A Mindful Smile – Can reach all parts of the body

A Mindful Smile can reach all parts of the body!

I know I bang on about Mindfulness and I know you all tell me you don’t have time….even when you are doing it unconsciously (bet I could find you time if I followed you for a day too!). But a Mindful Smile is natural medicine.

Let’s take Mindfulness to a Micro Level which is doable and as we all know it’s about the ‘DOING.’  So my challenge to you is to have a go at one of the tasks/practice I have given my students…….The Mindful Smile

The Payoff will be….

Less stress at the end of the day, those 4 pm headaches will lessen, you won’t go home and kick the cat or the partner and you will have a more peaceful evening!

Make a commitment to yourself

Decide to take 2 minutes time out and sit quietly where you won’t be disturbed.  Feet flat on the floor and back straight.

The Practice

Take a couple of deep breathes in and out relaxing the body; especially the shoulders, jaw and solar plexus!  Just drop into that lovely quiet space you can feel when you daydream

As you breathe in begin to mindfully smile to yourself. Feel that radiant energy flow into your face because you are releasing those smiley endorphins into the brain.  It’s a big cheesy grin that appears and your eyes crinkle.

Cheesy Grin

  • As you breathe out;
  • Release your mindful smile, relaxing the whole of your face and notice how your body also releases tension.
  • And now breathe in smiling again feeling it reach your eyes
  • And out, relaxing the face….don’t forget to release the jaw as that gets so tense during the day resulting in migraines/headaches.
  • Notice how the lungs and belly expand.
  • Let go of thoughts by just focusing on the breath, the smile and the energy beginning to change throughout your body

Keep this going for 2 minutes and check out how happy and balanced you feel at the end along with more energy.

Moving On

Do this a few times throughout the day and it’s amazing how your energy changes.

Continue with the rest of your day.

Want to ramp it up a bit then check out How Bubbles can boost your energy and wellbeing click here

Guess what…this is a phenomenal exercise to do with the kids they love it…start them early.

Until Next time

Warmth

Donnah 

Unconscious Mindfulness – in other words you’re doing it anyway!

Unconscious Mindfulness

Unconscious Mindfulness, is that you? Yep more than likely; just like 98% of the rest of the population (OK I made that figure up, but it’s lots of people!).  You are doing it, but you don’t know that you are!

So you talk about being Mindful?

Well, don’t you? There are so many times I smile when I hear peeps say they would love to learn to be more mindful or come to class to meditate, but they just don’t have time/space/know how to do it.  Why do I smile?  because they are probably more mindful and meditate far more than they realise but it’s all done at an unconscious level trucking along inside the brain.

Mindful Brain

 

Let’s look at it – this word Mindfulness

Has there really been a significant resurgence of ‘Mindfulness’ over the last few years? Well not really it’s been around since the 1970’s when Jon Kabat-Zinn presented key attitudes and practices to students to de-stress and just be in the moment.

It’s now become a bit of a buzzword and has made its way into the mainstream of everyday living over the last few years with lots of publicity. It’s not new, and it’s not rocket science; however, the marketing and media tribes would like you to believe it’s the best thing since burnt toast and worth paying mega bucks for…well no shit! They love making money.

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Bubbles –They are not just for Kids you know!

Bubbles, who doesn’t love them?

Bubbles you see them and smile. You drink them they fizz, and they tickle. Did you know you can use them for Balance and Relaxation?

Bubbles make you Smile

Bubbles make you Smile

At the end of the summer term, I donate a small gift to  each of my students for having the persistence and commitment to remain with me for another year.

I never know what that gift will be until it jumps out at me; this year it was BUBBLES…. Why on earth would I give a bunch of middle-aged adults kids bubbles?  For three extremely good reasons.

By blowing bubbles from time to time, they would be;

  • Getting Breathing Practice – a Key to Balance and Stability
  • Connecting with the child within (playing!)
  • Visualising themselves being surrounded by a bubble of light

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Dreams-Rainbows-Lemon Drops-Wonderful World-Music

Dreams we all have them.

Dreams – Do we take the time to visualise or hear them all?

  • Dreams inform our goals, our vision for our future.
  • Rainbows remind me of childhood and pots of gold
  • Lemon Drops are my Nan; she always bought me sweets on a Thursday
  • Finally, Wonderful World, I feel privileged to be part of the World around me and all those I have contact with I love your all and of course I have a real fondness of listening to Louis Armstrong singing about it.

Words are so powerful; take term Your Dreams; it conjures up different recollections and visions for everyone; what does it bring to mind for you?

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars, to change the world”. Harriet Tubman

Previously I have mentioned Words as a Powerful Motivator at several levels; however, Music just hits the very core of everyone and produces emotions.

Music is the strongest form of Magic.

Music is the strongest form of Magic.

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Strength and Stability in your Life/World

Strength and Stability.

