How to Let go of Worry and Anxiety

File:Depressed girl.png

The other night I woke and thought to myself, “What have I to worry about?” I realised then what I have always known; we are programmed to worry. I had nothing specific I needed to worry about, but realised that I nearly always have something competing for my attention and worry.

The following morning, whilst eating my breakfast, a thought entered my mind: “What if the card machine isn’t charged when I need it?” Able to catch myself, I was able to let go and come back to the present and my breakfast. This is typical of what happens to all of us every day.

Do you worry? Of course you do; we all do, as it is our natural default position.

When worrying gets out of control, it can lead to anxiety and panic. If excessive, it can cause illness. Worry, which could also be deemed “active problem solving,” is the result of the natural evolutionary response known as ‘fight or flight’, as you focus on “what ifs” or “what could happen.”

Persistent or chronic worrying is what doctors refer to as anxiety. It can impact on your daily life to the point that it interferes with work, relationships, sleep and appetite, and it diminishes your quality of life.

Many people who suffer from anxiety turn to smoking, drinking and drugs (over the counter or prescribed) in an attempt to get some relief from their emotions. Some people comfort eat, whilst others starve themselves. In some cases, when worrying and anxiety gets out of control, it can lead to depression and even suicidal thoughts.

What Causes Anxiety?

We humans are funny creatures, always looking outside ourselves for the answers. We look to external reasons for tension and anxiety.

All kinds of worries flit in and out of our minds: whether we will have enough food to eat, whether we will be able to find a partner so that we are not destined to spend our future alone, whether we will have a pay rise, lose a job, whether our car will break down or whether we will be able to afford a holiday. The list of worries is endless.

We look to “things” as the source of our worries. Often, we project our mind to the future and say to ourselves, “when this happens” or “when that happens, I will be happy and have no more worries!”

Look a little closer and you will see that these external things: job, money, relationships, etc, are not the true cause of the negative emotional states of worry and anxiety.

Worries do not come from outside and are not the result of “external circumstances,” they are the result of “internal circumstances”. Worry, stress, tension and anxiety are all the result of our thoughts.

 Accept Worry for What It Really Is. 

A worry is nothing more than a thought. Worry occurs when our mind is “future focused”. For example, if you were confronted by a lion or tiger your worry would not be about the fact there is a lion or tiger in front of you. Your worry would be that the lion or tiger might eat you! When you sit an exam your worry is not sitting the exam, but whether you will do well enough to pass! Worry is all about things going wrong, in other words, threats to our existence. Worry is simply a particular type of thought pattern, nothing more. Stress arises as a result of the internal stories we tell ourselves. Those with good imaginations make wonderful worriers!

By going over things in our minds we get stuck in a cycle of thinking, replaying events, projecting forward. As we ruminate over and over we become tense and experience stress. Many engage in what I call “stinking thinking!” that king of negative rumination that spirals into a very black place and which can ultimately result in clinical anxiety or depression.

Because your mind doesn’t know the difference between reality and your imaginings, the thoughts have the same results on the body no matter what. In other words, imagining an event happening causes the same physiological responses as if it were actually happening!

Those who worry experience ongoing irritability, muscle tension, concentration difficulties, indecision and agitation just as though they were actually experiencing the things they worry about. The result is a constant state of arousal, feeling “on edge,” and unable to relax. Often the mental stress will be accompanied by physical stress, headaches, neck ache, back ache, chest tightness and chest pain and so on.

When you learn to recognize worry and anxiety for what it really is, which is simply “thoughts”, it begins to lose its grip on you. With practice, it can become very simple to let go of worry.

Using Mindfulness to let go of Worry. 

