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The Golden Nuggets of Mindfulness for Lifelong Learners

The Golden Nuggets

1. Be at home in yourself and you'll be at home anywhere

This golden nugget is a powerful one where you can be comfortable and grounded in yourself no matter what the situation is like around you.

"I often use this golden nugget when supporting students with exam or other performance-related anxiety. Here, we can notice the tension around us and inside us, but still try to express ourselves in the manner we want to."

- Dean (Mindfulness teacher)

"I use to say my home was my safe place, my perception was a more physical I needed to be at home to be safe. Now I'm more spiritual with the phrase as actually I feel safe within my own mind and I am my own home. This has sent ripple effects through my all areas of my life and when feel at home in myself anywhere by grounding myself within myself."

- Anne-Marie (BA (Hons) Social Studies (full-time), Mindfulness for Lifelong Learning undergraduate module)

2. Notice now

One of the most powerful skills of mindfulness is the ability to simply pause and notice now, whatever now might be. To do this we need to try to let go of the past, the future and other issues that are outside of the current experience.

3. Notice in neutral

When we are noticing now the habits of the mind, body and emotions are to react in some way to now. This reaction is usually based upon our appraisal of the situation as either being good or bad. If we can try to move away from this judgement we can find the neutral state in each moment. From here, we can choose our reactions and responses from a more grounded state.

"Not only is it OK to go here, but the neutral state creates in us the capacity to respond with awareness and clarity. It’s also a great place to remain in and find contentment with just being.”

- Dean (Mindfulness teacher)

“This is so powerful- it allows me to switch off yet allowing the daily noise/ distractions around to just fuse inside as part of my awareness. Neutral is like the blue button pressed down when I am in the ‘now’...observing in the stillness of what is.”

- Harpal (Mindfulness for Everyday Living & Cultivating Mindfulness courses)

4. Notice novel distinctions

One way to help us to move away from judging the moment and ourselves in it is to push our awareness to notice the details of the current moment. Many of the techniques on this website practise this skill. The mind gets bored fairly quickly so we can move our awareness around to different things to help. One of the best ways to do this is to switch our awareness to a novel distinction, which means something that is different. For example, in mindful walking we can focus on something outside of us for a short time and then, when we notice the mind is beginning to wander, simply switch to noticing something inside of ourselves.

5. Notice the natural rhythm of being

Mindfulness is very much about balance and rhythm. Often, trying to overtly control or change the moment leads to judgement, frustration and negative reactions. If we can try to notice the natural rhythm of the moment we can be in it, with it. From here, we may well be able to have greater clarity about how to make subtle changes (or how to let go of the urge to change and control altogether).

"When I am quiet and resting. When I am still. I notice the rhythm with its high and low notes... feeling the fear... deep inside of me. The rollercoaster ride with the peaks and troughs... then advancing to just a humming beat that is grasping the natural, intuitive part of me. Accepting that this is the now and the beat continues... as it does I can trust that I am in touch with my higher self."

- Harpal (Mindfulness for Everyday Living & Cultivating Mindfulness courses)

"The non-judgemental noticing of natural rhythms grew beyond just myself to noticing them in other people, society, nature and life in general. The ever-present challenge of course is to ride the rhythms rather than trying to control them all of the time."

- Dean (Mindfulness teacher)

6. Restful alertness

One of the best ways to explain the mindful state is to refer to it as restful alertness. Here, the mind, body and emotions are at rest but our level of alertness and awareness are still high. Therefore, we have the capacity in ourselves to notice, be in, and respond to each moment with greater clarity and presence.

“My journey of mindfulness has led to a place where acceptance of restful alertness occurs. After being plagued by years of restless sleep, nightmares, and constant worry I am now able to reflect on the hustle of daily life in a state of restful alertness. I can breathe deeply, concentrate on myself and separate my emotions of the day. This enables me to rest in an alert and reflect without being overwhelmed by life that pulls me in different directions so when the time comes, I can act accordingly with confidence.”

