Have you ever found yourself in the position where something that you have often spoken about or believed in gets tested to the limits? A bit like ‘put your money where your mouth is’?

This is exactly what happened to me two weeks ago.

I was kindly reminded by a student what I had shared with him and the profound impact those words had on him and his ability to stay calm when faced with a challenging life situation. He questioned me and asked: “How can you be worried? You are the one who shared the ‘invaluable anecdote’ about how pointless worrying was.” (I was going to be undergoing an operation on my heart.)

The ‘invaluable anecdote’ was a scene from the movie ‘Bridge of Spies’ that absolutely rang true and, like a light bulb being turned on, it has stayed with me.

I had been passing on to others the words of Tom Hanks as he asks the gentlemen who has been arrested for being a Russian spy: “Do you never worry”?

The words of actor Mark Rylance follows: “Would it help”?

Mark Rylance won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2016 for his performance in ‘Bridge of Spies’, and perhaps it was his delivery of those three words that made such an impact. Or it could have been the look on Tom Hanks’ face when he hears the response — you can literally ‘see’ the recognition as it dawns on him that worrying was not going to help him or solve any problems.

And so, just like that, the roles were reversed and I, the teacher, was now the student.

I understood right there and then that he was right and now it was my turn to completely embrace what I taught and shared. I had so quickly fallen into the illusion and guise of worrying and hadn’t realised I fell into the trap.

I knew I had to resolve whatever issues I had about the upcoming operation and truly rid myself of thoughts that were going to cause me unwanted stress and negative emotions as that would cause many more problems than answers.

What I did next was really examine my thoughts around worrying. I am hoping that this may help some of you who are faced with a situation that is causing you upset.

Was worrying really going to help me going into this operation? No.

Worrying wasn’t going to change the outcome.

Worrying wasn’t going to give me any more control.

Worrying wasn’t going to make the operation go away.

Worrying wasn’t the answer.

I have come to understand that worrying is a reaction that we have when we don’t feel like we are in control. We are grasping for some way to find the answer, work something out, avoid something.

What most of don’t realise, though, is that the very nature of worrying is actually debilitating and lessens our ability to truly be in control of our physical, emotional and mental state.

I am unable to perform, think, feel, or experience anything with clarity if I am worried.

If I did decide to go into a place of worrying, what could I expect?

Physically: Worrying, as an emotion, lowers the immune system, thus making it easier to become susceptible to being sick and run down.

Worrying also increases stress and anxiety. The results of stress and anxiety on the body has been widely documented but a few of the known bi-products of stress are increased heart rate, anxiety, depression, sweating, shallow or rapid breathing, stomach upsets, and headaches to name a few.

Mentally: Worrying affects our ability to think clearly. We become distracted and vague. Not an ideal situation for anyone.

Worrying means you are unable to be present. Your thinking takes you into scenarios of ‘what if’ and you waste valuable time and energy on situations that may or may not happen.

Emotionally: Worrying, by its very nature, makes you feel uncomfortable. It can lead to frustration, anger, depression or feelings of being out of control.

Spiritually: Worrying increases feelings of isolation, disconnection and having no support.

The bottom line: there wasn’t one positive attribute that I could find associated with the emotion of worrying that would help me with my situation.

Going through the process of asking myself: “How would worrying benefit me?” was key to letting go of the fear and unease.

Trusting in the process also helped immensely. I knew in my heart with absolute clarity that the answers to my questions above allowed me to trust and with that came surrender.

I surrendered, relaxed and accepted that I had much more power being positive.

Original article – http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/tami-roos/to-worry-or-not/

Having taught meditation for a number of years and preached the benefits of being mindful and in the present moment, it has occurred to me that one of the greatest traps that we fall into is believing that there is some magic “end” in sight and that once we “reach” this magic point everything is finished or done and we will be happy and content.

Does this sound familiar to anyone? Do you ever think: “If only I get through the to-do list then everything will be okay”?

