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British School of Meditation Blog

British School of Meditation Blog

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Welcome to the British School of Meditation blog on Meditation Teacher Training

Social media

 

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.

Helen 

Start with your sock drawer


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! 

Helen

Tom Daley

Tom Daley

 

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:

 

https://www.facebook.com/HuffPostUK/videos/1355834141150981/

 

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. 

Focused Relaxation

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

Simon 

AKA The Mindful Chimp

Guest blog from Alexandra Francis

Living with mindfulness has changed my life by allowing me to recognise areas

of sabotage!

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

yourself.

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

others.

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!

It Starts and Ends with the Breath!

As we’re born we take our first breath and as we leave we take our last.  In between this time our breath is automatic, it sustains life, we don’t have to think about it.  Or do we?

How often do we think about our breath?  Is it shallow or deep? Is it relaxed or tight?  Is it fast or slow paced?   Are you breathing from your diaphragm or as deep as your tummy?  Do you notice a difference in your breath when you are stressed?

It’s a fact that when we are busy or stressed we breathe at a shallower, faster pace from our diaphragms.  We are often caught up in our ‘to do’ lists, moving from one task or need to the next.  Often we have a lot of people to consider.  How often do we stop and notice where we’re at?  Do we stop to think about our emotional wellbeing and our levels of stress?  Do we take time to care for ourselves, invest in our own health?

Our breath is one way that we can get back to living in the now, taking care of ourselves.  To stop thinking about the past or the future, what we could have done, what we should have done, getting caught up in the stories of our life and simply just be!  We can take the briefest of moments to focus on our breath.  To stop, to slow down our breath, to deepen our breath, to let our bodies know all is well.  The simplest mind body connection!

Why not make this a habit!  Simply stop and take three slow deep breaths, all the way down to your tummy.  Why not make these your mindfulness moments for the day, taking these deep breaths maybe when you put the kettle on or when you pop to the loo!  Levels of stress are rising in our children, so why not set them a good example and make it a habit for them too.  Invest in their emotional and physical wellbeing as well as your own, after all, it starts and ends with the breath!

Jacqui Bagatelas 

Blog from Darren Pugh, one of our meditation teachers

                   Sitting funny:

              What's that all about?

Meditation is undeniably becoming more mainstream as an effective tool to dissolve stress and tension, increase energy, and generally improve your performance, but it is still often visually represented with the stereotypical image of someone sitting cross legged or even worse, in the full lotus position. Ouch..

If that isn't enough to cause someone who's already slightly sceptical but certainly interested in learning to meditate, and experiencing all the great benefits that come with that, to disregard it as being too difficult or weird, I don't know what is.

You don't need to “sit funny” when you are in meditation, and in sixteen years of meditating for twenty minutes, twice a day, every day, without falter, I’ve found it best to not even try.

There's nothing better than being uncomfortable to spoil what would otherwise be an enjoyable and profoundly beneficial meditation session.

Sitting comfortably upright in a chair or seat with your  back supported and feet on the ground is ideal, and it gives you the added bonus of being able to meditate not only in your favourite chair at home or in the garden, but also at work, in the office, canteen, in the park, on a train or plane, in the car (suitably parked up if you are the driver, obviously..), outside a coffee shop in the sunshine, or pretty much anywhere you can sit comfortably with your eyes gently closed, you can fit in your daily practice and not be worried about looking a bit daft or dislocating your hips.

I did dabble in the early days with sitting cross legged in the correct way with my hips slightly higher than my knees, and keeping my spine lengthened but relaxed, and for first ten minutes or so, it would feel ok, but before too long the discomfort would kick in to create tension and a sense of effort.

Typically speaking around this point in my meditation practice when sitting in a chair, the opposite would be true and I would become increasingly comfortable as my breathing and heart rate would become very slow, my physical body would start to relax and feel very grounded, and my mind would become progressively calmer and quieter.

There is no agenda in the meditative state other than to “let go and just be” and it's a very enjoyable and empowering experience, but it's pretty much impossible to let go of anything, let alone tension or negative emotions when you are physically and mentally trying to hold yourself upright in an increasingly uncomfortable and unsupported posture.

