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How to live well - a shared exploration

“ Greatness is achieved through the discipline of attending to detail. ” - Twickenham Fitness Room Poster

                                   how to live well – a shared exploration 

what is it? This course is ambitious. It aims to help us live longer, healthier lives that are more energised, happy and fulfilled. We will work to improve our knowledge and activities in three interconnected areas – optimising wellbeing, nourishing relationships, and living with health, energy & resilience. The course is constructed partly on the recent state-of-the-art, evidence-based ENHANCE intervention for building wellbeing, with ingredients that focus on our values, self-determination theory’s needs/goals/motivations, mindfulness & compassion, positive emotions & savouring, and the central importance of relationships. 

Compassion, wisdom & wellbeing: an 8 week training

A good friend & I have just been sorting out the practical details of running an 8 week course together on "Compassion, wisdom & wellbeing", starting in January.  Some aspects still need to be tweaked, but the basic publicity information runs like this:

"If you want others to be happy, practise compassion.  If you want to be happy, practise compassion."   Dalai Lama

    "Wisdom, compassion, & courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men."    Confucius

Upgrading the 'breathing space' meditation, some research-based suggestions (4th post): compassion & implementation intentions

Ch.14: Meditation, Gratitude & Savouring

Love makes labour light.  Love alone gives value to all things. 

- St Teresa of Avila

There are so many interesting issues that can be covered in this chapter, for example "Four aspects of inner focus" model.  Mindfulness.  Acceptance.  Presence.  Flow.  Positive psychology findings.  Importance of gratitude/savouring.

 

Balanced meditation practice: an overview

Taking our attention inwards can be done helpfully in so many ways.  We can relax; we can be mindfully aware; we can use visualisations; we can deeply savour present time experience; we can process difficulties from our pasts or prepare ourselves for challenges in the future.  There are so many useful ways of using our minds to help ourselves.  In the diagram below, one can think of "mindfulness' as representing "content irrelevant" - it's how we're relating to mind-body content rather than what the mind-body content is that's important.  "Exploring & processing" however is very much "content relevant" - whether one is gaining perspective by seeing what the content is and "naming" it, or seeing what the content is and learning from it (as in focusing).

Mindful self-compassion: affectionate breathing meditation

I'm just back from a five day Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) retreat in Iceland with Chris Germer & Christine Brahler.  MSC teaches a whole host of meditation practices, with three underlined as core meditations.  These three are Affectionate Breathing, Loving-Kindness for Ourselves, and Giving & Receiving Compassion.  In this post I talk a bit more about the initial core meditation practice - Affectionate Breathing.

Upgrading the 'breathing space' meditation, some research-based suggestions (3rd post): embodied values

I have already written a couple of blog posts "Upgrading the 'breathing space' meditation, some research-based suggestions (1st post): mindfulness & naming" and "Upgrading the 'breathing space' meditation, some research-based suggestions (2nd post): touch & affectionate releasing" where we have taken our attention inwards, noting & naming our internal state/our internal weather, and responding to this inner state with settling touch, self-compassion & relaxation.  These posts have introduced nine suggestions that potentially upgrade a more standard breathing space practice.

Upgrading the 'breathing space' meditation, some research-based suggestions (2nd post): touch & affectionate releasing

I recently wrote a blog post "Upgrading the 'breathing space' meditation, some research-based suggestions (1st post): mindfulness & naming" where I commented that if the thousands of recent research papers on mindfulness, emotion regulation & related subjects couldn't help us improve on the helpfulness of brief meditation practices, then science hasn't been doing its job adequately.  I went on to describe five possible upgrades saying that, if you're interested in trying out these ideas, maybe just explore a few at a time.  In this post I mention a further four upgrade options.  As with the first five suggestions, build up step by step, experimenting with what works well for you personally.

Upgrading the 'breathing space' meditation, some research-based suggestions (1st post): mindfulness & naming

Many forms of stress management & meditation teach brief "breathing space" exercises that can be used to bring oneself into the present in a variety of helpful ways.  These seem to have been particularly popularised by the 3 minute breathing space exercise (3MBS) taught in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).  Zindel Segal (one of MBCT's developers) describes the development of this Widen-Narrow-Widen attentional sequence in this short online article.

Paired meditation deepens interpersonal connection: how to go about it

Yesterday I wrote the blog post "Paired meditation deepens interpersonal connection: Tania Singer's wonderful ReSource project" which introduced & overviewed the recent, very impressive ReSource Project.  I also discussed the associated JAMA Psychiatry research paper "Effects of contemplative dyads on engagement and perceived social connectedness over nine months of mental training: a randomized controlled trial" with its abstract including the comments "Secularized classical meditation training programs address social cognition, but practice typically occurs alone.

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