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In today’s culture of stresses and excesses, reaching and maintaining a healthy weight can be a daunting task. It requires a variety of deliberate life adjustments, and experimentally combining separate-but-intertwining skill sets in five key areas: lifestyle, nutrition, fitness, psychology and spirituality.

As a high school teacher in the Bronx for 14 years I got to meet and deeply know a lot of teens. Having those relationships taught me a lot about what makes adolescents tick. I saw that the way adults view teens impacts the way teens see themselves, and ultimately the lives they think they are capable of leading. I also witnessed how school settings can be fertile ground for greater understanding and connection, or misunderstanding and miscommunication between teachers and young adults.

Use this podcast to help you understand the truth in all situations and enjoy a more peaceful mind. Life’s stressful when we’re deluded! Here are the highlights…”Understanding the Truth – Communicating it Skilfully & Selectively” is one of the 7 Guidelines from the book “Living a Life of Harmony – 7 Guidelines for Cultivating Peace & Kindness”.Determining the truth is important because when we’re aligned with the truth we are in tune with how things are and can be psychologically at peace. The truth -> Peaceful Mind.When we’re deluded it causes psychological stress. We end up becoming lost in thought, lose our mindfulness and become unskilful.  Delusion -> Stressed Mind.Determining the truth is also about being comfortable with not knowing.We can observe our minds and coach ourselves to ensure that we have the right view and understand the truth of what’s going on.This helps us to stay mindful. Being mindful helps us to understand the truth.A simple technique that can be used to determine the truth from the Yoga Sutras of PatanjaliMethod 1 – Direct Perception – You know that something is true because you directly perceive it. It’s based on acknowledging facts. E.g. you feel wind on your face so you know it’s windy.Method 2 – Inference – Using evidence and reasoning to confirm the truth. They must be simple and straightforward to understand. E.g. there are puddles outside everywhere, so we can infer that it’s been raining.Method 3 – Using a Trusted Source – Believing in information provided by somebody or something that you trust. E.g. a cyclist specialist you trust tells you that you need a new chain, so you know that’s the truth.It’s only when one of these methods apply can we say we’ve determined the truth.It’s often worth waiting a little while for more evidence to be presented to you before believing something.

This podcast is the fourth audio extract from a mindfulness and meditation workshop I delivered for a group of British Wheel of Yoga teachers in March 2019.Here are the highlights of what’s covered:A quick recap of some mindfulness basics from the previous yoga workshop podcasts.Yoga teachers are taking responsibility for student’s awareness – by guiding their awareness to the breath and bodily sensations. So yoga teachers help people to let go of being lost in thought! Yoga teachers are teaching mindfulness.The ego is related to being lost in thought. When we’re lost in thought – the ego has taken over.The ego is the sum total of all our attachments.It’s good to be aware of what we’re attached to.Meditation is “training the mind to achieve higher states of consciousness”.Meditation trains the mind to be less lost in thought – to be more aware and concentrated.Beyond this, meditation can help you connect spiritually.Meditation is setting the conditions up to train ourselves to be more mindful.In yoga, the meditation is there to get us into a state of union.Most people that I’ve worked with who have tried meditation have found it to be beneficial: more mindful, kinder, understanding, relaxed, calmer etc.A small percentage of people are not ready for meditation.A sitting meditation posture needs a balance of being both relaxed and alert…If we get too relaxed, we drift off into a dream.If we’re overly alert we can become anxious.A relaxed and alert posture will also make the mind relaxed and alert.Having a straight posture/back is helpful.We’re trying to find the sweet spot between being relaxed and alert. This also applies outside of meditation. It helps you stay mindful.The podcast contains advice on how to meditate sitting on a chair.If you’re sat on the floor – give the knees some support with cushions if they’re off the floor – or elevate the hips.It’s good for the body to do a little work whilst we’re meditating. For example, if the abdominals or back muscles are engaged a little.Relax the shoulders.Have the head balanced as though you imagine your chin is on a shelf.It helps to reflect on your meditation practice, keep a journal or discuss meditation with others.I had a good sharing discussion with the group members on their meditation experience – you’ll hear this in the podcast.The five hindrancesUseful list for meditation and mindfulness1. Sensory desire/craving2. Ill will3. Sloth & torpor4. Restlessness & worry5. DoubtI discussed the antidotes to each of these hindrances in the podcastGood to investigate constant themes in meditation that are hindering your practice. E.g. talking to a friend, seeing a therapist.It can be helpful when there are minor disturbances in meditation e.g. a little background noise and a few distractions. The biggest disturbance is internal not external! It’s our ego and being lost in thought!Integrating meditation into yoga classes tipsAsk yourself “why” you want to integrate meditation.Be considerate of people’s expectations.Meet people where they are.Teach from a place of confidence and personal practice.Guidance versus silence.Keep it simple.Option – Create a separate meditation class.Consider referencing meditation on any advertisements for classes – being transparent about your intentions.Consider using chairs for seated meditation.Consider integrating walking meditation as this is a better option for some people who are unable to sit still.Some people may not be ready for meditation, instead it may be better for them to start by slowing down or spending time relaxing first. And then moving onto meditation later. Music can be helpful to relax students ahead of meditation.5 to 10 minutes of meditation is enough for people who are starting out. Possibly using guided meditation on an app like Insight Timer.Having occasional breaks from meditation can be helpful. For most of us, we’ll find that our life experience will degrade temporarily on the days when we aren’t meditating – and this motivates us to have a continuous practice.Meditation and mindfulness practice is similar to exercise. If you stop, you tend to degrade. So it’s good to keep going with it.Copyright © 2019 Darren Cockburn. All Rights Reservedwww.mindfulnessonlinetraining.orgwww.darrencockburn.com

