What’s the 8-week course about? Part 1

With wonderfully good intentions I started this blog, but afraid I am disappointing myself by hardly ever making an entry! I could use the excuse that I am overwhelmed by the response to the 8-week Mindfulness programmes I started to offer in April… I have been amazed by the response – so many people looking for ways to reduce stress and live with greater ease and enjoyment – but I can’t blame that.It’s really just my usual pattern of loving to start things and finding it a bit more tricky to follow through – sound familiar?

S0, just in case anyone is following (and hopefully there might soon be something to follow) I resolved today to post something at least once a week. A good place to start might be to share something of what goes on during the 8 weeks of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Courses….

Without further waffle I will offer a few words on one of the very first themes THE AUTOMATIC PILOT….

THE AUTOMATIC PILOT is pretty self explanatory. It is the wonderful human capacity to do routine things without thinking about them. Wouldn’t it be terrible if we had to work it all out every time we tied a shoelace, or got into the car everyday and had to seach for where the ignition key should go…and then what to do next? Yes, it is wonderful that you can drive to work and rehearse your new strategy for dealing with a difficult colleague; you can eat lunch while mentally totting up your current account balance; you can go for an evening walk and relive in minute detail the near-triumph you had over the difficult work colleague – regretting slightly that you missed delivering  the barbed comment that is now so obvious – hopefully you can use it tomoorw!

But is all this so wonderful? Who is actually here? Who is living your life? Who is tasting your lunch… who is driving your car….who is enjoying a peaceful evening walk??? No one it seems!

I think the message is clear. Jon Kabat-Zinn (who pioneered the original Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction courses) talks of an empty feeling that many of us experience – a sense that there is something missing in our lives. That ‘something missing’ he suggests might be YOU!

Think about it. Without going into long detailed instructions (I could give you those also, but don’t think they’re necessary), might I suggest that for the next couple of days you experiment of just being where you are, doing what your’re doing….like when you drive, so what it’s like to just drive; when brushing your teeth, see what it’s like to just brush your teeth; when you’re eating your lunch see what it’s like to just eat your lunch.

‘Easy peasy!’ you might think. ‘ What has this got to do with meditation?’ you might ask.
Maybe not as easy as you think! But give it a try –
Who knows, to actually be present in your life might gradually seem like very good idea!
More next week…. 

Great day at Border Biz Camp!

Great day – met lots of lovely people, great energy, lots of good will. Even for a non-business person like me t’ was a very pleasant way to spend Saturday!

My own input went down well – the room was full – then why should I be surprised (I was very surprised!) Mindfulness just seems to draw a crowd! And a very nice crowd it was – folks were really receptive and engaged whole-heartedly in the short practice we did. We didn’t actually do the Breathing Space as I had planned – just a 10 minute sit with Mindfulness of Breath.

I did refer to a couple of websites and books and rather regretted that I didn’t have a couple of slides to flag up these references. So here they are:

www.mindfulnet.org – Enormous amount of resources about Mindfulness in different areas: health, education, business etc

www.breathworks-mindfulness.org.uk –  use of Mindfulness for chronic pain

‘Buddha’s Brain’ by Rick Hanson – great introduction to the neuroscience of meditation

‘Search Inside Yourself’ by Chade-Meng Tan – light-hearted intooduction to Google’s programme for Mindfulness-Based Emotional Intelligence programme.

And of course if you just google ‘Mindfulness’ you’ll find tons more!

I’m off now to France to spend a week doing a Yoga workshop with my teacher Peter Hersnack and 12 good friends from Ireland and UK – it’s a hard life!

Warm wishes,

Breathing Space at Borderbizcamp…

I’m sort of looking forward to taking part in tomorrow’s borderbizcamp in Monaghan.
I say ‘sort of’ as I am a offering a 30 minute presentation on Mindfulness, and I’m feeling a tad nervous – very unusual  for me to share a platform with a whole host of business gurus!

However – I am also looking forward!
I’m intending to offer a short input on the background to the ‘Mindfulness’ movement – an amazing story of how an ancient contemplative practice has become mainstream and, starting with the medical world seems to have spread into every aspect of life, proving its worth in psychotherapy, education, sport, business – the list is endless! – I’ll then lead us in a 10 minute practice of seated meditation… not very long but enough, I hope, to give a flavour of just how relaxing, and reviving a little ‘inner’ time can be. 

