February 20th 2017
ALOHA LLW Challengers....
We hope you are really proud of your first weeks efforts. It was tremendously inspiring to see everyone start with such spirit and motivation.How easy was that... First week done and dusted!!!
Ok so you have set your goals, created your schedule now its time to turn all your good intentions into a routine. These first 4 weeks are vital to retraining your brain, thought processes and habits into a new lifestyle pattern. Once the excitement of signing up has worn off this is when we start listening to all the excuses we have created over the years that block us from reaching our full potential.
"A daily practice is the best medicine"
Creating a scheduale is the fun bit even the easy part. Turning up when you're tired, eating right when your hungry, making yourself the priority when work, kids, partners and friends want your time is the challenge hence the "12 week challenge".
A great way to stay motivated is to every night in bed take a couple of minutes to reflect on your day and imagine the best version of yourself, what this person looks like, feels like, acts like, dresses like, where they work, who they hang out with etc.... It's important that you are clear on where you are heading and who you want to be.
" start living the life of the person you were born to be"
Keep up the good work... YOU ROCK
All my LOVE
Cara & the LLW tribe
WEEK 2: PREPARATION
Hi guys, this weeks tip is Preparation!
Preparing your meals is one of the most important aspects of achieving a healthy, balanced diet and reaching your goals.
‘By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail’
There really are no excuses not to prepare, all the recipes in your meal plan are simple to make and for added convenience you can use your dinner leftovers for lunch the next day. So that saves you preparing lunch at all the next day so there really are no excuses.
If you know you have a busy morning put aside a few minutes the night before, prepare some overnight oats or chia pudding so you can grab it and go!
Real food isn’t easy to come by when you’re at work or away from home so this is going to make a really big difference when transitioning into your real food lifestyle. Not only will preparation help you achieve your goals, it will also save you money when you pay less visits to your local café. Do I need to give you any more reasons?
Tip number 2 is PREPARE.
Good luck everyone and I’ll catch you all next week!
NUTRITION with Elyse Lagos
THE 5 P's OF SUCCESS with Kat Smith
To book a consultation with Kat call 0400 596 195
MIND OVER MATTER
Our Week Two Theme is Mindfulness.
What are the benefits of mindfulness and how can we bring it into our daily lives and our yoga practice?
Research has shown that when we incorporate mindfulness practice into our day-to-day activities, it can help rewire or reshape our brain and improve the quality of our life experiences. Mindfulness is very easy to incorporate into our daily life and it can be improved with practice.
What is mindfulness?
Let’s start with a couple of definitions. According to meditation teacher Guy Armstrong: “mindfulness is knowing what you are experiencing while you are experiencing it. It is moment-to-moment awareness, has the quality of being in the now, a sense of freedom, of perspective, of being connected, not judging”
Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purin the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”
Rick Hanson, author of “The practical neuroscience of Buddha’s brain” defines being mindful as having good control over your attention. “The attention can be placed wherever you want and it stays there and when you want to move your attention to something else you can”. He adds, “Attention is like a spotlight and what it illuminates streams into the mind and shapes your brain. So developing greater control over attention is the single most powerful way to reshape the brain and thus the mind.”
These different definitions all point to the fact that mindfulness is a practice where we focus on whatever task we are doing at a particular moment, giving it our undivided attention, aware of our thoughts and emotions but not reacting to or judging whatever flows through the stream of our mind.
What is not mindfulness?
Mindfulness is neither trying to relax nor emptying the mind of its thoughts. Rather, as we practice mindfulness, we learn to be a silent observer of our thoughts or emotions without the need to get involved with them, hence experiencing the moment. This helps us react less and make intimate contact with each moment of our lives however trivial or mundane it might be. When we stay present and aware as we do our day to day activities, it becomes an informal meditation practice and can substantially help reduce the stress we accumulate throughout the day.
So how can we improve our attention?
We all have different attention spans and these days many of us feel like we’re losing them - but with practice we can improve it. Here are a few ways which have been shown to improve attention and focus:
1. Set an intention
Set an intention to become more mindful at the beginning of any activity that requires focus. The intention can be a simple phrase like “may my mind be steady”. Repeating the intention every few minutes can help us stay focused.
2. Get alert
The brain cannot be attentive unless it is fully awake. A few factors that can increase alertness are sitting tall, visualizing, deep breathing and keeping the mind quiet.
Sitting tall sends signal to the nerves in the brainstem that are involved with wakefulness and consciousness to stay alert.
Neurologically, the brightening that happens as we visualize a ray of light involves a surge of epinephrine throughout the brain which fosters alertness.
Taking several deep breaths can increase oxygen supply and revs up the brain.
3. Quiet the mind
When the mind is quiet, fewer things bubble up to distract it and it is easier to stay mindful. One way of achieving this quiet state is by becoming aware of the whole body. To become aware of the whole body, we start by bringing attention to the breath and observe the sensations at the nostrils, throat, chest and movement of the belly. Then the attention can be moved to the sensations in the whole body which helps perceive the whole body as one unit. This helps in quieting the mind. As the mind calms down, resting in awareness becomes much easier.
