Mindfulness shows us a better way
Last week we looked at why controlling our emotions does not work. In a nut shell, controlling our emotions is futile because they will manifest in one way or another, and usually when we least want them to. Emotions can help us to navigate through life when we learn how to remain present with them and to understand them. Mindfulness, rather than control, is far more effective in managing emotions. This week we will re-focus away from emotion to look at why controlling our thoughts also does not work.
How thoughts blind us
Thoughts, like emotions, tend to arise without conscious intention. They seem to pop into our mind and can take on a life of their own. One minute we can be happily looking at the ocean and the next minute we can be lost in a bombardment of thought. While thoughts are frequently triggered by emotional reactions, thoughts themselves are separate from our emotions. Thoughts are beliefs, attitudes, reasoning and the like. Collectively, they become stories that our mind tells us.
Often when we are triggered by an event in the world, the emotional reaction will activate a story in our mind that is an attempt to work out what is happening. Our cognitive mind is geared to reason and forms beliefs and attitudes that figure out how things work. The reasoning human mind is ingénues. It is why we can create tools, houses, cars and televisions. What other creature on this planet has adapted so well due to their ability to think through problems and work out solutions?
However, our rational mind is a double edge sword, particularly when our emotions are heightened. Our mind can scramble for explanations that are not only incorrect, but are also detrimental to our well-being. We often try to simplify things to get our heads around them. We do this by creating judgments, mis-guided opinions, and false beliefs. These thoughts may satisfy our minds and our emotional reactions, however they often do not help in our relationships and do not reflect the truth of the situation. The key is to train our minds to tune out unhelpful thoughts.
We cannot stop thoughts
An important point is that while we can re-train our minds to focus on different aspects of ourselves and our surroundings, we cannot actually stop thoughts. I have seen people increase their fear and anxiety because they believe that if they cannot stop certain thoughts then bad things will happen to them. Other people may be concerned because out-of-control distressing thoughts that haunt or plague their minds following trauma or adversity. Yet other people are simply fed up with certain ways their minds think. However, stopping thought is not actually possible, it is like not thinking of while elephants. If someone says “don’t think about white elephants”, it is pretty difficult to not think about them.
So the trick is not about stopping our thoughts but rather becoming more mindful of our thoughts. Mindfulness is about increasing awareness of what is happening in the present moment, and making a choice where to focus our attention. It does not stop thought but it does determine what types of thinking we feed and what type of thinking we starve. The art of mindfulness is to learn how not to practice certain stories or particular thought processes.
The gift of mindfulness
If we are to really hone our mind to accurately appreciate and understand anything, then perhaps the best place to start is ourselves. Through mindfulness practice we can begin to increase our awareness of thought patterns and what stories we are creating. Only when we do this can we begin to master the mind rather than allow it to take us astray. By watching our thought and simply being present with it, we empower ourselves to start to see the thought for what it is… thought! We take a step back and cease mindlessly believing our thoughts that pop into our heads. We create space in our mind to sense our truth rather than being caught in the incessant stories. If we relax enough in our mind, we can gain clarity and insight. This is the gift of mindfulness, to come out of unconscious automatic brain function that we have been programmed with as children, and increase awareness of ourselves, other people and our environment.
Join us on Friday afternoons at 1pm for an hour of mindfulness based training and psycho-therapeutic insights. “Embrace What Is” is an on-going relaxed group that will support your mindfulness practice and help you to integrate this practice into your everyday life.
Call Vanessa on 0424 507 101 to book your place in this exciting and innovative group
Bookings are essential, as places are limited
Emotional memories of the past can haunt our unconscious and sometimes conscious mind for a life time, if we do not heal our relationship with those memories. If the memories are traumatic such as child abuse, the loss of a parent, or a traumatic event, then the energy attached to these memories can be debilitating. How we work with the emotions that are attached to those memories is vital to overcoming the pain. The experience of distress, overwhelm and loss is captured in Julie’s story, as is her journey towards healing the emotional wound.
Julie accessed counselling because her relationship with her teenage daughter was rapidly deteriorating. She was concerned for her daughter Sarah, but felt she could not even talk to her, no matter about help her from her self-destructive behaviour. Sarah was 14 years old and had adopted a new group of friends who were drinking alcohol and partying. Julie was beside herself. Her anxiety, frustration, hurt and anger were consuming her throughout the day and night. She could not focus at work and her memory was failing her. She would walk into rooms and completely forget what she had intended to do.As we explored Julie’s situation further it became apparent that while Sarah was causing some real concern, Julie’s reaction was more intense than it needed to be. Her anxiety was severe and was stopping her from thinking straight or appropriately responding to the current situation with Sarah. So we looked a little deeper.
