Wednesday, 17 June 2009

1 Minute Meditation Manager

Recently, I recalled practising meditation so I became good at it. What do I mean by good? Well, I wanted to meditate easily, enjoyably, with minimum distraction, being relaxed and still. Oh yeah, I wanted to be less stressed with less anxiety too. That's a lot of wants isn't it? I managed it with a simple practise that I built upon after spending too much time trying other ways.

I can simplify it by saying, 'I learnt to meditate in a relaxed way, to be still on the inside.'
If you like to get to the 'business end' of this article, scroll down to the section titled '1 Minute Meditation Manager'.

Photo: Consensual Media

Meditation is about stillness. To notice more of this, be relaxed.
On my commuter journeys into work I would regularly meditate in the morning. Whether it was crowded like a tin of sardines or as quiet a country road, I found my moment to meditate. As a result I felt 'better' (than those days I didn't meditate) which meant I was happier, less stressed, more focused, breathing more naturally. What became obvious was the increased endurance and flexibility I had in coping with a working day. Often I found I was able to recuperate more quickly and create more positive attitudes towards what I wanted to accomplish for the day.

At first, do a little do it often and make it fun
I became relaxed on the outside and stiller on the inside. Like the obvious benefits of the tastiest nutritious foods, I realised to get the benefits of meditation you can:

Do it often
On a daily basis
In small amounts
Taking time to prepare and enjoy

This makes learning a lot easier and 'user friendly' so let's find your way of doing just this.

A meditation teacher once said "Sitting quietly, noticing more of what's already there, can be fun and relaxing. Who wouldn't want to discover more of themselves?"
On busy, hectic, stressful days when lunches and breaks were minimal or non-existent, I would take a moment to close my eyes and sit peacefully. I would do it often during the day, every one or two hours. There was a time limit at work obviously, so I focused and relaxed and allowed things to be. The more I sat like this, the more natural it became to sit quietly, calmly and afterwards feel tremendously refreshed. I referred to it as my '1 minute meditation manager' and I loved it!

The 1 Minute Meditation Manager
This is a step by step guide to closing your eyes, sitting peacefully for a minute or more every hour (or 2 hours) through your day. Using this approach will give you rapid skills in relaxing more quickly, easily ignoring sights and sounds from your outer environment and enjoying stillness on the inside.

I recommend you reading through the following guide before practising. There's also a hints and tips section below that I think will be helpful. It was (still is) for me. Enjoy!

  • Sit comfortably, keep both feet flat on the floor and your hands in your lap. Softly close your eyes.
  • Gently focus on the inside as if you are looking from the middle of your forehead.
  • Relax your vision and allow yourself to see inside in 'wide screen -panoramic' vision.
  • Allow your gaze to be very relaxed. Simply let things be as they are.
  • See whatever you see, feel whatever you feel and hear whatever you hear.
  • Focus calmly on the inside.

Hints and Tips
Plenty of of preparation leads to perfect performance.

1. Setting your attitude for sitting peacefully and focusing inside is a great preparation for the real thing. Preparation is key.

2. Imagine in sensuous detail, what it will be like to easily sit still and meditate calmly. Use this initially at night and in the morning for preparing yourself to meditating during the day.

3. Decide here and now you'll be finding regular opportunities in your day to meditate. Consider it a fun exploration of what’s possible.

4. Instill an attitude that any distractions will help you return (focus again) to more stillness inside.

5. Allow whatever happens to happen as you sit quietly. Everything has been taken care of. Enjoy the pleasure of being still.

I'd really appreciate to find out what your experiences and insights are.
Do you have any suggestions for helping people meditate? If so feel free to comment.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

3 Videos on Meditation, Chi Running and EFT

Like millions of other people upon this planet, I enjoy watching videos online. I felt it was time for an audio visual treat. I've watched some excellent instructional videos recently and I've embedded three of them here. I think you'll like what they show you. The topics are in the broad areas of Relaxation and Well Being. They cover themes of EFT (emotional freedom technique), Meditation and Chi Running/Walking.

The Basics of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)
A good, clear video. I will add this is an interpretation of the basics. I get the impression with EFT, that it may have a more loose structure than it's original source TFT (Thought Field Therapy) by Roger Callahan. That's my opinion and not a comment upon it's efficacy. Judging from the responses to EFT and it's many practitioners, it's a success for emotional self healing and practitioner led healing.

How to Meditate
Interesting video and has been very popular on YouTube. Surprisingly, the voice over has some useful suggestions and remarks for enjoying meditating. I hope you find something good to apply to help you easily sit and meditate. That would be wonderful. Check out my articles on Meditation.

Injury Free Running and Walking
This is an interview with the creator of Chi Running by Renegade Health. The video aims to help you adjust your posture and state of relaxation for easier, injury free running. The information is practical and I believe will benefit you, as it has me in my running. It also offers good advice on walking postures.

What was the most beneficial thing you got from these videos?
Did they provide you with information to positively change the way you meditate, run, walk or feel? Let me know.

Thanks for watching

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Replacing Apathy with a Lust for Life

Reasons to stay in bed are like reasons to be cheerful. They can be numerous and perfect for robust health and well being. The reason can sometimes be less suited to a happy productive day, instead dragging a person down into a darkening pit of laziness and despondency.

Photo: tuxthepenguin84

Today's article is about replacing apathy with a get up and go attitude. It's literally about getting out of bed or off the couch. It's a bit tongue-in-cheek but when you've lived with someone (or you are someone) who experiences apathy, then it may prove useful.

I think we all have ideas about what apathy is. In the past I estimate I've 'wasted' days, weeks, months maybe years because of apathy. I have very few regrets because the past is where it is, behind me and there is nothing I can do about that. This present moment and the future is better served by my energy.

Is it ignorance or apathy? Hey, I don't know and I don't care. Jimmy Buffett

The first part is about helping yourself and the second part is helping others remove apathy. I've purposefully not covered areas like diet, nutrition, sleep and uses of psychoactives like coffee, alcohol and other drugs. I've aimed for a simple approach that may be useful to people in creating a direction and then launching themselves into it. It's worked recently for a friend's partner and it worked for me recently too. You have to be willing to change and recognise a need for it. Otherwise it is not time well spent.

“My generation's apathy. I'm disgusted with it. I'm disgusted with my own apathy too, for being spineless and not always standing up against racism, sexism and all those other -isms the counterculture has been whining about for years.” Kurt Cobain

Helping Yourself: Replacing apathy with a lust for your life
  • Take heart: the belief you have about staying in bed, sits beside the belief you have about getting up and into enjoying your day. The right one has yet to be brought forward to brighten your feelings and propel you onward.
  • When you're in bed and can't be bothered to get up yet, do the following: Picture all the best moments from your recent memory. Any moment or event that made you laugh or smile and feel good. Put them side by side in your imagination and run through them. Remember each one with a bright, lively quality. Then choose one or more that you will like to repeat for real today.
  • The funny thing is the body will usually follow the voice in your mind, whether it's uplifting and passionate or dull and depressing. So take care about what you say and how you say it. Say something wonderful to yourself.
  • Consider one thing, act or goal you will really love to do today, however small, bizarre or achievable (that avoids being apathetic in bed). Make it a vivid, colourful, life size experience on the inside. Feel your whole body move with this. Imagine the results of doing that thing and how you and others will benefit from it. Then get up and do something like it.
  • The truth is that this moment, only in the present moment, is real and is where your thoughts, desires and intentions can be most usefully guided. While you're in bed or slouching on the couch refusing to embrace the day consider this: too many limited thoughts of yesterday and tomorrow make you a muppet and not a master.
  • Learn to consume in the present rather than be consumed from the past.
  • You know the phenomena when you're in bed and a song you don't really like starts playing in your head? Well, change the track just like you would on a sound system. Choose a blazing track to get you excited and up.
  • It's your thoughts and feelings that power you into the day not the material wealth or lack of it you have around you.
  • Just be grateful that you have the opportunity to indulge in apathy. Such indulgence means you also have space to gather more beneficial opportunities toward you. Just get up and discover how easy they are to find.

