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In Positive Thinking in Issue 02...

The Courage Project by Daniel Glasheen

The true value of savouring by Caralyn Bains

Encouragement by Amy Deane

Moving on from bullying by James Rand

Tourism in the Chilterns by Sim Bowman

Discernment by Peter Hawkes

Meditation by Sian Magee

Strength through non-aggression by Chris Dolling




Encouragement

by Amy Deane

As we go through life, we all have times when we need some outside input, something that will springboard us from being stuck, to a place where we suddenly feel optimistic, full of possibility, or simply hope. The right nudge at the right time, all down to a simple human helping hand: encouragement.

Encouragement is as essential as the Vitamin D we get from the sun. With it, we thrive, without it, we wither. To encourage is to hearten, to embolden, to literally give courage to. It inspires confidence, self worth, self esteem, enthusiasm, and determination.

Can you remember a time when you personally experienced great encouragement? How did it make you feel? How powerful was that experience, and what lasting impact did it have on you? And can you remember a time when encouragement was absent? How did this make you feel? Encouragement can be delivered in different ways:

  • Acknowledgement: saying thank you, giving appreciation, is a form of encouragement. Never underestimate the power of acknowledging another for something they've done. In a work situation, this is absolutely essential. Employees who don't feel appreciated will very quickly lose confidence and enthusiasm for their work.

  • Praise: telling someone they've done a good job, that they're admired for who they are and what they do. It's important to be sincere and keep it real. My grandmother used to say 'a little bit of praise goes a very long way' and simple though that may sound, it's very true and very powerful. Giving praise to children from a young age raises their self-esteem and selfbelief and empowers them to try new things, which can play out into adulthood and throughout the rest of their life.

  • Support: watching someone's back, being there for them, helping them out. A good team supports each other, friends support each other, families support each other, communities support each other. It can be just the type of encouragement that is needed to keep going. 'How can I help?' is sometimes exactly what someone needs to hear.

  • Feedback: good, careful feedback makes us strive to be even better, to be our best version of ourselves. If a friend asks for feedback about something, ensure that you highlight their achievements and successes before offering advice on how to be even better next time. Delivered clumsily, feedback can just feel like criticism and reduce instead of increase someone's confidence.

Encouragement is not to be taken flippantly. It has to be sincere. The language you use is very important, whether verbal or written; eye contact is necessary if face to face, and clarity is essential. If you're unsure of what to say, consider how you want that person to feel before you say anything.

Start today

Your words could literally change the course of someone's life. The word Encouragement is Anglo-French and the centre of the word comes from the French 'coeur': heart. Hence, to hearten. Get out there, and from a heartfelt place, give someone else the courage to reach for their dreams, keep going, or just take the next step forward. It will cost you nothing and bring the greatest reward to you both.

Amy DeaneCall: 079 8944 0972
www.springtolife.co.uk

Amy Deane works as a Professional Encourager facilitating and supporting people in business and in their personal lives to move them from where they are, to where they want to be.




Moving on from bullying

by James Rand

It seems as though wherever we look of late, whether it be on the internet, the television or in newspapers, bullying is a topic which is mentioned and discussed more and more.

One only has to look at the steadily increasing numbers of books and online forums dedicated to the subject to see further evidence of this; from school bullying to relationship and workplace bullying. I'm not sure if this is because bullying is on the increase or whether this tendency has always been around in human beings, but now the tide is beginning to turn, so to speak, and more and more victims of this insidious behaviour are taking a stand and speaking out. Not only speaking out, but using their experiences to bring about real good in the lives of others; turning their situation around from being victim, to survivor, to thriver.

Moving on from bullyingAll of this is to be hugely applauded, and doubtless there is still much work to be done to shine the light of truth and understanding on this topic.

Speaking from personal experience, it can be very challenging to say the least to remain focused and positive when you find yourself the victim of a bullying situation. However, I believe that every challenge or difficulty presents an opportunity for healing, if used in the right way.

The key thing, I think, is to turn the difficulty around and look upon it as an opportunity for growth in compassion, understanding and wisdom. Also, perhaps we can see it as a nudge that we are not on the right track, and that God, the Universe, the Life Force (whatever spiritual understanding is right for you), is nudging us forward to make some real, positive changes in our lives. It forces us to stop, take stock and perhaps make us realise that actually the life we are living at the moment is not really one where our true potential can come about.

It may mean that we need to move on and start again, using our experience to make us more aware and stronger, and perhaps even making ourselves available for others who are going through a similar situation, having sought the right support for ourselves.

Personal suffering, if approached in the right way, carves out a space within us that can be filled with compassion, love and a deep empathy for others. Surely this is one of the greatest gifts we can give to humanity.

James Rand is employed as a London bus driver and has had to overcome many of the challenges faced when confronting the prejudices of a diverse workforce.




The art of discernment

by Peter Hawkes

For all of us, life is a journey from our birth to our inevitable destination. We follow our path alongside other people, and perceive a world governed by nature, but increasingly full of material objects. Along the way, we decide on who and what we like or dislike. There will also be more extreme judgements based on various levels of love and hate. This is the basis of dualistic thinking. We judge whether something is good or bad, right or wrong, dark or light, and it is the source of every division, argument, stuggle or war, including the inner conflicts that can rage in our own minds and keep us awake at night.

Art by Wendy RichardsonEvery one of us wants to be the good guy, the person who has made the right choices, the winner, the one on the side of the angels rather than the beasts. That's why we look on the outside for validation or approval, why we'd rather hang out with the people who make us feel good than those who threaten us or criticise our behaviour. This is the nature of the human ego which leads to suffering, because we're all acutely aware that we do infact have the ability to behave badly, to get it wrong and to have dark thoughts.

Non-dualistic thinking leads to peace of mind. Rather than judging everything and everyone, we can learn the art of discernment. This is based on the power of choice. Rather than seeing someone as bad or wrong, it means making the choice that their way is not for you. Rather than hating, try turning your back and heading in the opposite direction, following the way that you're guided towards for your higher purpose.

There exists the example of putting your hand in a flame and getting burnt. By discerning that the flame hurts, you make a spontaneous movement to remove it, without resorting to calling the flame sick or evil, or making yourself good and the innocent victim, or telling stories about how awful the flame is, or trying to get others to support your version of events.

I love the idea of maintaining a child-like sense of exploration as we pass through the world. When we get hurt or lost, or stuck in a rut, or the path ahead seems barren, or a way of thinking which causes us pain seems to have our name firmly written on it, then try making a different choice, risk taking a new direction. By focusing all our energies on where we're going, rather than what has tripped us up in the past, life begins to flow again.



Tourism in the Chilterns

by Sim Bowman

The Chiltern Hills are a breath of fresh air, near to London yet miles from the hustle and bustle of city life. They lie within a protected area of English countryside, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), lying just to the north and west of the metropolis within the counties of Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire.

The Chilterns are characterised by a gently rolling landscape and miles of beautiful farmland countryside interspersed with footpaths, cycleways, canals, picturesque chalk streams and rivers. They are dotted with country pubs, traditional villages and historic market towns. As such, the Chilterns make a great destination for a short break in the UK. There's also a good choice of accommodation, activities and things to do.

Within a stone's-throw of major motorways you'll come across an unexpected world of intricate lanes lined with hedgerows and woodlands famed for beech trees and bluebells. 324 square miles of fantastic scenery provide the perfect setting for a wonderful variety of activities and attractions.

The Chilterns are easy to get to from all parts of the UK. The M1, M4 and M40 motorways traverse the Chilterns, as do several mainline railways. Heathrow and Luton airports are both within just a few minutes' drive. You can even get here by London Underground – the Metropolitan Line runs to Amersham and Chesham via Chorleywood, right in the heart of the Chiltern area.

There are hundreds of miles of easy walking and easy access footpaths all over the Chilterns including the Ridgeway footpath, a National Trail and the oldest 'route' in Britain. Cyclists are also well catered for – the Chilterns Cycleway offers a challenging 170 mile circular route. You could try your hand at gliding, play a few rounds of golf or maybe have a go at an exciting high ropes course at a Go-Ape centre.

We've provided a list of some of many things to do and places to visit once you're in the area, including plenty of family friendly attractions. You could explore beautiful country houses and gardens, visit a County Show, attend a music festival or visit a fascinating museum. You'll find further guidance from the website of the Chilterns Conservation Board at www.visitchilterns.co.uk.

