British School of Meditation Blog
I note that the advertising for Christmas has started. Every year we have this pressure put on us to have a marvelous Christmas, by spending loads of money that we may not have. Produce a restaurant quality dinner and so it goes. Gosh, I do sound a bit of a grump.
Let me share this story with you. Some years ago, before my meditation journey started, my Father-in-law came to live with us. Sadly, he passed away a few years ago and I still miss him. However, he had his routine and nothing you could do or say would change his routine. One particular year, Christmas fell on a Monday, and yes, Monday was wash day. So, he came into the kitchen with a load of washing. In my anxiety to produce a perfect Christmas I told him that he could not do his washing. What planet was I on? Did it matter if he did his washing? Of course, it didn’t.
The reason I am sharing this with you is that maybe we all need to take a chill pill at Christmas, meditate, remember to allow time for you, and try not to get swept up with all the pressure to be perfect. Just take the time to enjoy the Christmas that you want, as that’s the perfect one for you.
Have a Happy Christmas.
Reiki and Meditation.
The day I took my Shoden training was the first time I had ever meditated, my teacher told the group to close our eyes, so that was what I did. I had no idea what I was doing, thoughts buzzed around my head, I did not yet have the techniques to quieten them. Afterwards I realised what an important part mediation played in developing my Reiki practice, so I learnt how to meditate.
Meditation and my Reiki practice became and still is my personal practice, it's how I start my day. As l look back I can see how Reiki with meditation has had a huge impact on my life.
Time moved on and I began to teach Reiki, and realised I needed to show my students how to meditate, at this point I decided to train as a Meditation teacher.
Life takes us on paths that we do not expect, I won a raffle prize which was a one to one meditation session with Mary Pearson who had just published a book called ‘Meditation the stress solution’. For some reason as I sat down with Mary, I said that I didn't want to meditate with her but it would lovely to have a chat. It was out of this conversation that The British School of Meditation, was born. We agreed that we should set up a school to train Meditation teachers, but this would not be an online course, and we would only do it if we could get external accreditation. So, we set about writing the course, getting accreditation and writing a web site. This took a year.
We now have accreditation through Ascentis and the course is recognised by Ofqual. It is a Level 3 qualification.
We look at all aspects to becoming a meditation teacher, from your own practice to the science that is now validating the benefits of the practice. We also look at a code of ethics and how to support your students with their meditation practice. I should point out that we do not teach any particular meditation discipline, (although one unit does look at types and techniques of meditation) the purpose of the School is to train meditation teachers. In order to take the training, students have to show that they have a regular practice and are happy to keep a meditation journal for the length of the course. This is very important as you cannot teach a skill unless you practice it yourself.
We do have a lot of Reiki practitioners who have taken the training, and this I feel can only add to the depth of the Reiki courses that they offer.
Had someone told me that I would be running a Meditation Teacher Training school when I started my journey with Reiki I would not have believed them.
‘Meditation, the Stress Solution’ By Mary Pearson.
I love sewing, I make quilts and other bits and pieces. My husband enjoys gardening when he is stressed which, to be honest, seems to all of the time. He takes himself out into the garden and plays, if he is really stressed I hear the chain saw coming out to play! Other people enjoy cookery, art, knitting, all of these activities require total focussing on what you are doing. I know that If my mind wanders when I am sewing, I will be unpicking that last seam. I find that when I take myself off to my sewing room I feel better, anxiety slips away.
The question is ‘Is this a meditation practice?’ I have been thinking about this, and I am not sure. When we are focussing on our hobbies we are not focussing on our thoughts, or at least mostly focussing on those thoughts that are needed to create our hobby. In other words we still our monkey mind. On reflection I think that we are working in the present moment mindfully, it is a mindful task.
You might say ‘Well isn’t that a definition of meditation’, and in some form it is. However, we still need (at least I do) to sit and practice meditation as this is an internal practice. Our meditation practice allows us time to get to know ourselves.
A wise teacher of mine once said, that ultimately we should live all our lives in meditation. Living in each moment, allowing life to unfold without judgement. This is the journey. Therefore I believe that we need to sit and meditate and to have mindful activities, until one day our whole day is lived in a state of being in the present moment. A work in progress.
We had a CPD day on Saturday, 17th June. It was on the importance of Social Media in helping meditation teachers get their message out in the world.
When I first got into business in 2001 Social Media didn’t really exist. I did develop a website and used email as well but that was it.
How times have changed. Today if you run a business, no matter how small, you need to be on different social media platforms.
Most of us are on Facebook which seems to be the most user-friendly and accessible of the platforms. You can set up a business page easily and then promote your courses, classes and workshops to a wide audience. If you are on Facebook please do like our page and follow us.
I personally am not as familiar with other platforms. The British School of Meditation uses Twitter and Instagram and if you too use them do please follow us.
