Allowing the waves

In meditation, you are supposed to closely observe your mind and body, witness the ceaseless arising and passing of all your feelings, and realise how pointless it is to pursue them. When the pursuit stops, the mind becomes very relaxed, clear and satisfied. All kinds of feelings go on arising and passing – joy, anger, boredom, lust – but once you stop craving particular feelings, you can just accept them for what they are. You live in the present moment instead of fantasising about what might have been. The resulting serenity is so profound that those who spend their lives in the frenzied pursuit of pleasant feelings can hardly imagine it. It is like a man standing for decades on the seashore, embracing certain ‘good’ waves and trying to prevent them from disintegrating, while simultaneously pushing back ‘bad’ waves to prevent them from getting near him. Day in, day out, the man stands on the beach, driving himself crazy with this fruitless exercise. Eventually, he sits down on the sand and just allows the waves to come and go as they please. How peaceful!

Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Sunday Quote: Running after nonsense

It is not up to us to believe in God

but only not to grant our love to false gods

Simone Weil, 1909 – 1943, French philosopher, activist and spiritual writer, described by Camus as the “only great spirit of our times”

The noise of the mind

Often we’re cast about by the noise of the world and the noise in our heads. Often we’re mesmerized by the stunning cacophony that masks itself as excitement. And though there’s much to be gained for being in the world, we can’t make sense of it till we stop the noise, till we go below the noise, till we go below the habit of our own thoughts. As a whale or dolphin must break surface, only to dive back down, only to break surface again, each of us must break surface into the noise of the world, only to rest our way back into the depth of stillness, where we can know ourselves and life more deeply, until we have to break surface again…For the noise of the mind never dies. It can only be put in perspective, quieted until we can hear the more ancient voices that give us life. At every turn, we need to stop the noise, our own and everyone else’s, not to retreat from the world but to live more fully in it.

Mark Nepo, Stopping the Noise

Repeat after me: you don't need to get fit to get married

A recent article advised women on how to ‘tone up’ and ‘eat right’ for their wedding day – another sign we just can’t win

If you think women can finally live a day without being reminded of their place in the pecking order (if you’re a woman, you’re laughing right now) – think again.

All you need do is look around, and you will find countless examples of bog-standard, thoughtless sexism. The comforting sort that we grew up with. A tepid bath of double standards, if you will.

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Fitness tips: three korfball moves to master

Rob Williams, the England senior coach, on how to come out on top

Fit in my 40s: could korfball be the nicest team sport of them all?

The long shot This involves catching the ball and shooting from a distance, over the defender. Shooters should have their hips and shoulders square to the korf (net). Focus on shooting just over the closest point of the rim. Simultaneously thrust with legs and arms, rising from the toes before locking both the legs and elbows, giving a flick with the wrists and fingers.

Related: Fitness tips: eco-friendly ways to exercise

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My partner says our relationship is the sexiest he's had. For me, it's the least. Can it be saved?

I used to believe we can all change and grow. Now, having lost all sexual desire for my partner, I’m not so sure that the erotic connection can be recaptured

My partner feels ours is the most sexy, intimate, physically fulfilling relationship he has ever had. For me, it’s the least. We have talked about this off and on for three years. He is also having counselling. I feel as if I have given up on the hope that it will ever be sexy, full of desire and intimate, physically or mentally. I used to believe we all can change and grow, but I have lost that belief. Please help.

