Singing the Same Song

by Kristine Enger

Walking on the beach early this morning, as the sun was rising, a lady was sitting cross-legged on the sand playing the guitar. As I walked past, I thought to myself, “what a lovely way to start the day, with some live music.”
I carried on walking, enjoying the soothing, yet somewhat repetitive 3 or 4 chords she was playing. I walked right to the end of the beach, and as I reached the fishing village, I turned back. Thirty minutes or so later, I again passed the lady with the guitar, and with some amusement noticed that she was still playing the exact same chords.

I pondered that in the meantime, I had enjoyed an exploration of the seashore, looked at shells and crabs, found a sand dollar, said ‘hello’ to a few early risers, moved my body, whereas she was in the exact same spot, absorbed playing the same repetitive chords.

In a flash of insight, I realised that most of us live our lives playing the same tune over and over. It is as if we keep reading from the same script, literally playing it safe by staying well within the confines of the tried and tested, the carefully orchestrated narrative that is our life.
“Be curious about life”, we teach in mindfulness, “go down a different road, explore a new neighbourhood”. What would happen if we said yes instead of no, took a risk even, you’ll never know unless you try, right?

This way, we won’t stay stuck, repeating the same melody over and over, but open ourselves to the next song… and the next … on the playlist that makes up our lives.

Candle Lighting Ceremony – 9th Dec

By Maureen Stols

dedicated to our Christmas Angel – Kimberlie 

Thoughts drift at this time of the year. This is for all of you who have lost someone dear to you, to all of you who have had to learn to celebrate in a different style or choose not to celebrate at all.
The approaching season when the Western world gears up for its annual celebrations-fun, laughter, family, friends, food, bedecked shops and bejewelled trees. All of this planning spins alongside your gut-wrenching dread-and you hover between wanting the world to stop and feeling obliged by society, friends or family to continue. Grief grips in waves-and it will side sweep you on an unsuspecting level-this time of year it tends to sneak up and pounce in ways you never thought possible.
This may be your first festive season without that special family member or friend, or indeed it may be several years on. When you start to use avoidance tactics; in the shops, with friends who want to make plans, and among your own family who are all dealing with the loss in different ways. It may be time to take time!
It is time to take a deep breath, to remind yourself of the wonderful times you did have with that precious person. To acknowledge that you miss them with most if not all of your heart. It is time to remind yourself there were good times, to try and honour your loved ones in those memories rather than the memories that are steeped in tears. To take care of the loved ones who are still here with you, and, most importantly, it is a time of reflection and self-care. Time to appreciate that people that care about you – your friends and family who stand by and try and share and understand your grief.
Compassionate Friends is a worldwide organisation that was created to support bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents. It connects the grieving to others who have suffered the same loss.
Once a year, on the second Sunday of December, there is a worldwide candle lighting event. At 19:00 hours local time a candle is lit for that lost child, sibling or grandchild. It is now believed to be the largest mass candle lighting on the globe. It creates a virtual 24-hour wave of light that moves from time zone to time zone, so that their light may continue to shine.
This is specifically for those that have lost children, however, there is no reason you cannot do it for someone else you have lost-after all we are all someone’s child at some time in our lives. It is a small symbol of huge significance. It resembles how a tiny step or gesture can create a path towards a better way of grieving and that in turn can lead to greater healing.
You have a choice-you can view it from afar or you can choose to actively observe your grief and not let it consume you.

Conscious Connection

By Helen Williams

Part 4 in a series on Conscious Relationships leading up to our November Conscious Relationships workshop. Read Part 1, 2 & 3 here: 

Conscious relationships = commitment to growth as an individual, as a couple, as a community where we are an addition to another’s life, but not the foundation on which it is built. Growth is the goal, both for ourselves, our partner and our relationship.

To know and to be known, to love and to be loved in return, to feel visible, safe, wanted, precious, special and to be able to trust this.  This is conscious connection, and this connection opens us deeply within ourselves to be able to be our highest best for each other.

It is the notion of deliberate intent, of being able to trust your own feelings, your intuitive sense, and to be able to communicate that freely to another and to know that you will be respected, secure and not held in judgment.

