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Tag Archives: resolutions
  • Posted on January 1, 2016

    A Year of Living Mindfully

    How are the heads this morning? A little fragile…? Our first New Year’s Resolution was to Always Always Drink Water Before Bed, but as the hangovers dissipate, our thoughts turn to other resolutions for the year ahead. Eating healthier, being more mindful, being more adventurous? Whatever your focus, we’ve got some great books to help you on your way. All through January we’ll be running a series of #MotivationMonday blog posts so keep your eye out for those. One of our main resolutions is to live more mindfully, and consider our mental health and wellbeing, after a few weeks of indulgence and excess. So, we turn to the beginning of A Year of Living Mindfully by Anna Black to kick start our mindful year. Here Anna introduces the subject of mindfulness and we share an activity from the book to get you started.

    WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?

    Children are inherently mindful, but as we get older it’s a quality that many of us lose. We spend much of our time drifting through our days on automatic pilot, thinking about the past or daydreaming about the future.

    When we think about the past there may be an element of regret—wishing we had done something differently or feeling that something positive is over. When we think about the future there may be anxiety, or a sense of dissatisfaction with where we are now. Such unease is the opposite of feeling calm.

    We forget that the past has happened and cannot be changed, and that the future will be determined by what we do now—in this moment.

    We can do something consciously in the present moment only if we are aware of what is actually happening in that moment. To bring that moment into our awareness we must deliberately pay attention to our experience as it is unfolding and—crucially—do so without judging it. This is mindfulness.

    By regularly paying attention to our inner and outer experiences we begin to notice our habitual patterns of thinking and behavior. We notice the stories we tell ourselves about our experience, and how those stories make us feel physically and emotionally. We notice that our interpretation of events—the story we spin ourselves—is influenced by the mood we are in.

    We begin to pay attention to what is going on in the body, and we can unpack “the experience” into separate strands of thoughts, emotions, and felt sensations. The experience is still present, but our awareness of each element introduces some space, and the curiosity we bring to the “unpacking” creates a sense of perspective; we relate to our experience differently, and that changes how we feel about it.

    We can cultivate the quality of mindfulness through regular meditation. That might take the form of Watching the Breath for a short period or it might be done more informally, such as by drinking a cup of tea or washing the car with mindful awareness.

    By regularly practicing mindfulness we learn that we have a choice about how we respond to our experience, and that when we exercise that choice mindfully our experience changes.

    It is important to acknowledge that when we pay attention to our experience we may not like what we find, and it may feel the complete opposite of being relaxed. This is okay.

    We are not expecting to feel a particular way, but rather learning to respond to all states of mind—not just the positive ones. Paradoxically, by letting go of the attempt to control our experience and keep the bad stuff at bay, and instead allowing it all in, we learn that we can be with the difficult things that come up in life. That makes us feel more relaxed, calm, and happy.

    Mindfulness Activity: Exploring Intention

    Silently ask yourself “Why do I want to practice mindfulness?” Let the question drop into your subconscious without any expectation of a particular answer. Every so often, repeat the question. Then bring your attention back to the breath, pick up your pen and notebook, and begin writing practice.

    Set a timer (use your phone, or your kitchen timer) for 3 minutes. There are just three rules:

    1 Don’t stop. Any time you hesitate or don’t know what to write, just repeat the words “I want to practice mindfulness because ...”.

    2 Don’t edit your words or cross anything out. There is no need to worry about handwriting, spelling, or grammar—anything goes! This is for your eyes only.

    3 Don’t read what you are writing until the timer has sounded.

    When you have finished, read what you have written. Don’t judge it, but simply read it as a practice. You may like to highlight particular words or phrases that stand out for you, or write a sentence or two in reflection.

    Continue your mindful practice with A Year of Living Mindfully by Anna Black, available here.


    This post was posted in Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with New Year, resolutions, mindfulness, mind body spirit, Anna Black, 2015, healthy, mindful exercise

  • Posted on January 12, 2015

    Motivation Monday!

