Many people struggle to be in the moment because they are not accepting it, they want the moment to be different from how it is. Maybe just for today, practice the mindful attitude of ACCEPTANCE and see if you can really embrace what comes your way, without JUDGEMENT of whether it isgood or bad.
Acceptance means perceiving your experience and simply acknowledging it rather than judging it based on the parameters ofgood or bad. For some people, the word ‘acceptance’ is off-putting – replace it with the word ‘acknowledgement,’ if you prefer.
For example, when you feel pain, whether it’s physical, such as a painful shoulder, or mental, such as depression or anxiety, the natural reaction is to try andavoid feeling the pain. This seems very sensible because the sensation of physical or mental pain is unpleasant. You ignore it, distract yourself, for example,perhaps turning to food, recreational drugs or alcohol to suppress the discomfort.
This avoidance may work in the immediate short term, but before long, avoidance fails in the mental and emotional realm.
Have you ever booked a trip to the seaside, theatre or holiday only to find yourself worrying about all the potential things that could go wrong, what if the car breaks down, one of the children are poorly, you forget your tickets or passport, what if you miss a connecting train or flight? Do you then end up making the trip highly stressful because you’ve been so busy trying to control everything and to make sure nothing ‘goes wrong’ that the whole trip becomes nerve-wrackingand negative? You argue with your partner, constantly nag your kids and feel exhausted and completely stressed out!
This is an example of non-acceptance of not being able to live in the present moment. It causes stress and anxiety and even reactive behaviourssuch as aggression and shouting.
When we plan things, our mind automatically creates a ‘model’ of that event/ situation. An idealof how we want it to happen. We tend to then spend a lot of energy,trying to force things to match the model, which our minds have created.
Acceptance is the practice of moving away from the original model that our mind has created and being able to come into the present moment and accept the moment for how it is.
A husband and wife turned up one day to one of my morning meditation classes, the wife had contacted me a few days before and asked if they could come and have a go at meditation, they hadn’t done it before but they wanted to try it out. They actually turned up a few minutes late, when the class had already begun. Therest of the class wassettling in and some were already lying on mats, and some sitting in chairs, they had closed their eyes and were tuning into my voice ready to be guided. I signalledfor the husband and wife to come in, they gently stepped over people and I smiled at them as they took their place in the spare chair. I quietly asked them to make themselves comfortable and close their eyes. Just as they closed the eyes, the husband’s phone rang! His wife opened her eyes and she flung her arms around in a panic and she looked so angry with him, he went red and tried to open his rucksack and find hisphone which seemed to be at the bottom of his bag, all the time his wife was getting even more stressed. I then took the opportunity to remind everyone in the room to tune into all of the sounds that they could hear and to see if they could accept them as part of the reality of the moment, rather than rejecting the sounds.
This is what many of us tend to do, instead of accepting the reality, we resist it which is what causes us stress and the sequence becomes exhausting.
I’m reminded of a client who came to see me for learning mindfulness, he had been signed off from his work due to stress. A few sessions into his course,h e came in for his session and said Katie, I had an epiphany this weekend. I realised that when I’m working in the week I’m just thinking about getting to the weekend so I can be with my wife and child. I imagine myself with my wife and boy, sitting on the carpet enjoying a quiet Sunday afternoon, And then, when Sunday comes, and one of us is under the weather, or my child is upset, or the doorbell rings or the phone goes on ringing and I just get more and more moodyas things don’t happen as Iimagined they would, until eventually I end up in the garage working on my bike, resentful that things haven’t turned out how I hoped or expected.
This weekend I realised that I already have everything that I want and need, my wife, my child, the happiness I want is already here, I just need to accept the present moment for what it is so I can enjoy it!
Acceptance turns out to be one of the most helpful attitudes to achieve mindfulness.
How to practice acceptance.
