The Buzzword

‘Mindfulness is the buzzword that keeps popping up of late on the covers of books and in conversation. This year we will live consciously and wholeheartedly in the present. Now we will really engage with the person we’re standing in front of and savour every bite of our dinner.’                                                                                  Sunday Times

We’re a quarter of the way through 2015 and have we remembered even one of these two things? Food is what nurtures and sustains us, yet we treat it with casualness – while we’re eating we read, watch tv, write our to-do lists. Group members  were invited to eat an apple slowly, seeing it, smelling it and tasting it. Here are some of the things they found:

It was the most delicious apple I had ever tasted.

I felt mesmerised   by the smoothness of the outside and all the different colours of the skin.

I felt surprisingly full after finishing one apple. Do you think this would help people to slim? Perhaps when you really eat mindfully, you would eat less.

I noticed the peace in the room – just the sound of people chewing. I also realised that I usually rush through my food. I suppose I think other things are more important.

I asked the group to set aside  one meal a day when they just ate. They were encouraged to taste each mouthful, also to be aware of texture, appearance and smell. (Chapt 1: Awareness)

Why not try it for yourself? What did you find?

Remember to be patient and gentle with yourself always.

The full book can be downloaded as an e-book from Amazon on  http://www.amazon.com/Living-Now-Jill-Jacques-ebook/dp/B009FBT0QU/  or, Search by typing in: Living in the Now by Jill Jacques 

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Awareness Leads to Happiness

“Mindfulness quite simply means awareness,” says Dr Denny Penman. “Becoming more mindful, more aware of what’s going on in your mind and body, dissolves anxiety, stress and unhappiness. It works by broadening your awareness of what’s going on around you. It puts everything in context so that all of your worries simply lose their hold over you.”

Woman and Home

Here is a simple exercise for putting things in context and gaining perspective. It is like taking a step back and really becoming aware of what is happening, as well as what is happening in your mind and body at that moment. From this point of mindfulness, it is easier to respond rather than just react along the lines of old habit.

“Imagine for a moment that you are walking along an unfamiliar busy street during rush hour. Cars are going in both directions, some hooting at each other.On the pavement you are bumped and hustled and swept along in the crowd; in the confusion, you begin to lose your bearings.

You retreat into a doorway. There you have a better chance of taking cognisance of your surroundings, but the noise and frenetic movement still threaten to overwhelm you.

However, if you enter the building, take the lift to the third floor and go out onto the balcony, your perspective is considerably altered. You can look down  onto the busy street without its having an overpowering effect on you. You become more detached from it, so to speak.

Now think of that busy street during rush hour as your thoughts and emotions rushing around in your head, particularly if an event has triggered a painful emotion. If you are on the pavement, you will be overwhelmed and stand no chance of seeing things in proportion. In the doorway, you may be able to create some perspective, but you’re in danger of being swept back into the street.If you stand on the third floor balcony, you can watch the thoughts and emotions swirling beneath you and be less affected by them. this does not mean they will disappear – it’s more like taking a step back from the situation and lending a little distance to your view.

Use this image of yourself on the third-floor balcony whenever you feel you are in danger of being overwhelmed by emotions.” (Chapt 3: Creating distance)

Be kind and gentle to yourself always.

The full book can be downloaded as an e-book from Amazon on  http://www.amazon.com/Living-Now-Jill-Jacques-ebook/dp/B009FBT0QU/  or, Search by typing in: Living in the Now by Jill Jacques 

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I am all

It’s been a few months since I last blogged a post. During that time I spent some time in India.

In the last blog I spoke about the great advantage of travel as being to wake me up. And it did – new sights (bright colours, dogs, horses, cows, camels and elephants mingling with traffic), sounds (hooting late into the night) smells (litter and rubbish heaps along the roads). The senses came into full play as the wonders of creation unfolded before me.

But more than this. I have been using the age old question, ‘Who am I?’, to bring me into the moment and bring in something other than the world of form. Sitting in a tuk-tuk, I brought the question to mind; there was an immediate expansion and I knew that I am everything. I am all. A deep peace settled over me and in me.

“For much of the time we act from the ego. We react to situations according to who we think we are. In truth we are the essential Self, the observer, the silent witness, the ‘I am’. Believing ourselves to be separate keeps us trapped in isolation or continuing identification with the ego. (Chapt 10: Your True Self)

Try asking “Who am I?”

Remember to be kind and gentle with yourself always.

The full book can be downloaded as an e-book from Amazon on  http://www.amazon.com/Living-Now-Jill-Jacques-ebook/dp/B009FBT0QU/  or, Search by typing in: Living in the Now by Jill Jacques 

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Travel – Broaden the mind or just one-upmanship?

“There was a time when travellers met and talked about where they had been and where they were going. That was how you learnt what awaited you on  the road….

Now the conversations around camp fires and in backpackers and on trains are too often tiresome games of one-upmanship: : ‘You crossed the Karakoram by horse liberated from your Pashtun captors? Well let me tell you about the time I swam the Amazon. Naked….’

