Category Archives: Mindfulness

The Head-Heart-Gut Check

So this infographic came though in an email from Melli over in Australia in July.   She is the genius behind The Mindfulness Summit that I attended virtually last year and this Head-Heart-Gut Check is a great tool.   I love her work and it felt like a bit of a birthday present to share it here with you when it was my belly-button birthday yesterday! Another year older, another year sober 🙂

Over to Melli:

We make a lot of decisions every day and these decisions are what determine the direction and quality of our lives. Some are little. Some are completely life altering. All of them matter as you steer the course of your life at each little juncture.

Any time you’re at a decision point you can use this mini-meditation to respond (and not react)  to what is arising with wisdom and intelligence, making more mindful choices leading to a fuller happier more authentic life.

Step 1: Take three deep slow conscious breaths as a way of gathering your awareness to the present moment.

Step 2: Bring your awareness to your head
With your awareness in the head acknowledge what kind of thoughts are present in relation to the current situation.

Step 3: Drop awareness down to the heart
Place a hand over the heart and take a moment to attend to what values you have in this situation, what you care about and what your deepest intention is.

Step 4: Drop awareness down to the gut
Place a hand over the abdomen. Tune into any hunches, intuitions or emotions that are present in relation to the current situation.

Step 5: Collect all this information
Take one deep slow conscious breath in and out as you have a sense of collecting all this information from the body and mind. Then mentally ask yourself this question “what shall I do now?” Listen for the answer.

The Head-Heart-Gut Check meditation can be done in as little as 30 seconds when you need to make a quick decision or you can do a longer version that takes up to five minutes when you have more time. This simple powerful mini meditation will help you make more mindful decisions and will be an ally in times when you need mindfulness the most. May it serve you well

The ‘Head-Heart-Gut’ Check In Meditation

You may also listen to the head-heart-gut check in meditation by clicking on the video below:

You can also listen on SoundCloud

Thanks Melli! 🙂

Sober Inspiration: Dan Siegel Wheel of Awareness

drdansiegel_wheelofawarenessSo the further into recovery I’ve got the more mindful and conscious I have become and in fact my awareness continues to deepen all the time.  With that in mind I wanted to share with you Dan Siegel‘s work on the Wheel of Awareness.  The reason I’m posting this today is because yesterday he led a meeting in LA to mark the beginning of his ‘Wheel of Awareness Community’.

Here is an image of “The Wheel of Awareness.” The hub represents the experience of awareness itself — knowing — while the rim contains all the points of anything we can become aware of, that which is known to us. We can send a spoke out to the rim to focus our attention on one point or another on the rim. In this way, the wheel of awareness becomes a visual metaphor for the integration of consciousness as we differentiate rim-elements and hub-awareness from each other and link them with our focus of attention.

I attach below a presentation on the subject that Dan has shared on SlidePlayer:

Mindsight Presentation by Dr Dan Siegel

And now a Youtube guided meditation that he has created:

And then finally the pdf handout that was created by him to support our further understanding of the Wheel of Awareness:

wheelofawareness-guided-meditation

The total package free on the internet from him – how wonderful is that? 🙂

For me this is what it is all about now.  Deepening my  understanding and integration of my sixth, seventh and eighth senses – so my somatics and my ability to perceive my mind by reflecting on my experience.  As Dr Siegel says:

“When we carry out a mindfulness practice of focused awareness, we develop mindsight”

Here’s to that and me finally acting on all the universes hints that I need to start a yoga practice to compliment my running!

Friday Sober Jukebox: loud music and getting out of my head (h/t Fat Boy Slim!)

So I was thinking about the fact that I run the Friday sober jukebox and why music (turned up ear bleed loud) continues to be so important to me as a way of getting out of my head.  This also then tied in with some wisdom from Focus12 and another sober bloggers writing about impulsivity I read recently (thanks Rachel for sharing the links!).

I was driving along for work and had the stereo turned up really loud belting out a tune when I remembered some of the rules that Focus12 had for their clients during treatment.

