Mindful in May – Week 5

June 7, 2018
mindfulness, mindful, beach, sunrise

mindful, mindfulness, mindful in may, mayI’ve been participating in Mindful in May, a transformative one month online mindfulness program which brings together the world’s best meditation teachers, wellbeing experts and neuroscientists to teach you the tools to transform your mind towards greater well-being and happiness – all whilst giving you the chance to transform the lives of others by helping to raise money for clean drinking water projects in the developing world.

My initial post provided a brief background as to where my interest in ‘Mindfulness’ came from and also advised that I was planning to publish a wrap up post after each week of the program to share my learnings/little gold nugget takeaways.  So far I’ve posted my wrap ups for Mindful in May – Week 1, Mindful in May – Week 2, Mindful in May – Week 3, and Mindful in May – Week 4.

This is the final post for Mindful in May and whilst I’m feeling a bit relieved about that because it’s been quite time-consuming and also I’m about to get very busy with preparations for a big kitchen reno (think packing up kitchen, demolition of kitchen, new install to happen, makeshift kitchen etc), I’m also feeling sad.  I’ve really enjoyed the meditations and all the interviews have been fascinating.  I’ve loved being introduced to all these new people, experts in their field with so much wisdom, and I’ve learnt so much.  When I get time, I will visit all contributor’s webpages and learn more about them and most likely purchase some of their books that have captured my interest!  In the meantime, here is a wrap up of the final few days (Week 5) of Mindful May.


mindfulness, mindful, beach, sunrise

DAY 29

ONE:  Interview with Mark Nepo‘Wisdom from a poet on a well lived life’

Mark Nepo moved and inspired readers and seekers all over the world with his #1 New York Times bestseller, ‘The Book of Awakening’. Beloved as a poet, teacher, and storyteller, Mark has been called “one of the finest spiritual guides of our time,” “a consummate storyteller,” and “an eloquent spiritual teacher.” His work is widely accessible and used by many and his books have been translated into more than twenty languages. A bestselling author, he has published eighteen books and recorded thirteen audio projects. In 2015, he was given a Life-Achievement Award by AgeNation. And in 2016, he was named by Watkins: Mind Body Spirit as one of the 100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People, and was also chosen as one of OWN’s SuperSoul 100, a group of inspired leaders using their gifts and voices to elevate humanity. Recent work includes The One Life We’re Given (Atria, 2016), Inside the Miracle (Sounds True), selected by Spirituality & Health Magazine as one of the top ten best books of 2015, The Endless Practice (Atria).

This is the last interview for Mindful in May.  I found Mark Nepo incredibly intelligent and interesting. There was a lot covered in this interview. I’ve left a lot of my notes out but still included quite a bit considering its the one and only interview for this week.

My wrap up of the interview:

