What do you when Loving Kindness Meditation isn’t your bag

What do you when Loving Kindness Meditation isn’t your bag

Loving Kindness meditations are one of my favourite guided meditations BUT it’s not for everyone. There are many roads to Rome and while meditations have there place it’s counterproductive (combined with a healthy does of silly) to think that is only ONE way of achieving inner peace and acceptance.  Channel Goldilocks and explore until the penny drops and you’ve found something that works for you.

 

In the last decade the fascinating research field of positive emotion has exploded with studies showing that people who experience warmer, more upbeat emotions tend to live longer and healthier lives. In her book Love 2.0, Fredrickson (2013) argues that the highest positive emotion is love. The presence or absence of love influences everything we feel, do, think and become.

 

The “three loving connections” is an exercise that aims to cultivate the emotion of love by seeking out three meaningful interactions each day and reflecting on them each night. Preliminary findings suggest that actually recording these experiences triggers positive physiological effects in the body. In a pilot study, Kok (2012) suggested that taking one minute each day to record how ‘close’ and ‘in tune’ you feel when interacting with others can produce improved heart function and a boost in day-to-day positive emotions. Moreover, seeking positive micro moments may boost positive psychological well-being, which has been found to be positively correlated to health and to survival in both healthy and diseased populations (Chida & Steptoe, 2008; Howell, Kern, & Lyubomirsky, 2007).

 

The goal of this exercise is to increase the experience of love by seeking out three meaningful interactions each day and to reflect on them each night.

As with everything, try it and trust yourself. Trying something new is a dance with steps tempting you back to the familiar embrace of your comfort zone and others enticing you forwards towards new land. All dances take practice and some you’ll love while others will never be your thing.  Give it a good shot before making that call.

Step 1: Connect
Each day, look for three opportunities to interact and connect with others, for instance a relative, friend, colleague, or complete stranger. Each interaction can be with the same person or with three different people.

  • Approach this potential interaction with warmth, respect and good will
  • Make an effort to stay present and listen with an open heart
  • Offer your eye contact and (when appropriate) your touch
  • Share your own light-hearted thoughts and feelings

Step 2: Reflection 

Each night call to mind your three interactions. Rate each of the following statements on a scale of 1 (not true at all) to 7 (very true):

  • During these interactions, I felt “in tune” with the person/s around me.
  • During these interactions, I felt close to the person/s around me.

A low rating on both questions suggests that you did not really connect to the other person during the interaction. If so, you may reflect on the following questions:

  • Why did I feel not so connected to the other person?
  • What can I possibly do next time to enhance my connection with the other person?

 

Give it a shot and let me know what you think.

Any questions or observations drop your comments below and I’ll get back to you.

3 videos that will change your life

3 videos that will change your life

Think of what an idiot would do….then don’t do that thing 😉

Whatever is holding you back. Stop it! 😉

You being alive and here reading this is a miracle in itself….YOU are amazing by default so stop taking life so seriously and play.

There. Life is so much simpler than we make it isn’t it? 🙂

PS. If you felt a slight pang of disappointment that these videos weren’t on the surface deep and transformational then it’s likely that you’ve attached yourself to an idea of what that life changing something is….and will keep looking until you find it.  My invitation to you would be to let that go, YOU have all the answers and power you need right now to change your life.  Stop seeking and start being. And having a giggle puts you in a resourceful state to access your inner awesome!

PPS. What are your favourite videos that have shifted your thinking? Tell me in the comments below, I’d love to know xx

Lead with love in your conversations about mental health

Lead with love in your conversations about mental health

Have you read this BBC article about a major study finding that anti depressants work?

The conversations that have come off the back of this article has been divisive.

Opinions around mental health and depression can be emotive.

Depression impacts real people…perhaps you, your mum, son, brother, colleague, neighbour. These are actual people who are experiencing a really tough time. And when people are experiencing depression they are low in resourcefulness and so are likely to be far more sensitive to discussions about something that affects them than potentially other people are.

Let’s respect that.

Is it ok then to delve into public debates about the rights and wrongs of taking a medication that many feel is their lifeline?

The questions we ask determine the information we find.

Asking whether anti depressants work is polarising. It invites us to enter into a debate that focuses on one thing…the use of anti depressants. And my invitation is to not go down that rabbit hole but change the question to something that could be more useful:

What really is depression?

What are the causes of depression?

What supports people to recover from depression?

Humans are complex and wonderful beings who are meaning-making machines.

We search and search for THE answer…when there isn’t one, there are many.

YOU are a complex being and so is every single person around you. Your body is beautifully unique and has different needs to others. It may not have the ability to produce certain hormones or it may not process certain vitamins as well as others. It may be sensitive to some things that don’t bother others.

We all have our own ecosystem to nurture for us to be our best and healthiest selves. And for me, it’s important that we are each helped to understand our own ecosystem and how we can best support ourselves.

Anti depressants have a place for some people. They are far from ‘happy pills’ and some describe, rather they are there to lift someone from depressed to neutral and offer the opportunity to heal from some mental pain.

Anti depressants are simply a medicine like any other. Sometimes people need a quick fix from their pain, enough so that it gives them access to their inner resourcefulness enough that they can heal themselves.

For others, their bodies and brains may never produce sufficient levels of what it needs and so a long term plan is necessary.

And others may not need pharmaceutical intervention as nutrition, exercise, lifestyle changes and/or talking therapies or personal development may be their panacea.

None are better or worse.  It’s really important to stop judging and just use what works.

I’d like to offer you an invitation to get curious about the lenses you’re experiencing the world through…and how other people are seeing the world too.  Because we’re ALL invested in our own agenda:

  • I am invested in the benefits of personal development and coaching because that’s where I hang out and in my experience it’s very beneficial…
  • A therapist is invested in the benefits of therapy because that’s where they hang out and in their experience it’s very beneficial.
  • The nutritionist is invested in the benefits of nutrition….
  • The pharmaceutical companies are invested in the benefits of anti depressants….

There is evidence to back up every option so it can get muddy deciding which is ‘right’.

And the thing is, there is no one ‘right’ perspective.

Which is why it’s so important to trust yourself because no one knows you as well as you do, but I appreciate that’s a lot easier to say than do when your lights are turned off by depression.

And also why it’s soooo important for us all to appreciate and respect the uniqueness of each of our eco systems…and for each of us to to discover what we need and be curious about what others need, being aware of their own biases.  What works for me may not work for you….and that’s ok.

Curiosity and kindness are key.

A couple of years ago I really struggled with my mental health, my brain felt foggy, I couldn’t focus and I was tired ALL THE TIME. Classic depression symptoms. I did all the ‘mindset’ work yet nothing changed and to be honest, I spent a bit of time beating myself up as I’m a life coach for goodness sake…I ‘should’ be able to shake this off with inner work.  But I couldn’t so I went to the doctors.  He said it sounded like depression (as I sobbed in his office) but I asked for my bloods to be checked.  It turned out I had a low thyroid and was deficient in vitamin B12 and D.  Deficiencies in these cause depressive symptoms yet after some vitamin injections and being prescribed a synthetic thyroxin (my body doesn’t produce enough of it) I was back to full steam.  Depressive symptoms = physical cause.

There is a strong correlation between people who have experienced several Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) and then go onto experience depression (and other health issues).  Without looking at the WHOLE person, it’s too easy to medicate without ever finding out the root cause. Depressive symptoms = potentially major depression = emotional cause.

Which is why it’s so important to be curious about the cause because depression isn’t one simple thing with one simple cause. Your experience of and the ultimate cause of your depression may not be the same as the next person.  So let’s stop judging and instead get curious about our own ecosystems and what it takes to thrive.

If you’re in any way cynical about the use of anti depressants or depression, or indeed you’re just fascinated by our brains watch the video below.  Psychiatrist and neuroscientist Daniel Amen has scanned over 50000 brains and found that the same cluster of presenting symptoms often have very different causes. If you’re short on time cut to 6:10 minutes for the section on depression.

And let me know in the comments what your thoughts are. I’d love to hear them x

Do you trust yourself?

Do you trust yourself?

Trust. It’s a biggie isn’t it?  How well you trust others…but also how well you trust yourself.

I trust myself now, but I didn’t trust myself for a very long time.

I’m one of life’s givers so would do ANYTHING to help people out.

I’m also a lover of peace and harmony so would do ANYTHING to keep things calm.

