The Mindfulness Revolution
Great Article from Smart Foundations Mindfulness Coach Training Centre:
The Mindful Meditation Revolution – Reducing Stress Across the World!
In today’s society the notion of sitting still is becoming almost impossible to achieve. I think this is a main contributor to the mindfulness meditation revolution underway. Let’s not pretend that however successfully we do it juggling family, relationships, career and the ordinary pressures of life is easy. It isn’t. From business leaders to soldiers on the front line, these days coaches and therapists will be advocating mindfulness meditation to manage stress.
There is always something to do or somewhere to go and that’s before we tweet, blog or receive emails on our smartphones. You can see why the intensity of change can become overwhelming. Our brain never gets chance to pause and with so many thoughts racing around our head, it is easy to see why the result is often stress.
So how can we manage that stress? Here’s where mindfulness meditations can help you and your clients, and I hasten to add there’s no chanting, no sitting crossed legged and no need for a particular religious orientation. It is simply about becoming aware of what’s within and around us, here and now. In fact mindfulness is now commonly used to treat stress, anxiety, pain, insomnia, fatigue and depression and is recommended by NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence).
How can mindfulness meditation help us?
It helps us kick the habit of negative thinking and stop ruminating over what has happened or what might happen. This gives us the headspace to be clear about, and take responsibility for our own thoughts and emotional reactions. With awareness we can embody the Americanism PMA! (positive mental attitude.)
We all get stressed. You know the scenario, “I am stressed because he/she did/said this/that.” “I am angry because I lost my job.” Or “I am in pain because a friend or lover betrayed me.” There is no denying that each of these situations will cause pain. Life can be tough and some of the conditions we are called to face will result in stress. Stress is a major form of suffering and we often make it worse, perpetuating our worries and woes by constantly thinking about them. In the training world we describe stress, anger, resentment or jealousy as the poison we feed ourselves to get back at one another!
With mindfulness or self-examination we step off the auto-pilot and get to see that this type of thinking doesn’t make sense, as we only end up hurt or in pain ourselves. Mindfulness develops self-compassion and actually works because you become an observer of your thoughts and emotions allowing yourself to become informed and able to choose how to express yourself. By repeatedly ‘checking in’ on your thoughts and feelings, you begin to reprogram the brain and lay down new neuro-pathways to support happiness and well-being.
So mindfulness and meditation are effective ways of re-wiring your brain and this is done in the spirit of non-judgemental awareness or unconditional love. That is to say, when we are being mindful we are aware of our life without judging it. For example awareness of a particular emotion does not lead to condemning it as either good or bad, it just is what it is and we have awareness that this too shall pass.
How can it help in the business world?
The benefits our enormous for the workplace and many business leaders are reaping the rewards of mindfulness training personally and professionally through:
- Increased emotional intelligence leading to more empathy in your work environment.
- Enhanced self-awareness and awareness of the needs of others
- Greater resilience and ability to respond to life’s challenges
- Decreased stress and anxiety, fostering great relationships
- Clear and creative thinking, helping grow the business focus
- Greater listening skills and the ability communicate more clearly.
Mindfulness will help you have a clear identity for your business and build an inspiring vision, where relationships are authentic and you and your people are creating great performance in all areas. This can only be good news for you and your customers.
It’s all in the wiring!
We’ve all been conditioned through our life experiences, training our brain with mindfulness helps us become aware of that conditioning. This story illustrates the point beautifully:
As a young man was passing some elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at any time, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.
He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” the trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”
The young man was amazed. These 4.5 tonne elephants could at any time break free from their bonds but because they were conditioned to believe they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were. Source unknown
Like the elephants, how many of us go through life conditioned to believe we cannot break the chains that bind us. As the observer, we see that ‘thoughts are not facts’. We are said to process around 70,000 thoughts a day, so no wonder the mind feels so busy. In the words of Mathew Johnson the ‘the brain never shuts up!’.
All too often we are riding the primeval stress response, state of high alert, where the brain fixates on the immediate problem rather than thinking clearly. Cortisol produced by stress also reduces the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the body (probably the most important two neurotransmitters for maintaining a good mood). In short, stressing lowers the mood and makes you feel more vulnerable. So it’s easy to conclude what we think about really does matter.
You can only believe in benefits of mindful meditation through direct experience, so don’t just take my word for it – give it a try! This 7/11 breathing, through focus and attention, helps us find the center of calm within.