There were a list of activities and substances they were not allowed to have or engage in while resident and working on their fledgling sobriety.  These included:

  • Speakers for playing loud music
  • Henna or ink tattoos
  • Piercings
  • Red Bull or similar energy drinks
  • Permission needed to go to the cinema
  • Permission to go the gym more than a couple of times a week
  • Too much non-food shopping was challenged
  • They were encouraged not to spend too much time watching television
  • No laptops, tablets, gaming systems or e-readers
  • Restricted use of mobile phones

This is because these are all ways of changing the way we feel or allowing ourselves to escape in some way.  The counselling team felt with music systems and mobile phones if you were distracting yourself too much or becoming too involved with the ‘outside world’ that it would be to the detriment of the programme of treatment.  And I have to agree because the reason I love loud music is for that very reason – it assaults my ears and takes me somewhere else, either deep in memories or thoughts away from the here and now.  It gets me out of my head!

As Rachel writes for Sober Nation, “How about tattoos? Getting ink can be impulsive – but I absolutely love it, and oh the tattoo high fills in all kinds of voids.”  So not just me with my music then?

She goes on to say, “Anything done in excess has the potential to be an issue. The purpose of all this is to get you to think about the impulsive behavior and how it relates to alcoholism or addiction, and to let you know you’re not alone. It’s not weak to have cravings for some adventure you’re lacking in the present, in fact, it’s completely normal for those in recovery.”

Wanderlust? Adventure you say?  Again ringing bells for me too!

She ends her piece with this really good question:

What’s filling that void, the itch you can’t scratch? Is it healthy?

I would argue that if you aren’t doing it to excess and it gives you joy and it isn’t booze – all power to you, go get out of your head! 😉

Friday Sober Inspiration: Drama to No Drama

karpman-drama-triangleSo I read a Veronica Valli post about recovery red flags recently that really resonated.  And then as happens I was watching a video series from Ruth Buczynski looking at shame, anger and conflict and suddenly I found myself taking a very sharp breath in as the two subjects collided in a way that caused a psychological shift in my thinking.

The expression that Veronica used that has been rattling around my brain ever since I read it is this:

If I’m okay with me, I don’t have to make you not okay

Ouch.  The above image explains it all really well I think.

And then Ruth’s video’s were talking about the Karpman Drama Triangle that Jean over at Unpickled has discussed before here and which I knew about from my time working with families as a school nurse.  And as is the way with the magical internet rabbit hole one thing led to another and I found myself looking at this image.

avoiding-the-drama-triangle So much of recovery from addiction is about moving from fear to love and I am very aware that the Karpman Triangle is alive and well in my way of interacting with others close to me!  So like recovery from booze and reading sober bloggers ahead of me on the path I wanted to know what a healthy way of relating looked like and in my quest I found the work of Tina Tessina 🙂

This is what she has to say:

One profound way to intervene in the Drama Triangle is for family members to learn not to rescue each other. The other is to stop allowing others to rescue you.

Recognize a Rescue While You Are Participating In It

Learn to recognize that you are rescuing when you:
– Do something that you do not want to do because you believe you have to, and feel resentful later.
Do not ask for what you want.
Inappropriately parent another adult (giving unsolicited advice, giving orders, nagging, or criticizing)
Don’t tell your partner when there’s a problem, or when you feel resentful, ripped off, rejected, cheated, depressed, disappointed, or otherwise dissatisfied.
– Contribute more than 50% of the effort to any project or activity that is supposed to be mutual, (including housework, earning income, making dates and social plans, initiating sex, carrying the conversations, giving comfort and support) without a clear agreement between you.
Feel your role is to fix, protect, control, feel for, worry about, ignore the expressed wants of, or manipulate your partner.
Habitually feel tired, anxious, fearful, responsible, overworked and/or resentful in your relationship.
Focus more on your partner’s feelings, problems, circumstances, performance, satisfaction or happiness than on your own.

Whenever you realize you are rescuing, tell the other person what you’re tempted to do or not do for them, (how you want to rescue them) and ask them if they would like you to do that or not. Once you’ve offered and the offer has been accepted or rejected, (even if your partner is not honest about what he or she wants, or makes a mistake) it is no longer a rescue, it is an open agreement, and can be renegotiated if necessary.

