Saturday, November 23, 2013

Stoic week starts on Monday!

It's Stoic week again.

This year there is a brand new, improved workbook, new audio recordings and a new scale to help you see how Stoic you are. There's also a free event next Saturday in London

Join in the fun by visiting and downloading the booklet

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Personal Development through Philosophy workshop City Lit London Saturday 2nd November

Personal Development through Philosophy
City Lit Saturday November 2nd
Course Code PG646
Tutor: Tim LeBon
To enrol phone 020 7831 7831 or visit

City Lit Course Frankl and Finding Meaning Sunday 24th November 2013

Frankl and finding meaning
Explore ideas about how to find more meaning and purpose in life.
Learn methods and ideas to help you create more meaning in your own life in
this practical workshop.

Code: PG636
Date: Sunday 24th November 2013
Time: 10.30—17.30
Fee: £56
Tutor: Tim LeBon
Psychology & Counselling
Personal Development

Enrol online at or call 020 7831 7831

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Free slow soothing breathing recording

 Free Slow Breathing recording

Slow, soothing breathing is a good foundation for compassion practice, and is an excellent, easy-to-learn and portable relaxation technique.
To guide you through the process, I've made a recording you can download for free at

I'd suggest listening to this  every day, twice a day for a week and then to try the practice slow breathing on your own with your eyes closed
Once you've built up the skill of practising on your own with your eyes closed, I'd recommend trying it with eyes open, and then at times when you are stressed to calm you down.
In the Compassion-Focussed Therapy  model, this type of breathing is one skill that can help get the soothing  system on-line. In other words, slow, soothing, calming breathing can help you get more relaxed and help you to think more clearly, compassionately and calmly.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Free mindfulness resources

These days there is not just a lot of evidence that Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and other forms of mindfulness really helps, there are also some free resources. Here is a selection

 Free mindfulness recordings

Mindfulness worksheets and other free mindfulness resources

Mindfulness in Plain English classic book for free

How mindful are you?

5) Free mindfulness downloads from UCLA

My own recordings  including
Free Slow soothing breathing  download

Thursday, May 23, 2013

How Monty Python can help You find More Meaning in life

"Oh look, Howard's being eaten".
 "Is he?"
 "Makes you think doesn't it"
 "I mean, What's it all about?"
 "Beats me"
What is life all about? If you are a fish in the Monty Python sketch, then one day you are swimming around,  enjoying your day, wondering what it's all about, the next day you are lunch. If you are a reader if this blog, you are unlikely to end up like Howard, but does it really amount the same thing? You get up, go to work, read articles, have lunch (possibly one of Howard's friends!) -  but then a time comes -maybe in the distant future, maybe not -  when, to borrow euphemisms from another famous Monty Python sketch, you are pushing up the daisies and joining the choir invisible.

The fish tank sketch doesn't tell us "what it's all about", but a moments reflection helps us  recognise what life isn't about. Life isn't just about having a purpose, if that purpose is one that we don't own. Howard the dead fish had a purpose from the restaurant's point of view - but that didn't help Howard. We all serve a number of purposes From society and the government's point of view,  your purpose is to  pay taxes and to be  law-abiding. From your boss's point of view, your purpose is to do your job competently. None of these purposes are necessarily bad. The point is that they are not enough to make your life meaningful from our own perspective. Having a purpose is not sufficient to provide personal meaning in life.

What we need are projects and goals that inspire us, things that make us want to get out of bed in the morning.  We want our life as a whole to add up to something.

Two things that can help is to  identify and follow both our values and our strengths.Values Clarification exercises can help identify your key personal values.. My RSVP procedure is a good place to start. Identifying your strengths and talents is also helpful. Positive Psychology has provided a number of measures to help you identify these, such as the VIA and the Realise2 Strengths measures.
Wisdom can help you understand what you need to do to identify how to put strengths and values into practice effectively. Wisdom has a strong moral element. Tony Soprano had a talent for leadership, making money and killing people but  we would hardly judge him wise or his life positively meaningful.

