Is Inner Peace the New Success?

peace

No doubt there are times in life when we need grit and perseverance. Most achievements in life like building a career, running a business or just continuing to front up to the daily grind of work day after day require effort and determination. It’s not surprising we’re surrounded by messages telling us to not give in, to push through and stick it out. Our hero’s are generally those amongst us that have overcome adversity through sheer hard work and determination.

But what if, on a day-to-day level, all that striving leaves you feeling a bit strung out and exhausted. What if, in trying so hard to get ahead, you miss out on valuing let alone savouring the journey. What if you’ve spent your life climbing the ladder only to realise it was on the wrong wall?

An anti-dote to finding yourself strung out and stretched too thin is to regularly access states of deep rest and peace. Like a holiday for your mind and nervous system, inner peace nourishes feelings of contentment as well as mental and emotional clarity.

Cultivating feelings of peace starts with taking a little time out every day to find some mental and emotional space away from to-do lists and demands. It can be enough to spend time each day doing something fun and engaging that you love - gardening, singing, rollerblading - whatever lights you up! Combine this with simple relaxation and meditation practices that help you access deep states of quiet.

If you're feeling really stuck and you’re in need of a mindset reboot, a powerful tool to try is a gratitude diary. You simply spending time each day reflecting on and recording what you are grateful for. Can’t think of anything? Start with the things you're probably taking for granted i.e. the roof over your head and build from there.

How Meditation Changes Your Brain For The Better

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Lately everyone’s talking about meditation and just how good it is for you and a lot of that buzz is thanks to research showing the positive effects of meditation on the brain. You have probably heard about neuroplasticity, a mouthful of a word that means your brain can change and that’s a quite big deal because the prevailing logic until the 1980’s was that once you became an adult you were stuck with the brain you had. Now we know you can continue to train your brain much like you can train your muscles and one of the most cutting edge brain training tools is, of course, meditation.

Here’s how:

De-stress your amygdala

Meditators know it and now science has explained why meditation makes you feel so damn relaxed. It comes down to meditation switching off activity in the amygdala –  the part of the brain that becomes overstimulated with chronic stress and anxiety. Meditation not only makes you less reactive it also boosts your resilience to stress.

 

Thicken Your Cortex

Meditation makes your cortex thicker but that’s a good thing! Thickening of the cortex is associated with boosting your memory and attention as well as your brain’s ability to plan and organize. It also points to the potential for meditation to prevent the thinning of the cortex associate with old age memory loss.

 

Happy Hippocampus

Meditation has been shown to boost the level of grey matter (science speak for brain power) in the part of your brain linked to positive emotions as well as emotional stability – the hippocampus.

 

Juice up your Junctures

Not only does meditation make you feel good it also makes you a kinder more compassionate person thanks to the activation of you temporal parietal junctures. This area in your brain is tied to empathy and means you are more willing to respond to those in need.

The wealth of research showing the benefits of meditation is amazing and the results being produced are astonishing however I’m sure what we have already seen is just the tip of the iceberg of what we will discover about the benefits of meditation.


Wes Smith is Live Well's Director and has 20 years experience as a practitioner and wellness educator. He has a special interest in working with chronic immune issues, stressanxiety and depression
Wes is passionate about inspiring and educating people to create and sustain their vitality and wellbeing so they can live life to the full.
Wes also enjoys teaching meditation and is the creator of meditatewithwes.com an online resource for learning how to meditate. es has a B.App.Sc.(Acup), Diploma of Herbal Medicine, a Yoga Teaching Diploma and is an APHRA registered acupuncturist. 

Learn more about acupunctureherbal medicine and meditation.

Learn more about Wes
Make an appointment with Wes

Is Your Mind On Your Side?

Oh, the wonders of the mind. It’s a powerful but complex tool. Does your mind work FOR or AGAINST you? Are you able to direct your thinking, enable free and creative thinking, or does your mind seem to run the show?

In my previous article Using Your Intuition For Guidance , I discussed the differences between listening to your gut feeling (intuition) compared to that of your mind. It’s now time to break down the elements of the mind.

