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.  

Happiness and Authenticity

by Helen Williams

Did you know that happiness and authenticity join hands in our lives? Happiness is a by-product of the other ingredients that are necessary to feel at ease with ourselves, our choices and our daily lives. Authenticity is one of the most important!

It’s hard to be truly authentic because fear often prevents this. We grow up needing approval, validation and comfort in order to feel secure and loved and so the fear of not receiving approval can mean we create an inauthentic self as a way of protecting ourselves. Learning to be true, real and vulnerable takes courage, practice and support from those around us. Especially the notion that we must be who we’re not in order to be loved. This is the most open secret shared by everyone – that we do not and cannot honour our true selves for fear of rejection.

Vulnerability means taking a risk to really put ourselves out there – to embrace ourselves as we are and risk being uncomfortable, seen, experienced and still stay open to ourselves and to others.

Ask yourself some questions!
Who am I really? What am I afraid will happen if I show you who I really am? What does being authentic really mean and why do I struggle with who I am?

Everything is about love and approval – about being wanted, feeling special, being visible, and feeling safe in the context of a relationship.

Come and join our Authentic Living workshop for the month of February as we explore questions like these and while finding self-acceptance with a group of like-minded people.

Contact us to book

Authentic Living February_Social Media Art 1

You Need Only Water, Light and a New Pot

By Isabel Galiardo
I have a plant in the living room that I rescued from the garbage several years ago. It is giving flowers and full of life. It oozes beauty and joy. For me, it is a metaphor for what happens when we accept and take care of ourselves.
To throw the plant away because it has dead leaves and is growing crooked may seem the most logical thing to do. We think that if it is no longer useful, it is better to buy a new one.
We often do that with ourselves. We want to get rid of our faults and imperfections because they cause shame, pain and fear and make us “look bad”. But the difficulty and pain show us aspects of ourselves that need to be taken care of and accepted.
When you deny your fear, your anger, your shame or your guilt, you are mutilating yourself. It is not about wallowing in pain, nor about living as a victim of the past, but looking at it from a broader and more comprehensive, more compassionate and conscious perspective.
Do not try to get rid of the dry leaves or the parts that have grown uneven or deformed, on the contrary, welcome them and give them water and light (love and consciousness).
Bring light to the aspects that are in the shade. Orient yourself towards the light -remembering your true essence and elevating your vibratory frequency through spiritual practices will give you a greater awareness of yourself.
If you need a new pot, move to a larger space that allows you to continue growing and give flowers. Dare to consider life in broader and more expansive terms.
The most important task facing humanity is learning to love. Love starts with oneself and has nothing to do with a narcissistic or egocentric attitude, but with the ability to accept what I am at each moment without resistance or attachment. Letting life flow through me, letting LOVE speak through me.
Self-love and love for others are two sides of the same coin. What I do not tolerate of myself will be a source of conflict when I see it in the outside world. My own personal war immediately moves to a war with the world.
Let us make peace with what we are and we will begin to give flowers of hope, creativity, joy and unity.
“The goal of this work is not ‘get rid of your story’ but to have a more flexible relationship with it.”
– Matt Licata
Isabel

Fear or Intuition?

By Isabel Galiardo 
How can we distinguish between our inner voice, which we call intuition, from the voice of fear?
Fear helps us recognize and prevent dangers. It is there to protect us, without it we would behave recklessly and ignore our own limits. When it takes excessive prominence it makes us defensive, aggressive, isolates us and makes us perceive the world as hostile.
The voice of fear is linked to the past and is part of our conditioning. Our biographical experiences and those accumulated by our predecessors allow us to manage the world in a more predictable and safe way. But when our old childhood fears take hold of us we go back emotionally in time and perceive reality through the lens of our inner child, who feels helpless, terrified, incapable, … it measures our capacity based on past experiences, moments in which we had fewer resources.
Our inner voice is connected with the present and with the future, it guides us in the most appropriate direction for our growth and evolution. It shows us creative and original ways of being ourselves, freed from our conditioning and our old wounds, inviting us to express our potential and contribute to the totality of existence.
Our inner voice expresses our essence and is connected with our deepest truth, which is timeless and universal, but which is expressed in a unique and personal way in each one of us.
To listen to it, it is necessary to create a minimum of silence and quietness. This voice speaks subtly, almost in whispers, while fear is more reactive and speaks loudly.
Give yourself time to connect with yourself and to listen to yourself, to create a dialogue with this voice that speaks from certainty and knowledge, from a place of inner knowing. Then, take some time to assimilate the information and to understand it and finally, gather your courage and strength to put it into practice.
Our inner voice asks us for coherence and courage to reach our full potential and therefore challenges and mobilizes us to leave our comfort zone and explore new possibilities. This is not always easy but it is certainly immensely rewarding.

