Guest on Cate Conway’s podcast

I was honoured to be interviewed by the gorgeous @radio.cate for her NEW podcast. 🔊📡Cate is doing the podcast in response to the death of her best friend fellow radio presenter Stephen Clements. 🖤

All episodes so far explore grief and how to get through something as sad and irrevocable as suicide😰

I think Kate is So brave, authentic and heartfelt 💔

Im sure these podcasts will help many people 🙏🏽💗🦋

If you do listen to us I’d love to know what you thought 💭😊

Please search your usual podcast place ‘Cate Conway’ and you will find it or copy this link:

http://ow.ly/Qhms50BA06a

 #podcast #CateConway #StephenClements #grief #resilience #helpingmanypeople #mentalhealthmatters

Blooming of a Lotus course -Reflections on week 4, day 2 meditation: Looking deeply, healing

I have experienced a lot of physical pain. Everyone has. We all have our own challenges. Pain is part of being human. From I was a baby I had sore throats and tonsillitis. When I was seven I went to hospital for a week got my tonsils removed. I must have had a lot of pain but I dont remember it. We block out pain its easier.

When I was 21, I was knocked down by a car outside Queens University and spent 22 days in hospital. Tossed 15 feet into the air, shattering the car windscreen and landing in the middle of the Stranmillis Road on my left side. I ended up (luckily) with just a broken tib n fib, a muscle hernia in my leg, shattered shoulder and some stitches in my eye… Those injuries 25 years later constantly cause me trouble and pain. I’ve also added a few more: twisting my ankle, breaking my foot. staving my finger…. I’ve always something, sore stomachs, itchy hives, bad hip… I’m only in my 40s but I could complain like an old granny if I you let me… Several times in the last few years, my back has seized up just like an old granny and I’ve had to get physio in order to straighten up and walk again! It’s wild… So TNH’s words:

“To smile to our pain is the wisest, the most intelligent, the most beautiful things we can do. There is no better way.” 

is a challenge to say the least.  He must be kidding right? 

And I’m just talking physical pain – we all know emotional and psychological pain can be, and oftentimes is, much worse – sometimes even causing physical pain… and I’ve had plenty of that too, thank you very much…

So this meditation practice it is nothing if not challenging. Right now my right foot is broken and and throbbing and calling out its brokenness – can I smile  to it… I think of how silly I was in doing it. I smile to my silly self. It’s currently healing. I smile to the amazing healing process of the body. Its only one tiny part that is painful, I smile to the rest of my body not in pain. I smile to this foot pain as Thay told me too… I’m smiling, breathing. Its ok, I can do it 🙂

It’s hard to smile that the things we don’t like. To do it is a practice. If it was easy we wouldn’t have to practice it. Even just smiling to our body can be challenging. I’ve been practising it for a while. I have a lot of gratitude for my body and all that it can do and has been through. I smile in gratitude.

But Thay doesn’t stop there, in this meditation he advises us to smile at our mind, to the roots of pain in our mind. To furthermore smile at the roots of fear, the roots of insecurity, the roots of sadness, the roots of anger, the roots of jealously, the roots of attachment, the roots of being caught.  He then saves us by advising we also smile to the root of our joy, the roots of the joy of freedom, the roots of the joy of relaxation. The roots of the joy of letting go and the roots of neutral feeling.

I can smile at my fear. That’s an easy one for me. It is my practice to feel the fear and do it anyway. I love to feel fear and challenge myself to overcome it. Fear for me is feeling small. I smile and rise up to that with the mantra as Jesus said: ‘do not be afraid.’ Ok. I smile.

I smile at my insecurity. Especially in the past. How small I felt, how I’m only a wee girl. How I thought ‘I can’t do that’. How I still sometimes feel that. I smile and say ‘it’s ok’. How empowering to smile at fear. I am Sasha Fierce – smiling 🙂

I smile at my sadness, though it’s not easy. Sadness is still here with me. Sadness at my my miscarriages. Babies that never were. A life that could have been their’s and mine. Smiling in compassion for myself, smiling because what else can I do? I said ‘i can’t accept it’, he said ‘but you have no choice’. Force that smile. see what happens. Keep practising.

I smile at my anger. But I also brood on it. I was SO right. I was justified, their behaviour was outrageous. My ego was so snubbed! How dare they! I smile at my own self-righteousness. I smile because of my stupidity and ignorance. I smile because Thay says ‘there is no better way’. I smile but I still need to practice more.

I smile at my jealously. It’s active. I want that too. I wish I had that. Why can’t I also have that? Why does she get that and not me? Wow jealousy is present in me. Wow i’m also a human, I feel jealousy. It’s ok, let go. Smile.

Smiling at the roots of attachment. Is this attachment healthy or unhealthy? I am judging myself. I am a human being of course I have attachment. I don’t have to change anything. Just smile.

Smiling at the roots of being caught. Oh how easy it is to be caught! How easy to fall into that web, to get hooked, or sucked in as they say here 🙂 I smile so next time I can see before I’m sunk.

Smiling to the roots of the feeling of joy! Aww this feeling of joy, so simple, all the rest falls away. Just sitting, breathing, smiling.

Smiling to the roots of the joy of freedom, I breath out. Freedom is my mantra. I just want to be free… maybe my ideas and way of being free were wrong? I am learning. This is freedom, free from the tyranny of the thinking mind. Just smiling.

Looking at the roots of the joy of relaxation. How much do I love relaxation?! Teaching it, practising it, benefiting from it… every day. I remember the time I practiced it every day. I should practice it every day. I should practice it right now. Smiling. Relaxing. Smiling again.

The joy of letting go. I sing it: ‘Let it go, Let it go….’ There is a poem too: ‘She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.’ The joy. Smiling.