But then you realise that just as soon as you have finished doing one task, one errand, paid that one bill, got to that dentist appointment, something else will pop up that needs to be tended to.

How have we fallen into the trap of thinking that there is an end point to our learning or our experiences?

Holding onto this idea will only create more disharmony in your life and you will forever be searching for something that is simply not attainable.

Every day something new will pop up because that is life. Each day you will be presented with opportunities to grow, lessons to learn, chores to complete, appointments to make and the list will continue.

This is not a doom-and-gloom reality, it is simply life.

The joy and sorrow, the ups and downs, the busy days and quiet days. You may find one day challenging and the next day uplifting. The one single constant is that life is always in a constant state of flux. Change occurs. Day becomes night and night becomes day, seasons change, the tides change, our emotions change, our energy levels change, and the list goes on.

This means that if you are having a bad day, that too will change. Our bad day will turn into a better “new” day. Getting through a rough patch by putting one foot in front of another means that you are getting closer to changing your situation and bringing in a more agreeable set of circumstances.

This awareness not only brings me comfort but a quiet strength as well. I know that whatever I may be experiencing or “having to do” will come to an end and will be replaced by a “new” experience.

It is the natural flow of life, one cycle after another.

So how can we better manage our emotions or our outlook on any given day?

Find acceptance.

  • Acceptance in the knowledge that your life will always offer a variety of different experiences, emotions, people, directions, obligations, etc…
  • Acceptance that nothing lasts forever, change is inevitable
  • Acceptance allows you to emotionally move through things with more ease (i.e. if you are experiencing sadness, accept it — acknowledging to yourself how you are feeling allows the energy to keep moving through you)
  • Acceptance will help you stay free of judgment. Judging something as good or bad creates disharmony. Instead think to yourself: “it is what it is”. This will keep you emotionally detached and you will find that you are far less impacted and more able to think clearly and make sound decisions.

And lastly, find gratitude for the many gifts that you have in your life right now. Life is precious. Enjoy it now as there is always going to be things to do.

Full article – http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/tami-roos/the-to-do-list-is-never-finished_b_9698236.html

The meditation-and-the-brain research has been rolling in steadily for a number of years now, with new studies coming out just about every week to illustrate some new benefit of meditation. Or, rather, some ancient benefit that is just now being confirmed with fMRI or EEG. The practice appears to have an amazing variety of neurological benefits – from changes in grey matter volume to reduced activity in the “me” centers of the brain to enhanced connectivity between brain regions. Below are some of the most exciting studies to come out in the last few years and show that meditation really does produce measurable changes in our most important organ. Skeptics, of course, may ask what good are a few brain changes if the psychological effects aren’t simultaneously being illustrated? Luckily, there’s good evidence for those as well, with studies reporting that meditation helps relieve our subjective levels of anxiety and depression, and improve attention, concentration, and overall psychological well-being.

Meditation Helps Preserve the Aging Brain

Last week, a study from UCLA found that long-term meditators had better-preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged. Participants who’d been meditating for an average of 20 years had more grey matter volume throughout the brain — although older meditators still had some volume loss compared to younger meditators, it wasn’t as pronounced as the non-meditators. “We expected rather small and distinct effects located in some of the regions that had previously been associated with meditating,” said study author Florian Kurth. “Instead, what we actually observed was a widespread effect of meditation that encompassed regions throughout the entire brain.”

Meditation Reduces Activity in the Brain’s “Me Center”

One of the most interesting studies in the last few years, carried out at Yale University, found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN), the brain network responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts – a.k.a., “monkey mind.” The DMN is “on” or active when we’re not thinking about anything in particular, when our minds are just wandering from thought to thought. Since mind-wandering is typically associated with being less happy, ruminating, and worrying about the past and future, it’s the goal for many people to dial it down. Several studies have shown that meditation, though its quieting effect on the DMN, appears to do just this. And even when the mind does start to wander, because of the new connections that form, meditators are better at snapping back out of it.

