Why not try this simple practice? We’d love to hear how you go. Use this simple breathing to start with https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rS5RvOyk2E&feature=youtu.be
Many of us sit slumped in chairs for long periods of time. This gradually starts to weaken the core. When this happens, we also lose essential support to help the spine stay upright and in a healthy position.
This video demonstrates a simple technique you can engage periodically through the day to re-build your core strength and start to support your spine again.
We teach loads of simple practical techniques like this as part of our Wellbeing & Mindfulness Sessions. If you’re interested to know more, we’d love to hear from you.
Today is World Health Day and a great opportunity to reflect on our wellbeing. Although it’s a complex concept with many layers of meaning, if you ask most people they’d all agree that their health is important to them. Without good health, it’s much harder to live life to the fullest.
What’s exciting is that wellbeing is starting to be taken far more seriously in the workplace and there is also more and more serious research into the topic from the health sciences to the field of positive psychology.
I like to think of wellbeing as fostering abundance – of energy, vitality and zest for life.
A simple way for us to examine our wellbeing to consider
- Are we healthy of mind?
- Are we healthy of body?
- Are we healthy of spirit?
These are deeply entwined and interrelated with each impacting on, and shaping the other. And for each person, our relative emphasis on these dimensions will inevitably be different. Moreover, what helps one person foster wellbeing in each of these areas will look and feel different to another.
What matters is that you have a balance across all these areas and a variety of tools up your sleeve to help you promote your overall health and wellbeing.
Below are some simple tips for fostering wellbeing.
- Schedule some reflection time – do you start your day booting up your computer and diving straight into email? Each morning for the next week, see if you can start your work day in a different way. Perhaps give yourself 15-30 minutes of quiet reflection time, thinking about the most important tasks you need to achieve, the relationships you want to foster, and the impact you want to have on others in the process. Give yourself an opportunity to focus on what matters most.
- Notice the substance and quality of your thoughts – we spend a large part of our day on autopilot and often miss some key opportunities in the process. Periodically throughout the day, take some time to notice the sorts of things you think about. What does the dialogue inside your head sound like? Do you give yourself grief about stuff? Are you preoccupied with small trivial matters? In particular, can you tune into the negative self-talk and rewrite it to be more positive and self-affirming?
- Pause – It seems that the pace of work is more and more frantic with each month that passes. We bounce from task to task, meeting to meeting, without much, if any time to think. When you move from one task to another can you stop and take 3 deliberate slows breaths? Give yourself a little mental space.
- Increase your incidental movement – when it comes to physical wellbeing there’s loads of focus on exercise, and rightly so. But we don’t always have time to hit the gym to bring some movement into our day. Can you expand the way you see ‘exercise’ and look for ways to bring more incidental movement into your day? What opportunities do you have to move more where you are? Can you go for a walk and talk with a colleague, take the stairs, or jump off the bus or train one stop early?
- Release tension – we hold a lot of our stress and tension in our bodies. Consider when you’re annoyed or tense what happens to your hands or shoulders or jaw for example. Can you take a moment to notice the tension you’re holding onto in your body right now? Where it is? What can you do to ease that tension a little? Open and close your hands or roll and relax your shoulders or soften your jaw.
- Foster abundance and vitality – our lives are made up of a series of gentle habits. We get home from work, perhaps pour a glass of wine or flop onto the couch to put our feet up. Many of us spend time watching TV or engaging with multimedia. Can you carve out a new habit somewhere in here and opt to make a different choice today? Perhaps you’ll take a walk after dinner or skip the TV and read a book, go into the yard to play with the kids or opt to take a bath.
- Connect with someone – social connection and a sense of belonging are absolutely vital to wellbeing. We come across people all day long, but how often do we take the time to truly connect with them, ask them more than the requisite ‘how are you’ and then take the time to really listen to their response? Is there an opportunity for you to connect more meaningfully with someone today?
- A little kindness – it feels good to do good. All the research tells us this. So why not create an opportunity each day to do something small for someone else? It could be a simple as lending an ear or stopping yourself from interrupting to allow them to finish their thought or giving them some positive feedback.
- Be generous – like kindness, all the research points to the feel-good component of being generous. And being generous doesn’t have to be with money or things. Are there opportunities for you to be more a little more generous with your time or with your words? Can you find and share the positive in someone or something or bring a little extra energy and enthusiasm to your next meeting? These are all ways of sharing a little something with others and being generous.
