Tag Archives: psychosynthesis counselling

Integrating mindfulness into EVERYthing

LizHallMindfulCoachingBook

I always enjoy BACP Coaching and AICTP meetings – there’s something about integrating different models (coaching and counselling) that makes me (with all the hats I wear) Very Happy.

And tonight this went even further. I arrived early and a couple of friendly looking strangers asked if I was there for the mindfulness meeting. I said, no but that it sounded very interesting and asked more. Turned out that WAS the meeting I was there for. The lovely Liz Hall was talking about coming out of the meditation closet and her new book Mindful Coaching.

I’d had a sporadic mindfulness practice for over a decade. My psychosynthesis counselling training had incorporated some mindfulness elements and my yoga therapy for mental health training had mindfulness as a key component.

But it was only after hearing Jon Kabat Zinn (click here to read my blog) in March that it has really stuck as a daily practice.

Some days it’s 5 minutes, other days 20. Sometimes in between. On occasion, longer. Sometimes, the 5 minutes brings a sense of peace and wellbeing. Other times, even 20 minutes doesn’t give me that ‘hit’ of wellbeing but I have learned to be OK with that, too. Other times it’s in between.

I usually do more than my first thing in the morning practice by taking moments throughout the day to be more consciously present. But it still amazes me that my morning meditation has become even more essential to my wellbeing than brushing my teeth (don’t worry – I still do that too).

Mindfulness is a big part of my yoga therapy work and of my counselling (psychosynthesis is very holistic). But mindfulness (when not called something different like sensory acuity in NLP) as a key component of coaching?

Liz’s Mindfulness in Coaching survey (2012) showed the benefits of mindfulness going beyond self-awareness (70%) and stress reduction (59%). 61% of respondents said, ‘In being more reflective, our clients are better able to identify what they really want.’

Using mindful awareness (of our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and whatever is arising in a given moment) enriches everything. It was a gorgeous evening and I cannot wait to read Liz’s book.

Whether you’re a coach/therapist looking to integrate more mindfulness into your practice or you’re contemplating having coaching and like the sound of this approach, you may want to check Mindful Coaching out.

And if you’re interested in exploring mindfulness techniques to boost your emotional intelligence, encourage neuroplasticity, reduce stress, help you feel more present and focused no matter what’s going on in your life, work or relationships, let me know.

Metta x

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Is your team exhibiting symptoms of stress? (my latest advice column in Natural Health, October 2013)

NaturalHealthColumnOct13StressedEmployees

Click the above link to read my tips for helping your whole team de-stress.

Metta xx

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NEW – Personal Peace coaching workshops for meditation and creative visualisation in Witham, Essex

Meditation as mental hygiene  Image courtesy of digitalart / freedigitalphotos.net
Meditation as mental hygiene
Image courtesy of digitalart / freedigitalphotos.net

We all know that meditation is good for us. Over the past few decades, modern neuroscience has been able to show actual differences in the brains and bodies of regular meditators.

And you don’t have to become a Buddhist monk or nun to benefit. These classes are secular so you don’t have to believe in anything in order to access your own inner wisdom and a greater sense of personal peace.

Studies show that meditative practices can benefit everything from concentration to heart health, pain management to immunity and general wellbeing.

I first started meditating in 2001 during my crystal therapy training and over the next several years, went through phases where I loved it and did a fair bit and other phases where I missed it.

I didn’t quite believe that taking time to meditate would actually give me a greater sense of time and ease throughout the rest of each day and actually only developed a daily (as in Every Single Day) practice this year after hearing Jon Kabat Zinn speak (click here to read more).

I can’t imagine not meditating each morning any more than I can imagine not brushing my teeth and, if you’d like to make meditation, creative visualisation and relaxation a bigger part of your life, I’d love to help you.

These fun, friendly, small group sessions will introduce you to a range of meditative practices from around the world so you can experiment with what works best for you.

