There are so many ways to freak out in response to life’s challenges, disappointments, and frustrations.
We can become anxious, and worried, and imagine catastrophic things happening — worst-case scenarios that make our hearts pound.
We can lose our tempers, yell, storm off, or simmer in resentment.
We can find someone else to blame, however indirectly they may have been involved in whatever it is that’s bothering us.
We can find ways to avoid the difficult feelings around the problem, by drinking, or binge-watching Netflix, or immersing ourselves in work, or comfort-eating.
We can make sure we don’t cross paths with someone we have problems with, or try to ignore mail that may contain bad … Read more »
Mark Coleman is a senior meditation teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California, as well as an executive coach and founder of the Mindfulness Institute. And he’s written a very rich, readable, and practical book on the practice of self-compassion.
Although we’ve never met, Coleman and I started our spiritual paths in similar places. Back in 1984, while I was throwing myself into Buddhist practice at the Glasgow Buddhist Center, Coleman was doing the same at the London Buddhist Center, both of which are part of the Triratna Buddhist Community. Our spiritual paths, even though they have diverged since then — I’m still practicing within Triratna while he … Read more »
Save for the lack of furniture, “A-901: Breathing Room” appears as an ordinary conference room. It sits squarely within the rest of the office, which buzzes with the steady meetings and conversations that characterize most corporate buildings. Soft mats, for sitting, are piled to one side of the room. Digital devices are not allowed.
A few times a week, dozens of employees gather in the …
Until not long ago, scientists studying the nervous system believed that the adult brain was incapable of growing new cells. That’s now known to be false. In fact new cells are being born in the brain all the time. If they’re needed (that is, if the part of the brain that they’re in is being used intensively) then those cells become wired in to the existing networks of nerves, and that part of the brain grows. On the other hand, if they’re not used, they’ll be reabsorbed.
Even without growing new cells, the brain is constantly developing and pruning connections, though. Every new memory you create, every thing you forget, every new piece of learning, … Read more »
Do you always live to – or beyond – your limits? Would you get less done if you took regular breaks?
Many people live in a ‘boom and bust’ way, otherwise known as the overactivity–underactivity cycle. To varying degrees, many of us swing between high energy and low energy.
We do less when we are feeling tired and unmotivated; then, when we feel more energetic, we hectically try to catch up on all the things that we’ve got behind with and end up overdoing it and getting stressed out. This tips us straight back into feeling … Read more »
Vidyamala’s online course, Mindfulness for Women, starts March 1. Click here for details.
Breathing properly is immediately helpful because the first thing most of us do when experiencing stress and pain – be it mental, emotional or physical – is inhibit our breathing. Try this short exercise:
Make a fist with one hand. Notice what’s happened to your breathing. You’ll probably notice you’re holding it. Now imagine breathing into the fist. What does it want to do? You’ll probably find it wants to release a little.
The fist in this exercise is a metaphor for any kind of discomfort or stress. When we are not aware, we automatically tense against the stresses of life with … Read more »
Although Buddhist meditation was originally practiced mostly by celibate monks and nuns, who were not only forbidden from having sex but even from having physical contact with the opposite sex, mindfulness practice can significantly enhance your love life. And by “love life” I don’t mean just sex, but your entire life with someone you’re emotionally and physically intimate with. But sex too!
First, being mindful helps us to be present for our partner. So much of the time when we’re with another person, we’re not really there. Nowadays it’s common to see couples sitting together in a cafe, but focused on their phones. A modern prayer for … Read more »
Vidyamala’s course, “Mindfulness for Women,” starts March 1, 2017
The Mindfulness for Women online course, starting March 1 on Wildmind, is based on the book I co-wrote with Journalist Claire Irvin. Claire hadn’t meditated before we worked on this project so she gamely kept a diary of her efforts which are accessible, often hilarious, and moving. Here’s her diary of her first attempt to meditate:
… Read more »
Claire’s Diary Week One: Body Scan
It’s 9.30 on a dark early-spring evening. My husband Stuart is away and I’ve finally got Amelie, six, to go to bed (she will take any opportunity to delay bedtime, and an absent parent is as good an excuse as any). On
A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting its shoes on.
Mindfulness is becoming ever more popular and is in danger of being seen as a panacea for all the problems that trouble the human mind. Even when the practice is divorced from the other elements that form part of a spiritual path, it can be a useful tool for self management and helping to create greater contentment for our lives.
Practicing mindfulness can help us to work out …
One common concern about self-compassion is that it’ll make us lazy and self-indulgent — that if we become more self-compassionate we’ll lack motivation. Self-indulgence means avoiding difficulties, which may benefit us in the short term, but which is detrimental in the long term. Self-indulgence is when we cop out. So we might imagine that when faced with doing something difficult, we’ll let ourselves off the hook in order to be “kind” to ourselves. But that’s the opposite of what actually happens.
Self-compassion means giving yourself support, understanding, and encouragement when you face difficult experiences. It helps you to face your difficulties.
Self-compassion recognizes that your long-term happiness is served not by avoiding challenges, but in … Read more »