I've not suffered from 'can't be bothered to get out of bed' syndrome since I was in my teens. I do sometimes experience 'can't be bothered to do anything productive, now I'm out of bed' syndrome. I know exactly what apathy is like, and there is very little to like about it. It's not relaxation, it's not recuperation or reflection or healing.

'Apathy is a sort of living oblivion' Horace Greeley

Helping Others: Ideas on turning the apathetic into the athletic (almost)
Firstly, find out if they are feeling healthy. If they are in good health and you decide to encourage them away from the bed or couch, do so in a way that aims for a positive response. That's if you can get to speak with them.

Being cajoled by someone else into an effort of enthusiasm, is like trying to electrically jump start your car when the tank is empty. Great questions to avoid: Why are you still in bed? What are you doing in bed? Why haven't you got out of bed yet?

1. Ask them if they are well and healthy.

2. Ask them if they are happy and refreshed after a long sleep.

3. Enquire about whether they are looking forward to anything special this day.

4. Engage them about that special something or suggest something they may find of interest.

5. Discuss with them what you will be doing today and ask their opinion on something. Get them intellectually and emotionally engaged. Continue to build upon this. Ask their opinion on more things and sound interested. You want them to feel better and motivated toward something (at least getting out of bed and avoiding the couch).

6. If they are obviously unenthusiastic, begin artfully using their tired, lazy inflections as you speak with them and gradually build in enthusiasm. Then engage them with useful questions to to help move their energy in the right direction.

7. A well directed bucket of cold water. It's cruel to be kind all the time.

8. Race into the room in boundless excitement screaming you've won the lotto.

9. Be warned even the most willing people can sometimes be unwilling to get out of bed for anything. Placate your frustrated ego by calmly telling yourself 'it's just another amazing facet of human nature.'

Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all -- the apathy of human beings. Helen Keller

Now you've read my current approach to removing apathy both for yourself and helping others replace theirs with something better. Tell me your experiences of overcoming apathy or how you helped others to do so. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

Thanks for reading


Thursday, 4 June 2009

Healthy Sleeping Guide - How We Can All Rest

With the change in seasons comes change in my sleeping patterns. It's just one of those things I become aware of each year. I notice this in spring when the hay fever 'season' begins. Again, when summer approaches and the morning sun light reaches us earlier and earlier.

Naturally at other times of year, my normal sleep may be interrupted for a variety of reasons.

Photo: bitzcelt

Below you will find hints and tips to encourage better sleep and habits conducive to a more peaceful shuteye - downtime. Sleep and bedtime is not surprisingly, a vast area with as many unique features as there are people. So I can only write a short article which I hope is useful to you. Please let me know.

Sleep - What is it all about?
The answer should be obvious to us all. It is essential to our well being and health. We rarely live a day without sleep of some variety. Everyday, we gracefully move into sleep naturally. The after effect is refreshment, recuperation and energy. There is nothing it seems, that can replace this natural benefit.

When we experience sleep on a daily basis for many years, we can dispense with the scientific theories or research results. We know what the benefits are. We live well with the results of regular sleep.

My daily patterns of sleep and activity are so common they appear trivial. Until my sleep is interrupted. Then sleep becomes a wonder to be cherished and appreciated, as one of the most important functions of the human body. I expect sleep to be a pleasure. I regard it as a priority within my leisure time.

What happens when we can't sleep?
  • Waking in the night. Sometimes accompanied by thoughts or images that are stressful.
  • Difficulty in sleeping shortly after going to bed.
  • Easily disturbed during sleep and waking up as a result.
  • Not refreshed after sleep.
  • Night terrors (mainly in the young).
  • Waking up earlier than expected.

There's more. What happens if you are sleep deprived? No rest for the wicked!
  • difficulty waking up in the morning
  • lower concentration resulting in reduced performance at work, school, sports.
  • poor co-ordination leading to increased risk of injury or accident
  • reduced reasoning skills with difficulty making decisions
  • falling asleep at sociable moments
  • Irritable, unhappy and unsociable

The Research - What happens during sleep?
Sleep is obviously necessary. We don't need research to tell us that. I think it's important to highlight that we already know many of the effects from sleeping. We live it, experience it every day. We notice how good we feel or not upon awakening. Over the years we can associate our experiences with particular patterns of sleep. We share common attributes that allow us to recognise or assume similar effects in other people too.

  • We dream. Sometimes we remember them. Sometimes we wish we didn't.
  • Sleep helps our brain perform it's biochemical housekeeping. Good functions from our body's immune system and central nervous system rely upon the brain's performance.
  • Link between sleep and the immune system.
  • Your body's weight may be controlled in your sleep.
It seems our brains stay active in sleep. In REM (rapid eye movement) sleep the body appears paralysed. It's OK because the heart, blood, eyes, diaphragm and intestines carry on as normal. Which I think is a good thing.

Regulated by your body clock, your sleep is made of cycles with vital stages for your well being. Different things happen during each cycle. Some help us feel rested and energetic, other cycles help us learn or make memories.

Helping You to Sleep
These are some of the practises I have used to assist me in a good nights sleep. Often referred to as 'Sleep Hygiene' some may be new to you, others I'm sure you've read before. The attitude I prefer is one of exploring to find what works naturally. Then being willing to change it for something more effective when necessary. There is a lot you can do to get a good nights sleep. You have control.

Your dreamy attitude
  • Make sleep a priority. During the waking day imagine yourself later at night enjoying a wonderfully deep, refreshing sleep.
  • Use a regular sleep schedule even if you work on a shift pattern. For example: Same time to bed each night and same time to rise in the morning. Be flexible because over time you may need to change patterns for optimal rest.
  • Plan ahead. Design a flexible system to move you toward greater sleep and health.
  • Ritualise your preparation for night time sleep. Invest your attitude for good sleep into your activities 1 hour or even 30 minutes before going to sleep. This may involve book reading, bathing, chill out music, turning off the computer and TV, meditation, self help techniques to visualise an ideal day tomorrow.
  • Happily engage your mind, body and emotions on a daily basis that is conducive to your well being. Fantasise, visualise if need be. Some research suggests the brain does not distinguish between visually rehearsing things and the real thing itself.

Design the bedroom for you
1. Remove as much clutter as possible from your bedroom.

2. Turn your sleeping space into a relaxing, soothing environment. People often find a clean, cool, pleasant, spacious and dark bedroom environment is best for healthy sleep.

3. Take out any work related materials especially if your job is demanding and stressful.

4. Consider investing in a new mattress every 5 years. Test different mattresses in showrooms and decide if you really need the change.

