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What is Mindfulness?

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Mindfulness is a term that is being used a lot at the moment, but do you know what it’s actually all about?

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness started out as a practise in India about 2500 years ago. It was created as a type of mediation that allowed the practitioner to be present in the moment and to notice what was happening in their own mind. To notice their thoughts, feelings and emotions and give themselves the time and space to look at them, hear them and to react to them in a non judgemental, balanced way.

There is a direct correlation between our thoughts, emotions and behaviours. Think about this for a moment..

You wake up in a great mood. ‘Today is going to be a good day’ you think to yourself. You get up, go through your morning routine and leave the house. When you get to work you see a parking space and get ready to move into it. Just as you are about to take the space someone else grabs it. How do you feel? What do you do?

Now, go through the same scenario but with you waking up in a terrible mood, convinced that today is going to be a nightmare. Now how do you feel? What do you do?

Did you get the same response each time? If you’re being honest with yourself, probably not. Yet both of the situations were identical apart from the first thoughts and emotions you were feeling. See how they can influence things?

One very effective form of therapy is CBT or cognitive behavioural therapy. It uses the same principles of analytically looking at our own thoughts and deciding if they are appropriate or not and then adjusting them accordingly. For instance if someone was suffering from OCD they may have a thought or belief pattern that makes them believe that if they do not carry out a certain action or set of actions then bad things will happen. Using mindfulness and or CBT techniques, they would learn to be able to notice these thoughts and to consider them in a balanced non judgemental way. With practice this can change and alter them into healthier patterns, which in turn, changes their behaviours.

Mindfulness is more than just this though. It is the ability to be in the moment. To fully appreciate what you are experiencing.

How many times have you not enjoyed something because you were worried about something else? Lost yourself in your fears that were totally unnecessary? Many of the clients I see as a Hypnotherapist suffer from social anxiety. This can be crippling and stop people enjoying their life, yet it doesn’t have to be the case. Simply learning and practicing mindfulness can eliminate it entirely.

In some ways Mindfulness is like a work out for your mind. It strengthens it, makes it more flexible and more able to handle things if and when they get tough. It’s like exercise in another way as well – it takes training and practice to get good at it. In this way your mind is like a muscle. You need to exercise it, to make it stronger before you have to do the heavy lifting or the marathon. You start small, get frustrated, keep at it and get better.

So, next time you think about a bit of self-care or self-improvement, you might want to consider getting yourself on a mindfulness course. Start small, practice and get stronger so that you are mentally as well as physically ready for anything life throws at you, and if someone asks you what is mindfulness, you’ll be able to tell them.

 

 

 

 

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Eat the rainbow, feel over the rainbow.

eat-the-rainbow

How do you feel about Veggies? I’m not talking about vegetarians, I’m talking about what they eat – lovely, crunchy, colourful veggies.

I see lots of people in my hypnotherapy practice who struggle to eat them. I must admit I still find it surprising as I absolutely love them.

Personally I blame the parents, and honestly I think it should be thought of as neglect.

You are literally what you eat. It is the building blocks of your body. Your amazing body takes in food, breaks it down and uses it. Part of it for fuel, part of it for growth and renewal. Your skin is constantly replacing itself, so is your blood, your bones and your organs. About once every 7 years you are practically a different person. How cool is that? But if all the fuel you are giving your body is a bit rubbish, then it struggles to do this. It prematurely ages you, both in appearance and by actually reducing how long you will live.

Whatever you believe about how humans came to walk on the earth, by divine creation or by evolution (maybe both) our bodies work best when given a ‘natural diet’. A natural diet does NOT consist of processed foods. It consists of things that grow in the ground and things that eat things that grow in the ground. Quite simply speaking, if you can’t pick it or kill it, you probably shouldn’t be eating it.

