Our next Day retreat for Mindfulness Practitioners

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“My old friend the Blues” ?

 

By the time you read this the media created event known as “Blue Monday” will have passed. My Ipswich-based eight week mindfulness course will have started one week later (Jan 23 – still places, hurry!); I am hopeful that in most cases anyone on my course who might be vulnerable to the winter blues will discover new ways of handling it this year.

But for any readers out there, (not on my course) who have noticed a seasonal tendency to become low in spirits at this time of year, let me share a few suggestions?

First of all, notice it. NOTICING it, rather than BEING it … Well that’s a different matter. We call that “accessing the observer self” – and there are a number of names we could give to this elusive concept. But it’s less about describing the viewpoint, more about being in it, experiencing is as an object/process in experience rather than being ‘subjected’ to it!

Having noticed it, perhaps the very first action to take could be described as “attitudinal” – for many people who suffer with repeated episodes of depression one of the first “accelerators” of the downward spiral of negative thinking is the thought “what’s wrong with me?” Rather than jumping immediately into an inner attitude of self criticism, can we turn towards ourselves with kindness, and inner friendliness even towards this seasonal phenomenon “my old friend the blues”?

Yes, I know that may seem odd – but just how has self-criticism helped in the past?

With the attitude of self kindness comes the potential for self-care. The recently described “seasonal adjustment disorder, (SAD)“ has helped with this. It seems it’s now recognised that some people are particularly vulnerable to the times of shorter daylight. And the opposite is true – we all know how long, summer sun filled days lift our spirits, particularly whilst on holiday. But how far away that seems in early February! With self kindness, though, we can remember to make self-care a priority.
Just a couple of days back for example – perusing my long list of “oughts, shoulds and have to’s” – I was on the edge of feeling overwhelmed when I noticed the beams of light from the low winter sun in the sky and a promising patch of blue sky between grey clouds. A ten minute sit facing the sun, just soaking it up and doing very little else other than appreciate, and I was ready to re-engage with my list with considerably more confidence.

And there’s solid science behind it; low vitamin D results in a variety of complex effects on the body and mind. Sunshine helps metabolise elements of our food intake to supplement Vit D levels. You might consider checking with your GP about your Vit D levels and take a supplement if that is indicated?

Regarding light levels – the good news of course is that it gets lighter every day now until midsummer. As ever, the experiences of life are always changing. There are other things that an attitude of self-kindness can point us towards. No space here to speak more about them – over to you, notice, and then to do the kind thing for the person who’s being visited by “my old friend the blues”.

Next 8 week mindfulness course in Ipswich will start after Easter. Do give me a ring if you want to talk about this, or any of the other services that I offer.

Beyond Language

My friends in the ACT learning community will appreciate this, I think?

Finding freedom through thoughts and words

Source: Beyond Language

Emotional Alchemy – Lion’s Roar

Here’s a very recent excerpt from a book by a mindfulness informed pychotherapist that explains what a powerful combination mindfulness and psychotherapy makes

Tara Bennett-Goleman describes how the transforming power of mindfulness can be applied to our painful emotional patterns.

Source: Emotional Alchemy – Lion’s Roar

A Taste of Mindfulness: info/intro to our Jan 17 8 week mindfulness course Tickets, Fri, Jan 13, 2017 at 5:00 PM | Eventbrite – in Ipswich soon, hope you can make it?

 

 

A free taster event giving offering information, question time and a goodly taste of guided experiential mindfulness practices.

Source: A Taste of Mindfulness: info/intro to our Jan 17 8 week mindfulness course Tickets, Fri, Jan 13, 2017 at 5:00 PM | Eventbrite

Here’s the third article – from a pioneering mindfulness teacher Love and Liberation: An interview with Thich Nhat Hanh – Lion’s Roar

Thich Nhat Hanh on true love, the benefits of suffering, and insight that will set you free. He says he teaches original Buddhism with a Mahayana spirit.

Source: Love and Liberation: An interview with Thich Nhat Hanh – Lion’s Roar

Second article – very concise – enjoy!Pema Chödrön on how to enjoy life – Lion’s Roar

A sign in the entrance to Pema Chödrön’s monastery reads “Enjoy Your Life.” We ask her how that could be a spiritual practice.

Source: Pema Chödrön on how to enjoy life – Lion’s Roar

The first of a series of three we’re posting today:The Ultimate Happiness: An exclusive interview with the Dalai Lama – Lion’s Roar

In this exclusive conversation, the Dalai Lama talks about human goodness, and how caring for others is the ultimate source of your own happiness.

Source: The Ultimate Happiness: An exclusive interview with the Dalai Lama – Lion’s Roar

Complements of the season!

Complements of the season!

No, it’s not a spelling mistake; just play on words. Complementary means “that which goes with” or “interrelated”. It kind of “goes with” the human experience – across the broadest range of cultures – to stop, to take a break from the business as usual mode and to acknowledge the shortest days of the year. That global turning of the season and a moving back – depending upon which hemisphere we are living in – in the direction of the light.

Most cultural traditions have their winter festival – and what ‘goes with’ festival is family, gifts, games and feasting. Personally, I really value some simple ceremony to acknowledge the winter solstice (Dec21/22) – that gives a little bit of pre-Christmas space to mark the turning of the year. I became very disillusioned with the commercialisation and rampant mindless, consumption that I first witnessed staying in California one Christmas 1979. Subsequently the marketing has become just as pronounced here in the UK.


One Christmas I tried to escape it all by going off to camp in my van in the new Forest over the holiday period. I enjoyed my solo solstice experience, but on Boxing Day morning – watching families and friends sharing their morning walk – I felt so alone I rushed back to my friends family & community as a latecomer to the party. There is good stuff in this mass cultural phenomenon that we wouldn’t want to miss.

 

And hazards too – typically we will be spending unusually long periods of time with family members that can “press our buttons”. It’s worth remembering that at the same time we are almost certainly pressing theirs. Staying mindful at those potential flashpoints does both of you – and the whole family – a great service. Drinking mindfully helps. Eating mindfully too. Speaking mindfully. Dancing and wholeheartedly enjoying yourself – yes!

And later – The New Year’s resolutions? Before setting your goals for the year – reflect for a while on the underlying personal values those goals serve. If you were to achieve that goal, would it contribute to the value meaning and purpose of your life? If the answer is yes, then you have some “pulling power” associated with your New Year’s resolution – you won’t have to rely entirely upon the “pushing power” of ‘oughts’, ‘shoulds’ and ‘have to’s’. Haven’t we all got more than enough of them?

Come to think of it – perhaps the best New Year’s resolution of all is to learn to be more kind to our selves. And what “goes with” that, an “interrelated” phenomenon – is that we will then tend to be more kind to others. It’s a complementary ticket.

Consider doing yourself the kindness of joining our 8 week mindfulness course – either in Woodbridge or Ipswich. Or if the idea of a group is not to your liking, I work one to one in various formats and by various means.

Enjoy

Martin

Next Drop-in mindfulness practice meeting – Wed, 5’th Oct

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