I really enjoyed an interview with my friend Gary Goldberg on his “In the Spirit” radio show based in New York. Gary’s a wise and kind man – and he’s great at linking spiritual teachings to his own experience. We focused a lot on being in the present moment. Here’s what we talked about…The Seven GuidelinesThe importance of being in the Present Moment.Links between the books Being Present & Living a Life of Harmony.The Process (the universal process we’re all a part of) and how it contains intelligence to guide humans so they can be psychologically at peace and aligned with what the universe requires of them.Bringing a kindly acceptance to physical and emotional pain.Resisting the present moment is saying “no” to the universe – you suffer every time! It causes stress and we become lost in thought. It’s better to say “yes”!The best thing we can do is to accept where we are – then influence things positively for the future. The importance of communicating skilfully rather than blurting out whatever pops into our mind.Awareness and acceptance allows us to skilfully communicate what’s helpful.The only way to guarantee true skilful communication is through being in the present moment.Everything is conditioned and all a part of The Process. It’s infinite in terms of time – there’s no beginning or end to it. It’s also infinite in terms of depth. Scientists will never get to the bottom of what’s going on!You cannot wrap your mind around The Process – it’s too big.The Guidelines help you operate intelligently within The Process.The intelligence within The Process guides our actions when we’re present and open to being directed.If you were permanent connected to the intelligence with The Process you wouldn’t need the guidelines. However, because most of us are disconnected for much of the day, it’s good to have the guidelines embedded in our memory so they can be followed subconsciously.The guidelines can be recited daily to help us to remember and follow them.The Process provides us with feedback. It rewards us when we’re following The Guidelines and corrects us when we’re disregarding them. If we don’t respond to a correction from the Process it will intensify the correction until we take action. Ideally, we should take action from the correction as early as possible – then we suffer less!The importance of connection between people and how being lost in thought separates us.The Process enjoys human beings connecting. The Process wants to connect everybody and everything together harmoniously – this is evolution.

This podcast is the third audio extract from a workshop I delivered for a group of British Wheel of Yoga teachers in March 2019. 

Here are the highlights of what’s covered:

The definition of Yoga as being in union with the divine, spirit or God.
How being lost in thought separates us from this connection and union. And how mindfulness enables the union.
We can only achieve Yoga when we’re mindful.
This union is available at any time. The challenge is being able to maintain it.
Enlightenment or awakening means that the state of Yoga or connection with spirit is there permanently – you never get lost in thought.
In the meantime, we’re mindful sometimes and lost in thought at other times. This can happen many times during the day.
At any point in time, we’re lost in thought or present.
If we’re mindful and spiritually open or receptive, we can allow the transcendental love and wisdom to flow through us.
Three levels of mindfulness
Level 0 – Being lost in thought
Level 1 – Mindfulness
Level 2 – Mindfulness+ . Mindfulness with openness to spirit – allowing spirit to flow through you.
We are always in one of these three states – and this goes for Yoga students too.
Keeping some awareness on the breath (even just 10%) – keeps us mindful.
We can be mindfully busy although it can be more challenging.
If we lose our connection with mindfulness we can slow down as a tactic.
Benefits of mindfulness
Improved concentration and memory
More positive
Reduces stress and anxiety
Quieter mind
More acceptance of yourself, others and situations
Helps relieve stress and depression
Improves sleep quality
Increase in resilience to health issues
Enables kindness
Useful for pain management
Enhances happiness and wellbeing
Can enjoy pleasure more when you’re mindful
Creativity
Problem solving
Creates better relationships
Better listening
Self control
Access to the spiritual dimension
Mindfulness+ or yoga is about bringing together the form with the formless. To work with our experience and what’s external to us. Enjoying all of that and meeting our obligations, whilst integrating the spiritual dimension.

