One Minute Wonder

One Minute Wonder

Balance Body and Mind – how to do it!

Take ONE minute to bring yourself into physiological balance by sitting or standing as straight and tall as you can.

Straighten up through your mid-line and let your attention start at the top of your head and gently melt down through your spine to your tailbone. Are both shoulders as level as they can be? Look in a mirror to check the symmetry across your shoulders and collarbones.

Shift your body a little to bring balance to either side of your spine. Notice how it feels to tilt one shoulder or hip, and then re-balance.

Scan through your body for areas of softness and comfort, and rest in there for some moments.

Now shift attention to each of the following body parts in this order: head, shoulders, arms, hands, ribcage, spine, hips, thighs, knees, lower legs, ankles, feet.

Once balanced, your whole body and mind will work better.

Balancing your body helps you improve your emotional state, learning capability, and energy levels.

 

The Kiss of Change

The Kiss of Change

According to a social media thread, a high school in America was faced with an unusual problem after a particular trend had formed amongst teenage girls. Each day a group of girls would visit the bathroom and decorate the large mirror with ‘kiss marks’ after putting on strong coloured lipstick and then pressing their lips to the mirror. It is said that every night, the janitor would remove the lipstick marks, only to find them replaced the next day!

The teachers tried all manner of interventions to stop the behaviour, to no avail. The girls were cautioned and scolded, pleaded with, and politely asked to stop. Nothing changed their behaviour.

Finally, the principal decided that something had to be done.

She called all the girls to the bathroom and met them there with the janitor. She explained that the lip prints were causing a major problem for the poor guy who had to clean the mirrors every night, and to illustrate how difficult the mirror cleaning task was for him, she asked the janitor to demonstrate his efforts.

He took out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it in the toilet, and cleaned the mirror with it. Since then, there have been no lip prints on the mirror!

It just goes to show that learning is expedited when the same language is spoken, and that behavioural change can happen in a heartbeat.

Top Tip! When you hear someone say change is hard/takes a long time/is difficult, share this story!

SIMPLICITY for Being Well

SIMPLICITY for Being Well

Humans have forever found ways to take time-out to travel inwards, inviting altered states of consciousness for calm mind-body restoration.

Meditation is one way of doing this – it is healthful (don’t just take my word for it – the research is abundant). Not everyone can do this easily and for many being ‘guided’ is best.

Here’s a free guided meditation for you to nourish your mind as you travel on a journey of imagining an inner world that strengthens you. Recorded live during a group session on the full moon 21.09.21.

 

Simplicity Tip: If you like this, why not join our weekly group on Tuesday evenings.

Growing Up

Growing Up

When I was growing up, I knew, that I was.
Now I’m grown up, I don’t know, if I am.
I grew taller, up.
Now I’m shorter, down.
I chased fame and fortune.
Now, I trace flow, form.
And sound.

When I was growing up, I grew a mask and a suit.
I grew loud expressions.
To catch my reflection.
And fight or flee.
From lonely me.
Now, in naked standing.
I forget who I was, when I was growing up.

When I was growing up, I grew wounds, as I collided.
I prized a head that was ahead.
Ignored my heart that grew apart.
How now, is the dwelling.
Of simple healing pieces, of peace.
Alchemising in delight.
As new melodies ignite.

When I was growing up, I knew everything back then.
Now, I know nothing about everything.
Yet I yearned for something.
Perhaps to achieve?
Little did I know.
I achieved everything I experienced.
And many seeds were sown.

When I do become a grown up, how will I know?
What will I be up to?
To where, will I have grown?
Who will I be?
And what might I chase?
Will my roots be strong and stable?
And my leaves whisper their grace.

Kay Cooke 2020

 

Anger:  How do you do?

Anger: How do you do?

What happens when we swallow our anger?  When we don’t or can’t suitably discharge it?  When instead, we find it ruminating inside the mind?

Most people understand that anger can be ignited by a tangible threat (eg. a car swerving towards us) and by a perception (e.g. “I think that driver directed the car towards us on purpose”).

And it’s probably fair to suggest that we’ve all experienced nano-second reactions diverting all resources towards bodily readiness for fight or flight. Anger switches the brain to ‘survival’ mode and initiates physiological readiness for self-defence.

Rational thinking then has no feed and is depleted.

Interestingly, studies show that anger can actually lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol because it stimulates the brain’s left hemisphere into taking purposeful action, like standing up to a bully (outward expression), or turning inwards to propel you away from repeating a hideous behaviour.

Unfortunately, society does tend to reward those who use anger to shout loudest, though it’s difficult to see how upset, irrational behaviour, or even violence might be useful to anyone.

Some people use their expression of anger to get action from others, and tantrums are usually the result of anger being used as a tool to manipulate the behaviour of others, or as a pitch for hierarchical dominance.

So what happens when we swallow our anger? When we don’t or can’t suitably discharge it? When instead, we find it ruminating inside the mind?

Then our underlying stress levels simmer, and simmer, until a safer displacement opportunity turns up, like kicking the dog, or shouting at the kids, when we really feel mad towards an absent colleague.

Sometimes we ruminate enough to bring the simmering emotion to boiling point, causing great distress to those bewildered witnesses who ask ‘how did that happen?’ judging a seemingly insignificant word or action, to have caused the eruption.

