Mindful Monday: A little bit of NO with all of your GO

A little bit of no with your go

A little bit of NO with all of your GO‘ – such a great phrase I overheard Chaitanya say at a Cycles Of Womanhood Yoga Workshop yesterday. I loved the workshop with learning how breathing and yoga poses can be really medicinal for your body! Her website is here if you want more info? https://www.wombtempleyoga.com

BUT the most important message was the need to rest for healing and releasing and insights to occur….and we just don’t get enough of it in today’s world. We all need to learn how to say NO to rest more…amongst all of the GO, go, go …

Then this great quote popped up in my email today (I love the synchronicity!):

‘One of the most exhausting stress loops for women starts with saying yes when we feel no. Becoming your most authentic self is the first step to learning what a no and a yes feel like in your body. We often tell women to say no more, but equally as troublesome is that we also don’t feel and then follow our yeses’. by Karen Brody, author of Daring To Rest….

Both of these amazing women, Karen & Chaitanya are advocates of yoga nidra – one of my favourite mindfulness exercises! Research shows that 20-30 minutes of yoga nidra is equivalent to hours of deep sleep!

I used to listen to a recorded yoga nidra daily when my kids were little to give me a boost of energy for the afternoons! The more you listen to a yoga nidra, the more quickly and deeply you go into deep rest!   Being so still and rested is essential and it also helps us to tune into our hearts and bodies to determine clearly what we need to say No or Yes to. I couldn’t do without my daily meditation practice for this benefit alone!

You can read more about yoga nidra here: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-yoga-nidra-works_us_58efcea5e4b048372700d692

A range of free yoga nidras can be found here:   http://www.yoganidranetwork.org/downloads

It’s worth giving a go – saying NO to the phone / email / facebook /family / friends / work and giving yourself some moments of deep rest – we all need it!!

I’m off to rest deeply with a yoga nidra practice!!

Will you join me? x Sara 🙂

Daily Practice For Change To Happen…

How do we keep going with developing new life patterns and new ways of thinking…..when the old ways and old patterns just keep drawing us in?

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It’s been very comforting to read Louise Hay, Heal Your Life & Susan Jeffers, Feel The Fear & Do It Anyway who both strongly recommending daily practice for change…and the need to be gently persistent and very kind with ourselves as we bring change into our life…it’s not a quick overnight process.

I find that it’s very easy for me to drift back into negative thinking/emotions or old patterns and ways of being – it is hard to undo a lifetime’s worth of patterning!!  I actually believe it is human nature to focus on the negative…it’s how we have survived – focussing on what can go wrong or what might not be safe… So it takes time to navigate a new pathway in our brain, just like learning how to drive a car or play guitar…but with much more practice!!
I have a list of strategies that work for me – but not all the time – and for me it is a daily practice to move towards the life I want to live, to be the person I want to be, while still finding a way to be gentle and compassionate with myself -and accepting what happens in life and accepting I am human – and learning many life lessons as I go…
I think life will always throw us some curve balls – it’s just that we can change the way we react to them, we can change who we are in the moment…with lots of practice…
I’ve been practicing since 2011 and I’m still practicing!!  My daily/weekly list has grown as I’ve read books, done workshops, been in coaching sessions and completed the Artist Way…it has been a process of gathering what works for me….
Here’s my list:
  • Meditate twice a day (5-10 minutes – longer is great but not always easy)
  • Journal stream of consciousness – and add to that prayers / affirmations & what I am grateful for
  • Affirmations in the Mirror (when I remember)
  • Mindfulness – reminders to breathe, to pause, to take in the present moment, engage my senses
  • Walking in nature
  • Swim / Dance / Yoga
  • Creating /playing with colour- and adding in my affirmations
  • Connect with a good friend
  • Hugs with those I love
  • Have a mantra / affirmation that helps me in the hard times ‘I am OK, this time will pass, I am nurturing myself, I am willing to change’- I find the affirmation needs to ring true for me in the moment..
  • Choose to focus on what I am grateful for rather than worrying…
  • Imagine sending the person/thing I am worrying about a colour rather than worried thoughts
  • Forgiveness prayer- ‘I forgive you, I forgive me, I set you free, I only send you love and light, it is done, it is done, it is done
  • Loving Kindness prayer – ‘I wish you well, may you be safe & protected, may you be at ease & in good health, may you be kind loving and peaceful to yourself and to others
  • Read an inspiring gentle book like Louise Hay Heal Your Life
  • Potter outside in the garden
  • Imagine protecting myself with a colour / energy
  • Oracle cards
  • Book in for a counselling / coaching / healing session
But most importantly sometimes I just need to validate my emotions, validate that I’m not feeling great that day – and do some self-care so I begin to feel a little better…& sometimes I just need to start again tomorrow…sleep is great for resetting the brain!
So I’m really curious about what you use to stay on track…to lay down new patterns and new ways of thinking and new ways of approaching your life?  What works for you?  And is there a new practice that you can add to your day?  Nothing to big or tiresome – just something small that helps you to feel more positive or more present?
Susan Jeffers talks about a plane when on auto-pilot, is constantly auto-correcting it’s flight path, constantly going off track and then correcting itself.  She mentions how life is like that – constantly going off-course – and then we need to correct ourselves, over and over again – I found that comforting – and I guess that’s why it’s great to set up a daily practice…..
But if this is new to you – just start something small and achievable – with great flexibility and kindness so it becomes a rewarding part of your life – not a punishing activity to fit into your day….and slowly build – that’s what has worked for me…  Slowly over time noticing which daily activities feed my soul rather than those that drain it or numb it and then being able to choose those nourishing practices…and constantly, gently, auto-correcting!

