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Category: The Limbic system

Train your DRAGON

DRAGON of our unconscious

As I mentioned last time, I’m now a fully qualified Coach and NLP Practitioner! I feel I’ve both learned a whole mass of new skills as well as personally up-levelling in so many ways. Apart from anything, I used the training for the “Like to Dislike” technique to “dislike” Diet Coke!

Before last Sunday, I used to drink about 2 litres every day, and definitely had addictive behaviours around it. If there was no Diet Coke in my house or at work, it was a International Diet Coke Crisis (IDCC), and I would actively feel discomfort until I could obtain my “addiction juice” (As an Ex- of mine called it). So my not having had any at all since last Sunday is a massive change for me. I now simply don’t want it. It has no power over me. Which is very strange, but very cool.

As I didn’t want to detox from both the sweetener and the Caffeine at once, I’ve been taking Caffeine tablets. My previous consumption was ~ 200mg a day, I’m down to 50mg and looking to go every other day with the tablets this week and knock it on the head totally over next weekend.

The change itself was such a simple procedure, took 15 minutes in all, and if I had not experienced the change, I would not have believed it possible to deal with an issue so quickly!

So, one of my main tasks is integrating the new tools and techniques I have into what I offer. However, something I wanted to share from the training is a very simple but powerful mnemonic about how the unconscious mind works – The unconscious mind is a DRAGON!

  • D – Drives all behaviours
  • R – Responds to repetition
  • A – Archive for emotions and memory
  • G – Governs all body systems
  • O – Only takes the path of least resistance
  • N – Negative commands are not processed – ensure positive commands are given

I talk a great deal in my body oriented eCourse – The hunger free way to a slimmer you: Ten easy shifts to a low carb way of life (currently in “pre-launch” phase) – about the unconscious, behaviours and resistance, because a change in diet has to also be accompanied by a mindset change for success. This lovely and simple way of thinking about the unconscious will very much help me to give the learning I’m creating good focus, especially in the parts where it’s been being difficult to get the concepts in my head out of my fingers in a cogent way!

Training our DRAGON is a vital thing, what are you going to do today to train yours? Maybe a Mantra? Some yoga? A walk in nature? Drop a comment below with that you are going to get up to, and we can start working on connecting those dots.

Catch you next time!

Image used, Dragon by Laddir
Used Under Creative commons licence: Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

I’ve an awesome manifesting resource for you

This post is for my more “woo” readers, whilst still being all about the practical. I haven’t talked about manifesting a great deal here, although it’s an undercurrent in most of my posts and I do quite a bit of it in my own life.

However, with it now being Q4, it’s a good time to explicitly talk about goals and receiving the outcomes that you are desiring.

Whilst I’m all about the practical actions, without direction, action is meaningless. And in terms of goals, our mindset is just as important as the actions we take. However, most of us don’t take the time out to think about or form clear, specific goals or take daily mental actions, such as dream boarding, writing down our goals in our journal or saying an affirmation every day.

Without goal clarity, life simply flows around us, which leads to…

Nothing. No forward motion, things that we think we want, but haven’t really been specific about not clicking into place.

Then, of course, procrastination sets in. Resistance takes a bite out of us and we don’t progress.

Using manifesting as a tool can be a very direct way to set goals and achieve them. However, if you’ve tried it before, and it felt like it was silly or a waste of time, I suspect that you’ve simply not been taught a good framework to base the work on.

So, I want to share Denise Duffield-Thomas’ very easy and practical Manifesting Formula.

(Yes, I am on a Denise kick this week, I’m a proud affiliate of Denise’s work. If you purchase something from her in the future, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.)

As I’ve said before, Denise is an incredible money mindset mentor, AKA “The Lucky Bitch” whose best-selling books and courses have helped thousands of entrepreneurs step-up to create success and abundance. Denise shares her process to take you from “personal development junkie” into manifesting machine and money magnet.

Her Virgo brain’s want to take “woo” and turn it into practical steps has made a manifesting formula that is easy, fun and a totally chilled process. Sign up here for her free manifesting formula course

You don’t need to be perfect, meditate five hours a day or chant naked under a full moon to manifest your ideal life, but you do need to clear your mind of any blocks, get crystal clear on your goals, infuse every part of your day with positivity, take inspired action and learn to receive abundance (yes, receiving is a learned process – women really struggle with that part).

So, are you inspired to manifest some awesome into your life? Take action today: Go and join Denise’s manifesting course, then come back and leave me a comment below about what goals you are working to manifest. Then we can start working toward connecting those dots.

Catch you next time!

