Mastering Meditation in 8 Easy Steps Day-Retreat Beckenham January 13 2019

Join us for our Mastering Meditation in 8 Easy Steps Day-Retreat on Sunday, January 13, 11 am – 4.30 pm at The Mansion at Beckenham Place Park.

The focus is on practical experience backed up deeply with the information you need to understand the why and how of meditation, and not just the what.

Content

The retreat introduces the most effective meditation training techniques. The retreat is packed 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 build a sustainable meditation practice.

About the 8 easy steps to mastering meditation

This day is being run in conjunction with the 8 easy stepins to mastering meditation mini-series. It can be attended separately or while attending the mini-series. For details of the mini-series, click here:
Meditation is officially hard. Every article about meditation says this. If you’ve tried to meditate, you will have experienced the busy mind that meditators in the East call the monkey mind. For most new meditators, the busyness of the monkey mind becomes a frustrating experience.

I have personally experienced this. When I first learned to meditate, I was taught in the traditional way which actually makes meditation an unsatisfactory experience for many new meditators. It soon just becomes yet another chore that we ‘must do’ because it will be good for us. We then struggle to fit in our meditation sessions alongside, work, commuting, family, exercise, socialising, time off and so-on. Meditation rarely wins this competition for our time and attention.

My 30 years of experience meditating and my five years of experience teaching meditation in person to over 5,000 students in 600 courses and over a thousand classes and training sessions has helped me learn how people can learn to meditate most easily.

I will teach you how to avoid all the usual distractions, dead ends and pitfalls. They are all things that I, and most meditators, experience not because that is how meditation is, but because that is how it is taught.

My goal is for you to gain and maintain a sustainable practice.

You can learn, in a single day, how to find and build a sustainable practice which will help you learn how to cope with the challenges of our increasingly frantic and overwhelming lives.

You’ll leave the day with skills to:

  • Reduce unhelpful thoughts and uncomfortable emotions
  • Increase your well-being and happiness
  • Learn how to reduce the impact of difficult experiences

What you will get from the retreat

  • Intensive in-person training
  • Key meditation practices
  • Stress management techniques
  • Emotional resilience techniques
  • 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 13 January 2018

Step Topic
1 Meditation. What is it, why would I want it and how do I get it?
2 Meditation and the busy mind
3 Meditation and stress
4 Meditation and mindfulness
5 Meditation and focus
6 Too busy to meditate
7 Meditation and relaxation
8 Meditation and fatigue
Click here to book

About The Retreat

Who can benefit?

Our retreats are not just for stress reduction. According to Tim Ferris’ book ‘Tools of Titans’, 80% of the highly successful people he interviewed to learn about their habits have either a meditation or mindfulness practice.
Our tools and techniques can accelerate your personal development. Everyone leaves with new skills and for some, the experience can be transformational.

Training Location

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

Click here to book

Pricing

Fees
£85
Click here to book

 

Mastering Meditation in 8 Easy Steps Mini-Series January 2019

Join us for our ‘Mastering Meditation in 8 Easy Steps’ Mini-Series at venues in Bromley, Beckenham and Orpington in January and February of 2019. The mini-series will be run at all venues each week so if you miss one you may be able to attend at another venue. If you miss all of them then you can listen in to a session recorded at one of the sessions free of charge on our podcast.

The focus is on practical experience backed up deeply with the information you need to understand the why and how of meditation, and not just the what.

Content

The mini-series introduces the most effective meditation training techniques. The sessions are packed with real-life examples. There is personal guidance and support, combined with the latest tools and techniques. The training will equip you with the tools and techniques you need to build a sustainable meditation practice.

About the 8 Easy Steps to mastering meditation

he
These sessions are being run in conjunction with the 8 Easy Steps to mastering meditation Day-Retreat held on January 13 at The Mansion in Beckenham Place Park. The Day-Retreat can be attended separately or while attending the mini-series. For details of the mini-series, click here:
Meditation is officially hard. Every article on meditation says this. If you’ve tried to meditate, you will have experienced the busy mind that meditators in the East call the Monkey Mind. For most new meditators, the monkey mind becomes a frustrating experience.

I have personally experienced this. When I first learned to meditate, I was taught in the traditional way which actually makes meditation an unsatisfactory experience for many new meditators. It soon just becomes yet another chore that we ‘must do’ because it will be good for us. We then struggle to fit in our meditation sessions alongside, work, commuting, family, exercise, socialising, time off and so-on. Meditation rarely wins this competition for our time and attention.

My 30 years of experience meditating and my five years of experience teaching meditation in person to over 5,000 students in 600 courses and over a thousand classes and training sessions has helped me learn how people can learn to meditate most easily.

I will teach you how to avoid all the usual distractions, dead ends and pitfalls. They are all things that I, and most meditators, experience not because that is how meditation is, but because that is how it is taught.

My goal is for you to gain and maintain a sustainable practice.

You can learn, by attending this mini-series, how to find and build a sustainable practice which will help you learn how to cope with the challenges of our increasingly frantic and overwhelming lives.

