Get Bored and Enjoy a Daydream …

“Daydream, imagine, and reflect. It’s the source of infinite creativity.”

Deepak Chopra

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I was holding a ladder for my husband.  The sun was on my back, my hands were tight on the ladder, the ladder leaned precariously.  The sensor light that he was trying to install was not being co-operative and it was all taking much longer than anticipated.  I couldn’t check my phone, my hands were on the ladder; I couldn’t walk away, the ladder might fall; I was stuck there, unable to ‘do’ anything and had to be present to keep my husband safe.  I was bored and in this space of focused inaction, my mind drifted and I began to daydream . . . and suddenly I got the inspiration for a new book.  The cover ‘appeared’ in my mind’s eye, I ‘heard’ dialogue, I ‘felt’ characters.  I got so excited!  I wanted to run inside and take some notes . . . but there was still that damn ladder to hold. . .

I was floating on my back in the sea near my house; I was the only one on the beach.  The sun was on my face and I drifted aimlessly.  I had to be focused so I wouldn’t sink or float too far out, but I didn’t need to ‘do’ anything.  I was in a state of focused inaction, and my mind drifted and I began to daydream . . . and suddenly I got the inspiration for an online workshop.  The whole content just seemed to download into me.  I started to shake and quake, almost as though a stingray had stung me (some do occasionally visit our beach.) I jumped out of the water and ran up to my house shaking with excitement.  I started telling my husband what had happened and he asked what I was going to do with this new info. I burst into tears and said, “I have no idea!”  The idea had downloaded but I had no clue how to move forward with it. Creative thought and logical next steps don’t always coincide. But the creative idea had come and I had to trust that eventually all would become clear . . .

I was curious – was this focused inactivity a precursor to creative thought? I did some research and found that boredom and daydreaming do indeed open us up to creative thought.

“When you pay attention to boredom it gets unbelievably interesting.” -Jon Kabat-Zinn

So what actually happens to us when we are bored? I discovered that when we get bored, we ignite a circuit in our brain called the ‘Default Mode.’

In a Psychology Today article, investigative journalist, Manoush Zomorodiexplains:

“We tend to think of boredom as the exact opposite of productivity, but leading neuroscientists are starting to believe that boredom is the secret sauce that can 10x creative potential. Your brain has a resting state that scientists are calling ‘default mode.’

‘Default mode’ is like the screensaver on your computer that comes on to keep things moving when there’s not a whole lot going on. It is your brain on autopilot and it switches on when we’re doing menial activities like washing dishes or going through predictable, daily routines like driving to work or school.”

One study found that people who want to come up with creative ideas would do well to let their minds drift. The study reported in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that people who allow themselves to become bored  “are more likely to engage in sensation seeking.”  When bored, people look for things that engage their minds and stimulate the brain’s reward centers; and these people tend toward more “divergent thinking styles” and the ability to come up with creative new ideas.

Boredom Researcher and Senior Psychology Lecturer, Dr. Sandi Mann explains:

Once you start daydreaming and allow your mind to really wander, you start thinking a little bit beyond the conscious, a little bit into the subconscious, which allows sort of different connections to take place. The subconscious is not constrained by a need to put order to things. The subconscious is much freer.”

Several studies have reinforced the fact that the connections between different parts of our brains increase when we are daydreaming.

In other words, Default Mode switches on during mindless activity or focused inactivity, time that you allow your mind to wander, and this mind wandering time allows us to move beyond our conscious connections and different connections start to take place. Boredom often leads to daydreaming, and daydreaming seems to spark creativity because a restless mind hungers for stimulation. Heather Lench, from the Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences at Texas A & M explains: “Boredom becomes a seeking state. Whatever you’re doing is not quite satisfying for your brain, so it seeks stimulation.”

Daydreaming incubates creative discovery.” – Daniel Goleman

One writer believes that this subconscious probing process suggests that we are hardwired for creativity:

By probing into our subconscious, our brain uses, develops, and strengthens abstract connections that we don’t rely on heavily during regular, logical thought processes. Using these neural connections improves the communication pathways between the different areas of our brain. And this results in more effective communication between brain cells and more cognitive abilities. The fact that neural networks expand and diversify during bouts of boredom suggests that human beings are hardwired to create, design, imagine, invent, and develop new thoughts, ideas, stories, music, and arts.”

Dr. Mann has found that the key to thinking more creatively is to make sure you have some downtime to allow your mind to wander. She even suggests scheduling “daydreaming” time or doing activities like swimming or walking (or holding ladders?) where your mind is able to wander without electronic distraction.

Dr. Jerome Singer, specialist in research on the psychology of imagination and daydreaming, supports the idea of scheduling time for your mind to wander.