On Longing

By Kristine Enger

What is this yearning that we feel in our body, heart, and soul, for something, for someone? For a deeper soul connection, a soulmate, a twin flame. The longing to be seen, understood and loved. To feel completely safe. Where does this longing come from and will we ever find that elusive, missing piece so we will feel complete, whole and at peace? How can it be that when be truly believe we have met the perfect partner, after a while, a loneliness slowly starts to seep into our awareness, just when we thought we had it all.

Are we ultimately looking for ourselves, to express and be who we truly are? Is our divine counterpart the image reflected back to us when we look at ourselves in the mirror? Could it be that we are living our lives through our reflected self? And that it is our real self that we ache for, the one calling us home? Can we ever be whole and live without longing? A deep acceptance of the present moment with all its unanswered questions and messy situations will strangely soothe us. For a while. It is time to rest. And we will momentarily call off the search. Until we start again, fuelled by that very same longing, yearning for that deeper connection, venturing further and further afield into the unknown, knowing our heart is the compass, but reading it wrong like so many times in the past. Longing is what makes us feel alive, vulnerable and strong. It is calling us to grow; it is our connection to the mystery, to the Divine.

On Grief

by Kristine Enger

When you lose someone you love, perhaps suddenly, it becomes the ‘before and after’ event in your life. Therapist and counsellors, or even your own rational mind, can tell you that over time you might see the loss as more of a life event, or as something that just happened, God’s plan etc – but you yourself know this is not the case. When someone dies in your innermost circle, the rug gets pulled, and when you hit the floor you know your life is never going to be the same ever again.

Grief is sacred. When you finally pick yourself off the floor, if you do, you and your soul know you are in for a life lived somehow closer to the edge. You are living your life now from a place of being broken open, of rawness. Perhaps not openly so, but when you are alone, you know this is true. You somehow seem to operate and move within a wider range of the human emotional experience. You have explored and felt the very depths of extreme darkness, despair, overwhelm and hopelessness, but equally, over time, you have access to the deep, boundless love and a genuine, heartfelt compassion for your fellow human beings in their struggles. The world needs this deep, compassionate love. You could say this was hard earnt, but this is how it came to you. Grief is acceptance. Acceptance of your life the way it is now. Not what you thought it was going to be like, but what it is now. Deeply hidden within this acceptance, is the seed for how you as a human being find your way forward with a renewed sense of purpose, however small. Baby steps.

Destroying to Build

by Isabel Galiardo
One of our greatest fears is the fear of change. Change forces us to face the unknown, to abandon our references and our security, to enter new and uncertain territory. Change is death, it implies the end of a time and the beginning of another.
In the Hindu Trinity, Shiva, the God of destruction and death, plays a fundamental role in the cycle of existence. Without these forces there would be no evolution, there would be no transformation, we would always remain stuck in the same place, trapped, fixed, dead.
We face a wonderful paradox: without death, there is no life. In order to grow and evolve, we need to die, to change. It is essential to remember that change is necessary, that it is fundamental for our progress. Change invites us to develop different aspects of our being and offers us the possibility of experiencing different dimensions of our humanity, always with the purpose of becoming the best version of ourselves.
Our first great move occurs at birth, we die to our intrauterine existence by leaving the womb to begin our life as individuals on earth. Our baby dies to give way to the child, the child gives way to the teenager and then to the young person, the adult and the elder. These different vital stages lead us through successive deaths and resurrections. Life drags us, drives us forward, mobilizes and transforms us, killing us and making us be reborn a thousand times.
On a psychological level, whenever we gain understanding, abandon an old belief, or let go of a certain prejudice, we are making space for the birth of something new, more encompassing and inclusive. It is a liberating and enriching act which is preceded by tension, rigidity and resistance. Something is about to come to an end and we find it hard to let go.
In times of change, we feel fear, we contract and we resist. This resistance is due to us not trusting our abilities or being unable to make sense of the impending change. We fear the unknown. The key is to trust, to go ahead and move towards the apparent emptiness despite the vertigo. At that moment we do not have the clarity to see where our steps will lead us to, but we do have the certainty that something has started and that within it lies a growth potential. Then, with the perspective that time gives us, we will realize that what we interpreted as a loss would end up being a gain, a progress on an inner level.
The processes of change are fantastic opportunities to better understand our fears and attachments. In those moments we have the opportunity to recognize them and face them with consciousness.
Each biographical stage entails its own challenges. Depending on our limitations and our strengths, we will live each change as an expansive and rewarding phase or as an intolerable and difficult loss to overcome. In any case, it is about cultivating the basic trust in life which sustains and leads us along the paths that are necessary for our learning and evolution. When we trust, transitions are more fluid, we relax and cooperate, putting ourselves in consonance with and at the service of existence. If we connect with the wise and loving current of life, then life becomes an adventure, magic and miraculous and we are available to dance with her movements.