Article from guest writer Brad Krause.
Practicing self-care can mean many different things, depending on your lifestyle and where you live. For some, it means getting rid of bad habits or removing toxic energy from their lives. For others, it’s simply a way to take care of physical, emotional, and mental health in the best ways possible, such as engaging in a relaxing pastime or learning a new fitness routine. And still others incorporate all of those things, ensuring that their mind and body are in perfect harmony.
The way you practice self-care is up to you, but it should have positive effects on the way you feel. You might consider learning to say “no” when someone is asking for too much of your time. You may decide that getting more sleep and eating a more balanced diet is the way to go. Evaluate your lifestyle to figure out what changes you can make that will benefit you the most, and go from there.
Here are some tips on getting started and why self-care is so important.
Sometimes seemingly small actions can have big, positive consequences. Getting a couple more hours of sleep per night and introducing more water and veggies into your diet can improve the way you feel and help boost your daily productivity. Make it a point to go to bed a little earlier at night and eat a more balanced diet, and see how much better you feel.
Make home a place of serenity
Making your home a place of serenity and calm is especially important for those with stressful lives. It will help you leave the burdens of your day behind so you can take a deep breath. You can do this by making a pact with yourself about not doing work once you walk through your front door—not even answering emails—and creating a space just for you that allows for your comfort and happiness. Paint the walls a calming blue, light a few candles, take a hot shower, and forget about the stresses of work. Decluttering is also a great way to make your home work for you.
Learn to say “no”
Those of us with stressful jobs or home lives know that being taken advantage of is one of the worst feelings, in part because it just adds to daily stress. It’s important to learn how to say “no” when someone asks for more time than you can give. Taking on too many responsibilities at once can be a huge factor in your stress level. If it’s happening at work, ask a coworker to shoulder the responsibility if possible, or have a talk with your boss about your workload.
Your diet and exercise routine can have a big impact on how you feel both physically and mentally, so it’s important to find a workout you can stick to as well as a diet plan that boosts your energy. Talk to your doctor about the right diet for you, especially if you’ve had health issues in the past, and think about the best ways to keep your workouts fun. This will keep you motivated. Swimming, gardening, and playing your favorite sport are all great examples.
Reducing stress and finding ways to boost your self-confidence are two great examples of practicing self-care; the details are up to you. Tailor your daily goals to meet your specific needs and talk to your friends, family, and doctor about how they can help.
Brad Krause graduated from college in 2010 and went straight to the corporate world at the headquarters of a popular retail company. But what started as a dream job soured quickly. After four years of working 15-hour days and neglecting his health, he decided enough was enough. Through aiding a friend during a tough time, Brad discovered his real calling-helping people implement self-care practices that improve their overall wellbeing. He created SelfCaring.info to share his own knowledge and the many great resources he finds on his self-care journey.
My whole life I had always been careful with my health and always aware of my happiness with everything I did. My independence and maturity were by far my stand out qualities growing up; after living out of home from the age of 15 and learning to stand on my own 2 feet. These qualities were projected in both my personal and work life throughout my teens and early 20s.
As most, my life was full of challenges and growth with sport, school, friends and family, however none of these challenges could have prepared me for the health challenge I was faced with around 4 years ago.
At the age of 22 I was told I needed priority surgery to remove cancerous cells from my cervics. As a sporty, independent and outgoing person this in many ways felt like the end - with an intense period of medication, dietary changes and recovery I begun to notice a whole other level of growth within myself.
No more than 8 months after surgery I was back in hospital and diagnosed with Kidney disease (adverse reaction to medication). Another 8 months went by and I was faced with more bad news that my cervical cancer cells had come back and I was into surgery number 2.
I had now lost all sense of independence, hunger for growth and resilience to challenges - my mental health had slipped and I went into a period of depression and anxiety.
After testing my mental health to the edge that I no longer had a fight for life or need to continue, the only thing I could consider was to help others. From my experiences with depression and my health challenges I felt an overwhelming amount of loneliness and misunderstanding. Not because I didn’t have any friends or family around me but because in most cases they couldn’t relate or know how to support me best.
It was then that I thought of B.OKideas and the concept of providing a B.OK Box for people to offer long term support and a means to start a conversation when you are not sure how.
My passion to help others was lit by the challenges in my past but it has been fueled by my understanding and experience that tough times do not last and that this hope needs to be shared with everyone.
