How often do we really listen? It’s a frequent subject for discussion in our weekly mindfulness group, as there are so many different aspects to explore. So many times during our day we are presented with an opportunity to connect to another, and we let ourselves get in the way, by only hearing what we want to hear, or by part listening which is actually just waiting to speak! A kind of selective listening that is filtered out by the habits of our mind.
This can also apply to ourselves...how often do we take the time to listen to ourselves. Yoga is a brilliant practice for this, and I was thrilled when one of my regulars told me that she had learnt so much about herself being on her mat each week. Listening to ourselves takes practice, then it takes compassion, in order to accept what we hear. It may be that we ‘hear’ that our body is tired, but that isn’t convenient as the mind is telling us there is lots that ‘should’ be done! It may be that in our asana practice we are pushing too far, and the body is complaining but the mind is telling us we have been doing yoga for years so we ‘should’ be able to do this pose!
Once we get tuned in to what we hear, we need to find courage to act on it, to honour ourselves and find ways to treat ourselves better. Maybe this means stepping away from a toxic relationship, giving up a job that makes us unhappy (one of my clients has done just that recently and feels sooooo much better) sleeping more, whatever suits. Treating ourselves with care and compassion will mean we have so much more to give, wholeheartedly to others, so really it’s a win win.
Listening to the sounds around us is another practice, a quick and easy one that we can do anywhere, that is really helpful if the mind has gone into overdrive.
In what way could you benefit from listening more in your life?
I’ve arrived, finally finished the transition to the country, settling into my new home in Barcombe. I’ve not moved house for 8 years, so it’s been quite an experience, getting right out of my routines and comfort zones...always very interesting. It’s a time of letting go of the old and embracing the new. I find a great way to approach change is to start to dismantle routines and habits gradually before the event, this way it doesn’t feel like such a wrenc.
It’s a time to realise how much ‘stuff’ we own, and how complicated it can feel to need to ‘manage’ it all. Obviously a brilliant opportunity to de clutter, once we can get past that little nagging voice of how useful it all is, or might be! Having started that process, I feel like there’s plenty more that can go to the charity shop...I just need to avoid buying any ‘bargains’ whilst I’m there! I have a lovely room to practice yoga and meditation in my new home, and it feels so much more peaceful the less clutter I have in there. Creating space, in the physical sense leads to a calmer headspace too.
It feels like such a lovely time to move, there’s so much change in the air each day, with the birds making nests, with trees coming into leaf and blossom and the spring flowers. All of this speaks to me of the comfort of change, of new beginnings. I’m looking forward to creating new routines, with the woods in my doorstep, being more connected with nature.
Watch this space for new developments as I’m looking for new venues to set up new classes. The first of which is a new yoga class starting on The Neville after Easter, after I take a break for a few days in The Highlands of Scotland which I’m very excited about.
I will also very happily be popping back to Brighton for my existing commitments in that area.
Time for a spring clean then?!?
See you soon x
What a great experience that was! I sent last weekend at the beautiful Dartington Hall, bringing yoga and mindfulness to the Simply Women on Purpose run by the inspirational Michelle Preston. We were joined by the wonderful Glastonbury based homeopath and nature worked Sophie Knock.
Between the three of us we created the space for an amazing bunch of women to come together to consider meaning and purpose. We looked what we could let go of and what we will all commit to going forward, had lots of really stimulating discussions, made connections and shared laughs. Michelle imparted some of her vast wisdom on positive psychology and meaning. The setting really supported the experience, Dartington is such a beautiful place, ancient buildings and acres and acres of open land. Sophie guided us with her knowledge of the outdoors and led a walk to the old yew tree where all enjoyed a meditation and discussion on the wisdom of trees.
With each of us coming from a different angle, but all from the same page, the weekend really flowed well - apart from me having to leave early with a heavy cold. As a so called 'wellbeing expert' I needed to take a dose of my own medicine and head for bed! A mindful lesson indeed, sometimes things do not go the way we planned, and that is what we deal with. Things do not always go the way we planned, and mindfulness has helped me to cope with that much better in my life.
Up until that point I had been loving bringing yoga and mindfulness to the group. Each evening I used yoga nidra to offer a relaxing experience pre bed, and the ladies all enjoyed it as much as I do.
I have also been using yoga nidra at the end of my wednesday night class in Lewes, as the class is a little longer. This wonderful practice helps to bring us into a deep state of rest, just what the doctor ordered at this time of year when everything is starting to get busier in the hectic pre christmas rush!
