10 Ways to Be More Mindful at Work

Mindfulness may seem like a great idea, but how do you become more mindful in the context of a busy work day? You may have emails, phone calls, meetings and presentations to deal with. And, of course, your own work! In the middle of all that, how can you apply the principles of mindfulness so that you feel more alive and present, as well as being productive? This chapter pulls out a few popular and other more radical ways to be mindful at work.

1. Be Consciously Present

Mindfulness is, above all, about being aware and awake rather than operating unconsciously. When you’re consciously present at work, you’re aware of two aspects of your moment-to-moment experience – what’s going on around you and what’s going on within you. To be mindful at work means to be consciously present in what you’re doing, while you’re doing it, as well as managing your mental and emotional state. If you’re writing a report, mindfulness requires you to give that your full attention. Each time your mind wanders to things like Helen’s new role or Michael’s argument with the boss, just acknowledge the thoughts and bring your attention back to the task in hand (see how to stop thinking). This scenario sounds simple, but many aspects of your experience can get in the way.

Here are some ideas to help you stop being mindless and unconscious at work and more mindful and consciously present:

Make a clear decision at the start of your workday to be present as best you can. Pause for a few moments before you start your work day to set this intention in your mind.

✓ Make an effort to work more consciously, even if that means that you need to work a little slower at first – doing so pays in the long run.

✓ Keep all the advantages of working mindfully in mind to motivate you.

Connect with your senses rather than getting lost in trains of thought when you’re doing a task.

✓ Give your full attention to seemingly mundane tasks like washing your hands, opening doors, dialling phone numbers and even just feeling your breathing as you’re waiting in a meeting room. These little moments add up to make the day a more mindful one.

2. Use Short Mindful Exercises at Work

Mindful exercises train your brain to be more mindful. The more mindful exercises you do, the easier your brain finds it to drop into a mindful state, thus optimising your brain function. In the busy workplace, finding time for a 30-minute mindful exercise can be difficult. So does that mean you can’t be mindful at all at work? Nope. Mindful exercises can be as short as you wish. Even one minute of consciously connecting with one of your senses can be classified as a mindful exercise. You don’t need to close your eyes. You don’t even need to be sitting down. Be creative about finding slots in the day to practice mindfulness exercises. At times of excessive pressure at work, practising a short mindfulness exercise can be a saviour. The process helps to rebalance your nervous system, toning down the fight-or-flight response and engaging the wise part of your brain, so that you make reasoned decisions rather than automatically react to situations.

3. Be a Single-Tasker

flower in focus


Single-tasking is doing one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is trying to do two or more tasks at the same time or switching back and forth between tasks. Nobody can actually multi-task. In reality, your brain is madly switching from one thing to the next, often losing data in the process. Most people know multitasking is ineffective nowadays. If multi-tasking is so inefficient, why do people still do it? The reason was uncovered in a study by Zheng Wang at Ohio State University. She tracked students and found that when they multi-tasked, it made them feel more productive, even though in reality they were being unproductive. Other studies found that the more you multitask, the more addicted you get to it.

Here are a few ways to kick the multi-tasking habit and become a mindfulness superhero:

Keep a time journal of what you achieve in a block of time. Work out when you’re single-tasking and when you’re multi-tasking. Note down what you achieved in that time block and how mindful you were.

✓ See whether you can notice your productivity going up when you single-task – noticing the benefits can motivate you to do one thing at a time in a mindful way.

Group tasks in categories. For example, put together emails, phone calls, errands and meetings. Then you can do them all together in one block of time rather than switching from emails to calls to running an errand.

Switch off as many distractions as you can. Silence your phone, log off from your email account and so on. Then set a timer for the amount of time you need to work, and record how much you get done. Do what works for you to focus on one task for a fixed period of time.

Practise mindfulness in your breaks between tasks. Stretch, take deep breaks or go for a mindful walk.

4. Use Mindful Reminders

The word ‘mindful’ means to remember. Most people who’ve read about or undertaken training in mindfulness appreciate the benefits of mindful living. Unfortunately, they keep forgetting to be mindful! The reason you forget to be mindful is because your brain’s normal (default) mode is to be habitually lost in your own thoughts – running a sort of internal narrative. When you’re going about your usual daily activities, your brain switches you into this low energy state, which is unmindful, almost dreamy. Doing some things automatically, without thinking, is fine but research undertaken at Harvard University showed that 47 per cent of a person’s day can be spent lost in thoughts. The same research found that day dreaming can have a negative impact on well-being. Being on auto-pilot means that you’re not fully present and awake to the opportunities and choices around you. You can’t be creative, plan something new or respond appropriately if you’re operating mechanically.

By using some form of reminder, you can be mindful again. The reminder shakes you out of auto-pilot mode. Try these reminders:

Setting an alarm on the phone – even a vibrating alarm that doesn’t disturb others can work well.

Putting mindfulness in your calendar – setting an appointment with yourself!

A small note or picture on your desk to remind you to be mindful.

Associating certain activities with mindfulness, such as meal times or meetings or when finishing one task and starting another.

Using the sound of bells and rings in the workplace as ‘bells of mindfulness’.

So, every time your phone rings, you take a mindful breath. Every time you hear the ping of a text message, you pause to be mindful of your surroundings rather than immediately reacting by checking the message. All these things are opportunities to come back into the present moment, to see yourself and your surroundings afresh. You take a small step back and reflect rather than automatically react to what’s coming at you in the form of demands, tasks and challenges.

5. Slow Down To Speed Up

Mindfulness at work does seem counter-intuitive. You’re considering the fact that, by stopping or slowing down, you can become more efficient, productive, happy, resilient and healthy at work. You may not think that slowing down and being conscious can have such an effect (see How to Stop for more tips on that)

Imagine being asked to stop sleeping for a week. Sleeping is resting – and resting isn’t work. So, simply stop sleeping and just keep working. Maybe you’ve experienced this when studying for exams or trying to meet a deadline at work. Eventually your efficiency drops to almost zero; you’re completely living out of the present moment and perhaps even hallucinating! You need to sleep at least seven hours every night to be able to function effectively.

Clearly, rest can increase efficiency. If you do manage to get about seven hours of sleep and achieve a certain amount of work, imagine what would happen if you also did a few mini-mindfulness exercises during the day? Your brain would become even more efficient, focused, effective at communicating with others and better at learning new skills.

Being in a panicky rush leads to bad decisions and is a misuse of energy. Instead, pause, focus on listening, stroll rather than run and generally take your time when at work. Effective leaders, workers and entrepreneurs slow down and reflect to make the best decisions and actions – they slow down to speed up. That’s a mindful way of working.

6. Make Stress Your Friend

Recent research conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, asked 30,000 people the same question: ‘Does the perception that stress affects health matter?’ The results were astonishing.

The researchers found that people experiencing high levels of stress but who believed that stress was good for them had among the lowest mortality rates. Whereas highly stressed people who believed that stress was bad for their health had the highest chance of dying. Your beliefs about stress clearly affect how they impact on your health and well-being. Another study even found that the blood vessels constricted (as is seen in those with heart disease) in people who believed that stress was bad for them, but stayed open and healthy in those who believed that stress was good for them.

If reading this didn’t make you go ‘wow’, try reading it again. It’s the most exciting research I’ve (Shamash) read this year!

So if you want to make stress your friend, you need to change the way you think about it and, in turn, your body’s response to it.

Mindfulness can help you achieve this change in perception. The next time you’re facing a challenge at work, notice how your heart rate speeds up and your breathing accelerates. Observe these responses and then switch your attitude – respond to your stress creatively rather than negatively. Be grateful that the stress response is energising you. Note that your body is preparing you for your upcoming challenge and that a faster heart rate is sending more oxygen around your body. Be grateful that the process is sharpening your senses and boosting your immune system. By viewing the stress response from this perspective, you see your upcoming problem as a positive challenge and recognise your body preparing to meet it. This small change in attitude can literally add years to your life and improve your productivity and achievements in the workplace.

7. Feel Gratitude

Thanks to pixabay - labelled for re-use

Thanks to pixabay - labelled for re-use

Humans have a ‘negativity bias’. Essentially, this means that you’re much more likely to focus and dwell on something that’s gone wrong than on things that have gone well. Behaving in this way every day means that you ultimately adopt an excessively negative and unbalanced way of thinking.

Gratitude is the antidote. Plenty of evidence suggests that actively practising gratitude makes you feel better and has a positive impact on your creativity, health, working relationships and quality of work. Gratitude makes being at both work and home more positive experiences.