Building a movement on and offline through B.OKideas has allowed me to accept my past and share my story so that others who are also going through a tough time, experiencing periods of depression or anxiety or stress can know they are not alone.
After launching B.OKideas in March 2018 I have supported many different men health initiatives such as Lifeline, Mens Health Week, Yoga Australia Ball Event and raising over $600 for our charity partner (10% of sales go to Waves of Wellness Foundation).
The Story of B.OKideas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSlz7Yc8IjE&t=4s
Article by freelance writer Sally Writes
Finding Asthma Relief Through Yoga
For many, difficulty breathing is a way of life. Asthma affects one in nine Australians or around 2.5 million individuals. It can show itself at any point in our lifetime, from childhood well into adulthood, with more and more cases popping up in recent years due in part to outdoor pollution. Asthma can have symptoms that range from mild to severe, including coughing, wheezing, swelling, and even death. While asthma can be challenging to eradicate, there are a number of both medical and holistic ways to help alleviate symptoms. Yoga and meditation are great ways to strengthen the lungs and encourage free airflow, helping to relieve the symptoms of asthma in both children and adults. Here are just some of the ways that taking up a yoga routine can help you to breathe better throughout the day.
For the most part, breathing is involuntary. When we practice yoga, however, we’re encouraged to think about our breathing practices and how they impact our body. Mindful breathing techniques can help asthmatics to learn how to exercise control over their breathing with deep, steady inhalation and slow exhalation. Not only does this strengthen the lungs in the long-term, but also offers a way to combat an impending asthma attack.
Relaxation of the Mind and Body
Stress is a common trigger for asthma patients, causing symptoms to manifest or worsen. One of the best ways to keep asthma attacks to a minimum is to maintain a relaxing lifestyle. Yoga can help to calm the mind and soothe the body, making it easier to cope with a hectic home or work life. By maintaining a relaxed state, you lessen the likelihood of your asthma symptoms kicking in at the worst possible moments.
The Best Poses for Asthma Relief
While all yoga poses can help to free up the lungs, there are several that are better for breathing than others. Poses that straighten the spine and open the airways help to promote a more even airflow through our bodies. Here are some of the best yoga poses for asthmatic individuals:
● Forward Bend
● Straddle Splits
● The Bridge
It can be tough to cope with the symptoms of asthma, but luckily, there are plenty of remedies that help to alleviate the pain. Practising yoga encourages healthy breathing techniques that promote smooth, clean airflow through the lungs. By including the right poses in your routine, you can reduce your risk of asthma attacks and breathe easy.
Our mind is a powerful tool. Most of the time, we tend to believe what our mind is saying. We hear a voice in our head and we tend to identify with it. Yet whatever is being said isn’t always true. But if we believe all that we hear in our head then our happiness will only depend on our positive thinking. It is great if we are a naturally born optimist but challenging if our mind is wired on fear or self-criticism.
Also our emotions are strongly linked with our thoughts. If our mind tends to worry about something in the future, we then tend to experience fear in the present moment. It does not mean that this worry will actually happen, it may or it may not. But in the meantime we have created stress for ourselves by listening to those thoughts. Whatever the mind is saying, it will create an emotional response in our body.We have a tendency to spend most of our life reacting and responding to our thoughts without questioning. Yet what if it could be different?
We hold the power within ourselves to change our thoughts and even to stop our mind at once. And when we become able to control our mind, we also become in control of how we experience life. The best tool I know that can bring us this new quality of life is the practice of meditation.
With regular meditation practice, we slowly start managing our thoughts. We become more aware and conscious of all the incessant chatter inside our head. And then we can learn how to completely stop it. Of course it takes time but the peace and happiness that result are definitely worth it.
With meditation regular practice is essential. We can learn different techniques and practice the ones that suit us best. We can also join a meditation class in our neighbourhood or enrol in a meditation retreat for a quantum leap in our practice!
Check out our meditation ebook and our meditation retreats, we will help you silence that chattering mind! :)
A to-do list can be such an excellent tool when trying to tackle a big, overwhelming goal. We can use the power of pen and paper to break big goals down into small achievable steps, just as long as we manage to be realistic when finding our first step.
I love gaining clarity by doing exactly that but a few weeks ago I realised that my to-do list was not serving me as well as it once had.
