Home » Blog » mindfulness

Tag: mindfulness

Meditation: How to incorporate some into daily life

city meditation time

Meditation offers an option to the many people that are looking for ways to deal with mounting stress that characterises modern living. Because of overwork and the demands of a fast-paced lifestyle, millions of people are now suffering from the deleterious effects of stress. Millions are unaware that they may already be reaching the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Medical management of disorders such as anxiety and depression via purely pill-based routes. Adjusting brain chemistry is vital in the short term, as it brings much needed relief and help to a patient. However, a pill only route doesn’t  address underlying issues and patterns around what could have initially caused the problem.

The answer of “take a pill” for all our health issues. The entries in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) grow year on year, due to sub dividing previously listed disorders.

This is often attributed to the changing world in which we live in.  Some experts would recommend drugs that would lessen the symptoms and leave it at that.

Many people are being diagnosed with stress, and they don’t want that to turn into anxiety and depression. They realise that they need help and are keen on finding alternative methods of dealing with day-to-day stresses that does not involve taking medication. Fortunately, for them meditation offers an effective approach to help them gain a new and better outlook.

Meditation has a history spanning millennia

Numerous meditation techniques have spread to millions of folks worldwide. The practice of meditation has moved away from monasteries of all religious persuasions and entered into the secular world. This has increased the numbers of those practising exponentially,  particularly using the techniques embraced by Western cultures.

Today, millions of people around the world are engaging in daily meditation or undergoing training for a particular discipline and all of them are benefiting from this ancient practice. Some of them have also used meditation as a cure for some of the mental issues mentioned above.

Modern meditation practices are based on the traditions of two major religions; Hinduism and Buddhism. Ancient Eastern cultures were the originators of the tenets that directly influenced the current flow and structure of the many different meditation techniques known to modern societies.

Hindu texts and cave drawings dated around 3000 BC discovered in the Indus Valley in the early part of the last century show that man has been seeking stillness and enlightenment from the chaos of his own mind even when life was much simpler!

Meditation practices and their benefits

Once you make the decision to incorporate meditation into your daily routine, you are making the first step towards peace of mind and happiness. As well as leaving behind frustration, anger, and impatience.

Negative emotions such as these pile up, leading eventually to health issues, not only mentally but also physically. It can also lead to a sense of “wanting something” where spirituality is concerned.

Meditation is a great help to the “busybody” mind archetype – people who are always in a hurry to get things done and feel they have too much to do and never enough time – as it helps develop a mind that is balanced, calm, and quiet and able to function more efficiently and reasonably. It can help them understand that their perception that there is not enough time to finish everything is self inflicted.

Meditating gives us a unique glimpse at the workings of our mind. It shows us how we form our thoughts which in turn informs our behaviours. Meditation allows us to observe our thought in a detached manner, It also develops “focused attention.”  This makes it easy to discover how our negative and disturbing thoughts develop. Once understood, we can then begin to change and adapt our thoughts. Then, our behaviours also change for the better.

Having focused attention in day-to-day life brings many positive. It allows the mind to slow, think more efficiently and ultimately be freed from worry and distractions.

Your next step

To bring this all together and  help you to learn to meditate, I’ve created an 8 day mediation eCourse. I’ve also included a bonus 8 minutes meditation audio. I’ve designed them specifically to assist you to incorporate meditative practice into your daily routine.

This eCourse  is my free gift to you when you join my mailing list.  I’m positive that it will change your life, and changing lives is my mission in this world.  After all, meditation is not difficult at all. Its effects are well worth the 10 to 15 minutes of your day that a simple practice takes.

Are you ready to uplevel your mindset with mediation? Sign up to my mailing list using the form below, and we can start connecting those dots.

Catch you next time!

“Breakthrough Success Summit” – February 25th and 26th

Ed JC Smith

My mentor Ed JC Smith, who is an expert on psychology, business, relationships and health and is currently is working on his PhD in Human Potential is running another Breakthrough Success Summit this weekend (February 25th and 26th), so I thought that I’d write a blog about it today!

I know that you are here, reading this, because in some way, you want to improve yourself. I totally appreciate that attending live events may not by your thing, however, the path to change is action.

The event investment is £97 but Ed’s given me 2 free tickets again, so I thought you might like one.
I know when I attended, it expanded my mind no end and changed my life.

If you would like one of the free tickets I have, click the button to fill in the form and we can start connecting those dots!

Yes, I want to come to Breakthrough!

“Breakthrough Success Summit” – January 21st and 22nd

Ed JC Smith

As you know, recently I qualified as a coach and NLP practitioner on a course run by my now friend and mentor Ed JC Smith, who is an expert on psychology, business, relationships and health and is currently is working on his PhD in Human Potential.

He runs a 2 day event – the Breakthrough Success Summit – for which tickets are £97. The next one is January 21st and 22nd, so I thought that I’d write a blog about it today.

I know that you are here, reading this, because in some way, you want to improve yourself. I totally appreciate that attending live events may not by your thing, however, the path to change is action.

Ed’s kindly given me free tickets and I thought you might like one. I know when I attended, it expanded my mind no end and changed my life.

If you would like one of the free tickets I have, click the button to fill in the form  and we can start connecting those dots!
Yes, I want to come to Breakthrough!

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

EFT-WordCloud

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!

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)

Choosing the best nutrition

Warm confit ocean trout, autumn vegetable a la grecque, horseradish mayonnaise

Following on from the thoughts in my previous post “Crap in = Crap out“, I wanted to write a little more on what I feel is the best nutrition, and, even if you don’t agree with me 100%, some guidelines how to choose foods that are good for the body generally.

So, what do I view as good nutrition?

I base my food choices around Optimal, Sub-optimal and Non-optimal. I personally ban nothing, I just chose to avoid things that I know are non-optimal. After all when something is “banned” or “bad” then, by that nice twist of human psychology, we generally want it all the more.

Broadly speaking, the foods I eat are:

Optimal (eat freely and with gusto!):
Plentiful amounts of meat, fish, fowl, green veg (brassica), eggs, cheese, cream, butter, olive oil, herbs, spices.

Sub-optimal (Eat with care, enjoy the tastes):
Moderate amounts of all other non root tuberous vegetables (peas & corn are not vegetables, they are beans & grains respectively), veg from the onion & garlic family, seeds, nuts (peanuts & cashews are beans), berry fruits (inc tomatoes.)

Little bits of non potato roots (swede, turnip, sweet potato, carrots etc), 70% dark chocolate, cocoa powder, red wine. Beans are a borderline case, extra care advised.

Non-Optimal (really not good for the body, enjoyed without guilt once in a blue moon, if at all):
Sugar, all grains (rice, bread, pasta, cake, biscuits, crackers)  & white potatoes.

I talk more about how to start eating a low-carb way in this article on my low-carb website.

However, even if you don’t agree with me on the above, there are still a few factors that I’m sure that we can agree on.

  1. Choose and prepare actual food.
    This is really a cornerstone of self-care. And usually, knocking up a nutritionally valid meal takes just as long as one that is devoid of nutrient value. Why stint yourself? It takes me 15-20 mins to prep and cook most of the meals I eat, and I know exactly what went into every mouthful I then take.If you are choosing “ready-meals” (let’s face it, everyone does once in a while!) a good thing to bear in mind is the ingredient list – Does it have ingredients in it that you wouldn’t cook with/couldn’t find as a home cook?
    Check that label, 6  ingredients or less is a good start. If there are more, ensure that these ingredients that are not chemical “Fillers” “Flavours” or “Enhancers”
  2. Never choose “diet” products – They are usually sugar and chemical laden monstrosities!
    Look at the ingredients for two well known brands of “Diet shake” (low-fat then low-carb)

    Slimfast Vanilla Shake 325Ml
    From www.tesco.com/groceries/product/details/?id=261592549
    Ingredients: Skimmed Milk (78%), Water, Sugar, Milk Proteins, Corn Oil, Stabilisers (Cellulose, Carboxymethyl Cellulose, Dipotassium Phosphate, Carrageenan), Thickener (Acacia Gum), Emulsifier (Mono-and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids), Flavourings (contain Lactose), Vitamins and Minerals1, Antioxidants (Sodium Ascorbate, Alpha-Tocopherol), Sweeteners (Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium), 1 Vitamins and Minerals: Magnesium Oxide, Vitamin C, Zinc Oxide, Ferric Pyrophosphate, Vitamin E, Niacin, Sodium Selenite, Biotin, Copper Gluconate, Manganese Sulphate, Vitamin A (contains Soybean), Vitamin B6, Thiamin, Vitamin D, Pantothenic Acid, Folic Acid, Riboflavin

    Atkins Ready To Drink Vanilla Shake 330Ml
    From http://www.tesco.com/groceries/product/details/?id=282485593
    Ingredients: Water, Dairy Protein Blend (Milk Protein Concentrate, Calcium Caseinate), Sunflower Oil, Stabilisers (Cellulose, Sodium Carboxymethyl Cellulose, Carrageenan, Potassium Phosphate), Acidity Regulator (Potassium Citrate), Flavourings, Sweeteners (Sucralose, Acesulfame-K), Salt, Colour (Riboflavin)

    I am sure you will agree with me, neither of these are at all real food… Consuming these types of product do no honour to your body at all. Remember, Crap in=Crap out!

