(image from flickr)
I attended my first session of a Cafe Psychologique last night in Leeds.
Cafe Psychologique? I hear you ask.
HISTORY LESSON TIME!!!!!
Back in the day when philosophers were still king, a certain arts movement started to create discussion groups in the Cafe's of Montparnasse in Paris. (A hug and a good luck wish for the person who guesses the correct art movement). They would gather in Cafe's and discuss life, love, art, journey's, destinations, passion, beauty, etc. However, it was the well known philosopher, Sartre, who put the Cafe Philosophique on the map. After WWII, Sartre held the discussions, which became known as "Cafe Philos," in the Cafe de Flore, opening up philosophical ideas to the general public ... or in this case, the taxi drivers and "ladies of the night" who inhabited the Cafe during the hours Sartre was there.
This was the inspiration for people in more recent times to take interesting ideas out of academia and into the general masses, to open up the wonder of knowledge and the power of storytelling to those who may not have ever had a chance to experience such delights. Cafe Psychologique is one of many groups that have started and flourished since the 1990's, engaging with people on a grass-roots level, encouraging discussion, encouraging openness.
I attended my first one last night.
the topic? SELF CARE AND MINDFULNESS.
What was interesting about this topic was the way that the people in the discussion interpreted the meaning of self care and mindfulness. Some felt that self care could lead to self indulgence, where you literally do 'nothing' as to do anything takes effort, emotion, thought, etc; others, like myself, felt that self care was more wrapped up in the mindfulness aspect, where you focus on the present moment, lose yourself in the moment, no matter what you are doing - but in being aware of yourself in the moment you can identify anything bad, not good, or disastrous that may arise in that process - i.e., running too much that you pull a muscle, eye strain from working at the computer too much, or even falling asleep during meditation and falling off your cushion (?).
I heard many differing opinions, and as Chris - the organiser of the evening stated, "all opinions are valid," and so they were. But this is my blog so I want to give you a little insight into how I think self care/mindfulness can help you on your goal journey.
When you set a goal it is expected that you will continue to drive yourself forward until you achieve that goal. In that process, however, it is highly likely that you will lose sight of the number one priority in achieving goals .... YOU! Self care and being mindful reminds us that we cannot achieve our goal if we are burnt out, injured, or dead! So what are some steps you can take on your goal journey to ensure that YOU are the main priority in the journey?
1. Live your goal journey day by day. Keep the end goal in mind, but recognise that you can only do so much each day towards reaching that goal.
2. Embrace some daily meditation, in whatever form that takes. Since I have started my yoga practice I have noticed that I am more likely to make space for a form of meditation during my day, even if it is just a few stretches and deep focused breaths for two minutes whilst I wait for the jug to boil. It is taking that time to make sure that I am stepping out of my mind, my thoughts, and am remembering that I only ever have this moment. I can then take this focus to my work, as can you!
3. Create a solid (yet fluid) structure for your day. Know what you have to achieve, but recognise that you may not get it all done, but that that is okay. Give yourself a cutoff point for work ... I always try to finish up work by 5pm (unless I'm speaking in the evening of course). Once that 5pm arrives I switch off the computer and RELAX!!!
What do you think about self care and mindfulness? What self care rituals do you follow? Comment below!
Soooo, how was your New Years? Was it everything you thought it would be?
Mine was great - playing trivial pursuit (my Canadian friend won with a Canadian flag question .... it should not have been allowed, lol), counting in the new year, and then retiring to bed to get up the next morning to do a walk.
On the Dales Way, the part between Bolton Bridge and the Cavendish Pavilion at Bolton Abbey. All up it was 4.2miles long (the longest distance I have ever walked - in relatively one go of course, not like, in my entire life!!)
it was WET
OH SO MUCH FUN!!!!
There I am, nearly soaked through, my hair frizzed into a curly mess, sweat and water on my deepest layer of clothing, but you know what - I didn't care!
This walk, ALL the walking I am doing, is opening my eyes to the actual simplicity of being human - without all the ancillary attachments that we gift our lives with. Walking, especially in the miserable weather like I did, took away any concerns about how I looked, what I was wearing, removed the fear of decision making, doubts, and fears, bought me immediately into the present and firmly held me there.