Enjoying restful habits
  • Reduce social and recreational drug use if you feel it's negatively impacting your sleep. That includes caffeine, tea, alcohol, speed, cocaine. General recommendations are to avoid these substances from 4 - 8 hours before sleep. You decide what's good for you.
  • At home finish eating your main evening meal 2 - 3 hours (or more) before you go to sleep. I feel far better when eating lighter evening meals.
  • A light snack to replace feelings of an empty stomach can aid sleep too.
  • Exercise frequently during the week. Walk more, run, swim, play racket games whatever you decide, do something. Many of us have mentally stimulating daily patterns and less physical. So exercise all aspects of your being (including your emotional well being).
  • Avoid napping after your evening meal. Do something else, stay awake and sleep longer, later.
  • Have a relaxing, hot bath before bed. Indulge yourself with books, chill out music, candles if necessary.
  • If you're in bed without sleep for 30 minutes get up and do something else until you feel sleepy enough to return. Maybe best to avoid work related activities at this time.
  • Turn off the computer or TV. Sometimes I have found listening to radio discussions or audiobooks (not music) helps me to sleep. The less interesting the more likely you will sleep. Remove the laptop and TV from your bedroom.
  • Practice a relaxation technique before going to bed and/or when in it.
  • Be prepared to seek out specialist (like CBT - cognitive behavioural therapy, hypnotherapy) or medical advice if you become concerned about your lack of sleep. I recommend doing your own research first.
  • Shortly after awaking go outside into the sunlight for a few minutes or longer if you can (people in the northern hemisphere will prefer this during the spring and summer months).

Finally, to ensure you get a good nights sleep here is a link to 40 facts about sleeping. Yawn.

Have you experienced any sleep disorders? What have you done to return to normal sleep?
Thanks for reading and not nodding off.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

1 of the All Time Best Fitness Exercises

I've been doing burpees recently. They are simply a great all body fitness exercise for men and women. Burpees are perfect for those of you who like me, prefer the benefits of short workouts. I think they are ideal for those people short on time who search for fast, effective techniques to maintain or boost their fitness.

Photo: Amber

Below you will find a video showing how to do a burpee as well as a written description with some routines included.

This suggestion is from my own experience and I believe you may enjoy it. If you are of good mobility and health then the burpee may be great for you. I'm a health and fitness enthusiast but I'm not an athlete and not qualified to offer health advice.

The Burpee
The burpee comprises three exercises in one:
A squat thrust, a press up and then a jump or squat upwards.
The burpee is used for conditioning by many people inside and outside of competitive sports. You can perform them at home, in the garden or the yard, and in most confined spaces. It's not new, it's not revolutionary but it will crank up your conditioning in a short time.

This is how you do it.

  • Get into a squat position with both hands flat on the floor in front of you
  • Push your feet back so you are now in a push up position
  • Perform one push up
  • Return your feet to the squat position
  • Now leap into the air with your arms extending above your head
  • or Stand up into a full squat
  • Repeat.
Depending on your current level of fitness begin by performing 2 - 10 full burpees.
Once familiar with it you can adopt some routines to really boost your general fitness. I think you'll agree it's a simple, intense full body workout.

This video shows the Burpee.

If you are new to exercising or burpees in particular: Avoid over exertion at this point. Avoid over exercising or straining to achieve. Avoid training to failure.

Beginners hints and tips
I find tensing my thighs and buttocks during the push off for the leap to help in gaining height.
I land as lightly as possible on the balls of my feet. Absorbing the landing through my legs by keeping in constant motion, moving swiftly through the landing into the squat thrust back into the press up position. Push down swiftly 'through the floor' on the push up section of the burpee.

Get familiar with the feeling of the movements. Practice to get all movements fluid and fast. Learn how you best absorb and transfer the energy moving through your body throughout the technique.

Burpee Routine 1: Pyramids
I used this first sequence when I began burpees. Only do the number of burpees you feel capable of completing in good form.
  • Perform 1 burpee
  • rest briefly for a few seconds or as needed.
  • Perform 2 burpees
  • rest
  • Perform 3 burpees
  • So on until you reach the number you can perform whilst keeping good technique and stamina.
  • Then Perform decreasing numbers to 1 burpee.

Burpee Routine 2: Tabata Intervals
This involves 20 seconds of maximum intensity exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This cycle is repeated 8 times.
  • Perfrom fast burpees for 20 seconds then rest for 10 seconds for eight cycles.
  • I find it easier to perform 10 burpees (or as many as I can manage as the cycles increase) then rest for 10 seconds.
I'm sure you'll find Burpee Tabata intervals intense. I recommend building up to full Tabatas depending on your level of fitness.

Tabata Intervals are heavily referenced online by fitness sites. They come from a study performed by Dr Tabata and colleagues from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan. After 6 weeks they recorded a 28% increase in anaerobic capacity (generating energy without oxygen) with a 14% increase in V02Max (maximum oxygen uptake during exercise). These results were from physically fit athletes. They used mechanically braked cycling ergometers not burpees.

I don't now how meaningful these results will be for you. I do suggest practising burpees to find out for yourself. I'm not an athlete and when I began burpees I was healthy but not a 'conditioned' fitness enthusiast. I found them great. I felt great afterwards and the next day too.

Other Burpee Routines:
Burpees in circuit training.
For example 1 circuit:
10 burpees, 20 Star jumps, 10 hindu pushups, 20 bodyweight squats, 10 v-ups for 1 circuit. I then repeat the cycle 4 more times.

Shadow Boxing through non combative boxing has become popular. A routine consisting of Burpees and Boxing may involve:
30 seconds of burpees
30 seconds of shadow boxing
Repeated for up to 3 minutes then rest for 1 minute.

I often include 10 - 40 burpees after or during my short runs.

Check out the link to the Ross Enamait website. I and many others have found him to be a fantastic source of simple, intense workout information. He also has very reasonably priced workout manuals.

Always listen to your body and that sensible voice in your mind that says 'rest' 'eat well and nutritiously' and 'sleep.' Wishing you all the best with this exercise. Let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

19 Remedies to Beat Hayfever

We are well into the spring season and some allergy sufferers will begin to experience the first twitches, itches, sneezes and other symptoms of hayfever or allergic rhinitis.
I'm going to offer some remedies for this seasonal allergy. I don't know if they will all be effective. They do provide you with a choice. Take a look and read through them below.

Photo: bartmaguire

Hayfever - The Stats
Many people suffer intensely from this allergic condition especially during the summer months. According to the UKs National Health Service (NHS) 2 in 10 people suffer this allergy. 12 million people in a population of 60 million is a lot of potential customers for the pharmaceutical industry. I'm one of those customers.

The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a 2007 survey, stated 16.9 million adults diagnosed with hayfever and 10% or 7.4 million children were reported with symptoms.

Local doctors known in the UK as general practitioners (GPs) offered injections years ago to counter the allergic reaction, until people began collapsing in the surgery waiting rooms. Now pills and nasal sprays are popular and homeopathic and herbal preparations.

I am not a doctor and have no medical training. Over a 30 year period, I have used and enquired about different remedies for their effectiveness.

What causes Hayfever?
The causes of this are primarily pollen from trees, grasses, weeds and spores and can be exacerbated by pollution, smoking, asthma, stress. As I understand it, pollen enters the body and if it makes the body over-react by producing an antibody, a person may experience some or all the symptoms below.

