Mindfulness is an essential practice for personal growth. If you don't understand your experience, you can't work with it. If you can't see your experience, you can't understand it.
Trying to grow as a person without practising mindfulness would be like trying to create beautiful hand-crafted furniture without knowing how to work with wood.
Personal growth is the path of becoming an artisan of your own mind, your own experience. So we have to get to know it, and that's where mindfulness is essential.
Mindfulness is nothing complex. It's deliberately paying attention and bringing an attitude of curiosity and acceptance to whatever you find.
Like the carpenter who finds that there are knots in certain types of wood, when we come across difficult parts of our experience, there's no point getting angry or judgey about it, we've got to accept what's there is there, for now at least, and experiment curiously so that we become proficient at working with it.
In order to pay this kind of attention though, we need to slow down - to free up some of our attentional bandwidth. We can only take in so much data from the world in any given second or minute. And if we constantly jam pack the seconds and minutes of our day, we simply can't pay attention to this moment in detail.
The tools below help us slow down and pay better attention. They also give a basic orientation to meditation practices and help you get started.
Check out the descriptions of what each one is useful for. If you know which one you want just click on it. Otherwise read through the more detailed descriptions below and see which ones are most relevant for you. All of our Mindfulness Tools are free.
PAR card - join People Against Rushing by practising the intention to slow down and take more notice of your life. This free tool allows you to print out a PAR card for your purse or wallet, or even send the card to a printer so that you can give them to your friends too.
What Am I Feeling? - being able to name our feelings is immensely helpful in lots of settings: for communicating well in conflict, for using any of the 'Getting Unstuck' tools from the Flourish suite, and for practising mindfulness generally in your day to day life.
Meditation Overview - this video gives an overview of meditation: what it is, why do it, the two different 'buckets' of meditation practices, and how to get started.
Starting to Meditate - new to meditation? This video gives you 5 minute samples of a few different meditation practices to get you started. Give them a go, choose one, and then away you go!
5G: The Five Growth Super-powers - there are five attitudes that super-charge our growth efforts. They put us on the speed-boat to growth rather than the slow barge. You might have a good dose of some already. And maybe there are some you could cultivate more. Do this self-assessment to find out where you're starting from.
These tools are in the process of being released. Some are available already and some are coming soon. Click the button below if you'd like to know as we launch them!
People Against Rushing is a virtual organisation. Ok, it's actually an imaginary organisation. It exists in the minds of its members - and you'd be surprised how many have already joined!
Its purpose is to encourage you to slow down, to notice your life, to inhabit it, and to create the space for you to be present. There are side effects. You'll be less stressed!
The only criterion for membership is that you have a genuine desire to do these things.
If you decide to join, you've joined. And from now on, all you have to do, is make the following three choices whenever you can:
20% time buffer
The practice: multiply your anticipated travel time by 1.2
Hurrying causes stress. It's also difficult to be mindful when we are in a rush. We ask the Google how long it will take us to get from A to B, it says 17 minutes. We leave with 15 minutes to spare. Sound familiar? The traffic is worse than usual, so the stress starts to rise. We arrive late, we have no time to connect with people, we worry that they are unhappy with us for being late, our minds are racing and our bodies are in stress mode, releasing hormones as if we were under threat.
This practice is designed to increase the calm and presence in your life by avoiding all of this. If you're habitually late, ask yourself why. Do you have an aversion to being early? Or are you uncomfortable with 'nothing time'. If so, get curious about that. Explore it. Experiment with this and take careful notice of the impact.
blank spaces in the diary
The practice: plan some 'nothing time' in your diary
Packing our diaries full is a recipe for stress and mindlessness. We have no time to process the experiences which are our life. We can't ground ourselves to be fully present for our next commitment. There's no space for our creativity to emerge. There's no time for pattern recognition - the basis for wisdom. We forget things and hurry past people, sending the message that everything else is more important than them.
This practice involves both little and big spaces. The little spaces are the blanks in your diary between appointments. They might be as little as five or ten minutes. A blank space in the diary is time when nothing is planned and your mind can roam. Time for you to simply stop doing and 'be' for a bit. You might be at the bus stop early (because of your 20% buffer), leave your phone in your bag, and you sit there and take in your surroundings. Notice the people around you, the landscape, the temperature of the air.
The big spaces might only be as often as once a week if that's all you can manage, but they are an hour or more where you choose to do nothing demanding. That might be sitting on your back deck with a cup of coffee, enjoying the local birds. It might be taking a long bath, going for a leisurely walk or sitting at the beach.
The goal is a significant chunk of time where you can simply be present to where you are, and allow your mind some down time - some time off from the constant processing of intense input. Nothing time is time alone (or at least without any beings who talk to us!). It allows us to hear ourselves. To tune in to where we are in life or even just this moment.