The need to re-treat ourselves…

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One thing I am always amazed by is that when I go on holidays I become suddenly so much more aware of just how stressed I am – my body tense, my mind on hyper-alert, my heart all armoured up.  And it is only as the holiday progresses that time slows down, my body unwinds, my thinking slows and becomes more in the present moment and my heart becomes open with love and softness to what is happening here and now.

I was fortunate enough to have 10 days on Rottnest Island, WA this January, camping, riding, snorkelling, creating and reading with my family….no power, no cars, no outside world intrusions….and it really felt like a retreat.

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At the start I was worried about would we have enough to do??  By the end, of the 10 days, I didn’t want the holiday to finish and we still had so much to gently explore!!  Funny how fast paced our world can be that we can’t imagine slowing life down so much that all we need to think about is what to eat and which beach to visit and that fills the day beautifully!

This got me thinking about the idea that a retreat is really an opportunity to re-treat ourselves.   It is so much easier to be mindful on a retreat….to really be aware of our thinking, our stress levels and what we really need.  On a retreat it is easier to listen to our intuition, to feel deep gratitude and to feel at one with the world….although it can take a little while to settle our thinking, worrying, planning minds and process all that we have stored up in our bodies since the last retreat!

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So my intention this year is to attend 3 whole day retreats, to book in for a week long retreat and to plan some more holiday retreats for my family…knowing just how important it is.  Now is the time to book them in before the year gets too busy or I forget just how important they are to me.

So what are you going to do to re-treat yourself this year?  What can you book in?

Finding Self-Compassion

Small changes seem to bring BIG changes if we can just persist and practice enough…

It is amazing to me when things start settling in – first we understand a concept with our minds, and then over time as we practice,  we understand it deeply with our hearts – and then the real change happens…   In my experience real change happens faster when we involve the right side of our brain and our subconscious and art journal / sketch / doodle responses and bring in visualisations / meditations.  Slowly for me have I been learning self-compassion…

self-compassion-book

I’ve been lucky this year to do Brene Brown’s Gifts Of Imperfection Art Journalling course and Kristin Neff & Brene Brown’s Self-Compassion course- both online:  http://www.courageworks.com/shop/classes/self-compassion-with-kristin-neff-brene-brown and Tara Brach & Jack Kornfiled’s incredibly in depth Power Of Awareness online mindfulness course http://www.soundstrue.com/store/power-of-awareness where self-compassion is a key component…

We all have that inner critic, that war within ourselves…sometimes without us even being aware of it. The expectations we place on ourselves can be unrealistic and unachievable and we can be constantly beating ourselves up for not being better, perfect…

When I find myself getting highly critical of my loved ones then I know I’m being even more critical of myself!  Kristin Neff talks about how we are so much kinder and more compassionate to a best friend or child than we are to ourselves in the same situation yet it is very hard to express authentic compassion to others if we cannot express it to ourselves.

