How to do a Mindful Stretch

We all move every day hundreds if not thousands of time. How many of those movements are you aware of your body and the sensations as they happen? Very few I would guess. Well that can change if you deliberately learn how to do a mindful stretch.

Mindful stretch

To begin your mindful stretch, come into a standing position and notice your breath. Just feel your breath coming in and going out. You could place your hand on your belly and feel how it rises and falls with the breath.

Now slowly move your weight side to side and back and forth until you feel like you are evenly balanced. Drop your shoulders away from your ears and release your jaw. Notice how your body feels. Really listen to your body as you breathe.

Move Mindfully

If it feels ok, you could close your eyes at this point. If that doesn’t feel good, just lower your gaze slightly. Now on an out breath, slowly start to move your arms out to the sides until they are shoulder height. Ensure your shoulders are relaxed and not crunching towards your ears!

Really pay attention to the sensations in your arms, shoulders and torso as you raise your arms up. On the next exhalation, continue to slowly move your arms up above your head. Drop your shoulders again and take another breath. On the next out breath, stretch one hand even further up and then relax it. Repeat with the other hand. Check in with your arms, shoulders, torso, legs and feet again. See what you can notice now. How does your body feel now?

With the next exhalation, slowly start to move your arms back to shoulder height. Check in again with your body and the sensations. See if anything feels different now. On the next out breath, slowly move your arms back down to your sides. What can you notice now? Check how your breath and body feel now.

You can repeat this process several times and notice how you feel at the end of the movement. Try doing different types of mindful stretches or mindful movements and notice how that feels. Be curious and focus on the body sensations not how far you stretched.

Move During Your Day

You can do this mindful stretch or movement several times during the day. Try doing it first thing in the morning, when you get out of bed. It is great to do this if you sit at a desk all day. Not only do you get a chance to move your body, you also drop out of the busyness of your head for a few minutes. Repeat the movement before you go to bed and you will begin to drop out of doing mode and into being mode. This can help you sleep better if your mind is less busy.

Want to know more about the benefits of mindfulness meditation? Pop over here.

Keep being mindful!

Louise

Meditation Tips

Here are my top tips to get the most out of your mindfulness meditation experiences:

Let Go of Expectation

With mindfulness meditation we want to let go of any expectation. If we start with an expectation that we will feel relaxed and our mind is very busy during our practice, we will be disappointed! So we want to let go of any expected feeling, sensation or outcome.

In life, we so often become attached to certain experiences and feelings. If we feel happy or good, we don’t want it to end. It is a natural human tendency. During our meditation we constantly need to let go. We let go of our thoughts and emotions if we are focusing on the breath. We let go of pleasant feelings that occur during our meditation and likewise our unpleasant ones too. We just accept what is here, moment by moment. Letting go is part of staying present in the present moment.

Acceptance

Acknowledging/accepting things just as they are. We need to accept things as they are in this present moment. We often won’t like the experience (e.g. pain or a feeling of anger) but if we accept it is here it loses its power over us and can transform naturally without us striving to change it. It is the paradox that if we strive to change the experience we aren’t accepting it, but if we accept it, our experience can change.

Mindfulness meditation

Beginners Mind

It is helpful to adopt a beginners mind. Being child-like in our attitude so that we bring a sense of curiosity and fun to our experiences. Children don’t pre judge or have vast past experiences that they refer to. We need to let go of our beliefs and our expectations from our past experiences. Letting go of thinking we know what will happen and just being curious to the experience. As if each meditation is the first one we’ve ever done.

Non-striving

This is embracing being mode. We are so caught up in doing mode in our daily lives, that we need to emphasise the non-striving attitude of being during meditation practice. We aren’t trying to get anywhere, we have no goal, we’re just being. Noticing what is happening in this present moment. Being aware of our experience as it happens, as it is here anyway.

