Energy, health and wellbeing

We all need to be leaders of our own lives in these challenging, exciting times.

As time passes, here you will find an increasing collection of articles to help with this, centred on your health and wellbeing – and wealth and happiness.

Some you will like, some you will not relate to at all, and some you will love. All that’s fine, because it’s part of the process of keeping your life compass tweaked up and working for you.

Good wishes and ecstatically happy days!

Faith

Not too tight, not too loose: have yourself a drop of mindfulness

We generate life with how we are in any moment, you and me. Some call it your energy, some your vibration, some call it your state – the totality of mind, body and your soul.

Mindfulness is recognising that our minds run the game and that we can interrupt cycles of unhelpful thinking – called negative thinking – to access more open, pleasant states which are far more healthy and lovely to live within. Also they far more resourceful for making the thousands of decisions of some size or other that we make every single day.

Yes, a dedicated period of time develops the skills to do this: meditation, in other words. But there are ways to drop in for a check in at any time, at any moment. Here’s one:

Mindfulness and the musician

In his book Natural Wakefulness, Gaylon Ferguson writes about demystifying meditation and shows us ways to meditate in a non-striving, non-‘getting it right or wrong’ kind of way. Much of what he writes transfers into our active lives and here’s something that struck me particularly.

He tells the story of a sitar musician who approaches the Buddha to ask that question: how should I hold my mind?

The Buddha asked the musician how he tunes the strings of his sitar. Would he wind them until they are tight and their sound is sharp, or unwind them until they are loose and the notes are flat?

Naturally the musician says neither: he tunes them so that they are not too tight and not too loose.

Keep it simple in the moment

Well, there you are. Of course we lose ourselves in the flow and we act out of lessons we have learned – our conditioning. Holding our mind is a tad misleading because it’s like trying to hold a tidal ocean. Maybe especially because of this, it’s fruitful to pause now and then and enquire ‘How am I? Not too tight? Not too loose?’

If you are either, and of either it’s usually that we are too tight, we can lightly ponder how that is registering. It will be registering in your body somewhere: your shoulders, your tummy….

Gently breathe into the tension. Very gently. Recognise it, acknowledge it, then invite it to release.

This is a good drop of mindfulness, I think. We don’t have to analyse everything in the moment; just ask yourself, then answer yourself intuitively and if you are not too tight or not too loose, carry on. If not, gently adjust. Roll your shoulders, stretch your arms….

If it’s a matter of how we are feeling, maybe we can adjust how it is registering there and then and notice it for contemplation at some point. If it’s the nature of a situation that requires change, again we can notice it for contemplation at some point.

These simple questions feed into how we lead and manage our lives.

The brilliance of the question

You will notice that the questions are ‘Not too…?’ rather than ‘Am I tight or loose?’ Because of the way the mind works, this is excellent. It abolishes the idea of a precise, right or wrong state, and establishes instead states that are fluid and therefore adjustable.

Lastly, if you took the time to ask yourself the questions, did you find that your body shifted from side to side as you did so, and then settled in the centre?

Mindful, awake, flowing.

Happy days!

Faith

Cultivation, the keys to – the A – Z of Mindfulness

Imagine you are standing in a garden that is somewhat overgrown with prickles and brambles, and you have the intention to grow, say, vegetables. (Self-centred of me; I love vegetables.)

You clear the garden of what is not relevant including – with care – the prickles. Then you prepare the soil, then you sow the seeds or plants, then over time you nurture the early growth at the vulnerable period… you know the rest.

Cultivation
Goodness and productivity – cultivation of mind, body and vegetables.

As you go along, you might make changes to your ideas according to what what you find – how the soil is, for example. And so it goes, moving forward with a flow of intention, curiosity and discovery (otherwise known as attention) of how things are and what is happening.

Easy and quick is not always better

For nearly three decades I’ve worked with a highly effective technique for personal development and life change – one that I wholeheartedly respect, and it’s NLP (neuro-linguistic programming). But for me, a problem of the world of NLP, as opposed to NLP itself, is that many of its practitioners promise magical results for their clients.