If you feel like you’re stuck in a job you don’t enjoy, the first step is to practise gratitude. What’s going well in your job? Maybe you’re grateful for the money? Even though it may be less than you’d like, you probably prefer it to having no salary at all. You may not like your manager, but maybe you’re friends with a couple of colleagues? You hate the office politics, but they give you insight into what you don’t like in a job, so in the future you know what to look for. After practising gratitude, you can then consider whether you want to continue in that role or need to find another job.

Being mindful of what’s going well at work helps to improve your resilience. Rather than allowing your mind to spiral into anxiety or dip into low moods as you brood over all the aspects of the job you don’t like, you can feed your mind with thoughts of gratitude to raise your well-being. Then, if you do decide to find another job, your positive mental state can help you select an appropriate position and optimise your performance in the interview. People hire positive people, not those who just complain about what’s going wrong. Use gratitude to neutralise your brain’s natural negativity bias.

8. Cultivate Humility

Humility comes from the Latin humilis, meaning grounded. Humble people have a quiet confidence about themselves and don’t feel the need to continuously remind others of their achievements. Humility may seem counter to our culture of glorifying those who make the most noise about themselves, grabbing our attention. But actually, humility is attractive – no one enjoys being around those who continually sing their own praises, and most people enjoy the company of those who are willing to listen to them rather than talk about themselves all the time.

In Jim Collin’s hugely popular book Good to Great, he identified leaders who turned good companies into great ones. He found that the companies exhibiting the greatest long-term success (at least 15 years of exceptional growth) had leaders demonstrating all the skills of your standard leader but with one extra quality – personal humility. They were willing to work hard, but not for themselves – for the company. If things went wrong, they didn’t seek to blame other to protect themselves. And if things went well, they immediately looked outside of themselves to congratulate others. They didn’t have an inflated ego that needed protecting all the time.

Humility is often confused with meekness or timidity but they’re not the same. Humility does not mean seeing yourself as inferior; rather, it means being aware of your natural dependence on and equity with those around you.

How is humility linked to mindfulness? Mindfulness is about accepting yourself just as you are, and being open to listening to and learning from others. Mindfulness is also synonymous with gratitude – you appreciate how others have helped you. And someone who is grateful for the contribution of others is naturally humble.

To develop a little more humility, try the following:

Undertake mindful exercises: Mindfulness reduces activity in the part of the brain that generates the story of your self – sometimes called the narrative self. Giving too much attention to you and your own story is unhealthy. Mindfulness practice helps you to be more connected with your senses – the present self. Your attention widens and you can see how much others contribute to your everyday successes.

Consider who has helped you right now: Spend a few minutes thinking about the number of people who have enabled you to read this page: your parents, guardians or teachers who taught you to read: your employers who help you afford to pay for it; the people involved in writing, editing and producing the copy; the distributors, sales people, providers of ink; the trees that were used to make the paper. We could go on. Think in this way from time to time to identify just how many people help you every day.

Show appreciation: When someone helps you out, in whatever way, show appreciation. It sounds obvious, but doing so is an act of humility and reminds you to value the contribution of others: the driver who let you into her lane; the postman who delivered your letters; the person who held the door open and the cleaner who vacuumed your office – they all count.

Value other people’s opinions: If someone makes a point that challenges yours, suspend judgement. You can easily jump in and argue – but that implies that they’re wrong and you’re right. How can you be so sure? Stop and consider in what ways they may be right, too. This is true mindfulness in action – non-judgemental awareness together with curiosity and respect.

9. Accept What You Can’t Change

Acceptance lies at the heart of mindfulness. To be mindful means to accept this present moment just as it is. And it means to accept yourself, just as you are now. It doesn’t mean resignation or giving up. But it does mean acknowledging the truth of how things are at this time before trying to change anything.

Here’s a workplace example. If you went £20,000 over budget, that’s a fact. It’s already happened. As soon as you accept that, you can move forward and try to deal with the situation. Lack of acceptance can lead to denial of the fact (maybe causing you to go even more over budget) or avoidance (you keep skipping meetings with your boss) or aggression (you vent your anger at your team unnecessarily, adversely affecting relationships and motivation). Instead, you can accept the situation, talk to the necessary people, learn from your mistakes and move on. Acceptance actually leads to change.

Personal acceptance is even more powerful. Self-acceptance is embracing all facets of yourself – your weaknesses, shortcomings, aspects you don’t like and those you admire. When you accept yourself, you cut down on energy-draining self-criticism. You’re then much better able to enjoy your successes and smile at your shortcomings. Through self-acceptance, you can create a clarity of mind that allows you to work on those aspects of yourself you wish to improve. The starting point of self-improvement and personal development is self-acceptance.

10. Adopt a Growth Mindset

Mindset by Carol Dweck

According to Carol Dweck and her team at Stanford University researcher, people essentially adhere to one of two mindsets – a growth or a fixed mindset.

People with a fixed mindset believe that their basic qualities, such as their intelligence and talents, are fixed traits. Instead of developing their intelligence and talents, they spend their time hoping their traits will lead to success. They don’t seek to develop themselves, because they think that talent alone leads to success. They turn out to be wrong – brain science has proved otherwise.

People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve their intelligence and talents with effort. By applying themselves, they think that they can get better. They see brains and talent as just the starting point, and build on them with hard work and determination. Brain scans have actually revealed that effort does lead to growth in intelligence and enhancement of initial talent over time. People with this mindset have a love of learning and demonstrate greater resilience. Success at work depends on having a growth mindset.

Mindfulness is about adopting a growth mindset. Mindfulness is about giving attention to the present moment and not judging your innate talent or intelligence, but being open to new possibilities. When you adopt a growth mindset at work, you don’t mind getting negative feedback as you view it as a chance to discover something new. You don’t mind taking on new responsibilities because you’re curious about how you’ll cope. You expect and move towards challenges, seeing them as opportunities for inner growth. That’s the essence of mindfulness at work – believing that you can improve and grow with experience, moving towards challenges, living in the moment and discovering new things about yourself and others.

Use the following four steps to develop a growth mindset, based on research by Dweck and colleagues:

1 Listen to the voice of a fixed mindset in your head. This is about being mindful of your own thoughts when faced with a challenge. Notice if the thoughts are telling you that you don’t have the talent, the intelligence or if you find yourself reacting with anxiety or anger when someone offers feedback to you.

2 Notice that you have a choice. You can accept those fixed mindset thoughts or question them. Take a few moments to practice a mindful pause.

3 Question the fixed mindset attitudes. When your fixed mindset says ‘What if I fail? I’ll be a failure’, you can ask yourself ‘Is that true? Most successful people fail. That’s how they learn.’ Or if fixed mindset says ‘What if I can’t do this project? I don’t have the skills’ reply with ‘Can I be absolutely sure I don’t have the skills? In truth, I can only know if I try. And if I don’t have the skills, doing this will help me to learn them.’

4 Take action on the growth mindset. This will make you enjoy the challenges in the workplace, seeing them as opportunity to grow rather than avoid. Use the above system if you mind starts leaning towards the fixed mindset.

Over time, you’ll find yourself habitually of a growth rather than fixed mindset, leading to greater success and personal mastery that before.

This post is extracted from my book Mindfulness at Work for Dummies by Alidina and Adams. 

For lots of tips and advice in working mindfully and compassionately in the workplace, together with guided mindfulness audio specially for the workplace, consider purchasing the book. Thank you for reading!

6 Steps to Deep Happiness in Your Everyday Life

Contentment = Deep Happiness

Contentment comes from accepting and being grateful for the way things are - even if things go ‘wrong’.

I’ve really enjoyed exploring what it means to be content this year...one example of how I’ve done this is during my recent trip to Kathmandu, Nepal.

After a weekend packed full of fun and transformation bringing the Museum of Happiness to CreativenessFest, I fell ill. I got sick with a stomach bug...but that’s normal - it’s Nepal! I didn’t fight it - I was quite surprised how well I accepted it.

Consequently, I missed a flight to see Mount Everest the next morning and lost my deposit - again, I accepted that too. I can see it on Google Maps anyway. At least I didn’t release more greenhouse gases or wake up for an early flight!

Picture thanks to Whitegadget

Picture thanks to Whitegadget

My body ached and I got a temperature - that’s normal - at least I didn’t need to go to hospital.

I had many other things to be grateful for: the extra time in the city gave me an opportunity to meet with locals, discover Artudio, help them find a new web designer, get this blog post done, and finalise my presentations for Teach Mindfulness @Work program. I even had time to prep my talk for Mind Conference at Google Berlin. Great!

I missed out on a trip trekking in the mountains, but instead had a personal trek within myself, and had time to discover so much more about awareness, kindness, contentment, expectations and happiness. Thank you stomach bug (and thank you paracetamol too!).

Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants
— Epictetus

To be content, rather than making the world match your expectations, make your expectations match the world.

You will have an annoying boss. There will be be traffic on the roads. You will miss your train.