I had found the first few, very small steps that would help me get closer to an important goal and I had given myself the week to get them done.
I stuck a piece of paper on my wall.
On it, two very achievable steps I was going to take by the end of the week.
Somehow weeks went by and I hadn’t taken either of them.
Eventually, after about two months, I took that piece of paper down and threw it out. Together with a lot of enthusiasm about to-do lists.
I realised later that what I had written was not actually the first step in getting closer to my big goal.
My first instinct after experiencing that disappointment was that maybe instead of only writing to-do lists I also needed an ‘already-done list’: to avoid feeling disappointed with myself for not achieving what I had set out to achieve and to shift my focus on things that I had already achieved instead.
This felt like a big realisation. So big, I set out to write a blog post about the importance of looking back at what we have already achieved, to feel proud of how far we have already come and to feel a sense of accomplishment.
I took a step back and was ready to feel that great sense of accomplishment. But I never wrote an ‘already-done list’.
Something else happened for me.
Still feeling some disappointment but also a lot less pressure, I naturally found myself spending less time trying to control the outcome of whatever I was doing.
I would go for a walk and instead of planning what I had to do once I got home, I enjoyed the walk. I walked for as long as I wanted to. Sometimes that wasn’t very long at all. I walked through a park but then stopped and sat down in the middle of Federation Square. I watched the rush. I watched the sunset. I just sat and watched.
Eventually, I had not only lost track of my all so important to-do list, my genius idea of an ‘already-done list’ seemed just as negligible.
All that mattered was this present moment.
The idea for my ‘already-done list’ came to me because I spent too much of my time looking into the future. The logical solution to my problem of being too focused on the future was to look into the past. I thought by doing that I would ease the pressure I had created for myself with my to-do list.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” - Albert Einstein
I will continue to use pen and paper to create clarity for myself. Luckily, when I forgot about my to-do list for a little while, I found something entirely different.
Once I spent some time simply being, I realised that what I had written down a few months back were not really the next steps in achieving my big goal.
Those steps seemed easy enough when I came up with them. They were definitely achievable which contributed to my frustration.
I thought I had done everything right. I thought I should write a blog post on ‘how to write to-do lists’ ☺. It took me a while to figure out why it did not work out for me.
If the first step towards a goal isn’t easy enough to take today, it’s not really your first step.
Sometimes the very first and most important step is to come back to this very moment. In this moment, there is nothing to achieve. There is no need to look back to feel accomplished. There is just this very moment to enjoy.
Sometimes the first step on your to-do list is to simply be present.
Hi, I’m Maren. I am an actress and author of the Feel Good Blog, but most of all I am passionate about sharing honest moments. I love moments that remind us that we are capable and connected. I treasure those moments whether they are felt as profound insights or inspirational chuckles, whether we laugh or cry, I believe they help us grow.
Why I Don’t have a Story to Share: How to Drop your Story in a Second!
Hello beautiful being,
The wonderful soul, Karen, recently invited me to share my ‘story’ with you, and I’m so grateful to be able to share my heart and journey in the hope of inspiring you back to balanced wellbeing. Writing about wellbeing is my passion, you see – and I’m a big believer that you should follow your heart; that’s what got me here…
When I set out to share my ‘story’ with you, though, I realised – I don’t have a ‘story’ – I only have truth (as we all do) so what I hope you hear from this is that we can change our stories in any instant and return to the truth of who we really are: even when we think we can’t.
Let’s Start at the Beginning: Universal Blessings that Seemed Disastrous!
I’ll start, like everyone does – at the beginning (it’s the most sensible place, right?). When I was in my early 20’s, I became ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which was a real sign that I was feeling imbalanced. Like many people, I was career-focused and just followed the routine of getting qualified and working hours-upon-end as the responsible Brand Manager I had become, but it felt so stressful that I ended up expressing illness and disconnection. Suddenly, I found myself overwhelmed, anxious, and unable to physically function because I was just so exhausted. I thought it was a complete disaster. What I didn’t realise was that it was naturally an innate blessing that the universe had in store for me…
Journeying to Self-Recovery
As it turned out, I set out on a path of self-recovery, naturally. You’re meeting me here, aren’t you? Most people come to the natural route following some kind of inspirational realisation that there is a need for a return to something simpler and innate. For me, this is a return to ‘truth.’ I ended up re-training and specialising in many different natural therapies – from reflexology, aromatherapy and reiki to yoga, meditation and homeopathy; you name it, I journeyed there, searching far and wide. Slowly and surely, I became more balanced. But, there was still something that didn’t quite make sense; I still felt stuck in my past stories. I’d sit and meditate, I’d feel my feelings, but I was still stuck in the past much of the time, re-living traumas over and over; and I’m a believer that you need to feel your feelings, but they were overwhelming me (I thought). Meditation is all about being ‘in the moment’ so I felt I was missing the point at times, and got hung up on how miserably I could fail even though at sometimes, when I felt connected I was meditating ‘well’ – it’s funny how you can be so judgemental of yourself, right?
