meditation

Meditation – the Benefits

Meditation can still conjure up images of sitting in the lotus position and chanting “omm”! Meditation in the Western world has moved on a lot from the original Eastern practice and it is more accessibly and “easier” to do now for many people.

There are many fantastic meditation groups that provide the space and stillness to meditate alongside others and if you are a beginner can learn the process and discipline of meditation.

For some people to sit still and to attempt to empty the mind can be extremely challenging.  Sitting still can evoke beliefs of “being lazy, not doing anything” and there can also be the fear of what can come into the mind if we are not controlling it.

However meditation can be done in many ways and they all have immense health benefits.  If you have time in the morning, especially at the weekend, why not sit quietly in bed and just focus on your breathing.  Notice when thoughts come into your mind and then just return to being aware of the rise and fall of your chest.  If you can do that for 5 minutes that’s brilliant, if you can do it for longer even better.

If you prefer to be led into a meditation there are lots of apps and CDs that are available such as Headspace , there are many more listed here.  To immerse yourself into meditation you can go on a retreat, silent or otherwise, which can help kick start your awareness of how to meditate.

For more informal ways of meditation just be in nature, walk quietly, preferably alone and use all your senses to tune in to what is around you.  You may have a favourite spot where you can just sit and be still and allow your thoughts to drift in and out without any focus upon them.  Or you may give yourself time to have a bath rather than a shower.  Set the intention to be still in mind and body, ensure that everyone else in the household knows not to disturb you and create a warming and relaxing environment.  If you still find your mind wandering always go back to noticing your breath.

So why should we meditate?  Research has shown that meditation will decrease blood pressure, decrease heart rate, decrease the release of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, it can re-alkalize your body, slow the ageing process down and promote deeper sleep.

Apparently our normal waking brain waves, Beta, are at 14-28 cycles per second.  In meditation they go to Alpha waves at 7-14 cycles per second and in deep meditation can drop into Theta waves at 4-7 waves per second.

We also know that through meditation we can clear and balance our chakras and in turn balance our energy field which can decrease the risk of illness and in time be more in tune with nature thus once again promoting good health.

If you are not sure how to start having a Reiki session is a good way of giving yourself permission to stop , be still and to receive.

So however you do your meditation, whether it be for 10 minutes a week or an hour a day it is part of valuing your own health and wellbeing which enhances health benefits to ourselves and others.

acts of kindness

Acts of Kindness

Kindness is about generosity, consideration and empathy. In my last blog I wrote about empathy and compassion and it is how we can demonstrate these qualities in acts. A lot has been said and written lately about doing random acts of kindness and I totally agree that it feels not only good to the receiver but also to the giver.  In fact kindness ripples out and if you have been on the receiver end of a kindness then you are more likely to go on and engage in your own kind acts.

The givers of kind acts feel a greater sense of satisfaction and happiness which in turn boost good mental health and wellbeing.  There is now a Random Act of Kindness day on 17 February 2019.

The acts can range from small and unassuming to grand gestures without the need for recognition or praise.  So anything goes that is spontaneous, unprepared and done to help someone else.  It can be giving someone the rest of your time on a parking ticket, leaving a book for someone else to read, let another person go ahead of you in a queue, hold a door open or pay someone a compliment.  It stops us being self-centered and inwardly focused and allows us to be more aware of the other person.

We are more likely to do a kind act if we have experienced it or have recently talked about it so it is in our subconcious.  A friend mentioned that she had given someone a lift as he had missed his bus and the next day I was approached by someone asking for bus fayre as his car had broken down.  Normally, as it was the evening, I wouldn’t have done so but it was in my subconscious what my friend had done.  So I gave the person some money only to find out later it was a scam!  So I must admit that maybe it wasn’t the wisest thing to do especially as it was the other person approaching me.

You are in control of the kind act, so you are choosing what to do of your own free will, even if it is spontaneous.  Keep an open mind, be aware of others needs and do something because it will benefit someone else and hopefully in turn they too will pass on a kind act.

compassion and empathy

Compassion and Empathy

Compassion and empathy are two words which have found their way more and more into our everyday language.  Do we really understand what they mean and are we practicing these values?