The Mind from East and West

The emergence of neuroscience is one of the most exciting and fascinating scientific fields. Traditionally, neuroscience is the study of the nervous system. As more and more was discovered about the nervous system, neuroscience became an interdisciplinary field working with the mind and body connection. The brain and the nervous system was clearly not just affecting our physiology and structure, it also interacted with behaviour, emotions, psychology, our environment—the list goes on. 

From another perspective, Eastern Medicine was founded in a holistic approach to health and wellness; understanding the deep connection between the mind and body. What makes up who we are includes; body, mind, Spirit, consciousness, emotions, energy systems and the environment; all components of the great web that is life.

When it comes to working with the mind, complementary medicine (the synergy of Eastern and Western medicine) offers much in the way of tools and techniques that help you make the most of your mind! Given the plethora of avenues for discussing the mind, I’m going to start simply but powerfully.

Where to start?

Ironically, when I sat down to write this article my mind jumped from idea to idea. At first, I couldn't latch onto one particular aspect of the mind to write about. I was exhausted from the process! Until I realised, the very problem I was having was the topic for discussion—DIRECTION!

Your mind will spend as long as you let it running around in circles, or from corner to corner, or stuck in negativity or worry. A key starting point is creating healthy habits with your thinking. What we do know about the science of the mind and the energy behind it is that our thinking is based in patterns and therefore habits.

Bridging knowledge to empower your mind

Let’s take two famous phrases from both science and complementary medicine and see how they work together, supporting the same concept when it comes to the mind:

Firstly, ‘neurons that fire together, wire together’ (neuropsychologist Donald Hebb,1949). Meaning that everything you do be it thoughts, emotions or physical action create a neural network. Neurons are the building blocks for your nervous system that transmit electrical and chemical information. These networks are strengthened by how much you use them.

Secondly, ‘Energy flows where attention goes’ (‘Makia’ from the 7 Huna Principles of Life, a shared wisdom across many ancient healing traditions). Put simply, if you focus on negative outcomes for your life and the negative story, then your energy system will follow and you’ll feel depleted and often unable to create the life that is waiting for you.

Combining these great insights gives us a clear message about the mind. You have a choice and the best place to start is directing your mind toward what it is that you truly want to spend your days doing, feeling and thinking. I’m not saying “it’s easy - just stop how you’re thinking”, I’m saying let’s spend time training our mind to work in our favour. Understand you have the ability to use your mind to work FOR you!

Repeat after me...

You can start with simple mantras or affirmations to wake up and to fall asleep with. For example, if you think “I’m not good enough” then this is what your neural network will wire together and your energy system will flow toward. So, start by wiring and flowing with “I am good enough” or simply “I am enough”. Get creative and think about words and phrases that resonate with you and your current goals. Be sure to put the phrase into positive and active tones as if they’re already a reality.

Give thanks!

Another practice that’s gaining much momentum and research is the art of gratitude, or giving thanks. At the end of each day, list three things that you’re grateful for. Some days can be rough and you might be grateful that you got out the door, or for the sun shining! As much as possible, make gratitude personal and push yourself to reflect. Make this a family tradition at dinner time as it opens the door for teaching, sharing, learning and listening.

Remember, your thoughts affect your body and your emotions. Grateful thoughts and encouraging phrases feel good. Critical and worried thoughts are draining. The more you direct your thinking, the more you create a joyful reality. I’ll leave you with the magnificent images from the work of Dr. Masaru Emoto ho studied and photographed the molecular changes in water when different prayers, music or words were played, written or said.

Kate's passion is to educate and empower each client to understand their mind, body, and Spirit and how these aspects are all connected. Her integrative approach to health and healing is to explore and treat the whole person. Kate is the creator of Holistic by Nature and is also on the expert panel of I Quit Sugar.
To find out more about Kinesiology please click here.

 

Learn more about Kate

Make an appointment with Kate

Learning Intuition For Guidance

When it comes to guidance in your life and making decisions, who do you turn to? 

Let’s get straight to the point — being guided by your intuition will not only help you live a life that is full, it will develop a strong trust in yourself. You become self-sufficient, confident and centered, no matter what comes your way. 