To begin with, it is important to have a clear understanding of what mindfulness is:

“Paying attention to the present moment, experiencing the present moment non-judgementally, with kindness and compassion.” (Jon Kabat-Zinn)

The easiest way to do this is to use our breath as an anchor. Breathing in and out, paying attention to what is happening in our mind and body, becoming aware of our thoughts – the stories playing out in our minds – as well as the emotions and physical sensations as they are arising. You will soon discover that your mind has a life of its own, taking off into the future or dwelling on some past event. This is totally normal, and when you notice that your mind is no longer on the breath, notice what is on your mind at that moment. Whenever you find yourself worrying about something, note to yourself simply that you’re “just worrying.”

By doing this you begin to witness your thoughts, instead of being in your thoughts. You now have the power to choose to let them go. So notice what is on your mind at that moment and then gently let go, NOT by consciously pushing your thoughts away, but by recognising them and letting them be, as you gently turn your attention back to your breathing, paying attention to the present moment and what you’re doing. Every time you catch yourself worrying – no matter how often – you simply acknowledge, let go and return to your breathing.

Don’t Fight your Feelings

Eckhart Tolle, author of “The Power of Now,” reminds us, “Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and whatever you resist, persists.” The emphasis is always on what is happening, not why it’s happening. It is important not to fight your feelings, simply acknowledge in a non-judgemental way without criticism, without trying to push the thoughts away. You don’t need to spend energy fighting your thoughts, but you also no longer need to follow them and dwell on them. Simply acknowledge them, label them, put them down and move on. As soon as you struggle with the thoughts you give them power. Instead, try to observe your thoughts and worries objectively and with calmness. Simply make a mental note, without giving them any more importance or power than they deserve.

Know that you will face each situation as you come to it and deal with it then. Learn to deal with stress and difficulties more wisely, by responding rather than reacting. Learn to let go of the past and leave the future until tomorrow. Let your “future self” deal with tomorrow and let your “present self” deal with today!

Until next time, Steve.

We would be delighted if you visit our facebook sites:

www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters

www.facebook.com/bexhillmindfulnesscentre

Steve Clifford                                                                                                                             Senior Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist.                                                                 Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

Image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2c/Depressed_girl.png

References: 

This post was adapted from “How to Overcome Worry & Anxiety…For Good!”               http://mrsmindfulness.com/how-to-overcome-worry-anxiety-for-good/  [Accessed 14/04/15].

Black. A (2015) “The Little Pocket Book of Mindfulness”, CICO books: London, New York.

Tolle. E (2001) “The Power of Now” Hodder Paperbacks

“Mindfulness of the breath” a meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Advertisements

How to Overcome Fear, Anxiety and Panic using Mindfulness Meditation.

 

File:Scared Girl.jpg

All of us will experience fear on occasions. It is a normal healthy biological reaction warning us of perceived threat or danger. However, some people experience fear more frequently, some even on a daily basis, perhaps manifesting as generalised anxiety or in the form of panic attacks.

Often people cope with fear by ignoring such feelings when they surface or by denying them. Many people try to push the feelings away, because they don’t like them and are not prepared to accept them, while others engage in wrestling and battling them as if they were the very threat itself, instead of the messenger.

What I am going to suggest, which might seem a little radical when all you want to do us get rid of these feelings, is to “make friends with your fear.” You see, the problem is, the more you try to battle, ignore or push these feelings away, the more they will surface. When you try to banish them to the deepest, darkest dungeon in your castle, no matter how hard you try, you will still hear them calling you. The harder you try to get rid of them, the more you will experience them. Why? Because you are focusing your energy on them and when you do this, rather like trying not to think about an annoying song or a tune that goes round and round in your head, it will simply magnify your experience.

The first thing I want you to know is that these symptoms cannot harm you. I will say it again, these symptoms cannot harm you. You will not have a heart attack, stop breathing, you will not faint and you will not lose control or lose your mind. Fear simply mobilises your body to be ready to fight off a real or imagined foe.

I will show you how, using a technique called mindfulness, you can achieve what you desire, that is, not to be overwhelmed by your fear and instead to bring about a new relationship with your fear. So, instead of viewing fear as something that should be suppressed or eliminated, we will be using mindfulness to bring about acceptance.