You’ll learn the skills to:

  • Reduce unhelpful thoughts and uncomfortable emotions
  • Increase your well-being and happiness
  • Learn how to reduce the impact of difficult experiences

What you will get from the training

  • The ‘more than just mindfulness’ podcast
  • Intensive in-person training
  • Key meditation and mindfulness practices
  • Stress management techniques
  • Emotional resilience techniques
  • Supporting information
  • 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 which is an active community of engaged students. We run social events of all sorts over the course of the year.
  • Telephone, text or email support
Click here to book

Training Sessions

Week commencing Topic
7th Jan Meditation. What is it, why would I want it and how do I get it?
14th Jan Meditation and the busy mind
21st Jan Meditation and stress
28th Jan Meditation and mindfulness
4th Feb Meditation and focus
11th Feb Too busy to meditate
18th Feb Meditation and relaxation
25th Feb Meditation and fatigue
Click here to book

About The Retreat

Who can benefit?

Our retreats are not just for stress reduction. According to Tim Ferris’ book ‘Tools of Titans’, 80% of the highly successful people he interviewed to learn about their habits have either a meditation or mindfulness practice.
Our tools and techniques can accelerate your personal development. Everyone leaves with new skills and for some, the experience can be transformational.

Training Locations

Location 1. Saturdays at 10 am and Thursdays at 11 am
The Mansion, Beckenham Place Park, Beckenham BR3 1SY

 

Location 2. Tuesdays at 1.15 pm
Chantry Studios, 20 Chantry Ln, Bromley BR2 9QL

 

Location 3. Thursdays at 8 pm
Orpington Village Hall, 311 High St, Orpington BR6 0NN

 

Click here to book

Pricing

Fees
Passes can be used at any of our regular meditation classes and don’t expire so if you don’t complete all the classes you can use them in the future.
Pass to cover the entire mini-series (not including the day-retreat)- £56 (£7 per session)
Contact us to make payment.
Click here to book

 

Mindfulness for Busy People One Day Intensive Retreat – Sunday 11 November 2018

Join us for our One Day Mindfulness for Busy People Retreat on Sunday, November 11, 11 am – 4.30 pm at The Mansion at Beckenham Place Park.

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

Content

The retreat introduces the most effective mindfulness meditation and training techniques. The retreat is packed 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 unhelpful thoughts and uncomfortable emotions
  • Increase your well-being and happiness
  • Learn how to reduce the impact of difficult experiences

What you will get from the retreat

  • Intensive in-person training
  • Key meditation practices
  • Stress management techniques
  • Emotional resilience techniques
  • 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 11 November 2018

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. The techniques are simple yet powerful. 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. According to Tim Ferris’ book ‘Tools of Titans’, 80% of the highly successful people he interviewed to learn about their habits have either a meditation or mindfulness practice.
Our tools and techniques can accelerate your personal development. Everyone leaves with new skills and for some, the experience can be transformational.

About Resilience

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.

Training Location

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

Click here to book

Pricing

Fees
£85
Click here to book Click here to book

 

Mindfulness for Busy People One Day Intensive Retreat – 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.

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.

Training Location

Our Learning Space

Our learning space is a quiet retreat and ideal for mindfulness training. We are in a serene, high ceilinged, Victorian townhouse. Our training room has delightful patio with plenty of natural light for the summer and a roaring log fire for the winter. We are a four-minute walk from Bromley South station which is 16 minutes from Victoria.

The room is a perfect setting for practising and learning mindfulness. There is comfortable seating for all. Students can bring meditation cushions if they prefer.

QAA1
Click here to book

Pricing

Fees
£85
Click here to book 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

 

Mindfulness Training in January and February 2018

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 February 4th we are running a One-Day Mindfulness Training Retreat

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

Find Out More

January 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.
Beckenham Place Park 1st session_680x510
Learn about our classes

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do we switch it off?

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

Character Counting

Character Counting

Character Counting

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

Do this exercise for at least 90 seconds.

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

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

Mindfulness Training in Autumn and Winter 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.

The Truth About You 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 October 8th we are running a One-Day Training Retreat

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

Find Out More

November 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.
Beckenham Place Park 1st session_680x510
Learn about our classes

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

 

The view from our regular retreat centre at The Mansion in  Beckenham Place Park

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.

OR
 
Contact us directly by clicking the button below for guidance, information or bookings

Contact Us

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.

Mindfulness and Intuition

Intuition is something that I often find myself speaking about with students. It is part of our common experience and isn’t confined to realisations that change our lives or provide unexpected insights. Intuition is action without thought, it is how we live most of our lives. Decisions we take when driving are an example. We don’t think aloud in our minds which queue to take or when to brake it just happens.

The Science of Intuition

Intuition has seens some serious research study recently. Most noticeably from Daniel Kahnaman and Amos Tversky who won a Nobel  prize for their work and resulted in a book by Kahneman called ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’. In the book, Kahneman describes how our  brains enable us to get through the day.

There are two quotes from the book worth repeating. The first explains how our brains create a mental model or world view.

“The main function of [your subconscious] is to maintain and update a model of your personal world. [This model is constructed by associations that]  [determines your interpretations of the present as well as your expectations of the future.”

The second excerpt explains how we actually navigate our days.