  3. Make time to eat, and eat mindfully and conscientiously.
    Eating food is something that most of us tend to “fit in” to a busy life – we grab a quick sandwich between meetings, or mindlessly grab “something” to eat whilst doing other things. We also graze on “snacks” as we work or watch telly… And again, none of this values your body.

    Eating mindlessly means that you are not paying attention to the signals your body will send you about being satisfied. Grazing especially, where you are constantly chewing and “topping up” your stomach, and hence suppressing natural signals, is not at all how we evolved to eat.

    Myself, I always ensure that I take my lunch break and take my time over eating. I’m slightly less mindful than I might be, in that I read my book whilst I eat. However, taking that break from my day re-energises my brain for a good afternoon of productivity!

    When I cook my dinner, I enjoy eating it. Again, I’m generally watching something as I eat, but I’m also taking my time and enjoying my food, and not just stuffing it into my face as fast as I can.Thinking about what I’m eating also allows me to listen to my stomach – if I’ve cooked too much, I’ll know it. I will then stop (no fake imperative to “clean the plate” for me!) and (generally) fridge what I’ve left over, for consumption later or more often the next day.

So, my challenge for this week: At work next week, when you eat lunch, do nothing but eat lunch. For the period that your food lasts; no books, no chatter and definitely no work! Enjoy the food, and indulge in the sensations it gives. Revel in how it tastes, it’s smell, how it feels in your mouth. After you finish eating, read a book for the rest of your lunch hour, or if your lunch room is more social, chat with colleagues about anything but your day-job – do not dash back to your work. Take time to breathe and digest.

Commit to doing this at least once next week and leave me a comment below about how this experiment works for you, and especially how it feels, even if those feelings are negative. Because negatives are as valid as positives for self-learning, as all “feels” are generated by the Limbic brain in the now. Then, we can start working on connecting those dots!

Catch you next week!

Image used, Warm confit ocean trout – Bistro Vue by Alpha
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)

Intermission…

August was a very weird time – an all too brief 4 day visit from one of my partners, two funerals, a wedding and the Nineworlds Geekfest conference sandwiched in between them – All very exhausting emotional things – followed by a period of “brain fuzz” from “doing all the stuff”, so not much room for the inspiration needed to write to take effect.

I’ve wanted to write my next post (“You can’t do it wrong“) for the last three weeks, but my brain simply didn’t want to give me “words” of any shape.  I did manage to journal a little bit about one of the funerals (to aid creating white space in my brain) but I know there is way more in there that needs to come out. When I’ve not been at work (doing “the minimum needed to get by and keep projects moving”), I’ve spent most of my time either sleeping, fussing over my orchids/watching YouTube videos on Orchid care and finishing up re-watching S7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Now, I could chose to beat myself up over this seeming “waste of time”, and a few years ago I very much would have done, feeling all the guilt around “doing nothing” and I would have tried to force “things to work”, which would inevitably lead to life not working at all and even more “things not happening” in life as I wallowed and flailed.

However, taking the Mindful view on things, I simply acknowledge that having had a very emotion filled and time sapping beginning to August,  I needed some time to reset. And my doing that self-care and taking that time to get back in the flow is not something that is “bad” or “wrong”, it is something that just “is”. And I have no need at all to feel bad about that at all.

Take my work here for instance. I dedicated myself to producing world-changing content once a week, and my lack of words to the world since the beginning of August could be seen as a massive failure. I could sit here in a puddle of self-recrimination and self-doubt, allow that negativity to enable me to listen to my amygdala and simply give up on my writing and myself  – because changing the world takes effort… and that equals resistance.

I do know that for the last week or so, where my brain has been up and firing again, that I have been very subject to resistance. I’ve been wallowing, “filling up my eyes” in a rather drastic way, doing anything to seemingly avoid writing or creativity (Although I have been spending lots of time with my Orchids!).

However, using that resistance as my compass, and knowing that my time-out allowed my brain to heal, enough is enough and it’s time to push on through! It’s time to give thanks and forgiveness in my life, open up to abundance and start shining again.

I’m hoping that I’ve given you reassurance and food for thought. Have you had a time where you felt that everything was just too much? How did you cope then? And are you now working Mindfully and with Gratitude to accept that sometimes life hands you a shit sandwich (to quote Marie Forleo!) and that you have to deal and move along. Leave me a comment below, and we can start working on connecting those dots.

Catch you shortly!

Image used “Intermission (5/7)” by jnyemb
Used Under Creative commons licence: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)