Ssshhh… 25 June – Dignity

Our next Shhhh… takes place on Monday 25 June 7.30pm at the Printhouse on North Church Street, Sheffield.  The evening runs from 730-9pm.

This months event is on the theme of Dignity. What does dignity mean to us? How do we grant dignity to ourselves and to other people?

Shhh… is our monthly meditation evening which has been running since the beginning of the year.

Expect art installations you can interact with (see below) creative tasks and meditations followed by our half hour led reflection and finally a 15 minute time of silence.

Alll this is accompanied by ambient music, candles and a chilled and inclusive atmosphere.

Suitable for everyone interested in spirituality, regardless of your background.

If you’d like to find out message andy@spacetobreathe.eu or post a comment here.

Looking forward to seeing you.

Shhh… and Proost on Tour – two great events over Bank Holiday

This coming Bank Holiday weekend sees a busy time for the Space to Breathe team with two great events going on in Sheffield.

Friday 25 May Proost on Tour Sheffield

We are excited and thrilled to have the stellar Martin Daws (above) with us on Friday 25 May at the Printhouse, North Church Street, Sheffield for a night of spoken word.  Tickets are £5 which gets you entry, bar snacks and a free Proost USB stick full of goodies.  Full details are at the Proost website but get your ticket ASAP to avoid disappointment.

Tickets at Eventbrite – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/proost-on-tour-sheffield-tickets-43836905364

Details and Proost write up – http://proost.co.uk/proost-tour-martin-daws

If you’ve never heard Martin check out his amazing ‘Breathe Myself a Meaning’

Shhhh… presents Rest – Monday 28 May 7.30pm to 9pm

Our next Shhh… rolls up on the Bak Holiday Monday evening and we are theming it around rest.

Come for a chilled hour and a half of ambient music, reflection and inspiration to round of your weekend.  We’ll be open at 7.30pm and conclude with a half hour guided meditation and some  silence together.  Be great to see you.

Check out more and sign up at our Facebook event

Space to Breathe at Sheffield Business Shows

April is an exciting month at Space to Breathe HQ as we get ready for two Sheffield Business Show’s.  If you ‘re around at either of these events we’d love to say hello.

The Indie Business Fair 18th April 9am to 2pm 

Held at the iconic Showroom Workstation, the Indie Business Fair is a celebration of the wonderful independent businesses in Sheffield.  It’ll be a chance to meet others, get inspired and connect.  Space to Breathe will be there sharing their work in wellbeing and inspiration for business and giving people the chance to explore the Silence Challenge for the first time.

You can book for the event for FREE  at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-indie-business-fair-2-tickets-42047032807?aff=SpaceToBreathe

The Sheffield Business Show 26 April 10am to 3pm 

Then a week after we’ll be at Bramall Lane for The Sheffield Business Show.  Here we’re going to be spreading the word than work can be good for us if we treat each other better and work hard to make work better for everyone.  We’ll be at stand PS41 throughout the day and we’d love to see you.

You can find out more at https://www.sheffieldbusinessshow.co.uk and either book a free ticket or pay £8 for an additional Breakfast networking event.

Lastly we’re excited to be joining in with…

Geared for Growth

This is an evening networking event happening at The Printhouse on North Church Street (where we also have our offices).

The evening is advertised as “a place to meet, connect and collaborate with likeminded professionals. Enjoy and free drink and that yorkshire speciality- pie and peas- on us (simply pay as you feel). ”  The evening will feature the story of  Tony Hodges, a successful businessman with a multi million pound track record, based in Wakefield and about Sheffield’s booming beer industry from Sheffield Brewery manager Nick Law.

You can book for Geared for Growth here.

So its an exciting April for Space to Breathe and its home city of Sheffield.  Hope to see you soon at one of these events.

Silence Challenge – Andy’s update

Many of you have been using the Silence Challenge during this season of Lent, taking five minutes of silence a day and seeing what happens.  We’ve really loved to hearing your updates and reflections as you’ve done this.

My own perspective on this time has been a learning one – being silent each day hasn’t turned out the way I’d expected at all.  However, after a month I do feel I’ve found a way to make the most of these short times and am beginning to wonder about being silent for longer. Have a look at this short video for a few thoughts.

If you visit Twitter and look at #silencechallenge you’ll see some of the feedback.  A selection is below.

