Unwind Your Mind - Resources and Recordings
"Breathe", a poem by Becky Hemsley Click here for a copy of the poem
"The Enchanted Life", a book by Sharon Blackie Click here for more info about Dr Blackie
Sharon Blackie is a psychologist with a passion for myth, fairytale and the natural world and her writing (this book in particular) explores how we can find our way back to connection with ourselves through story and the the nature that surrounds us.
The reading below (abridged from the first chapter of "The Enchanted Life") describes two versions of a woodland walk from two very different perspectives.
My invitation to myself, and to you, is to be more 'Take Two'; little by little becoming more bluebell.
"A Stroke of Insight", a book and TED talk by Dr Jill Bolte Taylor
Jill Bolte Taylor is a neuroanatomist and expert in severe mental illness and in 1996, at the age of 37, she had a massive stroke when a blood vessel erupted on the left side of her brain.
She’s written a book called “A Stroke of Insight” about the stroke itself and her eight-year recovery and you can watch her talk about it in a TED talk of the same name – incidentally the first ever TED talk to go viral, not surprising when you watch it and see how passionately and persuasively she speaks.
I’m not a scientist but I’m fascinated by Jill’s account of what happened, especially of her experience of life when she lost function in the left side of her brain - the rational, logical, detail and time-oriented side - and was living in right brain mode, what she describes as the euphoric Nirvana of the intuitive and emotional right brain, in which she felt a sense of complete well-being and peace.
She was effectively living long-term in the present moment and her message is that we have the ability to consciously choose which hemisphere of our brain we engage at any moment. There will be times we need the linear, the methodical, the categorisation and organisation of information and other times when we are best served by creativity inspired by sensory perception and a focus on the now.
She concludes her TED talk with the following statement: I believe that the more time we spend choosing to run the deep inner-peace circuitry of our right hemispheres, the more peace we will project into the world, and the more peaceful our planet will be.
The Art & Practice of the Present Moment
The Present Moment = the Here (physical location) and Now (this moment in time).
Being in the Present Moment = being aware of what we're thinking, feeling, doing here and now.
As opposed to living predominantly on autopilot with our thougths oscillating between the past (what went wrong, what we could have done or said differently) and the future (what disaster might happen, what dangers or hazards do we need to avoid). Which, in my experience, is mentally exhausting.
In contrast, being aware of what's going on in this moment means we identify what we're thinking and feeling and can choose to change what we're doing - we're in control. And that makes us feel calmer, more grounded, peaceful.
A mentor of mine tells a story about being away on a teambuilding weekend where she found out the last exercise would be to climb a telegraph pole, stand on the top and then abseil down while supported by her colleagues holding the climbing ropes. She's terrified of heights...and the dread of this upcoming event swamped her mind - she couldn't focus on any of the preceding activities or even engage properly with the other people there.
On the morning before the telegraph pole climb, she was sitting at breakfast when she was joined by a friend who asked her how she was (given she hadn't slept and was looking green at the gills). The dread and the fear all spilled out, tears were shed. The friend listened, then said "And what's going on right now?". "Well, right now, I'm sitting with you having breakfast". "Exactly, and there's nothing to be scared of right here, right now, is there?".
That simple conversation changed my mentor's whole experience of the final day. Each time her mind raced ahead to the impending climb, she pulled it back with "what's happening right here, right now". In that mindset, she enjoyed her morning, ate a good lunch, completed the afternoon's activities and walked out to the telegraph pole. "Right here, right now, I'm just putting on a harness. Right here, right now, I'm just walking towards the pole. Right here, right now, I'm putting one foot in front of the other". And in that mindset, she climbed that pole, stood at the top and let herself fall.
One small climb for a woman. One giant step towards conquering her fear.
"The Tigers, The Mice & The Strawberry", a story about the Present Moment
Click here to read the story and for an explanation of the metaphors.
Insight Timer - Meditation App
Click the image below to access this free app which is also available on Android and iOS
Click here for an article by Psychology Today on the myths and magic of meditation