Its Effects Rival Antidepressants for Depression, Anxiety

A review study last year at Johns Hopkins looked at the relationship between mindfulness meditation and its ability to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and pain. Researcher Madhav Goyal and his team found that the effect size of meditation was moderate, at 0.3. If this sounds low, keep in mind that the effect size for antidepressants is also 0.3, which makes the effect of meditation sound pretty good. Meditation is, after all an active form of brain training. “A lot of people have this idea that meditation means sitting down and doing nothing,” says Goyal. “But that’s not true. Meditation is an active training of the mind to increase awareness, and different meditation programs approach this in different ways.” Meditation isn’t a magic bullet for depression, as no treatment is, but it’s one of the tools that may help manage symptoms.

Meditation May Lead to Volume Changes in Key Areas of the Brain

In 2011, Sara Lazar and her team at Harvard found that mindfulness meditation can actually change the structure of the brain: Eight weeks of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was found to increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory, and in certain areas of the brain that play roles in emotion regulation and self-referential processing. There were also decreases in brain cell volume in the amygdala, which is responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress – and these changes matched the participants’ self-reports of their stress levels, indicating that meditation not only changes the brain, but it changes our subjective perception and feelings as well. In fact, a follow-up study by Lazar’s team found that after meditation training, changes in brain areas linked to mood and arousal were also linked to improvements in how participants said they felt — i.e., their psychological well-being. So for anyone who says that activated blobs in the brain don’t necessarily mean anything, our subjective experience – improved mood and well-being – does indeed seem to be shifted through meditation as well.

Just a Few Days of Training Improves Concentration and Attention

Having problems concentrating isn’t just a kid thing – it affects millions of grown-ups as well, with an ADD diagnosis or not. Interestingly but not surprisingly, one of the central benefits of meditation is that it improves attention and concentration: One recent study found that just a couple of weeks of meditation training helped people’s focus and memory during the verbal reasoning section of the GRE. In fact, the increase in score was equivalent to 16 percentile points, which is nothing to sneeze at. Since the strong focus of attention (on an object, idea, or activity) is one of the central aims of meditation, it’s not so surprising that meditation should help people’s cognitive skills on the job, too – but it’s nice to have science confirm it. And everyone can use a little extra assistance on standardized tests.

Meditation Reduces Anxiety — and Social Anxiety

A lot of people start meditating for its benefits in stress reduction, and there’s lots of good evidence to support this rationale. There’s a whole newer sub-genre of meditation, mentioned earlier, called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts’ Center for Mindfulness (now available all over the country), that aims to reduce a person’s stress level, physically and mentally. Studies have shown its benefits in reducing anxiety, even years after the initial 8-week course. Research has also shown that mindfulness meditation, in contrast to attending to the breath only, can reduce anxiety – and that these changes seem to be mediated through the brain regions associated with those self-referential (“me-centered”) thoughts. Mindfulness meditation has also been shown to help people with social anxiety disorder: a Stanford University team found that MBSR brought about changes in brain regions involved in attention, as well as relief from symptoms of social anxiety.

Meditation Can Help with Addiction

A growing number of studies has shown that, given its effects on the self-control regions of the brain, meditation can be very effective in helping people recover from various types of addiction. One study, for example, pitted mindfulness training against the American Lung Association’s freedom from smoking (FFS) program, and found that people who learned mindfulness were many times more likely to have quit smoking by the end of the training, and at 17 weeks follow-up, than those in the conventional treatment. This may be because meditation helps people “decouple” the state of craving from the act of smoking, so the one doesn’t always have to lead to the other, but rather you fully experience and ride out the “wave” of craving, until it passes. Other research has found that mindfulness training, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), and mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP) can be helpful in treating other forms of addiction.