Awareness being the state in which the objects of the mind like thoughts, perceptions and emotion keep coming and going. We notice them but are not identifying with the contents of awareness.
Formal and Informal Mindfulness
Mindfulness can be formal or informal. Informal practice is when we choose to pay attention on purpose to what is occurring in the present moment while doing our routine activities. It could be a simple thing like focusing on the feeling of the soles of your feet touching the ground while standing. Informal mindfulness can also be practiced while eating, walking or cleaning your teeth. For example practicing mindfulness when eating means not just knowing that you are eating but being with the whole process - feeling the taste, the texture of the food changing, how you chew, what emotions or thoughts arise and how they change.
On the other hand, formal mindfulness practice is more intensive. Formal mindfulness is when we set aside time to explore being mindful of what we are sensing, feeling or thinking- like in meditation. It helps us look into our minds at a deeper level and with regular practice can yield deeper insights into our mind. Just observing without getting attached to the outcome while doing a particular task can help bring in peace and calm.
Practicing formal mindfulness:
The best way to start being mindful is to find something that we can use as an anchor, that we can come back to when the mind starts getting distracted. Sound, body sensations and breath are good examples of an anchor.
Sound as an anchor: The simple task of listening to different sounds can be made into a formal mindfulness practice. We start by listening to sounds with the eyes closed and let any sound come trickling in. When we listen without judging or labeling, listening to the sounds can be very relaxing. As we listen to the sounds, we may find that we unconsciously start labeling them. It is okay to label but when we start labeling the sounds, it takes the focus away from listening. When we find our mind doing that, we just bring our mind back to listening to sounds which was the focus of our attention in the first place.
Breath as the anchor: Feel the breath as it enters the nostrils, moves through the throat, into the chest and observe the movement of the belly as you breathe. We could begin by just focusing on the in breath or just on the out breath. Then we could expand by observing the natural pause between the breaths. If we find the mind getting distracted, we simply observe the thoughts or emotions, but come back to observing the breath. With more and more practice we can train our mind to stay in the present moment.
Body sensations with the breath as the anchor: We start by observing the different sensations in the body. It could be anything like tingling sensations, heartbeat, cold hands or tension in any part of the body. If we find ourselves getting distracted, returning to and following the flow of the breath for a few minutes and then switching back to tuning into body sensations again helps regain the attention. Thus mindfulness meditation is a constant switch between one pointed awareness to open field awareness. If observing the breath constantly is causing stress, we can switch to the feeling the sensations in the body and vice versa.
How do we incorporate mindfulness in yoga?
The meaning of yoga is to yoke or unite- the body and the mind. When we coordinate movement with the breath, paying attention to the sensations in the body as we move, completely feeling the experience in that moment without any judgment or expectations, respecting our boundaries with self-compassion and kindness, yoga becomes a mindful exercise in itself and it becomes a meditative practice. When the mind does wander, we can always use the breath as the anchor.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
There are a wide variety of benefits to mindfulness practice. Research has shown it can help us regulate our emotions, reduce stress, lower judgmental attitudes, improve memory and focus and even reshape our brain structures.
Furthermore, research has shown that we can change the way we react to situations and perceive things when we practice mindfulness. When we do not react unnecessarily, the mind quiets down helping to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and the relaxation response. The more we start paying undivided attention to what we are doing, the less judgmental we become. We are still aware of the emotions and thoughts but do not react as much and this helps control the activation of the sympathetic nervous system.
Mindfulness brings insight and wisdom and the best way to improve mindfulness is through meditation. Researchers have found that meditation increases the gray matter- the part of the brain that holds the actual brain cells, in brain regions that handle attention, compassion and empathy.
Reshape your brain with mindfulness
A group of Harvard neuroscientists interested in mindfulness meditation have reported that brain structures change after only eight weeks of meditation practice.
According to yoga, thinking is behaviour, and action is secondary. Without awareness and self-control, our thoughts and feelings become actions. We then become enslaved to our thoughts, emotions, and impulses. To become free, we must interrupt the cycle that generates impulsive and compulsive behavior.
Distancing our thoughts from our actions
We do not try to stop the mind altogether, because this is not possible for most people. Instead, we strengthen our mind by developing the first mode - lightness. We thus enhance our mental health and are less and less affected by external circumstances in our life. Just as we cannot stop the activity of the mind altogether, we cannot necessarily reduce our desires. But through yoga, we can reduce the intensity of our desires, much like a carpenter who planes a piece of wood to make it smooth.
We use intelligent focus and effort in yoga—not esoteric techniques. We develop an awareness of what is going on in our minds so that we can let go of thoughts or place a distance between our thoughts and our actions. Even doing this in a small way is beneficial. The means is yogic mindfulness.
Can I do it? Yes indeed. You can. Most importantly, only you can do it for yourself. If you do, you will have health and happiness. No Guru or loved one can do it for you. You have to help yourself. It is in your hands.
DISCUSSION POINT for Week Two:
Share with others on our forum group what areas of your life could benefit from being more mindful, and how you plan to practice mindfulness in those areas.