Home Practice Week 3

TNH tea

Home Practice

1/ This week I would like you to alternate the body scan practice with the mindful movement/ mindful walking.  Click here to hear the Rebecca Crane one from previous weeks.

2/ The mindful movement practice is from Kate Mitcheom. Click HERE and you will find it at the bottom of the page of her guided practices; it is called standing yoga meditation

3/ I have written some instructions for the mindful walking if you choose to do this. You might want to read the first half through a couple of times before you start, but after that put them down and just walk for your practice.

3/ Complete the unpleasant events table and/ or use the hot cross bun diagram to help you unpack your pleasant experiences. Digital links to these if you want another copy are below

Unpleasant experience diary

home practice Hot cross bun

4/ The three step breathing space is a marvellous way of bridging formal practice and your daily life. It is definitely what I would call a portable practice. Here is a lovely guided version of it if you wish to use from Mark Williams. (If you missed this being led in this week’s practice then don’t try it until next week)

4/ also do keep if you can your Mindfulness Journal or maybe using this simple table if you prefer. Practice Record sheet 

5/ A written guide to starting a sitting practice is here . Sitting mindfulness practice checklist

6/ The hand out for today’s session can be read and downloaded here.

7/ Finally below is a copy of the poem we heard 

I am looking forward to hearing all about it next week 🙂

Home Practice Week 2

TNH tea

Home Practice

1/ continue with the body scan practice. Here is a  body scan practice. This is the same one as last week, guided by Rebecca Crane.  Click here to hear it.

2/ Complete the pleasant events table and/ or use the hot cross bun diagram to help you unpack your pleasant experiences. Digital links to these if you want another copy are below

Pleasant experience diary

home practice Hot cross bun

3/ Continue to intentionally bring moments of awareness during your day; bring some mindfulness into your routines You can find a mindfulness anchor in any moment in any day. the opportunity is always there.

4/ Also do keep if you can your Mindfulness Journal or maybe using this simple table if you prefer. Practice Record sheet 

5/ If you wish to try some sitting practice like we did at the end of the second session here is a checklist to help get you started. Try doing this one without any guidance. Sitting mindfulness practice checklist

6/ Finally there is a copy of the poem “summer Day” from tonight’s session 

I am looking forward to hearing all about it next Thursday 🙂

Home Practice Week 1

TNH tea

1/ Here is a  body scan practice. This is guided by Rebecca Crane and is the one I am using the most at the moment myself. She leads it in such a clear and caring manner.  Click here to hear it.

If you prefer to start this week with a 30 minute not a 45 minute practice here is a youtube one from Jon Kabat Zinn

2/ Eat mindfully at least once in the week in the same way you ate the raisin with awareness of experiences and senses. Or maybe just a bite or two if a whole meal is too much. Whatever is good for you.

4/ Intentionally bring moments of awareness during your day; bring some mindfulness into your routines You can find a mindfulness anchor in any moment in any day. the opportunity is always there.

4/ Keeping a Mindfulness Journal or maybe using this simple table if you prefer. Practice Record sheet

5/ Finally below is a copy of the sessions notes including the main ideas and the poem I read during tonight’s session. 

I am looking forward to hearing all about it next Wednesday!

New Year’s resolutions: giving good fortune a helping hand

Ahh here comes the chance to throw out the old self and design and build a new and improved version. Promises are made to exercise more, eat better, turn off the phone for longer and learn to play the trumpet. By achieving all of this it will be possible to get away from all the painful things in life and then finally happiness will abound.

There is research to show that markers like New Year are the most effective time to set resolutions; the brain is ready and open to see the opportunity for change. But resolutions are often underlain by the assumption we should always be trying to be better than we are now; a message that also means ‘what we are at the moment is not good enough’. Seeing it like this the desire for change risks being an aggressive act toward ourselves, bringing on low self esteem and self hate. As my friend Polly said

“Yoga and motherhood have shown me the goal should be to do less and to be more open and accept all feelings as they arise so they don’t pop up at a less convenient time.”

IG @yogawithpolly

I recently heard someone describe good luck as needing a little bit of a push sometimes, whereas bad luck is a ruder god as it comes crashing in, unexpected and uninvited. I think the same theory applies to resolutions and targets; for the good stuff to happen we need to create the right space and balance for it enter. Instead of shutting down the unpleasantness and pain, we can open to it and acknowledge it. Often our neurosis and wisdom come from the same place, so if we try deny the former we will also be alienating ourselves from the latter. In this way, Pema Chodron describes meditation as

seeing clearly the body that we have, the mind that we have, the domestic situation that we have, the job that we have and the people who are in our lives. It’s seeing our emotions and thoughts just as they are right now, in this very moment, in this very room, on this very seat. It’s about not trying to make them go away, not trying to become better than we are, but just seeing clearly with precision and gentleness.

