Letting go

A martial arts beginner went to a teacher and said earnestly: “I’m devoted to studying. How long will it take me to become a master?” The teacher replied, “Ten years.” Angrily the novice said, “But I want to get there faster than that. I’ll work hard. I’ll practise every day – for hours if I have to. How long will it take then?” The teacher thought for a moment and replied, “Twenty years.”

Sometimes we need to let things unfold in their own time. Being too demanding on ourselves can create a block: we fail to see what is around us because we are staring too intently. A gentler glance may reveal more.

Mindfulness is like that. So too I think is growing a relationship.

In a world where we may feel we always need to work harder and longer, it is a relief to know that at times we do indeed just need to let things unfold. As we become at ease, we start to see more clearly. We get further by ‘doing’ less!

This is Mindful Monday on 21 September 2020.

Look out for dates of virtual mindfulness sessions on zoom starting in October.

Thoughts like autumn leaves


So very many thoughts. Thousands of thoughts. Some negatives; some neutral; some positive. Some true; some false. Some useful; some destructive.

We can practice paying attention to our thoughts but not being controlled by them. A valuable technique is learning to label our thoughts – pay attention to each thought briefly and label it e.g. “my to do list”, “self-critical thoughts”, “things that are worrying me”. This helps us to understand our thoughts but not become immersed or lost in them.

I often practice seeing my thoughts as clouds in the sky, labelling each my thoughts as if they are clouds in the sky. But I liked an alternative image I came across recently.

Imagine you are standing on a bridge looking down at a small river with colourful leaves floating in it. You see your thoughts written on the leaves. You read each thought and register it but then the leaf disappears on down the river.

Practicing paying attention to our thoughts but then letting them go enabling us to come to a still point – or get closer to stillness at least! We are freed – for the moment at least – from our thoughts running us ragged.

We may find in the stillness rest and restoration. We may find in the stillness that we accept ourselves just as we are. We may find in the stillness an awareness of the creator. We may find we can ‘just be’.

This is Mindful Monday on Monday 21 October 2019.

If you live in Cheltenham or the surrounding area, join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness on the theme of each of our uniqueness on Monday 4 November, 7.30-9 pm at the Oasis. Book your place by emailing hello@essencecheltenham.org


Surprised by nature

pineapple surprise

Have you seen a pineapple growing?

It was a first for me last week on Tenerife in the Canaries. I had always imagined they grew from trees, a bit like dates. I couldn’t believe it (Victor Meldrew moment) when I saw a pineapple on a low-growing plant. While my husband, my fellow-traveller, could not believe I hadn’t seen a pineapple growing before or that I could have thought they might grow on trees (second Victor Meldrew moment).

It made me look up how many types of plants there are – and google tells me it is about 391,000. This tells me I have more to see yet that will surprise and entrance me.

Back in England now (yes it is a bit cooler!), it is time to mark harvest. Today join me in being thankful for the crops we have, many of which are food on our plates. Including, of course, the amazing, surprising pineapple!

This is Mindful Monday on 7 October 2019.

If you live in or near Cheltenham, join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness on the theme of each of our uniqueness on the evening of Monday 4 November 2019 at the Oasis.

Email hello@essencecheltenham.org to book your place. No charge – simply make a donation towards the costs of room hire and resources on the night as you are able.





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.



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



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.