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Mindfulness when Grief visits

At some point in our lives all of us will experience the loss of a loved one, a relationship, a job, a pet, a home and even maybe permanent changes in our health, there are countless reasons in life that we will grieve. Grief is a completely natural human response to loss. There is no right or wrong way for any individual to go through this process, it takes the time it takes and the feeling of loss may never truly pass, it will just becomes a part of us, as we travel through the journey of our life. Whatever kind of loss, bereavement or grief that we experience, we cannot predict what our thoughts, feelings or physical sensations will be, and arise in such an impossibly hard emotional time. Grief is universal and happens all over the world, a shared human experience, and each person will have their own individual beliefs and cultural values when this time arrives for them.

Mindfulness practice is not meant to minimise any of the pain we experience or suggest that by meditating everything will be okay, but what it does do is, teach us how to experience our thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations in the present moment, and with a huge amount of self compassion, allow and give yourselves the permission to feel what you feel without judgement, moment by moment in a healthy environment. It is acceptable to most of us that we generally want to avoid pain and suffering, but to resist and suppress our emotions becomes exhausting, taking up far too much of our emotional and physical energy.Sometimes you may need to kindly remind yourself that grief can become too much for one person alone, you may want the help and support from family, friends, your religious community, a grief support group or a healthcare professional.Also remembering that there is never a destination to reach when experiencing grief, however there are many different mindfulness practices that can help with the grieving process, try not to rush things and maybe start with a simple practice, it takes time to learn new things and when you feel ready, maybe a breathing mindful meditation is a good place to start.

Mindful breathing can be done anywhere at any time without anyone realising you're even doing it, your breath is your anchor, it always with you and on an average we breath 22,000 times a day without even being conscious of it.In a comfortable position, focus all of your attention on your body, as your breath enters and exits the body, there’s no need to change anything just your normal breathing pattern is good, pay attention to the gentle rise and fall of your chest, the feeling of the cool air in your nostrils and the warmth of your breath as it leaves your body, can you notice any other physical sensations as you breath? the whole of your body as your breath rhythmically flows in and out? a sense of stillness, restlessness, lightness maybe some heaviness, whatever you feel in this moment is ok and if you feel nothing that’s ok to, all you are doing is noticing what your experience is right now in this present moment, your mind will probably wonder, thinking of all the other things than seem more important to do at this time, do acknowledge and not linger on these thoughts (your thoughts are just that thoughts) and then gently without judgement bring your attention back to your breath and all the sensations that you can feel in this moment, this wandering or distraction may happen one or more times during your meditation time and that's okay, its the noticing that this has happened and bringing your attention back to the breath that counts (this is meditation) and when you feel the time is right for you, finish your breathing meditation by taking just a moment to sit, and give yourself a kind thought for the rest of the day. Mindfulness practices help us by activating the parasympathetic nervous system (our bodies rest and digest system) when this is activated our heart rate and blood pressure will lower which can then help us to reduce the feelings that occur when we are anxious. 

Mindfulness allows us to embrace and accept what is happening now in the present moment to be without judgement in this moment, to recognise what has happened and allow us to have some self compassion. Gently remind yourself that your process is your own it will rise and fall, be gentle and patient with yourself and take all the time you need.

 “You will survive and you will find purpose in the chaos, moving on doesn’t mean letting go” Mary VanHaute

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Autumn Air

Can you feel the chill in the Autumn air, as passing time brings us new seasons and change. 

Autumn is also known as being the season of opposites, the weather starts to chill, the trees shed their leaves, hibernation and rest of the coming Winter is what nature starts to prepare for. We will begin to slow down as the days shorten, bring warmth and comfort inside of our homes, light cosy wood fires, burn candles scented of cinnamon and apple and close our curtains against the early evening darkness.

Nature moves slowly and deliberately through each yearly cycle, Autumn is natures last hoorah slipping into the de-cluttering of its foliage, Winter is the hermit, Spring explodes with new life and Summer a time of light and vitality. If we slow down enough and pay close attention to our mind, physical body and emotions, we have this Autumn a chance to let go of the old that no longer suits you well and make way for the new and fresh. Prune, cut, trim, condense and tidy up, once you've completed these tasks and some may be more challenging than others to let go of. The extra weight that you have once carried, now dropped to the floor like the falling leaves of Autumn, you’ll wonder why you held on to some of those old things for so long. 