Learn to recognize that you are being rescued if you:
– Think you are not as capable, grown up, or self-sufficient as your partner.
Find that your partner is doing things “for you” that you haven’t requested or acknowledged
Feel guilty because your partner frequently seems to work harder, do more, or want more than you do.
Don’t ask for what you want, because your needs are anticipated by someone, or because your partner will not say “no” if he or she doesn’t want to do it.
Act or feel incapable, childish, irresponsible, paralyzed, nagged, criticized, powerless, smothered, or manipulated in your relationship.
Act or feel demanding, greedy, selfish, out of control, overemotional, lazy, worthless, pampered, spoiled, helpless, or hopeless in your relationship.
Contribute less than 50% of the effort to any project or activity that is supposed to be mutual, (including housework, earning income, making dates and social plans, initiating sex, carrying the conversations, giving comfort and support) without a clear agreement.
Feel your role is to be fixed, protected, controlled, told what you feel, worried about, ignored, or manipulated by another adult.
Habitually feel guilty, numb, turned off, overwhelmed, irresponsible, overlooked, misunderstood and/or hopeless in your relationships.
Focus more on your partner’s approval, criticism, faults, anger, responsibility, and power than on your own opinion of yourself.
Feel controlled, used, manipulated, victimized, abused, oppressed, stifled, limited or otherwise dissatisfied by your partner.

The more familiar these feelings or actions are, the more frequently they occur, the bigger the habit you have of being rescued in your relationship. Rescuing is a habit that you learned early in life that seems “normal” and is habitual, so it is often difficult to be aware of it. Rescues depend on secrecy or ignorance. The antidote to being rescued is making an open agreement. So, if you suspect you are being rescued, suggest negotiating or talking about it, or just say thank you, if the help is truly OK with you.

How to Avoid Rescues
1. Recognize that what’s going on doesn’t feel good. It’s the best indicator of dysfunctional interaction.
2. Stop and Think. Don’t react automatically. If you have a dysfunctional habit pattern, you’ll need to make a different choice than your automatic behavior. Use the following checklist:
a) Does the situation feel fair?
b) Are you reluctant to say what you want?
c) Do you know what the other person wants?
d) Do you feel uncomfortable?
e) Are you resentful, angry, scared or upset?
f) Are you trying to control someone else’s reaction or feelings?
g) Does this feel similar to other interactions that ended badly?
3. After you’ve taken a moment to think about whether you’re rescuing or being rescued, and what clues you are aware of, either ask for what you want, or ask the other person what he or she wants.
4. Offer to work toward a mutual decision.

Taking the rescues out of your relationship removes the drama. Learning to talk about what you want and don’t want, and to offer help instead of just stepping in can make a really big difference in the happiness level of your relationship

Source: Tina B. Tessina, PhD, (aka “Dr. Romance”) psychotherapist and author of The Real 13th Step: Discovering Confidence, Self-Reliance and Independence Beyond the 12-Step Programs

Wow is all I can say.  If I feel like I’m about to say something that I might later regret I now find myself uttering Veronica’s words to establish if it is indeed me who is struggling with something, and therefore not feeling okay, and looking to off-load it onto somebody else to make me feel better and in the process make them not feel okay.  I have said a great deal less and taken responsibility for an awful lot more as part of that process in the few weeks since I made the realisation.

Maybe this work will help you too? 🙂

Friday Sober Inspiration: Date with Destiny

date-with-destinySo recently I watched Tony Robbin’s documentary film ‘I am not your Guru’ because I’d read some of his books and have always been curious about his seminars and conferences.  So this documentary follows him during one of his 6 day Date with Destiny seminars.  It was fascinating to watch and he certainly has a unique coaching approach!

What I didn’t know is that he was, and continues to be, driven by a desire to both progress within his own life and help others as part of that process because of his own childhood.  His mother was both an alcoholic and addicted to Valium and he talks about this briefly during the film.  And there was much about the seminar programme that resonated with our sobriety journey hence why I’m talking about it here and now.

The 6 day event is both long and intense and the format runs:

  1. Preparation
  2. Evaluation – push will wear you out
  3. Discovery – we all get what we tolerate
  4. Relationship
  5. Transformation
  6. Integration

He understands the human condition because of his own experience.  He asks great questions such as what are the beliefs, behaviours, emotional habits, story you tell yourself or conflict inside of you that stops you living your best life?   And there were some great take aways such as:

Stay in your head and you’re dead

Another of his quote’s in Fortune that I read and really liked was:

‘Be in charge of your life. You’re going to have reward and risk wherever you are, but be authentic to what you want to be and what you want to do. Don’t be worrying about what somebody thinks about you. Don’t flatter yourself. They’re really not thinking about you.’

All of these stages and questions fit the drinking and sobriety conundrum really well and he acknowledges that people who attend his days are looking to change a behaviour or way of thinking which again fits our battles with booze perfectly!

