Mindfulness is just the beginning…

Learning mindfulness skills is the first step to becoming aware of your conditioned thought and behaviour patterns. With awareness comes a new found level of control over your actions and with this you can begin to live a truly authentic, conscious life.

Becoming conscious, aware and awake

Learning the skills of mindfulness meditation can begin the process awareness of what was previously unconscious. With regular practice these skills allow you to notice the gap between thoughts, feelings, urges and behaviour.

You can notice what you are thinking, feeling and doing in any given moment. If  you are beginning to feel stressed, anxious or uncomfortable. You can do something about it, before the downward spiral begins.

You will begin to notice the birds singing, the wind against your skin and the sun shining on your face. You consciously choose to smile at the inextricable link you have with life that is all around us. That is us.

Noticing conditioned thought patterns that influence behaviour

You will notice the voice of your ego, and when it begins to judge, compare, criticise and analyse.

You will notice your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes, and how they shape your behaviour.

You might even notice that some of your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes are no longer aligned with your values. They may be old, conditioned patterns of thought that no longer serve you. Now every time these begin to play out, you can catch yourself, then choose how you truly want to react, respond and behave.

Noticing these thought patterns won’t necessarily stop them from happening or make them disappear overnight, however, they will begin to have less impact on your life.

Choosing behaviour aligned with your values whilst letting conditioned thought patterns play out in the background

Being aware of conditioned thought and behaviour patterns is the first step to creating the life you truly want to live. However being aware of these patterns will not necessarily stop them from coming up and trying to take control.

It’s taken weeks, months and years for these patterns to imprint themselves in your life and they are not going to disappear just like that.

Make room for them to be there but choose actions based on what is truly important, deep in your heart. Your unhelpful conditioned thoughts will begin to dissipate and fade away in their own time.

So begin the journey!

Sydney Life Coach, Jakob Casella is running a series of ‘learn to meditate’ workshops at the Plant Room, Manly, NSW.

These workshops will teach you the basics of mindfulness meditation and other psychological tools which will enrich your life and support you to deal with unhelpful thoughts, feelings and emotions.

Click HERE to find out more

averie-woodard-122274

 

 

Are you ready to learn psychological skills that will improve and enrich your life?

Sydney based life coach, Jakob Casella, is running a two part workshop teaching people the basics of mindfulness meditation.

This short course includes:

* 2 x 60 minute group workshops

* All course materials

* Guided group meditations

* Tea and light snacks

* Live music with guided mediation in the final workshop

7-8pm Wednesday 15th & 22nd of February 2017

$69 + B.F

Book your tickets @ manlymindfulnessworkshops.eventbrite.com.au 

The Venue:

The Plant Room Manly, is a fantastic new space filled with exotic plants and unique design pieces. This space with be transformed into a zen-jungle classroom for the very first Manly Mindfulness Workshops for 2017.

 

 

 

 

Follow The Plant Room on Instagram to see more instagram.com/the_plantroom/

 

 

 

5 Important Points on Mindfulness Meditation

1. Mindfulness is an observing, not a thinking process

Mindfulness uses the mental process of observing or noticing rather than thinking. The observing part of your mind does not have an opinion, any desires, likes or dislikes, its only process is to observe. The observing part of your mind can only observe the present moment and can focus the inner world, the outer world or aspects of both all at once. Aspects of the inner world we can observe include thoughts, feelings, memories, urges or sensations. Aspects of the outer world we can observe include sounds close by or far away, sensations such as vibrations, the wind against our skin, tastes, smells and so on.

2. It’s normal to get distracted 

It’s normal and natural to get distracted by thoughts when practicing mindfulness, it happens to everyone. Your ability to notice that you have been distracted and refocus on the present moment is where all the learning and re-wiring of the brain happens.

3. Always set a timer

You need to set a timer or use a recording. This way you can aim to be 100% mindful for a set amount of time rather than letting your thinking mind decide ‘yeah, that’s enough’.

4. Some days are better than others and that’s okay

Mindfulness is a process that can never be truly mastered, there is always room to grow. Some days you may feel really connected to the present moment and other days you may be distracted by everything and anything. That’s okay, go easy on yourself. On the days where it’s especially difficult to focus, your repeated and sustained effort is going to teach you more than ten days of perfect practice. On these more difficult days practice self love and be soft and humble with yourself.

. supta-baddha-konasana  

This yoga pose is called ‘supta-baddha-konasana’. Putting one hand on your belly and one on your heart, whilst practicing mindful breathing, this is a great way to cultivate an attitude of self-love. This is a powerful activity to do if you are feeling frustrated or finding it difficult to focus.

5. If your aim is solely to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety or worry you are setting yourself up for failure

Feelings of relaxation and symptom reduction may arise, such as lowered anxiety, however these are just a beneficial by-product of having contact with the present moment. By all means enjoy positive feelings as they come up, but try not to make them your sole purpose for practicing. Your aim when practicing mindfulness should be to have contact with whatever you are experiencing in present moment with an attitude of openness and acceptance.