The distress that Julie was trying to cope with was familiar to her. I asked her to feel into her emotional distress and remember the earliest time she could remember feeling that way. She soon found a time when she was 14 years old herself, where her grandmother died. She remembered her Grandma, but she was not particularly close to her. Her mum, on the other hand was incredibly close to her own mum. Julie remembered becoming very nervous and frustrated around that time. She remembers that her thoughts and dreams became very dark and she withdrew from friends and social activities. Julie did not remember too much more about that time, but she decided she would talk to her own mum about what happened back then.
The Truth Revealed
The next session, Julie emerged appearing sombre and quiet. After a short while she began to talk. She talked about her discussion with her mother. Her mum had spoken to her for the first time about becoming deeply depressed at that time, and while her mum and dad had hidden it from her conscious mind, Julie unconsciously had picked up something was happening that was very distressing. For a period of time, her mum had suicidal thoughts and had attempted suicide several times. Because Julie did not consciously know what was happening, but she could pick it up unconsciously, she had never processed it or made sense of it. So the emotional memory simply lay hidden until her own daughter hit that age, unconsciously perpetuating a new dynamic between her and her daughter based on anxiety of self destructive behaviour.
As Julie discovered more about that time and what she was feeling, she realised that her emotional reactions were more proportional to the time when she was 14 years old herself. No longer did she feel like she was going mad! Her inner-emotional landscape had a reality that made sense of her emotional reactions. Julie began to become more conscious of what was then and what is now. She learnt how to step back from her projections onto her daughter and respond to the current situation with appropriate healthy boundaries rather than distress, angry outbursts and anxiety. Over time she felt more calm and in control over her life. Her emotions made more sense to her which eventually gave her sense of mastering her reactions to situations with her daughter.
Mastering Our EmotionsLearning to understand our emotional reactions rather than remain controlled by them opens the door to taking our power back from the emotional intensity, and make effective decisions in our life. Without seeing where her emotions really stemmed from, Julie would not have been able to respond to Sarah’s needs as well as she did. Processing the emotions rather than suppressing or avoiding them is essential to learning to work with them. This takes adopting some new practices such as mindfulness and self-awareness, however the results are definitely worth it.
“Surfing the Waves of Emotion” workshop will be held on the 7th July 2012 in Coolum Beach. Don’t miss out on learning how to distinguish between adaptive emotions and emotional memories, work with your emotions, and a whole lot more!!!
Have you ever experienced emotions that were disproportional to a current event only to discover the emotional reaction was really from your past?
[Note. All stories used in this blog are fictional characters based on the wisdom I gain from working with clients. No character in this blog is an actual person or a client]
If a woman is more feminine than masculine in her essence, then she is likely to be “emotionally based” in her self and world perspective. Being “emotionally based” means that the origin of her thought stems from emotional wisdom rather than rational or logical thought. Her understanding of the world is relationship orientated rather than physically orientated. Her understanding is first felt with the emotion held within her body, rather than the thought in her head.
Women and Emotion
David Deida described the process of emotionally based wisdom in his book “The Way of the Superior Man”. He discussed an analogy where a man asked another man to a movie and the other man responded, “It depends on the movie”! If he liked the move then he would say “yes”, if he did not like the movie then he would say “no”. Nice and simple! Now if a man asked a woman to a movie she would “yes” or “no” depending on how she felt about the connection between them. If she felt loving and close then she would say “yes”, but if she felt annoyed or distant then she would say “no”. So her decision would be based on the landscape of the emotional connection that she felt with the man. The movie itself is largely irrelevant! In counselling when I have described this process behind masculine and feminine decision making, women often laugh (a little embarrassed to have their operating system described out loud) and the men look at me like I have just turned green! “You’re joking”! They have exclaimed, probably trying to figure out how they can work out anything is her alien mind!
The truth is that feminine based thinking is quite different from masculine based thinking. Also, In our Western world emotionally based wisdom is often not understood, no matter about honoured or respected. I believe the feminine harbours a deep wound about the lack of understanding and honouring of emotional based thinking, which then becomes projected at the masculine. While men have been targeted for their lack of understanding of emotional based thinking, in my experience it is women who do not understand themselves that creates the initial problem. Women are often in the dark about her own emotions which leads to us mis-understanding herself. Much of her anger at men may be mis-placed, especially if the man wants to be respectful of the woman and genuinely does not understand her.
Women Understanding Emotion
In my work as both a woman and a psychologist, I have witnessed and related to women’s struggle with their own emotions. Women are often confused, in a great deal of emotional distress and unable to understand or express themselves. The more no-one can understand her emotional landscape, the more she becomes “Kali, the destroyer”. Without validating the emotion and understanding the real wisdom behind her feeling-space, asking her to “self-sooth” her own emotion often lands like a lead balloon. Rational explanation or logic simply do not and will never suffice to temper her emotional distress or anger.
This is why women often seek emotional comfort from other women. If you watch two women having coffee, one will talk about how they feel about a whole lot of experiences and the other will listen and validate. When she is finished (if the relationship is balanced) the other one will express how they feel about their experiences and the first one will validate her emotions. Without this process being conscious, they are giving and receiving emotional validation through direct verbal communication. If you watch two men (with a masculine essence), if they are talking they are likely to be talking on a rational basis, or not talking at all.