So let’s think about some of the worst processed foods. Bacon, sausages and ham tend to be high on the danger list. Some scientists say that eating them is as dangerous as smoking. Then there are other things like processed and refined grains. Yes, wheat is natural and grows, but bread does not. White rice is not how it comes – it has to be processed, and don’t get me started on sugar, soda and energy drinks (or even fruit juices for that matter – when did you last eat 9 oranges in a row? That what goes into a normal glass of orange juice!). All of these things put our bodies into a bad place.

Things that put our bodies into a positive place should be enjoyed, not endured, and this is why I tend to blame the parents. I discovered veggies later in life (into my thirties) as when I was growing up I hated them. This may have been because I grew up in the UK in the 70’s and veggies were boiled to a soft mush. Every time. It was sad for all concerned. Consequently I thought I didn’t like veggies. They were tasteless and mushy.

My first real departure from this was when I started cooking for myself. In my twenties I cooked, but there were quite a lot of microwave meals and takeouts. I didn’t have the skills or experience (and more importantly the confidence) to try cooking real food. After I moved in with my partner I started cooking a little more – things like fajitas and roasts started happening. I tried steaming and roasting veggies, and found that I really like them. I tried different varieties and types (fennel and courgettes), I tried different colours (purple carrots and yellow radishes) I tries different ways of cooking them (mixing them with garlic or lemon juice) and I fell in love.

I’m not a vegetarian, but I do eat a mostly plant-based diet. It makes me feel healthy, and I love the tastes. A salad made with rocket and watercress, with red onions pickled in red wine vinegar, baby corn, sweet peppers, radishes, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, pomegranate and avocado is the best thing ever. Seriously – try it! As well as tasting great (and it really does) it has the benefit of being properly colourful. That means that it looks brilliant, but it also means that I’m getting lots of different types of building blocks to play with. Dark green gives me riboflavins and iron, Yellow gives me vitamin C, Orange gives me beta carotene that helps keep my eyes healthy. The red tomatoes re chock full of lycopene that protects against skin cancer and the purple in the onion has anthocyanin which helps reduce blood pressure.

It is a common buddhist practice to make sure that every meal has at least 5 different colour fruits or vegetable in it. Assuming you want to keep your sugar content down (as almost everyone in the western world is eating too much of the stuff) try to keep it to the veggies (and some protein) and you will be giving you body the best building materials you can.

Stop being beige – be brilliant!

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Blog Plans for 2017

Happy New Year!

Well, after a lovely Christmas break, I’m back to the blogosphere….How are you all doing?

Personally I love January, because I love new starts. They are full of opportunities, possibilities and potential. They also scare me a bit because of this – when everything is a possibility it can all be a bit overwhelming – there’s just too much to choose from, and in my humble opinion, you do have to choose. Anyone that tells you that this year is the one where they will eat healthy, exercise regularly, look amazing every day, make a million dollars, have the perfect relationship with their friends and family, start a new business and find inner peace is expecting a little bit much, don’t you think?

Even if all you’re planning on doing is growing your blog audience or blogging every day, it can still be a big expectation. There are so many things to blog about, but how to choose? Sometimes there is so much possibility I can’t narrow it down, sometimes I can’t think of a single thing. What to do?

For me it starts with a plan. Plans don’t have to be set in stone, they are a starting point. Write yourself a plan, but know that it can and probably will change.

The next thing I do is think about what I want to talk about – broadly speaking. As my blog here is all about happiness, health and hypnosis that needs to be at the fore of my planning – what large topics fall under that remit?

So this year I’ve decided to dedicate a month to a topic. I started last year. December was all about self care, and I wrote it like an advent calendar with a different post every day from 1 to 25. It worked quite well for me and those that follow my blog. It gave me structure and motivation to write (I’d promised after all) and it gave my followers a reason to check in – they knew what to expect. If it wasn’t something they were interested in they could take a pass, but if it was, they knew to come back every day for more.

In the same vein here are my ideas for Blogs I will be writing each month for 2017.