Feeling Disconnected and Searching for the Missing Piece
One day, I was following my truth, being authentic and living a natural life, doing what I loved but I still found myself to be anxious, and felt like something was missing. I travelled the world searching for whatever it was; and this didn’t feel like an easy task for someone so anxious – it grew me in ways I couldn’t imagine! I heard yogic philosophy that ‘the answers are within’ and I thought I understood it at times; in Bali, I felt fulfilled, settled, creative, inspired, whole and generally amazing. I was meditating every day, doing yoga every day, and just loving life. Great, right? Yes, until I’d return home, and feel exactly the same way as I did before… Of course, I always looked to the external, to change that in attempts to ‘fix’ the internal. Do you hear me? Then something changed to help me understand why the answer really are within…
Profound Insights about What It Is To Be Human
Here’s the profound bit: one day, I met a lady who finally explained some amazing insights on how life works, and this was the most inspirational thing I have ever experienced. So inspiring, in fact, that I am now writing a book about because I just have to share it!
These insights seem quite simple, but when they sink in, they are really quite profound. We innately know them, so they seem obvious, but once you truly understand (and you don’t have to ‘do anything’ to understand – just hear them and let them sink into your own wisdom – you’ll see how you can let go of anything to return to wellbeing.
To be human is to live with three principles:
1) Firstly, we are conscious beings, you know that – it’s not new, right? There is something greater than us at play, we are energetic beings existing with the influence of greater powers – like nature, spirit, Gods – or whatever you find meaningful to you to describe this higher power. Life has a plan for us, that we can’t control.
2) Secondly, as humans on this plane, we operate via ‘thought in the moment’ all the time, and this can vary, moment to moment. You’ll notice this when you’re meditating, perhaps. You know those little thoughts that pop in to say ‘hello, what’s for tea?’ just as you’re trying to find space? That happens all the time. Sometimes these thoughts can be good; somethings they can be not-so good. The mistake we make is that in our experience of life, we think we have to believe them all! This is not true. Our thoughts fluctuate moment to moment and we can see even the same thing differently according to how we are thinking and feeling in that second.
3) Thirdly, we have an experience of life as a human being, which completely relies on this thinking, in the moment. Our entire experience of life is made up from our thought. We often think our ‘feelings’ are our experience of life, but these are created from our thinking. The truth - the reality - is what is underneath this thinking: who we really are at our core. And that, my dears, is innately whole, perfect, beautiful, connected conscious beings.
Becoming conscious of, and letting go of, our ‘thinking-in the moment’ allows us to experience the truth, and gain clarity on the reality of who we really are underneath and trust in the universe to allow ourselves to flow through life.
So often, especially in our busy lives, we forget these simple truths. We get caught up in believing that our experience of life in this moment is exact truth, forever. We think that our ‘stories’ are who we are. We think that our experience in this moment is always reality. We think that how we feel is a direct reflection of our core truth. Let me tell you: it is NOT.
The Inside-Out Reality
How we feel is actually just a reflection of our inner thinking. We operate from the inside-out, not the outside-in. I realise now that I am always that connected, creative, inspired being from Bali; no matter where I am! All that had happened was I let go of my ‘thinking’ that I ‘wasn’t connected, creative and inspired’ when I thought that the environment was right for me to be all of those! Whatever we think about the outside is a direct reflection of our inner state. For example, we may ‘think’ we are ‘stuck in our stories.’ I could think ‘I am ill, I am unhappy, I am anxious, I need to change the external environment’ and continue down that route, which would make me feel like I needed to change something externally. But, as we understand that the nature of being human is to operate from our thinking, we realise that our discomfort is coming entirely from within – as a reflection of our thinking. Seeing our thinking for what it really is - just thought in the moment – allows us to trust, to just let it flow by, letting the truthful clarity and wisdom emerge.