This podcast is the second audio extract from a workshop I delivered for a group of British Wheel of Yoga teachers in March 2019. We had a lot of fun exploring mindfulness together 🙂

Here are the highlights of what’s covered:

* A practical mindfulness exercise on identifying the different components of your experience
* Mindfulness definition
* How mindfulness links to yoga philosophy and the goal of yoga
* Transcending thoughts
* Choosing how we respond to thoughts
* Getting lost in thoughts
* We don’t need to think as much as we do
* Mindfulness hotspots
* We must be mindful to reach the goal yoga

This podcast is an extract from a workshop I delivered for a group of British Wheel of Yoga teachers. I was helping them explore mindfulness and meditation. This is the first of a number of podcasts from that workshop.

It introduces the universal process (The Process) which we are all a part of. And 7 guidelines that when followed will cultivate peace and kindness. The teachings are from my new book “Living a Life of Harmony”.

Spiritual Practice is actively cultivating our connection to the spiritual dimension – what we can do to become more “spiritual”. People refer to this dimension with many labels like higher consciousness, spirit, Presence or God.

The three foundations for spiritual practice are: Life Conditions, Mindfulness and Faith. All three foundations are required to cultivate our spirituality.

It was a delight to interview Gary Hill. Now here’s a man who’s transforming his life through mindfulness. It’s inspiring how much progress he’s made in the short space of a few months. And I feel honoured and grateful to be a part of his journey. I hope you enjoy listening to our discussion!

I’m excited to be writing an album of spiritual songs during 2019 titled “Do It While You Can”. Here’s the studio version of the first song – “Listen”. Many thanks and credits to Josh from Attic Studios, Poole, UK who patiently and skilfully mixed and produced the audio.

I was delighted to learn that my ‘7 Principles of Conscious Digital Usage’ were featured on the front page and in a three page article within the Jan/Feb edition of Kindred Spirit Magazine​.

The speed at which digital device usage has spread is phenomenal. Many of us are spending hours of our time each day using these devices – usually looking at screens. When you use digital devices consciously, you can be at peace with them and enjoy their benefits. You can use them in a way that is aligned with your spiritual practice.

Here are ‘The Seven Principles of Conscious Digital Device Usage’:

1. Only use a device when it’s really needed
2. Stay mindful during device usage
3. Be kind to your body during device usage
4. Communicate selectively, truthfully and skillfully during device usage
5. Have time away from your devices every day
6. Take opportunities for real human contact
7. Accept that digital device usage is part of life.

Having a good night’s sleep and feeling rested when you wake up makes your mindfulness practice MUCH easier! This means that looking after your sleep conditions is part of your mindfulness practice. It’s part of my first guidelines from the ‘7 Guidelines to Cultivate Peace & Kindness’ – Honour The Body.

In this podcast I provide 15 tips for a better night’s sleep.

1. Let go of using all digital devices at least fifteen minutes before sleep. Mobile phones, tablets and other devices stimulate the mind. Especially if they’re internet-enabled and socially connected.

2. Meditate briefly before going to sleep. A simple breathing meditation for two minutes helps to relax you.

3. Perform a mental body scan just before sleeping by consciously bringing your awareness to each part of the body.

4. Practice gratitude before sleep, by recalling things you are grateful for. This will gladden the mind and contribute towards a more positive transition into sleep.

5. If it’s noisy where you live and not possible to reduce the noise, then get yourself some comfortable ear plugs to use during sleep.

6. Select a peaceful alarm to wake you up in the morning rather than something abrupt or rowdy.

7. You spend much of your life asleep so it makes sense to ensure you have a good quality bed and mattress. Keeping the body comfortable during sleep is part of honoring the body.

