Just For Today – a Meditation by Tom Evans

Hi Everybody!

This week’s “guest speaker” meditation was given to us by Tom Evans and it is called “Just for Today”. It is designed to be practiced first thing in the morning, as we set intentions for our day. If you would like to practice it again, this is the link:

How Yoga Can Help us to Evaluate and Manage Stress

One of the most frequently heard expressions today is “I’m stressed”. Stress is an inevitable part of modern-day living, however, most stress can be reduced considerably and even eliminated.  Here are some considerations when contemplating stress in your life, and suggestions for reducing it:

(1)     What causes me to become stressed? Commonly shared examples of stressors are: Time-keeping, negative relationships, and money …  However, stress is very personal.  What may stress one person, will not stress another.
(2)    What can I do to reduce my stressors?  Take, for example, being unpunctual.  If being late stresses you, then allow more time for your journey, plan for the unexpected, and add extra time if necessary. Give yourself more time than you are likely to need so that you can relax and  enjoy the journey, rather than rushing and arriving stressed and on edge.
(3)    What can I not change? If you cannot change it, then try to make it acceptable by viewing it from a different perspective.  Annoying relatives perhaps will seem less annoying if you can understand and accept your differences.
(4)    Invest some time on your mat in quiet contemplation.  Ask yourself “why am I stressed, and what can I do about it right now?” Allow the question to settle, and quietly watch your breath. Trust in your vijnanamaya kosha, the wise part of us that holds the answers, and wait for inspiration to come. It may not come as quickly as you like, and it may not always been the answer you were hoping for, however it will be the right answer for you.
(5)     Contemplate the Serenity Prayer, and let it’s wisdom inspire you to trust in the guidance you receive:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.”
(6)    Be active and expunge negative energy.  Use the adrenalin that your body is supplying: Run, walk fast or choose a more energetic yoga practice … whatever works for you.
(7)    Breathe consciously – slowly and deeply, comfortably and with control.  Focus on the body as you breathe.  Notice the rise and fall of the front of the body with each breath-round.  Notice the lungs expanding with the in-breath and the body softening with the out-breath.  Allow the breath to ease the mind and the body into a state of tranquillity.  Remind yourself that it is impossible to breathe slowly and calmly and be stressed or anxious at the same time.  So now you have a choice to be calm or stressed.  Although stress starts in our mind, we can  erase it through the way we use our thoughts, our breath or our body.  And a combination of all three is powerful … it is what we call yoga!
Om Shanti (Peace to Everyone)
If you would like to know more about yoga, stress and anxiety management, mindfulness or relaxation techniques please contact Sarah, email me at: freetothinkmail@aol.com, find me on Facebook under Free To Think, or text or telephone me on: 07817623330

I – Into 2014

A belated “Happy New Year” to you all! 

Whether you visited my site through an interest in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or Yoga Relaxation and Mindfulness, you are very welcome and I hope this site serves to encourage and inspire.

So how do you view January?  As a chilly month in the depths of winter, or as the opportunity to renew, replenish and refresh?

If you are thinking about CBT, then the chances are you are not feeling your happiest and so this month may well be the former. Winter has the effect of keeping us closed in, both in terms of where we are physically, and our emotional and psychological Selves as well. It is all too easy to become enmeshed in any negative feelings. This time of year encourages us to hibernate and take stock. When we are feeling positive and mentally strong, this is good for us.  However, if we are feeling down or dejected, having too much opportunity to contemplate our woes is rarely beneficial.

If you are interested in yoga, then your interpretation of January may be entirely different.  This is because, for a yogi, every day is a new beginning, bringing with it the opportunity to grow and develop all aspects of our Self. From respecting our physical body when we eat and drink healthily, exercise regularly and relax properly, to improving mental strength and focus through mindfulness, meditation and resilience, we yogis seek to improve and develop through every day of our lives.

So how do we move from viewing January as a depressing month, to seeing it as an opportunity to move forward and develop?

It is all a matter of perspective. Firstly consider what it is that is holding you back and causing you to feel whatever negative feelings you have. Then decide if you feel strong enough to tackle these issues on your own. Can you call on support from people around you?  Do you want to tackle your issues at all?  Or is fear of the unknown holding you back?  It takes a brave person to look their life squarely in the face and admit there is a problem!

For more help and advice around these areas, you can click on the links above, read previous blogs, or just email me or give me a call.

 

SO WHY NOT WORK ON ENABLING THIS NEW YEAR

TO BE THE ONE THAT YOU WANT IT TO BE!

Yoga Classes Update!

 

 

Yoga Classes Available In Bourne From September

An opportunity to see why yoga is so popular.

Improve your ability to relax.  Become more flexible, toned and strong.  Be more focused and co-ordinated.  Breathe better.

Come along and try it for yourself. Suitable for all ages and abilities.

For more information, please click here.

H – Happiness

How do we define happiness? Is it getting just what we want out of life? Having lots of satisfying and supporting close relationships? Peace of mind? Not having to worry? Or maybe it is a combination of all these things?

