Tag Archives: Metta

Meditating with the MagnifiCat

MeditatingwiththeMagnifiCat

Clients and students often ask me about creating and sustaining a meditative practice when their children are demanding their time, energy and attention.

I recommend making them a part of their practice (being fully present with whatever’s going on). Sometimes, I tell them about how I use Rainbow MagnifiCat’s interruptions during the day to enhance my mindfulness practice. As she looks expectantly for attention, I make my lap available for her, pausing work or whatever (unless I’m with a telephone or online client, obviously) and relax into the Rainbow Appreciation Time, hearing her purr, feeling her fur (and claws and weight) and generally feeling pleasantly present and grounded.

This morning, I realised that this is not (of course) the full story. Most days, I let her out while I do my morning meditation and a little yoga. My eyes frequently open and glance towards the door, checking in case she wants to come in.

This morning, with a lot of pent up energy from her snow avoiding time indoors yesterday, she didn’t want to go out while I meditated. I told her (and her angel) that I’d be meditating and focusing on my experience yet still noticed myself getting very distracted. Lots of opportunities this morning for noticing this (with as much self-compassion and curiosity as I could muster) and gently bringing my mind back to the meditation.

And Rainbow’s a cat. Babies and children (and puppies and goats etc) are far more demanding.

What can you do to make them part of your practice in a way that’s practical for them and you?

As with everything, some days, it’s much easier to be present than others. Many mornings, Rainbow’s so peaceful and quiet on the bed, I do my meditation next to her there before I even brush my teeth.

This morning, I could have easily locked Rainbow out of the room but I wanted to challenge myself to stay focused. (I can almost hear her howl, ‘Mwah hahahaha’ from the other room where she’s been peaceful and still since I finished and put my yoga mat away.)

Children and animals are wonderful at bringing us into the present moment.

This isn’t to say it’s always easy. Just as it’s often easier to be aware of our bodies and what they need when we feel strong, fit and healthy, it’s when we’re in pain that the biggest benefits of being present and really paying attention to what we need can pay off.

Do you include your children and/or animals in your meditative practices?

When is it easiest?

When is it most challenging?

What helps you most?

Feel free to share below.

love,

Eve

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US Election – Self-care for Pre-Traumatic Stress

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I can’t remember who to credit for this pre-traumatic stress label but if you’re feeling anxious about what the world might look like a week from today, when results are in, I hope this will help.

Stephen Covey’s Circle of Influence and Circle of Concern may be helpful. How can we expand our influence? When our influence is greater and concern is lower, we’re less anxious and more empowered.

If you have a vote, vote for the person you believe to be the best candidate.

Personally speaking, a big part of me feels that if Hillary doesn’t win, it’s a war against women not just because of the misogyny she’s faced throughout the campaign (including standing up to death and jail threats from her opponent) but because the majority of Americans will have knowingly voted for a self-confessed (alleged) sexual predator.

That her opponent’s supporters can somehow compartmentalise this (along with the racism, homophobia and other cruelties exhibited) hurts my heart. But this post isn’t meant to depress you.

Instead, I thought I’d share some of the self-care tools I’m using myself this week:

Get your diary out

What are you doing on Wednesday 9th when results come in? I know (from the day of the Brexit result) that as gentle a day as possible is in order. While I’m hoping to be cartwheeling with happiness at the first US woman president, it’s looking close. So I’ll be spending as much time with loved ones as possible. What will help you process the result?

Feel the feelings

It’s naturally easier to embrace feelings like love, joy, hope and so on. But the more we feel ALL of our feelings, the more we expand our emotional landscapes. This isn’t necessarily easy but a counsellor can help. Similarly, allowing time to talk to loved ones or journal or a mixture can help.

Move

I’m not talking about emigrating. Physically moving our bodies is a great way to release a lot of the stress hormones that contribute to anxious states. A run or brisk walk, some sun salutations or push ups, a bike ride or whatever appeals to you can help enormously.