Short Meditation Breaks Can Help Kids in School

For developing brains, meditation has as much as or perhaps even more promise than it has for adults. There’s been increasing interest from educators and researchers in bringing meditation and yoga to school kids, who are dealing with the usual stressors inside school, and oftentimes additional stress and trauma outside school. Some schools have starting implementing meditation into their daily schedules, and with good effect: One district in San Francisco started a twice daily meditation program in some of its high-risk schools – and saw suspensions decrease, and GPAs and attendance increase. Studies have confirmed the cognitive and emotional benefits of meditation for schoolchildren, but more work will probably need to be done before it gains more widespread acceptance.

Worth a Try?

Meditation is not a panacea, but there’s certainly a lot of evidence that it may do some good for those who practice it regularly. Everyone from Anderson Cooper and congressman Tim Ryan to companies like Google GOOGL +1.30% and Apple AAPL -2.11% and Target TGT +0.00% are integrating meditation into their schedules. And its benefits seem to be felt after a relatively short amount of practice. Some researchers have cautioned that meditation can lead to ill effects under certain circumstances (known as the “dark night” phenomenon), but for most people – especially if you have a good teacher – meditation is beneficial, rather than harmful. It’s certainly worth a shot: If you have a few minutes in the morning or evening (or both), rather than turning on your phone or going online, see what happens if you try quieting down your mind, or at least paying attention to your thoughts and letting them go without reacting to them. If the research is right, just a few minutes of meditation may make a big difference.

See original article by Alice G.Walton here – http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/02/09/7-ways-meditation-can-actually-change-the-brain/#f3e637702300

The AFL season is around the corner and, having lived and breathed football for nearly 25 years, I can feel the anticipation in the air around Melbourne.

The pre-season competition has begun, and talk in the cafes is once again focused around how well the team will go.

Being married to an ex-professional AFL player and current professional AFL coach, I am very aware of the highs and lows of sport. There is great sacrifice on the part of many involved to play and compete at this level.
And yes, sometimes you do need to remind yourself that it is ‘only a game’.

However, what I have not only witnessed and experienced myself is that sport is more than a game.

Have you ever really considered what you learned when you played sport? As a child, you more than likely participated in physical education (PE) classes. In those classes, you began to learn about the importance of exercise for your health as well as how to play a game. Your teachers may have taught you about sportsmanship and playing by the rules.

In the United States, where I was born and raised, sport was and is still a huge part of the school system. Attendance at high school and college games is a real aspect of ‘school life’, so much so that every year many schools host a homecoming game/weekend where the alma mater (past graduates) come back to the school in support of the school and football team. School pride is on hand and there is a real sense of community watching the football game together.

You may not enjoy playing sport yourself or like the idea of exercising but you can still be a part of something that contributes to feelings of belonging. This is really no different to any team that you may support now as an adult. It could be an NRL team, an AFL club, a soccer team, the local rugby union team or cricket team.

What I have learned from years of participating in sport is that many of life’s greatest lessons can be learned through sport — and you don’t have to be a good athlete in order to learn these lessons.

Discipline

Sport taught me about discipline. Committing to training, being prepared, not quitting, and making sacrifices are all part of playing sport.

Perseverance

Sport teaches you perseverance. In order to become better at your ‘craft’ or sport, you need to practice. It doesn’t happen overnight. Being on a team or in an individual sport requires training. In order to stay fit you need to keep practicing, training, running, going to the gym, etc…

Communication

Team sport encourages communication. The stronger your communication skills the more ‘in-sync’ the team. You are working for a common goal and the power of your voice cannot be underestimated. Your voice can be used to lead your teammates and help give support, encouragement and guidance on the field and off the field. The lessons learned from effectively communicating on the field could easily be translated to the office or your home life.

Determination

Determination can also be considered to be desire — the desire to try to the best of your ability (regardless of athletic ability) in a given situation. You need to be determined in sport not to give up, to understand that even if you come up against a stronger or more skilful opponent that it is up to you to try your best as no one else can do it for you.