EFT – why you might want to think about giving it a whirl


I really like EFT ( Emotional Freedom Technique.) aka “Tapping”. It lives under the umbrella of “Energy Psychology” techniques, and it looks so dumb (especially when you are tapping under your arm and on the top of your head) that you may well feel that it’s a bunch of hooey – but what you can achieve with it really is awesome.

As you know, I’m all about the science, and most double blind reputable studies point to EFT simply using “The Power of the Placebo” to affect change in a person. Now, I’m 100% with Tim Minchin on science and “Alternative Medicine” (Homeopathic Sugar pills in particular), and that “Modern Medicine” is something that should always be matched and used appropriately to an individual’s health circumstances –  but I also feel that Placebology, where the patient affects their own change because they believe that the placebo they are using will change them for the better definitely has a place in the therapeutic process.

I feel it works because it allows a person to be 100% honest with themselves, as tapping out the various issues and free-flow verbalising around them will make us make intuitive perspective leaps that we could never make in a flat state with a conscious mind. When I tap on issues myself, I’m always surprised by something I say that “just falls out of my brain via my mouth” as I’m associating.

The Founder of EFT, Gary Craig, discovered that in persons with anxiety or fear, that by tapping on 9 specific meridian points and using a set of very specific “set-up phrases” and then talking honestly, openly, and usually in negatively phrased statements about issues through the tapping process, that the issues can be reduced to a place where they have little to no on-going effect, very quickly, and with much less stress to the patient than via traditional psychological methods . He believes that the tapping mechanisms of EFT operate in the same way as Acupuncture – activating specific meridian points stimulates them to assist the body in releasing the negative energy feedback loops to remove dis-ease.

There have been studies that show the tapping has a calming effect on the amygdala. I’m sure that you know by now that the amygdala gets activated either for pleasure in the now, or in an amygdala hijack, in a response to a perceived danger, either real or imaginary.

In a fear situation, the amygdala causes adrenaline and cortisol to be released to prepare our body for action (i.e. to fight or to run). Where a “potentially harmful” situation is perceived, the amygdala works with the  hippocampus to enforce its previously learned “stay safe” feed-back loop. For instance, if a person has been in a road accident, the experienced fear gets stored away and then every time a car journey is needed, anxiety levels irrationally increase.

During his development work, Gary discovered that EFT isn’t just for “fear calming” situations, it can be used on pretty much any occurring issue:

  • Personal Performance Boosters
    • Achieving personal and professional goals
    • Public speaking
    • Sports performance
    • Fat reduction & body composition
    • Job interviews
    • Self-confidence
  • Emotional Challenges
    • Stress
    • anxiety
    • phobias
    • Depression
    • feeling overwhelmed
    • Relationship issues
    • Insomnia
    • nightmares
    • Panic attacks
    • Sexual abuse
    • Obsessions
    • compulsions
    • Traumatic memories
    • Procrastination
    • Poor grades
    • Grief
    • loss
    • pet loss
    • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
    • Addictions
    • overeating
  • Physical Issues
    • Allergies
    • Migraines
    • Fatigue
    • Fibromyalgia
    • pain management

NB: While EFT has produced remarkable results for many people, it must still be considered to be in the experimental stage and people and the therapists that advise clients to use EFT must take complete responsibility for their own use of the technique. If you try it, give it a good go, and find that it doesn’t work for you, don’t sweat it. Just try another self help technique. Never let using EFT or any other self-help technique that I or anyone else might talk about get in the way of seeking professional medical help where required.

So, why am I particularly talking about EFT this week? Well, there’s been more ISIS terrorist activity in a few places around the world in the last few weeks (Baghdad, Ankara and Brussels) and so, in an effort to help us all combat Hate I wanted to share this Brad Yates Tapping video with you: Clearing Hatred – Tapping with Brad Yates

NB: if you have never viewed Brad’s Channel before, before you start tapping away, you must watch these two videos first – as Brad is very clear that you know what you are doing, and that you take full responsibility for your own well being.

I’m connecting my own dots on this one, as I’m currently training to be able to use EFT with you in our coaching practice. I first discovered EFT around 2000, and I’ve used it off and on since then (I’ll admit more off than on!).

I got sharply reminded about using it way more often, and in combination with Forgiveness work as part of my working through Denise Duffield Thomas’ Lucky Bitch Money BootCamp – and it’s now happily part of my daily routine again.

So, what are you going to try and use EFT on? My advice is to try it on everything :-). Pick a topic and drop me a comment below. Then we can start working to connect your dots!

Catch you next time!

