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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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How can I be happier?

A lot of people ask me ‘How can I be happier?’

Before that can be answered there are a few things that need to be defined. Firstly, what does happy mean to you? Then, how happy are you right now?

To me being happy equates to being content. If that is your goal I think you can be happy for much of your life. Others have told me that to them being happy is feeling joy. For people with that definition, happiness is fleeting and they will experience happiness for short periods, fairly infrequently.

Do you seek joy every moment of your life? If so, I fear that you will be perpetually disappointed. Even if your life moved from one amazing moment to another, you would quite quickly stop experiencing joy. Joy is an extreme emotion. It’s the thin end of the wedge, the edges of the bell curve. For brief moments it lights our life, but we cannot feel it all the time.

If your definition of happy is contentment, you will feel ‘happy’ much more of your life. This in turn makes you feel grateful and lucky, which leads to feeling even happier with your lot.

So, one way to be happier is to lower your expectations of what happy means.

Then we need to look at how happy you are right now. If you had to scale it between 1 and 10, with 1 being extremely unhappy and 10 being as happy as you can be, where would you score yourself? The chances are you are somewhere between 4 and 7. If that’s the case, you can probably do things to make yourself feel more happy. If you are at the extremes of the scale it can be harder to make a difference.

Obviously, if you are already on a 10, it’s going to be very difficult for you to feel happier than you are right now – there’s literally nowhere left for you to go. Awesome!

If you are at the other end of the scale, down in the 1-3 group, you are in a fairly dark place. There are lots of reasons that this may be the case. Firstly, something awful may have happened in your life. Loss of a loved one, bullying and poor health can put you in this place. All of these are things which take some getting over. Yes, there are professionals out there who can help get you through this time and support you with psychological strategies, but they are still difficult things to deal with. If you felt happy during one of these experiences, I would suggest there is other work to do.

Other reasons that people can feel deeply unhappy are anxiety and depression. These are two different issues which can be very difficult, but are also eminently treatable. With talking therapies people can work through these life limiting issues and get back to regular levels of happy – not happy all the time – just regular happy.

This brings me onto the final idea around wanting to be more happy. There is a regular level of happy. If you are happy all the time, you may have a problem. If you are unhappy all the time, you may have a problem. Even the best adjusted most balanced people experience happiness and unhappiness. It’s normal and natural. If you want to be happy all the time, you are setting yourself up for disappointment – which leads you to be less happy! There are things that steal our happiness, and we can work on reducing them, but if you love, you will experience loss. If you achieve, you will have to deal with defeat. Ups and downs are all part of the rich tapestry that is our complicated life.

My tip for today is be grateful.

Experiments have repeatedly shown that being grateful is one of the key things that makes us happy. Write down three different things every day that you are grateful for. It’s easy to start with big concepts like being alive, having a home, waking up this morning, but as time goes by you have to look for more detailed, smaller reasons to be grateful. Things like a good cup of coffee, a smile from a neighbour, enjoying a TV programme, somebody liking your blog post or even a positive comment…all of these things make me grateful, which is why I experience happiness every day.

Wishing every one of you a happy, healthy day. I’m so grateful you’ve taken the time to read this x

www.talktherapies.co.uk

p.s. If you are looking for a daily mindfulness tip/exercise follow me on Instagram at www.instagram.com/talktherapies 

 

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How are you going through life?

I heard someone talking on the TV this morning. They had been married to a man who was an outspoken atheist and was killed by religious extremists – she herself had been severely attacked at the same time. The interviewer asked her how she coped now. She relayed something her husband said to her – ‘when I’m travelling along in my little sail boat and the waters seem to big or to dark, I look up and I find you, ready to pull me along’. I just stay who I am, solid, and keep going.

As a hypnotherapist I’m very interested in peoples metaphors. It has been said that our metaphors are actually a direct line to our subconscious. The words we choose, the way that we express ourselves, often has little to do with a deliberate thought – we just say what we feel. When that expression comes in the way of a metaphor it can be very revealing.

So I ask the question – How are you going through life?

Are you the centre of your own universe?

Are you travelling through an environment? If so what is that environment like? Is it scary or friendly? Is it free or constrained?

Are you on the ground or on water or in the air?

Are you in charge of your journey?

Have you got things or people with you?

If you are stuck – how can you become free?

If you are let loose – how can you take a step in the right direction?

What is around you?

How does this relate to other things?

Is there anything else that you notice about your metaphor?

What does it mean to you?

It doesn’t just work with your journey through life. You can use this metaphor process for anything. Maybe you want to think about the blog you are writing, the relationship you are in, your work life or business…what ever you want to think about.

It’s worth thinking about this for yourself, but it’s even better to talk about these things with someone else to see what their perspective may be on it…maybe a friend, maybe a therapist….that’s up to you.

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How do I change my Life?

change my life

How do I change my life?

I don’t

I change me

I change how I think

I change how I act

I change what I do

I change what I want

I change what I eat

I change what I know

I change what I feel

I change me

and then my life changes all on its own

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Mind your own grass

grass

If the grass always looks greener on the other side, maybe you should spend more time looking after your own.

On the other hand, sometimes other people’s grass looks greener because it’s fertilised with lots of horse poo!

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October 30, 2014 · 5:41 pm

Life’s not Fair

Life’s not fair.

Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people.

Sometimes the person who did least work gets all the credit.

Sometimes the criminal wins the lottery.

Sometimes the guilty go free.

Sometimes.

Most of the time things tend to go the way you’d expect though.

The kid that studies every day gets the good exam results.

The guy that goes to the gym 5 times a week gets the good body.

The girl that makes time for her friends has friends that make time for her.

The parents that were there for their kids have kids that are there for them when they’re older.

So what do we do?

We do the things that will give us the best chance to get what we want, and when it doesn’t work out, when life’s not fair,       we suck it up.

Because that’s all you can do. Worrying about it won’t stop it happening. Moaning about it after the fact won’t change anything. Fixating on it will only upset you and leave you angry and bitter. It’s important to learn to let it go.

You try your best, you work hard, and when life hands you lemons, you go and find some Gin and Tonic to put with it.

Cheers 🙂

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