Sep 27, 2013
Mindfulness is all the rage, but there are many misconceptions. It isn’t a form of relaxation, a technique, or even a meditation practice. It isn’t about doing things slowly or emptying your mind; it isn’t Buddhist, and it isn’t scientific. It isn’t easy … but, then again, it isn’t difficult. And it isn’t a fad. So what is it?
1. It’s not about relaxing
A Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course is about reducing stress, and that means trying to relax, right? Well, not exactly. Mindfulness just means noticing what’s happening, including the things we find difficult. It doesn’t involve listening to panpipes to escape your worries.
2. It isn’t a meditation practice
Mar 07, 2013
Most of us have no end of things to keep up with and sort out. In fact, life sometimes feels bitty, complicated and confusing, and we don’t know how to manage all the demands. Past a certain point we experience stress, feeling that we’ve lost the initiative. Here are some tips on finding an alternative with the help of mindfulness
1. Come back to present moment experience
Mindfulness means coming back to our experience in this moment, starting with simple, observable sensations. That means letting go, for now, of thoughts about the past and the future that can easily feel confusing. Instead, we ask, what’s happening right now in my body, my thoughts and my feelings? …
Jan 04, 2013
Many of us feel that our thoughts are out of our control. We think about work long after we have left, we worry about the future and keep going over things that have gone wrong in the past. Meanwhile, life seems to be slipping by.
Modern psychology also recognises that compulsive thinking can lead us into stress, anxiety and depression. Worrying about our problems seems important, but it leaves us feeling worse and believing we have less power to change things.
Mindfulness helps by giving us the mental space to stand back, recognise what’s happening and explore alternatives. Here are some helpful approaches associated with mindfulness and meditation.
1. Learning to let go of thoughts
Oct 13, 2012
Communication is a huge part of our lives. All our relationships depend on it, but it often seems to go wrong and we can react or lose patience, even with people we’re close to. Here are some suggestions for developing our communication with the help of mindfulness
1. Notice your habits
Habits probably play a big part in how we communicate, so we need to reflect on how we communicate, and particularly what difficulties arise. Notice if you tend to focus on what others do when things go wrong: change comes when we identify what we contribute ourselves.
2. Use meditation
When we meditate arguments and unresolved difficulties often rise up into awareness. We can use that time …
Aug 31, 2012
New research shows that teenage cannabis use causes lasting damage. As well as the physiological damage, Buddhism suggests that drugs are about avoiding experience rather than engaging with mindfully with it
Some of the parents I know with teenage children who use cannabis are fairly relaxed about what’s happening. ‘It isn’t doing any harm’, one tells me. ‘Alcohol’s much worse.’ Others would really like their children to stop but are at their wits end. It’s OK, they say, but not in the house, not on weekdays, or only after you’ve done your homework.
I don’t envy them and no doubt the scientific study reported this week will fuel their worries. It …
Aug 01, 2012
If your life feels like a struggle with the world, it may be that your real struggle is with yourself. But if we turn towards our experience with kindly awareness we can find the deepest kind of peace and happiness that comes from within
Mindfulness means paying attention. Simply paying more attention to our surroundings brings many benefits, but something interesting also happens when we also pay attention to the thoughts in our heads and the feelings that go with them.
Many people notice how hard we on ourselves we can be. There’s a constant commentary on everything we do, often including self-criticism, harsh judgments, chivvying and berating. That has an …
May 03, 2012
The benefits of meditation come with regular practice, and that means making it part of your life. That’s one of the great challenges of learning meditation, so here are ten tips for establishing a meditation practice.
1. Get some instruction
You can learn the techniques of meditation from books and CDs: there are some good ones around (check out our shop). But it helps a lot to learn from a real person.Take a course – or go to a class where you can ask questions about the issues. In time, it helps to have friends or even teachers who are more experienced meditators than you are.
2. Settle on a practice that …
Feb 21, 2012
I glanced across, trying not to be obvious. All I saw was an old woman eating her soup. David leaned forward. ‘She’s like a Rembrandt.’
I looked again and noticed her intent concentration. She was very old, her body shrunk to a few feet, and every movement was a painful effort. Slowly, very slowly, she raised her spoon from her bowl to her mouth. And slowly she lowered it again. Her face was creased into a web of lines, as if her skin was fracturing and these lines, held together only by the …
Jan 26, 2012
My New year’s resolution this year is not to make any New Year resolutions. In any case, I’ve usually forgotten about them February. The real changes I’ve made have come when I’ve been in touch with the motivations that underpin my life and seen clearly what I need to do next.
At the end of the MBSR course we ask the question, does mindfulness practice touch on your underlying values – things you really care about that can continue to motivate you over the years? It’s moving to hear what people say: “I’ve spent my life rushing, now I want to go deeper”; “I really love my children and I want to …
Oct 14, 2011
What can you do when things are about to blow? Here’s some advance on working with anger – or any other strong emotion – with mindfulness
The 1997 movie The Peacemaker is mostly a routine and forgettable thriller. In fact, it is really pretty bad, but there are two things I remember about it. The first is the pairing of George Clooney and Nicole Kidman; and second there’s a scene right at the end that has stuck in my mind as an image for how mindfulness can help in a crisis.
There’s a bomb in the UN building that’s going to blow in a few seconds. Nicole Kidman knows how to defuse these …