Mindfulness Meditation at Home

Taken from the book Timeless Simplicity – Creative living in a consumer society by John Lane

In this weeks meditation session we explored the sitting practice, followed by a short story this week instead of a poem. Do you remember the last time you were read a story? If it’s something you’d like to try again you can find some lovely ones on the Calm website here. They’re specifically sleep stories, if you know of anyone else who reads out short stories that you could recommend get in touch.

Home Practice

Within this weeks session we briefly touched on home practice. If you want to see the changes that can arrive in your life from mindfulness training, you need to practice regularly, ideally daily. The evidence points to 20-40 minutes everyday, but 10 minutes is going to be enough to bring about new neural pathways in the brain. These new pathways give you the opportunity to respond differently when under stress.

One thing that can help is using online guided practices or timers. Calm is an online meditation space that I have enjoyed, though more recently I have been using Insight Timer and Petit Bambou as I have been focusing on building my French vocabulary and they have the option of French language.

You also have access to the mindful compassion based meditations that I teach here, password Wellbeing2020 (this gets updated regularly so if it doesn’t work please email).

Another way to get you to practice is setting up an inviting space. Above is a little window into where I practice. There are no designated rooms in my house, but I’ve found a nook. When I lived in with my family in a small flat in London I didn’t have the luxury of a nook so I simply set up a mat, my meditation stool, my favourite blanket over my shoulders and would light a candle (scented tealights were a favourite). If I had time I’d journal afterwards with a cup of tea, though more often than not that wasn’t available to me. Working with what you have is important, give a sense of ritual and ceremony to the experience. You deserve this space.

Some other useful tips are to have a regular time of day, building up this habit, overtime it becomes like brushing your teeth, if you don’t do it you just don’t feel right.

Build up the time, one minute at a time could be enough. Begin with a 1 minute meditation each morning, the following week build it to 2 minutes, then gradually increase the time. You may find yourself practicing for longer, but setting a realistic goal that you can attain consistently will increase your success and the likelihood that you’ll maintain a regular meditation practice that’s not daunting.

So you’ve got one minute set aside. The invitation is to simply follow the breath in and out, finding a point most vivid for you in this practice. One minute, breathing in and breathing out, noting the sensations that you find.

Note where it was and then throughout the day in moments of stress you have an anchor to ground yourself in the present moment.

Home practice plan:

  • Create a physical space to practice, be creative, make it inviting
  • Allocate a regular time slot
  • Set aside one minute a day to be there for to begin with
  • Breath in
  • Breath out
  • Find a point within the breath where the sensations stand out
  • Continue to follow the breath
  • Repeat for one minute

Let me know how you get on, or do get in contact with any questions josephine@wellbeingatelier.com.

The Weekly Meditation Atelier

Preparing myself for work earlier I crammed the many items into various vessels. I will streamline this I am sure, but I’m a ‘you never know’ sort of person. I have wished to be a minimalist for many years. But I’m just not, I feel my mindfulness practice has allowed me to embrace myself in all of my messiness. I love having knickknacks and bits and bobs lying around. I carry folders and books, journals, diaries and magazines. I don’t travel lightly, but I do it beautifully and sparking lots of joy along the way. I love how the poem you’ll encounter later in the post references having lots of things just incase. Whilst I on the other hand don’t want to carry less, I do so with the same light energy Nadine talks of.

Following the second week in the new venue, I feel I am finding my flow with running the group in the space. It’s beautiful here. The sessions start at 10am and finish at 11am. You can park after the red and white barrier leading to a private road (to the left of the picture), simply life the pin out and push the gate, then close it after you have parked. Enter through the gate pictured and you’ll find me in the barn to the left, the building covered in ivy. Simply wear a mask into the room and you are welcome to then remove it when you arrive at your seat. If you arrive a little after the time, just settle into the practice as you can.

This weeks practice was movement based, we began by connecting to our bodies and breath and moved into some gentle and simple movements exploring our limits and edges, our boundaries. Spending this time focusing in the present moment allows us to observe our habits and tendencies, it’s a very powerful and tender practice. If this is something you’d like to explore at home you can find the practice in the online area, this is password protected, email josephine@thewellbeingatelier.com for details.

I invite you to read this weeks poem to yourself (pictured below).

The tea I served was an Amber Oolong, grown in Nepal. The tea is light and malty with a mature tasting sweetness to it. It was the same tea as last week, where I brewed it in a shorter infusion yielding softer floral notes than this week which was much more malty in taste.

My photo does it no justice, though it gives me the opportunity to share one of my favourite new rituals. My post group office is a cafe in Pézenas that I adore and reminds me of one of the many reasons we moved here.

The Weekly Meditation Atelier

This week saw the start of the weekly meditation atelier in it’s new venue, 26 Rue de Castelnau, Pézenas, 10-11am.

