No Time to Stand and Stare

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Leisure by WH Davies

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

 This poem, a classic, still sums up everything that we might miss if we forget to stop, breathe and be. Mindful awareness brought home to help us live in this moment…….. not every moment but at least a precious few each day.

Mindfulness in East Lothian

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“Wherever you go, there you are”
― Jon Kabat-Zinn

If I know one thing then I am sure that I can only be here in this very moment. Nothing else is available to me for certain. I may feel as if this experience is the same as one in the past. I will know that I have visited this place before and that my memories connect me only with this new moment. Memories connect us with the past and dreaming and planning with the future. Giving my attention to this present moment is really all that is guaranteed.

I was born and brought up just a stones throw from where I now live. I left almost 40 years  ago and now I hold the fragile balance of past and present in my very being. Each day as I venture out through the vast expanses of this wonderful county, I see, hear and taste the freshness of being present right now. Little memory bubbles may float to the surface as friends and family recount tales or mention names and the rich tapestry of times gone by is being gentle sewn.

However, much more importantly, I am enjoying each day and each challenge, each new possibility as I step from one moment to the next. Mindfulness, maturity and a sense of truely being rooted, allows me the openess and curiousity that I perhaps lacked many years ago. “Mindfulenss in East Lothian” is  a new Facebook page where I would love to share with old friends , mindfulness colleagues and all those who are open to new moments together —– some caring , sharing and compassion.

Please join me and re-connect……………

Discovery through Mindfulness

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In life’s journey we have moments when we change jobs, locations or partners but we, as individuals, take all that we are, with us.

Our path is marked with points where we have decided to change our course or take a risk.These are often due to external factors around us prompting us to take responsibility for ourselves and often for our families too. Fear of failure may be a major obstacle and we all need to process logically how feasible this change is. However, I know that from practising Mindfulness for many years that the deep seated messages that I hold inside me often serve me well and are more dependable than just pure thinking. That intrinsic knowledge that is embedded in ever cell of our bodies is the best resource that we have.

Come along and taste how taking time to be with yourself, getting to notice how you think and where your fear is hiding by being gentle. Mindfulness gives you so many subtle ways of finding out how wise you really are!

Community Mindfulness Taster Haddington Session

The Art of Going Slow –2

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A year ago I wrote my original blog with the same title and said that this theme would be continued…….So what has changed in the world in which we live. What are we all craving for or striving to get. How much have we taken note of our own inner voices that continue to keep us moving forward, no matter what.

I know that you are all aware of how much we are conditioned by the external world. The voices of others ” should” “could” “must” are the words of others that we have adopted as how we must lead our life. The opinions around us at home, work, in the media can hold really powerful expectations for us. Here we are being dictated to by the world we live in. Our huge need to conform takes us by the nose and leads to decisions that we are not comfortable with. Even when we get little niggling feelings, irritating inner thoughts and critical gremlins, we may ignore them and remain living incongruently. That is we know that the truth for us is different than for those we are connected with. We however feel less than confident about speaking or acting on our own personal values and beliefs.

Are you just going along with the crowd? Will we watch and compare the slow process of Brexit to the fast impulsive rate of the new Trump Administration. Can you tune in to what your gut is telling you about the speed?

Can you find your own inner congruence and then choose how best to be with uncertainty. How will going slow benefit you?

 

Mindful Little Christmas

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“Mindful Little Christmas” came to me last year in the form of a Christmas Blog written by Harriet McGuigan  in ” My Mind”—– with her advice on how to practice mindfulness to combat the stress of Christmas. 

As Andy Williams sings, ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year
with the kids jingle belling and everyone telling you be of good cheer
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!’

She talked about how we all have good memories, sad memories, regretful memories, painful memories  of Christmases that have passed. We may have lost someone, have a new member join our family, have developed a serious illness or quite simply, be too much  of a perfectionist, thus creating self inflicted stress. Just being aware of the busy mind, feelings of panic and the reality of each day leading up to Christmas, allows us time to pay attention.

