Wellness for Law

Wellness for Law

Research suggests that 1 in 6 employees at any one time will experience mental health issues in the UK. These account for 30-40% of absences from work and as much as 50% of all long-term sick leave cases.

Legal professionals fall within a high-risk group of individuals who are likely to experience the symptoms of mental ill-health during their professional lives.

Many professionals struggle to manage work-related stress, suffer from anxiety or depression, have difficulty sleeping, find it hard to switch off, feel overwhelmed or even 'burnt out'. These experiences are becoming more and more common in the workplace as people struggle to keep up with technology, ensure excellent client care and meet the daily demands of litigation.

A report published by the Bar Council in 2015 stated that 1 in 3 lawyers find it difficult to control or stop worrying, 2 in 3 feel that showing signs of stress equals weakness and 59% demonstrated unhealthy levels of perfectionism.

Clearly, there is a growing need to address mental health issues in the workplace in a way which responds sensitively to the needs of the individuals in order to ensure a healthy working environment, which in turn promotes productivity and commitment.

A recent initiative that has been launched in an attempt to tackle some of these issues is Wellness for Law UK, set up by Rachel Spearing, Co-Founder of the Bar Wellbeing Project.Wellness for Law UK aims to build a community of legal practitioners, academics and clinicians, who are committed to sharing research, information, best practice and collaborating to promote wellness throughout legal education and continuing professional development in practice.

To find out more about the work of Wellness for Law UK, click here.

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Meditations for Kids

Meditations for Kids

Christine Kerr has produced a great selection of 'Enchanted Meditations for Kids" which contains a state of the art recording comprising eight short meditations to help children feel calm and confident. 

They include a jellyfish relaxation, an underwater dolphin ride and a butterfly relaxation.

Click here for more information.

 

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Your Daily Practice

Your Daily Practice

Here is this week's list of great publicly available practices and suggestions to help us to start introducing mediation on a daily basis.

Developing a Daily Practice by Jack Kornfield: http://www.mindful.org/developing-a-daily-practice/

A Daily Mindful Check-In Practice by Bob Stahl: http://www.mindful.org/a-daily-mindful-check-in-practice/

Calm by Michael Acton Smith: https://www.calm.com/book

This book contains lots of tools, tricks and habits to introduce mindfulness meditation into your daily life. Highly recommended.

Padraig O'Moiran's Meditation Practice: http://www.padraigomorain.com/audio.html

Fragrant Heart: Click here to access this vast collection of meditations: http://www.fragrantheart.com/cms/free-audio-meditations

 

Photo by Simon Matzinger on Unsplash

Improve Your Sleep

Improve Your Sleep

Scientific research last year in the Netherlands suggested that even a small amount of mindfulness meditation can help to calm our hyperactive minds and improve our sleep.

In the 2015 study in the Netherlands, participants with no formal meditation training were given reading materials that introduced them to the basic tenets of mindfulness – the moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. They were also given short practices to complete, including a body scan meditation, an awareness of breath practice and a loving-kindness meditation. The participants were asked to meditate for ten minutes before and after work each day. The results indicated that over the course of a two-week period, the meditators experienced steady improvements in both sleep quality and duration.

For a useful article from Mindful detailing the research, click here.

To access the scientific research, click here.

For a podcast from Mindful on mindfulness for sleep, click here.

To access Rick Hanson's "7 Tips for Getting More Sleep", click here.

For meditation practices that improve sleep, try the App Insight Timer Sleep section.

 

Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

Moncrieff- Bray

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Moncrieff- Bray

On Thursday 24th May, Gillian Higgins, international barrister and meditation teacher will be hosting "An Evening of Mindfulness Meditation" at the Moncrieff-Bray gallery near Petworth. The evening will introduce mindfulness meditation, its benefits and practices, drawing upon the art and sculpture at the gallery. Everyone welcome.

TIckets: £15 on the door. Reserve place in advance.

7-8.15pm

If you would like to reserve a place, please contact Practical Meditation by completing the Contact Us form. 

To find out more about this event and others at Moncrieff-Bray, click

 

 

 

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Sleep Better

Sleep Better

In her book "Breathe", Jean Hall includes a great breathing practice to induce sleep. The practice was pioneered by Andrew Weil, a doctor based in Arizona. Make sure you are tucked up in bed when you begin the practice. 

1. Lying on your back, rest the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, on the ridge just behind your upper teeth.

2. Exhale completely and let your body relax and sink into the bed.

3. Slowly inhale through your nose for 4 counts and then hold the breath for 7 counts.

4. On a count of 8, softly whoosh the breath out through your mouth, resting your tongue on the floor of your mouth. 

5. Continue like this until sleep prevails. 

Photo by Benjamin Lossius on Unsplash

New Courses!

New Courses!