Strength/Stability – Powerful words that you can use as an affirmation or as a supportive and mindful reminder that you can do anything you set your mind to it.

These are two of my favourite words and ones I find most empowering.  I have students who use them every day to centre and balance themselves.  Others use the words when they have to go into meetings or give presentations. In class, we use them just as a straightforward affirmation or sometimes incorporate a visualisation with them.

Both words can lead you to Grounding yourself for the task ahead – for more on grounding follow

Getting started

For the affirmation,

On the in breath hear the word STRENGTH in your mind as you fill the belly and pause, on the out breath hear the word STABILITY as you release slowly and just keep this going for a couple of minutes ‘feel’ the words as you say them.  This will raise your confidence and energy – you can do whatever it is you need to do.

You might need to visualise the two words several times before embarking on what you are going to do.

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Life-Work Balance Your 5 minute Quick Quiz

Life/Work

Life and Work,“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life”  http://quoteaddicts.com

I believe we have to put Life first because it is all we have. If we go some way to having a balanced life, then the rest will follow. In truth, not many people reflect on themselves and their needs just everyone else’s.

I ask the question “does balance figure in your life and work?” If not, why not? You need as much ‘Playtime’ as you have ‘Worktime’ Even though you might enjoy your job, you still need time away from it; similar to your personal life you need your ‘work’ to give you an anchor.

Which way does your Balance Tip?

Without a little balance, stressors can begin to creep in, and life moves out of kilter. So, is there anything you might need to change? If so maybe it’s time to ‘Do the Doing’ (check this out)

The Quick Quiz

Just indicate with a yes next to any of these that apply to you and we will see.

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Rugby Players Note; Not just for Ladies

Rugby Players – Not just for the Ladies!

Rugby Players need sensitive hands. Day 4 of the 7-day challenge to ‘Self-Care’.

Hands that can ‘FEEL’ the ball and position it ready to throw in the right direction are crucial to Ruby Players. Therefore this technique/exercise can be for the guys not just for the ladies.

Rugby Players need Sensitive Hands!

Rugby Players need Sensitive Hands!

In fact, I used it once with a bunch of Rugby Players I was working with they loved their soft hands at the end…mind you the guys did say they would drop the ball if the did it before a match so they might get the opposition to practice this technique….

Reduces Work Stress

Several years ago I was commissioned to write a training programme around the subject of Reducing Work Stress.  The following exercise was one I used; the outcome was everyone who attended bought hand cream into work and had it visible on their desk. – guys included.

They would exchange hand creams for others to try.  They had an internal policy. If anyone was using hand massage,  they were left alone for a few minutes as it was a sign they need five minutes out. No one abused the practice. How cool was that?!

Your Self- Care Hand Massage

Before you begin massaging your hands, fingers, and cuticles, take off any  jewellery.  Now, first apply the cream to the back of your hands as this is where it is often the driest, think about the skin that the sun hits the most.

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Visualisation: The ancient art of Mind Compassion

Visualisation and Mind Compassion

Visualisation plays a large part in the state of Wellbeing.  You will be aware that at the beginning of August I set a little 7-day Self-Care challenge for those who wish to take it. Today is Day 3.

This mindful challenge will take no more than 10 minutes.  It will reach that part of your brain that often needs respite…Your MIND. I’m sure if you look you will find the time and add a new technique to your Toolbox.

The Mind is in there somewhere

The Mind is in there
somewhere

Why use Visualisation you may ask?

I’m sure your will remember as a kid you would daydream and imagine, at a physical level the superpowers you had when playing games like film hero’s/heroines.  Maybe just lying in the sun and let your thoughts dwindle and your imagination come to the fore, you find that space where you could escape from the day to day stuff that crowded in on you.

I used to drape a tarpaulin over the washing line, make a sort of tent with it and sit under it in the rain. It became a rain forest and could just listen to the sounds the water made as it hit the tent. I knew I was safe, warm and could then daydream…..an often forgotten skill.

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Scan your Body or Forget Your Body: Your Choice?

The Basic Body Scan

Your Body Mind Spirit – During the first few days of August I have set a little Self-Care challenge each day for those who wish to take it. Most of the tasks will take between five and ten minutes not much time in the scheme of life. I know that many will say they don’t have time; if that’s the case your Skills and Techniques Toolbox will be lighter.

Why a Basic Body Scan? In truth, regular scans of your body during the day will

  • aid tension release
  • it will increase your mindful practice
  • bring you back to a necessary balance in your body, breath, and mind.

There are lots of writers who have shared their version of The Bodyscan; my  favourite is one of the first I came across in the very early 1990’s from Eric Harrison ‘Teach Yourself to Meditate’ a ‘fab’ book to use as a tool for development.

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Self-Care vs Social Media – should it be a contest?

