Something boring?

Surprise!

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.

 

Wonder

 

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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

The miraculous every day

 

dropletThank you to all of you who got in touch to find how my thumbs are healing (see last week’s Mindful Monday here). Indeed it is amazing that they have healed so quickly. A miracle?

I looked up a C S Lewis quotation mentioned by someone at last week’s Essence mindfulness gathering.

Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.

It is when we practice – intentionally – looking around us that we begin to glimpse miracles. Often – surprisingly – in the every day.

Maybe as we practice seeing the small things, we get closer to seeing the big things – and maybe, just maybe, the big things are actually the small things . . .

Thank you to Jo Crouch for the photograph – you are amazing at observing the detail in the every day.

This is Mindful Monday on Monday 24 June 2019.

Join Julie Hill and Sara Shailer for an evening of mindfulness at the Oasis in Cheltenham on Monday 8 July. To book your place, email hello@essencecheltenham.org.

Controlled?

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When we first think of being controlled, we might think of despotic regimes or dystopias where we don’t have freedom to make our own choices. A negative, fearful picture.

But here I am thinking of being controlled in the sense of exercising our freedom to make our own choices, or – put another way – practicing self-control. Being self-controlled is about deciding how we want to behave and then doing so. A positive, freeing picture.

We can make a choice NOT to do or have something because we believe it will be beneficial. Some of us may make a choice to limit our food intake (to maintain or lose weight) or our screen time (to turn our attention to those around us). Recently in the season of Lent, Christians may have ‘given up’ something they enjoy. Now in the Muslim season of Ramadan, Muslims may give up food and drink between dawn and sunset.  In doing this, both Christians and Muslims show their desire to draw closer to God.

We can also make a choice to do or have something. Take exercise as an example. We can practise self control when we make a choice to walk rather than get the bus or drive.

It is a positive picture of self-control – whether it is to do something or not to do something – but that doesn’t make it easy!

Look out today. Notice when you have a choice. Consider what the benefit of a particular choice would be. Would practicing self-control help you or someone else in body, mind or spirit? When we recognise the benefit – the result of – a particular choice, it will help us to be self-controlled – sometimes at least!

This is Mindful Monday on 6 May 2019.

If you live in or near Cheltenham, join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness on this theme of growing in self-control on Tuesday 14 May, 7.30-9 pm at the Oasis. Book your place by emailing hello@essencecheltenham.org

 

 

 

Pause

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Just a moment. A short moment. A very short moment.

Pause.

React.

As we explored growing in patience at an evening of mindfulness recently, the pause proved important! We can use awareness of our breath – perhaps consciously counting three breaths; perhaps doing ‘a mindful minute’ meditation – to create that pause. There is power in that pause.

As we pause, a menu of options will appear. We will have more choices.

Why the tulips? Beauty also makes us pause. As pause we marvel at what we see. It refreshes us and gives us a different perspective.

This is Mindful Monday on 8 April 2019.

Join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening on growing in self control in May.

A happy heart

happy heart

Enjoy this poem – and reflect on things in this day (the simple things) that give you a happy heart.

The Best Day of My Life by Gregory M. Lousignont

Today, when I woke up, I suddenly realized that this is the best day of my life ever!
There were times when I wondered if I would make it today; but I did!
And because I did I’m going to celebrate!

Today, I’m going to celebrate what an unbelievable life
I’ve have had so far: the accomplishments, the many blessings,
and, yes, even the hardships because they have served to make me stronger.

I will go through this day with my head held high and a happy heart.
I will marvel at God’s seemingly simple gifts:
the morning dew, the sun, the clouds, the trees, the flowers, the birds.

Today, none of these miraculous creations will escape my notice.
Today, I will share my excitement for life with other people.
I’ll make someone smile. I’ll go out of my way to perform an
unexpected act of kindness for someone I don’t even know.

Today, I’ll give a sincere compliment to someone who seems down.
I’ll tell a child how special he is, and I’ll tell someone I love
just how deeply I care for them and how much they mean to me.

Today is the day I quit worrying about what I don’t have and
start being grateful for all the wonderful things God has already given me.
I’ll remember that to worry is just a waste of time
because my faith in God and his Divine Plan ensures everything will be just fine.

Tonight, before I go to bed, I’ll go outside and raise my eyes to the heavens.
I will stand in awe at the beauty of the stars and the moon, and
I will praise God for these magnificent treasures.

As the day ends and I lay my head down on my pillow,
I will thank the Almighty for the best day of my life.
And I will sleep the sleep of a contented child,
excited with expectation because I know tomorrow is going to be
the best day of my life, ever!

This is Mindful Monday on 1 April 2019.

If you live near or in Cheltenham, join Julie Hill and Sara Shailer for an evening of mindfulness on the theme of growing in self-control on the evening of Tuesday 14 May 2019 at the Oasis.