    Mid-January already?! Where does the time go? It’ll be Christmas before you know it (just kidding!) So how are those New Year’s resolutions holding up? If you’re anything like us, the intentions are probably there but the motivation might be just a bit lacking. But this week’s Book of the Week is here to help! Up and Running by Julia Jones and Shauna Reid is the newbie runner’s best friend. The 8-week running plan is ideal for beginners or someone who wants to give their workout a bit more of a structure, but there are also loads of hints and ideas about things like where to run and how to look after your feet, as well as advice on what gear you need and runners’ profiles and tips too! So, with those resolutions in mind, we thought we’d share Julia and Shauna’s tips for Getting Out the Door...after all, that’s practically half the battle!

    Why does getting out the door for a run feel like a monumental task to you? You push the snooze button one too many times. The phone rings and the conversation (deliberately?) eats up your workout time. You sit on the couch after work for just one moment, only to wake a few hours later and it’s dark outside. You’ll try again tomorrow. Promise!

    Despite appearances, even seasoned runners can have a difficult time convincing themselves to lace up their shoes. They’ve just cultivated clever tactics to squash any resistance.

    Here’s how to make it easier:

    Do your workout in the morning. You’ll have a much better chance of getting your run finished if you head out before anyone else is up, demanding your attention, and before work takes your head to another place. This usually works best if you’re already an early riser, but if you’re not, try a few morning runs—you may be surprised at how good it feels to be out and about while the rest of the world dozes on. Set the scene to make it more enticing: have your coffee ready to percolate or lay the breakfast table for when you return.

    Lay out your clothes in advance. You can waste a lot of time making sartorial decisions or searching for the perfect pair of running shorts. If your running clothes are set out ahead of time, there’s no scope for procrastination. Once you’re dressed and ready to run, you’ve won half the mental battle.

    Avoid electronic distractions. No checking your e-mail or announcing your run to your online friends—you’ll inevitably disappear down the Internet rabbit hole. Leave social media until after your workout and post a triumphant sweaty selfie.

    Connect with a positive feeling. What do you love most about running? Maybe it’s after the workout is done and you’re taking a hot, steamy shower; or that moment while you’re running and realize, “Hey, I’m doing this!” Tap into what gets you excited about running and let it carry you out the door.

    Make a running date with a friend. You may let yourself down but we bet you’d never dream of doing that to a friend; especially if you’re meeting in a park at the crack of dawn.

    Do not ask questions. While you’re driving home from work don’t ask yourself if you feel like running. Be robot-like: put on those running clothes and get out the door. We guarantee that after the first 10 minutes, you’ll start to feel better, energized and in the mood to move. You may even get one of those running smirks on your face, too.

    Up and Running by Julia Jones and Shauna Reid is available here.

    Good luck with those resolutions and happy running!


    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with january, New Year, resolutions, 2014, eat clean, Book of the Week, running, healthy, tips, Motivation Monday

  • Posted on January 6, 2015

    A Mindful January

    With Christmas and New Year practically a distant glimmer, there’s lots of talk of detoxing, health kicks and gym memberships in the office. Whilst we are thinking of resolutions for our physical health and wellbeing, we should also take this opportunity to think about our mental wellbeing too, especially in the workplace. Whether your resolution is to boost creativity, alleviate stress or increase focus, Anna Black’s Mindfulness @ Work can help! She simply explains the practice of being mindful, as well as suggesting some straightforward meditations that will improve your working life. You might have seen this post with ideas to help you kick-start your resolutions for 2015, and we’ve got loads more to share with you over the next few weeks, starting with these tips to help you work more mindfully.

     

    Working With Habits

    Habits are a learned set of behaviors. They are routine and we do them without awareness. For a set of behaviors to become a habit, the brain shifts control from the top of the head to the bottom, the basal ganglia. This area automatically controls routine activities, without conscious awareness. To reverse a habit, we have to bring it back into our consciousness, become aware of its particular triggers and choose to do something different. We need self-awareness, and this is cultivated through mindfulness practice by regularly bringing our attention to our experience as it unfolds.

    Try This

    Decide on something that has become a habit that you would like to change. It could be checking your e-mails every few minutes, for example.