Themes include: Overcoming obstacles, Energising, Heart opening, Manifestation, Crystals, Chakra Balancing, Trusting life and Letting go.

Click here to find out more. And I hope to see you soon.

Metta xx

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Working with YOUR edge – Yoga Therapy for the Mind classes in Witham

Britney Spears uses yoga to help herself manage her anxiety
Britney Spears uses yoga to help herself manage her anxiety
Image courtesy of sojo1049.com

Yoga’s benefits for mental and emotional (as well as physical) wellbeing keep popping up with Jennifer Aniston, Britney Spears and Vanessa Hudgens recently crediting it for helping them manage life’s stresses and anxieties.

Vanessa Hudgens has spoken about the way yoga changes the brain's chemistry
Vanessa Hudgens has spoken about the way yoga changes the brain’s chemistry
Image courtesy of justjaredjr.com

I’m teaching loving my small classes in Witham, Essex and find that each one is as helpful for me as for my students (am very much looking forward to this evening’s Finding calm in a 24/7 world!).

Jennifer Aniston has long been a yoga enthusiast and has recently credited it with helping her stay calm during wedding preparations
Jennifer Aniston has long been a yoga enthusiast and has recently credited it with helping her stay calm during wedding preparations
Image courtesy of Fitzness.com

Each class draws on my training with Heather Mason at The Minded Institute. Regular classes (and practicing between classes) helps students learn how to retrain their brains and nervous systems to enhance their wellbeing and better manage life’s stresses, anxieties, depression and traumas (although trauma work is done on a one to one basis).

These classes begin with pranayama (breath work), move onto asana (physical practice) and finish with relaxation and meditations drawing on my psychosynthesis counselling, NLP and coaching experience as well as my yoga therapy training.

If you’re interested, click here for more information about upcoming themes, times, dates and prices (as well as more about what to expect).

    There are currently some spaces available in the following classes:

Working with YOUR edge (Saturday, 3rd August, Tuesday, 6th August and Wednesday, 7th August)
Hello, Inner Critic! (Saturday, 10th August, Tuesday, 13th August and Wednesday, 14th August)
Motivate yourself! (Saturday, 17th August, Tuesday, 20th August and Wednesday, 21st August)
Mood boosts (Saturday, 24th August, Tuesday, 27th August and Wednesday, 28th August)
Manifestation (Saturday, 31st August, Tuesday, 3rd September and Wednesday, 4th September)
Love your body! (Saturday, 7th September, Tuesday, 10th September and Wednesday, 11th September)

For people struggling more deeply with anxiety, stress and depression, I recommend they talk to me about signing up for the Yoga Therapy for the Mind 8 Week Course for Anxiety, Stress and Depression. The next one in Witham starts in October (click here for more information) and you can find classes nearer you by clicking here.

Hope to see y’all soon.

Metta xx

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Happy Mental Health Awareness Week! Use your mind, body and feelings to create happiness forming habits

retreat

Thanks to high profile campaigns such as Time to Change, mental health is becoming easier to talk about. Awareness raising weeks like this one also help.

Boosting your mental health doesn’t have to be complicated. In psychosynthesis (the model of counselling I trained in – click here to find out more), we look at the whole person (mind, body, feelings) as well as seeing the soul behind the personality. We look at what is trying to emerge from even the most challenging seeming situations.

Ideally, we make the most of each of these elements for holistic health and wellbeing. But, whatever your preference, you can start working with your natural favourite today:

Mind?

If you relate to the world mostly through your thoughts (mind), ponder your mental health this week. There’s a new Cambridge University developed app making headlines this week which may benefit you. Called the Emotion Sense app (free on Android phones), it asks you to note how you’re feeling several times a day then shows results so you can see, ‘Ahh, yes, x makes me happy’ or ‘Y makes me want to crawl under my duvet and never emerge’.