Letting yourself have space to breath and be comfortable. Autumn will slowly slip into Winter and hibernation, a time to rest and perhaps a time to move forward in ways that you've never tried before, could this now be possible for you to try?

Life always brings us constant change, just as the seasons change, the more we are able to accept and adapt to our own individual life changes the further forward we can go to explore new adventures experiences.

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Mindful Eating a Key to Good Health

What is Mindful Eating?   Mindful eating is an in the moment awareness of the food and drink that you put into your body, this involves observing how the food you eat makes you feel and the signals it sends to your body, it can affect the way that you feel physically emotionally and mentally. It can also boost your energy making you feel well or it can drain your resources making you feel sluggish, may be moody or slightly down. For example you may find that when you eat a meal that is heavily loaded with carbohydrates you could feel bloated and lethargic for some hours afterwards, or if you eat a lighter  meal of say fish and salad you might feel slightly more mobile and alive.

Mindful eating can help significantly reduce over eating habits, that can contribute towards weight gain, faulty eating habits, eating disorders, food cravings, stress and anxiety issues around food. This said on its own mindful eating is not a diet, although it does teach us to be aware and fully present in the moment, whilst we cook or eat allowing us to truly savour the taste, texture and look of our food without judgement. When we are more aware and present the mind is calmer, when the mind is calmer we are less prone to making bad choices. When slowing down our eating process we can discover the connection between our mind and how body feels during eating, a series of hormonal signals connect our gut and central nervous system during the digestion process. The brain requires 20 minutes to understand the process of us feeling full in our stomachs, so slowing things down has great benefits.

Mindful eating isn't about being perfect and always eating the right things and never allowing yourself to have the odd treat or to, it's about focusing all of your senses and being present in the moment whilst you shop, cook, serve and eat your food.

To practice mindful eating it's important, to eat with all of your attention, without being on automatic pilot this means, stopping what you are doing, put down your phone maybe switching the television off, putting your book to one side, or momentarily put off, mentally planning the things that you need do later. Pay attention to the textures shapes colours and smells of your food whilst shopping preparing and eating your food.  Discover what reactions you have to the food on your plate, the colours, how did the smells make you feel?, chew your food thoroughly and notice how the textures and flavours make you feel physically and/or emotionally, these experiences may change moment to moment as you progress through your meal or snack. Try to make a greater connection to where your food has come from, how it's been produced and the journey it's taken to get to your plate, the people that have been connected and involved within that process.

Research has found that mindful eating can promote better digestion, keep you full with less food and help you to make wiser choices in what you eat and when you eat, how different foods affect your energy and mood, help to free unhealthy habits and make better nutritional choices.

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Need A Little Mindful Motivation

Are you living in Full Bloom?   Has your Mindfulness practice become less over this long period of Covid lockdown? or maybe, you have found that your practice has improved with having a little more free time on your hands.  After talking with some of my clients this week, there seems to be a general feeling of frustration that they are experiencing, it's among most them, everyones lives had been turned upside down by the pandemic, now the time is upon us/them (some of them post vaccine) that they are all trying to rebuild and slot back into their old routines, But as they have expressed to me, nothing seems to quite fit the way it used to, not enough time in the day, how did I use to fit everything in, Am I that disorganised, its all a bit to much and they are finding it quite challenging to get back to or to start a new Mindfulness practice.

Firstly be kind and gentle with yourself, try to accept how different your life is right now and how you feel about it at this moment in time.  Remember study shows that people who practice mindfulness are happier, healthier and more successful when coping with the highs and lows that our life path will take us on. Setting yourself a realistic and achievable goal is essential, motivation is a combination of intention and focus, why do you want to start or restart your Mindfulness practice, having a clear picture of why, will help you to stick with it. Maybe you could try to schedule your Mindfulness session, make an appointment with yourself, put it in your diary and treat it the same as you would a meeting or a check up at the doctors.  Choose a comfortable amount of time to begin with, ten minutes, twenty or thirty, remember its your practice, so do whats best for you in your allotted time frame.  Finding time in a busy day can sometimes be really difficult, everyday we all follow a routine of some sort, we wake up, shower, clean our teeth you can see what I'm trying to say, maybe you could include one of your daily tasks into your Mindfulness practice be present and fully aware of your thoughts and feelings while you are doing the task. Try out some  different Mindfulness practices,  A Bodyscan, Breathing, Movement, Walking, Five Senses be curious and discover what it is that helps you maintain your practice.  Perhaps being part of a group (online maybe) or having a  friend will help to keep your focus going.  Make a list of the benefits you feel once your practice is complete, its always nice to remember the positives, but do also allow yourself time to recognise any other emotions, thoughts and feelings that may come and go during your Mindful practice.  Don't be to hard on yourself if you stray and get off track for a day or two, it doesn't mean its time to give up, workout why you strayed, recommit and continue onwards.  Different things work for different people, there will be some stormy days and some beautiful clear sunny days during this restarting or starting phase, just try to stick with it, enjoy and discover how Mindfulness will work for you, your lifestyle and your personality.  Live Life in Full Bloom  