This, of course, requires an understanding of your own worthiness, your own specialness, in such a way that you come to know that partnership with the other is not to get this from them, but to live it within you.  Relationships become more conscious with the understanding that you are responsible for commitment to your own growth as an individual.  You first, then the other, then the relationship.

Mindfulness practice helps us to connect more authentically to ourselves, makes us aware of the inner voice of shame, blame and guilt, the voice of unlove we feed on in ourselves, and directs us toward a clearer sense of our own conscious connection within.

At Mindful ME we delight in the teachings of mindfulness as a vehicle for personal, relationship and community growth.  We see and experience this growth happening daily within our mindful community.

Come join us as we experiment with conscious connection in our daily lives.

Contact us here for more details or to book.

Conscious Communication as a Relationship Growth Goal

by Helen Williams

Part 3 in a series on Conscious Relationships leading up to our November Conscious Relationships workshop. Read Part 1 & 2 here: 

Conscious relationships = commitment to growth as an individual, as a couple, as a community where we are an addition to another’s life, but not the foundation on which it is built.

Growth is the goal, both for ourselves, our partner and our relationship.
The opening sentence for many a couple session is, ‘’We are in trouble through lack of
communication’’. This oh-so-familiar phrase with a lifetime of pain behind it. Learning to communicate consciously is as much about learning how to hear, how to deeply listen and ‘’hold a space for each other’’ as it is about learning how to speak, to use words, body language and emotional wisdom.
Our fear of being hurt, being vulnerable, or revealing our shames and fears, means we have a lifetime of learning how to be defensive and offensive when we feel unsafe. I have long believed that we are conditioned into our defences from an early age and that it is completely possible to relearn new and powerful ways of communicating with each other. The experience of being really heard, really held, and really seen, and still loved, is one of our deepest longings and therefore also one of our deepest fears.

On Tuesday nights in November Helen will be running a series of workshops where we will explore some tried and true approaches, and some not so familiar, to make a new way of communicating available to us. To book your spot on our Conscious Relationships workshops contact us here. 

Can Confusion be Good?

by Kristine Enger

As human beings, we feel confused from time to time. Some of us even spend chunks of our lives in a confused state. Perhaps there is a decision we feel we must make about a relationship, a job, or a certain path that we had hoped to take in life. A niggling feeling something is off with the status quo. We feel stuck, we want to move on, yet at the same time we cannot see through the fog, there is no clarity. We don’t know where to go or what to do.

As the frustration grows, we start questioning, when are we going to have clarity, how can we get out of this confused state that we find ourselves in?

We spend time and energy analysing the contents of our confusion, rummaging through the filing cabinets of our minds looking for answers based on past experiences. We run possible future scenarios on repeat, easily causing heaps of anxiety for ourselves. We scurry around, asking for advice from friends and relatives, looking for answers, a way out, a new direction.

There is a saying that if you don’t know what to do, do nothing. Could it be so that no action is required and we’re off the hook until the fog lifts, seemingly all by itself? Could it be so simple that we are just required to ‘sit it out’, that the answers will come, and the path will appear?

Some consider confusion to be a good thing. That ‘in between stage’, that precious time in between the old and the new, where you are creating a new normal for yourself that has not yet materialised.

Everything might still look the same in your life, the same home, relationship and job, yet it feels like you have left something behind. The shoe no longer fits. You are in the process of attaining a new level of being, seeing, understanding. A more expansive way of viewing the world and your place in it. A new perspective.

In mindfulness we learn how to fall in love with where we are right now, and that from there everything will come to us, including clarity and the solutions we are looking for.

So instead of wishing that things were different, we can learn to trust confusion, and really sink into it, and accept it. Even look forward to it, embrace it, as it inevitably leads us to something new.

Spending less time analysing the content of the confusion, we find that clarity arrives sooner. Grounded action and which steps to follow next, will inevitably become clear.

Confusion becomes an exploration of what is present.