“The way of mindfulness,” says best selling author and mindfulness master Jon Kabat-Zinn,” is to accept ourselves right now, as we are, symptoms or no symptoms, pain or no pain, fear or no fear. Instead of rejecting our experience as undesirable, we ask, “What is the symptom saying, what is it telling me about my body and my mind right now?”

What he is suggesting is that we listen, take a closer look and get acquainted, instead of reaching for the diazepam, rescue remedy or whatever it is we grab in our  immediate desire to make it go away.

Using mindfulness and harnessing quiet gentle breathing we begin to make friends with our fear. As Jon Kabat-Zinn suggests, “We allow ourselves, for a moment at least, to go right into the full-blown feeling of the symptom. This takes a certain amount of courage…dip your toe in…and move a little closer for a clearer look.”

We begin to approach our symptoms “as we would a shy animal sunning itself  on a grassy bank.” Ever so gently, becoming aware of our feelings about the symptoms as they appear. Perhaps we feel anger, frustration, anxiety or despair. We may say to ourselves, “Why now, not again or oh no, I cannot bear this again.” The key is to look as dispassionately as possible, with a non-judging mind. We need to accept that whatever we are feeling, it is here now. It is already with us, already part of our experience in this moment. The key is to accept our feelings as they are, opening to the fear in a kindly way rather than continually trying to block it out and overcome it.

When you experience symptoms simply observe and watch as they unfold. Try not to react, responding as if the symptoms were a wild animal out to get you. Instead, calm, tame them by making friends. Observe your moment-by-moment experience and view it as a “process” instead of getting caught up in the “content.” As you do so, you will discover that there is a “flow” of changing sensations and responses. Allow yourself to be curious, interested in a dispassionate way in the quality of the sensations and your experience, rather than get caught up in the distorted imaginations you tell yourself. These fantasies about what may or may not happen simply fuel fear, anxiety and despair.

It won’t be easy, as resistance will re-emerge many times and your first response will be to block it out, but with practice you can learn to resist this habitual behaviour and you will learn to interrupt the cycle of tension, reaction and suffering and replace it with peace, awareness and kindness.

As you become intimately acquainted with the nuances of your experience you will gently tame that which you wish to banish. You will find that instead of visiting you regularly, stirring up terror and suffering, the occasions of fear will change, they will no longer be completely overwhelming; the intensity and duration will diminish, and you will be able to smile instead of tensing rigidly. You will begin to break free from that which bound you.

Here is a simple befriending mindfulness exercise:

Make yourself comfortable in your body. Spend a moment loosening or adjusting your posture. Whether you are standing, sitting or lying down.

Now place your attention on your breathing. Notice the in-breath, notice where the breath enters your body, the nostrils… Notice how at the end of the in-breath the breath naturally starts to subside; follow the breath. Try to find that momentary pause between the in and the out-breath, the out and the in-breath; a moment of stillness and space. Notice how without having to do anything, the breath rises and falls naturally.

Encourage a tender, gentle awareness to permeate the breath, so the breath softens any resistance and with full intention, breathe in kindness and compassion, breathe out tension and fear.

When we are aware that what we are feeling is fear, we make friends by saying:

“Breathing in – fear I know you are there.”

“Breathing out – I accept you, I will take care of you.”

Simply practise this over and over, remind yourself that  these feelings will soon pass. By developing a calm, mindful relationship with your body you will learn to let go of fear, anxiety and panic.

Until next time, Steve

We would be delighted if you visit our facebook sites:

www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters

www.facebook.com/bexhillmindfulnesscentre

Steve Clifford Senior Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist.                                           Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.
References:

Burch, V. (2008). “Living well with pain & illness: The mindful way to free yourself from suffering,” Piatkus.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (2004). “Full catastrophe living: How to cope with stress, pain and illness using mindfulness meditation,” Piatkus.