Even though women are thinking and communicating on an emotional basis much of the time, they often cannot express what they are doing, and are at a loss to describe it to men (or other women with a masculine essence). I hear some men say “women just like to talk… about nothing”, however women actually are talking about something! They are often talking about the ever changing emotional landscape within themselves, relationship and the world! This is the other problem… that women’s rational thinking created in their minds is often in contrast to emotional wisdom. So within women, there is often a battle between rational (socially defined) thinking and emotional body-felt wisdom. It is not that emotions are less confusing to men, it is just that women’s connection with emotion is very strong and they can find it very difficult if not impossible to compartmentalise it.
It is up to Women to understand themselves and respectfully communicate the process feeling-orientated-thinking to men. It will only be through women’s self-understanding and respectful description of emotional processes that will lead to men taking respectful notice of women’s perspectives. Emotional outbursts, cold shoulders, criticism and anger generally do nothing to women’s cause of being understood by the masculine. Women need to learn to surf the emotion, as compartmentalizing it does not seem to work for the feminine. Women cannot turn their backs on feminine wisdom, rather they need to learn from her, by learning how to work with emotion rather than dump it on others (or themselves, which only leads to excessive guilt).
So as women we need to understand ourselves and realise that men (when in their masculine) are doing something that is very different, although equally valid. Working with women to help them understand and work with their emotions is the corner stone to helping both men and women honour the emotional perspective and feminine wisdom.
Questions for Women ….
As a woman how well do you know your emotional self?
Interested in learning how to work with your emotions and honour the feminine?
“Surfing the Waves of Emotion” for Women is being held on the 7th July 2012, bookings are essential!
The Aftermath of Loss & Betrayal
Trust is an essential ingredient in our lives as it lays the inner foundation for taking risks, trying new things, meeting new people and generally being open to new life experiences. Without trust we close our hearts and our minds and crawl into a hole, hoping to avoid any more pain. However trust is easily broken on many levels, and when major breaches of trust occur, we not only learn not to trust other people, but also ourselves and life. Rebuilding trust is a healing process, whether it is within an intimate relationship, a family or after a series of harrowing life experiences.
When we lose trust in life or in significant relationships, we lose trust in ourselves. In significant relationships such as couple’s relationships or family relationships, this can happen following sexual, physical and emotional abuse, personal violations, abandonment, or prolonged destructive patterns. In terms of general life events, loss of trust can follow trauma such as a plane crash, a serious car crash or natural disasters. These all lead to a loss of trust in our ability to protect ourselves and ensure safety and security. A loss of trust in ourselves and life is disorientating and feeds anxiety and depression. If the loss of trust is pervasive in life then we can start to heal by learning to trust ourselves.
Re-Building Trust in Perceptions & Emotions
The healing process to re-build trust in ourselves involves learning to reconnect to adaptive emotions, as part of the loss of trust is in our emotional guidance mechanism. Generally, after experiencing emotionally painful circumstances that rock our world and faith in life, our emotions become distorted. We can become very distressed and susceptible to depression and anxiety. Extreme circumstances lead to extreme emotions, which can mislead us if we do not understand the nature of emotions. Relearning to accurately listen to our emotions can result in re-engaging in self-trust.
When we do not trust our emotions, it is disorientating, confusing and impairs decision making. We do not believe that we will know how to cope with new situations. This is especially hard if the lack of trust of emotions resulted from childhood abuse, as there was never trust in emotions. If the abuse has been severe, it may be the case that the person also needs to learn to trust their own thoughts and perceptions as well as emotions. So learning to read emotions and distinguish between what are adaptive emotions as opposed to trauma emotions is vital to learning to trust ourselves.
Another important aspect of learning to trust ourselves is knowing how to establish and maintain healthy boundaries. Interpersonal boundaries are our ability to let in good, healthy experiences and keep out the destructive and painful experiences. Boundaries are about or ability to say “yes” and “no”.
When there have been interpersonal breaches of trust, abuse or personal violations, then trust can be difficult to maintain. We often question ourselves, such as “could /I have seen it in advance”, “why did they do this to me”, “what was so bad about me that they could have done this to me” etc. However, if someone has broken another person’s trust deliberately then they are responsible for their actions. Our only say in the situation is to stay or leave, and if the choice is to stay, then under what circumstances. For example, the criteria that may be put to a person who has abused the other that they seek therapy and that the relationship can only continue under safe circumstances. So establishing and maintaining safe and secure boundaries leads to increased trust in ourselves.