For me the journey of reducing this intense self-criticism began when I first became a Mum almost 18 years ago and had post natal depression.   I needed to let go of the ‘perfect’ should messages and give myself permission to have a messy house, look messy and have a messy garden and be tired and grumpy sometimes!   Since then it’s like I’ve needed to peel back the layers – uncovering other aspects of being too harsh on myself that I didn’t even know were there!

In the Gifts Of Imperfection Art Journalling course a powerful exercise is to find photos of your younger self and write down messages of self-compassion…it was very healing to find teenage photos and remember all of the angst and instead write with empathy, understanding, kindness and gentleness…as you would to your own child who is struggling.

Then in Kristin Neff’s Self-Compassion course I learned that there are 3 core components to self-compassion:

  1. Mindfully notice that you are at war with yourself
  2. Realise our common humanity – we are ALL imperfect, we are all struggling on some level, we are all on a journey
  3. Offer words of kindness, and explore how to actively nurture yourself…

If you think about it this is what we would offer a friend or a child – we would

  1. Notice they are struggling
  2. Empathise and offer that reassurance – ‘it can be difficult’
  3. Offer words of kindness and give a little nurturing

As Brene Brown puts it when we are truly compassionate for another human being it brings out our best selves – yet often the same scenario for ourselves and we treat ourselves worse than anyone else!!  We would never say to someone else what can go through our own minds!

So I have been art journaling and reading and meditating on this topic for a few months now…practicing….and then just recently I was at war with myself.   I had good intentions to change my life for the better but my inner critic was LOUDLY saying ‘give up, it’s not worth it, you don’t have the will power, you’re not strong enough’ And the debate in my head was so unpleasant I wanted to give up JUST to silence the inner critic.

But then I remembered – self-compassion! I noticed and labelled what was going on….’I’m at war with myself’ – just doing that made it a little easier to breathe…then I was able to place my hand over my heart and breathe into the feeling and recognise…’gee it’s tough sometimes to be human, to have all these choices, to make a change for better’….then I remembered times in my past where it has taken at least a year to make one small change to the point that I can easily do it daily … and I was able to offer some kind reassuring words…

And just that small moment – resonated through my life to be a BIG shift – all week it was easier to make the change, all week I was kinder to myself…  So it took awhile for the info to go from head level to heart level but when it did – it was a beautiful moment!

I’m wondering if you have experienced something similar?  Or if you would like more self-compassion in your life?

I’m excited that we’ll be reading and discussing Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff as part of our online Mindfulness Book Club in February 2017.   We’ll also practice some self-compassion exercises and if you live in Port Macquarie then we’ll meet in person to discuss and practice… I’m really looking forward to it!

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More Info: https://www.mindfulparentingmindfulcoaching.com/mindfulness-book-club

or you can join us on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/littlemindfulmomentsbookclub/

 

 

 

Setting Deep Inner Intentions for 2017

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I have been continuously amazed at the effectiveness of setting an intention, developing a vision board, using affirmations, sketching a vision, setting a goal etc for me and for my clients since setting out on my life coaching journey in January 2015 .

The way I can best explain it is that when you are pregnant you suddenly notice pregnant women and babies everywhere; when you are about to buy a blue Mazda you notice blue Mazdas everywhere whereas before you were oblivious to that information!

Our brain chooses what to focus on and ignores the other 1000,000 bits of information coming in every second (just so we can function!!).  Fortunately, we can begin to program our brain to notice what we want to focus on and that is where the magic happens!!

