Daily Practice For Change To Happen…

How do we keep going with developing new life patterns and new ways of thinking…..when the old ways and old patterns just keep drawing us in?

Feel the Fear book photo

It’s been very comforting to read Louise Hay, Heal Your Life & Susan Jeffers, Feel The Fear & Do It Anyway who both strongly recommending daily practice for change…and the need to be gently persistent and very kind with ourselves as we bring change into our life…it’s not a quick overnight process.

I find that it’s very easy for me to drift back into negative thinking/emotions or old patterns and ways of being – it is hard to undo a lifetime’s worth of patterning!!  I actually believe it is human nature to focus on the negative…it’s how we have survived – focussing on what can go wrong or what might not be safe… So it takes time to navigate a new pathway in our brain, just like learning how to drive a car or play guitar…but with much more practice!!
I have a list of strategies that work for me – but not all the time – and for me it is a daily practice to move towards the life I want to live, to be the person I want to be, while still finding a way to be gentle and compassionate with myself -and accepting what happens in life and accepting I am human – and learning many life lessons as I go…
I think life will always throw us some curve balls – it’s just that we can change the way we react to them, we can change who we are in the moment…with lots of practice…
I’ve been practicing since 2011 and I’m still practicing!!  My daily/weekly list has grown as I’ve read books, done workshops, been in coaching sessions and completed the Artist Way…it has been a process of gathering what works for me….
Here’s my list:
  • Meditate twice a day (5-10 minutes – longer is great but not always easy)
  • Journal stream of consciousness – and add to that prayers / affirmations & what I am grateful for
  • Affirmations in the Mirror (when I remember)
  • Mindfulness – reminders to breathe, to pause, to take in the present moment, engage my senses
  • Walking in nature
  • Swim / Dance / Yoga
  • Creating /playing with colour- and adding in my affirmations
  • Connect with a good friend
  • Hugs with those I love
  • Have a mantra / affirmation that helps me in the hard times ‘I am OK, this time will pass, I am nurturing myself, I am willing to change’- I find the affirmation needs to ring true for me in the moment..
  • Choose to focus on what I am grateful for rather than worrying…
  • Imagine sending the person/thing I am worrying about a colour rather than worried thoughts
  • Forgiveness prayer- ‘I forgive you, I forgive me, I set you free, I only send you love and light, it is done, it is done, it is done
  • Loving Kindness prayer – ‘I wish you well, may you be safe & protected, may you be at ease & in good health, may you be kind loving and peaceful to yourself and to others
  • Read an inspiring gentle book like Louise Hay Heal Your Life
  • Potter outside in the garden
  • Imagine protecting myself with a colour / energy
  • Oracle cards
  • Book in for a counselling / coaching / healing session
But most importantly sometimes I just need to validate my emotions, validate that I’m not feeling great that day – and do some self-care so I begin to feel a little better…& sometimes I just need to start again tomorrow…sleep is great for resetting the brain!
So I’m really curious about what you use to stay on track…to lay down new patterns and new ways of thinking and new ways of approaching your life?  What works for you?  And is there a new practice that you can add to your day?  Nothing to big or tiresome – just something small that helps you to feel more positive or more present?
Susan Jeffers talks about a plane when on auto-pilot, is constantly auto-correcting it’s flight path, constantly going off track and then correcting itself.  She mentions how life is like that – constantly going off-course – and then we need to correct ourselves, over and over again – I found that comforting – and I guess that’s why it’s great to set up a daily practice…..
But if this is new to you – just start something small and achievable – with great flexibility and kindness so it becomes a rewarding part of your life – not a punishing activity to fit into your day….and slowly build – that’s what has worked for me…  Slowly over time noticing which daily activities feed my soul rather than those that drain it or numb it and then being able to choose those nourishing practices…and constantly, gently, auto-correcting!
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Finding Self-Compassion

Small changes seem to bring BIG changes if we can just persist and practice enough…

It is amazing to me when things start settling in – first we understand a concept with our minds, and then over time as we practice,  we understand it deeply with our hearts – and then the real change happens…   In my experience real change happens faster when we involve the right side of our brain and our subconscious and art journal / sketch / doodle responses and bring in visualisations / meditations.  Slowly for me have I been learning self-compassion…

self-compassion-book

I’ve been lucky this year to do Brene Brown’s Gifts Of Imperfection Art Journalling course and Kristin Neff & Brene Brown’s Self-Compassion course- both online:  http://www.courageworks.com/shop/classes/self-compassion-with-kristin-neff-brene-brown and Tara Brach & Jack Kornfiled’s incredibly in depth Power Of Awareness online mindfulness course http://www.soundstrue.com/store/power-of-awareness where self-compassion is a key component…

