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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Mindful Minute Meditation | Blue Sky

| Blue Sky | By JACQUELINE HARGREAVES



Even when the sky is blue or the occasion is happy, low mood can arise at anytime.  A fleeting memory, a sad song, a fragrance that reminds one of a loss; all of these can cause low mood despite the apparent positive conditions that may be present in one's life.

Those who are vulnerable to depression are often more sensitive to changes in the underlying tone of  their feelings and this makes it easier for low mood to become a trigger for negative thinking and a possible relapse of depression.

"Cognitive Reactivity (CR) refers to the degree to which a mild dysphoric state reactivates negative thinking patterns, and it has been found to play a key causal role in depressive relapse."

Those who have suffered depression in the past often have a higher Cognitive Reactivity (CR) to changes in mood. In fact, mood is directly related to the types of thoughts that arise, so if rumination is an established pattern it can be a difficult habit to challenge.

For example, thoughts of isolation; thoughts with a particularly negative bias; thoughts that are self-critical; and thoughts of past situations in which one felt sad can all arise quickly and more easily, when a low mood prevails.

Conversely, whilst in a positive mood, thoughts of friends; thoughts of happy times; thoughts of positive self worth; thoughts of self acceptance and empathy towards others tend to prevail, and can again arise more easily.

Mindfulness has been found to be an effective tool to alter mood in a positive sense and to halt the downward spiral assoicated with low mood.  When using Mindfulness to alter mood, one is not attempting to stop the ruminating mind but rather learning to interrupt the IDENTIFICATION WITH THOUGHTS.  It is an exercise in noticing the transient and fleeting occurrences of thoughts so as to cut through the cycle of rumination and return to the immediacy of sensation.



I invite you to practise this Mindful Minute Meditation with a particular emphasis on noticing the UNDERLYING MOOD and THOUGHTS as they arise.

Sit tall. Place the palms of the hands down to REST on the knees. Focus on the feeling of TOUCH in the hands as you WATCH and LISTEN.

Did you notice the underlying mood? What types of thoughts bubbled up? 
Were you able to return to the present environment and focus on WATCHING and LISTENING?
Were you easily distracted by the persistence of particular thoughts?

Try again.

VISION, TASTE and SOUND can be particularly effective objects of focus in meditation when in a low mood.

Follow us for the month of May for more Mindful Minute Meditations.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

MAYŪRĀSANA: The Peacock Pose

By JACQUELINE HARGREAVES and JASON BIRCH



Vasiṣṭhasaṃhitā (12-13th c.) is one of the earliest Haṭhayoga texts to describe non-seated Āsanas. The first is Mayūrāsana, the Peacock Pose, an arm balance with the body positioned on the elbows as described above. 

Mayūrāsana continues to be mentioned in most late medieval Haṭhayoga texts. The fifteenth-century Haṭhapradīpikā adds that Mayūrāsana turns to ashes all bad and excessive food that has been consumed. It ignites digestive fire (jaṭharāgni) and enables the yogin to digest poison. The latter claim may be based on the fact that peacocks can kill and eat snakes without being poisoned. 

The second non-seated Āsana in the Vasiṣṭhasaṃhitā is Kukkutāsana, the Rooster Pose, another arm balancing posture in which the hands are threaded through the legs in Padmāsana. Both of these postures are still widely practised in modern postural yoga.







Image from a 19th c. manuscript of the Jogapradīpikā held at the British Library.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Mindful Minute Meditation | Busy Bees

| Busy Bees | By JACQUELINE HARGREAVES



I invite you to practise this Mindful Minute Meditation with a particular emphasis on TOUCH

Sit tall. Place the palms of the hands down to REST on the knees. Focus on the feeling of TOUCH in the hands as you watch and listen.

Did the noise or a busy mind distract you?
Was it difficult to stay focused on the sensation of touch throughout? 

Try again.

When using Mindfulness in everyday life, we are not attempting to artificially stop the outside noise or busy mind, but rather learn to BE PRESENT amidst the noise and busyness.

TOUCH can be an effective object of focus in meditation when in a particularly noisy or busy situation. It offers an alternative to a visual or sound object and can be helpful for those who suffer stress, performance anxiety or feel situational overwhelm.

Follow us for the month of May for more Mindful Minute Meditations.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Mindful Minute Meditation | Pebbles

| Pebbles | By JACQUELINE HARGREAVES



I invite you to practise this Mindful Minute Meditation TWICE.

Firstly, with the eyes OPENED.  Then again, with the eyes CLOSED.

Sit tall.  Listen carefully.  Maintain a sense of wonder and curiosity throughout.

Did you notice any difference?

Connecting with the body and the sensations experienced is an essential part of Mindfulness practice. This means actively choosing to be RECEPTIVE to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment. 

An example might be something as simple as listening to the sound of water as you wash your hands or feeling the touch of a banister as you walk upstairs.

SOUND can be an effective object of focus in meditation.  It offers an alternative to a visual or felt object (such as the breath).  It can be particularly helpful for those who suffer anxiety, fear, worry or panic attacks.

At the University of Bergen in Norway, Vollestad, Nielsen, and Nielsen surveyed 19 studies of the effectiveness of Mindfulness Based Therapy (MBT) on anxiety. They found that MBTs are associated with robust and substantial reductions of anxiety symptoms.

Read more about the results of this research here.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Mindful Minute Meditation | Air Vent

|Air Vent| By JACQUELINE HARGREAVES




| Mindful Minute Meditation | 

Sit tall.

Add a FOCAL point: eyes F O C U S E D but R E L A X E D.

Maintain a sense of W O N D E R and C U R I O S I T Y.

Find E A S E as you notice the breath.

A conscious minute of C L A R I T Y and S T E A D I N E S S.