What are the symptoms?
The Eyes: Itching, watering, inflammation and redness.
The Nose: Congestion (blocked nose), sneezing, itching, 'running' or 'dripping' nose
Throat: Rawness, itching, rasping sound when breathing.

Caution: Any remedies herbal or pharmaceutical, should always be considered with caution regarding dosage and your current health condition. Consult your doctor or medical/treatment specialist before you mix any drugs or herbal remedies.

The list is given for you to investigate various remedies sensibly and with care, for their effectiveness in reducing allergic symptoms of hayfever. Much of these have no long term or conclusive research results. Much is anecdotal and that's a good starting point to explore your well being and decide for yourself what works best.

The Pharmaceutical Remedies
1. Antihistamines - taken as tablets, nasal sprays blocking the inflammatory effect of the body's histamine chemical which is released when in contact with the allergen - pollen.

2. Corticosteroids - nasal sprays and drops performing similar actions against the body's chemical messengers to prevent inflammation after exposure to allergen pollens.

Natural and 'Alternative' Remedies
3. Nasal balms can be spread on the inside of the nostrils. These often contain ingredients like beeswax, seed oils, aloe vera juice extracts ans essential oils. Using a petroleum based jelly like Vaseline works well too. Both remedies are useful for me.

4. Eating locally produced honey is a common remedy suggestion (if available). Begin eating on a daily basis starting one month before your symptoms usually begin and continue through the period. I've not yet tried this so can't comment any further.

5. Reduce dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt in your diet to help reduce nasal congestion. This remedy has a positive result for me each time.

6. Check out some herbal hayfever remedies containing extracts of the Butterbur plant (Petasites hybridus). I've recently been told of Butterbur Petasin and never tried it myself. A quick search on google showed many and retailers. I have also heard anecdotal evidence of it's effectiveness. Good for alleviating migraines according to some websites.

7. Sublingual Immunotherapy desensitises the sufferer with vaccinations of pollen before the season starts, by placing drops under the tongue. This prepares the body for the high level of pollen commonly found across April - August. There are strict guidelines to it's use as there is some concern over severe side effects. Be warned.

8. Homeopathy is very popular and I've met people claiming it helped reduce hayfever. I have not yet used it regularly before or during the season to notice it's effectiveness. I'll check it out soon.

9. Qu-Chi acupressure band has recently been touted as useful for some people. The band is placed over the elbow along the Qu-Chi meridian line which runs from between the forefinger and the tip of the nose. There are also Acu-pressure bands to place around the wrist to prevent nausea from pregnancy, travel, post surgery and chemotherapy.

10. Acupuncture has plenty of anecdotal evidence to support it (and from myself). I used it once when I was 15 and it alleviated my symptoms immediately.

11. Eucalyptus is great for clearing the nose and helping breathing. I've used it in saunas and steam rooms to relieve congestion. It's fast acting by inhaling the fragrance to clear the nasal passages.

12. Air purifiers clear pollen, dust and other potential allergens from the air in the home or office. They usually combine filters and ionisers to refresh the air. I found this to be useful and the air does feel and smell different.

13. Liquorice root can help ease the nasal symptoms of hay fever. It's believed to have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties that assists the immune system.

14. Gingko biloba is popular in health food stores and is believed to inhibit the effect of the body's response to allergens.

15. Relaxation techniques can be useful for alleviating conditions of hayfever. It works for me. Self Hypnosis has been said to reduce the allergy for some people although I don't know the 'content' of the techniques used.

16. Drinking fresh nettle tea and even taking nettle capsules from the health food store are occasionally recommended. Don't know if they work but fresh nettle tea with honey is refreshing and that's coming from a coffee lover.

17. Vitamin C has allegedly helped relieve hay fever symptoms with a lowering of sensitivity to allergens, mucus production and wheezing.

18. Green tea has claims to contain powerful antioxidants called catechins that have antihistamine effects and is also said to help maintain the immune system.

19. Nasal air guards are a barrier to reduce the ability of allergens like pollen to irritate the nasal lining. Fitting into the nose they provide extra protection when outdoors if pollen levels are high.

Plenty of choice here and if you're in any doubt re-read the caution above and exercise your own common sense. Have fun!

Thanks for reading

Monday, 25 May 2009

Meditation Made Easy

This is the first of several Meditation Made Easy articles I'll be posting in the near future. My aim is in providing you with practical ways to gracefully (and in your own time) enter more relaxing, more profound meditation. I always feel it can be enjoyed like a holiday where everything has been prepared and planned for you. All you have to do is sit back, take it very easy and enjoy what's there.

Photo: Canadian Veggie

I'll offer a great tip for easing you into meditation. I'll remove the idea of effort so you can remove it too. Together we'll add the idea it is a pleasurable, insightful, refreshing, natural way of being. A benefit of this is you can do it at home, at work, on public transport and in your free time. I can't describe enough how this can benefit you. You'll have to discover that for yourself.
So make the decision here and now, to focus entirely upon meditating during your sessions. Be gentle with yourself.

Before we begin, I realise many of us have demanding lives where relaxation is almost a rare luxury. If you feel you need to relax more before meditating (and be able to relax more regularly), use my previous posts here: Quick and Easy Relaxation, Feeling Good or check out the other articles under Deep Relaxation to find which works best for you.

A highly valuable way of beginning is to regularly meditate for a short period of time, several times each day. The Easy Steps below will show you more.

Three very useful points to remember:
  • Make any distractions your friend by using them to increase your ability to return your awareness to the inside.
  • Meditation is about using relaxation and gentle focus as a foundation. This article will help you strengthen these foundations.
  • Meditation is a natural ability and potentially very powerful for your well being. Like many great tools and gifts of human nature, it's vastly underrated.

Meditation - The Easy Steps
Read through the following steps then put them into practice and meditate.

  • It's best to begin by sitting quietly, comfortably upright with both feet upon the floor.
  • Close your eyes, allowing your body to ease itself into a state of relaxation.
  • Tell yourself any noise or distraction is simply there to help you focus on the inside.
  • Allow any memories, sounds, images and feelings from the outside to slip away naturally as you focus gently upon the inside.
  • Just notice what it is like to sit quietly, calmly and still.
  • Gently have your awareness on the inside.
  • If you get distracted simply relax and return your awareness to the inside.
  • The time you sit meditating is entirely your choice. Be aware of what is appropriate for you. As short or long as is beneficial to you.

Benefits to You:
  • This helps to create a habit and strengthen your association with a state of meditation.
  • It's easy to practice. You can schedule it into any free time you have during the day.
  • Whilst meditating regularly each day, you will find it easier and easier to return to meditation if you're ever distracted.

Helpful Hints:
It's excellent to cultivate an attitude of both relaxed curiosity and allowing whatever happens to happen. By following my suggestions you'll have done all the preparation you'll need for now.
Remember: thinking is not meditating and you're about to begin to find out more.

Do this
  • Aim for 3 - 6 short sessions a day. You'll quickly notice the benefits of your meditation.
  • Begin a session in the morning and afterwards decide in advance where you will meditate during the day.
  • Have in mind that you will find opportunities to meditate during the day. For example during a 5 or 10 minute part of your lunch break (if you have one).
  • Whenever you feel less than comfortable or you feel it's time to stop, do so. You will gain more from sitting to meditate regularly the same day at this early stage, rather than struggling with a sitting.
  • As you meditate more, you will naturally be aware 'inside' for longer. Distraction of the outside world we decrease noticeably so meditation will become easier and more beneficial.
  • Make the decision here and now to focus entirely upon meditating during your sessions.