One of the most common places people to turn for help are family and friends. Having a network of people in your life who you can talk through options, feelings and fears with is immensely beneficial. Especially if, said family and friends are good at reflective listening over telling you what to do! This is the main point of contention for external advice, no one knows what is right for you except YOU. 

So how do you access inner guidance, especially if you’re stressed, worried or unsure? 

It’s about about your internal dialogue

Internal dialogue is the way you speak to yourself on a daily basis. When it comes to guidance in life, for the small things and the big, your internal dialogue is your biggest asset. That’s right, I’m saying that your inner voice is more important than the voice of others. 

However, there are two types of internal dialogue and the KEY to guiding yourself is knowing the difference between when you’re being spoken to by your mind and emotions, and when your intuition is speaking. 

‘Intuition’, ‘gut feeling’, ‘heart’ or ‘instincts’ - it’s all the same!

What ever word you use to describe ‘intuition’, they all mean the same thing. 

The use of the term ‘gut feeling’ leads me to key skills you can practice to gain a stronger connection with your intuition. Until you have a great relationship with your intuition and it becomes a natural part of your internal dialogue, there are a couple of things you can do to strengthen your intuitive abilities.

What do your inner voices sound like?

Start by recognising the sound of the mind compared to that of your intuition

The sound of your mind

The mind will often say a lot. It can be: loud, go round in circles and is often based in emotion such as worry, fear, doubt or even anger and stubbornness. The mind is often trying to keep you safe and protected in the ‘familiar zone’ of life. Regardless of whether this zone is a happy place, the mind works from what it’s learnt and remembered, both consciously and subconsciously from the story of your life. 

Being conscious of this and asking yourself “What’s happened in the past that’s triggering my mind and emotions to think and feel this way?” helps you to remove yourself from the story and be an observer. From this, you have the opportunity to see if the thoughts and emotions of the mind are relevant today or simply the past being brought into the present. 

The sound of your intuition

Your intuition is a gentle, soothing voice. For me, and many others will a powerful connection to intuition, the words come one by one or just a few at a time. As you connect deeper, the more it flows. Intuition can come to you not just by words but by colour, pictures, symbols and deep feelings. You’ll know the interpretation, because it will be clear as day. It’s funny how we often see things as complex or unclear, yet the heart will show you otherwise. 

How does your body feel?

To practice the second part of connecting to your intuition, you need to use your body. Firstly, sit still and bring yourself back into the present moment and back into your body. This will make it much easier to hear your intuitive voice by being grounded. Take your time by breathing slowly in and out of your nose, and gently into your belly. (Once you get really good at this, you can drop down into your heart at any give moment.) This calms the five senses so you can sense with your heart. 

The voice of your mind is often accompanied by phrases such as “I think this is what I want to do?” and a feeling in your body of unsurity. You might feel unsettled, restless or agitated. It feels uncomfortable. 

On the flip side, your intuitive voice is accompanied by a sense of “I know this is what I want to do”. While the choice may bring about questions or feelings, underneath it all lies a sense of deep knowing down in your gut — your ‘gut feeling’. Your body is at peace with the choice. If you have a decision to make, sit with each option and feel deep within yourself. How does your gut react?

Your intuition may not always guide you to the easy option, or the one that has all the components sorted. It may be confronting to know what you heart says. But know this — your intuition will always guide you to your truth, your love and your wisdom. And it’s then that you can use your wisdom mind and your inner resources to work out the details!  

Watch this space as this is the topic for my next blog! 

Kate's passion is to educate and empower each client to understand their mind, body, and Spirit and how these aspects are all connected. Her integrative approach to health and healing is to explore and treat the whole person. Kate is the creator of Holistic by Nature and is also on the expert panel of I Quit Sugar.
To find out more about Kinesiology please click here.

Learn more about Kate

Make an appointment to see Kate

Understanding Mindfulness

No doubt you’ve heard about mindfulness, it’s a style of mediation that has placed this ancient practice on the modern medical and cultural map. But what does mindfulness really mean and why all the fuss?

To be mindful of something is to give it your wholehearted focus. Ask yourself this, when was the last time you gave something no less than your complete and undivided attention? The truth is probably that like most of us, you spend your day juggling many things at once, which is in itself a phenomenal skill.

