Investing in Community

 

M.A.D. Yoga Community Classes

M.A.D. Yoga Community Classes

Community is the essence of our existence. Think about it. Whether it’s the team we work with all day, the school our children go to, or the block we live on, the connections and relationships we build over time are bigger than ourselves. And that’s community.

M.A.D. yoga is passionate about connection and community.

We are very proud to say we have raised $1,155 for McMahons Point Preschool by running yoga classes with the local community and providing our services free of charge. The preschool relies heavily on fundraising, needing around $10,000 each year to stay afloat.

It’s positively amazing what a little intent, energy and community can achieve.

What opportunities do you have to invest in your local communities?

More than money, sometimes it’s our intent, effort and willingness to connect that can really make a difference.

Katherine Mair

M.A.D. Creator

Letting It Go Or Building It Up?

PatternsWe all need a damn good vent now and then. Let’s face it, if we don’t get things off our chest we might literally explode. At the wrong time. With the wrong person. Besides, a good old verbal vomit is cathartic and just feels plain good.

But how often do you find yourself venting over and over.  The same story. You’ve shared it so many times you’ve got it pitch perfect and know exactly how to milk it for the most dramatic effect and best response.

We all do it. Lately I’ve caught myself rabbiting on about bad banking experiences to everyone and anyone who’ll lend me an ear – innocent bystanders caught in my crossfire and getting way more than the simple “good morning” they bargained for.

And this is where the good ol’ vent turns into something else. Rather than helping us get something off our chest, the act of repeatedly looping over and re-living an event with anyone who will listen instead solidifies and embeds that negative experience.

It enables us to cling tighter and tighter to our story eventually programming it as a permanent part of our being. This in turn shapes how we view, interact with, and respond to, new and different situations in life.

This is akin to what Cognitive Behavioural Psychologists call ‘conditioning’. The forging, reinforcement and deepening of neural pathways that shape the way we think, emote and act.

In the Philosophy of yoga it is known as ‘Samskara’. The seemingly inevitable cycle of action and reaction that forges our deep-seated patterns of thinking, behaviour and emotional response. One continually reinforces the other ultimately clouding our perception of reality. These Samskaras or patterns hold us back from being truly present, from approaching situations with equilibrium, balance and ‘fresh eyes’, and ultimately, from being in touch with our true Selves.

The good news is, that we can interrupt these seemingly inevitable cycles of acting and reacting by starting to cultivate conscious awareness and mindfulness.

The first step is to take notice of the stories we ‘tell’ ourselves about the situations and people we experience in life.

What stories are you hanging onto?

How would things shift if you changed the story? 

How would you be if you let go of the story altogether?

Katherine Mair

M.A.D. Creator

Do It Once and Well

businessman stressed by too many tasks

The Perils of Multi-Tasking.

A colleague of mine recently shared a link to a thought-provoking article by Travis Bradberry looking at How Successful People Work Less and Get More Done.

Chock full of useful insights, the one that resonated with me most profoundly was the research he referenced about the “dangers of multi-tasking”. Aside from lowering productivity, trying to juggle multiple tasks at the same time can also have a material impact on the brain.

Bradberry’s advice here – around focussing on one thing at a time – is spot on.

Working on a single task with focussed intent and energy is mindfulness in action. It can even be akin to a moving meditation.

Interestingly, research on mindfulness and meditation also shows the exact opposite effects to multi-tasking when it comes to grey matter in the brain.

Sara W. Lazar and her colleagues at Harvard Medical School have produced numerous studies that show people who practice mediation and mindfulness have more grey matter. They also have more of it in areas of the brain associated with working memory, decision making,  lateral thinking, and presence.

Perhaps it’s worth considering doing just one thing at a time.

And just do that really well.

Katherine Mair

M.A.D. Creator

The Power of Intention

The act of articulation is where your idea takes on substance and form

The act of articulation is where your idea takes on substance and form

Sex and the City writer Julie Rottenberg recently published an article on LinkedIn about the road she took to her dream job – an interesting story about going from ‘wanting’ to ‘becoming’ what she wanted.

What struck me most in her story was her description of a pivotal moment of articulation – stating out loud exactly what she wanted.

I have had similar moments through my life where a vague idea moved beyond mere desire to take real shape at the point of saying it out loud. This is pivotal to the process of ‘becoming’ – taking something from concept to reality – because it is in the act of articulation where your idea takes on substance and form. Stating something out loud gives birth to your intention and releases it into the world. It brings with it resolve and enables you to more clearly see and feel what you want be.

In yoga setting an intention is pivotal to the practice. It takes the experience beyond simply moving though various exercises into a powerful practice where we anchor the energy we generate to something more substantial and more concrete.

