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The Weekly Meditation Atelier

This week we did a mindful sitting practice. When I first started learning to meditate this was the pinnacle of practices for me. Proper meditation. 10 years later this still makes me smile. It can be so uncomfortable, and allows us to explore this discomfort and how we relate to it. As with all of the practices they shine a spotlight on our habits, I can be pretty rigid and black and white in my thinking… hence my idea that this practice was the proper one. It is through the practices and regularly taking myself to my mat that I have learned the language of my body, and I still am, how I relate to discomfort and strive for perfection, and then move back into the practice of being present. Over and over. Returning our attention to the present moment and the sensations of being us.

Sitting for long periods is not easy on the body. You can read about setting yourself up for practice here.

You can then have a go with this guided practice.

Read the poem The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer (below), out loud to yourself and enjoy a nice cup of tea, or whatever you fancy. And congratulate yourself for having taken the time out of your day to undertake this practice. You have taken an active step in supporting your health and wellbeing.

Upcoming Meditation Group

I have decided to take away some of the uncertainty of my work and offer the meditation atelier online for December. Please contact me via jaddufourd@icloud.com or +33 6 77 05 42 46 to make a booking.

Fridays, 10-11am. 4th, 11th and 18th December. Due to Christmas this will only be a three week block this month at a cost of 18.75€.

*NEW* Mondays 1-2pm. I have also decided to start a four week meditation atelier on 1-2pm (French time, UTC+1) 30th November, 7th December, 14th December and 21st December, 25€ for 4 sessions.

The blocks run as a package and the meditations are built on each week from the session prior, that and managing internet payments, seems to be the simplest option for me and my small operation.

Offerings aside. I hope you are well. I’m here if you need me. Do reach out.

Warmly

Joséphine

The Weekly Meditation Atelier

All set for the second online Weekly Meditation Atelier. Do not disturb sign on the door…. But. The phone rang. My husband was locked out. A heavy posted document was shoved through the letter box. However, all in all I am slowly finding my feet with leading the space. This week we were joined from Italy, Wales, France and California. Isn’t that something. I miss seeing people in real life, I miss my trip to Pézenas and Café des Arts. All that aside, everyone coming together and making the best of an opportunity to be together feels special. I am honoured to be leading this group.

Mindfulness of Breath and Movement

This week we built on the foundation of the bodyscan through a breath and movement meditation, bringing awareness to, and inhabiting our bodily experiences and sensations.

The focus is maintaining moment-to-moment awareness of the sensations accompanying our movements, letting go of any thoughts or feelings about the sensations themselves.

Segal et al, 2013 ‘Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy’

Through movement based meditations we have an opportunity to explore and discover the creative edge between exploring/investigating /discovering, and accepting/letting be/being with.

By being present and observing ourselves with a kind and gentle attitude, we can learn new ways to take care of ourselves. Noticing the difference between effort and ease, the boundaries and limits of our bodies. Learning it’s language so we can listen to it’s messages more clearly, respond wisely, creating more space for ourselves. How often do you ignore the hunger cues, the fatigue, the crossed boundaries?

You’ll find a guided recording of a movement practice here. The practice was followed with a poem by Dawna Markova.

We then shared a tea meditation together, simply observing the practice, and those who wished, drank their own brews. My tea was a honey oolong from Indonesia, an earthy and fruity tea. This is an activity based meditation, a nod to my Occupational Therapy background. It is an invitation to transition from the quieter practices, and models how we can use every day activities to drop into the present moment.

This week you are invited to go on a mindful walk, bringing awareness to the physical sensation of each footstep. Anchoring in the present moment through the sensations you experience, and always knowing that your breath is there to return your attention to each time it wanders off.

May you be well, may you be at ease and may you be kind to yourself and others.

Warmly,

Josephine

Cultivating Compassion Coffee Morning

This is an online group space to explore supporting our mental wellbeing whilst in confinement. I will be using a framework of Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) to guide my facilitation. This approach combines the skills of mindfulness and self-compassion to improve emotional wellbeing. You can read more about Compassion Focused Therapy here.

The idea is that we meet for a tea/coffee, be part of a community, a space to share and listen, swap tips, seek and offer advice. Each session will be different and will grow and evolve with its attendees. Pyjamas are welcome. 

We’ll begin with a short compassionate breathing space meditation, and move into a supported discussion space. We will close with a short mindful compassion practice. 

Topics I’ve envisaged which will no doubt expand:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety 
  • Sleep
  • Frustration
  • Fear
  • Loneliness
  • Boredom

As well as a group discussion space to share and problem-solve, where needed/requested, I can offer professional advice and sign post to further resources and support.