Send Metta

This may sound flakey but I adore this Loving Kindness meditation. The trauma sensitive version I learned during my yoga therapy training means we don’t force ourselves to include someone we’re challenged by but when we’re able to, it’s amazing to feel the heart expand.

Notice how it feels (if this appeals to you) to send Loving Kindness to people who are voting differently to you and even candidates you may struggle with. Some days it’s easier than others. But remembering we’re all connected and we all have the capacity for everything – good and bad – within helps us not project so much of our own shadows Out There.

If you want to try, start with yourself and move outwards to encompass the whole world and come back to yourself at the end:

May I be happy and healthy, peaceful and at ease. May I be able to take care of myself joyfully. May I possess the courage, wisdom, patience and determination to manage life’s challenges.

May [someone you love] be happy and healthy, peaceful and at ease. May they be able to take care of themselves joyfully. May they possess the courage, wisdom, patience and determination to manage life’s challenges.

May [someone you you feel neutral about] be happy and healthy, peaceful and at ease. May they be able to take care of themselves joyfully. May they possess the courage, wisdom, patience and determination to manage life’s challenges.

May [someone you find challenging OR another person you love] be happy and healthy, peaceful and at ease. May they be able to take care of themselves joyfully. May they possess the courage, wisdom, patience and determination to manage life’s challenges.

May [a group – geographical or other that you’d like to send Metta to] be happy and healthy, peaceful and at ease. May they be able to take care of themselves joyfully. May they possess the courage, wisdom, patience and determination to manage life’s challenges.

[If you have time and want to, you can choose groups you feel concern about, groups you love and groups you simply cannot understand but want to open your heart to rather than contributing to more hatred and division]

May everyone on the planet be happy and healthy, peaceful and at ease. May we be able to take care of ourselves joyfully. May we possess the courage, wisdom, patience and determination to manage life’s challenges.

May I be happy and healthy, peaceful and at ease. May I be able to take care of myself joyfully. May I possess the courage, wisdom, patience and determination to manage life’s challenges.

These are just a few tools to play with if you want to. Think about your own favourite self-care tools. What can you make more time for yourself this coming week (and beyond)?

Feel free to share below.

love,

Eve

 

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Love and ‘My mom has a saying that behind every successful child is an astonished parent’ ~ Cory Booker

 

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Cory Booker with Trevor Noah (right) on The Daily Show

Wishing all the mothers a Happy Mother’s Day for Sunday – I thought Cory Booker’s mother’s quote was just delightful.

He was being interviewed by Trevor Noah on The Daily Show and appears to still be as humble and service oriented and brave and kind as he has in every other interview I’ve read or seen with him.

Years ago, I remember reading that when he was Mayor of Newark, New Jersey (I felt an affinity as I lived in Newark, Delaware for a year as a kid), someone had contacted him about snowplows being needed and their elderly parents being snowed in. Next thing they knew, the then Mayor was out shovelling the snow himself.

I don’t remember all the details but this man – now Senator and, hopefully (after Hillary and Kirsten Gillibrand? I don’t even get to vote, this is seriously none of my business) a future US President – has literally saved lives. When Jon Stewart interviewed him years ago, I think he was compared to a superhero. He just seems so kind.

In the interview I saw this week, he was doing his best to think of nice things to say about people on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

And then he talked about love, in the widest sense. Easy to say, challenging to do:

‘Love everyone. Love seems like a soft word but I preach against tolerance because that is held up as some kind of ideal in this country, that we tolerate each other. But that’s a cynical state of being that says that if you disappear from the face of the earth, I’m no better or worse off. Love says, “I recognise that you have worth and value and I need you.” There’s an old saying, “If you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, go together… we need each other.”’

I adore this man.

When we feel safe, it’s easier to hold that sense of love for our fellow beings. When we feel threatened, we view the whole world with suspicion. I always tell my yoga students and clients that just as some days we’re physically stronger and more flexible (and other days less so), sometimes, a Metta (loving kindness) meditation can feel amazingly heart expansive and empowering. Other times, it’s just too challenging to send loving kindness to ourselves, let alone people we’re struggling with (who am I kidding – it’s often hardest to send it to ourselves). Love is expansive. Fear makes us contract.