Team Work

Sport teaches you how to work with others and how to overcome differences in opinions to achieve a common goal. It may not necessarily always equate to a win on the scoreboard, but it is an invaluable life lesson. All of us benefit from understanding that teamwork, in a team, a company or a family, is an invaluable skill to learn. Considering others, working together for a common goal, and stepping away from a ‘me’ versus ‘you’ mentality is a better equation for success and happiness.

Leadership

Not everyone is born to be a leader or desires to be one, but you can understand qualities of effective leadership from sport. If you observe an effective team captain or coach they usually have earned the respect of those around them. They have set the example in terms of their actions and words, they have an ability to listen, they are able to deliver a message that may be hard without making it personal, and they are effective communicators.

Failure

There is tremendous growth in understanding that you will not always win. Sport is very much like life — you will have highs and lows — but learning to get back up and try again is invaluable. The scoreboard does not define failure… the only way that you actually ‘fail’ is if you quit or give up.

Setbacks

Sport will always throw out some setbacks. You may get injured in training or a game and require some time away from the game or activity that you love. But you learn to ‘ride that wave’ and take steps to get yourself back on track.

Sportsmanship

Learning to play by the rules with honesty and integrity is an invaluable life lesson. Being gracious in winning as well as defeat is always a trait of a true champion.

Friendship

Incredible bonds and friendships are made through sport. You train and play together, riding the highs and lows through blood, sweat and tears and understand the importance of camaraderie and friendships.

Resilience

Sport teaches you mental resilience. You need to be able to bounce back, find balance, enjoy yourself, celebrate your successes and learn from your mistakes.

Healthy Lifestyle

Sport teaches you the importance of being healthy in mind, body and spirit. To be at your optimum you need to eat the right foods, drink enough water, exercise, get enough sleep, relax, and quiet the mind.

Full article – http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/tami-roos/sport-is-more-than-a-game_b_9346530.html

Finding a solution requires the right mindset — a conscious decision that you will do your best to contribute to a positive outcome (solution) rather than contribute to a negative outcome (problem).

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if our focus was on finding a solution rather than focusing on a problem.

How much more smoothly would our days go? Would our ideas of right and wrong shift? Would we stop judging something as good or bad? Would finding a ‘common ground’ become our focus?

Consider some of your concerns or problems at the moment. Do they always have to have a ‘me versus you’ mentality attached to them? If we didn’t take things personally, would we be able to step out of that mindset?
The answer to any of the above questions lies in what is the desired outcome. Is it more important to live your life with less chaos and drama by focusing on a solution? Is finding a solution a better outcome than tolerating a problem?

It reminds me of a pendulum, the constant sway from one side to another. One side is swinging to the left and the other side is swinging to the right. Back and forth, back and forth, with no one desiring to give any ground.

Extremes are located on either side of the pendulum and perhaps it is the middle ground, the still point, which favours us — or at least provides a ‘best-case scenario’ for all involved.

Cooperation and willingness from both parties is required to achieve this still point. Not getting caught up in whose opinion is right or wrong. Not getting caught up in taking things or comments personally. And, most importantly, not having to always be right.

Have you ever noticed that when you start complaining about how bad things are or how something doesn’t fit your belief system that you actually feel your heart rate increase, your emotions rise? You may feel incredibly indignant, or you may even feel your breath becoming shallow due to stress. Do you like this feeling? Does it make you feel empowered or safe? Initially I would say yes, because you are ‘fighting for your beliefs’ and this is comfortable ground. But what happens when the dialogue stops, the conversation goes into a lull or you change subject.

Where does all this pent-up energy and frustration go? Do you have a solution for all your complaining or blaming?

More often than not, if you were paying attention to your responses you would understand that you actually end up feeling flat and deflated.

Why is this, if you were so fired up only minutes earlier? Perhaps it is because you are actually looking for a way to fix something but all you ended up doing was complaining, blaming, making excuses and, in the end, voicing your concerns without having a viable solution in mind.

A solution-focused mindset is so much more powerful and creative than a problem-focused mindset. Attitude is everything.