And wouldn’t you know he’s one of us 🙂

He’s also fastidious about his diet. Robbins doesn’t drink alcohol or caffeine, or eat red meat or chicken (source)

Here’s a TED talk given by him where he motivates in 20 minutes:

PS The second trailer for T2: Trainspotting is out and you can watch it here – can’t wait for January!

You’re an addict so be addicted, just be addicted to something else – choose the one’s you love, choose your future, choose life” 😉

 

Who needs a drink when you’ve got the Feel Stress Free app?

feel-stress-free-appSo managing all feelings, and particularly difficult feelings like depression and anxiety, was a big part of the early days and months of getting sober for me.  Even now I’m always on the look out for new sober treats and self-care tools to make this easier for all of us.  The new Feel Stress Free app released this year, is the second mindfulness app I have tried as I have talked on the blog before about Headspace.

For me psychological self-care and fitness is as important as physical fitness and self-care so this was a great addition to my sober tool-box particularly on the go when life gets tricky.  As you know I’m a District Nurse and some patient visits can be emotionally difficult so having an app in my pocket that I can tap into, potentially between patient visits if needed, is a much welcomed respite.  The apps image and sounds of a desert island, lapping waves and seagulls with background calming music was lovely every time.

This above image is the first screen that greets you once you have downloaded for free the Thrive’s Feel Stress Free Mobile App which is available for iOS and Android.  It works on a subscription basis,which can be purchased for one month, three months or a year. For one month it will set you back £4.99, for 3 months it will cost £3.33 each month and for a year it’s £1.99 each month.  I was lucky enough to get a month’s free trial from the developers 🙂

This is what their website says:

Be Stress Free has been created over two years of development and research to pro-actively prevent and manage stress and anxiety.

  • Keeps track of your mood over time
  • Enables you to train your thoughts so you can manage how you feel about different situations
  • Trains you in 4 relaxation techniques that give you control over your stress

Stressed or anxious? We can help! Using evidence-based techniques, we help you learn to relax and build your resilience to these common—yet hard to conquer—problems. Featuring our thought trainer, zen garden, and unique ‘message in bottle’ social feature, there’s plenty to explore!

I loved the zen garden and ‘message in a bottle’ social feature (that enables you to send a message of encouragement to others using the app) and fed back to the developers:

“Have recently spent a year training part time to be a child and adolescent psychotherapeutic counsellor at the University of Cambridge and one of the therapeutic tools we used was a sand tray!  It was lovely to be able to immerse myself in that way again and very valuable.”

I wasn’t the only reviewer who really liked this as Moonlolly in the City agreed: ‘If you swipe left, you go to a second island called the ‘Zen Garden’, a virtual Japanese rock garden used to aid meditation. Here you can design your own space and save your best designs.  I loved this part, probably because I’m a big kid – it was one of those absorbing exercises akin to adult colouring books. Totally on board with this.’

One of the things I liked about this app is it is designed by clinicians:

Dr Andres Fonseca – CEO, is a psychiatrist with almost 20 years of clinical experience. He believes the way mental health services work at the moment is very broken. Services are focused on intervening when people are in crisis, which is already too late. He believes therapeutic software that is fun to use is the way to help people Thrive.

A bit more detail about some of the key features:

Mood Meter

Start every day tracking your mood to receive the best recommendations to get through it. Based on your results the Mood Meter will recommend different activities. It will record your results on your progress so you can look back and see what works for you. It will learn itself what you find helpful and get better at advising you over time.

Thought Trainer

Our cognitive behavioural therapy based thought trainer is how we help you to re-frame your negative thoughts. We all have negative thoughts at times, but is there a better way we can think about things? That is what the thought trainer is here to do. It tracks how you feel, giving recommendations and helping you to see a positive in the negative. With everything tracked in Progress and the app learning more about you as you use it, the Thought Trainer will soon personalise itself to your experiences.

The evidence

Computerised Cognitive Behavioural (cCBT) therapy has accumulated 10 years of evidence. It has been shown to work as a self-directed treatment without intervention from a therapist. In 2016 Jill Newby and colleagues from St Vincent’s Hospital in Australia undertook a review of all the evidence of cCBT used for depression and anxiety showing it is a very effective technique and comparable to face to face therapy. Here is a link to the study.