We live in a world that wants things to be easier, quicker and better: they are known marketing and selling advantages. And while ‘magic’ can mean results from something unseen, and heaven knows there’s magic in this wonderful world just like that, it has often been used to imply that kind of magic where someone waves a wand and change happens, instantly and without anyone doing anything. When it comes to human growth, that doesn’t work – at least, not for long.

For many reasons these are false promises and one of those reasons is that too much too soon and without understanding is unlikely to ‘stick’. This can be because we have often been living with a problem for some time before we come to the point of making a change that will significantly alter things in ways we can only imagine. That means that troubled part of ourselves is not only unhappy, but is so very, very tired. Ironically, too much too soon and with no time for reflection, even if it’s great at first, can be too much to handle.

Example: try to go on a drastically tiny diet to lose weight, and you will become more tired and low, and are unlikely to stay the course. Another: tell yourself you’re going to clear that garden of weeds and plant your vegetables in one day, and you will likely be too tired to finish the job – plus, of course, you will not be working with the seasons and the soil….

Enter cultivation

For personal and life developments to happen, to stick, to be relished, to be understood, to be authentic and to be yours, it has to be made space for, nurtured, cared about, given time and given attention, at a pace that is sustainable to you, the cultivator, and the world in which you live. So you’re not only taking this glorious task on board with time and effort, but also flourishing your intention within its natural cycles and climates.

That’s cultivation. And that, I’m so thrilled to say, is how Mindfulness – which is both practice and results – works.(And, also, it’s an indication of its happy relationship with the workings of NLP.)

The keys to cultivation

Briefly, being mindful is bringing to light what’s going on in your mind and body. The process of doing that and recognising those items of thought and feeling is through your awareness. The purpose of doing that – whether it’s peace, altering a troubling thought or feeling, calming physical pain as much as possible, reducing stress while you go through troubling circumstances, establishing new and resourceful beliefs – is your intention. Recognition, awareness, intention.

The keys to mindful cultivation of mind, body, life and vegetables are these: authentic intention and kind attention. Then you know what to clear, what to sow or plant, how to encourage and nurture, with curiosity, interest and heartfelt engagement.

Happy days!

Faith

My Mindfulness Training for falling in love with life happens on 17th November 2019 at Bromham, Wiltshire. Please get in touch for any further information. All good wishes…

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Breath – the A – Z of Mindfulness

A pub quiz question at our local a couple of weeks ago: what is it that’s as light as a feather, but even a strong man can’t hold it for more than five minutes?

The answer (no surprise given the title of this post) is…. his breath.

Just as fish live in water, so we live in a ‘pool’ of air, which enables us to live and move and have our being. The lifegiving and essential indrawing and outflowing of breath borders on the miraculous, and yet, on a day to day basis, we are mostly oblivious to it.

Breath is rhythmic and responsive. It becomes shallow during times of stress and we unconsciously hold it when captivated or concentrating. We naturally breathe deeply and slowly when we are relaxed. In this responsiveness, it’s just like other systems of our body. Our hearts speed up when stressed, slow down when we rest. Our stomachs do their best digestive work when we are relaxed, play up when we are not.

Indeed, all of these work their best when we are at ease with life. But when it comes to inducing the peace and calm that is a major intention for meditation, breath and breathing are singled out for contemplation. Why is that?

Mindfulness and breath

The problem with our Western world is that we tend to live from the neck up and it gets really crowded up there. And pandemonium. We need a kinder, gentler way to access the peace, calm, and even loving kindness.

And that way should definitely involve a completely natural resource and be available to all.

Breathing is the one automatic system of the body that we can consciously control – actually, I prefer the word direct. We can direct ourselves to take a deep, slow breath, deep down into our belly for example. And this directing takes our attention out of the racket of our heads.

breath

So you can see why breath and breathing would fit the bill here.

In just sitting comfortably and noticing your breathing for a moment or two, then taking it down to your diaphragm and then maybe after a few moments, taking it down into your belly – feeling your belly rise slightly as you breathe in, and lower as your breathe out – you are creating a gentle circuit with your body, your mind and your self – some would say your soul. Just sit. For a moment. For two minutes.