 

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Post Lockdown How Mindfulness can Help

Over the last 12months Covid-19 has brought about many changes in our lives that we would once never have thought possible.  Creating enormous losses of, loved ones, for some of us, the loss of jobs affecting our income, a loss of our everyday work and social routines and a loss of what we thought was the certainty we had, at least on our own life pathway.  We had been placed in a completely new and strange world.  With the current lockdown restrictions beginning to ease in the weeks ahead and many of the population have had or are currently receiving their vaccines, maybe we can start to look forward to having a little bit of normality and some of our old routine if its still there back in our lives.  But as we took time to adjust going into and living in lockdown, there are many of us that are feeling anxious and concerned about reconnecting, to start over once again, living our lives as we had before.  For many there will be the added pressure of living with the feelings of loss and grief that was experienced through this pandemic.   Everyone of us will have experienced this in some way, a loss that is personal to them, so challenges and uncertainty maybe ahead, in our families or in our working environment, we will certainly need to navigate and move through it the best way that we can, all using our own individual coping mechanisms, allow yourself to feel what you feel, have self-compassion and self love, love and compassion for others, there is no set timetable for how long it will take you to adjust.  Life is beautiful, but it can also be difficult and at times painful and throughly enduring.

Learning to use Mindfulness as a tool, will help you to address your feelings, assist you when navigating a way through the discomfort and challenges that may arise from what you have personally experienced, worry, anxiety, fear, loss and grief.  As we begin to intergrate back into our normality and the joy of community living we will come across changes of all kinds. Mindfulness teaches us to become aware of the present moment, our thoughts and feelings, our physical experience and accept them as they are in this moment,  to acknowledge any discomfort, anxiety and pain that may also be present in the moment, to experience it, feel it, instead of maybe choosing to turn away or ignore those feelings.  How to be aware of our immediate surrounding space, the sounds and smells it has, how it appears visually to us and how it feels physically to us.  This experience of living in the present, can be expanded out into the world that surrounds our lives, giving us a wider picture to view, experience physically and emotionally.  Once we can accept that there is no permanence, we allow ourselves to live in the present moment, with its ever changing shape, its ebbs and flows and all the up's and downs that life hold for us.

Mindful Breathing is accessible to us all, every minute of everyday, try to think of your breath as an anchor that holds and grounds you, in the present moment.  To begin, stop what your doing, be comfortable and focus on your breath, feel the physical sensations of the breath, the rise and fall of the chest, maybe you can feel the breath in other parts of your body, the back or the shoulders, the lower abdomen, can you feel the flow of air in and out of your nose or mouth, any thoughts that enter your head (and they will) try allowing them to drift past as you like clouds in the sky,  then refocus once more back to your breath, you may sometimes feel emotions rise to the surface whilst practicing Mindful Breathing  this is ok, acknowledge them, and when you feel ready return once again to the sensations of your breath, after experiencing any distraction always gently and with kindness to yourself return back to the sensations of your breath.  This is not easy and it may take a little time to learn, so practice is essential, but it will and can become a great natural tool for you to use when those anxious and difficult to handle moments arise or those trying periods that will certainly enter into your life at some point.

We all need to take care of ourselves, our families, friends, communities and each other, we need rest, sleep, to eat well and exercise, set time aside each day to.............breath, just be still in the present moment and breath, be your own best friend, be kind to yourself, seek and ask for help if you need to, these are difficult and challenging times, but they will not last forever.

 ***Feelings come and go like clouds in the sky. Conscious Breathing is my Anchor*** Thich Nhat Hanh 

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A Lack of Human Touch

With so many people around the world living their lives in, imposed or self isolation, having to social distance oursleves from others, helping to curb the spread of coronavirus, some of us are starting to feel the effects of going without human touch. Whether it's shaking hands upon meeting someone new, hugging a friend or family member, receiving or giving a supportive pat on the back, a friendly squeeze of a hand, a passionate embrace or a lover's kiss. This physical separation for some people is starting to have an effect on their emotional and mental health, leaving them feeling sad and isolated.

