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Play as a mindfulness toolThere’s a huge amount of psychology research material around the importance of play for both children and adults, but much of it focuses on the benefits and positive outcomes relating to stress, relationships and wellbeing etc. What hasn’t been well documented is how play relates as a mindfulness tool. When I play candy crush in the mornings I just love it. It’s a quiet part of my day where I’m just me, not a wife / mother / grandmother / CEO and business owner – just me and the game. Each level of the game has a purpose, and for each game I set an intention and I celebrate the outcome. As I play I observe myself – why am I choosing to make that move? What is motivating me? Am I playing for more of the positives or fighting the negatives? What elements in this game can I see reflected in my day – ie is this game about precision and alignment or is it more about expansion and conversion? And as I play I am stimulated by these questions as well as by the colours, the spatial reasoning and the wisdom that comes with my observations. Every next step I take in that game clearly adds up to a result and each one is completed with utter joy. I learn from the losses and I know when I’m stuck on a level for a spell that it will be reflected somewhere else in my life – somewhere I feel ‘stuck’ but with that awareness can now ‘unstick’. Play reveals thought and can be incredibly illuminating in a way that thinking something through often can’t reach or quite connect to. At the end of my play I’m ready to be a part of the world and later when I meditate, I already have insight into the intention I will set for the day that is mine to create. So you see, I don’t switch off when I play, I switch on… What do you play? Please write in and share what starts your day and why it’s so great? Neroli Jones Personal Life Coach; Founder and CEO Paradigm Switch
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Are you intuitive?Is intuition something that only a few people have? Are they special and gifted and the rest of us have to find answers from our logical left brain and its supply of facts? The simple answer is that we all have intuition. We are all ‘WIFI enabled’ to the mind of the Universe, to infinite intelligence. So how is it that some people can access intuition easily and the rest of us struggle to get some kind, even any kind of guidance. We are born sentient empathetic beings but many of us have lost our way through lack of recognition and practice of the intuitive skills and have come to rely on our left brain. This leaves us out of balance and when we don’t pay attention to that ‘annoying little voice’ then it eventually becomes quiet. So how do we begin to wake it up again and how will that benefit us?
Barbara Callan is an International Intuitive Consultant for Paradigm Switch.
To book a session with Barbara please click here
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Do you really need any more stuff?Christmas is not far away and so, if you're like us, you're starting to get sucked into the marketing hype that accompanies this season for giving. The new luxury however is, believe it or not – time. More time, having time and giving time. This could include time to yourself, time to share or time to learn. In this age of material excess, where specialist businesses have grown up with the sole purpose of de-cluttering, we’re starting to realise that people don’t necessarily need any more ‘things’. What does tend to make our hearts sing, is a chance to make memories, expand our learning, and enjoy just being. It’s no surprise that companies such as Etzy or hardtofind.com, specialise in gifts with a personal message, where bespoke treats have become the latest buzzword. Attributes such as authenticity, sustainability and tradition are strong contenders in the search for contentment or even happiness. Here are some suggestions that hopefully will inspire you to treat the ones you love with something they might value and that won’t end up in the cupboard, the Vinnies collection or even the bin.
Get CreativeTake the time to make gifts. Homemade candles, a card, a renovated piece of old furniture, or a pot of brandy butter all make beautiful, personalised treats. They never fail to delight, with the ultimate compliment combining time and thought that went into their creation.
Enjoy the RideExperiences are always well received. They need not be expensive either. A simple cooking class or a specially planned picnic can surprise someone, especially if they get to do it with you!
A Helping HandServices that make life easier often make the perfect gift. A cleaner for a month or maybe someone to come and sort out the garden. Imagine how nice it would be to have a credit on the services of a handyman?
Stay WellThe gift of health is a nurturing way of showing someone you really care. Send them an hour’s massage, or perhaps a mindfulness course? Maybe you have a friend who might appreciate a life coach session or even the expertise of a naturopath?
The Gift that GivesYou can never go wrong with a charitable contribution. Try giving the gift of saving a life or helping our planet. For animal lovers, there are countless organisations that allow you to support endangered species or contribute to animal welfare. These gift ideas all share something in common, "it's the thought that counts" - the old saying has never been more pertinent than right now. Just decide on your budget, the time you are prepared to spend and those you love will be delighted with something that reflects personal thought and consideration. Santa finally got it right!
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Conscious BreathingThere are several ways to consciously breathe, such as the Kapalabhati (breath of fire) and pranayama yogic breathing. They all share one thing in common, they induce rest in the body, by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system.