We all have that inner critic, that war within ourselves…sometimes without us even being aware of it. The expectations we place on ourselves can be unrealistic and unachievable and we can be constantly beating ourselves up for not being better, perfect…

When I find myself getting highly critical of my loved ones then I know I’m being even more critical of myself!  Kristin Neff talks about how we are so much kinder and more compassionate to a best friend or child than we are to ourselves in the same situation yet it is very hard to express authentic compassion to others if we cannot express it to ourselves.

For me the journey of reducing this intense self-criticism began when I first became a Mum almost 18 years ago and had post natal depression.   I needed to let go of the ‘perfect’ should messages and give myself permission to have a messy house, look messy and have a messy garden and be tired and grumpy sometimes!   Since then it’s like I’ve needed to peel back the layers – uncovering other aspects of being too harsh on myself that I didn’t even know were there!

In the Gifts Of Imperfection Art Journalling course a powerful exercise is to find photos of your younger self and write down messages of self-compassion…it was very healing to find teenage photos and remember all of the angst and instead write with empathy, understanding, kindness and gentleness…as you would to your own child who is struggling.

Then in Kristin Neff’s Self-Compassion course I learned that there are 3 core components to self-compassion:

  1. Mindfully notice that you are at war with yourself
  2. Realise our common humanity – we are ALL imperfect, we are all struggling on some level, we are all on a journey
  3. Offer words of kindness, and explore how to actively nurture yourself…

If you think about it this is what we would offer a friend or a child – we would

  1. Notice they are struggling
  2. Empathise and offer that reassurance – ‘it can be difficult’
  3. Offer words of kindness and give a little nurturing

As Brene Brown puts it when we are truly compassionate for another human being it brings out our best selves – yet often the same scenario for ourselves and we treat ourselves worse than anyone else!!  We would never say to someone else what can go through our own minds!

So I have been art journaling and reading and meditating on this topic for a few months now…practicing….and then just recently I was at war with myself.   I had good intentions to change my life for the better but my inner critic was LOUDLY saying ‘give up, it’s not worth it, you don’t have the will power, you’re not strong enough’ And the debate in my head was so unpleasant I wanted to give up JUST to silence the inner critic.

But then I remembered – self-compassion! I noticed and labelled what was going on….’I’m at war with myself’ – just doing that made it a little easier to breathe…then I was able to place my hand over my heart and breathe into the feeling and recognise…’gee it’s tough sometimes to be human, to have all these choices, to make a change for better’….then I remembered times in my past where it has taken at least a year to make one small change to the point that I can easily do it daily … and I was able to offer some kind reassuring words…

And just that small moment – resonated through my life to be a BIG shift – all week it was easier to make the change, all week I was kinder to myself…  So it took awhile for the info to go from head level to heart level but when it did – it was a beautiful moment!

I’m wondering if you have experienced something similar?  Or if you would like more self-compassion in your life?

I’m excited that we’ll be reading and discussing Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff as part of our online Mindfulness Book Club in February 2017.   We’ll also practice some self-compassion exercises and if you live in Port Macquarie then we’ll meet in person to discuss and practice… I’m really looking forward to it!

self-compassion-mindfulness-book-club

More Info: https://www.mindfulparentingmindfulcoaching.com/mindfulness-book-club

or you can join us on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/littlemindfulmomentsbookclub/

 

 

 

Setting Deep Inner Intentions for 2017

I have been continuously amazed at the effectiveness of setting an intention, developing a vision board, using affirmations, sketching a vision, setting a goal etc for me and for my clients since setting out on my life coaching journey in … Continue reading

Mindful Healing

From burnt out to feeling calm and energised…

mum-asleep-on-floor

I don’t think I realised just how burnt out I was from a full on 3rd school term, and a pretty intense year so far….until taking some time out in the school holidays with the kids and after 2 weeks STILL feeling like not only had I stopped the adrenalin treadmill but I had fallen flat on my face and I was finding it very hard to get back up!

Have you ever had that feeling?