Forgiveness – a powerful tool for mindset shift

forgive yourself

As I’m sure you can guess from what I’ve keep banging on about ( 🙂 ), a huge part of Self-Change is re-framing our Mindset and the decluttering process is not just about clearing physical space, it’s about mental decluttering also.

“Don’t let it rent your head” is something my Mum said to me a long time ago, and what’s happened to us in our past can very literally “hold us back” in that past and that story. When I spoke about simply observing feelings in the letting it go meditation, the emotions we feel are often driven by our stories, and the top tactic for dealing with the ones that linger is forgiveness.

Mental de-cluttering can be very difficult – Lifting the memories and beliefs that shaped our current thoughts into the light of objectivity, feeling them and then asking “Does holding onto this experience serve me and my higher good?” can be very hard indeed, as our amygdala is usually telling us (very loudly) that holding on to the memory and all that entails is the “safe” thing to do.

However, as Anaïs Nin said: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”

Mental de-cluttering is something that we do again and again – yes, there are big pieces of the past that come up when we think about this the first time we do it, but mental decluttering and forgiveness is like an onion – it has layers. There is always more to de-clutter, always more to forgive, and we always feel better for working through the (very easy) process. After all, hanging on to the more toxic memories that drive our lives through pain, resentment or anger is like “eating poison and harming ourselves, yet expecting the other person to die.”

In the same way as when we physically de-clutter our stuff (and I recommend reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever by Marie Kondo – an excellent physical de-cluttering system ) we de-clutter memories and experiences by topic, with a focus on “Love”, “Money”, “Work”, “Siblings”,”Parents” or any other life topic that we feel is “renting our head” –  naturally there is always cross-over, but don’t let that stall you. If you don’t think a memory would fit in where you want to do the work right now, then leave it for later.

The actual process is easy – Allow yourself some time, pick your topic, grab pen and paper  (because writing activates both sides of the brain) and start writing out emotional memories on the chosen topic. Include anything that still has an emotional charge – anger, resentment, embarrassment, shame, etc and write a short paragraph on each memory as it comes up. Keep going until you can’t think of anything else, aiming for between 20-100 memories.

Don’t get stuck or over think it, you may end up with pages and pages, or just a few lines. The memories that are “missed” this time aren’t yet ready to be forgiven. Just like cleaning out the wardrobe usually takes more than one go, emotionally charged memories that are driving current behaviours often hide behind each other.

Once you have the list formed, and you are ready to start forgiving (It’s perfectly fine to write the list and then leave it to one side for a short while if you need to do so) read the first memory, then take a breath and say out loud “I forgive you, I’m sorry, thank you, I love you.” and then physically cross the memory out with your pen. Repeat the mantra for each item on the list, crossing them off until you reach then end. You can then discard the list in whatever way you see fit; rip it up, shred it, burn it or just chuck it in the recycling.

Why these words? Because they release you from carrying the emotions –  it’s not at all about the cause of the memory, be that a person, organisation or circumstance. And whilst remaining engaged in the exercise, you don’t even have to mean the words that you are saying all that much. Remember, the Limbic brain doesn’t have “words” it has “feels”

Energetically, “I forgive you” is acknowledging the memory and the emotion, “I’m Sorry” covers forgiving ourselves for carrying the emotion for so long and clears any residual entanglements around the event (It’s not about “apologising to the other person”, there is no condoning of past grievances or victim blaming here), “Thank you” is about appreciating the lesson it taught you, even if that lesson was hard to carry or had negative consequences at the time, and “I love you” seals the deal, wrapping up the experience and energies with love and releasing them.

You may well feel some resistance to doing this (I know I have in the past) because letting it go is very, very scary. However, know that doing forgiveness work on the past will change your future life, so leave me a comment about what you are forgiving, and we can start working on connecting those dots!

Catch you next time!

Image used, FORGIVE YOURSELF by miguel
Used Under Creative commons licence: Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Get stuff done – make your bed

Make your Bed

One of the little things that I ask of people that I coach and mentor is a very simple and mundane thing – I ask them to make their bed every day. It only takes  a minute to pull the duvet up, straighten the pillows and make sure it all looks good.

It really seems so silly, that such a small thing would have such a big impact, but it really does. Making this task automatic means that you achieve the first task of the day before you even leave your room, and by doing it, it sets the mind up to “do more” with the day. It also gives you a little lift when you see it later, especially if you come home after a crappy day.

This excerpt from the Austin 2014 Commencement Address, University of Texas by Admiral William H. McRaven has been animated and is doing the rounds on the internet lately, is all about this, and really sums it up perfectly:

Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Viet Nam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed.

If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack (—rack— The Navy term for your bed.)

It was a simple task–mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle hardened SEALs – but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.

