Mindfulness course

Should we care what others think?

We are all subject to other people’s opinions, it’s something that is freely offered, whether we ask for it or not. Of course we do the same, our judgement of others comes often without any effort at all, it’s almost like we have no control. We see something but in reality we aren’t really seeing it, we are interpreting it through the lens of our own past experiences, tastes and preferences. I guess this is part of being human and it’s how we survive, making sense of what we see through what we already know.

In her book “The top five regrets of the dying” Bronnie Ware lists the following:

  • Regret 1: I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

  • Regret 2: I wish I hadn’t worked so hard

  • Regret 3: I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings

  • Regret 4: I wish I had stayed in touch with friends

  • Regret 5: I wish I had let myself be happier

Regret 1: I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

Is it not sad to come to the end our lives to realise that we had taken on the opinions of others and allowed them to direct the course of our life? Is it not a waste of a life to not be true to ourselves?

Ok of course we live in a world where we must live in harmony with others and our environment. It would be totally reckless to not consider the impact of our actions on others, unfortunately this can be most damaging, as we can see on our environment at the moment. We can not go along speaking without thinking of how it might land on others. Too often I hear people say “I will speak my truth” or be insistent on their views being heard. And of course this is what we should be free to do, however being mindful of our speech and actions requires us to sit back and think about how important it is for us to do so. If we just throw the words out because we need to express it, then we must be willing to take the consequences that follow, whether they are good or bad. This is Karma in practice, or if you prefer, cause and effect, our actions have a consequence it’s really that simple.

I’m not saying we should care what others think, it is more about considering why you are saying something, what might happen if you say it and of course, is it worth it? This is mindful speech and action.

So back to the main theme, should we care what others think?

In this case I’m more interested in talking about how we receive other peoples comments and opinions on us. How does it play out in our life and how much space do we give to other people in our mind?

When we should not care about what others say

There are people who we seek advice from, there are those we trust to help guide us in life, if we are lucky we should all have these people in our life. But here’s the problem for those of us who have chosen a different path, perhaps a little unconventional, others will not get us. Or more than that, we may even be challenging their insecurities by going against the grain. When we turn up with a different perspective on life, when we say “no I don’t do things that way”, then we are open to a whole host of opinions.

I guess the main point here is, if you dare to be different, if you dare to go your own way, then be prepared for a lot of opinions, whether you want them or not. I love Brene Browns work because it speaks to me and people like me. She says it as it is, this quote of hers is what inspired me to write this short post:

If you are not in the arena also getting your butt kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.

In my life I’ve found that the ones that so freely offer their advice (otherwise known as opinion) are usually those that never step out of their own comfort zone. They are the one’s that sit safely in their life who do not want to be shaken by those of us who dare to be vulnerable, who dare to let go of security in the name of living and who dare to not be tied by the expectations of others. These people are the ones that should be ignored, or perhaps not ignored because they too have lessons to teach us.

And before I go, I’d like to highlight how Mindfulness ties into this by sharing this paragraph from Bronnie Ware’s book The top five regrets of the dying. It’s taken from a conversation with a dying patient called Stella, as she recalls an experience when she just took a risk to follow the unknown:

“Unhealthy patterns surfaced in my mind, results from my past conditioning and society telling me I couldn’t live this way. Fear starting rearing it’s ugly head as I wondered how on Earth it was all going to come together, yet again. Bringing myself back to the present moment was the only thing that had saved me before and was the only thing that could save me now”

If you ever doubt yourself again, perhaps remember to bring yourself to the present moment and don’t worry so much about what others think.

Mindfulness can help you uncover past conditioning that maybe limiting you from reaching your full potential. You can join one of our upcoming eight week programs or sign up for our unique Women in Life Transition program coming soon.

Thoughts from a Mindfulness Approach course participant

It’s not often that you get to hear what Mindfulness is from the perspective of a course participant, so here it is directly from Pam:

Mindfulness is a term many have heard by now. Some may understand it to be the latest fad in naval-gazing, others may see it as the new fix or cure. I've asked friends and family (including those on a spiritual path)what they think mindfulness is, and they said that it's meditation, or another way of mastering our thoughts. We've all got our ideas about it.

At a taster session I went to last autumn, that was run by Anna Zannides, she talked a little about the practice of Mindfulness. We did a sitting meditation and I experienced walking with awareness through all my senses. I left there feeling more alive! Why, how you might ask. I was more aware of myself in the fullness of my environment. It was like stretching out and feeling muscles I didn't know I had.

I was initially drawn to go to the taster session, having searched for a way to stop thinking and acting on automatic - like a mechanical hamster on a wheel. I was looking for a way to stop taking so much of myself and my life for granted.

At the first session of my 6 week course with Anna, she asked: what is an unstable mind? Some answers thrown out might have included;
Someone who's off the wall
A person who is highly strung
An over sensitive person
I don't know what the other participants actually said, because I wasn't really listening. I was too busy figuring out my own reply which I eagerly offered.
"Being easily influenced and swept up with other people's opinions and circumstances," I said. My reply was based on criticisms from my daughters: for not listening to them and not admitting my shortcoming. Of course I had my reasons and justifications over the years, for not listening, (usually too much on my plate, or some variation of that). Nevertheless I took on the guilt.

Anna listened to the group's offerings and said that a busy mind is an unstable mind. There in Anna's answer, was my confirmation: I was definitely in the right place.

"So what's a stable mind?" Anna probed. I pictured myself sitting squarely with legs crossed and eyes closed in the middle of a hurricane; it is said that the centre place is calm and still. I shared my thought-picture with Anna, who responded carefully. Many people have the idea she said, that we must be like Buddha - but we are human. She continued saying that we don't have to remove ourselves from the goings-on around us, or even the ones hurled at us, it's about us learning to calm ourselves in the midst of it.