The Alpha StateWhen we ground ourselves through the breath, we move into a lower vibrational state, close to the alpha state. In this highly focused but calm state, we turn on our creative brain, become more aware of our surroundings and can observe life from a different perspective. Doctors Brown and Gerbarg’s Sudarshan Kriya Yogic Breathing Study in the Treatment of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression found that yogic breathing balances the autonomic nervous system, which influences stress-related disorders.
Breathe to Release Stress and AnxietyBecoming more aware helps us to differentiate between experiences that induce fear or stress and the physiological changes that arise from them. By noticing our perception and physical reaction to them, we are able to enhance and safeguard our health in a more conscious and responsible manner.
Better Mind, Body and Spirit.We are each born with billions of brain cells, and when we deprive them of oxygen, our performance will suffer. For example when we hyperventilate, we expel too much CO2, meaning less oxygen can be absorbed by the body, which leads us into a cycle of breathing even faster. By practicing balanced breathing we allow oxygen to circulate evenly, to saturate the blood - feeding every cell in the body, muscles, brain, organs, and skin, while allowing the metabolism to burn fat and work more efficiently.
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Recently our CEO Neroli Jones, had the privilege of attending a prestigious HR summit in the Gold Coast which proved to be enlightening on many levels, one being the growth and acceptance with which meditation and mindfulness has been accepted into the workplace. What might once have been judged as all a bit too ‘out there’ or ‘kooky’ within this environment has now become widely embraced as a proven technique to manage stress and enhance productivity.
INCREASE YOUR PERFORMANCE BY CALMING DOWNThe term “stress” was coined in 1942 by neuroscientists and was identified as a common life event placing physiological overload due to undue pressure. This potentially leads to long-lasting effects on our health and behaviour. Source Think of an ocean that can be choppy on the surface, but is always calm underneath. In a similar way, stress works on the surface, on our frontal lobe of the brain provoking the fight/flight reflex. If we are to bypass it, we need to delve deeper. Sadly, we live most of our lives on the surface. This is where meditation comes in, allowing us to access this calmer part of our brain, by shutting down the limbic brain and frontal lobe. Stop being busy by staying on the surface While our fight or flight activation was important for survival, traditionally it was intended to be used only once a month or so. However today, in 2017 we tend to live there far too frequently - just like having our foot on the accelerator continuously, without using the brakes! Meditation helps us to take a break and heal. With meditation our mind forces the body to slow down, allowing it the time to heal. Meditation lowers the body metabolic rate by 24%, while sleep lowers it by only 8%. When we meditate we cause the heart rate and lungs to slow down, as well as dropping our body temperature. This means less wear and tear on our body organs and cell mechanisms, less toxic chemicals are produced, more energy is saved and the natural processes of repair and rejuvenation are allowed to flow easily.
MEDITATION GIVES US PERSPECTIVEAs meditation is soothing our overheated metabolism and slowing down body function, it allows us to look inside and see how we have allowed ourselves to speed up in the first place. We are given a new perspective by becoming aware of our roles, how we have been taught, trained and conditioned to act in set patterns without perhaps questioning them. Meditation first teaches us to be aware, and then gives us the capacity to slow down, take control, and focus. Meditation promotes mental clarity and coherence, as shown when we have an MRI that can measure transcendental consciousness - a state of restful alertness or meditative state. The body is allowed time to repair, the mind can focus and our general state of wellbeing is brought back into balance. It is no wonder the workplace has joined the rest of the world and is implementing the power of meditation. What works on an individual level is just as effective in a workplace.
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If you look around at the people you admire, the ones that inspire you, that make you feel good, and the ones who have that contagious energy you just wish you could catch…. What is it they have in common? Chances are, you’ll find that they have a reason to get up in the morning. In other words they are motivated by an innate purpose or sense of moving forward to achieving something they feel passionate about. Being happy can take on a number of disguises – it deceives us into thinking we’ll get happy if we:
“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” Helen Keller
Get a new car
Go on holiday
Find a partner
Eat our favourite food
Go to the gym
Go partying with friendsThese are all enjoyable but temporary happiness moments. More often than not, once the holiday is over, we are faced again with having to find another happiness distraction. And so the cycle spins around and around. Continuous research findings have shown that a lasting sense of happiness or contentment comes with being useful. If we are being useful to ourselves, friends, family, the planet or even our pets, our sense of identity or pride is lifted, thus inducing a feeling of achievement and satisfaction. You just need to look at a new mother to witness a purpose surge of happiness. According to Volunteering Australia, 96% of volunteers said it made them happier people. It’s also worth noting that volunteers are healthier and sleep better. They experience a ‘helpers’ high’ akin to an emotional and physical sense of wellbeing. Financial security, a sense of purpose in life, and good personal relationships are said to make up the "golden triangle" or 3 pillars of happiness according to one of Australia's largest wellbeing surveys. Unfortunately, the toughest one to harness is to find your purpose, which essentially underpins the other two happiness pillars. Finding your purpose can be both challenging and elusive, often taking many years to discover.