Image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AScared_Girl.jpg

Mindfulness – Learning from the breath

 

File:Image of Mindfulness and Wisdom (8392104320).jpg

Like everything else that requires practice, the development of mindfulness first involves learning some concepts, and some methods to practice. The methods are practiced over and over again, first only in very structured situations, eventually in all kinds of situations.Ultimately, the skills become reliable ways of responding with freedom, wisdom and kindness to a greater and greater range of human experience.

Bare attention – Attending to sensory experiences that arise with an object of attention, without distraction or thinking too much. For example, when attending to your breathing with bare attention, you just notice the sensations of breathing and nothing else. When this is occurring, many subtleties and nuances of breathing, and patterns in these, reveal themselves to you. Also, you are just noticing these sensations as they arise and pass away in the present moment – not thinking about them, not labelling them with language, not associating them with other sensations or patterns you may have experienced before.

With practice, bare attention can be applied to bodily and emotional responses, including those triggered by very painful or traumatic experiences. For example, a person might attend to the sensations in her chest, throat, and face that arise when someone raises their voice in anger and reminds her of a hurtful parent or step-parent. Focusing on emotions as bodily events while “dropping the story” of verbal thoughts, bare attending.
Labelling – Mentally applying a word or brief phrase to a particular content of experience.

Not all mindfulness meditation instructions include this practice, but many do. The idea is to help oneself simply notice something arising in your experience, without judgment, so that you can get back to observing the flow of experiences arising and passing away. This practice can also eliminate the control of particularly “sticky” thoughts and feelings over one’s attention. For example, one might use the labels “sadness” or “anger” when these emotions arise; or “planning,” “worrying,” or “remembering” when those common cognitive processes arise.

Acceptance – Accepting the reality of one’s current experience is particularly important when it comes to potentially intense negative emotional responses. Once such emotional responses have arisen in one’s current experience, neither mindlessly being carried away by them nor attempting to suppress them will be particularly helpful. Acceptance allows one to see them more clearly for what they are – unwanted and intense, but passing experiences – and choose how to respond to them, perhaps with acceptance and nothing more.

Non-reactivity – Responding to experiences, including emotions and impulses, without getting carried away by them or trying to suppress them. All organisms, including human beings, are conditioned to react automatically to most of the experiences they have. We grasp at what we want and like, and push away what we don’t want or like. Before we even know it, such conditioned responses to stimuli and emotions carry us away.

Mindfulness involves the skill of non-reactively observing split-second conditioned reactions, which provides the option of not acting out the entire chain reaction that would normally follow. This non-reactivity opens up space for new observations, reflections, learning, and freedom.

Curiosity – An attitude of interest in learning about the nature of one’s experience and mind. Through mindfulness, this quality of mind can be brought to a much greater range of experience than we ordinarily do. When it comes to experiences that we don’t want, including painful memories and emotions, we tend to just push them away and avoid them, again based on our conditioning. We tend to reserve curiosity for things and experiences that are new and at least somewhat positive. But with mindfulness, we can bring curiosity to the full range of our experience, and discover much that is new and enlightening.

Patience – Accepting a slow pace of change; bearing unwanted, difficult or painful experiences with calmness. Experiencing the breath over and over again, and repeatedly observing – with acceptance, non-reactivity, and curiosity – that one’s mind has wondered or been carried away in a chain reaction of conditioned thoughts and feelings, is a wonderful way to cultivate patience. And these experiences can translate to daily life, enabling us to become more patient with ourselves and others as we all continue to fall into habitual responses that increase our suffering.

Thoughts and feelings as events, not facts
We often respond to our thoughts and feelings as if they were facts or truths that “demand” or “justify” particular responses. However, it is also possible to understand and experience our thoughts and feelings as events that arise under certain conditions, and then pass away. This is true of all sensations, perceptions, feelings, memories, fantasies about the future, and other mental experiences.

Understanding and experiencing our thoughts and feelings in this way opens up some “space” around them. Instead of the thoughts and feelings having you, and carrying you away, you can experience yourself as having certain thoughts and feelings under certain conditions, and as having options about how you respond to them.