Roots of neutral feeling. Smiling. The relief. No right, no wrong, no good nor bad. Not tight, not loose, not black or white. Just neutral. The orange cup, the green leaf, the air on my skin, the in breath, the out breath, the blue wall, the yellow covered chair, the multicoloured cushion, the beige carpet. No comment, no goal, no attainment. Just smiling. Peace. 🙂 

Namaste X

Why kindness matters for our mental health

It’s mental health awareness week 2020, the theme this year is ‘kindness’ and I’ve just been asked to go to the BBC Radio Ulster afternoon show to discuss it with the ever-wonderful Nuala Mckeever. #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek2020 #KindnessMatters #Bekind

What will I talk about – Nuala and I could talk for hours about these wellbeing subjects – I want to make sure I get across a few key points.

  • Kindness is good for you – this is proven by science. Numerous research studies have shown that we get a ‘helpers high’ when we help others. This is why volunteering is good for us. We feel we’re making a difference and we feel better. When researchers at the University of British Columbia gave people money in the morning with instructions to either spend it on themselves or spend it on others they found that at the end of the day those who spent the money on others were happier.

  • Practising kindness can be an antidote to depression, when we focus on the needs of others it takes us out of ourselves allows us to see the bigger picture and get new perspectives, instead of spiralling down we can rise up.  The side of effect of kindness is feeling good. (This not to take away anything from the experience of depression where it can be hard to do anything positive because our brain chemistry is so depleted. When we have good days that’s when we can deliberately practice kindness to give ourselves a boost.) Kindness has physical effects on the brain, the heart, the immune system and thought the body.
  • Kindness produces happy chemicals in the brain. It also changes the brain for the better, the brain is plastic and just like building biceps we can build the kindness muscle in our brain.  Our empathy regions in the brain (the insula) and the left side of the prefrontal cortex our compassion region and seat of positive emotion will grown when we are kind. If you want to live a long life – a key factor is warm social connections i.e kindness
  • We all know about the negative effects of stress, fear and worry on our body and brain but did you know that the opposite of stress is kindness and that kindness produces the opposite physiological response. When you are being kind or you are the recipient of someone else’s kindness you feel warm and connected – your body is producing the ‘kindness hormone’, oxytocin.  So instead of adrenaline and cortisol – which are produced by fear, worry and stress you are being loved up and cared for by oxytocin.
  • Other hormones dopamine and serotonin are also produced when we are kind but oxytocin is famously known as the ‘cuddle chemical’, the ‘hugging hormone’ or the ‘hug drug’ or the ‘molecule of kindness’ or the ‘love hormone’.  It makes me so happy just to know about this because with so many people isolating right now and not able to give or receive hugs its really helpful to know that you can get your dose of oxytocin without physical touch.  Oxytocin is produced in abundance when we’re in love, when we hug and when we have a baby – it’s also known as the ‘bonding hormone.’ So many names because it’s such lovely hormone J Deliberately practicing kindness and meaning in from your heart will flood your body with this hormone 🙂
  • I forgot to bring this one up but kindness is a really attractive quality in a person. One study of over 10,000 young people over 33 countries, 6 continents, asked, ‘what would you most desire in a long-term partner?’ At the top in all 33 countries, over all 6 continents was someone who is kind! It came above a great sense of humour, it came above good financial prospects, it came above good looks. Someone who is kind, was the number 1, the top thing that people wanted, in a long-term partner. So if your single and looking to mingle – practice kindness. In fact, I found kindness to be one of the most attractive qualities in my boyfriend who became my husband. We had only just met but he came to an event I organised. Everyone was there to hear the speakers, but he was there for me. When he was leaving, he put £10 in the ‘dana’ collection box. He didn’t know but my friend saw that, and she came up and reported it to me. He has still never met this girl so he didn’t know she was my friend, but I felt really happy to know that he was kind and generous. It was a good sign. It’s def a top tip for dating – are they kind?
  • And finally, self-kindness is crucial. As the renowned meditation teacher Jack Kornfield says: ‘our compassion is not complete if it does not include ourselves.’ We must include ourselves in our circle of compassion. Self-kindness is not selfish – its an intelligent act, it is wisely selfish to care for ourselves. Once we have our own tank filled up, we are more able to be there for others. Looking out for ourselves putting our own oxygen mask on first we have more capacity to help and be kind to those around us.

So just don’t #BeKind – actively practice kindness. Take a seven-day challenge and do one random act of kindness everyday – report back to me how you feel at the end. I’m pretty sure your experience will reflect the results of world-wide research… You will feel happier, more contented and connected.

I am wishing you well 🙂

If you missed it, you can listen again to my chat with Nuala on Radio Ulster here. I’m on about 38 minutes in, after the brilliant song from Jason Mraz Living in the moment…. I go on till the show ends and they play another fab track ‘try a little kindness’ by Glen Campbell.

Next week is Nuala’s last on the show as she has been filling in for Lynette Fay who’s been on maternity leave. Why not send her some kindness and appreciation for the past seven months? You can call the show on 03030 805555  or text on 81771 or tweet them @bbcradioulster  

And while I’m at it HUGE thanks to the brilliant producer Cathy Quinn for booking me again. X

You may have heard me mention about the power of ‘loving kindness’ meditation in the Interview. I have two FREE tracks of loving kindness meditation available here on the Insight Timer app. You can access them here: https://insighttimer.com/bridgeen/guided-meditations/bridgeens-oxford-befriending-practice

https://insighttimer.com/bridgeen/guided-meditations/bridgeens-traditional-loving-kindness-meditation

Also just to note the accompany picture here is Page 17 of Dr David Hamilton’s book ‘The little book of kindness’. Dr Hamilton is a kindness expert and advocate I highly recommend his work x

Go practice kindness now and generate some of that lovely oxytocin x