Come and join us on a wednesday or get in touch if you'd like to arrange small group sessions for yourself and a few friends.
Take care, rest, play, sleep and eat well namaste x
I'm really enjoying teaching yoga to adults too, having taught kids for a few years. I have two lovely venues and am exploring other opportunities too. I firmly believe that there are lots of great yoga teachers, all with their style, and the more of us the merrier, we all have something different to offer. So if you are one of those people who are interested in feeling good, looking after your body and mind, keeping your muscles strong and flexible, taking care of your posture...to name but a few benefits - but have tried a yoga class and decided it wasn't for you - I urge you to try other ones. There will be a teacher out there for you.
I bring some of the light heartedness that I use with the kids into my classes, and find that we grown ups benefit from that. I also use lots of mindfulness, so the classes are relaxing and rejuvenating. Classes vary from week to week.
I also weave in lots of wellbeing tips into the classes, using my whole experience base, and we finish with a very relaxing experience as this is so important. In the Beechwood hall class we have longer so the relaxation is longer. We rarely get chance to switch off nowadays o just attending the class to gain this benefit will help you feel better.
Drop me a line if you're interested and have questions or want to chat, namaste
I am so excited to be embarking on the next steps on my journey.
I have been practising yoga since I was a teenager, having done many many different classes and styles, always coming back to my practice. i have loved teaching yoga to children and young adults, and will continue to do this. When I started to do so, I did not expect to be doing my adult yoga teacher training. Yes I love running groups, having regularly done so for the past 10 years or more, in a variety of settings. I so enjoy my adult mindfulness classes, sharing our practice together.
People used to assume I did teach adults, and so would often ask me if they could come to a class, sorry, only if you are under 18 years of age i would quip...then about 6 months ago, I heard myself making that reply and realised, I have changed my mind!
And so I set about looking for a teacher training that felt right for me, hence I am setting off for a small island in Canada, just off Vancouver, next week! i am so thrilled that life has guided me this way, and send a big thanks to all of the yoga teachers that have inspired me along the way, and still do.
I have set up one weekly class for my return, just outside Lewes. Watch this space for news of more, as soon as I find other venues that I would love to use to share this amazing practice with you all.
So lovely to attend Elderflower Fields festival last week and a real honour to be delivering mindfulness sessions. Thanks to all of you who attended and shared your practice.
Its always a bit of a challenge, and a great exercise in being mindful, trying to share an hour of mindfulness...there is so much to say and so many practices we could do together.
I shall try to recap, as I said i would, so you can all be reminded what we did together.
Over the two days we did a variety of guided mindfulness practices that you can use in everyday life. This means no extra time is required to get started on your practice. However, i cannot stress enough the benefits of setting aside some time for regular - i.e. daily - meditations. The trick to this is to get them in your schedule, ahead of the day staring and running away with you! For those of you who are struggling with busy-ness, there will probably never be time, so its a case of looking at where it can be squeezed in, what else can give, be delegated, not done etc in order to give yourself this precious time. Just that simple act, of kindness, self compassion and acknowledging the importance of time for yourself can be extremely beneficial.
For a simple guided meditation, mail me and I am very happy to drop box you a link to some of the ones I have recorded if you feel the need for guidance, or look on Insight Timer or Youtube to get you started. Even before that, just setting a timer for 5 minutes and being with the breath is a great start - you always have it with you. By now you know the mind will wander, so every time it does, use this as an opportunity to practice kindly bringing it back. If it wanders 200 times, then theres lots of opportunity to be patient and kind with yourself.
Each of the mindfulness in action practices we did flow the same principle. Decide on the task or action you will be doing mindfully, e.g. cleaning your teeth, set the intention to stick with it, then each time you notice the mind has wandered, gently bring it back. When the activity is done, thank yourself and move on. Notice at this point if you are holding an idea that you didn't do it properly, or it didn't work...if so, well done, you've spotted a judgement! Decide to let that go, and come back to thanking yourself for sticking with the activity.
Each time we bring our mind back, with kindness and compassion we are remaking the relationship we have with it, and retraining it to stay where we have decided it will stay. This is so helpful when in the middle of the night the mind brings you lots of worries and anxieties, you can recognise this and practise mindful breathing, or mindfully becoming aware of each body part in turn. We call this the body scan, and its a great practise to do in the night.
We also practised mindful eating, and as always when I guide this exercise people are surprised at the experience. As we acknowledged then, we see to eat with our minds, not just our mouths. This is true of all experiences in our day, if the mind is busy somewhere else we are not properly present to what we see, hear, feel, taste and experience. Ever noticed that when you go on holiday, food often tastes so much better? Maybe that is because you are totally 'present' to the experience?
