Breathing in, breathing out

Our breath

Our breath is our life. When we practice focusing on our breath – the breath that just comes in and goes out naturally, without us having to force it – we are likely to at least approach a place of  stillness, a place of being just as we are in the present moment.

We can use our breath to journey through our bodies, imagining breathing into different parts of our bodies. As we do this we will make discoveries: areas that have a range of sensations (tingling, tightness, soreness) and areas without sensation. We will connect with our bodies, both the parts we find easy to accept and the parts we find harder to accept. This can help us to treat our bodies with kindness (instead of the impatience we may so often resort to), starting a journey of acceptance of our bodies and ourselves just as we are.

Give it a go! Click through here to an mp3 file of a sitting meditation of just over seven minutes. It takes you on a journey through your body using your breath. It will help you on a journey of acceptance of your body and yourself.

I recorded this on the request of Sarah W after I used it at a mindfulness session last week. Sarah reckons it might help her get to sleep. Hope it works!

Enjoy each and every one of you!

This is Mindful Monday on 18 November 2019.

If you live in or near Cheltenham, join us on Monday 2 December for an evening of mindfulness at the Oasis, 7.30-9 pm. Just email hello@essencecheltenham.org to let us know you are coming.

If you are part of a group or lead an organisation that would like to book mindfulness sessions, email hello@essencecheltenham.org or info@accompli.co.uk

 

Acceptance: a firm foundation for joy

joy acceptance

I found a meditation this week that is designed to help us accept our life moment by moment without judgement or the expectation for life to be other than what it is. Core mindfulness content indeed.

What surprised me was where I found this particular meditation. It is in a book called ‘The Book of Joy’. One step in the meditation is to think of a situation that you are having a hard time accepting. The next step is to remind yourself that this is the nature of reality because painful realities happen to us, those we love and are all around us in the world. The meditation is based on the idea that any possibility of joy requires an acceptance of reality. (If this stuff was easy, we wouldn’t have to work at it!).

The final step is to choose to recite or reflect on one of two passages, one from the Buddhist and one from the Christian tradition.

If something can be done about it,
what need is there for dejection?
And if nothing can be done about it,
what use is there for being dejected?
Shantideva, The Way of the Bodhisattva

God, give us the grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Reinhold Niebuhr, The Serenity Prayer

Sometimes acceptance of a situation is our destination; at other times as we accept a situation we see a way forward – an action we can choose to take – and therein is the possibility of joy.

This is Mindful Monday on 3 December 2018.

Join Julie Hill and Sara Shailer to explore growing in joy tonight at the Oasis in Cheltenham, 7.30-9 pm. Email hello@essencecheltenham.org to book your place.

Listening to yourself

Listening to yourself

Do you ever have the same thoughts going round and round in your head? And do they seem impossible to get away from? Really annoying you? Stopping you living in the present moment – and certainly seeming to interrupt times for meditation or just being?

We can ‘battle’ with our thoughts. It can feel like a full-on war zone.

A core attitude behind mindfulness – living in the present moment – is acceptance. By acceptance, I don’t mean resignation; I am not suggesting ‘if you thoughts keep churning round and round in your head, just live with them.’ Instead by acceptance, I mean acknowledging your thoughts. Other ways of saying it would be noting your thoughts, observing your thoughts, labelling your thoughts, or experiencing your thoughts. Accept that your mind has thoughts. This means accepting that you have thoughts instead of criticising yourself for having thoughts – not always an easy step.

So acknowledge the specific thoughts that you have. It can help to actually write them down as part of the experience of acknowledging them.

Now take another step, be curious about your thoughts. Examine them. You might ask of a specific thought, ‘When did I first start thinking this?’, ‘What triggered me thinking about it?’ ‘Is it an uncomfortable thought or a reassuring thought?’ I have found two questions particularly helpful in examining a specific thought: 1) ‘Is it true?’ 2) ‘Is it useful?’

We can adopt thoughts that are untrue. For example, we might think ‘I am a lousy person’  or some variant on that theme. Sometimes we need others to help us explore whether a thought is true or not – and as we explore we will find that we do indeed adopt some thoughts that are not true. Recognising a thought as untrue is key to changing your experience.

We can also allow thoughts to continue that are frankly useless to us. For example, we could choose to entertain a thought like ‘She/he doesn’t like me’. It may meet the truth test but does it actually get you anywhere? You may have tried to engage with that person and for reasons you don’t understand they remain cool towards you. It may be time to accept – to acknowledge – the situation. As you do this you will find your experience of that thought can change. You will begin the journey from a constant nagging thought of not being liked, to a place of acceptance where you can even set that thought to one side.

This is Mindful Monday on 14 May 2018.

Join Julie Hill and Sara Shailer tonight for an evening of mindfulness – on the theme of listening – at the Oasis Centre in Cheltenham. Please let us know you are coming so we can prepare the space for the right number of people.