I hope you find this helpful. Let me know how you get on.
Wishing you the best.


Saturday, 23 May 2009

Reflections on Appreciation part 3

Growing up in my family I was taught appreciation involved learning the value of what you were given. Food on my plate, clean home, transfer of parent's beliefs and values, parent's nurturing, the environment, willingness to work, personal relationships.
Photo: Maher Berro
The list grew as I did. I realised that appreciation grew to meet my most valued experiences. They were and still are heart felt experiences and reciprocated too. Honest appreciation is like the caress of a lover whose sensuality remains long after the lover has gone.

I'll elaborate a little.
  • Appreciation makes us feel good and shifts us positively in a direction that increases our energy or motivation.
  • We enhance what we enjoy or what we are doing that received the appreciation. This give us the energy to continue and be more fruitful.
  • Appreciation moves quickly. It's dynamic and it's goal is to unite people toward a goal which may be friendship, conformity to an idea, cooperation amongst team members, the results are like a piece of string - however long you want it.
  • What you focus upon increases. Focus like pure water helps to grow appreciation as it does so many other things.
  • Appreciation is one of the simplest ways to acceptance and removing differences that create disharmony. It helps embed a positive cultural shift.

At appreciation is defined as 'an expression of admiration, approval, or gratitude', 'sensitive awareness...'

At it's defined as 'the awareness or understanding of the meaning, significance, value, or worth of something.'

Appreciation is the wind in the sails of gratitude.
Have you noticed that there is not a day, maybe even a hour where appreciation is not felt in your life? Some people recommend a daily practice of gratitude. It's become one of the law of attraction buzz words and rituals of the past two years. I believe appreciation is the knowing of the value of something beyond money and gratitude exists as a reflection upon this.

Imagine appreciation to be like a ship, which ports will you steer it to, to collect the passengers you would like to accept aboard?

Let's play constructively with this metaphor.
  • Take a pen and paper and draw four columns.
  • In the first column write the name of someone you will like to appreciate more.
  • In the second column write what it is they do or how significant they are to you.
  • In the third column describe what you will do to show them your appreciation.
  • In the fourth column note what you will have once you've shown them your gratitude.

I thought of these general reasons for helping in directing my gratitude:
I feel good as it reminds me of the important, positive things in life.
It is an opportunity to connect to others for simply being there.
It drives me from a stagnant state to a more dynamic one. That feels good too.
When I or someone else creates a change in my life, there is an opportunity to make one in another person's life too.

I'll leave you with an apt quote, in that it reminds me all change begins inside of us and spreads outward.
'As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world - that is the myth of the atomic age - as in being able to remake ourselves.' Quote attributed to Mohandas Gandhi

Let me know what you think.
Thanks for reading

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Energizing Your Body - Self Appreciation part 2

In this article I'll present ideas on building appreciation, care and fitness for your body. My intention is to offer something you can put into practise today. I imagine it will be of use to those of us who have become too familiar with a sedentary lifestyle. Self appreciation I find involves both the body and mind.

Photo: Martin Cleary

Simplicity is often the key to great progress in self appreciation because the results are easily identified and often tangible. The fact many of us have relatively healthy bodies suggests we can care for our physical nature, as much as we care for our emotional and mental ones.

We live in a culture seemingly obsessed with the 'glamour' of the body and a desire for an illusory physical perfection. I'm sure you've noticed. I believe perfection like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I feel moderate exercising (for many of us non-athletes or non-competitors) offers a great way to cultivate a healthy appreciation of our physical self. All action however, begins from a point of stillness.

Standing still
This exercise helps you to be more aware of your body and to create relaxing feelings that you can enjoy whilst walking, sitting or standing still.
  • Relax and stand upright with both feet firmly on the floor. If you prefer to sit for health reasons then that is good too.
  • Cast your awareness over your body and get an overall impression of the way you feel.
  • Casually notice your breathing, it's natural rhythm.
  • Gently allow your breathing to take care of itself and your body
  • Be aware of the most tense spot in your body. Then be aware of the overall comfort in your body.
  • Feel the most relaxed place in your body. Focus on the sensations of relaxation there. Tell yourself to double those great feelings.
  • Allow those relaxing feelings to grow until you're happy to guide them through your body to replace the tense spots.
  • Stand comfortably and notice how differently you feel and what has changed about your appreciation of your body.
  • Now begin moving slowly in any way you feel is good.
  • Keep the relaxation you have and then begin walking. If you prefer, enjoy a walk outside (assuming you've been performing this indoors).

Let's go walking
Walking is the easiest of all exercises even if you live in a very hilly town as I do. I'm interested in walking as a way to appreciate our bodies, our physical well being and our environments. There is research suggesting walking is good for strengthening the heart, reducing depression, controlling blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. What better way to begin appreciating your physical health!

The truth be told, not everyone enjoys walking even though it's a routine daily performance for most of us. I found the above step by step exercise very useful for enjoying much more of the walking experience. Relaxation whilst walking means I breath more naturally with an improved posture and pace, allowing me to notice much more of my environment. It's also a low impact activity compared to more rigorous pursuits.

If you've not walked any substantial distance for a while, I recommend frequent short walks, gradually increasing the time/distance. Use it as a direct way to explore your neighbourhood (if it's safe), meet new people and journey to new locations. Walk with a friend or alone, listen to your mp3 player and stay safe and be aware of traffic and pedestrians. Walking may be the excuse you need to get a pet dog.

Check out this site to Map Your Walk and plot your walk and distances

Ready for Running
Running helps me clear out emotional residues like frustration and anger and reduce anxiety and physical tension. It makes me feel and look good. I find the pleasure in running amongst the physical exertion. I recommend reading my earlier post on Easing your way into Sport Training to make running or any exercising more attractive and pleasurable. I apply it successfully and there was a time, long ago when I really did not like to run.

To appreciate more of running find your preferred style (see links to techniques below), to reduce injury and build and maintain stamina. This involves how you use your body and what type of running systems you devote your time to. Running is obviously more demanding than walking. So begin slowly, build gradually and find happiness in this. In my experience there is a big difference between putting on a pair of running shoes and going for it and taking your time to feel what it's like to enjoy a run.

Useful Steps:
Be aware of how you physically run. The following had a great emphasis on my injury free short runs. Whereas before I introduced them, just 3 miles twice a week gave me sore knees. I don't know what will be best for you, so I've provided enough information and links to get you started.
  • Reduce the impact of running by keeping knees slightly bent, hips relaxed so they can move back and forth, arms parallel to the floor moving back and forth, head looking forward and balanced naturally. Keep feet low to the ground with balls of the feet landing first then the heel, while the foot is under the body.
  • I replaced my running shoes with flat soled gym shoes which reduced impact to my knees. The running shoes had too much rear cushioning causing my heel to strike the ground sending shocks to my knees. The impact is now greatly reduced and is absorbed by my calves and thighs. I thought this was unique to me but found others experienced it also.
Check out this site to Map Your Run to plot your run and distances.

