Tag Archives: discussion group

2019 and Beyond – How can I be my best self?

Thank you to all those who braved the snow to come to ConsciousCafe Geneva last night. We broke a record – one person had to get the train home to Bern afterwards! Our discussions on “2019 and Beyond – How can I be my best self?” were all about our values. It was fascinating that people prioritised very different values, and it helped with my life lessons on judgement to realise why people might not act according to MY expectations sometimes! Why are our values so important, we asked? Because they are our life guide and compass. They show us the way. They make us who we are. They are so important than when we live or work in conflict with them we can become ill, physically and mentally. Do we all live to our values? Even when challenged? We wondered, if asked, would your family and closest friends be able to say what your main values are? After very engaging discussions we ended by examining just ONE value we would like to strengthen in ourselves and a brief closing meditation focused on feeling, being and exuding that value as we went out into the world. Conversation at ConsciousCafe Geneva takes place at small tables, which we mix up several times, so the conversations constantly change and you meet new, like-minded people. For many reasons there always seems to be a very warm atmosphere and we all leave uplifted. It’s about the people contact I think, connecting on a deeper level than usual. And it’s really very beautiful! Join us sometime.

Expectations VS Reality

ConsciousCafe London met for their first 2019 gathering to enjoy a discussion on the topic of Expectations versus Reality.

As soon as we began to explore the subject, it became obvious that expectations versus reality touches every aspect of our lives several times throughout each day.

We have expectations of others and expectations of ourselves. Sometimes we are much harder on ourselves if we fail to achieve our own expectations than we are on others who we feel have let us down.

We have expectations of how people will treat us – at home and at work – and few people are able to live up to our ideals. We have expectations of organisations, expectations of systems and expectations of technology. In our Western society we expect things to work. When systems fail us – as happens frequently – we often struggle with disappointment and frustration.

In Western society we have little tolerance for systems not working. If we lived in a more fragile society, we would not know what to expect on a daily basis. We also don’t know what our expectations of the future of the planet might or should be. Our expectations are infinite and our knowledge very limited.

Our solutions to the problem of expectations versus reality included expressing gratitude for everything we have, focusing on what we receive from others that makes us happy rather than what makes us unhappy and doing our best to live in the present moment so that we are not constantly focusing on our expectations of what will happen in the future.

The topic was very enriching and people shared generously of their feelings – both expectations, disappointments and positive outcomes.

Thank you Gita Shri Kumari for a beautiful and inspiring meditation to start the event. Thank you everyone who took part. I hope I have expressed your experience of the event but do please add comments if I missed anything out.

We look forward to seeing you again soon.

** If you haven’t been to a ConsciousCafe discussion before, come and join us. Everyone present took part in the above discussion. We explored the topic in small groups and then came together to share. Our combined exploration resulted in much personal discovery. It was a great afternoon.

A Letter from Judy

Dear Friend,

ConsciousCafe has experienced a lovely 2018, full of expansion and innovation. We started the year with thriving groups in London, Bath, Bristol, Canterbury, SW Dorset (Dorchester), New Forest, Oundle, Skipton, Plymouth and Geneva. In March Nicola Foster facilitated her first discussion for ConsciousCafe in St Albans and in September John Sackett and Joy Sackett launched their new Bournemouth group. We have had several requests from people who would also like to launch groups. Viv Garbe will launch East Herts (Stevenage) in 2019 and Hanna Krasnodevska will create our second international group in Singapore early next year too.

Another first was receiving the special Editor’s Pick Award for 2018 from Kindred Spirit.  For seven years now we have created the space for people to come together and explore a wide range of topics in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and non-judgment. During that time we have shared many deep and intimate conversations and have seen beautiful friendships being formed.  We are all proud of what we have created and so it was a lovely gift to have our work recognised by Kindred Spirit who really ‘get’ what we offer.

Every group has a varied range of activities. Some groups have monthly discussions while other groups offer keynote speakers and events.

In London we have had a range of experiences.  Isabel Losada’s talk about Sensational Sex in March was hugely popular and has also been very warmly received at our ConsciousCafe Plymouth and Canterbury groups.

Jane Bailey Bain talked about How to Create Your Future Story to packed houses in both Geneva and London. Christa Mackinnon’s talk to our group in Plymouth was sold out and she will be sharing her presentation with Q&A in London early next year. Our groups in Skipton and New Forest also offer a wide range of activities as well as discussions.

Meanwhile ConsciousCafe conversations have taken place on a huge variety of subjects. There is so much innovation and creativity among all our members and our Group Leaders have been taking full advantage of that.

In London we have explored Self-Love, Overload Anxiety, Courage (an idea which originated from our St Albans group), Creativity, and Self-Care. Mikkel Juel Iversen facilitated a truly memorable conversation about Homelessness and Dina Glouberman, known to many of you as the co-founder of Skyros, spoke about the themes of her newly published memoir. In the autumn patisserie chain Konditor and Cook offered us gorgeous space for Colin Smith who gave us an excellent workshop on Improving our Listening Skills. This turned out to be a particularly fun evening as we held a networking event beforehand followed by supper at Pizza Express afterwards. We have also enjoyed a Summer Tea and a Winter Festive Tea, having the opportunity to spend time together in a relaxed atmosphere on a Saturday afternoon with no one needing to rush to catch their train home.