In daily life, it may take some courage to get up, put your feet on the floor and face the challenges but for many of our neighbours or for ourself, Christmas morning may be exceptionally difficult.  The getting through each day of the Festive Season means facing the day despite the heaviness we feel in our heart, the physical pain that we are holding or indeed the deep suffering of grieving. For others courage is being vulnerable with a loved one, asking for help or for some company.

Mindfulness allows us to stop and really notice how we are? There is no magic wand! However using the stopping, breathing and noticing may allow you to be a little less stressed, a little more loved and a little more loving if you can allow yourself to do something which is authentically you.

Have you ever sat with an elderly family member who spends the day reminiscing about past; how Christmas is not the same anymore! The negativity quells any momentary enjoyment of what we may be eating, sharing, smelling and gifting! Others escape the moment by hoping for a better future filled with financial security, health and happiness.

Mindfulness is about bringing yourself back as much as possible into your present reality – Taking one breath at a time. It is about being conscious of what ‘is’ rather than going off into fantasy and wishing for what you wish you could have in the future or getting drowned in the past when things were easier or at times harder.

With a little discipline, choosing to have a few mindful moments during the festive season could bring you inner peace, contentment and appreciation.

  1. Take a risk and breathe into your reality right now. Not the reality you wish you had, not the reality that you imagine your friends or family have and not the story the  TV adverts would have you believe – I invite you to breathe into your own life.
  2. It could help if you share your reality with a loving other (a friend, a partner,  or a person of trust) and perhaps sharing how celebrating the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ in your unique way  works for you this year.
  3. When you are eating just eat, when you have company just observe and absorb.
  4. Invite you guests to name one thing they are grateful for today.
  5. Forget the keeping up appearances and enjoy your Christams within your own emotional and financial budget.
  6. Make YOUR unique Christmas this year by allowing more of authentic you to shine through.
  7. If you are alone or know someone alone then step into that moment with them. Just a moment and the gift of time together

The key is to meet yourself where you are at.

Remembering that a little love shared and a little compassion for yourself and for others, goes towards  the original Christmas message. In the tradition of Christmas I wish you peace, joy and happiness in your unique heart.

‘…….and have yourself a ‘Mindful Little Christmas Now’

Letting Go through Trusting

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In my previous blog I spoke of much that is personal to my self but also shared by very many others.

Trusting, like every other thing  should begin at home. Why do we automatically look outside and examine the people and the services in a purely practical, functional way. Are we remiss in settling for something that actually we don’t trust! In fact we often pretend that it will be fine. Letting go of our control as a carer, parent or partner has to be based on trust but let’s look at self trust, a little more deeply.

I watched another TV programme last night about Home Carers and the mistrust that has arisen about the terrible service often provided to the sick and elderly in their homes. I watched with such sadness to yet another programme that depicts the over-loaded systems, waste of the tax payers money and the total unacceptable levels of care in some pockets of our communities. I am greatly concerned at the greed and lack of genuine concern.

I empathise with the family and friends who have to put their trust in others to look after the needs of the people who are dearest to them and who will stay with them in memory, forever.

Speaking from my heart, I inwardly carry, a well, of shed and unshed tears, for the damage done to a very personal relationship of mine. I have put my trust very often into others hands to care for this very important person.

If only I hadn’t acted from my deep frustration, from my anger and made decisions in times of high stress! I know now that by tuning into the very, very deep knowledge that we hold, we can make much wiser decisions about who should best care for those who most need it. Being unwell myself when some of the major decisions were made could be used as a part excuse—- I however know a little more about myself now.

Mindfulness allows me to touch in with where my gut responses live, where my heart is telling me that something is  very wrong and indeed often there is a felt sense that there is something amiss. Oh so easy to look in retrospect at what might have been, if only I had been listening to my intuition when I allowed someone to influence and turn my dear one against a lifetime of love and support. When I allowed someone else to define “independance”.

Take time to stop, let go of other peoples’ voices and sit with your own self trust. You are wiser than you will ever know !