    When you do become aware of the impulse to act in the habitual way—notice it. Where do you feel it in the body? What are you thinking of? What is driving the behavior? Notice any emotions such as boredom, restlessness, or fear.

    Remind yourself that you have a choice about what to do next. What alternatives are available to you and what is the wisest option for you to take in the moment?

    Remember that to begin with, our awareness often kicks in after or during the event rather than before. This is perfectly normal. Be gentle with yourself and, if it’s possible, stop the unhelpful habit in the very moment you realize you are doing it.

    The more we can do something differently, the better able we are to establish newly embedded patterns of behavior. The more you practice checking in with yourself and bringing yourself into the present moment, for example, the more these practices become embedded into the basal ganglia. You will find yourself doing them without consciously initiating them. We do, however want to let go of any automatic behaviors that are not particularly helpful.

    Mindfulness @ Work by Anna Black is available here.

    You may also be interested in our current selection of Mind, Body & Spirit books.


    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with january, resolutions, wellbeing, 2014, mindfulness, work, mind body spirit, Anna Black, healthy

  • Posted on December 27, 2012

    Revitalize and rejuvenate

    Raw Food deTox Raw Food deTox

    If you’ve the year resolving to turn over a new leaf on the health front, Raw Food Detox might be just the book for you. Anya Ladra, Cordon-bleu trained chef and founder of London-based Raw Fairies (purveyors of home-delivered raw food menus) provides a collection of vibrant recipes which are bursting with flavour and bound to help restore flagging energy levels.

    If the thought of a 5-day cleansing detox seems a tad daunting as a starting point, why not dip your toe in the water with this super-easy to prepare salad of carrot, beet(root) and walnut coated with a piquant mustard dressing? Perfect for a wintry lunch.

     

    Carrot & beet salad with walnuts
    Serves 2
    2 carrots
    I beet (root)
    I handful of walnuts, quartered
    mustard dressing
    2 big handfuls of rocket/arugula

    Peel and coarsely grate the carrots and beet(root). Mix with the walnuts and stir through enough mustard dressing to coat

    For the mustard dressing
    Makes about 250ml/1 cup
    200ml/3/4 cup safflower oil
    60ml/1/4 cup white wine vinegar
    11/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    Himalayan pink salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Visit the Raw Fairies on
    https://rawfairies.com/

    Raw Food Detox by Anya Ladra, photography William Lingwood is published by Ryland Peters & Small rrp £14.99

    Also of interest may be :-

    http://www.rylandpeters.com/the-salad-bowl

    http://www.rylandpeters.com/food-and-drink-books


    This post was posted in Book Reviews, Featured, UK and was tagged with New Year, resolutions, detox, carrot, beetroot, salad, mustard

  • Posted on December 27, 2012

    Are you ready for the Living with Less 100-item challenge?

    If post-Christmas clutter is starting to feel more than slightly overwhelming, Mary Lambert is on hand to offer some much needed advice in her new book. Too much junk collects dust and creates a fusty atmosphere, so why not embrace the minimalist way of life?

     

    Living With Less poses the ultimate de-cluttering challenge – can you downsize to just 100 possessions? This might sound like a tall order, especially for the impulse buyers amongst us, but Mary promises it is simpler than it sounds: First of all, divide your possessions into manageable chunks.  Tackle your clothes, beauty products and household goods separately and work through everything you own with a methodical eye. Be brave, take a breath, open up that bursting cupboard and get sorting.

    To prove that if you’re going to talk the talk, then you’ve got to be willing to walk the walk, Mary has taken up her own 100-item challenge. You can follow her progress on her blog: http://lambie123.wordpress.com/

    This will be the last time you’re greeted by a vision of chaos.  De-clutter your way to the myriad financial, emotional and spiritual benefits of Living With Less.

    Living With Less by Mary Lambert is published by CICO Books at £14.99 and is available to buy online and at all good bookshops.

    Want other homes and interiors books we publish? - find them here.


    This post was posted in Featured, News, UK and was tagged with New Year, 2013, resolutions

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