Touch is truly fundamental to human connection, bonding in relationships, and our health and happiness. 

Many studies have shown that when social and emotional touch is welcomed it boosts our mental and physical wellness. It causes our brains to release oxytocin (the bonding hormone), this stimulates the release of our other feel good hormones, dopamine and serotonin, which will assist in reducing the stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine, making us feel happier and less stressed, being touched can also lower our heart rate and blood pressure, relieve pain, reduce anxiety, lessen depression and boost our immune systems.

Its is normal living in these times with COVID-19 that we struggle with the loss of touch, so what can we do for ourselves and others to "Replace a Hug" MIndfulness activities may help you, Mindfulwalking getting outside noticing in detail whats all around you, try appreciating sounds, sights and smells, noticing other people, even from afar can reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, a friendly wave or a tip of your hat can be a welcome hello from afar, writing a daily journal may help you to process negative or sad feelings, making a note of the small things that you feel grateful for, talking on the phone with your loved one's whilst looking at their photo can enhance your feelings of connection to them, group chats on zoom or other video calling apps can be a great way to share with other's how everyone is faring during these unusual times, a one to one call can be wonderful to help someone feel seen and heard, writing emails, sending letters or cards out to loved one and friends in the post. While none  of this this can replace our lost hugs and human touch, it does provide us with interactions, giving us connection to others, and allowing us feelings of comfort and happiness for the time being.

" To touch can be to give life" Michelangelo

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It's okay not to be okay

The way to live in the present is to remember that "This too shall pass" When you experience joy, remembering that "This too shall pass" helps you savour the here and now. When you experience pain and sorrow, remembering that "This to shall pass" reminds you that grief, like joy, is only temporary. Joey Green

2020 for most of us has been a year of radical changes in our private life styles, working lives and our emotional wellbeing, the constant changes we are experiencing play havoc with our sense of equilibrium and happiness, unable to make concrete plans for anything, trying to learn to be more flexiable in our attitudes, and maybe its getting used to being a little more, spur of the moment personality type,  or making the most of and appreciating the simple things life has to offer. So is time to cut yourself a little slack and realise that it's ok, not to be okay all of the time in this strange new world we have to live in.

Accepting that "it's okay not to be okay" is a start, acknowledging that it's ok to feel uncertain, have self doubt, scared, lonely, emotional or sad, having a sense of grief or pain for what has been lost in your life or may not be in your life for somtime in the foreseeable future. No one can be perfectly happy all of the time, but getting through our difficulties and ignoring that they exist are two completely different things. Actively allowing ourselves to  feel our feelings can show us the impermence of them, helping us to heal our emotional wounds. Is this a comfortable process? absolutely not but esstenial for our personal growth. The mindfulness concept of leaning towards and investigating our discomfort with intentions of self-compassion, loving kindness and non judgement in the present moment, can help us through the process of finding the answers, to what we are actually feeling inside. Each one of us is unique and we will all have different coping strategies, finding the healthy option is sometimes the most challenge part of this process and sticking to our regular routine wherever and whenever possible will also help. Other mindfulness practices, yoga, journaling, colouring, going for a run, deep breathing, talking with our family or friends, there are so many  helpful ways of letting yourself feel what you are truly feeling inside, learn to be patient with yourself and heal, let those not okay days be like passing cloud, you can't see the sun but you know its there. Our lives will always be filled with ups and downs, but this is what shapes us into being the people that we are.

"Love yourself, accept yourself, forgive yourself and be good to yourself, because without you the rest of us are without a soource of many wonderful things" Leo F Buscaglia

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Finding new appreciation of Nature

Has it taken this period of lockdown, over these last couple of months for you to find the pleasure that you can feel from walking outdoors, discovering the nature that is right on your doorstep or even in your own back garden? finding the new winding pathways to and from the shops, a gently trickling stream that flows into a never noticed before pond, a peculiar looking old tree amongst the others in the woods or someone else's beautifully kept garden, with lower polution levels and less tiny particles floating in the air the skies have been bluer and the stars in the night sky brighter. 

