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.



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

Next 8 week mindfulness course, suffolk coastal


See: for all practical details and booking

A ‘strategic’ retreat

A ‘strategic’ retreat
We were blessed with excellent weather over the first weekend of May. I was particularly satisfied – having selected that weekend for a 3 day Mindfulness retreat in nature. The “venue” was 14 acres of woodland just south of Cambridge. It was a collaboration for me  – with two other mindfulness teachers contributing both to the set-up and the facilitation. Participants ranged from people with whom I had worked – 1 to 1, members of previous group trainings – and other well-being professionals interested in developing their mindfulness practice.20160508_102633
I think all who were there would agree that it was an heartful, insightful weekend – much of the time spent simply contemplating nature from our own chosen spot in the woods, and – building, however briefly, a community of fellow travellers for a weekend – all sharing in the novelty of stepping back from the frantic, driven nature of contemporary life. Wordless lessons we gleaned from observing nature: flora and fauna, at this springtime burst of renewal. Other valuable lessons from finding our place amongst a group of relative strangers – greatly assisted, surprisingly perhaps, by our agreement to remain mostly in silence for most of the weekend.
Reflecting on such a warm, positive outcome, (as evidenced by the heartfelt feedback at the end of the retreat), I think we benefited not only from the mindfulness practice, not only from the immersion in natural surroundings, but also from the growing sense of community. We humans are profoundly social animals – as higher primates we are evolutionarily programmed to function in social groups: a troop or a tribe, a clan. With the advancement of our language-ing capacity, came not only greater opportunities for group organisation, but also greater likelihood of schism, separation, in-fighting, scape-goating, mobbing, exclusion. And it’s such issues that people often bring to work-on in counselling & psychotherapy – so not surprising perhaps that we relish ‘time out’ with others when we find out that we CAN briefly co-create harmonious group collaboration, taking sustenance from the experience and perhaps more trust, hope and faith available to sustain us in the rough and tumble of our current life group engagements.
Still a chance this year: We have a 5 day residential (led and silent) August 5-10; see: residential-retreats-mindfulness-in-nature
And if a day retreat is more for you? – click to find out about our midsummer retreat

The November day retreat 2015

The November retreat of this year was November 14 and it was during the evening before before that we started hearing news of the attacks in Paris. I had arranged to pick up Barry on the way to the beautiful Otley Hall where I’ve been holding 3 day retreats per year for the last 3 – 4 years. Even as he climbed into the car he was asking me did I “know anybody from Paris?”

We talked of it for the 10 or 15 minutes drive before arriving at Otley Hall. On these retreats, after a full morning of noble silence and continuous practice I usually like to open up to dialogue in the afternoon on the chosen, negotiated theme. I have begun to consider talking on the theme of climate change. I’d seen two red admiral butterflies the previous week and, beautiful as they were, their unseasonal longevity alarms me into prioritising the subject for some mindful enquiry.

Barry and I agreed as we spoke that the tragedy in Paris would probably take precedence.

After introduction around a group of 12, I spoke briefly of the tragedy that was probably on all of our minds – just one person had not yet picked up on the news and I gave her the briefest of resumes. In considering themes she would have liked to have explored in the dialogue session in the afternoon, she explained that she had hoped to enquire into the phenomenon of forgiveness. We wondered if that may become incorporated?

So it was then, that having briefly anticipated the theme, we followed a period of 3 1/2 hours of continuous mindfulness practice culminating in eating our lunch together in silence.

When we opened up to speaking together again we started with some space for each person to speak about their feelings. I moderated the dialogue quite lightly intervening only to observe when we had veered away from feelings and more into our thinkings. It was noticeable at that time too, how one person’s thinking is called forth another person’s thinkings, how the pace picked up and how often two or more people were speaking urgently at the same time.

After most people had spoken and some silence had developed, I suggested we settle back into choiceless awareness meditation, and in my meditation guidance began to run through as many of the perspectives that I could remember having been aired, adding a few more that I could imagine: the challenge for all the grieving families, not least those of the assailants, the observation that just a few days back we had a huge collective remembrance service when we brought to mind the fallen previous wars; wars whose stories have become well-defined, etched in our minds – individual and collective. Recognising that the story of this current war is yet to come into definition – that there are many competing versions all held with equal conviction, and that in times of shock and fear and doubt, certainty is often desperately pursued in the vain expectation that our anxieties will be relieved this way.