Repressing one’s anger can also produce passive aggressive behaviours like withdrawing our attention from, or ignoring others, which leaves the other person feeling unsure about what’s happening. And since our brains do not like uncertainty, generating it in another person, like the feeling of ‘not knowing’, can precipitate their sense of perceived threat (thus anger gets discharged through punishment that avoids violence or admonishment).

NLP enables us to look at the boundary conditions of someone’s ‘map of the world’ and this is where we find our highly prized and defendable life rules. Sometimes these are evident as core values, for example if you prize freedom as a core value and someone tries to restrain you, anger may be instantaneous, unless you’ve learned a better strategy.

Did you notice your strategies for anger?

Are your boundary conditions formidable, or flexible?

NLP provides a vital foundation of skills that help you recognise and upgrade thinking, feeling and behavioural strategies, including anger. Learn with us, so you get to make swift changes within yourself, and when dealing with the strategies of others.

Animal Magic

Animal Magic

Have you ever noticed how being around animals can help to calm people? There are many studies on how non-human animals can help humans in so many ways.

You might have experienced the feelings that another animal can generate? Maybe you’ve heard of schemes that invite animals to interact with people in hospitals or care homes?

My experience is mainly in working with horses. For centuries, people have relied on the horses in their lives. In contemporary times, horses in the UK, although sometimes used for economic purposes, are rarely relied on for practical purposes such as working the land or carrying us to war, rather for pleasure. An expensive hobby some may think, so what is it that draws us to these magnificent creatures; what is that makes us see them in awe; what is it that compels us to be near them even though we may be a little afraid? That’s their beauty and the answer is different for everyone.

Non-judgemental, horses are extraordinarily responsive to human emotions and states of mind, and are experts of knowing when we’re not being genuine. Their social nature is highly developed, which accounts for their sensitivity and keen ability to “read” their surroundings. Their social nature also accounts for their intense need to know who is leading at any given moment.That sets up a natural environment for humans to practice leading the horse and getting genuine feedback about how well they are doing. People can gain confidence and insight by discovering within themselves the qualities the horse is so good at eliciting, including trustworthiness, courage, responsibility, love, empathy, joyfulness, reciprocal giving and receiving, creativity, authentic self, mutual trust and respect, confidence, assertiveness and leadership.

So, what is at work when we experience these animals in this way? There are many books written on the subject, so these are simply some examples of how I’ve seen people learn so much about themselves and their responses to life.

  • Horses are flight animals, and will quickly access this ability if they feel threatened. The fight or flight instinct is a reptilian response which sits in the cerebellum. When compared to a human brain, the horse’s cerebellum is large which makes the functions that sit in here very refined. This stress response causes hormones such as cortisol to flood the body, readying the horse for running away, forming its primary defence mechanism. Although, generally, humans don’t need this immediate response, the brain will still react quickly in survive mode when it feels under threat, even when the threat is no longer present. Sometimes this is appropriate, but when it continues, apparently unwarranted, it can cause us to be physically and mentally unwell. When operating in ‘survive’ mode, neither people nor horses can learn as their thinking brain shuts down; it’s not needed to run away from lions and tigers. Horses can help this as observation of them can help people to reflect their own response and what might be a better way.
  • Many humans spend much time either in the past or the future, struggling to stay in the ‘now’. Horses are renowned for operating in the ‘now’. They don’t hold grudges, worry about the past and, as far as we know, don’t anticipate the future. It’s true that they will quickly learn about situations that they want to avoid, but rarely anticipate that event happening, rather reacting when it does. When around horses, the animals will respond differently to individuals, depending on whether they perceive a threat. Often, where people are struggling to stay ‘in the now’, horses might be quite wary. The miracle change comes when people explore their feelings to switch into ‘thrive’ mode and this gives them so much more capacity for building better responses. The horse will quite often feel comfortable in coming closer when this switch happens.
  • Congruence is one thing that horses are well known for. They pretty much are and do what they say on the tin; what you see is what you get. And, when we’re working with them, their response to those not being congruent is really interesting. To a horse, we don’t feel safe when we’re not congruent as they can’t judge what we might do next. So, what is congruence? Congruence can be described as the correspondence between what you feel and what you express. Therefore, we could define congruence as that balance which exists between your most visceral state (your “gut”) and the externalisation that you make of it in your behaviour. Both verbally as well as non-verbally. That is to say, when we are congruent, what we feel and what we externalise are in tune with each other. Not acting congruently can cause our bodies to feel stress, and horses are very skilled at drawing attention to where the primitive part of our brain is operating out of tune with our behaviour.
  • In a horse’s natural environment, everyone is very clear on their role in the herd. The roles sometimes change, but at any given time, each animal is aware of its position and what’s expected. This means that when they’re with us, horses need to check what role we’re playing. This can quickly give people an insight into their own ability to take on, for example, a leadership role as the horse will easily just make its own rules if it feels that no one else is in charge; it has to do this to make sure it stays safe. This reminds me of how our brains can respond when there’s no one holding the reins. If our thinking mind is not giving clear instructions, our primitive mind feels the need to decide for itself and act accordingly, sometimes not appropriately, leading to an unexpected response!

As you can see, horses can make powerful partners in exploring many aspects of how our brain works. Being able to manage our responses to situations more successfully in thrive mode, having our brain work its component parts effectively together creating a flourishing environment, and helping us navigate through life successfully, is key to reducing stress levels, dealing with issues such as depression and eating disorders, and even phobias and panic attacks.