Blogs

Fly high

“What would it be like to fly high like a bird,  to view your life from up there, from  a distance, just observing, looking in”

We all know those times when we just feel stuck, unable to move forwards (or backwards or any direction).  We can’t put our fingers on the reasons why but we have those familiar feelings, the knot in the stomach, the tightness in the chest.

We might be so tightly connected to a situation or story we may be telling ourselves, that we see and hear nothing else.  Maybe somebody or something has niggled us, thrown us off balance. It could be as simple as somebody saying something to us without thinking what they are saying and right in that moment we are locked into the emotion whatever it may be.  Unprocessed, this can linger for sometime.

It is at times like these, that I like to employ a very simple technique. One that allows us to step away from the emotion, to get some distance, to observe and just be curious.

The Fly high visualisation

I take my inspiration here from the two buzzards that are currently circling above our house. Their familiar shriek call making their presence known.

This is a simple visualization meditation.  Know that at anytime you want to, you can open your eyes, come back to your breath, feel your feet on the floor and feel grounded.

  1. Close your eyes if this feels comfortable and imagine the most magnificent and beautiful bird, soaring high in the sky above.  Lifted by the warm air currents, gently circling.
  2. In your minds eye, put yourself in the position of the bird, so you are looking down and seeing your life from this perspective and distance.  Gently soaring, circling and observing.
  3. From this detached, birds eye view, what do you notice about your situation? be curious as to what is going on, what do you see?
  4. Take your time, keep soaring and circling and observing, you don’t need answers at this stage, just watch and observe from this new perspective.
  5. When you are ready, in your minds eye, gently come back to the ground and step back into your life.
  6. How different do you feel?
  7. What knowledge have you gained by seeing things from a birds eye view?
  8. How can you now take this new knowledge back into your life to help you move forward?

A simple quick technique that can help us bring some clarity to a situation without the emotional overlay.  Very often, no new answers will come from this but just that time taken to step away, to get some distance, can bring a sense of calm and allow us the space to react appropriately and accordingly.

Have fun trying this out and as always, I wish you good health and happiness.

From Roger x

 

 

 

 

 

Past – Present – Future

It is a common misconception that mindfulness is all about living in the present moment.

It is something that I have had some struggles with over the last few years.    Trying to remain present 24-7 is pretty impossible, believe me I have tried. It is exhausting and not particularly effective.

Practising mindfulness is so much more than being present.  It is also and more importantly, about our relationship to the past, the present and the future.    It is about awareness, seeing clearly your thought patterns and loops of behaviour and putting that bit of space in, so that you are able to react and respond in a considered manner.

Thoughts about mindfulness in relation to the past, present and future seem to crop up a lot in people’s practice and life, so I thought it would be interesting to delve into it a little further

The Past

The past has brought us here to this very point in time.  It has formed who we are right now.  The past could be the breath we took before this one, or it could be an event that happened twenty years ago. It has happened, it is gone.

I have noticed something very interesting in my relationship to the past since practising mindfulness.

1) I don’t visit it half as often as I used to.

2) I look back more fondly, with more compassion at the special moments that have formed who I am today.

3) I don’t deny the negative parts of my past, but I don’t dwell on them as much anymore.  It has been and gone and just maybe within those so-called negative points in life, a valuable lesson has been learnt.

Mindfulness can help us to be much more aware of how we relate to the past and to notice when we are stuck in the past and lost in things that have gone. It can also help us to be more comfortable with the transient nature of our lives.

a) Take the time to notice your thoughts about the past.  In meditation or just in your everyday life, try labelling your thoughts.  If you become aware of a thought, say to yourself past, present or future.  Soon you will build a picture of where your thoughts go.  Being mindful of your thoughts like this can help you to notice your natural inclination to the past, present or future.  You can then take appropriate and considered steps to adjust the thought pattern and behaviour.

b) Try not to deny or push away your past. Hold it lightly in awareness, remember that from this moment, the past cannot be changed or altered. The past is now just a thought or a memory.

c)Remember that the practice is to loosen the grip and not so much of the pushing and pulling.  Hold it lightly, watch where your thoughts go, are you constantly remembering the negative things? or are more of those special moments cropping up.

d) Be aware of any judgements that crop up about your past and let them go.

Slowly and very gently over time, the practice of awareness can alter the way we view our past and the amount of time our mind wanders back there.