If you don’t have or want such an app, pen and paper is just as good – Set an alarm or use mealtimes or similar regular daily events to take time to pause and ask yourself how you’re feeling. Note your responses and later identify your own patterns. With this greater awareness, you can do things to increase the happiness inducing activities while minimising the misery makers as much as possible.

Body?

How embodied are you? One of the things I loved most about my Minded Yoga therapy training was learning that, when we can’t think ourselves better, we can change the way we breathe and move our bodies and this will send signals to the brain which then change the way we feel. Magic.

The benefits of exercise are increasingly well known. Keep it simple and think about the kind of movement that makes you feel best. For me, much as I love my (at least some) daily yoga* and cycling and walking, it’s swimming that I’m most addicted to. If I don’t go at least twice a week, it has a noticeable impact on my
mood.

Maybe you love a particular kind of class at your gym? Perhaps you love to dance? Do what you love. Enjoy using the body you were born with. Treat yourself to a massage. Appreciate it for all it can do. Stretch, lift, jump and have fun with it.

*For more on research about yoga and mental health, check out the lovely Veena’s blog by clicking here.

Feelings?

Do you censor your tears? Fighting them while telling yourself to get over whatever’s upsetting you? As Dr Phil might ask, ‘How’s that working for you?’

Allowing ourselves to feel even the most uncomfortable feelings can shift them much faster. USE your feelings. Cry. Sob. Wail. Let it all out. Research has shown that tears cried through emotion contain different chemicals than those shed while chopping onions. After a good cry, you’ll probably feel emotionally spent but there’ll also be that shift that allows small children (before they are socialised into repressing their emotions) cry one minute and run off to laugh and play the next.

Maybe you have no difficulty feeling the sadness but don’t allow yourself to experience joy and peace? You’ll know the feelings you’re most comfortable with and those you avoid. Experiment with feeling more of the spectrum and notice how it impacts your energy levels. I imagine they’ll begin to soar.

Soul

Even if you have no spiritual beliefs, you can probably answer the question, ‘What makes your heart sing?’ Give yourself a few minutes to tune into your heart and make notes of all the answers that spring to mind. It may include spending time with your children / painting / sewing / cooking / spending time in nature / building things / playing music / singing at the top of your lungs / gazing at your favourite artwork / climbing mountains / losing yourself in research…

Your answers will be as unique as you are but making time for your soul in daily life will have a beneficial impact on all areas of your mental health and wellbeing.

And when things feel challenging, as well as doing more of the spirit boosting things you’ve identified, ask yourself what lessons can you learn from even the most difficult situations? This simple reframe can help you navigate life’s challenges with more grace and ease.

And if you’d like some support, get in touch to find out how I can help you work at your wellbeing and feel better every day.

Metta xx

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Are you ready to say, ‘Goodbye, Inner Critic!’ – Minded Yoga therapy classes in Witham

Inner critics can be sneaky.

There’s a part of me that feels I should have dealt with mine completely by now but, of course, being a human being, there are still things that trigger my own.

Fortunately, I’ve learned many tools and techniques over the years (from NLP and psychosynthesis to meditations) which can all help me – and YOU if you’d like to join me – loosen that inner critic’s hold and enjoy life more.

There are still a couple of places on next weeks Minded Yoga therapy classes where the theme is ‘Goodbye, Inner Critic!’.

In addition to doing a yoga class, you’ll learn ways to use body, mind and breath to make peace with your own inner critics and even learn to laugh at them.

If you’d like to join me on Tuesday 14th (7-8.30pm) or Saturday 18th (12.30-2pm), get in touch today to book your place.

Click here to find out more about this and other Minded Yoga therapy classes in Witham, Essex.

Metta xx

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Depression Awareness Week – how does depression impact you?

FreeDigitalPhotos.net / Mr Lightman
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net / Mr Lightman

Depression Awareness Week kicked off today but it’s still the kind of condition that people can feel quite vague about. Even if you know you’re prone to depressive episodes, when it engulfs you, it can take a while before you realise, ‘Ah, yes, this is the depression.’ While it can be debilitating, there’s much more to you than your depression. You can recover from this and find joy in life again.