Here are the links to our pages:
For Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BSoMeditation/
For Twitter: We can be found at BSOM TeachMeditation (@BSOMeditation) https://twitter.com/bsomeditation
For Instagram@ We can be found at britishschoolofmeditation https://www.instagram.com/britishschoolofmeditation/?hl=en
Looking forward to hearing from you on FB, Twitter or Instagram!
Not every type of meditation suits everyone!
I have just returned from a mindfulness retreat based on the Zen Buddhist tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh.
As you may know I have been meditating for a great many years and have found it to be both an inspiration and a consolation. My practice is TM: Transcendental Meditation and I meditate on a mantra I was given when I learnt. I meditate twice a day using this mantra. Meditation changed my life and I wouldn’t be without my daily practice.
However, as one of the founders of the British School of Meditation I believe it is very important that I try and experience different types and techniques of meditation so I can speak with authority about them. To this end I go on at least two meditation retreats every year.
This retreat was a mindfulness retreat were the focus was on the breath. Unfortunately, I had a bad cold and found it almost impossible to focus on my breath because a lot of the time I was trying very hard not to cough and disturb a room full of silent meditators.
The second thing I found difficult was that we didn’t maintain silence all the time. We were silent at meal times and from 9pm until after breakfast the following morning. After breakfast people could speak during the day, except for meal times. I found this rather disconcerting to go from silence to speaking and prefer to be on a completely silent retreat.
The next problem was meals. The food was vegetarian or vegan and, although I am neither, that was fine (although I was desperate for a bacon butty when I got home!). the problem was that the tables sat 8 people and we waited until the table was full and the precepts of mindfulness had been read out before we started eating. By the time I began to eat my food had gone cold and I find it very difficult and unappetising to eat cold food.
On the plus side, we heard some very good talks on Buddhism and the people on the retreat were lovely. They were extremely kind when I had several coughing fits, getting me glasses of water and offering cough sweets. The venue was a good one with beautiful grounds and we had great weather too.
So, this retreat didn’t work for me, partly because I wasn’t well, but also because this style of meditation doesn’t suit me. Zen Buddhism isn’t for me but I am glad I have experienced it.
Not every type of meditation suits everyone. So, if you go to a class, or a workshop, or even a retreat and find the type of meditation doesn’t resonate with you don’t give up on meditation. There is a technique that will suit you. Persevere, and when you discover what works for you, be happy you did stick it out because meditation has so many benefits you will be glad you did.
Loving Kindness Meditation.
My daughter lives in the United States so my husband and I were flying to visit her and her husband. The flight to Phoenix is a very long flight, I had seen all the films I wanted to watch, so I thought I would practice Loving Kindness meditation. I sat for a while then opened my eyes and standing a few rows in front of me was a very elderly lady, who was obviously very tired and looking slightly puzzled by all that was going on around her. I focused on her and thought of her as I was practicing my meditation after a while she sat down. I continued to think of her.
When it was time to get off the plane I stood by her, she turned to me and gave me the most beautiful smile, her face lit up and she waved goodbye to me. I felt blessed to have crossed her path
Loving Kindness meditation is a wonderful way to connect with friends and family as well as total strangers, just imagine what a different world we would have if we all practised Loving Kindness.
May you be filled with Loving Kindness,
May you be well,
May you be happy,
May all things go well for you.
Start With Your Sock Drawer - Blog from Helen Galpin
As part of my Christmas present my husband gave me a copy of ‘Start with your Sock Drawer’ By Vick Silverthorn, (The simple guide to living a less cluttered life). I thought interesting, either he has a death wish, or he is trying to hint very loudly about the state of not just my sock drawer but all drawers and cupboards in the house, and to be fair he has a point.
My daughter fell about with laughter when I opened the parcel!!
However, I have read some of the book and thought, yes, the herb and spice drawers could do with a sort out, I am confessing to you now, some bottles were dated 2013. I now have some empty drawers, I have no doubt I will be filling them soon.
The overriding message of the book is to do a little bit of tidying and clearing at a time, set yourself small and achievable goals.
This message is also a good one to take on for our meditation practice. Don’t think I must do half an hour twice a day knowing that some days this is not going to happen, you only set yourself up for failure and may even think I do not have time to meditate. Set yourself small targets that can be achieved, maybe ten minutes, and then when you are meditating and you want to continue then this is a bonus. You are more likely to build a regular practice with this in mind.
Happy meditating and happy clearing out cupboards and drawers!
The Olympic diver Tom Daley has spoken on the BBC and to the Huffington Post about the difference meditation has made to him.
Here is the Huffington Post video:
Well worth listening to. So wonderful that someone in the public eye and as famous as him is talking about the benefit of a daily meditation practice.
