As the level of Covid infection remains high in some areas, increased restrictions have been placed on people living in the central belt of Scotland to try to reduce rates. We know this will be bring challenges for so many, one of which, to enable us to protect each other, will be a reduction in social contact. In this video (approx. 35 minutes), Dr Vivek Murthy, former Surgeon General in the USA, talks about loneliness. He discusses the difference between loneliness and isolation, how loneliness can impact on our health and sense of self. He also offers some suggestions of how we might break spirals of loneliness.
(This recording is kindly offered freely by Wisdom 2.0, who generously offer a range of talks with the aim of supporting ‘people to live with awareness and wisdom in our technology-rich age’)
Recently there have been signs of glimmers of hope that vaccines may offer some protection against Covid in the future. However, at the moment we still all need to work together in changing our behaviour to protect each other. This leaves us still continuing to try to find ways to live with the current challenges Covid brings. For many of us the supports we might draw on in difficult and uncertain times are not available e.g. social contact, a hug from some one we trust, being able to engage in previously enjoyed activities safely.
In this short video ( Approx 8 minutes), Dr Theresa Dahm, South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust discusses how our emotion systems may have been affected by changes COVID 19 has brought.
Does what she is discussing resonate for you? What emotional system might you want to develop? Are there activities you could cultivate that might support you to do that?
This week we have added another practice led by one of our mindfulness therapists/teachers : sound and breath meditation ( approximately 20 minutes). Guidance within any practice is merely offered as a support, we can follow the direction, or listen to the rhythm and tone. The same mindfulness teacher offers a 10 minute sound and breath practice for those of you looking for a shorter practice.
The Oxford Mindfulness Centre is offering free weekly online mindfulness sessions facilitated by Willem Kuyken. The weekly practice sessions are intended for people who have an established mindfulness practice and wish to develop their practice further. Each week, there will be practices, talks and an opportunity to explore different themes in small groups.
In addition, on the first Wednesday of the month we host a guest speaker, a mindfulness teacher and / or researcher from around the world. The monthly guest talks are free to join, and are open to all those who feel they would benefit, meaning you do not need prior mindfulness experience or practice to take part.
The monthly guest talks will be available as a free podcast shortly after for anyone who missed the live session or wishes to practice again.
The sessions are weekly on a Wednesday, 7-8pm UK Timezone.
Join all Zoom Sessions:
Meeting ID – 508 185 186
Vidyamala Burch is the founder and co-Director of Breathworks. She is known for her pioneering work on mindfulness- based and compassion-based approaches to living well with chronic pain, illness and stress. We really like the way she explains how mindfulness can support us when we are facing something that is causing us physical and /or emotional difficulty, which seems particularly pertinent at the current time.
Here in Scotland, as we edge towards a potential second wave of Covid infections, and face the challenges and difficulties associated with this, we wanted to offer these two clips. In the first, she speaks about approaching her own experience ‘one moment at a time’ ( Approx. 3 minutes) and shares some insights from this . In the second clip, she discusses turning towards difficulty ( approx. 10 minutes).
Whether you are visiting this app within Scotland, or further afield, we welcome you and hope you find these helpful.
How we respond to our inner world influences how we live and interact with the world around us. For those of you who have participated in an 8 week MBCT/MBSR course you may recall exploring how we can be drawn towards the positive and avoid, or brace against negative. Clinical Psychologist, Professor Susan David powerfully discusses her work in this area and reflects on her personal experience of this in these talks. One of these was recorded prior to the pandemic in 2017 ( approx. 16 minutes) , and one at the beginning in March 2020 ( approx. 45 minutes). Both seem particularly pertinent and relevant given the current challenges we are all facing.
The term 'mindfulness' is increasingly slipping into everyday language. This maybe reflects a growing awareness, but also contributes towards confusion about what is being referred to when we speak about 'mindfulness'.
So, what is mindfulness? Often phrases like ‘intentionally paying attention’, ‘awareness of present experience’ form part of a response. These do reflect some aspects of mindfulness, but can also be misleading if our understanding stops at that point.