The present

Okay, the big one.  The lovely, beautiful, present moment. It came as a bit of a shock to me when I started to become more aware of my mind wanderings, how little time I spend in the present moment.  My mind liked and still does like to time travel.  This is the same for most of us.  We may look like we are here but in our heads we are flying around like Doctor Who in his Tardis.

The present moment to me is like pressing a big reset button.  The more we practice mindful awareness, the more this present moment starts to become like a default setting and somewhere we can come back to in order to feel more grounded.

This is not to say that the present moment is always this blissful place of peace and happiness, on the contrary it can be challenging and not always pleasant.  However, if we are closely aware of it, we can start to notice that a lot of the unpleasantness and unease actually comes from the past or the future, not this very moment.

If I am aware of this very moment, actually all is well, I am breathing (yippee), the computer is working (at last), my fingers are hitting the right keys on the keyboard (most of the time), George is curled up on the bed behind me and I have a cup of tea ready to drink. Not always but very often it is the thoughts of past and future that get mixed up with the present moment.  In turn, that can cause the unpleasantness and that sense of unease that is felt very much in the present moment.

a) Find your anchor.  What is going to bring you back to this present moment?  For me, I have yet to find a more effective anchor than the breath.  Simple life-giving breath.  More than just taking a deep breath, feel the air coming in to the nostrils, imagine it flooding into the lungs, feel your belly rise and fall, get intimate with it, this very breath, right now.  Your signature anchor is going to help you return to the present, it could be feeling your feet on the floor, or just simply looking up into the sky and watching the clouds roll by.

b) Make tuning into your anchor a daily practice.  Even if it is just for 5 minutes a day, tune in, use your anchor to be firmly planted in the present moment.  If you meditate, make your anchor your starting point that sets your intention to your mindfulness meditation practice.

C) What words do you associate with the present moment?  immediately I think of simplicity, beauty and peace.  It is worth taking the time to consider what the present truly means to you and let it sink into your mind.

d) Be gentle but firm.  Judging and giving yourself a hard time for not being present is going to make it feel like a battle.  I love the analogy of it being like training a puppy, they learn with patience, kindness and just a little bit of firmness, as does the mind.  If you become aware that your mind has wandered, gently bring it back to your anchor.  It is okay, our minds will wander, that is a fact of life, but when you fall in love again with the present moment, whenever you come back to it,  it will be like slipping into a warm bath or those comfy pyjamas after a long day (or whatever floats your boat)

Future

I have recently gained a new perspective on the future thinking mind.  I am sure I have subconsciously thought about the future but I have tried to make a conscious effort to not go there.   I have noticed that I have linked future thoughts with a sense of unease, an anxiety felt in the body.   So it was easy for me to judge these future thoughts as bad.

All this however has been thrown upside down in quite a positive way.  As a trainee life and performance coach, a lot of the work I am going to be doing is to help people reach a goal or future state that they have in mind.

You can imagine how this made my left eye twitch a little.  I mean how does that fit into my mindfulness work and this present moment thinking.

As always with this practice, it takes a little while to see the answers.  It came to me in one of my study classes.  It was all about goal setting…

“Always frame your coachee’s future goals in the positive”  

Our minds are naturally skewed to see the negative.  How often I would build a picture of the future and how things could go wrong, what disasters could happen and how I could end up in a fine old mess.  No wonder there was a sense of unease and a lack of motivation to proceed.

Very similar to the past, we can mindfully deal with the future in a similar way. Thoughts about the future can be really helpful, they can help us grow as a person, change our lives for the better and give us a sense of momentum.  As always it is more about our relationship to future thinking that can trip us up.

a)The future is yet to happen, the thoughts we have about it are just that, they are just thoughts not reality.  It sounds simple, but being aware of our thoughts about the future can be the key to working with it effectively.

b)Be aware of when you are following those familiar patterns of rumination about the future.  Use your present moment anchor to come back in order to  try a different approach.

c) What is the reality of the situation now?  Mindfulness can help us see what the true reality of any situation is, without the mental overlay of rumination.  From this reality point we can clearly see what options we have available and make positive steps forward.

d) Could you try looking at the future a little differently?  After all it hasn’t happened yet, you may as well try to imagine it in a more positive way.

e) Are you aware of how much time your mind spends thinking about the future? Be it in a positive way or a negative way, if are minds are always thinking about the future, our journey of life can be missed.  The future can only play out from this very moment. It is truly, the only moment we have.

f) As with the past, hold it lightly, gently with some compassion. Try being more curious.  Your mind will wander and that is okay.  Be aware of its wanderings , label your thoughts and come back to the present.  Notice the negative thoughts and try reframing them in the positive.