Mindfulness and the allowing to turn towards what our bodies are holding onto is step one again! So whether you are letting go, accepting or trusting. Turning inwards and trusting your own deep senses, will serve you better than being driven to finding quick solutions.

We so often ignore our inner hunches—————- step back, stop and breathe.

 

Letting Go

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It's natural to let go

It’s natural to let go

Letting go of control and relaxing into the flow of our lives is a theme that I bring into my Mindfulness practice and introduce as a teacher and as a coach, to my clients.

Sometimes, our situation is the way it is whether we like it or not.  Often Carers are there to offer support and love to those with chronic illness or conditions where emotional or mental disturbances are the living reality. When we fight the truth of a situation, we create a state of fear, upset, and tunnel vision. Often we believe that this is a permanant, concrete, forever situation and here we create the inner state of resisting. We remove the options and become fixed and try to tolerate rather than letting go of trying to control and handle things on our own – self sabotaging a possible new way.

Letting go is the inner process that removes the fear, upset, and tunnel vision.  Before we can let go however we need to know what we are holding onto. Ask yourself some big questions.

What am I most frightened of? What is not my responsibility? What is stopping me from letting go?

The moment we do let go, we can restore your ability to see clearly.  A good way to see how letting go works is to look closer at our fear. Fear is really created by our thoughts and is often compounded by not accepting or resisting a future event. For example, if you have a fear of losing someone, you are resisting the future event called, “losing the person.” The more you resist losing the person, the bigger your fear. The bigger your fear, the more you feel threatened. The more you feel threatened, the more you hang on and often push the person away.

I know that my fear can dissipate and lose its power, by being strong enough to do the opposite of what created it.  If I am scared of being left alone and unloved then I need to befriend the part of me that pushes others away. Relationships can morph into something new rather than ending a perfectly acceptable friendship, in a bitter and uncaring way.

Instead of resisting the future event, be willing for the fear to come true – not in your actions, but in your heart. If just for a moment  I sit with being alone and unloved, there is always, a new option for dealing with the person we are caring for or those who we depend upon. We begin to see clearly and become very effective in handling the situation. Solutions appear and this area of life starts clearing up. This is the purpose and opportunity of letting go.

 

Giving and Receiving

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artistic-christmas-header

Frenzied shopping at the end of the year, large financial concerns as you see the credit card levels increase or quite simply a checklist, like every other list of things to do.  The theme of “giving” while offering someone a gift can be joyous and heart-warming, or in many cases it becomes a duty or creates a feeling  of emptiness inside.

I know for me that gifts bought out of ” we do this every year” makes me feel sad and often a little hypocritical. I used to have a long list of the courtesy cards and gifts that were sent out. Realising that there was no real sincerity being sent along with them led me to make changes.

Firstly, I asked myself how I felt when receiving a tick- box present? Then I compared that to one that was bought and offerred with  heart-felt-ness and authentic love. I knew immediately which of the two types of gifts, I personally appreciated most.

In recent years I decided to only give from the heart, asking myself “Is this an expression of love and caring? Does it come from the heart?”

The act of giving and receiving is most worthy and friends and families immediately become our true benefactors.
What would it look like if we perhaps offered these people, only words?

Christmas time is so perfect for a gratitude practice? If we stop for a moment, don’t we owe our gratitude to the people in our lives? What if we took the time to say or write a brief expression of that gratitude for each person? If we tuck some special words into our gift, or better yet, take time to tell them.  When we are in their presence, noticing that they are opening our gift to them ,what else might we say in that moment?

Spreading love and kindness, showing gratitude and appreciation are indeed the most valuable gifts of all.

Mindstates— moods, flavours,

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Anger-To be part of really living in this moment, the first piece is to tune into your body. Noticing where the emotions present themselves as so often we are slow to recognise and acknowledge what we are feeling. Can we actually name the feeling that is present? So many of us can’t find the tone or right word to express our feelings.  Try going into the thoughts that are coming up, is another way into seeking a way of identifying the feeling. What stories are we caught up in? For instance, I walked into my favourite coffee shop and saw at once that someone else had taken my favourite seat in the sunny window.

