Mindfulness and Thoughts

By Helen Williams and Kristine Enger

As you know, Mindful ME consultants focus on mindfulness as an approach to truly living with meaningful, authentic, present moment awareness.  This means learning to notice and practice awareness of our thoughts rather than being controlled or lost by them.

Recently Helen and Kristine sat down to chat about how this approach enhances wellbeing and changes our experience of fear and anxiety within our daily lives.

HELEN: I’ve noticed a sharp increase in people wanting to engage in conversations about mindfulness and particularly in relation to the way we experience our thoughts.  How have you experienced this in your work lately and why do you think we are noticing this growing awareness towards mindfulness?

KRISTINE: Yes – I’ve noticed it too – I’m having more and more conversations where people are becoming more aware of their thinking, which indicates an expansion of awareness. When our awareness expands, we start to see and experience life from a more elevated perspective, with more depth of feeling. The more aware we become, we also begin to notice how often we are stuck in unhelpful, repetitive thought patterns, which we then want to end, preferably immediately! That usually begins a conversation around non-judgement and self-acceptance.

HELEN:

Yes, I agree. So many people look for ways of dealing with their unhelpful, repetitive thinking patterns and discover that practicing mindfulness is a wonderful way of working with this in a loving and safe way. The difficult thoughts that we start to notice can sometimes be a bit daunting and it can be helpful to chat with an experienced practitioner about them.

KRISTINE:

Yes, having support while exploring our relationships with thoughts is so helpful – otherwise it can be easy to fall into self-shaming and anxiety around try to “get rid of them”. I usually gently help my clients see that thinking is beyond our control. Thinking will forever be the backdrop of our lives, constantly streaming through us. There is literally no escape from thought, because there is not supposed to be – and that is ok! Judging ourselves for the pesky thoughts that we might have, makes no sense. It is more helpful to remember that the majority of the thoughts we think in a single day are actually not true, and not become so attached to them.

HELEN:

Yes – I guess the question is then – what are thoughts and why do we have them?

KRISTINE:

Thoughts are just unrealised, completely neutral, potential. Not “good” or “bad”. When we give energy to them, over and over again, and they swirl around in our heads, trapped. As human beings we don’t understand how our thinking mind works. One teacher called thinking ‘the missing link’ between formless and form. It would be helpful for us as humans to redefine our relationship to thought as a creative, streaming, helpful force, at least be open to the possibility. Then, with clarity and space, we can choose our relationship with them. Again this is where talking with someone who understands this can really help – and why it is so important that this is done in a safe, honest and kind way.

Kristine and Helen are both mindfulness teachers and consultants, based in Dubai, who support individuals learning and applying mindfulness practice in their lives. You can book an individual session with Kristine or Helen by emailing info@mindfulme.me to learn more about your thinking mind or attend one of our workshops. Contact us for more info. 

The Other as a Mirror

By Isabel Galiardo
The only way to overcome the vicious cycles we create in our relationships is to understand that our partner is mirroring our shadow aspects. By this, I mean our blind spots, aspects of ourselves that we are not aware of, as they are avoided because they somehow create pain and contradict our self-image.
It is good to know that our relationships serve the purpose of healing the old wounds that we carry inside of ourselves. Our partner is not responsible for fixing, rescuing or saving us but he/she can contribute immensely to our growth. How? By giving us the opportunity to look at our own ‘reflection’ in the dynamics we create together. In order to experience our partner as a mirror, we need to shift from a codependent relationship to a mindful one.
We can use conflict as an opportunity to get to know ourselves better, to understand the disowned members of our internal family and welcome them. If I don’t accept my neediness it is likely that I will judge the other when he/she is dependent and vulnerable. If I have a strong need for pleasing people in order to feel loved and included I will get frustrated and let them down when their behaviour is not reciprocated.
Being in a conscious relationship requires paying attention and staying present. It is as if all of a sudden we become detectives of our own psyches. We follow the clues. We shift from autopilot to a mindful state. In order to do so, we can start by bringing our awareness to our bodies when we react to a comment, or to our partner’s behaviour. By acknowledging that a trigger can activate our wounds but most of the times are not the real cause of our painful emotion, we learn to stay in touch with whatever arises without immediately reacting. This choice implies the willingness to embark on a journey of self-inquiry that refers to oneself again and again rather than pointing our finger at the other. Instead of blaming the other person for our feelings, we own them. This allows us to express assertively rather than judgmentally and listen openly without having to go into defence mode.
‘’We want to be loved in a very particular way, one that soothes our emotional wounds from the past.’’ John Welwood