That’s not negative thinking - that is realistic thinking, and will save you a whole load of stress when it inevitably happens.

Although you don’t expect things to always go well, you can train yourself to see the bright side of the situation anyway...and that feels awesome!

He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.
— Socrates

Yes, some situations are destructive and you need to take action to move on and of course that’s the sensible thing to do. But usually, life is going just fine the way it is, and all that’s required is a gentle shift in your attitude.

When you want something more, you can’t enjoy what you already have
— Ajahn Brahm

Long-lasting contentment arises when you stop waiting for happiness. Instead, you relax into the moment and accept things just as they are.

Are you thinking...

But how do I feel more content? I’m stuck in this cycle of negative thinking and in this very frustrating relationship and job...it’s easy for you to say wandering around in Kathmandu, but what about me?’ 

...then try the following exercise.

This exercise is designed to cultivate a deep sense of contentment, peace and happiness.

Relaxing Contentment Exercise

  1. Right here and now, as you’re reading this, decide if you want to do this exercise for the next few minutes or not. If you decide yes, please make yourself comfortable and relaxed and give the exercise your full attention. That decision is important.
  2. Become aware of your body. Get a sense right now of how your whole body feels. You may notice some sensations that you don’t like...See if you can accept the sensations you feel with a loving awareness. Readjust your posture if you need to, so you’re even more comfortable...that’s an act of kindness for yourself.
  3. Feel all the sensations in your body...take your time.. feel your body with a caring awareness...a friendly awareness...with mindfulness and kindness...say to yourself, words like ‘I’m happy with this experience, just as it is’....or….’let it be’....smile as you feel your body. Enjoy the experience of being with your body...as you let go of wanting things to be different, enjoy any feeling of contentment grow within you...you can even be content with a lack of contentment...just be with your breath and body…
  4. If you find your mind wandering a lot it’s because your mind wants to be somewhere else. Your mind isn’t enjoying the experience...So, give attention to your mind...be kind to your mind rather than fighting, ignoring or controlling….You’ll find your mind will soon get bored of wandering to the same old boring thoughts, and will want to go back to feeling and relaxing your body with softness, gentleness and peace.
  5. Rest in this experience for as little or as long as you wish...the exercise will naturally come to an end when it feels right for you...it may be just for a minute...or maybe for an hour...a longer or shorter time is not better or worse, as there is no time ultimately...there’s just now…all you need to be aware of, is now...
  6. As you re-engage with whatever you do next, carry any positive experience of contentment with you...the peace can be profoundly healing and pleasant.
Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.
— Lao Tzu

Kindfulness by Ajahn Brahm: Book Review and Summary


‘An ancient teaching says that by looking after oneself, one looks after others - and by looking after others, one looks after oneself. Kindfulness, the subject of this small book, is a wonderful way to bring this truth into our lives.’ - Ajahn Brahm

Kindfulness is an attitude, a way of being and a way of meditating.

This book is written by Ajahn Brahm, one of the world’s most famous meditation teachers.

He’s given talks at Google and Facebook HQ, he’s been invited for dinner by The Queen, he’s coached Prime Ministers, and has one of the most popular Buddhist Societies in the world.

I LOVE anything by Ajahn Brahm.

His latest book, Kindfulness, didn’t disappoint.

Ajahn Brahm beautifully explains that mindfulness alone is missing a key, core ingredient - kindness.

He should know - he has meditated for 45 years and most of that time has been spent either in meditation or giving talks on the subject.

So, Kindfulness is the way to go.

Ajahn Brahm’s approach to Kindfulness meditation is made up of 5 stages.

  1. Coming into the present by letting go of past and future.

  2. How to enjoy silent, present moment awareness.

  3. Cultivating a silent awareness of the breath.

  4. Going onto experiencing a full, sustained awareness of the breath.

  5. Enjoying a full, sustained awareness of the ‘beautiful’ breath.

This five stage process is the heart of his approach. But that’s not the only meditation Brahm advocates.

Loving Kindness

Loving kindness meditation is beautifully described in the book.

Brahm uses the analogy of starting a warm fire in your heart - a fire of love and compassion. 

You do this by beginning with the dry kindling of cultivating love towards someone or something you find easy to love.

Once that fire in your heart is roaring, you can even find the capacity to love yourself too - an experience so many of us are challenged by.

Letting Be

Another wonderful meditation Ajahn Brahm describes, is the Letting Be meditation. This is a great meditation for anyone who struggles with the step by step process...it’s simple, easy and powerful. I enjoyed practising that one!

The book then goes on to explain the common challenges that come up in meditation, and kindful ways to overcome them.

The challenges (hindrances) include desire, ill will, sleepiness, anger, remorse, doubt.


Kindfulness is not just a meditation - it’s an attitude and a way of being.  As you discover how to be more kind and friendly to your own body, mind and to those around you, life becomes happier for you and others.

Combining a warm, present moment awareness relaxes your body, calms your mind and leads to feelings of deep peace, freedom and bliss.

Everyone is able to access kindfulness. It lies at the heart of all of us. And by reading this book, you’ll be on the way.

If you have any questions or comments about Kindfulness, feel free to share in the comments section below and I'll respond as kindfully as I can. Thanks for reading and/or sharing!

By Ajahn Brahm



The Power of Low Expectations


When I was training to be a school teacher, we were taught to have high expectations. They often showed us evidence of what happened to children if the teacher or parent imposed low expectations - their grades went down.

What the trainers didn’t say, was the effects of stress and anxiety on children as we expected more and more from them.

As I’ve been meditating and studying ancient wisdom over the years, I’ve discover a greater power than high expectations. The Power of Low Expectations.

In fact, nowadays, I like to have zero expectations if I can. Why?

Because if you have no expectations, if something goes well, you’re pleasantly surprised!

If you have high expectations, you set yourself up to fall down, fail and struggle through life.

image from last Museum of Happiness event 'JANUARY 2016

image from last Museum of Happiness event 'JANUARY 2016

For example, a couple of weekends ago, you may have spotted my email - I organised ‘The World’s First Pop-up Museum of Happiness. We were expecting about 200 people to register. Instead, over 7000 people registered within a few days of releasing the tickets.

Was I pleasantly surprised? Definitely!

But although I worked very hard to organise the event with my core team, I was prepared for anything to happen. Perhaps Spitalfields market would close us down...perhaps heavy rain would mean no one would come...maybe our orders wouldn’t come through and all the hype would be for nothing.

This isn’t negative thinking...it’s realistic thinking.

In fact, the opposite happened. Most of the ticket holders did turn and almost everyone had a great time. Not only did adults jump into the ball pool, we had virtual reality meditations on the beach, colouring in, mindful origami, lots of laughter yoga, singing, bollywood dancing, talks on self-compassion and even I managed to give a talk and guided meditation on kindfulness to many people that hadn’t meditated before. That made me very happy!

So having low expectations doesn’t mean things will go wrong. It just means you’re living in line with reality.

The truth is, anything can happen at any time. Death will be upon at some point. No need to scared of the fact - it’s just how it goes!

If you have low expectations, you’re easily content.

Just getting your next meal can put a smile on your face.

A cup of tea is wonderful.

Someone looking you in the eye and speaking to you - brilliant!

The very fact that you wake up and have another day to life and breathe and smile - amazing!

So experiment with lowering your expectations. Be pleased with small things that go well.

Aim high. Expect low.

For example, try lowering your expectations at work. Your colleague doesn’t finish that report...no surprise, you didn’t expect him to. Your boss has a go at you for your work - no sweat, you know that’s what bosses do.

And try lowering expectations at home too. Your wife keeps nagging you - sure, that’s cool, that’s how she rolls. Your husband turns up home late again - no biggie, that’s typical husband behaviour. Kids don’t do their homework - that’s kids for you - tell them off if you need to, and send them back to their room if you must.

But don’t be surprised.

Low expectations doesn’t mean you accept everything, especially things that are dangerous or really harmful to you or others. Of course, you can take action to sort things out. But you’re just not surprised when things go wrong - because that’s life.

Suffering is expecting from life what life can never give you.

Imagine if you had no expectations at all, from others, from yourself, from life. What would happen?! How could you ever be upset?

Diagnosed with an illness - I was expecting that. Close member of family dies - that’s normal. Fired from your job - bound to happen. Tenant doesn’t pay you - welcome to the real world. Landlord kicks you out - typical behaviour.

Try these steps to help lower your expectations of life, and enjoy the ride a bit more:

1. Think of someone or something that upsets you often. Your partner, your job, your children.

2. Consider what your expectations are of the situation. What do you expect, that often isn't met?

3. Lower your expectations. Reduce your standards. Go from wanting perfection, to be okay with what normally happens.

4. Notice what effect your lower expectations has on the situation.

5. If you found your new found attitude made you feel more at peace, consider another area of your life that seems to cause you suffering and once again, lower your expectations!