January – Diet

February – Relationships

March – Addictions

April – Happiness

May – Food

June – Anxiety

July – Exercise

August – Depression

Sept – Different therapy techniques

Oct – Dec TBD – I’m open to suggestions here, if you would like me to cover a topic that falls under the title of Happiness, Health and Hypnosis, this is your chance to put forward an idea! Just leave me a comment.

See anything there that you think you may be interested in – make sure you click follow to get them when they come out!

Once I’ve narrowed it down to topic areas, I find it easier to think about topics related to each big theme. Take diet for example. I can look at nutrition, staying satisfied, types of food that keep you feeling fuller for longer, diet myths, healthy goals, body image, small changes to make a big difference etc etc. So now we both know what to expect 🙂

Starting tomorrow the rest of my January blogs will be dedicated to diet. Getting right and making it easy. If you want to make sure you see them, you know what to do.

See you soon – let’s make January an awesome start!

 

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Self Care Advent Calendar day 3

Here we are on day 3 clean, dressed and full of healthy food – so what now?

Get out.

It’s as simple and complicated as that – Get out.

My best advice is to go and be in nature with friends, but that’s not always possible, so let’s start small and build up.

I don’t care what the weather is like, or how you are feeling, getting outside is good for you (unless you’re severely immuno-compromised and should be in a bubble). There is something in out bodies that responds to being outside. Natural light helps our brains to operate properly, sunlight on out skin creates essential vitamins and feeling a breeze stimulates our mind. These things are good for us. Admittedly, it’s less pleasant if it’s cold, grey and rainy – but even then it’s still good for us. Billy Connolly once famously said ‘there is no bad weather, just the wrong clothes’, so go put on some ‘right clothes’ and get out there.

Maybe out there means nothing more than stepping outside your front door. If that’s all you can manage, that’s fine, but still go and stick your head out of the door. Maybe it means getting into the garden and tidying a few things up – pull up the odd dead plant or weed, encourage and nurture the ones you like, feed the birds or squirrels…whatever you fancy.

Maybe getting out can be more of a journey – a walk to the shop or the park. A little exercise can do wonders for your body and mind. Firstly you get the physical benefits, but then you get the mental ones too – the feeling of having achieved something.

Maybe it could be an adventure – now we’re really cooking! Is there somewhere within walking distance from your house that you’ve never been to? Who knows where this could lead. Maybe you find a new church or social club that you could be involved with, maybe you see a notice looking for volunteers, maybe a poster for a gig you want to see.

Then what if we venture out a little further…could we go somewhere we’ve never been and explore it by walking around it? Could we invite friends or family and turn it into a trip? Could there be food and drink? What about music or games? Maybe there are tents, yurts, tee pee’s or caravans… What have we started here???

Self care is about feeling and being the best version of yourself. If it helps you to be alone, to recharge by being in your own space, go out on your own. If you yearn to be around others, ask them to join you. If there is no-one in your life to join you, but you would like there to be, make that a priority whilst you are out and about. Look for opportunities to get involved in groups by volunteering or joining social events. Look for walking or running groups and take the plunge to join in. 20 seconds on bravery could change your life.

So put the screen away, grab a comfy pair of shoes and Get Out!


Social anxiety and agoraphobia can lead people to become stuck in their own homes. This is a tragic shame for anyone suffering from it and it’s unnecessary. There are ways you can be free to enjoy your life again. As a hypnotherapist I love helping people to get their life back, so don’t just suffer, make a change to make your life the best it can be.

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The Story of YOU

Our self image is nothing but a story that we tell ourselves. Whether you feel happy or sad, fat or thin, clever or stupid, active or lazy, driven or laid back – it’s all just a story.

Is your Story what you want it to be?

If not, how do you change it?

First try making a list of things that you would like to be.

Maybe your list is something like this, or maybe it’s completely different – what the list is doesn’t matter – it’s YOUR story, so it needs to be YOUR list.

