Hello from Me.

Hi everyone, just me.


My replacement Karen Gibb from Mind Marvels will be starting with you all from next week at selected NL Leisure venues. She is awesome…just saying….


Say hello to Karen, I know you will all enjoy your future sessions with her. Karen is the founder of Mind Marvels, is a fully qualified teacher experienced in working with young people with trauma and additional support needs. Mind Marvels support young people’s emotional health and wellbeing with calming strategies and practical tools. Our sessions are based on the NHS 5 Steps to Mental Wellbeing: learn, move, connect, mindful and be kind. Karen has a keen interest in mindfulness, having first discovered it around five years ago now. The course that changed Karen’s life was the Mindful Self Compassion course. The ability to find inner calm meant a complete career change for Karen and she now looks forward to supporting others to find their inner calm too.


Please contact your local centres, to book in. Spaces will be limited to begin with. I wish all to be well, happy and safe.

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Free Mindfulness Session Update

Hi Everyone, I have been a furloughed, but busy practitioner lately and hope to devote more time to adding more content for all you fellow meditators out there.

I have been offering careers guidance and counselling on a one-to-one basis and for all ages remotely and its going in the right direction . Watch this space, hopefully more to come.

I just wanted to announce that I will continue to deliver a free mindfulness session each sunday evening at 7:30pm until the 2nd August 2020.

After this date, I hope to bring our NL Leisure day time classes back soon once the appropriate measures are in place for your safety. We will run retreats later in the year to.

Our shop back will be back on line to and will begin to charge a reasonable fee to allow our work together to continue. Will keep you all posted.

How to join the free session:

Download the zoom app for cloud meetings from the apple App Store or via google play for android.

Enter the following meeting details:

Meeting ID: 859 3597 9881
Password: 219662

I have also included an Outlook calendar file, just click here to download .

I am extremely grateful your continued support. Hope to see you all face-to-face soon.

Kind Regards

David

How to zoom mindfully

Join us online for regular mindfulness practice group sessions hosted by Zoom. Getting started is easy and the participation fee is minimum – with all profits during lockdown going to charity.  

What happens 

We practice mindful meditations and exercises in small, supportive group sessions. These meditation sessions are open to any age, ability and current stress levels. You are in your own home so meditations can be personal and you have all the benefit from having others with you if you choose. 

We share:  

  • guided mindfulness meditations and exercises led by a qualified mindfulness practitioner 
  • practice reflection at the end, if you choose to – and that’s it. 

If you think zoom mindfulness might be for you, but you’re not sure of are having difficulty signing up, get in touch or a leave a comment below. 

Getting the most from mindfulness with zoom 

  • Create an account – they’re free and it lets you adjust your settings just the way you want them.
  • Let others in the house know that you’re meditating and you’d prefer not to be disturbed.
  • Try not to worry if you are disturbed – these are difficult times and not everything is going to be perfect 
  • Mute your mic and turn off your camera when practice begins, that way you can be confident that you won’t disturb anyone else and you can give the practice your full attention 
  • Turn your camera and mic back on at the end of practice and join us for reflection and a general check-in – we’re here to help each other. 

Free Guided Online Session 10/05/2020 7:30 pm

Hi everyone, just a wee update from me on this fine friday.
Collectively we raised £82.35 for SAMH. Thank you all for attending the classes during lockdown and helping make this happen.


Join me for an hour of free guided meditation and relaxation exercises here this Sunday evening at 7:30pm. Boosting and developing your mental well being and happiness.

Free Sunday Evening

ISunday evening practice hope you are all staying happy, safe and well during these times. Due to furloughing, we can no longer trade. But I just wanted to let you all know about our free Sunday sessions running each week.

They will begin this Sunday at 7:30pm GMT, just click here to join.

100 spaces available, look forward to hearing/seeing you online soon.

Coronavirus Update

Hi everyone,

As it stands please follow the government guidelines about reducing social contact.