The Answer is always Inside YourselfSpiritual teacher and Hindu Priest, Dandapani gave up a promising career in engineering, to train with a guru in a cloistered monastery for 10 years. It wasn’t until he settled in New York City, before he could pinpoint the key that unlocks our authentic purpose, lodged deep within each one of us. The challenge of course, is to allow it to surface. “We are all too busy distracting ourselves to let our true sense of why we are here become apparent.” Dandapani tells us. “How can we hear what’s within if we don’t listen? You can’t meditate however unless you are taught how to concentrate or focus and that takes practice. Purpose is hard to find for many of us and there’s no easy shortcut to find it.” One tool that will help you to measure how in touch you are with your purpose is by completing our Paradigm Compass test, which you will find by clicking here. We invite you to talk this simple exercise that allows you to assess how far you are from finding your true purpose, and then will direct you to the most appropriate help, if necessary.
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BE A WARRIOR NOT A WORRIERAs I walked into the yoga class and planted myself firmly cross-legged on my mat, I was given my mantra of the day
“ Set your intention for today as Acceptance”
Of yourself Of others Of your bodyPeople annoy us and challenge us daily, we frustrate ourselves, we criticise what’s wrong with us - and the world, we self-judge and judge others, often without any background knowledge. We moan, we stress, we worry and we ruminate over things out of our control. All this can be eliminated with one clear mantra – Acceptance. If we smile and accept what is, we cannot be ruffled, we can protect ourselves from the outside stressors and build a sturdy Zen fence all around our happy inner beings. Paradigm Switch yoga teacher, Jo Kirkpatrick shares similar guidance: “The 8 limbs of yoga are over 2000 years old and guide us on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life without suffering. According to Patangali, when you master being content with what you have, supreme happiness results. Two key elements in the philosophy of yoga include consistent practice and non-attachment. Those who practice the 8 limbs of Yoga, reap the rewards of life, free from misery. It is important to note that as with anything in life, good things only manifest as the result of hard work and discipline.”
Yoga is a life-long practice with new possibilities available, every time we enter a class.The oldest yoga teacher turned 98 this year, and looks like the happiest person alive. Tao is said to be full of joy and light, "Yoga is the essence of the dawn of life and it sparkles inwardly she says, “The greatest pleasure is to see someone suddenly realize there was nothing they could not do.” Yoga can be for everyone with the latest research from Roy Morgan showing one in 10 Australians (14+) now do Yoga. The number of women practicing yoga has doubled in the past 8 years, making yoga the fastest-growing sport or activity in the country. Despite being one of the lowest paid jobs, the yoga teacher ranked 10 in America in the most-sought-after careers list.
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According to the National Science Foundation we think between 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day. Of these it is estimated that 95% are the same thoughts that run through our minds everyday. When you consider that our reality creates our mindset, it’s hardly surprising to learn that when we begin to think negatively, our world will eventually deteriorate, reflecting those thoughts. This is how we become addicted to negative thinking. Think about it. It might seem as though we are just reacting to life events, but what is actually happening is that the negative thoughts in the first place are in fact facilitating most of those events. Be aware - it is not the other way round. So, if you want to change your life, you need to change your thinking. Can Albert Einstein be wrong? Every conscious thought is recorded by our subconscious mind. It never questions or disputes the validity of a thought. It literally takes our word for it. For example if we think “I’m never going to have any money” that fact is accurately and literally recorded. Your subconscious mind then communicates directly with the quantum energy field which then manifests your reality. The more negatively we think, the more this will be reflected in our everyday lives and experiences. It might be in an unexpected way, but the negativity will be there. This is the law of attraction, and it works regardless of if we understand how it works or not. Try these effective tools to dispel negative thinking:
- Flip the mindset. Negative thinking is simply thinking about what you do not want, while positive thinking is thinking about what you do. If you focus on a positive outcome, that is what the subconscious will record and pass it on to a reality.
- Take responsibility Take responsibility for all your thoughts, and notice that you are not your thoughts. Try to separate your reactions from a life event and be aware of how you choose to react rather than repeating past, learnt behaviours. It will empower you from your negative thinking.
- EFT Tapping can dispel moods and feelings, making way for positive thoughts.
- Make some endorphins The ‘happy’ hormones produced with the increased oxygen flow from exercise, will naturally alter your mindset.
- Watch your words Avoid saying ‘but’ – “I love my work, but…..” or making false excuses – “I can’t stay because…”
- Ask positive open-ended questions How can this get better? Where could this lead to? Don’t restrict yourself with answers, just put the thought out there.