On Breathing

by Kristine Enger

Most of us take our breath for granted. In fact, we don’t pay too much attention to our breathing at all. Our breath is of no real concern, we breathe and that’s it.

As children, we played games trying to hold our breaths to see what would happen next, before the life force energy, seemingly all by itself, would draw the next breath on our behalf, overriding our best efforts.

Or as we explore, for a minute or two, a different universe underwater, before we rise to the surface and triumphantly, with what seems like a roar, fill our lungs with life again. How sweet the breath feels in that moment!

As humans, we endlessly search. We even travel to faraway lands, seek out gurus and teachers; for meaning, for answers, for our purpose, for the Divine.

As we breathe, could what we seek be hidden within the energy of the breath of life? The breath is, after all, how our human life began and how it eventually one day will end.

To connect to our breathing through focused attention can come off to a shaky start. Staccato at best, making strange sounds, feeling stuck in places. Alien and bizarre. We can even get panicky with such attention to our breath. Why is it that what gives us life feels so strange and unfamiliar?

Through practice, as our breath begins to soften, becoming clearer and less restricted, we can become aware that we are breathing in not just life, but also inspiration, ideas, forming insights about our burning questions. Connecting to our innermost wisdom, as our breath flows evermore sweetly, peaceful and loving. It can even feel as if we are drawing in creation itself, as it moves through us.  In and out, in and out.

We breathe creation, creation breathes us, as the breath intelligently, safely takes us from moment to moment, creating each moment anew. Becoming one with the breath, we have a say in how the next moment unfolds. What our response will be. We can connect, direct and create life in this way. Moment by moment. Breath by breath.

 

On Anxiety

by Kristine Enger

Do you remember that naughty cousin you had growing up, who came to stay for the summer holidays and who teased and tormented you endlessly? Who did his very best to trip you up and scare the living daylights out of you, and when he eventually left you breathed a sigh of relief? Let us for now call him Anxiety. He randomly and unannounced turns up in our lives by breaking down the front door to our carefully arranged lives, upsetting us, and leaving us with a dry mouth, thundering heart, shaky legs or worse. Desperate for relief, we long for normalcy. Will the naughty cousin slip away if we refuse to feed him and give him shelter? Plainly ignore him?

We then start looking for ways to get rid of Anxiety. Then a thought comes to mind; isn’t anxiety really ‘just life’ as our grandmothers told us? A circumstance to be endured? We hope (bank on even) that her ‘this too shall pass’ magic formula will work this time, as we somehow scramble on in mental and physical anguish, our central nervous system in over-drive.

Another thought: is anxiety really such a bad thing?  Doesn’t it sharpen our senses, we reason, keeping us on high alert as we pull off that presentation flawlessly, nail the interview, or give a performance of a lifetime?

Someone might tell us that we bring ourselves into this state of fragility because we need to literally shake things up in our life. That it is an opportunity to choose a different path, to stop and pause to figure out what it is that is lurking away just under the surface. Could it be that the avoidance tactics will keep us in a state of anxiety until we stop to have a look?

Perhaps it is a calling from our soul to stop resisting, to stop judging and accept life as it presents in this moment? Didn’t some wise person tell us that this is where we will find peace?

Could a state of anxiety be the moment before, between the old and the new?That excited nervous anticipation of ‘maybe this time’?

Could it be all of the above?

As we grow and become more aware, we may start to realise that it is not something outside of ourselves, for instance, a family member, a partner, a circumstance or life itself that makes us feel a certain way, but in fact, our thinking about the person or event. Some would go as far as to say that we are indeed living in the feeling of our own thinking. Anxious feelings equal anxious thoughts and anxious thoughts equal anxious feelings.

There is a saying: “it’s all in your head”, or “you live in your head”. Are we the ones scaring the living daylights out of ourselves through our thinking? Can the anxious turmoil simply be attributed to habitual thinking that appears real to us in its manifestation?

Could it be us – and not the world?

 

If you would like to book a private session to speak with Kristine about anxiety or to learn about mindfulness contact us here.

Who Am I?

by Helen Williams

What is my self identity? 

By this we mean our:

  • individuality
  • uniqueness
  • distinctiveness
  • characteristics and personality.

And all of this within the greater experience of our country of birth, our race and our cultural identity. Within us all lies the deep yearning to know and to be known. From this comes the question of self identity, who am I? 

This question lies at the root of all searching on the journey towards meaning and purpose for our lives.

“Who we are looking for is who is looking” –  St Francis of Assisi

Who are you? Who is he/she? Who are they? These are the questions that we tend to ask about people. What are we asking and what answers are we looking for?

It’s often really difficult to say who we are as we tend to answer this question according to the box that is expected of us at the time. Mostly people ask us “what do you do?” and believe that this will answer those questions. Often this is all they are really interested in – how to box and categorise us according to our career or financial position.

For me this search is about how we allow ourselves to be seen and experienced by others. I have lost count of the people who have spoken to me over the years about their fear of being  “found out” for being a fraud and a fake. So many people live their lives trying to be all things to all people, and therefore lose the sense of who they are within. This leads to feelings of disconnection and fragmentation as we try to fit ourselves into the picture we have created.

Our Self Identity

Our identity changes often over the years – from childhood through the teenage years, then we identify with our career orientation, then we go into relationships, maybe parenthood, then on through those busy years toward midlife and then the empty nest, forward to our senior years.