If you're looking to take a short course on "How to Learn to Meditate", click below to take a peek at the courses on offer at Practical Meditation's "Teachable" online school. 

Guided Meditation

Guided Meditation

This week, Practical Meditation offers a short guided meditation called "Uniqueness of Breath". This mindfulness practice allows us to become aware of the uniqueness of each breath and helps us to use the breath as an anchor to the present moment. The pack also contains two short essays on how to build a daily practice and the nature of the wandering mind. 

 

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Moncrieff- Bray

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Moncrieff- Bray

On Thursday 24th May, Gillian Higgins, international barrister and meditation teacher will be hosting "An Evening of Mindfulness Meditation" at the Moncrieff-Bray gallery near Petworth. The evening will introduce mindfulness meditation, its benefits and practices, drawing upon the art and sculpture at the gallery. Everyone welcome.

TIckets: £15 on the door. Reserve place in advance.

7-8.15pm

If you would like to reserve a place, please contact Practical Meditation by completing the Contact Us form. 

To find out more about this event and others at Moncrieff-Bray, click

 

 

 

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The Body Scan

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This month, Gillian Higgins at Practical Meditation has recorded a short body scan meditation in which we pay attention to different parts of the body in sequence, without judgement. The body scan is one of the central practices of mindfulness meditation, a practice which has been described as friendly, non-judging, allowing, present-moment awareness. 

To access this free, downloadable meditation from Practical Meditation's online school, click the button below. The pack also includes useful notes on "What is Mindfulness Meditation?" and "How Do I Get Started?"

How to Practice?

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How to Practice?

When teaching mindfulness meditation, I am frequently asked: "what do I need to be able to practice?"

The answer is simply your body and your breath. For comfort, you may wish to use a high-backed chair or a cushion on the floor. If you want to lie down, choose somewhere comfortable, again where you will not be disturbed. If you decide to meditate on your bed, simply be aware of the temptation to drift off to sleep. This is a common experience and may simply demonstrate that you need more sleep.

Why not try this short body-scan meditation which is a central practice of mindfulness meditation and helps us to connect with our bodies and in doing so, disconnect the mind from its ideas, opinions, beliefs, and judgements.

You can access this guided meditation by clicking here.

Take a moment for yourself and reap the benefits of your practice. 

 

Extract taken from "The Short Guide to Mindfulness Meditation" by Gillian Higgins, due to be published in June 2018

 

Photo by Imani Clovis on Unsplash

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Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness Meditation

What is mindfulness meditation? In essence, it is a very simple form of meditation designed to develop the skill of paying attention to our inner and outer experiences with acceptance, patience and kindness to ourselves. It is a practice of being fully and attentively present in the moment.

A typical mindfulness meditation consists of focusing full attention on the breath as it flows in and out of your body. Mark Williams, former Director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre explains that "focusing on each breath in this way allows you to observe your thoughts as they arise in your mind and, little by little, to let go of struggling with them. You come to realise that thoughts come and go of their own accord; that you are not your thoughts. You can watch as they appear in your mind, seemingly from thin air, and watch again as they disappear, like a soap bubble bursting. You come to the profound understanding that thoughts and feelings (including negative ones) are transient. They come and they go, and ultimately, you have a choice about whether to act on them or not."

Jon Kabat-Zinn, creator of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programme, explains that mindfulness is "Living your life as if it really mattered, which means you've got to be here for it, with awareness and with a certain degree of kindness to oneself and an understanding of the deep interconnectedness of all life and all being."

Mindfulness meditation helps us to accept the mind's wanderings and to bring our attention back to the present moment without blame or judgement. It is not complicated, exclusive or long-winded. It can be practiced by anyone and its health benefits can readily be seen from a daily practice of 10-20 minutes.

It does not seek to stop the thoughts we all have on a daily basis, although it may slow the pace at which those thoughts arise. It can also empower us to let those thoughts pass like clouds, rather than latch onto them and let them to spiral out of control, as is often our habit.

In essence, mindfulness meditation can be defined as a quietening of the mind and a training of our attention to become aware of the present moment. When our minds wander into thought, we return gently to our anchor without judgement, time and time again, with kindness to ourselves. In this way, we can start to befriend the mind and become familiar with how our thought processes actually work. 

 

Photo by Adrian Curiel on Unsplash

Take a Moment

Take a Moment

The new "Take a Moment" series invites you to listen to a short guided mindfulness meditation to help you drop into the present moment. Recorded by barrister and meditation teacher Gillian Higgins, the Conscious Breathing Meditation practice uses the breath as a point of anchor, a place to return to when your mind starts to wander. An effective practice to restore a sense of calm.

3 mins 22 seconds

 

Let's Meditate!

Let's Meditate!

For those of you who are looking for simple mindfulness meditation practices to use on a daily basis, take a moment to discover the free audio recordings by Gillian Higgins uploaded this month on Practical Meditation's website. You can access them by clicking here.