Travel time only counts if you're not distracted (e.g. by driving, conversation, music, podcasts, any engaging external stimulation). Chores and screen time don't count.
be where I am
The practice: take notice of this moment
All that exists is this moment, right now. Sure, we can allow our minds to spend this moment on memories of the past, or imaginings of the future, and sometimes that's helpful. But that is simply spending our attention this moment, on mind activity - either remembering or imagining. The problem is, we spend so much of our attention on these things that we forget to pay attention to the rest of our experience right now.
This practice dovetails with the first two. It's the go-to practice for any moments of non-doing that might arise because of our buffer time, or our blank diary spaces. In fact it's a super helpful practice for moments inside our doing too.
The practice is simply to pay attention through our senses to both our outer world and our inner world. Some simple guidelines to help you take notice:
OUTER WORLD: what is present now through each of my senses? Sights, sounds, smells, felt sensations in the body, and taste?
INNER WORLD: what is present right now in my mind? In my emotions? In my body?
To become a member of PAR, all you need to do is decide to join. Falling off the wagon on any of these practices is okay. Just jump back on and start again. If you'd like to print out the card above, either on your home printer or through your local (or an online) printing service, click below to download it.
What Am I Feeling?
Naming our feelings might sound like a basic thing but it's both powerful and sometimes tricky.
On its own, simply identifying our feelings clearly can itself dial down their intensity and the stress it creates.
Feelings are meant to move us to action because our mind has decided something needs our attention. Focusing on and accurately naming the feelings present can often relieve our minds of the need to keep nagging us for attention. It can be incredibly helpful immediately!
But there are many more benefits than just this. A big one is when we're having a conflict of some kind. To be able to describe our feelings 'cleanly' - that is without embedding judgments in them - has a powerfully positive impact on conflict.
For example a friend might have done something that I interpreted as belittling towards me. If I say 'I feel belittled' I'm creating two problems. First, I'm embedding an accusation in my statement, so my friend can't open her heart to me without accepting a criticism at the same time. We all know how hard that is to do.
The second problem is that I'm not actually naming the feeling. 'Belittled' isn't actually a feeling at all, it's an interpretation or assessment of an event. So if we stop there and don't get to the feeling itself, we miss out on the powerful effect of truly recognising our emotions.
If instead I say 'I feel hurt and disconnected from you' that's much more powerful. Firstly because my own mind can relax as I've recognised what's going on. And secondly because my friend, who loves me, can immediately open her heart and express sorrow at what happened because she doesn't have to swallow a criticism before doing that. We feel closer and more connected.
Can you see the power in this?
Several of the Flourish tools involve identifying what you're feeling, so this handy little download is a great help to have on hand if you're planning on using them. And if you do the Flourishing Life Blueprint online program you'll need to download it too, as this program includes and uses all of the Flourish tools.
Even if you do none of our programs, it can be immensely helpful. So give it a go and let us know how you found it.
Meditation is simply the deliberate paying of attention with an attitude of curiosity and acceptance towards whatever you notice.
You don't need to go off and do a course on this, you can start right now! However some of us like to understand what we're doing before we jump in and do it, so this video gives an overview of meditation, its purposes, the different types of practices available and what they offer.
Hopefully this will help remove any barriers to getting going because as you'll see, as long as you're deliberately trying to pay attention, you can't get it wrong! Even if you only manage to pay attention for a second, or maybe only after it was all over, it doesn't matter.
Meditation is the practice of training your mind to pay attention more often. And if you are doing that, then you're meditating well, no matter what else happens in your meditation.
So watch this video to give you the big picture, and then you can either watch the next one called How to Meditate, or you can try beginning with one of the many guided meditations available on the internet.
How to Meditate
Meditating is no big deal.... at least in the sense that you don't have to go and complete a course before you start doing it. It's a big deal when it comes to the impact it can have on your life, but starting to do it - hey, there's nothing stopping you right now.
This video will get you started.
We'll look at some common types of meditation practices, how they help, and some basics on how to do them. We'll give each of them a five minute go together, so that you can play with them on your own.
While most people find themselves drawn to a particular approach that becomes their go-to practice, over time you can build and refine your meditation toolkit to include numerous styles which you can learn to draw on skillfully, depending on the state of your body-mind at the time.
There is no one right way to meditate. So let's start building your toolkit.
5G: The Five Growth Super-powers
If you're looking to grow as a person, it's because you want to shift your experience of life in some way. This 'shifting' requires change, and change can sometimes be challenging. But there are certain attitudes we can bring to our growth efforts that make the path both smoother and more fruitful.
You might find that you've got some of these Growth Attitudes in spades. If you do, that's fabulous! You'll
be able to take confidence from the fact that you have some powerful assets in your travel kit.
You'll also probably find that some could do with some more attention. If so, you'll be in good company - this is really normal. Hopefully when you see how and why they are important, you'll be motivated bring those attitudes into your growth path, as part of your journey.
This tool describes each of the five Growth Attitudes and walks you through a self assessment to increase your self-awareness on them. If you'd like to explore these attitudes in more depth, you can do Module Two of the Flourishing Life Blueprint program.