Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Looking forward to looking back – Acknowledging a good year

When we are little we are encouraged to write a letter to Father Christmas explaining the reasons we ‘deserve’ presents; if we are lucky this may have encouraged us to reflect on what we have achieved in the previous twelve months that made us ‘good’.  We may continue this when we write notes in our Christmas cards telling friends our news. Looking back at the end of the year seems natural to us.
When we acknowledge our achievements we relive the good stuff and our brains reward us further with releasing the feel good hormones that were activated at the time of the original event. It can also be useful to note what felt good last year so that we can have more of it next year. Goal setting in January can be more fun when it is focused on positive aspects rather than denying ourselves and giving things up!
So take a little bit of me time this week to think about all the good things you did this past year; those successes that you feel good about. The little daily triumphs in life that help uplift us. The big actions that lead us to new ways of being.  It may work for you to just close your eyes and let the memories come or perhaps your Facebook page is the diary of your good stuff, I find that instagram is a collection of all my happy moments,and working out how to use instagram is on my achievement list this year, along with hashtags,daily tweeting and feeling good about writing a blog! When you have spent time thinking and feeling your victories it’s helpful to find a way to make them tangible. Writing, drawing, creating in some way a tribute to yourself, your personal ‘wow, look at what I have accomplished …… I am amazing’ (and if it makes you feel better write it to Father Christmas!)
Of course there will be sadness for many of us about losses and disappointments from the past year but we can still acknowledge how we responded to those events. It doesn't detract from the importance someone meant to us or the significance sorrow; if we are able to take pride in having been aware of our pain but are still able to smile when the sun comes up we are displaying healthy self-awareness. When we have survived a year of turmoil we should appreciate our own resilience with extra gratitude.
It maybe that you want to look at making a gratitude map when you have finished basking in your achievements for the year, or plotting your positivity path through 2015. Whatever cements all the ‘good stuff’ you have created, the ways you have flourished and the well-being you have promoted in your own life and others.
I like to take a big sheet of paper and let the words flow then add colour and doodles and patterns. This is for no one’s eyes but mine so I don’t need to worry about making sense or spelling correctly. This year I shall take a photo and make it my January screen saver; a reminder of what a fantastic 2015 I made for myself.

And don’t forget when you have basked in your own clever goodness to give yourself a big vote of thanks......it wouldn't hurt to face yourself in the mirror, smile and say out loud "well done, you made it, you are truly fabulous!" 

Monday, 14 December 2015

10 Gifts I’d like to give you this Christmas

1. A Self- Acceptance Stick – You are absolutely OK; and when you’re not OK then that’s fine too….. Every day you are doing your best and no one can ask for more than that. A handy alternative to a magic mirror.

2. Compassion Confetti – gather up big handfuls and chuck it about when love is in short supply; love for yourself as well as others.

Tip - applying hairspray before application helps it stick.

3. A Kindness Candle – lasts for hours, fragrance wafts far and wide, long lasting and self- fulfilling.

4. Positivity Pastilles – suck whenever doubts cloud your appetite. Can be administered freely without any side effects.

5. A Bottle of Meaningfulness – especially useful on dark January mornings when purpose may be in short supply.

6. Flourishing Essence – dab on pulse points to release flow. Also activates serotonin and with continued use can reset endorphin supplies.

7. Relationship Sprinkles – powerful and instantly transformative. Sheds light on misunderstanding and fosters empathy.

8. Achievement Medals – big and small accomplishments need to be recognised; try standing tall and shouting ‘YES’ when pinning a rosette to your lapel which will proclaim your greatness to all and sundry.

9. Endless Engagement – often an after effect of 5; but can be used as a stand-alone product in conjunction with a sense of purpose.

10. A Roll of Renewable Gratitude – the thank you tape that keeps on giving……

With lots of love 

Rebecca  @10toshine

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Five Days of Five Minute Mindfulness.

Mindfulness can seem complicated but it is simply paying attention. In the build up to Christmas we can become extra stressed  and taking the time to increase awareness of the wonders of the world around us is a great way to maintain a calm approach to the festivities. As with any new healthy habit  it's a good idea to start with small steps and build up as you become more confident. Above all mindfulness should be practised without stress or judgement, an attitude of lets see and compassion for yourself is helpful.There is no right or wrong. A little everyday is a good way to begin.