The meditation then moved in the direction of classic metta bhavana – or loving kindness – practice. Starting with ourselves – acknowledging our own shock, fear and doubt and directing soothing loving kindness towards ourselves, then progressing to a dear friend, and further to an acquaintance, further still towards a person in our lives with whom we have had conflict or by whom we have felt thwarted or disrespected, and then towards the seven young people who had perpetrated the attacks before deliberately destroyed themselves, and lastly towards the innumerable people will be affected by this incident… making space within this last great stretch of imagination to include ourselves – as a group of 12 people deliberately generating behaviours which lie at the opposite end of whatever continuum mindless violence and riotous assembly are the opposite extreme.

In our subsequent debrief theme which emerged was that of affiliation; indeed the woman who had wanted to speak of forgiveness had already decided that she would phone the person in question and suggest a meeting; ‘life’s just too short, too precious’ she said. Person after person spoke of similar things – moving towards people that mattered to them. This reminds me of an incident almost 20 years ago; the shooting of many schoolchildren in Dunblane. I was teaching music in Brixton prison at the time; the team of prisoners with whom I was working on a computer music composition wherein a very sombre, very distressed mood on the morning the news began filtering through. We managed to work collectively at that time through the medium of music to create a most haunting, musical statement “Dunblane innocents” – what makes it very difficult for prisoners – as news of tragedy breaks – is that they can’t reach out to love or to hold their precious ones, nor can they be there – as protector males in this case, to look after the vulnerable ones of their kith and kin.

Back to our retreat of yesterday, however, tragedy and opportunity combined. What a blessing to be able to prepare the mind with a sustained period of relative stillness and spaciousness, before entering into the solidarity of a group of like-minded people, to focus directly upon the feeling impact, and then to drop back again into mindfulness to imagine the situation from as many perspectives as you can, before emerging – not into the waves of anger condemnation and divisiveness, but into a deep pool of ‘us-ness’, re-connection, affiliation. The chance to sit in the question “how shall we be with this?” before the shrill “what shall we do about this?” demands spring up from multiple, competing positions of certainty.

Outside it was raining and the light was fading – nonetheless, stalwarts all, half of the group chose to practice yoga indoors whilst the other half in grim determination donned their waterproofs for a mindful tramp around, inwards and outwards, the labyrinth of ancient design.

Thank you all, it was good to share the day with you, it was a good day – for a day of tragedy.

Martin, Nov 15’th, 2015

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First Wednesday of the month – it’s mindfulness drop-in group

Yes, it’s upon us again – this coming Wednesday! Meeting, 7pm at the Windmill Natural Health Centre  We were close to capacity in our cosy little meditation room and have decided this time to bring meditation cushions so that we can evict the chairs – though a few will be fine for any who need them.

AND: It’s only three weeks away from our next 8 week Mindfulness training group – starts Tues April 21’st, 5.30- 7.30 from Framfield house Medical centre, Woodbridge. Read all about it – and you can even book – from here:

Warm regards to all



Celebrating our ‘full moon’ mindfulness drop-in practice

Heartening to be with our best yet turnout for the Mindfulness drop-in on Wednesday which – conveniently this month – happened to fall upon a full moon eve.  This was the first time I’d publicised on the MEETUP platform – with the strapline:   “Like minds liking mindfulness”  And it was exciting to discover that it is indeed possible to meet-up with new people in this way.

The simple 3 phase formula of ‘checking-in intro round’, then ‘guided practice’ finishing off with ‘post-practice dialogue around emerging themes’ seemed to serve us well …and – by way of rescuing us from the slim possibility of taking it all too seriously – there was a significant sub-group went to finish off the evening together in a local pub.

The little practice room space was cosily crammed – though we were all sat on chairs. It’s time to suggest that you bring your cushions or stools (but we’ll still make room for a chair or two if you have special need?). Many of us will be more familiar and comfortable with this sitting arrangement – and more importantly we’ll have room to welcome a few more like minds to join us.

Consider joining us on Mindfulness Suffolk facebook page?

And here’s more detail about the drop-in:

This link tells you about the mindfulness practitioner’s day retreat: March 14, at Otley Hall

And our next formal 8 week MBCT/MBSR course starts April 21’st

metta, warm regards to all,