So can Monty Python help you find more meaning in life? Perhaps it does, in a surprising way.  One notable Python, Michael Palin, provides us with a  good role model of a meaningful life.The world would be a poorer place without Michael Palin. His  talents include humour, wit, friendliness, adventure and creativity which he has used to the full. He has had the wisdom to extend his professional activities to include making  travel programmes, which allows him to develop and use his talents. I still remember seeing him give a speech to the Oxford Union back in 1980 - a genuinely funny, modest and inspiring man.

So where do your talents lie? What inspires you? What do you do that makes your life most worth living? What do you do that makes the world a better place, even if only slightly?  If you can find answers to these questions, and then put suitable  environment and practices in place,  then you will have the best chance  finding and creating more meaning in your life.

Friday, May 03, 2013

How to create more flow in your life (with link to free download)

Yesterday was the first class of a new Positive Psychology course I teach at City University.
We looked at flow, the experience of enjoyable and performance-enhancing absorption in whatever you are doing.  If you can identify where you get flow in your daily life, then you can prioritise and schedule more of these activities. You can also try to create new flowful activities. Here is a guided discovery I used to help people find more flow. You might like to  try it yourself. 

Think about times when you have been fully absorbed in your life. Occasions when you have lost track of time, when you have felt completely up to the challenge faced, when you have forgotten everything else but what you were doing.
Children are very good at finding flow, so think back to when you were a young child. What games did you play? What did you do with friends? On your own? Bring back to your mind the memories of things you used to enjoy as a child, and relive those memories as if you were back there doing them. Spend a few moments replaying yourself being totally lost in your play when a child.
We also often get flow in our hobbies and games. What  hobbies and pastimes did you used to enjoy? Maybe things that you loved doing, but don't do so much now? This might be a sport, or a game, or an activity like cooking or dancing or walking or yoga. Bring back to your mind the memories of  these activities and replay in your mind doing these flowful activities. Really feel in your body what it is like to engage in that absorbing activity.
Now think about your current life. Its a fact that people get more flow in work than leisure. So recall right now the last time you were really absorbed at work. What were you doing? Where were you? Who were you with? How did that feel?  Once more, replay that experience in your minds eye.
Now think about the next few days and how you might do these or similar activities. Sometimes they require effort to set up - for example travelling somewhere, or  to arrange an activity with other people. What are the obstacles to your finding flow, and how can you overcome the obstacles? What is the first step you can do so that you can find more flow in your life?

This guided discovery is available as a free download  to  help you get the feelings of flow and also, in your mind, a range of flow activities.
The next step is to schedule some of these flow activities in your daily routine. How can reading this post lead to you gaining more flow today and tomorrow.  I hope it can make a positive difference

To listen to the free finding flow download, click here

Monday, April 08, 2013

Why My New Book is all about Positive Psychology

"Why are you writing a book on Positive Psychology?" a sceptical friend asked me last week. "Isn't that just some American fad about being positive? Given your background and interest in both philosophy and psychotherapy, don't you find positive psychology -- no offence meant -a tad lightweight?"

It's not the first time I've encountered hostility to Positive Psychology. When I was part of a symposium on Positive Psychology and Philosophy with Jules Evans, Donald Robertson and Kristjan Kristjansson, I was at first taken aback by the extent of the  hostility  some felt about Positive Psychology.  This scepticism just didn't fit with my experience of  teaching Positive Psychology to students and clients. I've seen many experience and appreciated Positive Psychology's ideas - yet many in the UK don't seem to get it. I came away with a determination to provide a balanced, philosophically robust and practical introduction to Positive Psychology 