Kindness

Finally, and very importantly, we need to be kind to ourselves. Interwoven through all of the above and in our practice, should be an attitude of kindness. Of loving warmth, friendliness, compassion and forgiveness towards ourselves. If we can let go of self-criticism (I’m doing it wrong) and be kind and patient with ourselves we will embody mindfulness much more.

“Just watch this moment, without trying to change it at all. What is happening? What do you feel? What do you see? What do you hear?” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

I hope you find these tips useful. Remember to keep practising. Let your experience be your experience.

Louise

Ground Yourself in Nature

I love Autumn – it is a great time to be in nature. There are so many colours to see. You can see the leaves changing colour day by day. It’s a really easy time to be mindful.

Autumn nature
Autumn delight

Simply fully open your senses as you walk.

  • Notice the colours and textures.
  • Feel the cooler temperatures on your face.
  • Listen to the sound of the wind blowing through the trees.
  • Listen to the crunch of the fallen leaves.
  • Smell the earthy smell after the rain.

It’s a really good time to ground yourself too. Maybe you have a favourite tree. Go and stand next to it and connect with it’s energy. Or sit against it and close your eyes and just be for a while.

“Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.” – Elizabeth Lawrence

If it’s not too cold, try walking barefoot on the grass or at the beach. Wrap up warm and sit outside for a while, tuning in to what you can see, hear and smell. To connect with our sense of taste why not cook some warming soup or a hearty stew.

You could collect some fallen leaves and bring them home to remind you to connect to mother nature. Make an Autumnal display and put it somewhere prominent in your home. This is especially good if you live in the city.

Autumn display nature
Autumn display

“Autumn… the year’s last, loveliest smile.” – William Cullen Bryant

I hope you enjoy grounding yourself and being mindful this Autumn.

Louise

Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Body

I was recently talking to a couple of people who mentioned that they were having trouble sleeping. After discovering that they were both suffering from overthinking or ruminating I shared some thoughts with what could help them.

Mindfulness can help us sleep better. Mindfulness is about being present in the present moment. We pay attention without judgment, to things as they are. We learn our thoughts are just thoughts not facts. With practice we can quieten our minds, which can help us sleep better.

Here are two easy to learn meditation techniques that can help when you can’t sleep:

  1. Breath Meditation
  2. Body Scan

Breath Meditation

The breath meditation is one of the simplest meditations there is. That doesn’t mean to say that it is always easy though. After making sure you are comfortable, place one or both hands on your belly. Tune in to the breath and feel your hands rise on the inhalation and fall on the exhalation. That’s it! Repeat.

Your mind will wander as that is what minds do!

Every time you notice your mind has wandered, very gently bring it back to your breath and feel the next inhalation or exhalation.

After a while you can remove your hands from your belly and try to keep your focus on the breath. Keep gently bringing your mind back to the breath every time you notice it has wandered off to thinking, worrying, planning etc.

Belly breathing meditation
Belly breathing

Body Scan

With the body scan we use the sensations of the body to keep us in the present moment. Make sure you are comfortable and lying on your back with your hands and feet resting out to the sides of the body.

Start by focusing on the breath. Feel the breath come in and feel the breath go out of the body. See if you can feel your belly rising and falling with each breath.

Body scan
Body scan

Now start at your left foot and see if you can notice any sensations in your left toes. Keep your attention on your left toes and see what you can notice there. If there is numbness or no sensation that is fine too. When you are ready, take a deeper breath in and out and move on to the sole of your left foot. Put your full attention there now. Allow yourself to feel any and all sensations in the sole of your left foot.

When you are ready to move on, move your awareness to the top of your left foot and see what sensations you can feel in this part of your body. Carry on in this way with the heel, ankle, calf, shin etc of the left leg. Repeat with the right foot and leg.

When you notice your mind has wandered, note where it went and gently bring it back to your breath and the body part you are focusing on.

Continue in the same way with the pelvis, back, torso, chest, hands and arms, shoulders, neck, head and face. Bringing your attention to each part in turn and just noticing what sensations are present.

