Hello from Inverurie

Hi everyone, just me.

I hope all of you are doing very well and trying to let go of the year that has passed. It has been a very challenging year for all of us and we have all been affected by this very different way of living.

I have moved and sold and set up a new life in Inverurie, in the north of Scotland and its a wonderful and very happy place for us all. I do continue to practice and have ran a pilot led class for the locals and it was well received.

I now follow my passion for helping those in need and practice as a careers adviser, but mindfulness plays a big part in this to.

I hope that you all continue to value some of the free content I have available. I hope to spend time producing more and may offer more on line classes later in the year.

In the meantime, look after you and practice as often as you can. Its a wonderful rewarding skill to develop.

All the best for now

David

7 quick meditations for busy lives

Start here if you are new to mindfulness or looking for some quick meditation ideas. Know that your focus on self-care and mental wellbeing is just as important as looking after your physical well-being. Next time you are counting steps or logging meals, take a minute to breathe in. And breathe out. And ease down into relaxation.

Becoming aware of your thoughts

I found that relaxation was something I had to learn. And for me, that started with noticing when tension would first appear. The following quick meditations are designed around the points in the day when a 60-second grounding technique can go unnoticed. Once you start to feel the benefits of relaxation you become aware of when you need it most. These quick stress management exercises can fit into your day and there is no equipment needed.

Busy mums and dads. Back to back meetings. Wrong side of the bed. Don’t let a bad day get the better of you. A common technique I have adopted from the practice of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT is to break your day up into thirds. This can help you gain control after an awful morning, restart your evening and find lots of little opportunities for quick mediations.

Morning meditations

These are two different meditations both perfect for busy mornings. Both can be practiced in the shower or simply while washing your face. The idea is to observe your mega morning thoughts; the ones that make you feel like you have lived an entire day before even leaving the house, sometimes before leaving the bed. By listening to your thoughts you become an observer. The aim is not to control them; just to listen and let go.

Mindful Cleansing

In the shower, or standing at the wash hand basin, let the water start to flow and try to tune into the sound it makes as it rushes from the faucet or showerhead. Notice the change in pitch as the water hits your skin and the ceramic bath or sink. Let your morning brain activate; we are natural thinkers so it’s perfectly normal for your mind to present all of the day’s potential problems to you as you listen to the water’s changing pitch and speed.

Be kind to yourself; acknowledge your thoughts and notice when this happens. Take care to inhale and on the exhale, bring your mind back to the sound of the water; rushing from the shower head; changing tone and pace as it completes it short journey down the plughole. Take three slow cleansing breaths and turn the water off.

Well done; have a great day!

Mindful Drying

This is a really simple but effective practice. It takes no longer than the time it takes to dry yourself after a shower or in the few minutes sitting on the bed before you start to get dressed. It incorporates some self-massage techniques into your routine that I promise you will continue to use because this is a fantastically easy way to practice self-care.

As well as providing a great start to your day, this type of mindful practice is also perfect post-workout or post-workday when your body might be carrying tension and stress.

Using your own hand, begin by massaging your neck from the center to your ear and from center to your shoulder switching hands to cover both sides of your neck and both shoulders.

Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Inhale and exhale. Now move to the arm, working down one arm from the shoulder to the elbow, wrist, palm of your hand and fingers. Now massage the second arm, acknowledging the thoughts that enter and leave and using the out breath to come back to the body and the sensations you feel.

Feel any tension leave that part of your body as you exhale and notice any feelings of satisfaction or gratitude as you ease down into relaxation.

It is only natural that your thoughts return to the activities and challenges that today brought. Be mindful of these thoughts; notice and listen, but each time you move to another part of the body try to refocus on that massaging sensation and what is feels like. Feel any tension in the arms and hands, legs and feet and of course shoulders. Gently massage, one hand at a time, feeling the warmth the movement brings.

When you’re ready to open your eyes, take three deep breaths. Breath slowly and fill your stomach. Hold the breath and exhale slowly.