Calm Breathing

This is the simplest technique, one that you can learn in the app and practice anywhere you are. It is based on the fact that increasing chest pressure by taking very slow and deep breaths, and then reducing by slowly breathing out, triggers a reflex. This reflex slows down your pulse and gives you a relaxed feeling in your body. As body and mind are connected this then results in relaxation in your mind. Give it a go for 3, 5, 7 or 10 minutes!

The evidence

Deep slow breathing is an essential technique incorporated in many relaxation exercises. It has been extensively examined in the literature in different setting. A good review of the evidence behind it and its uses can be found in General Principles and Empirically Supported Techniques of Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Chapter 14 by Hazlett-Stevens and Craske. You can read a preview of the chapter here.

Progressive Deep Muscle Relaxation

In this technique we also take advantage of the mind-body connection. We will teach you to contract and relax various muscles progressively allowing you to enjoy the difference between the tense sensations in the muscle and the relaxed sensations that come after you have let the tension go

The evidence

Since its description by Jacobson in 1938 this technique has a record of proven efficacy. There is a 2007 review of the literature that summarises all the available evidence up to that date which you can find here.

Self Hypnosis

Not for everyone but those of you who are able to reach a state of hypnosis can benefit greatly from this technique. We will try to teach you to put yourself into a hypnotic trance. If you are able to achieve it, he will help you teach yourself a word of phrase that will quickly bring you back to that state of relaxation whatever your circumstances.

The evidence

It has proven efficacy in anxiety related to many situations. It has been particularly studied in people going through different medical treatments like dialysis, chemotherapy, surgery and dentistry. There is a 2010 review that goes through all that evidence. The main issue with hypnosis is that the person must be suggestible to benefit from it. Here is a recent study on how suggestibility influences outcomes in using hypnosis to manage pain.

Meditation

Simple to learn but hard to master this is quite a powerful technique for relaxation.  It requires dedication and practice but if you persevere it can bring about the most benefits. You will need a quiet space and to achieve a sensation of comfort. You will be able todevelop a passive attitude that allows you to just watch your feelings, sensations and thoughts as they pass through your mind. You will also use word or phrase to help you refocus.

The evidence

This is probably the technique that has received the most attention recently. It requires practice to master but everyone can use it if they devote the time to learn it and practice it. There is a complete review and meta-analysis of all the evidence of meditation in the management of anxiety published in the British Journal of Psychology in 2012.

And you can track your progress:

Progress keeps track of everything you do in the app. It is what the app uses to give you better and better tips. If you are working with a therapist you can use Progress as your full-fledged therapy journal.

You can choose how long you want to do each exercise for, from a quick 3 minutes of deep breathing to 25 minutes of meditation, which is great if you want to fit a session into a busy day.  The app also remembers which exercises you’ve done before and how many times, encouraging regular use and making the whole experience feel very personalised.

Echoing the words of Moonlolly: if you’re going to invest in a mindfulness app, it’s worth bearing in mind that this is one of the first to have actual CBT therapy incorporated and be officially ‘clinically proven.’

So next time you’re feeling stressed or anxious rather than reaching for a drink, or thinking that a drink would help, why not try this?

What Is Emotional Sobriety?

emotional sobriety jim rohnThank you to the lovely SWAN over on the FB group for bringing this to my attention 🙂  It’s an article in Psychology Today magazine looking at emotional sobriety.  I’m sneaking it in as an extra post on Valentine’s Day as talk of emotions seems apt today 🙂  This is what they had to say:

What is emotional sobriety? Some might think that it means being “happy, joyous, and free,” a common adage in 12-Step meetings, taken from AA literature. Of course, people like this definition. It means that if they work a good program, they will achieve physical sobriety (abstinence) and become happy in the process. 

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but this definition puts a lot of recovering people in a tough spot. For example, what does it say about a person’s emotional sobriety if they are having a hard time? What if they are afraid, anxious, sad, angry, confused … the list can go on and on. Does this mean that they aren’t emotionally sober? 

I believe that emotional sobriety is less about the quality of the feeling (“good” or “bad”) and more about the general ability to feel one’s feelings. Being restored to sanity isn’t about getting the brass ring—or cash and prizes—or being “happy, joyous, and free” all the time, but it is about being in the present moment, whatever it happens to look like. What are you experiencing right now? And how about now? Can you be present to all of your feelings without any one of them defining you?