Intentionally allowing your mind to wander allows it to access memories and meaningful connections. When you’re bored, you’re tapping into your unconscious brain, picking up long-lost memories and connecting ideas.“

Amy Fries, author of Daydreams at Work: Wake Up Your Creative Powers, explains that the ability to fully access our knowledge, memories, experiences, and imagination helps guide us to those incredible ‘ah ha’ or ‘light bulb’ moments.

“This calm and slightly detached state, which is the hallmark of daydreaming, helps to ‘quiet the noise’ so that we can experience the answer or connection . . . we are able to link up to disparate ideas and even envision things and experiences that haven’t happened in the realm of our knowledge or experience.”

So the next time you’re bored and you reach for you phone to play Candy Crush or check your Facebook page, instead let your mind wander and daydream a bit, you never know what creative idea might spark into being.

I’ll close with the inspirational TED Talk by Manoush Zomorodi entitled: How boredom can lead to your most brilliant ideas.

 

I’d love to hear about any experiences you’ve had with boredom, daydreaming and creativity.  And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

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Special Invitation to Bali!

A Special Invitation to all of my This Way Up Readers . . .

 

The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.

― Oprah Winfrey

Escape! Join a small group of women in beautiful rejuvenating Bali…….
The team at Rejuvenate Spa Retreats are excited to be going back to Bali!
This time we have 9 glorious nights at Villa Pantai Karang, Sanur, Bali. The villa is right on the beach and we’ll have the whole gorgeous place to ourselves.
LUXURY BEACHFRONT VILLA ACCOMMODATION

REJUVENATE Spa Retreats was founded in 2014 by Patti Clark and Deb Brock who have been running women’s workshops and retreats together for over a decade. They asked women from around the world:

“How would you describe an absolutely perfect holiday/retreat?”

Here’s what they said:
 
“To be able to really relax and have time just for me”
“Luxurious accommodation in tropical paradise”

“A well organized  retreat, spaciousness and freedom…
but no busy schedules”

 
And so our Bali Women’s Retreat was created with your happiness and well-being in mind. Our women’s retreats offer relaxation, pampering and creativity. They are pure indulgence & rejuvenation – allowing you to take time out for yourself and recharge yourself in paradise.Read what past participants have said…

Your Retreat Leaders Patti Clark and Deb Brock
Patti Clark is an award winning, international best-selling author, accomplished speaker and workshop leader. Patti’s book This Way Up was the Winner of International Excellence Self-Help Book of the Year. Patti’s work has been featured in several publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, The Mindful Word and is a frequent contributor to Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global.

Deb Brock is an established artist who lives on the spectacular Thames Coast, New Zealand. She works from her art studio at home, when not travelling to deliver workshops and retreats. She has a background in hospitality and is an experienced event planner, creativity tutor and workshop leader.

Can We Entice You? 
This is a retreat with a difference. It’s all about finding your bliss your way.
Lying by the pool …waiting for your massage … not a mung bean in sight!
And then there’s the Fuel for Inspiration Workshop!
The workshop is a gentle and inspiring process, using a variety of creative modalities such as journaling, music, drawing, creative visualization and art. Sometimes expressing our creativity can be very personal and we may feel vulnerable. The workshop experience is safe and nurturing. A previous participant said:
“I thought you were both incredibly supportive and flexible. You looked after the group very well, which was very much appreciated. If I was recommending to a friend on her own, I would feel confident that a single person knowing no one, would be well cared for and supported.”  – Sheryl A.
Your Retreat Package Includes:

  •     Nine nights luxury accommodation
  •    Drinks and pamper basket on arrival
  •    Arrival dinner and departure dinner
  •    All breakfasts
  •    Fuel for Inspiration Workshop
  •    3x  60 minute massage vouchers
  •    A day trip to explore beautiful Bali
  •    Pick up at the airport and transfer to the accommodation in Sanur

Cost:     From USD$1,899 (NZD$2,799)

Dates:   Arrive July 4th – depart July 13th 2019

Numbers limited to 10
Book Your Space Now!
Other Cool Things You Can Do in Bali….
We’ve factored in plenty of free time. You can grab a buddy and head to the beach or, if you are so inclined, Bali offers an abundance of wonderful experiences: cooking classes, shopping at local markets, and adventure tourism. Relaxing by the pool with a good book is also a great option.

Bali is renowned for its enchanting mixture of healing spa treatments, refined artistic culture and unique spiritual heritage.

Fancy a cooking class?
Or perhaps kite surfing at the beach?
Or maybe another facial at award winning The Nest Beachside Spa

You know you want to … contact us now to secure your place!
Copyright ©  2015 REJUVENATE Spa Retreats, All rights reserved.

To learn more about our retreats please visit our website:
www.rejuvenatesparetreats.com

Our mailing address is:
rejuvenatesparetreats@gmail.com
Our phone numbers are:
Deb: 064 21 258 0078
Patti: 064 27 777 4735
whatsapp: 064 21 258 0078 or 064 27 777 4735

What does it really mean to follow your heart? – January 2019 Newsletter

“I believe we’re all put on this planet for a purpose, and we all have a different purpose … When you connect with that purpose, and move forward with love and compassion, that’s when everything unfolds.”