Well done. You listened to your thoughts but didn’t let them control you. This time was all yours and you gave yourself some self-care in the form of a mindful massage.

Mindful Eating

This has to be one of my favourites. But first let us cast the image of the raisin and our first experience of this practice out of our minds. There is so much to explore with this practice.

As you sit down, notice the sensation of smell and how the food conjures thoughts of the taste and the hunger. Using cereal as an example, pick up the table spoon, feel its temperature in your hand, its smoothness or texture. Notice how the spoon slides effortlessly into the cereal bowl and the noise this makes. Bring the spoon to your mouth and take that first mouthful.

If your mind wanders, notice this and return to the texture and taste of the cereal in your mouth. How your tongue activates those senses of taste and the thoughts associated. Now bring your attention to how that cereal got here, from the packet or box, from the store you bought it from. As you chew, think about how it got delivered to the store, how it was made in the factory, all the way back to the beginning of the wheat or rice being grown. Perhaps even the plants being planted or seeds sown. I find that I get lost in this imagination while eating and it helps ground and calm my mind. Fantastic!

Mindfulness of Touch

Find a comfortable seat at home and remove your shoes/slippers. Just sit in the seat as you would and begin scanning your sense of touch. Perhaps the sensations of your feet touching the floor. Maybe you begin with the back of your head or neck touching the sofa. See where your brain wants to go next, the back touching the sofa, your clothes resting against your shoulders or knees. Perhaps even your socks on your feet. When you notice your thoughts wandering, with kindness and without judgement, bring your focus back to the last sensation of touch. dont try and control the order of the sensing, just let it come automatically. Repeat this for 10 mins. Another self care start to ease the mind and promote awareness of a moment between body and mind.

Awakening the Breathe

Begin this exercise first thing in the morning or perhaps for at lunch. Start by taking in 5 long deep breathes. Controlling the breathing and bring focus to that control. Keep the breathing long and deep, into the chest. Observing the expansion and contraction. Repeat this for 2 minutes. On the emergence of the next out breathe, bring the focus of the breathing down to the stomach, noticing the sensations of the rising and falling stomach. Repeat this for 2 minutes. As the next out breath comes round, place the imagnation on the whole body breathing. As you breathe in the air comes in through the lungs, down into the stomach, legs and feet. As you breathe out, imagine all that air coming out of the feet, back up the legs, up through the stomach and lungs. Repeat for 2 minutes. Now return the focus back to the breathing down to the stomach, repeat for two minutes. Now return to the breathing at the chest for 2 minutes. Taking your time and bring yourself back to where you are, sitting, lying down at home, on the train or even in the office. Enjoy.

Morning Awakening.

As the Alarm awakes you, reset it today for just 10 minutes later. Just today. Take your time. While you lie in bed, notice the warmth and comfort and how it makes you feel. Really take your time. Listen to the birds outside. The kids in the other room. The cars passing in the street. Now bring something positive to the front of you mind. Something positive you will do today. For yourself. Help others? Maybe its that favourite song. Favourite walk. That hot bath. Calling a friend or family member. Helping a colleague.

When you have decided, cast your mind forward to that positive moment. What will it feel like? How will you feel? Smile ( even fake ones work you know). Now let alarm go off and start your day….ahhh…..ready?

Mountain Pose

To start this exercise, find a quiet room at home. Begin by standing feet, hip width apart. Bend the knees slightly, no locked joints please. Pull in your pelvic floor and core. Notice how this strenghts the back and posture. Place both arms by your side palms resting against the side of each leg. Now start by taking in a nice slow deep breathe and at the same time, Raise the arms, allowing the breathe to control the speed, up above the head until the palms meet each other. No breathe out slowly, lowering the arms back down to the legs. See if you can notice the slight pause between the end and beginning of each breathe. Repeat this process for 15 breathes. Enjoy

Mindful Christmas

During the season of goodwill we will notice thoughts, feelings or memories interrupting us and that’s ok. These thoughts may be subtle and fleeting but some maybe of lost loved ones or work stress that very easily takes the edge off your Christmas cheer. When you notice what is happening in your mind, acknowledge it, don’t criticise yourself. Please bring kindness and return your attention to cooking that turkey, wrapping your gifts or standing in line to buy that bargain. Soak up the sounds, the smells, the feelings and let yourself be part of that moment. Its yours after all.