Finally, there is a blossoming appreciation for the benefits of body weight training for health and fitness. That's a wonderful thing as it gives us more opportunities to train at home, outdoors and in both large and confined spaces. There's plenty of techniques and systems to sample. Remember to begin new exercises gradually and be flexible in exploring what works best for you.

Check these links if you have an interest in body weight fitness: Ross Training and Fitness Exercises. Also check out the videos at Expert Village and type in search box: Exercises or a specific type of exercise like press ups to see a demonstration.

Keep the following in mind
  • Fitness and health can be achieved in small, frequent steps.
  • Begin gradually
  • Make it varied and fun
  • Fitness is not the same as health. Keep a balance
  • Reduce risks of injury through over training
  • Relax, eat and sleep well
  • If you want to lose weight, eat less and nutritiously and move around more

Appreciate that you have potentially many years to explore the benefits, mentally and emotionally from your physical well being.

Thanks for reading

Monday, 18 May 2009

Step into Self Appreciation - part 1

Today's topic covers a very powerful and essential view of appreciation: Our view and what we can do to boost the way we think of ourselves. It's our quality of self appreciation that's important.

This is the first of three articles to cover quick, achievable practises you can do from home. Each covers three highly valued areas of living and something new you can begin now. I like to think you'll find them a creative, efficient and happy use of your time. I'm also learning and applying much of what you're about to read.

Photo: thinklia

There is only One Reason for Appreciating Yourself - That You Can
Summer is almost upon us and the temperature is changing, the colour of the sky is brighter and the air feels different. Naturally we like to feel good and look good. Some of us like to luxuriate in this all year round. The seasons don't always dictate how we should feel. People's expectations, fashions don't really dictate how we should look. We dictate to ourselves. Imagine! Instead, we can flow, be gentle and more easily choose just how great we want to think and feel.

The Look of Love
I recommend slowing down, relaxing and reading through the following exercise. Then doing it for real!
  • Stand in front of a mirror where you can clearly see your face.
  • Gently look into face. Linger on any features that attract you.
  • Gaze into your eyes for a little while, like lovers do.
  • Soothingly say something wonderful to yourself. Say anything, so it brings you comfort and joy.
  • Maybe it's self congratulation or a recognition of achievement or acknowledging that you're relaxed, happy and breathing well now.
  • The more you look at yourself, the more those heartfelt sentiments are making you feel great.
  • When you're really happy with yourself, enjoy this for as long as you like.

  • Looking into yourself through the mirror, remember any compliment or positive remark someone made to you.
  • Recall this clearly and any good feelings you have associated with this now.
  • Notice where the feeling begins, how it moves through you and double these sensations.
  • Declare you are deserving of love and appreciation simply because you are you. No one else can be as unique or individual as you are.
  • Be daring! Exaggerate every positive thing you say and experience right now. Let your passion and appreciation for yourself be supreme.
  • This is your moment and it always will be.

Consider This:
The nature around us, where ever we are is self sustaining, self cultivating and reproducing. That is a great reflection for our human nature. Something automatic and magical occurs every second of each day.
  • Sustain an open mind.
  • Cultivate a curious mind.
  • Reproduce a willingness for positive change.

Worthy of Your Appreciation
  • Choices - the more choices we identify the greater the freedom we experience.
  • Pleasures - they feel so good and are often the healthier choice.
  • Positive meanings - easy to find in many situations and encourages flexible thinking.
  • Quality relationships - self appreciation and happiness are strongly connected to what you most value and what costs the least.

Affirming your Self Appreciation
Ask yourself these questions and
  • What would it mean to really appreciate myself in all situations, every day?
  • What would it mean if I had a sense of appreciation for the people and circumstances in my life?
  • What would happen if I enjoyed more of my life as I appreciate myself even more?
  • What would happen when I appreciate that my life is an adventure?

Things to Do Now that Will Also Benefit Tomorrow
  • Imagine the perfect day whilst living in your current circumstances. Use all your senses fully as you immerse yourself in the experience. Rehearse for the day you want.
  • Meditate
  • Listen and/or read to inspiring, humorous, motivating material.
  • Write down all the things you would like to do. Prioritise the list with what is most achievable. Then complete them to the best of your ability.
  • Eat tasty, nutritious food.
  • Send a message to a friend or family member who you've not contacted recently.
  • Exercise, move around more in whatever way suits you.
  • Sleep well

I've used all these exercises to good effect. I've experienced some major changes in my life due to adopting and integrating these patterns of self appreciation. I still refer to them when I want to or feel I need to. I hope they will prove useful to you.
Part 2 of Self Appreciation is in the next post.

Thanks for reading

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Meditation and the Way of Mantra

Many of us live in a vast, rich, multi textured and ever repeating soundscape. We devote time and spend money on sounds that we expect to give us happiness, excitement, relaxation and fulfilment. Most sounds are physically produced outside of us and reverberate in. Let's dare to be different. In this article are 2 exercises and some ideas for exploring sounds inside us, to produce great effects for our well being. I wonder if you've thought that mantras are no different than a word you've never read or understood before?

Photo: Poorfish

I'm sure you've all heard of mantras. They are a sound, created inside you to effect change in your awareness. Mantras are constructed from a series of syllables that appear to mean nothing when read by themselves.

Much has been written on the internet and in books about mantras. I've used several mantras and I've not found them reproduced elsewhere. To be honest, I can't remember them accurately anyway. What I do remember are their effects and the ways we can repeat mantras or syllables internally.

I discovered a lot can be revealed by repeating syllables and even some everyday words. The effects vary. One useful thing to remember is, a mantra has no personal, logical, social meaning to inhibit what you may experience directly from saying it. I found that mantras given to me many years ago were quite powerful and revealing. I won't be revealing any mantras here. I will be giving you good ways to say syllables internally to create positive effects.

A little extra on mantras and syllables
They have no meaning by themselves, compared to everyday words like those I've written. They have less mental, emotional or physical associations with them. Therefore it's easier for you to repeat them and 'go inside' to discover more. Mantras move your focus of awareness from the exterior world, into yourself. They offer an absence of logical reasoning. Such syllables may replace reasoning and thinking with insight and realisation. I like to think that's a good thing.

What benefit will I get from repeating syllables or a mantra?
I honestly don't know how rewarding you'll find an exploration of mantras. I'll offer several good suggestions later on, to help you get the most. I'm going to use a few general and vague references here, so be patient until we get to the good stuff later.

To deepen your self -appreciation and understanding. Maybe even broaden your relationship with your environment.
Repetition of anything reveals and creates new structures.
To move your awareness into your 'inner world'.
To help gain information of yourself.
To discover what's always been there.
It has no personal, logical, social meaning to inhibit what you may experience directly from saying it.

Your name as your first mantra
Have you ever considered that mantras are no more unusual than the sound of your own name?
Is it possible that your name is your first personal mantra? This may sound a little contrary to the definition I gave earlier. Take a moment to consider the following.

Sometime, very early in your life, a series of shapes called letters and syllables were given a very personal meaning and structure. Due to many years of use, your name combines intention, repetition and elicits a state of awareness from you. The obvious difference with your name is that others more often say your name than you do. Your name, that 'word' has personal, social meaning. When read and heard as a series of syllables it changes and social meanings fade away. The meaning is what you experience in a new way inside yourself.

The effects or states it produces in you are what's important in this article. So let's play with you saying your name for a change.