The theme continued in a yoga class I attended today. Sometimes I cover classes for the lovely Emma Turnbull but today I got to enjoy taking her class. She used Deepak Chopra as inspiration re pranayama, asana and meditation and encouraged us to give to everyone we met all week. While this can be an actual gift, Emma suggested kind thoughts and well wishes.

I’m used to doing my morning Metta meditation (sending loving kindness to various people and groups and the world at large) but have, so far, found it both lovely and challenging. First off, it’s so easy to forget. And then (already!) transformative.

Cycling home, popped into the Post Office – crazy long queue and one poor cashier on her own. Normally, I’d have sighed and pulled out my book. Today (also partly inspired by Dorothy Nesbitt and Art Giser :)), I was happy to just stand and be, sending well wishes to all the others in the queue (and the cashier, of course).

This is probably one of those posts where I forget quite quickly after writing but it’s a practice I want to play with more. Of course we’re human and it’s not always possible. But it’s so much more empowering to walk through this world from and expansive, open, loving place.

What helps you feel expansive?

How have you found Metta and similar meditations?

Do you agree with Senator Booker that love is better than mere tolerance?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve x

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Talking energy work and coaching at BACP Coaching’s UEL meeting last night

Even though the transpersonal is so embedded in modern coaching (Sir John Whitmore learned a lot from psychosynthesis creator Assagioli), going to an academic environment to talk about energy work and coaching felt a little like coming out of the closet (don’t burn me at the stake!).

Instead, it was fun to share some of the processes I use with a lovely group more accustomed to hearing from executive coaches.

We covered grounding, HeartMath, Metta (loving kindness), a little mindfulness, some Resolution Magic, ENLP, bifocal vision, Good Will and more.

Big thanks to Gill, Becks and Christian for being so welcoming and to everyone there for being open.

Metta,

Eve

x

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Feeling helpless about France, ebola and other suffering around the world?

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My heart goes out to those shot yesterday by extremists. I’d never heard of French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, until yesterday but am a huge fan of Jon Stewart’s Daily Show which, I understand is similar (in terms of equal opportunity satire).

The NUJ had a minute silence this morning at 11am to honour the people killed. Even though I’m a journalist (I write features rather than being a news reporter), I often cry reading the papers or news online.

In recent years, I have learned to offset this often helpless, angry, impotent rage / wish to sob at what we humans have the capacity to do to each other and our planet by sending areas and people Metta.

Metta translates as Loving Kindness and while it’s an ancient Buddhist practice I learned about from Heather Mason on my yoga therapy training, modern science is revealing the benefits for our own heart health and overall wellbeing.

The heart has an electromagnetic field and by taking care of our own emotions, we can shift the energy not only in our own hearts but in our families, in meetings, in a building and in the world.

This doesn’t mean repressing anything – when I teach Metta to students and clients, I encourage them to notice the people and areas it feels wonderful to send Metta to and the people and areas they might be angry with and think, ‘It’s not fair! I don’t wanna!’ Sometimes it can feel heart expanding and lovely, other times, it can make us tearful as we think about struggling relationships or other sorrows.

Just as certain yoga poses may feel gorgeous and others icky (and this can change day to day), Metta meditation offers us another tool for mindfulness, helping us notice what’s going on for us in any given moment.

When I did mine, this morning, I added France and noticed that apart from feeling awful for the victims, I feel terrible for the millions of peaceful Muslims living in minorities around the world who might suffer as a result of extremists’ actions.

If you’d like to try it, here’s the one I learned (but check out other versions – go with what feels good for your heart):

May I be happy and healthy, peaceful and at ease.

May I be able to take care of myself joyfully.

May I possess the courage, wisdom, patience and determination to manage life’s challenges.

Then you move it out so you may think of a person you care about, or the people in your building, then the town you’re in, country, and so on and whole world.

May ____ be happy and healthy, peaceful and at ease.