― Ellen DeGeneres

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For those of you who missed my January Newsletter and want to have a read  . . .

Thinking about what it means to follow your heart . . .

I don’t know about you, but my email was bombarded with suggestions about how to gain clarity this year and what to do to “unclutter” and find peace. So as I thought about this newsletter to start the year, what became clear for me was that I did not want to write about how to unclutter or which new app I could buy to find peace, but instead I wanted to hone in on my purpose for this year.  That sounds grandiose and overwhelming as I write it, but with so much “stuff” out there, so much information and so many paths that I could take, I need to narrow my focus and check in with what really resonates for me.

Buddha has been quoted as saying:
Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.

And this has been adapted and misquoted as:
Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it.

I don’t think there would be many people who disagree that finding one’s purpose is essential in one’s life. And I think finding purpose in my mid to later life is much different than when I was younger.  In youth, there was a sense of spaciousness, a sense that I could trial different pathways and see what I liked, what made me feel alive.  These days, there is much less time to waste.  I’m 61 and feel a bit more urgency (still young enough … but don’t want to waste the time I do have). As Bonnie Raitt so succinctly puts it:
Life gets mighty precious
When there’s less of it to waste

It’s not just that having a sense of purpose adds to one’s well being, although research shows that that is true. It’s more than that.  Having a sense of purpose improves healthfulfilment, and can even help you live longer.  In a nutshell, finding your sense of purpose has the potential to change everything!

How do we even start? Is there a signpost or light to follow?

Here is one interesting take on Purpose and how to find it.

The founders of ConsciousED’s best advice is to follow your heart:
The best advice I’ve ever gotten in my life is to follow my heart. I think of it like, there’s a guiding compass inside of me that always knows which direction to go. An inner voice that knows what’s right. I just need to tune into it and trust it.

I agree, that is great advice . . . but how exactly do we do that? Research suggests three key elements:

  1. Read
  2. Serve
  3. Cultivate Awe and Gratitude


If you want to read more about these suggestions and how to implement them, you can read more about it in my recent article on Thrive Global – Choosing to be the mountain, not the grain of sand.  And if you want to watch a powerful interview between Oprah and Eckhart Tolle about purpose, check out my recent Blog Post.

This Way Up Online Interactive Live Workshops

In 2018, I ran two This Way Up Interactive Live Workshops. Both were powerful experiences for me and, according to the participants, quite transformational. This year, I’ll be running the first six-week series starting in April. The dates will be:

For those of you in the US:
Six Tuesdays – April 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 and May 7
at 5pm PST; 6pm MT; 7pm CT and 8pm EST

For those of you in NZ and Australia:
Six Wednesdays – April 3, 10, 17, 24, and May 1 and 8
at 1pm NZ time; 11am Australian time

If you are interested in learning more about these online workshops or signing up for the April series, you can sign up here!

Sign Up for the Next Workshop!

The Bali Retreat is On!


Exciting news: we are now planning our Bali Retreat for July 2019!

This year we are staying in an incredible luxury boutique villa right on the beach in beautiful Sanur. We’ll be there for nine glorious nights, arriving on Thursday 4th July and leaving on Saturday 13th July.

As spaces are limited, I wanted you to be the first to know in case you’re feeling the pull to join us. You can check out the venue online.

To learn more, check out the Rejuvenate Spa Retreat Page. If you have a question or want to register interest, contact me. Spaces are limited.

You’re Invited: Capitalize on Your Creativity

Launching February 4

I’m thrilled to let you know that I will be appearing as a guest speaker on Jamie Greenberg’s online symposium, “Capitalize On Your Creativity,” set to launch on Monday, February 4.

This summit is being offered by the amazing Jamie Greenberg. Jamie is the Chief Originologist and founder of A Brand YOU Way, a company that helps entrepreneurs and thought leaders harness their intellectual property and “capitalize on their creativity.”

This symposium is for:

  • Anyone who has a big idea and wants to turn it into a business
  • Anyone who is ready for creative tools and strategies to take their business to the next level
  • Anyone who is transitioning from a corporate to an entrepreneurial lifestyle
  • Anyone who is a coach, speaker or expert who wants to become a recognized thought leader in their industry
  • Anyone who wants to turn “creative constipation” into “creative inspiration”
  • Anyone who is ready to use their creative inspirations to step into a bigger and more visible version of themselves both professionally and personally

For more information and to sign up for this symposium, visit Jamie’s page.

You’re Invited: Path to Purpose Project

Launching February 12

Devorah knows the world is transformed by the power of our stories. Devorah and I believe that now more than ever, we need to hear and share stories of healing and transformation.

Devorah has been a storyteller for over 40 years, and as an intuitive coach for women, she is passionate about transforming ourselves and our world through the power of our stories.