Trusting in Life
The final important aspect of re-building trust in ourselves that I will mention today is re-building trust in life. This can be very difficult after prolonged and severe abusive circumstances or a natural disaster. A counsellor once said to me “most of us live life under the illusion of safety” … of course, until it is devastated by traumatic experiences. The hard thing is that without trust there is a general foreshortened sense of future, disconnection with happiness and increased stress and anxiety. This is some of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. So re-building trust under these circumstances is about creating new meaning of safety, security or purpose in life or even death.
It is interesting that one population that is particularly resilient to post-traumatic stress disorder is the Buddhist monks. Psychologist found that even after the atrocities that the Chinese Government inflicted on the Buddhist monk population in Tibet, which included torture and murder, most monks who survived were not traumatised.
When we look at the reasons behind the monk’s resilience, we find that their meaning of life and death is quite unique. Death is something they work towards their whole lives. A deep practice in meditation and mindfulness combined with a lifelong goal of reaching enlightenment buffers them from fearing death. Therefore they have a deep trust in life and death that many of us struggle with. Their trust is also not associated with physical safety and security. Rather they learn to detach from desire, including the desire to stay alive. In their detachment from the desire to live, they also lose their attachment to the emotions anxiety or fear that are usually associated with dying. Finally, with a loss of anxiety related to dying and powerful meanings about death that are positive, they also would not experience a loss of control in their lives or a sense of not coping. They are likely to experience some emotions, however they would not be consumed in the emotion nor would they hold on to the emotion in their bodies. So the Buddhist monks give us some interesting insights into trusting life, even in the face of trauma or adversity.
So whether rebuilding trust is following natural disaster or inflicted by other people, learning to trust ourselves again is vital to embracing life again. This could be done through reconnecting with ourselves and learning to trust our own thoughts, feelings and actions, or it may be through learning to establish healthy boundaries in interpersonal relationships. Finally, the meanings we make of life and death and the practice of mindfulness and meditation all contribute to establishing trust in life.
When has your trust been tested?
How did you overcome the challenge and re-build trust again?
Anxiety is a tricky condition because it feeds itself. It is like a snow ball that rolls down a hill, collecting more snow and growing bigger as it rolls down. Peace of mind and relaxation are the opposite of anxiety. When we are relaxed we can be open hearted and open minded, and things seem to flow easily and freely. A peaceful mind can make it easier to respond to events in the world, rather than emotionally react.
When we are stressed and anxious on the other hand, we are more likely to make mistakes, things seem hard and we feel overwhelmed and exhausted. That is why it is said that love is the opposite to fear! Fear, stress and anxiety close our hearts, feed our defensiveness and put us into a state of fight/flight. So to decrease anxiety, the key is to starve the anxiety of the thoughts, feelings and actions that feed it.
Mindfulness helps us in this pursuit by teaching us how to witness the thoughts, feelings and actions that feed anxiety. It helps us do “dis-identify” from the roller-coaster of anxiety and its food.
The benefits of Mindfulness to reduce anxiety are twofold. Beside the process of witnessing, it also teaches us to breathe! The fight/flight response which is associated with anxiety is a physiological reaction that involves shortness of breath, increased heart rate, sweaty palms and nausea or an upset stomach. These physiological reactions occur because anxiety is a fear response where if we were faced with an immediate real threat, we would need to survive. So all the blood rushes to our hands and feet and away from our internal organs. We can help turn this physical anxiety response around however, we would be hard pushed to change our blood flow! So we focus on our breath! This is a physiological symptom of anxiety that we do have some control over. So mindfulness can help us to slow down our breath while witnessing our thoughts, feelings and actions.
There are several different forms of anxiety. There is generalised anxiety which is not consciously attached to any one cause or trigger. There is panic disorder and phobias, which is anxiety associated with a specific trigger. There is post traumatic stress disorder which results from experiencing a traumatic event. There is obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is an anxiety disorder that results in unusual ritual behaviour to avoid the anxiety and unusual believes. There is social phobia, which is a fear of social relating, and there is agoraphobia which is a fear of leaving the house. All of these conditions can be incredibly debilitating however, therapy can help make sense of the thoughts and feelings behind anxiety, and by using regular mindfulness practice, people can overcome these conditions.
Angie tended to feel sick in the stomach with anxiety every time she had to meet with her boss at work. Richard, her boss, was older than Angie and while he was a fair man, he had a self-confident and direct demeanour. After attending a meditation morning with her friend, Angie decided to begin a mindfulness practice to increase her awareness of her thoughts, emotions and physiological reactions, to reduce her stress. Most of the time throughout the day she gauged her anxiety and stress to be relatively calm. However, when she knew she had to speak to Richard, she noticed feeling sick in the stomach, her throat tighten, her palms were sweaty and her breathe was shallow. She also felt her heart quicken, her hands were slightly shaky and her mind became foggy. Before practicing mindfulness, Angie knew she was stressed when she had to see Richard, but she did not know how anxious she really felt.