The basis for our identity begins with our family of origin and any family history that is known to us. However, many of my fellow travelers on this authentic path are those whose identity cannot be based on their “background” as there is no history or connection to it; for instance, those who have been adopted and have little knowledge of their birth parents. However, beginning at birth, we lose ourselves in the sheer energy of living – in activity, in people, in beliefs, in shoulds and oughts and expectations. Mostly we identify with outward expressions of ourselves -our career, our family, our looks, our clothes, our home and possessions, our class, our education – all of these things reveal some aspects of our identity to a certain extent.

Who Am I?

In my life I have been many things to, and for, many people. I have been:

A daughter, a sister, an aunt, a niece, a grandmother, a friend, a partner, a mother, a worker, a piano player, a student, a pupil, a daughter in law, a neighbor, a gardener, a counselor, a caretaker, a lover, a singer, a yoga teacher, a cleaner, a dancer, a seeker, a cook, a meditation teacher, a class mate, a patient, a tennis player, a traveler, a reader, a writer, a wife, a girlfriend, a sister in law, and many, many more too. 

Some of these identities largely determine who I am today. Often it is only when there is a crisis of change that we begin to ask if we are being true to ourselves. Then the questions arise.

The wonderful poet Rainer Maria Rilke said this in Letters to a Young Poet:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Living the questions rather than searching for the answers is a paradox – and, as we live the question, “Who Am I?” – the answers arrive.

Come explore the questions with us on Sunday 3rd December from 7pm – 9pm as part of our Mindful Living series as we ask the question: “Why do I feel Lost?”. You can also join us in February for our next Authentic Living series where we will ask many more questions like this – and live them! Contact us for more information. 

 

I Just Need Some Space

by Helen Williams

As a couples’ therapist, my experience is that “I just need some space”, has always been a well-worn phrase, often used by couples to describe their need to escape from each other.  Commonly it brings fear to the partner hearing it because it infers that something is wrong with their relationship, that being apart may create greater distance and bring the relationship to an end.

Parents often use the same phrase to describe their need for some timeout from 24-hour childcare, even though this may be the life we have chosen, it can at times become all-consuming and separates us from the essence of ourselves.  Finding that space, even if only briefly, can bring us a sense of welcome reconnection to our own sense of wellbeing.

Children too need to be given the space to be, without direction, without guidance and without the interference of their parents, siblings or other children.  Teaching children the importance of time out for themselves to replenish is a very healthy way of teaching independence and self-hood.

The need for space is deeply inherent within all of us and when used well, finding and giving ourselves some space becomes the way we can discover the deeper connection and relationship with our own inner knowing that intuitively we are all searching for. Needing space is another way of describing our need to connect with the core of ourselves – to rest, restore, revitalise, repair and relax into the sense that we can be held, supported and released from our busyness and the pressure of stress.

Mindful ME are delighted to offer retreat experiences that enable a connection to your own inner voice.  Our retreats are designed to de-stress, unwind and bring clarity and calm. Our trusted team of professionals have the knowledge, training, and experience to provide this. Learn more about our retreats here or contact us to book. 

On Time

In preparation for our next Mindful Living workshop on the topic “Our Relationship with Time”, I’ve been fascinated by the replies I’ve received when asking people what the word ‘time’ brings up for them. Here are some of their statements:

  • There’s never enough time 
  • Too much time to think scares me
  • It’s really wrong to be late
  • Killing time is a problem for me
  • Time heals, doesn’t it?
  • Time flies too fast
  • Wasting time is my biggest anxiety
  • Time passes more quickly as I get older

I’m greatly looking forward to our conversations during the workshop and would encourage you to ponder for yourself what your perceptions and beliefs about time are, where in your conditioning they have come from, and how your perception of time impacts your daily life? Come and share in this ‘time’ with us and bring your sentences with you!

Contact us to book your space at this workshop as numbers are limited. info@mindfulme.me or whatsapp on +971 54 466 8400
Sunday 12 November from 7pm – 9pm
Hosted venue in TECOM, Dubai

Mindfulness is Heartfulness

by Helen Williams

I love this drawing! I love how it shows the brain leaping into the arms of the waiting heart. I love how it shows the heart, anchored to the trapeze bar with arms outstretched, welcoming the thinking mind. In my experience this is what the essence of Mindfulness Practice brings us.

People often speak of not having the courage to trust themselves, of a deep fear and distrust towards their own selves. Yet on the deepest level of our being, we are driven by a yearning to be known. To be able to leap into the warm, welcoming open arms of a waiting heart and to feel safe, wanted, to know that we belong, we matter, that we can be held.

Mindfulness Practice, through the use of attention to our breath and the present moment, allows us to begin this slow, gentle, persistent journey into our own waiting heart. As we learn over time to open into ourselves, to experience our inner knowing, and to accept ourselves as we are, we realize we are not our thoughts. We are wholehearted, open, wise, knowing awareness, centred within our heart. With Mindfulness, we begin this journey of self trust, of coming home to the heart of ourselves.

It takes practice, patience, determination and community, to help us connect to ourselves and to each other fearlessly, but many wonderful people have told me over the years that practicing mindfulness has completely changed their lives and the image above explains how perfectly. The understanding that I am not my thoughts has helped them to leap into a new experience of the heart of themselves, bringing a calmer perspective to their daily lives. In the beginning, it can feel every bit as risky as swinging off a trapeze, yet learning to accept ourselves as we are, answers our deepest longing to be known. At Mindful ME we don’t offer lessons in trapeze artistry!! We do, however, offer a sincere, openhearted community and a very warm welcome to come exploring Mindfulness with us.

Expore Mindfulness Practice with Helen on Monday nights from 7pm – 9pm. Contact us to register or for more information.

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