Even a brief nature fix of 10 minutes can lower our stress and anxiety levels, these amazing benefits we feel, could be maximised by us spending longer moments connecting to and with nature, the more of our senses we use, our sight, the sounds we hear, the aromas we smell, the things we touch and even taste, the positive effects we receive from utilising our senses whilst out in the natural world will show in our physical and emotional health. 

Mindful walking can help us to be present in the moment, stay in the here and now by focusing on how we feel and whats happening around us. It simply means walking while being aware of each step you take and being mindful of the breath, it can be done at anytime and anywhere that you may find yourself, alone or with other people, start by walking a little slower than usual, bringing your attention firstly to the physical sensations that you feel in the whole of your body as your feet touch the floor with every step that you take, feel how your feet adjust to the even or uneven surface beneath them, how your balance may change as you slow down your pace.  Also spend a little time noticing how you feel emotionally whilst walking, no judgement here just noticing. Maybe try walking barefoot to feel the different textures in between your toes and on the soles of your feet, how do your arms feel naturally swinging gently to counter balance your steps. As with other mindful practices your mind will wander and when it does bring your focus back to the sensations that you are feeling in that moment. Maybe when you feel comfortable walking,  you could choose a focal point slightly ahead of you, you may even choose to stop there, now shift your attention away from your body to what is surrounding you, seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, how does the weather feel on your face? what colours and shapes do you see?, the sounds that you can hear near and far, spend several moments here just noticing, as each experience comes into your awareness, acknowledge it and then let it pass like gentle clouds in the sky, you can stop walking whenever you feel the time is right for you,

With so much going on in the world around us, it may seem tough to get rid of all the noise that goes on inside our heads, the stress and anxiety that arises when we worry about those that we love and care about, so continue (or start) to reap all the benefits from your mindful walks in nature, the phyiscal exercise experience can help to reduce blood pressure and heart rate, create feelings of wellbeing, provide better sleep patterns, improve mood and lower stress and anxiety. 

Most of all enjoy your mindful walks, you'll be amazed at all the things that you've never even noticed before, so smile to yourself and smile at others that you'll meet on the way.

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Going Nowhere - Being Still

Going nowhere, with the inforced boundaries that living in lockdown has given us and many changes to become familiar with, everyday life completely altered for some of us and we are still living in uncertain times.

Being underlockdown for me has been a strange and sometimes challenging experience, in complete isolation with my elderly vulnerable parents, not able to see other members of my much loved family, my dearest friends and work colleagues. But it has also been a time of reconnecting with my parents, playing board games, doing jigsaw puzzles for amusement, watching nature in the back garden, cooking and appreciation for the shared meals, and all of the small simplistic things in life, I am no longer waking up to an alarm clock, having a full daily to do list, organising my diary so everything can be completed on time, but instead there is time for drinking the first cup of morning tea in the garden, listening to the birds chirping, the lack of traffic driving past makes the morning song seem louder and more pleasant, enjoying breakfast with parents, their talking about what they're planning to fill their day with, small but to them essential things, that keep them going mentally and physically day to day.

Stillness - what does it mean to you? maybe you think it's the opposite to movement, being energetic, or is it absence of noise, quietness, tranquility. Stillness is a choice for us, it can be felt by being fully aware, in the present moment, connected to our physical body sensations and our emotions, it is our natural state of being. So why can it be so difficult to find for some of us, today we live our live's with constant distractions, so much noise both inside and outside of our brains, several screens that demand our attention, daily to do lists, stimulating food and drink, it seems we are all trying to juggle many balls at the same time.

Lockdown may be the perfect time to cultivate Stillness and feel its benefits, it is possible that you have naturally reduced your external stimuli in these times of restriction. Stillness soothes our nervous system, helping  to lower the stress and anxiety we may feel in these uncertain times, it can lower blood pressure and help boost our immune systems, you can start by just taking a few minutes (10-30mins) out of every day and practice, it takes a little time to learn, so keep going, lockdown being the perfect opportunity to have a go.

Stillness can come in different ways, there is no right or wrong way to do it, you can find a favourite place to sit inside or outside, as long as you won't be disturbed, and focus simply on your breath, the physical sensations you feel from breathing, the rise and fall in the abdomen and rib cage, there is no need to change anything stick with whatever feels natural to you, if your mind wanders away, and it will, bring back to focus once again on your breath, it may be that you prefer to focus on a soothing image, nature in the garden, using your sight as if you are seeing for the first time, noticing all the small intricate details, or listening to a low, calming piece of music, the sounds of nature, the birds, a slow trickling stream, or some natural motion like a candle flame flickering,  you are using your senses to be fully aware and completly experiencing the present moment. It is not problem solving nor is it planning, it is not regretting or reliving the past, it is not worrying or dreaming of the future, It is just being Still and breathing in your own natural calm rhythm.