I am still learning and integrating these two words and certainly at times I have to work really hard to bring in these emotions.

Certainly there are specific therapies that now focus on compassion such as Compassion Focused Therapy but we don’t need to go to a workshop or class to achieve compassion.

If we want to bring these aspects into our lives we need understand what they are first.  Recently I read a description that highlights the subtle difference between empathy and compassion.  In his book  “Same Soul – Many Lives” Dr B Weiss states that empathy is an intellectual approach in trying to understand another person’s feelings.  Compassion is more instinctual and comes from the heart so you can be compassionate without being empathic.

Trying to understand another person’s feeling can increase our awareness of others situations which we may have no prior knowledge or understanding of.  It can often be suggested to “walk in another’s shoes” – to understand and appreciate how the other person is feeling.

Compassion is often a spontaneous feeling and comes from the heart with actions that are based in kindness.  Both empathy and compassion take us on the eventual path of unconditional love.

It can be incredibly hard to put these into practice at times especially when you have been hurt by others but we always have choices in how we react and we choose our attitude.  It can take a lot of mental strength, awareness and inner calm to show compassion but by doing so can drastically change the whole situation.  Often it is not about changing the other person but it is about changing ourselves.  If you come from a place of compassion then you are less likely to feel anger or frustration, stress will be reduced and you can let go of grudges and bring in forgiveness.   This in turn may have a positive effect on the other person and thus changing the energy between you both.

It may mean taking time out to think and reflect quietly about a situation and then going back with a compassionate and/or empathic response.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself:-

  • How would I feel if I were in their shoes?
  • What is contributing to them acting/behaving as they do?
  • If I was at my most compassionate self how would I see the situation and how would I want to respond?

Compassion and empathy are not just for others but are equally important for ourselves.  The starting point is always with ourselves and by being compassionate i.e. being kind and understanding, these two emotions and values can greatly enhance our lives and lead to the ultimate goal of unconditional love.

goals

Goals – where next for 2019?

As we start the New Year does it leave you feeling energised and excited about the months ahead or flat and unmotivated?

The date of 1st January is irrelevant as it only represents the limitations of time that we have put in place.  However there is something to be said about having ideas of what you want to get out of life.  At times it may be okay to go with the flow and drift through life although there is a danger that others will then influence your choices.

When we set out our own aspirations, dreams and goals then we are more likely to achieve them.  It has been proven that if you write out or share your goals then success of reaching your goal is greatly increased.

Just keeping a thought in your mind is probably not going to be enough; action needs to happen along with support and encouragement from others.  It is easy to get side tracked by internal doubts and worries and these can be used as an excuse to either not get started or to give up on your dreams.  As explained in my video here – when we reach the end of our life it will be the things that we haven’t done that we will regret.

There are several ways to help support the first part your achievement.  Write them down and put them somewhere that you can see them every day.  Instead of writing, depict your aspirations visually in a vision board placing it as a screen saver or a poster.

If you are not sure what you want to do you may like to do this exercise of listing what you want/have/don’t want and don’t have by using this template.  Once you have completed the columns turn the “don’t want” into what do you want instead?  This will help you to start identifying your goals.

Create a Be/Do/Have list – without judgement or preconceptions keep adding to your list over a few weeks.  Are there any themes?  Is there something in there that you have always wanted to do?

Are you somebody that starts and then gets stuck?  Remind yourself why this goal is really important to you – what are you going to gain from it, how is it going to affect your life?  Remember 90% of achieving goals is knowing why it is important to you, 10% is how you will achieve it. If you are a champion procrastinator lean how to use EFT or Tapping to break down those blocks.

These are just a few suggestions that will help you get on your way of creating a year that you can look back on with pride, contentment, enjoyment and satisfaction.

Have an adventurous, exciting, fun-filled and challenging 2019!

Happiness

Happiness!