Kind

Reliable

Consistent

Slimmer

Happy

Fitter

Now that you’ve created your list try to prioritise it. Put the most important things to you at the top and the least important at the bottom.

 

Let’s take the first thing on your list.

The first thing I’d like you to think about is why this is important to you. Let’s take being slimmer as an example. Why do you want to be slimmer?

The answers could be any or all of the following, or maybe something else entirely, but here are a few examples.

Being healthier

Looking better

Feeling better

Feeling more confident

Socialising more

Enjoying having my picture taken more

Being able to shop in different stores

Going to different places

 

OK, so now we have a list of things we believe we will gain. How would it be if instead of working on ‘being slimmer’ we worked on being healthier or feeling more confident. Maybe by choosing to be healthier (choosing better foods and doing a little more exercise) we naturally lose weight…Maybe by working on our confidence we actually end up socialising more and doing more…again helping us to avoid sitting at home snacking and allowing us to be more involved and active. Suddenly we may be losing weight by working on what we wanted to GAIN.

But our stories are more than that. Our self image is produced by millions if not billions of different things and reality only plays a small part of it. Take for example somebody with body dismorphia. Body dismorphia is when a person has a distorted image of their body. It could be somebody who sees a fat person in the mirror, but who is actually very thin, as with anorexia or it could be somebody who sees a skinny body despite the fact they have bulging muscles and work out 8 hours a day in a gym. Their story is not created by reality. It’s created by their thoughts, by what they tell themselves over and over again.

In most cases this is triggered my things others have said to them. It may have been a case of serious bullying where they were effectively tortured by those around them into believing something false. Equally it could have been an off the cuff comment that someone once said to them that has stuck with them and they have used as a basis for their distorted belief. That person could be as close as a parent or sibling, or just a random idiot who shouted at them in the street.

So, how do you change the story?

Well the easy answer is you make a new one. Your brain is a wonderful, amazing thing, but it is also flawed. One of it’s many flaws is that it isn’t very good at differentiating between things that have actually happened and things that you make up. For example, when you watch a scary film, you KNOW that the people are just actors and the story is fiction, but it doesn’t stop your body sending adrenaline shooting into your system, making your heart beat faster and your breathing become more rapid. It’s fooled by this made up story,

The good news is you can make up whatever story you want.

So if someone once told you you were stupid and would never be able to do maths and you have had a problem with it ever since, change your story. Imagine being back in that situation and think about someone telling you that you were brilliant and that if you worked at it you would be able to get it in no time. If someone once told you you had no self control and you have been using that as a model for why you can’t refuse a piece of cake, imagine somebody telling you how disciplined and controlled you are and how proud of yourself you should be for taking control of your life.

Then practice.

The story you have told yourself has probably been told thousands of times and it may take lots of retelling to change YOUR STORY, but I promise you, you can do it.

I believe anyone can be the author of their own story, but if you need help there are professionals ready and waiting to help you. Whether they are Counsellors, Hypnotherapists or any other form of therapist, they can help you to tell your story the way you want it to be.

 

 

 

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Being Selfish

Let me start off by saying – I love what I do.

I’m a Hypnotherapist and every time I help a client to get past some issue or another it gives me a deep sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

I love it so much when I get emails from them telling me how they are getting on now that their stumbling block is gone.

But just like with everything else in life – sometimes I need a break from it.

That’s what I’m doing this week.

Instead of concentrating on clients, I’m focussing on me.

I’m getting my diet back to where it should be.

I’m exercising every day.

I’m working on what I want from life and how to get it.

I’m being genuinely selfish – and I think it’s a good thing.