We began with an introduction to the practices, the space and then moved into a body scan, an opportunity to explore and be with our bodies. To close the practice I read the poem above. Each week I will post the poem here and offer a little invitation to pause and simply read it wherever you find time within your day, maybe with a cup of tea.

A home practice of undertaking an everyday task mindfully over the week was recommended, being with the sensations and colours, textures and being fully present for the few minutes the task takes up. Brushing teeth, making a cup of tea, rearranging a stack of papers. Anything can be practiced mindfully.

Keep it simple.

So until next week, may you be well, may you be at ease and may you be kind to yourself and others.

September at The Wellbeing Atelier

The latest newsletter has just been sent out, including details on dates for half day retreats in September, the Friday morning Meditation Atelier at a new venue in Pézenas and a Goal Setting and Vision Board Atelier session 24th September… Plus do you have a mutuelle? You could be entitled to reimbursements on individual sessions. Details in the latest newsletter, which can be found here.

Half Day Retreat at Le Grand Hermitage

Monday 29th June, 10am

I am delighted to invite you to a half day retreat at the truly magical Le Grand Hermitage, Clermont-L’Hérault. I will be leading a mindfulness meditation, followed by a yoga session (with a qualified yoga teacher) we will then enjoy a healthy lunch together. You then have the opportunity to relax, use the pool and enjoy the peace of this beautiful location.

These retreats are an opportunity for rejuvenation, a time to recentre and reconnect, no prior meditation or yoga experience is necessary.

The sessions will be run in collaboration with other wellbeing professionals, and are on offer throughout the summer. I will add dates to the website when they are available, and/or you can join the Facebook site here.

There is private parking at the venue.

Introductory offer 35€

Booking essential, limited spaces. Please contact me directly or access the private facebook group here.

Please do get in contact if you have any questions or queries:

josephine@thewellbeingatelier.com
Telephone (call or text +33 6 77 05 42 46)

Honey Oolong the Atelier tea for March

Within each meditation atelier there is a pause for tea. It acts as a transition between the formal practices and the inquiry and reflection space, before moving into the rest of the day. The idea behind this practice at The Wellbeing Atelier is becoming aware of the sensory experiences of the activity of making tea. Observing the preparation, the sounds, smells, tastes and textures. We can add these slow, simple practices to our daily lives. Simply paying attention and being in the present moment.

Our lives are made up of individual moments and the act of making yourself a cup of tea or a drink of any sort can be woven into your day to ground you to the present moment.

Honey Oolong

Each month at The Wellbeing Atelier one tea is picked to taste and explore, this month a Honey Oolong has been chosen. The following information has been taken from The London Teaclub with whom I have had a monthly subscription since 2016. Sadly they have closed subscriptions so I can no longer link to their work.

Grown in the Banten province, Java, Indonesia the tea was harvested in January 2018 and roasted in March 2018 by Dr Alexander Halim. He had a personal vision to use sustainable farming methods ro produce his tea to promote a better quality of life for the world. he has inspired other farmers locally to adopt similar methods. His tea plantation is located on Halimun mountain, near Halimun-Salak national Park, a protected area with incredible biodiversity. Halimum means ‘misty’ in the local Sudanese language. The climate is lush, tropical, and very humid, with abundant rainfall and rich volcanic soils.

Tasting notes

This unique tea is grown using all naturalisation methods. It has a sharp charcoal flavour with a smooth finish. The first infusion produces an earthly roasted aroma, but later infusions bring gentler fruit notes. Experience the full depth of this tea over 3-4 infusions.

Recommended Brewing Instructions

1 teaspoon of leaves per cup with water heated to just below boiling (85°C). You can reach this temperature by boiling water and leaving it to cool for 2-3 minutes.

Brew with a gaiwan or teapot and steep for 1_3 minutes to desired strength. Alternatively enjoy ‘grandpa style’ – drink directly from mug, blowing leaves out of the way, and simply op up with hot water throughout the day.

Take Tea at The Wellbeing Atelier

If you’d like to taste this delicious tea in person you are welcome to attend an atelier over March and April, you’ll find details of the timetable below.

This Difficult Thing of Being Human

The Art of Self-Compassion – Bodhipaksa

10/10 – A relatable and pleasurable read, punctuated with simple practices.

Read more here.

In January I read The Art of Self-Compassion by Bodhipaksa. The title is enough of an invitation for me, it is a difficult thing to be human. And as Bodhipaksa says in the book, it is indeed a miracle that we are here despite everything that has been thrown at us along the way.

This book was a very practical and clearly written account of how self-compassion practices can be brought into our day to day lives. Whilst mindfulness grounds us in the present moment, compassion practices teach us skills in how to turn towards our experiences and the experiences of others, particularly our suffering. This then gives us a greater capacity to manage and support ourselves to respond wisely to the challenges and stresses we face within our lives.