If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.

If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

If you want to watch the full speech, it’s on YouTube (And you should, it contains excellent life advice for us all, not just a bunch of going-to-be Navy SEALS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxBQLFLei70
And the full transcript: http://alcalde.texasexes.org/2014/05/mcraven-to-grads-to-change-the-world-start-by-making-your-bed/

Leave me a comment about how you are going to make making your bed an automatic practice, and then we can start working on connecting those dots!

Catch you next time!

Image used, Our new handmade bed! by Miss Yasmina
Used Under Creative commons licence: Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Be the change you want to see – it all starts with self

Practice Random Acts of Kindness

I’ve been wanting to get this post out of my head and through my fingers for a while – there is so much “ugly”/”bad”/”hate fuelled”/”selfish” behaviour in the world right now and the sheer amount of these behaviours around the world feels honestly overwhelming.

And I’m sure that you hate what’s going on in the world with a passion. I know that I do.

Right now, around the world, “bad” things are happening – Jewish Soldiers abusing Palestinians, ISIS Salafist Takfiri* abusing and terrorising their surrounding Muslim population and generally bombing around the world, Russia shelling and bombing Ukraine, the current UK government making economically bankrupt choices leading to massive inequality and deprivation.

That’s to name but a few things going on that make our world right now that make it seem so bleak and negative. So, how can we re-frame this into a more positive outlook?

I’ve come to think that “Hate” as a concept is actually a neutral thing; it can be an extremely potent force for Change. For instance, if one person hates something enough, they will be moved to make a Choice and Change that thing. It is the Choice that provides the positive or negative action, not the fact that Hate is the driving factor.

So, what can one person do against this seeming tide of relentless crap? Remember that we think of change in terms of the people that have driven it, “someone” took that first step.

All of these people were “just one person” when they started out on their path to affect big change (both good and bad): Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Aung San Suu Kyi, Malala Yousafzai, Adolf Hitler, Ian Duncan Smith, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Robert Mugabe, Steve Jobs, Pol Pot, Ghengis Khan, Abraham Lincon, Lhamo Thondup (The 14th (and current) Dalai Lama), Adam Braun, Tony Robbins, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar.

The list goes on and on. History is littered with single people that made a difference. Sometimes the path chosen leads to massively bad things, more often than not however, it leads to great works of good. What’s to stop you from joining them?

Michael Jackson had the right idea… at least in his music. Jackson was well known for creating songs with conscience. “Man in the Mirror” (1987) and the later “Earth Song” (1995) are themes about Change on the grand scale having to start very small – with the Self.

Any and all Change has to start with the Self – Self is the only person that we can 100% effect. By an individual making a small change, and being an example, we can then affect others. The kicker there is that anyone we then interact has to then want to make a change in themselves.

If you are ready to make a change, you have to also realise that Fear of Change is a big factor for others. (Good Ol’ Amygdala!). But, to change the world, all any one person has to do is make a start and have the faith in themselves and in the Universe that the change is possible.

After all, what we want already exists (bear with me), but focus is needed to make it real.

This is all to do with Quantum Theory.

The three main Quantum Theory pillars, put very very simply, are based around the principles that

  • “At an atomic level, everything is energy”, (Quanta)
  • “Everything is connected” (Entanglement), and
  • “Something is only real when we choose to observe it” (“Superposition” and the “Observer Effect” – See the “Schrödinger’s Cat” thought experiment)

The Many-Worlds Interpretation of the consequences of Superposition states that “At any given moment in time, there are an infinite number of possibilities occurring, and that all of them already exist and are happening simultaneously. Each possibility happens in its own space and can’t be seen by others. We only see the possibility we focus on.”

So, if every possible version of every person exists somewhere, we simply choose to focus on the best possible versions of ourselves as what is real.  (For the Terry Prattchet Fans out there, he referred to this concept as “going down the other leg of the trousers of Time”)

But how, I hear you cry? It’s all very related to letting it go and also to resistance but the very first step is by being kind to ourselves.

I’ve spoken before about how we receive overwhelmingly negative messages about out bodies, our worth and our self from society and media and also in some cases from our parents and peers. We are told everyday that “life is hard and then you die”, “being fat is ugly”, “money doesn’t grow on trees”, “sex is evil”, “no-one will want you if you are …” etc etc.

Simply put, this messaging is not kind. It’s also not true, and as we internalise it, it keeps us trapped in a negative mindset, far less able to make any sort of change, let alone change for the better.

