Week 5: Mindfulness and Sleep
This week’s theme was mindfulness and how it can help us to sleep better for longer. After exploring some of the common obstacles to getting a good night’s sleep, we looked at several mindfulness practices that can help to calm the body and soothe the mind. I have included a few links to similar practices for you to try this week below.
In essence, the practice of mindfulness helps us to activate our ‘rest and digest’ nervous system and encourages us to let go of worries, thoughts and rumination that often take hold when we want to sleep. As Dr Shelby Harris explains, “Mindfulness can quiet the brain and allow for deeper sleep…It can set the stage for sleep by allowing you to be more aware of your thoughts and to be able to let go of those anxieties instead of getting stuck on them.” She explains that “Strengthening your ‘mind muscle’ through daily practice helps you better recognise the...
Week 4: Mindfulness, Anxiety and Worry
This week, we looked at how the practice of mindfulness can help to calm anxious feelings. We explored how mindfulness helps you learn to stay with difficult feelings without analyzing, suppressing, or encouraging them. And how the practice allows you to safely explore the underlying causes of your stress and worry. We also looked at how it can help to create space around your worries so they don’t consume you.
We touched upon the recurrent theme of how our thoughts are not facts. As Mark Williams explains, "When we meditate, we learn to become more discerning about the thoughts that arise and how we are going to react to them. We become more aware that while some thoughts are useful, others can be deceptive and unhelpful. By becoming more aware of the nature of our thoughts and their transience, we can start to protect ourselves from being highjacked, or negatively defined."
Week 3: Challenges To Our Mindfulness Practice
This week we began the session with a reminder of the essence of mindfulness. Mark Williams tells us that "Mindfulness is a very simple form of meditation that was little known in the West until recently. A typical meditation consists of focusing your full attention on your breath as it flows in and out of your body. Focusing on each breath in this way allows you to observe your thoughts as they arise in your mind and, little by little, to let go of struggling with them. You come to realise that thoughts come and go of their own accord; that you are not your thoughts. You can watch as they appear in your mind, seemingly from thin air, and watch again as they disappear, like a soap bubble bursting. You come to the profound understanding that thoughts and feelings (including negative ones) are transient. They come and they go, and ultimately, you have a choice about whether to act on them or not."
When we start to practise...
When they say Don’t I know you?
When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
Someone is telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
If they say We should get together
It’s not that you don’t love them anymore.
You’re trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.
When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven’t seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don’t start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.
Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.
Week 2: Mindfulness, Paying Attention and More on Self-Compassion
Thank you for joining Week 2 of The Daisy Garland Mindfulness sessions.
This week, we started to look at some of the practical benefits of developing a mindfulness practice, one of which is the ability to improve our focus and attention.
Since the onset of the pandemic, many of us have experienced increasing levels of distraction and an inability to concentrate on any one thing for very long. Exposed to anxiety-creating headlines, an ever-changing pandemic, worrying about loved ones or simply trying to keep your head when all about you are at risk of losing theirs, it’s no wonder many of us feel unable to focus. So how could mindfulness help?
Mindfulness is often described as a particular way of paying attention: On purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally (with kindness to yourself). Although the definition is simple, putting this into practice in daily life is often a challenge. So how might...
The Stop Practice
Stress is an inevitable part of life. But stress itself is not the problem - it’s how we relate to it that counts.
The 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 rise. Our stress response is triggered constantly. It may be triggered by an update on the news, the temporary loss of a mobile phone or the resounding ping of an incoming email. When we are worried, anxious or fretting about something, this is when the stress response activates. Over time, if we are not able to find a way of slowing down and normalising the bodily systems involved in stress, we can start to suffer from problems such as high blood pressure, muscle tension, anxiety, insomnia and digestive problems.
Creating space during the day to leave the worried mind behind and come into the present...
BOOK: When Things Fall Apart - Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron