Take a break outdoors

Pause outdoors

It is good to choose to spend some of our time simply being, not doing. (We are after all human beings, not human doings!)

Mindfulness, the act of keeping our attention in the present – with all that our five senses present us with – helps prevent repeat thoughts wearing us down and gives our minds a break. And often that helps reduce stress and anxiety and improves our mood. What’s not to like?

Plan to immerse yourself in the outdoors and really appreciate where you are. Remember to turn off your phone. Your mind will start to wander. With kindness (not crossness!), bring it back to the present moment immersing yourself perhaps by using one of your five senses: What can you see? What can you hear? What can you feel (useful sometimes to go barefoot for this)? Is there any taste in the wind? (There often is by the sea.) What can you smell?

Whether it is five minutes, an hour or a day, use all five senses to explore the environment around you, really noticing the small details.

This is Mindful Monday on 19 August 2019. Join Julie Hill and Sara Shailer tonight 7-8.30 pm practicing mindfulness in the outdoors. Call 07503 634531 or email hello@essencecheltenham.org for location. There is no charge.



I have a hedge in my garden that I inherited nearly 3 decades ago already well established. It has the odd brown patch appearing – and I decided to give it some fertiliser today in the hope that it will extend its life.

Having fertilised the hedge, I started thinking about how we as people also need fertiliser! I am not thinking of food to eat for our physical well being but other forms of food that feed us emotionally and spiritually.

I met with my co-facilitator Julie the day before, exploring the theme of how unique each person is in preparation for a series of mindfulness events in the autumn. I realise that there was emotional and spiritual fertiliser in the time we spent preparing, even though I didn’t recognised it as such at the time.

Perhaps we recognise activities (including doing nothingness, just being!) that feed or fertilise us when we come from them rejuvenated, changed in some way whether that is in our thinking or our spirits.

There is a poem that Julie and I reflected on, written to the Creator, and this is an excerpt:

“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

You may find refreshment as you read this. You may find it in something else today. Notice it; embrace it.

This is Mindful Monday on 12 August 2019. 

If you are in Cheltenham or the vicinity, join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness in the outdoors on Monday 19 August 2019, 7-8.30 pm. Email hello@essencecheltenham.org for details.

Something boring?


Each day has tasks which are repetitive – and which we often label ‘boring’. It could be hanging out washing, stacking the dishwasher or doing the washing up, peeling potatoes, buying milk, taking out the rubbish – or clearing junk emails.

Our minds are often impatient during these tasks. We focus only on the end of the task. “When this is done, then I will have a cuppa/watch TV/phone a friend.”

The fact of the matter is we need to do these tasks (usually anyway!). But we can actually immerse ourselves in the task, instead of putting our lives apparently on hold until we complete the task.

When we do the task with our full attention we start to notice, often drawing on our senses.

Give it a go. You need to do the task anyway. What will happen when you give it your full attention?

This is Mindful Monday on 5 August 2019.

If you live in Cheltenham or the surrounding area, join Julie Hill and Sara Shailer for an evening of mindfulness in the outdoors on Monday 19 August. Contact Sara on hello@essencecheltenham.org for further details.

Dates for autumn events available soon!



Falling awake: stop and drop

falling awake

More usually I think the phrase is ‘falling asleep’, not ‘falling awake’ (and I think it is Tesco that use the phrase ‘you shop we drop’).

Falling awake is the title of a book I am reading by Jon Kabat-Zinn on mindfulness.

I love his description of how to cultivate being mindful:

The invitation is always the same: to stop for a moment – just one moment – and drop into wakefulness. That is all. Stop and drop: meaning, drop in to your experience of experiencing, and for even the briefest of moments, simply holding it in awareness as it is – in no time, or to put it differently, in this timeless moment we call now, the only moment we actually ever have.

I am glad that while he notes it is simple, he also notes that it is not easy!

I have journeyed with many over the years including through facilitating Essence events in Cheltenham. Being with others in discovering how to be more mindfulness in the every day is incredibly helpful – and it also helps to have a bit of fun and laughter in the process.

Here’s to moments of falling awake in your day – and week – ahead.

This is Mindful Monday on Monday 29 July 2019.

If you are in the vicinity of Cheltenham, join us for an evening of mindfulness in the outdoors on Monday 19 August – email hello@essencecheltenham.org and I will get back to you to confirm time and location.


Are you being robbed?


Are you being robbed? Robbed of the present by worrying about the future?

It is common enough. We all do it. No need to beat yourself up at the pointlessness of it – instead explore it a bit more.

We live our lives in each moment we have – there is only ‘now’. And yet our minutes, hours and days are sometimes consumed not in the ‘now’ but worrying about what might be in the future. If we get into the habit of worrying, we are actually living not in the present moment but a fearful imagined future.

So what can we do when we find ourselves worrying? Firstly label it as such. ‘I am worrying about x’. Now instead of putting your energy into worrying, imagine a future that is wonderful – your fears are not realised and all is well. Got it? Now what could you do today – with all that energy you are not going to waste on worrying – to bring about that wonderful future? A simple action enabling you to live in the present – and help create a better future.

Here’s an example. It’s summer. Lots of us will have outdoor events planned. Our worry could be ‘it might rain and ruin everything’.

Step 1, label it: ‘I am worrying about rain ruining the day.’

Step 2, imagine a better outcome: ‘Even if it rains, it will still be fun if we are under cover.’

Step 3, do something about it today: call that friend and borrow that gazebo!

When you find yourself worrying, don’t let it drift. If you do, you are a willing conspirator in a plan to rob you of the present. And it is after all, all we ever have.

Join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness tonight, Monday 22 July, at 7.30 pm at the Oasis in Cheltenham. Our theme is living in the present moment while also helping to create the future. We will laugh and learn together – to book email hello@essencecheltenham.org






It could happen when we are looking at the intricacies of a plant or an insect, the formation and passing of the clouds, the night sky, or a new born’s hands and feet. We stare and we wonder. And as we wonder the physical world and the spiritual world seem somehow connected, closely associated.

There is an ancient writing that expresses this well,

“The heavens keep telling
    the wonders of God,
    and the skies declare
    what he has done.”

We may choose not to use the word God, preferring to refer to the Spirit or the Light. Whatever the detail of expression, there is wonder. And it serves us well to stand and to stare, welcoming that moment of connection between the physical and the spiritual.

This is Mindful Monday on 15 July 2019.

You can join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness, next Monday 22 July 2019 at 7.30 pm at the Oasis in Cheltenham. To book your place, email hello@essencecheltenham.org



It is a beautiful day by the sea. The waves are gentle. The sky is blue. The sun is warm. That was my experience last week in the picturesque Gower.

As I stroll along the promenade with my 97-year-old Mum-in-Law, she comments on the beauty of the day, excepting the strong sea breeze.

It was about as still as you get by the sea. And yet if you spend the majority of your time indoors and are a grand age, your perception will be different.

I wonder what perceptions we each have about today? Naming our perceptions can be powerful; it can open up our understanding and give us choices. We can come to understand what gives us that perception. That can be incredible valuable. We can also choose to respond to that perception (metaphorically put on another layer of clothing!) or may be even decide to take a risk and experience the breeze.

This is Mindful Monday on 8 July 2019.

If you haven’t already booked, you can still join Julie Hill and Sara Shailer for an evening of mindfulness tonight at the Oasis in Cheltenham at 7.30 pm. To book, email hello@essencecheltenham org