It is anticipated that we will reduce the classes as required over the next couple of weeks but NL leisure will honour any time that members have on their passes at any stage that they choose to return. Once the over 70’s and long-term conditions guidance is activated by the government in whatever form this takes it is likely that the specialist health classes will close down all together as a measure to protect our vulnerable populations.

The decision to attend future classes must very much be yours in whether or not you attend over the next few weeks.

I would also make sure that you if are using equipment you wipe it down before you start. There will be additional blue roll and spray cleaners in the studios.

The venues are open at present but again we do not know if this will change and how quickly this may happen so the rest of the programmes will run as normal.

https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/

Our up and coming morning retreat is due on Saturday 21st from 10am to 12pm as planned. I will keep you all posted if this is likely to change at any point later in the week.

I am also considering an online web conference version to allow us to deliver to you all from the comfort of your own home.

Please look after yourself and stay safe

Cultivating Gratitude

Cultivating gratitude is one area of mindfulness, that some people, including myself, can find difficult. The formal practice that helps us to develop our sense of gratitude is often called “metta bhavana” or “loving kindness”. In the beginning, I used the practice very rarely. It’s now one of my favourites and I want to share it with you so you can try it too. Let me know what you think.

As I progressed with my practice, I began to realise that Loving Kindness very quickly complimented my other formal meditations. I became more aware of my self-judgements and just how strong my emotions could be when faced with situations that required a little more self-love or love for others.

With further reading and practice, I can now recommend the loving-kindness meditation as a fantastic way to cultivate gratitude and positivity.

It has helped me consider more challenging thoughts in a different light and also appreciate external challenges more.

In essence, practising loving-kindness and cultivating gratitude teaches us something about ourselves. As we become more aware of our responses to stress and challenge, we can learn to mentally distance ourselves, developing more clarity and positivism.

Why cultivate gratitude?

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The meditation for cultivating gratitude is called metta bhavana or loving kindness.

I’m going to explain more about how gratitude can help you in your daily practice and how you can trigger gratitude with some pretty simple and enjoyable techniques.

First, here are three reasons why you should introduce Metta Bhavana to your life.

#1 It increases positive emotions

If you’re looking to boost your happiness and well-being, loving-kindness meditation could be just the practice for you.

Practising Loving Kindness Meditation regularly can increase multiple positive emotions including love, joy, contentment, gratitude, pride, hope, interest, amusement, and awe.

These positive emotions can have a ripple effect on those practising the meditation. This also extends to those we bring to mind during the meditation. I found, that by simply seeing all of our connections as human beings, I began to make even the most challenging of people less problematic. This greatly reduced my stress response towards them.

#2 It quiets your inner critic

We all have our internal critic and near-constant chatter that goes on inside our minds. This is such a common behaviour and one we can manage. For many of us, this voice inside our heads can be very highly charged and influential upon our actions and emotions. By taking time to bring positive affirmation and loving kindness to ourselves often, this inner voice eventually looses power and no longer becomes our focus.

Beyond reducing self-criticism we can experience improvements in self-compassion and positive emotions. We can learn to be more empathetic to others and less judgemental of ourselves.

#3 It can increase your capacity for empathy

Regularly practising Loving Kindness Meditation has been shown to activate and strengthen areas of the brain responsible for empathy. One of the most important benefits of empathy is that it improves relationships. Increased empathy can also lead to more compassionate action and a greater sense of altruism.

My loving-kindness practice

Here are the steps I recommend to anyone who wants to cultivate gratitude in their lives through mindfulness meditation. I have been working with my amazing group of mindful practitioners on loving-kindness this month. You will find my guided Metta Bhavana at the bottom of this page and I’ll be posting about the shared experiences of the group in time.

Step 1 Acknowledge Your Worthiness

One of the reasons we tend to lean away from positivity, instead of leaning into it, is that we struggle with our worthiness. Do we deserve joy? The answer is yes.