Remember, the aim isn’t to feel any particular sensations (e.g. relaxation), so don’t try to force anything. It is to just be present in the body moment to moment, region by region. We are just paying attention to whatever sensations are present as we focus on each region in turn.

These techniques can be very effective, but are best practiced without any expectations. Just do the practice regularly and see what happens.

If you would like some help please get in touch.
Louise

Reiki Awareness Week 2019

It’s Reiki Awareness Week 15th – 21st June…

If you have never experienced Reiki before then I would love to introduce you to this amazing healing technique.

I first discovered Reiki over 15 years ago when I visited a spa for some pampering. Expecting to only receive a facial or massage I was surprised to be offered this funny sounding technique!

Receiving Reiki (pronounced Ray-Key) was wonderful and I enjoyed it so much that I later decided to train and become a practitioner myself.

Relaxing Reiki

Reiki is shared with the client fully clothed, usually laid on a massage couch in a quiet environment. Most people find it very relaxing and it can help reduce your stress levels and aid the body’s healing ability.

If you would like to find out more then do get in touch and I will be pleased to share this wonderful healing technique with you.

I look forward to sharing Reiki with you.
Louise

Stress Awareness Month

April is Stress Awareness Month. We all suffer from stress from time to time. Learning your stress triggers and responses is really helpful.

Stressed

Here’s some useful questions that can help you manage your stress:

Q. How do you know you are getting stressed?

Q. Where do you feel stress in your body?

Q. What happens when your stress levels get high?

Q. Do you know how to reduce your stress?

Having self care activities written down and ready to go is really helpful. When we are stressed we don’t think clearly. So writing down things that work to reduce your stress really helps when you need it the most.

Things that might help:

  • Meditation (even 5 minutes can make a difference)
  • Exercise e.g. walking in nature
  • Breathing techniques
  • Reiki
  • Having a relaxing bath
  • EFT (Tapping)
Mindfulness Meditation Stressed

It is best to counter stress before it gets too bad. So learn to recognise the signs that you are getting stressed and take some positive actions to reduce it. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for you. So find out what works best for you and do that!

If you’d like some help reducing your stress, I’d love to help. I have helped clients for almost 20 years and have lots of experience and different tools to draw on.

Louise


Put a Spring in Your Step

Spring is here and the days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer and the nights are shorter. What’s not to like? Here’s my top tips for getting a spring back in your step!

Get Outside

Reconnect with Mother Nature and spend some time outdoors. You might not have been outdoors much during winter due to the cold and the rain, so it’s a great time to start spending more time outdoors. With the longer days it’s easier to do as well as we have more daylight. So take a walk during your lunch break or as soon as you get home. It’s a great way to clear your head, improve your mood and burn some calories too!

  • Walk at lunchtime
  • Get off the bus or train a stop early
  • Do some gardening (great to tidy it up after the winter)
  • Meditate outside (wrap a blanket around you if it’s still a bit chilly)
  • Watch the spring lambs in the fields
Spring
Spring lambs

Spleen Thump

This only takes about 15 seconds to complete. Benefits:

  • Increases your energy levels
  • Strengthens your immune system
  • Balances your blood chemistry
  • Helps you metabolize food

To find the spleen neurolymphatic points: In line with your nipples, straight beneath your breasts and down over the next rib.

Tap firmly with several fingers for about 15 seconds. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Do this every day to keep your energy flowing.

Spring Clean

Finally, it’s a great time to have a good spring clean! There’s nothing like clearing out old clutter and unused things from your house. Increase your feel-good factor by creating some bags for charity e.g. old winter clothes you haven’t worn, books you’ve finished reading.

Once you’ve sorted out your clutter, then you can give your house a good spring clean. Open the windows and let lots of lovely fresh air in. Bring some spring flowers in to brighten up the place – other flowers apart from daffodils are available (apparently!) 🙂

Daffodils
Daffodils on my table

I hope you feel full of the joys of spring after these tips.

Louise

Happy New Year 2019

Wishing you a very happy, healthy 2019.