• If something doesn’t go the way you thought, see if you can allow and accept things to be as they are
• Use your breathing to help yourself to be in the present
• Breathe into difficult feelings, breathe into the feeling on the inside, breath and allow it to release as much as it will on the out. Simply breathe
• Remind yourself that thoughts and feelings are like the weather, you can’t control them but they do constantly change
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Katie Brazier is a Mindfulness Expert and has a practice in Leamington Spa where she runs one to one consultations to help her clients to become happier.
Its Sunday afternoon and the weekend is nearly behind us. Pangs of anxiety can kick in about Monday morning. It is extremely common for people to experience a spike in anxiety and depressive symptoms on Sundays.
After nearly 10 years of working successfully with clients who have anxiety, here are some helpful tips:
Take yourself off in your mind to a safe place. This can be somewhere that you find particularly calming like a beautiful garden or hillside, sunny beach, or maybe your bedroom or your favourite chair. Practice this with your eyes closed, maybe before sleep or in a quiet place for a few minutes and simply be there in your mind, see what you see in your safe place, hear what you hear, notice smells and tastes etc.. Enjoy the feelings of calm and safe. Its like having an instant holiday!
We breathe subconsciously so consciously taking a breath now and then encourages you to be more in the moment and away from your thoughts. Follow your breath in and be with the sensations in your body as it travels around and follow the breath out. Take 1-3 breaths in this way a few times though out the day and simply notice.
Meditate or Listen to a Relaxation Track
There are plenty of good tracks available that can help you to relax and switch off. Guided meditation or relaxation, nature music and sounds.
Download my Total Relaxation track (full and mini versions worth £9.99) today for FREE! Follow the link to my download store, choose the Total Relaxation Track and enter code: relax in the 'add coupon'.
In our busy lives we constantly have our head full or thoughts about the future or about the past - what are we going to do next or what are we going to become. This means we're often not that aware of what is around us, and what happening in the here and now. So there's likely to be a lot good stuff that we miss (or not so good stuff that we really need to be aware of).
Being mindful means being more fully aware of what is around us - what we can see, hear, touch and taste. And what is happening inside - our thoughts and feelings. It's about learning to observe all this but not getting caught up in thinking or worrying about it, so being able to choose what we then attend to.
Mindfulness has been proven to help us be healthier, less affected by stress, more relaxed, more creative, more open to learning, sleep better, improve our relationships with others and feel happier and more satisfied with our lives.
Actions for Happiness
When you are doing something pleasurable such as taking a warm shower or bath, petting you dog or cat, stroking your child's hair or sitting down for a moment of peace, be really present. Really notice what it is you find pleasurable about the experience and how it makes you feel.
When we walk we tend to rush from A to B. As you walk, focus your attention on the soles of your feet and how they feel as each in turn touches the ground. From your heel as it lands and through to your toes as you move to the other foot. Notice where your weight is, the texture of the ground on your feet and how this changes as you walk, how warm or cold your feet are, the noise your feet make as you walk…
Start by really looking at what you are about to eat. What colours can you see in it? What does the texture look like? What is the shape like?
Then pick it up. How does it feel in your hands? What does the shape and texture feel like? Is it the same all over? Can you smell it?
If it is wrapped or needs peeling, open the wrapper or peel it slowly. Notice the sound, smell and feel as you do. What colours and texture do you now see?
Take a small bite - but don't chew! Notice how it feels in your mouth. What is the texture? What can you already taste? If you move it around your mouth does this change?
Then start to eat. Feel the texture and notice all the flavours as you chew the food slowly and as you swallow.
Do not think about the next mouthful until you have swallowed the one before. You may find it helpful to put your piece of fruit down or your bar of chocolate (or your cutlery if using) down between each mouthful.
An amazing account of how 7,000 people meditated with the intention of having positive effect on their surrounding city.....
For those with a basic layman’s understanding of quantum physics, it may come as no surprise that the simple act of meditation can have quantum results that affect not only the meditator, but his or her surrounding community and the world as a whole.