For advice on places to stay, from quaint country pubs, campsites or B&Bs to luxury riverside hotels, self catering accommodation and more, go to www.chilterns-stay.co.uk – there's something to suit all tastes and budgets. Here you'll also find the unique and ever useful Chilterns Pub Guide!

So don't get stuck in city traffic, explore the Chilterns, watch the red kites soaring overhead on a country walk and finish off in a cosy village pub. Activity and exploration, peace and quiet, entertainment or indulgence: this lovely countryside on London's doorstep has all you need for a really memorable break.

Chilterns Conservation Board: www.visitchilterns.co.uk

Places to stay in The Chilterns: www.chilterns-stay.co.uk

See Positive Thinking in Issue 01 ...



The Courage Project

by Daniel Glasheen

10 principles

Dream - Plant, dream, share and talk about your wishes without fear.

Aspire - Better yourself by making space to follow your fascinations and work, cultivating your masteries.

Work with the internal cycles – Understand the relationship between soil, plants, food, nutrition, and human health, creating ways in which to establish a healthy internal eco-system.

Work with the external cycles – Transmute your weapons into tools to harmoniously co-exist with the external eco-system that you are part of, investing energy into making your living spaces true reflections of your inspiration.

Connect values - Merge your masteries with your local community.

Remove your traps - Work hard to remove yourself from damaging habits, entrapments and work or social commitments that are not akin to your heart and soul.

Balance spirit and matter - By all means pursue your spiritual quest, but never to the extent of purposeful harm or abandonment of family responsibility and the material manifestation of that spiritual blossoming.

Continually forgive - Forgive continually and work on the eradication of regret.

Untie your own slavery - De-clutter your mind and take ownership for what you mentally host, allowing space to contemplate that which is wise, and reach even further to meditation which provides a direct freedom from contemplation and all that mentally enslaves us.

Carry - With dignity, carry your life-force, your energy and your body to your death with an awareness of your destiny.

Art by Daniel Glasheen

Totem Dreamscapes
10 years ago Daniel travelled to South America, where he studied the teachings associated with totem animals (qualities or medicines which we all have and, where upon re-connecting with them, may illuminate and enhance our own life journey). Since returning home and settling in the Chilterns he has established The Courage Project, which is an expression of his own 'jaguar medicine'. Daniel is an artist and writer. His style of art is to create scenes with a dream-like essence that envision a specific totem.

Totem Dreamscapes on Facebook
T: 07779 354694




The true value of savouring

by Caralyn Bains

'Savouring' is taking the time to relish a momentary emotion which is positive. It is the instances when we stop to take notice of the good, in whichever form it presents itself to us. There are many ways to savour and each of them are beneficial to us on some level.

Relational savouring

When we savour in a way that is relational, we get the best from what we have in our lives. This can be two friends enjoying a coffee or meal and just noticing the feeling of friendship and appreciating it, or it can be sitting down with a partner at the end of a long day and being glad to see each other, or taking time to appreciate having your children around, amongst many other examples.

Telling someone that you appreciate them is in itself a form of relational savouring, and helps to make someone feel valid as a person, as well as valued. The more we do this, ironically, the more we seem to throw the door wide to allowing more good things into our lives. The more you focus on what is good, the more you begin to notice more moments where things are good.

When you get good service in a shop, don't forget to let the staff know. If someone lets you out in traffic, acknowledge that, give them a wave and smile to yourself about the positive human interaction. It is this acknowledgement which locks in the positive experience in real time. We often forget the things that happen which are nice or good, because we are more often in these modern times programmed to spot what isn't good enough. This means that we lose sight of the value of what we have in our lives, and it diminishes.

Situational savouring

You know the feeling when you want to throw your arms wide open and just breathe in the air around you? That's savouring. When you kick off your shoes and walk barefoot in the garden, with the feel of the grass tickling your toes, or sitting on a beach enjoying the sun. The savouring bit is in the noticing, so rather than just 'being', it's in the awareness and resulting enjoyment.

Culinary savouring

When you take a bite from a lovely dish of food and you pause for a minute to relish the taste, this is also savouring. In an eat and go society, we don't always take the time to really taste our food, as we are rushing on to the next thing or chatting as we eat. So really taste the food you are eating. When you first put the food in your mouth, take the time to really allow the taste to inform you as you slowly chew.