As Angie allowed herself to witness her mind and body’s reactions to seeing Richard, she realised her own unique anxiety reaction. To turn it around and feel more confident, she slowed down her breathing and wriggled her fingers. She then challenged some of the thoughts that were entering her mind. She witnessed thoughts that told her she was inadequate and left her feeling like a small child. She knew she was a good worker and that she had nothing to hide and yet she felt like a “naughty girl”. As she watched her thoughts and emotions, she realised that she felt the same way when she was younger and got in trouble for things she did not do. So bit by bit she comforted her inner child within and learnt how to stay in her adult self while speaking to Richard.
The power of mindfulness is that in practicing it, we can increase our self-awareness if we allow ourselves to simply listen! Angie’s story is a great example of how over time we can benefit from increasing self-awareness and practicing mindfulness.
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Since my first blog on the Law of Attraction, I have experienced a series of interesting events. First, I received some fantastic comments in response to my first blog on the Law of Attraction from people I admire and look up to. Second, I attended a regular network meeting, unaware that the guest speaker was presenting on guess what… Yes, the Law of Attraction! Thirdly, I was pointed in the direction of Kayley Grace who has just made a video on the result of having given up everything over the last seven years based on beliefs espoused by people advocating the Law of Attraction.
So in this blog I am attempting to make sense of the Law of Attraction in a far more grounded and reasonable way than some of the popular messages thrown around out there. I would like to give a special thanks and appreciation to all of the people who have commented on my Law of Attraction blogs, Judi Mason for her talk on the Law of Attraction in our Coolum Health Practitioner Network meeting and Kayley Grace for her inspirational videos on the Law of Attraction.
My Personal Story of the Law of Attraction
When I attended the Coolum Health Practitioners Breaky last Thursday on that beautiful December morning in front of the ocean, I was reminded of my first conscious experience with the Law of Attraction. It was seven years ago when I was living in Canberra and was facing some emotionally difficult experiences. As a last ditch hope, I accessed a spiritual healer. I had experienced a series of traumas throughout my life and was carrying some heavy energy which back then was “my normal”. I simply could not move forward in my life while carrying it.
So after three months of intensive spiritual healing, I resigned from my public service job, sold my house, put my furniture in storage and said to my girls, “we are going north on a holiday that we are never coming back from.” I did not know much about the Law of Attraction back then. All I knew was I felt so light and free after the heavy burdens and darkness were removed. It was complete liberation! Everything shone brightly and life worked like magic! I was sky high, and it was not drug induced.
So I drove up the Eastern coast of Australia from Canberra with my two girls, Jessi and Tashie, over the next month. I maintained my daily meditation practice and clearing my chakras and repeating my spiritual mantra given to me from my spiritual healer. We stayed at a grungy little old pub in Bellingen and had a wonderful seafood basket that fed all three of us. I loved the character of the Bellingen Hotel but Jessi, my oldest daughter was convinced that we should stay in a luxury resort after our last stay. So we found a brochure in a café on the way to Byron Bay and she got to choose the next place we stayed. She chose the Oasis Resort.
It was an Easter weekend in Byron Bay and the Blues Festival was on. So I called from my mobile phone and the receptionist said she could give us a room for the two nights… for half price! My happy high vibe continued as we entered Byron Bay. Over the next two days we got parking spots near the beach every time. It worked beautifully! I played like a child and openly laughed with my girls for the first time I could remember. It was amazing! I couldn’t believe how easy it was.
So then we kept going north! First the Gold Coast and then the Sunshine Coast. The energy of Coolum Beach spoke to me and it only took two days before I found our cheap little rustic beach house to rent. The little house was in walking distance to the beach… perfect!
It was nine months later and it was time to move. I wanted to buy a house but I had no job and only a deposit from selling my house in Canberra. I remember the energies shifting and could feel that magical space within. One morning I looked down from the balcony and saw dozens of birds of different species all flying in a figure eight… It was freaky! So I began to look for a house.
I was drawn to Mount Coolum and I sat in front of the mountain and asked with openness and humility for a house in this area that I could afford that was adequate for me and my little family. House prices were already high in the Sunshine Coast so I wondered if it were possible. But I “put it out there” anyway, with love in my heart.
As I got into my car I looked at my Refadex and noticed a little street called Gypsy Close. I thought “wouldn’t that be cool to live in that street!” When I arrived home I noticed a real-estate brochure on my door step and low and behold… there was a three bedroom pole home in the bush that I could possibly afford in guess where? Gypsy Close, Mount Coolum!!! I had to go and see it. So I got in my car and looked at it from the outside but decided it looked a bit strange. Over the next week it played in my mind so I eventually went to see the inside. I was sold! It was great for us. My girls and I have lived in our little tree house for the next seven years but this is not where the story ends.