This will be a high value interview training series where women walk away with clarity on their story and purpose as well the vital inner and outer skills to transform their lives and make a difference in the world.

Check out Devorah’s page for more information and to sign up for this powerful series.

Buy the Book!

“Author Patti Clark is a cross between Elizabeth Gilbert and Julia Cameron.”

This Way Up is a story of healing for women who yearn to lead a fuller life, accompanied by a workbook to help readers work through personal challenges, discover new inspiration, and harness their creative power. . .

This Way Up provides a step-by-step way out of a sense of loss and into a life filled with enthusiasm, creativity, and joy.

Buy Online

Parting Words

“The purpose of life is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thank you for being part of this movement. I hope that 2019 is unfolding purposefully for you.

Self Love During Difficult Times

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. And we need to learn to love ourselves first.”
― John Lennon

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This post was from 2017 – but it was so relevant that I decided to repost it . . .

Self-Love. Why do so many of us find that concept so difficult?  One of the most common things that I hear from women in workshops is that they think the worst of themselves and usually have difficulty prioritizing themselves.

Why is it that some people, the Donald Trumps of the world, seem to believe only the best about themselves, while others—perhaps especially women —seize on the most self-critical thoughts they can come up with? “It turns out there’s an area of your brain that’s assigned the task of negative thinking,” says Louann Brizendine, MD, a neuropsychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, and the author of The Female Brain. “It’s judgmental. It says ‘I’m too fat’ or ‘I’m too old.’ It’s a barometer of every social interaction you have. It goes on red alert when the feedback you’re getting from other people isn’t going well.” This worrywart part of the brain is the anterior cingulate cortex. In women, it’s actually larger and more influential, as is the brain circuitry for observing emotions in others. “The reason we think females have more emotional sensitivity,” says Brizendine, “is that we’ve been built to be immediately responsive to the needs of a nonverbal infant. That can be both a good thing and a bad thing.”

Interesting that this article was from the August 2008 O Magazine. The comparison to the Donald Trumps of the world is more apt than ever! (Although I would like to point out that there is a huge distinction between narcissism and self-love!) And in these dark and difficult times, when there is a constant reminder of how much is at stake, fear is rampant. So self-love is more important than ever.  We need love to conquer the fear that many of us are feeling in response to the political insanity that has gripped the world at the moment.

In an article that I recently published in Thrive Global, I wrote about just this phenomenon – Why Self-Love is So Important During Difficult Times. In this article I quote an important point by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross:

There are only two emotions: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear. From love flows happiness, contentment, peace, and joy. From fear comes anger, hate, anxiety and guilt. It’s true that there are only two primary emotions, love and fear. But it’s more accurate to say that there is only love or fear, for we cannot feel these two emotions together, at exactly the same time. They’re opposites. If we’re in fear, we are not in a place of love. When we’re in a place of love, we cannot be in a place of fear.”

So if we want to stay in a place of love instead of a place of fear, we have to learn to love ourselves first. We cannot pour from an empty cup, we must be filled up. And one way to fill your cup is to prioritize yourself, pamper yourself!

 

 

So if you have the time and the inclination, may I suggest a lovely retreat to Bali! Rejuvenate Spa Retreats is offering a stunning 9 day retreat in

Bali! You can read all about it here. This is the Third annual Bali Retreat my business partner Deb and I have run.  It is a phenomenal way to refresh and rejuvenate yourself. And a wonderful way to show yourself the self-love your deserve!

I’ll close with a short sweet video of Oprah Winfrey as she talks about self-love and taking care of yourself.

 

 

I’d love to hear how you take care of yourself and practice self-love.  And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it. And please let me know if you want more information about our retreat to Bali in July!

 

Facing 2019 with a Sense of Purpose

“I believe we’re all put on this planet for a purpose, and we all have a different purpose… When you connect with that purpose, and move forward with love and compassion, that’s when everything unfolds.“
― Ellen DeGeneres
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This year I choose to be the mountain, not the grain of sand!

I don’t know about you, but with the new year, my email was bombarded with suggestions about how to gain clarity this year and what to do to ‘unclutter’ and find peace. So as I meditated on what I want to focus on for 2019, what became clear for me was that it wasn’t how to unclutter or which new app I could buy to find peace, but instead I wanted to hone in on my purpose for this year. That sounds grandiose and overwhelming as I write it, but with so much ‘stuff’ out there, so much info and paths that I could take, I need to narrow my focus and check in with what really resonates for me.

Buddha has been quoted as saying:

Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.

And this has been adapted and misquoted as:

Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it.

