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
Keep your phone on charge away from your bed It’s so tempting to check emails just that one last time before bed, or thumb straight for social media apps as soon as you’ve turned off your alarm. So put a stop to these unhealthy autopilot habits by charging your phone away from your bedside. Buy an alarm clock Yep you heard right, a battery operated alarm clock! Stave off the temptation to check emails first thing in the morning, by keeping them out of reach and don’t rely on them to wake you up! Erase social media apps You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can break the habit of automatically flicking through all your social media apps every time you pick up your phone. Remove multiple email accounts Our bosses might be livid, but surely you aren’t paid enough to be on call 24 hours a day? To be answering emails at 10pm or on the tube into work? Respect your sanity (and savour your free time) by deleting any possible email accounts from your phone now. Go on be ruthless! Check …
Can you find 10 minutes this weekend to begin your meditation journey? Scientists have proved that meditation enhances mental performance by improving focus and concentration. It also boosts our creativity and self-acceptance, encourages empathy and boosts our immunity. Counterbalancing the detrimental effects of stress and anxiety. (For more benefits see here). If you’re keen to kick-start your learning and want to see how meditation could impact your life, we’ve created a 10 minute audio guide to help you navigate one of the trickiest first steps – learning to focus the breath. Those with highly active, inquisitive minds will know just how difficult it can be to silence the endless chatter, but with a little help and a lot of patience, it can be done! And if you feel like you’re ready to try a 5 minute mindfulness meditation, why not give this one a try.
It’s that time of the week – Happy Friday! Here’s a beauty from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran; And a woman who held a babe against her Bosom said, Speak to us of Children. And he said: Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts, You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of to-morrow, Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as Living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, And he bends you with his might that his arrows …