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“Mindfulness is the art of paying attention, on purpose, without judgement, to the present moment” Jon Kabat Zinn.

 Non-Judging:


In the morning, decide that you are going to be accepting throughout the day. In other words, don’t label anything as being  ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’. This includes but is not exclusive to:

Other people

Your own emotions

Your own body (whether it’s sick, tired, over-weight, under-weight, etc)

Situations you find yourself in

Experiences you have

Your mind will automatically make these judgements, but don’t try to stop it. Just be aware of it.


Then, in the evening, think back over the day. Was there anything you reacted to differently than you might have, had you not been accepting? Is this something you think you would like to cultivate in your life generally?


 Three “Good” Things


Every evening before you go to sleep, write down three things that you liked in your day.


It can be something as simple as…

 


 Of course they can be big events too!


No matter how difficult your day was, try to find those 3 things.


Then, next day, you will be on the look out for those things to write in your journal in the evening.


This has the effect of training our mind to pay more attention to the stuff we enjoy and like during our day.


Most of us have heard of the saying “There are 2 sides to everything”

But opposites are two sides of the same thing, not necessarily opposing. We cannot understand one without the other.

There is an ancient Vedic saying “A man born blind cannot know the meaning of darkness, because he has never experienced light

Contrast/opposites are important to help us to understand and appreciate the world.


Remember to look on it as a GAME , the object of which is to see how many times you can catch your mind wandering and bring it gently back.

Patience:


Breaking the chrysalis of a butterfly does not help it to develop its wings any faster.


In the morning, decide that you are going to be patient with everyone and everything throughout the day. Here are some thoughts and ideas to help you:


Give things time to unfold before you jump in.

Listen when people are speaking and wait until they have finished before you get your reply ready.

Be patient with yourself in all things.

Be in THIS moment, rather than wanting to me in the next moment, or wishing you were in a previous moment.

You must live through this moment, so why not appreciate its qualities and learn from its problems.


Don’t worry if you forget to be patient. Just observe when you are and when you are not.


Then, in the evening, think back over the day. Was there anything you reacted to differently than you might have, had you not been patient?  Is this something you think you would like to cultivate in your life generally?


The Method:

First, you need to determine which are your top 3.

There are three ways to do this. You can choose any, or all three.

1. Read and consider each one and come to a conclusion for yourself

2. Ask someone who knows you really well to read each one and tell you.

3. Go to the website of Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson, the psychologists who have done extensive research into this and take the free survey. It’s at http://www.viacharacter.org/www/Character-Strengths/VIA-Classification and tales takes about 20 minutes but it does give you the most accurate answer.

You will get a list of every character strength, (because we do possess them all to some extent) in order of priority, so pick the first three, these are your top three Character Strengths.

[Note: You will get the list and a short description of each. If you want more information you are requested to pay (around $10) and all money goes towards further research. The short list is enough for this exercise so it is up to you.]

Now, what do you do with this knowledge?

For example, imagine that your top 3 strengths are Bravery, Sociability and Kindness.

 Imagine you love bungee jumping and other extreme sports (Bravery) and you’re a member of several clubs involved in these activities (Sociability). You like to take new members under your wing and give them hints and tips whenever you can (Kindness).

 Now think about how you might apply these same strengths to your work: Perhaps you could be the one to suggest to the bosses the changes that everyone is crying out for but are too afraid to ask.

 Could you be the one to set up a lunch club? (Where once a week everyone brings in one food each and you all share)

 Do you help and encourage the newest members of staff even when it’s not your job?

These are just simple examples of an imaginary person, but I’m sure you can come up with something that is specific to you.

Seligman and Peterson found that when people used their character strengths in different and new situations every day for a week, the benefits of feeling happier and less depressed lasted for up to six months.

Practice using you character strengths in new situations for at least one week and see how it makes you feel.


Positive Thinking: (This follows on from 3 “Good” Things)


Our thoughts and attitudes control our emotions. (When feeling relaxed and happy, fewer things are a problem)


Train yourself to notice the things that please you and lift your humour throughout the day.


Beginner’s Mind:


In the morning, decide that you are going approach everything throughout the day with a beginner’s mind.


 In other words, as though we are seeing and experiencing it for the first time. Here are some thoughts and ideas to help you:


Don’t worry if you forget to do it sometimes, or even most of the time. Just observe when you do and when you don’t.