8. Remove all clutter from your bedroom. Clutter in your external environment clutters the mind.

9. Allow fresh air into your bedroom during sleep if this is possible.

10. Avoid liquids at least three hours before sleep. This will help minimize the chance of your bladder waking you up during the night.

11. Let go of caffeine in the afternoon and evening. This will reduce mind stimulation.

12. Avoid foods which disturb your sleep and negatively influence your dreams. The foods I’m referring to here vary from person to person. For me, they tend to be spicy foods, cheese and chocolate. You’ll need to experiment with this to see what helps and hinders your sleep.

13. Where possible, go to sleep and wake up at regular times. This will program your body and help you remain asleep for the duration.

14 .Be mindful of how long you nap for during the day. If you do take a nap in the day, experiment with shortening its duration or removing it altogether. If we accept our tiredness during the day, we often find it soon passes. Observe how this positively impacts your sleep on an evening.

15. Analyze your sleep with a device. I used a wrist band to monitor the amount of light and deep sleep I was having. Deep sleep is where the mind stops dreaming and the body repairs and recharges. I noticed a big correlation between the amount of deep sleep I had and how well I felt the following day. The device monitored me overnight and fed the information to my phone and computer for review. You can analyze your sleep patterns and identify the things you do during the day that help or hinder your sleep quality.

A podcast introducing loving kindness practice with a 15-minute guided meditation

The loving kindness guided meditation starts at 4 minutes from the beginning of the podcast or MP3
Mindfulness and kindness go together hand-in-hand
In order to be kind, considerate, friendly and generous we need to be aware and accepting of our own inner experience, and the experience of our environments
Also considerate of what’s going on beyond our immediate environments
Act with kindness, considering everyone and everything – is one the 7 Guidelines to Cultivate Peace & Kindness from the book Living a Life of Harmony
If you already have a regular mindfulness meditation practice e.g. like a breathing meditation, you may want to try doing practicing kindness meditation every other time you meditate or on a weekly basis
In my experience, and that of others I know, loving kindness meditation works really well
It programs your mind (like self-hypnosis) so that you’re automatically and spontaneously more kind to yourself and other people
You can’t really plan to be truly kind, but you can plan to cultivate kindness, so it flows from you spontaneously and integrates into your behaviours and approach
Most people are kind sometimes and not at other times
We’re all “works in progress” and we need to work on cultivating kindness in the same way that we need to work on cultivating mindfulness and concentration

In this podcast, I tell the story about a difficult experience I had on a spiritual retreat…shortly followed by a beautiful kiss from the “Silver Goddess” during meditation!

Here are a few helpful pointers I’d like to share based on my experience and that of friends who have attended spiritual retreats…

Transform your practice by learning about the 3 Approaches to Cultivating Mindfulness+ in this short podcast. The 3 Approaches are:

1. Structured Practice
2. Everyday Activities
3. Changing Life Conditions

An explanation of how you can use Mindfulness to heal emotional pain and evolve spiritually.

In this concise TEDx YouTube video, author and lecturer Steve Taylor cleverly and humorously explains why a sense of purpose has such powerful mental and physical benefits. These include longevity, motivation, direction, resilience and positivity.

Acceptance is a key part of  mindfulness practice. This talk was originally broadcast on Facebook Live (video link here) explains what acceptance is and how to cultivate more of it.

I’ve set an intention for 2019 to write an album of spiritual songs. Here’s the first – “Listen” – and here are the lyrics…

Listen, you’ll hear me
Quiet, in silence
Together, I’ll be there
And one – is always

There’s a space in your mind
Allowing you to be kind
And it’s peace that lives there
A gentle hum connecting you to the one
And your thoughts all disappear

Through breathing, you’ll know it
Your breathing, there’s space there
Relaxing, you’ll find me
You’re conscious, connected

There’s a space in your mind
Allowing you to be kind
And it’s peace that lives there
A gentle hum connecting you to the one
And your thoughts all disappear
Disappear
Disappear

Listen, listen, you’ll hear me

Practical guidance on mindfulness and being in the present moment. I introduce the Two Modes of the Mind: “Lost in thought” and “Being Present”. One of the main goals of spiritual practice is to move from the former to the latter. The practical Four A’s framework (Awareness, Acceptance, Appropriate Action) is then introduced showing the two paths that lead from the two modes of the mind.