Nothing to Fix: Just Being Aware Returns Us to the Truth
This isn’t to say we need to ‘change our thinking;’ there is nothing to ‘fix,’ because we are already whole - but we can become aware of it. That realisation that we are operating from ‘thought,’ moment to moment, just brings us back to our truth. Underneath all our ‘thinking’ is the truth of who we are. When we are born, we are innately whole, perfect and complete – and we are always connected to source. That never changes; the only thing that changes is our ability to add thought into the equation. Right from being a baby, the moment we are given a teddy bear to comfort us, we learn what we ‘think’ to be that the ‘external impacts us,’ but 100% of the comforted, settled feeling in that situation is coming from within; it’s not coming from the inanimate teddy bear. This is the nature of being human.
Learning: Our Story is Not Our Story
What this means for our stories is that our story is not our truthful reality. Even when it feels like it –our feelings come from our thinking. When we understand that whatever our ‘story’ is comes entirely from thought and that underneath this, we are our truthful, innately whole, perfect self, just operating as a human experiencing life via thought, we see that we can let it go – in an instant. Oh, it might not feel like it’s that easy – because you’re trying to ‘think’ about it and rationalise it, but I promise you that it’s the truth!
That’s not to say you suppress it and say ‘oh, it’s just thought’ – we can still experience our feelings, but from an aware perspective that we know underneath our thought we are always ok; we can’t not be. If you could see who you really were, how could you not be ok?
You Might Not Hear it Immediately, but It’s a Universal Truth
When I first heard this, I didn’t get it immediately, but then one day, I woke up with a profound insight – without even doing anything to change! That’s the beauty of uncovering the truth. Initially, it may even feel uncomfortable, but on some level what I am saying will be resonating. One day, just from this knowledge, you can wake – like I did - with an insight that you weren’t aware of before… I promise; I have felt experience of it. There were things I ‘thought’ I just couldn’t let go of, that I had identified with for years as being my story, and now I just laugh at the little thoughts that pop up about them, and see the clarity of the reality underneath this! Underneath my thinking, I am a perfectly whole, innately resilient, connected being – and you are, too! We are not our stories…
We are only ever experiencing our relationship with life through our thoughts about life. You will see more by surrounding yourself with this understanding and continuing the conversation about life – I welcome you to join me to connect…
Nicole Barton is a passionate Holistic Health and Wellbeing Specialist, adoring all things ‘holistic.’ . Holistically healing herself, training at an award-winning college in various weird and wonderful complementary therapies and travelling the world to learn about worldly wellbeing - including her passions for Yoga, Meditation, Homeopathy and Aromatherapy - she established Chalet Holistics – her specialist wellbeing clinic and training centre, based in rural Warwickshire. Nowadays, she specialises as a Wellbeing Mentor, helping people make sense of life and to support themselves back to balance, via natural health coaching. You can find her hopping between specialist clinics in Warwickshire, West Midlands and London.
Insta: @ WellbeingWriter
Twitter @ WellbeingWriter
LinkedIn :/ Wellbeing-Writer
Article written by Georgia Hartmann
Naturopathy falls under the umbrella term of Complementary Medicine - a broad domain of healing resources other than that provided by the current dominant health system. Complementary medicine encompasses practices including Naturopathy, Osteopathy, Acupuncture, Chiropractor, Massage, Ayurvedic Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine - the list goes on. The idea is that the minds behind these practices work alongside those behind conventional practices, including doctors and nurses, to allow for a holistic approach to health and wellbeing.
Naturopathic medicine combines herbal medicine, nutrition and dietary planning, lifestyle modifications, and other modalities including flower essences, iridology, tissue salts and celloids that prevent and treat illness. It is the art and science of medicine that uses traditional forms of healing combined with modern scientific knowledge.
As a traditional form of healing, the practice of Naturopathy is based upon 6 principles, including the healing power of nature, identifying the cause, treating the whole person, doing no harm, education, and prevention.
1. The Healing Power of Nature
Nature is both perfectly balanced and organized intelligently to create, maintain, repair and destroy matter. The body also has its own intuitive and sophisticated mechanism of healing. Naturopaths use the healing agents provided by nature (air, earth, water and sun), in combination with a clean diet, exercise, adequate sleep, relaxation, meditation, and an optimistic outlook, to promote and support the body’s innate ability to heal.