‘Where attention goes, energy flows(Tara Brach)

We can choose whether to focus on the negative, what is NOT working….or we can choose to focus on what we want to create, the positives we want to bring into our life! We still need to acknowledge and sit with what is not working – but we can learn to do that in a proactive, healing way and not in a negative spiral, ruminating way… And then just by seeing, hearing, feeling cues of the future we want to create we begin to notice in our life new stimuli and new ways of creating the future we want…to me it still feels a little bit like magic – and I wish I had learned more about this years ago.

This year I was lucky enough to use Leonie Dawson’s Shining in Life & Shining in Biz workbooks and diary http://leoniedawson.com/ – where you acknowledge all that happened the year before, you plan for the year ahead and then you check in each month – what are you grateful for? What have you achieved? What will you do for you?  What is your intention for the next month?

Even though there were a series of weeks without checking in I am amazed at how much has happened this year that in January I set out to do!!!  I loved these workbooks so much I pre-ordered my 2017 copy and have them ready to go – they are colourful, they keep all your dreams, intentions & goals in one place & I can’t recommend them enough!! Perfect for dreaming in the Christmas to New Year break and starting with some of those new years resolutions….

shining-in-life-and-biz-workbooks

Tied in with these workbooks I also frequently make vision boards / mind maps, use daily affirmations, see my coach and use art / doodling to really help my subconscious brain access and work through the intentions I am setting…and I am so grateful that so much in my life is happening right now because of these intentions…

 ‘Plant seeds of deep intention and little by little things change’. Jack Kornfield

For me the most important thing we all can do is to focus on what sort of person we want to be and what we want to do in this world rather than what we want to own or have (see Brian Payne’s Goal Mapping).

To do this we need to set deep inner intentions…tune into our inner compass / heart wisdom and work out our deepest values and if  we are living by them? If not what are the obstacles?  And what can we do to live more by our values?  This is often a core part of coaching sessions – and for me it is a question I revisit daily….the way I want to live might not be reflected by what I actually do in the day….and it is powerful to keep coming back to my deepest intentions.

It’s a little bit like my parenting journey – every day I set the intention that I will be kind, calm, patient, loving, nurturing, strong when I need to be in a respectful way…and each day I have times of being able to do this and I also times of reverting back to old ways.   It’s impossible to be perfect, especially if you are having one of those days and you are tired and stressed!!  But if I look back over the last 18 years – then I truly have changed the way I parent just by setting the intention….even if I’m still not perfect every day !!

Heart Over Mind

One reason why I LOVE mindfulness is because a big focus is on cultivating more loving kindness, compassion, forgiveness, equanimity….and being mindful allows us to pause and be present, to really notice ‘what really matters to me?’ what is in my heart and to set an intention of what we want to bring more of into our life that day.

Mindfulness also gives me a chance to experience and practice forgiveness, loving kindness in meditation which then helps in bringing in into everyday real life!

As Brene Browns frequently says all we can do is aim in the right direction, we may never get there!! We are human, we’ll make mistakes and we won’t be perfect but we can aim in the direction that feels right!

This is why I LOVE the idea of setting deep intentions as the main way to set a course for our lives!  Specific goals can then come out of this….

So this coming year, 2017, I am running a series of monthly Heart Intention 2017 sessions where we will reflect on and share the future we want to create, what we have enjoyed and what we are grateful for this month and what we are ready to let go of….and in each of these monthly sessions we will do 2 mindfulness exercises and reflect on our deep intentions and draw them into a mandala; with each month having a slightly different flavour.  I can’t wait!  These sessions will work in beautifully for anyone using the Shining Workbooks (although not essential to have these) – and they can be accessed live and online.

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More info  here at http://www.mindfulparentingmindfulcoaching.com/heart-intentions-20171

So I’m curious – what has worked for you this year to follow your heart, your inner compass?  What has eventuated that has surprised you?  And what are your intentions for 2017?  What tools can you use to keep them front and centre in your life?  I would love to know.

x Sara 🙂

PS The mandala above is A Flower Of Life mandala I made last week to celebrate and invite in more abundance – a lot of fun to make!