“Whenever you are conscious, and perhaps even when you are not, your brain is] asking [some key questions:

Is anything new going on?

Is there a threat?

Are things going well?

Should my attention be redirected?”

What he is saying here is that there is a constant feedback loop between our inner experience and our outer experience and it is largely unconscious.

Mindfulness makes this loop conscious.

How Intuition and Mindfulness work together

The way that mindfulness practices work is to continually return us to an awareness of these otherwise unconscious experiences. One of my favourite definitions of mindfulness is “Awareness of unawareness”. This process of bringing previously unconscious experiences into the light of our awareness works at many levels over time as our meditation practice deepens. Mindfulness is a toolkit with one tool. That tool is a magic lens that helps us see through the fog of thoughts and emotions that cloud our experience and that distance us from the richness of our experience in so many ways.

Mindfulness and Mind-wandering

There is much talk about how mindfulness changes the brain but far less about what that change actually is.

Two studies that are worth reading are:

Impact of meditation training on the default mode network during a restful state

  • Taylor et.al 2013

Meditation experience is associated with differences in default mode network activity and connectivity

  • Brewer et.al 2011

These studies show that mindfulness operates on what we call default mode which is the state the brain is in when our minds are wandering.

It seems that connections to and from default mode grow after mindfulness training. This is probably our brains strengthening neural pathways that help to bring us out of the mind-wandering default mode state to full awareness. This has implications for many activities and circumstances but also provides a direct link between the subconscious and our conscious awareness that grows over time with practice. We can then become more aware of our unawareness and step back to witness our minds operating.

The Mind as an Iceberg

A common description of the mind is that it is like an iceberg with only a small part visible and the vast majority of work occurring where it can’t be seen in the subconscious. The work of researchers like Kahneman provide insight into this. He refers to intuition as “Thoughts and preferences that come to mind quickly and without much reflection”. What seems to be happening here is that we are retrieving information that is as it were, hard-coded, into our brains. The contents of our association cortex.

 

We can see by observing this exactly how we have become programmed to think, act and feel.

 

Sometimes of course, this direct connection with our programming can be unhelpful. Most of us have some sort of behaviour that, given the option, we would change so that it aligns more clearly with a behaviour that benefits our self-interest. Mindfulness is not a very useful tool for managing addictions directly, but what it does is to help reduce stress. Reducing stress helps of course so mindfulness is useful as part of an addiction programme. Mindfulness is however, the only tool that I am aware of, for observing our inner processes operating. We become incrementally more aware of self-talk, the operation of the inner critic and our unconscious responses and actions. This is one place where intuition and mindfulness come into contact. We become more aware of our intuitive responses.

 

Intuitive Realisation

The other way that mindfulness and intuition operate is that during meditation or periods of mindfulness, what I call intuitive realisations arise. We learn about ourselves and the causal links between experiences, thoughts and behaviours. I always keep a notebook by me when I meditate so that I can capture these insights. Most of what I have learned about myself, I have learned this way.

 

 

 

Peace of Mind

The Monkey Mind is the part of our mind that works against us.

The Monkey Mind is the combination of thoughts and emotions that keeps us awake when we need to sleep, it is the part of the mind that says we can have ‘just one more’ drink or that we don’t need to exercise. It is the part of the mind that keeps our worries and fears in the forefront of our minds and that pops up images and emotions related to difficult memories. It is the tape that continually runs in our heads. It criticises, it complains, judges, compares, and chides.

In the 21st century, the Monkey Mind is the backdrop of our lives.

The Monkey Mind is also the part of our minds that stops us from being happy.

This is what I teach. I teach my students how to calm their Monkey Mind.

When there is a great deal of thought and emotion, the mind is like a river in flood. There are waves, noise, froth, silt and foam. We can’t see below the turmoil on the river’s surface. There are whirlpools waterfalls and rapids. The river becomes dangerous and disquieting.

When the river calms, the surface stills and the water becomes clear. We can see the bottom clearly. We can also see any obstacles that are there. We can see the rocks and holes, the old shopping trolleys, the pieces of rotting wood and rusty metal sticking up like stakes ready to impale us.

To cross the river safely, we have to clear the obstacles when the river calms. We must climb in, discover and dispose of each obstacle in turn so the bottom becomes clear and we can navigate the river bed without fear.

In the river of the mind, both the current and the obstacles are thoughts and emotions. This is what the mind is: thoughts and emotions. Thoughts can be many things: memories, an inner dialogue, images, rehearsals, mental movies more. Emotions are often sensations in the body but for some they can be the speed and nature of thought or just our unconscious and sometimes unhelpful responses.

Certain thoughts and emotions become linked together in the mind. Sometimes, a thought arises, then an emotion might follow. At other times, we might feel an emotion which then triggers the thoughts that are linked to it. I call this entanglement. Entanglement of thoughts and emotions can become incredibly complicated and difficult to remove.

Mindfulness meditation enables us to separate our thoughts and emotions.

If we can calm the mind enough, we can observe the thoughts and discover how transient and temporary they are. We can then observe our emotions arising and subsiding entirely separated from the thoughts. Eventually we can learn that thoughts and emotions are transient, temporary and unconnected. When this happens, these entangled thoughts and emotions lose the power to fill our awareness. We can then choose whether to allow the mind to continue to flow, or instead, we can connect with the sensory present moment.

