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Posts Tagged meditation

Work-life balance reduces stress

Are you rushing from commitment to commitment? Are you searching for more hours in the day? Well, you are not alone.  Health Direct suggest that Australia is behind the rest of the developed world in creating work-life balance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lack of work-life balance will lead to stress because there is an imbalance between your daily demands, responsibilities and commitments and the time, capabilities and energy you have to complete the workload and obligations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What can you do to manage the stress and create a more balanced life? I concur with D J Lee’s article, 6 Tips For Better Work-Life Balance, and have found my success in being aware of the suggested areas for many years. The six tips are:

  1. Let go of perfectionism – strive for excellence instead. Ask yourself, “have I done my best today with the resources I have available to me right now.”
  2. Unplug – Work screen free time into your day, every day.
  3. Exercise and meditate – There are so many recorded benefits to these activities. Move your body and practise deep breathing exercises every day, your muscles and mind will thank you for it.
  4. Limit time-wasting activities and people – Practise the 3 D’s: Do, Delegate, Dump. Stress will reduce, and results will increase.
  5. Change the structure of your life – Revisit your weekly timetable or planner and change a few things around and delegate some tasks to others. You may find that doing things the way you have always done it isn’t working anymore.
  6. Start small. Build from there – Change something every day, not everything all at once.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What work-life balance means and looks like is different for each person and family. Sit down and define it for you first. Once you know that, decide what you want to stop, minimise, keep doing and do more of, then consistently implement new ways of doing and being in your day.

Please share your work-life balance suggestions.

Images: Pixabay

Posted in: Business, Mindfulness, Parenting, Resilience, Separated by Work

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100% presence will improve performance and health

Mindfulness and stillness have been adapted from Buddhism. The field of psychotherapy has been interested in Buddhist psychology for some time because of the noted impressive results.

The potential of these mindfulness and acceptance based approaches have bought in a new wave of cognitive behavioural treatments and support for many emotional and mental issues, including:

  • Depression, especially preventing relapse
  • Anxiety disorders,
  • Stress,
  • Behaviour problems,
  • Interpersonal conflict,
  • Confusion,
  • Despair, and
  • Assistance with mood regulation.

I describe mindfulness or stillness as giving something 100% of my attention in that moment. Three simple ways you can begin to practice the art of being 100% present are –

  1. Be 100% aware of every flavour that is released as you eat your next snack or meal; or what it feels like right now as you sit on the chair and feel the clothes against your skin.
  2. Just sit and be aware of your breathing for a few minutes. This will still your busy mind.
  3. Consciously soften each muscle in your body, from the tips of the toes to the top of your head. Feel the tension oozing out and disappearing.

When doing any of these activities, if thoughts pop up imagine them floating past as you would a bubble, you don’t have to catch it, it floats by and then vanishes.

Learning and mastering how to make every second count and being 100% present will improve your life, reduce stress-related disorders, increase feelings of stability, and give you more energy and focus – who wouldn’t want a bit more of that?

I have learned the value and benefits of mindfulness and stillness exercises on my mental, emotional, and biological health. Once I could develop a regular mindfulness practise successfully, (quite a few attempts failed miserably), I found that life got a bit easier, my thinking was clearer, and the things that seemed so big became inconsequential. This in turn had a dramatic effect on my productivity and performance.

A quote from Buddha explains this nicely— “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”

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Stop, and pause for a moment right now.  Consider just how valuable this present moment is. This moment is all there truly is, and it is your only point of power and the only place you choose to act or do nothing.

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Mindfulness, Resilience

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Reducing childhood anxiety through mindfulness and meditation

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A child that experiences anxiety can be one of the most difficult things you have to face as a parent. You may worry that your parenting skills are lacking if your child experiences outbursts of anger, reactive behaviour choices, nervousness or panic attacks.

Anxiety has become increasingly common among children as young as four. Statistics show that one in every ten will experience intense anxiety at some point during their childhood. Stress, fear and anxiety is a fact of life for both children and adults – and the way your child’s brain processes the fight or flight response has a great deal to do with how he or she reacts to a perceived threat.

That’s why teaching your child to manage anxiety and stressful situations effectively are some of the most important life skills you can give them. By teaching your child how to breathe, meditate and perform other stress reduction techniques, they are able to deal effectively with the stressors that are a natural part of modern life.

Mindfulness and meditation are particularly effective stress management tools and are widely known to increase calmness and a sense of wellbeing, promote better health and clear cluttered and cloudy thinking – even for very young children. By guiding your child through meditation or bringing your child back into the present moment where they can take back control and calm down, you are giving them a very special and long-lasting gift.

When children are taught regular meditation and mindfulness techniques amazing results have been documented, including –

  • An increase in attention span
  • Having better concentration
  • Are less likely to experience regular illness – have a stronger immune system
  • A marked improvement in studies/academic results
  • More imaginative and creative – which leads to a resourceful and more resilient adult
  • Have a sense of peace, calm and safety
  • Show more problem solving abilities
  • Less disruptive behaviour and angry outbursts

After a period of time, and with your guidance, they will learn how to still their busy minds and be more present and calm. From there, they will develop a more confident outlook and disposition. Over time your child will be able to create a solitary space within themselves that is safe – a space to think, breathe, calm down, and remember or imagine.

I have taught all three of my children to meditate, relax their muscles one by one, and take a couple of deep breaths when needed. From a very early age I encouraged them all to just check in to ‘right now’. To take a long slow deep breathe and feel the breath go in through their nose, travel down their throat, fill their lungs, and expand in their belly like filling a balloon. Then, let it sit there for just a couple of moments, and then exhale, blowing all the air out. As they did this, they could imagine feeling a sense of release and calm. I would get them to do it a few times – slow and controlled, and with an awareness of how they were becoming more relaxed.

My youngest son, who is now nine, has me smiling in many stressful situations. As he notices my posture changing, my body becoming tense, and he can possibly see steam coming out of my ears. He calmly walks over, puts his hand on my arm and says, “Mummy, just take a deep breath in – and hold – and let it go. And again, breathe in, and out.” Can’t get more stress relief than that!

The next thing I made a priority to teach my kids was to S.T.O.P – an acronym for mindfulness. I have shown many of my clients and students this skill over the years, but I found children took to it easily and quickly.

S.T.O.P stands for –

S = Stop right now

T = Take a breath

O = Observe what is going on around you and within you – just observe it, then

P = Proceed with your next action or non-action – whatever you feel most appropriate, beneficial, and right for you.

Most parents find it a challenge to get their child interested in meditation and seeing the benefits of pausing to be mindful. Our little people are full of energy and easily distracted, and the thought of having to be still and quiet can seem very boring, even impossible to them. You can grow their interest and love of meditating and being mindful when you begin by making it fun. You can make time regularly to guide them through the process until it becomes a habit they can easily follow through with on their own. Most kids will hold still for meditation if it’s something that Mum or Dad takes time out to do especially with them.

Keep your meditation periods short as you begin.

A child that is under five years old, for example, may only stay still for two minutes – and that’s okay. Slowly increase the length of time you spend on sessions as your child begins to take an interest. At first, you may have them start by laying down, but in time they can meditate while sitting cross-legged on the floor, by standing, or even during a walk. The most important thing to do is to make these times fun and relaxed.

You can encourage your child to practice deep breathing techniques by blowing up a balloon or blowing feathers as far as they can, then transition to imagining blowing up a balloon and blowing a feather.

Take a deep breath in ‘filling the belly’ for three seconds, hold, and then exhale for three seconds.

Do this three times to begin and once done for a while they will automatically know that when something is causing them anxiety they can take 3 deep breathes to calm down.

Here’s a simple guided meditation that I have used many times to get you started.