Introduction to the Four Realms: Physical, Digital, Dream and Spiritual. This podcast was recorded fresh from after my bath where the idea became conscious – so it’s a ramble! I hope you find it interesting and useful.

Introduction to meditation covering definition, technique, practice, teacher / teachings, posture, duration, location, energy, frequency and managing hindrances. Helpful for beginners and advanced practitioners.

I introduce the concept of mindfulness as described in my book Being Present. The subjects of awareness and acceptance are discussed along with a brief mindfulness meditation session to aid learning.

Accompanying notes available at www.mindfulnessonlinetraining.org.

How Mindfulness+ can be used to help gain freedom and cultivate peace at times when you’re facing uncertainty or challenges in relation to health and death.

Audio and slide show of my workshop at the British Wheel of Yoga Well Being Festival at Warwick University during March 2018. 

The talk covers the following topics:

My personal journey
The Goal of Yoga / Yoga Sutras
Meditation including hindrances
Mindfulness
Two modes of the mind
Definition of spiritual practice
The four A’s model

Read my interview with Prox Centauri on his site Inside The Rift where he asks me these questions…

I recently returned from an annual skiing holiday with my son. We’ve been going skiing for many years now and have a wonderful time. Nature, mountain air, lots of food and physical exercise leaving our bodies feeling nourished and stronger. The spiritual aspect to the holiday is always both challenging and revealing. If you have a spiritual practice these regular events provide an effective gauge informing you of how you are progressing…. Read More

The Bhagavad Gita, a popular Hindu and yoga scripture, has a lot to say about activities that need to be done – ‘the what’. In addition, it provides guidance on how we should do them – ‘the how’. The teachings describe a practice called karma yoga, which is undertaking activities unselfishly, without being attached to the results.

Psychologically speaking, consciousness refers to awareness. When we’re conscious, we’re aware of our experience. Both within and outside of us. This includes bodily sensations, things coming in through the senses, feelings and thoughts. We then have mindfulness, which is consciousness plus acceptance. When we are mindful we accept what we are conscious of. Regardless of whether we find it pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. Through accepting what we are conscious of, we align ourselves with what is.

Once we realise that who we are is the awareness (the plus in the Mindfulness+) and not the actual experience, we have complete freedom! Regardless of what happens to us. And the good news is that through Mindfulness+, a natural consequence is that our life experience improves on the whole.

Is it possible to be happy all the time? No, absolutely not. Why is that? Simple…because happiness is based on conditions. You get something that you desire and you experience happiness. You move away from something that you dislike and that may make you happy…for a while. Happiness comes and goes for all sorts of reasons.

What is available permanently for those who are able to access it is “peace”.

Accompanying notes available at www.mindfulnessonlinetraining.org.

Whatever your level of kindness, the good news is that you can cultivate more of it.

There are five ways of cultivating kindness that have worked for me over the years and I’d like to share them with you.

Accompanying notes available at www.mindfulnessonlinetraining.org.

When you use digital devices (e.g. phones, laptops, smart watches, tablets etc) consciously, you’ll be at peace with them, and enjoy the benefits they have to offer. You’ll also use them skilfully, with kindness, interacting harmoniously with the world.

Here are 7 Principles for Conscious Digital Device Usage.

Accompanying notes available at www.mindfulnessonlinetraining.org.

We’re living in the digital device era. The speed at which digital device usage has spread is phenomenal. Many of us are spending hours each day using digital devices – usually looking at screens.

When you use digital devices consciously, you’ll be at peace with them, and enjoy the benefits they have to offer. You’ll also use them skilfully, with kindness, interacting harmoniously with the world.

Accompanying notes available at www.mindfulnessonlinetraining.org.

We’re living in the digital device era. The speed at which digital device usage has spread is phenomenal. Many of us are spending hours each day using digital devices – usually looking at screens.

When you use digital devices consciously, you’ll be at peace with them, and enjoy the benefits they have to offer. You’ll also use them skilfully, with kindness, interacting harmoniously with the world.

Accompanying notes and diagram available at www.mindfulnessonlinetraining.org.

Your mind is always in one of two modes. You are either lost in thought or Present. Being lost in thought may also mean you are lost in your emotions. During these times you are disconnected from the infinite intelligence that is your birthright. Instead, the ego is in control and you become unskillful.

We are trying to move away from being lost in thought, and towards being present, which I also call Mindfulness+.