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

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.

 

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 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.