May ___ be able to take care of her/himself joyfully.

May ___ possess the courage, wisdom, patience and determination to manage life’s challenges.

Depending on the amount of time you have (and how you feel), you keep expanding it out.

Then you finish by bringing it back to yourself.

On days I’m seeing clients and teaching, I do a round for each client and group of students. Other days, I think of individuals in my life. And often, I simply think of a map of the world and send it to different areas (people suffering with the ebola virus, those in Palestine and Israel, the list is sadly endless and sending a little Metta helps me feel less exhausted by it).

You can check out research from the HeartMath Institute here.

If you feel up to it, traditionally, Metta is about sending loving kindness to people who challenge us to (on some days, sending it to ourselves can feel challenging enough!). But you can play with it and find a system that feels good for you.

It won’t bring anyone back but you might want to experiment with it for yourself. By staying in a resourceful, loving place ourselves, we’re maybe helping to make our planet a little more peaceful. Even if not contributing to world peace, we’re at least less likely to act out and make things worse…

For a more general linking in with people around the world working for peace, you might be interested in the 9pm Minute Silence each evening.

Metta,

Eve

x

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One Billion Rising – Embodied dancing to end rape, abuse and injustice this Valentine’s Day

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You might be interested in this Guardian interview with Eve Ensler by Decca Aitkenhead about becoming embodied, recovery from trauma and abuse and how it’s not enough to think but important to use our whole selves and dance for change and justice (as well as to shift our own energy and empower ourselves).

I met Eve Ensler in New York at her V-Day conference (the first day of my being freelance, in September 2004) and she’s been a huge inspiration to me since first reading her words. Last year, I went to one of the London events for One Billion Rising but this year, I think I’ll just dedicate one of my mini dance breaks to the cause.

Whether you can get to an organised event or just feel like marking it privately, take some time to honour your body and do something that feels good for every cell.

It may be dancing, it might be some yoga, maybe going for a walk or run or simply learning to pause (as often as possible, perhaps set an alarm a few times a day to get into the habit) and notice what’s going on in your body as well as your feelings, spirit and mind.

If you notice anger, you might want to dance or stamp your feet (as with Resolution Magic) to honour the feelings while releasing the stress hormones (and, where trauma is involved, help yourself get back into your body, empowering yourself to shout and stamp and know that you’ve survived and are OK. You are more than the trauma/s).

And whatever’s going on for you, whether you’re one of the 1 in 3 or you’re concerned about loved one/s and you don’t know what do or say (or there’s no trauma but you’re simply having an off day) sending yourself and others Metta (loving kindness) can begin to shift and improve things, too.

Metta x

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NEW – Personal Peace coaching workshops for meditation and creative visualisation in Witham, Essex

Meditation as mental hygiene  Image courtesy of digitalart / freedigitalphotos.net
Meditation as mental hygiene
Image courtesy of digitalart / freedigitalphotos.net

We all know that meditation is good for us. Over the past few decades, modern neuroscience has been able to show actual differences in the brains and bodies of regular meditators.

And you don’t have to become a Buddhist monk or nun to benefit. These classes are secular so you don’t have to believe in anything in order to access your own inner wisdom and a greater sense of personal peace.

Studies show that meditative practices can benefit everything from concentration to heart health, pain management to immunity and general wellbeing.

I first started meditating in 2001 during my crystal therapy training and over the next several years, went through phases where I loved it and did a fair bit and other phases where I missed it.

I didn’t quite believe that taking time to meditate would actually give me a greater sense of time and ease throughout the rest of each day and actually only developed a daily (as in Every Single Day) practice this year after hearing Jon Kabat Zinn speak (click here to read more).

I can’t imagine not meditating each morning any more than I can imagine not brushing my teeth and, if you’d like to make meditation, creative visualisation and relaxation a bigger part of your life, I’d love to help you.

These fun, friendly, small group sessions will introduce you to a range of meditative practices from around the world so you can experiment with what works best for you.

Themes include: Overcoming obstacles, Energising, Heart opening, Manifestation, Crystals, Chakra Balancing, Trusting life and Letting go.

