September 2018 Immeasurable Minds Newsletter
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The power of negative thinking

The summer's ending and its back to school soon but that's not the negative thinking I'm talking about! I'm still teaching that we can always look for the positive in negative situations and that 'taking in the good' is important for mental wellbeing. Honestly I'm not about to contradict my previous newsletters... read on.

In June I attended the hugely successful Trauma conference in the Waterfront Hall, Belfast organised by one of my former mindfulness students Clive Corry. Clive invited the best people working in the field of trauma treatment from all over the world to speak at the international event. For me one of the most impressive speakers was Dr Gabor Maté. He held the audience of 2000 people in rapt attention without any slides or props - we hung on his every word.

I was so impressed I had to buy his latest book 'When the body says no' (see below 'book of the month' for link). I bought it in audio and paperback because it's a LOT to take in. It's so interesting and helpful to understand his insights and wisdom about illness, death and dying - which ultimately point us towards how to live well and enjoy life.

The book has numerous case studies of people who died young. He points out all the reasons why they ended up the way they did (not being able to ask for help, emotional repression, not able to say no etc) and I found myself asking 'so what can we do?'  His answer is at first quite surprising. Allow yourself to experience negative emotions and thoughts - don't push them away or pretend they don't exist, they are part of you. This is also the what true mindfulness teaches.

Last night in the Action for Happiness, 'Exploring what matters'' course that I'm currently facilitating (sorry I didn't even get a chance to advertise it here, it booked up very quickly!), we discussed compassion and how if we can really feel our own pain then we are more able to tolerate and listen to others experience of suffering. We concluded that the key is to bear our own suffering first, not to push it away or cover it up - kinda the same conclusion as most of the speakers at the Trauma Conference.  

I was really heartened by the number of speakers at the conference who spoke of yoga and mindfulness training as the best ways to deal with Trauma. Professor Besser Van der Kolk  said for PTSD, yoga was better than drugs!

In the final chapter of Maté's book he provides seven solutions or things we can do to stay healthy and well. By way of example, a perhaps surprising advice is to allow our anger.

Expressing repressed anger is one way to heal he argues. It makes perfect sense to me as my own teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, advises us to take care of our anger, not repress it. Of course neither or them mean for us to 'act out' from our anger but to acknowledge it and allow ourselves to feel it. It's not about thinking happy thoughts all the time.

Some of us can even use 'positive thinking' as a way to avoid our uncomfortable realities. Everyone of us experience suffering and difficulties in life to pretend otherwise is to invite illness. So being mindful or even being a mindfulness teacher doesn't mean that we are positive all the time or that we don't get angry and feel human emotions such as sadness and loss.

To quote from 'When the body says no': "positive states of mind generated to tune out psychic discomfort lower resistance to illness." So although he calls it the power of negative thinking I think you could also call it being realistic or seeing the whole picture. 

Mindfulness is not a state of blinkered bliss it's an acceptance of things and reality as it is, with all the flaws. I'll end with another quote from 'when the body says no' which sums up this point that everything is included, nothing excluded including the things we don't like or want like our negative emotions and thoughts.:

"We cannot remind ourselves too often that the word healing derives from an ancient origin, meaning 'whole' - hence our equation of wholesome and healthy. To heal is become whole.  But how can we be more whole than we already are? Or how is it that we could ever be less than whole?"

Mindfulness and self-compassion practice help us embrace the whole. So it really is ok not to be ok! Or as Chris Germer (one of the founders of the Mindful Self-Compassion course I teach) said: "I'm not ok, your not ok, but that's ok". LOL! 

Since I read Gabor's book I'm definitely saying no to things more often. Check out this link from the prolific podcaster and writer Tim Ferris the not-to-do list. Tim has a great podcast I'm currently listening to #300 with Jack Kornfield.

And if you like listening to podcasts while driving or gardening etc there's always local podcaster Karen McClintock who discusses all things health and wellbeing.  My podcast with her on mindfulness is no 53.  