I don’t think there would be many people who disagree that finding one’s purpose is essential in one’s life. And I think finding purpose in my mid to later life is much different than when I was younger. In youth, there was a sense of spaciousness, a sense that I could trial different pathways and see what I liked, what made me feel alive. These days, there is much less time to waste. I’m 61 (still young enough… but don’t want to waste the time I do have) and I feel more of a sense of urgency. As Bonnie Raitt so succinctly puts it:

Life gets mighty precious
When there’s less of it to waste

It’s not just that having a sense of purpose adds to one’s well being, although research shows that that is true. It’s more than that. Having a sense of purpose improves health, fulfilment, and can even help you live longer. In a nutshell, finding your sense of purpose has the potential to change everything!
So Ok, we can all agree, it’s an important mission. But it’s huge! How do we even start? Is there a signpost or light to follow?

Here is one interesting take on Purpose and how to find it. The founders of ConsciousED’s best advice is to ‘Follow Your Heart’:

The best advice I’ve ever gotten in my life is to follow my heart. I think of it like, there’s a guiding compass inside of me that always knows which direction to go. An inner voice that knows what’s right. I just need to tune into it and trust it.

I agree, that is great advice . . . but how exactly do we do that? I researched this and came across a lot of articles so tried to synthesise the info into the top 3 suggestions:

READ – The most common suggestion that came through is to read. Read as much as you can about as many things that interest you as you can. Read books by people that you admire, read about things that you are curious about. Books are so readily available; choose reading over digital distraction.

SERVE – So many studies suggest that service to others is one of the best ways to find a sense of purpose. Helping others is associated with a meaningful, purposeful life. In one study, Daryl Van Tongeren et al found that people, who volunteer and/or donate money, tend to have a greater sense of purpose in their lives. Professor Anne Colby has researched and written about purpose and well being for many years. And she has found that one’s well being increases when one is purposeful beyond oneself.
There is significantly higher well being in people who were involved in pursuing beyond-the-self goals, compared to those who were pursuing other types of goals. In other words, engaging in prosocial goals had more impact on well being than engaging in non-prosocial goals.

CULTIVATE awe and gratitude. The research is clear, cultivating awe, and gratitude absolutely connects us to our sense of purpose. Several studies conducted by the Greater Good Science Center’s Dacher Keltner have shown that the experience of awe makes us feel connected to something larger than ourselves—and so can provide the emotional foundation for a sense of purpose. And research on gratitude consistently shows a correlation between feeling grateful and well-being and a stronger sense of purpose.
But it’s important that we don’t just plan and think about it, but to focus and take action!

“The dynamic process of aligning yourself with your life purpose requires energy and willpower: wind in your sails to move you forward, and a strong rudder to prevent being blown off course.”

I believe as Og Mandino puts it:

I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand.

So taking action . . . I decided that 2019 is my year to start and to focus on my next book. The idea scares me; I know how much energy the process of writing takes, and even more, the energy and work that is required getting the book out there. It is daunting, but I know it is a huge part of my purpose – to write and connect with others. And so I am committed to grow into that mountain, not shrink to a grain of sand, so I shall commit to this focus for this year.

I am curious, how shall you move toward your sense of purpose this year? What are you doing to grow into the mountain you are meant to be?

I’ll close with a powerful interview between Oprah and Eckhart Tolle – Life Purpose

I’d love to hear about your purpose for 2019. I really am curious – What are you doing to grow into the mountain you are meant to be?
And as always, thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.

The Path to Well-Being . . . Yes you can get there from here!

“The ultimate end of all revolutionary social change is to establish the sanctity of human life, the dignity of man, the right of every human being to liberty and well-being.”
– Emma Goldman
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What do you want? No honestly, what do you really truly want in your one wild and precious life? to mis-quote Mary Oliver. Most studies show that happiness and well-being are at the top of this list. But that is often immediately followed by but I don’t know what to do to get there. The good news is that there is a path to well-being, and you can start travelling this path today.

 

Well-being is actually a skill that can be learned and practiced and improved. Well-being can be achieved by focusing on four main keys. One of my heroes that I’ve written about is Dr. Richard Davidson. Dr. Davidson is the founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and he has studied and discovered the four science-based keys to well-being.

Davidson explains that well-being is a skill and it boils down to four main attributes:

Resilience, Outlook, Attention and Generosity.

From his research, he and his colleagues have learned that:

Each of these four is rooted in neural circuits, and each of these neural circuits exhibits plasticity—so we know that if we exercise these circuits, they will strengthen. Practicing these four skills can provide the substrate for enduring change, which can help to promote higher levels of well-being in our lives.

1. Resilience

Yes it’s true ‘Shit Happens.’ It happens to all of us and we can’t always stop it or avoid it, but we can change the way we react to it. Davidson explains that:

Resilience is the rapidity with which we recover from adversity; some people recover slowly and other people recover more quickly. We know that individuals who show a more rapid recovery in certain key neural circuits have higher levels of well-being. They are protected in many ways from the adverse consequences of life’s slings and arrows.

Recent research that Davidson conducted at UW Madison asked whether resilience could be improved and if so, how. The good news is that answer is yes; resilience can be improved by regular practice of mindfulness meditation. … The bad news is that it takes thousands of hours of practice before you see real change. But hey, it can be done.