We all know people who are tired martyrs. They go through life doing everything for everyone else and very little for themselves. I quite often get to see these people when they have had enough – when they’ve burned themselves out. They come to me as anxious, nervous people who feel that everyone is taking advantage of them and that no-one appreciates them. Their stress levels are frequently through the roof and their self esteem can be very low. They often externalize their self esteem, so that they only feel good if other people are telling them how wonderful they are. The problem is that after a while you stop appreciating people who are ALWAYS doing things for you and you come to expect it from them. In fact you can go so far as to be upset with them if they stop for some reason, even if that reason is sickness or exhaustion.

The first thing I try to establish with these clients is a sense of self worth – not what others appreciate – but what they do. Once you have a genuine sense of self worth, you can start to be nicer to yourself and as a consequence, are sometimes nicer to those around you. This can be easier said than done, but hypnosis is a wonderful tool.

The next thing that comes from being nicer to yourself is making space in your life to take care of yourself. At its essence this is being selfish – and yes – I still think that’s a good thing. Thinking of yourself is important. Taking care of yourself is important. Being selfish is important.

As with almost everything in life, it’s about balance.

People who spend too much time just thinking of themselves can be even more self-destructive than those who never do.

So how much Selfish is good?

Honestly – that depends on you. It depends on those around you. It depends on what you are trying to achieve.

My challenge to you today is to ask yourself 3 questions….

‘Am I being selfish enough?’

‘Am I being too selfish?’

and finally ‘What am I going to do about it?’

Wishing you all balance and harmony, go and have a great day 🙂

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Do your best

Have you ever done your best?

Have you ever tried as hard as you possibly can?

Have you done all of the preparation work that you possibly could?

Have you trained as hard as you could have?

Have you reread and rewritten your work enough?

Have you been focussed enough?

Have you tried every possible way to get it done?

Have you sought professional help or expertise?

Have you eliminated distractions?

Have you avoided all temptation?

Have you given it everything you’ve got?

Chances are that the answer is a big fat NO.

That’s OK.

(almost everyone else will say no to that too)

Stop beating yourself up. Accept that your not perfect and be a little nicer to yourself

There are, of course, exceptions – maybe you’re one of them – and if you are – Well Done.

I’m very impressed and all that but seriously – get a life!

Smile, relax, have fun, eat a cake, daydream, watch silly TV, make up stories in your head – it’s all really cool stuff 🙂

So maybe do your best, but then again, maybe don’t.

Try to be happy…

…but don’t try too hard!

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My Happy Jar

My Happy Jar

This is the latest post about my Happy Jar. It’s been a little while since I posted an update on this, but don’t worry there’s still plenty going in the jar 🙂

The Happy Jar is a way to look back and remember all the little things that make us happy.

The idea came from a nice story I once heard about a woman who had a jar. Every time she thought of something that made her happy, she would jot it down on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. Whenever she felt down, or fed up, she would go to her jar and find all the things that made her happy. Some things were big things, events that happened that she could look back on and smile, but most were little things that she could cherish and maybe even recreate to make her feel better.

So here are a few things from my Happy Jar this month.

A pink sunrise (yes I know, red sky in the morning – shepherds warning, but it’s still pretty)

Catching up with old friends at a house warming

Seeing friends happy – on a new journey, full of excitement and anticipation.

Fresh Blueberries in my porridge for breakfast.

A gift to myself being delivered.

The smell of freshly cut grass after it has rained.

Seeing my old dog act like a puppy when she finds a new walk.

Listening to an album I haven’t played in years (and still remembering the words).

Sprouting seeds.

Finding an old friend on social media.

Getting my nerd on with a friend.

Finding out that some amazing shoes I want actually come in my size (I’m 6ft tall and have size 9 feet)

Getting great feedback from a post

Getting caught in the rain and running for cover (then getting home and dry!)

Rediscovering a joy in drawing.

I know none of these things are amazing, there is nothing earth shattering about them, but all of them have made me smile and brought a least a little joy to my soul.

What will you put in your happy jar this month?

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Magical Metaphor

I’m over the moon to be writing about metaphors. You know – metaphorically speaking.