Breathe in to the count of 7 and then out to the count of 11. Repeat about 6 times. It couldn’t be easier! After a while just sitting and being with your breath you filter out any chattering going on inside your head and can become immersed in the simple act observation. Breathing in I am aware, breathing out I am calm.
So whatever the unrest, be it financial, an argument or even a traffic jam you can choose to breathe a little more consciously and find the calm centre within. We experience our world through the mind, so it makes sense to spend a little time training it: It is hard to believe that the mindfulness meditation revolution has taken so long to arrive!
In short, mindfulness meditation is an invitation to wake up and shape up our lives …
‘We are what we think; all that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make our world’. Buddha
Breathe2Be Mindfulness Workshops
In and exciting collaboration with Halsa Wellbeing, Catalyst Counselling will now be offering Breathe2Be Mindfulness Workshops at Halsa Wellbeing Clinic in Otley.
In this two hour workshop you will learn how to take a daily holiday from stress and to feel a sense of fulfilment and joy in your life.
Sally will provide an introduction to Mindfulness and teach some simple meditations and exercises that you can use in every-day life to reduce stress.
Mindfulness blends ancient ways of developing wellbeing with modern convenience and lifestyle. It is being widely used in the NHS because it has been clinically proven to improve our wellbeing.
Mindfulness teaches us to:
- Be in the present moment rather than worry about the future or dwell in something in the past we can’t change.
- See a thought for what it is – just a thought and not necessarily reality.
- Be kind and accepting of ourselves.
The workshop will be held in June, date TBA shortly. The fee is £15 per person. Please contact myself or Halsa to note your interest and I will then confirm available workshops with dates and times.
10 Commandments to Reduce Stress
The 10 Commandments for Reducing Stress from Halsa Wellbeing:
As hard as others can be on us, we are too often harder on ourselves…
• Thou shalt NOT be perfect, nor even try to be.
• Thou shalt NOT try to be all things to all people.
• Thou shalt leave things undone that ought to be done.
• Thou shalt NOT spread thyself too thin.
• Thou shalt learn to say ‘No’.
• Thou shalt schedule time for thyself, and thy supportive network.
• Thou shalt switch off and do nothing regularly.
• Thou shalt be boring, untidy, inelegant and unattractive at times.
• Thou shalt NOT even feel guilty!
• Especially, thou shalt NOT be thine own worst enemy, but be thy best friend.
Holistic Therapy Deductions Available To Catalyst Clients
I am really pleased to announce that a £5 deduction on a wide range of holistic therapies including massage and Reiki, is now available to Catalyst Counselling Service Clients. The Catalyst Counselling ethos is to build up your emotional wellbeing alongside working through underlying issues and clients have found that holistic therapies, such as massage and Reiki, have really helped them to re-build their resilience so that they are able to get the most out of their counselling sessions.
The deduction is available at Halsa Wellbeing who provide a ‘Wellbeing For You’ service at their weekly clinic in Adel, Leeds.
Catalyst and Halsa Wellbeing are big believers in combining both counselling and wellbeing options having seen clients benefit from a joint approach, so please watch this space for more exciting offers and developments.
What is Mindfulness?
At Catalyst Counselling we use a mindfulness approach to counselling, which is widely used and supported by the NHS. If requested, clients can be introduced to concepts and exercises that can be used outside of the counselling sessions and have been proven to significantly reduce emotional stress and improve your wellbeing.
More information about Mindfulness can be found in the following article from the Observer:
A form of meditation is becoming a major growth area within British psychology, as evidence grows of its effectiveness in dealing with anxiety and depression.
“Mindfulness meditation” was pioneered in the United States during the 1970s as a tool for alleviating stress. Drawing on ancient Buddhist principles to combat mental suffering, the technique encourages practitioners to slow down, “inhabit the moment” and become more accepting of their feelings.
Although initially regarded with scepticism by mainstream psychologists, the practice has gained respectability thanks to research indicating its clinical effectiveness. A new study in the American journal Archives of General Psychiatry found that the mindfulness technique was as effective as the use of anti-depressants among a controlled group in remission from major depression.
A study by researchers in Wales,Toronto and Cambridge found that in cases of recurring depression it reduced the risk of relapse by 50%. As a result, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) adopted it in its guidelines as a recommended intervention in cases of chronic depression. Recent studies have shown that the technique can have other significant benefits, including boosting the immune system and encouraging left-field brain activity – the side most associated with feelings of wellbeing.
The impressive experimental results have led to a surge in interest and increasing demand that the practice be made more widely available. Research centres have sprung up across the country and there has been an explosion of mindfulness courses in non-clinical settings.