It levels you - this walking - the camaraderie you have with fellow walkers, who are also, cold, wet, and muddy, becomes a defining feature. I didn't know any of the people I passed on the walk, but everyone, no matter how cold and desperate they looked, had a smile for you and a 'hello, happy new year.' We were all out, in the middle of no-where, no running away, no hiding, just being open to the experience and knowledge that you can enjoy the walk, the cold, the mud, because in the end, we are all in the same situation, AND this situation (as with any other) will not last.
it did not last - before I knew it, I was in a pub having a delicious hot chocolate to warm up!
But the day made me think that just as I am pushing myself and growing my strength physically, I can also transmute this to all other aspects of my life - and by other aspects, I refer specifically to business, and education. To grow, to move forward, we all need to be aware of our boundaries, but be fearless to push past them, to know that in being fearless we are creating conditions of change, and that through change, not all states of being last forever. Are you going to be fearless this year?
How did you start your new years?
Wow, Christmas is well and truly over now ... sort of, I still have chocolate, crackers, and cheese taking over my kitchen, but I am determined to get through as much of it as I can, cue feeling possibly ill from sugar overload! But I also have a few new years resolutions in mind that could make my life healthier, happier, and much more fulfilling ....
(love this old Victorian Photo or lightness and levity; they look like they are having so much fun and living life to the max - perhaps something we should all consider doing this coming year! Image from pinterest)
When I was younger I used to make resolutions all the time, and then the past few years I have switched making resolutions to making yearly goals, but I can feel myself switching back again to the idea of resolutions. I think I am doing this because I have clarified for myself exactly what each one is and how they can both be useful in ones life.
So, what are goals?
In the Business Dictionary, goals are defined as - 'An observable and measurable end result having one or more objectives to be achieved within a more or less fixed timeframe'.
Goals are those dreams that you want to make reality through the intention of steps and time. There is a beginning to them and an end, and usually at the completion of one goal another is then started. They can impact on your life for a set duration, and then, depending on the goal, lapse, or morph into another goal. It is something that you don't necessarily have to work on every day or even every week - in fact, most goals are set out time wise, with a set end date, with the intent to simply finish the goal at that end date.
Goals are good because they enable you have a focus, a drive to reach a conclusion - they help you to push yourself forward and keep life moving forward., Goals can, however, also cause stress and disappointment ... have you ever mentally beat yourself up when you haven't achieved your goal by the set date?
What are resolutions?
The Oxford Dictionary defines a resolution as - 'a firm decision to do or not do something'.
I was reading a blog post on Lifehacker about the difference between goals and resolutions and I really liked what David Galloway quoted from Gretchen Ruben of "The Happiness Project" - 'With resolutions, the expectations are different. Each day, I try to live up to my resolutions. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, but every day is a clean slate and a fresh opportunity. I never expect to be done with my resolutions, so I don't get discouraged when they stay challenging. Which they do.'
So resolutions are not goals, they are habits, intentions, lived day by day, things that can and will change your life for the better. Resolutions are not set in stone (like goals can seem to be), they are not defined by a particular set of steps or time scale, they are just what they are, day-to-day changes that we can all do. And as Gretchen Ruben from The Happiness Project states in the quote above, 'Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, but everyday is a clean slate and a fresh opportunity.' Resolutions seem kinder, somehow, then goals.
Just because I said resolutions seem kinder doesn't mean I'll be giving up goals ... but I do want to do more resolutions, to make incremental improvements to my life through subtle habit changes. So to do this I am going to commit to 12 New Years Resolutions. These resolutions will be played out over the twelve months of 2014 - they are personal resolutions (as opposed to business ones I will be making - more on that later), and I vow to try my absolute best to enact them (but I will not beat myself up if I have a little slip up now and then). The aim is to keep each resolution turning over to each month, slowly building up good habits to make my life the way I want it to be, healthy, fun, creative, and full of love.
My twelve resolutions for 2014 are as follows -
Jan - A Green Smoothie a Day Keeps the Doctor Away (quite literally, I aim to have a smoothie a day to kick start a healthy a mindful practice of eating - and drinking?)
Feb - Yoga Yoga Everyday (as I am sure you have noticed I am a yoga addict, and as much as I am developing a yoga practice I would still like to make sure I at least to a Sun Salutation everyday, if not a full class or program)
March - Spring Clean Time (I do try and keep up with the basics of general cleanliness .... but it has been awhile since I have cleaned thoroughly the entire flat, soooooo, breaking the month into segments, the first week will focus on the kitchen, second week the lounge room, third week the bathroom, and finally, the fourth week - my bedroom. Boyeah!! And through this practice set up a schedule that ensures the flat stays healthy and allergy free - for my sometimes horrendous hayfever)
April - Say NO to Facebook and Twitter (I do admit to a slight addiction to ye ol' Facebook and Twitter. I can get right suckered in and waste a lot of time on them, so to combat this, I will be making the weekend a facebook and twitter free time-zone, a BIG chillo from techno!)
