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. 

Know Where You Are

by Kristine Enger

A continuation in a series of posts “On Starting Over”

We cannot really go anywhere before we know where we are right now.

A lot of the time, we have no idea where we are. We feel lost.

Sometimes a period of not only introspection but also a very practical investigation is required. To adopt a Sherlock Holmes-like attitude to your current situation can be very helpful, and sometimes very revealing, surprising even.

Adopt the observer’s mind, as if you are establishing a neutral, independent survey of your life. Be methodical about it. Do you have all the facts? ‘Interview’ the people involved in the situation. This could be your children, a friend or colleague, a neighbour, your doctor, a financial advisor. Take extensive notes, make lists before you examine all the ‘evidence’. Take time to come and speak with a consultant who can help guide you through this observation in a safe and non-judgemental way – and in doing so help you do the same. This is a critical step and I find it very helpful for my clients to begin our conversations here.

Now, having gathered as many facts about the situation as possible, it is time for some introspection. We learn through contrast, so instead of being stuck in what you don’t want, what do you want?

What makes your heart sing? To be closer to family? A different career? A loving relationship?

This can bring about frustration, grief, despair and sorrow because where you are now may seem to be miles apart from where you want to be. In fact, the divide may seem too great and overwhelming.

The good news is that this is perfectly okay, and it is possible to traverse this divide.

In fact, just looking at your life in this way, you have already taken the first and most difficult step.

 

Kristine has lived in Dubai for more than 25 years and has started over many times in her life. Kristine knows particularly well what it entails to start over as an expat, far from home, without the safety net of family, friends and in certain situations social services to catch us. Kristine’s deeply grounded, practical, yet highly creative approach to life, makes her an excellent consultant to guide and inspire you if you find yourself going through the challenging time of starting over.

 

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.  

On Starting Over

by Kristine Enger

On our life’s journey, at some point, the calling comes, and as if waking from a dream, we realise we must change our lives.  Weeks, months and years can have passed, until one day, we cannot stand the present situation any longer. We may not know what we want, but we know we don’t want this. Something we have put up with for a long time suddenly seems intolerable.

Or change can suddenly be brought upon us in the form of some event, where the rug can literally be pulled from under us, forcing us, kicking and screaming to reassess our lives and start over.

Either way, we know our life cannot go on the way it was, however much we resist it or put it off.

As we wake up to this new reality, it can be daunting, as the situation we find ourselves in can seem utterly hopeless with no apparent solution in sight. We feel stuck and frustrated.

It can take the same amount of time to extricate yourself from a situation that requires you to start over, as the time it took before you became lost in it. It is like you must retrace your steps, wound yourself right back to who and where you were initially, before you eventually emerge more mature, wise and strong, a redefined human being.

Starting over is an inner energetic process, that most commonly stems from our heart’s deepest desire and longing. However, this is a process that also involves a lot of deliberate, very different ‘doing’ however small and seemingly insignificant at first. The little choices we make throughout each day.

Being open to a period of ‘mucking about’ with different scenarios, tossing ideas around, slowly gathering momentum is all an important part of starting over. Becoming aware of the role our thinking plays in the creative process. Connecting with the fertile ground of stillness, whilst at the same time accepting the uncertainty, anxiety, chaos and sleepless nights that for us as human beings seem to be an integral part of starting over too, even with all the help and support in the world.

Starting over can be the start of a journey of the greatest discovery, as inherent in each seemingly unsolvable situation or tightly wound knot, there is also a solution. However entangled we become, we also hold the key to untangling it, to create something wonderful and new out of what seemed to be an impossible situation. It can feel as if the solution will only come to us when we are ready to see it.

 

Kristine has lived in Dubai for more than 25 years and has started over many times in her life. Kristine knows particularly well what it entails to start over as an expat, far from home, without the safety net of family, friends and in certain situations social services to catch us. Kristine’s deeply grounded, practical, yet highly creative approach to life, makes her an excellent coach to guide and inspire you if you find yourself going through the challenging time of starting over. Contact us here to book in a private session with Kristine.

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.

Nuestros Hijos No Son Nuestros

De forma inconsciente manipulamos a nuestros hijos, les exigimos que se comporten como deseamos, o si no, les retiramos nuestro afecto. Así hemos sido educados y así educamos.

‘’Si no te comes la papilla mama se va a poner triste’’. ‘’No disgustes a papa.” ‘’Me has decepcionado.” Hemos crecido tratando de ser lo que no somos, tratando de agradar y cumplir con las expectativas ajenas, y pasamos gran parte de nuestras vidas aterrorizados ante la posibilidad de dejar de ser amados y aceptados.

Hemos creado una sociedad competitiva donde solo puede haber ganadores o perdedores. Debemos cumplir unos estándares, aunque sea a costa de sacrificar nuestra esencia. Ganar dinero, tener buena apariencia, obtener méritos académicos y profesionales son las máximas aspiraciones en nuestra cultura.  Nuestros hijos viven desde bien temprano sometidos a la presión que implica estar siempre bajo examen. Hay que obtener resultados, pasar exámenes, aprender idiomas y destacar en esta carrera desesperada por salir adelante. Ya no hay tiempo para ser, para jugar, para aprender por el mero placer de hacerlo.

Nuestra cultura ha hecho prevalecer la mente sobre el corazón. Nos enorgullecemos de nuestras conquistas en el terreno científico y tecnológico, pero hemos perdido algo fundamental en el camino, nuestro corazón. Sin el estamos incompletos, somos seres tripartitos: cabeza, corazón e instinto.

Enseñémosles a desarrollar una relación consigo mismos en la que escuchen sus tripas y su corazón, además de a sus cabezas, en la que puedan reconocer lo que necesitan y desean, no lo que se espera de ellos. Así podrán compartir desde su grandeza, desde su pleno potencial, en lugar de encogerse para amoldarse a nuestras expectativas.