However, when we start being kind, firstly to ourselves and then to others, we open possibilities. It doesn’t have to be big: For ourselves, eating well and getting good sleep is a good start. Whilst in the wider world, small acts such as Holding open a door for the person following you, saying “thank you” to the bus driver, giving someone some small change in the supermarket check-out line when they are tuppence short.

These sorts of small and random acts of kindness ripple through the world. For instance, eating and sleeping well gives us the energy to make our day easier. Holding the door lowers the stress on the person following you, saying “thank you” makes the bus driver smile & giving pennies smooths out the buying process for everyone in the queue, de-stresses the person that was a touch short and also keeps the checkout person happy.

When change can start so small and be so simple, why would a person not choose to make the world a better place? That’s a huge philosophical question, but the TL;DR message is simple:
Be kind – Kindness to both self and others is the number one self-care act that will make the entire world a better place.

When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.
—The 14th Dalai Lama (1935)
Head Monk Of The Gelugpa Lineage Of Tibetan Buddhism

Leave me a comment about how you are going to make one small change for yourself that could grow to change the world. After all, once we know where we stand, we can start working on connecting those dots!

Catch you next time!

* (Takfiri – Arabic. Can be translated into English as “excommunicated.”  In Islamic law, takfir or takfeer (تكفير) refers to apostasy in Islam – The general consensus being among the leading Islamic Scholars is that ISIS are not following the Islamic faith at all.)

Image used, Practice Random Acts of Kindness by MarcieLew
Used Under Creative commons licence: Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

“Let it Go” – Holding on too tight is not the path to change

Running Dog

This one’s actually not that easy to write… The concept is a slippery one, and I keep false starting the writing in my head, I suspect because I’m holding on too tight to the concept! (I also have “Let It Go” from Frozen in my head, which is both helpful and not in equal amounts! 😉 )

It is a counter intuitive concept after all, in some ways. We all carry baggage, both good memories and bad, and generally, these memories shape how we interact with the world. This can keep us trapped in the past, very much preventing us being present in the now.

And whilst knowing how the world works can be a good thing, letting go is very scary. After all, some of the things that we carry that drag us down we don’t even consciously think about any more. The negative experiences become part of “us” –  But letting go of these negatives means removing known structures, removing the “comfort blanket” of what we think we know about how the world works.

And of course, as we know, the Amygdala likes keeping us in known past patterns, because “change is bad right?”

However, we don’t need to make a fuss about letting go, we just make the choice to see how are Amygdala is working and simple brush past that. In essesence, there is nothing to it but to do it.

Take Wednesday just gone for example.  Around 2 weeks ago, my Central Heating Boiler started making very very loud noises and then turning itself off after running for 4 hours or so.

I’m pretty hands on, so I do the obvious stuff; check the water pressure, check the condenser outlet isn’t blocked outside, bleed the radiators to get rid of air then re-pressurise the system. But nope, if anything, the noises be worse and it starts turning itself off even more.

It’s overdue servicing anyway, as I’ve been a bit lax with managing that. So, I ring the servicing company and I’m quoted £95 for the service and an additional £85/hr call out for the repairs labour.

I’m good with that, the company are a good & reliable company with well trained staff, not rip off merchants at all.

So, the chap turns up and does his thing. The boiler was in generally good shape, but what was causing the noise and turning off issue was Limescale gunk build up in the Condenser trap (the other end of the pipe I checked outside!) – which had built up cos of my lax servicing.

So, how is this about letting go? As I was brushing my teeth Wednesday morning, waiting for the repair person to show up, my brain leapt to “what if my boiler is totally broken… where will I find ~3K from?”

Which could have causes a spiral panic, and all the yukky fear that goes with that. Instead,  I then just saw the thought for what it was, shook my head at the silliness of the thought and let it wash out as a negative voice thought… I let it go.

That thought came from a scarcity mentality, from the past when where I worried about money and lived a small life because of that. Now, because I know the universe has my back and I let abundance in, this story also has a good ending – As it was a simple fix, the admin lady back in the office only charged me for 1/2 hour labour, so the bill was actually £42.50 less than expected!

So, how do we go about being able to let go? It’s nothing but simple practice really; the brain is a bit like a puppy, it runs around enthusiastically, going everywhere willy nilly in the territory that it knows. What we have to do is obverse our own thoughts, and when they start to stray into negative patterns or repetitive thoughts, we simply have to “pick up the puppy”, acknowledge that it was getting a bit wild running about over there in the past and bring it back to the present.

The more that you do this, the better you will get, as by seeing your own patterns you can then learn that they are just that, repetitive patterns, and that by holding onto them, you are almost certainly not serving your higher good.

