Tag Archives: mindfulness

10 moments to remind you to pause for a few minutes every day

MOMENTS

1. Stopping at a traffic light.
2. Arriving at your office every morning.
3. Turning on your computer.
4. A call from your boyfriend.
5. Setting the alarm of your mobile phone at a particular time.
6. Stopping for a cup of coffee or a cup of tea.
7. Changing into your workout gear.
8. Having a shower after your workout.
9. Unlocking the door of your house when you get back home.
10. Undressing and changing into comfortable clothing before dinner.

Stop

STOP PARAR MINDFULNESS

“When I was a young monk in Vietnam, each village temple had a big bell, like those in Christian churches in Europe and the United States. Whenever the bell was invited to sound, all the villagers would stop what they were doing and pause for a few moments to breath in and out in mindfulness. At Plum Village, the community where I live in France, we do the same. Every time we hear the bell, we go back to ourselves and enjoy our breathing. When we breathe in, we silently say, “Listen, listen”, and when we breathe out, we say, “This wonderful sound brings me back to my true home”.”

Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese monk, one of the best advocates of mindfulness, founder of Plum Village.
YourTrue Home. The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh. Boston & London: Shambala;2011.


What could be your personal reminder to stop for a few minutes during the day?

Practicing mindful yoga

Mindful Yoga

“Through the practice of mindful yoga, we can expand and deepen our sense of what it means to inhabit the body and develop a richer and more nuanced sense of the lived body in the lived moment”

Jon Kabat-Zinn
Coming to Our Senses. Healing Ourselves and the World through Mindfulness. New York: Hyperion, 2005.

“It is a profound meditation practice, especially when practiced mindfully, and develops strength, balance, and flexibility of mind even as it is developing those same capacities at the level of the body”

Jon Kabat-Zinn
Coming to Our Senses. Healing Ourselves and the World through Mindfulness. New York: Hyperion, 2005.

Yesterday morning, today

JAIME GIL DE BIEDMA

Yesterday morning, today

You rest your temple against
the open window pane
watching rain falling down
over the ocean.

In a split-second image-
your body outlined
serely in half-light, still
naked from the night.

And then you turn toward me,
smiling. I´m thinking
so much has changed but this
is how I remember you.

Jaime Gil de Biedma, Spanish poet and writer, 1929-1990

Falling asleep during the body scan

body scan thailand

I am sure that every one of us has fallen asleep or has dozed off at least once while trying to meditate…

I must admit this has happened to me a good number of times. This is especially so whenever I do the body scan.

It does not matter what time of the day it is, there’s one point where my mind disconnects completely. I am on the left leg, and all of a sudden I am on the right hand, not being quite sure what has happened…

At the beginning I must say I felt quite guilty about it, especially if I had snored, or I thought I had snored…

I felt bad, and that made me be on guard during my next body scan. Would that happen again…? Would the person lying next to me complain of my snoring?

Then I realised that falling asleep could be part of the process, of the experience, of my experience… and as such, I just had to embrace it, to accept it. I had and have to treat myself with kindness and gentleness, also when I meditate…

Having said so, I was taught a couple of tricks that have proved really helpful. One is doing the body scan with my eyes open. Second, if I still feel tired, I raise my arms, and try to maintain them raised for a while. This helps me just for a while, because shortly after I have started doing so, I get cramps in my arms…

And if in spite of these hints, I still fall asleep, I try to treat myself with gentleness… Catching up with the body scan wherever in the body the rest of the group is.

And trying to live in the moment the rest of the time that is left before the body scan comes to an end…

Practising the body scan

Body scan. Thailand

“We can surrender completely to the embrace of gravity, and let go into the floor or mat or bed and let it do the work. Sometimes it can feel like you are floating, and that can be very pleasant and increase your motivation for taking up residence in your body and in the present moment.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn
Coming to Our Senses. Healing Ourselves and the World through Mindfulness. New York: Hyperion, 2005.

“All you need to do is lie here and feel different regions of your body and then let go of them. The body scan is systematic in the sense that we move through the various regions of the body in a particular order. But there is no one way to do it. It could be done scanning from head to feet or from feet to head or from side to side for that matter.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn
Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. New York: Hyperion, 1994.

Barcelona will host the first ever MindfulGay workshop!

WORKSHOP BARCELONA MINDFULGAY

It’s such a honor to share that our first MindfulGay workshop will be held in Barcelona, Spain, from the 21st of April to the 8th of June of 2015.

Please, read the information below and write us if you have any doubt or want to join us along this 8 weeks MBSR workshop.