If you are experiencing an area of your life that you wish to change, focus on the solution.

A simple guide to consider when looking to find a solution:

1. Blaming others never solves anything. Ask yourself: “What can I do here and now to help improve this situation?”
2. Making excuses is a form of procrastination. If you are unable to start working on a solution, the inevitable outcome will be that the problem will persist and that the desired outcome, a solution, will be non-existent. Better to start now than not start at all and resent others or yourself for doing nothing.
3. Finding a solution empowers you. No one likes to think of themselves as not capable. Working on a strategy or a way to come up with a solution not only creates a sense of empowerment (I AM capable of…) but achievement as well. Finding a solution as a group or community empowers everyone.
4. Staying detached from the situation is beneficial if you wish to truly create positive change. This way, it does not become about your beliefs, or their beliefs, or his beliefs or her beliefs. Stay out of the emotional merry-go-round.
5. Be more proactive and less reactive as this impacts your emotional state of being.
6. The choice is yours. Be part of the problem or be part of the solution.
7. Compromise is not a negative. This just may be the single most important factor in finding a solution. Compromise is not about someone getting ‘their way’. Compromise shows that you are willing to meet someone half-way in order to benefit everyone. Perhaps this is a key ingredient in true leadership.
8. Don’t be afraid to say you’re sorry. If you made a mistake, own it. Taking responsibility for your actions or words may just be the quickest route to finding a solution.
9. Remember everyone is doing the best they can in any given moment. When I meet someone who is challenging I remind myself of this simple statement. I have no idea what is going on inside their head or their heart and what challenges they may be facing.
10. Practice breath awareness. Focusing on taking a series of deep inhalations and exhalations (5-10 cycles) to calm your mind and your body. Entering into any discussion feeling stressed or on ‘edge’ is never a good idea. Hit a RESET button and make sure that you are clear and focused. You will be less reactive and will communicate much more effectively.

 

Full article – http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/tami-roos/be-the-solution_b_9179642.html

There is a place within each and every one of us that stores a hidden well. The power of this hidden well gives us the ability to rise above ordinary, day-to-day situations within an instant if called upon. Within this well resides love, courage, compassion, hope, strength, humility, integrity, respect, faith, resilience, passion, benevolence, kindness, patience, joy and truth.

Most are not aware of its existence, but if you look closely enough you will recognise that there have been many instances in your own life where you tapped into this well and into your hero within. Are you able to recognise that each and every one of us has all of those traits at our disposal if we so choose to call upon them and action them?

I believe there are heroes among us, not just some of the time, but all of the time. Every single day, human beings perform amazing acts of courage and love. Some of these make headline news, but more often than not it is the unsung hero that goes about their business, acting from their hidden well and never understanding the enormous impact their presence or action has had on another human being.

And, going one step further, the positive impact on this one person never stops with them. The family, the co-worker, the company, the team, the community and perhaps even the nation is also impacted positively from this action.

Take the analogy of a pebble thrown into a still pond. The pebble thrown into the water creates a ripple effect. If a boulder is thrown into the water it creates an even bigger ripple effect, but neither is more important than the other. Both have made an impact.

If you understand that for every action there is a reaction and that it is instant, you would also understand just how powerful we are and together we can be the difference we wish to see in this world.

The hero within comes in many forms. The hero is not limited to a certain gender, age, religious background, ethnicity, geographical location or financial status.

Have you stopped to consider that the smile you just gave a complete stranger may have been the highlight of their day? How many of you think that a small act of kindness is never wasted? What if, for a moment, everyone decided that they would call upon their hero within and pledge to do one unconditional act of kindness a day. Would that not then spread out into your family, friends and community?

To be a hero does not require a herculean effort or act.