By connecting to the sensory present moment in the absence of the confusing turmoil of entangled thoughts and emotions, we discover the only thing that is permanent in our lives. We discover the infinitely changing and vividly rich experience of our sensory present moment and how it can be cleansed of turmoil, become calm and peaceful to then be filled with beauty, wonder and the joy of life.

This is happiness and peace of mind. It is accessible, sustainable and available to everyone throughout our lives by engaging with the ancient practices of mindfulness meditation.

Measuring Mindfulness with BIFI

For some time now I have been using a teaching tool that I call BIFI. I designed it to help my students measure their progress.

BIFI stands for boredom, impatience, frustration and irritation.

“So how does that measure mindfulness?” you might say…

The reality is that mindfulness isn’t a thing. It is the absence of a thing. The thing that mindfulness is the absence of, is those heavily conditioned responses that cloud our experience. Endless judgment, self-judgment, criticism and comparison robs us of the joy of life and connection to the present moment. Practicing mindfulness is a lifetime task of building an awareness of this jumble of unhelpful responses and responding to it by returning to the experience of the present moment.

BIFI is evidence that we are not mindfully aware. The more BIFI, the less mindfulness.

By noticing, noting, or even measuring BIFI by writing a BIFI journal, we can observe our negative responses diminishing and our mindfulness growing over time.

If you adopt BIFI as a measure, do drop us a line to tell us which direction your BIFI index is moving in and how fast.

Best of luck with your mindfulness journeys

Mindfulness in the Media

All media coverage of new things follows the same pattern.

The tech industry has a concept known as the media hype cycle which was originally created by Gartner the business analyst consultancy.

The hype cycle works like this:

The Trigger
There is a trigger when the media becomes aware of a new buzzword. In this case ‘Mindfulness’. Bear in mind that at this stage it is absolutely a buzzword because the media understandably knows nothing about it.

The Peak of Inflated Expectations
The trigger is followed by the media hyping up that buzzword and everything related to it in what is known as ‘the peak of inflated expectations’.

The Trough of Disillusionment
The spike of uninformed speculation is inevitably followed by the ‘trough of disillusionment’ as the hype fails to live up to the media’s initial expectations and they then zero in on anything that could possibly contradict the hype they created in the first place. sigh…

The Slope of Enlightenment
Then we have the ‘slope of enlightenment’. This occurs when the media can no longer hype or rubbish the buzzword any longer as it has all been said many times and the reality behind the concept emerges. This also means the readers and viewers want more than uninformed opinion and so instead of publishing meaningless soundbites, recycled news stories and rewording press releases from poorly supported studies; real journalistic work must be done. It also takes this long for some journalists to build a level of expertise in the subject that enables them to comment on it in an informed manner.

The Plateau of Productivity
This final stage is the point at which the concept has been assimilated as an accepted practice. This is where we see the real benefits. For mindfulness, in the UK, this will probably take another five to ten years. Mindfulness is a natural trait which massively reduces the burdens of our crazy artificial life and I fully expect it to become more integrated into study, work and daily life as time goes on.

Where we are right now
Right now, mindfulness media hype is somewhere between the ‘peak of inflated expectations’ and the ‘trough of disillusionment’. I read stories both hyping and rubbishing mindfulness. These are often contradictory and often from the same sources. This is the understandable confusion that comes from trying to comment on something that is out of our experience. In time, various news sources will take sides and mindfulness will probably develop a political bias. Only about one in every ten articles I read has any balance or a foundation in fact worth reporting. When I find balanced or informative articles, I post them on Twitter. We need to move away from extreme and unhelpful interpretations of what is a subtle and beneficial practice.

If you want to learn more about mindfulness keep an eye on this blog or my Twitter feed:

Bromley Mindfulness Twitter Feed

Two unforgettable and inexpensive mindfulness and happiness Christmas presents for children

By giving these gifts this Christmas you can make some young children happy throughout the year and help them learn mindfulness too!

A Mind Jar

Ingredients:

  • One large jar with a screw-on watertight lid.
  • A small amount of coloured dye. Blue works best.
  • Some silver and gold plastic confetti.

Instructions:
Fill the jar with water, add the blue dye until you get the shade and colour of a light sky.

Add the confetti. Screw on the lid until the jar is sealed tight. Turn it on its top and leave it overnight to test it is watertight.
Get a piece of paper. On one side, write “Happy Christmas, this is your mind jar. See the other side of this paper for instructions”. On the other side write these instructions: “Turn the jar over, watch the twinkling, star-like confetti spin and turn as it slowly drifts to the bottom. Notice how quiet your mind becomes. Turn the jar over again and repeat for as long as you want.
Happy Christmas from (add your name here)”.
Wrap it up and give for Christmas to a child.
Their mum will love you forever because it keeps them quiet for ages!