Conversely, we don’t want to stop the puppy running about, because we would lose inspirational thoughts, what we want to do is just observe and train our puppy to walk the lighter, more inspirational paths, and generally leave the dead-end negative ones alone; just take a sniff at it, know it’s not worth the effort and then pass it by.

Whilst doing this day to day is good, you might want to kickstart the “puppy-training” learning process with a touch of meditation. Have a go and see what arises for you. This is a short meditation, will take around 15 minutes.

  1. Find a comfortable posture for you.
    Sit, stand, lie, whatever you want and however you can be relaxed. Close your eyes or not as you feel. Become aware of your breathing and take slow full belly breaths. (Often, we breath in small pants, with only with the top of our lungs, meaning we are really not taking in enough oxygen to keep our brain working at optimal speed)

  2. Then, notice, right now, the position of your body has ended up in and how it feels.
    Are you balanced through your spine, or are you canted to one side? Can you feel any physical tensions in your body? Do any parts feel warm? What about cold? If there is tension, or pain, could you give it a description? A shape, a colour or a texture? Be aware of these tensions. Also, what happens to the tensions and pains as you become aware of them? Do they release or stay with you?

  3. Next, become aware of emotions that are touching you at the moment.
    What happens when you observe your emotions? Can you rate how strong the emotion is? At this point, don’t try to let go, just feel it. Counter-intuitively, putting effort into letting go creates more tension – instead, simply become aware of it, acknowledge it and allow the emotion to take its course. If you want to laugh, laugh! If you want to cry, or yell do so. There is no wrong here, it’s all good to simply feel. Us “logic based westerners” generally don’t do enough of it. Take a good belly breath or two. If any of the feelings lingers on, for the now, be okay with that, and accept it as it is. If things do linger, there are other tactics that we can use to process these, but that’s not a topic for right now. Just know that you are going to have more work to do later.

  4. Finally, are you willing to let go of anything that you found out?
    Is there anything that you’re now holding on to that you can see isn’t serving your higher good? Take a few more belly breaths and just relax. Let whatever it is that you are ready to let go of just drain softly away as you breathe, trusting that you have within you all that needs to be known.

  5. Have a good stretch and come back to the day.
    Reactivate the body with a yawn and a good old glorious stretch, wiggle your fingers and toes, shake out your hands, stand up and gently jump or wriggle.

Are you willing to Let It Go? Once you’ve stopped humming Disney, leave me a comment below about how this experiment works for you, and especially how it feels, even if those feelings are negative. Because, as I said last time, negatives are as valid as positives for self-learning, as all “feels” are generated by the Limbic brain in the now. Once we know where we stand, we can start working on connecting those dots!

Catch you next week!

Image used, Untitled by Stewart Black
Used Under Creative commons licence: Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

You can’t do it wrong… Sometimes, it just takes time to get it right!

You can't do it wrong

One of Resistance‘s biggest allies is our fear of “doing it wrong”; In western culture (and a couple of others also, most notably Japan), we are taught from the get go that everything has to be perfect at first creation, and that failure is something to be avoided at all costs.

Thinking mindfully however, where we learn that All life experiences teach you, these days I’m not afraid to fail. Some of the best things I’ve learned in life have been through monumental cock-ups.

For instance, in my day-job, in my early days of working with Group Policy Admin, I learned how the system worked through a huge error – I didn’t realise that unless you saved the policy work done a certain way, the system didn’t retain the security filters placed on it –  and so I hid everyone’s C:\ drive, rather than just the C:\ of the intended group of computers.

This mistake was easily undone, and the cock-up I made here, along with the lesson I learned from making it, saved me from doing something with the system at some point down the line that would have been an million times worse!

I have a very healthy attitude to failure now – I approach all things in a state of playfulness – which is the state that the limbic brain likes the best. Yes, making mistakes is disruptive, so learning, testing and planning  before hitting the go button is the way I do things now, knowing that I have the skills to ensure success, so it will probably be OK, but also knowing that if I do break it, I also very much have the capability to fix it again.

It’s that pushing through to ensure that things do work out OK if they do go wrong that is the key. For instance, as an inventor, Thomas Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked him, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

Edison learned vital things from his first 999 tries that lead to his eventual success. If he had have given up at the first failure (or even felt resistance so much that he didn’t even try!), we would probably all still be using candles!

There is also another dimension to ‘You can’t do it wrong’ however, which is all about second guessing oneself. This is more the “will I make the wrong choice” type of doing it wrong than anything else – and it’s again firmly rooted in resistance as your amygdala feeds past experience feeling/memory into your current choice giving fear for the future outcome.

