📝A Year of Living Mindfully: Week 15📝

Noticing the Narrative

Meditation teaches us how to observe our thoughts from a different angle. During meditation practice we also start to notice the same old stories that come up time and time again. These may be things like “I am not good enough”, “I need to get a new job”, “Why am I still single?”- the list goes on. 

Whatever story we tell ourselves will be influenced by our frame of mind. If we feel a bit down in ourselves the story will be negative, whereas if we feel happy then the story will have a more positive story line. This fact alone tells us we can’t take our thoughts as facts. This weeks exercise asked for us to pay attention to the stories we tell ourselves by using the following guidelines:

  1. Notice how your mood influences your interpretation of an experience.

  2. Become aware of your posture, paying particular attention to your jaw (is it relaxed or clenched?) and your hands. How are your shoulders? Notice expressions: are you frowning?

  3. Tune into your body and become aware of any sensations that are arising in response to the story (and then notice if new thoughts arise about those sensations). Of course, there may be none.

  4. When you become aware of a recurring thought, it can be helpful to bring some lighthearted humour to naming it: For example, thinking “ANXIOUS ANNIE IS HERE AGAIN!” will help you to distance yourself from your anxiety.

  5. Are you feeding a particular story, maybe playing sad songs when the story is negative and encouraging feelings of sadness to manifest? We may not be able to control our thoughts but we can control how we respond to them.

  6. Notice the feeling tone of your thoughts as these can be helpful indications of your current state of mind.

Exploring the body and physical manifestations of the thought and/or emotion can be a helpful  to disengage from the “doing” mind. We can also use the breath as a way of shifting our attention away from a particular focus. We do this all the time when we meditate, but we can do it when we are doing about our daily life, as well.

Personal Reflection:

  1. I felt a bit stressed out and my mood was a bit all over the place. I was texting my friend and they replied to a message with a very short response. I interpreted that as “maybe they’re angry with me?”, “why are they being so short?”.  I started to jump to conclusions and make up a scenario in my head.
  2. My posture at the time: I was frowning.
  3. I started to feel anxious and my breath got a little faster.
  4. “JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS IS HERE AGAIN”
  5. By not asking my friend if anything was wrong I was feeding into my story and giving myself more time to make the story even bigger. I responded by sending even more messages as I was starting to become even more anxious. With every message sent and no reply received, I was feeding into my story. If I had changed my response and asked if anything was wrong then waited for a reply, I would not have become as anxious.
  6. The next time this scenario arose I waited for a response from my friend and focused on my breath until they responded. There was nothing wrong with them in the end. They were busy driving and could not reply in big essays.
  7. The feeling tone of my thoughts were anxious. This reflected how I was feeling all day. I was a bit stressed out with college work and it definitely showed in the story i developed inside my head.

What story is headlining within your head this week?

 

J x

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Tis’ the season to be Kind and Grateful

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The Law of Attraction

 Most people have heard of ‘The Secret’, a book that was written about The Law of Attraction. What is The Law of Attraction? Do good things to others and good things will come to you. Visualize what you want in life, let it manifest and it will be attracted to you. Basically, like attracts like. Think or do negative things and you will attract more negative things. Think or do positive things and you will attract positive things. There is one flaw though. If something tragic happens to you like a death or major life event, you could feel like you are responsible for it and you have attracted it to you. This is still one concept of the law I am a bit iffy about.

 The Law of Attraction teaches you how to take control of your future. It consists of many different exercises to help you do this. As Christmas is just around the corner, I have decided to focus this post on two of the laws exercises,kindness and gratitude. It is a time for giving presents, love, hope, joy and being grateful for what we already have. Christmas presents are piling up and we are all busy trying to finish our last bit of shopping, wondering if you have bought the kids enough gifts and forgetting the real meaning behind Christmas. Christmas is a time were friends and family gather together to give thanks for the year that has past and wish hope and love for the future. I understand Christmas has a different meaning for everyone If you want to experience a truly magical Christmas, you must start with the basics. Kindness and gratitude should be on your daily to do lists but sadly some people just leave them until Christmas when they are forced by tradition to buy presents for people and say thanks.

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Kindness-the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. A kind act.