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Times of Change

We are now living in uncertain times, changes occuring on a daily basis and the long term outcome unknown, but change and uncertainty have always been impossible to avoid, change is one of the things that is always constant, this is how most of us experience life, so how do we start to navigate through this time of anxiety, stress, and worry, that we have for ourselves, our famlies, friends and colleagues. Acceptance is a start, to truly accept that we can't plan our way out of what we don't know, and it's ok to have the feelings that you have, give yourself permission to experience the uncertainty of this situation.

Our brain has a natural negativity bias, this means when we are faced with uncertainty, we are most likely to think about all of the things that could or might go wrong, rather than focusing on all of the good things that could possibly happen, Its also natural to feel fear about the future and this fear only adds fuel to our negativity bias. To counter our tendency to focus on the negative, we can write down things that we are grateful for within these uncertain times, try to write maybe three things per day, it can be absolutely anything that comes to mind. Research has shown that when we think about something that we are grateful for, our body releases serotonin this helps to give us a mood boost and dopamine which plays a vital role in the brain's pleasure and rewards system. Intentionally being kind to others helps, getting out of our own heads, our own worries and stress. Caring for other's, texting a friend, asking a neighbour if they are ok, smiling at someone is always a kind thing to do, even in times of correct social distancing, these small postive acts of kindness make us happier as our brain releases oxytocin. 

Having daily tasks "rituals"  things that we do by repitition each day provide us with a sense of control, giving us order during the chaos, it's an efficient way of us relieving the anxiety and stress, we may have to change some of our old rituals for new or different ones during this time of isolation, try involving family members to come up with some new ideas, home exercising as a family, husband and wife indoor date night at the weekend, using technology to keep in virtual contact with loved ones, a to do list, reading the books you've always wished you had time to, Our world is full of constant change our rituals old or new help us to keep consistency and balance.

Having some times during the day away from the constant 24/7 barrage of media coverage, perhaps choose a specific time to tune in and stick to the trusted sources of information, government and NHS websites, this is especially true if you are prone to feeling anxious and your thoughts spiral into overdrive, don't believe everything you think, thoughts are not statements or fact, pause and breathe.

The use of mindfulness practices can be really helpful, to navigate through the uncertainty that change brings into our lives, using the breath meditation, bodyscan, mindful movement, loving kindness practice, becoming aware of how you are, your thoughts and feelings, experience your body sensations, being curious and gentle without trying to fix or change anything that is present, being non judgemental about anything that arises. It will be possible to be exactly as you are in the present moment with practice, this takes sometime and some dedication to achieve, but every new skill takes a little time to learn. 

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Grey Days

Some of us love nothing more than the cosy feelings of grey winter days, snugly in hats and scarfs, closing the curtains early shutting the rest of the world out, log fires burning brightly, comforting lunches of home made soup and fresh crusty bread and butter.

But.........

What if your one of the many people who find these days difficult to live with, those grey winter days can leave us feeling low in mood, lethargic, having loss of concentration, mood swings and cheering ourselves up by comfort eating. These feelings are most likely triggered by the lack of sunlight in winter months, with shorter days and the winter weather causing darker cloud cover, contributing to the disruption of our natural body clock rhythms.  Research suggests that the lack of sunlight might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalmus from functioning properly, affecting our production levels of the hormones melatonin and serotonin.

Maybe if we change the way that we feel about the colour grey it can help us to overcome the struggle of those winter days. Is grey a colour of compromise, being neither black or white? The darker grey becomes the more dramatic and mysterious it becomes, whilst the lighter it goes towards being silver and white, the more illuminating, lively and sparkly it can be. We can think of grey as being timeless and practical, it can also be conservative, boring, drab and depressing or maybe it's sophisticated, elegant, smart and cool. Grey is the perfect neutral and allows it to be flexiable, it can moderate brighter hues and expertly pull a colour scheme together.  When too much grey starts to create feelings of sadness, loneliness or even depression for us, maybe its time to add some colour to change these feelings. To add energy and warmth try reds, oranges and yellows for a calm cooler mood add blues, purples and greens. Enjoy experimenting and see what works for you.  