  • Mark’s latest book is called ‘The One Life You’re Given’.  
  • Quote from latest book “Half of the soul’s work is to BE.  The other half is to be of use.  It’s in our nature to try with all our heart any anything and everything until we chance to inhabit grace and come alive.  In being so alive we become a conduit for life and a resource for others.”
  • BEING and DOING.  How do we balance our need to survive and thrive?  Surviving tends to really be how we meet the outer world.  How we navigate the weather of circumstance.  But if all we do is survive and never thrive, what’s the point?  We also can’t just thrive without surviving or we want we won’t be here to thrive!  There’s such an over emphasis on DOING which s why we talk about doing a lot but again, we need a balance of both.
  • The reward for rooting ourselves in BEING is that we get more engaged in life, not less.
  • BEING, like a tree, as it roots it also sprouts.  As we go deeper into our BEING we grow more in equal measure into the world.  Then when our heart is awake, our challenge is to stay awake and to be of use and to be kind.
  • When we get too caught up in DOING then we start to see each other as different and we start to fear each other. 
  • There are two human tribes – GO AWAY tribe; and COME TEACH ME tribe.
  • Quote from latest book:  “Life is a journey from NO to YES.  The classroom appears whenever we dare to imagine life as a transformative question that we somehow awaken into together”.
  • Our great gifts, our greatness, lies with working with what we’re given and putting what we want as kindling on the fire of our aliveness.
  • Paradox: “We’re challenged to have the courage to ask for what we need, only to practice accepting what we’re given”.  This is our journey on earth.  We rarely get all that we want or need so what’s the reward for having the courage to ask?  The reward is that we become intimate with our own nature.  It allows us to know who we are thoroughly.  The reward for practicing accepting what we’re given is that we become intimate with the nature of the universe, of life.  In saying yes to life, is this dance between the intimacy of our own nature and the intimacy of life.  It requires sometimes saying no to others, setting boundaries, and requires sometimes staying open beyond our disappointments, through our losses, and working with what we’re given.
  • Keep going with will vs when to surrender.  When a fish is swimming in a river, it swims and when it catches the current, the current carries it.  Now you can’t tell how much is the strength of the fish swimming or the current carrying it.  It’s all one.  So, the proper use of will is to catch the current.
  • DISCIPLINE – when starting out was ‘can I be focussed and single-minded enough to persevere through distraction to accomplish whatever it is I’m working on?’ It’s helpful and valuable but it’s led over the years to a deeper form of discipline which is ‘when I fall out of the current, find my way back to the current’.  It’s actually the discipline to be aware and recognise when you’re out of the flow or out of the current and actually be disciplined to stop rather than that addiction to ‘just wanting to get this done’ but it’s happening from a place of ‘not flow’.
  • As humans there is a very deep need we have to feel a sense of purpose.  Elise asked Mark what his thoughts and advice might be to people who may be distressed by a lack of clarity around their purpose.
    • The soul only wants to be as alive as possible.  It’s like a fire.  It doesn’t care what you put in it.  It just wants your all.  Your thorough, holding nothing back, giving everything attention, and so all of our dreams and our goals and our ambitions are kindling on the fire of the hearts aliveness. 
    • Metaphor:  We all know that an unlit wooden match with its phosphorous tip – the flame is dormant.  We don’t see or feel that flame until that match strikes against a surface.  That’s a metaphor for every soul on earth.  Our light is dormant until our gifts strike against the needs of the world.  Then our light and our warmth become possible, become visible, and so its through our interaction, our relationship with life, that the wisdom that waits in our heart comes out through the one life we’re given to live.
    • Our career is the souls awaking.  Where that happens is our occupation.  That can change too, because we’re changing but it’s always about being awake and staying awake.
  • From one of Mark’s poems – “Those who wake are the students.  Those who stay awake are the teachers.  How we take turns.”
  • We are by nature impatient beings and part of our deeper challenge is that under that, in our depth, we are very patient.  With regards to balancing BEING and DOING, a lot of our DOING comes from our surface impatience but our BEING comes from our deeper patience.  So we’re challenge when we feel urgency or confusion.  We’re challenged to wait, and listen, because often we move away before we can hear the universe speak to us.  We move so quickly.  Things that matter take time to reveal themselves.  We all suffer from a myth of urgency.  If we’re bleeding or can’t breathe, then there is urgency.  Everything else might be important, but nothing else is urgent.
  • “If you can’t see what you’re looking for, see what’s there.  It’s enough.” 
  • The menacing assumption that we all fall prey to is that life is other than where we are.

TWO:  A guest meditation by Petrea King‘Coming to your senses’ – [8 mins, 54 secs]

You can see a bio on Petrea King by clicking on her name above.

We become aware of this moment by simply connecting with the senses of our body – eg noticing our posture, where our body makes contact with whatever is supporting it, being aware of areas of tightness or tension in the body, feel the touch of our clothing against our skin, noticing the clothing moving against our skin as we breathe, notice any aroma in the air, etc.  It was a lovely meditation!

DAY 30

TONIGHT AT 8:30 EST Elise hosted a live online guided meditation where the global community could connect in real-time.  There was a recording made available the following day for those unable to make the live event. 