Sign up in http://www.mindfulgay-training.com

Next workshops worldwide will be added very soon, so stay tunned!

Good starting points

MINDFULNESS GAY MSBR

Anyone interested in Mindfulness and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) should start by looking at these three links:

1. The Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where it all started more than 30 years ago. It is the world reference point for Mindfulness, MBSR, and Mindfulness Education in general.

http://www.umassmed.edu/cfm/

2. Mindfulness Meditation NYC is a collaborative of MBSR teachers offering classes in the NYC area. It is a great source of information for anyone who wants to know about Mindfulness and MBSR, regardless of their location.

http://www.mindfulnessmeditationnyc.com/

3. The Center for Mindfulness research and Practice at Bangor University in Wales, United Kingdom, is one of the leading centres for teaching and research on Mindfulness in Europe and throughout the world. Their courses and workshops complement perfectly those offered in different centres in the United States.

http://www.bangor.ac.uk/mindfulness/

Walking meditation at Paris airport

walking meditation airport mindfulness

I have always being scared of practising walking meditation in public spaces. I think people will stare at me. I am afraid of looking like some sort of walking ghost.

I decided I wanted to do something about it, so with the prospect of my trip to New York for New Year’s Eve, I told myself I would do a walking meditation at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, while changing planes and terminals, arriving from Valencia on my way to New York.

Going through a big airport, from one terminal to another, waiting in long lines, going through immigration, through security, is not the most relaxing thing in the world, and it can be a rather stressful situation, especially if connecting times are tight.

Although I had plenty of time between flights, I tried to live my experience in a completely different way, being mindful, being aware of each step.

Going out of the plane, walking along the airbridge towards the terminal…

Being aware of my breath while I walk, the air coming in and going out, and at the same time being aware of my hips, my legs, my feet…

Concentrating on my foot lifting as the other touches the floor. Feeling that contact. The skin against the sock, the sock against the shoe, the shoe against the floor. Only this exists at this particular moment. Savouring it.

Being aware when my mind wanders, wanting to complain about how heavy my bags are, on how long the immigration lines are, or if someone tries to bypass the queue…

Going back to my breathing and to the movement of my legs, and my feet. Finding refuge and peace at these anchors.
Trying to bring this awareness to my posture, to my body when I am standing in a line, or observing the planes on the runway.

And doing this with gentleness, without any judgement.

Finally getting into the big bird, finding my seat, taking my place… realising that I feel different to other trips, I feel at peace, I feel well.

Mission accomplished! I say to myself. You’ve managed to do it and it has been great…!

About walking meditation

walking meditation

‘In traditional monastic settings, periods of sitting meditation are interspersed with periods of walking meditation. They are the same practice. The walking is just as good as the sitting. What is important is how you keep your mind. In formal walking meditation you attend to the walking itself.’

Jon Kabat-Zinn
Wherever you go there you are: Mindfulness meditation in everyday life. (1994)

‘We have to awaken ourselves to the truth that we are here, alive. We are here making steps on this beautiful planet. This is already performing a miracle. But we have to be here in order for the miracle to be possible. We have to bring ourselves back to the here and the now. Therefore, each step we take becomes a miracle. If you are able to walk like that, each step will be very nourishing and healing. You walk as if you kiss the earth with your feet, as if you massage the earth with your feet. There is a lot of love in that practice of walking meditation.’

Thich Nhat Hanh
Your true home. The everyday wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh. (2011)

‘Peace is every step’

Thich Nhat Hanh
Peace is every step: The path of mindfulness in everyday life. (1991)

Breathing and mindfulness

Breathing & Mindfulness

“So, at the beginning, you might want to stay with the breath, or use it as an anchor to bring you back when you are carried away. Try for a few years and see what happens”

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever you go, there you are. Mindfulness meditation in everyday life.

“Use the breath as an anchor to tether your attention to the present moment. Your thinking mind will drift here and there, depending on the currents and winds moving in the mind until at some point, the anchor line grows taut and brings you back”.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life

“There are many ways to come back to the here and the now and touch life deeply. But they all involve mindful breathing, If we´re anchored in our mindful breathing, we can practice anytime. Otherwise we risk missing our lives, our lives that are lived in the here and now”.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Your true home. The every day wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist Zen monk, as well as a writer and peace activist. He is well known throughout the world for his teachings and books on mindfulness and peace, having published over 100 titles on meditation, mindfulness and Buddhism, as well as poems and children’s stories.