"Even the Dai Lai Lama has said he can get angry or upset at times." Anna said smiling.
I was wrong, but I felt like I was in a safe space to make a mistake and learn from it. In my first class, I got clear about what is a stable and unstable mind. Learning how to observe what I think and feel, and the way I think and feel - with acceptance of where I am, is all on the path to becoming calm. This seems more do-able than the picture I was holding on to, the one with me sitting in 'the eye of the storm'.

With this distinction made, I knew that I would love the peace and stability that comes with more self awareness and acceptance.

Next, Anna told us to walk slowly round the room noting the shifts of pressure on the souls of our feet and the shifting weight of our bodies from the left-side to the right. She also asked us to notice feelings and sensations in our bodies.


I could feel the spongyness of my trainers as I pressed my heel down on the floor. I felt the tension in my ankles as I slowly shifted my weight from side to side. I felt a little anxious about bumping into the woman in front of me and thoughts about walking too slowly also came crowding in. Anna gave the group permission to accept all the thoughts and sensations that each of us had. It felt liberating to know there wasn't anything to get wrong.

For homework, Anna wanted us to observe our thoughts and journal them. That was the end of my first week's class. How did it help me? It's too early to tell. Mindfulness is not a magic trick, or superglue, or a band-aid plaster. During the session, I was stopped in my tracks to explore some of my thinking and to experience myself and my setting more fully. That's no small thing.

Anna is very down-to-earth and explained mindfulness with lots of real, everyday examples based on her experiences and learning. I feel stimulated and ready to learn more at the next class.

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Mindfulness in the City

Mindfulness in London - View of the City

Mindfulness in London - View of the City

I'm a Londoner, born and raised. I love city life, not yet tired of it. Having lived in Cyprus for ten years I know the difference between living in a busy city like London and a quiet, slow-paced place like Cyprus. I know how stressful life can be in London, just a simple train journey into central London is enough to break any sense of tranquility. 

So how do we stay mentally healthy whilst living our daily lives here in London (and of course other cities across the world)?

The Origins of Mindfulness

Mindfulness can greatly enhance how we experience life, even in the city or perhaps especially in the city. To understand how Mindfulness can be incorporated into our busy lives, we first need to understand what Mindfulness truly is.

And to do that we need to look at its origins, Buddhism. I want to bring attention particularly to the Zen master Thich Nhat Han who is often referred to the master of Mindfulness. Many of us who study Buddhism can get caught up in the intellectualization of the teachings, studying, reading, trying to understand. However, Zen Buddhism reminds us that there is no need to study, to understand even because all we need to do is practice. 

This short conversation between the Buddha and a philosopher may help to clarify what Mindfulness is:

 "I have heard that Buddhism is a doctrine of enlightenment, What is your method? What do you practice everyday?" - philosopher
"We walk, we eat, we wash ourselves, we sit down...." Buddha
"What is so special about that, everyone walks, eats, washes and sits down" - philosopher
"Sir, when we walk, we are aware that we are walking, when we eat, we are aware that we are eating.........When others walk, eat, wash or sit down, they are generally not aware of what they are doing" - Buddha

So we can see from this simple conversation that Mindfulness is not an intellectual method, one that needs a deep study. It requires practice, every day, focused, committed practice. Working on the small things, becoming aware of what we are doing at any given moment and remembering to be kind when things don't go as we had wished.

Mindfulness is being rather than doing.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Meditation is what we call the "formal" practice of Mindfulness, an essential part of the practice. However, it is a common misconception in the West that meditation is all we need to do to be a Mindfulness practitioner. There is little point in sitting on a cushion for an hour and then making no effort to be mindful in our day to day life. 

I find that people are often discouraged from Mindfulness because they feel that they don't have time to meditate. Of course, we all have time to sit quietly for 10 minutes a day, it's because we don't know the benefits that we don't make the time. So maybe we should start with daily activities and slowly build in our meditation? 

Mindfulness in the City

Mindfulness in London Southbank

Mindfulness in London Southbank

It is possible to live in a busy city and remain mindful, developing your awareness of what's happening at any given moment and alleviating your stress levels.

You can begin with simple things such as:

  • Reduce noise in your life
  • Switching off distraction, turn the TV, radio and Technology off for a while
  • Establish a routine that sets you up for the day
  • Do one thing at a time and focus on that one thing only
  • Remember to breath before reacting
  • Develop self kindness and become aware of your harsh self talk

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What is Mindfulness?

What is Mindfulness?

It's difficult to define something that is a felt sense, an experience and not an intellectual concept. There is already so much out there about Mindfulness, that it has over complicated what should be a very simple practice.

In it's essence, Mindfulness is a way of life. It's a purposeful effort to pay attention to what is going on right this moment. In this video I try to demonstrate how you begin to develop mindful awareness in everyday situations.

Mindfulness is learning how to accept and deal with the ordinary situations of our daily life

In the West we tend to look at most things from the point of "what will I gain?"  That's why when someone asks me what they will gain from practising Mindfulness, they are a little apprehensive when I reply - "let's see!"

As Mindfulness practitioners we always start with a beginners mind, everyday is a new day, every moment a new moment. If we can stay with that fresh mind then we are beginning to practice Mindfulness. As soon as we start looking for benefits, progress and achievement, we are no longer in the present moment. We are now venturing into the comparing of ourselves to a past self or a future better self because right now we are not good enough. And this is where we lose the point, that the only moment that exists is this one.

A short video where I try to describe Mindfulness in action.

A short story to explain mindfulness in action. To learn more visit mindfulnessapproach.com

If you want to learn more about Mindfulness, why not join our course in London starting in October. Click here for more details