Valentines ‘v’ real love

I know that now really it’s a manufactured ‘hallmark day’ designed to boost retail sales and we shouldn’t distill love into one day and whether or not we get a card and a bunch of flowers… BUT if my husband hadn’t got me flowers today (14 February 2019) I’d have been disappointed! ❤️Oh how easily we are victims of clever marketing! And yes these flowers 💐 are gorgeous but he does buy me flowers at other times and we do love each other on the other days of the year too. I really hope you aren’t feeling sad today because this day of ‘love’ isn’t measuring up to an expectation that’s not real. 🥰Real love is more than cards and chocolates, real love is more than gestures and roses, and real love begins by loving ourselves. They say charity begins at home and I say love begins at home too. Our true home, which is inside ourselves. As Whitney sang ‘learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all’. We can only truly love another when we know how to love ourselves. 🌹 If you’re interested in learning more about self-love and self-compassion come along to my workshop this Sunday 17 February in @namasteyogabelfast – there are few spaces left. Book via Immeasurable Minds website. Sending you LOTS of LOVE 💗 today. Be kind to yourself. Be your own Valentine. You as much as anyone else deserve your own love and affection. Bxx 💖💕 #valentinesday#beyourownvalentine#loveyourselffirst#learningtoloveyourselfisthegreatestloveofall#heartsandflowers#cardsandroses#buyyourselfflowers

4 steps to make sending Christmas cards a mindfulness practice

Mindfulness is always mindfulness of something. Mindful breathing, mindful walking,  mindful eating, mindful washing the dishes… In fact it’s possible to make all our activities a mindfulness practice.  So why not mindfulness of christmas card writing?

Sending christmas cards is on the decline and has been for some time… maybe something to do with the price of stamps Royal Mail! But the cost of a stamp aside – it is lovely to give and receive a card and can really mean a lot.

When you receive a card you have a reassurance that this person has been thinking of you, has taken the time to write a few lines, cares. They also make nice festive decorations! At christmas time we are reminded to think of others, to check on elderly neighbours and relatives, sending a card is another way to do this.

A survey by An Post showed that only 5% people want to receive an eCard or text message saying Happy Christmas. And not everyone lives on social media. To receive a card, a physical thing you can touch and feel and even keep really does have more meaning. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has kept special cards over the years?

It can be a really lovely thing to do – to pause for a moment, think of someone and take the time to actually handwrite a card.  Writing christmas cards also gives us time to pause and reflect on the year gone by. To look for the good, the people who have touched us and those we have lost, maybe even those who have moved to other countries who we won’t see so often but you can still communicate with.

So if you haven’t written any cards this year – it’s not too late! The last posting day  for 2nd class stamps is Wednesday 18 December 2019. Christmas cards are going half price in lots shops too– even better if you get charity ones!

The 4 Steps to Mindful Christmas Card Writing

So get cosy, make a cup of tea and even a mince pie and then write a list or just think in your minds eye of all the people you would like to send some love to. All the people who have helped you this year or the people who you haven’t seen for various reasons but you want them to know you haven’t forgotten them.

2. Choose an appropriate card, have a breath then write your message. Thich Nhat Hanh said that when he was signing books he would breathe in and breathe out three times thinking of the reader before signing his name – on hundreds of books! Why not have a breath or two for the recipient of your card? It can be a really enjoyable mindfulness practice. (You may also have to ring or text the recipients for their address too if its been a while since you updated your address book.)

3. Take mindful walk in the crisp winter air to the Post Office chat to the staff on the counter – spread some christmas cheer.

4. When you receive a card in return (though we don’t send to receive – the other person may be too busy or unable to send a card, this is a practice of generosity, just sending for the good of it) take a pause to breath, enjoy and receive the good that has come your way. The neuroscientist Rick Hanson teaches us that the more times throughout the day that we can pause and ‘take in the good’ the more we re-wire our brain towards happiness and contentment.

A christmas card is only a small thing but it comes with a big intention and a wish for your happiness. Allow yourself some gratitude that someone has taken the time and effort to think of you.  Receive it, believe it and enjoy this special time of year. Happy Christmas x

How to practice hugging mediation

There are many different types of meditation, one I don’t teach very often but which I really love to practice is called ‘hugging meditation’. It was invented by Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay).  When he first came to the West from Vietnam he was a bit taken aback (being a monastic!) when people hugged him, they didn’t do that to monastics in his home country.  But he noticed something interesting.  He noticed that that when we hug each other it is meant as a meaningful gesture but somehow (maybe because we’re not so mindful!) it was at the same time not very meaningful.  We embrace the person, maybe pat them on the back and it takes about 2 seconds… not even enough time for one breath! So he invented this practice as way for people to say goodbye to a loved one and to really acknowledge that they are there, embracing you, with you, for that precious moment.

step one:

Face the person you are going to hug. Both of you place your hands together in the lotus/prayer position at your heart centre and each of you bow to the other to recognise that you are there together.  This is a deep practice.

step two

Embrace.  Hold each other for three deliberate deep breaths. Breathing together.  With first breath we are aware that we are present in this very moment and we are happy. With the second breath, we are aware that the other is present in this moment and we recognise we are happy. With the third breath, we are aware that we are here together, right now on this earth, and we feel deep gratitude and happiness for our togetherness.

step three

We then may release the other person and bow to each other to show our thanks.

Join palms once again and bow once again to recognise each others presence, to say thanks for being there and for the hug and to remember the moment.

And that’s it! How much nicer and more special that is than a quick touch and go!

Thay writes: “When we hug, our hearts connect and we know that we are not separate beings. Hugging with mindfulness and concentration can bring reconciliation, healing, understanding, and much happiness. The practice of mindful hugging has helped so many to reconcile with each other- fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, friends and friends, and so many others…

We do not need to wait until one of us is ready to depart for a trip, we may hug right now and receive the warmth and stability of our friend in the present moment. Hugging can be a deep practice of reconciliation. During the silent hugging, the message can come out very clear: “Darling, you are precious to me. I am sorry I have not been mindful and considerate. I have made mistakes. Allow me to begin anew. I Promise.”

Let me know how you get on with this practice.

I taught it last week to a group of 20 women in Belfast. They all enjoyed it and said it was ‘lovely’  it does engender nice feelings!

Pictured above is the lovely Gillian with her angel of a daughter Jorja who have been practising mindfulness together for a few weeks and found to be really beneficial, Gillian for her daily busy life and Jorja for school and exam stress!