Mindfulness Training in August and September 2017

It’s time to rediscover that elusive Peace of Mind

Remember that peaceful sense of calmness where everything just seems right with the world, and nothing needs to be done to change it?

Come to our mindfulness training and reconnect with that feeling.

Mindfulness for Busy People Day Retreat

For some, regularly attending an evening mindfulness course over many weeks can seem like a mountain to climb.
If you are one of those ultra-busy people, we have developed an immersive training session just for you.
On Sunday August 20 we are running a One-Day Mindfulness Training Retreat for busy people
at The Mansion in Beckenham Place Park.

Step out of your daily grind and into our beautiful training space to experience a serene and inspiring escape from your busy life. Our day retreat is held in the sedate 18th century rooms of the Grade II listed Beckenham Place Mansion with a panoramic view of 237 acres of carefully tended gardens, lawns and flowers.

The Mansion is a calming and graceful space that sits in natural stillness, offering an inspiring space to learn without distraction. You will feel better, happier and more relaxed from visiting our pleasant retreat designed to bring calm, comfort and quiet.

Robert_teaching_in_the_Drawing_Room_1128x386

Get Peace of Mind on our day retreat

September 6-week Courses

Join our 6-week mindfulness courses to learn mindfulness in a small group with expert guidance in an ideal training location.
Robert at CMS2_680x510
Learn about our courses

Our gentlest introduction to mindfulness and meditation

Come along to one of our regular mindfulness meditation sessions run in and around Bromley and Beckenham each week.
Meditating in the Park_680x510
Learn about our classes

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
Click here to book

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
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

 

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 our retreat schedule by clicking the button below.

Visit our site regularly to discover the latest events or contact me for details.

Our next day retreat is Mindfulness for busy people on August 20th in Beckenham.

Mindfulness v. Mind Wandering

I recently received an email from a student asking about mind-wandering and mindfulness. He pointed out that he is quite attached to mind wandering and whether mindfulness is better than mind wandering.

“Something that is puzzling me; why do we have a default (“wandering”) mind if that task-positive mind is better and happier to be in? Does it help in some situations, does it encourage imagination, open-mindedness, a wider solution space? I think historically I’ve been quite attached to that default mode, I’m feeling a bit of cognitive dissonance in letting go.”

I can put your mind at rest.

Excellent question. There is no need to let go of mind wandering. It would be impossible to in any case as it is, like task positive mode, an essential activity for the brain. Remember that by fostering mindfulness, we are only ever exercising the ‘choice’ of whether we allow our minds to wander or return our attention to the sensory present moment. We are not, and can not, ever banish mind wandering from our experience entirely. We can also, always choose to let the mind wander if we wish. Mind-wandering is a subset of default mode. Default mode has a purpose. It helps in decision making and in retrieving social information and in a number of other ways. Mind wandering only becomes a problem when it entirely squeezes mindfulness out of our experience or operates compulsively or at inappropriate times (see below).
If I am a judge, mind-wandering is part of my decision making process, I will imagine how I will feel giving various sentences for example: letting the accused off, giving them a light sentence or giving them a heavy sentence. The result is gut feel. It is incredibly useful and can often outperform cognitive assessment. Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink gives us an insight into that process. That useful intuition often arises in mind wandering.

Mind wandering is also a place for creativity and it can be a welcome experience. Positive mind-wandering is as enjoyable as actually doing something according to Gilbert and Killingworth, the Harvard guys who wrote the article ‘A wandering mind is an unhappy mind’ in the journal science after studying mind wandering through an app used by thousands of subjects.

What we are seeking to do with these mental processes is to become comfortable with them, understand them and regulate them for our benefit.
What our artificial lives have done is to overload what would be quiet moments of connection with often compulsive mind wandering and problem solving, when it is more beneficial to have a rest from it.

Examples of when mindfulness trumps default mode:

  • When someone else is speaking.
  • When we are trying to get to sleep and the mind is in overdrive.
  • When we are having a special experience, travelling, spending time with our family etc.
  • When we are eating.
  • When we are landing an airplane or doing our tax return.
  • When we are doing sport or exercising (think of a mind-wandering goalkeeper or the runner that doesn’t notice the rabbit hole).
  • Walking the dog or going for a stroll is most usefully a combination of mindfulness and mind-wandering which is exactly what will happen in any case for most of us.
  • When we are suffering from cognitive overload: Waking up with a head full of lists, suffering from anxiety or worrying about outcomes too much. Mindfulness is a refractory period for the mind.
  • When we are driving or crossing the road.
  • When the needle gets stuck and our thoughts become unhelpful, repetitive or affect our ability to sleep.

Examples of appropriate experiences for mind wandering:

  • Retrieving memories especially, social ones.
  • Social evaluations of the self and others.
  • As ‘part of’ the decision making process. A balanced decision making process consist of: rational choices (task-positive mode). Gut-feel – default mode and task positive mode collaborating. Loosely associated thoughts (creativity) are default mode or mind wandering. From this we are making use of three elements of decision making in a skilled way: How we feel, what our subconscious mind contributes and the outcome of our rational decision making processes.
  • Mind wandering is great when we require creative input. Drifting in and out of sleep (the hypnagogic state) is also immensely beneficial which sometimes results in us waking up with the answer in our heads which happens an awful lot to me now. Check this link out if you are interested in this: http://scienceline.org/2014/06/sleeping-on-and-dreaming-up-a-solution/
  • And most importantly, when we are just chilling and our monkey mind isn’t giving us any trouble.

I hope this helps, feel free to ask any questions that arise.