Because you’re worth it.

This is the start of Mindfulness. Noticing, sensing it, going with it, gently encouraging deeper and calmer rhythms, naturally. And if your thoughts wander – great! It’s a chance to bring your attention back to your breathing. Redirecting, to your breathing. Redirecting is a skill, a Mindfulness skill, and it’s learned this way.

The benefits to your wonderful body and mind are phenomenal. Breathing with awareness is the beginning of it all, and it’s never left behind.

Happy days!

Faith

My one day training course Mindfulness: Fall in Love with Life workshop starts soon! For more information, look here. If you have any questions, please don’t hestitate to get in touch.

Acceptance – A – Z of Mindfulness

So what is this thing called acceptance?

We were in Swindon, in our car, lost in a network of side roads. After driving round and round, we stopped and asked a man if he could help us find the best road back to Bath.

He looked at the road and rubbed his chin. ‘Bath, eh, hmmmm – and you’re starting from here?’ he asked with a wry smile. Well, yes.

I know – it’s like the old joke that if you want to get to somewhere, there are better places to start from here. And hold that thought for a moment, while we turn to acceptance.

Acceptance – what does it mean to you?

The problem with the term for many people – me included – is that it has come to connote settling. Enduring. Putting up with. Passivity. Even ending. Giving up something that we were working or even fighting for. Compromise. Letting circumstances prescribed by others win the day.

And that’s where many people fall out with Mindfulness, especially if we believe in personal responsibility. However, that’s not what it means at all.

We can only start from where we are and acceptance is just that. If we try to start a journey from where we are not, what happens to map reading, signpost reading, and how crazy will it drive the SatNav?

Acceptance
Acceptance is the start…

To be sure, we can describe the situation differently. ‘We’re completely lost’ gives a different set of choices from ‘We can’t be far off; we’ve only been driving for ten minutes’ or somesuch. But better still, we can notice where we are with no judgement at all.

Briefly, acceptance is recognising and ‘being with’ whatever is our experience, including how we are feeling. It does not mean identifying with the situation, or rolling over for it. It doesn’t mean that we are stuck and this is it.

Acceptance means start here

It certainly doesn’t mean giving up responsibility. It means being with the experience or situation, letting you – and it -breathe, and then going from there. Living with it in some circumstances, making changes in others. However it develops, you act from a calm place and deeper, clearer understanding.

In ‘being with’, in acceptance, tension reduces, and that happens in Mindfulness meditation*. Space opens up. You can breathe.

From there, happier, healthier choices can be made. So, far from being the end, acceptance is saying ‘I am here’ and it is the start. A good one at that.

*My one-day course Introducing Mindfulness: learn to meditate and fall in love with life is happening on 17th November. Click on link for details.

See here for a marvellous 3 minute youtube on the topic from the man who has put Mindfulness to terrific use for pain and discomfort. Please note the principles are the same for physical, mental or emotional pain or discomfort, and also for the good things in life – putting out the welcome mat and acknowledging what is. Gladdening the mind and the heart.

The point is that, acceptance is the start.

Happy days and lots of love

Faith

Funny thing about being shameless

Now, about the word shameless. Isn’t it strange that ‘shame’ and ‘shameful’ – to feel shame or feel worthy of shame – are negative but, oddly, so is their opposite: shameless – without shame?

Isn’t that odd?

In the UK when the subject is a woman, it’s often followed by the word ‘hussy’. I know it’s been equated with ‘immodest’ and ‘brazen’, but what does that mean, and who says?

Here’s the thing. When it comes to showing up, taking part and being true, we need to be there as our authentic, honest selves. Each and every one of us has a unique personal style. This is an outward but full representation of that lovely, lively special human being that is you and that is me.

Does that sound too ‘in your face’? Immodest? At what point did it become uncomfortable?