  • Remember to make this fun and relaxing for both you and your child. You can play soft music and lay on the floor or on the bed with pillows if that helps.
  • Begin by telling your child you are going on an adventure, using their imagination. Have them stretch out their arms and legs and allow them to go limp. They can close their eyes (usually the will peak occasionally!) Then count down from ten – as you do tell them that they are getting more comfortable, having a wriggle if they have to, and feeling more relaxed.
  • Then talk them through relaxing each part of their body, taking their awareness to each part as you say it, from the tips of their toes to top of the head. Name each part and ask them to imagine the muscles in that part relaxing and going soft as marshmallows.
  • When your child is relaxed, ask them to visualise a beach on a warm, sunny day. They can imagine standing on that beach in their mind, seeing the waves as they crash against the shore, hearing the wind blow and birds fly overhead.
  • Have them visualise the patterns of the waves as they wash over the shore, over and over again. (You can use any scene – a forest, a castle, a river, the backyard – anywhere you know they will feel happy to be there.)
  • Have them breathe in and breathe out softly, gently and regularly. Allow them to rest, feeling comfortable and safe. You can then use your imagination and trust your own intuition to guide them, with plenty of pauses, to where you want to go. You could walk along the beach feeling the sand in your toes, see a rock pool with lots of sea creatures in it, have people on the beach, sit under a tree, or even have a magic carpet ride! My children loved having a worry tree at the beginning of the meditation appear so they could hang all their worries, one by one, on it. When it was time to finish the meditation I would bring them back past the worry tree and they would find all their worries had disappeared.
  • When they are ready to come back out of the meditative process, ask them to take a deep breath, feel the floor beneath them, notice how calm they are and stretch their arms and legs – and smile.

You can also try a recorded guided meditation with your child. There are many options out there from beautiful music to someone talking and guiding your thoughts and imagination. I have found that children respond very well to background music and their parent’s voice – whether they are present or it is pre-recorded. In my personal experience, children are highly responsive to inner smile meditation, which promotes a healthy immune system. I believe this is because kids naturally and instinctively know the benefits of a big smile and happy thoughts. You only need 10 – 20 minutes ‘time out’ with a child a couple of times a week to see great results.

How could you introduce more meditative and mindful moments into your family’s life? What would be the benefits if everyone could S.T.O.P more often and be calmer?

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Parenting

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Who has time to Relax & Meditate? Why is it so important to take time out?

meditation benefitsMany people view taking time out or time to relax as a luxury or consider it being indulgent. However this train of thought has been proven to be counterproductive to maintaining optimal levels of wellbeing, energy and happiness. The benefits of rest, recovery time and quality sleep impact nearly every are of daily life. Your body manages and requires relaxation, rest and sleep much in the same way that it regulates the need for eating, drinking and breathing. Extensive research has consistently shown that proper relaxation, rest and sleep plays a vital role in promoting physical health, longevity and emotional wellbeing.

Meditation has been taught and practised for thousands of years and is today accepted more and more to promote calm as well as the proven emotional, mental, physical, biological and functional benefits. It is said that the best ideas and inspiration come from taking time and space to connect. So why is it that many put relaxation and rest so low on their to do list?

In 1995, the authors of a report to the National Institutes of Health on complementary or alternative medicine reviewed 30 years of research and reports of individuals and health care providers. They concluded that meditation and related methods for the enhancement of relaxation are cost-effective ways to improve health and quality of life.

This is one of a growing body of evidence supporting the medical benefits of meditation. For example, meditation is particularly effective as a treatment for chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and stress related disorders and illness. A recent study showed that after just 8 weeks of daily ‘time out’ participants had stronger immune systems and registered higher activation in parts of the brain associated with positive mood.

In the 16 years I have been teaching meditation and creating meditation products I have regularly seen and experienced illness overcome, anxiety disappear, pain issues decrease dramatically, blood pressure normalise, sleep issues eradicated, and stress and depression symptoms vanish.

Relaxation is all about letting go of tension, and it can be done in a number of ways. A very simple and quick way to release tension and refocus is deep breathing techniques, being still and ‘watching your breath’. Structured practise would include those that are formatted, usually guided by someone; and natural are the ones where you take a moment in your everyday to stop, breath, centre and calm. Surprisingly the natural meditative/relaxation habits you incorporate in your everyday are the most sustainable and valuable ones.

No matter how busy you think you are, there is always time for meditation and there is always time to relax.

Through regular practice with various meditation techniques, the mind becomes still, calm and relaxed. Eventually, consciousness is clearer and you can maintain this state for longer periods of time; calm and peace stays longer and longer.

Progressive muscle relaxation is an exercise that relaxes your mind and body. Did you know that tension in the body affects tension in your mind and thinking? Did you also know that constant tension in your muscles could lower your immune system and make recovery time from illness longer?

