December 7, 2012

Living in the Here and Now

With Christmas fast approaching, the stress that people are carrying has become evident in their faces, the impatience in car parks and the conversations overheard in shopping centres. At this time of year, more than any other, we must remind ourselves to breathe.

Engaging in mindfulness meditation, yoga, and breathe exercises can help to realign energy flow, bring awareness back into the moment and introduce calm. 

It is important to remember that Christmas is a time to celebrate the wonderful people in your life and all the blessings that have come your way during the year. Try not to get too caught up in the commercialisation of Christmas, but remember to find time to sit back and acknowledge all the wonderful aspects of your life and to tell those near and dear to you how much they mean to you.

November 2, 2012

Embracing Your Limitations

We all have one thing in common as people- we all have limitations. For some it may be an illness, for others a demanding job, difficult family relations, or financial strain. How you view your limitations, however, determines how you will experience and live your life.

The story of Jean-Dominique Bauby is the most poignant example of never letting your limitations define you or defeat you. Bauby suffered a stroke that left him with ‘locked in syndrome,’ a syndrome that left him completely paralysed except the ability to blink one eye. Once a high flyer, Bauby’s life was drastically changed. While his body may have been paralysed his mind was active and fully functioning.

It’s hard to comprehend how in the face of such drastic and all encompassing limitations anyone could approach life in a positive way, but he did. Using the two abilities he had left, one blinking eye and an active mind, he went on to ‘write’ a book through a devised communication system. Bauby would be read the alphabet and would then blink when the letter he wanted was reached. That letter would be recorded then the process would start again. This was how his whole book was written- a painstakingly slow process.

His book became the renowned ‘The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly’ which was later made into a movie by the same name.

Like Bauby, to get the most out of your life, you must look for the things that you still have, the things you can still do and then build on that capacity. By focusing on what is rather than what isn’t you can live your life from a position of power, motivation and positivity and create a life that you are proud of.

October 5, 2012

Move Into the Slow Lane

Living in a fast paced, achievement orientated society where ‘time is money’ it can seem that time is of the essence, but are there things to be gained from living life in the slow lane?

Time allows reflection, analysis and growth which brings greater truth and depth to the projects you work on, the relationships you form and the way you engage in the world.

There is a high price to pay for ‘doing it all.’ The price is not just illness, disease or physical burn out, but sacrificing important time with family and friends and not having the time or energy to pursue hobbies and other interests. Living life too much in the fast lane can also leave you disconnected from your own life and sense of self.

In order to live a healthy and balanced life it is necessary to learn to say no to some things and to expand your sense of self to include a lifestyle that supports you. It is about learning to be softer, more accommodating and compassionate with your body, your life and your achievements.

A man with great insight, cartoonist and poet Leunig expresses this shift in mindset beautifully; ...across the difficult terrain of our existence we have attempted to build a highway and in so doing we have lost our footpath...nothing can be loved at speed. God lead us to the slow path; to the joyous insights of the pilgrim; another way of knowing: another way of being...

As Leunig so wonderfully expressed, by slowing down you have a chance to connect with your soul and to truly appreciate and love your life. Embracing a slower life, by choice or necessity, benefits your health and wellbeing, allowing you to live a life of balance and a life of self respect.