Attending to process vs. attending to content.
Most of the time, most of us are lost in the contents of what is running through our minds. Though fears, cravings and various emotions drive our thought processes, we tend to get lost in the specifics and details of our thoughts and memories. Mindfulness meditation teaches us how to observe the processes of our minds and how they work.

For example, when we are experiencing a pain in our body, or a painful memory, we tend to focus on the content of the pain experience and relate to it as something solid and unchanging. When that happens, the pain or memory is experienced the same way we always experience it, with the same predictable results. However, if we truly attend to the process by which sensations of pain or aspects of remembering arise and change from moment to moment, the experience tends to lose its grip over our awareness and become more tolerable and workable.

When we can attend to a painful memory as a process that arises and plays out in our mind, we notice how the images, thoughts, feelings and bodily experiences change from moment to moment, and that experience of remembering involves new learning and opportunities for healing. Repeatedly attending to the processes of one’s mind in daily meditation practice, one can become more mindful and more skilled at noticing the processes of experiences in daily life – and choosing not to get lost in the contents of experiences.

The transformative and healing power of this shift in how we attend to our experience really is amazing, though it does take practice and discipline. Most important, this is a skill that truly can only be experienced directly, and only hinted at with words and concepts like these.

Until next time, Steve

We would be delighted if you visit our facebook sites:

www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters

www.facebook.com/bexhillmindfulnesscentre

Steve Clifford Senior Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist.                                           Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.
This blog post is largely an abridged version of “Mindfulness and Kindness; inner sources of freedom and happiness,” by Jim Hopper, PhD – http://www.jimhopper.com [Accessed 18/02/15]

Image: By Michael Coghlan from Adelaide, Australia [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Restore your calm with Mindfulness Meditation

 

 

File:Meditation Harmony Peace Crystal.jpg

If you thought meditation was just about shaven headed monks sitting cross legged with incense wafting about, you would be wrong. Sure, you can sit cross legged and burn incense if you wish, (I often do) but mindfulness meditation is more than this.

Mindfulness meditation was developed by Jon Kabut-Zinn in the late 1970’s. With its roots in the ancient art of meditation (as practised by shaven headed monks), he took it a step further, teaching people how to access their own internal resources for balance and healing through the cultivation of moment by moment awareness.

Being mindful is about being present in the moment, without judgement, in the here and now. You might think this is easy, but you would be wrong. To illustrate, try this. Sit with your eyes closed just focusing on the present moment. Just allow the thoughts to be there and just be aware of them. What do you notice? Well most probably you will find that your mind leaps continuously from thought to thought, from the comment somebody said earlier today, to what you need to buy at the shops. A constant mix of past and future thoughts, worries and concerns…it is no wonder most of us feel stressed.

Learning to let go of the past and not get caught up in the future can really help.

The key to mindfulness is to learn to simply watch the thoughts that drift in to your mind. Like clouds in the sky, acknowledge them without getting caught up or entering a dialogue with them, then let them pass away as you would clouds in the sky. Another way of looking at this is to imagine the thoughts were adverts on a radio between songs or on television between programmes. Just leave them to play without buying into them.

Mindfulness meditation does take regular practice to really master. But it is a whole lot easier than learning a musical instrument or learning how to dance.No chords to learn or partners needed. Just incense and the ability to sit cross legged, no seriously. Just a few minutes each day or when you have time and you will soon notice the benefits.

Mindfulness practice is really worthwhile and has many health benefits including: Lasting decreases in both physiological and psychological arousal. increased ability to relax, greater energy and enthusiasm for life, improved self esteem, improved relationships, more creative capacity to cope with stress and improved concentration.

Here is a good mindfulness technique to get you started. It is known as mindfulness breathing. Remember the aim of this exercise is to cultivate a state of calm, non-judgemental awareness. Simply allow thoughts and feelings to come and go, bringing your awareness back to the rise and fall of your tummy as breath comes in and out. Initially you may have to consciously bring your awareness back to the breath many times. This is fine, even those who very experienced at meditation might have days when they find letting go a struggle. Being aware of getting caught up in your thoughts and then letting them go, is absolutely fine and shows that you are doing it just right.