Remember if we always colour the picture of our world grey, the picture will constantly be GREY, use the crayons of your imagination to colour the pictures that you want to see in your world.

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Why do we need Mindfulness?

Just because we are hearing about Mindfulness everywhere, does it mean we should jump on the band wagon of the lastest stress busting trend? "YES" is the answer.

So what are you doing right now and what are you thinking right now, are both of these things focusing on the same topic? If your thinking about something completly different than what your actually doing, your mind is somewhere else, rather than being on the present moment. We have become very adapt in our busy lives to multitasking and living our lives on auto pilot, rushing from one thing to the next or doing two or three things at the same, all this without paying full attention to our thoughts, feelings and emotions. Mindfulness in essence is being in the present moment with awareness of whats going on for us internally and externally without judgement or attatchment to that moment.

Mindfulness practices can help us to focus our attention and observe our thoughts, feelings and emotions, helping us to make clearer decisions, undertstand our emotions and to be more engaged in our lives.

Take a moment to sit and observe, this can be externally (the scenery) or internally (how you are feeling) this is just noticing, using your sesnses, seeing, hearing etc or what you are feeling, happy, sad etc. Now see if you can describe this observation to yourself, what is the experience without making a judgement of it, For examlple if I was sat watching ducks swimming and feeding on a pond, I would try to notice what I was actually seeing and feeling rather than saying whether I liked or disliked the scene I would just sit and observe with the whole of my being, and finally ,fully throw yourself into the experience of appreciating the present moment, remember their is no right or wrong, no good or bad just observation of the moment, staying with this type practice for as little as 5 minutes could be of benefit to you. As you get more experienced in doing this type of practice it could increase in the length time for up to 30 minutes or even longer.

Studies have shown that doing regular Mindfulness practices we can reduce our stress levels, improve our sleep patterns, lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, strengthen the body's immune system, improve irritability and help our concentration skills. It helps us let go of the "what if's" in the future and accept the things that we cannot change in the past, realising the present moment is the only moment we truly have. 

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Are you Listening?

Listening = "To give one's attention to a sound"

Steven Covey said "Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply"

Listening in any language requires focus and attention, we use our ears to receive individual sounds, our brains then convert these sounds into messages that mean something to us. Its a skill that some of us need to work a little harder than others to achieve, hearing is the act of taking in sound by the ear, LISTENING however is what we consciously choose to do.

45% to 50% of a typical day is spent listening and immediately after we listen to someone, we only recall about 50% of what is said. We listen at 125 - 250 words per minute, but think at 1000 - 3000 words per minute.  

Effective listening helps to resolve conflicts, builds trust, inspires people and strengthens relationships, spending time being in the present moment and really listening you will truly absorb the information that is being given to you, good listeners are perceived as being more intelligent.  

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Mindfulness during the Menopause

Menopause is a time of great change, a natural biological process for all women, it happen's generally in your 40s or 50s.  The physical symptoms that may be experienced can be Hot flushes, Night sweats, Sleep problems, Weight gain and slowed metabolism, Thinning hair and Dry skin, Irregular periods, before they totally cease and vaginal dryness.  The emotional symptoms experienced could include Irritability, Anxiety, Fatigue, Mood changes, Sadness and Difficultty in concentrating. Having to live your every day life with some of these symptoms can have an overall effect on your health, wellbeing and lifestyle.

Research has found that women who are committed to practicing Mindfulness may experience fewer menopausal symptoms, and women who have higher stress levels show a greater link to experiencing menopausal symptoms.  The impact of Mindfulness on menopausal symptoms is not the same for all of it's symptoms, hot flushes and night sweats seem to be the least changed symptoms, although it shows a positive reduction in the symptoms of irritability, anxiety and fatigue, allowing some women to have help with their changing emotions.

Mindfulness involves focusing our attention on the present moment, maintaining an awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations non judgementaly through a gentle nuturing lens. When we practice Mindfulness we are able to tune into what we are experiencing right now rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future, using our breath as our focus.

Although Mindfulness cannot claim to entirely eliminate menopausal symptoms it shows that it may reduce the impact that your symptoms have on your life, giving you a vital life tool to have.  You have every to gain and nothing to lose so give it a try.

(REF: A study conducted by the Mayo clinic, Dr Richa Sood)

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Are you getting your Green Exercise

Many of us, due to our modern day lifestyles are experiencing a nature deficit.  More of us now live in towns and cities, many of us work inside large and tall buildings sometimes without windows, we are also constantly involved with using our many electronic devices.