According to Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), an English poet, literary critic and philosopher – “The happiness of life … is made up of minute fractions – the little, soon-forgotten charities of a kiss, a smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment.” If that sounds too easy to be true then think about it for a moment:

Do you spend your time thinking about all the things you don’t have that you would like; all the people around you who annoy you; all the things you have to do that frustrate you? If you do, then I expect you’re feeling pretty fed up. If, however, you fill your day thinking about all the things you have that you can be grateful for (particularly the little things as suggested by Mr Coleridge); all the people around you who care; and all the choices in life that you have, then chances are, when you look back over your day, it will have been a good one (or at least not bad!).

Happiness and gratitude work hand in hand, so why not try spending an entire day being grateful: For the opportunities you are given – to hug somebody you love; the choices you have – cheese or tuna (at least I know I won’t go hungry); the actions you take – saying thank you, paying a compliment, making a difficult decision and trusting yourself that it will be ok.

Most importantly, be aware of your thoughts. If you notice a negative thought creeping in, then try to replace it with a neutral or positive one. For example: “I bet it’s going to rain again today” could become “It might rain today so I’ll take my brolly just in case” or even “who cares if it rains today, I’ll have my brolly!”

 

Think about what makes you happy and inject some happiness into your life everyday: 

  • Spend more time building positive, supportive relationships. 
  • Invest time and energy doing something that brings you happiness.
  • Take time out to be alone and be with yourself, just being you. 
  • Look after yourself: eat well, sleep well, exercise well, live well. 
  • Be in the here and now – make the most of every moment and see if you can enjoy it for what it is.

Free your thoughts, live your life

… and be happy!

 

F – Feelings

 

Feelings are powerful. They dictate our actions, behaviours and beliefs – fact. They are so powerful that we have no control over them – not fact.  When we exercise power over our feelings we are choosing, to a much greater extent, how we feel. Our feelings are largely influenced by our thoughts and our thoughts are the result of our previous experiences, influences and beliefs in any situation. Therefore if you have learned to feel guilty if somebody around you is upset, you will most likely feel guilty. If your first reaction to perceived aggression is to retaliate in anger then you will become angry. 

So how can we go about reacting differently?  The simplest way is to change our thoughts.  And that’s where things become interesting.  We have ultimate control over our thoughts.  Nobody else has any power at all over them, unless we we give them that power.  We can choose to perceive any situation, person or event in our own inimitable way.  In order to change our thoughts we have to know that we are capable of doing so.  If you believe a particular person will annoy you because he “always gets on my nerves” then chances are he is going to annoy you.  If you tell yourself that he isn’t going to affect you anymore, you have a very strong chance that he won’t. 

Give it a try. Next time you feel angry, sad, low, guilty, frustrated, envious, upset or offended, don’t react, pause for thought.  Literally.  Be aware of what is going around your head, and then consider changing those thoughts.  You can control your day to great effect if you get into the habit of re-thinking before re-acting.

I would love to hear your comments about this or any other of my blogs.  Please feel free to use the contact page.

D – Depression – Part Two

  

Avoiding Depression

Ok so what can we do to avoid depression?  The best approach to managing your mental health is to take a holistic view by encouraging good physical, mental and spiritual health.  Simply looking after your physical health in isolation from your mental and emotion health will not guarantee protection against depression, anxiety or stress. Having a spiritual view of life, one that gives you a purpose and a sense of meaning to life is also very important for good mental health.  Here are five top tips:

(1)  Cultivate a good support system of family and friends – who can be there for you when life gets difficult or throws a challenge your way.  We all need support from time to time and we should all trust ourselves enough to ask for support in times of difficulty.

(2)  Eat healthily – a healthy diet doesn’t just help to keep your weight manageable, it also helps to prevent against a number of diseases, including heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis and a number of diet-related cancers such as: colon, breast, cervix, gall bladder, ovary, thyroid, kidney, prostate and esophagus.  The added benefit of ensuring that you are eating a nutritional diet is that your body will function at its optimal best which means that you will naturally feel better too.

(3)  Exercise – encourage those feel good endorphins by being active: Brisk walking, swimming, running, cycling, playing sports, going to the gym, running around with your children – even mowing the lawn or cutting the hedge count. Research shows that exercise results in: up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke; up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes; up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer; up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer; a 30% lower risk of early death and, a 30% lower risk of depression.

(4)  Go with the flow – people are at their happiest when they are fully engaged in a task that is interesting, challenging, and intrinsically rewarding to them. This is the experience of “losing yourself in the moment” or, as sports players say, “being in the zone.” Pitch the task correctly by choosing something that is challenging but achievable and then lose yourself in it. Immersing yourself in this way allows you to “switch off” from all your everyday concerns and experience a greater enjoyment of life.

(5)  Practice mindfulness, yoga and/or meditation – All or any of these practices will promote a deeper self-understanding which results in your being better able to appreciate and look after your Self.  When we are more self aware we are naturally better able to make choices that are good for us deep down without being so affected by external influences. Self-awareness builds trust in our own judgement and facilitates a happier level of being.

 Look after yourself and your Self will look after you!

 If you would like more information or some informal advice about depression or any other concern relating to thoughts, behaviours or feelings, please feel free to use the Contact Sarah page and I will get back to you.

Welcome to my new website

Welcome to my new website.  I hope you find it enjoyable, informative and thought provoking.

Free to think is here to help you free your thoughts enabling you to more freely and easily live your life.

There will be articles on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Stress Management, Relaxation and Mindfulness, Yoga for Children and Adults and much more.