Combating that one is a mixture of being present in the now and trusting your gut feeling to instinctively make the right choice. A choice made in the now will always be the right one, as you will have collected enough information about the issue for your subconcious to know what is right, even if your concious mind hasn’t caught up yet. You just need to be still and listen to yourself.

However, listening to the fear feedback loop caused by your amygdala’s need for stasis will lead to procrastination and inaction. Unfortunately, your Amygdala has a loud voice, and so learning how to reach past that and get out of your own way whilst making a choice is an art in itself.

If you think it all sounds like a great deal of effort, you are not wrong. And Resistance will try and make you not learn the skill at every turn. It is well worth being persistent however, and even though it took me a couple of years to even begin to get the trick of getting out of my own way, learn to find the quiet in the now and make that choice, the only time I ever receive a bad outcome is when I’ve second guessed myself. I’m still on the journey with this one, but every time I practise the skill, the easier it is to exercise it. And life is just so much easier as a result!

Are you ready to join me? Make a commitment now to be present. Leave me a comment below about your experiences in this area, and we can start working on connecting those dots.

Catch you next week!

Image used “Deciding Which Door to Choose 2” by Vic
Used Under Creative commons licence: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

“Resistance” – Your cue to keep going!

resistance is beautiful

The brain is a funny thing – I know that you are here, reading this, because in some way, you want to improve yourself. I’m here writing it because I want to do the same, improve myself and our world by shining a light to help others improve themselves and the world around them.

But we all suffer from “Resistance” – the negative force inside all of us that wants to maintain the status quo, wants to not “feel the fear” but to “stay safe” and to hide away from change and growth. Because change could harm us right? Best not do that then, just stay here in our nice little world and be secure, even if we rationally hate it and want, even need to change it…

The need to “stay safe” comes direct from the Amygdala, AKA the “reptile” brain, which operates as a part of the Limbic brain, but at an even lower level – Evolutionary studies show that this is the part of the brain system that we have now that evolved first. One of its jobs is to be in charge of the part of “fight or fight” (our instinctual decision making and emotional response) that is based on previous emotional memory patterns.

So, why is our learning to discern when this little nugget of our brain is activated important to our progress? When the Amygdala is activated, it makes our gut feelings on something not quite so trustworthy as usual, as it is basing its reaction on past emotional memory patterns, usually formed when we are very young.

Like the limbic brain, it has no language or sense of time, it acts in the now to keep us alive and safe, and will always point towards short term satisfaction and pleasure over long term gain. (As an aside, it’s also the part of your brain responsible for weird and irrational snap decisions around instant gratification – that sweet sticky doughnut you ate cos it tastes nice, or those lovely new shoes that you have no idea why you bought for instance! Marketers play heavily to this instinctual behaviours as they lay out shops, they know how to make your Amygdala give you a short term gain “happy”!)

This “short term view” can make us freeze in our tracks or even run away when a “big unknown” comes up; something that we’ve never encountered before may well be harmful! This can very much rob us of the want to act for our own greater good. Where the Neocortex knows that progress towards “a long term change towards greater good” will improve us and our world, the Amygdala puts up “stay safe, be happy in your now, don’t change” signals.

Nite that when the Amygdala signals, these are taken by the brain as a whole to be the appropriate reaction response to the situation – Limbic reacts faster than rational Neocortex. And so the Neocortex gets overruled and we feel Resistance.

Resistance takes many shapes: fear, self-doubt, procrastination, distraction, addiction, timidity, ego and narcissism, self-loathing and perfectionism, to name a few. I’m sure that you’ve feel these come up in your lives, I know I have in mine! (Procrastination is the main way my resistance shows itself. I’ve learned ways to turn it to my advantage, but that’s a whole ‘nother post!)

Knowledge is power however, now you know why you are feeling resistance, and because we can actively gauge and use the strength of the Resistance we feel against “the good thing that we want to do” we can use that as a compass.

After all, as Steve Pressman says in “Do the work”: Resistance wants us to not move away from our current state of mind; it’s a negative, repelling force. It will outright lie to us, fabricate reason after reason for us not to act, and cajole, seduce or bully us into not moving forward.

However, Resistance, being negative, is always lying, and it is totally full of bullshit.

The fact that resistance is always a liar means that when we are feeling the most resistance to an new idea or change, that is when we most need to act, using the feelings of resistance to guide us towards the calling or purpose that we know that we must follow. The more important that work is to us, however much we want to achieve our goals towards “greater good”, as the “greater good” grows so does the resistance we will feel towards our perusing them.