You are a human being and you are worthy of feeling joy.

Find space in your day or week to remind yourself that you are enough. That you are unique and special. Put a reminder on your phone, leave yourself a note on the fridge or make it part of your morning or evening routines. But tell yourself daily that you are enough and you are worthy of happiness.

Step 2 Stop the comparison game

We can be happy for the successes of others without belittling our own. It’s important to realize that we only see the best of other people’s daily lives, we know our own daily struggles much more intimately. So it’s never a fair comparison.

Step 3 Diarise your gratitude

Writing down what you are grateful for can help to remind you of all the blessings in your life that you may take for granted. Including awareness of everyday successes or blessings in your daily journal will naturally change how you start to value these experiences.

My wife started the “thankful” jar a couple of years ago. We fill it as the year goes on. Taking a piece of paper and just writing down what we are thankful for in that moment.

At the end of each year, we open it and begin making our way through these amazing moments, deepening our connection and gratitude for each other.

Step 4 Write a thank you note

Birthdays and weddings aside, when was the last time you took time out to say thank you. It doesn’t need to be a card. A text, a note on a colleague’s desk, telling people that we appreciate them makes the person receiving the note feel good – and we get to experience those feelings of gratitude too.

Step 5 Practice Metta Bhavana

When you cultivate gratitude, you’re able to feel true happiness and contentment. Through practising the Metta Bhavana or Loving Kindness meditation, we touch the sense of shared humanity in all living beings. We’re tapping into a fundamental shared desire. We all want to be happy.

May you be well, may you be happy, and may you free from suffering

Mindfulness in 2020 | My top 10 resolutions for a mindful new year

The lovely paté and brie glow I seem to have acquired over Christmas is now slowly fading; along with late-starts in the morning and the abundance of tiny chocolate treats throughout the day. 2020 has arrived and is desperate for our attention. So, in this brief but welcomed first weekend in January, I find myself making plans for the year ahead. Here are my observations – those things I have decided I want with me as I leap bravely into this new decade. 

I’ve called my want list ‘resolutions’ because it seems the right thing to do. But they are simply the hopes that inspire me most, I hope they make you feel good too.

#1 Retreats, more and more mindful retreats 

Outside of mindful retreat venue
Mindful morning retreats held at the Xavier Centre, Carfin.

I ran my very first series of mindful morning retreats in 2019, the last of which was on the 18th of December, just as the holiday period approached. To bring together a group of people who want to practice meditation in a shared space, sometimes indoors, sometimes outdoors, is really what Mindfulness Practice is all about for me. I want to continue these for as long as I can and the first of these is already setup for you. If you want to come along, book here

#2 Public speaking and big group mindfulness 

Presenting at the Practical Mindset event in Hamilton last year.

On a slightly larger scale, I had the opportunity to lead a mindful practice session with a group of 50 delegates at the Practical Mindset event last year. It took place during our beautiful long summer in the picturesque setting of Chatelherault Country Park. I got so much from the event, the chance to share my thoughts on mindfulness practice and its place in the development of mental health services, self-care and recovery. I’m looking forward to more of this in 2020, starting with a mindful workshop at the Career Development Institute’s conference in Glasgow this month. I know I have much to contribute in this area as the coordinator of the Coalition of Schools Educating Mindfully COSEM in Scotland

#3 Greater access to MBSR CPD training

I want to find more ways to bring certified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction MBSR training to those who are practising with me on a regular basis. It sounds like a lot, but it’s really not, and if you work in health or social care, gaining the MBSR CPD credits is definitely worthwhile. If I’m already talking you round (well that was easy) let me tell you more about it right here

#4 More audio meditations for your convenience 

Free audio recordings of mindfulness meditations for you to follow at home.

Guided meditation is such a luxury when you’ve had a difficult day or your morning feels a little less glorious than you would like. Your feedback on the audio available from my site has been really positive and all of that positivity simply makes me want to do more. 