Sometimes emotional sobriety is about tolerating what you are feeling. It is about staying sober no matter what you are feeling. It means that you don’t have to blame yourself or your program because life can be challenging. It means that you don’t necessarily need to do something to make the feeling go away. Many people will take their bad feeling and try to pray it, meditate it, service it, spiritually distract themselves from it, thinking that this means they are working a good program. This experience is actually called spiritual bypass.

John Welwood coined the term spiritual bypass and defined it as “using spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep personal, emotional ‘un-finished business,’ to shore up a shaky sense of self, or to belittle basic needs, feelings, and developmental tasks, all in the name of enlightenment.” The shorthand for spiritual bypass is when a person wears a mask or presents a false spiritual self that represses aspects of that person’s true self. Spiritual bypass involves bolstering our defenses rather than our humility. Bypass involves grasping rather than gratitude, arriving rather than being, avoiding rather than accepting.

I am forever interested in how mind, body, and spirit interact for people in recovery and how the “ism” (alcoholism) is always trying to steal the show. “Ism” doesn’t want you to acknowledge that you are scared, ashamed, lost, or angry. And let’s face it, some people in recovery don’t want you to acknowledge that either. Because then they would have to look at that stuff (and feel it), and they just might not be ready. So spiritual bypass becomes a tool for working a spiritual program that is really in service of controlling obstacles and outcomes. It provides the illusion that the addict can still manage their feelings even though they aren’t using their drug of choice.

In my own spiritual journey, I have experienced spiritual bypass many times. As a defense mechanism, we are all susceptible to this unconscious drive to protect ourselves from our painful realities. And using spirituality as a defense certainly looks a lot better than using drugs or alcohol. But it is a defense mechanism nonetheless and most people in recovery want the ability to access all of their feelings, because being present to what is real is what enables choices, and choices propel people towards their most authentic and fulfilling sober life.

I have spent a great deal of time studying and researching the experience of spiritual bypass in 12-Step recovery. I’ve written a book called Recovering Spirituality: Achieving Emotional Sobriety in Your Spiritual Practice that goes into great depth on this topic. Every person in recovery who I have interviewed or worked with in my psychotherapy practice has gained tremendous insight by looking at their own experiences of spiritual bypass and I hope that you will gain similar results. If nothing else, give yourself permission to feel all of your feelings. Know that we don’t have the sort of surgical precision to only feel the feelings that we enjoy. Happiness might be sitting right next to regret, joy might be right next to overwhelmed. That is just the human condition. And experiencing all of our feelings is true emotional sobriety.

Ouch – reading this inflicted some wincing on my part particularly the meditate it and service it statements.  Hello blog writing, hello Headspace!  It hurts to look within and acknowledge our dark corners so no wonder I try to spiritual bypass my way through it sometimes.  But that’s okay – I feel the feelings associated with that and use the knowledge to grow my emotional sobriety further 🙂  What do you think?

Friday Sober Jukebox – we don’t need no education

we don't need no educationSo this post is triggered by two things – a sample of this track spinning round during a run one time over Xmas and a post by Kristen over at ByeByeBeer.  I’m mixing my metaphors somewhat because initially there will be some expression of defiance about brainwashing, as this song so brilliantly illustrates, & then it will become about education, growth of self and homework for life! 😉

The defiance is about the brainwashing, aka PR & advertising might of the drinks industry, that cranked up it’s messaging that booze is good and excessive drinking is normal over the Xmas & New Year period that made me increasingly angry and resentful.  Not a good  place to be & I had to work very hard to manage that around my family.  I don’t know but the lyrics of thought control and being a brick in the wall resonated for me.  We become so co-opted by it all I despair and for me it really is that matrix red pill blue pill moment.  So you can take the red pill and keep drinking or take the blue pill and do it a whole different way.  Which requires commitment and faith that those who have been before you are not lying to you and that it is so worth it.

Which segways with what Kristen featured which is a TED talk called Homework for Life.  If you click on the ByeByeBeer link you can watch it there which is where I saw it 🙂

“Homework for Life” is a strategy that I originally began using to generate more story topics for the stage, but as I began to use the strategy daily, it changed my life. It made everything about my life so much more vivid and slowed my life down remarkably. It’s a strategy I teach to my storytelling classes often, and I’ve had people tell me that it has replaced therapy and meditation for them. It truly changes lives. Powerful.

