Author Archives: Emma Duncan

About Emma Duncan

I'm the site designer, writer and administrator for Headspace UK.

How many New Year’s Resolutions have you broken already?!


We met this week to talk about all our failed New Years resolutions. Personally I never make resolutions because I can never stick to them, and it seemed that although there were some half-hearted attempts at sticking to some NYRs, the group was more concerned with really trying to prioritise what’s really important in our daily lives.

One of the ladies in the group has recently been on a mindfulness course in Cambridge Uk and shared some really useful bits that she’d learnt from it. On the course they encouraged the participants to meditate for 40 minutes everyday and although this wasn’t always possible it was a useful habit to get into. One of the problems people always have with meditation, is being able to concentrate when uninvited thoughts pop into their brains. The leader of the course suggested imagining a beautiful blue sky, then imagining some little white clouds appearing and pinning unwanted thoughts to the clouds before seeing them being blown away. The idea is that the person meditating acknowledes the thought and it’s importance, but puts it aside so that they can stay focused.

We also watched a Nooma video about silence and how uncomfortable it is. We are constantly surrounded by noise and action, so when we’re confronted with silence we start to feel uneasy and even anxious. With technology being such a huge part of our lives these days, we’re constantly connected, constantly updated, constantly informed and informing. There’s very little room for “headspace”, very little time to be able to think or ruminate as everything needs to be done instantly. We thought about how in the “olden days”, when people had to farm their own land and labour was mostly manual, that people had a natural opportunity to think about things and “hear” from God. Today, there are so many things vying for our attention that we rarely really listen wholeheartedly to anything.

Rachel then showed us a clip from YouTube (to follow!) of someone filling a pot with both small and large stones. If you put the small stones in first then the larger stones can’t fit into the jar, if you put the large stones into the jar first then all the smaller stones will fit around the larger stones. It’s basically making the point that if we think about what our large stones are, I.e. family, friends etc and prioritise those first then everything else can fit around them.

In the group, I mentioned how I write a blog about my experiences as a mum and sometimes get so engrossed in it that I completely ignore my children. “I can’t play with you now, I’m writing about how much fun we’re having!” It’s easy to get distracted and I think it’s the distraction we have to be careful of. We can so easily waste precious time, mucking about with stuff and fluff, when our treasure, our gold is laying abandoned.

So what to do? Again, we thought about mindfulness and being aware of the right now and giving ourselves over to it completely. It may be a tall order in the world we live in today but it is possible. So start pinning your distractions to the clouds and enjoy the beautiful blue sky!

Being Grateful


Our last meeting was all about gratefulness, what we are grateful for, what we should be grateful for and why we don’t always feel grateful. We watched a YouTube video about a woman who used to take the bus to school with her daughter every day and find it a real chore. One day her daughter looked out of the bus window and exclaimed “Mum, I just saw a dog!” and the woman thought, “this is it, this is her childhood.” That really struck home with me. All the bike rides and buggy rides to and from school and nursery with the kids are it, their childhood. My daughters love riding on my bike with me, my son loves riding his bike with us, all in all it’s a precious and fun time for them, and by being grateful for that time with them I can appreciate them and how fleeting their childhood will be.

We also read from “The Happiness Preoject”, a site that looks at ways to be positive and find fulfillment in every moment. and discussed how sometimes you have to actively treasure the moments you’re having in order to enjoy them. We then heard about a woman who knew she was going to die very shortly, she gave her husband a list of all the things she wanted her sons to know or do. Some things included, never go to bed angry and plant a sunflower seed at least once, we then had to think of what we’d want to pass on to our own children if we knew we were soon going to die. It may sound a bit morbid but it was a really good way of focussing on lessons learnt that have been genuinely important to us.

Later on we watched a clip from Pollyanna talking about the Glad game,. Although a bit cheesy it does actually express a fantastic life ethic of always looking for something to be glad about, even when there seems to be nothing at first.

Often being grateful is a state of mind or a decision. Not always a natural decision, but definitely a healthy one.


Desert Island Discs


We had a wonderful evening listening to some of our favourite songs. It was a chance to remember special times and special people and at points was pretty emotional. We were all struck by how evocative music is and how often you can link specific events to specifc songs.