 Kindness is certainly something we are good at at this time of year. We give presents and cards to those whom we love and care about. But what if there was other less expensive ways to show kindness and bring a little more magic into your Christmas? Here are some suggestions of some random acts of kindness you could do this Christmas:

  • Visit someone you have not seen in a long time. Surprise them.
  • Visit old neighbours. See if they need help with shopping or chores around the house or maybe just a bit of company.
  • Buy someone a thank you card. Tell them how much you appreciate them.
  • Buy a small present and give it to the next homeless person you see.
  • Do a little extra around the house to help out your Mam or your partner or roommates whatever.
  • Say “I love you” to someone you love.
  • Say “please” and “thank you”—and really mean it. Don’t just open a card or present and not look the person in the eye when saying thank you. Or throw the card to one side and scan read it.
  • Forgive. Forgive those who have done you wrong. Forgiveness is a difficult thing to do but the sense of relief from letting go of those negative grudges is worth it.
  • SMILE- Smiling will radiate positive energy from you and pass it on to the next person.
  • Pay for the persons behind you in the queue’s coffee.
  • Give back to those less fortunate than you. Volunteer with the elderly people around your area or the homeless.
  • Make someone a cup of tea without them having to ask you first.
  • Throw someone a text or give someone a ring you have not spoke to in a while.
  • Make time for friends and family. Try be a bit selfless this time of year. It will attract better things for you.

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Gratitude-the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

 There is a key step in the Law of Attraction that people often forget to use. They get so wrapped up in making lists and visualization that they forget one of the most important and easiest parts of the Law of Attraction. Even when they do remember it, they don’t use it correctly. This important step is gratitude.

 Gratitude is a powerful Law of Attraction exercise. It raises your vibration and brings you into harmony with the energy of the Universe. Gratitude can immediately transform all areas of your life.

 Every day you see people whose lives are wonderful and those whose lives could be better. The ones who could have a better life have one thing in common – they lack gratitude for what they already have. They can’t gain more so long as they fail to appreciate what they already have. Their lack of gratitude closes them off from receiving more and they aren’t grateful for what they’ve already received.

 No matter how bad someone’s life may be, there is always something to be grateful for. As soon as they find it, their life will improve.

 Complaining is focusing on what the mind perceives to be a problem. The Universe knows there are no problems. Everything was created by you and you can change everything you have created – for better or worse.

 If you want to lose all the wonderful, amazing things in your life…if you want your days to be harder…if you want to struggle to pay your bills…if you want to feel unloved or lose relationships…all you have to do is COMPLAIN.

 If you want your life to get better in every possible way…if you want more than enough money…if you want incredible, loving relationships…if you want to be happy and fulfilled…all you have to do is be GRATEFUL.

 In a world dominated by technology, the simple act of saying thank you, showing that you appreciate what has been done for you or given to you by someone, is being left behind. We can simply hit a “like” and “favourite” button and not have to think about saying “thank you” in real life. Christmas is not the only time of year we should show gratitude but here are some suggestions:

  • Write someone a note or card to tell them how much they are appreciated. My brother and I leave sticky notes on each others bedroom doors on random mornings.
  • Listen and show interest. This can make people feel heard and understood. It may seem small but it can have a positive impact on someone. Let people know you are there for them if they need to talk.
  • Like kindness, gratitude is about saying thank you also.
  • Take the time to appreciate the small things- be mindful when drinking your cup of tea or eating your mince pie. Take it all the flavours and thoroughly experience it.
  • Be enthusiastic about your work colleagues and family members. If they complete a task, show them how much you appreciate it being done. Send a kind email saying thank you.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. All it requires is noting one or more things you are grateful for on a daily basis. No fancy notebook, no computer program required.
  • One activity involves writing a gratitude letter to someone who had an impact on you whom you’ve never properly thanked.
  • Share the day’s grateful moments around the Christmas dinner table this year. The conversations that follow may give you even more reasons to give thanks.
  • If you identify something or someone with a negative trait (the cold conference room), switch it in your mind to a positive trait (the conference room with a great view).
  • When you find yourself in a bad situation ask: What can I learn? When I look back on this, without emotion, what will I be grateful for?
  • Vow to not complain, criticize, or gossip this Christmas. If you slip, keep going. Notice how much energy you were spending on negative thoughts.
  • Sound genuinely happy to hear from the people who call you on the phone. Whether they respond with surprise or delight, they’ll feel valued.
  • Be genuine. False praise is easy to spot, and it undermines your trustworthiness.
  • DON’T brush off a compliment given to you. It’s like returning a gift.
  • Start a gratitude jar and write one thing you are grateful for each day. Open it on New Years Eve to read about all the things you were grateful for throughout the year.

 

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 I hope this post has brought an extra bit of sparkle into your Christmas. It’s nice to be important, but its important to be nice!

 

J x

 

A Year of Living Mindfully: Week 12

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Appreciating the Good

They say we can ‘redress’ our natural bias towards negativity by focusing on the pleasant and positive experiences. Because there is no survival benefit to enjoying pleasant experiences, they usually happen momentarily and are gone. 