You may begin to notice, as you become more relaxed with your lower expectations, the situation improves as you’re no longer fighting it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments in our blog

I’m not expecting you to like this post at all! :-)



PS - If you’d like to download our free ebook or register to Teach Mindfulness or Teach Mindfulness at Work in our next cohort (will probably start April 2016), click here.

PPS - If you work in a corporate in UK or Europe and would like the Museum of Happiness to come to your company, connect us with the decision maker and let’s bring the Museum to your company! Click here.

Q and A: My mind is exhausting me. Help!‏


Hi Shamash

I love your teachings and first discovered you through the Mindfulness Summit. I'm confused by your last post. I started meditating because my mind was crazy. Ruminating on scary things and creating thoughts that were not true. My anxiety was out of control reacting to all these stories my mind was spinning. I'm not sure how I could just let my mind go off on its own. The way it feels now, it's on one worry, then after a while it drops that one, but it on to the next. Do I just let it do that? I mean that's what it's doing already, but I try to notice and bring it back to the breath.  It's very exhausting with this craziness!

Thank you,



Dear A,

That's a great question. 

The mind is a funny thing. For some reason it goes to lots of negative thoughts and gets stuck with tricky emotions. 

Control is actual the problem. Not the solution. 

So, I'd recommend you have a go at changing your relationship with your mind. 

Next time you have 10 minutes or so, just let your mind go where it wants to go, with kindness. Try and hold a little smile on your face and let it go to all those usual worries if it wants to. 

Then when it's bored of that, it'll come back to you and you can enjoy your body or breath or whatever arises in the ores net moment. And it'll soon become very pleasant and your mind will love hanging out with you in the present moment!

At the moment, your mind worries and then you worry about that and bring it back. And that's another worry! Most people do that. 

So let your mind be. No more bossing your poor mind around. The only difference this time is, you're having a kind and positive attitude to your mind. 

Imagine a lake that has ripples on it. How do you calm and enjoy the view of the lake? Not by patting it down and interfering! No. By watching the lake with a smile and letting it settle all by itself. 

Enjoy the lake of your mind - it's a show!

If your mind is too busy and you just can't do this, stay tuned and I'll show you some tricks to get the mind to start chilling out. But the coolest and best way is the above one, if you can! 

Let us know how you all get on with this. 

Warm wishes,





Office: 020 7060 3392

How To Stop Thinking

I discovered how to completely quieten my mind at the beginning of this year. Something that I didn’t think was even possible! And I want to share that story with you.

The breakthrough happened whilst I was lying in bed with so little energy, I couldn’t do my usual routine. I was tired. I just couldn't push myself to work anymore. Two weeks of low energy, feeling lathargic and lacking in motivation. It was frustrating.

Rather than continuing to fight my lack of energy, I gave up and started meditating, listening to some different meditations and even retreats  on YouTube. In fact, over the course of the next few days, I essentially did a meditation retreat in bed. Listened to talks by my favourite teacher Ajahn Brahm, and did meditations in between the meditation talks. 

What happened next, I was not expecting. I did a meditation and my mind went totally silent. I mean more silent than it’s ever been…it was a bit like walking into a room that’s totally soundproof and feels a bit unusual, but very peaceful. The only time I’d experienced this before was 20 years ago, when I first learnt to meditate.

The feeling of my own body disappeared completely too, and I was met with waves of bliss…although the actual experience is kind of indescribable.

The experience came and went over the next few weeks that followed. And by then my energy had fully returned and I wasn’t meditating so much, so I didn’t keep having the experience.

But I know, whenever I follow this process, I get the same result. Peace of mind. The experience has returned when I meditate over a period of time.

Here’s how I ‘achieved’ this.

I stopped controlling my mind. Rather than following the normal advice of ‘Your mind always wanders. That’s the nature of your mind. Just notice your mind has wandered, and bring it back….a million times’, I followed this advice:

Relax your body with awareness and kindness. Let your body be in any posture it wishes to be. If you fall asleep, that’s fine! You need it. When your mind wanders, let it wander. Just be awake and be kind to your mind. Make friends with your mind. Your mind is wandering for a reason - watch where it goes and welcome it if it decides to come back, which it will. Just let go, be patient and learn to be content with this present moment experience. No more wanting or desires. Just be with this moment exactly as it is.

When I first tried this approach to meditation my mind wandered even more than usual. But I had had enough of controlling. So I let it go. This is an important point for you to remember too. Your mind will wander more at first…but if you’re patient, you’ll find it settles.

After a lot of mind wandering and sleeping, the mind became silent all by itself. Not a controlled silence, but a natural silence. I had stopped controlling my mind. And my mind loved it! In fact, my mind loved it so much, it just blissed out! 

So the secret of managing your mind is to stop trying to manage your mind! Just let it be, and it’ll become silent and peaceful all by itself.

Remember, I just let my body and mind do what they want. And greater peace and happiness was the result.

You’re currently like a boss trying to control your staff. The more you micro manage your staff, the less work they get done and the more agitated they get. Instead, step back and let them get on with it. And praise them. And smile at them. And congratulate them. 

Do the same with your mind. Don’t micromanage your mind and keep trying to control it and bring it back to focus. Instead, let it be. Be nice to it. Congratulate your mind for just being there for you. If your mind wants to think about that worry, let it worry. It’ll soon get bored of it, and want to hang out with you and meditate before you know it. You just need to trust this process. Trust kindness. Treat your mind just like you’d treat a lovely friend.

So, here’s three steps you can take to stop thinking so much:

- Let your body be as comfortable as possible and see what happens. Don’t control your body. Remember how I let my body be in whatever position it wanted to be? Try the same.

- Treat your mind like a lovely friend. Say 'mind, what do you want to do now?'  I did that rather than trying to control my mind. My mind wanted to sleep and wander off. So I let it. Eventually the mind became very still. Effortlessly.

- Cultivate contentment right now. I didn’t try to still my mind. Instead I let it go and stopped trying to control. Then, with time, it calmed down all by itself. Be content with the way things are with your busy, crazy, agitated mind. Your poor mind is tired and stressed. Let it be.

Warm wishes,

Shhhhhhamash   :)


If you want to teach mindfulness in the workplace, check my brand new and popular Mindfulness@Work program.

And if you want to just teach mindfulness to general public, you wanna check this out.

Dalai Lama: Smiling more important than meditating

Dalai Lama laughing away

The Dalai Lama spoke in London's Lyceum Theatre recently. I was lucky enough to see him and volunteer to help organise the event, hosted by Action for Happiness.

What struck me most out of all he said, was what he said about smiling.

The Dalai Lama said:

“My practice when I see someone, is to smile”

That’s his actual practice! He does it as an act of kindness - to help lift people’s spirits.

And he knows very well that it makes him feel great too. It’s what he calls ‘wise selfish behaviour’. 

No wonder that dude is so popular. He must have smiled a million times.

The Dalai Lama even said smiling can be more valuable than meditating. Amazing coming from someone who wakes up at 3am to meditate for several hours.

I’d recommend you watch this little video of the Dalai Lama sharing a joke and showing his humanity - he’s not perfect too. Hopefully you can crack a smile after watching this story about a poor parrot!

Someone in my current training program met the Dalai Lama as a teenager in a small group. She said his smile was so contagious, it lifted the whole group every time they met him. A huge lift in positivity and energy each time he smiled to the group.

So a very simple and easy way to lift your mood and others, is to smile!

In future posts, I’ll share more about the science of smiling - the 'Act As If' principle.

Do you make an effort to smile everyday? What do you know about the power of smiling?


The Dalai Lama, as Patron of Action for Happiness, helped them launch their happiness course. Join me to support their Crowdfunder here. They need the money to share their wonderful course around the world.

Happy International Day of Peace

"I call on all warring parties to lay down their weapons and observe a global ceasefire. To them I say: stop the killings and the destruction, and create space for lasting peace." 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The UN General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.

The theme of this year’s commemoration is “Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All” which aims to highlight the importance of all segments of society to work together to strive for peace.

I hope you find a few moments of peace today and share some peace with those around you. 

Here in London, I'll listening to the Dalai Lama's talk in central London on creating a #HappierWorld with Action for Happiness. I'll share his wisdom with you in future posts. 

I shall then be joining thousands of others in Trafalgar Square for 30 minutes of peace starting at 6.30pm. See you there, either physically or in spirit. :-)

Wishing you peace of mind and heart.



How to Mindfully Balance Ambition with Contentment

Balancing Ambition with Contentment

Balancing Ambition with Contentment

The Buddha emphasised the ‘middle way’. And people often propose the value of ‘nothing in excess’.