Don’t get me wrong, if you are an experienced yogi who is super flexible with open hips, a strong back and knees, and it works for you, then kudos to you, but sitting cross legged or in the lotus position is by no means a prerequisite or goal for a successful and totally empowering meditation practice.

As well as being a meditation teacher, I am also an experienced and certified Tai chi instructor, and have for many years been an avid yoga practitioner, so I am more than familiar with the principal of “relaxing” into physically demanding postures, and I am fairly fit and flexible as a result, but in my humble opinion, if you want to experience the full transformational monty that a sitting meditation practice has to offer, then being supported comfortably upright and relaxed in a seat or chair is definitely the way to go.

So if you haven't already, and you are considering learning to meditate as a daily wellness practice, it really is a totally fab way to de-frazzle, supercharge your batteries and your potential, with absolutely no “sitting funny” required. Darren Pugh


Guest blog from David Hamilton

How to use visualisation to boost your self-love by David Hamilton

First published on his blog on  September 9, 2016

David has kindly given us permission to share his latest blog post.

Lots of people use visualisation. The most popular way is to visualise what you want. Some people picture their ideal house, their ideal car, or a perfect partner who ticks all the boxes, for instance.

The idea with this kind of visualisation is to picture what you want, the end result. It’s also useful to picture yourself in the visualisation; living in the house, driving the car, or with the perfect partner.

There’s a different kind of visualisation you can do for self-love, though. It’s centred on the fact that your muscles are in constant communication with your brain.

Why is that important?

Before I get into that, I’d first like to say what I mean by self-love. You can think ‘self-esteem’ instead of self-love if you prefer that term. The main reason I use the term self-love rather than self-esteem is that many people get their self-esteem from external sources, from their seeming successes in life and from other people’s positive opinions of them. But it’s not a stable self-esteem because failure, or a change in people’s opinions, give it a serious shake.

I think of self-love, on the other hand, as an inner sense of worthiness and value. It’s more of an inner self-esteem. It’s mostly independent of successes, achievements and external perceptions of you. It is stable, because if seeming failure occurs or opinions seem to change, theinner perception of yourself is untouched.

OK, so let’s get back to why it’s important that your muscles are in constant communication with your brain.

When you’re lacking in self-love, it comes across in your body language and in your facial expressions. Not all the time, of course, but especially when you’re challenged. This happens because your muscles are connected to your brain. It’s the same reason that your muscles and face tense when you feel stressed, or that your body feels light and floppy when you’re in love, and that you smile when you’re happy. In real ways, you wear your feelings on your body.

But it goes the other way too. Just as your body responds to how you feel, you can use your body to create how you want to feel. Making adjustment to how you sit, stand, how you move, and to your facial muscles, quickly impacts your feelings. A consistent practice of adjusting how you hold and move your body, so that it says, “I love myself,” or “I am enough,” or something else along those lines, can impact your self-love by literally creating the wiring of self-love in the brain.

More than this, though, is that your brain doesn’t distinguish real from imaginary. When you imagine moving your muscles, your brain processes it as if you actually are moving your muscles. Elite athletes and rehabilitation specialists use this fact all the time.

When you imagine holding and moving your body in way that says you have self-love, your brain processes it as if you do have self-love. The key difference between this and ‘classical’ visualisation (of the sort I mentioned at the beginning of this blog), is that you don’t put all your focus on an end result. Instead, you visualise the posture and movement of your body.

As you do this consistently, your brain wires in the habit of holding and moving your body in that way. As this happens, you start to feel the feelings that go with this new body posture and these new ways of moving. With enough consistent practice, the feelings of “I love myself,” or “I am enough,” or something along these lines, becomes habit too.

So to get started, simply notice right now how you’re holding your body. Is your body tense or relaxed? Is your spine straight or slumped? How about your facial muscles? Are you smiling or frowning? Is your brow relaxed or furrowed? Then make some shifts.

Do this as often as you can remember to.

Watch what happens!

David Hamilton 

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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.