By signing up to the group you will be agreeing to the following group guidelines:

  1. Be kind and courteous. We’re all in this together to create a welcoming environment. Healthy debates are natural, but kindness and respect are required.
  2. Respect everyone’s privacy. Authentic, expressive discussions make groups great, but may also be sensitive and aware of confidentiality. Be mindful that people may be identifiable by things other than their name. What’s said in the group stays in the group.

I look forward to seeing some of you here.

May you be well, may you be at ease.

Josephine

The Weekly Meditation Atelier

Today was our first session via Zoom. Technology is not my strong point and I was a bit nervous but thankfully it didn’t fail us. Human errors were plentiful, a wrongly input email address, forgetting my left and right and also a loud knock at the front door. To everyone who attended I cannot thank you enough for participating. And if there’s anything that mindfulness teaches us, it’s that there’s room for it all.

Today we began and closed with a three part breathing space. A simple technique to weave into daily lives to build those new neural pathways:

From here we moved into a body scan, you can find a similar meditation that I have recorded here. It is the first meditation on this page. I read the following poem after the practice:

We then shared a tea meditation together, simply observing the practice, and those who wished, drank their own brews. My tea was a honey oolong from Indonesia, an earthy and fruity tea. This is an activity based meditation, a nod to my Occupational Therapy background. It is an invitation to transition from the quieter practices, and models how we can use every day activities to drop into the present moment. Anything can be a mindfulness practice, brushing our teeth, tying our shoe laces, making a cup of tea. Bringing our attention to the sensory experience of undertaking these tasks, slowing them down, being intentional, deliberate and present. And returning those wandering minds again and again each time they step away, which they will. Mindfulness is the noticing, and cultivating the skill of returning our attention to the present moment. Through which we builds neural pathways that support us to develop new ways of responding to difficulties.

If you have any questions or queries about the session, or would like to join, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via email josephine@thewellbingatelier.com.

Wellbeing Ateliers In A Time of Confinement

“He seated himself at his table, dipped his pen in the ink, put his forehead in his hand and searched for ideas” from Bel Ami by Guy de Maupassant

It is with sadness that I write that the Friday morning meditation group is cancelled tomorrow. However….. I am finally getting all modern and going online from next week. 25€ for 4 sessions, if you’ve not been able to make the group due to distance now is your chance.


I am also adding a new weekly group, the Monday Morning Mindful Mingle, a Compassion Focused Therapy based weekly check in from the comfort of your own home, pyjamas and a cup of coffee as your accessory welcomed.


Details can be found in my latest newsletter. Wellbeing Ateliers In A Time of Confinement.

Meditation Atelier 16th October

In the session we explored different ways of sitting for the sitting practice, including the use of props and cushions to support our comfort within the practice. Sitting for long periods is not comfortable, but we can make the experience simpler by ensuring we are stay in a position our body can maintain. Meditation stools, bolsters of various sizes and cushions under our feet or behind our lower backs can make all the difference. Ultimately you want a self-supporting spine and your knees lower than your hips. If you’re using a chair both feet should be flat on the floor. For more information you can read some hints and tips here.

You’ll find a guided sitting practice here, it’s number 3 on the list.

As always we finished with a tea, this month it’s a purple leaf, Sheng puerh. Any infusion can be used as a finish to the practice, acting as a transition from the stillness of the practice to whatever you have left to do with your day.

The Meditation Atelier 9th October

Autumnal leaves greeting us for The Weekly Meditation Atelier in Pézenas. The leaves are slowly shifting to reds, browns and yellows.

We began our practice with a breathing technique that can be added to our mindfulness tool kit, if practiced regularly it can be something we access when under stress to support us respond more wisely that we might. It works to activate the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for the body’s rest and digestion response when the body is relaxed, resting, or feeding. It basically undoes the work of sympathetic division after a stressful situation. The parasympathetic nervous system decreases respiration and heart rate and increases digestion.

Begin by drawing your attention to the breath, simply following the in breath and out breath.

Then move your focus to breathing in for 4 counts, holding for 2 counts, breathing out for 4 counts and holding for 2. Repeat for 2 minutes.

From here you are can extend this sequence to breathing in for 4, holding for the count of 2 and breathing out to the count of 5, holding for 2 and repeating.

You can rest with this rhythm or extend to breathing out for 6 counts, then 7, and then 8 if this is within your range.

Remember to listen to YOUR body, this is not a competition. The aim of this technique is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system using the outbreath, this is activated at 4 counts of the outbreath and staying at this count is absolutely ok.

This week we did a movement and sensory practice, unfortunately I don’t have a recording of this practice but you are welcome to try this practice in place of the session held today. We closed with a purple leaf Sheng puerh tea you can read more about here.

The meditation practice was closed with a poem about kindness.

The Weekly Meditation Atelier

This week I introduced the pause, a simple mindfulness technique. Simply stopping and observing three breaths, following the inbreath and our breath 3 times. Allowing us to press pause and connect to the present moment. An opportunity to retrain those neurons and offer a space to react and respond differently when under stress. If we practice when we aren’t stressed, we can more easily access this coping strategy when we are.