He talks about spotting the ‘danders in the wind’ which really resonated for me.  So to counteract the ongoing onslaught of ‘life requires booze to be good’ message I’m starting to practice homework for life as an additional sober tool to support the therapy and meditation I already practice.  At the age of 47 life is already speeding up way too much for me so if I can slow it down & notice the beautiful in the benign that has got to be a good thing.  Plus it supports my word for the year ‘clarity’ 🙂

Now that tune 😉

PS If you’re looking for a new eaterie & are East London way can I recommend Redemption?  I’ve blogged about it before here.  They opened their West London venue in Notting Hill back in August & now they have one in the heart of Shoreditch!

This is what Catherine had to say:

Redemption Bar’s new Shoreditch restaurant will be located at 320 Old Street, London, EC1V 9DR and will open to the public from Monday 4th January for a lunch service. 

redemption old streetOpening hours:
Monday – Friday 12pm – 11pm
Saturday 10am – 11pm
Sunday 10am – 5pm

Care, feel, notice – don’t be afraid

mindful-activity-at-christmas

 

 

 

 

Hokusai says read by Mark Williams [who developed MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy) and wrote the books ‘Mindfulness: Finding peace in a frantic world’] at the start of the Mindfulness Summit this October.

So much to learn from this poem about presence and being afraid.  Beautiful just beautiful.

When I turned 2 years sober I said: Prim shared an excellent guide to recovery that year one was physical, year two was emotional and year three was spiritual.  I’m still wading through the emotional stuff so we’ll see how I go with the spiritual! 😉

I’m finding with mindfulness and its grounding in Buddhism I am working on my emotional and spiritual growth at the same time.  Win:Win! To help you do the same I’m attaching a gift from Tara Brach I received earlier this month – enjoy 🙂

RAIN-of-Self-Compassion2

I hope you have a wonderfully sober and present Christmas wherever you are in the world.  Stay strong sober warrior 🙂

 

 

Chocolate meditation

So it’s one month to go to my 2 year sober birthday.  Whodathunkit? 😉

chocolate 2

And after listening to Mary O’Malley talk to Tommy Rosen during Recovery 2.0 at Prim’s recommendation I’ve this to add to her words of wisdom.

Mary talks a lot about how our poisons can turn into our medicines and that the waves of compulsions we feel mean we have something to learn.  As she says:

Compulsions aren’t an indication that something is wrong;
they are doorways into the joy of being fully alive in each moment.
By learning to respond rather than react,
we can gather the gifts that they hold.

So much of what she says makes so much sense to me.  She talks about the stories and spells of childhood that lead to our control issues and struggle as adults.  How learning to numb saved our childhood.  And that this desire to control and our struggle is made of fear glued together with shame and judgement.  It’s that old chestnut about what you resist persists.

So in an effort to turn my current poison into medicine I’m going to detail a chocolate meditation 😉  This is taken from Psychology Today but there are lots of others available online.

The chocolate meditation
Choose some chocolate – either a type that you’ve never tried before or one that you have not eaten recently. It might be dark and flavoursome, organic or fair-trade or, perhaps, cheap and trashy. The important thing is to choose a type you wouldn’t normally eat or that you consume only rarely. Here goes:
• Open the packet. Inhale the aroma. Let it sweep over you.
• Break off a piece and look at it. Really let your eyes drink in what it looks like, examining every nook and cranny.
• Pop it in your mouth. See if it’s possible to hold it on your tongue and let it melt, noticing any tendency to suck at it. Chocolate has over 300 different flavours. See if you can sense some of them.
• If you notice your mind wandering while you do this, simply notice where it went, then gently escort it back to the present moment.
• After the chocolate has completely melted, swallow it very slowly and deliberately. Let it trickle down your throat.
• Repeat this with one other piece.

Mindfulness meditation is often seen as an austere practice (possibly because of all those monks getting up at 4 am and meditating before breakfast). While simplicity has its place, it also pays to remember that Mindfulness is first and foremost about compassion towards yourself and to others. Enforced austerity should play no part in the practice at all.

And that to me encapsulates Mary’s wisdom.  This process isn’t about enforced austerity it’s about learning what we do and why we do it and to have compassionate curiousity towards ourselves.  Mary says in shame there is no healing and by using compassion we can unhook ourselves from the core struggles that keep us stuck in our compulsions.  I’m all for that – with a bit of chocolate thrown in for good measure 😉