An exploration

This isn’t a one size fits all, we all have different thought patterns and relationships to the past, present and future, it is just my own take on it.

At times it can feel like we are at battle with life. I think it can then pay to look at how we are relating to the past, present and future.  To be more curious about our thought patterns and to take an exploration into what we think about and how much time we actually spend in the present moment.

No one area can be denied, I have learnt that the hard way.  Mindfulness and meditation isn’t about blotting out the past, ignoring the future and clinging on to the present moment.  It is more about taking an exploration, being curious, holding it all in awareness and seeing clearly how we relate to certain aspects of life, without judgement and with a nice big dose of compassion.

I wish you well. As always, be kind to yourselves, enjoy the exploration and take good care.

From Roger

 

 

True Self

A note from True Self

It is time to remove the masks, those masks you made over many years.

Not just that one, but the others as well.

It is okay, I know it can feel a little raw,

please take your time, please be kind to yourself.

This is you, the real you, I am here waiting, I have always been here waiting for you.

Look no further, seek no more.

There is nothing else you have to become,

nowhere else you have to go.

Sit, listen, be still.

Watch with curiosity this thing we call life.

I will be revealed in the sunsets, the birds singing, the feeling of your feet touching the earth.  All those simple, beautiful moments.

I will be waiting in those quiet times, those times you go to sit, those times when you practice this awareness.

Waiting with a big smile and open arms,

Don’t be fooled by those masks that you wear,

there is a freedom here, here with me, your true self.

The window

The mind whirls, the cogs ticking. I think about what this all means.  What is this mindful life? how can I analyse it? how can I put it into words?  Nothing comes, the words are there but I can’t quite string them all together so I stop and look out of the window.  I have moved my little desk upstairs, in front of the window that looks out to the back, over the houses to the edge of the town and the trees on the hill.

My mind tells me this is wrong, you can’t just sit and stare out of the window, a memory flashes up so vivid now. That day I was sat in History class. I was bored so was staring out of the window, out to the school playing field and the trees beyond. I got told off by the teacher.

A little voice inside starts to speak, it is a voice that used to be so, so quiet. I could never hear it but over the last few years  its got a bit louder.  It is a voice of compassion, gentle, warming, kind and from the heart.

“You are here my friend not there, it is gone, all is ok. That feeling of wrong is just a memory.   What was wrong then, is not wrong now”

I look out of the window, here in this moment. I look over the rooftops to the trees on the hill, branches all bare hibernating for winter, their tops gently swaying in the breeze.

A plane passes overhead and in that moment a flock of birds soar up from one of the trees and then disappear out of view. Three big pigeons waddle across the top of a roof.

Beyond, the clouds roll by in colours of grey, blue, white and yellow.  It starts to rain, little droplets forming on the window, the pitter-patter sound on the roof above.

Simple, nothing special, so easy to miss but oh so beautiful.

What is this mindful life? The words still haven’t come, but here in this very moment looking out of the window, a feeling of joy bubbles up inside.

Maybe it needs no words, just an experience. A fleeting moment in time.  It can’t be grasped at, held on to, intellectualised and dissected.

A window, a little moment in time.

Maybe it is just this.

 

 

 

Change – An exploration of life meditation

Change

We hold on tight, push and pull, manipulate and scheme,

anything to avoid losing the familiar, however good or bad the familiar may be.

When change comes along, we build a fortress to protect ourselves and then realise we have locked ourselves in  prison and thrown the keys through the door.

When uncertainty prevails, we follow the familiar paths, the well trodden road.

Closing down the heart, clinging on for dear life.

But what if there was a different way, a different road.

A road with less tension, less pulling and pushing.

A road that allows us to sit back a moment and process the emotions.

A sadness, a joy, a fear, all emotions that just want to be experienced,

Not manipulated but felt for what they are.

Take a long…. slow….deep breath,

this is it, just pause, rest in this very moment, in this reality.

From here, every moment can be seen with new eyes.

The emotions we can feel but not battle with.

 

This is not a case of mind over matter,

the challenges are real, change is inevitable.

but from this space of awareness, this little moment in time, this little pause,

things become a little clearer, our options greater, we see more solutions and realise we can adapt and be creative in the most challenging of times.