Letting go with mindful breathing.

Find yourself somewhere quiet to sit, where you will not be disturbed. Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breathing.

Focus your mind on your tummy and imagine that you have a balloon in your tummy. Become aware of the gentle in and out as you inhale and exhale. You might find that placing a hand on your tummy helps if you have difficulty feeling the movement.

Notice the sensations as your tummy inflates and deflates. Your tummy getting larger as the imaginary balloon inflates and smaller as it deflates.

Allow thoughts to come into your mind, that is fine, because that is perfectly normal. Simply notice them with a sort of mildly interested curiousness. Say to yourself, “they are not important” then simply let them drift away as other thoughts take their place.

Now just bring your attention back to your breathing.

Likewise, you may notice feelings, emotions, images or hear sounds near or far. Just notice them, then let them go. Notice how your body relaxes. Then bring your attention gently back to your breathing.

With all thoughts, feelings or whatever, don’t judge them, try not to get caught up with them. It’s OK for them to come and go. Just notice them and let them drift away.

Whenever you notice yourself and your attention getting caught up with them, just gently bring your attention back to your breathing. No matter how many times it happens, just bring your attention back to your breathing.

Try this for two minutes at first, then five minutes and then gradually increase the time as you become more proficient. This is the art of mindfulness meditation. If you do no more than master this technique you will notice huge benefits to your life.

If you would like to learn more about mindfulness meditation contact us at www.stevecliffordcbt.com or for more on mindfulness look at bemindful.co.uk or mindfulnet.org

A good book on mindfulness meditation is: “Full catastrophe living; How to cope with stress, pain and illness using mindfulness meditation” by Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

Until next time, Steve

You may wish to know that Steve is now offering therapy sessions via Skype Please contact us through our website @ www.stevecliffordcbt.com

Visit our facebook sites:

www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters

www.facebook.com/bexhillmindfulnesscentre

Steve Clifford Senior Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist.                                           Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.                                                               Registered Mental Nurse.                                                                                                     Registered Nurse for Learning Disabilities.

image: By Cornelia Kopp (Flickr: meditation) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The transcending reality of the Jesus story.

File:Malala Yousafzai Role Models 1.jpg

It has been said that Jesus is to the West, as Buddha is to the East. Certainly for the past two thousand years he has occupied a central position in our culture. Yet today churches, clergy, and monastic communities are in rapid decline. One reason for this, is that over the last fifty years our obsession with historical accuracy of every part of the Jesus story  has taken away from the meaning of the story.

I believe that it is misguided to look literally, instead we need to look symbolically. In other words, stop reading the bible as a historical document and start reading it mythologically in the same way as we would, say, Greek myths and legends. Plus, to expect 1st century ideas to travel and translate word for word across time is ridiculous.

We need to look at the metaphors and symbolism of the story; that way the transformative power comes forth. With the best will in the world, churches have failed to capture the sacred dimension of life in the hearts and minds of their congregation.

When Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not of this world”, he did not mean that it is floating around somewhere up in the sky. Jesus was very clear when he said, “the Kingdom of God is within you”. In other words he invites us into a larger dimension of living than we commonly inhabit.

Transcendant awakening is a bit like the path of enlightenment in Buddhist philosophy. By directing the light of our consciousness beyond the current frontier of our knowing, we begin to allow the great unknown dimensions of life to find us.

According to Revolutionary Mystic Adyashanti, the Kingdom Jesus speaks about is not of this world, but is very much present within this world. He considers it is ever present and everywhere upon the Earth, but people do not see and experience it because they have become attached to the things of this world; things like power, greed, hatred, envy, judgement, control and violence.

By stepping away from our own divinity and projecting it exclusively on to Jesus as the one and only son of God, we simply perpetuate the very suffering that Jesus came to dispel. Buddhism too is concerned with suffering (dukka).  To the Buddha the entire teaching is just the understanding of suffering, the unsatisfactory nature of all phenomenal existence, and the understanding of the way out of this unsatisfactoriness.