The Feel Better Every Day Consultancy offers psychosynthesis counselling and Yoga Therapy for Mental Health. This unique blend of yoga, psychotherapy, neuroscience and mindfulness helps people struggling with depression, anxiety, stress and PTSD literally retrain their brains using the breath and body when they can’t simply think themselves better.

Please get in touch to find out more about potentially working together.

While it may feel impossible to imagine ever feeling good again, some people find that their depression helped them make changes in their lives which ultimately improved things.

It’s really important that you reach out and take advantage of the support that’s on offer from your GP, loved ones and others who want to help.

The NHS recommend seeking support from your GP (who can refer you to a local counsellor and/or prescribe medication) if you have lost interest in things you used to enjoy and feel sad and hopeless every day for more than two weeks for most of each day. You can find out more about symptoms here.

Whether you’re depressed yourself, are concerned about a loved one or want your employees or others in your organisation to enhance their wellbeing, I hope this week will give you more insight into the condition.

And if you have any questions for me, do let me know.

Metta xx

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How can you make pain less painful?

Image courtesy of Ambro / freedigitalphotos.net
Image courtesy of Ambro / freedigitalphotos.net

I’ve had a chronic pain condition since my 20s and am really fortunate in that it now affects me less than 10% of the time and I know how to manage it (mostly).

I remember hearing Maya Angelou’s ‘Just because you’re IN pain doesn’t mean you have to BE a pain’ when I experienced pain for most of every day and I wanted to not be a pain but, to be honest, I was.

Still, I do my best to take better care of myself when impacted and to do all sorts of self-care things (from eating better to ensuring enough sleep and getting as much exercise as possible) as well as ensuring I have a healthy supply of painkillers.

Because I’ve had this for a long time, I am used to it. But when I had a different kind of pain the other day (broken tooth. On a CRISP of all things), even though I’ve had far worse tooth issues and other types of pain, this really impacted my mood.

I felt broken and elderly. I couldn’t even cycle to the pool for an early morning swim because the cold made it agony. When my superstar dentist fixed it, I almost hugged him (instead I went back with a more appropriate Thank You card and box of chocs). I felt whole again and able to do things (and I treated myself to an afternoon swim).

I know lots of people struggle with different types of physical as well as emotional pain on a daily basis. If you’re one of them, think about the things that help you most.

I’m going to hear Jon Kabat-Zinn (the guy credited with bringing mindfulness meditation to a secular audience) today and love the research around mindfulness helping with pain management. Mindfulness can actually change our experience of pain.

I learned about this during my yoga therapy for mental health training and, as I continue to work with The Minded Institute (doing social media, PR etc), I get to learn about developments in this exciting field.

Kabat-Zinn’s research in 1982 demonstrated that mindfulness meditation could substantially reduce short and long term chronic pain. In 2012, Tim Gard et al found that participants were able to reduce anxiety around pain by 29% when in a mindful state.

Because mindfulness meditation changes the brain (increasing our capacity for neuroplasticity as well as impacting the lateral prefrontal cortex, right posterior insula and rostral anterior cingulate cortex) it can also change our experience of and relationship to pain.

And my psychosynthesis counselling training taught me that rememembering that we are more than our pain (or anything else we might be struggling with) can itself shift our relationship to it.

But it can take practice. Personally speaking, while I know that it’s good for me and do know how to persevere, I find it much easier to be mindful and embodied when I’m feeling strong and healthy than when weak and vulnerable and in pain.

If you’re new to mindfulness, maybe listening to a Body Scan will be a nice, relaxing introduction. It’s just something to explore.

Anything that helps you relax will have benefits for your pain as stress exacerbates so many painful conditions. And ultimately, you know yourself and your pain best.

Get into the habit of asking yourself what will help you most right now and do all you can to support yourself.

Much love xx

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