It’s just one of the elements of a yoga practice that makes a difference in people’s lives and it does so because it harnesses the power of the mind and energy of the body to articulate and bring to fruition a single focused idea.

It is the power of positive thinking in action. What’s your intention today?

Go in, be M.A.D. Say it out loud. Make it real.

Katherine Mair

M.A.D. Creator

What’s in a thought?

Some playful yoga

Yoga Outdoors

Sleep has never been easy for my daughter. Now that she can communicate, she ardently asserts “I don’t like sleeping mummy. I don’t want to go to sleep. Ever”. She is afraid of sleep. And always has been. Dutifully, I’ve tried to explain the benefits of sleep and the fact that if we don’t sleep we can’t grow, function or even survive.

She has also always snored. Like a trooper. At times as loud as a full grown man. I’m not exaggerating. Even as a baby she snored. We’d raised it many times with the doctor and finally she got referred to a Specialist.

His diagnosis was instantaneous. Chronic tonsillitis accompanied by episodes of sleep apnoea. In an adult, this is manageable. In a child, it is destructive – for growth, mental acuteness and fundamental wellbeing. The verdict. Remove her tonsils within the next 6 months.

While aware of the possibility, we are uncomfortable with the idea of her having an operation. Not because of the surgery. But because of the anaesthetic. It means putting her ‘under’. Some people don’t survive that experience.

My reaction to the doctors recommendation was entirely emotional. I felt fragile and teary. But having my daughter with me meant trying to maintain an outward sense of composure. I concealed the fear for 48 hours until I had some time to sit with it. Alone. On the balcony.

I talk to myself when I have ‘me’ time. Out loud. Yes. Out loud. Call me mad, but I find it helpful to verbalise things as a way of getting them out and off my chest. So I said it. Out loud. “I’m afraid. I’m frightened of losing my daughter”. Then I cried for a while.

What an earth shattering, overwhelming and acutely painful thought.

Then I realised it was just that. Merely a thought. My reaction to a possibility. It had not come to pass. And it need not come to pass. Should I really be spending my time and energy thinking about losing my daughter? Or could I spend it cultivating a more positive outlook?

So I said to myself “She’s going to be ok. She’s going to be ok. She’s going to be ok”. It was a simple affirmation that I repeated several times and it helped take me from a place of fear to a place where I could conceive a different reality. I felt better. I found some calm and some peace.

Distress and angst is so often tied up with the story we create around something, and typically something that happened in the past or something that might happen in the future. It can be so consuming that we miss the potential for positivity in the now.

I will continue to be afraid for my daughter and what might happen as a result of the surgery. But I can choose to work on building a more positive mindset. After all, why would we agree to surgery in the first place if it didn’t offer a sound promise of helping her to sleep, to feel better, to grow and to thrive?

Happy today, to you from me.

Katherine Mair

M.A.D. Creator

Let Me Finish.

Presence and Listening

Presence and Listening

We had a get together with the neighbours over the weekend. The kids ate pizza and watched Toy Story while the grown ups sat out back drinking red wine and enjoying a blather. A few wines in, conversation turned to the Body Corporate and management of our building. Most of us there were, or had been, involved in the committee in some way and were all rather passionate about some aspect or other of the way our home was managed.

I found myself exuberantly bursting in about some thing or other when my neighbour Sara exclaimed, “Let me Finish”.

For a moment I was a little taken aback. Then I realised she was trying to say something, trying to be heard, and I was – whether intentional or not – talking over the top of her. I wasn’t listening.

It’s one of my worst traits. I’m one of six kids. I grew up in a chaotic household where dinnertime debates were loud, exuberant and typically he who shouted loudest got heard. While it armed me with the confidence to speak up and speak out, it left my listening skills lying largely dormant.

My colleague Tom, on the other hand, is much younger than me and far less inclined to jump in and over people in conversation. Instead he sits back. He listens quietly and with focus. Then he speaks up.

It has always floored me, just how insightful and on the mark his comments are. He doesn’t usually say that much. He doesn’t typically say it vey loudly. But what he does say always gets everyone’s attention.

Tom is my example and reminder about how important and powerful true listening can be. And while I have consciously chosen to take a leaf out of his book, the situation with my neighbour is a gentle reminder that it takes constant practice to be truly present with the person with whom you are conversing.

After all, we all want to feel heard.

Katherine Mair

M.A.D. Creator

Wired. Yet Switched Off.

Can we be too connected?

Can we be too connected?

How often do you check your phone?

I haven’t tried to count.  I know I would be downright ashamed.

It’s rather addictive isn’t it? This compulsive need to swipe, tap and check. We’ve conditioned ourselves to be wired. And if we are honest, we are wired pretty much all of the time, spurred on by this constant need to be connected, stay connected, remain connected.