 

Codependency & Growth

by Helen Williams

This is part 2 in a series of blogs leading up to our Conscious Relationships workshop in November 2018. Click here to read Part 1

As we continue our exploration about conscious relationships, in preparation for the upcoming workshop in November,  let’s look at what being conscious in a relationship would mean.

Conscious relationships = commitment to growth as an individual, as a couple, as a community where we are an addition to another’s life, but not the foundation on which it is built. Growth is the goal, both for ourselves, our partner and our relationship.

Commitment to growth as an individual is often the first faltering point of a new relationship as couples tend to focus wholeheartedly on each other in the early days and often this means forgetting to caretake your own needs and becoming absorbed into your partner’s life agenda.  It also is a most convenient way of projecting your hopes, dreams, fears and wounds onto your partner instead of staying responsible for them yourself.  This often means becoming lost on your own pathway without even realising it.

Being an ‘addition but not the foundation’ on which the relationship is built, means investigating co-dependency, a topic close to my heart and one which often shines a light on a problem area bringing fresh clarity and insights.   Come prepared to learn ways of identifying co-dependency in your relationships and the impact of it. There’s much to explore here and many tools are available to navigate this tricky way of relating.

For more info on the Conscious Relationships workshop series click here. 

Contact us to book your spot for our Conscious Relationships workshop or to book a private individual or couple’s session with Helen. 

Ring of Fire

By Kristine Enger

On a recent trip to Bali, Indonesia with my daughter we felt the earth move, literally, in the form of several earthquakes. My daughter, a geography student, found it quite fascinating and I, after quake no 3, not so. It was deeply unsettling and frightening to me.

Our lives were never in any danger, and I intuitively knew that. I, therefore, allowed myself to sink deeply into the experience of what was happening in the moment.

Indonesia is located on the Ring of Fire, a major horseshoe-shaped seismically active area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean, where most of the earth’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. Due to the unpredictable nature of earthquakes, there is no warning, they can suddenly occur at any time.  First, you hear the deep (terrifying!) rumbling sound, then the swaying and shaking starts, and after about 10-15 seconds of what feels like an eternity, it’s over.

I quickly discovered I was afraid of what might happen next, and not so much the actual event itself. I was afraid to hear that sound and kept listening for it. Skittish and jumpy, yet at the same time trusting, and knowing full well it was my thinking mind playing tricks. I needed to take great care to allow space for these anxious feelings, and when I did, they subsided.

When we teach in mindfulness how we are hardwired for flight, fight or freeze, it was interesting to experience this first hand. In one split second – you can scan a scene, notice the placements of objects and people, look for ways out, feeling the adrenaline pumping, and at the same time realising you are completely powerless to what is happening. You are simply fully in it. Then afterwards, you become obsessed with analysing your experience, finding meaning and trying to explain why this happened. Checking websites, speaking to the locals, exchanging information with fellow travellers.

The metaphor of how this mirrors life itself crystallized, all whilst finding yourself in a location that can only be described as being in paradise. Life becomes accentuated, everything is deeply felt, your senses heightened. Profound compassion is felt for the plight of the people on the neighbouring island of Lombok, which experienced the most loss of lives and damage. Every cell in your body is felt, as you have been so deeply shaken. The colours, the textures and beauty of it all is seen in a profound, more appreciative way. The love is ever present, spontaneity rules the day, and life continues to happen.

Sometimes our lives are rocked beyond belief, and we feel powerless. However, there seems to be a natural order to it all. It will shake for a while, as adjustments are being made.

Then, the tectonic plates settle, and somehow a new order is restored as peace once more returns.

Love & Heartbreak

by Helen Williams

During the month of November, this Mindful ME workshop will be focusing on relationships – all kinds of relationships, not just couples, from a Mindfulness perspective.  This means looking at how we ‘see’ relating, how we have learned to believe, experience, know and live within the context of relating both to ourselves and others.

After a lifetime of working in this field, I know that this means we will be talking about LOVE!  How we have experienced, and how we yearn to experience, connection with another.  It is commonly a very difficult field of inquiry, fraught with tension, and difficult, uncomfortable emotions and lots and lots of vigorous defence!