Mastering our Passions with help from Mindful Chimp
I recently was invited to Chester Zoo to talk to a group of Human Resource professionals about mindfulness. Having worked in the conservation sector for many years as a Ranger I was aware of how passion can play an important part of the job. When talking to the public, seeking funding and working long unsociable hours - you need passion. I consider myself to be a passionate person and I believe that it is important in life to find your passion.
So what is passion? Difficult to define but I feel it is a strong inclination towards an activity that people like, find important and will invest time and energy into.
Many individuals feel passionate about their work. They enjoy their role. For many people, this passion can promote wellbeing and satisfaction with life. But I would also argue that for other people, this passion can actually culminate in burnout and dissatisfaction.
Let me introduce you to Harmonious Passion. This is associated with higher levels of wellbeing including increased physical and mental health, increased self-esteem, positive emotions, creativity, concentration, and work satisfaction. People report being completely present and fully immersed in a task with good flow (i.e. time goes quickly). They have the ability to disconnect when work is over, easily transitioning into their lives outside of work.
But there is also another kind of passion - Obsessive passion. Like those with harmonious passion, obsessively passionate people perceive their work as representing a passion for them, and their work is highly valued. The major difference is that they have an uncontrollable urge to engage in their work. As a result, they report feeling more conflict between their passion and other activities in their life. So “I am emotionally dependent on this activity,” and “My mood depends on me being able to do this activity.” is common. They hardly ever stop thinking about their work, they get quite frustrated when they are prevented from working and they persist in working when it’s risky to do so. Their passion forms an unhealthy and all consuming part of their life. It can lead to work burnout and increase negative emotions. People tend to ruminate and mull things over more. Decisions are simply not made. They are more likely to complete risky and unsuitable tasks, have problems prioritising issues and and are unable to “switch off”. The phone and emails are always being checked.
All of us have at least a little bit of obsessive and harmonious passion for our work. The key for work productivity and for avoiding work burnout is to increase your harmonious passion while reducing your obsessive passion.
This is where meditation and mindfulness can help. By building awareness, increasing resilience and managing stress throughout the day with formal and informal meditations practices we can avoid slipping into obsessive passionate behaviour.
So my top tips are:
Take a Break
Make sure you take your entitled breaks. Use some of this time for mindfulness practices such as following the breath, returning your attention to it when it wonders with kindness and compassion. Let all thoughts and emotions go. A few minutes makes all the difference. Regular practice is the key here.
Change your space
Get out of the office, take a walk. Slow your movements down, be aware of your surroundings and notice, feel your body. Be present, be here, be now. Let past and future tasks go and just enjoy your space.
After work sit and meditate for ten minutes. This will help you gain clarity, help reduce that mind chatter and allow you to let go of the days troubles. Allowing you to transition into your other activities outside work.
Find a Passion outside work
This can help motivate you to leave on time and switch off. Giving you another focus.
To find out more about mindfulness and meditation including training events in Cheshire and Wirral checkout MindfulChimp.com.
Health and Happiness
AKA The Mindful Chimp
Guest blog from Alexandra Francis
Living with mindfulness has changed my life by allowing me to recognise areas
Sometimes taking time out to meditate is hard as my mind is so busy racing with
thoughts, ideas and stories that can be coupled with emotions. So, I have found
patience, acceptance and the ability to let go are all so important.
Feeling ‘good enough’ has been such a big part of my life and I’ve constantly tried
to achieve it. I’ve now come to recognise through meditation that I can only do
my best and my best is good enough.
I used that phrase for a group of year 6 children to silently say in their minds
before they did their SATs test. They could simply only do their best, which is not
something they’re told very often!
Having worked with children I see the freshness they hold, seeing everything as
if for the first time. Children do not have the baggage a lot of us carry, as they
haven’t been influenced by society and cultures. They are free to just be and
experience the present moment just as it is. We need to let go of our baggage to
enjoy the present moment.
Learning to have compassion for yourself and all beings is so important.
Compassion is about understanding that none of us is perfect and we all make
mistakes. Life can be a struggle at times and all we can do is be the best we can
be. You cannot love and have compassion for others if you are at war within
Most people aren’t in touch with their inner senses and it can show in their
relationships. If you are out of tune with yourself, it’s hard to be in touch with
Compassion is about the gift of care to others and to ourselves, to act towards
others as you would like them to act towards you, with an intention to create
good rather than harm. Be gentle and kind to yourself and the rest will follow.
It’s important not to judge yourself, as having unrealistic expectations and
beating yourself up will just set you up to fail. So be kind and compassionate to
yourself and enjoy the journey!
The British School of Meditation has been established to train teachers in meditation techniques to meet the growing demand for highly trained and accredited meditation teachers throughout the UK including: the Midlands, South West, Wales, North West, North East, London and the South East.