Happiness is now a measurement that can define a country.  The latest survey this year, came out with ratings for the “happiest” countries.  The Scandinavian countries once again coming out on top with Finland at number one.  Although Britain is in 19th place it is still not a good indictment of our country.
Happiness is subjective but the fact that Denmark has consistently been in the top 3 over the past 5 years suggests they are doing something right as a nation.   One explanation is “hygge” pronounced “hoo-ga” with the closest explanation as being one of coziness.

The sense of being together and belonging creates coziness.  It’s when we allow ourselves to relax in a state that feels warm and comforting that we can recognise a sense of happiness.  These moments and opportunities do not always need money to be achieved.  In fact it has been proven that over the decades although our income has increased our levels of happiness have not.
It is our responsibility to seek out our own happiness and when we are in this emotional state we can affect other peoples’ levels of wellbeing and happiness too.

So how can we experience hygge?  First of all we have to be mindful to it.  Appreciate the moment; savour the sense of whatever we are doing in order to absorb those warm feelings.  If our minds are closed or focused on what’s not right or what is wrong then we will miss those times of happiness.  I have mentioned before about “destination addiction” – Andy Cope, if we are constantly thinking that we will be happy, relaxed, chilled only when it is Friday or on holiday that we are missing out on the present.  Animals and young children are much more able to create their moments of happiness as they live in the present moment.
However, we can all make our own hygge.

Connect with people, whether that is family or friends, at home in the work place or out socially – talk to people.  It has been proven that being with people that are supportive, fun, encouraging greatly improves mental wellbeing. Take up hobbies and do things just for fun.  Be a child again and put on the wellies and splash through puddles!

There are a load more suggestion to create your hygge moments in my book ” A Guide to Commonsense WellBeing”

Here are a few of my hygge moments:-

Walking along the Pembrokeshire coastal path looking out over the Irish Sea.
Snuggling up to watch a good film on a dark and wet winter afternoon.
Being aware of the garden bursting into life in Spring.
Dancing.
Being part of a team, working together to achieve a goal.

The list can go on and on!  For the rest of the year seek out, be mindful and saviour your hygge moments.  Place them in your memory jar so you can recapture the feeling of happiness.
I would love to hear about your hygge moments.

Tapping Tree

Tapping Tree

What is a Tapping Tree? Tapping can be used for almost everything that is causing you a problem.  That may be physical pain, an intrusive memory or past trauma, current anxiety, weight loss the list goes on!

We can also tap on the different levels of the issue and the Tapping Tree as explained by Nick Ortner  in The Tapping Solution demonstrates  the different aspects of an issue.

The Tapping Tree or any other kind of tree is made up of four parts – the leaves, branches, trunk and roots and each of these can correspond to what we can tap upon and I have put together a video to explain each part.

The Leaves

These represent the symptoms that we feel from our issue or problem.  It may be physical pain that we are experiencing or symptoms of anxiety such as tension in shoulders, busy thoughts, upset stomach.  By tapping on these symptoms we can alleviate them or eliminate them.

The Branches

The branches are our emotions or feelings.  Every issue or problem will bring with it an emotion about the situation whether it is sadness, grief, anger, stress, frustration or fear.  This is where tapping can really help to reduce the intensity of these emotions thus making us feel more in control or a sense that we can cope with the situation better.

The Trunk

The trunk is an actual event or situation.  It may be a situation that has yet to happen or a current event that we are involved with but by tapping on what is or has happened will help clear the impact that it may be having on us.

The Roots

The roots hold the tree together and they represent our underlying beliefs about ourselves.  We know that beliefs can both be empowering and limiting and can be formed from a very early age and are taken into our adulthood.  Beliefs are the fixed rules that we live our lives by and very rarely question whether they are still helpful to us.  We have beliefs about ourselves who we are, what we do, what we don’t do and are an integral part of our identity.  However these beliefs can keep us stuck and hold us back in our lives.  Tapping on these can produce the biggest shift in our progress to change.

We can tap on any of these parts but we know that the tree will continue to grow and live if the leaves are taken away, or the branches are cut off or if it is felled at the trunk.  It is only when we take the roots away do we totally clear out the issue for it not to return.

To get right to the underlying cause of the issue we need to tap on the beliefs and you can do this for yourself or have 1:1 sessions with an EFT practitioner.