Using your name for a change
Explore as much as you can, by saying your name as if it were the first time you'd heard the word or read the syllables that make it. For this exercise only, of course.
  • Relax and sit comfortably.
  • Remember hearing your name spoken by someone you know well.
  • Be aware of any feelings you have, when they say your name with a certain emphasis and loudness.
  • As you reproduce or imagine those things now, you are creating sounds within yourself.
  • Now say your name to yourself using your inner voice or dialogue.
  • Change the emphasis, the volume - how loud or quiet it is and notice the different feelings within yourself.
Is this interesting? Is it revealing new things and making you more curious?

How far can we take this?
Your name and statements of self worth you repeat to yourself (via your inner dialogue) are the powerful mantras you carry daily. Syllables or mantras can be more personal than an adjective you use to describe yourself and maybe more powerful. Why? When you repeat a mantra with intention and relaxation you experience it's effects more fully. How many of us do that with adjectives or nouns that describe us?

The following exercise uses your internal voice or inner dialogue. Remember to be seated and comfortable. If at anytime you are less than comfortable, stop, do something else and return to this again later.

Say the syllables or words continuously until you are content. With eyes closed you'll be aware of more. Avoid any personal, logical, social memories or images connected with a word. Simply repeat the syllables. You want to enjoy everything you can experience directly from saying the syllables.

From an adjective or a noun, into a syllable or a sound, all inside you
Read through the exercise and be familiar with it.
Choose a word that makes you feel really great. For those of you who don't find a word easily, be daring. No one ever has to know what words you choose. Be wild and imaginative. Provoke a response from yourself that pleases and surprises you.
  • Pick a word or two that instantly create a wonderful feeling.
  • Sit down with both feet on the floor, back straight and comfortable.
  • Relax. Take your time and relax as deeply as you can.
  • Say the word or syllables to yourself as you normally would. Do this internally using your inner dialogue.
  • Notice whatever you notice.
  • Say the syllables or words with increased volume and at a rhythm that feels good to you, whereby you remain relaxed and focused.
  • What are you noticing?
  • Say the syllables or words with a direction going out infront of you.
  • After a period, as you say them send them in different directions and just be aware.
  • Say the syllables or words so they are in your space all around you.
  • Explore this to find what volume, rhythm is best for you.

When you're happy to stop, do so. Sit comfortably and stretch, move about gently. Focus again on the physical place around you. Make a cup of tea, have a snack and move around.
You may like to write your insights, feelings and discoveries on paper or pc.

I strongly recommend enjoying periods each day in exploring your internal sounds and their positive effects. I always remember a friend saying to me: 'You never know what benefits you'll get until you go in and find out.'

Please let me know what your experiences are.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Taking your Time for a Change

What's it like being stuck at the end of a long queue waiting for the supermarket checkout? Moving slowly inch by inch in a traffic jam? Sitting too long for the bank cashier to see you? Waiting not-so-patiently to see your doctor? I'm guessing the experience will have frustrated, annoyed you a little. Maybe that's an understatement.

Photo: badboy69

Imagine you could speed through time or race across moments in life. Where you once believed events moved too slowly, now you experience them at the pace you desire. Taking the time you'd prefer to feel the way you like.

'The only reason for time, is so that everything doesn't happen at once.' attributed to both Albert Einstein and John Archibald Wheeler

Remember a time when you had been travelling quickly then suddenly you had to slow because of traffic, pedestrians or delayed connections? Everything around you seems to wobble to an achingly slower pace. People move as if wading in mud and even the clocks on the wall indicate a rate of speed from a slower dimension. If you were to notice a stone falling from above, you suspect it would glide down like a feather.

There are ways to change more of your time in places, so more speed less haste, equals increasing pleasure. The cool thing is you don't have to walk, run, drive, fly or sail any quicker. You change your inner speedometer to create that for you. It's easy. Everything will be taken care of. This is how you can do it.

More Speed, Less Haste
Preparing our perceptions of things before they occur (and being calm and relaxed), can help many occasions be more enjoyable. It's about getting into your best state to appreciate more things. Changing the speed at which we relate to things before they occur, may make learning, exercising, standing in queues and travelling more pleasant.

I believe this exercise will positively change your experience of anticipated events, both before they occur and during the reality. You'll be changing your expectations of moments in your life and who knows what beneficial things may unfold.

  • Think of a journey you'll be taking soon. This can be via car, plane, cycling, walking or running on foot or any combination you'll be using.
  • Now see the journey as you expect it to be from beginning to end in your imagination. Obviously you won't be spending one hour or more doing this. You'll likely experience parts of the journey. Feelings of passing time and a dash of emotions with hints of your own inner dialogue too.
  • Stop, stand up briefly and think of something pleasant. Smile.
  • Sit down again and relax and just breath naturally. Take your time and relax well, so you are very comfortable.
  • Imagine your expected, future journey again from beginning to end.
  • See it and feel it occurring pleasantly and very quickly before you. As if you were watching yourself making that journey on a fast-forwarded film. Speed the film at a pace that is faster than normal and comfortable to you.
  • Now, imagine you are in the fast forwarded journey. You are relaxed, still and happy.
  • Pretend you are the calm centre. See everything moving around you at a fast speed. That includes everything in your scenery that will normally be in motion.
  • Do this repeatedly so you can explore your dominant senses of that experience (usually your vision, kinaesthetic feelings and emotions). Remember to use a speed that you feel comfortable with.

Notice how differently you feel toward any anticipated journeys or adventures.
Do future events, journeys, training sessions, meetings feel easier and more agreeable to you now?
Do you feel this exercise will be practical or useful to you?

Maybe this will also help you, when you're considering learning something new and wondering how quickly you can learn it.

Another Hint & Tip in the Right Direction
Another exercise you may find useful is one by Richard Bandler, co-founder of NLP. He uses the idea of contrasting speed. In your imagination you exaggerate a slower speed so when you're in the real occasion, it will appear much faster by comparison.

  • Imagine slowing down all aspects of an anticipated journey or occasion.
  • Everything you observe becomes very, very slow in your imagination.
  • The rate of movement of people, vehicles, animals, the elements like wind and rain, is greatly reduced. People's speech and breathing is reduced.
  • As a result of this, when you live the real event it may seem much faster.

'Life is all about timing....the unreachable becomes reachable, the unavailable becomes available, the unattainable....attainable. Have the's all about timing.' Stacey Charter

I hope these suggestions are useful to you. Let me know you're thoughts.

Thanks for reading

Saturday, 9 May 2009

The Value of Money and Saving for Less Stress and Relaxation

We met a 'friend of a friend' in a supermarket at the coffee section. I was picking one of the Italian choices and our 'friend of a friend' was deliberating over the supermarket's own brands. I said I really enjoyed the flavour and aroma of the Italian brand when relaxing in the morning with a fresh cup of coffee. For her, it was the cost and then taste which was motivating her choice.

Later, she briefly mentioned her long financial troubles and how she has now decided to turn her life back to normal. Currently living alone after the breakup of a long term relationship, her spending habits had not changed with her circumstances.

She experienced too much stress, for too long and had been unable to relax due to money concerns. She felt her independent way of living and well being were already compromised.

After the shopping, we sat outside a cafe for a drink. I was curious to discover what she was doing to improve her financial status and get 'back to normal' again. She told me so much, I began writing notes (I often carry a small notebook and pen for those moments when inspiration flows).

