Be Present

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You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

Before you start a session, it is important to ground yourself or start with a mindfulness exercise.

 

Set aside time in your day working through the app. The most important thing is to have an attitude of openness, curiosity and self-compassion.

Quote: ‘May this help you live a rich, full, meaningful life.

Namaste!

 

Dealing with Painful Emotions

 

Shock.Despair.Panic.
Fear.Guilt.Sadness.
Anger.They’ve got it wrong.
I’m going to die.What will happen to me?
Why me?What will I do?
It’s their fault.It’s my fault.

You will experience a range of emotions and distressing thoughts. This can be overwhelming, making it impossible to focus on what is important to you and your values.

This is normal.

Is something painful showing up for you right now?Are you struggling?

When you get caught up in your thoughts it’s really important to ground yourself.

 

 

 

Grounding Excercises

 


Drop Anchor (audio guide)

When a boat is out to sea and gets caught in a storm, the boat is rocked and buffeted by the waves. To steady the boat, the sailors drop anchor. Although the boat is steadied, the storm has not passed.  You are like a boat when you get caught up by your emotional storms. This simple exercise will help ground you.

First sit in a chair with your back straight and your shoulders back and down. Put your feet flat on the floor and push them into the floor.

Take your time and reflect on your 5 senses:

Feel your feet on the floor and inside your shoes. Feel the weight of your body in the chair and your hands on your lap or by your sides. What else can you feel?

Press your fingertips together; gently move your elbows and shoulders.

Take a moment to notice and acknowledge that there are things that you are struggling with and there’s pain with the struggle. You can acknowledge the type of pain if you know what it is; You could say to yourself: Here’s anger, here’s anxiety, here’s sadness, here’s emptiness………

What can you see? You can have your eyes closed so you might see different colours depending on the light. Or, what can you see around you? You could concentrate on colours or shapes.

Listen to the sounds around you. Notice what you can hear.

Can you smell anything?

What can you taste? Can you taste what you’ve eaten not long ago? Your toothpaste?  Any other tastes?

Notice that there’s something painful that you are struggling with and at the same time notice your body in the chair, press your feet down into the ground, press your fingertips together and look around you again.

Lastly, take a moment to stretch and move your body.

Mindfulness is one of the most misused words these days. It has become a sexy catch word. Yet mindfulness is simple and if it is approached with simplicity and openness then one sees its value in everyday practice and even living mindfully.

The starting point is an attitude of openness, non-judging, patience, beginner’s mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance and letting go is important.

Knowing what you are doing while you are doing it is the essence of mindfulness.

Body posture and how you hold your body is important. Eminent neuroscientists, Antonio Damasio, Jaak Panskepp and Stephen Porges, have studied how we hold ourselves affect our emotions.


‘Simply Be’ Exercise

Wherever and whoever you are, just take this moment to stop and be, bringing attention to yourself, noticing yourself in this moment. Take yourself by the hand and guide yourself round this moment. You might notice things like objects, sounds, feelings; there might be expectations, other people, or even just your own breathing. Notice all of them. Do not attempt to describe them, just acknowledge them without trying to get rid of them, follow them or make judgements. Simply let them be and allow yourself to be with them. Taking a minute or two just being.


Making space for your emotions (audio recording) Exercise

Making space for your emotions allows you to understand them without judgement. There is no such thing as a good and bad emotion.  Get to know yours.

When you’re feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.

You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation – the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.

Focus your attention on that sensation. Be open to it. Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the centre than the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? Is it hot or cold?

Take a few more deep breaths, and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.

Make room for it. Make space for it. Allow it to be there. You don’t have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.

The idea is to observe the sensation – not to think about it.

So, when your mind starts commenting on what’s happening, just say ‘Thanks, mind!’ and come back to observing.  You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say ‘There you are. I see you.’) Once you’ve acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.

Don’t try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that’s okay. If it doesn’t change, that’s okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.

You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You’re learning a valuable skill.

Timely Reminders

Find a piece of jewellery that you wear – it could be a pendant, a ring, a watch – to which you can attribute “mindfulness.” Throughout the day when you look at it or touch it, let it be a prompt for you to bring yourself into the present moment.

Follow your breath in and out and return – within seconds – to what you were doing or talking about with renewed mindfulness.

Mindfulness is not relaxation, it’s a skill that helps you pay attention in a particular way. It asks you to be present right here, right now with an attitude of openness even when it’s unpleasant. If you practice mindfulness in a calm surrounding, you will feel calm; if you practice mindfulness in a challenging stressful environment, you will feel what people feel in challenging stressful environments; if you practice mindfulness and you just had a relationship break up, you will feel very sad or angry. Mindfulness is a way of paying attention but with openness and curiosity.
Practice each of the mindfulness exercises every day.

Your Wandering Mind

During the mindfulness exercises, your mind will wander while you are trying to focus. This is perfectly normal. There is nothing you can do to stop this. Simply escort your mind to whatever you are focusing on in this moment – be it your breathing or your posture. You might have to do this once, ten times, 10,000 times. It really does not matter. Each time bringing your attention back is another opportunity for you to practice mindfulness.