Pay more attention to where you are and what you are doing, even if your mind tries to offer distractions and alternative realities that appear to be more pleasant than your real experience. You’ll soon be in the company of the family, maybe friends or just your own.

So from the time you wake up on this Christmas morning, take time to fully notice the little things, the smells, textures and tastes that really make your Christmas. Each cuddle, each kiss and each gift. Take time to savour it. How do the sweets look in your hand? How does that new jumper feel on? How does the happiness of others make you feel? Notice the effort others have made to give you gifts. Look at the way they are wrapped. How it feels to pull off the paper. Consider that many other people you do not know have made effort to grow, make or transport parts of your present too.

Bring gratitude, kindness and warmth to everyone you have contact with – including yourself. And if things don’t quite go as planned or you are feeling overwhelmed by the celebrations, just take your seat out in the garden and spend a few moments focusing your attention on your breath, for this impermanent feeling will soon be over and you’ll be in another moment, that belongs to you.

Merry Mindful Christmas.

Mindfulness Tip of the Day

Bring Mindfulness to the Gym

Mindfulness does have multiple benefits on our frame of mind and everyday routines so why dont we include it in exercise. Our mental health goes hand in hand with the physical.

Think about all the times you’ve focused on how others look through a workout or how you just wanted the work out by with and done. You’ll find you’re actually too distracted and do not really pay attention to your technique, resulting in a less effective workout or risk of injury.

The mind will naturally drift in and out of thoughts whilst you’re working out. The key to mindfulness is to recognise when this happens and bring yourself back to the body and the moment.

Here’s a few tips to use during workouts.

1. Warm Up

Instead of mindlessly getting through the same routine in no particular set time, start to stretch, noticing the bodily sensations and thoughts that appear. When the mind is given time to wander, return to the area of the body being stretched or warmed up. perhaps think about what you will do in this work out or hope to improve on. Take your time. Your out of the working environment for your company. Your now working for you.

2. Focus on your purpose

If you find yourself thinking about everything you need to do instead of working out, remind yourself that you deserve to take care of yourself, and it’s going to make you feel calmer and relaxed.

3. Enjoy this time, take your foot of the pedal.

You’ve set aside this time to work out so make the most of it. Take the time to appreciate every moment and bodily sensation. You can then work the hardest you possibly can whilst there.

4. Breathe Deeply

It sounds simple, but if you find your mind wandering, take a minute to close your eyes and take a few deep breaths – it’s the quickest way to alleviate stress and set your mind back on the task at hand. When your mind wanders, always return to the breathe and centre yourself. In time you will automatically do this with practice. This increases your focus and the enjoyment and experience of working out

5. Wind Down

Take 10 minutes to stretch, do some belly breathing and do a five minute meditation. Just sit quietly, focus on the in breath for 10 counts and then switch to the out breath for 10, cultivate gratitude to yourself for all the hard work your body’s just done and what you have experienced.

Bring mindfulness with kindness and non-judgement to your work out. After all it’s your downtime.

Explore and enjoy.

Mindfulness Tip Of The Day

Noticing the breathe.

How are you feeling, have you stopped and checked your breathing? Just in this moment?

By observing the breathe, you can influence how you feel. Breathe is the life energy, the vital source our body and mind depends on greatly. When we restrict our breathing we affect our energy levels. When were agitated and stressed we often accompany these with shallow breathing.

Deep breathing really forces us to fully expand our lungs, which in turn will slowly start to reduce our heart rate. So take a moment in your working day, at lunch or at home a get closer to your breathing. Do you push it? Is it deep or shallow? Rough or Smooth?