Do keep telling us how you’re doing and what you’re learning from taking a little silence each day.  Thanks so much

Andy

Take the Silence Challenge at Lent

Since Space to Breathe started its life, Silence has been an important part of all we do.  In 2015 we began our first Silence Challenge, encouraging people to spend one month taking 5 minutes of silence each day and to see what happens.  Since then hundreds of people have tried silence in their lives, some for the first time and with wonderful results.  It seems silence makes a difference.

Now we’ve launched a new multi-media resource called Entering Silence (see below for ordering details or follow the link) and we’re encouraging people to take the upcoming season of Lent which begins on Wednesday 14 February to make silence part of their lives.  Would you be willing to spend 5 minutes in silence each day during Lent, and see what happens?  Entering Silence will give you stacks of resources to help you and we think there’s many reasons why silence can help bring wonder, health and light to each of our lives.

 

Traditions which have engaged in silence tell us that this space enables us to listen to our own selves.  Our ‘Inner Compass’ is something which is harder to find and can be drowned out by the noise of everyday life.  Silence can give us a little glimpse into who we really are.

Men and women from monastic orders have practiced silence for as long as records exist.  It is a practice which can create a different and hollow centre in each of us.  That might feel a little odd but it’s idea is this – we are full and we benefit from making spaces which are empty and available.  If you feel like can be a little overwhelming or if you feel your time and resources are all used up then you might find silence helps you. Think of all our rushing around.  Do we ever have space to notice things?

Silence has advocates too in the world of health and wellbeing with studies conducted in the last 15 years suggesting it can improve sleep, aid memory and reduce blood pressure.

Being silent also has significant psychological advantages, giving space to reflect, becoming more self aware and bringing a sense of peace and calm which can aid anxiety.

Over the course of our work we’ve seen silence help people and we’d love to encourage you to give it a try.  Many of our team will be taking time to be silent during Lent and we’re going to share our experiences on social media using the hashtag #silencechallenge.  Why don’t you join us?

 

If you’re new to being silent you might try it this way:

  • Find a comfortable and peaceful place.  Maybe a room in your house, your garden, by a river or the sea, maybe a hidden spot in your workplace.  (I used to be silent in a store cupboard !)
  • Take a few moments to settle yourself, take some deep breaths and relax.
  • Begin your time of silence.
  • Don’t worry if things come into your mind or you get distracted.  Be aware of what’s come into your thoughts, be thankful or ponder it and settle again.
  • Finish your silence with a few deep breaths again and take a moment to be thankful.
  • At the end of your time (we recommend 5 minutes to start with) jot down any thoughts or impressions.

My hope is that silence might become part of your world going forward.  Why not give it a go?

“We need to find God and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence – in nature, trees, flowers and grass – they grow in silence; see the stars, the moon, the sun – they all move in silence – we need silence to touch our souls” (Mother Teresa)

Entering Silence is a pack available for download at Proost.co.uk.  It contains a 28 page PDF booklet, five meditative movies, a silence track and 16 original photographs.  During Lent it will be free to download but will cost £5 in the UK at other times.  

Beauty, art and creativity

“Embracing creative solutions is no longer a luxury; it has become a necessity.”

(Nancy Adler, Leading Beautifully)

Our world is changing beyond measure.  Sometimes its hard to get a grip on the massive flux so many nations are in, some many crises to deal with.  Where do we find a way?

I was moved recently as I read a beautiful artist by Nancy J Adler which declared that finding beauty in life and the creativity and imagination which flows from it is an essential part of 21st Century leadership.  We need to be willing again to inspire, hope and innovate – to genuinely look to change the world.

Central to her vision was art and creativity.  Adler recognises the unique gift of art – that it is about being able to see things.  Artists can be prophetic or visionary, seeing the world around them as it really is and being willing to speak out or share what they see.  This can be challenging as often true sight and vision is the last thing we want to hear – yet hear it we must.

Yale Medical School ran an experiment to help medical students see reality the way it really is.  They asked half of the Medical study body to take an Art History course (see Yale Website – Jones & heart 2009.)  Adler records “to their surprise and delight, they discovered that after studying art history, the medical students diagnostic skills improved significantly.”  The research concluded that art:

  • taught people to see details
  • taught people to see patterns in things
  • is a way of viewing and seeing the reality of life around them

Adler concludes “rather than simply making global assessments based on what they expected to see, the art-trained medical students more accurately saw the actual condition of the patients.”  Art-trained students improved diagnostic skills by 56% whereas those who hadn’t were only able to improve by 44% (Dolev, Freidlander & Braverman 2001.)