DAY 1 – Stop and listen. Spend just a few minutes and focus your mind on sounds. What can you hear? Close sounds near to you? The rustle of someone in the next seat? Far away distant sounds?  A radio in the neighbour’s kitchen?  Your own body sounds? Can you hear your own breathing? Try focus on each level of sound in turn; can you shut out all but your own internal noises? Can you tune your hearing out really far; stretch it, find tiny sounds just registering from far away. Play with what you can hear. It’s easier if you close your eyes and turn down other activity whilst you concentrate on one specific sense. And that’s it…..that’s mindfulness.

DAY 2 – Take a break. Sit down somewhere calm and quiet with your favourite hot drink, tea, coffee, milk, whatever makes you feel soothed and relaxed. Look closely at the cup, the shape, the colour, the spaces around the cup shape. Watch the liquid in the cup; perhaps you can notice a tiny movement across the surface. Take in with your eyes everything you notice about this drink in this cup at this moment. Pick the cup up and feel its weight in your hands. Notice how the warmth from the drink changes the temperature of your own skin, you may even be able to sense the warmth as it travels up from your fingers through to the palm of your hand and spreads out as it extends further up your forearms. Pick the cup up higher so you can smell the contents, take a big deep breathe in and feel the smell of warm comfort as it floats into your mind. Finally take a sip, notice the sensation of the cup against your lip, the feeling as the drink touches your teeth then your tongue until it changes the way your whole mouth feels. Savour the taste; does the first sip taste different when it hits various parts of your mouth? Can you feel the hot liquid travelling down as you finally swallow it? That’s mindfulness in the moment.

DAY 3 – Bodily Awareness. Find somewhere very comfortable to lie or sit. Close your eyes. Focus on the feeling of your feet where they touch another surface; is it hard? Rough? Soft? What about the pressure? How about any socks or shoes as they touch the skin on your feet? How does that feel? Travelling up from your legs take notice of each body part in turn; really focus on one bit at a time. Be aware of the physical sensations of clothing as it makes contact with your skin and how each body part experiences touching the surface it is resting on. When you have experienced your body as separate parts take time to pull out from the sense of individual limbs and feel your whole body operating as one unit.  This is mindfulness and can be very refreshing!

DAY 4 – In the now. The main ingredient in the mindful recipe is the present moment. When you consciously stop and focus on one sensation, one option from all the possible things you could be sensing, your mind has no choice but to be fully present in the now. We all have a tendency to add judgements to what we are thinking, mindfulness offers the chance to take a break from that habitual way of thinking and just be. When you are going about your life today take some time to focus on one thing at a time. If you are talking to someone try not to look around or wander what you are going to do next, give the dialogue your full and undivided attention. If you are doing the washing up really be aware of the way it feels to do so. Just taking a few minutes at a time to be fully present with whatever it is you are engaged in doing and do so without attaching meaning to it. Accept whatever comes up in such moments with an open mind. Being mindful encourages freedom to explore our habits
DAY 5 –360° Sensory Space. Find a place today that is completely new to you. It may involve a bit of forward planning but it needs to be a space you have never experienced before. Perhaps a street you have never walked down, a gallery you have never visited, a tree you have never stopped at and pondered. It doesn't need to be anywhere grand or complicated but it does need to be new to you. In this novel space I want you to practice using all your senses to trace your sensory surroundings. Just one minute per sense to discover how this place looks, smells, sounds, tastes (if appropriate), and feels to your touch. Really absorb all the perceptions that you experience in a brief five minutes. Open up all your senses to the world around you in this fleeting moment. Take in all the abundance of sensations. Then just continue to be very quiet and turn your attention inside. Turn off the external stimulus and observe how you feel. Allow it to be whatever it is. (This can be quite a powerful experience so just accept however you feel and approach it with a sense of what if?) Give yourself some time to re-locate in the space before moving on. This is the five point sense meditation and a great way to ground yourself whenever you need some mindful space. It can be done anywhere, any time, but it’s a good idea to practice it for the first time in new surroundings so as not to be influenced by previous experience. 

Just five minutes of daily mindfulness can benefit so many areas of our life; we can restore a healthy friendly relationship to ourselves, reconnect with our internal positive resources, and release abundant creativity. Mindfulness is the true path to the heart; of being the most authentic version of you in the present moment. And there is a unique freedom in being just that.