Try the following:

  • Open the door for someone.
  • Let the mother with the crying child go in front of you in the line at the grocery store.
  • Let someone know that you care.
  • Listen and acknowledge another’s presence, point of view, opinion or belief. Sometimes people just want to be acknowledged and heard. It doesn’t mean you have to change your opinion or belief, but the care that you display for another person’s wellbeing softens the heart and makes them feel included.
  • Offer a homeless person a meal. Being hungry and alone isn’t always a choice they made, nor does it mean they are lazy. Some people become homeless over something as little as a paycheck one week late. Showing compassion for the less fortunate is true grace.
  • Stay free of judging, gossiping and spreading rumours.
  • Treat everyone as you wish to be treated. At the end of the day, you will know how you acted.
  • Mow the lawn for an elderly neighbour.
  • Hug a loved one.
  • Plant a tree.
  • Stand up for someone being bullied.
  • Tell the truth.
  • Buy the next person in line their coffee.
  • Offer to take that photo for the one person in the group who would otherwise have missed out.
  • Pray for someone who is unwell or is in need of support.
  • Pray for solutions (don’t focus on the problem).
  • Pick up trash you may find on the street, in the park or at the beach…
  • Take your dog for a walk (and perhaps offer to take the neighbours dog too).

It is rather easy to make a difference to someone’s life, our planet and our animals. All you have to decide is to do it. The choice is yours.

You have all of those amazing qualities within your hidden well.

You do have a hero within.

Honour others and you honour yourself.

 

——–

Written by Tami Roos
Author and meditation facilitator

Reposted from Huffington Post

It’s official — December is here and with that the mad dash towards the close of the year and the many different holiday festivities you have planned.

You may be experiencing excitement with the build up towards New Years or you may be feeling exhausted and ready for a holiday. Some of you may be experiencing a heightened sense of anxiety or even stress that surrounds this time of year.

As this is the month of December and we hear “tis the season of giving”, why don’t you practise giving back to yourself by choosing gratitude?

One of the easiest ways to experience more contentment, joy and happiness is to practise being thankful for what is in your life right now.

Wherever you are on the scale of fluctuating daily emotions we all can benefit from practising gratitude.

The energy of gratitude is powerful because it allows you to rise above situations or states of being that would normally disempower you or knock you off your centre.

This is because there is an awareness within you that there are a lot of people, places, things and situations to be truly thankful for. Knowing this is powerful as you are tapping into love and an interconnectedness with others. The recognition of what you’re thankful for allows your heart to expand and a real sense of contentment, happiness and joy is experienced.

I’m not suggesting that there will be days that are not challenging — even if you are practising gratitude — but by beginning each day being thankful you are actively choosing to take your awareness into your heart.

Gratitude Exercise:

Simply close your eyes and start taking slow rhythmic breaths concentrating on the sound of your breath. Feel the breath entering in through your nostrils and exiting slowly out of your mouth. As you breathe, feel any anxiety that you may be holding onto slowly dissolve with each inhalation and exhalation. Repeat this process for a count of 5 inhalations and exhalations.

At the end of your breathing exercise you should be feeling more relaxed. Sit quietly and ask yourself “What am I grateful for in this moment?”

You don’t need to rush the answer — simply allow the answer to come to your mind.

The answer that you come up with should fill your heart with a sense of gratitude. The feeling is similar to experiencing a sense of wonder and joy. You should feel happy and uplifted by the experience.

Feel the expansion in your chest that tells you yes, I am thankful for this… whatever it might be. It could be a sunrise, a smile you received today, a friend, a bonus, a gift, your dog, your health, running on the beach, seeing a rainbow… the list is endless.

When you feel your heart expand, you are opening yourself up to more! It may come in the form of a new opportunity, more energy, a higher frequency/vibration, more positive emotions and more positive experiences.

As you breathe in, keep thinking of what you are grateful for and allow the energy to keep flowing to you.

Now come up with another thing that you are truly grateful for.

Again, you must feel your body respond to what you are thankful for. If you do not ‘feel a response’ then think of something else until you experience a sense of expansion. It is similar to an ‘aha’ moment — that moment when you know or have the feeling of perceiving something that you hadn’t before.