Bodhipaksa describes the four steps to self-compassion being

  1. Recognising that we are suffering,
  2. Dropping our reactive story,
  3. Mindfully accepting and observing whatever painful feelings are present, and
  4. Offering compassion and reassurance to the part of us that is suffering.

You’ll find step by step practices that introduce the compassion practices that support the cultivation of kindness to improve wellbeing. You can read through them and lead yourself, or listen to the practices with the website links he shares in the book. He has, in my opinion a beautiful voice to listen to, a soft lilting Scottish accent, this made being guided a pleasure.

Bodhipaksa is a Scottish Buddhist living in the US, he shares many of his own painful stories as examples which are both moving and inspiring and make for a very relatable read. You can read more about Bodhipaksa here where you’ll find guided practices.

I have very much appreciated the additional resources from this book not only for my work but also my home practice. I would definitely recommend it to others.

Josephine is a Mindfulness and Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) trained Occupational Therapist with 20 years experience in the mental health and addictions field. Mindfulness and CFT act as the basis for the meditation based ateliers and are aimed at supporting the development of her clients wellbeing. If you are interested in attending a session with or accessing materials online please send an email to Josephine via jaddufourd@icloud.com or explore her website http://www.thewellbeingatelier.com

Instinct and Intuition Afternoon Retreat

In the next Afternoon Retreat Atelier, we will be exploring intuition and instinct through meditations and exercises that explore our gut reactions and our heart space. Connecting to these two important feedback systems within our bodies supports us to make wiser choices for our own health and wellbeing.

Instinct can be seen as a survival based mechanism within the body often felt within the gut area giving you feedback from past experiences, and warns the body of danger. Whilst it is to be listened to it can be an unreliable feedback system and direct you towards unhelpful coping strategies. Intuition comes from a place of calm clarity and is often described as being felt within the heart area which transmits information to the brain from the many neural pathways between the two, directing you to make wise choices not only for yourself but for those around you.

Through mindfulness meditation and mindful compassion practices we can train our brains to be more in touch with our gut reactions and the heart centre. Practicing in this way allows us to acknowledge when we are feeling unsafe, learning the language of our bodies, pausing and observing these sensations creates the space to decide how to respond rather than reacting.

25th February 1-3.30pm at The Wellbeing Atelier, 20€.

Content and meditations available online for the month of March for 5€.

E-mail Josephine via jaddufourd@icloud.com to make a booking or for further details.

Additional Reading

Heart Based Science

Science of intuition

Head heart and gut

Can you trust your gut?

Tea of the month – January

The rolled tea slowly unfurls with each infusion.

Dark Roast Ti Guan Yin

An Oolong tea harvested in Spring 2019, grown and made by Chen Mao Sheng in Sumatra Indonesia.

Ti Guan Yin is a famous style of oolong tea named after the Buddhist divinity Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. I am particularly sentimental about this tea as it was the first tea I used for my own tea meditations and I drank it after the birth of my daughter, in January 2017. My daughter smiled from the day she was born and is now approaching three years old. The tea perfectly suited the era of what was a whirlwind year which started in a small flat in East London where we had no intention of leaving and ending with a new baby, in a new home in a new country. Tasting its sweet notes brings back fond memories of being with the not knowing, a true period of mercy. This version of the tea is truly delicious.

To write up the description I have used the information sent to me about the tea from a monthly tea subscription I had with The London Teaclub. I met Cecilia at a brunch workshop close to where I lived in London, I was fortunate enough to be sat next to her and we were both in the last trimester of our pregnancies. She invited me to a fullmoon tea ceremony and so my adventure in tea began. This group and that ceremony gave me the inspiration to run the ateliers I currently offer. Lots of things are woven into this tea, I hope you’ll get the pleasure of tasting it in one of January’s ateliers. Sadly The London Teaclub is no longer offering tea subscriptions as postage costs made it no longer viable. Cecelia moved back to San Francisco where she continues to sell tea and run tea ceremonies, you can read more about her work there here.

The Tea’s Story

The style of tea originated from china but this version is grown in the mineral rich, volcanic soils of Sumatra island. After being rolled and oxidized, the tea is fired with charcoal. The result is a thick, warm, amber-coloured brew. The sweet caramel and dark chocolate flavours are peppered with notes of smoky cinnamon.

The London Teaclub

In 1977 The Chou family opened up a small tea shop in Taipei, Taiwan. The family then planted heir first trees ten years later in the Wushe mountains in Nantou county, Taiwan. Two years later in 1989 they purchased a tea garden in Indonesia, the garden has a high elevation and they use the conventional farming methods for this tea.