So...with these principles in mind, how do you balance ambition with contentment.

This was a great question I had from @axzr on Twitter.

Contentment means satisfaction. Happiness with things just the way they.

Ambition is the drive to do. To succeed. To achieve things in life. It's about action. 

Too much ambition combined with doing mode is certainly a problem, which I wrote about in my last book.

But, a life of complete contentment would mean you’d never even get out of bed in theory (if you ever made it to bed in the first place!).

What's the answer?!

There needs to be a balance of these two opposing ‘forces’.

When I was studying Chemical Engineering at Imperial, I was highly driven in the first year. Highly ambitious. I worked my socks off. And it wasn’t easy, but I got a 1st class grade. Then, in the second year, again I was ambitious, but maybe it was waning a little, and I got a 2:1 (that’s like a grade B rather than A). Then, in the third year, I practised contentment...too much contentment. Not only did I not turn up to lectures, I hardly revised at all for the exams. Somehow I scraped through with a 2:2 (probably the equivalent of a grade D I think ). By the time I got to my final year, I’d worked out the right balance and left with a 2:1 and a smile.

So it seems balance is possible to find.

But can contentment and deep happiness really be balanced with lots of activity, drive and ambition?

Let's take another example. Matthieu Ricard. In brain scans, he was rated one of the happiness people ever tested. He was off the scale, content! And yet, he’s ambitious too!

Matthieu Ricard

Matthieu Ricard

He’s working hard everyday to serve others less well than himself in Nepal and Tibet and other countries. He has created an amazing charity and does much good.

So, ambition and contentment are not mutually exclusive.

Make time everyday to just be content...and make time everyday to reflect on what you want to do to make the world a better place, in your own way.

Finding time for contentment and ambition seems to be the secret - not choosing one or the other exclusively.

What do you think? Please use examples (made up ones if necessary) to illustrate your thoughts - thanks!

How to Stop

How to Stop by Shamash Alidina


I’d like to share with you the story of John.

John has not stopped for a long time. He’s always on the go.

After graduating he went from one job to the next. Eventually landing a well-paid corporate job, he worked hard and saved for a home.

He got married, but that didn’t last more than 3 years. After the divorce, he decided to quit his job, sold his home and travelled the world. He kept searching for something - happiness I suppose, but he didn’t say it.

Returning home, he found himself another job in the same field, but a smaller company. He’s now working away, building up his capital, to buy another house…maybe get married again….you get the picture.

If you look at your own life, it may not be that dissimilar. You may be busy working away, to achieve your next ‘thing’ - whether that’s a home, partner, job or whatever else. In itself, the next thing is fine. But is there a time to ever stop this striving? And how could that possibly help?

This digital age could also be called the anxiety age. When people keep rushing on and on, anxiety is the end result. I define rushing and busyness as the opposite of stopping.

Constantly running, striving, seeking to achieve this or that. Chasing whatever it may be - from money, love or peace and happiness.

The seeking keeps you as a seeker. Although the old quote ‘seek and you shall find’, I’d say it’s more like ‘seek and you shall keep seeking’. Stopping is the answer.

Levels of stopping

There’s two aspects to stopping - physical and mental. The most important is mentally stopping, as that leads to physically stopping. But they can feed into each other too.

Physical Level - One way to calm your mind down is to reduce how much you move around. The more you begin to still your body, the more you begin to still your mind. But as you may be rushing around a lot, practises like yoga can help you to gradually come to a stop.

Alternatives can be walking that you begin at your normal pace and gradually slow down. Or other mind body practices like tai chi, qigong and the like.

Mental Level - Your mind can stop. I know many mindfulness teachers disagree. But I have experienced it and so have many other teachers.

Your mind can become so calm and quiet, that even a single thought ceases to arise. In fact, it’s the nature of the mind to be calm and still. You disturb the mind through desire..through wanting.

As the Buddha said, suffering (unhappiness) is due to attachment (wanting). And then he said to eliminate suffering (to be happy) let go of clinging (wanting).

To let go of wanting means to be content with what is. So effectively the Buddha was teaching, be happy by being content with things as they are.

That’s what true stopping is about - contentment.

Why Stop?

From doing to being mode

Doing is also the opposite of stopping. Doing is about striving and achieving. And obviously you need to do stuff! You’re not gonna get much done by simply chilling out all the time. And sometimes stuff needs doing. Kids do need feeding…and more importantly, need loving. Bills need paying. And text messages need answering.

But…too much doing all the time wears you out…you get tired. There are times when you don’t need to do anything, and yet, you keep going. The momentum of the all the busyness keeps you moving.

Most people think mindfulness develops through will power. That’s actually not true. Experiment with this yourself. Will power can only last so long. Mindfulness actually develops naturally through non-doing. When you stop being so busy, the mental energy that you normally use into getting stuff done, starts pouring into mindfulness. You notice more.

As you begin to grow in mindfulness, sadness and anxiety reduce. Depression is partly due to low levels of mindfulness. As you begin to do less, your energy levels begin to return and you don’t feel so depressed anymore. You begin to notice the good stuff. And with less doing and more being, anxiety goes down too.

More peace and happiness

Mindfulness leads to the (almost) ultimate stop.

My nature is to be busy. I’m often thinking about ‘what next?’ Eventually this lead me to working too hard. And then I sought out an antidote. Meditation was the solution. The ultimate stopping. Whilst you’re still alive anyway! At some points in my career as a teacher, I was so busy, there was hardly any time to sleep! Lack of sleep led to lack of efficiency. I took longer to get the work done. That meant even less sleep. More tiredness led to impatience at work. Frustration with the job. And the cycle would have spiralled out of control if it wasn’t for holidays and knowing how to stop. This negative cycle happens to so many people - probably has happened to you too.

How to Stop?

1. Really enjoy the stop

As I write these words, I’m in a very special place. I’m sitting on a balcony overlooking a beautiful lake near Orlando in Florida. A nice place to stop. And yet, I easily find myself busy doing one thing or the other.

Stopping needs to be seen as a good thing in your mind. And to your mind. Stopping is something to look forward to - not to dread. Many people, me included in the past, sometimes think of meditation as a chore - something you have to do for your health and wellbeing.

Flip it! Instead, see stopping as a real joy. A treat. Like chocolate or a nice dinner or a nice massage. Meditation is to be enjoyed as a pleasure. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, putting joy into meditation is what I’m all about.

2. Change your company: Digital Distractors or Mindful Monks?

I spent some time with colleagues at a fast growing startup in London. Now, most of their friends are kinda hyperactive! They don’t stop. Ever. Always on the phone, texting, checking emailing every few minutes…and even when they don’t really have much to do, they’ll find some new app to explore with on their phone. 

I find if I spend too much time with agitated people like that, I start to get agitated more quickly. I’m checking my phone more. I’m walking fast and speaking faster.

I find that the company I keep makes me stop more…or less.

When I was on a retreat, spending time with monks and other retreat participants, the opposite was true. Life slowed down and was more peaceful.

So, chose your friends carefully. If you easily get anxious, too stressed or low, spend time with people that meditate or that are generally good for you. You know the type - nice people.

Mix with everyone of course, but choose the people you spend most time with, wisely.

3. Take Micro stops

I just stopped for one full in and out breath. Before I wrote this paragraph. The short stop made me drop my shoulders. And that started off a little chain reaction. I then adjusted my posture. Smiled more. Made myself more comfortable. And stopped again. Can you see how a micro stop can set off a chain reaction of positivity? I hope so! Why not try a micro stop right now - just for a breath or two?

4. Get back to the fundamentals

In my 17 years or so meditating, I’ve found one way that’s more powerful than any other for calming the mind. And here it is: let the mind go.

Controlling the mind, trying to make it silent has the opposite effect. But when you stop controlling, let the mind wander as it wishes and just sit back and watch…magic happens. First of all the mind keeps wandering, but eventually it comes back. The mind stills. And you enter into a very powerful and peaceful state of mind. Energising, uplifting and unforgettable.

If this sound impossible or unattainable, please don’t fret. Join our email list if you haven’t already, and I’ll keep offering mindfulness, compassion, wisdom and wellbeing tips and sharing stories to help you happiness. I’m here to help you.

What's your tips? How do you stop? Let's chat below!

Overcome Fear in 6 (easy peasy) steps (part 2 of 2)

Many of you struggle to stop.

To stop doing. To stop rushing around. To stop the mind buzzing around like a crazed beast...maybe.

That’s something I’ll be teaching you how to do very soon in one of my posts...but back to today….

Today, I’d like to officially create a new word, since failure and success go so closely together.

Failure + Success = Fuccess

It sounds a bit rude. But that’s all part of the fun of it :)

Every time something goes wrong, think of it as a fuccess. You 'fuced it’. You took steps towards success...that’s a fuccess.