Click here to find out more. And I hope to see you soon.

Metta xx

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Sending Metta to Boston and focusing on the good in people

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Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net / Sommai

I can’t begin to imagine the horror of those involved and affected by the explosions today in Boston. People running, for charity, having trained for such a long time only to have the day end in chaos and fear.

A lovely quote has been going around on Twitter and Facebook (attributed to @petemanning and also Fred Rogers – whoever said it, I love it) saying that when he was scared of the news as a kid, his mother told him to always look for the people helping. ‘There are always people helping.’

It’s easy to forget people’s inherent goodness as we traumatise ourselves watching (with many news stations showing such images on a loop) horrific events unfolding. This simply raises our stress levels and leads to overwhelm and hopelessness.

Personally speaking, after reading this quote, I turned the TV back on and put my attention on the people pushing those in wheelchairs, police officers, paramedics and ordinary people doing all they can to help.

Here are some other things you can do to help yourself feel safer anytime the world feels chaotic and scary:

Notice your breathing. Whether watching or reading news updates, be mindful of shallow, choppy breathing which might raise your anxiety and stress. Consciously make your breath smooth and exhale for longer than you inhale to calm your whole system
Place the soles of your feet on the ground and feel the earth beneath you. If you’re outdoors with bare feet, wonderful. But even if you’re in a high building, you can visualise roots going from the soles of your feet deep into the earth, connecting you with its nourishing energy and supporting you in this life
Light a candle and ask whichever Higher Power (God / Goddess / the Universe / angels…) you feel comfortable with to help the people who need it. Remember the Chinese proverb that inspired the creators of Amnesty’s logo (‘Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness’)? Lighting a candle always helps me feel better when I feel helpless in the face of suffering
Send some Metta (Loving Kindness) to all involved. This is the version I learned doing my Yoga Therapy training with Heather Mason at The Minded Institute:

Sitting comfortably, say: ‘May I be happy and healthy, peaceful and at ease. May I be able to take care of myself joyfully. May I possess the courage and wisdom, patience and determination to manage life’s challenges.’

Then, you widen it out. So if you’re affected by something you see on the news (like tonight for Boston or recently with Syria or any other area / group of people you somehow want to help but don’t know how), you think about them. It might be for people closer to home in which case you go from you to everyone in your building / neighbourhood / town… ‘May they be happy and healthy, peaceful and at ease. May they be able to support themselves joyfully. May they possess the courage and wisdom, patience and determination to manage life’s challenges.’

Then you widen it further out so it might be everyone on the planet who is suffering from _____ or a larger geographical area.

Then widen it out (each time, you may actually feel your own heart expanding with love for all involved) to everyone on the planet.

Finally, bring this Metta back to yourself and sit quietly letting it settle for a few moments.

When you feel grounded and calm, your energy will naturally become more loving than fearful. You’ll be better able to be helpful and supportive rather than adding to angst and turmoil.

Metta xx

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Happy International Day of Peace – how will you bring more peace into your life?

September 21st. Autumn Equinox and the UN’s International Day of Peace – http://www.un.org/en/events/peaceday/

If the idea of World Peace feels too overwhelming, start with yourself. What practical steps could you take to make your life more peaceful?

Little things, from getting more sleep to organising clothes and lunches the evening before could help you make your mornings more peaceful.

More challenging might be to think of yourself and others with peace and compassion. Experiment with it.

Sit comfortably and quietly repeat, ‘May all beings be free from emnity, harm and anxiety. May all beings live happily’.

Just typing this, I felt a mini-wave of wellbeing wash over me. The research backs it up. Metta meditations (like the one above) don’t just send good vibes to others but help us reduce our own stresses, anxiety, depression, helps avoid burnout and increases satisfaction with life.

It also helps us feel safer as, by sending out well wishes in all directions, we somehow change our relationship with the world around us.

In all your interactions today (and moving forward), look for ways to bring peace into your life.

www.wellbeing-at-work.co.uk

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