Not only is this a pleasure for the taste buds, it is also nature's equivalent to a diet, because the brain gets time to catch up and knows exactly when you are full, so you can then stop eating sooner than you might otherwise. The same is true of what you drink, whether a morning tea or coffee, a glass of wine or even water, all can be savoured.

When someone takes the time to cook you a meal, savour the feeling that someone cares enough to have cooked for you.

So allow yourself to savour, at whatever level that this is appropriate for you and wherever you can, and you will start to see more of the good things that happen.

Caralyn BainesCaralyn Bains (MBPsS) is an Intuitive Life Coach and Birth/Post Natal Doula. Author of five e-books available on Amazon:

- Get out of the passenger seat and drive your life (a handbook of self coaching)
- You will never touch the stars with a butterfly net
- Parenting the child with conduct disorder
- Angels, energies and doughnuts
- Mindful pregnancy, mindful birth.

Call: 07917 062875
www.facebook.com/bestofyoulifecoaching




Strength through non-aggression

Chris Dolling

In the art of Ki-Aikido there is no aggression, tension or competition. Classes are suitable for all levels of fitness and may be practised equally by men and women of any size, age or ability. The purpose of the practise is to learn to co-ordinate our mind and body through enjoyable exercise, which will enhance the quality of our lives.

Ki means 'life force', the natural energy common to all living plants and animals.

In today's society many people have a highly pressurised lifestyle, which can cause physical ailments such as backache, headache, migraine and mental strain. When the mind is disturbed, or when we have physical tension, we withdraw our power. We can learn through the ki exercises to obtain a calm mind and relaxed body, enabling our power to be fully extended. Rather than depend solely on pills or doctors for common ailments we can help ourselves through specific exercises, breathing and meditation and so create a happier life.

Ki-AikidoAikido means 'way of life to find harmony with nature (life force)'.
Ki-Aikido consists of exercises with a partner. All the exercises are designed to stretch and develop each person within there own capabilities both physically and mentally, to empower each individual in there own way to reach a state of calmness and relaxation when dealing with the problems that we all have to deal with in our daily life. As with meditation, you deal with stresses and strains more effectively when calm and relaxed. The practise of Ki-Aikido is one of dynamic meditation.

These exercises simulate problems in daily life. We learn that force and aggression are useless in dealing with a partner who is giving you a simulated problem and that your physical strength will not help you as you practise Ki- Aikido. Softness and non-aggression become your natural way to approach any problems life may presents to you.

The unique principles in Ki-Aikido are directly applicable to our daily lives. At the same time they give us a practical method of empowering us all to develop ways to help ourselves, and those around us, when dealing with the many problems we may face.

Chris is a Ki-Aikido teacher.

You can contact him on 07778 265622 or
email: aikido.whitehill@rocketmail.com




Meditation

by Sian Magee

What is meditation? Meditation quiets the mind. In life we identify ourselves with our thoughts, ideas and sensations, but the underlying principle in yoga is that thoughts and feelings are transitory – they come and go. We can change our minds, go quickly from cold to hot, happy to sad, tired to alert.

Meditation is the process of tuning into what is underneath the constant flux of thought, sensation and emotion so that we can regard those things with some detachment. We practice being the observer not the doer, witnessing sensations and thoughts arise but not acting on them automatically. As we slip into meditation the space between the thoughts lengthens, the pull of those thoughts weakens and we reach a deep, calm stillness in which we are content to remain.

To start with, we often practice focusing our thoughts on something, to block out other thoughts as they arise. Eventually, busy thoughts subside and we are able to remain alert and aware without thinking of anything. In fact, thoughts and visions or sounds come to us and they are of a different order to the thoughts that the surface mind is occupied with.

Imagine a primitive hunter in a forest, keeping ears open for every breaking twig, the sound of breath or footstep heard, and using eyes, nose and touch to keep alert for predators while searching out the food and resources needed for survival. In the modern world, the media landscape is our forest, whether we live in an urban or rural setting.

Every day we are bombarded with information and unconsciously filter out the details needed for our survival, to feed us and protect us. For many of us, there is no safe place, no quiet retreat that is not invaded by information through the phone, radio, web, print media or voices of those around us.

Imagine that urban cave dweller retreating to a place of calm where they no longer need to remain watchful and alert, where their life and loved ones are not threatened. They are protected and sufficient in themselves, with no urgent needs to meet. That place is the space of meditation.


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