Multi tasking your way through life can be, at its absolute best, an exhilarating rush. There’s nothing wrong with being good at doing many things at once, however, when you perpetually spread yourself thin you become robbed of the spaciousness and the stillness that comes with a simple, singular focus. The beauty is you don't have choose one path or another, you just need to balance the mind’s need for stimulation with its need for silence.

Luckily practicing mindfulness is easy, its simply requires you to bring your awareness to your senses and notice what is already happening beneath the thrum of daily life. The focus of your attention can be anything. The magic is that by choosing a singular focus of attention the simplest things become absorbingly fascinating. A classic mindfulness technique is to allow your attention to become fully absorbed in your breath: start by feeling the sensations of the expansion and release of the air inside your lungs with each inhale and exhale. As you do notice how your mind starts to change gears and slow down.

Even a minute of mindfully observing your breathing can profoundly effect how you feel in body and mind.

You can also practice mindfulness in everyday activities like washing the dishes: just by taking your attention to the sensation of the warmth of the water on your hands or by noticing how the light dances in the soap suds. Any activity can be done mindfully just by being present to the sensations that are arising from moment to moment. The beauty of a singular focus is that it profoundly reduces overwhelm and allows your mind and nervous system to access states of rest.

Our lives are richer and more enjoyable when we experience fullness and emptiness, light and shade. If you regularly take time to be mindful, you’ll find yourself starting to notice and appreciate the little things in life again and rather than feeling saturated and overwhelmed with life you can better appreciate and savour the wonders we have literally all around us.

Wes Smith is Live Well's Director and has 20 years experience as a practitioner and wellness educator. He has a special interest in working with chronic immune issues, stressanxiety and depression
Wes is passionate about inspiring and educating people to create and sustain their vitality and wellbeing so they can live life to the full.
Wes also enjoys teaching meditation and is the creator of meditatewithwes.com an online resource for learning how to meditate. es has a B.App.Sc.(Acup), Diploma of Herbal Medicine, a Yoga Teaching Diploma and is an APHRA registered acupuncturist. Learn more about acupunctureherbal medicine and meditation.

Learn more about Wes
Learn more about Mindfulness

Keep it Simple! 3 Easy Peasy Mindfulness Exercises You CAN Start…Today!

  • Do you get easily side-tracked from what you’re doing and not getting things done?

  • Can you get stuck in thoughts and find them hard to shake?

  • Does your mind often wander rather than “staying present” in the “here and now”?

I’m sure we could all say yes to these at different times, however if you’re noticing they are occurring for you more often lately, here’s three simple mindfulness exercises to help you “zone in” to being present and help “unhook” you from negative thought patterns.

In the current mindfulness training program at Live Well (“Managing the Madness”) participants are now easily integrating these exercises into their daily lives. You might like to try them too.

1.     Mindful Breathing – if you’ve only got 6 seconds to spare, that’s OK!

2.     Noticing 5 Things You Can See, Hear and Feel … right now

3.     Adopting the Three C’s – Curiosity, Concentration and Compassion

For those who may be unfamiliar with mindfulness, a good definition from mindfulness guru Jon Kabat-Zinn is

paying attention, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally”.

In our mindfulness training course, we are cultivating the skill of noticing and observing our experiences and responses from moment to moment, mostly using our breath as an anchor, which  helps us to manage stress, stay calm, centred and present…rather than reacting automatically, doing the same old thing or things we later regret, potentially getting stuck.

Remaining non-judgemental is a challenge for most of us. Not only are our brains wired to constantly observe, analyse, prioritise and make judgements in order to survive, work and function but many of us also have a pretty active “inner critic” to content with, constantly commentating in the background. Mindfulness training helps us to notice these judgements as an “observing witness” – rather than switching the mind off (which is impossible) these exercises help us to consciously notice the noise and choose to turn down the volume.

1.     Mindful Breathing

Don’t worry, I’m not talking about breathing for long hours sitting at the top of a mountain or on retreat (although if you have time to do this, that’s great). This is about being aware of your breath as much as possible wherever you are, throughout your day.