A Happy Jar

Ingredients:

  • One small notebook.
  • One large jar with a lid that the notebook will fit in.
  • A small pair of plastic scissors. (the type you give to children for craft projects)

Instructions:
Cut a hole in the top of the jar. The hole needs to be large enough to easily post a small piece of paper through it. About big enough to get a 50p coin in. Be careful when you cut the hole and make sure there are no sharp edges left.
Write these instructions in the front page of the notebook.
: “EVERY day, write down three NEW things (don’t write down the same thing twice) that either make you happy, that you appreciate, or that you feel grateful for. (If you’re not sure about what any of this means, ask mummy)
You can’t write down the same happy things twice, so you may need to find very small things that have happened in the last day”.
Cut each new thing you have written out into a paper strip using the plastic scissors and post it into the jar.
Notice how the happy jar soon fills up.
When you’re feeling sad or confused, go to the happy jar and take out as many paper strips as you need to help you to feel happy again. Read them, add another three and put them all back in the jar.
Happy Christmas from (add your name here)”.

This will make some young children very happy and you can have fun making it too.

Have a Great Christmas!

Mindfulness Cheat Sheet

Screenshot 2015-10-17 09.54.36

Over the years, I have collected a number of practices that have helped to boost my presence (present moment awareness).
This is absolutely the puropse of mindfulness training. If we spend our day experiencing what we can see, hear, smell, touch and taste instead of wandering in our minds to places that are unhelpful for our happiness then life simply becomes better.

Feel free to download it and share it as much as you’d like.

A useful personal collection of mindfulness tips, tricks, techniques and practices

Compiled by Robert Mitchell of Bromley Mindfulness 2015

View here

Download here
Daily Mindfulness Cheatsheet

Are you addicted to your mobile?

  1. Have you ever felt you should cut down on your mobile phone use?
  2. Have people ever annoyed you by criticizing your mobile phone use?
  3. Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your mobile phone use?
  4. When you wake up in the morning is the first thing you do to look at your messages?

Yes answers to 2 or more questions is a problem as they are adapted from the CAGE questionnaire used to identify alcoholics:

Link to the CAGE Questionnaire.

Mindfulness cures digital distraction. Contact me to find out more.

How mindfulness brings peace of mind in a crazy world

Mindfulness isn’t a thing, it’s the absence of a thing. The thing that mindfulness is an absence of is unconscious conditioned responses. This is where we respond to an experience the way that we have learned to, without conscious awareness or thought.

How we spend our live in unconscious consciousness
This might be just how we spend our time while traveling our it could be something deeper such as how we respond to a family member or a colleague.

These sort if responses aren’t bad, but one unconscious response can lead to another and we can find ourselves with a complex pattern of behaviour that just limits our happiness and peace of mind.

Unconscious responses in action
Let me give you an example. Let’s take commuting. Thinking back to when I was working in central London, the commute, especially the morning commute, was a significant source of stress for me.

I was one of those people that calculates where the doors of the train would be, then stands there hoping to get into the train first. The reason for that is that I could then get a seat and I wouldn’t be squashed up against the other commuters when the train was busy which would add to my already significant burden of stress. When the doors opened I would dash for any seats I could find, but sometimes, someone would beat me to it. When that happened I would purse my lips and then spend the journey standing and seething internally. My thoughts were invariably about what I was going to do at work, going round and round in my head for the entire journey.

This would then be one of the many negative experiences that would add up to my having a bad day. I had a lot of bad days. I know I wasn’t alone.

Developing presence
In time, as I developed my mindfulness practice, that same scenario would still play out but at some point I would become aware of how my response to that experience was making me feel. This means that I would feel the Internal sensation of my personal stress and it would dissolve or dissipate. This is what happens to negative emotions when we develop mindfulness. They subside and we regain a sense of proportion. Our responses are proportionate to the experience.

Now, if that happened to me I would become aware instantly of any negative emotional response, I focus my awareness on it and it subsides.

Whether I’m standing or sitting, I can meditate to calm my mind no matter how crowded the train gets.

I still like to get a seat on the train but it has stopped being a problem when I don’t.

I hope this helps to give you an idea of how mindfulness can help you. If you’d like to try mindfulness training, come to one off my drop-in classes, book a course or arrange for a free online mindfulness coaching session.

Robert teaches mindfulness courses at Bromley Mindfulness. Click here to find out more.

Mindfulness Meditation – The Evidence 2. The Details

August saw the publication, by the American Journal of Psychiatry, of a seminal study into the effects of mindfulness training on a group of US Marines taught during their counter-insurgency training prior to deployment to Afghanistan.

This was the culmination of five years work by Elizabeth Stanley and her colleagues from the Mind Fitness Training Institute – M-Fit.

One of the difficulties in studying human experience is how to isolate individuals from external events that may affect their responses and so invalidate the findings of the studies. This is one of the reasons, along with a wide range of measures, rigorous analysis and adequate controls that makes this study so important.

The study, entitled: ‘Modifying Resilience Mechanisms in At-Risk Individuals: A Controlled Study of Mindfulness Training in Marines Preparing for Deployment’ is available here .

A useful synopsis article from Science Daily is available here.