World Health Day is a wonderful reminder for all of us to bring our health and wellbeing into conscious focus more often. It can start with bringing one small thing into your day.
Feel free to add and share your own ideas to the list we’ve shared here – we’d love to hear your suggestions!
From all the team at M.A.D. we wish you well!
This recorded breathing practice focusses on extending the inhalation.
When you extend your inhale you activate the Sympathetic Nervous System which has an energizing effect on the body and creates greater mental alertness.
When you listen to the audio recording focus on cultivating a comfortable and soft breathing cycle.
This is best done in the morning as you start your day or at any point in the day when your energy and focus wanes.
Be mindful not to strain or force the breath.
NOTE: DO NOT USE THIS TECHNIQUE if you are asthmatic or prone to respiratory problems.
This is what my partner says when he’s having a bad day or his body is staging a rebellion – except he says it more emphatically and with a somewhat stronger choice of words.
Let’s face it we can all have a shitty day or sometimes wake up feeling like poop.
Perhaps you had too many drinks the night before or a heavy meal that left you wondering why one earth you ate it in the first place. Maybe you’re exhausted after too many tight deadlines or a hectic week running helter skelter chasing your tail. Maybe you’re just plain wired, finding it hard to switch off in order to get a good night sleep.
Whatever the reason – and the list is endless – when we feel like poop, our energy is low, we feel sluggish and it’s hard to focus, be productive or engage with others positively.
The good news is there are some super fast and simple things you can do to get out of the doldrums and pep yourself up.
This month, in the M.A.D. curriculum, we’re focussed on movements that elevate and extend the spine.
The awesome thing about extending the spine is that it’s a natural mood elevator.
Lifting the spine, broadening the chest and opening the arms are expansive movements that make us feel good.
Furthermore, when you sit up straight, you activate a bundle of nerves in the brain stem that instantly make you more attentive and alert.
Your communication will improve and so will your confidence.
So next time you feel like poop, try this simple technique:
It’s an instant pick-me-up. Enjoy!
To find out more about what we do, contact us at M.A.D. Mindworks.
Katherine Mair, M.A.D. Creator
For related sources see:
Amy Cuddy, Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges.
Rick Hanson’s, Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom.
I had a mild epiphany recently. I say mild because it wasn’t necessarily one of those oh-my-god lightning bolt moments. Rather it was a small thought that passed through my head. It quietly resonated. Then it stayed with me.
It was simply this – “I’m not busy”.
Since then, when my monkey mind revs into gear and thunderously roars something along the lines of “Oh dear. (big sigh) I’m just so busy. I have too much to do and not enough time to do it all” (replete with a good dose of self pity), this other simpler thought pops up and quietly reminds me that “No. I’m NOT busy.”
Rather than fostering busyness I’ve decided to focus on getting down to business. And choosing to actually enjoy whatever activity I’m engaged with in that moment.
I AM going to be focused on whatever I’m doing and enjoy it.
I AM NOT going to tell people that I’m busy.
I’m experimenting with this in all aspects of my life – whether that be meeting with clients, teaching teenagers, facilitating workshops, building a team, doing my taxes, or preparing my daughter for school.
Interestingly, what it’s creating is an opportunity to tell people something else like;
I’m focused on …
I’m excited about …
I’m engaged in …
What this does is materially change the conversation. Instead of exchanging small talk about how busy we both are and how everyone these days is just so busy – which contains an inherent inference of negativity, negation, absence or distraction – we start off on a different foot, one full of energy, positivity and engagement. The conversation is rich, meaningful and fulfilling.
I leave feeling more focussed. More energised. More connected.
Not to mention, it’s a load more fun.
The business of busyness is terribly time consuming and really rather unproductive.
Can you take the word busy out of your lexicon for a day?
Try it and let me know how you go.
If you’re interested to find out how you can help your team shift from busyness to business, contact us at M.A.D. Mindworks.
Katherine Mair, M.A.D. Creator
For more interesting articles that relate to busyness and productivity see:
The festive season has become such a busy time. Yet it’s also a time to pause, reflect and celebrate. That makes it a wonderful time to say thank you.
The simple act of expressing gratitude can make us feel better – and there is plenty of research to this effect*.