Happy new year 2019
Happy New Year

Forget about the resolutions as most of us end up ditching them by mid January anyway! They can also induce feelings of inadequacy and guilt.

Instead, take some time to review your 2018 and plan for this year. Here are some suggestions for you:

Review 2018

  • What was the best thing about 2018?
  • What are you most proud of achieving in 2018?
  • What was your most important lesson of 2018?

Plan 2019

  • What do you want to achieve the most in 2019?
  • What is your focus word for 2019?
  • What hobbies/activities do you want to do this year?
  • What self-care things will you do to look after yourself this year?

Set Your Goals

Using the answers from above, set your goals for the year. Then break them down into goals for the months and weeks ahead. Remember to regularly review your goals and break them down further if you’re not achieving them, or make them bigger if you are exceeding them 🙂

I hope that you have a great 2019. Do let me know if you’d like some help.

Louise

Merry Christmas 2018

Christmas 2018
Wishing you joy and peace this Christmas

Christmas 2018 is almost upon us. Remember to take some time for yourself. It can get a bit crazy with shopping, wrapping, cooking and travelling to do.

Nobody pushes our buttons like our family. So take a deep breath whenever tension rises. A quick meditation or some tapping can really help us calm down.

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas. I look forward to sharing with you in 2019.

Best wishes,
Louise

3 Minute Breathing Space

Many of us know the benefits of mindfulness but we have such busy lives that it feels like we never have enough time. If that sounds familiar then this meditation is for you. Most people can manage to find the time to practice this one. It’s called the Breathing Space meditation and it can be as short as just 3 minutes!

3 Minute Breathing Space

Breathing space
Breathing Space

Firstly, make a conscious change to your posture. Sit upright with your back straight but not stiff. Close your eyes if that feels ok.

Step 1

Ask yourself what’s going on in your mind and body right now?

  • What thoughts are present?
  • What feelings are here?
  • Become aware of any sensations in the body.

Don’t try to change anything. Just be aware of what is already here. Try not to judge anything, just bring your kind attention to whatever is here, right now.

Step 2

  • Now, become aware of your breathing. Narrow your attention to just the sensations of your breathing.
  • See if you can feel your breath moving in your abdomen.
  • Try and notice the full inhalation and the full exhalation.

If your mind wanders (as it naturally will), just gently bring it back to your breath. Coming in and going out.

Step 3

  • Finally, expand the focus of awareness now to take in your whole body. As if your whole body was breathing.
  • Become aware of your posture, any sensations on surface of your skin and deeper in your body.
  • Holding in awareness all the sensations in your body and breath just as they are.

Coming home to your body, coming home to this moment.

As best you can, bring this expanded awareness to the rest of your day.

Here’s my recorded version if you’d like to try it:

FFE 3 Minute Breathing Space Meditation

This meditation is great to practice in times of stress or just to check in with yourself, several times a day.

Best wishes,
Louise

Celebrating the Autumn Equinox

The Autumn Equinox this year happened on Sunday 23rd September at 2.54am (BST). This is of course in the Northern hemisphere. In the Southern hemisphere it was the Spring (or vernal) equinox. So it means that it’s officially Autumn now. Autumn is a time of transition, where the leaves change colour and fall. The days become equal with the night and the temperature starts to drop. It is a good time of year to see if you need to make any changes in your life too.

Autumn Retreat

Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year and I was due to attend a Woodland Mindfulness retreat, but thanks to the storm it got cancelled. I was very disappointed as I had been looking forward to it for ages. However, I glad I wasn’t in a tent when the rain and wind were lashing against my windows over the weekend! I did some tapping to help myself deal with the disappointment and decided I didn’t just want it to be an ‘ordinary’ weekend, so I had a home retreat instead.

Autumn colours
Autumn colours

I went for a long walk on the Friday and was mindful of the gorgeous Autumn colours. I listened to the wind, the birds and insects as they went about their business. As I walked, I also tuned in to the felt senses of my body. Feeling my feet hitting the ground, the muscles of my legs moving and the beating of my heart. I brought mindful awareness to my thoughts and emotions as they arose. When I got home I spent time writing in my journal and doing some mindful colouring in. I did several meditations throughout the day and pampered myself a bit.