My “powers of manifestation” faltered when it came to men and finances. Over the time since I bought the house I have had an ex-boyfriend threaten to kill me over three months and another ex-boyfriend who exploited us until I nearly lost the house. I became very sick. I think my adrenal system finally gave up and I put on dress sizes of weight overnight. I could not function at “normal work places” without becoming intensely drained of energy and yet had a mortgage and two children to support. So I decided to take another leap of faith and set up my own business on nothing but a line of credit and stubborn streak to land on my feet. I took on the Law of Attraction philosophy and got started….
After a year or two of setting up my business, I realized that the “doing’ was as important as the “being”. I struggled for years between illusions, false beliefs, stomach ulcers, social reality and spiritual emergence… all the time getting further and further into debt. I became confused, lost all sense inner truth and self-trust, and was wide open to exploitation.
Somehow something half way sensible emerged from inside me and I moved away from the spiritual to re-ground myself in the tangible world. I stepped away from anyone who drained me or confused me and began to re-claim the long and narrow path towards sanity. I reconnected with my voice of reason and took a stand to my magical and wishful thinking that was leading me down the garden path.
So What I Learnt About the Law of Attraction!
My bitter-sweet story of the Law of Attraction gave me some powerful and important learnings about the spiritual path! But before I share what I learnt, I would love you to watch this video made by Kayley Grace called “If I’m so infinite then where the fuck is my stuff?”
Wow!!! Thank you Kayley Grace!
Kayley and I are far from the only two who have been affected by false messages about the Law of Attraction. I have heard many stories of people dangerously lead astray by these sorts of beliefs.
So here are some of what I have learnt about the Law of Attraction and the spiritual path….
- The spiritual and the tangible word are not separate. We cannot embrace one without the other, without unpleasant consequences.
- Balance between spiritual practice and grounded, tangible action in the world is essential.
- Spiritual emergence without grounded reason can lead to serious mental illness with dangerous implications. Any Buddhist will tell you that and they have been practicing this stuff for over three thousand years!
- The unconscious holds beliefs that work its own kind of magic that we are not conscious of! As I discussed in my last blog, when it comes to the unconscious it is not an individual personality or self. So the unconscious attraction forces might be quite different from what we consciously want!
- We are not meant to surpass our ego. According to Eckhart Tolle the ego is the conscious human mind. We may be able to witness the mind or master it, but we cannot escape it! We have a living human mind that thinks and identifies as a “self”. This is the ego!
- If the spiritual and our emotional selves are out of alignment, it can create havoc! Our emotions are here to guide us but if we think we can override the tangible world and our emotional selves we have another thing coming! We don’t just “rise above it” when our partner leaves us, we lose our job and our parent dies. There are real emotional processes that have to be honored even when we are aware of Spirit!
- All of those people who call themselves “spiritual” are actually in the process of identifying with a concept. This in itself is an egoic state … an identity statement! In truth, we are all spiritual whether we consciously think it or not.
I will explore each of these point in greater depth in seven blogs over the next seven days, in my blog series on Psychospiritual Reflections. However, for now I want to make the simple point that it is vital to hold onto your voice of reason when embarking on a “spiritual journey:” The tangible, financial and physical world does exist and we do live in it! We are a part of it. As Kayley generously pointed out in her video… WE ARE HUMAN and WE HAVE REAL TANGIBLE HUMAN NEEDS!!! It is important to remember this when we take on and identify with beliefs associated with the Law of Attraction!
Have your say on the Law of Attraction and contribute to the greater consciousnesses of humanity ….
How Do You Reduce Stress & Burnout?
In giving your service to clients in your practice you may find your work is incredibly meaningful and rewarding as well as exhausting and sometimes draining. Wether you are an osteopath, chiropractor, kinesiologist, psychologist, counsellor, naturopath or other health provider, balance and self care are a necessary aspect of maintaining a healthy service to your clients. Besides the actual service you offer, if you are running your own practice there are also business and administration duties that may weigh you down! Stress and burnout are all too familiar in the health industry, so how we manage our well-being is vital to business success for any health practitioner.
Whatever your business circumstances, mindfulness is a fantastic practice to support balance and ease in a busy therapeutic practice. If you are like most health practitioners then you have probably at least heard of mindfulness. You may have even begun a regular mindfulness practice at home. Today’s focus however, is about prioritising the integration of mindfulness into your daily business routines in your health service.
Steps to Integrating Mindfulness into Your Health Practice
The first step to integrating mindfulness into your health practice is to recognise its benefit in the context of your health practice. Mindfulness can help refresh your mind and de-stress your body as you work with your clients or carry out administration work. While it is easy to become consumed in the business activities and duties, practicing mindfulness will enhance your service as well as lift your energy levels at work. You can become so entrenched in the ‘doing’ that the ‘being’ can be forgotten. So the practice of mindfulness is as important at work as it is outside of work.