It doesn’t have to be complicated or profound, just one small thing you consciously choose to be thankful for and a practice you cultivate regularly.
- Think of something, anything, you feel grateful for – the sun shining, the rain falling, the food in your fridge, your friends, a helpful colleague, a new perspective …
- Make a conscious point of expressing your gratitude for that person, experience or thing – put it into words and say it to yourself, in your mind or out loud.
- You may wish to express your gratitude directly – with a card, text, email, a phone call or in person.
Who will you celebrate this festive season?
Can you pause for just a moment to say … Thank you. I’m grateful that you …
It might just be the best gift you give them and you this Christmas.
So on that note, I’d like to say Thank You. For supporting me as a professional. For asking questions and spurring discussion. For sharing your research and ideas. For engaging with me and my work.
I sincerely wish you all the very best for the festive season and look forward to deepening our professional networks and connections through the coming year.
With Love and Gratitude,
M.A.D. Creator, www.madyoga.com.au
*For more information on the links between gratitude, happiness and wellbeing see;
We have a profound and powerful tool at our disposal to approach challenges with a greater sense of equanimity.
And it is quite literally under our nose.
It is the breath.
To breathe in. To breathe out. With conscious awareness.
It’s positively inspiring to watch the response when I guide people into a deep breathing technique known as Abdominal Breathing.
Whether they are busy professionals or stressed out teens, the response is always the same. Their faces soften. Their shoulders drop a few centimetres. You can see them physically relax and mentally become very present.
You can do this anywhere at any time during the day when you need to re-set, re-focus or transition from one thing to the next.
SIT TALL: Lengthen the spine. Relax your shoulders.
STEP 1: Take 2-3 slow breaths. Breathe into the centre of your CHEST.
STEP 2: Take 2-3 more breaths. Now breathe into your RIB CAGE.
STEP 3: Take 2-3 more breaths. Then breathe into your BELLY.
BRING IT TOGETHER: Now take another 2-3 breaths. Draw each breath progressively down into the CHEST > RIBS > ABDOMEN.
When you practice this regularly you will find that you start to engage the technique automatically in challenging situations.
It’s simple. It works. And it’s right under our noses.
Have a M.A.D. day!
Katherine Mair, M.A.D. Creator
Wondering where to start with all this mindfulness mumbo jumbo?
It’s really rather simple. Here’s some suggestion for fostering mindfulness in your day:
- Waking – take 3 slow breaths before you get out of bed.
- Bathroom – look in the mirror and make an affirmation or set an intention for your day.
“Today I will bring positivity to all I do.”
“Today I will find humour in frustrating experiences.
”Today I am confident and in control.”
“Today I will listen with an open mind.”
“Today I will take the time to connect with those around me.”
- Eating – tap into your senses. Take the time to sit down to eat your breakfast. Chew slowly. Pay close attention to the taste of your food and the smell of your morning tea or coffee.
- Getting started – sit down, take 3 slow breaths before you open your computer. Repeat your affirmation for the day.
- Emails & Calls – switch off your email alerts and even turn your phone to silent. Schedule set times to check your emails and phone so you minimise distraction and maximise focus.
- Meetings – commit to be there early or on time today. Can you listen to others without judgment, criticism or preparing your response. Just listen.
- Between activity – pause and take 3 slow breaths before you shift from one activity to another, one space to the next. Consciously commit to let go of what you’ve just done and commit your full attention to what you are about to do.
- Transition – harness your commute to switch modes from work to home. Breathe in. Consciously breath out any preoccupations, to-do’s, and negative self-talk. Visualise them dissipating with your out breath.
- Dinner – reflect on the food you have and where it has come from. Consider all the people and processes that brought it to your table. Cultivate a sense of gratitude.
- Wind-down – lie on the couch or in bed. Place one your hand on your chest and one on your abdomen. Feel your hands rise and fall as you breathe in and out.
Mindfulness is simple. You can practice it in an endless array of ways that aligns to who you are and what’s important to you.
But it isn’t easy to switch off “doing” mode and move into “being” mode.
That takes practice.
Where are we:
We service clients across Australia, New Zealand and the APAC Region with a network of world-class facilitators who bring M.A.D. Programs to you wherever you are.
Our head-office is based in Sydney CBD on the North Shore.
+61 402 444 240