I was unable to participate on the night, but listened to the audio recording a few days later.  I’m so glad I did too.  It was lovely!   I lay on my bed, ear buds in my ears, eyes closed, and got myself very comfortable.  The meditation was wonderful and was followed by hearing from some of the 600+ people (worldwide) who were live on the call.  They shared how the experience was for them and it was all very positive.  You could hear the delight and emotion in Elise’s voice as Mindful in May concludes for another year.  In fact, she kept finding new things to talk about in order to delay the end.  It was funny and got me feeling a bit emotional too!  Oops is that something in my eye?!

DAY 31

The audio recording of the live event last night was provided today, and there is a video message from Elise congratulating us on completing Mindful in May.

Elise reminds us of a story she shared during the live feed last night which highlights one of the significant benefits of mindfulness:

One evening, an elderly Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ‘My son, the battle inside us all is between two wolves.

One wolf is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, and ego.

The other wolf is good. It is joy, peace, love, serenity, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, and compassion.’

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked, ‘Grandpa, which wolf wins?’

The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one that you feed.’

So Mindful in May is over and I do feel sad.  I would have liked to be able to sign up with the Mind Life Project which is offered to MiMsters for 6 months ongoing support and learning, but with the kitchen reno chaos about to happen here (and more) it’s just not a good time.  I would definitely do Mindful in May again.  I wouldn’t put the pressure on myself to document it all again as I did this year though.  Perhaps I’d share some goodies here and there but no weekly posts like this time.  It would be less overwhelming then I think.  Here’s a few reflections I have from the month, but I think that given a little more time to digest and process, I would have much more.

  • I never realised that ‘Loving Kindness’ and ‘Self Compassion’ were such a big part of Mindfulness, or how important they were to the practice.  I know better now, and it will make a huge difference to how I will practice it.
  • After a month of meditating daily and watching interviews with experts in the field, I feel that my self-awareness has improved drastically.  I’m watching myself more – my thoughts, my moods, my emotions, my reactions – and I have tools to help manage them better now.
  • Though I didn’t pick it as a favourite for Week 2 (see dot point below), I found the interview on Day 10 with Michael Merzenich fascinating and very inspiring and hopeful for the management of our minds.  It also made me realise that neuroscience is absolutely fascinating!  I never thought I’d say that!
  • My favourite interview.  I enjoyed most of the interviews so it’s hard to pick a favourite.  For that reason, I’ll choose a favourite from each week.  Week 1:  Day 5 – the interview with Richard Chambers.  Week 2:   Day 13 – the interview with Chris Germer.  Week 3:  Day 15 – the interview with Parker Palmer.  Week 4:  Day 24 – the interview with Shauna Shapiro.  Week 5:  there’s only the one interview with Mark Nepo.
  • My favourite meditation.  I loved most of the meditation’s but the one that comes to mind first is the Loving Kindness Meditation in Week 3, Day 17 with Kate James.  It made me cry, but I felt love and kindness and comfort throughout every cell of my body with that meditation. 
  • Am I now a committed and expert daily meditator?  I love how I feel during and after I meditate and I have meditated almost every day for over a month now, but no – I need to find the right time of day for me to meditate so that it becomes habit – just like brushing my teeth.  I also have concerns around meditating on my own.  I am used to a guided meditation.  I will probably mostly continue with guided meditations but will sometimes try doing it on my own.
  • Do I feel a difference after meditating daily for a month?  Yes – I feel a bit calmer and self-aware.  I also feel that I have a better understanding now about what meditation is, how it’s done, and why it’s such a useful practice in our lives.
  • Would I do Mindful in May again?  Yes!  Next time I would not put as much pressure on myself though.

Ciao for now,

Link up here at WOTM or with another of us in the Lovin’ Life Linky team:
Leanne of Deep Fried Fruit Kathy of 50 Shades of Age  |
Deborah of Debbish  |  Jo of The Hungry Writer – Joanne Tracey.
It doesn’t matter where you link up as it will magically appear on all five blogs.