- Anne-Marie (BA (Hons) Social Studies (full-time), Mindfulness for Lifelong Learning undergraduate module)

7. Have gentle curiosity

One of the misconceptions in mindfulness is that we somehow need to be distant and detached from our experiences of now. Rather, we want to be fully engaged with the experience but detached from the habitual mind, body and emotional responses that usually come with it. As these responses come from our judgements, it helps to develop a stance of gentle curiosity. Here, we are interested in our experience but rather than holding onto it tightly (which often leads to judgement), we try to hold it gently so that it can flow and we can ride along with it.

8. Have a beginner's mind

This is one of the qualities and attitudes of contemporary mindfulness. Here, we try to experience each moment with the freshness, openness and focus that we would have for a novel experience. To do this we have to suspend our judgements of the moment and focus on the details of the moment.

"I often use this concept to help students who are experiencing levels of anxiety and depression. Often, the demands of being a student lead us to let go of some activities that gave us natural mindfulness (e.g., hobbies, sport, music, etc.). I advise that we try to reconnect with any activities that we have let go of, and/or get involved with something new. University offers a wealth of opportunities and lifelong learners have full access to these too."

- Dean (Mindfulness teacher)

9. Give yourself permission to slow the mind, body and emotions

This is such a powerful golden nugget. Often it is not external demands that disrupt our mindfulness practise, but internal ones. When we remind ourselves that not only is it OK to take time for ourselves, but that it is very good for us, it can help to let go and create the conditions for the mindful state to emerge. This can then bring greater capacity to be in the moment and respond in a positive way. Working with the breath is a great way of doing this.

"The Mindful Breath helps me to focus and engage with the practice effectively. Whenever my thoughts wander, concentrating on the breath helps me to refocus. I have reached a stage of accepting what comes my way and this has helped navigate my thoughts towards positive actions. Not only this, but mindfulness brings a sense of simplicity and not to overcomplicate situations or tasks."

- Wai (BA Health and Social Policy (part-time), Mindfulness for Lifelong Learning undergraduate module)

10. Find protected time

One of the biggest barriers to practising mindfulness is finding the time to do it. One way that seems to help is to schedule protected time for it. Some people like to be very structured and disciplined with their practise, whereas others like to be more fluid and flexible. Both ways are possible, but the issues is more about how committed we can be to the technique being practised whenever we are practising it. Also try to find an environment that is conducive to mindfulness, wherever this may be for each of us.

11. Our only limiter is ourselves

Part of our habitual responses to moments is to doubt ourselves. This leads us to limit our potential to be in, and respond to, each moment. Self doubt is linked to self commentary and research shows that one of the earliest changes in the brain's processing with mindfulness is a reduction in self commentary. Rather than telling ourselves we can't do something or we aren't good enough (both judgemental statements), we are more open to the moment for whatever it may be, aware of how it actually is and have more capacity to respond in it in a genuine and healthy way.

12. Our only distractor is ourselves

Similar to number 11, our attentional capacities are something we can control, but the habitual responses we have often entertain most (if not all) of the external and internal distractions and chatter. Ultimately though, all distractions are either given attention or not by our own mind. Mindfulness helps us to quieten these distractions inside of ourselves not by changing the distractions themselves, but by changing our responses to them.

13. We are not our thoughts

A favourite golden nugget that feature sin many forma mindfulness courses. Most of our thoughts come from pre-conscious processing that we aren't even aware of, yet we entertain most thoughts we have. Mindfulness helps us to navigate our thoughts and choose which ones we pay attention to.

“Thoughts are not facts.”

- Graham (BA (Hons) Social Studies (part-time), Mindfulness for Lifelong Learning undergraduate module)

“When I first heard this - I didn’t want to believe it! I questioned it or rather the mind did that for me! Then I started hearing voices in my head that didn’t always belong to me in the present moment… This nugget was the most amazing thing I heard that supported my right to just be! Those thoughts were not mine - wow - powerful! I could own, recreate and reframe them. I could put them at the back of my mind like a computer storage system. Just to hear that nugget - is a breath of fresh air! It is a new way of being for me :)”

- Harpal (Mindfulness for Everyday Living & Cultivating Mindfulness courses)

“This saying resonates with me because at the time when I studied mindfulness, I was often overwhelmed by my own thoughts. To pause and recognise that they were not an accurate representation of who I am and being non-judgemental about my thoughts gave me a sense of relief. It made me step back and realise that my thoughts should not consume me.”