Who knows, one day you’ll be really fuccessful?

It’s time our society embraced failure. Changing the word is a step forward in the process.

Changing attitudes is the bigger step.

Here’s a six step process to achieve fuccess:

  1. Think of something that you want to achieve, but are struggling with it at the moment. A book you want to write, a relationship you want to start, a few pounds you want to lose.

  2. Practice some meditation. You could use the audio from this book, or any other audio. This helps to clear the mind. e.g. Listen to some relaxing music without judgement.

  3. What steps would you take, if you knew you couldn’t fail? e.g. Go for a jog every morning for 20 minutes.

  4. Take the first, tiny tiny step, and see if you’d willing to give it a go. e.g. Go for a 5 minute walk.

  5. Take the step and know that you’ll be definitely be fuccessful (either it goes right or goes wrong)

  6. Keep going till you fucceed.

So, what will you try to fucceed in today? Let’s chat about it in the comments section below.

I’d like to think of this email/blog as a conversation, not just me sharing my fuccessful ideas. So please share your fuccesses here….let’s make fuccess viral. :)

Overcome Fear in 6 (easy peasy) steps (part 1 of 2)

My first taste of failure was my driving test.

I’d taken 20 lessons and my instructor thought I was good enough to do the test…he was wrong. Big time!

I waited in the test centre and eventually the examiner appeared. ‘Surname?’ he commanded, peering over his glasses for just long enough to make me temporary forget my name. ‘Alidina’ I eventually replied, in as friendly a tone as I could muster…hey, I hadn’t heard of mindfulness at this point!

We got in the car, and I fumbled with the key before driving out of the car park and on the road. Within minutes, he hit the brakes using the dual control. The car came to a screeching halt. Screeeeeechhhhhhhh (ok, I’m being dramatic). He turned to me and said ‘You need to stop at a red light signal. Where you going to stop?’ ‘No….oh….oooops’ I replied. I hadn’t noticed the temporary traffic light…which was unfortunately showing red...apparently.

I failed the test..

That’s my first strong memory of a failure…and wasn’t my last failure by any means.

I failed my second driving test too. It was because somebody else also doing a driving test pulled out in front of me…we both failed that one!

I eventually passed. I’ve been driving safely ever since, so you can relax if I ever give you a lift… :)

Failing my driving test was the first of a series of failures in life. And as I’ve failed more in life, I’ve begun to embrace the experience.

I’m writing about failure due to a book I’ve been reading.

The book is called ‘Creative Confidence’. It’s by IDEO founder and Stanford d school creator David Kelley and his brother Tom Kelley, a partner at IDEO. IDEO is one of the world's leading innovation and design firms. In the book, the brothers share the importance of failure in success. They remind us of Thomas Edison and his many failed attempted to design the light bulb. They also cite loads of examples of people that were considered creative geniuses - and how they actually achieve this through LOTS of failed attempts.

I believe failure and success go hand in hand. The more you fail, the more you succeed.

And what is failure anyway? If I did go through that red light during that test, I may not even be alive to write this…surely that was a success!

This very post is written by embracing failure. I don’t think of myself as a writer at all, and my English teacher through I was pretty average.

However, I’ve sold over 100,000 books now. And my last book, The Mindful Way through Stress, was published by the renowned Guilford Press, who have published mindfulness books by Professor Mark Williams and Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. I’m proud of that. That took some guts and a willingness to embrace possible failure.

So, my dear friends, I urge you to have a go and fail at something.

Is it scary? Yes. But attempting something new is empowering too, with this attitude.

Start with a small failure. Something that only you’d know about, perhaps.

Then keep failing, knowing that failure doesn’t actually exist. it’s something we create in our minds.

Do trees think they failed when they don’t grow straight?

Do lakes feel they failed when they are murky rather than crystal clear.

Do kids give up if they fall over when trying to walk?

Did you give up when you couldn't be bothered to read this post any more? ;-)

To learn is to fail.

And so, to succeed is to fail.

In my next post, I’ll be sharing a new definition of failure, and 6 easy steps to overcome good old failure.

Until then dear friends.


PS - Today is last day for application for Teach Mindfulness 2.0 at a discounted rate.


The Secret of Happiness

The pursuit of happiness

The pursuit of happiness

I read a bit of Dr. Seuss the other day. It was super fun. He’s a great writer.

The cool thing about Dr. Seuss is that he wrote in his own style. Did his own thing. Awesome! I love that.

I want to do the same with my own writing. Write however I want. And freely. It’s more fun that way, me thinks.

The other cool thing about Dr. S is that his words rhyme in a fun kinda way.

So, I thought I’d have a go at that in this post on happiness. I hope you enjoy it!

The Pursuit of Happiness

The pursuit of happiness is futile,

Especially if you run run run.

Instead calm down and chill a bit,

And have some friggin' fun!

Have you ever tried chasing your tail,

It makes you go round and around.

And you think if you chase harder,

Then the tail will get closer to you.

But yet the opposite happens,

The tail just moves faster with you.

And that’s because the tail is,

Stuck to the back side of you!

I’m not big on chasing,

It’s futile, childish and lame.

Much better, stop the chasing game.

And instead smile and don’t blame.

Too much desire is the real enemy,

Because it’s based on untruth.

The untruth is desire brings happiness,

Just look at spoilt children, will you?

So if happiness is the destination.

The place you want to be.

Then aim for happiness direct,

And that’s by contentment, okay?

Contentment. There lies the answer.

Peace. That's the way.

No chasing after happiness.

Just let go and relax away!

Shamash Alidina

Positive feedback always welcome… ;-)

More interesting insights about happiness will be coming in my next post...and not in a dodgy poem form, so don’t despair…

You can see and share your own poem and comment on my blog post of this post right here below.


Shamashing it.


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The Incredible Power (and the 6 Benefits) of Writing Meditation

I’m writing this blog post whilst in a state of meditation.

I’m not going to edit it.

Just correct the spellings.

How am I achieving this?

Here’s how:

  • My eyes are closed. Luckily I can touch type so i don’t have to look at the screen. I open my eyes only from time to time to check my computer is still there.

  • I set a timer for 30 minutes. That way I know how long I’m going to be doing this for. Otherwise I may be in danger of going all night….i’m weird like that. :-)

  • At the end of every single sentence, I stop for a full in breath and out breath. Really. Every single full stop means: 'stop and breathe in and out'. And I feel each in and out breath with warmth, kindness and friendliness. I love it. For the first fifteen minutes or so, I was just yawning. It shows I was tired and needed the rest and this writing meditation. It’s a fascinating experience - I highly recommend you give it a go.
  • I started with no clear aim. I wasn’t planning to write this particular blog post. The first 15 mins of my writing was pretty funny and random and centred around my present moment feelings in my mind and body. And then this blog post emerged. That was the beauty of the meditation. No forcing. Just letting things emerge naturally.
  • Find your own way. Just ‘cause I used this method, doesn’t mean you need to copy. You may prefer to write on paper. And pause every paragraph rather than every sentence. You may like to start with a clear aim. Or at least a general idea of what you’re gonna write about. Use your gut feelings and do what feels right for you.
  • I write a sentence after every breath. By that I mean, I keep writing. I don't just sit in the silence waiting for inspiration. I write whatever emerges in my head. And if there’s nothing in my head, I write that there’s nothing in my head! That helps to keep the flow. Sometimes, especially at the beginning, when I stopped writing to breathe after every sentence, I felt like I was losing my flow. But after about ten minutes or so, I got used to it. My body relaxed and words emerged.

So that’s how to do writing meditation according to yours truly.

You may be wondering ‘What the point, Shamash?’. I’m so glad you asked. Here’s the benefits I’m enjoying right now:

  • My body feels really happy and relaxed. 
  • My mind feels so calm and peaceful.
  • I’ve gently entered into a meditative state without having to fully stop ‘doing stuff’.
  • I’m creating something awesome whilst also being in a meditation - that’s unusual and super cool according to me!
  • I’m doing something different, so it feels fun and exciting. And having fun is a really important value and experience for me. 
  • I need to write anyway. By meditating at the same time, I’m achieving two things at the same time, and also doing them both really well. In my opinion anyway!

So that’s meditative writing. Or mindful writing. Or writing meditation.

Whatever you wanna call it, give the practice a go. It feels really good!

Ok, I’ll stop now, my 30 minutes are up.

What did you think of this unusual post? Looking forward to chatting to you about it in the comments below. :)


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Mindfulness and the Luck Factor



You’ve either got it, or you haven’t. Is that true?

I was really lucky the other day. I went for my daily walk and decided to leave all my money and cards and phone behind. I just took my keys and left the house. 