2. Outlook

The second key to well-being is one’s outlook on life. Davidson explains:

Outlook refers to the ability to see the positive in others, the ability to savor positive experiences, the ability to see another human being as a human being who has innate basic goodness.

The good news regarding outlook is that unlike resilience, research indicates that simple practices of lovingkindness and / or compassion meditation may alter this circuitry quite quickly.
There was a study done in 2013 where individuals who had never meditated before were randomly assigned to one of two groups.

One group received a secular form of compassion training and the other received cognitive reappraisal training, an emotion-regulation strategy that comes from cognitive therapy. We scanned people’s brains before and after two weeks of training, and we found that in the compassion group, brain circuits that are important for this positive outlook were strengthened. After just seven hours—30 minutes of practice a day for two weeks—we not only saw changes in the brain, but these changes also predicted kind and helpful behavior.

3. Attention

The third key to well-being is paying attention. Research has shown that most people do not pay close attention to what they’re doing about forty-seven percent of the time. The quality of attention that you pay to what you are doing is vital.

William James in The Principals of Psychology explains that:

The ability to voluntarily bring back a wandering attention over and over again is the very root of judgment, character, and will. An education that sharpens attention would be education par excellence.

Davidson explains that educating attention can be done through a contemplative practice.

4. Generosity

It is well known now that when individuals engage in generous and altruistic behavior, they actually activate circuits in the brain that are key to fostering well-being. Davidson believes that:

Human beings come into the world with innate, basic goodness. When we engage in practices that are designed to cultivate kindness and compassion, we’re not actually creating something de novo—we’re not actually creating something that didn’t already exist. What we’re doing is recognizing, strengthening, and nurturing a quality that was there from the outset.

In addition to the four keys that Davidson outlines, science has also shown that gratitude hugely increases our feelings of well-being. Gratitude allows us to celebrate the present. It magnifies positive emotions. With gratitude, we become greater participants in our lives as opposed to spectators. You can become more responsible for creating more well-being in your life by the simple act of being grateful for what you are experiencing in this present moment.

By practicing gratitude and focusing on these four keys, Davidson assures us that:

Our brains are constantly being shaped wittingly or unwittingly—most of the time unwittingly. Through the intentional shaping of our minds, we can shape our brains in ways that would enable these four fundamental constituents of well-being to be strengthened. In that way, we can take responsibility for our own minds.

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, no one explains it better than Dr. Richie Davidson himself!

I’d love to know if you have found that a meditation practice impacts your well-being.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.

This Way Up Six Week Online Live Interactive Workshop!

““Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
— George Bernard Shaw
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There are still a few spaces left for the This Way Up Six Week Online Live Interactive Workshop.
The six-week series begins on Tuesday 23 October at 5pm PDT and runs for six weeks:
Tuesday 23 October – Tuesday 27 November.

Here is some info about the workshop:

The workshop is completely free. There is no set fee at all. At the end of the six weeks, if you decide you want to donate something, you are welcome, but there is no expectation.
Each workshop is live, and videoed. If you miss a day in the series, you can go to our private You Tube page and watch what you’ve missed and do the day’s visualization. There is time for questions and discussions during each workshop. The shared community of women from around the world is wonderful!

This video will answer some questions for you, and if you have any other question, you can contact me at
patti@thiswayupbook.com

I hope to see you there!

Altruism – Why it’s so good to do good

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr
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It’s true that we are hard-wired toward negativity, that we have a ‘built-in negativity bias.’ Rick Hanson explains that as we evolved over millions of years, dodging sticks and chasing carrots, it was a lot more important to notice, react to, and remember sticks than it was for carrots. That’s because — in the tough environments in which our ancestors lived — if they missed out on a carrot, they usually had a shot at another one later on. But if they failed to avoid a stick — a predator, a natural hazard, or aggression from others of their species — then there may be no more chances to pass on their genes.

However, studies have also shown that we are hard-wired for empathy and altruism as well. This is because cooperative behaviour worked on our behalf and helped our ancestors to survive under harsh conditions. So we reap psychological and physiological benefits when we practice altruism, when we do good things for others. In other words, doing good is good for you.

First of all, what exactly is altruism? It is defined as:

A voluntary, sometimes costly behaviour motivated by the desire to help another individual; a selfless act intended to benefit only the other.

So why would we do something that is of no benefit to ourselves?

Karen Salmansohn explains it like this:

Altruism raises your mood because it raises your self-esteem, which increases happiness. Plus, giving to others gets you outside of yourself and distracts you from your problems.

Here are a few good reasons to practice altruism:

It promotes positive physiological changes in the brain associated with happiness

Giving to and helping other people releases endorphins, which then activate parts of our brain that are associated with trust, pleasure and social connection. This chemical reaction in the brain increases the chance that we will be altruistic and do good deeds in the future, thus creating a positive feedback loop of generosity and happiness.

