The Fifty Minute Hour

Thoughts on therapy and life

Mindfulness and Me *

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My very first car was a Fiat Panda; I loved it but it was a terrible car, the sort that I could (and sometimes did) leave in a multi storey car park with the keys hanging out the door, and it would still be there when I got back. One of the things I remember about this car was that it would keep revving, even when in neutral. I coined the phrase “running on” to describe this – the sense that even at rest the engine couldn’t stop.

Now, when I had that Panda, and for years afterwards, I too was in a state of “running on”, never still, mind always racing ahead to the next thing.. “Relax!” has been a refrain ringing in my ears from an early age and about 18 months ago I started trying to get a handle on how I might do this.  I started with yoga, which I instantly loved for the way it made my body feel, and the message of non-judgemental practice. Compassion for self is something I am good at saying to others, but yoga gave me a physical reminder of how to do this for myself

Then came the mindfulness, slowly at first as I tried to pursue courses and schedules, before inevitably failing to keep up with the targets I had set myself. Now I do a little better, by trying to build it into my daily life. And all this really means for me is remember to take time to breathe, and an (almost) daily meditation practice.

Sometimes I don’t do very well, and have to remind myself to come back to a place of stillness. And don’t let that meditation practice fool you, I’m talking minutes per day, not hours of sitting in serenity. But just at the moment this seems enough to keep me grounded in a world where time seems to go so fast I can’t always keep up with it.

I value the stillness, and yes the serenity that I can sometimes find in sitting and breathing. I feel anchored in my body, and calm. I like calmness, it’s like a duvet wrapped around me, which feels comforting but also protective.

Part of meditation for me is the idea that as I try to cultivate compassion and altruistic love, that this links me to others doing the same, that people are intrinsically good. It makes the world a more positive and friendly place, and a nicer place to be.

When I slow down, I notice the world differently, it’s a bit like when you go out with a camera, suddenly you are looking for what you can see, rather than letting it wash over you as background. This is great, I notice the lovely things, the dog I pass on my way to work with the curly tail, the birds in the fields as I queue on the slip road, just stuff it’s easy to pass by without noticing.

Traffic jams become a welcome opportunity for breathing and being – OK I’m still working on that one, but you get the picture.

Mindfulness and me –  a work in progress, but I’m enjoying the journey.

Mindfulness, a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world.

I am here now: The Mindfulness Project.

*I am not an expert, I’m not a teacher, these are just my thoughts on mindfulness and what it means to me.


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Romantic Love?

Safe from stormy seas

Safe from stormy seas

Ah Valentines Day! Overpriced flowers, restaurant tables and an abundance of red tackiness; Meg Barker in her video  talks about how Valentines Day doesn’t speak to anyone who isn’t in a monogamous heterosexual relationship with just one other person. But I wonder if those of us who in are in that category feel similarly alienated by this annual display of romance? Continue reading

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Food and Love

Food is love

Have you noticed that a lot of the coverage of Antonio Carluccio’s recent biography has focused on his suicide attempts?  Thinking about this, it occurred to me that many of the people we associate with good food in this country have their own experience of unhappiness. Anthony Worrall Thompson has talked about the emotional neglect he experienced as a child, Nigel Slater’s book Toast, describes his difficult childhood through food and Nigella Lawson Continue reading