2. Identify and Treat the Cause
Underpinning this principle is the basic understanding that all illness must have a cause. For health to be restored and optimised, the cause or causes of the disease state must be identified and removed. This is an important principle in Naturopathy. Instead of merely placing a ‘bandaid’ on symptoms to achieve a ‘quick fix’, it is the role of the Naturopath to dig deep and treat the cause of illness.
3. Treat the Whole Person
Health and disease result from an intricate interplay of physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, social, familial and occupational factors. Failure to address all aspects of health fundamentally ignores the complexity of the human being. As you may be aware, Naturopathy consults are often much longer than those of conventional medicine. This is because Naturopaths take a detailed case history that encompasses all aspects of an individual’s life in order to obtain a holistic understanding of all factors that impact our health.
4. First Do No Harm
As it is the Naturopath’s role to facilitate the body’s natural ability to heal, doing so in a harmless manner is an important principle. Naturopathic practice that respects the principle of harm-free treatment is traditionally noninvasive, and avoids the suppression of symptoms and the prescription of harmful doses of medicine.
5. Naturopath as Teacher
The word doctor has a Latin origin, meaning ‘teacher’. The power to eliminate disease and optimise health lies within the body. In this sense, the Naturopath assumes the role of teacher so as to educate, inspire, motivate, and encourage self-empowerment to the client. In doing so, the client regains power over their health.
Naturopathy is employed to prevent both the sequel of disease states and the development of new states. In a time where medicine is reactive rather than proactive, it is the Naturopath’s role to facilitate disease prevention. After all, prevention is better than cure!
With a holistic approach to health and disease, Naturopathy plays a vital role in modern medicine. By acknowledging and influencing each aspect of an individual’s life, a state of harmony within the body can be achieved; a state that is free of dis-ease.
I’m Georgia – You’ll find me by the sea in Sydney, Australia.
My love for Naturopathy began when my sister was diagnosed with Stage 4 Endometriosis – a condition of the female reproductive system. After numerous surgeries, the only relief she found was attributed to Naturopathic medicine. Amazing, right! I thought so. I now have a strong love for helping women overcome their reproductive issues.
From advanced yogis to those just starting out their practice, the perfect yoga mat is essential to a productive class experience. But with so many yoga mat options out there, it can be difficult to know what to look for. That’s why the team at Reviews.com spent a month pouring over leading mats to find which performed the very best for yogis of all experience levels.
Check out these mats if you’re in the market
Best Overall: Liforme Yoga Mat
Best No-Frills: Alo Yoga Warrior Mat
Best Budget: Hugger Mugger Para Rubber Yoga Mat
Best Thick: Jade Fusion Mat
Best Travel: Liforme Travel Mat
What to look for at the store
If you’re browsing your options in-store or can’t get your hands on these top performers, there are a few key factors to look for while you shop:
Yoga can be tough on the joints and sensitive bones of on the tops of your feet and your back. Look for a model that is the perfect balance between squishy and dense so that it cushions your body while still maintaining stability. Avoid super-squish mats, which may prove difficult to balance on. Thicker mats like the Jade Fusion work well for those who like a little extra cushion.
There’s nothing worse than slipping and sliding around during an intense Bikram session, right? The two parts of traction are key here: an ideal mat will grip itself to the floor as well as your hands. If you’re trying a mat out in-store, be very conscious of how sweat and intense movement will change your experience in heated or advanced classes so you don’t slip!
Yoga mats come in both open and closed-cell styles. Open-cell mats are very grippy, allowing you to stay in place during a sweaty class because of their absorbency. However, they tend to be very hard to clean for that same reason. Closed-cell mats are far easier to clean, but may perform lower in the grip department. A good balance between the two is important: you can have the greatest mat in the world but if it gets dirty and full of germs, that can spell disaster for you.
Listen to others, but also listen to your body. There are always mats that everyone in class seems to be talking about, but take these recommendations with a grain of salt. Everyone’s body is different and requires different things in their practice.