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  • Reply Lydia C. Lee June 7, 2018 at 8:01 am

    Love the summary at the end – and yes, the pressure would take away some of the benefits! #:Lovinglifelinyk

    • Reply Min June 7, 2018 at 2:26 pm

      Self inflicted pressure! Story of my life. Miss perfectionist and once I’ve set a goal I must see it through. I am glad I’ve documented the month as I have because it gives me references and links to come back to when I have more time. I wouldn’t do it this way again though because it did add an element of stress which as you said – took away from the benefits!

  • Reply Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond June 7, 2018 at 8:28 am

    Well done Min you completed the challenge. I didn’t really get too much out of the challenge so I’m a bit disappointed. I feel there was far too much information and although people were saying not to worry and concentrate on the meditation I didn’t see the point then of having the videos. It actually stressed me out more by the end than when I started. I didn’t do the final week because my darling grandson was born so looking after Ethan was more important. Maybe it was the excuse I needed to stop. I wouldn’t do the challenge again but so pleased you were able to have some good takeaways. I’ve enjoyed reading your weekly recap. Have a great day!

    • Reply Min June 7, 2018 at 2:32 pm

      I’m sad that you didn’t get too much out of the challenge Sue. I agree it was too much information and for people like us (a bit perfectionistic) that adds an element of stress as we feel we must listen/watch/view/do everything presented to us in order to do it properly etc. I understand Elise very generously wanting to give us as much information as possible too but perhaps there is a better way, like maybe extending the time we have access to it all to ease the pressure OR not having so many interviews so close together – spacing them out a bit more. I’m not sure what the answer is but certainly by putting the pressure on myself (same as you) to take notes and write up these posts it made it harder than it would otherwise be. I think without that I wouldn’t have felt as much pressure. Interviews could be listened to while I did my chores around the house or when on a walk or something. Anyway – the month is done now and I’ve learnt a few things about mindfulness/meditation/the brain/myself which can only be a good thing. You’ve had an extraordinarily big month which wouldn’t have helped your focus on MiM, and yes your new grandson is much more important! Take care Sue! xo

  • Reply Joanne Tracey June 7, 2018 at 8:36 am

    Well done – that was quite a challenge to get through. Aside from being time-consuming, it seems as though you got a lot from it too. From today’s picks, I like the concept of the current – and feeding the wolf.

    • Reply Min June 7, 2018 at 2:34 pm

      It was time consuming with all the note taking and writing up etc but yes I got a lot out of it. I love the wolf story! 🙂

  • Reply Denyse June 7, 2018 at 9:12 am

    Wow, you have really made the most of this experience and all you have written here is great fuel for your future re-reading. Congratulations on this big achievement. Sticking to one thing every day takes a plan and commitment.

    I have made many different and similar journeys with mindfulness teachers and meditation. Recently I re-visted a daily mindfulness series I had paid for but not completed with Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach and I have really enjoyed it because I was ready to come back to it.

    Mindfulness in the every day is already something you do each time you step outside and take a photo too. It is not always, as you know, about sitting somewhere to meditate.

    Wishing you well for June.. and do take the time to get away from the kitchen reno and ‘be’ in the moment. Easier said than done!

    Denyse x

    • Reply Min June 7, 2018 at 2:36 pm

      Thank you Denyse! You’re very right – mindfulness is far more than just meditation. I find mindfulness comes naturally to me when I’m doing photography and often when walking. You can practice mindfulness at any time. The more often, the better! Wishing you well for June too. I think of you all the time, and your bravery. You’re such an inspiration. The kitchen reno is going to challenge me. I don’t like chaos! The end result will be worth it (hopefully)! xo

  • Reply Natalie June 7, 2018 at 10:53 am

    Well done, Min! MiM was a big time commitment although it looks like you’ve got a lot out of it. Have a great day!

