From psychedelic trips in Scotland to silent meditation retreats in India, from living in a monastery as a Buddhist nun for 8 years to training in Jungian psychology and becoming a psychotherapist in London, Mary has dedicated her life to gaining a deeper understanding of the complexity of life from the different perspectives of the various wisdom traditions both East and West.
Stopping helps us to see more clearly how we are engaging with any task, whether we are bringing to it states of worry, frenzy, tension or a quality of calmness and ease. What is important is not so much the task itself but how we are engaging with it. Stopping a few times a day, even for just a few moments, proves to be enormously helpful in mitigating the negative effects of stress.
The immediate key to calming anxiety is to come into an awareness of one’s breath and one’s body, calming the quickened breath and soothing the tightness and contractions felt in the body. While over the longer term, an ongoing mindfulness practice is a very beneficial antidote to anxiety.
The art of mindfulness is really about opening up to the beauty of life both within and around us. When we live our life as if it were a race we miss so much of the beauty of the natural environment. Neuroscientists tell us that in order to really see something we have to spend at least 15 seconds taking it in. Letting ourselves connect to the natural world is deeply soothing to our nervous system.
It is all too easy when we are faced with challenging situations or struggling in some way to turn on ourselves with harsh self-judgement thereby overwhelming our nervous system. Self-Compassion is an effective practice to counteract this habit. There are 3 components to the practice of self-compassion: Mindfulness, Common Humanity & Kindness.
When I am feeling vulnerable my automatic tendency is to try to defend myself from both my own acknowledgement of it and as a consequence from exposing myself to the other person. Vulnerability takes us to that tender edge, an edge we have not yet fully listened to, dialogued with or understood.