When you are ready gently bring your awareness back to the room and open your eyes.

You will start to identify quickly with what you are truly grateful for because the body does not lie. You will feel your heart expand.

Use this exercise daily to raise your vibration, shift your mood, as a form of prayer, and as a way of being more present.

Original article – http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/tami-roos/a-daily-dose-of-gratitude_b_8694804.html

On a recent trip to the United States I had the pleasure of sharing a taxi back to the airport with a girlfriend. During the short car ride we were engaging with the driver, who had lived in the area for nearly 20 years, about life.

In short, he said, “I would rather be happy than crappy.” He said it took him a long time to work it out but that being grumpy took up too much of his energy and left him exhausted.

I thought about this comment for a few days as I truly appreciated the reminder. This taxi driver had innocently passed on a great truth to both me and my girlfriend and I was grateful to have been in a position to really hear what the ‘teacher’ was saying.

We all have the ability to “choose to be”. I can be having a “bad” day and let it not only ruin my day in my thoughts, feelings, actions and emotions but of those around me too. If I am grumpy then those around me feel it too. It may be the way I say something, the emotion behind the statement or my body language.

Have you ever seen someone walk into a room and you recognise straight away that the person is in a bad mood? It’s like they are walking in with a large dark rain cloud above their head saying ‘watch out, I am having a bad day’.

You speak with this person and by the end of the conversation you feel like all of your energy has been zapped away! What happened? You had been in a good mood and then the storm cloud walked over and now you’re not feeling as good or positive.

Energy is real. We are all constantly receiving information and feedback from multiple sources all the time and people are one of the greatest sources of passing energy on from one to another.

Which brings me back to the taxi drivers realisation. If I am the one who is feeling down do I have a choice to change that and lessen the impact on myself (my state of wellbeing) and on others too? Of course I do —
I can ‘choose to be” more positive. Simple. It is all in your mind-set.

All of us have had days where we wish we could have just started all over again or, better still, wished we could just go back to bed and wake up to a new day.

Those thoughts all lie in the hope that somehow everything is going to just go away. But the bad mood is still there or the experience that we wished we didn’t have, we have had, etc…

So what can I do about it?

What if I have the choice or the power to choose my response right then and there? Would I be better off? Of course I would. I would no longer play the victim game or the blame game or the martyr game. I wouldn’t allow a bad mood to ruin my entire day or that of another person.

If I am not a victim to the situation I can choose a more appropriate response. If I take responsibility for a situation or an emotion than I am more able to move on quickly rather than blaming another for being the source of my so-called problem. If something is out of my control, it is better to accept it rather than think I can change the outcome or what a person may have said or done. I can’t.

The only person that I can control is myself. I can control my thoughts, my words, my actions and my feelings and not those of another person.

Some helpful hints to bring more awareness to a situation where you wish to change your mind-set.

Remember to Breathe- if you’re in a really bad mood than try to find a moment to yourself to practise some deep breathing. Sit still and inhale deeply and as you exhale visualise yourself breathing out all of your anger or negative energy. Repeat this exercise for at least five cycles of breath and you will feel your body relax. The more relaxed your body, the easier it is to quiet the mind. This will allow you to become more present and more able to find a solution to your present situation rather than ‘hang on to it’.

Smile- my grandmother used to say to me if you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours. It’s free and you don’t know what that smile will mean to someone else. It is a very powerful form of connecting with another and makes you feel better because you are not focused on yourself but rather another human being. This is surely one of the quickest and nicest ways of becoming more positive.

Connect with Nature-if possible go outside for 5-10 minutes and simply sit in nature. Gaze at something beautiful, admire a sunset, lie on the grass and watch the clouds float by. Nature brings you back to yourself. Nothing looks or feels as bad when you are sitting in nature. You’re able to let go and simply enjoy your surroundings, thus disconnecting from your negative thinking or bad mood.

Read original article here – http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/tami-roos/happy-not-crappy_b_8168254.html