Pema Chodron from “The Wisdom of No Escape”

And so with this New Year, or this new month or new week or new day or new hour or even with this new breath we can simply stop and notice how it is for us right now. When this wisdom develops then the ability to nurture the good in our lives will have the space to grow. We will have given ‘good luck’ the little push it required.

Park Life

In praise of my local park, a perfect place for all of us around here.

Victoria Park

I like to walk in it. It is perfect for running. It’s my route to the local shop. Its my route into town. I meet friends for a cup of tea there. I sit on the bench and read. When my good pal died a few years ago, I found a bench no one walked passed and I could sit and remember him. Most weeks I play tennis there. Sometimes I just need 10 minutes out the house and in the open air and breath – and it’s down to the park I go. The trees there are a giant show of steadiness and change throughout the year.

I also enjoy greeting the dog walkers and their pets, seeing the children in the play area and parents chattering as they push the swings or stand at the bottom of the slide. I like to pause at the weekend football matches where the slightly less than fully fit players huff and curse their way around the pitch.It was a shame when the bowls club closed down, but it’s delightful now to see a martial arts group practising on the flat lawn every Saturday morning. My less charitable side finds it more entertaining than it should do watching dogs tearing around chasing squirrels and never getting close, not even once.

It was during lockdown that more of us started noticing the park,; not that was empty beforehand, but we became drawn to this place more often and in greater numbers. It was everyone’s outlet, an open area for all where we could come and do our own individual thing, but do it along with, amongst and beside everybody else. The park became more precious. And all you had to do was walk in through one of the squeaky gates to benefit from it. So I began to understand how one place could begin to take on a spiritual importance for its local community.

Mindfulness of Breath

This is an 8 minute practice designed for occasional use or for a more regular practice

Sometimes you don’t need to read about mindfulness, sometimes you should simply stop and practice it. Here is a simple practice anyone from beginner to long time adherent can use in their lives. Simply find yourself a place to be still. It doesn’t need to be a quiet location but that might help too. I haven’t mentioned posture in the practice. As long as you are comfortable then that will suffice for a short practice like this.

If you find this practice useful please comment below and share if you so wish.

What they don’t tell you about mindfulness

Finding a comfortable position. Sitting in a dignified balanced manner. Bringing the awareness into the body. Noticing your breath.“

your mindfulness teacher

Some days I get this type of opening guidance and then immediately, bam! The mind and I are miles away scraping over the past or diving into the future. I am not observing, witnessing or noticing any part of my breath or my body or any sound whatsoever. I am detached from the present pretty all the way though until the bell sounds at the end. There was no mindfulness to speak of during any of that time. So was there a point to all that? Was a step made in the right direction, any truth more clearly understood? Or was it all a bloody waste of time?

I have had many experiences like this over the years; at the end I would find myself standing up at the least annoyed with myself and sometimes questioning my own ability to be practice meditation at all. Yet no one really seems to say much about such sessions. Its all sitting on a beach in front of the sunset, tanned and thin in the mindfulness memes. Whereas for me its more a case of on a cushion on my bedroom floor, in front of the hung out washing, overweight and in a dressing gown.

I think there are two better ways to view this, both of which entail bringing a broader view to the practice. Firstly, just a simple looking for silver linings to give yourself a boost: it isn’t all just rubbish after all. Secondly, is holding the intention to sit again tomorrow, to aim to reconnect next time. From this determination grows a practice that becomes part of the daily routine and out of a continuation of intention naturally grows a broader, wiser view of what mindfulness might be or already is. In terms of knowledge this breaks down into 4 areas.

  1. There is always the next meditation session. This is what happened today and it is over now. It cannot be changed. But you can be mindful of how you feel after it, noticing the emotions and thoughts and maybe physical sensations that you are experiencing now.
  2. When the bell rang at the end, you were aware of that moment, even if of no other and so there was mindfulness there.
  3. Among a whole series of sitting practices, today’s one can be seen as one distraction, one disconnect and only one before coming back to the breath in the next practice.
  4. More importantly, meditation and mindfulness are about seeing what is really is; the stuff we try to hide from all our friends and family and of course from ourselves. So if we are sitting honestly we will notice the ugly and the bad as least as much as the good.

Sit around the fire

I have quite a bit of Jon Hopkins and of Ram Dass in my life and so for the two to be together in such a beautiful manner is really a blessing. But as Ram Dass says here ‘Don’t worship the gate, go into the inner temple’