Yoga Nidra Day

On the Saturday I went to a Yoga day celebrating the Autumn equinox. We did some gentle yoga and a couple of yoga nidra sessions. Yoga nidra means sleep – a very relaxing type of meditation. We laid on our mats, with blankets under our heads, bolsters under our knees and wrapped ourselves in several warm blankets. Once we were warm and snuggly our lovely teacher Fiona led us on a journey through our body and into a deep state of relaxation. We dined on delicious vegan food and in the afternoon we braved the wind and rain and foraged for leaves, berries and plants to make a beautiful Mandala. I loved doing that and the finished Mandala looked gorgeous.

Autumn Equinox Mandala
Autumn Equinox Mandala

Autumn Self-care

The day was very nurturing and insightful – just what I needed. It reminded me of the importance of self-care. This is a topic very dear to my heart and one I talk about a lot to my clients.

We cannot keep on keeping on without taking care of ourselves. Nature is starting to slow down, so I encourage you to take some time out and look after you this Autumn. Spend some time thinking about what changes you need to make in your life:

  • Do you need to slow down too?
  • Do you need to take care of yourself more?
  • Do you need to let go of something?

I would be happy to help you on your self-care journey. Do get in touch if you would like some help.

Louise

Eating Mindfully – Eating Healthily

Eating mindfully is a great way to eat more healthily. Think about it. If you eat on the go, grabbing what is convenient and quick, you will often be eating unhealthily. If you eat quickly at your desk whilst working, you will definitely be eating non-mindfully. You will be more likely to overeat or eat unhealthy snacks when you’re not paying attention. You may even reach the end of the packet of crisps and realise you haven’t even tasted them!

Eating mindfully is an easy way to eat more healthily. Make some time to make yourself a healthy, nutritious lunch. Or if you are really pressed for time, grab yourself a ready made salad or sandwich. Spend some time choosing a healthier option.

 

Eating Mindfully - Eating Healthily
Eating Mindfully

If you can, get away from your desk (even if it’s just for 10 minutes). Take a deep breath before you begin. Open your lunch and just look at it. Notice all the different colours, shapes and textures. Breathe in again and notice the smells. You may now start to salivate. Notice how you feel about your lunch. Notice what is happening in your body. Is your stomach now anticipating your food?

Slowly bring your first bite/forkful towards your mouth. Take another breath before you place it in your mouth. Notice the sensations on your tongue and the sensations as you start to chew slowly. Chew for longer than you normally would and notice how your body feels as you swallow. Don’t start getting your next forkful ready until you have swallowed the first one. See if you can eat the whole of your lunch like this.

Be mindful of each forkful/bite if you can. Any time you notice that your mind has wandered, gently bring it back to your lunch. Notice the colours, shapes and textures again. Notice the taste and smell. Become aware of how your body is feeling. Notice how you feel emotionally.

If you can, wash up your dishes mindfully and try to bring your mindful awareness with you when you return back to your desk.

Try to practice eating this way at least once a week. If you can, be very mindful of the first bite or sip of each meal or drink that you have.

You may find that you start to make healthier choices when you are choosing/making your food.

Wishing you a mindful day.
Louise

 

Reiki Awareness Week – Spreading the Word

This week has been Reiki Awareness Week. I have been posting every day on Facebook and Twitter to help spread the word about this fabulous technique.

I first came across Reiki over 15 years ago. I went to a spa for a bit of relaxation and pampering and thought I would just have massage and facial. However, one of the ladies there was offering Reiki (which I had never heard of). I decided to give it a go and loved it so much that I later trained to be a practitioner. The rest as they say is history!