After an hour or so, I started to think 'I wish I had some money on me. I'd love a cup of tea after this long walk.'

I just kept walking in a mindful kinda way. 

And then it happened. I saw a 20 pound note on the street! Just lying there staring at me.  

I looked around and no-one was nearby that could have dropped it....I was slightly in shock! 

I lent over to pick it up. There were more notes underneath. It was 50 pounds altogether!

I managed to find some people nearby and asked them if they'd lost money. They all said no.

So.....I decided to celebrate with a cup of tea, a nice piece of cake. And gave the rest to charity and as presents. 

The lucky experience got me thinking. Does mindfulness make me luckier? 

And is luck completely down to chance? 

No, actually. Ten years of research by Professor Richard Wiseman and colleagues has found that luck is a skill you can learn!

Wiseman discovered four principles of luck. These are just made up facts - they were tested and checked after looking at thousands of case studies.

Here’s an important point - don’t think about what you’re not already doing and try to improve them....Instead, consider which of these principles you already do and how you can enhance them even further. 

Principle One: Maximize Your Chance Opportunities

If you’re more relaxed, smiley, hang out with other people and try out new things, then lady luck is more likely to be on your side.

So, my personal example here is when I got to stay in a cool, Italian villa last year. I happened to make friends with him on the flight, and he ended up helping me out when I forgot my drivers licence and couldn’t easily get to my hotel.

When you’re mindful, you’re much more likely to spot chance lucky opportunities.

Principle Two: Listen To Your Lucky Hunches

If you want to be luckier in your life, listen to your intuition - your gut feelings.

When my brother asked if there was a book out called ‘Mindfulness for Dummies’,

I immediately had a look online. When I didn’t find the book, I emailed dummies.com and one thing led to another.

Mindfulness boosts your bodily awareness, which links up with a stronger and more accurate gut instinct.

Principle Three: Expect Good Fortune

Expectations have a direct effect on your actions. So if you’re expect good from other people, they’re more likely to give that to you.

luck 3.jpg


I do expect good from other people. But not always from situations and life. I put things out there and if they work, great. And if they don’t, I don’t push.

Maybe low expectations from life makes me less lucky, but I feel it makes me less stressed and more happy too!

Mindfulness makes you more positive. This helps to raise your expectations and makes you more kind and understanding of others.

Principle Four: Turn Your Bad Luck Into Good

Everyone experiences some bad luck. The question is, how do you see and handle when life doesn’t go your way?

Lucky people see the positive from seemingly bad luck. They see the positive in negative situations and circumstances.

I recall a time when I missed a bus by just a few seconds. I had to wait half an hour for the next bus. I had recently read the book ‘The Luck Factor’ and thought about the positive - how I had more time to relax, how it may somehow mean I get a better bus etc.

Then, when I did get the bus, on the journey I noticed that the bus I missed had broken down! So I was lucky after all. It just didn’t feel like that at the time.

Mindfulness helps you to be aware of moments of bad luck, and helps to catch negative rumination in its tracks.

Luck School: Keep a lucky journal

This is where Wiseman’s work gets really interested.

The question was: can unlucky people be trained to be lucky. And can lucky people become even luckier.

The answer was a resounding yes!

Simply start a luck journal. Jot down every day, for a month, whenever you follow any of the four principles of luck. Remember, do more of what you already do well, rather than trying to improve areas that just don’t feel natural to you.

For example, if naturally just don’t like socialising, but like trusting your intuition, focus on making more use of your intuition to start with. Journal about that. Notice when the decisions you make based on your gut feelings lead to lucky outcomes.

Wiseman’s book has lovely strories of people who have had perpetual bad luck and unhappiness. And yet after a month of ‘luck school’, found better luck and more happiness for the first time in their lives.


So….shall I prepare for the next lottery win?

Not quite. Lotteries are effectively completely random, and these principles don’t work in that area. Annoying, I know!

But, when it comes to applying for job, building a career or business, finding a partner or just having a great day, these principles really do work.

Final tip - People who are lucky believe they are lucky people. So, simply thinking of yourself as a lucky person is more likely to make you luckier!

Good luck!

Are you a lucky as well as mindful person? Have any stories of luck in your life? What are your tips for living a lucky life? Share in the comments section below. Who knows….it may lead to a lucky outcome!


Kindfulness is HOT HOT HOT right now...

In my last blog post, you discovered that mindfulness without kindness and compassion….kinda sucks.

teddy bear

In this post, you’re gonna discover HOW to mix up your mindfulness with kindness.

So, number one, notice the effect of your ‘practice’, whatever that is - meditation, yoga, mindful movement, consciously swimming backwards with one arm. 

Whatever your thing is, notice how you feel afterwards.

If you feel warm, fuzzy, relaxed, calm and generally happy with yourself, you’re probably mixing a mindful awareness with compassion. Well done you! You’re awesome!

If you feel relieved that you can finally stop meditating or mindful walking, or whatever your thing is, you’re probably trying too hard. And lacking in friendliness.

If that’s you, try these three easy peezy steps to get you lovin’ your daily ‘me time’:

  1. As you’re meditating, place your hand on your heart. The warmth of your hand encourages a compassion feeling to whatever you’re focusing on.

  2. Smile (please). This is mindful time for you, not self-tourture. And if you can't smile, use your two fingers to push up the corners of your mouth and hold them there for a while….I’m serious!
  3. Pay attention to whatever your focus is, using your heart, not just your head. Feel the breath with emotion if you can, rather than noticing the sensation in a cold, non-judgmental way.
  4. Cuddle more. Cuddle a teddy bear as you meditate. Cuddle your laptop when it stops working. Cuddle yourself whenever you feel a bit down. Cuddling rules.
  5. Soften your self talk. Say soothing words to yourself. Stuff like 'relax', 'take it easy', 'breathe Shamash....breathe.....' Obviously don't say Shamash....unless you're with me and I've stopped breathing!

How do you mix mindfulness with kindness? What practices work best for you personally? Let me know please!

Mindfulness is SO last year

I recently attended a retreat by my favourite monk, Ajahn Brahm.

He spoke at Google Headquarters in California - a cool place for a forest monk to hang out.

Ajahn Brahm expressed the problem of separating mindfulness and compassion - they work far better together.

Check out the video when you have a sec - you may spot me getting told off for laughing too much. :)

Mindfulness on it's own is simply a present moment awareness. But to develop the beautiful peace, gentleness and stillness of meditation, a kindly awareness is required. So he's developed a new term - Kindfulness. And I like it!

Mindfulness and kindness are the two wings to help you soar to the dizzy heights of wisdom, insight, joy and freedom - wow, that sounded wise AND poetic.

Most good meditation teachers encourage a warm, kind, friendly awareness. But I think rather than using the word mindfulness, perhaps kindfulness is better - it reminds you to be forgiving and friendly as you practice.

What do you think?


Want to deepen your self-compassion? Secure your place on our self-compassion retreat on Holy Isle off the coast of Scotland (11 - 15 September 2015)

Why Practice Compassion

Scientists have found when you feel compassion, your heart rate slows down, you release a hormone called Oxycontin that promotes bonding, and the part of your brain involved in care and pleasure is activated. You are then motivated to care for and help others. Compassion also increases resilience to stress and boosts the immune system to accelerate healing.

You can train yourself to be more and more compassionate with practice--it’s not a fixed trait, but more like a muscle. Researchers at Emory University have found people who did a compassion training course had greater levels of compassion and lower levels of stress hormones in their blood and saliva.
Self-compassion in particular trumps self-esteem. Research by Kristin Neff found that people with high self-esteem could end up in traps like narcissism, self- righteous anger, prejudice, and self-absorption. Consider those who have high self- esteem and see themselves as high achievers. This self-image can cause them to believe they are above others, and their arrogance comes at a cost: when things go wrong in life, their self-esteem naturally drops as their self-image as superior crumbles. This is a stressful way to live.

Self-compassion, in contrast, is about being kind to yourself and seeing your imperfection as human. With this tendency, you’ll refrain from criticizing yourself and not be vulnerable to seeing yourself as worth less when things go wrong. You'll have greater resilience against future life challenges and therefore lower levels of stress.

I experienced self-esteem issues myself. For example, when I was a high school student, I was top in the class. My sense of self-esteem was high, built on my academic achievements. But in university, I never achieved the highest grade in the class. The more I tried, the more frustrated I got. I felt low and wanted to give up. By good fortune, I discovered mindfulness halfway through my studies. I learned the value of self-compassion and finished my studies successfully without pushing myself too hard.

Other fascinating recent studies have found compassion to heal, but empathy to hurt. Empathy is a way to feel other people’s suffering but can lead to emotional burnout. For example, health professionals or caregivers can become distressed themselves and suffer greatly. Empathy activates areas in the brain associated with unpleasant feelings like sadness and pain. Compassion is very different. Compassion activates the more warm and caring parts of the brain, like a loving mother toward her crying baby.