Un-clench the fists, let go of the tight grip

Just watch and observe, be curious,

Hold your life gently like a bird resting in the palm of your hand…

 

Waiting

What are we waiting for?

For so long I found myself waiting,

waiting for a better life,

waiting for more money,

waiting until I have got this mindfulness thing a bit more,

waiting until I am little older and wiser

waiting for the clouds to clear,

waiting for peace and calm,

waiting for something, anything to happen,

waiting before I can fully live this life.

What a false illusion. In waiting for all the cards to line up perfectly, I missed living.

I missed the fact that I was breathing, awake, alive, vital.

I missed the fact that life isn’t always perfect and that imperfection is ok.

I missed the smell of fresh coffee (my favourite),

I missed the birds singing

I missed so many sunsets.

Words cannot adequately describe it, all that is left is this.

I’ve given up waiting, I hope you will do the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waiting

What are we waiting for?

For so long I found myself waiting,

waiting for a better life,

waiting for more money,

waiting until I have got this mindfulness thing a bit more,

waiting until I am little older and wiser

waiting for the clouds to clear,

waiting for peace and calm,

waiting for something, anything to happen,

waiting before I can fully live this life.

What a false illusion. In waiting for all the cards to line up perfectly, I missed living.

I missed the fact that I was breathing, awake, alive, vital.

I missed the fact that life isn’t always perfect and that imperfection is ok.

I missed the smell of fresh coffee (my favourite),

I missed the birds singing

I missed so many sunsets.

Words cannot adequately describe it, all that is left is this.

I’ve given up waiting, I hope you will do the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A great adventure

An adventure, lost in time

Those times so vivid in my mind now, times when an hour seemed like a day, a day seemed like a year and Summer felt like a lifetime.

Times when a ride out on my little bike to the next village was a great adventure.

Times when I was awake, vibrant, unencumbered by conditioning.

It seems dream like, may be not real, just a fleeting memory of a time when I was young, the past, gone, never to be experienced again or so I thought….

Life raced on, for some strange reason for years I stopped myself experiencing, I closed my heart, closed my mind, closed my ears and tried to close my eyes as often as I could to block it all out.

Pain, grief, loss, joy, happiness, anger all pushed away or held on to so tightly, not allowed to pass through.  I didn’t know there was another way.

I didn’t know that those times, those endless days, unencumbered, alive and awake, they were still there, just under the surface waiting to be discovered again.  Re-born again into existence by simple, beautiful awareness.

So ordinary, so simple, so easy to miss, no wonder for years I didn’t see it.

Little moments in time

The coffee with my friend.  My ears open, I listen to him speak, there could be a thousand people talking around us at that moment, but all I hear are his words.  My mind is nowhere else but there.  I fully taste the coffee, rich, bitter, strong.  I feel my feet on the floor, grounded, solid.  We seem to drop out of time. For a while our time there seems endless.

The drive to work.  I feel the hands on the wheel, my bum on the seat.  Everything considered.  I turn the radio off, I want no other sound, just the car’s engine.  I hear the gears changing, I do a little wave to lady who has just let me through and mouth the words thank you, I see her smile but she doesn’t wave back.   A car shoots out of a side road right in front of me, I have to brake, for a second I feel that familiar knot in the stomach but I let it pass through, the stimulus has gone, it is over, I don’t need to react or respond.  I wind my way across the lanes, the sun is just poking its head over the horizon, the trees like skeletons, bare, waiting for the season to turn. Just at that moment, I feel more alive than ever, unencumbered.

A walk in the garden.  I let the dog out, he wants to wander around and sniff the myriad of different scents he can pick up.  I look out, not much happening in the garden at this time of year, but wait that little palm I planted last year, crikey it has grown.  A flash of white catches my eye in the bed at the side, snow drops with little heads dangling. My ears pick up on the sound of the little Robin singing away. There is another bird call further away, one I havent heard for a while. I can hear it over the sound of the traffic, a crystal clear ‘keeow’ shriek almost.  I stand on the chair to get a better view over the fence and to the fields beyond the edge of the town. There, high above the trees are two buzzards soaring.  I sit for a while and just listen, a beautiful simple moment in time.

Moments that are disguised in everyday life, I have nothing but gratitude for finding them again.  Those times that seem to last forever.

Moments that make you see that there is nowhere else we have to go and nothing else we have to become.

The great adventure is right here, right now.  It always was and always will be.  When we think we have lost it, there it will be right under our feet.

Be well

Be happy.