It brings a sense of belonging and reduces isolation

Being a part of a positive charitable social network leads to feelings of belonging and lessens isolation.

It helps to keep things in perspective

Helping others, especially those who are less fortunate, can provide a sense of perspective, enabling us to stop focusing on what we may feel is missing in our own life.

It reduces stress and improves our health

Evidence suggests that helping others can boost our health. Compassion has been shown to help stabilise the immune system against immunosuppressing effects of stress. Altruistic acts may also stimulate the brain to release endorphins, which are powerful natural painkillers. One study found that participating in charitable activities can be better for our health than lowering cholesterol or stopping smoking

It helps reduce negative feelings

People who are altruistic tend to see life as more meaningful. Altruism is associated with better marital relationships, increased physical health, and enhanced self-esteem. Acts of altruism decrease feelings of hopelessness and decrease depression. It may also neutralise negative emotions that affect immune, endocrine and cardiovascular function.

It may actually help us live longer

Helping others has actually been shown to increase our life span. Studies on older people show that those who give support to others live longer than those who don’t.

Quite simply, altruism feels good and is good for you. When you help others, it promotes positive physiological changes in the brain associated with happiness. So although it is true that we are hard-wired to notice the negative, we are also hard-wired toward compassion and altruism. So the next time you have a choice between acting from fear or acting from caring and compassion, choose the latter, it’s better for you in every way.

I’ll close with a wonderful TED Talk by Abigail Marsh entitled: Why Some People Are More Altruistic Than Others.

I’d love to hear about how you practice Altruism.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.

Dealing with A Crisis of the Heart and Finding Well-Being

“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love.”
– Dorothy Day

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What can we do when loneliness, anxiety and depression take hold. We can hold on to hope.
I explored the Crisis of the Heart that is overtaking so many of us in my latest article on Thrive Global.

There is a crisis of the heart impacting us at the moment. It’s showing up as depression, anxiety, and attention disorders. These are also symptomatic of a cognition crisis. Adam Gazzaley, PhD explains it as:

“A crisis at the core of what makes us human: the dynamic interplay between our brain and our environment — the ever-present cycle between how we perceive our surroundings, integrate this information, and act upon it..”

The numbers of people suffering are staggering. In the United States, depression affects 16.2 million adults, and anxiety about 18.7 million. In New Zealand, it is estimated that one in five women suffers from depression, and about one in 10 men; with about one in six people suffering from anxiety.

Gazzaley describes a sharp increase in the number of teens impacted. American teens have experienced a 33% increase in depressive symptoms, with 31% more having died by suicide between 2010 and 2015. And in New Zealand, the percentage of 15- to 24-year-olds struggling with mental health has been steadily increasing, affecting

11.8 per cent in the past year. The estimated number of youth in NZ experiencing psychological distress has gone up from 58,000 to 79,000 in the past year. And tragically, NZ has the highest youth suicide rate among teenagers between 15 and 19 in the OECD.

What is causing this horrific increase, this crisis spiralling out of control? Grazzaley and many others argue that we just cannot keep up with the rapid rise of technology and it is impacting our brains and our well-being.

“Our brains simply have not kept pace with the dramatic and rapid changes in our environment — specifically the introduction and ubiquity of information technology.”

But it’s not only our brains that are impacted; it’s also affecting our emotions and our hearts. Jack Kornfield describes this crisis as:

Our Crisis of Heart.

“No marvellous technological developments alone  will stop continuing warfare, racism, environmental destruction, and global injustice. The source of these sufferings is in the human heart. Actions based on greed, hatred, disrespect, and ignorance inevitably lead to suffering.”

Gazzaley echoes this sentiment as he notes that “the increasing complexity, speed, and multitasking of our modern environment has overtaken our capacities, and we live disconnected from our own self and from one another.”

This disconnect from our self and from one another is perpetuating the crisis, and the crisis is spiralling out of control. So how do we get a handle on it, how do we deal with a crisis of the heart? Kornfield asks us to reengage the heart.

If actions based on greed, hatred, disrespect and ignorance lead to suffering, then it makes sense that actions based on their opposites — generosity, love, respect, and wisdom — lead to happiness and well-being.

Numerous studies have shown that there are ways to increase joy, compassion, peace, and gratitude. The benefits of mindfulness and compassion are well researched. The work of Richard Davidson, professor of psychology, is especially interesting. Davidson’s work at Center for Healthy Minds at UW Madison has shown that positive emotions such as loving kindness and compassion can be learned. This is great news; these positive emotions can be learned and nurtured to grow.

But the rapid rise of technology continues, and even as we work to hold on to the positive emotions that we are nurturing, the disconnect that Gazzaley described looms.