I also hope to begin and end the session with a very simple practice called the ‘Three Stage Breathing Space
You can try that right now if you wish – obviously read one stage at a time, taking a minute or so to follow the instruction, then come back to the screen to read the next stage and follow that instruction – easy peasy! ENJOY!

STEP ONE: Stop whatever you are doing for a moment and take a quick check on how you are …like checking your internal weather….What thoughts have been around last couple of minutes? How is your mood? How is your body – any particular physical sensations? Bring a friendly curiosity to all of this and as far as possible just accept whatever you find….

STEP TWO: For the next minute or so, just watch the breath as it comes and goes – don’t try to do the breathing, don’t try to change or control it, simply let the breath happen, rather like waves washing a beach. If your mind wanders -and it probably will, simple come back to the breath. Have a sense that you have nothing else in the world to do but watch this breath, then this breath….

STEP THREE: Now gradually bring your attention to the whole body as you breath – having an awareness of the whole body, same time as you feel the breath coming and going. Then gradually be aware of where you are – immediate surroundings, sounds, time of day etc. Enjoy a moment of sensing your breathing body present in this place – a sense of being exactly where you are an how you are. And then, simply return to whatever you were doing before….

The ‘Breathing Space’ is a great way just to be where you are – you might ask the question Irish-style ‘sure where else would you be!’ Good question!

Looking forward to seeing you if you’re in Monaghan tomorrow…

More important visitors this Spring!

You may remember last year we had some important visitors around this time…
Both Queen Elizabeth and Barack Obama created a very positive buzz – most would agree that they lifted our hearts in a time when positivity was in short supply.

This Spring again we are priviledged by two important leaders – not political leaders, not figures of power on the world stage, but leaders of hearts, and inspirational figures for humanity’s inner journey….

MARTINE BATCHELOR ….. a delightfully humourous, skillful and compassionate meditation teacher with whom I did a 7-day retreat in Devon last summer, is leading a 2-day retreat in Oscailt, Ballsbridge on 26 and 27 May.
Details at www.oscailt.com

THICH NHAT HANH…..world famous Vietnamese Zen Master (author of ‘Miracle of Mindfulness) is giving an evening talk in Dublin Convention Centre April 11 and a 4-day retreat in Killarney April 12 -15
Details at www.mindfulnessireland.org

Check them out. If you want your heart to be lifted in a different way this spring. If you are looking for some inspiration/ encouragement to keep your inner life on track, they may be just what you need. But even if you don’t get there in person, I am sure their presence and the practice they lead will have a ripple effect on all of us!

Being here – the source of our radiance and vitality!

When the Buddha was travelling around teaching, he was once asked ‘Why are your followers so radiant?’

He answered ‘Because they don’t dwell in the past, nor do they hanker after the future. Those who dwell in the past or hanker after the future are like green leaves cut down and left in the sun – they dry up and wither’

So in meditation, we’re invited to really be here in this very moment, and look to this moment as the source of our vitality and radiance. Not just when we’re sitting on the meditation but when we’re eating our breakfast, driving to work, walking the dog, taking a shower, drinking a cup of tea, chatting with a friend.
Why not experiment – whatever you are doing right now – can you allow this moment to nourish you…..


For whatever reason you are visiting here today, I can assume like me that you are interested in ‘wellness’ and the many associations this lovely word can carry. As I was thinking about how to welcome you, just looking at the word ‘wellness’ I was reminded that it contains another lovely word ‘well’ – a source of fresh, nourishing water, given freely by nature and essential for life. Surely this is a key to ‘wellness’ for all of us – finding the appropriate ‘well’, finding whatever source of nourishment and support our life needs right now.

If you look around at the various buttons, you will see that I am interested in a few ‘wells’ myself – Yoga, Mindfulness Meditation, Reflexology to name but a few. From time to time, I’ll post details of what ever classes, courses I am currently offering. This will be bare-bones information, so if you want to know more, or have a chat about what might suit you, please do send me an email, or give me a call.

I intend to also post reflections, quotations, book reviews – just about anything that I think might be of interest or inspiration to others who are on their own ‘ways to wellness’. I hope you find something interesting/nourishing here. Most of all I hope you have time to leave a comment and perhaps flag up something that might be interesting/nourishing to me!

Wherever you are and whatever is going on in your life, I hope that you find whatever is the right ‘well’ for you today!