When we first launched ConsciousCafe the world was not in so much turmoil as it is now.  But as we approach 2019, after a challenging and difficult year for so many people globally, it is becoming increasingly important that we make the time to talk to one another about the things that really matter to each one of us. It is often only by speaking about them that we can truly explore what our thoughts and feelings and ideas are. And it is only by listening to one another in an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect, that we can hope to be able to understand each other’s differences. ConsciousCafe offers that space and the opportunity to connect with likeminded conscious people who we might not otherwise meet.

We thank you for joining the conversation during 2018 and hope to see you in 2019. Please feel free to invite your friends to ConsciousCafe. So many people tell us that their lives have been deeply enriched by having the opportunity to join this community.

Every ConsciousCafe leader gives their time generously and freely.  Huge thanks go out from all of us to Britt, Jo, Peter, Anne, Charlie, Cora, Helena, Gina, Nicola, Debbie, Grace, Alan, John, Joy, Viv, Hanna and all of you who are supporting them. All our leaders come from their hearts.

We offer a huge thank you to everyone who has helped us financially this year and especially our generous supporters. I work 2 – 3 days a week for ConsciousCafe and everything we do is funded by all of you who support our vision and our events.  We always try to keep the price as low as we can so that everyone can take part.

As always, we are very grateful to Joyce Deen for her care in admin and book-keeping and to Kate Cowan who is responsible and thoughtful about all our marketing. We welcome Tess Burton who has just joined us to develop our social media profile.

If ConsciousCafe has nurtured your soul this year and if you would like to help us launch more groups next year so that more people can benefit from what we offer, please become a ConsciousCafe supporter for 2019 (£50 or £40 (concessions)). 

You can find out more here.

Or if you simply feel moved to honour what we do in aiming to raise consciousness in the world through conversation and connection, please donate on our ‘From the Heart’ button on our website supporters page. Every small amount you are able to give us helps us to continue the work we are here to do which is to raise consciousness through conversation and connection so that, by developing mutual understanding, we help to make the world a better place to live in for each one of us.

We wish you all a very restful holiday and hope that 2019 will be a happy, healthy and abundant year for all of you and your loved ones.

With love,

Judy and the ConsciousCafe team 

John Danias – Why am I writing about mindfulness?

John Danias

John Danias

Living in this day and age I’m finding myself increasingly interested in ways of becoming more self aware and of experiencing life in greater technicolour. In Conscious Cafe I have found a community with similar interests and get to reap the benefits of learning and growing with likeminded people from all walks of life. It’s quite insightful to learn how the qualities of a mindful approach can play out in publishing, luxury hotels, supermarkets, branding, coaching…The list is endless.

John Danias

May we thank John for permission to share his recent article, posted on LinkedIn here.

Over the last 7 years, through ups, down, fears and joys, through the rollercoaster called “Life”, I’ve been really drawn to mindfulness.

“Mindfulness”, “meditation”, “self-awareness”: these are relatively unusual terms and consequently can have different meanings and associations for each person.

For me mindfulness simply means intentionally bringing some curiosity to the experience in hand.  This can be a work meeting, family banter, a boxing fight or a walk in the park. By attending more clearly to what is happening, bringing some awareness to the thoughts, emotions and body sensations playing out moment by moment, it is possible to gain a better understanding of how this “John Danias” experiences life and consequently take wiser actions.

 So, it’s about improving my confidence at work, interaction with my kid, reflexes when sparring, in fact anything that I am working on.

At work

During meetings I notice the acute desire to get my point across generates some anxiety and clouds the mind.  And I have no doubt that my nervousness, however subtle, gets communicated to some degree.  Using some specific observation-based techniques I can notice the process playing about (‘metacognition’ in scientific terms): mild tension on my shoulders just by the neck, slight straining in the eyes, shallow breathing and a charged internal dialogue questioning if it’s the right time to interject.  Recognising these signs, I initiate a subtle breathing exercise whilst continuing to attend to the meeting.  And gradually the possibility opens up for the tension to dissipate, the meeting being experienced with greater clarity, the point being put across with greater refinement and when not speaking, to just sit back and watch the show.

Clear, assertive communication, free from overthinking and second-guessing, is something I need to cultivate.  The science of neuroplasticity adheres to the ability of training the mind through repetition. Consequently, every skilful communication, irrespective of the context, can improve my communication at work.  Then why not practice at the grocer’s too? Why not with my family?

With family

I’m going back home feeling a bit down. When I tell my wife how I feel my instinctive reaction will be to highlight that it’s not a problem and reassure her. This time I will try an experiment. I will put aside my overthinking and will simply state it clearly and with presence. I will not quantify the ‘low’, and I will not add the habitual “but it will be okay”. Let’s see.

“I’m feeling low”.

The response is amazing: acceptance and support.  So nice to feel supported, so reassuring.  We’ve empowered each other through vulnerability – I will remember this lesson.