The irony is that amidst all this ‘connectedness’ and wiring into technology we lose the most fundamental connection of all – the connection to our Selves.

The simple act of feeling our breath or sensing tension in our body or resistance in our mind becomes an almost impossible task.

I’ve often sat in a yoga class or relaxation exercise and been asked to “scan the body and notice how you feel”. In my early days of practice my mental answer to the teacher guiding such activity was rather simple; “sod off, I’m not feeling a bleedin’ thing!”

As I became more experienced though, this lack of feeling made me ask questions. Why do I find it so difficult to ‘feel’ my toes? Why is it so hard to focus my concentration on the movement of my breath in my body? What is preventing me from really feeling, really connecting, inside?

The answer is simple and it dawned on me as I stepped off the train and walked to work the other day.

We’re all just too wired. We are too connected. And ironically, the more wired we are, the more numb we become to our Selves.

Ponder it for a moment. Better still, try it. Stop whatever you are doing right now and shift all your attention to feel every nuance, sensation and bone in your left little toe. Challenging isn’t it?

So go on, do something just a little bit mad today. Switch everything off, even for a few minutes, so You can switch back on.

Katherine Mair

M.A.D. Creator

The Mad Mad World of Work

 

Stress Tension Corporate Burn out

Do You Need to Create Some Space in Your Day?

I met a friend for a drink the other night. She was late and clearly frazzled from a long, hard day. She works part time, but to ensure her 5pm sharp departure doesn’t create problems she starts work at 6.30am. So effectively she works four eleven hour days and then does even more on her supposed day off. That’s over 45 hours a week for a part time role.

The conclusion we drew was that the 9 to 5 working day is really a myth, an old-fashioned phrase from a bygone era.

The working day is getting longer. We are asked to do more. Do it faster. With less. Oh, and did I mention we’re also expected to stay connected 24/7.

Yet is this sustainable? Can we really work at such intensity and pace all of the time? When do we switch off? What is the effect when we don’t switch of? Or worse, what happens when we can’t switch off?

My friend confided that she can’t sleep. She also observed that as a senior manager in a large business, she’d never before had so many team members come to her frazzled, upset or on the verge or tears. Her senior colleagues are observing the same increase in stress and tension levels in their own teams.

At it’s extreme, corporate burn out can lead to physical tension, insomnia, anxiety and depression. I know. It happened to me after several years of sustained travel and long hours at an illustrious consulting firm.

And this is why people are increasingly turning to the practice of yoga, mindfulness, and meditation. In a world more connected and switched on than ever before, we are ever more in need of tools to counteract the detrimental effects of running too hard and fast on our uber urban treadmill.

Just a few minutes using a simple deep breathing technique can calm the mind and help us to re-focus. Some basic postures sitting in a chair can help us to re-boot and re-energise. A short meditation has the power to create clarity and much needed internal space. Five or ten minutes of easy practice before bed can help induce sleep.

The practice doesn’t have to be long or complicated. It doesn’t have to be done on a mat or in a yoga studio. The tools of yoga can be harnessed by anyone, anywhere. More than ever there is a need to tap into the power of these practices. They can help us cut through the noise and create the space to focus on what really matters, and let go of what doesn’t, so we can more effectively navigate the mad mad world of work.

Take 5 slow deep breaths somewhere in your day today.

Best Regards,

Katherine Mair

M.A.D. Creator

Welcome to M.A.D. Mindworks

Live. Practice. Be MAD.

Live. Practice. Be MAD.

I discovered yoga at a gym. And after my first class, I walked out a little punch drunk, feeling like I’d been deeply pummeled by a powerful masseuse.

Then one day, after running a little too long and a little too fast on the treadmill of corporate work and urban life, I fell over. Overwhelmed with depression and exhaustion, it was yoga that saw me through the haze, shone a light in the dark, and enabled me to heal, re-focus and re-energise.

I have been MAD about yoga ever since and have experienced first hand the benefits of yoga in my work, studies and life.

That doesn’t make me perfect though. Some days I’m not as ‘yogi’ as I’d like to be. I still snap at my partner, lose patience with my daughter or am too pushy with my workmates. I once smoked (yes, cigarettes!) and I still enjoy a glass of wine or indulge in one too many pieces of chocolate. My body isn’t a perfect temple, deeply cleansed on the inside, or tirelessly taught on the outside.

But my journey in yoga has been a slow unfolding into the power of the practice. Like the pull of a soft light or that almost imperceptible voice deep down inside, it draws you gently and persistently in. To your Self. And your Potential.

I look forward to contributing to your exploration of the power of yoga to enable you to be more productive at work, more focused at school and more balanced in life.

Motivate. Activate. Dive In.

Go On. Be M.A.D.

With Love, Katherine