Posts

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

Instant Re-boot

Reboot and RefocusDo you regularly find yourself running from meeting to meeting? Do you feel like you lurch from task to task, request to request, as you toil through yet another manic day?

This simple technique can be used anywhere, anytime to re-boot, reset and refocus.

It takes just a few seconds. Literally.

INHALE – straighten your spine (whether sitting or standing)

EXHALE – drop your chin to your chest

INHALE – lift your chin AND the corners of your mouth (yes, smile!)

EXHALE – pause and observe the shift in your energy.

– Amy Weintraub devised this practice. Thank you Amy –

Research shows that smiling or laughing increases dopamine, seratonin and other feel good chemicals in the brain. It doesn’t matter whether the smile is real or contrived. Either way it will shift your mood and help you re-set ready to handle the next meeting, request or task on your to-do list with renewed energy, focus and positivity.

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

Phone Free Day

Phones

Can you switch it off for an hour today?

What? A day without the phone! Impossible.

This absurd idea occurred to me as I caught myself compulsively checking my phone – as though something new had arrived since the last time I’d checked, oh just a few seconds earlier.

It took a week before I could even attempt this daring feat and I’m proud to say I got through the better part of Sunday without my phone.

And it was easier than I thought. I found a refreshing sense of intellectual peace. To be perfectly honest, I also felt liberated from that compulsive checking for emails and Facebook likes or LinkedIn.

And guess what. Turns out I didn’t miss anything. At all.

I’m going to try doing it every Sunday.

May be you can find an opportunity to turn off the chatter. It could be as simple as switching off for an hour somewhere in your day to tap into what really counts and make space for what matters most.

Happy Phone Free Day.

Katherine Mair

M.A.D. Creator