Just as with mindfulness and other meditation practices we are striving to cultivate true awareness, so too Jesus calls us to awaken and embody the living presence of eternity and enlightenment here on Earth. If we can find the courage to step away from the security of what we think we know, and look at this story with fresh eyes, it can speak to us in ways that can really resonate at a deep level. As adults in our western society many of us have almost entirely forgotten that story telling and myth are powerful ways of conveying spiritual and existential truths that cannot be conveyed in ordinary language.

Living in this moment is something taught in many (if not most) traditions, and it is a great antidote to suffering. The Buddha tells us, “Don’t chase after the past, don’t seek the future; the past is gone, the future hasn’t come. But see clearly on the spot, the object which is now, while finding and living in a still, unmoving state of mind.” Jesus said, ” Consider the lilies. They neither toil nor spin…let tomorrow take care of itself.”

Let us see the words of the story for what they are – mere pointers towards a reality that the limitations of words always distort and never capture. There is a transcending reality not only present in the story, but also in the very heart of life. This reality is within each of us, within the stillness of our internal space and stands for the limitless of Being itself.

If mindfulness has emerged as a powerful practice embracing business culture, schools, health and many other secular environments, it is because Religion as a system of belief is not seen as the doorway to the everlasting as it was. When mindfulness does not claim to hold the Truth or be the Way it resonates more easily with people in this secular society we live in. On the other hand because language can never do more than point to that which it seeks to describe, looking at the story as a symbolic message can offer the disenchanted a transcending reality which is present in the very heart of life as a limitless symbol of hope if we listen to that still and quiet place within.

Until next time, very best wishes, Steve.

 

You may wish to know that Steve is now offering therapy sessions via Skype                   Please contact us through our website @  www.stevecliffordcbt.com

Visit our facebook sites:

www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters

www.facebook.com/bexhillmindfulnesscentre

Steve Clifford                                                                                                                       Senior Accredited Integrative  Psychotherapist.                                                                 Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

Refs:

Adyashanti (2014) “Jesus: A Revolutionary Mystic,” Watkins Mind Body Spirit, Issue 38, Summer 2014, 30-31.

Spong, J. S (1999) Why Christianity must change or die, Harper, San Francisco.

Image ref:[[File:Malala Yousafzai Role Models 1.jpg|Malala Yousafzai Role Models 1]] 

 

Five tips for a more content life.

The restless demands of life, career, family and home often turn day to day living into a treadmill. By just making a few small changes to our outlook, this treadmill can be slowed down. You never know, you might just choose to hop off for a while and savour the moment.

Here they are:

1. Be aware of the snowball effect of your thinking.
Don’t blow things out of proportion. Dwell on an unimportant event and it quickly turns to a great big deal so fast that you don’t realise it’s happening.

2. Let go of the idea that relaxed people can’t be super achievers.
There is a myth that unless you are mean, jumping on people, criticising everything, you won’t get on. When you are relaxed, you have a calmer wisdom, access to common sense and see solutions more easily.

3.Choose being kind over being right.
People are obsessed with being right and proving it. Therefore, everyone else has to be wrong. If you want to be peaceful and happier, you have to allow other people to be right some of the time.

4.Every day, tell at least one person something you like or appreciate about them.
You have to make it a habit. Turn your attention to what’s right in life not what’s wrong. Don’t expect a compliment back.

5.Live this day as if it were your last.
….. and treat others as if it’s their last day too. By relating to people with openness and savouring the moment, we bring a freshness to the relationship. People really feel seen and recognised and met in a way they might otherwise not experience. Stopping to smell the scent of flowers, looking at the clouds and generally taking time to take in the world around you, leads to a greater contentment and sense of peace and well-being.

Begin today and start to really make the few small changes you need.

Good luck.

Until next time, very best wishes, Steve.