They chose the gardens for their unique terroirs where there are sharp differences between daytime and nighttime temperatures, this allows the tea to grow more slowly,this causes the tea to develop more aroma an sweetness; in addition to this the abundant clouds and fog surrounding the mountains allows the tea to absorb more moisture.

Preparation

1 tsp of leaves per cup is used with water heated to just below boiling point. This can be reached by allowing boiled water to cool for 1 minute.

The tea can be steeped in a gaiwan or teapot for 2-4 minutes. Or alternatively it can be enjoyed ‘grandpa style’, where the leaves are put directly in the cup and topped up with hot water and enjoyed throughout the day, simply blowing the leaves out of the way whilst you drink. This is a beautiful way to observe the leaves unfurling, I have tried to capture the process in the picture above.

Tea Meditation

During each atelier we take tea and weave it into our meditation, it punctuates and aids the transition from the silent practices. It brings us back again and again to the present moment and is a very sensory meditation.

You can replicate this at home by making yourself a hot drink at home, paying attention to the details of preparation as well as mindfully drinking the infusion. To begin with closing your eyes and connecting to the breath ad then moving through the practice slowly, deliberately and with attention. Each time your mind wanders congratulating yourself for noticing and returning to the felt sense of the experience, with compassion and kindness and perhaps some gratitude for your body making most of its movements without you noticing.

How easy it is to make drink a cup of tea and not notice any of the experience.

I’ll toast with Iron Goddess of Mercy on each one of her birthdays.

Offerings January – April 2020

Apologies to those of you who have signed up for the newsletter as this is a repeat of the information I sent out. It may still be of interest to have a read for a second time.

I hope you have a cup of tea to hand whilst you read this.

Happy New Year and a new decade no less, I found the poem above by David Whyte a beautiful reminder that we don’t have to make any resolutions or drastic changes to our lives and simply being is enough. Since moving to France I have made an effort to live seasonally and deep winter does not feel like the right time for me to make drastic changes, that comes with springs energy, but looking forward and making some plans for when I do have that energy feels nourishing and allows me to rest a little longer whilst the light makes its return.  So for now, slow, deliberate and intentional living is suiting me well.  

Whilst you already received an update in December from now on you’ll receive this newsletter every 4 months with details of the programme at The Wellbeing Atelier. I blog more frequently each Monday and you’ll find those musings here

The Ateliers

Over the coming months we will be focusing on building mindful compassion in the ateliers, taking a moment of quiet, sipping tea and practicing intentional living, with the aim being to improve your general wellbeing to take with you into your days.

Weekly Meditation Atelier 

The weekly sessions will continue Friday mornings 10:30-11:30am beginning again this week, 3rd January 2020.  We will continue to build on the mindfulness practices we have been exploring together, weaving in additional practices relating specifically to compassion.

Sessions cost 10€.  If you attend 5 sessions the 6th Session is offered.
 

Afternoon Retreats 1-3:30pm

Once a month on a Tuesday afternoon I wil be offering a retreat ateliers.  This is a space to explore the meditation practices in more depth and I will be introducing some tools to explore themes around intentional, compassionate, seasonal living. Put simply these are practical ways of exploring our humanity.  The winter months are slower and reflective spaces and then as we move into spring and the energy for hope and planning that comes with the additional light and warmth. See below for the dates and intentions we will explore within the practices.

21st January – Vision

25th February – Intuition 

24th March – Confidence

21st April – Integrity 

Sessions cost 20€
 

Tea meditations

Each month within the ateliers we take time to sit in quiet companionship and take tea. This tea element of the sessions is a transition, before moving into the reflective spaces we take a moment to be with our senses. I’ll write a piece detailing the tea of the month on the blog, I’ve chosen them already and I’m really looking forward to trying them with you; a 18 Ruby, Purple leaf Sheng Puerh, Amber Oolong and finally Dark Roast Tu Guan Yin. 

 

Individual Mentorship and Therapy

I have a limited availability of slots for individual mentorship or therapy.  These are shaped to meet your needs and can be one off or regular sessions.  Put simply mentorship offers an opportunity for reflection and guidance where therapy is a space to explore in-depth the healing that lies within you.  My models of practice are motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral integrated techniques and compassion focused therapy. Throughout my career as an Occupational Therapist I have offered mentorship and specialised in women’s mental health, substance misuse and mindfulness within my clinical practice.

You can read more about these sessions here.

Fin

If you are unable to attend sessions and would like to access the resources and meditations you can sign up for access for a small fee of 5€ a month or 40€ for the year. Details are here

Please do get in contact if you have any queries. To contact me directly and book sessions you can email jaddufourd@icloud.com or phone/text me on +33 6 77 05 42 46

The next newsletter will be sent out at the beginning of April. I blog weekly about different themes, there’s a sign up at the bottom of the blog if this is something you’d be interested in receiving directly to you mailbox.

With fond regards, 

Joséphine 

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