The Big Picture - Providing for Your Future Well Being
  • Paying all bills before saving money.
  • Saving money and building up 'easy money' or 'emergency cash' to reduce relying on loans or handouts.
  • Saving for desirable purchases, like evening wear, holiday or car.
  • Investing for the long term future with special bank accounts.
  • Being aware that the value of many things goes down as well as up.

The Smaller Picture with Big Consequences
Creating 5 accounts for different expenses. For example:
1. Bills
2. Food
3. Savings
4. Holidays
5. Long Term Savings

The Value of Money Compared to the Cost
Calculate what you spend monthly or weekly. Design a comprehensive list that shows all outgoings. Be honest with yourself. Contrast the list with your income. Ideally and necessarily the income is to be greater than the expenditure.

Increasing Savings by Reducing Expenses
  • Using only a debit card for shop purchases, having 'locked away' the credit card.
  • Reducing the cost of energy bills by changing suppliers. Remembering to turn off lights and unused electrical items (avoiding 'sleep' or 'standby' options).
  • Choosing cheaper home and car insurance options.
  • Change the mobile/cell phone contract to a cheaper alternative.
  • Finding lower cost telephone, television and internet broadband bundles.
  • Picking bank accounts with higher interest savings.
  • Paying attention to bank account details to avoid charges.
  • Avoiding using the car whenever possible and opting to walk or cycle more.
  • Using price comparison websites.

  • Eating at home more and eating out less.
  • Buying essential foods that will be eaten and not forgotten in the fridge or cupboard.
  • Learning tasty, healthy new recipes.
  • Snacking and binging less.

Health and Well Being
  • Learning relaxation and stress reduction techniques that can be useful for anytime.
  • Yoga.
  • Running outdoors instead of paying to use a treadmill.
  • Cycling and walking instead of using the car for short journeys.

Nights Out
  • Cutting down on the drinks and food bill.
  • Going out 2-3 nights of the week instead of four.
  • Stopping the gym membership and exercising outdoors in the spring and summer.
  • Visiting a variety of restaurants and bars not just the expensive or trendy and expensive ones.
  • Buying only necessary clothes (with the intention of finding cheaper, good quality alternatives) and adventuring into the wardrobe to rediscover what's already there.

Finally, I will add her favourite self-questions: Do I need it and will I use it? Can I afford it?

This describes most of her plan for finding new choices and creating new beliefs for enjoying saving money and spending less. All the while adding value to well being and learning to relax again.

Thanks for reading

Monday, 4 May 2009

Sharing a Thought for Our Well Being

I thought you'd like to see an interesting video or two on Masaru Emoto and his water crystal theory. You may have heard of him. He widely introduced the idea that what we say and do affects our inner environment and our external watery environment too.

He is not a scientist and quite naturally his claims have been challenged as pseudoscience. I don't hold any great belief on his theory, except that what we think and feel have an obvious effect upon us. Nevertheless, it's fun stuff that suggests we enjoy a relationship with our world that we may rarely explore. I also appreciate that here is someone helping promote the ideas of peace and caring.

On a daily basis, you'll experience your thoughts creating feelings and together motivating you toward or away from doing certain things. For example if you repeat the word 'Love', you'll feel noticeably different than when you repeat the word 'Hate'. Each has it's own meaning to you from your personal and socially accepted values.

Carry on and notice if you have any pictures or memories, that arise in your mind from repeating 'Love' and 'Hate'. Maybe they provoke more feelings and further thoughts. Like a car with engine and fuel, away you travel on a journey in a direction you choose. The pleasantness of your travels depends on the type of fuel. Will you prefer 'Love' or something else?

Does Thinking Change the Pattern of Frozen Water Crystals? What Does this Mean to Us?
Back to M. Emoto. How did he do his research? By high speed photography of the structure of frozen water crystals to reveal it's response to thoughts, words and pictures. What he claims to have discovered is different specific thoughts create different, specific patterns in the water crystal. Water, Emoto theorizes, has the ability to receive a wide range of frequencies (sunlight and sound) and reflect the universe in this manner.

Let's enjoy the two videos of Masaru Emoto. The first is a short interview with him. The second video describes more of his theory. Both are thought provoking in a useful direction.

Masuru Emoto Short Interview

Masuru Emoto Longer Video

Whatever your thoughts are upon this theory, it probably nudges you into caring more about what you think and feel for your well being. So, be quiet for a moment. Quieter still. As your silence becomes stiller while your body eases to help you be aware, that you can now remind yourself that thoughts and feelings are special and you only wish the very best.

Of course, the most important perspective is your own. I recommend using anything to remind yourself to think well, feel good and live with love.

Thanks for reading and please share your thoughts.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

3 Inside Tips for Your Health and Well Being

There are three powerful inner resources we commonly use to enjoy good feelings for relaxation, motivation, excitement, creativity and inspiration. The effect of this is often greater well being, goal achievement, changes in attitude, perceived health and positive outlook on life. I'll share my highlights of each to better illustrate what they are and how you can use them.

From the Inside to the Outside and Back Again
Your inner resources are the attributes of your personality and are innate human skills. We all share them. We are often grateful for them. They have a strong relationship between our outer world and our inner. Our imagination often acts as a liaison between the two. They are controlled by your mind and you are expert in using them in many ways already. In my experience these resources are our vision, our feelings and our inner dialogue.

People start by looking within and then move toward what's available outside of them. Personally, I think that's a very good strategy. When they know how to beneficially use what's inside them, then their reliance on other things is reduced. Co-operating with the skills you have and sharing your gifts with others, leads to greater happiness and independence.
It could be a metaphor for this burgeoning green, resourceful society we have around us. First locate and use what is naturally, locally, easily available and then share it. We may find it's more precious and pleasurable too.

The 3 Inside Tips for Your Well Being
As you read this you may find it's easier to go inside and discover even more of what's already available to you.

  • I realised that when I get excited or happy, I experience a brightness or light in my mind. It's like a white and golden light. So now, when I want to feel good or even better about something, I imagine it full or suffuse with bright light and hey presto! the magic is there.

  • With any excitement comes really good feelings. These sensations can begin in my torso and quickly spread through my body to my fingertips and toes. The kinaesthetic movement feels like it sends sparks from my fingers and toes. My body feels energized and robust and my stamina improves. Whenever I want to enhance a positive experience, I notice which way feelings move and accelerate it by sending these wonderful feelings all over my body.

  • When I find a positive, uplifting or motivating moment I naturally hear my inner voice exclaim "That's great. I'll do it!" My inner dialogue is dynamic, powerful and motivating. It resonates all around me, as though I'm bathed in it's sound, volume, tone and tempo. When I desire more motivation I use my inner dialogue in a way that reminds me of a rock bands PA system. It rocks and I roll with it.

As you consider personal experiences of using your three skills together with any desires for your brighter future, perhaps you will bring all your resources together and create something really unique. I don't know exactly what that will be when you have it ready to share, although I'm looking forward to hearing and reading more.

Earlier posts I've written on these inner resources may be useful to you for creating more good feelings and positive experiences. Check out these three articles:
This article reveals more of our fantastic internal technology.
Here you can explore using your visual and sensational imagination.
Your inner dialogue for relaxation.

Now you've read about the benefits of the suggestions above, you may like to comment on what you do that makes you feel good, better or just wonderful.

Let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading