The Happy Starfish

Living Mindfully & Celebrating Health, Happiness & Peaceful Living


Morris the Mindful Monkey



Mindfulness is more than sitting in formal meditation, it’s being fully absorbed in the task in hand, not engaging with distracting thoughts. Yesterday I didn’t want to do a long meditation, I wanted to spend some quality time with my son so I got my creative on and we transformed a pair of his socks into Morris the Mindful Monkey. It’s hard not to be present when doing something expressive.

In today’s super-busy society hobbies can fall by the wayside, but hobbies are often where our minds quieten and our feelings of stress can dissipate. Finding the time to factor something you love into your day is not always easy. It can feel self-indulgent and encourage feelings of guilt, but by looking after our own emotional needs we are then better placed to help take care of family and friends.

When was the last time you did something just for fun?


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Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Course



8 week Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy programme, based on the original programme devised by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

MBCT combines traditional cognitive behavioural therapy with mindfulness and meditation. MBCT enables the participant to recognise and step out of automatic cognitive processes that can trigger stress, anxiety and depression. Participants recognise that certain thoughts and feelings are mentally destructive and are taught to allow the mind to move from automatic thought patterns to conscious emotional processing.

Scientific research supports the effectiveness of mindfulness for reducing depressive relapses, reducing cravings for substances people are addicted to, combating stress and being an effective tool for managing chromic pain and health conditions.

The MBCT programme takes place over 8 weeks. There is a weekly course and practice is done outside of the class with the use of MP3’s for regular meditation and techniques to integrate mindfulness into daily routines. The course is a blend of experiential meditation and theory enabling participants to really explore and understand the mind/body connection and how our thoughts impact on every aspect of our wellbeing.

See what previous participants are saying here.

Our courses will run regularly at the Oxford Street Therapy Centre in Wellingborough, Northants. £160.00 each. A course manual, worksheets and MP3’s are provided.

Our current course is full. A new course will be starting on Monday 15th June at 10.00-11.30 am. Places are limited.

Contact us for further details or fill out the registration form to secure your place.

Week One

Automatic pilot

Doing and being mode

Week Two

Suspending judgements

Week Three

Staying present and dealing with stress

Week Four

Acceptance and allowing

Week Five

Exploring difficulty

Week Six

How can I best take care of myself?

Week Seven


Week Eight

Practicing gratitude

Moving forward mindfully


This can also be taught via Skype or in a 1-to-1 coaching session.

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Mental Health Awareness Week



Count your blessings

Count? My mind is hazy. I cannot concentrate on the simplest of tasks.

Snap out of it

Snap? I have slept for twelve hours but still don’t have the energy to move.

A good meal will cheer you up

I told you I cannot eat. My throat is constricted, my stomach a mass of swirling emotions.

Turn that frown upside down 

I try. I really do, but my face feels like a grotesque mask.

If you can’t be bothered to help yourself

I am screaming for help, can’t you hear me? But the room is silent and you turn away.



It is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. Depression is not something you choose.


We have experience in teaching Mindfulness within the Mental Health field to sufferers and carers. 

Please contact us for more information.



5 mindful ways to start your day



“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.” ― Jon Kabat-Zinn

What do you do when you wake up? Do you instantly lurch headlong into a world full of status updates and tweets, or ease yourself mindfully into the day ahead? The way we choose to spend those first precious moments after waking can set the tone for the hours that follow.

It is all too easy to reach for the smartphone to turn off the alarm and automatically start checking emails, social networking sites and the news. Our minds go into overdrive. Our thought train has gone from resting to racing, absorbing depressing news stories, frantically compiling a list of things we absolutely mustn’t forget to do. Beginning the day in such a busy way can cause underlying anxiety and agitation affecting the way we react to inevitable forthcoming challenges.


Integrate these five steps into your morning routine and notice how centred you feel as you go about the rest of your day.

1) When you wake carry out a mindful check in. Start by becoming aware of your breathing. Feel the weight of your body on the bed. Notice your temperature, any physical sensations that are present. Spend a few moments noticing any thoughts and emotions that are present. What is your underlying mood today?

2) When getting out of bed, fully feel your feet on the floor. Ease into some mindful movement. Bringing awareness to your movement trains your focus, a tool you can use in everyday life.

3) Bring presence to your routine. When showering become aware of the sensations of the water on your body. Hear the sound of the cascading water. Notice the scent of the products you use. Fully feel your fingertips massaging your scalp as you wash your hair. How does it feel to fully experience the present moment?

4) Eat your breakfast mindfully. Fully connect with the pleasures of eating, without feeling the need to be multi tasking. Notice the texture, the smell and the flavours of your food.

5) Before leaving for work meditate for 5 minutes. Sit and notice the breath where it makes itself most predominantly known to you, be it the abdomen, nostrils or chest. If it helps you concentrate count each breath, the in breath as 1, the out breath as 2 etc. until you get to ten and then begin again.

Prioritising your internal world and leaving the external world where it is for a few moments longer eases you gently into the day with calmness and purpose enabling you to react to any challenges with clarity.





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Mindfulness for Chronic Pain and Compassion



I have been tootling along these past few years, adapting to my new world with a disability. Teaching mindfulness to those with pain, depression and anxiety and sharing my experiences has enriched my life dramatically.

Life was constant for the first few months of this year, with no dramatic flareups. I relaxed into living without the flux a chronic health condition can bring. Then the lesson appears again ‘the only thing you can rely on in life is change’ and, for the last 3 weeks I have experienced (note not suffered) a decrease in my already limited mobility and a rise in my daily pain levels.

Today, I could not stand comfortably long enough to make a cup of tea. Now in the past, this would have led to many tears, my critical self to jump in with negative comments ‘you are never going to get better,’ ‘you are worthless, pointless (insert any other derogatory label here)’. My emotional pain would have exacerbated my physical pain, and the more physical pain I felt the more emotionally distressed I would have become.

So, what’s different now from when I first started my mindfulness practice?

The automatic fear reaction instantly kicked in. I would love to say it doesn’t, that after years of established practice fear is completely, and permanently, eradicated, but I wouldn’t be authentic if I claimed that for myself. (I don’t compare my experience of mindfulness to anyone else’s, we are all very different with different circumstances and challenges).

What I am able to claim however, is that I recognised the fear straight away and knew what steps I needed to put in place to ensure I stay fully present and not let automatic patterns or ruminative thinking take control. I am no longer defined by my pain. I am fully (re) connected to my consciousness, my true self, that is aware of the pain, and I am able to step back and observe non-judgementally.

The difference I am most excited about however, and wanted to share today, is the compassion I feel towards myself. Self-love is something I have never had in abundance anyway, and, which virtually disappeared as my health declined. I feel a kindness towards myself and my circumstances I could never have dreamt possible a few years ago.

I did manage to take my children swimming today. It is important to me that I spend quality time with them during the school holidays. I watched their faces, full of joy in the water, and I was totally engaged in the present moment. Not letting my fears and anxieties cloud the Now. I have had a lovely afternoon and despite everything, feel a contentedness with my life. I will have lots to put in my Gratitude Journal tonight.

Maths, Science and Mindfulness?


“Respond, don’t react. Listen, don’t talk. Think, don’t assume.” Raji Lukkoor

I was invited to a meeting at my son’s school yesterday evening, to discuss his forthcoming exams and how best parents can support their children during this potentially stressful period.

I was pleasantly surprised when one of the teachers presented a section on the school’s responsibility for the emotional well-being of its students and how they have begun to successfully use Mindfulness to alleviate pupil’s anxiety.

As a Mindfulness Coach I was interested to stay behind to chat to this teacher afterwards and learned he had been researching Mindfulness personally for a long time and had fought hard to get it included within the school. He had been quite nervous publicly talking about it, anticipating he may be met with scepticism. He strongly believed however that since using Mindfulness techniques with the children that wanted to take part, exams results had improved, absences declined and the feedback from teachers and children alike was that a huge calming effect had taken place.

Having used these techniques for my eldest son who completed his A’Levels last year I know Mindfulness is an invaluable and lifelong tool that I hope to see as standard on curriculum’s everywhere eventually. One of the most beneficial things we can ever learn is how to take care of our minds. Once we develop the ability to look inward and fully connect to the present moment anxiety and stress reduces and calmness and clarity prevails – an optimum condition for learning.

With league tables being scrutinised and Ofsted reports demanding a higher and higher teaching standard there is no doubt the world of education is becoming more and more pressured for both staff and pupils.

I was saddened to learn last night that although there is plenty of support in place for the children the staff were not being offered the same. With teacher absences through stress and sickness at an all time high I hope staff well-being comes high on the list of priorities. After all, if we don’t care for the staff who will ultimately educate our children?

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Pursue your passion



“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you”.   Oprah Winfrey


Having moved to a new town where I don’t know anyone I made the brave decision to gatecrash the local creative writers’ group last night.


As soon as I arrived I instantly knew I would really like these people, and not just because they meet in a pub regularly.


When you have a passion for something it lights you up from the inside out. These people weren’t just looking for a hobby to pass the time; they had a genuine love for their craft. I watched them animatedly discussing their latest ideas, with big smiles and shining eyes and couldn’t help feeling totally relaxed, despite them all being strangers (or friends I hadn’t yet met before?).


I am relatively new to writing. Some of you know I started after I lost my mobility and needed a hobby to pass the time. It’s now something I incorporate into my life almost daily and has replaced the sports I used to play yet still leaves me feeling fulfilled.


I think it’s so important to have something that’s just ‘ours’ in this world. It’s a busy old life, especially for those of us with families, and sometimes it can feel we are being pulled in all directions. Pursuing your passion keeps you grounded, combats anxiety and depression and instils a sense of purpose. Experiencing such intense emotion about a specific part of your life can’t help but encourage positivity in other areas too.


If you can’t think of anything you love to do think back to when you were a child. Did you love playdoh, making models? Could you transfer that to a creative hobby now? My son used to love spending time outdoors in his tent and is now a keen nature photograph.


We all have our ‘thing’. Something that excites us, and makes our heart sing.  Have you found yours?