So mindfulness is about being in the moment, as it is. It has been estimated that we are on autopilot for around 90% of the time. So even if we become 10% more present, thats a lots more of our life we are experiencing. There was a common theme over the weekend for a lot of you, realising that your children are growing up quickly and you are often in the past or future, not here in this moment. One way to help with this is when you notice the mind has wandered, make an effort to bring it back, with an idea like pulling your energy in, calling it back like birds coming in to roost perhaps? Or letting it float off an ducting the strings to the items that are pulling you away, or letting the thoughts go, like helium balloons. These are all strategies that my clients regularly practice and find useful. Another is to say to yourself, 'be here, now' or something similar.
We also did mindful movement, a great one to do while you are walking, being present to all of the sensations of movement. Or start your day with a mindful shower or doe mindful stretching, as we did on day 2.
We practised mindful listening, tuning in to the sounds around you and just hearing them. When the mind chats and comments, just notice and come back to listening. Mindfully listening to a friend or colleague can be very powerful, in this exercise you pay the speaker all of your attention. Listening for the sake of listening. it can help to drop down into the heart and feel a connection to the speaker. In this exercise you are not waiting your turn to speak, as we so very often are when we 'listen', instead you are listening to really hear the other person. For some people this is really difficult...as there is a real need to agree, speak, disagree, prove something etc. Try it!
We did mindful body awareness, dropping into the body and noticing feelings and sensations, levels of comfort, discomfort, warmth coolness etc. This can be a great way to get away from a busy head, dropping down into the body, and can be done any where for a mindful break. Maybe try it with a mindful culpa, just allowing yourself to be present to all sensations that are there.
We talked a lot about the breath, and did a couple of breathing exercises - square breathing, where you can use the guidance of a 4 sided shape, e.g. window, phone, door etc breathing in for the count of 4, holding the great for the count of 4, breathing out for the count of 4, holding for a count of 4. This can really help if panicky, as can any counting with the breath. It gives the mind something else to do, and deep breathing helps to switch on the body's relaxation system, the parasympathetic nervous system.
We also did calm hand, where you hold your non dominant hand up and use the pointy finger of the other hand to trace round each digit in turn, in breath on the up stroke, out breath on the down for 5 slow breaths. Or use this hand as 5 cadres, blowing each one out in turn with a long slow breath. the latter two exercise are good for younger kids and my young teen yoga students love the square breathing.
I talked a bit about jon Kabat Zinn and his work with people with chronic illness.A book of his I have found very inspiring is Full Catastrophe Living.
We talked about the way that there are so many great resources out there, and many ways to be mindful. Its a great idea to find a group or a teacher as mindfulness can initiate you 'arriving' more fully into a life that you may have distracted yourself from for good reason. Also being human, it is easier to keep up our practice with the support of a group. I run a lovely group on Tuesday evenings in Hove, with people who have been coming for some time. I will be setting another group up in September in Lewes, so if you're interested in that do get in touch.
I hope i have covered most of the stuff we talked about, if not, do get in touch and I'm happy to go over anything else with you.
With love Jane
There is always so much that we can engage in nowadays, its really tempting to be busy all of the time. It really does seem the norm doesn't it? And of course busy-ness, like all of our ways of being is built on habit.
Since I began practising mindfulness, i have become so much more aware of the cycles i tread. I am interested in lots of things, i like variety, I like to help people...and then I find I am over committed again! Often I am 'busy' with lots of lovely things, including practising yoga and meditating, but none the less I am over committed. I have realised that I like space in my life, for me, for quiet, for spontaneity, to meander. So once i notice the lack of space, I clear some space, in the diary, in my head and then I feel better.
What habits are you aware of in your life?
Mindfulness is so helpful in that it teaches us to notice, to be aware, without judging. Once we are aware, we can learn to press the pause button and to choose from a range of responses, rather than just reacting for our normal place of automatic pilot.
Habits seek to keep themselves going, cos thats all they are, habits! Once you have rumbled that, and now you know that you are good at creating habits, you can create some more - maybe creating ones that you can design to enhance your wellbeing.
Take this a step further and have a look at your life, look at habits that are outdated, that you could upgrade, and then go forth and create new ones, just because you can.
If this seems too daunting to be doing alone, do consider an apppointment to see me one to one. This is exactly the kind of thing that we can work on together to set you on the path to a happier you.
Get in touch for a free chat to see how I can help
on my mind this week.....
take a moment to appreciate....