The second point is to realise that mindfulness can be integrated into a range of tasks that you are already doing. You do not need to add another ‘thing’ to your already busy list. You can simply modify the way you are doing it. Rather than rush between booking a client, organising the bookkeeping and welcoming the next client into session… slow down and breathe. Mindfulness can be as simple as taking ten seconds to feel the air enter into your lungs, feel your rib cage expand and contract and feel the air be released. Or it could be taking thirty seconds to feel the texture of the paper underneath your finger tips, or to really take notice of the image on your business card. It does not matter what you are doing as much as creating the ‘space’ within your body and mind to feel and witness what is. The simple act of ‘witnessing’ in mindfulness has the powerful influence of calming a busy mind.
The third step is to create reminders to practice mindfulness while at work. At first it is easy to forget to practice mindfulness throughout the day and especially if you are working in a busy health service. So a simple strategy is to put prompts around you at work to remind you. For example, you may create a phone message system or blue-tack a card above your computer screen. Eventually you will not need these prompts but at first, they can really help to maintain your mindfulness practice.
So these are three simple steps to integrating mindfulness into your health service. In a nut shell:
- Recognize the benefits of mindfulness at work
- Integrate mindfulness into current activities at work
- Set up reminders to practice mindfulness in your work place
These three steps may seem incredibly simple but they are very powerful as you regularly bring mindfulness into your everyday way of being at work.
Take The First Step Today To A Mindful Health Practitioner Business…
If you want a beginners guide to developing your ability to practice mindfulness, feel free to subscribe to my 10 days of mindfulness tips and audio mediations on this website.
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Feeling Drained from Work?
Find out how mindfulness could help increase your energy and make your work more enjoyable
How many times have you been at work and begun wondering why you are pushing yourself so hard? Do you arrive home from work feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Have you find yourself wasting the weekend oversleeping because you feel drained from work? If you can say “yes” to any of these questions, then the practice of mindfulness could greatly benefit you in your daily life.
Whether you own your own a business, manage a team of people or work for someone else, mindfulness is an important key to coping well at work. We often have routine duties and tasks that we have to do, even though we really don’t want to. This leads to stress. We may have to socialise with people that we would not entertain if we were not working, and we have to learn things that we may not be interested in. Even if you own a business, while there may be some latitude in what you do, the weight of responsibility of owning a business often becomes the source of stress.
Mindfulness can help you to step out of persistent worry, stress and anxiety by giving you the awareness of how to witness thoughts and emotions rather than being stuck in them. Most of time we tend to think we are our thoughts and emotions. We do not realize that we can watch them without being overpowered by them. This is what it is to ‘dis-identify’ from thoughts and emotion. As we do this, our awareness becomes clearer and more peaceful.
Perhaps one of the most empowering aspects of mindfulness is an expanded ability to make life enhancing choices. We often think we are making choices all the time, and yet we are really reacting out of childhood conditioning and psychological patterns. We then become frustrated because we go around in circles and are not able to break free of the unpleasant consequences to our reactions. The power of witnessing conditioned thoughts is amazing! We literally get to the point where we can see the pattern so clearly that we simply look at it and realise we do not need to buy into the thoughts. We simply do not believe them anymore. However, if we cannot see them in the first place, we are not really making choices at all.
So when you are working in your job or business, it is empowering to turn the mirror to yourself and watch yourself as you function at work. What are the thoughts that bombard your mind? What are the triggers at work that cause you unpleasant emotions? Where does your body tense when a stressful event occurs at work? Witnessing your reactions to work events is the first step to eventually changing them.
Take The First Step Today…
You can access your free “10 days of mindfulness guide” by simply subscribing to this website. When you subscribe you will receive valuable information and audio meditations by email over the 10 days. You can use these meditations whenever you wish, as you learn the process behind mindfulness practice.
Have your say below and contribute to future mindfulness products and services produced by Conscious Solutions.
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Three Tips to Cope with Christmas
It’s silly season again and you may have begun to feel the overwhelm that builds up before Christmas. I see the trend every year as people become almost frantic as Christmas draws closer. What are those feelings really about? Why do we become so stressed before this celebration? And perhaps most importantly, what can I do to remain stressed and at peace through this time?
There are multiple reasons why Christmas can be stressful. Some of these include financial pressure, stressful family dynamics, socially imposed expectations and even loneliness. Christmas is a time when everyone seems to go back to their families and celebrate. But for anyone who does not have a family or has lost a loved one over the last few years, Christmas can be a time of grief and sorrow. It can highlight what and who we don’t have around us.
Christmas can also be a time of high family stress, especially as social consumer expectations are high and so many people are struggling. Again, Christmas can highlight what we don’t have and leave us feeling inadequate.
It can be great seeing the extended family again, and it can be stressful. Al those feelings like you are five years old again come rushing to the surface. Family patterns are powerful and they can bring up unresolved issues. Even the most aware can fall prey to good old family patterns!
So what is the answer?