Walking in nature, taking in all the atmosphere, using all of our senses to absorb the experience has a positive effect on our minds and bodies.  Research has shown that spending time in nature can, reduce stress, anxiety, deepression and anger, therefore helping us to feel happier, less fatigued, more tranquil and relaxed.  As little as 5 minutes of Green Exercise, a short walk across a park at lunch time, has been shown to boost moods and self esteem, producing a more productive working afternoon.

When our Green Exercise becomes a regular activity, physically we can expect to improve our cardiovascular fitness, strengthen our immune system, lower our blood pressure and improve our muscular strength.

With all of these healthy benefits what a great option for us to choose as an activity, when we have a liitle free time, maybe a walk and picnic in your local countryside, forrest, lakes, woodland and streams, coastal beaches and cliffs, even your local parks, anywhere that will take you closer to nature.

 

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Choose to eat Mindfully

Mindful eating - Giving your full attention to the experience of eating in the present moment.

It has also been shown to help with weight loss and assist in gaining control of unhealthy eating habits.

A few simple tips to get you get started.   Slowing down and eating without distraction.  Our brain takes around 20 minutes to register that we feel full, so sitting down giving our full attention to what we are eating and chewing our food is a great place to begin.  Try not to be distracted by the television, the computer or your smartphone.

Decide what makes you eat,   do you eat from actually being physically hungry or from an emotional signal such as feeling stressed, frustration, sadness or just plain old fashion boredom.  By learning to know and understand what your own personal triggers are, will give you time to choose your response to those feelings.

When do you eat?   at random times during the day grabing snacks here and there during your busy day or do you plan ahead deciding what you are going to eat and when.  With good organisation and preperation skills you are more likely to eat the amount of food that you need and not overindulge with one more snack.

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Wellbeing

Wellbeing feeling good and phyiscally well

Do you want to feel more positive, happier and get the most out of your life?

There is much evidence and research to suggest that there are 5 Steps we can take to achieve an improvement in our mental and phyiscal wellbeing.

Being mindful an awareness of being fully in the present moment, whilst acknowledging and accepting our feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. When we are mindful we can reduce stress, enhance performance and gain clear insight.  You come to realise that your thoughts come and go of thier own accord and that you are not your thoughts.

To be Active take a walk or cycle, enjoy the colours and smells of the outdoors, join a team event and make new friends, anything that inspires you to move and breath.

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Connection to others

Most of us need to feel supported, valued and Connected to others, this makes us happier and healthier, leading us to function well as human beings in the enviroment that surrounds us.

As we learn the art of genuinely giving and receiving with others our personal, social and professional relationships grow and strengthen.

Why not today see how Connected you are, maybe try a new or different approach than you normally would do.

Smile or say Hello to a stranger.

Speak to someone on the telephone rather than texting or e-mailing.

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Sunshine in your life

Colour is a powerful communication tool, it can be used to influence our moods, personalities and behavior.  With spring upon us, new life is starting to grow in the earths soil giving us a host of bright colours scattered across meadows, hedgerows, gardens and tubs.  Cheerful shades of yellow bring bright sunshine rays into our senses.

Yellow can be said to represent Happiness, Optimism, Freshness, Positivity, Energy, Clarity and Joy.  It can be warm and soft like baby chicks or warm and bright, springtime sun shine streaming into a room through a window.

Yellow looks different to us depending on the time of year, in the summer yellow appears more greenish where as in the winter it appears more reddish. Phyiscally yellow is the easiest colour for our eyes to see, which is why its used in awarness and danger signs.

Look at the stars, Look how they shine for you, And everything you do, Yeah they were all YELLOW words famously sung by Coldplay

How much Yellow is in your life today, close your eyes, breath in the sunshine.  

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Mindful Breathing


Breathing supports our health and wellbeing, so its a good idea to pay a little attention to how we breath, it can affect our physical, mental and emotional state.

Mindful breathing is a simple practice, start by paying attention to the sensations caused by the movements of your breathing in your own body.  The gentle rise and fall of the chest being one of them.

Are your inhales and exhales long or short?, quick or slow?, there is no controlling it, no judging it just letting it be as it is in this moment in time.  Can you feel the breath as it enters and leaves your nostrils?.

As you try to do this breathing practice your mind will wander thats normal, when it does gently bring it back with kindness to the awareness of the sensations of your breath.

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