Not one of us will escape this heart opening, heart stopping, roller-coaster of emotional experience as we search for warm and loving connected awareness.  Each of us will discover that opening to love immediately equates to fearing the loss of love and for many, experiencing this loss slams the door tightly shut on our hearts.  Opening again requires the mammoth task of healing the break soundly enough to be able to negotiate again the fear that being loved may once more bring painful dislocation.  Sound familiar?

Exploring this terrain with a new focus, in a safe environment with adequate support can help us find ourselves both opening deeper within and exploring farther beyond our previous comfort zones.

Come and join with us as we explore the heights and griefs of conscious, loving connections, and discover the growth and richness that undefended love can bring.

Learn more about our upcoming Conscious Relationships workshop in November here.

Book your spot on the workshop by contacting us here. 

Learn more about Helen’s work with relationships by meeting her in her bio. 

 

artwork: Ivan Guaderrama

A Beginner’s Mind

By Kirsty Heaton

Escaping the summer heat in Dubai – I have swapped sandals and sand for walking boots and rolling countryside in the UK. Our summer holidays wouldn’t be complete without a day trip to Castle Howard for a picnic in the grounds, followed by walks through the estate and woodlands. I have been coming here for as long as I can remember, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

From the moment we turn the corner into the parking I feel a sense of nostalgia, I still have the familiar flutter in my tummy as I did as a child, impending adventure and curiosity, excitement and amazement at the stunning beauty that surrounds us. Yes, our picnics may have changed and I no longer head to the playgrounds to swing and slide as I did as a little girl, the excitement is just the same…but different.

Our first adventure is into the woods, away from the hustle and bustle of the playgrounds. The trees are hundreds of years old and the silence you experience here is intoxicating. Walking through this woodland is healing for the soul, it’s as if nature gives us a giant hug, soothing and calming our nerves. I notice how we tend to whisper to each other in the woods; as if anything loud would disturb the sacred silence.

As we emerge from the woods, the views are breathtaking…I am always overwhelmed as I stand and take it all in. I feel a deep sense of gratitude and take a moment to stand and just breathe it all in…hoping I can keep this picture in my mind forever.

A stroll through the rose garden brings back memories of collecting rose petals with my Grandma to make “rose perfume” I smile to myself, my heart warmed by these memories as I relay the stories to my own daughter. 

Our day comes to an end with homemade ice creams and cups of tea, enjoyed in the castle courtyard. Our legs are tired but our hearts are warmed by the memories both old and new.

As my Mindfulness journey continues, I am so grateful that I am able to experience these special traditions and so many other moments on a much deeper level. When we make the choice to see everything with a Beginners Mind, the world opens up and even an Englishman’s castle, visited yearly for over 30 years can become a place of wonder all over again. 

 

Beautiful photos by Kirsty Heaton

If you would like to set up an appointment to learn more about a Beginner’s Mind and Mindfulness practice with Kirsty please contact us here

Mindfulness and the Sacredness of Play

by Helen Williams
I’m currently enjoying some precious inside playtime with my two youngest grandchildren in the depth of a cold New Zealand winter. Enjoying it because it is a daily study of Mindfulness as we all first learned it!  As small children, when we are given the time, the space and the peacefulness to play, then a mindful approach can be observed first hand as our natural given state.
These little ones spend hours at play, completely absorbed in the work of just being, learning through applying their centred attention to the job at hand.  There is little to distract them.  No rushed deadlines or need to be anywhere. No television, or screens of any sort, and not that many plastic toys either.  Mostly their play comes straight from their imaginations,  drawing on their daily experiences of family life.
Mindful awareness of the moment brings openness and joy to whatever is happening right then, and it’s fascinating to watch the ease in which the children weave their story of now in and around the twists and turns of movement and change, ebb and flow.
It’s an awesome mindfulness practice just sitting quietly knitting and being with them in their wonderful, gathered moments.  Observing this reminds me afresh how Mindfulness isn’t hard to learn as it’s an acquired childhood state which many of us lose and re-enter again by choice is adults.  It just requires us to re-remember it.