Frazzled?

Like a frazzle

Many of us love a frazzle (bacon-flavoured crisp). None of us would volunteer to feel frazzled.

I like this 3-minute portable technique from Ruby Wax for those moments when we do feel frazzled and need to step back. It’s good to start with a minute welcoming all thoughts rather than trying to push them away (and getting nowhere!).

1 Widen your focus by tuning into every thought in your mind, inviting them all in and letting them rip: the good, the bad and the ugly. The joys and the worries. After a minute, let them go…

2 Narrow your focus to just your breathing. Zoom in on a full breath, from nose to throat to chest, feeling your lungs expand and contract. After about a minute, let it go…

3 Widen your focus to your breath filling your whole body, from the top of your head right down to your toes. Inhale and exhale, feeling the breath empty out like a giant bellows.

Try it now – it’s only 3-minutes of your day.

If you came on the last virtual mindfulness session this is the meditation we used towards the end of our session.

This is Thoughtful Thursday on 4 June 2020.

Join me for a virtual mindfulness session on zoom at 10.30 am on 15 June 2020. Email hello@essencecheltenham.org for more details or to let me know you are coming.

 

5 minutes a day

candle

It is advent, marking the lead up to Christmas. Our thoughts may be on card writing, present making or buying, travel plans to meet with those we love, and things that have to be completed before the holidays begin. It may be a happy time of year; it may be a difficult time of year.

I have an advent candle that I plan to use each day (and will fail some days I know!). It will cause me to pause; to seek to be still (and forgive myself when this defeats me!). There will be happy moments; there will be difficult moments. But I know seeking stillness in the midst of the busyness of the season will be worthwhile. It will help me to be more aware of myself, of others – and the Light of the World.

Join me, whether you have an advent candle or not. Take five minutes each day to pause.

This is Mindful Monday on 2 December 2019.

Join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill at the Oasis, Cheltenham, tonight 2 December, 7.30-9 pm for an evening of mindfulness focussed on our interconnectedness. There will music, reflective craft, meditation – and always time out for a cuppa. Book your place by emailing hello@cheltenhamessence.org

Cuppa?

mug picture

Like me, do you ever find yourself checking if you have drunk your cuppa or not, only to find it empty? You drank it but didn’t notice doing so!

Sometimes we are scarcely aware as we eat and drink – and because we are not aware, we are not thankful for what we eat and drink

Here’s a meditation to do with a cuppa: increase your awareness; be thankful.

Look at the liquid as if you have never seen anything like it before.

Pay attention to seeing it. (Pause)

Note the colour of it. (Pause)

And now smell the liquid, moving the cup gently beneath your nose, and with each inbreath, carefully noticing the smell of it, if any. (Pause)

And now taking another look at it. (Pause)

And now slowly taking the cup to your mouth, maybe noticing how your hand and arm know exactly where to put it, perhaps noticing your mouth watering as it comes up. (Pause)

And then slowly taking a sip, noticing how your lips reach out to sip it, and hold the liquid in your mouth.

Notice the tastes you can experience in your mouth.

And when you are ready, very consciously swallow it. (Pause)

See if you can follow the sensations of swallowing it, sensing the liquid down in your stomach.

This is Mindful Monday on 11 March 2019.

Join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness on the theme of growing in patience on Monday 25 March at the Oasis, Cheltenham. Book your place by emailing hello@essencecheltenham.org (no charge but make a donation towards room hire on the night if you are able).

Loving it!

loch awe 2Love is a big subject! We met for an evening of mindfulness last Tuesday on the theme of  growing in love. And we were enriched as we meditated and listened to one another.

Here’s a poem by Maya Angelou called ‘Touched by an Angel’. We explored it in small groups. Immerse yourself and see what speaks to you. It is a goldmine.

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

What’s the image? It is Loch Awe in the Scottish Highlands, the longest of the Scottish lakes. What’s the link? Steve shared his love of the place with me during the session. And then he sent this glorious view – which conveys something of the freedom that love offers. Thanks for sharing Steve!

This is Mindful Monday on 22 October 2018. 

Live in or near Cheltenham? Book your place on ‘growing in joy’ on Monday 3 December, 7.30-9 pm.

 

Mindful in the everyday

white ceramic teacup on saucer with brown liquid

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

We can be tempted to make mindfulness something for special occasions. I went on a ‘retreat day’ recently – one of those special occasions – when it was good to spend some time exploring silence, that rare commodity in the everyday. However, it also reminded me that we practice awareness most of the time in our everyday activities, the 99.9% of our lives, and generally not in silence!

It is challenging to give a task our full attention. And yet when we do, we can be surprised with the richness of the experience. For example instead of absentmindedly drinking our cup of tea, eating our dinner, talking to a friend, driving to an appointment, or cleaning the bathroom, we can give it our full attention.

What does this look like? Here are three suggestions. It means not hurrying. It means making this task our focus, the most important thing to be doing right now. It means paying attention to the information our senses are giving us.

When we practice awareness, the task we are doing is meditation. And if we cannot do everyday tasks mindfully, we probably cannot meditate while sitting in silence. So the everyday and what for me are the ‘special occasions’ are connected. Practicing awareness in the everyday prepares us for moving deeper in our awareness sometimes through more disciplined practice. But for now, it’s time to clean the bathroom!

This is Mindful Monday on 8 October 2018.

Join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness at the Oasis in Cheltenham on Tuesday 16 October, 7.30-9 pm. The theme is ‘growing in love’. To book your place, contact Sara on hello@essencecheltenham.org, ideally by Friday 12 October but you can book even on the day. There is no charge. If you are able make a donation towards room hire.