May - Shop Locally-Dokalee (I do most of my food shopping at a supermarket, even though I have a perfectly good green grocer, butcher, and health food shop not a five minute walk from my flat. SO, instead of using the car twice a week to go get groceries (I have a teeny fridge, so can't really stock up on food), I will walk up to the grocers/butchers/health food shop, and purchase what I need for that day and the day after. It has the added bonus that the food is cheaper at these local places, AND I won't use any petrol to get there)
June - Get Creative and Make a Summer Dress (I have been wanting to have a go at making my own clothes for years, so this month will be about having a go at growing a new skill of clothes making. I have a few summer dresses in mind I would like to have a go at, will post more info closer to the month)
July - Explore and have Adventures in the Beautiful UK (You know all that money I saved with buying locally and saving petrol on not using my car as much? Well, I want to use that money to explore the UK more, so my aim will be, every weekend I go on an adventure, whether it's a day trip or a stay-overnight type of trip, exploration will be had! Any suggestions for places to put on my list?)
Aug - Get Earth Responsible (I am ashamed to say that I don't recycle at the moment, but I really wish to change this, and therefore August will be all about recycling, as much as I can; paper, bottles, food scraps, whatever I can do to cut down on my rubbish will be done)
Sep - Meditate : Ommmmm (To put me in good stead for the coming winter I want to do something I have been wanting to do for years, so I will go on a meditation/Buddhist retreat/course. Whether I have to travel and stay at a retreat or can do a course closer to home, it will be done - and then the techniques enacted at home on a daily basis!)
Oct - Be Mucho More Organised (I always, ALWAYS run out of time to make my own Christmas Presents for people, and I love to make presents, so October will be about thinking of others and what they would like and ACTUALLY getting off my butt and making, making, making)
Nov - Read ONE FICTION Book a Week (I used to be the craziest little bookworm when I was a kid, even to the point where I would be sitting down to eat dinner with the family WITH a trusty book in my hand to read whilst eating. I want to get that excitement and wonder back with reading, so this month is about reading more fiction. I haven't decided on the books yet, but will let you know soon)
Dec - Get into the SPIRIT (December is all about Christmas for me, so I am going to volunteer for a local charity or group, preferably working with children or disabled people. Though Doing Good Leeds I should be able to find an opportunity to volunteer that will suit me AND, hopefully, the group I work with)
Whew, made it to the end. I am quite proud of these resolutions (and occasional goal thrown in there), I have constructed them to expand my creativity, my focus, self discipline, and happiness. Each month I will write about how it is all going; but what about you?
WHAT ARE YOUR NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS?
DO YOU WANT TO DO A TWELVE MONTHS RESOLUTION EXPERIENCE LIKE ME?
LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS OR EMAIL ME AT - firstname.lastname@example.org AND LET ME KNOW!
(my business resolutions will be up soon)
Sorry I haven't been around much lately peeps, between trying to get my book written and getting organised for Christmas, but the past few months have seen a huge shift in my life, a renewed sense of motivation and inspiration and a great desire to go into the next year with positivity and fun.
I am loving life at the moment, with my Mastermind group up and running, and the amazing, positive support I am getting from so many people in my life - both professionally and personally, I am feeling very blessed at the moment. Part of the fun and excitement of life at the moment is the fact that it is almost Christmas time and also nearly 2014.
What does Christmas and the beginning of a new year mean to you?
Christmas has always held such fond memories for me - and whether I am with my family in Australia, or with my UK peeps, I always have a wonderful Christmas day. With Capitalism taking so much of the focus of Christmas away from spiritual meaning, I always try to remember the deeper side of the day - being with those you love, giving, openness, and acceptance. For about the past twenty years I have always received more pleasure from giving presents then receiving them, I have always appreciated the food shared with family and friends, and the quiet reflectiveness of Christmas night, when you are stuffed to the gills with turkey and pudding, and reminiscing not just the day, but the past year.
I still have to decorate the tree!! I still have to make some presents!!
But this is the fun, the pleasure, the outside-of-reality that Christmas embodies, the tossing aside of the mundane everyday and the embracing of overeating, making, buying, and wrapping of fantastical items for those you love.