In 1978 a study was conducted on a group of meditators and as a result the “Maharishi Effect” was discovered. 7,000 people meditated with the intention of having a positive effect on the surrounding city for 3 consecutive weeks. As a result of their intentional and collective meditation efforts, the collective energy of the city was totally transformed. In fact the meditation effort was so powerful it reduced global rates of crime, violent acts, and deaths by an average of 16%. There was also a reduction in the amount of suicides and car accidents and this was with all variables being accounted for. To top it off, there was a 72% reduction in terrorist activity during the meditation project.
Since this time more than 50 studies have been done to test the validity of the Maharishi Effect and the results have confirmed the direct impact global meditation has on the world. These studies are so clearly indicative of the power of meditation to transform global energy patterns that results have been published in the Journal of Crime and Justice.
According to peacefulwarriors.net, “For example, a day-by-day study of a two-month assembly in Israel during August and September of 1983 showed that, on days when the number of participants at a peace-creating assembly was high, the intensity of an ongoing war in neighboring Lebanon decreased sharply. When the number of participants was high, war deaths in Lebanon dropped by 76%.
When the study was repeated in Wales, they got amazing results. In 1987 Merseyside had the third highest crime rate of the eleven largest Metropolitan Areas in England and Wales; by 1992 it had the lowest crime rate. 40% below levels predicted by the previous behaviour of the series. There were 255,000 less crimes in Merseyside from 1988 to 1992 than would have been expected had Merseyside continued to follow the national crime trend.”
Results like these would lead us to see that personal meditation is powerful beyond what we even understand from our everyday perspective. It helps to drive home the awe-inspiring fact that truly ‘thoughts are things’ and when we think a thought, it is a form of fine vibrational matter that is contributing to the creation of all that we experience. These effects are powerful and life changing for individuals but when people come together and use intention to direct their mental energy towards a collective vision, the results are LITERALLY world-changing.
“I think the claim can be plausibly made that the potential impact of this research exceeds that of any other ongoing social or psychological research program. It has survived a broader array of statistical tests than most research in the field of conflict resolution. This work and the theory that informs it deserve the most serious consideration by academics and policy makers alike.”
David Edwards Ph.D., Professor of Government, University of Texas at Austin.
Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, was one of the first scientists to take the anecdotal claims about the benefits of meditation and mindfulness and test them in brain scans. What she found surprised her — that meditating can literally change your brain. She explains:
Q: Why did you start looking at meditation and mindfulness and the brain?
Lazar: A friend and I were training for the Boston marathon. I had some running injuries, so I saw a physical therapist who told me to stop running and just stretch. So I started practicing yoga as a form of physical therapy. I started realizing that it was very powerful, that it had some real benefits, so I just got interested in how it worked.
The yoga teacher made all sorts of claims, that yoga would increase your compassion and open your heart. And I’d think, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m here to stretch.’ But I started noticing that I was calmer. I was better able to handle more difficult situations. I was more compassionate and open hearted, and able to see things from others’ points of view.
I thought, maybe it was just the placebo response. But then I did a literature search of the science, and saw evidence that meditation had been associated with decreased stress, decreased depression, anxiety, pain and insomnia, and an increased quality of life.
At that point, I was doing my PhD in molecular biology. So I just switched and started doing this research as a post-doc.
Q: How did you do the research?
Lazar: The first study looked at long term meditators vs a control group. We found long-term meditators have an increased amount of gray matter in the insula and sensory regions, the auditory and sensory cortex. Which makes sense. When you’re mindful, you’re paying attention to your breathing, to sounds, to the present moment experience, and shutting cognition down. It stands to reason your senses would be enhanced.
We also found they had more gray matter in the frontal cortex, which is associated with working memory and executive decision making.
It’s well-documented that our cortex shrinks as we get older – it’s harder to figure things out and remember things. But in this one region of the prefrontal cortex, 50-year-old meditators had the same amount of gray matter as 25-year-olds.