                           The Pause


Stop what you are doing for a moment.

Take 3 mindful breaths, simply feeling the breath coming in and going out of your body.

Go back to whatever you were doing.



Prescribed for use 3 regular times a day and use as necessary.

Ideal for moments of encounters with bad drivers and in shopping queues when the customer in front gets out their cheque book and coupons.

From the pause we then undertook the body scan, you’ll find it in the resources, meditations online if you would like to try it at home here (number 1). The body scan is about training ourselves to put attention and awareness in different places at will – as a focus to anchor our awareness in the moment. Mindfulness is not about trying to get anywhere, but simply being aware of where you are, and allowing yourself to BE where and AS you are. The practice was closed with this poem by Portia Nelson whom I am sure we can all relate to…..

Our tea this month is a Purple Leaf Sheng Puerh, harvested. Spring 2019, grown by Li Shu Lin and family in the Nannou Mountain, Yunnan, China. Purple tea is made from leaves that are high in anthocyanin, an antioxidant also found in blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. This tea was made with hand picked purple leaves from a field of cultivated purple tea trees. The tea trees on Li Shu Lin’s land have never had any added manures, pesticides or soil additives of any kind, and thrive completely on their own in their natural environment.

The tea is brewed in boiling water and steeped fro 1-2 minutes and can be brewed fro 3+ infusions to fully extract the many layers of the flavour.

Ooooh a nice cup of hot tea

Stereotypes are often their for a reason. I am British and tea is one of my things. Though my French husband is more likely to drink the typical variety you’ll be offered than myself. We call it ‘normal’, the rest of the world calls it ‘English Breakfast’. It involves plonking a tea bag in a cup, boiling a kettle, pouring the water over the bag and shortly after removing the bag, squeezing it against the side and then adding cold, fresh milk from the fridge (no home ever has the long life milk commonly offered in France). On receiving the cup of tea you’ll say something along the lines of ‘Mmmmmm a nice cup of hot tea’.

Whilst I do enjoy a cup of ‘normal’ tea, it’s not what is on offer in The Weekly Meditation Atelier. At the close of the mindful compassion based meditation we transition from the formal practice to an activity based meditation, easing ourselves gently into the close of the session and into our daily lives. It cultivates a sense of continuing to embody mindfulness and present moment awareness into our daily lives. Anything can be a meditation if we put our attention to it. The tea meditation is a way of demonstrating this, of remaining in companionable silence together as the vessels are warmed with hot water, the tea is woken up, the water is poured and the tea is served. The movements, sounds, colours, smells, sensations and finally taste. These can all be observed and model a way of bringing presence into our daily activities, the moments that make up our lives. A mundane activity can be turned around into a sensory based meditation, grounding you in the present moment.

The evolution of a rolled tea leaf after four infusions. Some teas can be infused many times over, giving a different flavour profile with each cup.

Every tea comes from the same plant, Camellia Sisensis, each country, mountain, village and even family produce different batches of tea. Fine teas are of interest to me and I source ecological and small batch varieties from around the world to offer in the sessions. The tea meditation draws inspiration from the Japanese tea ceremony, which are quietly reflective ceremonies where the preparation of tea takes place in silence. Each month I introduce a new tea and each week it’ll offer a different experience, as you’ll discover. No breath is the same, no cup of tea will be either.

As an Occupational Therapist activity is the pivotal part of interventions, and the tea meditation allows me to weave this in. Modeling how you too can make simple activities a moment to pause, recentre and connect to yourself. To take time to observe and listen to your body and identifying it’s needs. In this way you move away from the thinking mind to the being mind. Allowing you to manage stress, anxiety or whatever difficulties you may be experiencing, giving space to experience sensations as they are, without the stories and judgements and opening a door to the healing that lies within you.

I hope this has been a helpful explanation of the tea meditation and why I have chosen to add it to the atelier. It’s not something that I have experienced within any other meditation class I have attended. I enjoy exploring the teas with you all very much. If you have any questions or would like me to write about specific topics do leave a comment below or get in touch via josephine@thewellbeingatelier.com.

This months tea, a small batch amber oolong from Taiwan

This weeks meditation atelier we practiced a compassion based sitting meditation which you can find here, scroll down and you’ll see it at number 4. You’ll find the poem here.

P.S I am expecting some comments on the ritual of the British cup of tea as this is a hotly debated topic…. mug or cup of tea for example…. some people put milk in WITH the teabag still in the cup….. others will always use a tea pot and then the debate moves into the ‘milk or tea’ in the cup first. It’s a very intricate affair and assumptions will be made about what sort of person you are by the tea you make or drink.