Mindfulness is all about being able to bring that small experience into awareness for as little as 60 seconds in order to save it in our long term memory. (Have we all seen ‘Inside Out’ the children’s movie?). These small pleasant experiences are usually appreciated and made more aware of by the young. In the movie ‘Inside Out’ they explain how aware children are of small happy moments and how such small things can impact on a child’s development. These happy moments are stored in their long term memory until bigger emotions take their place. This could be as simplistic as when the first time their Mother made them laugh or the first time they tried to eat jelly. The feeling of happiness children experience usually sits with them a lot longer than in adults.  As we grow older these experiences go unnoticed because adults are usually  preoccupied with more ‘important’ things in life like how they are going to pay the bills or who’s turn it is to take the bins out. The minute happiness occurs in an adult they have already jumped onto a new feeling or a new thought. Children are the most mindful of us all.

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BANKING THE GOOD

Sometimes people are surprised at they way a seemingly insignificant experience creates a strong sense of pleasure, which they experience again when they reflect on it- an added bonus. Our natural negative bias means we usually forget a transitory pleasant experience- the warm sun on our face, the scent of a flower, the smile that lights up a child’s face when they see us- but if we pay attention to the experience, noticing its different elements, we “bank” it in our long-term memory and life starts to feel richer and more fulfilling. 

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This weeks exercise wanted us to make an intention to be more aware of those fleeting moments of pleasure. Do it every day for a week (or more). At the end of the week reflect on any new discoveries or insights.

What was the experience?

What thoughts occurred to you?

What felt sensations did you notice in the body?

What emotions were you aware of?

What are you experiencing now as you answer these questions?

This week I reflected on several positive experiences, one of which was particularly positive. Now its not every day or week I do this but as its coming close to Christmas I felt a bit emotional and giving. During the week I was shopping in Marks and Spencer’s and when you spend over 75 euro you get a free gift (a box with wine, Christmas pudding, biscuits, sweets etc.). I was delighted and immediately imagined myself and my best friend sitting on the couch having a nibble and a glass of wine. I was bombarded with shopping bags that day. I walked by sooooo many homeless people sat on the cold ground looking miserable. I decided F**k this I have enough treats at home, I’ll give this gift box to the next homeless person I see. So that’s what I done. And Wow. I have never seen someones eyes light up as much as this man’s did. “Thank you so much, you don’t realize how much I appreciate this. Seriously, Thank you”. My god I certainly would not have appreciated it as much as he did. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude (I had a little cry, as usual. I am an emotional being). I felt so happy that I had made someone look and feel the way he did. His happiness with the gift lasted a lot longer than mine would have. He sat there staring at it with joy, whereas I would have had the whole thing eaten at that stage. I reflected on how much I take for granted in life and how I need to start appreciating the little things more. It was a positive experience that will certainly be entering my long-term memory. Even reflecting back again writing this, all the same emotions I felt that day come flowing back. I received great happiness and pleasure from this small act of kindness. I also reflected on other small moments of pleasure throughout the week but this was one that stuck out for me.

What small moments of pleasure can you remember from the week past? 

J x

🍵Self-esteem🍵

“It is not what you are that holds you back but what you think you are”

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Self-esteem is the foundation for maintaining positive mental health. Those who experience mental health difficulties usually have underlying self-esteem issues. Our self-esteem starts to develop from birth. How our loved ones, friends, teachers speak to us as we develop as a person effects how we view ourselves as we get older. For example if your parents don’t appraise you for your successes and don’t tell you how proud they are, how well you have done in your spelling test, how amazing they think you are, then how are you supposed to believe in yourself, when those closest to you do not believe in you either? Culturally, Irish people don’t do well with receiving compliments. American’s on the other hand are really good at self-appraisal and self-belief. It’s something we should all be aware of. Our beliefs and thoughts about ourselves.

 

What is self-esteem?

 Its about how we value ourselves and what we perceive we are worthy of.

How do we recognize low self-esteem?

 When we cannot recognize our own value as a person. When we feel ‘sh*t’ about ourselves. We feel we are not good enough when faced with a difficult situation like’rejection, criticism, being judged by others’. No matter how much appraisal others may give you or how much you have achieved this feeling of ‘not being good enough’ does not lift.

What are the signs of low self-esteem?

  • not feelings good enough
  • feeling un-likeable
  • feeling unsuccessful
  • feeling anxious, tense, unhappy
  • comparing self negatively to others
  • feeling powerless
  • needing lots of reassurance
  • easily influenced by others
  • being withdrawn of uncommunicative
  • being oversensitive
  • blaming others for my own problems or failures

 

Ok so I have low-esteem how do I fix it?