Dramas and energy

Managing Dramas!

Dramas!  I expect we all have enough of them in our lives but it is the insidious, perpetual ones that can exhaust us and alter our own behaviour.  I recently re-read The Celestine Prophecy by James Refield , the sixth insight struck home about the control dramas that each of us have developed since childhood.

According to the book there are four types of control dramas and they all have a way of taking away energy from others.

Intimidator – aggressive behaviour, threatening physically or verbally, and the other person is forced to pay attention to them and so give energy.

Interrogator – asking questions and probing into the other person’s world in order to find fault or criticize.  The other person can then feel more wary or self-conscious thus giving their energy away to the “interrogator”.

Aloof – this is when the person creates a mystery or silence around them in order to get others to guess or search out how they are feeling.  The more they remain vague or non-communicative the more others are drawn into their energy to seek out what is going on.

Poor Me – when that person constantly focuses on everything that is horrible  happening to them, when nothing right happens for them.  This can have the effect of others somehow feeling responsible for this, feeling guilty thus once again giving away energy to them.

These behaviours have been described in many different ways such as assertive/aggressive/ passive or in parent/adult/child terms.

How we develop our own control dramas is often a result of our parents control dramas so an “Intimidator” can result in a “Poor Me” and an “Interrogator” in someone being aloof.

Equally aloof dramas can create an interrogator behaviour and a poor me approach can also result in an explosion into intimidator.

So how do we deal with these control dramas? As with most things, first of all be aware that it is happening and then, if appropriate reflect back to them what is happening.   For example:  “Rather than me guessing about X why don’t you tell me?” (Aloof)  “I realise that X has happened to you but I’m not responsible for it” (Poor Me).

The key approach after this is to send or treat the person, from your own place of energy and strength, with kindness and compassion, understand where they are coming from.  I realise that is not necessarily an easy thing to do but by changing the energy between the two parties you manage to retain your own energy and sense of self-worth whilst, hopefully, affecting the others person’s energy state into one of calmness, peace and compassion.

“We humans have always sought to increase our personal energy in the only manner we have known, by seeking to psychologically steal it from the others–an unconscious competition that underlies all human conflict in the world.” ― James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy

Storytelling

Storytelling – do we still need it?

Listen with Mother and Jackanory are just two examples of storytelling from childhood memories.  Snuggling down alongside my Mum to listen to the radio or that quiet time listening and watching  the latest story on Jackanory before tea time still resonates today.  Both forms of storytelling held me enraptured and captivated by the words being spoken and the images created in my young mind.  The story allowed me as a young child to go into another world, to come away from the present and lose myself in the narrative of the theme.  For a child, storytelling whether through books, television or radio brought comfort, soothing, excitement and a tinge of fear and unknowingly an understanding of our world and a part within it.

Storytelling is an art form that has been in existence since mankind first inhabited this earth.  It was a way to share learning, to pass on crucial information and to evoke a sense of belonging.   Whilst in Namibia and visiting the oldest desert in the world, storytelling was in evidence in the form of rock art which were over 5000 year old, telling the story to the next reader of the type of game that could be found, where water was located and how to reach it.

Every culture has it ways to recount stories from one generation to another.  Storytelling is a link to our ancestors and their past knowledge but each story, retold over generations, fits its own modern paradigm.  Fairy stories illustrated this beautifully as they are redesigned each time with its own unique meaning to connect with contemporary culture.  Little Red Riding Hood was recreated by the Brothers Grimm to highlight the dangers of straying away from the path, the norm or the conventional.  It was thought that this story originated in 17th Century and known as Red Cap, often ended with the wolf and girl ending up in bed together!

Telling stories needn’t just be verbal, they can be drawn, written, sung and danced.  They can be in the form of riddles, fables, ballads and sayings.  Whatever the form, the key to the power of stories is the connection between speaker and listener – a connection from soul to soul with the receiver being an equal part of the process.  Each individual listener will perceive their own unique understanding of the underlining message within the folds of the story.  The listener needs to be ready to receive with open ears and heart and allow meaning to resonate within themselves.  How they absorb and embrace the meaning will be relevant to them at that current moment in time.  Great story tellers have that connection to their audience that engenders a curiosity to seek further understanding.

