Unwrap your Presence

This Christmas…

The greatest gift we can give ourselves and those around us is to be present and to connect.

In contrast, this time of the year drives us to get busy, do more and go faster, often making it more difficult to connect with those around us. Ironically, the original impetus and meaning for Christmas is all about our connections and our humanity.

This Christmas (now!) I am prioritising first being present for myself and my family and those around me. It does feel like a gift to give myself this time. Goethe’s words on my fridge magnet remind me that “nothing is more important than this day”.

I love unwrapping presents, I know few people who don’t. Unfortunately most of us, me included, get caught up in all the hard work in preparation, for three hours of manic unwrapping on Christmas morning and then it is all finished. What would it be like if we could unwrap our presence throughout the festive season in all we do?

If we go back to the origins of this gift-giving tradition, it wouldn’t be the same story if the three wise men had sent gold, frankincense and myrrh by courier! What was special was that they made a long journey to be present.

Unwrapping presence is a process, an unfolding. Sometimes it’s a real surprise what is inside, even to yourself. Sometimes it takes time to unwrap, it may even appear like nothing is happening. But giving time to being present has the potential to make everything in our lives better. In and beyond the festive season, whatever we’re doing, whether it’s a HANDLE activity like Hug and Tug or preparing a meal, the impact of our offering is magnified many times when we unwrap our presence.

We look forward to connecting with you again in 2019. Happy unwrapping!


Thanks to Fredrik Lloyd for the inspirational print above that inspired this post.

Slowing Down

We had a great webinar this week with people who have done our HANDLE® Level 1 and 2 Course on the subject of ‘Slower is Faster’. From the feedback we’ve had people found the ideas very helpful and we even got to do some practice of feeling the impact of doing something slowly.


We discussed how doing HANDLE Activities slowly can help calm our brains and the branch of the autonomic nervous system that is triggered when we are stressed. It can create a moment of mindfulness to balance the busyness of everyday life.

The other benefit of SLOW is that it enables us (and the other person if we are doing an Activity together) to pay more attention to what is happening, both in ourselves and around us. Research is showing how when we do things with attention the learning is dramatically accelerated and we are less likely to remain stuck in our habits.

Here is an activity for you to feel the value of slow in your life. It only takes 5-10 minutes, doing something you would already be doing anyway. Choose something you enjoy doing like drinking tea, bathing, going for a walk or cooking, and do it very slowly. Give yourself the time to really be present with what you are doing and enjoy the experience. Notice how it feels in yourself, for example the warm feeling of the mug in your hands, the sensation of your feet contacting the ground as you walk, the smell of something you are cooking. Allow yourself to luxuriate in the sensations that are always there if only we’d notice them. This time is 100% yours. Switch off mobiles or other distracting devices and rest back in being present with what you are doing for just these moments. You don’t need to do everything slowly, just 5-10 minutes. When you go back to moving at everyday speed, notice what feels different.

When I did this on a daily basis it dramatically changed the whole of my day. I approached what I was doing with more energy and alertness. I’d love to hear if it makes a difference for you.


Snailspace art trail in Brighton this autumn reminding us to cherish ‘life in the slow lane’  #BeMoreSnail

Snailspace art trail in Brighton this autumn reminding us to cherish ‘life in the slow lane’ #BeMoreSnail

What Great Parents Do: 75 Simple Strategies for Raising Fantastic Kids by Dr Erica Reischer

What great parents do.jpg

We’re starting a new series, reviewing books that we think are worth taking a look at.

First up, “What Great Parents Do” by Erica Reischer. I was actually surprised by how much I liked this book. I first picked it up from the library shelf with a kind of disdainful curiosity based on the title, but I soon discovered that Erica Reischer was not, as I’d thought, contributing to the culture of pressure to be a ‘perfect parent’ (Tip #12 “Great Parents aren’t perfect”) but instead offering a framework for cultivating a respectful and joyful relationship with your children.

The book is designed as a practical manual- it’s very readable, concise and clear. Each of the 75 tips is numbered and briefly described, then followed by a suggestion of how to implement it. Other related strategies are then cross-referenced. It makes it extremely easy to dip in and get some instant support or inspiration without having to wade through long chapters or lots of details.

Overall the guidance is sound, research-based and feels do-able. The heart of the philosophy guiding the book is the importance of cultivating “non-judgemental awareness- of yourself, of others (such as your family), and of the moment”. The key principles are Acceptance, Boundaries and Consistency. The tips outlined are tangible ways of putting all this into practice.

The tips themselves cover things like empathy (“If you don’t know what else to do, try empathy”); paying attention (“if we don’t notice what is happening, we can do little to change it”); avoiding reward economies; and very specific tips like avoiding saying “but”, and pivoting (“the art of saying yes instead of no, and meaning the same thing.”) Much of what she talks about isn’t new but I find reminders helpful, and bringing more awareness to what you’re already doing can help it all happen more smoothly and confidently. Otherwise the book is so succinct that if a section feels like old news you can just move onto another tip for some fresh inspiration.

This book comes recommended for people interested in caring for children with acceptance and awareness, but who don’t necessarily have time to read more than the odd few pages here and there.

Downsides: I’d have liked it if sometimes the cross-referencing had titles instead of just a number as it can get a bit distracting, at the same time it all helps to keep the book more concise. I’d also still lose the judgemental/labelling language from the title! But then I am a HANDLE provider…


We are recruiting!

Brighton Learning House is a unique organisation running training courses and a clinic providing HANDLE and Feldenkrais services to adults and children. We are based in Hollingbury, Brighton.

We are looking for someone to join our small team part-time with the skills to liaise with our clients and students in a warm and open, efficient and organised way.

Our work is about enhancing people’s lives and helping them to do the things they want to do with more ease. We strive to apply the same principles to our own working lives and are keen for employees to find real meaning in their work and have the chance to be innovative and creative within their role.

See our full description of the job role here.

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis so please get in touch as soon as you can if you are interested in joining us.

Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement Lessons


Sean Williams is teaching a series of four Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement (ATM) lessons in Hove in Spring 2017. Classes take place lying on a mat on the floor (provided), or sometimes sitting/standing. You can find more information about Feldenkrais and ATM classes here.


Dates and times to be confirmed- please register your interest below if you would like to attend.






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Learn more about yourself or your child with a low-cost HANDLE® Screening

Is there something in your life you’d like to find easier?

Would you like to learn more about how you are functioning?

Issues with things like organisation, memory, anxiety, stress, multi-tasking, reading, writing, sports, coordination, hypersensitivities, sleep, relationships or socialising can all have neurodevelopmental causes.

The HANDLE Screening is designed to identify some of these possible causes through a short series of activities and questions. The Screener then presents their findings and devises an individualised programme of HANDLE Activities to help address issues and promote wellbeing.

Following our popular half price Screening offer we are currently offering 30% off HANDLE® Screening Packs and Review Packs with certified HANDLE Screener and Practitioner trainee Sarah Hill. Sarah has worked alongside Sean Williams supporting his HANDLE training courses and clinics since 2008 whilst also working on home-based play programmes and in specialist schools and colleges. She has been a full time member of the Brighton Learning House team since 2013.

Screening Packs include: Screening (1 hour) and Presentation (2 hours) followed by a 1 hour Activity Check appointment, and are reduced from £180 to £126.

Screening Review Packs include 1.5 hour Reviews every 6 weeks OR 2 hour Reviews every 8 weeks, along with any email/phone support during the 6 month period, and are reduced from £300 to £210.

These prices are available for a limited time, so register soon to book your place, or to find out more details.