” What is going on? How come she is sitting there I always sit there at this time of morning. Ok maybe she will leave soon!”

As I stood at the counter getting my drink, I realised that I was pissed off and really unhappy. Yes it was childish but I was not going to be too logical. As I saw that the lady had not moved, I realised how irritated and angry I was becoming. My chest was feeling tight, my jaw was clenched and kept looking around at her, hoping that I could get there into that sunny place. Logic could so easily have gone completely, but luckily I noticed that there was another  seat in an alcove where sunlight was hitting and in that moment, I felt a warm, satisfying rush of pleasure and relief.

Often we get so caught up in our own story – with inner voices feeding our emotions that we go down the negative path before we really get in touch with how that is amplifiying our feelings and ultimately our actions.

Checking in with yourself is the basic step of mindfulness practise where we attend to our body as a way of identiying our experiences in each moment. Perhaps it is not reasonable to expect to be in touch in every moment of every day. Wjudgmente get caught up in so many things that noticing ” at the precise time” is something we really need to practise and practise. However, if we are aware of our suffering or mood changes we have the opportunity to let go of judgment and blame. We give ourselves the chance to move away from feeding our emotional fire by listening to our own thoughts, tuning into our physical body and naming the mood and underlying deeper emotions. Anger, pain, the need to blame are all places to acknowledge but also a place to stop the reactions and the possibility of causing suffering to another person. We can taste the flavour of our moods and suffering and that which we may create for others.

Be quiet and notice—————- we judge and critisise so easily, ourselves as much as others.

Attention, attending and attendance

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Life has been given to us; to some this is a gift to others it may be a curse and to many, many millions, it is a case of choosing to leave, their homes, country of origins and search for a safe place to survive until real living returns again.

No matter where we are in our lives, from the safety of our own homes, to experiencing the storms and forces of mother nature,  the way we experience these moments in time is all down to the way we bring our attention to them. How does the youngster just beginning life as a student attend to the small details hidden within the huge somewhat overwhelming transition? Our humaness is vast and complex as we are filled with complexities of our thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations and our ability to learn. As so many wise people have said, we however are not taught how to use the power of attention.

However without attending to the smallest apple hanging on a tree, the hungry child fleeing to Europe may miss his daily sustenance. The kindness written in a letter of condolence can be overlooked in the shock and grief of an accident but the genuine comfort of attending to the words, may lift that father from a place of dispair to a glimmer of hope in a period of deep sadness.

Much has been said about the benefits and pitfalls of remaining in the past. Coaching was born from the notion that future planning and striving is the way to achieve. For me neither of these options offer me a safe place to rest inwardly.

The past has already delivered my history, captured in my memory, in a snapshot of time or from the reminisences  in tales and stories. The future is never guaranteed and I have learnt that always waiting to be successful, happy or recognised in the future, may never ever arrive. It is a strange phenomena, that this is the only moment when, if we choose, we can bring our attention to now. How succesful are we right now? How recognised am I by family and friends? How alive do I feel today as I write this blog. Assuming that we will have health, wealth and happiness tomorrow seems an assumed security. When will  we attend to really appreciating and “attending” to this moment of our life?

Attending to all that passes through our bodies and minds every waking moment is a forboding challenge for many.

We reach many statAttendinges in the present moment, much of which is fleeting almost ghost like and gone before we realise that we have thought about it or recognised the discomfort. Automatic living, busy hands, brains and a never ending information stream reaches us, touches us and then—————– we move on in some other way!  Memories, past dreams, broken hearts, unfinished suffering >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> moving on to a little recognition of the shock of seeing images of  thousands of migrants landing in Europe >>>>>>>>>>> a quick sense of injustice or fear or frustration…. and then moving on to writing this blog about attending.

In attendance to our emotional experiences and the thoughts that arise, we begin to view how we catastrophise, see the positive in people, judge ourselves, sabotage our own actions or judge the situations that we are noticing. We gain a growing sense of our own mindstates.

More in the next blog ————-