Maybe the art of storytelling has become diluted in the Western World, we have lost the respect of our elders and are so bombarded with constant information that the power of a single saying, theme  or sentence gets lost before it can be heard and assimilated.  However, within Shamanic practice storytelling is crucial for the connection with our ancestors, our understanding of the past, present and future and integral to personal growth.  So let us revere the Shaman’s skills at imparting knowledge and understanding through the ancient art of storytelling.

Tapping or EFT

Tapping as a Self-Help Tool

Tapping or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a gentle, non-invasive and effective way to bring down intensity of emotions.  It has been used since the 1970s and more research is being done on this intervention indicating the effect it has on the brain and body.  As it is easy to learn and apply it can be an incredibly powerful technique that once learnt can be applied to almost anything and anywhere.

The basic theory behind EFT or Tapping is that all negative emotions are a result of disruption to the body’s energy system.  So by tapping on these energy systems, Meridians, the energy is re-adjusted and restored to bring about a different emotional state, reduced pain and a change of perspective on beliefs and thoughts.

EFT works on the emotional cause of such issues as:-

Pain, depression, anxiety, phobias, post traumatic stress disorder, panic, confidence issues, weight loss and cravings, stress, headaches, self-esteem to name just a few!

A part of the brain, the amygdala, is our alarm detector and any stressful, distressing emotion or thought triggers this alarm off to release such hormones as adrenaline and cortisol, keeping the body on fight/flight alert even with low grade persistent stress.  This can also link back into long term memories which continue to raise the intensity of emotion.

So by tapping on certain points the brain starts to relearn that although the thought/memory/emotion is distressing the alarm system starts to switch off as it is no longer feeling threatened.

A good example is post traumatic stress disorder where after Tapping is applied, the memory of the event remains but the emotion that was attached to it is no longer intense – it has reduced or completely disappeared.

Once you learn where and how to tap you can tap on symptoms such as pain, headaches, muscular tension.  You can tap on emotions such as anger, sadness, anxiety, fear, grief.  You can tap on an actually event such as going to the dentist, speaking to new people, public speaking and you can also tap on the limiting beliefs that underlie perceptions about ourselves and memories from childhood that have formed those beliefs.

There are many good examples of using Tapping on the internet such as The Tapping Solution and EFT Universe.

If you would like more information about how to use Tapping please feel free to contact me.

Abundance and generosity of Nature

Abundance from Nature

September is the month for gathering in the harvest and making use of the bounty in the hedgerows.  Since we were first on this Earth we have been making use of Mother’s Nature generosity and abundance to help us get through the darker leaner months of winter.

This year appears to have produced an abundance of blackberries , sloes and apples ready for the birds and animals to feast upon or for us, humans, to create alcoholic beverages and warming pies! We can’t always rely on produce being available and certainly farmers this year have had a tough time due to the harsh wet winter and then parched dry summer.  It is very easy to be removed from our food source and therefore not appreciate what we are receiving.

Recognition of food is highlighted in September with the harvest festival in Christian tradition and pagan celebrations of the Autumn equinox.  Whatever way we celebrate or appreciate our abundance it is not to be taken for granted and it is the same when we receive from others.  It is often a pleasure to give things or do things for free to others but we also need to be aware that by doing so we may  leave others indebted to us or become depleted in our own resources as we continually give but not look after ourselves.

One of the first things I learnt in Reiki after qualifying at Level One was that there needs to be an exchange of some kind.  People need to give back for what they receive in order to fully appreciate what has been given.  The exchange doesn’t need to be financial but can be in any shape and form.

The article Planting the Seeds of Generosity quite rightly talks about what we send out we get back in return so we need to balance what we can do for others and how we can best look after ourselves.   Just as nature works in balance with using the nutrients from the soil she also gives back by enriching it for the following year.

So when we gather our berries from the hedgerow or our beans from the garden or even the food we buy in supermarkets why not give something back in form of thanks or a gift to the earth that has provided us with this abundance.