  • By identifying and re-evaluating negative self-beliefs. A person with low self-esteem is active in interpreting reality in ways which lead to feelings of low self-worth.
  • By developing coping strategies for dealing with situations which lead to feeling ‘not good enough’.
  • By engaging with humour
  • By developing wider interests. Get involved in an activity that takes the focus away from your-self.
  • Learn relationship techniques to develop objectivity
  • Set manageable goals. Write them down and decide on steps you need to take to achieve these goals.
  • Exercise well, eat well and rest well.
  • Talking to a supportive person provides the opportunity to
  • Explore these and many other ways of working to increase self-esteem.

Specific strategies to improve self-esteem:

  • Thought Stopping – when you notice that you are giving out to yourself, tell yourself to stop or distract yourself (Listen to music, go for a walk, whatever you’re interested in).
  • Identify your strengths – Identify one thing every day that you feel good about (Keep those thoughts in a jar and reflect back on them at the end of the year).
  • Repeat affirmations and coping statements to yourself everyday (below are some samples of affirmations you can use).

Some benefits of high self-esteem:

A person with high self-esteem could experience some of the following:

  • Self-acceptance; the ability to accept and live with personal strengths and weaknesses
  • Coming to terms with past behaviours
  • Feeling likeable
  • Having a strong sense of self and of personal belonging
  • Being able to act independently and take responsibility for one’s own actions
  • Feeling confident and empowered
  • Being relaxed and able to manage stress
  • Being able to communicate their feelings
  • Being able to ask others for help when necessary
  • Feeling happy and having a good sense of humour
  • Feeling proud of personal accomplishments, big or small

Unhelpful Thinking Styles:

 We are all prone at times to ‘distorted thinking’ but when we are either under excess stress or are depressed these distortions become more exaggerated.  When people experience mood difficulties we can tend to use unhelpful thinking styles all the time such that they become an automatic habit.  It is something that happens outside of our awareness and can cause great distress.

Some of the following will sound familiar. Have a read through and see how many you can relate to. 

Jumping to Conclusions:

 

You make negative interpretations even though there are no definite facts.  You start predicting the future, and take on the mantle of ‘mind reader’.  “They must think I am a really boring person”.

 

Black and White Thinking:

 

You see only one extreme or the other. You are either all wrong, or all right, or all bad or all good etc.  There are no in-betweens or shades of grey”.  There are no second places, there is only one winner”

 

Negative focus:

 

You focus on the negative, ignoring or misinterpreting positive aspects of a situation.  You focus on your weaknesses and forget your strengths, looking on the dark side.

 

Shoulding and Musting:

 

Sometimes by saying “I should…” or “I must…” you can put unreasonable demands or pressure on yourself and others.  Although these statements are not always unhelpful (e.g. I should not get drunk and drive home) they can sometimes create unreasonable expectations and lead to unnecessary guilt, frustration and disappointment.  “I should always get things right, I should never get upset with my partner”, “People shouldn’t get angry at others”.

 

Personalising:-

 

You take responsibility and blame for anything unpleasant even if it has little or nothing to do with you.  “It’s my fault”.

 

Catastrophising:

 

You tend to magnify and exaggerate the importance of events and how awful or unpleasant they will be, overestimating the chances of disaster; whatever can go wrong will go wrong. “What if…..”

 

Paranoid thinking:

 

You blame other people rather than chance for bad events happening without any evidence and assume people are more interested in you than they might actually be. e.g. “the government did this”; “they are following me”.

 

Emotional reasoning:

 

The only evidence you have that something bad is going to happen is that you feel like something bad is going to happen.  Feelings aren’t facts.  “I know this isn’t going to work out well”

 

 J x

Affirmations

 

 

 

 

 

 

⚡️34 times Dumbedore made us stop and think⚡️

Those of you who know me are aware of my obsession with Harry Potter. A little part of me is still waiting to receive my letter from Hogwarts. But until then I’ll just re-watch every movie and practice all my spells just in case. Everyone deserves a little bit of magic in their life. Here is a collection of Dumbledore’s (head master of Hogwarts) inspirational quotes:

 

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

The Chamber of Secrets

“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.”

The Goblet of Fire

“The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed.”

The Prisoner of Azkaban

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

The Sorcerer’s Stone

“Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.”

The Sorcerer’s Stone

“There are all kinds of courage,” said Dumbledore, smiling. “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”

The Sorcerer’s Stone

“People find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right.”

The Half-Blood Prince

“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”

The Goblet of Fire

“Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.”

The Goblet of Fire

“We cannot choose our fate, but we can choose others. Be careful in knowing that.”