Below is 10 steps to mindfulness meditation by the Garrison Institute

ten steps to Mindfulness

Mindfulness VS. Mindlessness

The practice of mindfulness has become increasing popular in the psychology and life coaching arena of late, however mindfulness  is in no way a new concept. Many believe its origins stem from Buddhism, however Hindus practiced mindfulness over 2,500 years ago.

So what exactly is mindfulness?

Mindfulness includes concentration and continual re-focus on a specific aspect or a range of aspects that are occurring in the present moment. For example, the breath, the feeling of the wind against your skin, sounds you are hearing, how your body feels, what you can smell and the sensations you can feel.

What is the opposite of mindfulness?

Mindlessness is when we have our attention focused on the past or future. We get lots of practice at being mindless, it’s our minds default setting. It includes ruminating, analysing, problem solving or day dreaming; essentially it’s on auto pilot.

When comparing mindfulness to mindlessness it’s important to understand that both functions have important roles in our lives.  One important difference between human beings and other animals is our ability to direct our attention between the past, present and future.

This has helped us survive in two ways:

Firstly, by focusing on the past we use information that we have learned to keep us out of trouble in the present. By focusing on the future we can plan or envision new ways of doing things that can be used in the present.

Secondly, we often use mindlessness as a coping mechanism, when we do not like the present moment we take ourselves to the past or future. At times this can be a sufficient coping strategy but in some cases this can cause much bigger problems especially when it is solely relied on to escape or avoid unhelpful thoughts, feelings or memories.

Being mindless is our default setting, and we are unaware when we are in this state of mind because we are not there to notice. To notice, we would have to be mindful.

There are a range of benefits of practicing mindfulness skills, including but not limited to:

  • The improved ability to manage stress and anxiety and anger levels
  • The improved ability to handle painful thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations and memories, in a way that has far less impact on your life
  • Improved concentration and attention
  • Enhanced sense of spirituality, self-love and compassion

Mindfulness uses the mind process of observing rather than thinking. The observing part of your mind does not have an opinion, any desires, likes or dislikes, it’s only process is to observe.

Mindfulness-meditation-002

Here is a a quick mindfulness activity you can do anywhere to access this observing part of your mind.

Firstly set a timer on your phone or watch for a desired amount of time. If you are new to mindfulness, a few minutes will be great.

Sit in a comfortable position, or lie on the floor and take some deep breaths in and out of your nose.

Notice your stomach filling up like a balloon and gently deflating.

Now notice the sounds you can hear, once you have noticed a sound label it and refocus on your breath.

Every time a new sound comes up silently label it and re-focus on your stomach filing up like a balloon.

From time to time the sounds may trigger a thought or feeling and you may become temporarily mindless. 

Try not to get frustrated by this, this is a natural and normal thing that minds do. 

As soon as you notice this, re-focus on your breathing and any sounds in the room.

Continue doing this until your timer is up.

Take this sense of mindfulness out into your day!

🙂

A simple exercise that is proven to improve your well-being and lower depression

You will need a pen, paper and sixty seconds of silence, daily for one week.

Every night before you go to bed write down three things that went well that day and why. You can use a written journal, a laptop or the notes section in your phone, however it’s important to write them down.

If you’re having trouble thinking of three things that went well, you’re thinking too big picture! Something as simple as ‘today I got to work on time because I left the house ten minutes early and avoided the traffic’ will work. However, when big important things happen make sure to write them down too.

What Went Well

Writing about your positive events may seem a little awkward or uncomfortable at first but stick with it for one week, it will get easier and it’s proven to have huge benefits.

This exercise known as the What Went Well (WWW) journal is based on the research of Dr. Martin Seligman and his colleagues at the Positive Psychology Centre at the University of Pennsylvania.

Positive Psychology, a relatively new science, focuses on ‘what is going right’ with people and how to nurture and develop it. Positive Psychology is not a self-help movement based simply on ‘the power of positive thinking’, it’s a science backed by thousands of studies related to the question; how and why do people flourish?

We often spend a lot of our time thinking about what goes wrong and not enough thinking about what goes right in our lives. Although it is often helpful to analyse imperfect events so that we can learn from them and correct them in the future, we tend to spend way too much time focusing on the negative.

This is due to evolutionary reasons that have kept us alive during hard times, however in the 21st century, with very different threats to our survival, it is helpful re-train our mind to notice the good things too.

So give it a go!

Seligman promises that after doing this exercise for one week you will be happier, less depressed and will probably be addicted to the WWW journal.

If you want to read more about Positive Psychology click here.