    • Reply Min June 7, 2018 at 2:56 pm

      Thanks Natalie! It was quite a commitment but I did get quite a lot from it and hopefully more to come as I revisit, digest and process a bit more over time! 🙂 x

  • Reply Vanessa June 7, 2018 at 11:03 am

    Sounds like you’ve gotten a lot out of it! But it also does sound a bit full on 🙂

    • Reply Min June 7, 2018 at 2:57 pm

      It was a lot more information to take in than I was expecting but it’s all good and I have gained a lot from it! 🙂

  • Reply Christine June 7, 2018 at 11:06 am

    Thanks very much for doing those write ups – very informative. I was wondering what it was all about before it started. Might give it a go next year.

    • Reply Min June 7, 2018 at 3:00 pm

      I’d hoped my write ups would be helpful or interesting to others so thank you Christine! Definitely give it a go, but perhaps don’t put the extra pressure on yourself to document it on the blog like I did. After doing this month, I believe it would be more beneficially done with loving kindness to oneself. In other words – don’t add extra pressure to yourself! 😉 x

  • Reply Jodie June 7, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    It’s fabulous that you enjoyed it so much Min. But you’re right…it seems almost oxymoronic to be pressured about it. Because isn’t the whole idea to not be stressed?
    Yet, the learning and growing can’t help but benefit you!!

    • Reply Min June 7, 2018 at 3:02 pm

      It’s my fault really. I added pressure to myself by the need to take notes and write up the interviews, meditations, etc etc for the blog. Glad I did it so I have it now to go back to etc but in hindsight it sort of added stress where stress reduction was the key. Oops! Always learning and yes I did learn a lot from this month! 🙂 xoxo

  • Reply Leanne June 7, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    Really interesting reflections at the end Min – I’m glad that you found it so helpful and that you’d do it again – that’s always the sign of having found something worthwhile. I think we can all benefit from being more in touch with our inner soul – the world is so busy and distracts us from what’s really important – this brings you back to your fundemental “self” doesn’t it?

    • Reply Min June 7, 2018 at 3:05 pm

      Thanks Leanne. I would do it again, but of course without the extra pressure to take notes and write up blog posts. Nevertheless, I gained a lot from the information presented to us this month and t here is much I want to explore further. Some of the interviewees have books out that interest me so I will be looking further at that. You’re right – we need to go within, still our minds, and be more present – especially in our world today where we are constantly switched on and connected and our minds are way too busy. Knowing ways to do this fascinates me and is the reason I was drawn to doing Mindful in May. 🙂 xo

  • Reply Sydney Shop Girl June 7, 2018 at 4:08 pm

    Thank you for all the effort you’ve put into sharing Mindful in May with us, Min! I’ve come away with so much to put into practice in my own life.

    SSG xxx

    • Reply Min June 9, 2018 at 8:25 am

      Thank you SSG! I’m so glad you’ve taken away some little gems to put into practice for yourself. It makes all the effort worth my while! 🙂 xoxo

  • Reply Natalie @ Be Kind 2 You June 8, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    Another amazing summary. I love Michael Merzenich’s Ted talk. I love how you are now an avid meditator. I love all the work you have put into Mindfulness May and how you have grown.

    • Reply Min June 9, 2018 at 8:26 am

      Thanks Natalie. I’m not sure I’m an avid meditator just yet but I’m sure going to try. I know the benefits and I want the benefits so it’s all about making it a set in stone habit now! 🙂

  • Reply Deborah June 10, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    It’s great you’ve stuck at it. I decided I’d try to blog every day in June. Then I went to Brisbane for two nights without my laptop charger. Then I struggled to finish a book review which meant everything was at a standstill waiting for me to get it done.

    Good luck with the renos!

    • Reply Min June 11, 2018 at 10:31 am

      I’m a stubborn thing and still have remnants of the perfectionist in me (though not to the extent I used to!) so there was no chance of me giving up on it. What a bummer forgetting your laptop charger! Blogging every day is hard! Maybe set yourself a new goal (but not too hard to stick to). Thanks for the luck wishes for the reno! It all starts on 29 June!

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