Inner you meditation improved.mp3

This is the meditation we did in class. “Inner you” is that part of you that sometimes whispers in your ear. Stuff like “Not a good idea” when you’re doing something you know you shouldn’t, or “This is fun!” when you’re enjoying something.(Or maybe even both at the same time…)

…Without Judgement:



…Present Moment



Character Strengths

Self Compassion:


Many people who suffer from depression are very hard on themselves. Developing self-compassion has been shown to be hugely helpful in relieving symptoms of depression. Click on the picture to read about an interesting study on this, using Virtual Reality:


Fight or Flight reaction


Sympathetic Nervous System reacts to challenge by…


Production of the hormone cortisol, which…

 


When the threat is lifted, the Parasympathetic system restores normality and cortisol dissolves, but…


If we are in a state of Chronic stress this leads to a constant low-level state of flight or fight. The Cortisol stays in our body-leading to a host of physical health problems including…


All of which are also symptoms of Depression

You can watch an interesting short video about the effects of stress on the brain here





 



 And there’s an interesting article on the same subject HERE

Loving Kindness Meditation

Loving-kindness meditation practice, helps to develop the quality of loving-acceptance of self and others and to change negative attitudes and patterns.

Loving-kindness encourages the development of self-compassion and compassion for others.

Have Fun!

Many of us are so busy living life and achieving goals that we forget to have fun.

We all know how important playtime is for children, but it is equally important for adults.

It boosts our creativity, enhances our immune system and increases our productivity.

 What’s more, a good laugh will increase your oxygen intake which enhances the functioning of your heart, lungs and muscles.

And not only that; laughter also stimulates the production of endorphins in the brain which result in reduction of pain and of course, puts you in a good mood 


The Method:

Learn to take life less seriously. No one ever said on their death bed that they wished they’d spent more time at the office, and remember, none of us are getting out of here alive!


What do you think happiness is?


Is it that “happy clappy”, overly cheerful kind of demeanour some people display to the world?


Is it the feeling you get whenever you achieve something, win something or have one of your dreams come true?


Is it having a relaxing massage, eating your favourite meal, or spending time with your favourite person or people?


Is it the feeling you get when you’re helping others?


Is it just a general feeling of contentment at the way things are?


Or is it contentment at the way things are, while still working towards your dreams?


Although cheerfulness can be an external manifestation of happiness, and is as much an attitude or behaviour as a feeling, believe it or not, happiness can be all of the above.


Because there is more than one kind of happiness.


Hedonic happiness is the feeling we get when we achieve or win something, eat our favourite food or spend time with our loved ones. In other words, Hedonic Happiness is pleasure based.


But when the pleasurable event has passed, we return to our base state of happiness.


For example, there is a story told of a man who won the jackpot in the lottery, and who remained happy for just six months before he reverted back to the same state of happiness he had been in before the big win. (It doesn’t say whether his money lasted more than six months though, but I’m assuming it did.)


And there’s another story of a young man who had an accident in which he suffered permanent spinal injury, but he also eventually reverted to the same happiness state he had been in before the accident, although it took a couple of years.

Eudemonic Happiness is long lasting and feels more like a kind of stable contentment than the highs and lows of Hedonic Happiness. It is our base state of happiness. It generally comes from having something or someone in our life that gives it meaning, such as a job or career that we love, a charity that we’re involved in or an important relationship. Better still if we have all of the above.

As attitude can often influence our perspective of what’s important in our life, a change in attitude can increase our Eudemonic happiness levels. (Hence the Happiness Exercises)

Hedonic and Eudomonic happiness are not opposites. They work together in our life, so that a good mixture of Hedonic happiness and cheerfulness contributes to Eudomonic Happiness.

Trust in yourself:

In the morning, decide that you are going to trust in yourself throughout the day. Here are some thoughts and ideas to help you:

Don’t worry if you sometimes forget. Just observe when you do trust in yourself and when you don’t.


Then, in the evening, think back over the day. Was there anything you reacted to differently than you might have, had you not been trusting?Is this something you think you would like to cultivate in your life generally?



Close your eyes think back to childhood.


Find the earliest memory of when you felt that you were “not enough”


Perhaps first time you realized that everyone didn’t like you.