So…when you notice that your mind has wandered off, or that you’re getting fused to thoughts that aren’t helpful, or anytime at all, try taking 5 x 6 Second Mindful Breaths as a circuit breaker.

So that’s six lovely big breaths, simply breathing IN-2-3 and then OUT-2-3.

With each breath, noticing the rise and fall of your belly….the expansion and falling away of your chest…the coolness of the air as you’re breathing into your nostrils and the warmth of the air as you breathing out. Try it now! It’s free!!

And if you take 5 Mindful breaths in this way now and again – you’ve successfully completed a 30 second meditation practice. Hey Presto. Who says you’re too busy to meditate?

2.     Five Things You Can See, Hear and Feel right now

This mindfulness exercise helps to ground us by observing what is present in the current moment. If we’re getting too tied up in knots this can introduce a sense of “what else” is in the picture which is a helpful to “unhook” or defuse from the challenging thoughts.

We can do this one any time, whether you are sitting calmly and quietly on your own, in a meeting with other people, in a busy environment – even driving your car. Obviously keeping our eyes open!

So to start – look around your environment and take extra special notice of 5 different things you can see right now. You can name the objects by speaking out loud or just internally but it’s important to notice each object individually.

Then, taking extra special notice of 5 different things you can hear right now. This may be challenging if you’re inside but see if you can notice even very subtle sounds…so it might be something like…1. the humming of the air conditioning 2. The sound of muffled voices 3. The buzzing of the computer 4. The tapping sounds of the keyboard and 5. The sound of your own breath, breathing in and out.

Finally, now noticing 5 different things you can feel right now. Whether they are internal feelings (fluttering tummy, tightness in chest) or external sensations (clothes on your skin, bottom in the chair, feet on the ground, pen in my hand), whatever you are feeling is OK….we are simply noticing and observing what’s present, then moving on to the next thing. Don’t stay too long with each one to the point of analysing it. Notice, observe, move on.

If you want to, you could then return to the beginning of the exercise and then notice 4 Things You can See, Hear and Feel right now….then 3 Things…then 2 Things and finally then just 1 Thing you can See, Hear and Feel.

Chances are you will feel a lot calmer and more centred after doing this exercise. I’ve done it myself in meetings or during stressful events (like when I accidentally backed into someone’s car last year and the driver was screaming at me…my instinct was fight or flight…I felt quite anxious and scared, but still managed to stay calm by noticing 5 things like…she was wearing a green cardigan, she had red shoes, she has a tight lipped expression, she had curly hair and was shaking her fist).

3.     Three C’s of Mindfulness – Curiosity, Concentration, Compassion

Let’s take something we all have to do from time to time – like washing up - and consider how it might be a different and potentially even more pleasant experience, if we adopt the 3 C’s….of Curiosity, Concentration and Compassion (or bring to mind another example)

So, as you are next washing up, see if you can bring some Curiosity to the task, which means washing up as though you have never done it before. Notice the warmth of the water, the smell of the detergent, the bubbles and suds, the tinkling sounds of the crockery and swishing of the water etc etc. 

Try to stay with this exercise for a few minutes by Concentrating on just the washing up. One thing at a time. So often we are multi-tasking and not totally taking in our experience of just one thing. So concentrate, and keep focused. While you are doing the washing up…you are ONLY doing the washing up. It can be more challenging than we think!

Finally, whatever we are doing, try bringing a sense of Compassion into your experience also. Sending some loving kindness to your hands, softening your heart and being open to the experience rather than just “getting it done”.

Consider how adopting the 3 C’s could bring a more mindful and calming perspective to a whole range of daily activities and experience in your day. Here’s some that the current participants in Managing the Madness have found the Three C’s to be helpful in staying present and mindful in their lives:

-        Eating breakfast without reading the paper and checking emails all at once

-        Driving to work without the radio on and giving myself some quiet time

-        Conversing with café staff while waiting for my coffee instead of checking Facebook

-        Playing with the kids at the park and not taking the phone

-        Turning off the TV during dinner time, focusing on my family and their conversations

You might find similar opportunities present themselves to you and I hope these simple exercises may be helpful for you in the weeks ahead. Practice is the key. I’d love to hear your feedback, so feel free to let us know what worked well for you and how.