Metaphor: The Struggle Switch

Imagine that at the back of your mind is a switch – we’ll call it the “struggle switch.” When it’s turned on, it means we are going to struggle against any physical or emotional pain that comes our way; whatever discomfort we experience, we’ll see it as a problem and try hard to get rid of it or avoid it.
The struggle switch is like an emotional amplifier. When you fight against a particular feeling, it creates another layer of emotion, for example, you could have anger about your anxiety or guilt about your anger, etc.

Metaphor: The Sky and the Weather

You have an observing self and a thinking self. Your observing self is like the sky. Thoughts and feelings are like the weather. The weather changes continually, but no matter how bad it gets, it cannot harm the sky in any way. The mightiest thunderstorm, the most turbulent hurricane, the most severe winter blizzard – these things cannot hurt or harm the sky. And no matter how bad the weather is, the sky has always room for it. Plus, sooner or later the weather always changes.

 

Sometimes we forget the sky is there, but it’s still there. And sometimes we can’t see the sky as it’s obscured by clouds. But if we rise enough above those clouds – even the thickest, darkest thunderclouds- sooner or later we’ll reach clear sky, stretching in all directions, boundless and pure. More and more, you can learn to access this part of you: a safe place inside from which to observe and make room for difficult thoughts and feelings.

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Loving Kindness Meditation (audio guide)

Body Position

Close your eyes. Sit comfortably with your feet flat on the floor and your spine straight. Relax your whole body. Keep your eyes closed throughout the whole visualization and bring your awareness inward. Without straining or concentrating, just relax and gently follow the instructions.

Take a deep breath in. And breathe out.

Receiving Loving-Kindness

Keeping your eyes closed, think of a person close to you who loves you very much. It could be someone from the past or the present; someone still in life or who has passed; it could be a spiritual teacher or guide. Imagine that person standing on your right side, sending you their love. That person is sending you wishes for your safety, for your well-being and happiness. Feel the warm wishes and love coming from that person towards you.

Now bring to mind the same person or another person who cherishes you deeply. Imagine that person standing on your left side, sending you wishes for your wellness, for your health and happiness. Feel the kindness and warmth coming to you from that person.

Now imagine that you are surrounded on all sides by all the people who love you and have loved you. Picture all of your friends and loved ones surrounding you. They are standing sending you wishes for your happiness, well-being, and health. Bask in the warm wishes and love coming from all sides. You are filled, and overflowing with warmth and love.

Sending Loving-Kindness to Loved Ones

Now bring your awareness back to the person standing on your right side. Begin to send the love that you feel back to that person. You and this person are similar. Just like you, this person wishes to be happy. Send all your love and warm wishes to that person.

Repeat the following phrases, silently:

May you live with ease, may you be happy, may you be free from pain.
May you live with ease, may you be happy, may you be free from pain.
May you live with ease, may you be happy, may you be free from pain.

Now focus your awareness on the person standing on your left side. Begin to direct the love within you to that person. Send all your love and warmth to that person. That person and you are alike. Just like you, that person wishes to have a good life.

Repeat the following phrases, silently:

Just as I wish to, may you be safe, may you be healthy, may you live with ease and happiness.
Just as I wish to, may you be safe, may you be healthy, may you live with ease and happiness.
Just as I wish to, may you be safe, may you be healthy, may you live with ease and happiness.

Now picture another person that you love, perhaps a relative or a friend. This person, like you, wishes to have a happy life. Send warm wishes to that person.

Repeat the following phrases, silently:

May your life be filled with happiness, health, and well-being.
May your life be filled with happiness, health, and well-being.
May your life be filled with happiness, health, and well-being.

Sending Loving-Kindness to Neutral People

Now think of an acquaintance, someone you don’t know very well and toward whom you do not have any particular feeling. You and this person are alike in your wish to have a good life.

Send all your wishes for well-being to that person, repeating the following phrases, silently:

Just as I wish to, may you also live with ease and happiness.
Just as I wish to, may you also live with ease and happiness.
Just as I wish to, may you also live with ease and happiness.

Now bring to mind another acquaintance toward whom you feel neutral. It could be a neighbor, or a colleague, or someone else that you see around but do not know very well. Like you, this person wishes to experience joy and well-being in their life.

Send all your good wishes to that person, repeating the following phrases, silently:

May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be free from all pain.
May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be free from all pain.
May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be free from all pain.

Sending Loving-Kindness to All Living Beings

Now expand your awareness and picture the whole globe in front of you as a little ball.

Send warm wishes to all living beings on the globe, who, like you, want to be happy:

Just as I wish to, may you live with ease, happiness, and good health.
Just as I wish to, may you live with ease, happiness, and good health.
Just as I wish to, may you live with ease, happiness, and good health.

Take a deep breath in. And breathe out. And another deep breath in and let it go. Notice the state of your mind and how you feel after this meditation.

When you’re ready, you may open your eyes.