My favourite quick practise is S.T.O.P

S TOP AND BECOME PRESENT

T AKE A BREATH & RELAX

O BSERVE WHAT YOU ARE FEELING AND THINKING

P ROCEED AND PARTICIPATE IN WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT

Buddhists, Yogis and Ayurveda doctors have said for centuries that meditation improves health and well-being.  Now scientists are proving the benefits of meditation.  Several clinical studies have documented specific ways that meditating may help people stay healthier, sharpen mental focus and gain more power over their emotions.  Some studies even show that the brain of someone who meditates may be physically different from one who doesn’t.  Findings to date offer compelling confirmation to the millions who meditate and take time out to relax, centre, recover and connect.

Kirsty 🙂 

 

Posted in: Mindfulness, Parenting, Resilience

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THE 6 P’s TO OVERCOME PROCRASTINATION

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=_mFuZncR734

If you’ve found yourself putting off important tasks over and over again, you’re not alone. Most people procrastinate to some degree.  Is procrastination stopping you fulfilling your potential and unsettling your life?

You procrastinate when you put off things that you could be, or know you should be, focusing on right now, usually in favour of doing something that is more enjoyable or that you’re more comfortable doing.

Putting off an unimportant task isn’t necessarily procrastination; it may just be good prioritization! If you have a good reason for rescheduling something important, then you’re not necessarily procrastinating. However, if you’re just “making an excuse” because you really just don’t want to do it, then you are.

The key to taking back control is to recognize when you start procrastinating, understand why it happens and take active steps to manage your time and outcomes better. To have a good chance of conquering procrastination, you need to be aware straight away that you’re doing it. Then you can identify why you’re procrastinating and take appropriate steps to overcome the block.

Here are my 6 P’s for creating a new habit of action rather than non-action or avoidance:-

  1. PAY OFF – Establish and brainstorm what are the great things      that you will get once this is done.       WHY is it important to you?
  2. PEOPLE TO TELL AND PROMISE – Name your task and put a deadline      on it, then tell someone or a group of people and promise to have it      finished and ask for their support.       This creates an atmosphere of accountability and is a psychological      incentive for you to complete what you have been putting off.
  3. PREPARE AND HAVE A PROCESS – Prepare all that you need to get      this task done and have a list, diary and a process.  Are you going to do it all, in what      order, or are you going to break it down into smaller tasks?
  4. PAY ATTENTION – Be completely present with this task, no      breaks, no interruptions, and no distractions.
  5. PRACTISE – just keep following this guide on all tasks you      feel overwhelmed by or struggle to complete.  You don’t have to get it perfect,      practise will allow you to just do it and create a new habit of work/task      completion.
  6. PRAISE & CELEBRATE – Give yourself a big pat on the back      and reward each time you achieve your goal.  This will encourage you to keep going      forward.

One of my most favourite action steps is to aim to “eat an elephant beetle” first thing, every day; which means conquering your hardest, least desirable task first thing in the morning so you don’t have to carry the load in your mind around with you all day.

Get started today and kick procrastination to the kerb! Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Business, Mindfulness, Resilience

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Picking your state and intention for the day – YOU GET TO CHOOSE!

Do you just get up every morning, head hung low, would rather be back in bed? Do you just get up and start going through your morning routine, putting one foot in front of the other? Do you wonder where your motivation,let alone inspiration have gone?

I have realised that beginning the day with no clear direction, no high expectations and on automatic pilot does not get me the results I want or need. I am going to share with you a couple of tricks to get you feeling more energetic andinspired each day.

Know your overall picture/goals for the next couple of years. It always brings more meaning to your life when you know where you are headed. Where do you see yourself in 2 years’ time? What is happening? Who is with you? How are you feeling? What are you doing? Remember, it’s not what you don’t want, it is what you would like to work towards and where you want to be.

Once you know where it is and what you want, pick a state that suits this part of your life. Is it happy, healthy, open, engaging, pumped, peaceful, in control,respecting and respected, grateful, confident, valued, or the like? Once you know the state that feels right, get in that state from right now. Remind yourself constantly I am……. today.

Set your intention for each day. What do you intend to do, to be, to achieve,to overcome, to create? Know this, write it down and begin.

Try this for the next month. I will guarantee you will see your life become more enjoyable, you will get more meaningful things done and you will move away from what you don’t want because you are too busy getting what you do want and enjoying yourself!

Posted in: Business, Mindfulness, Resilience

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