A list of songs we listened to will follow!

Next Headspace – Desert Island Discs! Tues 17th July, 8pm.


Dear All

You are very warmly invited to our final headspace before the summer holidays.

Bring your favourite song or piece of music – why does it mean something to you?

Let’s sort out a playlist for the hols!

h  e  a  d  s  p  a  c  e

too busy to think about stuff that really matters to you?

busyness, materialism, friendships, time …

come and meet with other women for an evening of thoughtful discussion and space to reflect

for those of any faith or none

during the evening we will explore ideas, spend some time in quiet reflection and share experiences and thoughts with each other.

Tues 17th July – focus ‘desert island discs’ – which track would you take with you?

I just can’t say no!


We had a session on “saying no”, quite a while ago, but I was reminded of the theme after talking to a friend yesterday evening. After a particularly successful local event, I mentioned to her how great she was for being involved in so much, “good stuff”. Her response was “I’m not great, I just can’t say no.”

I’m sure lots of us will relate to that. We want to help, we want to contribute, be it to important projects at work or activities relating to our children’s school or even just helping out friends or relatives. When talking this through in our group, there appeared to be 4 distinct groups. Firstly, those who found it fairly easy to say no to unwanted demands on their time and were able to only focus on their chosen activities, secondly, those who could say no, but then felt guilty and out of the loop, thirdly those who by nature were fairly outgoing and enjoyed getting involved with things but ended up taking on so much that they were exhausted and lastly those who felt they should say yes and found saying no almost painfully difficult for fear of offending or appearing unhelpful.

During the session, we watched a Nooma dvd that was based on this theme. The narrator Rob Bell told a story about how one day, his family was on the beach and as they all looked out to sea they saw a giant starfish, floating on the surface of the water. Rob and his wife urged their son to go into the water to catch the starfish, so he ran into the water and started wading out to it. Halfway there, he turned back, giving up, so they all shouted, “Go back, keep going, you can do it!”, so he did and this time got closer to the starfish but again turned back and started walking to the shore, so they shouted again “Go back, what are you doing? Just go and catch that starfish – it’s yours!” So he started off again and again turned back. By this time they were a little frustrated and asked a little more emphatically, “What’s the problem? That’s your starfish, get it, why won’t you get it?!” and he replied, ” I can’t, my hands are full of shells.”

We then took time to think about what our “shells” were, the things that were stopping us from catching our starfish, stopping us from doing the things we’re passionate about doing and doing well. It may sound a bit cheesy but I found this really useful. In the first instant it made me consider whether I even had a “starfish”, a vision or a purpose and although at that moment couldn’t think what that could be, it started off a train of thought that allowed me to look at what I could do wholeheartedly and really enjoy.


1) Look at all your family’s activities and decide which ones are worth doing and which ones have just become unpleasant and stressful.

2) Decide which activities you do that are worth doing but stressful because you are doing too many other superfluous activities and then if possible put aside the superfluous ones.

3) Do an audit of all your children’s clubs, do they need or want to go to them all? Check that they aren’t overclubbed and overtired.

4) Try and find a moment to think of your talents or gifts. Are they being used? Think about how you could  use them purposefully.

We all sometimes just plod through life, surviving day to day in a haze of activity, but perhaps we should start to imagine that we can achieve so much more, simply by doing less.



So… are you mindfull, or is your mind full? In our last meeting we discussed mindfulness and what that actually means for us. Mindfulness is really about being present in the present, savouring the now rather than looking forward or backwards. Easier said than done! For example when I read to my daughter at bedtime, I’m usually also thinking about making dinner,  my job or even an altercation with the builder! We’re constantly multi-tasking both physically and mentally, so much so that often nothing gets our full attention or appreciation.

What to do? The first step is to just be aware of how easy it is to be distracted. We miss so many precious moments and happy times by anticipating the future (often future problems…). Treasuring good times is a discipline, something to do consciously at first, and then hopefully habitually.

This is all tied into happiness/joy, if we’re always looking ahead or regurgitating the past then we never have the chance to enjoy our lives and relationships. How can we feel content when straining ahead to the next project or experience?

Action? Concentrate on what you’re doing, commit to the experience and absorb or savour it. Easy!