The golden upside of being shameless

In her wonderful talk (see link below), Brene Brown talks about shame and how it is the singular disconnecting factor for human beings. And what makes this important is that we – humans – are hardwired to connect. For her, shame is when we deem ourselves of lower worth or not worthy to belong and it comes from a fear of rejection or abandonment. (Read more below video screen)

However, we need to step into our authentic selves, we really do. Which means we will feel and be vulnerable, but making ourselves vulnerable is the key turnaround, says Brene. It’s the way into connection and out of low self-esteem, into confidence while being at risk, and into being authentic while risking not being liked. That’s what it takes; that’s what it costs.

Let’s be Shameless

Brene Brown book amazon
One of Brene Brown’s marvellous books: click image to look inside this one and her other works on Amazon

So I am going to claim Shameless as a positive thing to be. Are you with me? It doesn’t mean being immodest (necessarily and in any case, who says what is immodest?). It does mean being without shame and being upfront, taking risks in the interest of being fully understood, and being very personal about who we are and what we do.

It means feeling and sharing the excitement of the value of what we do, and wanting connection with others who are in accord.  From this moment on, shall we be shameless about the excellent, proven effects our skills and talents have on people lives, as we stand on the shoulders of wonderful, shameless giants?

Happy shameless days!

Faith

https://faithtait.co.uk

Get coached into being shameless with Faith

Recover from burnout and live a happier life

Recover from burnout - have a better life
Better than before….

How to recover from burnout is one of the major concerns of the twenty-first century. Have you had it or done it or been there? I’ve been there more than once and there are plenty of us that can say the same. Bear with me – this article has a happy ending!

So what does it take to recover from burnout? Well firstly, what is it? It’s a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive, long-term stress. It’s when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands or even the little everyday things. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the the motivation that led you to take something on in the first place, even if you believe in it with your whole heart.

Need I add that burnout saps your energy, and can leave you feeling increasingly helpless, even hopeless. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.

And although you know you are getting more and more down and tired, it can feel like you can keep going and then the point  of being at your wits end comes suddenly.

Signs and causes

A book by Christina Maslach titled ‘The Truth about Burnout‘ (for link see below) notes six imbalances that lead to burnout:

  • Lack of control. You don’t have a lot of say about what’s going on in your work, or your sense of control is undermined or restricted.
  • Values conflict. There’s a disconnect between your own core values and the core values of the organisation, your work or relationships.
  • Insufficient reward. You feel under-compensated, underappreciated, and taken for granted.
  • Work overload. Your workload is too much, too urgent, or too complicated.
  • Unfairness. You’re treated poorly by the organisation, management plays favourites, and assignments and promotions are made behind closed doors.
  • Breakdown of community. Your colleagues patronise you or others, there’s no-one to talk with about conflicts, and feedback is non-existent.

Which of those burnout aspects speak to you?

The ones which have totally caught me out more than any others are numbers 2, 3 and 5. Values in conflict, lack of appreciation and being told that what I’m doing ‘isn’t enough’, and unfairness. Why?

Because the values which I am ‘accused’ of infringing are integrity, equal recognition, giving of my best and fair play, and they are core values with me. They are also therefore, you might say, my vulnerabilities.

Here’s the thinng. Should you experience burnout you can find out which your values and vulnerabilities by listening to the words of overwhelm that you yell in your head. Mine were ‘It shouldn’t be this way!!!’, which means that what is happening totally goes against what is massively significant to me about the preciousness of life.

Other minds’ utterances may be ‘It’s just not fair!’ – self explanatory, I think. An infringement of fair play. Or ‘I’m so lonely!’ – isolation, breakdown of community, infringing a value of connection, other-ness and even love. Probably  you can think of others – should you wish to take the time to do so…. So what’s my point? Well first, we can use Ms Maslach’s list for preventive measure:-

Prevention rather than cure

By looking asking questions based on these six points, we can work out a healthy checklist for a spot of servicing and maintenance every now again, about any area of life that you wish. (For example, although burnout is commonly mostly spoken about associated with work and the book is written from an organisational context, it is not unknown by any means in relationships, is it?)