The Motion of Emotions

What you resist, persists. When you avoid and deny your pain and internal discomfort you are neglecting and abandoning yourself.
Self-care is not only about going on holidays or taking hot water baths. To take care of myself means that I’m in touch with the totality of who I am at any given time. I care, and therefore I listen to myself and I take responsibility for my wellbeing in any area of my life: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
We are wired to avoid pain. We can escape from it in multiple ways, from the most obvious- entering a new relationship, finding a new job or moving countries- to the more subtle ones like distracting ourselves with work, sex, food or alcohol.
When we consciously choose to sit with the pain and we endure the discomfort and the fear, keeping the presence and the connection with what is arising, we are fighting against our natural instinct of survival and reshaping our minds. When we train ourselves, through meditation and mindfulness to remain aware and fully present, without dissociating from the emotion or running away, the so-called ‘’negative’’ emotions become our allies, instead of toxic influences that poison our lives.
My emotions put me in motion. My anger, experienced mindfully helps me set proper boundaries. Today I am tired and cannot give you more. My sadness helps me grieve the many losses we encounter, losing a friend or a lover, a job, an opportunity. Healthy emotions are happening here and now, and they are energy expressing itself through ourselves.
That is why our awareness is so fundamental. We need to discern between the aliveness of the fresh, raw emotion related to the present time and serving a purpose, and the narrative I tell myself based on past experiences, which makes me get stuck in it. The narrative feeds the idea of inadequacy and separateness while the raw emotion is the messenger that tells me what is necessary and important in order to take care of myself. You choose!
Isabel works with individuals and couple’s in consciously expressing and exploring their emotions, stories, and here and now. To make an appointment with Isabel contact us. 

Reality or Fiction

by Isabel Galiardo
Things are certainly not what they seem. What we believe to be real is false and what we consider unreal actually contains the truth.
The character we call I, which we defend and protect, is just the self-image which we present ourselves to the world. This superficial self is neither authentic nor real. Its existence is based on the need to be accepted by others. It is the result of our conditioning, the sum of ideas we have about ourselves, the learned patterns and defense mechanisms that accompany us since childhood, offering a false sense of protection. It helped us in the past to survive and adapt to the environment with the limited resources we then had, but now only limits and impoverishes our existence.
Becoming an adult has nothing to do with time passing, but with our ability to become aware of our true being. It is not so much about what we do or have but who we are. It is about being, about existing, and for that, there are no recipes or formulas. To mature emotionally requires that we leave our lairs to let ourselves be touched and affected by others. We need to let go of our false idols, our infantile need of certainties, and to relate instead to existence in a dialogue of awareness and attentive listening. When we are true to our essence, we start living exposed to the unpredictable, instead of clinging to the illusion of being in control.
When we are authentic and true to ourselves we remain open and present to the dynamic and creative current of life.
” One must not always think so much about what one should do, but rather what one should be’’.
Meister Eckart
Isabel works with individuals and couples seeking to explore their relationships and themselves in an authentic way. Contact us to make an appointment to see Isabel or attend one of her workshops.  

Self-Reflection

by Helen Williams

Who do you see when you look in the mirror?

Who are you looking at?

Who is looking back at you?

Who are you looking for?

On some level or another, all of us are seeking ourselves whether we know it or not.

We all have beliefs, ideas, thoughts and attitudes which govern our thinking, our knowing and our living. Changing our thinking, our long held beliefs can dramatically change our daily lives.

Try looking at it this way…..

“We live in a house of mirrors, and think we are looking out the windows”

Fritz Perls

Take a moment to think about what this sentence on self-reflection means for you.

It is talking about how we perceive ourselves and our surroundings – how we fail to see that life reflects us back to ourselves. Because we keep on looking out the windows, many of us take forever to realize that we are looking at ourselves mirrored back to us by others and by the events of our life.

If we see that our negative feelings towards others are reflecting back to ourselves our own sense of negativity then we can do something to help ourselves forward. By continuously looking out the window and putting the ‘blame’ on others we fail to utilize all the power in the moment.

Changing our perception of the problem by seeing the reality as it is reflected by us and to us, brings empowerment, change, discovery and consciousness.