He was born in central Vietnam in 1926. In the early seventies, after attending peace talks overseas, he was denied permission to return to Vietnam and went into exile in France, where he has been living for nearly four decades. In 1982 he founded the community of Plum Village near Bordeaux and has lived there since. In addition to the one in France, he has established several monasteries in other counties including the United States, Germany and Vietnam.

Thich Nhat Hanh introduced the concept of Mindfulness to the Western world within a Buddhist context, and wrote the The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation which is considered one of his best known works. Some of his other best selling books include Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, Touching Peace: Practicing the Art of Mindful Living, Savor and Mindful Eating, Mindful Life and You are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment.

“His key teaching is that, through mindfulness, we can learn to live happily in the present moment—the only way to truly develop peace, both in one’s self and in the world.” (http://plumvillage.org)

Martin Luther King called Thich Nhat Hanh “an Apostle of peace and nonviolence”. The media has called him “The Father of Mindfulness”, “The Other Dalai Lama” and “The Zen Master Who Fills Stadiums”. He is affectionately known by his students as Thay which is Vietnamese for ‘teacher’.

Thich Nhat Hanh is also a renowned calligraphist. His works feature short phrases and words capturing the essence of his mindfulness teachings and have been exhibited in galleries and centres in numerous countries.

More recently, Thich Nhat Hanh has founded Wake Up, a worldwide movement of young people who want to train in the practices of mindful living, and he has launched a teacher training programme to introduce mindfulness in schools throughout the world.

Thich Nhat Hanh is now 88 years old and continued to write and teach at Plum Village.Until recently he travelled widely visiting his various centres and leading retreats around the world.On 11 November 2014, he experienced a severe brain haemorrhage and was taken to hospital, where he still is.

Sources:

http://plumvillage.org

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Th%C3%ADch_Nh%E1%BA%A5t_H%E1%BA%A1nh

Nhat Hanh, Thich. Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life.
Arnold Kotler (Ed). Bantam, 1992.

Nhat Hanh, Thich. The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of
Meditation
. Beacon Press, 1999.

Nhat Hanh, Thich. Touching Peace: Practicing the Art of Mindful Living. Parallax Press,
2009.

Mountains and mindfulness

man meditating

After coming from ‘The Mountain’ in North Carolina, nestled deep in the Appalachian Mountains, the image of a mountain is vivid in my mind. It made me think how important the notion of it is in Mindfulness and MBSR.

Frequently when we do Sitting Meditation, crossed legged on the floor, or sitting on a chair, we use the image of a mountain, emerging with majesty, with dignity, like us, sitting in an upright position in a dignified posture, aware of our breathing, rooted, motionless, oblivious to what is happening around. As Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “by becoming the mountain in our meditation, we can link up with its strength and stability, and adopt them for our own”.

We also use the parallelism with a mountain when we do Mindful yoga. Standing with our feet shoulder-width apart, our arms parallel to our body. Our spine erect, standing with dignity, focusing our awareness on the connection with the floor. Being with our feet grounded, anchored, stable, like a mountain emerging from the earth. Going back to it again and again when we connect from one posture to the next while we practise Mindful movement. Knowing that we can come back to it frequently throughout the day, whatever we are doing, wherever we may be. Feeling secure, feeling connected, feeling rooted, feeling present.

Let the mountains inspire us, men who love men, while we practise Mindfulness meditation, let’s have them present in our imagination, in our mind, in our body.

Sources:
Kabat-Zinn, John. Wherever you go, there you are: Mindfulness meditation in everyday life. New York: Hyperion, 1994.

An approach to James Broughton

James Broughton

James Broughton is the very epitome of a writer who constantly experienced mindfulness both in his personal life and in his work.

He was born in Modesto, California, in 1913. He was a poet and experimental filmmaker and was associated with the San Francisco Renaissance, a movement which preceded the Beat Generation poets. He was involved with the counter-cultural movement the Radical Faeries and was a member of the group The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

His life was a mirror of his work. He was a free spirit and kept exploring and transcending boundaries of male and female, straight and gay, young and old, wilderness and civility, body and spirit. In spite of ongoing pressures from his family and society, he was never afraid of following his instincts and beliefs.

Poet and publisher Jonathan Williams gave him the nickname ‘Big Joy’ and James really lived up to it throughout his life.

In the 1940’s he began experimenting with filming, making avant-garde films, exploring themes of sex, death, and the meaning of life, earning him several awards, among which should be highlighted a lifetime achievement award from the American Film Institute, and an award in Cannes from Jean Cocteau for his film The Pleasure Garden.