So the first question was, well, maybe the people with more gray matter in the study had more gray matter before they started meditating. So we did a second study.
We took people who’d never meditated before, and put one group through an eight-week mindfulness- based stress reduction program.
Q: What did you find?
Lazar: We found differences in brain volume after eight weeks in five different regions in the brains of the two groups. In the group that learned meditation, we found thickening in four regions:
1. The primary difference, we found in the posterior cingulate, which is involved in mind wandering, and self relevance.
2. The left hippocampus, which assists in learning, cognition, memory and emotional regulation.
3. The temporo parietal junction, or TPJ, which is associated with perspective taking, empathy and compassion.
4. An area of the brain stem called the Pons, where a lot of regulatory neurotransmitters are produced.
The amygdala, the fight or flight part of the brain which is important for anxiety, fear and stress in general. That area got smaller in the group that went through the mindfulness-based stress reduction program.
The change in the amygdala was also correlated to a reduction in stress levels.
Q: So how long does someone have to meditate before they begin to see changes in their brain?
Lazar: Our data shows changes in the brain after just eight weeks.
In a mindfulness-based stress reduction program, our subjects took a weekly class. They were given a recording and told to practice 40 minutes a day at home. And that’s it.
Q: So, 40 minutes a day?
Lazar: Well, it was highly variable in the study. Some people practiced 40 minutes pretty much every day. Some people practiced less. Some only a couple times a week.
In my study, the average was 27 minutes a day. Or about a half hour a day.
There isn’t good data yet about how much someone needs to practice in order to benefit.
Meditation teachers will tell you, though there’s absolutely no scientific basis to this, but anecdotal comments from students suggest that 10 minutes a day could have some subjective benefit. We need to test it out.
We’re just starting a study that will hopefully allow us to assess what the functional significance of these changes are. Studies by other scientists have shown that meditation can help enhance attention and emotion regulation skills. But most were not neuroimaging studies. So now we’re hoping to bring that behavioral and neuroimaging science together.
Q: Given what we know from the science, what would you encourage readers to do?
Lazar: Mindfulness is just like exercise. It’s a form of mental exercise, really. And just as exercise increases health, helps us handle stress better and promotes longevity, meditation purports to confer some of those same benefits.
But, just like exercise, it can’t cure everything. So the idea is, it’s useful as an adjunct therapy. It’s not a standalone. It’s been tried with many, many other disorders, and the results vary tremendously – it impacts some symptoms, but not all. The results are sometimes modest. And it doesn’t work for everybody.
It’s still early days for trying to figure out what it can or can’t do.
Q: So, knowing the limitations, what would you suggest?
Lazar: It does seem to be beneficial for most people. The most important thing, if you’re going to try it, is to find a good teacher. Because it’s simple, but it’s also complex. You have to understand what’s going on in your mind. A good teacher is priceless
Q: Do you meditate? And do you have a teacher?
Lazar: Yes and yes.
Q: What difference has it made in your life?
Lazar: I’ve been doing this for 20 years now, so it’s had a very profound influence on my life. It’s very grounding. It’s reduced stress. It helps me think more clearly. It’s great for interpersonal interactions. I have more empathy and compassion for people.
Q: What’s your own practice?
Lazar: Highly variable. Some days 40 minutes. Some days five minutes. Some days, not at all. It’s a lot like exercise. Exercising three times a week is great. But if all you can do is just a little bit every day, that’s a good thing, too. I’m sure if I practiced more, I’d benefit more. I have no idea if I’m getting brain changes or not. It’s just that this is what works for me right now.
This is a great article about how Mindfulness Meditation affects the brain. If you want to book a 1-1 Mindfulness Meditation session, Mindfulness Meditation Courses in Leamington Spa or simply try it out by coming to our Mindfulness Meditation weekly practice class just email or give me a call.
I have a hectic lifestyle as I have two small children and run my own business. I was looking for a way to feel more relaxed and increase my attention span both at work and with my children.