#5 Help those working with vulnerable young people 

I gained some experience last year that I am so very grateful for, as I got to work directly with young people. These clients were looking not only for mental health support but for some careers guidance and coaching too. It really was an ideal job, and I got so much out of it, it will be difficult to top this year. I did, however, get a very real insight into just how demanding that kind of work can be and as a result, I have increased respect and admiration for those of you who work directly with children, young people and those with additional support needs on a daily basis. I’ll be bidding for contracts across the country specifically looking to support staff in these areas with their everyday stressors. 

#6 Work the circuits 

Apologies, that was an attempt at a gym reference, only I don’t really do anything at the gym *except meditate, so probably messed it up a little. So, my contract with NL Leisure is up for review. I would love to offer a one-hour weekly mindfulness meditation class in every gym in the country, but it’s just not that straight forward. I’ll be spending more time this year talking to wellbeing and procurement professionals in gyms in your local area to find ways of bringing weekly mindful meditation classes to our gyms. If you live in North Lanarkshire you can sign up to weekly mindful meditation classes right here.

#7 More reading recommendations 

One thing I know I’ll never tire of is reading, and reading about mindfulness practice is my passion. I’m looking forward to sharing with you more of the pieces that I recommend for your bookshelf, kindle or just a quick excerpt here and there for you to read on the train. 

#8 Managing my anxiety and depression  

Mindfulness meditation is now the number one recommended therapy for the treatment of depression according to NICE. And I can vouch for its success. I suffer from depression and anxiety. While recovering from a prolonged period of depression in 2010, I discovered mindfulness meditation and began using it, along with many other forms of support, to aid my recovery. Mindfulness meditation continues to be a daily source of happiness and mental strength for me, during good and bad days. I will continue to share some of my own personal experience of recovery and I would love to hear more about your experiences too. 

#9 New materials fit for a new decade 

It’s with great pleasure that we are working again with the fabulous graphic designer Suzie Black. She’s helped build the Mindfulness Practice brand and we’re delighted to be in cahoots with her on some new materials for the events ahead – watch this space. 

#10 More family time, of course 

My number one priority, Therese and little Milo are getting more involved with Mindfulness Practice this year. Expect to see them at events and you may even hear from Therese sometimes on our social and web content. With their continued support and encouragement, I know I can embrace everything this year has to offer with acceptance and joy. 

That’s all from me, I wish you all a very happy and healthy year ahead and leave you with these beautiful words from a very moving poem by the renowned poet Mary Oliver.

The stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, 
and there was a new voice 
which you slowly 
recognized as your own, 
that kept you company 
as you strode deeper and deeper 
into the world, 
determined to do 
the only thing you could do- 
determined to save 
the only life you could save. 

from the poem The Journey by Mary Oliver

Stress

We all know this word very well with the modern demands that continuously chap at our doors. I want to talk about it today, reflecting on my own journey with stress, but also sharing some insights, revelations and my appreciation for stress….YES…i did say appreciation.

We all experiences stress, from the minute we wake up and I strongly believe that we see stress as the enemy, the overwhelming companion. At times, we find that we feel that we just struggle, with the emotional rollercoaster, the tension and the thoughts associated with stress. Some of us will be very aware of adrenaline and cortisol.

Firstly cortisol, we need it, it wakes us up, keeps us going.

Think of cortisol as nature’s built-in alarm system. It’s your body’s main stress hormone. It works with certain parts of your brain to control your mood, motivation, and fear.

Your adrenal glands — triangle-shaped organs at the top of your kidneys — make cortisol.

It’s best known for helping fuel your body’s “fight-or-flight” instinct in a crisis, but cortisol plays an important role in a number of things your body does. For example, it:

  • Manages how your body uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
  • Keeps inflammation down
  • Regulates your blood pressure
  • Increases your blood sugar (glucose)
  • Controls your sleep/wake cycle
  • Boosts energy so you can handle stress and restores balance afterward

How Does It Work?