Even though I had been nurturing myself with afternoon meditations that I have to admit had turned into afternoon naps…and trying to get more sleep, get out into the fresh air, gentle exercise, reducing work, eat healthy meals….I still felt low on energy and I was craving sugary treats!   Luckily I had some other strategies up my sleeve which really helped and I’m keen to share them here!

I went to see a Chinese Medicine Practitioner for chinese herbs and acupuncture….it had been a while for me and this just felt sooooo nurturing and like the beginning of my energy levels coming back (Thanks Steph)!  Each time I drank the herbal brew I would have the mantra ‘ nourish, I am nourishing/nurturing my body!’ and I could feel a difference!

Then I caught the throat infection that the kids had had (just when I thought I’d escaped it!) so my next strategy was to visit a naturopath and that was really eye opening (thanks Nyree)!  To see on a screen my own blood cells and really see that they are not getting enough essential fatty acids, or B12 or magnesium etc made it seem essential to start making some changes and take some healthy supplements!

I was a bit scared when Nyree suggested that I reduce my sugar, caffeine and refined carbohydrates intake but it made sense and that day I bought the I Quit Sugar Book https://iquitsugar.com/ and That Sugar Film Book http://thatsugarfilm.com/ !   Initially I wasn’t sure but these authors convinced me within a few pages..mainly because they are all about taking a gentle approach and being kind to your own body!   So I decided I’d reduce sugar and bread but still have black tea, fruit and a tinge of honey in my chai – and pasta and rice with the kids at dinner time…..gently, gently….

I cannot believe how much better I feel after 8 days… I am truly feeling more energy internally and it is a total relief to get off the sugar high and sugar low roller coaster ride!  What has amazed me is the kids were really interested in the That Sugar Book and as a family we watched the That Sugar Film – very entertaining and sooo eye opening!  So now even the 4 teens in our house haven’t complained about no dessert being offered even though they haven’t changed their diet that much!

What has helped so much to keep the sugar cravings at bay (thanks Nyree) has been to add in lots of healthy fats, and to make little treats that have very little sugar in them but are filled with coconut oil and cacao and nut butters (A fave is here at http://divascancook.com/chocolate-peanut-butter-fat-bombs-keto-diet-recipe/ with Rice Syrup being the sweetener)…as well as a range of herbal teas (licorice root and spiced dandelion!        Also I have found that eating healthy fats without sugar and refined carbs, my appetite sensors are back and I am feeling really full after each meal!  Buying an abundance of healthy foods and eating very mindfully has really helped me to appreciate all this amazing food rather than feeling deprived!

The other thing that has helped greatly in this process is to keep up with the acupuncture and herbs…and to see my mindfulness coach twice through this process.  For me it was a BIG, no, HUGE realisation (thanks Kareen) to see that I was using the sugar and caffeine to keep me going….to give me a false sense of energy, to push myself to do more work!  And so going through the coaching process has really helped me to step back, go at a slower pace, relish life more, listen to my body and rest or change what I’m doing if it needs to!  It has really helped me to become a better , kinder and friendlier boss to myself!

So it’s early days yet – but I just wanted to share with you what has really worked for me when feeling really burnt out.  I’m enjoying the benefits of being off sugar so much I have joined the I Quit Sugar 8 week online program https://iquitsugar.com/ if you would like to join me?

I feel so grateful that we have so many amazing local practitioners who can become our support team and really help us to nurture and nourish ourselves.  I’d love to hear what has worked for you?

And I’m wondering where you are at now?  Do you need any extra support?   A key focus in my coaching with clients is on self -care and deep nurturing…sometimes we teach what we most need to learn, no?

If you would like to get in touch with me about the coaching I do I’m at sara@mindfulparentingmindfulcoaching.com or www.mindfulparentingmindfulcoaching.com

Cheers, Sara 🙂

 

 

Mindful Dancing

tribal bellydance

‘So take your dancing into your own hands, heal and strengthen your body, as many a woman has done before you and will continue to do.  Set out on this great adventure with yourself and discover the universe’. Rosina Fawzia Al-Rawi in Grandmothers Secrets: The Ancient Rituals & Healing Power Of Belly Dancing, 2003, p 63

Just recently I decided to get back into Tribal Belly Dance – and I realised that the link to my other passion, mindfulness may not be that clear so here is why I’m back dancing…

I started dancing when my twins were 18 months old (10.5 years ago!) Up until that point in my parenting I had tried creative writing, drumming, kayaking, touch football – I was looking for that elusive activity that would give me back my identity as me, a woman, just a once a week, a break from being mum to 4 small children…

When I first danced in a beginners belly dance class with a group of women I had tears in my eyes – this is what I was searching for….a chance to be feminine without it directly relating to being Mum….a chance to connect with a group of women in a way that is as ancient as rock carvings on cave walls….and lots of fun.