Why am I writing this article?

There is an incredible wealth of interesting techniques to cultivate a more mindful state.  Whilst I have explored a multitude, I have only touched the surface. They are becoming increasingly sophisticated and can be tailored to our aims, lifestyle and personalities.  Surgically precise meditation exercises can improve our faculty of attention and response. A technique called ‘Wim Hof Method*’ can enable us to voluntarily activate the autonomic nervous system.

Each one of us will embrace ‘mind training**’ at some point.  Now, in a year, in ten? I wonder…

I love talking about mindfulness. I love communicating what I’m learning from this practice and exchanging ideas. Every communication is my nourishment.  When you’re interested, when you’re ready, please get in touch.  Let’s help each other to grow.

* Link to scientific article here.

** Mind is defined as ‘the faculty of consciousness and thought’.

 

Becoming Homeless in an Age of Plenty

homeless

Survival is the most basic of human needs. Mikkel Juel Iversen is a film producer who runs a remarkable charity project, UnderOneSky which aims to support the homeless.  He facilitated a very moving discussion at ConsciousCafe in London which was not just about being homeless but also about being human.

There are an estimated 8,000 people sleeping rough in London annually and many more who have no home but sleep as and where a friend or family can offer a bed. 85% of rough sleepers are men. And, in 2016, 270,000 people had a homelessness related case processed by their local council. For many of us, losing our home might be just one month and one pay-packet away.

90% of people who are sleeping rough have some form of mental health issue – including disorders which many of us will be familiar with such as depression, bi-polar or addiction. Aside from that, the message of the evening which came through loud and clear is that all of us are human beings. Homeless people are not ‘the other’. They are no different from any of us and are in that situation because of many different reasons which our society has been unable to help them with.

One of the group shared how she always carries some food – often fruit – to offer a homeless person when she is out and about. She likes to engage with people and will often speak with them. She might start the conversation by asking how they are, and then if they feel inclined to talk she will explore how they found themselves on the street and how they feel about that. One time she suggested a woman make contact with her father whom she had not seen for many years.  Passing by a few weeks later, the woman told her she had been in touch with him and they were going to meet.

Sometimes a remark or a smile, nod or wink from a passing stranger can make all the different to a homeless person’s day.

Mikkel reminded us that everyone is an individual. Some days we want to talk to people and other days we don’t and so it is with all of us.  If we walk with love, compassion and empathy, that is what we are bringing to the situation. If what we offer is not welcome, it is not about us.

Another group member shared that she had been homeless in her life. ‘It’s important for people who are homeless to know that they are not invisible’ she said.

Some of the people living on the streets have struggled with  living in ‘chaotic’ households since they were very young. Some of them feel safer on the streets than in the homes they come from or in hostels where there can be no privacy and much drug-taking, drunkenness and abuse. It can be very hard for them to develop resilience and as soon as their lives improve a little, sometimes they self-destruct. Some people have had so much trauma in their lives, they simply can’t function.

Mikkel said that once a person becomes accustomed to sleeping rough, they develop a completely different set of survival skills to protect themselves.  It is important not to measure people in that situation by the same yardstick that we might make judgments about our neighbours.

The most important thing to remember when engaging with people on the streets is to only do what feels right to us. We too need to be in touch with our gut instincts.

People who are homeless are on their own life journey in the same way that the rest of us are.  When we meet them, we hold up a mirror very close to ourselves.  This is an opportunity for each of us to reflect on how we are feeling when we engage or do not engage with strangers on the streets. We can question why we feel this way and what do we need to deal with in ourselves?

Living on the streets changes a person and all of us have to learn to let go of judgment.

This was such a powerful discussion with everyone contributing and listening.  There was so much to reflect on and we continued talking over drinks afterwards. Each one of us left the evening feeling much more thoughtful and those of us who had not done so before resolved to take the first steps towards beginning to engage with people on the streets ‘when it feels right’.

 

Huge thanks to Mikkel for giving so generously of his time and for facilitating the discussion so gently. He started UnderOneSky six years ago as an initiative to offer support to homeless people sleeping rough particularly in winter when it is cold.  His teams go out on the streets in groups with parcels containing a number of items including a small gift voucher which enables people to purchase everyday things which they might be acutely in need of.

If you would like to learn more and donate, please go to https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/2017-18-winter-support-for-london-s-homeless#/

If you would like to take part in the work of UnderOneSky or observe what is going on, you are welcome to join the Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/432122693577153/ 

 

 

 

JP

26.04.2018

 

 

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“I’ve been coming to ConsciousCafe events for some years and can honestly say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them. If you long to engage in meaningful conversations with people who are interested and interesting then ConsciousCafe is the place for you!”

Sue Gouldman, Career coach

Conscious Cafe is fabulous and large-hearted​. The events and group discussions are dynamic, thought-provoking and expertly facilitated, attracting a diverse network of people. ​Thank you, Judy, ​ I love the wonderful energy​, meaningful connections​ and wisdom that emerges from the group​. 
 
​Rachel Calder, Coach, Director of First Potential​

 

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