As we learn to look for that reflection in the mirror rather than to project our senses outwards we gain a sense of responsibility for our own lives. Our authentic self begins to shine through.

This journey towards authenticity is not for the faint hearted! There are monsters hiding around every corner and they are mostly the monsters of our own making – our egoic self and all its responses to our lived experiences. A sense of authenticity is one of our deepest psychological needs, and people are hungrier for it than ever. Even so, being true to oneself is not for the faint of heart. Join us in courageously connecting with our authentic selves in our Authentic Living course on Thursday mornings.

 

“Who we are looking for is who is looking”

Francis of Assisi

Entrando en el Castillo

por Isabel Galiardo
Estamos perdiendo nuestro valioso tiempo y dando palos de ciego cuando nos identificamos únicamente con el aspecto material de la existencia y olvidamos su dimension espiritual.
Cuando hacemos esto la vida se limita a una carrera contra reloj en la que los máximos logros son el dinero y el status. La felicidad nunca sucede ahora, y si lo hace, no es duradera.
Cuando la felicidad depende de lo externo experimentamos un enorme vacío que se manifiesta de diferentes maneras, como adicciones, soledad, depresión, ansiedad y una falta de dirección y de sentido. Ninguno de nuestro logros logra satisfacernos por mucho tiempo. Cuando solo nos ocupamos de los aspectos físicos, nuestras almas están famélicas. Podremos vivir en entornos sofisticados llenos de comodidades. Podemos alcanzar nuestras mas deseadas metas y sin embargo seguimos sintiéndonos pobres. Somos vagabundos vagando sin rumbo cuando olvidamos que nuestro verdadero hogar esta en nuestro interior.
Teresa nos invito hace cinco siglos a entrar en al castillo de nuestra alma y a descubrir sus distintos aposentos. Adentremonos pues donde las mas maravillosas riquezas nos esperan en forma de amor, paz y plenitud. Seamos místicos modernos y accedamos a esa riqueza para luego traerla de vuelta al mundo en forma amor, sabiduría y valor.
“Es gran bestialidad cuando no procuramos saber que cosa somos, sino que nos detenemos en estos cuerpos.’’
  Teresa de Avila

Entering the castle

by Isabel Galiardo
We are wasting our time and missing the whole point of existence when we identify only with the material aspect of life and forget about the spiritual dimension.When we do this, we are limiting ourselves to a race against the clock in which the highest achievements are money and status.
When happiness depends on the external, we experience a huge void that manifests itself in  different ways; addictions, loneliness, depression, anxiety and a general sense of lack of direction and meaning. None of our achievements manage to satisfy us in the long term. When we only take care of the physical dimension our souls starve. We can live in sophisticated environments with all sorts of amenities. We can achieve our most desired goals, and yet feel empty. We are homeless wandering the streets because we forgot our true home is within ourselves.
Teresa invited us five centuries ago to enter the castle of our souls and discover the different rooms in it. Come inside where the most wonderful riches are waiting for you in the form of love, peace and fulfillment. Be a modern mystic, search for the bounty that lays within your castle and bring all this abundance back to the world in the form of love, wisdom and courage.
“We are incomparably ignorant when we do not strive to know who we are.
All our attention is taken up with the outer walls of the castle;
that is, with the bodies of ours.’’
Teresa of Avila

The Wisdom of a Cactus Flower

The little potted cactus the I keep on my lounge windowsill had a surprise for me – a joyful cream coloured flower.

I see the pot out of the corner of my eye everyday but it has been a while since I had given it a close look and I hadn’t even seen a bud, aside from its bright red baubles that I had assumed were all it had to offer in terms of flowers. I check on my desert rose everyday waiting for a proud pink bloom, but all I had ever expected from my cactus was spiky stillness and low maintenance. And then she flowered.

The beauty made me reflect on Jon Kabat Zinn’s thought of really seeing people. Not just what we expect to see, not just our stories about them, not our assumptions and shortcuts – but rather opening up for real connection by compassionately and bravely leaping into the space between our thoughts and the person we choose to know. I may have had a particular storyline for my prickly plant and was content for her stoic presence on my windowsill but when I looked without expecting she shared with me a true expression of beauty.

“Look at other people and ask yourself if you are really seeing them or just your thoughts about them.”

– Jon Kabat-Zinn