Self-Care vs Social Media

Should it be a contest?

Over the next 7 days, I will set a little Self-Care challenge each day for those who want to take it. I know that many will say they don’t have time; well if this is the case get over and see The Time Doctor…

Those of you who read my Blogs know that even though you get a few Musings of a Vintage Diva you also get my take on Mindfulness and Self-Care. After 40 years of ‘People-Work’ I have a bit of insight into what makes them tick or explode having been both sides of the coin myself. However there is only one constant and that YOU.

Mindfulness as a Tool

If you haven’t tried Mindfulness properly then let me remind you what Jon Kabat-Zinn said,  “Mindfulness is not a special state you achieve through a trick or a technique. It is a way of being.” so when you drink a cup of tea, just drink a cup of tea.

So why is Mindfulness so necessary in the 21st century? In truth I believe it helps bring balance and wellness back into lives. It aids combating tiredness and helps to increase energy levels; many students find it can also help with reducing challenges like;

  • Insomnia
  • Lack of self-esteem
  • Low self-confidence
  • High stress levels

Several of my tribe use most of the techniques we practice find that tension in their body reduces considerably. Headaches are reduced and that they believe it aids coping with day to day lives in this busy world. Significantly it helps them to focus on the present rather than rushing furiously into the future or getting caught up in the past.   They keep all these excercises and techniques in their Tookbox/Bag.

Customise your Tool Box

Customise your Tool Box – Bag

Undertaking practice on a regular basis can enable individuals to take further control over their lives and ultimately find time to have more FUN.  In fact just 5/10 minutes essential relaxation included into your daily life will help you greatly and 5/10 minutes a day is far better that 1 hour a week. The daily habit begins to embed into the brain and becomes part of your routine  –  Relaxation is the first key to emotional well-being and helps reduce stress and other ailments once you can learn to relax effectively then Focused Relaxation, Mindfulness & Meditation will be the next stages.

Brain Spam/Mad Monkeys

One of the biggest distractions of learning to relax is the millions of thoughts that come hurtling through the brain.  Buddhists describe the mind as: ‘the mad monkey’ and that relaxation and meditation is a way of training that monkey.

Tame the little buggers!

Tame the little buggers!

Because when we are at the beginning of undertaking our relaxation practice, we are leaping from one thought to another just like the monkey jumping from tree to tree with no purpose, planning, we are illogical, erratic and irrational.   However, if you use the monkey as an analogy for your attention then you can begin to train your attention gently to focus on breathing, subtle feelings, symbols or images and thus cut down the times you leap from tree to tree until you become proficient in just focusing on relaxation

Lets start with DAY 1 – Practial Relaxation

 PUT THE LAPTOP DOWN!

PUT THE LAPTOP DOWN! Let Go of Social Media for 10 Minutes

Have a Practice  this one I have used for years; similar can also be found at; Quick, on-the-spot relaxation:

  1. Sit up and back in your chair so that you feel firmly rooted, legs slightly apart, feet flat on the floor. back straight, this keeps you energy flowing
  2. While you take a deep breath, letting it out slowly and drop your shoulders. Close your eyes if it helps. Focus on your breathing. Breathe in slowly to a count of three or four – hold for a count of three – breathe for a count of three or four – pause for a count of three. Repeat at your own even, comfortable rhythm.  It can help to imagine yourself relaxing more each time you breathe in and the tensions flowing away with every out breath.
  3. Next, slowly tense, hold, and release the main muscle groups, working up through your body. Start with toes and feet; tense as much as possible, hold and release. Move on to legs and thighs, stomach and torso, in the same way.  Paying particular attention to your back and shoulders, this is where we hold a lot of tension.  Then work on your fingers hands and arms..  If you are brave enough, screw up the muscles of your face and neck and slowly release.
  4. Return to focusing on your natural breathing and check your body for any remaining tension just like a slow bar-code machine.
  5. Finally, check your seating position, drop your shoulders again, and place your hands comfortably on your upper legs and concentrate on the sensation of warmth as it flows out through your hands.

The Payoff

Everyone is aware that research shows that most people use Social Media for a minimum of 45 minutes a day, TV much longer, are you worth just 10 minutes. Should it be a contest or should you put yourself first? #JustSayin

Check out Tiny Buddha for more Self-Care ideas

Learning to use relaxation as a Self-Care tool in this way can be invaluable if you get anxious in public places and need to sit somewhere to compose yourself . Use it at work when you feel overwhelmed, it is well worth the 5 minutes to put your pen down or leave the computer and completely erase the scrambled thoughts from your brain! (some of my tribe go off to the loo to relax for a few minutes to get away from the distractions.). Can Social Media do this for you?

Give Mindful Relaxation a go, with practice you will embed it and use it as a tool from your toolbox/bag.

Day 2 tomorrow….Watch out for it…..

Diva x