Here are some tips that can help you over the Christmas period. First, keep in mind a value or goal… is Christmas about celebration or connection or gratitude? When consumer expectations and family get togethers get overwhelming, remind yourself of your goal and ask, “Is this in alignment with what Christmas really means to me?” This value is like your barometer. It can help you on stay on track rather than lead astray. Secondly, practice boundaries. Sometimes these boundaries are with ourselves and our wallets and sometimes these boundaries are with other people and relatives. But boundaries do help maintain healthy relationships. If for whatever reason, you feel stressed about spending time with others then set clear boundaries with yourself and them and stick to it. For example, “I’ll see Uncle Bob and family for two hours rather than the whole day!” Remember, we can set boundaries in ways that sound kind, with compassion, and yet have a strong core that does not waver! Finally, practicing self-awareness and mindfulness never goes astray around Christmas. Mindfulness is the art of self-awareness, which can set in good stead for not getting drawn into self-defeating arguments or empty wallets.
Here are the Three Tips Again…
Know your values behind Christmas
Set healthy boundaries
With these tips in mind, I wish you a fantastic Christmas!!!
Tell me your Christmas worries and I will respond to them in furfure blogs over the December period. I would also love to hear about how you cope with difficult times at Christmas, as your ideas could help others!
Business Responsiveness To Staff Well-being
We have now approached the final article in this series “Psychology in Business” for 2011, and today we are going to focus on the importance of businesses’ being responsive to the wellbeing of staff members.
Over the last seven posts, we have looked at:
- Why the mental health of your business is vital to your business survival in an unpredictable economic market
- How to survive in a stressed business environment
- Why businesses need to ensure ethical practice to enhance adaptability and productivity in this market
- How to successfully manage staff cuts in business
- The importance of clearly defined staff roles in business
- Successfully introducing change in business
- And involving staff in decision making processes in business
All of these topics are essential ingredients to adaptable and successful business in this changing market. There is a great deal of noise in the business world about social media, constant technological change, changing goal posts in legal requirements, business structures and training. Unfortunately, how businesses are functioning psychologically and how they treat staff can be over looked, due to the bombardment of information, expectations and necessities.
We have already focussed on a range of specific issues and areas of ethical practice within the business management and why this is centrally important for business survival, rather than an “expensive nicety” or “optional extra”. So today we are going to look at an over view of ethical practice of staff within business.
Staff management needs to be directive for the business to run effectively. There needs to be workable structures, timelines, policies and procedures. However, there also needs to be realistic, achievable and sometimes flexible approaches to attaining effective work flow and productivity. Effective communication and appropriate staff input are two key ingredients. When we ask staff about their experience of their position in the work environment in an open and genuinely respectful way, we can learn a lot about our own business. Valuing their expertise and experience are important.
I have witnessed what happens when assumptions, miscommunication and judgement rules the workplace. And this is more likely to happen when managers, business owners and the business itself are stressed. Businesses lose opportunities to benefit from valuable staff productivity and insights. Staff members suffer and often eventually leave, maybe with law suits or Work Cover claims pending. Businesses are then left with more to deal with and new staff to train. Everyone loses!
The important message here is when external stresses such as cash flow issues, extra external demands, and economic instability impact on the business, it is essential to look at how staff are treated within your business. In other words… it is essential to look at your businesses mental health. The whole organism is made up of every person who works within the business. Everyone in the business is like an area in a brain. They all need to be functioning well for the business to function well.
It can be helpful to have a look around your business environment with open eyes every now and then. Our businesses often become like our family or our pet projects, we are too close and too habituated to them to see them clearly. Simple step back and look! Who seems to be working well, who seems most happy, who appears to be struggling, and who is most unhappy? Communicate with staff members on a one on one basis and find out how they are going. Staff will trust you as they learn their best interest is important to you, as well as the best interest of the businesses. You do not have to fix anyone’s problems, especially if their problems are located outside the business. However knowing what staff are going through and supporting them can make a big difference. By supporting them, I mean listening to them, suggesting counselling or appropriate avenues for treatment if they need it, and allowing them appropriate support, either time or financial support for treatment if appropriate to the business. Support can also be to uphold their confidentiality of what they have told you and do not partake in gossip.
Being mindful of your own stress levels as a manager or business owner is just as important. Are you sleeping well? Are you leaning too much on alcohol or other addictions? Do you feel energized or drained as soon as walk through the door of your business? When you talk about or even think about your staff, do feel resentful and critical towards them or do you feel appreciation and see what they do well? How do think of yourself as a manager or owner towards your staff? If you were to visualise a character to capture your relationship with your staff, who would it be? Are you Robin Hood or are you the sheriff of Nottingham? Are you open to constructive feedback from others about how you are going as a manager or business owner? Al these things help to enhance yours and the businesses mental health.
I would love to hear if you have been able to implement any of these ethical staff practices into your business or team that you manage. I would also love to hear about any staff member who can influence their business to adopt any of these practices. Respect and appreciation are far more powerful than control or authoritarian styles of management. To support and embrace our staff team upholds the integrity and maximises business mental health.