Read more at https://www.reviews.com/best-yoga-mats/
For years and years, I identified myself with my mind. I thought I was the mind. What a surprise when I discovered I was not! It changed everything. It was a big relief for me because as a teenager, despite being one of the smartest kids at school, I believed myself crazy. There was incessant chatter in my head, most of it unnecessary thoughts of fear and worry, and I didn`t know if it was the same for other people. That chatter was driving me insane, I wanted to go and see a psychiatrist sometimes. But it seemed that everybody found me ‘normal’, and I was doing pretty well at what I was undertaking. So I started assuming that it was just the way to be, and that I would be an overactive thinker for the rest of my life, no respite. As the French philosopher Descartes was saying: ‘I think, therefore I am’. I had no idea how wrong we both were! What a relief it was for me the first time I experienced a few minutes with absolutely no thought. Complete silence. It was so peaceful! And yet I was still alive. I still existed. I could feel myself be in the absence of the mind. That`s when it hit me: I AM even when I don`t think, therefore I am not my mind! To rephrase Descartes I could say: ‘When I do not think, there I am’. Furthermore, I was feeling more myself in this moment than when I was thinking! That changed my life. That`s when I started meditating even more so as to find that space again, that peace, and so as to start controlling my mind. That is when I really started living.
THE MIND AS A COMPUTER
So what is the mind? The mind is like a computer, storing and processing data on its hard drive. Then analysing, comparing, and offering solutions to situations. For example, when I see a flame, straight away the mind may think: flame- fire- heat- careful- burnt hand at seven years of age- painful- could burn now- third degree burn- ambulance- hospital- staying away from flame! All this in a split second. Amazing! My experience and knowledge about fire will prevent me getting burnt each time I see a flame, and at the same time it offers me possible scenarios if I choose to get in contact with it. The mind sees what is in the present. Then, it compares it with what it knows happened in the past, or with what it learned in books, with people, school or society. Then it gives us all this data in thought forms, impressions or feelings. And finally it diverges on possible future scenarios according to all this information. That is why when we are listening to the mind, we find ourselves in the past or a probable future. It is really an amazing tool which is here to help us survive in a physical body in this third dimensional world. The problem is that we forget that it is just that, a tool, a computer. Over the years we put effort into making it strong, sharp and intelligent. Unfortunately, we overuse it and we forget to turn it off. Now the most common problem in the world is an overactive mind and people`s identification with it. It`s like having a TV inside our heads which is turned on all day long, and we can`t stop ourselves from watching it. After a while we even forget that we are actually separate from it. This is the biggest illusion, the identification with the mind. Most diseases of the modern world are related to this confusion: depression, compulsive disorders, anxiety, stress, etc. And taking medication or going to see a psychiatrist or psychologist won`t do any good, because you cannot fix the mind. The mind is the problem. The only medication that will heal these issues is Meditation, because it is the only way to get rid of the problem.
UNDERSTAND YOUR MIND
The first step to understand the mind is to watch it. Pay attention to it. Notice how it works. Follow the strand of your thoughts. Try to remember what triggered your thought patterns. Why are you thinking what you are thinking now? What was your first thought, your first sentence, your first word, etc? Look at your thoughts. Watch them from a distance. Be the observer. Don`t try to understand them, just be aware of them. Look and listen to them as if you were watching a movie, the fictional movie of your imagination. Try to notice the patterns. Try to notice the repetitions. Try to notice how that mind of yours is functioning.
THE MIND AND ASSOCIATIONS
The mind works with associations. You see something that makes you think about another thing which reminds you of something else which…it is a jumping monkey. For example, you see a blue flower. You may think: this is a blue flower- it`s beautiful – I love blue- it looks like the one my mum used to have in her garden- it`s been a long time since I called her- wonder if she found the key she was looking for- that reminds me that I need to pick up my car keys at Kate`s later- then I will need to get something for dinner- a roast would be great- but it takes too long to cook- let`s have mashed potatoes instead- yes that`s good, I’ll have more time to watch my TV show…You are still looking at the flower, but you are gone with the mind. The flower is real, it is what IS NOW, but the mind is not. You left reality to follow an illusion. And this happens all the time, indeed it never stops.
THE MIND AND LABELING
The mind works at labelling. The mind loves to notice and label things which you are seeing with your physical eyes: a blue/ beautiful/ small/ big/ funny/ etc flower, a car, a tree, a bus, oh it`s raining, etc. It likes putting adjective to the material world it sees depending on your experience, subjectivity or perception. It also comments on what/ how your body is feeling in the moment: it`s hot/ cold/ humid/ etc. It transfers physical data to your conscious self so you can act accordingly, like putting a sweater on if you`re cold. It will always describe and label what your senses perceive of the outside world. It is a computer, it processes information.