As well as books and short videos if you'd like me to recommend podcasts to listen every month (or every edition - its become harder to issue one every month since I got married for some reason... maybe its also since moving into a proper house - there was literally no housework in my former wee flat!) please let me know. I welcome all feedback and podcast recommendations.


I've been keeping busy this summer with the Centra NI Live Well Roadshow which took all over from Enniskillen, to Derry, Larne and Banbridge to name a few places. I'm in Armagh this afternoon, this will be the last stop. Thanks to everyone who came in for chat about wellbeing. Its not too late to sign up for my FREE 10-week mindfulness plan just go to and sign up! It's a brilliant free resource a with yoga videos, a podcast on gratitude and sleep and free meditations for you to download.

Personally I've always liked September time and that 'back to school' feeling, maybe it's because I'm one of those weird people who actually liked going back to school! I still get that feeling now, like a new term, starting fresh, a bit like the new year. September is usually a busy time for my classes but I'm not actually going to start back until October (like University students!), due to family trip to Turkey :)

I hope some of you or those you know will be joining me for the new term in October, these course are so helpful. We humans living in this frantic world need all the support and mindfulness we can get.

That's not to say there's nothing for you in September! On 1-2 September I've organised a special two day retreat with Tony Carlin. Tony is one of only 5 qualified Byron Katie trainers in Ireland. He will be offering 'the work' or mindful inquiry - I'm so interested in this! A must for anyone wanting to deepen or learn more about looking deeply. If you checkout this Facebook link you will see my 2 minute interview with him, where he shares more about the retreat.

Until the end of September or before if the rains come down I'll be teaching Khi Cong with a stick on the Loughshore, Jordanstown every Tuesday and Thursday morning. Today was the first time all summer we were rained off. It's a wonderful way to wake the body and mind for the day ahead.  Last week after we finished a lady who was out walking her dog came over to us and said: "What is that you were doing? It looked divine?!" It is! I said and told her the first class is free - come and try it out.  Link for details here.

My next 'Namaste Mindfulness practice class' will start on 18 October as for the first time I'm having a proper summer break, like a real teacher!  It's all ready filling up so book now!

My 8-week winter courses (MBSR & MSC) will start 16 & 17 October. These courses are available to book now please send an email for application form and more details:

If you don't have the time to commit to a course you can always get a lot of nourishment from a one day retreat like the one I have coming up on 20 October in the Culloden. It's a fantastic way to recharge and the spa at the end is a bonus!  After attending the last one in June, William kindly wrote to me and said: "The mindfulness day at the Culloden was a delight to attend. From the tranquil setting and gentle teachings to the delicious food that Bridgeen had organised, it was the perfect antidote for the troubled mind."

You may be familiar with my social media (Immeasurable Minds Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and my blog)? But do you know i've been publishing a quote on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn every day for a few years? If you need some daily inspiration - just click. x  As always I welcome your feedback - stay in touch. X

Of course this month's video of the month has to be Gabor Maté. Talking on a different topic than he did in Belfast his 2012 TEDxTalk is moving and inspiring click here

Every year at this time I also have to mention my own Stormont TEDxTalk which I gave in Parliament Buildings on the 12 September 2014. The Miracle of Mindfulness. There's been almost 14,000 views of it since then and 15 comments including this one which made me smile, my Northern Ireland accent causing some controversy!  "I think it's inspirational to see people from diverse backgrounds using diverse accents with the courage to stand on stage and share information that will empower us all to achieve a happier existence."

September is my month for anniversaries as its also our one year wedding anniversary.  Still loved up - lucky us :) No doubt i'll post pics on Instagram on the day :) 

Book of the month is of course 'When the Body says No', by Gabor Maté. See above for more details on what its about.

*I hope you like the picture above? The calligraphy is by Thich That Hanh I bought it in Vietnam 2008 when I was there with the Plum Village sangha for the second time.  The sticks are what we use for Khi Cong and the flowers are from my mum's garden.
6-week Namaste Mindfulness class is back!
Thursday 18 October still only £48

This 6-week mindfulness practice class sells out every time so it is necessary to book in advance. Drop-in is not available. The class is suitable for total newbies and those of you who already know how to practice but appreciate the support of group practice (pro tip: it's always easier in a group). xx 
8-week course Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC)
Eight Wednesday nights @ The Lagan Weir, Belfast City Centre, beginning 17 October. £350 if early bird.