I can’t conceive of a group more difficult to convince of the benefits of mindfulness than the military. Here is a quotation lifted from the Washington Times  from US Marine Sergeant Nathan Hampton on his mindfulness training. You can see what his initial position might have been when he was told about it. :)

“A lot of people thought it would be a waste of time. Why are we sitting around a classroom doing weird meditative stuff? But over time, I felt more relaxed. I slept better. Physically, I noticed that I wasn’t tense all the time. It helps you think more clearly and decisively in stressful situations. There was a benefit.”

It is important to understand the context of this study. These guys are going back into an environment that has seen them losing their friends and suffering greatly. Some of their comrades may well be suffering from PTSD or they may have recovered from it themselves The counter-insurgency traing is held in a simulated environment that is apparently just like being in Afghanistan. You can see it here.

According to the authors this is “the first study of the effect of mindfulness training utilizing multiple domains of measurement”.
There were *significant* positive differences between the mindfulness training group and the control group using the following measures:

  • Heart rate
  • Breathing rate
  • Neuropeptide Y (stress hormone indicator)
  • Interoception measured via Insula activity (body awareness, critical for effective decision making)
  • The Response to Stressful Experiences Scale

I think this is a ground-breaking study and adds extremely valuable evidence to the already reliable body of evidence accruing to prove the benefits of mindfulness meditation.

If you want to find out more, drop me a line at robert@middlewayconsulting.com

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.

 

Mindfulness and walking by Eckhart Tolle

If you go into a forest with your mind only, you’ll only notice the sounds and the mind will try to interpret them. You might think you’re present; but you’re not really, you’re simply judging what you hear. But if you become aware of the silent dimension underneath the sounds and in between the sounds, then you become present because the moment you become aware of the silence, you also have become silent.Eckhart Tolle

Mindfulness tip of the day – turn mobile data off by default

Being bombarded with a constant stream of messages is a First World Problem but it is a very real one.

Not only endless notifications but more importantly the pull of the Twitter and Facebook streams is a real issue for some of us. It is difficult to tell people to turn our phones off in this day and age, but turning off data means you can still be contacted by your nearest and dearest, but the lure and distraction of the alternative digital world is abated for a while.

When you *really need* to tweet or check Facebook, you can just turn it back on again.

Have a mindful day…

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.

Quotations on presence (present moment awareness) from Eckhart Tolle

If you’re coming to our coffee and mindfulness meeting tonight here is some food for thought, and if you’re not… here’s some food for thought. :)

“This is most people’s reality: As soon as something is perceived, it is named, interpreted, compared to something else, liked, disliked, or called good or bad by the phantom self, the Ego. They are imprisoned in thought forms, in object consciousness.”

“As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love – even the most simple action.”

“The past has no power over the present moment.”

“Give up defining yourself — to yourself or to others. You won’t die. You will come to life. And don’t be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it’s their problem. Whenever you interact with people, don’t be there primarily as a function or a role, but as the field of conscious Presence. You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are”.
~ A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.”

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but thought about it. Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral. It is as it is.”

nature as a portal to mindfulness

There was a time when I could only meditate in nature.

It was the second time around for me for meditation and I was absolutely struggling to clear my mind of thoughts.

I would travel to the countryside during the weekend and find a quiet place after walking for about half an hour, usually in a forest somewhere. I would sit down with my back to a tree and actually be able to focus on my breathing without thoughts intervening.
Usually in these meditation sessions I would be able to maintain mindfulness for about half an hour or so. I was aware of the sounds of the forest, the sound and movement of the creatures in it, the sound of falling leaves and the wind in the trees.

I was so stressed that I struggled to be free of my inner dialogue without doing all of this to get away from it. Since then I have always looked at nature as a way of finding my way back to mindfulness.

Interestingly, the next place I was able to meditate was in a busy coffee shop. :)

Since then I have always used nature as what Eckhart Tolle calls “a portal into the present moment”. Any nature will do. Even just a plant in a busy office or a glimpse of a cloud or the sky through the window.

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…

one second mindfulness

There is no moment in life, no matter how harrowing it is, where we cannot be mindful.

In fact, for the most critical life-and-death moments, our minds block thought. Our body goes into emergency mindfulness mode. We ‘know’ what to do instinctively and do it without thought.

Try the one second mindfulness exercise.

Simply breathe in mindfully. Move your attention to your breath from whatever is happening.

The key is just to focus on the breath while we are breathing in. This momentarily clears our minds of whatever we are hooked into at that moment. Even if we are concentrating on something that needs focus, it is good to have a brief energising pause.

This single second of mindfulness can return us to what we were doing with a renewed energy and a new perspective. We have a level of presence and present moment awareness that we didn’t have previously.

silencing the inner iPod

Have you ever had a piece of music going round and round in your head that you just can’t get rid of?

Irritatingly it can be the jingle from an advertisement or something that was playing in a cafe or shop. I don’t know about you but sometimes with me, it is a piece of music I don’t like!

It could be something that you heard a few days back or even a tune triggered by a few words that you associated with the lyrics and then started the internal band/singer/orchestra playing.

A while back, in order to try to humour her old Dad, my daughter tried mindfulness meditation and told me that the music in her head was one of the things that was stopping her from focusing on her breath. She named this her “inner iPod” and asked me how she could stop it!

Without realising it I had been able to stop my inner iPod for quite a while, so the next time I experienced it, I was aware of how that happened.

