Read our posts about soul

The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

So there I was, on a miserable February morning, watching the rain dribble down the windows of the Guardian offices at Kings Place, searching for stories for the feature pages, when I came upon a website belonging to an Australian palliative nurse who had written a fascinating survey. Bronnie Ware had asked her dying patients about their greatest regrets in life and had condensed their wisdom down to produce The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. I read it hungrily, for perspective, for comfort, as anyone would. The features editors weren’t interested in it for...
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Why Writers Need Retreats

Why Writers Need Retreats

 Most writers develop the ability to block out noise and a certain amount of chaos. Complete peace and quiet is a rare commodity, so in the interests of getting any work done, this is a skill worth nurturing. What writers don’t always manage is to block out the endless nagging feeling that there is something else they should be doing. And this feeling is invariably made worse when the writer is working from home – as so many writers do. The answer of course, is to leave home for a while and go on a retreat. Preferably a writing retreat. A jobbing journalist, as I was...
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How to Meditate: Discovering Headspace

How to Meditate: Discovering Headspace

In his book Headspace: 10 Minutes Can Make All The Difference, Andy Puddicombe writes: "This is meditation, but not as you know it. There's no chanting, no sitting cross-legged, no need for any particular beliefs… and definitely no gurus." This, then, is  Meditation 2.0,  aiming to free the practice from its hippy associations . Puddicombe is mindfulness's first poster boy, a former monk and  circus trainer, who boasts good bone structure and an Abercrombie & Fitch dress sense. The New York Times has already suggested he is "doing for meditation what Jamie...
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What I Would Tell the Younger Me

What I Would Tell the Younger Me

I can see my younger self through the years: the chubby, shy  teenager, the employee in a new job determinedly trying to work out how to make myself a good journalist but no less important, how to be liked. The young adult wondering if I would meet a man with whom I might make a family, and tremblingly uncertain that any man who I wanted would want me . Then there’s the woman in her 40s with a partner, a home, children, a job she cherished and yet was still beset by uncertainties, the feeling that she had not done well enough , hadn’t achieved as others had or seized...
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What To Do When a Friend Dies

What To Do When a Friend Dies

I have lost a dear, old friend. And as my mother said, “you don’t find new old friends”. What can you do when a friend dies? We were probably never very obvious soulmates – Georgina Henry was intensely political, I spent years working on glossy magazines. But over the last 20 years we became very close, and she was one of the few people I felt safe sharing my secrets and vulnerabilities, disappointments and dreams with. As well as lots of laughs, gossip and shopping expeditions. Two years ago George was diagnosed with cancer of the sinus. Treatment was brutal...
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Seven Ways to Streamline Your Schedule

Seven Ways to Streamline Your Schedule

It can be easy to feel rushed off our feet or like we don’t have the time to do the things we really want to, because we’re just too busy. The solution, writes acclaimed author, journalist and clinical psychologist Linda Blair, is to streamline your schedule. It will cut out the clutter, let you do more of what you want and help you enjoy more of life. Streamlining presupposes a clear path ahead, so before you can make plans and expect your life to run smoothly, you will have to de-clutter. There are three types of clutter that hold us back: psychological,...
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Why Carmel Allen Founded Kiss It Better

Why Carmel Allen Founded Kiss It Better

Cosmetics can get a bad rap from serious-minded people, but sometimes a lipstick is much more than an indulgence. Carmel Allen has used lipsticks to help raise £800,000 for research into childhood cancer with her charity Kiss It Better, which celebrated its 10th birthday today. I remember where the whole thing started.   Carmel was a much-respected beauty director on the glossy magazine that I was editing. One morning she didn’t turn up for work – and phoned to say that she didn’t know if she could ever work like that again. Her baby Josephine, who was not even one, ...
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Meditation: My Journey Begins

Meditation: My Journey Begins

I have never had much time in my life for peace or quiet, and have never really craved either. My mind is a happy hive of perpetual activity, everything churning away up there all the time, day and night. My wife points out, with reason, that I never sit still, never stop. At night, I dream of work, and on holidays, thanks to technology, I take it with me. In sleep, I grind my teeth. The RSI I developed 20 years ago was put down to overwork, poor posture, bad habits, a lack of inner calm. My solution was to start swimming, every day. I swam fast, faster than people in...
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Culture tip: The Reason I Jump

Culture tip: The Reason I Jump

Knowing what we’re really thinking is an elusive enough goal, knowing what someone else has on their mind is harder still, and what if that person thinks in an entirely different way? That’s often how the minds of people with autism are depicted: qualitatively different and impossible to understand. The Reason I Jump breaks through a lot of the misconceptions surrounding autism and gives an insight into how the author, a person with autism himself, sees the world. Translated, and featuring a forward, by acclaimed author David Mitchell, the book is a combination of...
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Four Thoughts on Anxiety About Ageing

Four Thoughts on Anxiety About Ageing

1. Why are some older people described as 'still beautiful', as though age mostly erases beauty? Banish the words from your vocabulary, along with other self-deprecating remarks about ageing bodies, and admiring comments about people who don't look their age. Train your eyes to recognise and your language to include 'old and beautiful'. 2. We read so often about frail old people yet resilient, engaged, vital and outraged ones surround us. If they're not in your family seek them out as your friends, especially if you're young: it will help dispel the...
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