Your hypothalamus and pituitary gland — both located in your brain — can sense if your blood contains the right level of cortisol. If the level is too low, your brain adjusts the amount of hormones it makes. Your adrenal glands pick up on these signals. Then, they fine-tune the amount of cortisol they release.

Cortisol receptors — which are in most cells in your body — receive and use the hormone in different ways. Your needs will differ from day to day. For instance, when your body is on high alert, cortisol can alter or shut down functions that get in the way. These might include your digestive or reproductive systems, your immune system, or even your growth processes. So is it really one of the bad guys?? This remains a debate for some of us.

What about adrenaline?

When a stressful situation occurs and your heart begins to race, your hands begin to sweat, and you start looking for an escape, you have experienced a textbook case of fight-or-flight response. This response stems from the hormone adrenaline. Also called epinephrine, this hormone is a crucial part of the body’s fight-or-flight response, but over-exposure can be damaging to health. Because of this, adrenaline is a hormone worth understanding.

Adrenaline is produced in the medulla in the adrenal glands as well as some of the central nervous system’s neurons. Within a couple of minutes during a stressful situation, adrenaline is quickly released into the blood, sending impulses to organs to create a specific response.

What is the function of adrenaline?

Adrenaline triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response. This reaction causes air passages to dilate to provide the muscles with the oxygen they need to either fight danger or flee. Adrenaline also triggers the blood vessels to contract to re-direct blood toward major muscle groups, including the heart and lungs. The body’s ability to feel pain also decreases as a result of adrenaline, which is why you can continue running from or fighting danger even when injured. Adrenaline causes a noticeable increase in strength and performance, as well as heightened awareness, in stressful times. After the stress has subsided, adrenaline’s effect can last for up to an hour.

Problems associated with adrenaline

Adrenaline is an important part of your body’s ability to survive, but sometimes the body will release the hormone when it is under stress but not facing real danger. This can create feelings of dizziness, light-headedness, and vision changes. Also, adrenaline causes a release of glucose, which a fight-or-flight response would use. When no danger is present, that extra energy has no use, and this can leave the person feeling restless and irritable. Excessively high levels of the hormone due to stress without real danger can cause heart damage, insomnia, and a jittery, nervous feeling.

Where does mindfulness fit it in all this?

As we become skilled with mindfulness, we bring our awareness, to the body, our breathing, but most importantly in my opinion, our thoughts

As we begin to take on our demands, Before mindfulness I personally, started to fear them, underestimating my ability to cope, producing negative self talk, empowering my stress response and ultimately feeding the process.

As a result of mindfulness, I began noticing that I was getting caught up with my stream of thoughts, processing them, producing the powerful emotions and reactions. With practiced mindfulness. I recognise stress beginning, some times in the body but more often so, in the process of my own thinking.

Today, I become aware of my thoughts at meta level, observing them, using my breathing or body as my anchor and moving on. Sometimes, I even miss the thoughts and notice tension beginning in areas of my body, so mitigate this. I have developed a trap, per say, at each stress hurdle. Overall, I still feel stress, its byproducts, but more so, I am aware of this natural process. With mindfulness I have been able to reduce my response, improve my emotional reasoning and ultimately appreciate stress. It acts as my cue, to stop in that moment and just let things be and bring my focus else where.

Through training, non-judgement and patience, I now appreciate stress. Is lets me know so much more about who I am and when its time to find acceptance and calm, through technique.

I recommend practicing Progressive Muscle Relaxation Daily, up to 3 times in the beginning, to become aware of the tension in the body, but also to build the skill of relaxation. It took me 3 months to get there, but I proved this was possible. I also bring awareness to the breath each time my mind gets caught up with thoughts, worrys and preoccupations. With practice, mindfulness can have a profound affect with the stress response, and one day, maybe you will appreciate these natural processes to. Relaxation and healthy well-being are skills, make time for yourself, to just simply be and see what unfolds for you.