The guided meditations are short and practical. They can be used at home or at work when you need to pause and take a moment for yourself. 

Gillian is currently writing her first meditation book, "7 Days of Mindfulness" which is intended to be a practical guide to taking the first steps towards building a mindfulness meditation practice. 

We hope you enjoy the meditations and Happy New Year!

 

 

Image kindly supplied by Samuel Zeller

Online School

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Over the past few months, Gillian Higgins, barrister and meditation teacher at Practical Meditation, has been designing some new short mindfulness meditation courses. They are intended to be used in the home and/or the workplace and introduce the concept and practice of mindfulness meditation.

The new 2-day and 7-day Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation courses are now available. There is also a growing selection of short audio-guided meditations, recorded by Gillian.

All materials can be downloaded and many of the resources are now freely available. The 7-day course can be downloaded for only £10 in October and November. Simply click the button below to access the online school. 

 

 

Meditation Moment

Meditation Moment

Practical Meditation is launching a series of Meditation Moments. These are short introductory courses to the practice of meditation and include a guided audio practice. All of the materials can be downloaded. 

The first Meditation Moment uses a practice called "Uniqueness of Breath". The practice allows us to become aware of the uniqueness of each breath and to use the breath as an anchor to the present moment.

The pack contains two essays on "What is Meditation?" and "How do I Get Started?". It also includes meditation practice notes for the audio guided practice and a series of answers to frequently asked questions. This pack will help you to understand the practice of meditation, start your practice and understand some of the scientific benefits of meditation.

Why do I Meditate?

This month sees the launch of The Mindful Kitchen Retreat which brings together Miranda Gore Browne (Bake Off Finalist, cookery writer) and Gillian Higgins (international barrister and meditation teacher) as they share their respective talents in 'baking' and 'breathing' using mindfulness meditation practices. The first retreat will be held on 13th May in Lodsworth from 10-4pm. 

In this post, Gillian explains why she began to meditate and how she met Miranda along the way.

"A few years ago, I found myself running around in circles, feeling stressed and overwrought, on an almost daily basis. As a parent and a barrister, I felt sure there must be a way to run the professional motor and enjoy parenthood without feeling guilty or completely exhausted. I started to look for solutions on the strict basis that they had to be both workable and provable. It was at this point that I turned to meditation. I did my research, started to attend a class, read as many books and scientific papers as I could and started to practice, even when I didn’t want to. 

After a few months, I could start to feel a difference. As a barrister, I found myself better able to cope with stressful situations in a more thoughtful and less reactive manner. As a parent, I was more willing to be present and more able to develop some breathing space to be able to respond, rather than knee-jerk react, to the challenges that arose.

I also became much more aware of the ability of negative emotions to hijack us at any moment of the day, without prior notice, and that our thoughts could start to define us, unless we paid attention. After several years of practice, I decided to qualify to teach meditation and have spent the last 12 months practicing as a barrister and teaching meditation to beginners. 

A few years ago, I met Miranda at a ballet class and we became friends. She became a regular at my meditation classes in West Sussex and we started to talk about the similarities between baking and meditation. Soon after, we hatched a plan to launch The Mindful Kitchen Retreat as a way of combining both formal meditation practice and informal mindfulness, which comes naturally when we engage in such pleasures as baking, walking, foraging and sharing. We are both very excited about this new venture."

For more information about meditation, see Practical Meditation at www.practicalmeditation.co.uk 

Two-Day Course

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For those of you who are interested in finding out more about the practice of meditation and how you can start to build a regular habit, just click through below to access Practical Meditation's free 2-day E-Course. It includes two short lessons with meditation practice notes and two guided audio mindfulness meditations. There are also some answers to frequently asked questions. 

Creating Space

Scientific research shows that seasoned meditators show less activation of the trigger-happy amydala, the part of the brain which controls our emotions.

By meditating, we learn how to fine tune our muscle of awareness and become more conscious of how the mind works and what it gets up to. We can learn to become more aware of when we are beginning to get hijacked by an emotion and we can use the space that meditation creates to decide whether to respond, how to respond and how to handle the challenges that face us. 

Meditation can help us to respond, rather than knee-jerk react. 

Reducing Stress

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Many of us are challenged by the pace of work or life in general - by the incessant interruptions from emails, calls, texts, tweets, Whatsapps, Instagrams - and so our efficiency and our ability to concentrate becomes affected.

The practice of meditation, where we are developing our awareness of what the mind gets up to, helps us in turn to develop our ability to focus. Ultimately, if we can focus on the breath as an anchor point, and keep returning to it when the mind wanders off into thinking and planning, we can focus on completing our tax returns or preparing an overdue presentation. In time, we become less willing to be distracted by the things that can ultimately wait.