The checklist of questions:

Do I have a creative say in what is happening, to the extent to which is was agreed?

Does what I am doing and being asked to do chime with my values – honesty, integrity, success, etc.

Am I sufficiently appreciated? Either by recognition or payment or other means? Am I appropriately seen?

Am I overloaded either by volume or by unagreed loading? Am I or am I getting overloaded with work that truly is not my domain? And therefore do I feel overwhelmed?

Is this fair? Are we each honouring our promises, can we speak our issues without fear of retribution?

Do I feel isolated to any degree? Without connection?

Or change them to their positive form

  • Am I creative and do I have a say?
  • Am I living my values?
  • Am I being seen and appreciated appropriately?
  • Is the pace and load  as agreed?
  • Is there fair play at work?
  • Do I feel connected and ‘part of…’?

The questions can help forestall the deep dive, put on the brakes and change direction

Asking these questions periodically can help us to see what is happening and to make small but powerful changes on our behalf, which may take grit because the momentum may have really got going….

What about ‘recover from burnout’?

They can help recover from burnout and give you what you need to create a new track that’s good for you

Asking the questions at the point of meltdown shows what’s dreadfully amiss. Choose one(s) that ‘speak’ to you to find your vulnerabilities and to help you recover.

As I said, mine was that of values. I became finally helplessly angry because life is precious and beautiful and plenteous. These are not facts; they are my values about life and how things should be for a good one, and things had become stark, unfair (in my perception) contradictions to the last two values, one hundred percent.

So I took heed and began to live ‘as if’ life was beautiful and plenteous for me.  It took a while, I have to say. But I made it real by making it clear to those nearest and dearest that is how I am thinking and how I am shaping what I am doing. And it still gets challenged – of course it does.  But I’m aware.

For others for whom isolation is their vulnerability, making connections and contacts – of the helpful kind – would be the way.

In short

We need to think about this for burnout recovery. Then we need to rethink how we are being and doing.

For anyone to recover from burnout, life needs a refresh and we are designing a vehicle of a different kind.  It can take time because burnout has physical aspects: look at adrenal fatigue on YouTube, for example, and take good care of your precious self.

However, by understanding that what got beseiged is what matters to us. And by understanding what these vulnerabilities are can be used to recover from burnout means. This means that you – and I – do not return to the same place: heaven forfend, but take better care and look out for what matters most.

The benefit, the payoff

So burnout, without cliche, can be a huge learning and insight opportunity. The thing is, that which trips you into it when it goes wrong or ceases to be, is highly likely (99.9% I would say) to be the thing that, when its going well in your life, gives you most joy.  And it’s worth doing that checkup every now and again so that you can nudge things back on track for you, in time andto help you flourish in the part in life you are playing.

A think, then a rethink: boy is it worth it.

Happy days!

Faith

For face to face or online coaching to recover from burnout and be better than before, get in touch with faith. Faith does not share your email address with any third party nor will she divulge it and your interests with anyone, every. Full privacy policy.

See more about Coaching

Read more about The Truth About Burnout

Get started now and keep going

New year, new you – so the saying goes. So why is it difficult to get started on your goal when it’s so exciting, so attractive, so authentically you?

Why do the trainers remain the box, why does the application form for the gym remain empty, why will we get started next Monday, next week, next month?

And if you do get started, why is it hard to keep it going – why do you find yourself flagging in energy somewhere down the line? Why do many people abandon their goals and dreams within a short while, because it was, after all, “too much”?

Get started with your brain

One reason is the reason is that we are built to cling to the familiar, and our wiring keeps us from risking pain. Which is fine, but in that category comes fear of the unknown, fear of doing things differently. Of making significant changes.

The second reason is we can only hold a very few things in our mind at once, no more than three. Some people say between two and seven items: forget them. It’s three.  Beyond that we will experience real, neurological overwhelm, and that’s likely to happen with transformative goals and dreams because they are made up of many parts.

So these are why. Well, a couple of reasons why.