The work (your ideas, dreams and goals) can be anything: Writing a book, dropping your excess body fat, lifting weights to gain muscle, learning how something works so that you are more able to support yourself in using it, designing and launching a website to share your ideas, painting, creating or drawing something and then showing it to people or embarking on a 6-month around the world adventure – all these things have long-term gain for the good in common. They all pretty much require short-term pain of some form: planning, organising, potential financial shortfalls or simple courage of convictions to press on.

There are a few ways to combat the Amygdala, and so, armed with this new knowledge, what are you feeling resistance against doing in your life? What goal in your life are you procrastinating around doing, or fussing over “because it has to be perfect”? Leave me a comment below about what your resisting, and we can start working on connecting those dots.

Catch you next week!

Image used “Resistance is Beautiful” by teofilo
Used Under Creative commons licence: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Basic orchid care pointers

Ann's Orchid in need of repotting

I love my orchids. I love the colours of their blossoms, the way a fresh flower looks like it’s covered in glitter. I feel happy when their leaves are rigid and shiny, and I love the stillness that my 10 minutes of orchid checking gives me everyday.

A while back, my friend Ann got given an orchid as a house warming present. She was rather scared that she was just going to kill it off, like she had with previous orchids, so she asked me for some pointers.

Most people buy (or are given) Phalaenopsis orchids as the most common ones in the shops. Their blooms are beautiful and, despite the myths to the contrary, are the easiest of all the Orchidaceae genera to care for.

The most common reason why people “fail at orchids” is that they treat them like a normal house plant: park them on a sunny windowsill, water them every couple of days “so they don’t dry out” and often leave them in the puddle of standing water that collects in the base of the pretty ceramic pot they come in.

However, this is exactly the opposite of what they need. They need minimal fussing, dappled sunlight and only a sparing amount of water. This is because they naturally grow attached to the bark of trees in the canopy of the Rain Forests, where life is generally humid but not very out-and-out wet.

Importantly, as well as water, their roots also need both light and air, as Phalaenopsis’ photosynthesise with both leaves and roots. Orchids ship in clear pots for this reason. (Although, some companies pack their orchids with moss into a rubbish flexible PVC pot – these orchids will need re-potting as soon as they finish flowering, as the moss will be stopping air getting to the roots).

Because the roots need air, any standing water can very quickly cause root rot.

The plant usually remains in bloom for ~3 months, the flowers die off then fall off one by one. This is totally normal and not a sign that the plant is dying at all. Also, the very bottom leaf turning yellow and detaching on occasion is also totally normal, this is simply natural wastage, usually in response to humidity levels.

So, this translates at home to:

  1. Usual household temperatures, anything from 16°-28° is generally good. The occasional overnight drop down to ~10° will cause new flower spikes, but consistent cold is bad.
  2. Either a north facing windowsill, or a windowsill that generally doesn’t get more than 2 hours of direct sunlight per day.
  3. A “Drench watering” every other week (or weekly if it’s very warm) – Hold the pot under a running tap – tepid water, not cold –  for a minute or so, also running the water over any aerial roots, then leave to drain totally. Ensure that minimal water remains in the pot, do this by tipping the pot at an angle, this will drain the water that has collected at the bottom of the pot.
    Getting water on the leaves isn’t an issue, but ensure that you don’t get water in the crown. If you do, remove the puddle immediately with the corner of a paper towel. Crown rot will happen if you leave the puddle in there.
  4. Not moving them around too much – picking them up and plonking them down too often “just to peek at them” is bad. Visual inspection and touching the leaves to check rigidity is good, but you only really want to move them around to water them as above.
  5. If you notice the bark drying out quickly, or your house is not very humid then mist them every other day as well.  Leaving them above the water line on a water filled pebble tray is also good.
  6. On visual inspection, you are checking that the bark is not totally dried out (generally, condensation on the inside of the pot should be visible right up until the day before drench watering) and the leaves are rigid –  if the leaves are floppy, the plant is dehydrated – Either mist the plant and the bark heavily, or consider a drench watering. If they are wrinkled, and water is being supplied on a regular basis then the roots are not supplying the leaves with water for some reason. That’s the subject of another article!
  7. Talking to your plants when you inspect them is totally allowed, even encouraged! Giving living things your total focus give you happiness and keeps you in the now. There is also documented science that plants that are spoken to nicely grow better. 🙂

There are “advanced class pointers” around feeding, re-potting and how to spot issues, which I’ll be writing on in coming weeks,  but using these basic tips will keep your orchid thriving and blooming for many years to come. Following these pointers, Ann’s orchid is very happy, and has thrown both a new leaf and a new flower spike!

Have I inspired you to get an orchid, or to start growing things on your windowsill? I do hope so. Leave me a comment below, and we can start connecting those dots.

Catch you next week!