Ed Halliwell, a teacher on mindfulness and co-author of a recent book, The Mindfulness Manifesto, attributed the popularity to the technique’s blending of age-old spirituality with modern convenience: “It’s based on thousands of years of wisdom. It is simple but not always easy to do. You don’t need any special equipment. It’s not expensive. And it seems to connect with a lot of people’s intuitive sense that slowing down, practising stillness, learning how to be with our body and mind are good things. These are ancient ways of working to develop wellbeing, but what’s happened now is that the science is catching up and showing us that this does actually work. It’s become very of the moment.”
According to Florian Ruths, a psychologist who runs a mindfulness meditation programme at Maudsley Hospital in South London, mindfulness meditation has three key benefits. First, “it teaches us to immerse ourselves deeper in the present rather than worry about things we can’t control in the future – will I have a job? Will I be OK in five years’ time? – or dwell on something in the past that we can’t change either.”
Second, it “teaches us something about the validity of thoughts and emotions. When we are in a difficult state we believe several things: it will never end, it says something about us being flawed, and we need to get out of it now. Mindfulness helps us to see that emotions change and that if I have a thought, it is not necessarily the reality, it is just a thought.”
Third, he says, “mindfulness itself is an act of kindness, of compassion. It teaches us about directing the capacity for compassion that we all have at ourselves. That in itself is something new.”
One 37-year-old woman who attended a group course at the Maudsley last summer said she was encouraged to try the technique after more than 20 years of suffering acute depression, anxiety and fatigue, and more recently panic attacks. After experiencing the “recurrent corruptions of medication”, she was not hopeful that this technique would be any different.
With time and regular practice, the techniques she learned started to make a difference. Her panic attacks ceased and she was able to cope without medication for the first time in more than two decades. One of the technique’s benefits, she said, is the ease with which she had been able to incorporate it within her busy life. “Since doing the course, I have tried to continue regularly with the various meditation practices I learned. It has made waiting, even on rowdy buses, a prized opportunity, for such practices do not rely on a quiet without, but a quiet within.”
William Sidelsky, The Observer Sunday 2nd Jan 2011
Catalyst Counselling expands to Leeds City Centre
Catalyst Counselling Service can now offer counselling sessions from a Leeds city centre location as well as Guiseley. The new premises are located on Great George Street LS1 and provide a modern and comfortable setting for sessions with both individuals and couples.
Catalyst Bereavement Support Groups are now available in Leeds, in addition to the group held at Vicars Cafe Community Centre in Saltaire. I am pleased to announce that the Leeds group will be held at Physis Health and Wellbeing Centre in Adel.
Physis not only provides a welcoming and comfortable venue for the bereavement group but a Physis Holistic Therapist will also attend one of the group sessions to give an introduction to the holistic therapies that Physis offer and how they have helped clients that are grieving. Reduced price taster sessions for each therapy will also be available to Catalyst bereavement group members.
Quote of the Day
Thanks to Steve Jobs for the following inspirational quotation reminding us of what is important:
‘Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – all these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.’
An Introduction to Transactional Analysis Ego States
Transactional Analysis works on the basis that our personality consists of 3 ‘ego states’. It can be very useful to get into the practice of identifying which ego state we are in at any given moment because we can then make sense of why a situation keeps happening; understand why we are not getting our needs met at those times and improve our wellbeing and relationships with others, by learning to switch to another ego state at that time.
The 3 Ego States are known as the Parent, Adult and Child Ego States and you…
…are in your Parent Ego State if you behave, think or feel in a way copied from your parents or other parent-figures. The Parent Ego State is the ‘Taught Version of Life’. We often find ourselves thinking ‘Oh that’s just what my mum used to say or do’ and these are times when we have been in our Parent Ego State. Also an easy way to recognise when we are in our Parent Ego State is when we hear ourselves saying or thinking ’I/you should, must, ought…’.
…are in your Adult Ego State if you find yourself responding directly to what is happening around you in a way that is spontaneous and solves the problem. This is known as the ‘Thought Version of Life’ where we act independently of childhood or parenting preconceptions.
…are in your Child Ego State if you act, think or feel as you did when you were a child. This is known as the ‘Felt Version of Life’ and contains all your experiences, desires, needs, feelings and behavioural patterns from your childhood.
It can often come as a suprise to clients how often, as adults, we go into our Child and Parent Ego States at times of emotional distress. Once you recognise when this is happening you can start to learn how and when to switch back to the problem solving Adult Ego State.