The essential question is how can we get started and keep going, if it appears to go against our mind/body nature? The answer is to work with it, not against it. And it can be done in two steps. We can turn things around so that these problems don’t ever arise, and the ability to get started kicks in the moment after the dream is created.

Step 1 Get started in chunks 

If goals are too complex, is the answer to scale down? To dream small?

No. But they need to be what NLP calls ‘chunked down’. Self-explanatory, I think.

You have your goal, your intention – maybe to lose weight, or get fit, or reclaim your health or to build your own business that nets a huge and defined amount of profit per year.  No matter what the scale of your goal, it is composed of parts – of chunks.

“What do I do first?” is a really good question. Get three ideas in your mind, then prioritise them. Write them down, with a date and time of expected completion.

But here’s the thing. The three answers should include at least one that is an action that results in change. For example, buy the exercise kit (no change, except to bank balance), join gym (likewise), go to first session (action which makes a change towards weight loss/fitness goal).

Step 2 Get started now

Do this as well as chunking. It’s called Nudging.

Nudging is making small but highly significant changes to your environment that express, motivate and bring into being the person you are now becoming. After all, to do things differently and be different, we have to do things differently – and be different.

Nudging works because you are bringing changes about that do not stimulate the pain resistance in your brain. The acts are different – but doable. They are motivating and sustaining. First, an example.

Get started like Peter

My client Peter (not his real name) moved to one of the UK’s most beautiful counties lock, stock and barrel. His intention was to devote his life to his love – which was to be an artist. He loves to draw. His drawings are complex and he doesn’t complete one in a single sitting.

But it wasn’t working. He has a beautiful house in lush countryside, with all the equipment he needs, but he couldn’t get started. For him, to get started meant to complete a first piece of work.

In our coaching conversation, he described how he would get out his materials and do a little or even maybe a lot of drawing, then put things away. But he was finding that when he took the drawing out again, he had lost whatever inspiration moved him to start it. So he would start another one.

And therein lay the frustration that sent him round in circles of false starts and wasted paper!

The solution

You can probably see what he could do in order to get started and keep going. To cut to the chase, he left the drawing and the materials out – didn’t put them away. In this way,  he adjusted his surroundings to that of a ‘full-time’ artist and it was a simple (but not obvious to him) step.

He then found he could look at his work as he did other things, walking past, drinking his coffee, kept the inspiration and engagement alive,  and he re-found the fascination that had literally and emotionally moved him to live this life.

Here’s how you can get started with Nudging

In your own surroundings, make sure you won’t be disturbed for this. Now take some time to imagine that you are that future you of your goal or dream, and you are being, doing and having what you want in your dream future. And imagine you are where you want to be. Enjoy this. Breathe it. What do you see, feel, hear? Breathe it.

By doing this, you are stepping into your goal, and biochemically, in your body and mind, you are living it.

Now open your eyes and look around you. You are now that future you looking at your present surroundings – which may not be the surroundings of your future. It doesn’t matter. Whatever you see is fine – it’s the environment of your change. To get started now, look for something to change, to make your surroundings those of the future you – the person you are becoming from now on. It can be something you add, or the way you look after it. It may also be something you get rid of, or stop doing. Because there’s a trade-off.

The bargain to get started

Peter was quite a tidy man by inclindation and had to trade his tidiness for continuing creativity and stimulating, immediate access to an artwork in progess. The tidy sitting room became the room of a practising, active artist and his productivity and deep satisfaction soared.

So to find the answer to that question “What can I do now?”, step into who you will be when you achieve your goal. After all, you need to be that person in order to achieve it.

Now make adjustments you live in your surroundings in line with who you are becoming. Exert your values and taste on your environment, even if it’s not the one you will inhabit in that dream future.

So – get started with chunking and nudging

Keep nudging and keep those chunks prioritised, doable and effective.  I know there’s more to large scale changes than this, but together these steps powerfully prohibit stagnation and overwhelm, and keep you going in creating your dream.

Happy days!

Faith

For Coaching with Faith, either one to one in person or via Skype, see these details and please get in touch with any questions at all.