So what are my top 5 reasons for writing  a new book on Positive Psychology?
1) Flourishing and Happiness - which are the main goals of Positive Psychology - are very important. Who could disagree? We learn all sorts of things at school and at the workplace, but what are we taught about flourishing and happiness?
2) There are habits, skills and ideas we can learn which make us more likely to flourish and be happy.  Whilst  genes, upbringing and luck all have a significant part to play in how happy we are, there are things we can do to help us be happy. Bertrand Russell was right when he wrote about the possibility of   "The Conquest of Happiness" back in the 1930s. 
3)  In order to find out what makes us happier, we need empirical studies. Russell and ancient philosophers - Stoics, Epicureans and the rest - did us a great service by coming up with ideas about what can make us live better. Whilst there is much wisdom in their writings, we need to do experimental work to see what works, for whom. This is one of the main aims of Positive Psychology. It has already come up with some illuminating findings.
4) There are already many good books on Positive Psychology. So why write another one?  One thing  I - and my sceptical friends  - find missing in Positive Psychology is a serious engagement with philosophical issues and ideas. Sure, they all quote Aristotle, but in most cases it doesn't go much further than that. I want to write a book that really grapples with such questions as
- what would Aristotle really say about Positive Psychology?
- have other philosophies, such as existentialism, utilitarianism and Stoicism useful contributions to make to the nature of flourishing?
- what is wisdom and how is it connected to flourishing?
- what is a meaningful life as opposed to a life someone thinks is meaningful?
5) Just as philosophy has much to offer Positive Psychology, so has Psychotherapy.  Whilst Martin Seligman began life as a psychologist and therapist, I'm not sure how much Positive Psychology draws on recent findings and practices in Psychotherapy. As a practicisng psychotherapist, I find many points of contact between therapy  and Positive Psychology.
- CBT has many  evidence-based models, protocols and techniques that can be applied not just to mental illness but also to positive well-being.
- Existential Psychotherapy and Philosophical Counselling look at meaning and purpose and the importance of emotions - negative as well as positive. These can inform Positive Psychology.

In short, Positive Psychology is the home of vital research and discussion of flourishing and happiness, and if it is described in a balanced way, informed by philosophy and  therapy, then it can fulfil its potential - even in the sceptical UK.


Evidence that self-compassion helps

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Report on Stoic week is now out

The report on Stoic week is now out. It contains some very interesting results and does I think provide fuel for the idea that more research on Stoicism and its modern uses would be very worthwhile.
You can download the full report from here

Courses and Workshops, 2013

I'm running a variety of courses and workshops on psychotherapy, counselling, positive psychology, CBT and practical philosophy  in London in 2013. They are all in Central London - most are at the City Lit (main centre in Keeley Street near Holborn) , others are at City University (nearest tube: Angel). I've added a sentence in italics about who each course is most suited to. Please contact City Lit or City Uni  directly if you wish to enrol.

CBT for person-centred counsellors

Expand your knowledge and understanding of cognitive behavioural therapy and learn some basic skills to help you decide for yourself whether you want to make use of it in your own person-centred
practice. This course is aimed at person-centred counsellors, other helping professionals and trainees. It requires a commitment to weekly home practice including trying out some of the methods of CBT on yourself.
This course is a good choice for practitioners and trainee practitioners who have some knowledge of CBT and want to consolidate this learning practical skills over 3 months.

Key course information

10/01/13 - 28/03/13
11 weeks with half-term break 21st Feb
18:00 - 20:30
Fees ?
Full fee: £237
Senior fee: £237
Central London - Fashion Retail Academy» View location

Course code PT548
To enroll,  Call enrolments: 
020 7831 7831  or enrol online 

Introduction to existential counselling

Existential philosophy - an increasingly popular approach in counselling - asks us about the human condition and how to respond to it. How can counsellors make use of these ideas? What are the benefits to clients?
This course is  a good choice for counsellor or trainee counsellors or therapists who want to find out more about existential therapy.
1 week
10:30 - 17:30
Fees ?
Full fee: £52
Senior fee: £52
Concession: £21
KS - Keeley Street
» View location
Course code

To enrol, Call enrolments: 020 7831 7831 or  enrol online

Philosophical life coaching

Philosophical life coaching helps you lead a more satisfying and meaningful life by using insights and methods from the great thinkers. This introductory workshop will show you some of the most interesting ways it can be of help. No previous experience required.
This course is a good choice for anyone who wants to find out about how ideas from philosophy can help with dealing with emotions, being happier or choosing more wisely. It will also be of value to life coaches.

Key course information

1 week
10:30 - 17:30
Fees ?
Full fee: £38
Senior fee: £23
Concession: £12
KS - Keeley Street
» View location
Course code
Enrol online or by calling 
020 7831 7831