Pictured above are some of the people on my last 8-week MSC, showcasing the venue, the beautiful Lagan Weir at its sunny best, I can't guarantee the weather in October and November but this course will help you feel sunny more often on the inside :)

It is a big commitment of time and energy but it's worth it! You are worth it! For the last one TWO ladies travelled from Enniskillen and one from Dungannon.  Make yourself a priority this winter - invest in this course. You will receive eight 3-hour classes, one day retreat, a note book, a file of notes, a few wee  extras and 24 meditations to help strengthen your self-love.
 'The Work' retreat
'The work' 1-2 September, Drumalis, Larne  - £300
With Northern Ireland's only qualified Byron Katie trainer, Tony Carlin. I will lead the mindfulness practices that will frame the retreat but Tony will be doing 'the work' with you. This is a unique opportunity.
As Byron Katie says: "Above all else The Work, as meditation, allows us to realize the kindness of the intelligence that directs everything, and that all the answers we ever need are always available inside us if we are still, quiet and open to them. Through The Work we wake up to our own kind nature." Find out more about the retreat, Tony and Katie on this link or email me on 

New Year's envisioning retreat, Drumalis, Larne 26-27 January 2019. £250
My popular New Year's retreat will sell out so I'm advertising it early - put the date in your diary and book when you're ready to commit to an awesome 2019!
Book now
 Khi Cong with a stick!
Tuesdays and Thursday mornings 8am August and September, Loughshore Jordanstown, £5 drop-in (weather permitting)

I LOVE this mindful exercise its so good for the body and mind and helps you start the day feeling invigorated and ready for anything.  We have fun too as well as meditation across teh Belfast Lough.  Your first session is free if you want to try it.  Sticks supplied... See you on the shore!
Learn more
Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) Workshops still only £20 available to book up to January 2019!

We always have fun at these workshops which are mixture of new first-timers and those who come nearly every month! For that reason I try to make each workshop unique and a little different, you always guaranteed to meet some LOVELY people, to relax and rest and move the body and soothe the mind.  What's to lose? It's only two hours on a Sunday morning (except for October when its on a Saturday afternoon as one off!) The dates are Sunday 16 September, Saturday 27 October, Sunday 11 November, Sunday 9 December, (Christmas special and booking already...) and the New Year's special on Sunday 20 January 2019.
I look forward to meeting you again for the first time :) 
8-week Mindfulness for life / Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
Eight Tuesday nights starting - 16 October @ The Lagan Weir, Belfast City Centre. £330 if early bird.
This classic course is the one to do to really learn about the power of mindfulness practice to improve your overall wellbeing. It really is suitable for everyone no matter what you may be dealing with.  In the last group there was a lady who had cancer, one had suffered post-natal depression, and one who was pregnant and worrying about becoming a first time mum. There was also a school teacher and solicitor! No one is excluded or judged everyone is there to learn mindfulness - often we only find out about people's professions and personal stories at the end of the course!

A wonderful day retreat is included plus the 8 nights and a file of notes and resources to practice with. To read what more previous participants thought click here x
Mindful Self-Compassion Luxury Day Retreat @ the Culloden Hotel
Saturday 20 October - £120
If you dont have time to commit to an 8-week course a one day retreat is a REAL treat. The June retreat SOLD OUT and everyone, myself included enjoyed the day. Come and nourish yourself with gentle kind mindfulness practices, delicious food and indulge your body in the spa at the end of the day. The picture above is of one participant relaxing in the beautiful Culloden grounds.

William who attended the day on 2 June said: "The mindfulness day at the Culloden was a delight to attend. From the tranquil setting and gentle teachings to the delicious food that Bridgeen had organised, it was the perfect antidote for the troubled mind." 
Highly Recommended.
Book now
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