Did you ever feel strong attraction and desire for him? Did you ever have great sex together? If the answer is yes, then there is hope of restoring that erotic connection. But it sounds as if, from your point of view, your physical connection has always been lacklustre, and that may indicate a low probability of improvement. Since there is such a discrepancy between how each of you views your sexual relationship, try to analyse what is creating this imbalance. For example, are you focusing on pleasing him – perhaps out of a sense of duty or guilt – to the extent that you are bypassing your own needs and feelings? This scenario could create satisfaction for him, but resentment and longing for you. The way to correct it would be to ask him for exactly what you need in terms of pleasuring, and to teach him how. You must also consider that feeling undesirous of your partner can be due to relationship factors, such as having underlying anger about a perceived power imbalance or sense of unfairness. It can equally be due to factors that are separate from your relationship, such as stress, anxiety, depression or taking medication that interferes with sexual responses. Then again, some people struggle with the idea of allowing themselves pleasure or happiness, and need help changing that. Examine your reasons for continuing this relationship, ideally with psychotherapeutic help. If you are truly motivated to continue it will be vital to identify the obstacles and develop a healthier connection.

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The naked truth: is naturism dying out in Germany?

The practice of FKK – being naked in nature – has declined because of a new nudity taboo. But some groups report a rise in membership

For decades Germans have extolled the benefits of free body culture – or being naked in nature. But a German sexologist has claimed that the practice of FKK, as it is widely known, is dying out due to a new “nudity taboo”.

Once a focal point of German bathing culture, FKK has been pushed to the margins of most of Germany’s beaches and lakesides, according to the author Kurt Starke.

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No need to go to China

Do we need to make a special effort to enjoy the beauty of the blue sky? Do we have to practice to be able to enjoy it? No, we just enjoy it. Each second, each minute of our life can be like this. Wherever we are, any time, we have the capacity to enjoy the sunshine, the presence of each other, even the sensation of our breathing. We don’t need to go to China to enjoy the blue sky. We don’t have to travel into the future to enjoy our breathing. We can be in touch with these things right now. 

Thich Nhat Hanh

'No food should be taboo': how to tackle your child's weight – without giving them a complex

A third of children are overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school. Here’s how parents can help them forge good habits and avoid creating lifelong insecurities

Jusna Begum lives near the South Bank in London with her four children, aged between one and 11. When a health visitor told her that her three-year-old girl was “on the chubby side”, Begum was surprised. “I didn’t think she was at all; I had felt like my children weren’t eating enough.”

She did, however, accept an invitation to join a six-week healthy parenting programme called Henry. Four weeks in, she has rebooted her family’s lifestyle, from making dinner times earlier to allow for more activity before bed to the food she prepares. Coming from an Asian background, says Begum, “There’s a lot of fatty food – we use a lot of oil and salt in curries.” Her children also loved drinking juice and snacking on crisps and chocolate after school. “I would just allow them,” she says, incredulously. “I thought it was normal.”

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Fit in my 40s: could korfball be the nicest team sport of them all? | Zoe Williams

Imagine a cross between netball and basketball, with less loutiness – or so I’m told. Maybe we don’t even compete?

Fitness tips: three korfball moves to master

“Netball can be a bit bitchy…” one woman confided, as we warmed up around the korfball stand, a magnificent 11.5ft structure holding a big yellow hoop. “When I got to university, I went off football, because it was a bit loutish,” said a guy. You won’t run short of chat at a korfball game; there are always a couple of people in reserve, and often a whole five-strong team waiting to play. That’s so sweet, I think. It’s the team sport for people so nice they can’t get along with any other team sport. Maybe we don’t even compete? Maybe we just pass the ball to each other, like piggy-in-the-middle without a pig?

Not so much: for the rules, imagine a cross between netball and basketball. Once you’ve got the ball, you have to shoot or pass it; you can bounce once, but you can’t dribble; the hoop is outrageously high, which makes it unusual for people to score from far away, which alters the dynamic. It’s truly unisex, but within that, rigorously segregated. Women mark women, men mark men; there weren’t enough men this Monday night, and from the alacrity with which three women offered to be men, I surmised that this was quite common. There were easily enough of us – 25 – to play a full match, eight at each end, but that involves quite a lot of standing about. If you’re an attacker, you’re not allowed at the defence end, so you’re just yelling “Shoot, shoot, shoot!” from across the line, and that’s in an ideal world. In (my) real life, I instead got distracted by a thought or insect, so when the ball returned I was woefully unprepared.

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