 

You may wish to know that Steve is now offering therapy sessions via Skype                   Please contact us through our website @  www.stevecliffordcbt.com

Visit our facebook site @ www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters

Steve Clifford                                                                                                                       Senior Accredited Integrative  Psychotherapist.                                                                 Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

Image ref: “Ja roweromaniak 093-12”. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ja_roweromaniak_093-12.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Ja_roweromaniak_093-12.jpg

Informal mindfulness Practice

014

While many of you reading this will be happy practicing mindful meditation in a formal setting, others may want to expand their daily practice. Incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine at home really is the start point to embracing mindfulness as a way of life.

Start by picking an activity that do on a regular basis such as brushing your teeth or having a shower or bath. These activities are good because they encourage you to focus on your senses. Engaging in either activity with full awareness will help you to learn how to temporarily step aside from the constant chitter-chatter of the thinking mind.

Totally focusing your attention on what you are doing, with an attitude of curiosity and non-judgemental openness will help you to develop a more intimate relationship with yourself. Try to tune in to the senses: notice the movement of your body, the taste, the touch, the smell, the sight, the sound, and so on.

For example, being mindful when taking a shower, notice the sound the water makes as it leaves the nozzle, perhaps the sound of the spray. Notice the way the sound is different as it hits the hard surface of the bath or shower tray. Notice the way it sounds as it touches the skin. Now feel the water itself, the temperature, the force of the water against your body, the way it feels in your hair, on your shoulders. Now notice how it feels with the water running over your body, does it feel different on your shoulders compared to your chest, or down your back.

Now shift your senses to the smell of the shampoo or soap you are using, experience the lather and the way it feels as you rub it into your hair or your body. With the soap on your body, try to notice the subtle plane of contact between the soap and your skin. Imagine that contact as it is happening, really feel it. Notice how it feels as you rub harder or softer.

Now shift your attention to the water again, this time becoming aware of the way the water droplets cascade down the hard surfaces of the walls, shower curtain or screen. Notice the way the droplets form and drip. Notice the way steam and condensation create a vapour, an atmosphere around you.

Notice the movements of your arms and the way you wash your body. Connect to your experience. Does the act of showering have a sensuous quality? Are you rushing or are you savouring and really enjoying the experience? Or is showering merely a chore you want to get out of the way? How do appreciate the water itself? Can you see the way nature provided rain and how this gas been transformed into the water you are now using? Can you appreciate this great gift, the luxury of a shower when many in the world are devoid of precious water? Can you give thank for the water, or indeed being able to shower yourself without assistance?

What of your thoughts? You will find that many thoughts arise and particularly if you are just learning to be mindful, staying focused is hard. When you catch yourself getting caught up in your thoughts , simply acknowledge them and gently let go of them, bringing your attention back to what you’re doing. As you will soon realise, again and again your thoughts will wander, this is completely normal. Simply, acknowledge, shift focus and attend mindfully once again to what you are doing.

So here we are, a practical exercise to help introduce mindfulness practise in everyday life. Reminding yourself to take notice of your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations as you go about your daily tasks is a first step to bringing mindfulness into the centre stage of your life.

Until next time,

Steve

Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation

Weekly Group

Wednesdays      6 -7pm

Free Admission 

Venue:

The Bexhill Mindfulness Centre

Meeting at: Parkhurst Hall, Parkhurst Road, Bexhill, TN39 3JA

This weekly gathering is an opportunity to engage in simple mindfulness meditations with others. There is no commitment to attending each week. As well as meditations there will also be a talk or discussion on aspects of mindfulness in daily living or the philosophy of mindfulness. The groups are suitable for all ages irrespective of background and no experience of mindfulness meditation is necessary. Meditation takes place on chairs, you do not need to wear special clothing or bring anything with you.

Love to see you if you can make it

 

Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist

Visit us @  www.steveclifford.com                                                                                      Like our page @ www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters                                              Also @ www.facebook.com/bexhillmindfulnesscentre