- Gemma (BA (Hons) Social Studies (full-time), Mindfulness for Lifelong Learning undergraduate module)

“As someone who overthinks situations and predicts outcomes and conversations before they have even happened, this saying brings me back to some reality. It's a way of keeping myself in check and reminding myself that just because I've thought something doesn't mean it's going to happen.”

- Emma (BA Health and Social Policy (part-time), Mindfulness for Lifelong Learning undergraduate module)

"I remember the moment I realised this was working well for me. I was out walking the dogs and I was just enjoying the moment with no negative thoughts entering my mind. I was totally in the moment and I had a thought. “This must be how most people experience the world”. I had been a prisoner of my own thoughts and now I am free.”

- Michael (BA (Hons) Social Studies (full-time), Mindfulness for Lifelong Learning undergraduate module)

“This saying is the one that I always remember from my first mindfulness class and resonates the most. For me it epitomises the benefits of mindfulness in how we shouldn’t judge ourselves or allow the judgement of others to affect us. I used to worry so much about what others thought of me based on whether I had said or done the right thing in that moment, and would replay conversations in my mind and generally overthink things! Practising mindfulness and using this saying helped me to realise that those thoughts are just that, thoughts, and they don’t define you. They can be easily pushed aside if you can accept and recognise them as just a thought that isn’t worth holding on to or spending time worrying about!”

- Emma (Mindfulness for Everyday Living & Cultivating Mindfulness courses)

14. Treat thoughts as visitors: let them come and let them go

Linked to number 14, this golden nugget helps us to reframe the importance that we place on each thought and to disassociate our identity from them. The human mind can give us weird, wonderful, scary, troubling thoughts and memories. We don't need to judge ourselves for having them, but we can control which ones we give our attention to.

15. Don't should on yourself and don't should on other people

This nugget really exposes our habit of judging ourselves, each other and the moments we have. We often use judgemental terms that then bring unhealthy responses. Research has shown that changing the way we talk to ourselves about ourselves, others and/or moments we have, can have a huge impact on stopping us cycling through these responses.

"Using mindfulness techniques does not stop me being annoyed with myself, but I am better able to gently let those thoughts move out of my head. I often use breathing techniques to calm myself down."

- Emma (BA Health and Social Policy (part-time), Mindfulness for Lifelong Learning undergraduate module)

"I have been the person living with the words 'should', and 'must' circulate my mind. This has enticed me to overgeneralise one negative event at the expense of many other positive events and allows the negative event (s) to have far more power. I have struggled to praise myself whenever there are positives and very much over critical on many things I do."

- Jules (BA (Hons) Social Studies (full-time), Mindfulness for Lifelong Learning undergraduate module)

16. It's OK to be busy

A potent golden nugget for lifelong learners. Mindfulness is not about never being busy. It is more concerned with our capacity of mind, body and emotions. Often, high energy activities can foster the mindful state if the person still has capacity rather than feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes we can be overwhelmed in periods of rest and relaxation. If we do find ourselves overwhelmed in a moment, we can try a mindfulness technique. From a greater state of awareness, we may then make conscious decisions about the situations we find ourselves in.

17. Be mindful even when you can't do mindfulness

Whilst practising (doing) mindfulness is key to growing the availability and quality of our mindfulness, the ultimate goal is for us to embody mindfulness at all moments of our lives. Therefore, even when we find it difficult to do mindfulness practices, we can still try to be mindful in whatever activities we are involved in. This is where the in-the-moment techniques of contemporary mindfulness become very powerful.

18. Don't try to find the mindful state, but be open to it finding you

A deep, more philosophical golden nugget saying. Sometimes our own desire to be mindful is a barrier to us actually experiencing it (because we are monitoring our state and making judgements about it, which then lead to other responses such as doubt and frustration). Therefore, when practising mindfulness try to focus on creating the conditions for it to emerge by following the techniques. Try to let go of monitoring and allow the moment to be whatever it is. Focussing on teh outcome can lead to us being distracted from the process (which leads to the outcome). Focussing on the process makes it more likely that we will come to the desired outcome.














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