It is remarkably difficult to describe mindfulness, and mindfulness based approaches in a concise way. In this video clip Professor Dennis Noble interviews Professor Willem Kuyken, Head of The Oxford Mindfulness Centre, exploring the question: what is mindfulness?
We are aware from feedback that as well as the 'What's new ' section, that the practice section of this part of the app is popular. We are thinking about how we can develop this in a helpful way. In the interim, our mindfulness therapists and teachers are working with us to record new practices we can share with you. All of the practices are led by local NHS clinicians trained to teach mindfulness. We will keep building this library for you to use. We hope that among them you will find a voice and a style of leading that supports your practice. Here is a link to the newest led practice, sitting with difficulty.
We are aware that a change in the rate of people becoming infected with Covid 19 is triggering a change in what is considered safe to do locally here in Glasgow at the moment, and for some people increasing anxiety. We thought it might be useful to share this link to a course offered by the University of Toronto, Professor Steve Joordens. The course is free if you opt to not request a certificate of completion.
This is not a course to deepen mindfulness, but we thought that combining the information offered by this course with a mindfulness practice could be particularly helpful to support mental health at the current time.
Here is a message for Professor Joordens about this course:
‘Never in the history of humanity have so many people been feeling intense anxiety related to COVID-19 and the world it will leave in its wake. The intent of this course is to give you a deeper understanding of the anxiety reaction as it relates to various aspects of our current life, ranging from our consumption of news to the way we talk to our children about this. I will also give you clear strategies for managing and, in fact, turning off the anxiety response at least for short periods. My sincere hope is that you will leave this course with a better understanding of how your brain reacts to crises, along with some powerful tools for managing it before it manages you.’
Why is there so much emphasis within mindfulness on practice? In this video Willoughby Britton talks about how our brain changes with experience and how we get good at what we practice. She discusses how the most powerful way to change your brain is not medication, but behaviour, specifically mental habit. After watching this video, useful questions to consider may be what mental habits are we practicing, and what might a regular mindfulness practice offer?
We hope some of the files, links in this section and across this app, will support you to explore this.
“Action for Happiness is a movement of people committed to building a happier and more caring society. We want to see a fundamentally different way of life - where people care less about what they can get just for themselves and more about the happiness of others.”
Here is a link to Dr Kristin Neff talking to them about the importance of self compassion/inner resilience and how we can be kinder to ourselves, especially when we are facing difficult times. This was filmed at an Action for Happiness online event on the 20th of July 2020. She also leads some practices within the talk relating to this.
Recent changes in infection rates here in Glasgow, Scotland have led to some changes in what we are allowed to do to try to keep everyone safe. In these challenging times, we thought it might be useful to share this practice from Professor Mark Williams, Finding Peace in a Frantic World:
When life really begins to get you down…. When you feel angry, lost or alone… When you feel close to despair… When you feel that you are your own worst enemy… The Befriending Meditation is here for you.’
We have just found out this has been postponed- we will update as soon as we have more information.
Reminder: Please check update from last week for access to free course starting Monday 7th of September from The Oxford Mindfulness Centre.
The Oxford Mindfulness Centre is offering the following short introductory course free of charge: Introduction to Mindfulness for Life
'This course is to help people make sense of and navigate these challenging times by learning some practical skills. The course is made up of three one-hour sessions, which like building blocks build on one another. Participants will be supported with written materials, brief mindfulness practices and ways to integrate what is learned into everyday life. It can start to help people answer such questions as:
- How can I integrate mindfulness into my life and live well?
- What changes do I hope to see in the world? How can I create the kind of life and world I aspire to?
The dates for this course are Mondays 7pm-8pm, 7th, 14th and 21st September 2020.
Taught by Willem Kuyken and Claire Kelly.
The classes will be online delivered via ZOOM, and you do not need to pre-register to join the course.'
Simply click this link at the start time: We have just found out this has been postponed- we will update as soon as we have more information.
Wisdom 2.0 is offering free summit with a range of fascinating speakers, including Jon Kabat-Zinn, Sharon Saltzberg, Rhonda Magee and David Simas, amongst other well know mindfulness speakers. The conference continues until Wednesday 26/08/20, with recordings from earlier in the week still available.
Wisdom 2.0's 'mission is to support people living with awareness and wisdom in our technology- rich age. We create events that help people better connect with themselves, get to know others, and see their unique purpose on this planet.'
'In these uncertain times, we are thrilled to bring together people from numerous fields to offer insights and perspectives on the power and benefits of mindfulness. Aware of the challenges many of our facing due to the global pandemic, we are making the event free.'
We hope you enjoy .
As part of our series exploring local soundscapes we have added two more sound recordings from evening walks in a Glasgow park in May (40 minute , 60 minute) . When we were recording these and working on transferring them to this app we noticed how the very act of trying to capture sounds around us changed our awareness of sound, we became more intricately aware of the sound environment in general. If your phone is able to record, e.g. voice memos, it might be interesting to explore familiar sounds around you and see what happens if you were to try and capture sounds within a familiar environment ( Do remember to ask permission if you are recording anyone speaking in advance).
Whether you choose to just sit with the sound environment as it is around you, listen to one of the recordings on this app, or record your own soundscape, we offer some guidance below to support this practice.
Experiencing the world with sound
- Permission: give yourself permission to take time out, to spend time in this experience and be.
- Intention: during your dedicated time, set the intention to connect and be present with what is around you, as well as your internal experience. Be the observer or the field researcher of your environment.
- Attention: rest your attention on the sensory experiences. And when the mind wanders, as it will, bring your attention gently back to whatever you have chosen to place your attention on.
In May, when we were able to go out for an hour a day during lock down, we recorded some of our walks in the parks and lanes of Glasgow. As we began to do this and pay attention to the soundscapes around us we were struck by how rich this dimension became and began to recognise the diversity and quality of sound.
We plan to add a series of these in the practice section of this app. Here is an morning walk in a Glasgow park ( approx. 60 minutes) and an afternoon walk along a tree lined pathway ( approx. 15 minutes) .
Can you to bring a curiosity to these listening practices? Opening up to all the layers of sounds, or at times choosing to narrow to a particular sound. Everything vibrates, as sound passes through and around us all the time. Can we practice a 'letting go' as we open up to sound, experiencing the textures and rhythms? Maybe becoming aware of physical sensations and emotions. Noticing when your attention has wandered off, where it is, and gently coming back to the focus of your awareness.
Joseph Goldstein: Meditating during a pandemic.Dan Harris, of 10% Happier, talks to Joseph Goldstein. They discuss how we are living in stressful times, and although meditation is not a panacea, how it can be helpful. Joseph Goldstein lays out a toolkit for for navigating the current crisis his advice is actionable for absolute beginners as well as longtime meditators.
If you scroll down the page the link takes you to on 10% Happier website you will also find a 10 minute meditation led by Joseph Goldstein titled 'Calm in Big Transitions'
We hope that clip made you smile. Funny as that clip is, cultivating a funny walk actually takes a lot of awareness and can be an interesting way to play with mindful movement - working with balance, remaining present in the body, noticing the emotions that arise rather than being caught within them , and then awareness of the breath within the movement to name but a few dimensions to bring awareness to.
Mindful walking offers us an opportunity to drop in to the body and practice throughout the day. We are not suggesting you audition for the Ministry of Silly Walks to achieve this, although you are more than welcome to add in a few moves…. In this practice one of our local NHS mindfulness therapists leads us through a gentle mindful walking practice, which can be found on this app within Guided Practices: Getting Started.
Have you ever been in the company of others, but still felt isolated and disconnected? Feeling connected can arise from how we relate to ourself and others, rather than how many people we are in a room with.
The environment/context we live in can influence this. Sometimes we find we have built a hard shell to try to protect ourself. The idea of softening this 'shell' we have developed may trigger feelings of vulnerability to arise. These feelings are universal aspects of being human.
It can be helpful to pause and explore this, to become aware of what patterns you are cultivating within your relationships. If we cleared some of the weeds and uncovered a sense of connection to ourself and others, what would this feel like? Would an awareness of what it feels like support us to begin to make decisions about how we might cultivate this in our relationships in a way that is helpful ? This loving kindness practice from Palouse Mindfulness offers us a chance to begin to explore this.
I have a feeling that
my boat has struck, down there in the depths,
against a great thing.
... Nothing happens? Or has everything happened,
and are we standing now, quietly, in the new life?
Juan Ramon Jimenez, Translated by Robert Bly
Do we associate strength with love , or do we perceive love as something soft and weak? Why might someone choose to connect with qualities associated with water if they want to summon a sense of strength and power when they feel surrounded by hate? Sharon Salzberg is well known internationally for her work on loving kindness and compassion. In this article she shares her thoughts on why our interconnectedness is our greatest strength. She also offers a short guided meditation for gathering your energy.
What is the size of your heart in this moment?
Just this. Just this.
From daily sessions :
Cultivating Mindfulness in this Critical Moment, Jon Kabat- Zinn, 2020.
'The COVID- 19 pandemic has spread around the globe like a storm affecting everyone in its path. Some have called it a "big pause". In one survey during the pandemic the vast majority of people said they did not want their lives to return to how they were before the pandemic. Many people are wondering what their lives will be like. Many want to see positive changes in their lives and in the world.
Mindfulness has the potential to support a movement towards greater individual and collective well-being. Many mindfulness practices have been part of peoples lives for thousands of years. Now the science of mindfulness is coming of age . This confluence of practices that are thousands of years old with modern psychological science is both creative and practical. It can help us make sense of the challenges we're facing. It can help us respond to them with greater wisdom and compassion. More than this , it can help us to both imagine and create the kind of 'new normal' we'd like to see.' Oxford Mindfulness Centre
The Oxford Mindfulness Centre is offering thought provoking monthly free online Mindfulness sessions, which include practices within them. Previous sessions have been recorded and are available.
'The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention. And especially if it's given from the heart. When people are talking, there's no need to do anything but receive them. Just take them in. Listen to what they're saying. Care about it. Most times caring about it is even more important than understanding it. Most of us don't value ourselves or our love enough to know this. It has taken me a long time to believe in the power of simply saying, "I'm so sorry," when someone is in pain. And meaning it.
One of my patients told me that when she tried to tell her story people often interrupted her to tell her that they once had something just like that happen to them. Subtly her pain became a story about themselves. Eventually she stopped talking to most people. It was just too lonely. We connect through listening. When we interrupt what someone is saying to let them know that we understand, we move the focus of attention to ourselves. ........Now I just listen. When they have cried all they need to cry, they find me there with them. Rachel Naomi Remen
Notice what happens when you listen to people? Can we bring a similar quality of awareness to listening as we do within a mindfulness sitting practice? Can listening to someone speaking become a mindfulness practice? What happens when we are present with someone in this way?
‘None of us is free until all of us are free’.
Connectedness and a mindful response to racial violence.
Why do we practice mindfulness? Not simply to get better at mindfulness, but perhaps to develop wiser and more helpful ways of responding difficulties that arise, both internal and external. The formal practices of mindfulness are important, they support us to build our skill, like going to the gym, or building in specific training to develop and maintain a level of fitness. That ’fitness’ doesn’t disappear once we leave the gym, we feel it in other activities we partake in. As Jon Kabat-Zinn often notes, the real practice is your life. We miss a critical element of mindfulness if it stays ‘on the mat’. The integration of informal practices during the initial 8 week course encourages us to begin to explore and bring mindfulness in to our day to day life, how we connect and respond to the world we live in.
Recent events, and the reactions being played out across the US and the world since, can bring up many difficult thoughts and emotions. Racism, injustice and inequalities in society can fill us with feelings of guilt, despair and hopelessness. Mindfulness can’t fix social injustice, but perhaps it can help us to become aware of where our attention is drawn to, unconscious bias and the narratives that attach to this. Maybe through this process help us to confront and respond to these issues with honesty and clarity.
In episode 252 of the 10% Happier podcast, “You Can't Meditate This Away" (Race, Rage, and the Responsibilities of Meditators), presenter Dan Harris speaks to meditation teacher Sebene Selassie about mindful responses to questions of race and racism.
'One's radius both contracts and expands. that is to say , while the circumference of miles at one's disposal is halved, their content is more than doubled. For the quiet pace is like a magnifying glass; regions one has before passed over as familiar suddenly enlarge with innumerable new details and become a feast of contemplation... We found we had been living in an undiscovered country... One can only take one bite of life, whether one nibble at every land or explore thoroughly a single parish.'
Above, Adrian Bell writes in the 1930s about traveling without a car after it had broken down and he and his wife travelled using a pony and trap. They decided once it was fixed to not go back to using their car so much and continue the slower pace of a pony and trap. To people who said , 'yes, but one looses such a lot of time getting from place to place, they answered, how could that time be lost which was enjoyed'.
Lockdown has brought many changes for most of us. Has the ‘circumference of miles ‘ at your disposal changed? How has that influenced your relationship with your environment, with other people, your relationship with yourself? What have you noticed during this time of enforced slowing down? Is there anything you might want to cultivate and take forward as lockdown begins to change and our ‘circumference ‘ of miles and opportunities to engage with the busyness of life opens up?
'When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe'
John Muir 1911
Connecting through walking
Can we bring a playful beginners mind to walking? What happens when we do this?
This practice can be done when walking outside or inside your house, your back yard, or even informally when you need to travel from point A to B.
Our minds will wander off during this practice and get stuck on something. When we notice we have drifted we have an opportunity to become aware of what has happened, accepting this and gently guiding our attention and bringing our awareness to our chosen focus. Can we nurture an intent to do this over and over again with a kind acceptance this is just part of being human?
Here are some suggestions if you would like to explore this practice, however, only use what you find helpful.
If you are walking inside your house decide a pathway, maybe the length of your hallway, or back and forth across the width of your living room, or bedroom, maybe there is a park near, or you have a garden, you could do this while walking to somewhere, or on your hours exercise during lockdown. If you are outside, be aware of the wider space you are in.
Notice how the pattern of sensations on the soles of the feet alters with the lifting and placing of each step, how does this change if we alter our pace? After a while, try expanding awareness into the whole of the body, noticing how the body is responding to walking and movement. If we play with the pace of walking is there any change in the breath, or sense of energy.
After a while, try opening awareness to sound, even if inside a building. Allowing the sounds to come into our awareness, exploring the rhythms and tones, hearing the orchestra of life around us tuning up,
Is it possible to notice smells? Don’t try too hard or reach for this, just see if you can be open to anything that touches your scent receptors.
Try moving the spotlight of awareness to sight, what shapes and textures , colours and movement is present?
When ready, guiding awareness into the body, what do you feel? Physical sensations. What do you sense within your emotions, feeling tone? Where is the mind wandering to? What happens in the body when it wanders there?
Coming back to the sensations in the soles of the feet, rest with these for a little while and then, expanding and connecting with physical sensations in the body, sound, scent, visual environment as feels appropriate.
Updated on the 17-05-2020
Feeling isolated? Here is a practice led by Bob Stahl to encourage a deeper sense of connection.
'A human being is part of the whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest - a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty' Albert EInstein 1972
Updated on the 11-05-2020
What happens to the mind if you sit in solitude and do nothing for 24 hours? Mark O’Connell describes his experience of a ‘solo retreat’ in a forest, a 24 hour period spent in isolation with nothing to distract him but nature and his thoughts. Although this article (Read here, or listen as a podcast) isn’t about mindfulness as such, it touches on themes familiar to mindfulness practitioners: the rich inner life of the mind that sometimes reveals itself unexpectedly when we move from ‘doing’ to ‘being’; our uneasy relationship to the passage of time; and our connectedness to the external world - nature, people, even cherished objects. The article was written before the Covid-19 lockdown, but perhaps it resonates with what many are going through right now. Sometimes enforced isolation and removal from the habitual flow of everyday life can create a space through which we catch occasional glimpses of a rich way of experiencing the world which although always available to us, is usually hidden .
Whether you are in an urban or rural area, is there a way you could cultivate this at the moment? What can you see from your window? Are there birds playing in the air, singing to each other, or foraging for food? What shapes and textures are the clouds, how does the sky change during sunrise and sunset? Can you open up to hear the rhythms and textures of the sounds of life flowing around you?
‘Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting – over and over announcing your place in the family of things.’
From Mary Oliver’s poem: ‘Wild Geese’