Meanwhile, the country outside sits and breathes and waits for you to see it….

I went and stood away from the group of travellers and listened to the night.

“Whatcha doin?” asked one.

“Trying to be here now,” I said.

“Yeah. He sighed.  ‘You know, when I was in the West Bank…..’ ”

Sunday Times

After all, what is the function of travel? Surely not to brag to your friends about where you’ve been and bore them with hundreds of pics. Clearly there’s nothing wrong with taking in all the new impressions with delight. But for me, the function of travel is to wake me up; all the senses are on high alert and I am in the Now. You must have experienced seeing your home as if anew when you’ve been away. That’s being present right here and now.

Living in the Now gives us the opportunity to experience life fully……It brings heightened awareness, contentment, inner harmony and deep peace, wherever we are. (Intro)

Remember to be kind and gentle with yourself always.

The full book can be downloaded as an e-book from Amazon on  http://www.amazon.com/Living-Now-Jill-Jacques-ebook/dp/B009FBT0QU/  or, Search by typing in: Living in the Now by Jill Jacques 

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Not part of the to-do list

Barney Ronay in The Guardian has this to say about Mindfulness:

“So far this week I have received three press releases on mindfulness. At Google HQ in Dublin, something called Wisdom 2.0 Europe has been staging a huge mindfulness themed event for tech companies. A Surrey University study has suggested that tech-based mindfulness aids – including an app with an alarm to warn you to be more calm – have tangible benefits on stress levels and (key detail) productivity. … The appeal of mindfulness is its promise as a coping mechanism, a place to hide, a minute’s peace. Instead it has become another item on the to-do list, a heavily marketed measure of lifestyle adequacy.”

Mindfulness, living in the Now, cannot in truth become another item on the to-do list. Present moment awareness is not about doing: it is about being. It is about letting go, not about accumulating. That mindfulness can help us to cope, is true. Being fully present has nothing to do with hiding – it has everything to do with the reality of this moment. It does bring inner peace.

“Living in the Now is not about self-improvement; it is about self-awareness, so go easy on yourself. One of the aims of mindfulness practices is to lessen stress, not to add another ‘must’ or ‘should’ to your thinking. Practise awareness when you think about it. That is good enough. If you don’t remember it until you read another blog here, don’t beat yourself up about something that is already in the past. Simply come into the present moment Now. Live in the Now as much as you can – then you can judge for yourself.” ( Chapt 1: Awareness)

Be kind and gentle with yourself.

The full book can be downloaded as an e-book from Amazon on  http://www.amazon.com/Living-Now-Jill-Jacques-ebook/dp/B009FBT0QU/  or, Search by typing in: Living in the Now by Jill Jacques 

 

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Mindfulness: the New Black

“Mindfulness is the new black,’ the Huffington Post decreed.

Yes, mindfulness has become fashionable. But this doesn’t mean it’s a passing fad, with all the superficiality that implies. Being in the now is something that can change your life.

‘It promotes awareness of the moment as an alternative to submerging yourself in painful, stressful or unpleasant memories from the past, or anxiety over the future. It teaches you how to see your thoughts and feelings and to observe them; to not over-identify with them, or get caught up in them.’                                                                      Fairlady Magazine

With practice it becomes easier to watch thoughts in the mind, and this simple observation creates a degree of distance. (Chapter 3: Creating Distance). Imagine yourself standing in a river when it comes down in flood. You will probably drown. If you’re in the shallows near the bank, you may still get swept away. But if you’re standing on a bridge watching the water swirl past below, you are safe from the torrent. Imagine that the river is the flow of thoughts and emotions that go through your head. Standing on the bridge gives you perspective; it gives you the opportunity to respond rather than react.

Try observing the constant stream of chatter in your head whenever you remember. Come into the Now. If something upsets you, picture yourself on the bridge before you react.

What did you find?

Remember to be kind and gentle with yourself always.

The full book can be downloaded as an e-book from Amazon on  http://www.amazon.com/Living-Now-Jill-Jacques-ebook/dp/B009FBT0QU/  or, Search by typing in: Living in the Now by Jill Jacques 

 

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How to be Mindful

“Notice. Make the time and space to be in the moment, not rushing, and make time to be creative. Pay attention to people and things – the context – as if seeing them for the first time.”  Prof. Ellen Langer (Harvard)

Much of the time we notice very little – our attention is focused on the thoughts whirling around in our heads. (Oh no, I’m going to be late…Musn’t forget to phone Lindy….If he thinks I’m going to back down, he’s got another think coming….etc endless etc).

Why not try just one of the above see what happens. Decide that for one hour/day/week you’re going to notice. I’m going to notice how my daughter’s done her hair; how the sun shines in through the window; the mood of my employer; the sound of someone’s voice – is he/she happy? the greenness of gardens or pot plants; the softness of a cushion or my cat’s fur; the taste of an apple.  Experience everything and everyone as if for the first time. Bring freshness and vitality into your life and release old ideas and impressions.

Don’t accept or reject any of this: try it out for yourself.

Remember to be kind and gentle with yourself.

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