However, Christmas also signals the coming end of the year, and boy what a year I have had. It had been an up and down year, good things and bad things, lessons learnt, things let go of, and new promises made to myself. In fact the past two years have been like this, but I feel that this topsy-turvy time has been a huge signifier of change. I am changing, as we all are, opening up to life and all experiences, both negative and positive, and recognising that no matter what life throws at you you have to remain true to yourself and your own life aims and goals.
So on reflecting on the past twelve months, here are some things that I have learnt:
- Truth and Honesty is King; trust myself because that is the most important thing
- Be as open as possible; holding onto hurt does no-one any good, better to let go and move on
-Embrace those that support you and love you no matter what, a big shout out to my twister and PSA peeps here
- You must always look after yourself first, then you can look after others
- Forgiveness is the path to freedom; I have forgiven and I have moved on, I am looking forward to the next journey that life has for me
- Be Present, enthusiastic always, I have knocked some talks right out of the ball park this year, simply by being absolutely present to the moment and embracing the enthusiasm for life that this brings
-Yoga, what more can I say, it has been a lifesaver
- and lastly, but most importantly, reaffirming my love for my Ma and Pa, they have always believed in me and I wouldn't be where I am today without them and for that I will be forever grateful.
Merry Christmas Everyone!
So what are you reflecting on this year? How has your life been the past twelve months? What lessons had life taught you?
Comment below ....
I Love Yoga!
There, I have said it, I love it, it is time and space and stretching and strength all for me. I am allowed to be in the inherent here and now through my breath, to feel the stretch of my muscles when I am in Uttanasana (or standing forward bend for those who are thinking huh?!?), to find my balance when I am in Tadasana (tree pose). Each action, each conscious breath, each taught muscle brings me home to myself and to my peace, to my calm.
In my developing yoga practice I have come to consider what yoga means when it comes to disability.
So firstly, here are some experts thoughts on yoga . . . (cause really . . . I ain't no expert!! Not yet anyway!)
(image via pinterest)
"Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self"
- The Bhagavad Gita
'Yoga is a powerful vehicle for change. As you build strength, you start to believe in your own potential.'
- Tiffany Cruikshank
'The very heart of Yoga practice is abhyasa - steady effort in the direction you want to go.'
- Sally kempton
'Yoga is not about touching your toes. It's about unlocking your ideas about what you want, where you think you can go, and what you will achieve when you get there.'
- Cyndi Lee
"To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don't need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.'
- Thich Nhat Hanh
(Okay, not a quote directly linked to Yoga, but its essence sits with the idea that in yoga class there is no judgement, you are in a pure space where you can accept yourself as you and that that is a beautiful thing.)
Yoga is a journey, a physical and spiritual journey inside, into your heart. Yoga is not a competition where you are trying to out-pose the person next to you, or pushing yourself to be the first person to layer through to Vrschikasana (don't know what that is? Google!). Yoga is about exploring your space, your limits, with a gentle and open heart. It's about trying things out, modifying, getting bad-ass creative with your body and mind, finding that stretch, that open-mind. Through yoga, you come to realise that we are who we are and in that moment we are free of the past and the future, that we are truly in the present.
So, how does this seemingly intense physicality and spiritual mojo link in with disability? How can people with various disabilities DO yoga?
(image via pinterest - please go check this link out, this yoga chick is awesomely rad!!)
Both Yoga and disability can be regarded the same - difficult, hard, and stuck within the paradigms of peoples perceptions. However, as discovered above, yoga is all expansive, flow-able, open, wide, like a bright blue sky on a clear Autumn morning. What if I were to say disability is the same? And when you combine disability and yoga together, sometimes the most creative moments can arise.
Disability is so varied, so open to all, it is not reduced to the other as many would think - we are all affected in some ways. In this respect, however, disability can be the ultimate human experience in creativity. Think about it - the marvelous adaptions, adjustments, ideas, and thoughts emerge into world through the experience of disability. Just the same as yoga, right?
My experience of yoga, with my disability, has been exactly that, working with what I have and seeing what I can do, gently pressing the limits of body, mind, and space. My disability is not a barrier, but a creative force with which to approach and consider each pose, each breath, each moment. Nothing is impossible, with the right support, the right thought, the right attitude - and this can really be said about life for all of us.
No excuse exists, no denial, no doubt.
we can all learn to accept and grow with what life has given us.