Warm winter greetings to you all. With Xmas just over a week away how many of us are slowing down to take in what should be a restful time of year? It's the crazy season when we find ourselves in busy busy mode - striving with endless' to do' lists & generally rushing about to get ready for the holidays.
After falling over & breaking a bone in my foot last week (!) I have been forced to physically slow down which has been challenging, mentally frustrating & painful. However, I am starting to notice that if I ''let go' of the thoughts & emotions attached to my 'doing' mode of mind it starts to feel more spacious & liberating..... We can all feel overwhelmed & frazzled at this time of year but by taking time to pause & offer kindness to ourselves it can make a real difference in our resilience to dealing with everyday stresses.
With this in mind, here are some tips for us all (myself included!) to have a mindful little Christmas.
'Slow down, engage your senses, take a breath & be kind'
1. Being in nature - taking quiet walks in the fresh air cultivates mindfulness naturally.
2. Slow down - make sure you have some quiet time to 'just be'. It's wonderful to try & see all your friends, but not quality time if you are trying to squeeze them all in, especially if you have already scheduled a busy day. Saying no can be very nourishing!
3. Engage your senses - notice everyday mindful moments, whether its the cold air against your skin or the taste, smell, texture of the food you prepare & eat.
'By savouring our food & eating mindfully you have a taste of mindfulness....a state of awareness that comes from being present'. Thich Nhat Hanh
4. Xmas does not have to be perfect! In fact the more impromptu moments are often the best to soak up & enjoy. It doesn't matter if you did not buy that one present or ice the Xmas cake. Start to 'let go' of those 'doing' thoughts of perfection & set some boundaries as to what you can do & stick to it.
5. Use your breath - to ground & guide you in moments of stress. Holding you hand over your belly, close your eyes if you wish & notice your breath going in & out. This simple breath awareness exercise naturally lowers the stress hormones in your body.
6. Be grateful - Xmas is not an easy time of year for many people. Gratitude can lead to feelings of love, appreciation & compassion & it can also help with low moods. Notice the small things; it could be receiving that card from an old friend, or enjoying a cup of tea that has been made for you. Make a gratitude jar & ask each family member to write a note to say what they are grateful for. Read them out during a family gathering. It's a wonderful way to engage heartfelt responses from everyone.
7. Be mindful in your conversations with friends or loved ones. Notice their faces & tune into their voices as you practice some mindful listening. If conversations are challenging: STOP
Take a Pause - Observe & then Proceed before speaking.
8. The best gift we can give ourselves is self-kindness. Responding with kindness when we or others are suffering is the foundation for all emotional healing. Don't be hard on yourself if things don't go to plan this Xmas. It's important to focus on the experiences you do enjoy, & not the things that do not get done.
Mindfulness gives you time. Time gives you choices. Choices, skilfully made, lead to freedom. You don’t have to be swept away by your feeling. You can respond with wisdom & kindness rather than habit & reactivity.' Bhante Gunaratana
Baby Mindful News –
If you missed out on classes this year or are expecting a baby next year, Baby Mindful at the Orleans Art Gallery in Twickenham will be back in the Spring for more creative, mindful parenting sessions. Suitable for new borns & pre crawlers. Look out for the next 4 week block of classes on Monday mornings in 2019. For more info visit Orleans House Gallery
' It gave me moments of calm away from my daily stresses & helped with being a new mum'
'I enjoyed the me time & loved the mindful movement classes!"
Teaching News -
Congratulations to this term's MBSR participants having just completed their 8 week course at the ZH Pilates Pavilion in Esher. This Mindful Based Stress Reduction course includes weekly evening classes of breathwork, movement & group reflection - culminating in a silent retreat day for participants to deepen their meditation practice.
'I learnt more than I ever imagined... I looked forward to Tuesday nights more than I ever imagined. I grew into the 8 week course & its aims with each passing week.... I went with an open mind & left with a mind more firmly in the present' (MBSR Participant, 2018)
NEW CLASSES - start in Esher on Tues evenings from the 5th February until 2nd April 2019, with a Taster class on Tue 22nd January at 7.30pm for the next 8 week MBSR Course.
I am also delighted to be teaching at the Complementary Health Partnership in Claygate next year offering a beginners Mindfulness for Health Course & 1:1 client sessions.
Neuroscience research has shown that mindfulness can help reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression & other health conditions, including physical pain.
Come & try some practices at the next taster session in Claygate on Thurs 24th January at 7.30pm. You can book online for any of the above taster sessions by visiting the bookings page of the website. Spaces are limited so do book early to avoid disappointment. If you would like to know more about the MBSR, Mindfulness for Health courses or 1:1 sessions please get in touch via email.
REFRESHER CLASSES -It's great to see so many of you at the Sunday top up classes this term. This month we welcomed guest nutritionist Belinda Blake from Fabulous Foods who came to talk to us about 'foods for our moods'. We practiced some mindful eating, breathwork & movement & learnt about the healing properties of herbal teas & how some foods can really support our digestive health & wellbeing.
The refresher sessions are designed for those with a regular meditation/yoga practice & or have completed a mindfulness course before. Book your space online for the next class on Sunday 13th January . This session will include some creative practices as we welcome in the New Year.
Buy a Pause Candle -
Take a look at these beautiful scented tuberose candles made by Under the Rose. Engraved with a 'Pause' mantra it makes a great mindful gift for yourself & others. Proceeds from the sale of these candles will go towards funding a bursary place on an 8 week course next year. You can order your candle & pay online Here for local collection, or email direct for postal deliveries.
Quote reads: 'Mindfulness teaches us to pace ourselves, you just have to practice the pause' SamMantra
I look forward to welcoming you at one of my classes next year - with my foot rested, healed & firmly back on the ground!
May you be Healthy,
May you be Happy
& May you be at Peace.
Photo: Seville, Oct 2018
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