Choosing not to be consumed by fear

Is it feeling like the world’s gone crazy – a new virus, recession, climate change, Brexit, you name it – it’s all happening at once? The barriers are coming down and people are shutting off. Everywhere there’s a sense of doom and fear. How do we cope inside with all this? Let’s look at some strategies for managing the situation for us ourselves inside. I don’t mean the practicals of living at present, and many of us are probably feeling stretched on that count alone. I’m thinking of how we are responding inside. How could the self aware, mindful person … Read more

Can you have engaged awareness in a world seemingly going crazy?

Is there a contradiction between being socially or politically engaged and personal growth and spirituality? Many traditions point to the evil of humankind’s ways and how we need to turn to “the truth”. Many encourage people to step aside from everyday life in order to do this. Can we have “engaged awareness”? Yesterday my wife and I were on our terrace enjoying the view over the Lot valley in the evening sun, sipping an apĂ©ritif, absorbed in a discussion about the state of the world, and suddenly we became aware that we had hardly given the beauty of the view … Read more

How to be present when others are losing it

Do you struggle to know how to be present with someone when they are upset or angry, or when you are tired or going through it yourself? I’m very often struck by how people can lack the ability to “be with” people emotionally, especially those who work professionally with people in challenging situations. It’s like our buttons get pushed or we feel inadequate or lack the resources we need. Somehow, people say, they “aren’t qualified” to handle it. When people kick off I remember once on a Gestalt training course unpacking a whole load of grief around the impact of … Read more

Do you worry that your mind keeps you awake?

It’s a dilemma when you can’t sleep at night because your mind is busy, and then you start to worry that your mind is keeping you awake. Your mind might be churning things over and then you’re fearful that it is doing this and stopping you sleeping. Worrying that we can’t sleep is a major factor in insomnia, and having a busy mind is a major contributor to the problem. It’s a very good reason to learn to manage your mind and is where mindfulness can be so powerful. You might for example lie down after a busy day in … Read more

Be present and aware and start enjoying your life

You must just pause a moment and check where your mind has been focused over the last hour or half-hour. How much do you let yourself really be present and aware of what’s happening right now? For example, if you’re travelling to or from work, how much do you notice what’s around you, who you are with, what’s going on? Or is your mind preoccupied, such as with what’s been happening, or what might happen, or what’s on your phone? Are you off ruminating about things? Is your mind doing what it habitually does? So, take a deep breath or … Read more

Mindfulness teaches that you are not your thoughts

It’s so easy to spend much of our lives wrapped up with, if not the prisoner, of what we think. Yet, after becoming aware that something is going on for you, that you are “caught up” in your thoughts, the crucial next stage is to be able to “step back” from the content of your mind. This is a very important shift in awareness and it underlines a vital aspect of mindfulness, that you can control what you focus on and that you are not your thoughts. Put another way, thoughts are not facts; they are simply thoughts in your … Read more

Do you find mindfulness difficult to practice?

The benefits of mindfulness practice can often seem outweighed by their pitfalls in the eyes of many who “try” it and give up, seemingly deterred by for example their very busy minds and by all the things that come up once one pauses and attends to the moment. “It’s very difficult” is a comment I hear a lot, an odd one, you might think, when all you’re being asked to do, is do nothing at all, attend to your breath and let go. Yet it’s when we do this, be still and become aware, that we get what’s really going … Read more