World-renowned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard has been collaborating with Tania Singer, neuroscientist and Director of the Department of Social Neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute. Preliminary findings suggest those in the helping professions should do compassion training to help protect them from burnout.

Shamash Alidina - extract from his book ‘The Mindful Way through Stress’.

Do you want to be 10% better, or shoot for the moon?

President J.F. Kennedy took the bold step of promising a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s – a literal moonshot.

That big dream motivated thousands of people to work day and night to make it a reality. But it started with the dream. Moonshot thinking is a concept often spoken about at Google, and now many other organisations. The concept revolves around making the world a radically better place to live in.

You can read my interview here which will give you more information

Shamash! Tell us about you and the power mindfulness can have on the success of entrepreneurs

I’m a mindfulness teacher trainer and author of several books on mindfulness.

Mindfulness is being accepted in mainstream corporations. Google, offers mindfulness in many different forms for its staff. They do this not because it’s the latest fad, but because it works! The evidence base is hard to deny. It increases mental resilience, boosts focus whilst making you feel more relaxed. Mindfulness improves emotional intelligence and communication, and above, makes you feel more happy. There’s hundreds of other companies using mindfulness.

Entrepreneurs are under pressure to succeed. It’s a pressure that both internally generated as well as the external pressures from supplier, customers and staff. Working under high pressure is fine. As long as you know where the release valve is. Mindfulness is the best release valve I’ve ever used to help relieve pressure and improve performance long-term.

Lots of successful entrepreneurs now practice mindfulness and meditation – I’d urge you to have a go if you haven’t tried it yet!

Can you tell us more about the concept of moonshot thinking and how it can help businesses?

Moonshot thinking is the opposite of the way most people think. Most entrepreneurs think about how they can make their service 10% better, not 10x better.

But 10% better is what all your competitors are doing too. And the way 10% growth is often achieved, is by working harder. This leads to burnout and you’re still left competing with your former competitors who are also working harder! 10% improvement isn’t very exciting, is it?

There is a different way. But it requires brave, bold thinking. Not harder work.

Think about how your service could be 10x more effective. To achieve that, you need to think wayyy out of the box. You need to put the box in the bin and start again.

This very idea of thinking creatively and starting again is what can make the difference in your industry.

Without moonshot thinking we would never have had any new technologies like: radio, television, digital camera, mobile phones, the internet, the self-driving car, planes, the new electric car ‘Tesla’, wifi etc.

I also believe in personal moonshot thinking.

How can you make your life a radically better one? Going on a mindfulness retreat? Totally changing career? Moving to a different country? Taking action to build that app you’ve been thinking about? Creating personal moonshots and the challenges around actioning them are all things we’re revealing in our London workshop in May.

Do you have a moonshot in mind, how are you working towards it?

I’ve got a few I suppose! It can seem arrogant to share moonshots, but that’s the whole point of this workshop – to give you the safe space to share radical goals (that may likely fail, but that’s fine!) to help you make a bigger positive difference in the world. They may sound impossible, but so did inventions like the radio – it seemed completely crazy that music could be transmitted without wires!

Okay, here’s some of my moonshots:

  • One of my big dreams is to help build a Museum of Happiness in every city in the world! I’ve taken steps to start gathering an initial community and have organised a couple of events. We’ve even been given a building in London to start the first one! This is what moonshots are about – having big dreams and then taking the necessary small actions.
  • Another is to deepen my personal mindfulness, as best I can. I do this by prioritising to attend as many retreats with whoever I consider the best mindfulness/meditation teacher in the world. I’ve been doing that for the last few years, learning with the Dalai Lama, Jon Kabat-Zinn and Ajahn Brahm. Not sure I’m radically more mindful, but at least I’m hanging out with the right folk! I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to spend time with such wise and kind teachers.
  • Finally, I endeavour to live each year as if it’s my last year on the planet. This helps decision making for me. None of us know for sure how long we have on this beautiful earth, so it's important to make the most of the present moment. Living each year as if it’s my last has taken me to some interesting, fun places all over the world, from New Zealand to Mexico. However, I try not to spend everything in my bank account every year…that’s the other challenge! More important than travel, is attitude. If you live each year as if it's your last, you're less likely to get into stupid arguments or worry about the future too much. Looking after the present moment is the best way to look after your future.

I’ve been very fortunate to be able to take the above steps on my moonshots. But everyone’s different and your moonshots may be far more conservative, or wild for that matter. Whatever they may be, we each start from where we are and go from there.

What was the first workshop in Brighton like for you? what did everyone leave with?

I had a wonderful day, and the participants said they got a lot out of it too.

I loved the combination of a relaxing start with little mindfulness meditation exercises, followed by radical ideas around 10x thinking with Laurence, getting creative juices flowing through the vision boarding with Claire Holgate, and finally getting down to setting some concrete goals and actions with Carlos. A perfect day for me – I felt energised, uplifted and inspired to take action, which I did! Following that day, I set up the Museum of Happiness’ first event, which was a sell out!

“An amazing day. I felt a huge shift in my energy, motivation and clarity.” Attendee, Brighton workshop

Even if you come away with just one new idea, one new friend or one new tool, it’ll be worthwhile to come along. I met some really cool people making a big difference in the world. I really can’t wait for the next one, and would love to meet you too!

Come shoot for the moon with us in London on Friday May 8th. Join Shamash, Carlos & Laurence for a fun, interactive day. You’ll create a vision that inspires you (and your team) to do great things and move from ideas to action. Early birds available, and get 3 tickets for the price of 2 (limited availability). View website & booking info » 

How to make friends with stress by Shamash Alidina

Stress has got a bad reputation. A quick stress for the term ‘stress’ online, and I find the first five websites are about reducing stress and dealing with anxiety and depression. Magazines are full of tips for reducing stress. And even mindfulness was researched initially through the mindfulness-based stress reduction program.

But is stress really that bad? If you watch the talk by Health Psychologist Kelly McGonigal on TED, you may be pleasantly surprised. She highlighted a huge piece of research at University of Wisconsin-Madison that shocked many people. The research on 29,000 people over 8 years discovered that your view of stress impacts your health far more than the stress itself!

The research found you think stress is always bad for you, then your prediction will come true. But, if you think stress is a good thing – it energises you, challenges you and gets you moving – you’re also correct. People with a positive view of stress lived many years longer than those with a negative view of stress – an amazing fact!

So stress itself isn’t so bad after all. Part of the reason I titled my book ‘The Mindful Way Through Stress’, was to emphasise that it’s about discovering how to move within the feeling and experience of stress effectively, rather than just reducing stress.

Short term stress has the following potential benefits: it boost your immune system, makes you more social, improves learning and may improve memory.

But here’s an important point. We’re talking about short term stress. Chronic stress isn’t such a good thing. Exercise is good for your body, as long as you’re not exercising all day and every day. So a bit of stress is fine from time to time, as long as you know how to let go of that stress – mindfulness meditation is one excellent way to achieve that.

Mindfulness can help you to spot not only when your stress level is rising, but what your personal reaction to that stress is. Imagine you have an interview coming up. Do you think ‘I love this feeling. I feel so energised and pumped up to do this interview!’ Or do you think ‘Oh no, I’m so stressed! I need to meditate away this feeling as soon as possible!’?

Hans Selye, the renowned researcher who discovered the dangers of the stress response, later coined the terms eustress and distress. He was keen to emphasise that all stress is not bad. Eustress is a positive experience, the stress you feel when you’re having fun on a rollercoaster, or down a ski slope. Or even in an interview for that matter. And distress arises when you tell yourself you don’t like the feeling and experience that you’re having.

I’ve developed a simple, short exercise to help you to re-frame your stress, next time your heart begins to race. Give it a go now if you have time, and again when you feel your stress levels rising:

1.  Find a place to comfortable sit or lie down, and close your eyes if you can.

2.  Spend the first minute being aware of your body and getting comfortable. As time passes, you’ll notice more body parts that are tense and begin to relax them as far as you can.

3.  Notice the physiology of the stress response in your body. Your heart racing, the tingling in your stomach and/or fingers. Any tension in your body.

4.  Say to yourself ‘There is a positive side to stress. Stress can be energising and uplifting. In the short term, stress can boost my immune system, improve performance and optimise learning.’ Combine this with a little smile on your face.

This combination of mental reframing with a little smile on your face will help to start changing the feeling of stress to be a more positive experience.

Hopefully, you don’t feel a failure for feeling stressed – stress is a natural feeling to have from time to time. Discover not just how to reduce stress, but how to reframe that very human experience.

My new book, the Mindful Way through Stress is available here