A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.

Metaphors are also described as figures of speech, allegories, parables, analogies, word pictures and symbols.

They creep into our everyday life without most of us even noticing.

Have you ever really been as sick as a parrot? (I didn’t even know parrots were particularly prone to sickness).

Do you ever get run off your feet?

Have you ever actually been on cloud 9? (or clouds 1-8 for that matter)

Does your head get foggy? (or rainy, snowy or windy?)

When was the last time you said something was amazing or awesome? When was the last time you were genuinely amazed or in awe?

Is the world a stage?

Have you ever drowned in debt?

Metaphors are everywhere.

Personally I rather like looking out for them? When you start to spot them you can start to notice the language people are using with regards to their metaphors – it can be quite revealing.

As a hypnotherapist I deal a lot with metaphors and symbolism. The subconscious mind is much better at changing things if you give it symbols to work with.

You might want to give this little exercise a go.

Let’s imagine you have something coming up that you feel uncomfortable with. Maybe it’s a test or exam, maybe it’s a meeting that you are worried about, maybe it’s a conversation you are not looking forward to having. What ever it is try to think of a symbol that represents how you feel about it at the moment. The symbol can be a shape, a colour, a character, an object – whatever works for you. Now think about a symbol that represents how you would LIKE to feel about it – easy, relaxed, confident – whatever is best for you.

Once you’ve got the new improved symbol in your mind, make it destroy the other, less useful symbol. It can squash it, rub it out, fade it away, blow it up, burn it down, screw it up and throw it away – what ever suits you – just make your new improved symbol the only one that left afterwards.

Now – ask yourself how you feel about the thing that you were concerned about….

…better?

Using this technique along with hypnosis can and does make powerful changes for people – you should give it a try – it could leave you feeling on top of the world!

(metaphorically speaking of course)

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What are you defined by?

I read this cool post today… You are not defined by from The Persistent Platypus.

It talks about not being defined by your past, but by what good you do in the world – so what are you defined by?

For me it’s my little Family – my Partner and my Dog – they are my world and I hope I make them happy.

It’s also my friends – I have a small group of friends who mean a lot to me and a large group of friends that I have the most tenuous of connections with – but they are all important, as is the impact I have on them, so I try to make it positive.

It’s also my work. I’m lucky enough to do a job I love which helps people every day. As a Hypnotherapist I help people to make positive changes in their lives. Whether it’s helping them tackle personal problems or helping them achieve goals, I know I make a difference.

It’s also my community. I smile and say hello to people as I walk my dog. I chat to the people who serve me at the supermarket. I help out neighbours where I can. It’s not much, but when everyone does this we all get to live in a better place.

Am I changing the world – No.

Am I changing things for people – Yes.

I used to work in a bar. I’ve always been a chatty soul, and will happily make conversation with almost anyone. I’m sure it annoys some people.

After I stopped working in bars I started working for a Financial Institution. I was stood at the reception desk one day when a guy came up to me and asked if I used to work in a local bar. When I confirmed that yes, that was me, he asked if he could shake my hand. I laughed and said ‘of course’ – then asked ‘Why?’ His answer will stay with me for the rest of my life.

He said ‘I was suffering from depression. I had decided that I couldn’t go on any more and that I was going to kill myself. I was working up a bit of Dutch courage by having a drink in your bar, and you started chatting to me. It was the first conversation I’d had in ages. I decided to wait a bit before going through with the suicide. I came in every day for a week, and you always had a chat with me as I stood at the bar. That was 6 years ago, and I have never felt better than I do today. I promised myself if I ever saw you again I would shake your hand for saving my life’

I could tell you that I remembered these conversations, but I don’t. They were of no importance or significance to me at all. We probably talked about the weather or what had been on TV the night before. They were nothing to me – but everything to him.

Don’t undervalue a smile and a chat. Don’t think you don’t make a difference.

You do.

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