4 ways to make unhelpful thoughts have less impact on your life

Recent studies show that the average human mind has over 50,000 thoughts a day. How many of these thoughts are helpful and how many are unhelpful? Studies have shown that at least half of these thoughts are unhelpful and the more we push them away or block them out, the more they return with extra power and velocity.

How much impact do negative thoughts have on your life? Have they developed into stories that play through your mind, day in day out?

One of most common stories is the, ‘I’m not good enough’ story. Nearly all of us have some derivative of this story whether it’s the, ‘I’m not a good enough friend, employee, provider, lover etc. Other stories could be, ‘I’m a failure, I’m a fraud, I’m broken, I’m unlovable’ and so on and so on. Our mind is a great storyteller, it conjures up all sorts of unhelpful things that stop us from being our best possible selves, friends, lovers, employees and humans.

Are your thoughts

Here are four ways to retrain your mind in order to make unhelpful thoughts have less impact on your life. Different techniques work for different people, so give them all a try and determine which ones work best for you.

To begin, bring to mind an unhelpful and recurring thought, then try the following techniques.

1. Remind yourself that it’s only a thought

By silently saying to yourself, ‘I’m having the thought that I am a failure’ rather than, ‘I am a failure’, you are reminding yourself that it’s not a truth but a thought.’I am having the thought that I am a failure’ has much lest impact than, ‘I am a failure’. You can also try, ‘I am noticing I am having the thought that I am a failure’.

2. Sarcastically thank your mind

Once you have noticed a thought as a thought, silently and sarcastically say ‘thank you mind’. This reminds you to be compassionate with yourself whilst acknowledging it is nothing more than a thought. 

3. Name the story

Give that repetitive story about yourself a name. It could be the, ‘I’m a stupid failure story’. Make the name as ridiculous as you like. Every time you notice yourself having this thought, say silently in your head, ‘oh it’s the I’m a stupid  failure story’. You can then add on, ‘thanks mind’.

4. Silly songs 

Once you notice yourself having that unhelpful thought or story, sing it to the tune of  Happy Birthday, Mary Had a Little Lamb or anything else that you like. 

Some of these techniques may seem a little crazy, however the aim is to assist you to distance yourself from your unwanted thoughts rather than trying to push them away. For maximum affect these techniques should be practiced in conjunction with mindfulness practices such as mediation.

Why these techniques work?

Firstly, they allow you to notice when unhelpful thoughts have consumed you.

Secondly, they teach you to distance yourself from your thoughts and help you to recognise that your thoughts are not truths or demands and are not always helpful to obey.

Thirdly, by allowing thoughts to be there even though you might not like them, you learn to make room for them and give up the struggle with them. This makes them less powerful and have less impact on your life.

Lastly, they teach you a lightheartedness that allows you to show compassion towards yourself.

When trying these techniques your mind might start telling you, ‘this won’t work for me’, ‘this is stupid’ and so on and so on. Stick at it. Whilst you may not see drastic changes straight away, you will see changes.

These techniques come from the work of Dr. Russ Harris, an expert in ACT. This style of therapy incorporates the most helpful parts of a range of existing psychology theories in conjunction with eastern philosophies such as mindfulness. To read more about ACT click here.

What is life coaching anyway?

Bike

For years, psychology has focused exclusively on what was wrong with someone and how to make them better. In the late 90s, the Positive Psychology movement was born and psychologists began researching, what is going right with someone and how can we support them to become their best possible self?

Coaching shares similarities with counselling as it is a talk therapy, however, it is more focused on what can be done in the present and the future rather than what has happened in the past. Throughout a normal course of life coaching there may be times when counselling occurs, however the focus is on finding solutions to problems, making changes and taking action.

conversation

The Coach supports and gently challenges the coachee as they discuss questions around a determined focus point or goal. The coach helps the coachee to consider alternatives, uncover roadblocks and nut out a timeline for milestones, goals and celebrations of success.

A range of psychological techniques and questionnaires are used to discover the coachee’s unique profile of strengths, life values and personality traits, which can be used to support the coachee to undertake some valuable self-awareness. As the weeks and months pass by, the coach is there to hold the coachee accountable and support them through the ups and downs.

Goals and milestones often change as self-awareness increases and the steps towards becoming the coachee’s best possible self, begin to take shape. The coach assists the coachee to see their progress, re-define goals and ensure they are on track for success.

Track to beach

Whilst coaching is most helpful in a face to face setting, telephone and Skype coaching is also widely available. It’s important to find a coach that has a counselling or psychology qualifications and who belongs to a professional body such as the International Coaching Federation (ICF), as the industry is not tightly regulated and many people with no qualifications practice as coaches.

If you or someone you know may be interested in coaching, feel free to get in touch with Jakob from ‘The Mindful Coach’. Jakob holds a degree in coaching from the Australian College of Applied Psychology and is a member of the ICF. Jakob has had experience coaching and counselling adults and adolescents and runs workshops on goal setting and mindfulness practices.

CNN-2