The Art of Settling

An introduction to insight meditation, mindfulness and presence

In this 90 minute session with mindfulness teacher Simon Heale, you will explore the practices of insight meditation, you will get an understanding of what it is to be human and how we can use this to cultivate a more flexible and healthier way of living.

What are thoughts. 

Why do we have feelings. 

How to watch as we sit or lie down with this physical form called the body.

How to take these practices into our day to day lives.

If you are even vaguely curious about meditation and this over-used term of mindfulness, or even if your practice has stalled somewhat, if you would like to get a glimpse into a way to get more control, choice and freedom out of life, then join us for this short workshop. You will leave with something to either keep going or to get going a daily practice, that is Simons promise.

Simon Heale is a meditation and mindfulness practitioner, teacher and coach. He has been teaching the MBSR programme since 2012 and has evolved his approach through his role as a Remedial and Sports therapist and his experience using the ACT model.

The pressure we experience on a daily basis from the moment we are born until this very moment remains within us in some form and it is this pressure that Simon works to relieve whether through breath-work, meditation, mindfulness and ACT or bodywork therapies. As well as working from his Crouch End and Chelsea clinics, Simon is involved in teaching mindfulness in schools and colleges as part of his Snowglobe Project podcast which evolved over lockdown through his free  online meditation sessions, which still continue and can be accessed though all podcast apps. He has more recently been working as a mind-coach with young students,  youth tennis players and athletes. 

Simon is excited to be teaming up with Jamie and The Good Rooms, to be able to share the simple yet essential processes of settling with you.

The Art of Settling is a novel approach to the ancient practice of Insight meditation, exploring the language we use combined with the Buddhist attitudinal qualities. The practice i cultivate and teach focuses around the concept of settling, as the title implies, the word settle as well as the sense of being settled. 

What is the idea of settling?

In our lives we would have experienced the command or request to settle as our earliest experiences from our parents,  carers , teachers. “Settle down please”, “Come on Simon, you’re such a jack in the box, just settle down please.” You would watch the snow settle, where i grew up we would watch the dust settle, not much snow in Johannesburg. Lawyers and judges would settle a case, complainants  and couples would reach settlements. People would re-settle or our ancestors created settlements. So this word settle has many connotations but ultimately its means the same: to find a resting place, a conclusion of sorts, peace even.

When practicing meditation i have found a way to allow my experiences to be seen and accepted and then to drop into the breath and body, to be settled almost instantly no matter what other distractions there may be either internally or externally.

In my teaching of mindfulness and meditation i now employ a technique that is visceral, visual, creative and is easy for all minds to do. I have taught this to children aged 6 to 18 with wonderful results. My teaching methods include storytelling, didactic such as PowerPoint and direct learning through physical practices.

The Art of Settling is an approach to meditation which allows you to go back to what is real, the senses, through imagery and specific language constructs. As anyone who meditates regularly or practices mindfulness it is not what we do that makes the differences, but rather how we do these things. Our attitudes or states of mind and body that we bring to anything will largely determine whether that task is uplifting, draining or perhaps just a neutral task. The reason why i say states of mind and body is to challenge you to the possibility that the quality of our thinking has an effect on our viscera and on our bodies. How this happens is through the CNS, the central nervous system, and more specifically through either the sympathetic or the parasympathetic branches of the nervous system. Why this is the case is all about the well trodden path of our fight or flight instinct, that the gift and the curse of being human is about surviving and our amazing brain is perpetually scanning our environs for threats, for enemies and friends.

We know this. We have the scans, the imagery, the data to support how and why we have this incredible system. We can now explain the effects of stressors on the body and mind and we are slowly understanding scientifically how certain practices that have been around for millennia can help the body and the mind. We are engulfed by books, blogs, videos, apps, teachers all telling us how we can heal our lives, how we can change our lives, all through the power of doing nothing, well almost nothing, through breathing and meditation. All of this is partly true: we can illicit a helpful response from our nervous system which may or may not bring some change on a physical or neural basis, but only through many hours of repetition and an attitudinal adaptation around what we are doing. In a nutshell, another one, it is not what we do but how that will bring about lasting differences in our lives.

The meditation practices that i offer online every Friday at 6pm are based on the Insight tradition and when you listen and follow them via The Snowglobe Project podcast, whether you are a regular sitter or a novice, you will be guided through almost entirely physical, sensual suggestions.  Each instruction, in fact each possibility, as that is what they are, has the intention of holding you in an open and soft space, inviting you to find the belly of each breath and to rest therein, while we observe our experiences as they come and go. I like to add a theme to each practice, these are drawn from many sources: how my week has been, what might be dominant in the news, something i read or had been inspired by. Practice is practice, the structure is the same but it is always the intention that we bring to practice that defines it, again it is the how we sit that allows for an experience of so many possibilities.

Contact me here to join this weekly meditation session

At the heart of this how, is the language i use and how specifically chosen words can directly affect how we feel, how we think and how we are. For example, when i am teaching the 8 week MBSR course, we spend a session exploring such language and to demonstrate i ask participants to bring with them something cuddly and soft in texture. We then sit and hold the object, noticing the weight, the lightness or not of our grip, then we tune into the texture that sits in our hands and see if we can bring that quality to ourselves. We explore it lightly, we are playful with it, there is no must or should with it, there is just the possibility of inhabiting for a moment a different quality to that which is a usual one in your life.

By exploring and experiencing a quality, a word or phrase to accompany it we begin to build a new paradigm, a library of language that effuses direct effect to the parasympathetics, and as we know, the parasympathetics deal with restorative, calming and relaxing hormones. By bringing a new and more helpful internal language to ourselves in practice we may bring these lovely qualities to ourselves. Taking this further and into the practice of daily mindfulness, of which regular meditation lies at the heart, we can be more aware of the  language we use, in conversation and in confidence, with interactions and with ourselves.

Control, choice and freedom

This approach or even method has been found to be extremely helpful in the area of performance, whether it is sporting, academic or artistic. Over the past few years and certainly during this pandemic i have been working with young tennis players and students of all ages, working to cultivate a different and more effective relationship with their internal language, thoughts and physical manifestations. So to be more specific, i teach techniques which need to be practiced as paper of a daily routine that can be used for performance preparation, cultivating a settled mind and body, bringing the mind into a sharp focus and a settled place for exam or study preparation.

Remember all of these techniques can be used for general anxiety issues, not just performance concerns, and are particularly useful in social anxiety situations.

We can learn new, more helpful ways to attain an element of control in the immediate moment, to understand what is in our out of your control

If you would like more information around help with any performance issues please contact me here.

It may seem i am being quite vague in my description of how to settle and that is purely that i would like you to listen to the podcast, to begin or continue your daily practice or to get in touch for a 1-1 session.

Contact me here for a 1-1 introductory session

If you are a teacher or interested in how this can be useful for your students then i would say it will, as long as they are shown not just the how but the why. A local high school in Tottenham gets me in at the start of the academic year to run meditation and mindfulness sessions with the Year 6 students. They get an hour in which i teach them a variety of techniques to settle the mind and body, to understand their thoughts and why we get emotions: in other words how to get more control, choice and freedom, and all of this from 3 minutes of breathing.

Contact me here if you are interested in a talk for staff and students.