What I do is to listen to ‘where’ it was coming from. In the same way that can be aware of the location of the source of a sound in physical space, I allowed myself to be aware of the physical location of the source of the sound of my inner iPod. When I do this, for me, it stops.

I hope it helps you.

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.

Mala beads for everyday mindfulness

I was recently in Watkins Books. While I was there I noticed some mala beads. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_prayer_beads

These are normally used when reciting a mantra but I decided to try them out as a way of counting my breaths when doing the breathing meditation.

It works out really well as they act as both an anchor to the present moment (see my blog article here) and as a way of counting breaths.

I hope this helps your mindfulness practice.

Namaste

the three second rule for mindfulness

You can find a number of three second rules if you search for them on the internet.

This one is about staying mindful.

As we progress in our mindfulness training, we become mindfully aware of our conditioned responses earlier and earlier in our experiences.

An example is:

Before mindfulness

I get onto the train for my commute and someone pushes in front of me to take the only seat left on the carriage. I get angry and stand glowering all the way to my destination resenting him and thinking to myself how rude people are. I am a good person living in a world full of rude and selfish people!

While learning mindfulness

I get onto the train for my commute and someone pushes in front of me to take the only seat left on the carriage. I get angry and stand glowering most of the way to my destination resenting him and thinking to myself how rude people are. I am a good person living in a world full of rude and selfish people. But then I realise that the way I feel is because of my conditioning and that he behaved the way he did because of his and maybe the world isn’t so bad after all…

When mindful

I get onto the train for my commute and someone pushes in front of me to take the only seat left on the carriage.
I smile realising that the feelings I can detect just below the surface of my experience are my ancient conditioning at work. I feel compassion for the rude guy because he so desperately needs a perceived victory to get through his day.

The three second rule

While learning mindfulness, the three second rule comes in handy

What we do is this:

Whenever, and that is *whenever* we experience a negative emotion:

  • take in a breath (second one)
  • hold it for a moment (second two)
  • breathe out (second three)
  • allow yourself to be aware of how you feel

You will find that you have punctuated your flow of emotion and train of thoughts, stopping you from possibly descending into a negative feedback loop of thoughts and emotions.

Try it, let me know how it goes?

mindfulness and insomnia

Having difficulty sleeping is a common thing in our society. Even if you sleep well most of the time, what happens when you need to get up at 4AM to get an early flight or train?

What happens to most of us is that we don’t sleep well enough. There is an old wive’s tale that to help us sleep we should count sheep. This is sage advice. What that does is to take our mind off of the desire to sleep which is what actually keep us up. Mindfulness meditation worked better for me than counting sheep did!

Just do a simple mindful breathing meditation or a counting breaths meditation and see how it goes.

If you’d like to know a bit more about mindfulness and sleep take a look at this study: How mindfulness changed my sleep: focus groups with chronic insomnia patients which was published in the Official journal of the International Society for Complementary Medicine Research and was authored by A. Hubbling et.al of the College of Pharmacy & School of Nursing, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

 

making use of the commute

Do you hate queuing or waiting? Do you get impatient or maybe even angry?

Queuing and waiting are opportunities for mindfulness practice and in time you may even look forward to them.

When you’re in a queue you’re simply stuck there. Learn to accept it and rather than letting compulsive thought take over, use the opportunity to meditate for a few minutes. Even a few calm breaths in a short queue or delay will be of benefit.

This is a perfect example of how we can release our old conditioned emotional and mental responses and replace them with mindfulness and presence.

We need to take any opportunity we can to find the stillness and calm that underlies the busy content of our lives.

Eventually, as we become more mindful, we will find that boredom, frustration and impatience will dissolve. Queues and delays are some of the most frustrating kinds of experiences that can cause us impatience. By using them for mindfulness practice, we find that over time we become more mindful and less impatient in *all* of our experiences.

In that way, queues and delays will end up benefiting us. You may even discover that you become grateful for the opportunity to stop in a queue because you’ll then have an opportunity to be calm and mindful for a while.

Happy queueing!

mindful walking

Any activity for which you don’t need full concentration, you can use as an opportunity to be mindful.

Walking is a perfect example. Without the intervention of distracting thoughts or emotions, a walk opens up. We can become aware of more of our surroundings as our brain relaxes the filters that it uses to limit our sensory perceptions because it is busy endlessly churning the problems of the day.

No problems means we have a richer experience.

We observe more, we feel more, we see more, colours are brighter, we smell and see things we would not normally notice. We experience our surroundings in a clearer manner than when we are preoccupied with our inner dialog.

This is what is known as transcendence. It isn’t a mystic state of mind or trance, it is how our ancestors would have experienced their natural environment as they travelled through it open to all and any sensory perception.

This is our natural state. Enjoy it…

anchoring to the present moment

As we go through our day-to-day life, we find it very difficult to find a time and place to stop and be mindful, even if only for a few moments.

Mindfulness is being in the present moment. So anything that brings us back to the present moment long enough to become aware that we could/should/can be mindful for even a moment or two is helpful to our daily practice.

An example of this could be, for instance, a stone you keep in your pocket or a strategically placed plant.

We call these things an anchor because it anchors us in the present moment.

