I married myself in 2014 and after an article in the Guardian newspaper went viral six months later, the story about my decision was featured in press around the world. I've been interviewed about the topic time and time again, for radio, TV and print. It wasn't until a recent walk in an Austrian forest though, that I felt I had much to share on the topic of self-love.
I had the first walk-in session last week at the Arts Theatre and it was a hit - if a walk-in session can be a hit. People came in in all sizes; young, old, straight, gay, all nations represented. It's pretty clear everyone wants and needs to talk, just to feel heard and understood by compassionate people who feel the same.
There are over 1billion young people aged 10-19 globally and at least one in five will have diagnosable mental health conditions in their lives, mostly rooted in experiences before the age of fourteen. Key contributors to this are adverse family, school and community circumstances as well as genetics, poverty, lack of jobs, poor nutrition, physical health conditions, conflict and trauma.
An enormous benefit of mindfulness is that you get a free ticket to that rare destination: the present. Okay, I hear you say, 'What's so great about being in the present moment? What if I don't want to stare at a butterfly wing or hear the single ting of a windchime? I have places to go, people to meet.'
During my career as a psychologist in clinical practice, if there's one word I have heard more than any other from the thousands of patients I have consulted with it's 'sex',. However, in 2015 the frequency and depth of sex in my patients' lives appeared to increase in its importance, seemingly due to the ever increasingly sexualised and consumerist society we live in.
First, let's take this back a notch and explore what mindfulness is. A dictionary will tell you that it's a mental state in which you acknowledge what you're doing, feeling and being in any one moment. It's a feeling of inner consciousness, a sense of greater awareness. Basically it's just paying attention properly.
Compassion is there, in all of us, we don't need to create it, just cultivate it. Engaging with compassion meditations is an excellent way to bring more your way. Just sitting and wishing those around you well, visualising others happiness as well as your own is the start of a greater experience of compassion.