Monthly Archives: June 2014

Love Bombs

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In week six of the eight week Mindfulness Meditation Course I teach a loving kindness meditation AKA the Befriending Meditation. It helps you to befriend the difficult, cultivate compassion and feel empathy for yourself and your fellow humans. Perhaps like a parent, I am not meant to have favourites, but this baby has to be up there. It sounds a bit woolly and dare I say it, a bit Buddhist, to be wishing people well. To be holding people who might have annoyed you during the week in your heart and mind. But it has such exquisite power. It melts through cynicism and sarcasm, which for many of us can be a default setting to help us cope with life.

If you can’t do it for yourself do it for the world. If you can’t do it for the world do it for yourself. If you can’t do it for either do it for your loved ones. There are no boundaries for who we can hold in a our heart and minds.

I regularly do a befriending meditation as I walk from one bit of the tube to another. I look at each human, a passing stranger I will never meet, and wish them well. What happens when you love bomb a celebrity? In North London the other day I found out, she looked back at me, all the other passing people were plugged in to devices or looking at the floor, unaware of my looking their way. But she looked like she could always tell when someone has spotted her. She smiled, perhaps assuming I was looking because I recognised her. I smiled back and continued to wish her well.

Today’s total practice time: 40 minutes

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Learning to dance again

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In week seven of an eight week mindfulness meditation course we explore the exhaustion funnel. When teaching this class I quote from This Frantic World which says in some countries doctors don’t ask ‘when did you start to to feel depressed’. Instead they ask ‘when did you stop dancing?’. I have yet to find out which country it is that has such enlightened doctors but I am tickled by the idea that perhaps in some utopia there may be salsa on the NHS!

This is a preamble to say that dropping the things that nourish us can cause us more stress than hoped. A person may drop all sorts of ‘optional’ pastimes in the name of clearing the decks or making more time. But they then may wake up a few years later burned out and with little joy in their life. Hence the question is really when did you stop doing the things you loved and start only focusing on work/children/caring responsibilities/obsessive house renovations (delete where applicable).

The good news is that none of this is irreversible. As Jon Kabat-Zinn frequently says there is always more right with you than wrong with you. Reclaiming your life is a big part of week seven and a big part of living mindfully. Being able to ask yourself, ‘what is the best thing I can do for myself right now?’ and perhaps deciding it’s a cup of tea rather than whittling away at your seemingly endless to do list.

Today’s Total Practice Time: 30 minutes

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