The Order of the Phoenix

“It is important,” Dumbledore said, “to fight, and fight again, and keep fighting, for only then could evil be kept at bay, though never quite eradicated.”

The Half-Blood Prince

“The truth.” Dumbledore sighed. “It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”

The Sorcerer’s Stone

“Curiosity is not a sin…but we should exercise caution with our curiosity.”

The Goblet of Fire

“Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.”

The Goblet of Fire

“Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.”

The Goblet of Fire

“Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels, but old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.”

The Order of the Phoenix

“You think the dead we loved truly ever leave us? You think that we don’t recall them more clearly in times of great trouble?”

The Prisoner of Azkaban

“Do not pity the dead, Harry, pity the living, and above all those who live without love.” –The Deathly Hallows

“It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.”

The Half-Blood Prince

“Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.”

The Half-Blood Prince

“Ah, music,” he said wiping his eyes. “A magic beyond all we do here.”

The Sorcerer’s Stone

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?”

The Deathly Hallows

“Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of both influencing injury, and remedying it.”

The Deathly Hallows

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.”

The Prisoner of Azkaban


J x

💕Steps: Learning to love yourself💕

 The following steps will be explained individually in future posts. I understand a lot of these steps aren’t for everyone and may come across a bit ‘away with the fairies’ but just be open minded and read them anyway…

  1. Stop being so judgemental and talking about any creature that walks by. Negative attitudes bring negative vibes.
  2. Do what you want. If you don’t want go to town with your friend then don’t.
  3.  Be content in your own company. Stop depending on others to do activities.
  4.  Treat yourself. Stop waiting for your knight in shining armour to buy you flowers and bring you for dinner. Buy yourself the flowers and bring yourself for dinner!
  5. Nourish and look after yourself. Keep active. Put good food in your body it will make you feel good.
  6. Get to know yourself. Spend time alone doing things you like.
  7. Meditate. This doesn’t mean you have to sit in silence for hours. I’ll write up some easy steps to meditation in a later post.
  8. Be mindful. Acknowledge your surroundings. Focus on the now. I’m doing a 52 week mindfulness challenge at the moment which I’ll also discuss in a future post.
  9. Take up a new hobby or interest. Iv wanted to join yoga for a long time now so I have finally booked in for a yoga course in August. Excitement!
  10. Show affection. Tell others how you feel.
  11. Use affirmations to make yourself happy. Sometimes mind over matter really does work.
  12. Remove negative relationships from your life. This doesn’t mean removing a friend who is a bit of a ‘fart’ but maybe minimising the time you send with them as their negative and unmotivated vibes ill defiantly touch off on you.
  13. Stop being so dependent on others. If you want some flowers go buy them! If you’re bored sitting in and no one wants to do anything, bring yourself out!
  14. Do not depend on others for love and affection. Yes of course it is amazing to be loved by others but loving yourself should always come first. By loving yourself first it will help you avoid all those toxic relationships and will build a steady foundation.
  15. Self assessment and self awareness is key! Be aware of your own prejudices. Know what you like and don’t like. Know your reactions, facial expressions (my weakness).
  16. STAY AWAY from those back biting conversations with friends and work colleagues. This creates negative environments which is a feeding ground for negative toxic people. BEWARE!
  17. Have goals! Make a list of things you want to achieve and give yourself time frames.
  18. Organisation is key! Keep a diary. Organise your room, personal life and work life. Tidy room = tidy mind.
  19. Don’t neglect yourself. I am not one for wearing make up everyday and I barely wash my hair but I always make time to moisturise and the odd face mask.
  20. Get out of your comfort zone. Earlier this summer I decided to do something that has been on my bucket list for a while now. NUDIST BEACH. Me, a rock, the sea, on a tiny island off Croatia NAKED!!. It was AMAZING!
  21. Be active. Join a gym, go for a walk, sign up for a marathon. Exercise releases ‘happy’ energy.

J x

💫Words of wisdom from Matthew Silver💫

 My first blog post will be dedicated to this remarkable individual who has succeeded in spreading self love and creativity throughout the streets of New York City. Mathew is a passionate performer who uses a ‘non-serious’ approach when playing with taboos, rules and social norms. He parades around the streets of New York City in his under wear, creating smiles, laughter and loosening peoples judgements and superiority. He believes each individual is important, along with their their dreams, relationships, friendships. Matthews theory on the meaning of life is ‘To live in the magic of now’. You can’t get away from your heart so do what it loves.

‘We should encourage each other instead of judging each other’.
Love now, create, inspire. It repeats itself.

J x

 

See the links below for snippets of Matthews performances…. Continue reading