Here at Space to Breathe we’ve found a similar connection between art and the imagination.  Our approach to engaging with each person’s spirituality relies heavily on the arts – whether through music, spoken word poetry or creating or contemplating images.  These practices seem to improve people’s understanding of the world – their meaning making.

One recent participant said “spending time contemplating my experiences was profound.  The image we reflected on opened up so much meaning and reality to me – I left with a different view of my life.”

So often we feel compelled to use tried and tested modernist methods of training and leading.  This is the way it’s always been.  Yet with our world changing so dramatically, might it be time for a new approach.

Adler’s mantra is to move from the decision making of a command-style leader to being designers – working with others to shape a new future around us.  She calls out “business artists” who use design thinking to envision possibilities which for so long remained unthinkable but are now (due to technological change) a possibility.

Lets walk into these adjacent possibilities together… and see what happens.

(Nancy J. Adler’s article “Leading Beautifully: The Creative Economy and Beyond” is from the Journal of Management Enquiry (208-2011) dated 2011.)

Soul Stories #1 – Basil The Great

January 1st 2018 

Week One

In this story we celebrate not just Basil but his friend and colleague Gregory of Nazianzus.   If you have a good friend or someone you always end up doing things with, let this story encourage you.

Basil and Gregory fought critics, state and church to defend the idea that Jesus was God.  A controversy known as Arianism questioned whether Jesus really was divine.  Basil was bold, courageous and hot-headed.  He worked with his eloquent and thoughtful friend Gregory to develop ideas which eventually convinced the Council of Constantinople in 381 – the first great conference of the global church.  That achievement came to years after his death.  At the end of that conference a statement of faith called the Nicene Creed was written and it declared Jesus was indeed God.  Amazingly this piece of work was so important that many people still read it out in churches today – you may know it as the Nicene Creed.

But Basil’s work was not all in theology and politics.  Basil was known for his care of the poor and excluded.  Basil shaped a lot of early monastic communities – giving guidance on things like community, liturgy, prayer and work.  If you’ve ever been to a monastic community of any sort – whether old or contemporary –  then know that that community has at least indirectly been influenced by Basil.

Basil is considered a saint in both Eastern and Western Churches.  He died in 379.

Reflection 

Take a moment to consider a really great friend.  If you find this hard think of someone who’s supported you over the years or maybe someone who’s been loyal to you.  Think about that person and write down everything you’re thankful for about them.  If you have the chance go and tell them at least one of the things you’re thankful for.

 

Introducing Shhhh….

Next year Space to Breathe is going to be hosting monthly reflective evenings based in Sheffield called Shhhh….

Shhhh…. will be a space to reflect and pray running on the last Monday of each month.

This evening will be inclusive to everyone and be particularly relevant for people interested in spirituality but won’t feel religious in language or tone.  Expect some art installations, poetry and prose, ambient music, visuals and creative ways to engage with your spiritual side.

Each evening will run from 7.30pm to 9pm and be in two parts.

For the first half hour you’ll have the chance to explore installations around the venue and engage in some activities aimed at feeling the soul.

Then we’ll gather together a time of reflection all together using music, visuals and the creative arts.

All these activities will be inspired by the Christian tradition but open to all and nothing we do will require any previous religious knowledge or experience.  Basically we’ll get stuck in together and see what happens.

Shhhh…. will take place on the last Monday of each month in the Basement of the Printhouse, 21-23 North Church Street, Sheffield S1 2DH.  You can access the venue directly from the street level door.  There is disabled access available to the venue.

If you’re interested please see the flyer below and please tell your friends.

Download PDF Shhhh… flyer

The evening is free so its easy to come and try it out.

Contact Andy at andy@spacetobreathe.eu for more details.

 

The Silence Challenge

Sometimes spirituality can be a complicated thing.  What words do I say next?  What is it that I do with those beads?  How exactly am I meant to sit?

These complications can bring incredible depth and beauty to an experience, but they can also make it hard for us to begin.  That’s why we love the simplicity of silence.

Traditions which have engaged in silence tell us that this space enables us to listen to our own selves.  Our ‘Inner Compass’ is something which is harder to find and can be drowned out by the noise of everyday life.  Silence can give us a little glimpse into who we really are.

Men and women from monastic orders have practiced silence for as long as records exist.  Some would spend time in silence as a prayer.  Meals sometimes taken in silence to experience something mystical in meeting together.  Days, weeks, spent tin silent retreat giving space for God … a spiritual voice echoing in the silence.