When you feel or see the anchor it serves as a present moment reminder.

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.

Seattle Seahawks Offensive Tackle on his mindfulness training

Offensive tackle, Russell Okung: “Meditation is as important as lifting weights and being out here on the field to practice. It’s about quieting your mind and getting into certain states where everything outside of you doesn’t matter in that moment. There are so many things telling you that you can’t do something, but you take those thoughts captive, take power over them, and change them.”

US Marine Sergeant on his Mindfulness Training

Here’s a quote from Sgt. Nathan Hampton – US Marine Corps on the mindfulness meditation sessions that were included in his counter insurgency training prior to deployment in Afghanistan.

“A lot of people thought it would be a waste of time. Why are we sitting around a classroom doing weird meditative stuff? But over time, I felt more relaxed. I slept better. Physically, I noticed that I wasn’t tense all the time. It helps you think more clearly and decisively in stressful situations. There was a benefit.”

Quoted from Washington Times Article

7 easy practices that will help you build mindfulness into your day

meditation-1024x640

There are a number of useful techniques that will help to bring mindfulness to your daily living. Here are a few of the ones I found, and still find, useful.

1. Mindful eating

It is easy to get in the habit of eating quickly and absent-mindedly which causes us to miss out on taste, smells and texture our food. Eating mindfully is a great way of bringing ourselves into the present moment.

I was in a cafe earlier today and as I looked around while waiting for my meal to be served, I noticed that everyone was either chatting, reading or viewing their mobiles while they ate. When I was served, instead of distracting myself, I ate slowly and tasted every bite. It was delicious. Try to eat alone yourself at least once per day and when you do focus on the taste and texture of the food. It adds another dimension to life.

2. Mindful commuting

Over the years, commuters have slightly changed their habits from all being buried in a newspaper, to being glued to mobile phones or tablets. Here is another situation where, if you look around, you will find yourself being the only person not focused on the communal activity. This “dead time” of commuting you can use to your benefit by focusing on your breath and experiencing the journey.

3. Mindful queuing

There was a time when I dreaded queuing. I found it stressful. I was one of those people that is constantly looking for a faster moving queue to which I would swap if I thought that I could be served faster. The ultimate frustration was when after swapping queues, I found myself behind somebody with a complex customer service issue requiring the attendance of the supervisor and much discussion. I would watch despairingly as my original queue moved forward and the people that were standing behind me left the premises!
For a while, queues became an opportunity for spiritual practice where I could take a few moments to meditate and learn to deal with the cruel unfairness of a slow queue with a sense of equanimity. Since then,  as my patience has grown, queues have progressed to become not in the least bit remarkable.

4. Look out of the window

It is interesting how, when we are busy, our confinement in a room becomes almost absolute. We seem to forget that we are part of the world outside. Just looking out of the window for a few moments can help us to return to the present moment for a while. This works particularly well if there is some nature outside such as: trees, plants, flowers or birds.

5. Present moment anchors

For a while, when I was practicing very hard to bring mindfulness into my everyday life I used what is called an anchor. In my case, these were small stones that I would put in my pocket. As they are out of place they tend to cause our chain of thoughts to pause and enable us to become mindful at that moment. Any object can be used for this provided that it is something that is in someway unusual and that will cause a momentary pause in the train of thought enabling mindfulness.

6. Mindful walking

To initially practice mindful walking, it is best to get away for a solitary walk. Meditating or praying while walking is an ancient practice characterized by pilgrimage. Focus on your feet, the feeling of your feet on the floor and your breath entering and leaving your body. Once you have spent some time doing this on a few occasions, you’ll find that as you walk around in daily life the memory of mindful walking will prompt you so you can make it a part of your daily practice,

7. Take your breaks

Whatever it is you’re doing, you can retain your focus better and be more productive if you have some breaks. Often, we will use our breaks to chat to friends, colleagues or family but if we take some of our free time and use it for mindfulness meditation then we will have found a useful way to introduce mindfulness into our daily lives.

Ego – Eckhart Tolle

The particular egoic patterns that you react to most strongly in others and misperceive as their identity tend to be the same patterns that are also in you, but that you are unable or unwilling to detect within yourself. In that sense, you have much to learn from your enemies. What is it in them that you find the most upsetting, most disturbing? Their selfishness? Their greed? Their need for power and control? Their insincerity, dishonesty, propensity to violence, or whatever it might be? Anything that you resent and react strongly to in a other is also in you. But it is no more than a form of ego, and as such, it is completely impersonal. It has nothing to do with who that person is, nor has it to do with who you are. Only if you mistake it for who you are can observing it within you be threatening to your sense of self.

~ Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth)
photo – JSmith@flickr.com

A First Step to Mindfulness

If you’re looking for a way to be mindful and it all seems like gobbledygook but you’re pretty convinced of the benefits and you know intuitively that there’s something to it, but you can’t really get on with this breathing meditation stuff and all the while your days are stretching out into an infinity of distress then…

Whenever you either have a quiet moment or when it all becomes a bit too much for you just take the day one minute at a time.

Think for a second about where you are and what you will be doing for the next minute because no matter how hard life is, we can all cope with a minute of it.

Good Luck!