In the last week of this More Mindfulness series, we examined the seminal work of Kristen Neff in her new book, Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power and Thrive.
It may feel almost counter-intuitive to think about how to be self-compassionate when you are in the middle of a crisis and just need to get through it, but Neff encourages us to think again. The way we speak to ourselves when things go wrong plays an important role in how we emerge and how we perceive the world around us.
Neff explains that “Fierce self-compassion involves “acting in the world” to alleviate suffering. It tends to involve protecting, providing for, and motivating ourselves. Sometimes we need to stand tall and say no, draw boundaries, or fight injustice. Or we may need to say yes to ourselves, to do what’s needed to be happy rather than subordinating our needs to those of others. And if we’re stuck in a bad situation or...
Whether it’s checking your email every few minutes, restlessly searching the internet for a new home you can’t afford, overeating, drinking too much, smoking or spending too long grazing on social media sites, everyone has at least two bad habits they would like to break but why is it so hard and why does willpower fail when you need it most?
In his TED talk, “A Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit”, psychiatrist Judson Brewer explains that the brain follows the pattern of ‘trigger, behaviour, reward - repeat.’ When you feel stressed, you might reach for a drink, your favourite sweets or a cigarette, which seem to make you feel better momentarily. Then you repeat the process and a habit starts to form. It’s the emotional trigger of feeling sad, bad, tired or in need which leads to the bad habit.
This week in More Mindfulness, we explored how our practice can help us to break bad habits, looking in particular at the work of Judson Brewer. Rather...
In More Mindfulness this week, the subject is stress and how mindfulness can help us to respond to it and thereby reduce its impact on our minds and bodies.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health in the US, stress is the “brain and body’s response to change, challenge, or demand. It is the body’s natural defense against danger brought on by an event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. When a stressful event occurs, the body is flooded with hormones to avoid or confront danger. This is commonly referred to as the fight-or-flight response.”
We all know that stress is an inevitable part of life. But stress itself is not the problem - it’s how we relate to it that counts.
Our stress response (‘fight, flight, freeze’) is critical to our survival. In days gone by, it might have saved us from the mouth of a sabre-toothed tiger. These days, while certain threats have disappeared, others are on the...
All perfectionism is, is the 20-ton shield that we carry around hoping that it will keep us from being hurt.” Brene Brown
In this week’s More Mindfulness session, we examine the subject of mindfulness and perfectionism. We explore whether mindfulness can help us to recognise the moment perfectionism hits and why that’s a good thing. We look at whether our practice might have a role to play as it helps us to grow our self awareness and learn more about the ways of the mind.
Shame researcher and bestselling author Brene Brown describes perfectionism as the 20-ton shield we carry around hoping it will keep us from being hurt.” Brown breaks down what perfectionism really is. She explains that “It’s a way of thinking that says this: “If I look perfect, live perfect, work perfect, I can avoid or minimise criticism, blame and ridicule.” In truth however, she explains that the 20-ton shield keeps us from being...
In Week 2 of the More Mindfulness series we examine the role mindfulness can play in helping to tame our fears.
Fear is often caused by our thoughts - the ‘what if’s’. Whether rational or irrational, our bodies respond to these thoughts with physical sensations: our pulse quickens, perhaps our face flushes and we can feel it in our stomachs. These sensations in turn feed our anxious thoughts, and we get caught up in a cycle of negativity. Our brain’s primary responses to fear are short-term: fight, flight or freeze.
In his article “A Primer on Living in a Time of Fear”, Christopher Willard explains that “When the threat detection system in our brain is activated, and fear takes over, other areas of the brain aren’t as active, making it difficult for us to do our best thinking. Things like being able to see the big picture clearly, discern danger from reality, see nuance and complexity, plan long-term solutions, and problem...
Thank you for tuning in to the new series of More Mindfulness. Week 1 gives us the opportunity to revisit our practice and take stock of what mindfulness is all about and how it can help us in our daily lives.
This week, I shared with you a quote which reminds us that "Part of the beauty of mindfulness meditation is that it puts you in touch with what's going on in your mind and that starts to help you be yourself. Starting to discover that it's OK to be who you are, and actually finding a little bit of relief from the harsh critic in your head is usually what keeps us going in the beginning."
The application of mindfulness is potentially far reaching. The practice reminds us when we need to take time out. It teaches us that the negative thoughts we may have about ourselves are not necessarily true and encourages us to treat ourselves with more care and compassion - without feeling guilty.
We also looked at the science of gratitude and how scientists...
The new Daisy Garland series of More Mindfulness sessions launches later this month. In this series, we will be looking at the practice of mindfulness and its impact on our daily lives, tackling subjects such as fear, stress, perfectionism, and bad habits - to name just a few. Our weekly poetry inspiration this season comes from New York Bestselling author Yung Pueblo and Sunday Times Bestseller, Rupi Kaur.
I look forward to sharing these sessions with you all at Daisy Garland and exploring how mindfulness can help calm our nerves and steady our path. x
Mindfulness is a form of attention training. It encourages us to pay attention in a particular way - on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally and with kindness to ourselves.
In this new 6-week course, you will learn how to practise mindfulness and experience some of its many benefits. Learn more about how mindfulness can impact your ability to pay attention, improve the quality of your sleep, reduce worry and anxiety and calm an inner critical voice.
Taught by Gillian Higgins, international barrister and mindfulness teacher, this Zoom-led course provides interactive opportunities, live practices and tailored course materials to suit your particular workplace environment.
Intended for beginners. Weekly handouts provided.
Session times: Mondays or Tuesday 8-8.50am, starting Monday 10th January 2022.
Duration: 50 minutes weekly.
Group Size: 10-25.
Email: Email Gill at [email protected]
Week 5: The Self-Critical Voice and Scaffolding Your Practice
In the last week of this course, we examine the impact of mindfulness on the self-critical voice and consider how to keep motivated to practice in the weeks and months ahead.
In a recent article, "Living With, and Loving, Your Imperfect Life", Mark Bertin explains that "The Inner Critic is a particularly draining mental pattern. Like a playground tyrant, it’s an unrelenting heckler. It insults and judges mostly without reason—You’re not good enough. You should have done X or Y but definitely not Z again. Why do you bother? You’ll never get it right.”
“That voice is not about improvement, making amends, or fixing what needs fixing—ideas we want to build upon. The Inner Critic embodies mindless self-judgment that undermines our confidence, and, ultimately, our well-being, and affects all of our interactions with the world.”
“When we recognize the...