Emily Dickinson: “The brain is wider than the sky…”

February 7, 2018

The brain is wider than the sky,
For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include
With ease, and you beside.
— Emily Dickinson

Dickinson’s poem, “The Brain is Wider Than the Sky” suggests that because the brain contains the perception of the sky (and more besides) it must in some sense be larger than the sky. This might seem like no more than an interesting thought — the kind of thing you momentarily appreciate as a quote on Facebook before forwarding it to your friends and moving on to the next cute cat video.

But this is the kind of thing that becomes very profound when you choose to sit with … Read more »

A taste of mindfulness

December 8, 2017

Vidyamala’s online course, Mindfulness for Women: Declutter Your Mind, Simplify Your Life, Find Time to ‘Be’, starts Jan 1. Click here now to enroll!

Get yourself into a comfortable posture. You can be sitting or lying down, it’s up to you. Relax for a moment to allow yourself to settle. Now, notice how your body feels. What physical sensations are you experiencing at this moment? Maybe you feel pressure between your bottom and the chair you’re sitting on or the floor beneath you. What does this feel like? For a few moments, just be open to any sensations in your body, experiencing them with an attitude of kindly curiosity.

Now take a moment to listen … Read more »

Let the breathing observe you

December 5, 2017

I’d like to suggest a very different way of meditating.

Normally in meditation we think about observing the breathing. Actually a lot of people think about and practice observing the breath — air flowing in and out of the body’s airways — but I point out that it’s far more useful to observe the breathing, which is a much richer experience. When we’re observing the breathing we’re potentially observing the entire body, and how it participates in and responds to the process of air flowing in and out of our passageways.

In taking this approach of observing the breathing it’s useful first of all to relax the muscles around the yes. This brings about … Read more »

Mindfulness: freedom from, freedom to

November 21, 2017

Photo by Justin Luebke on Unsplash: https://unsplash.com/photos/BkkVcWUgwEk

Mindfulness is everywhere these days, but it’s often poorly defined. To me its central and defining characteristic is self-observation. When we’re unmindful, there’s no self-observation going on. The lights are on, but nobody’s home.

Thoughts, feelings, speech, and actions are all functioning, but there’s no inner observer, and so there’s no evaluation going on. Without evaluation there’s no mechanism for recognizing that certain thoughts etc. are causing us or others suffering. And so we’re really nothing more than a complex bundle of instincts and habits. Those instincts and habits can do amazing things, like drive a car (ever “woken up” to find you’ve driven somewhere and have no recollection of the journey?) or read a … Read more »

Finding peace in every moment

October 31, 2016

53682718_mHere is the first email from our Stress Reduction Through Mindfulness event which starts Tuesday, Nov 1!

Often people assume that as a meditation teacher I must be immune to stress. But life can be challenging for anyone! In the last four or five years I’ve gone through a number of very stressful experiences, including the discovery that my tax accountant had covered up the fact that she hadn’t submitted my business tax returns two years in a row, leading to the Internal Revenue Service pursuing me for tens of thousands of dollars in penalties (which I ended up not having to pay any of, fortunately), a painful divorce, moving house several times, surgery for … Read more »

The components of self-compassion

September 30, 2016

sunflower like the sun in hands isolatedThis post is taken from one of the emails from our online course, How to Stop Beating Yourself Up: Learning the Art of Self-Compassion, which starts tomorrow, October 1. Click here for more information.

Self-compassion is treating ourselves with the kindness, respect, and gentleness that we would offer to those we most love.

There are four components of self-compassion.

There’s mindfulness, which is the ability to observe our experience rather than merely participating in it and being swept along in it. Mindfulness requires that we stand back from our thoughts, feelings, and sensations, and see them as objects separate from ourselves, rather than as what we are.

There’s equanimity, which involves … Read more »

14 days of mindfulness!

July 31, 2016

blog

Learn to practice acceptance, to choose your thoughts, and to calm your emotions, in order to reduce stress, and promote feelings of wellbeing. This all can come about through the clinically proven method of mindfulness, which has been shown to improve both mental and physical health.

Over the 14 days of our Mindfulness Meditation Challenge, you will feel calmer and more in control of your life, and learn how to set up a daily meditation habit.

This event is suitable for people of all levels of experience, including complete beginners.

This challenge starts tomorrow! Sign up now to help establish a rock-solid daily meditation practice and to experience the benefits of mindful living!

Letting happiness happen

July 27, 2016

50572155 - white flower growing on crack stone wall soft focus, blank text

The one emotion that we most commonly repress is joy.

We don’t intend to do this. Instead, it happens through inattention. Few if any of us would sense joy arising and make a conscious decision to destroy it or push it out of awareness. Few of us would refuse happiness if it were to appear. And still we repress joy all the time.

One of the principles of meditation is that it allows joy to flourish. The process of meditating is that you start paying attention to some immediate sensory experience, such as the breathing. Then, after a while, you realize you’ve stopped doing that, and have instead been caught up in some train of … Read more »

Set up a rock-solid daily meditation habit!

April 29, 2016

blogOur 14 Day Mindfulness Meditation Challenge (May 1-14) is an introductory 14 day meditation event. It is an opportunity to experience the benefits that come from setting up a rock-solid daily meditation habit. We’ll be exploring the practice of mindfulness.

Signing up for this 14-day event gives you access to:

  • Daily emails with practice suggestions
  • Four guided meditations
  • Support, encouragement, and connecting with like-minded people in our online community

This event is suitable for people of all levels of experience, including complete beginners.

Register today to begin the daily habit!

Space, sound, thought

March 11, 2016

Big Ben and traffic on Westminster BridgeFor several years, around the time I first learned to meditate, I lived in an apartment above Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow—one of the city’s main shopping streets. Sometimes it was acutely noisy, with newspaper hawkers advertising their wares, workmen digging up the roads, drunks singing as they staggered home from the pub, or couples having loud—and very public—fights. But even at the best of times there was a chronic, ongoing hum from the thousands of surrounding vehicles, and the quieter babble of pedestrians’ voices. This was something I had to get used to when I was meditating.

At first I would battle to shut out the noise, and try to force myself to focus inward … Read more »