And so began my belly dance journey – leading me to the point where I was teaching beginners, I became certified to teach Shemiran Ibrahim’s Belly Dancing From The Heart method to foundation level students and I began leading a Tribal Belly Dance group – but then ….it all changed – it got stressful, too political, there was too much criticism and I let self-doubt creep in and I gave it all away…..

In a way that was good – I found mindfulness instead and I began doing ceramics (another mindful activity)….but there’s been a gap, a hole…. I know that when I’m dancing I just feel pure JOY…nothing beats it for me….and so after months of thinking about it – here I go – branching back into Tribal Belly Dance!  I had a taster last year with a workshop with Devi Mamak in Lismore and LOVED it!

For me Tribal Belly Dance is very mindful -it requires all of your mind to hear the beat and instruct your body on how to move, as a friend would say ‘a complete emotional holiday.’

Tribal Belly Dance is about tribal dance moves taken from tribes around the world and a group of women using them to improvise and move with the music, telling a story with their bodies.

Rosina Fawzia Al-Rawi summed it up best when she said ‘To perform belly dancing it does not matter…the age, size or status of the woman.  Belly dancing is not a competition, competing is not part of its nature.  Only a woman’s life experience & sensuality can lend it meaning and true depth’.

She also said ‘Expressing her personality through dancing, at times alone, at times with others, enables a woman to take a new look at her sometimes negative self image in a supportive & strengthening atmosphere.  This uniting of earth & spirit, strength & grace, intensity and inner peace, sensuality & poetry enables many a woman to reach inner freedom.

THIS is what I love about belly dancing – and I didn’t want to quit doing it because I was feeling criticised, because I was doubting my ability to get perfect technique.   My desire to dance is to connect with other women and music in a joyful and fun way – not to become an expert.  And so I’m looking forward to the next chapter of sharing tribal belly dance with a group of adventurous women!!

Brene Brown in her Gifts Of Imperfection book dedicates a whole chapter to the need we have as human beings to dance, laugh and sing so that we truly live wholeheartedly and feel a deep connection with others.

How can you bring more laughter, singing and dancing into your life?  Even if it’s just in your loungeroom?

3 Mindful Practices Online Course

rock cairn shutterstock

So excited the NEW Online 35 Minutes of Mindfulness Online Course is live…

it’s FREE and only 35 minutes long –
If you are keen to explore 3 different mindfulness practices – what would normally be in week 1 of our Mindfulness Practice class – here it is!

https://mindfulparentingmindfulcoachingonline.thinkific.com

I’d really welcome your feedback!!

Hope you are having a Mindful Moment!!

Cheers, Sara 🙂

 

Choose Your Focus….and change your life…

little mindful moments...

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I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about how if we can change our focus then our whole outlook or ‘story’ of what just happened or is about to happen changes… and one of my teachers recently said: if we choose a particular focus we can create a whole new habit, an interesting thought….it really does seem like optimism & a positive outlook can be taught / learnt!  It seems as though the brain is wired to find evidence for whatever we are focussed on so if we are convinced that person is annoying…then we will only notice his / her annoying behaviours whereas if we choose to focus on that person’s strengths we will notice them more and more.

This got me thinking of the mindfulness skill to broaden your focus from a narrow beam of spotlight to taking in the whole of life’s stage and in how many ways we…

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My Mindfulness Journey…

little mindful moments...

rock cairn shutterstock

I had someone ask me the other day ‘when did you start learning about mindfulness?’ And my answer was ‘Early 2011 when I started an MBSR course (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) with Nique Murch, an Openground Facilitator’.

But that question (like all good questions) got me thinking and really there have been a lot more twists and turns in my mindfulness journey, is it the same for you?

I’ll just write about a few key moments:

  1. My Mum & Dad had an informal yoga group in our loungeroom, every Tuesday night (which I disliked as a kid!) but when I turned 15 I was allowed to join in – I had a love/ hate relationship with yoga / breathing meditation at that age – at times I felt more relaxed, at other times I felt pressure to do it the right way and I was all tense!

2. The next key time was at Uni, feeling…

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