This article was written by Lucy Faulks, the Founder of Technotox and originally featured on MindSpace on 1st June 2017. “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” (Old Zen adage) I always knew I wanted to work for myself. Freedom and flexibility are two of my strongest values and every 9-5 job I ever had stepped all over them so the decision to hand in my notice and become an entrepreneur, was one of the easiest I’ve ever made. Not so easy, however, was navigating the emotional rollercoaster that comes with running a small business. Long, lonely days filled with struggle and anxiety regularly featured in my first few months as a start-up. In fact, they’re still a common occurrence two years down the line! It was only when I reconnected with my regular mindfulness practice, something that had fallen by the wayside along with my commute, that I was able to see through the self-induced storm and stay focused …
Are you scared to be alone? Do you only spend time by yourself when you’re forced to? Why is solitude always met with negative connotations? In this scientific based TED Talk, Thuy-vy Nguyen explores what happens to us when we’re alone and how simply shifting to choosing to be alone, can help us to cultivate positive emotions and feelings of peace and relaxation.
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme is Surviving or Thriving? A surprising 1 in 6 people interviewed in the 2016 Mental Health Foundation report, showed symptoms associated with ill mental health – sleep troubles, worry, irritability and fatigue – yet they didn’t believe they had a mental health problem. So this year, instead of looking at why 1 in 4 adults in the UK now suffers from ill mental health, the focus is on why so few people with seemingly good mental health are merely surviving not thriving. Perhaps the spectrum of good and bad mental health is much narrower than we initially thought. If so, where do you sit on the scale? Find out more about the state of the UK’s mental health here and get involved in Mental Health Awareness Week here.
The Summer Day by Mary Oliver Who made the world? Who made the swan, and the black bear? Who made the grasshopper? This grasshopper, I mean— the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down— who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes. Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face. Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away. I don’t know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day. Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Today is Time to Talk Day. A day to break the silence around mental health and get people talking about their struggles. Starting a small conversation with someone today, even opening up about your own battles with mental health, could help to change a life. The more we share and show our vulnerabilities, the quicker we can erase the stigma and help those in need. In words of Gandhi ‘be the change you wish to see in the world‘.
Last night my co-leader Andy and I hosted week one of the Action for Happiness course Exploring What Matters. An eight week course designed to bring communities together to explore the things that really matter for a happy and meaningful life. The course involves watching videos, carrying out positive psychology interventions (things proven to make us happier!) along with lots of group discussion and sharing. Backed by the Dalai Lama it aims to spread happiness and joy, starting with individuals within our communities, who commit to doing as much as they can to help others and reduce misery. Each session has a theme based on big questions and last night along with our 20 attendees, we explored What really matters in life? Is it money or success? A thriving family home full of love and support? Or simply safety, warmth and food on the table? One of the first surprising facts we learnt is less than 1% of our happiness is affected by our income (our group guessed 10-25%). This is measured by government polls. So even though the US economy has experienced …
For those meditators amongst you, you’ll be interested to hear about the Alphabet of the Heart – a mnemonic meditation exercise created by Dr James R. Doty, M.D, founder and director of the Centre for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University. The exercise was created by Dr. Doty as a reminder of the 10 steps towards the journey of compassion and mindfulness. Attributes that need to be cultivated to live a happy, meaningful and altruistic life. These include Compassion, Dignity, Equanimity, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Humility, Integrity, Justice, Kindness and Love. The exercise involves running through each letter during our daily meditation practise. With reflect for a time on each attribute, manifest the intention, and as a result, cultivate more of it in our everyday lives. You can hear Dr. Doty explaining the creation of the exercise here and there’s also a full podcast series including personal reflections, research on each attribute and practical tips to cultivate that specific attribute found here.
Self-Observation Without Judgement Release the harsh and pointed inner voice. It’s just a throwback to the past, and holds no truth about this moment. Let go of self-judgment, the old, learned ways of beating yourself up for each imagined inadequacy. Allow the dialogue within the mind to grow friendlier, and quiet. Shift out of inner criticism and life suddenly looks very different. I can say this is only because I make the choice a hundred times a day to release the voice that refuses to acknowledge the real me. What’s needed here isn’t more prodding toward perfection, but intimacy – seeing clearly, and embracing what I see. Love, not judgement, sows the seeds of tranquility and change. by Danna Faulds
The Tale of Two Wolves An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life… ”A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. ”It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.” “One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. ” “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. ” “This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked, “Which wolf will win Grandfather?” The old chief simply replied, ”The one you feed.“
To celebrate World Mental Health Day earlier this month, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) collaborated with Action for Happiness to produce a “10 Keys to Happier Living” poster. Listing everyday actions to boost wellbeing and improve your mental health. It’s a wonderful tool to print out and refer to when you’re feeling a bit low or out of kilter. You could even check it every day and take positive action to protect your mental health. Download a printable pdf here – 10-keys-to-happier-living