Which may seem ok in principle but it didn’t ultimately serve me OR the people around me.

Of course, in the short term having someone to help you is nice….but in the long term we need to be able to help ourselves don’t we?

I used to believe people could be fixed….not realising that no one was broken in the first place.

I disempowered a whole lotta people by wearing my cape and believing I could ‘fix’ things rather than help them help themselves.

I used to believe being calm was the best way to be…not realising that even the seemingly ‘negative’ emotions of anger, sadness or frustration are felt for a reason and repressing them doesn’t help anyone.

All this looking out and rescuing the world took its toll as I stopped checking in with myself and what was right for me.

Which meant I could tell you what other people wanted…but not what I did.

I could recognise other people’s emotions…but not recognise my own, let alone listen to what they were telling me.

I swung from passive (helping others to a silly degree) to aggressive (being pissed off at the people who hadn’t asked to be helped) and rarely was truly assertive.

Being assertive, after all, involves trusting yourself, knowing what you want and being able to stand your ground doesn’t it?

I didn’t realise any of this was an issue until I started creating space to get to know myself, learn about my emotions and how they serve me. And slowly but surely I tapped into me again….and listened….and trusted….and spoke my truth of what I wanted and needed!

So simple, yet so many of us aren’t trusting of ourselves and all it takes is space to listen to ourself. Treat yourself as you wood other people.

And here’s my thing, you KNOW what you want, even if you’re not able to consciously admit to it yet….it’s there bubbling underneath, ready for you to listen and TRUST ❤️

What’s been your experience of trusting yourself?

Does it come easily to you or are you been a work in progress?

What to do when bad things happen

What to do when bad things happen

Sometimes bad things happen and when you’re in the midst of it life can feel a bit overwhelming.

The issue isn’t so much finding the meaning in why that bad thing happened as sometimes there is no reason to be found. And as meaning making machines we can search and search and tie ourselves in knots trying make sense of chaos when there is none to be found. Things happen.

Rather, the issue is when and how to acknowledge that whatever has happened HAS happened, to accept it as part of your life’s rich tapestry and keep moving on.

Acceptance doesn’t mean denying your feelings, they WILL still bubble up sometimes and catch you off guard. You WILL have amazing moments and you WILL have ones when it feels like the light of life has been turned off. It’s knowing that that is natural and ok.
Acceptance doesn’t mean forgetting either, it’s more a state of noticing, of mindful observation of the various aspects to the story of your life so far.
What happens to us doesn’t have to define us.
You might not have had a choice about some of the elements that are in your tapestry but you DO have a choice as to how you weave it together.

Huge love xx

Creating a balanced life

I’ve got no interest in building a hugely successful career/business at the detriment of the rest of my life.

I LOVE my work AND I love my family, my friends and having fun too , and see no reason why I can’t enjoy ALL of this. So I do.

I make conscious choices every day to create the balance in my life and work that works for me and the people I love.

I’m fortunate that running a business means I get to call the shots although that doesn’t mean it’s easy….for example without careful planning and executing on those plans I could easily end up with little income down the line!

I say that because there are pros and cons to ALL of our life choices….whether you’re in business, have a job or are caring for your loved ones, it’s important not to get distracted by other people’s circumstances.

And we’ve ALL had the grass is greener and it’s easier for them moments!

‘They have more time.’

‘They have more money.’

‘They have a better job.’

‘They have a better boss.’

‘They have children.’

‘They don’t have children’.

‘They don’t have MY children.’

‘They have more support.’

‘They have a partner.’

‘They don’t have MY partner.’

‘They don’t have the health difficulties I do.’

‘They have more confidence.’

And on the comparisons go to convince yourself it’s easier for ‘them’ than it is you to experience a balanced and fulfilling life.

But THEY ARE NOT YOU so stop giving your power away!!

No matter how you are spending your time right now, YOU are the centre of YOUR life & YOU are the driving force behind your experience. We ALL have priorities to juggle to experience the life and work we REALLY want.

It’s about feeling in the driving seat of your life, that it’s YOUR choice to be doing what you’re doing and you’re not constantly dropping balls as a result and then beating yourself up at your crap juggling skills!

It’s about becoming aware of what you want and figuring out how you can make that happen.

Because you can!

#beworklifehappy

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