Could be you were  made to feel stupid, uncool, undeserving (now there’s a common one), perhaps even unlovable.


The more you remember sometimes, the further you can go back.


See if you can find that first time, the earliest you can remember.


Notice how, as you remember, it is still you that’s remembering.


But, now you’re an adult-successfully living your life, you’re negotiating relationships, you love and are loved, several times over. Perhaps you’re a parent/grandparent, a loving and loved aunt or uncle


-no longer that child, but still seeing with that child consciousness.


Now, as that successful adult, take that child in your arms.


Show them what they really are, how capable they are of success in love, relationships, career.


 And promise them that you will try to show them (yourself) the patience and love that you  deserve.


If you’re interested in more meditations on Your Inner Child, this is quite a nice guided meditation.

Meditation on Affection for yourself and others:


Remember you are always in control of your mind and your body.

WHENEVER YOU BECOME AWARE THAT THOUGHTS HAVE WANDERED, THIS IS MINDFULNESS

Remember to smile

Remember filling yourself with self-affection

Breathing out affection for the world

When you’re ready, withdraw the light up through your body

 Then grow roots from your feet deep into the earth

Back to the room and open your eyes.

Non-Striving:


In the morning, decide that you are going to have a day of Non-Striving.


This does not mean a day of idleness or non-planning. It means focusing on being in each moment, really seeing how and where things are, and accepting them as they are.


 Here are some thoughts and ideas to help you:

Substitute the word PUSHING for striving. Pushing against or for something takes effort that could be more

If it requires some planning to make them other than they are, accept that this is so.

Be in the moment while you are planning, and while carrying out those plans

Wanting or wishing things to be other than they are does not make them so. Accepting things as they are and planning to make them otherwise, does.

This does take some practice, but try it even for one day. Then, in the evening, think back over the day. Was there anything you reacted to differently than you might have?  Is this something you think you would like to cultivate in your life generally?

Mindfulness is about BEING rather than doing


1. Choose to start your day rather than letting the day start you -- begin each day by noticing the sensations of the breath for a few breaths before jumping out of bed.

2. Use transitions wisely -- choose some days to drive to and from work/shops/etc without the radio or phone. When you arrive at your destination, allow yourself a few moments to sit in the car, noticing the breath.

3. Nourish yourself -- mindfully eat your lunch attending to the colours, taste and smells of the food.

4. Just walk between rooms or meetings – no thinking about or looking at emails or texts, no thinking about what you might have for dinner. Just  -- feeling the feet on the floor, the air on the skin.

5. Sit at your desk while your computer is turning on, Stand at the counter while waiting for the kettle to boil, noticing the sensations in the body as you sit or stand.

Try one each day, what do you notice? What other Purposeful Pauses can you think of? Explore and discover

Think about something physical that bothers you. (Recurring or chronic pain, stiffness, weight, height, etc.)


How often do you think about it?





Finding Meaning and Purpose


Having meaning and purpose in our life contributes hugely to our happiness.

In fact, in some circumstances it can even save your life:

Concentration camp survivor, Viktor Frankl found that the people who survived the horrors of the camps were the ones who felt they had a reason to carry on.

For him, it was his life’s work, which as it happened, was research into meaning in life. He began this work before he ever became a prisoner, but from observation of his fellow prisoners and from personal experience, he realized that those who had something to live for were most motivated to carry on against all the odds.

His book, Man's Search for Meaning ,was written some time after his release, and is sometimes difficult reading, but overall it is uplifting and enlightening. In it, he explains in detail the benefits of having meaning in our life.


Thankfully, most of us will not have to endure such horrors. But meaning and purpose can play a big role in our happiness.

So what is important to you?

Many people have so much to think about and do every day that they are not even sure anymore which are important and which they could happily live without.

I have always found the following method helpful in sorting this out in my mind:


The Method:


If you’re still thinking along the lines of “Are you kidding? That desert island sounds like bliss to me” than perhaps you need to find something in your life to give you meaning and purpose:


Think along the lines of:


Another popular way of sorting out what you want from life is to imagine yourself in 5 years time.

 Imagine that you have all the resources you need.

 Write a letter from yourself in 5 years time, detailing where you are and what you are doing.


http://my.happify.com/hd/optimism-infographic/


http://www.heysigmund.com/overcoming-anxiety-mindfulness/