He wrote more than 20 books, poetry being one of his favourite passions. An example of the importance of the here and now in his work are the poems ¨Closure`, and ´This is it`, which feature in other posts in this blog.

James Broughton had both male and female lovers during his life. With his wife, the artist Suzanna Hart, he had two children, and he also had a daughter with the film critic Pauline Kael. In his 60s, James Broughton formed a relationship with a Canadian student named Joel Singer, which lasted for nearly 25 years until Broughton’s death in 1999.

Abundant information about James Broughton’s life and work, as well as the 2012 award-winning film documenting his life (Big Joy: the adventures of James Broughton by Stephen Silha et al) can be found at http://bigjoy.org

YOUTUBE

Meditating open air

open air

Meditating open-air.

Feeling connected to the earth, feeling grounded, feeling rooted.

The wind blowing in your face.

Listening to the sound of water, the power of water, water falling into the void.

Blending with nature.

Becoming merged with it.

Becoming one.

By Manuel Grau (in the picture), founder at MindfulGay

Body scan

body scan mindfulness

When we hear the term body scan, it can conjure up all sorts of thoughts and mental associations.

Body scan is one of the formal meditation practices which are part of mindfulness-based stress reduction or MBSR, and it is the first kind of meditation which is taught in the MBSR course.

It is a type of lying down meditation in which we focus our attention on the different parts of our body, in a systematic way.

Usually it is done lying down on a mat , with our arms parallel to the body. But it can also be done sitting down, or adopting other positions like, the astronaut pose (body on the floor, and knees bent on a chair).

While we do the body scan, our eyes are usually closed, but if this makes us feel uncomfortable, or we feel that we are falling asleep, we can leave them open.

While we are lying down, relaxation can occur, but it’s not the ultimate goal of this meditation. Throughout the exercise, we are invited to stay alert and awake. But again, if we happen to fall asleep, it is okay, we just resume the exercise in the part of the body where we were just before our attention drifted away.

We do not pretend to change anything, or achieve any particular goal, just being aware of how we are and what we feel as we check each area of our bodies.

In the body scan, we go through the different parts of the body, acknowledging what is happening in that particular point, in that particular moment. Accepting whatever sensation or feeling we may have, or accepting (why not?) that there is no particular sensation or feeling.

We move our awareness through the different parts of our body, following a particular order, but there is no one best way of doing it. We can start from the toes and end on the head, or the other way around.

Again as what happens with sitting meditation, it is a matter of experiencing the experience, accepting whatever is there for us in the here and now.

MBSR, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

MSBR Mindfulness

You may already be familiar to what MBSR stands for, and know that these four letters mean Mindfulness-based stress reduction.

As you already know, it was created by Jon Kabat-Zin in the late seventies. Although it is based in Buddhist meditation principles, the course it’s structured throughout 8 weeks, and its main aim is to reduce stress and to give you tools to bring awareness to your life moment by moment.

The main meditation practices that are used in the course are sitting meditation, body scan, walking meditation, and mindful yoga, also known as mindful movement.

Those are different types of what is known as formal practice. In all of them the main anchor or object of awareness, at least at the beginning, is the breath. As Jon Kabat-Zin says: “Try it for a few years and see what happens”.

Informal practices are also introduced. This means bringing attention to different activities that we all usually do in our daily life, like eating, brushing our teeth or washing the dirty dishes.
Sessions are complemented with weekly practice at home listening to Cds and using reading material.
When a group is established at the beginning of the course a bond and a commitment is created.

A bond between the facilitator and the participants, and also among the participants themselves which will develop and grow as the course goes on. It is like weaving a patchwork quilt between all the participants of the course including the facilitator.

A commitment to attend all the classes for the benefit of one self and the rest. And a commitment to do the home practice during the week after each session.

Many questions can come to our minds before starting an MBSR Course.

Do I need to be an experienced meditator? Not at all. It’s not about perfection, nor about competing with yourself or others. It’s as simple as focusing on the breath, and going back to it every time the mind wanders. It is about befriending something as familiar as the breath, which has been with us since our birth, and that will be with us until we die, but that frequently we are not aware it’s there.

Do I have to have practiced yoga in order to do mindful movement? Not at all. Mindful movement focuses on being aware of our body when it moves. It can be as simple as raising your eyebrows, or moving your feet.

What benefits can I get by doing the course? You will get to understand stress better and how to reduce it. You will learn how to deal with thoughts, emotions and feelings in a more skillful way.