I had the pleasure of attending a Reiki share on Tuesday to celebrate Reiki Awareness Week. This is where Reiki practitioners get together and swap sessions. There were 12 of us in the group and the energy in the room was amazing. We had 4 couches set up, which meant 4 groups of 3 people sharing Reiki at the same time. One person laid on the couch to receive, whilst the other 2 shared Reiki and then we swapped.

As a practitioner, I regularly give myself Reiki and practice the precepts etc. However, it was wonderful to just lie back and receive Reiki from other people. We also spent time sending out Reiki to people in need.

Reiki is very relaxing to receive and my clients often fall asleep during the session.

Reiki Awareness Week
Relaxing Reiki

Reiki works on all levels, not just the physical and can help us emotionally, mentally and spiritually too. It can help our bodies to heal, boost our energy levels and increase our feeling of wellbeing. It is very helpful following an illness or operation. Regular Reiki helps boost our immune system, helping us stay healthy. It can also help us make better health choices too, by becoming more mindful and tuning in to what our body needs.

If you would like to learn more, checkout my Reiki page or get in touch to book your session now.

With Reiki blessings,
Louise

Mental Health Awareness Week

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week this week. I think it is very important for us to talk about our mental health and for the stigma surrounding mental health problems to end.

Mental Health Awareness Week
Mental Health Awareness Week 2018

This year the focus is on stress, something we all experience in life!

  • It’s ok to not be ok
  • It’s ok to ask for help
  • It’s ok to say you’re struggling

We all struggle with stress at some point in our life. We all need help from time to time. If we had a physical illness we would probably be ok with telling people and asking for help. With mental health it’s usually different and it’s time that changed.

We can all do our bit and be there for friends, family or colleagues when they need us. We can offer kindness and support. We can let people know that they are not alone.

There seems to be a culture nowadays where we are expected to be stressed or we feel we should say we are stressed. If we’re not stressed, we can feel guilty and take on extra things.

I would like the culture to develop where we don’t have to be stressed. Where taking care of ourselves is given a higher priority and never seen as selfish.

There are lots of things we can do to reduce our stress, e.g.

  • Exercise
  • Meditation / Mindfulness
  • EFT (Tapping)
  • Reiki or other therapies
  • Massage
  • Eating well
  • Getting enough sleep

When we are stressed though, we often feel we don’t have time for these things and we need to make the time in order to stop ourselves getting overwhelmed by stress.

I know from personal past experience just how bad stress and anxiety can feel. That is why I am so passionate now about helping people overcome stress and anxiety.

It’s good to talk, so if you’d like some help please get in touch.
Louise

Benefits of Mindfulness

Benefits of Mindfulness

We have all probably heard of mindfulness by now. So what are the real-life benefits of doing mindfulness?

I created the following image to show some of the benefits…

Mindfulness Benefits
Benefits of Mindfulness

These are just some of the benefits of mindfulness meditation. Others include:

  • Greater zest for life
  • Improved mood
  • Reduced depression
  • Better resilience
  • Pain management
  • Decrease in cigarette, alcohol or drug abuse
  • Immunity boost

Many people find it hard to find the time to meditate. You can begin to benefit from just 5 or 10 minutes a day, so even if you are very busy, you should be able to fit it in your day. It is better to practice consistently every day for just 5 or 10 minutes than once in a while doing a long practice (30 minutes plus).

Find a time of day that suits you – not everyone can do it first thing in the morning. You might find when you get home from work a good time – allowing you to transition from work mode into home mode. It is also important to find a posture that works for you too. You don’t have to be cross-legged on the floor. You could be sat in a chair or lying down if that is more comfortable. You can have your feet flat on the floor with your knees knocked in and just touching each other. You are less likely to fall asleep in this position and it is helpful if you have a bad back.

The simplest meditation is to focus on your breathing. Watching the full breath on the inhalation and on the exhalation. Any time you find your mind has wandered (and it will – repeatedly!) gently bring it back to your breathing. Notice where in your body you can feel your breath – your nostrils, the back of your throat or your belly rising and falling with each breath.

Why not give it a go?

 

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” – Dalai Lama