2 October 2018 - Meditation
Meditation originated in the East and has been used by people for thousands of years. It has been widely adopted around the world in recent years, and is proving more and more popular in the West. People often ask me “What exactly is meditation?” Even though it is something that is discussed and used regularly these days, even recommended by some doctors, it is still a mystery to a lot of people. This is completely understandable as it is not traditionally a part of British society, not something most people grow up with, although “the times they are a changin’”, as Bob Dylan so aptly put it in his song of the same title.
So, what is Meditation?
It is about creating or rather finding stillness. Inner stillness. This inner stillness provides the mind and body with much needed rest and time, to heal and repair. When we are rushing about with the daily stresses of modern living we are often permanently in what is called the fight or flight state. Even when we are not physically doing something, our mind is still usually busy thinking about tomorrow or worrying about what happened yesterday. This is not beneficial to good health or restful sleep. Research shows that meditation affects the brain in a positive way. It increases feelings of wellbeing, encourages restful sleep, brings clarity, and calmness and can also boost the immune system. It helps to prevent the body from entering the fight or flight state unless of course it is under serious threat.
What do you have to do?
There are many ways to meditate so it is about finding a method that works for you. We are all unique and there is no one right solution for everybody. One of the more popular forms of meditation at the moment is Mindfulness, which is basically about being fully present to each moment in your day. Rather than multitasking furiously, such as taking phones calls on the walk to the station or lunching at your desk, being mindful asks you to bring focus and full awareness to each thing you are doing in each moment. Children do this automatically, and you will often see them totally engrossed in drawing, painting or whatever else has their attention. They do it with full concentration and can be oblivious to everything else around them. Other types of meditation may involve listening to a guided visualisation, focusing on an object, movement, repeating a mantra or chanting. Probably the most basic and well used form of meditation involves bringing full awareness to the breath. It is very much about experimenting with a few different ways until you find a method that suits you. Some people like to sit in quiet reflection, others prefer something more physical like a walking meditation. Whichever method you choose, when practised regularly, is very beneficial and a powerful tool for change.
Does it work?
The short answer is yes! But you will get out of meditation, what you are prepared to put into it, with both time and consistency. To be fair, most people who do meditate find that they gain more time than they lose. It helps to remove the clutter in your mind, “the monkey brain” as some people call it, and therefore provides much more clarity of thought. As a result people often find that they get through their work quicker, are less forgetful and more at peace with themselves and others.
I have been practicing and teaching meditation for many years and have seen it benefit people from all walks of life. It is something that can add much quality to your everyday life and generally has to be experienced by the individual to fully understand how it can help. It is not for everyone, because as I said earlier, you have to be prepared to invest time. You are unlikely to see results overnight, but with dedication and regular practice, you will notice the difference after a week or two.
30 July 2018 - Silence and Soul Connections
Hello and welcome to my very first blog! I am quite excited now I have got started, but to be honest for a long time I was quite anti the whole process, preferring instead, face to face or phone communication, with the odd email thrown in for good measure.
So where to start. Well, my good friend Jane Moynihan and I, are going to run a beautiful workshop in the autumn called “Finding Inspiration through Silence and Soul Connections”, so I thought it would be a good idea to explore what silence and soul connections mean to me and how I believe it can be a great tool for personal and/or spiritual growth.
When I think of silence, I connect to the absolute beauty and power of the divine. The divine for each of us may be something very different. It doesn’t matter. To me, the divine, is that spark at our core that is perfect. The part of us that is still connected to the ultimate consciousness, be that God, the Creator, Spirit, Source or whatever you choose to call it. When I go into silence, I meet with that divine spark and move into a space that is non-judgemental, and therefore open to listening regardless of what I might hear. I find a deep inner peace in this space, as if I am sitting with God. I am open to receiving wisdom and guidance in a way that I might be closed to hearing at other times, because I am truly in a place of listening without fear.
I am not saying it is easy to get into this space, it can often be quite a challenge, as well as fun, but the only way in is through practice. So if you want to get there, you have to start somewhere. This is where words and imagery can really come into their own. You may find that you are able to just sit with Spirit and that is enough to open you up to receiving on a deep level. Most people find it easier to have a few tools to help them ease into the space, have someone to hold their hand as such. And in this case have something in their hand, a pen or a crayon for example. By having the intention to use these materials, opens the space for Source to connect with you through those same materials.
When I sit down to write, which tends to be my favoured option, I have no idea what to write, or what I will hear. I rarely have a specific question in mind, as I have found over the years that it is better to just be open to receive what is for my highest good rather than what I perceive to be for my highest good. If left to my own devices, I am often wrong, and wonder why I don’t receive the answers I am looking for!
If I just open to what I need, to what is best for me at this point in time, I always come away with something far more valuable, although sometimes it may take a while to realise its full import. This is my choice of how to approach it though. There are no fixed rules, so you choose your own route in.
When I write, I do not think about what I am going to put onto paper, I let myself be guided. The first time you do this, you may feel strange, a bit silly even, especially if you are not used to writing. Just trust the process. Allow yourself to write without thought, and you will be surprised at what you are able to convey to your conscious self from your unconscious processing.
The same if you choose to use imagery. Allow yourself to be guided as to what you put on paper. Do not be fearful of a lack of artistry or skill. Just go with the flow of your feelings and allow yourself to be expressive on that piece of paper. It is the message that is important here, and not technical ability.
Being with silence is not something to be rushed. It is a beautiful dance with the unknown. It is a kiss of the breeze on a summer evening. It is the crash of thunder on a wild stormy night. Just allowing it to happen is the challenge. We are so used to filling our every moment with sounds, and other stimuli such as mobile devices, TV, people, radio, etc, that allowing silence to fill us enough so that it can speak to us is not always straightforward.
During the workshop, after periods of silence, we will come together as a group to share, only if we choose, what has occurred for us during the silence. This allows the group energy to combine and provide an opportunity for further illumination. This can be helpful to unravel or further explain some of the wisdom we may have received. There is no obligation to share what you have experienced, written or created, it is completely optional, but can be an incredibly valuable process.
Once you get into the habit of regularly spending some time in silence, you will find it a valuable resource for gaining insight, and regaining vital life force, that can become depleted through the rush of everyday living. This is very much a personal journey of discovery, which can be both illuminating and fun. I encourage you to give it a try.
The venue is a lovely old building with a number of rooms that can be utilised so you will not all have to stay in one room. There is also a garden, weather permitting, if you prefer to be outside.
Epping Tube Station is on the Central Line, just 35 minutes from Liverpool Street.
I hope to see you there! Please click here to Register