THE MIND AND READING
The mind loves reading things. Whatever your eyes get in contact with, your mind will try to read if you don`t consciously stop it. For example the billboards in the streets, even if you take the same road every day, if you look at the board you will have the slogan being said inside your head straight away (great for advertising!). That is also why every morning, while you are eating your cereals, you are reading what`s in the pack if it is right in front you, even if you have been eating the same cereals for years and they haven`t changed the ingredients. The mind will always be looking for something to read, while you`re eating, while you`re walking, while you`re on public transport, etc. It will always try to remove you from the experience you are having right now. It will prevent you from focusing on your present reality, and reading is one of its escape tricks.
THE MIND AND TIME
The mind loves to go over the past and sometimes change it. It loves to remember the past, good times or not, like watching a movie over and over again. Then it loves to think about what would have happened if someone might have done this instead of that, if someone might have said that instead of this, or what someone should have done or not done, should have said or not said…The mind also loves to plan the future. It is always concerned about what we should do, don`t do, what could go wrong and why. It loves its ‘what to do’ list: what we ‘have to’ do tomorrow or next week, which day, what time, etc. It likes organizing, planning, making lists and when something is finally done from the list, something else suddenly appears…always busy!
It is a computer, gathering, analysing data and offering solutions. It never stops. It is restless. We made it that way. It will only exist in time, in the past or in the future, and it will always try to escape the present, because in the NOW the mind is not.
This is an excerpt from 7 Illusions
Article by freelance writer Sally Writes
We know that we are living longer than ever, but our aim is to live well; to have a sharp mind, to truly ‘be’ in the present moment, and to hang on to our treasured memories as long as we can. According to data obtained from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, around 3.7 million citizens were aged 65 or over in 2016, with predictions for further growth in numbers of elderly by 2046.
We know that we will be living longer, so it is not surprising that people are making greater efforts than ever before, to boost their mental health and adopt lifestyles that enhance brain function. In this post, we highlight a few natural and holistic methods used to improve brain function.
Omega-3 Fats a Vital Component of the Brain
DHA, an Omega-3 fat, is an essential component of the brain, yet the body itself cannot produce it; it must be obtained from the foods we eat. Sources of Omega-3 include fatty fish such as wild salmon and tuna, liver, and brain.
Omega-3 is vital for brain function because it provides structural support to the cells of the central nervous system. When levels are low, these cells become stiff and inflamed, and cells lose their ability to communicate well.
The Right Balance between Activity and Rest
Extensive studies have shown that exercise has important benefits for cognitive function, particularly in later life. Physical activity raises levels of growth factors like BDNF, which increase resistance to brain injury, improve learning and mental performance, and stimulate the growth and development of nervous tissue in the brain.
Sleep is equally vital; various studies have revealed its importance for concentration, working memory, sustained attention, and reaction times, while long-term sleep deprivation is linked to brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s.
Sleep also ensures the brain enjoys ‘synaptic plasticity’ (which plays an important role in learning and memory).
Nootropics for Better Brain Function
Nootropics, another word for ‘smart supplements’, comprise everything from Vitamin D to caffeine, choline, specific amino acids such as phosphatidylserine, herbs, and even yamabushitake mushrooms.
These supplements and foods essentially ‘sharpen the brain’, each in their own respective way. In a study published in the journal Aging & Mental Health, for instance, gingko biloba was found to provide nearly equal results for Alzheimer’s disease, as the drug donepezil, while in other studies it has been found to improve perceived sleep quality, regulate stress, and improve cognition.
Bacopa Monnieri, used traditionally in Ayurvedic medicine, meanwhile, has been found to improve memory and learning capacity in all age groups, not just the elderly. Fish oil is another popular nootropic, owing to its high Omega-3 content. The full list of supplements and foods is ample, with research showing that each has specific effects on the brain.
Making real improvement to your brain function requires a multifaceted approach in which due importance if given to consuming a healthy diet, exercising regularly and resting well, and adding foods and supplements that have been proven to have powerful benefits for everything from behaviour to cognitive functioning. If you wish to start taking supplements, it is vital to obtain approval from your doctor first, regardless of your age.