Silence is a practice which can create a different and hollow centre in each of us.  That might feel a little odd but it’s idea is this – we are full and we benefit from making spaces which are empty and available.  If you feel like can be a little overwhelming or if you feel your time and resources are all used up then you might find silence helps you.

Think of all our rushing around.  Do we ever have space to notice things?

Think of all our busy tasks filling our time.  Do we ever have space to be rather than do?

Think of all the demands on us.  Is there ever a moment when we can be available – to ourselves, to others or to God?

“The glory of God always shows itself in an empty space… We have to make a home for the Word to come and dwell among us, a space for God to be.” \

(From a lecture given by a Dominican Abbot to the World Congress of Benedictine Abbots, in Rome in September 2000) 

Last year we did a little month long experiment where we asked people to spend five minutes in silence each day for a month and to see what happened.  For many the experience was a surprise and a bit of a shock.  Far from being bored many explained to us that “something happened.”  For others this simple practice of silence provided some unlikely benefits.  Can being silent help in business meetings?  Can we embrace an almost silent quality in the way we shape websites?  In a world full of words and noise what can we see when we embrace a little silence?

So we’d like to continue with a little challenge.

Would you try five minutes of silence a day for a week and see what happens?

You might try it this way:

  • Find a comfortable and peaceful place.  Maybe a room in your house, your garden, by a river or the sea, maybe a hidden spot in your workplace.  (I used to be silent in a store cupboard !)
  • Take a few moments to settle yourself, take some deep breaths and relax.
  • Begin your time of silence.
  • Don’t worry if things come into your mind or you get distracted.  Be aware of what’s come into your thoughts, be thankful or ponder it and settle again.
  • Finish your silence with a few deep breaths again and take a moment to be thankful.
  • At the end of your time (we recommend 5 minutes to start with) jot down any thoughts or impressions.

Doing this Silence Challenge was always going to be an experiment.  I wonder if you’ve had a go and what you’ve thought?  Why not post a response on one of our social media pages using #silencechallenge ?  We’d love to hear all of your feedback.

My hope is that silence might become part of your world going forward.  And maybe you’ve read this article and feel as though you’d like to give silence a try – our The Silence Challenge Guide might help you.  Why not give it a go?

“We need to find God and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence – in nature, trees, flowers and grass – they grow in silence; see the stars, the moon, the sun – they all move in silence – we need silence to touch our souls” (Mother Teresa)

 

Space to Breathe at The Gathering

Here at Space to Breathe HQ the excitement is growing.

From October 26-29 The Gathering is taking place in Central Birmingham and Space to Breathe will be there with a stand in the Exhibition Area at the Birmingham International Conference Centre.

The Gathering is a joint conference hosted by 24-7 Prayer and Worship Central.  The event has a list of gifted speakers and leaders but what we’re most excited about is the chance to meet people for whom spirituality and enabling others to meet with God is so central to their story.

Space to Breathe has many roots in my 15 years of working with the 24-7 Prayer movement especially his work with the Boiler Room Network.  As we facilitated spaces for prayer and reflection I was constantly amazed by the people who’d come along who had absolutely no connection with local churches or background in organised religion.  I remember asking one guy why he was there when he had told me he didn’t believe in God.  His response was “Yeah …. that’s a good question.”

Space to Breathe began in mustard seed moments like that.

We exist to provide authentic spiritual solutions to everyday problems.  We are all about releasing the potential of spirituality into everyday life.

In 2003 as part of the Reading Boiler Room project, I worked with a team to host a visit from employees from British Gas (BG Group has a major office in Reading.)  These visitors, some of whom were senior managers at the company, had come along as a cross-cultural experiment to have their imagination and inspiration lit by a different experience.  None of them had encountered anything like our little New Monastic Community in Reading.  Through a mix of practical action and then reflective prayer we led the BG visitors on an afternoon experience that literally blew them away.    This little moment confirmed to me that spirituality had a role to play in the world of business and in the everyday life.

So if you’re coming to the Gathering why not come and say hello. You’ll be able to:

  • Find out more about the work of Space to Breathe.
  • Experience and buy resources from Proost, our online arts and spirituality portal seeking to provide authentic resources for spirituality (full of great things for a 24-7 Prayer Room.)
  • Take part in our 5 minute silence challenge.
  • Chat to Andy and the team and hopefully dream and scheme ways of collaborating together.

The Gathering is taking place in Birmingham UK and some tickets are still available.  Check out 24-7 Prayer for more details.