to think of Pink Elephants. You can try it if you want now. The harder you try, the more invasive the thoughts of Pink Elephants become.

Trying to force ourselves to think, or to not think, in a particular way can be a destructive process.

Observing our thoughts, listening to them in effect, silences them because the source of our awareness becomes the silent watcher of our thoughts and not the thoughts themselves.

When that happens, when focus on our inner dialogue is no longer the source of our awareness, we can say that we are mindful for that time.

where to meditate

In time, ideally, we ‘should’ be able to meditate anywhere and if we are patient then it will come.

But if you do get stuck and can’t still your mind then a change of scenery, especially in a quiet natural spot, might help you to calm your mind enough to benefit from your meditation.

Then, once you have made some progress, you can try meditating in your home again.

correct posture

Pretty much all expert meditators take the time to mention correct posture.

The rules seem to be pretty universal:

  • wear loose clothing for comfort
  • back straight – stops us from getting a bad back
  • head straight – helps to keep us aware
  • tongue behind the top teeth – makes us breath from our nostrils
  • hands in lap or somewhere comfortable – avoids discomfort distractions
  • there are as many ways of kneeling/sitting as there are meditators, personally I cross my legs though in the East, especially Zen, they tend to sit with their legs tucked under them
  • it seems to be bad form to move around and adjust your posture in formal meditation sessions but I think it’s fine to move around a bit so long as you keep it to a minimum
  • it is okay to sit in a chair but try not to get too comfortable or you might drift off to sleep. :)
  • eyes either open and looking down, to try to avoid distractions, or eyes closed.

why do we focus on the breath?

There are two main categories of meditation according to research: Focused Attention and Open Monitoring.

Mindfulness meditation the way it is normally practiced in the buddhist traditions and their secular western offshoots is Focused Attention meditation, where the practitioner focuses their full attention on some image or recurring event. Some meditators chant, others listen to temple bells, watch prayer flags, view mandalas etc. Most secular mindfulness meditators seem to focus on the breath.

I expect that in terms of the benefits of the meditation itself they are all pretty similar and it seems to me, though I have no experience of it, that it would be easier at first to chant etc. as it would crowd out of your mind the pointless trains of thought.

The big advantages to focusing on the breath however is that: our breath is always with us, it has no emotional content, it can be neither good nor bad it just is and we can practice breathing wherever we are. It is portable and convenient.

I have meditated on candles and I have also done open monitoring meditations such as the mirror meditation of which more in a later post.