If you explore the breathe and cultivate some curiousty, you will be more in tune with where you are right now.

Setting this as your baseline, you can really explore the breathe and how energizing it feels. Perhaps even noticing the rise of the shoulders, stomach or chest. Maybe even noticing subtle relaxation on the out breathe.

Explore and enjoy.

Mindfulness Tip of the Day

Hi everyone I think I have just about recovered from a week doing my BASI level 1.   Today I offer up some more great grounding exercises. These can be easily brought to your working day

1.Hold a cold can or bottle of soft drink in your hands, feeling the coldness and the wetness on the side. Notice the taste as you drink.

2.Feel the clothes on your body, whether your arms and legs are covered and the sensation of your clothes as you move in them. Notice how your feet feel encased in shoes and socks.

3.If you are with other people, and you feel comfortable with them, concentrate closely on what they’re doing and saying, and remind yourself why you are with them.

4. If you are sitting, feel the chair under you and the weight of your body and legs pressing onto it. If you’re lying down, feel the contact between your head, your body and your legs on the surface you are on. Notice how each part of your body feels.

Explore and Enjoy

Mindful Tip of the Day

Kids Mindful Breathing

Ask children to sit comfortably and then close their eyes. Draw their attention to their breathing, telling them to feel the sensation of breath coming into and out of the body.

You can have them put their hands on their stomach to feel the gentle rise and fall with each breath, as this will help them keep focused. Alternatively, you may ask them to repeat the word “in” and “out” as they inhale and exhale, or you may say it for them.

Do this for about five breath cycles (five inhales and exhales). At the end of the five breaths, guide their attention to any thoughts and feelings that may be present (and any possible differences in how they feel now compared with how they felt before the practice).

Ask them to then let those thoughts and feelings go as they return their focus to their breath, then repeat the breathing cycle (as many times as feels appropriate).

Mindfulness Tip of The Day

Mindfulness Tip of the Day: Reaction Awareness

Find a comfortable place to sit and allow your eyes to close.Take a few moments to relax and feel your body just resting on the seat or the chair.

We are going to imagine a simple scene in your minds eye of you walking down the street, perhaps a familiar street where you live. Take a few moments to find this street in your mind….

Really get in touch with this place, notice as much as you can about your thoughts, your feelings and your body sensations as you walk down this street.

Now imagine someone you know well as a good friend is walking towards you on the opposite side of the street, someone who you are happy to see; try to picture this in your mind and notice just how you are feeling. Become aware of any thoughts you might have and the body sensations that accompany the image. Now, smile and wave over to your friend; but your friend doesn’t wave back and just walks by. Try to picture this and notice the thoughts that go through your mind. Especially notice any feelings or sensations that arise in your body and if anything has shifted in your awareness. Allow yourself some time for these images to fade, bringing your awareness into the present – and gently open your eyes.

Mindfulness Tip

Mindfulness Tip of the Day. Mindfulness of emotions. Take 3 deep relaxing breaths and tune in to your feelings, and what it feels like.Name the emotion: What is it? What word best describes what you are feeling? Accept the emotion. It can be helpful to understand how it came about – what it was, the set of circumstances that contributed to you feeling this way. Don’t condone or judge the emotion. Simply let it move through you without resisting it, struggling against it, or encouraging it.Investigate the emotion. How intensely do you feel it? How are you breathing? What are you feeling in your body? Where do you feel it? What’s your posture like when you feel this emotion? Where do you notice muscle tension? What’s your facial expression? What does your face feel like? Is anything changing? (nature, position, intensity) What thoughts or judgements do you notice? Just notice those thoughts. Allow them to come into your mind, and allow them to pass. Any time you find that you’re engaging with the thoughts – judging them or yourself for having them, believing
them, struggling against them, just notice, and bring your attention back to your
breathing, and to the physical sensations of the emotion.

Explore and enjoy