But there is hope. Kornfield is working with others to bring principles of heart and compassion into the field of technological development:

“Together with technology leaders, neuroscientists, and contemplatives, I have helped co-found something called the Open Source Compassion to bring principles of heart and compassion into all levels of technological development. We acknowledge that the capacities of modern technology are among the most potent of human creations. We are collaborating with companies and institutions around the world and beginning to formulate a kind of Hippocratic Oath for tech, which reads:

· We will not create technology that causes harm to humans and to life.
· If later we learn that it inadvertently does so, we will change it.
· We will strive to create technology that fosters human well-being and respect.
· We can create technology for profit, but not if it contravenes the first three principles.
· Working at all levels, we will act with professionalism and take these responsibilities as paramount.

Ultimately we must have hope; hope that there can be positive change and that love will prevail. Kornfield implores us:

Let these words be a reminder, a call.

Find your way to quiet yourself and tend your heart.

Promote love and spread the power of compassion in your work and in your community.

Have hope.

I’ll close with a wonderful video of Jack Kornfield entitled: ‘Wisdom, Compassion and Courage in Uncertain Times

I’d love to hear about how you deal with a crisis of the heart.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.

Forgiving Myself and Others . . . Why Bother?

Forgiveness will not be possible until compassion is born in your heart.”

—Thich Nhat Hanh

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I recently had a rather intense conversation about forgiveness with a friend. She was adamant that there are some people that do not deserve forgiveness, ever. She went on to say that serial rapists and pedophiles do not deserve forgiveness period. And although there is very compelling evidence that forgiveness is good for the person who forgives, we came to an impasse.

I think a lot of us get stuck on the idea of what forgiveness actually means. Forgiveness is defined as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether you believe they actually deserve your forgiveness. Remember the act of forgiving is for you the forgiver, not the person you are forgiving.

Forgiveness does not mean that you gloss over or deny the seriousness of an offence against you. It does not mean forgetting nor excusing what has been done. It does not mean you have to reconcile with the person or release them from legal accountability.

As Anne Lamott puts it:

“Forgiveness means it finally becomes unimportant that you hit back. You’re done. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to have lunch with the person. If you keep hitting back, you stay trapped in the nightmare.” 

Forgiveness is for the forgiver. It brings the forgiver peace and hopefully freedom from anger.

It took years of therapy to be able to forgive my mother. I was convinced she did not deserve forgiveness. She chose alcohol over her own children, dying and leaving me motherless at the tender age of 16. But when I finally reached a place of letting it go, it was so liberating! I felt lighter and more energized than I had in my entire life. Forgiveness is so freeing. It loosens the knot in my stomach that comes from resentment and anger at another person.

I love Jack Kornfield’s definition of forgiveness:

“Forgiveness is, in particular, the capacity to let go, to release the suffering, the sorrows, the burdens of the pains and betrayals of the past, and instead to choose the mystery of love. Forgiveness shifts us from the small separate sense of ourselves to a capacity to renew, to let go, to live in love.”

Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for happiness, health and peace. And studies have shown that forgiveness can lead to better relationships; greater psychological well-being; less stress; lower blood pressure; fewer symptoms of depression and a stronger immune system. Just to name a few of the health benefits.

But as we all know, it’s a helluva lot easier said than done. Fred Luskin is a pioneer in the science and practice of forgiveness. He offers us nine steps toward forgiveness:

1. Understand how you feel about what happened and be able to explain why the situation is not OK. Then discuss it with someone you trust.
2. Commit to yourself to feel better; remember forgiveness is for you and no one else.
3. Remember forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to reconcile with the person who upset you; it does not condone the action. In forgiveness you are seeking peace for yourself.
4. Recognize that the distress now is coming from the hurt feelings and physical upset you are currently suffering, not from what offended you or hurt you when it happened.
5. At the moment you feel upset, practice stress management to soothe your body’s fight or flight response. Take a deep breath.
6. Stop expecting things from other people that they do not choose to give you.
7. Put your energy into looking for another way to get your positive goals met than through the experience that has hurt you.
8. Remember that living well is the best revenge. Instead of focusing on your wounded feelings, and thereby giving power over you to the person who caused you pain, look for the love, beauty, and kindness around you. Put more energy into appreciating what you have rather than attending to what you do not have.
9. Amend the way you look at your past so you remind yourself of your heroic choice to forgive.

One of the best ways I can get myself to a place of forgiveness when I’m feeling stuck is to journal. I write pages and pages about why I’m angry and resentful and hurt. I write until it’s all out. And then I usually talk about it, and occasionally even write an article about it about because as Anne Lamott tells us:

Now you get to tell it, because then it will become medicine – that we evolve; that life is stunning, wild, gorgeous, weird, brutal, hilarious and full of grace. That our parents were a bit insane, and that healing from this is taking a little bit longer than we had hoped. Tell it.

I’d like to close with a beautiful meditation on forgiveness with Jack Kornfield.

I’d love to hear about how you practice forgiveness.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.