Too often I would be worrying about an email or some other matter when I should have been fully focused on relaxing with my family. At work I wasn't concentrating for long enough and my overall performance was suffering.
I'd read an article in a magazine about how mindfulness and meditation could help to reduce mental clutter and fatigue so decided to try it out. A friend recommended me to Katie Brazier, a Mindfulness teacher in Leamington and though slightly sceptical I contacted Katie and booked onto one of the Sunday morning practice classes suitable for a beginner like me.
The first thing I noticed was the relaxed ambience of the building, the room itself was clean, comfortable and tranquil. Katie was very welcoming and put me at ease immediately, the group was small and overall the experience was friendly and calming. Katie guided us through a simple sitting meditation and some breathing exercises, it was refreshingly subtle.
For the rest of the day I felt calm and composed and able to relax and think clearly. I was able to enjoy my day off with the kids without the hassle I always felt from external factors. I went to work on the Monday and felt invigorated and motivated.
Michael - Leamington Spa
Katie Brazier Teaches Mindfulness Meditation Courses, Classes and offers 1-1 Individual Sessions in Leamington Spa
Reduce Stress, Relax the Mind and get ready for your week ahead.Wake up Smiling
At this 45 minute Sunday morning class in Leamington.
Focuses Mindfulness of Body and Breath.
Become calm and centred ready for your week ahead.
Mindfulness Meditation Practice Classes
now every SUNDAY morning @ 39a
Book your place here
Classes are just £5 throughout September!
enter promotional code: sunday on the booking page
Classes are held at 39a Regent Street, Leamington Spa and run by Katie Brazier. www.katiebrazier.com
Numbers are limited to small group practice sessions lasting 45 minutes. Book your place today to secure your seat.
Katie Brazier Teaches Mindfulness Meditation Courses, Classes and offers 1-1 Individual Sessions in Leamington Spa
Stress and anxiety are two of the most common mental health issues we all suffer from. They give us overwhelming emotions that sap our energy, makes us less productive, and makes us feel down. And even though we cannot completely do away from feeling stressed and anxious, luckily, there are several things we can do to kick off these unwanted emotions right NOW.
Breathing can make miracles when you are experiencing negative emotions, such as anger. Taking a long, deep breath to calm your mind and body has been scientifically proven to work, and in fact, is the key component of some of the most powerful mind-body exercises like meditation and yoga. Slow, deep breathing is a way to distract the mind from engaging in negative thoughts and emotions. At the same time, the inhalation of fresh air decreases the amount of cortisol – negative hormone – released in the body in response to stress. This very simple practice of mindful breathing is one ultimate way to train your body to becoming a relaxation machine.
Laughter’s the best medicine. When you laugh, magical things happen inside your body, one of which is the release of the ‘feel good’ chemicals in your body that promote positive feelings, and reduce stress-inducing cortisol. As soon as you begin to feel that unwanted sensation of stress or anxiety, pause for a while, browse through some joke sites, watch a 2-minute funny video clip, or read a feel-good book. Taking time to laugh every day is a great way to lessen mental fatigue and reduce stress.
Friends benefit your health in so many ways. Make it a habit to bond with your close friends on a regular basis. And when we say ‘bond’ it means spending quality time with them up close, not through Facebook or any social media. Having a cup of tea and a friend can really help to relieve high levels of stress, and recharge your batteries. What’s more, it gives you a perfect outlet to vent your emotions or anything that bothers you.
Walking is one of the best methods available when it comes to alleviating stress. Walking gives your body an outlet for the build-up of energy that triggers stress, and since it is a form of exercise, walking keeps you fit and healthy as a result.
Guided relaxation or meditation tracks can be a perfect tool to help you to relax. Simply download, switch off your phone and let the words wash over you
Take a look at my shop for guided relaxation and hypnosis tracks to help anxiety, stress and sleep issues.
Go to my SHOP here