Let’s start with a bang.. and a trip to A&E.

Well Happy New Year!

Probably too late to say that but I was only just unfurling from my festive cocoon of loveliness which I created with red wine, too many chocolates and Christmas movies under the duvet – when I had an incident with my foot and a door frame resulting in a bang, crash, whallop and a bit of breakage – so I’ve been forced to keep a low profile for a while until I’m mended.

Good news though, the world didn’t end! (I wish I’d been a fly on the wall of those nutters who had hoarded all that food into their basements. awkward.)

So now comes the timely month of setting resolutions…

Let’s be honest, at this time of year who doesn’t want to be a little bit fitter and a little bit less…squishy. But I’m going to try and make my resolutions things I’d like to do more of, not less. And let’s get one thing straight, I can’t give up booze for January, the month is depressing enough as it is without adding to the gloom by banning G&Ts!

I turned 28 last week (another reason for not giving up cake or alcohol in January) one more year past the time I really should have got my sh*t together…in all seriousness though, I’m pretty happy with how far I’ve come in my pink-banana-shoes.
 
The year 2012 saw me learn…. how to blog! (kinda) how to meditate (in theory anyway), participate in laughter yoga (what a hoot) dance in a drum circle (awesome) go to several lectures (informative) swing dance (more to come)  bake (occasionally).. And let’s not forget the tribal gathering!! (um…no words) And in the process I’ve met a whole community of people just trying to make a little price of happiness for themselves (even if it is in a bonkers way.)
 
And if someone asked me the question – Are you happier? Then I think I could say yes.
 
So where do I go from here? …well, I’m excited about 2013 –  I feel that last year I took the giant leap changing my life. (For those just joining us, read this) and now I just need to get the details right. Easy!? Although if anyone knows how I can get paid to be an adventurer then let me know… doesn’t anyone need anything exploring anymore?!.. (and Space doesn’t count. You’re not going to get me in a Spaceship thanks  Mr. Brandson. I’m veto-ing anywhere that is void of oxygen.)
 
And so unless there’s an urgent call for (Earth bound) explorers I’ve just got to stick it out here. And so I’m still determined to put myself out there when it comes to more weird and wonderful stuff about London town. I’m still planning on researching positive thinking, maybe find a yogi, maybe take up extreme knitting!… Who knows. This city still has a host of adventures I’m going to embark upon. As always, suggestions are most welcome. (Although I still refuse to go and see the women who – ‘channels the spirit of Benjamin’ Seriously, I get almost weekly invites. And the answer will always be no.)

Oh, big news – I’m going to become a hula hooping sensation. (Thanks boyfriend for the amazing birthday presImageent ever)  Seriously, the best way to release your inner-child since climbing trees. 

well, if hula hooping fame doesn’t come off then I guess there are always other forms of exercise. I dragged my sorry bum to the gym the weekend before ‘door- frame gate’ (it was the first time since …the beginning of Dec, ok, the last time was in November but come on, no sane person wants to hit the treadmill in Dec over a glass of mulled wine do they!?)

Anyway, I almost vomited all over my toned-tough-talking instructor as I did my 17,000th lunge. So, like virtually every other person I know, I’d like to kick my bum into some sort of peachier shape. Off to a lecture next week.. I  should say hobbling to a lecture on one gammy leg… led by two (probably sick makingly fit, gorgeous and smug) female personal trainers. I’ll bring back some tips.  

Even if I’m not going to be an Olympian maybe I can learn some spatial awareness. Damn you door frame. Image

Tell me what your new year resolutions are, or are you against them?
 
More soon.

Peace

x

 

 

 

P.S Thanks to Evoling Yogi for the blog award nomination – I’ll get round to writing about it soon. xx

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Who’s that mad girl giving out cake?!.. oh its me.

Aside

So, it’s been a couple of months since I embarked on this ‘journey’ and as I was crammed into my daily commuter train (sandwiched between the girl tweeting offensive things about her fellow passengers and the man breathing on my neck) I started to think about whether I’ve actually gained anything or moved forward in any way –

Tentatively I would say yes. I’ve definitely put myself in situations I wouldn’t have done before!

I’ve learnt to meditate (although I have to confess that my daily practice consists of 5 minutes positive thinking on the way to work rather than any prolonged period of time at home, but it’s a baby step I guess) I’ve laughed so hard my cheeks hurt, danced in a drum circle, been inspired by some great mentors and leant to make a conscious effort to be kinder, more generous and more trusting. (I definitely wouldn’t have stopped to ask my Big Issue seller if he wanted a homemade chocolate banana muffin on my way to work this morning!) I’ve met a community of like-minded people (both on and off line) and discovered that you don’t have to live in a tree-house or wear tie-dye to want a happier, more fulfilling life (man, I wish I could live in a tree house.) I’ve made new friends and re-connected with old ones. No doubt, these are all awesome.

Don’t get me wrong. I have not become a perfect person. I have not turned into the quiet serene girl I always admired in school (then I’ve always said mysterious is over rated) I still get quite outrageous road rage, I’m grumpy when I’m hungry, I judge people who I think are idiots and I tut at people who jump into the train carriage as the doors are closing when there’s clearly no room left (just a few things to work on!)

When I started this project one of my main sources of unhappiness was feeling like I was on the wrong path. I now work in a job, which although isn’t perfect, strives to combat prejudice – who wouldn’t forgive the office politics when you get letters from people telling how much your project has inspired them. I also used to hate living in London. I try not to use the word hate very often because it implies something venomous, but I really was miserable. Despite having met the most amazing person who I hope to spend the rest of my life with and having a large wonderful group of friends – I felt like the city was sucking my soul. Boyfriend used to tell me that it was more in my head than where I was, and turns out he was right (oh how wise he is. ggr) Having started to get out and explore the city I have found that I can appreciate it’s diversity – there is SO much to do here and so much of it is free! Although I know I can’t live here forever (I need to live near the sea…) I’ve accepted that I have to be here for a while and have to get out of it what I can.

‘Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim

and end of human existence’ – Aristotle.

 And, what have I learnt about happiness? There is literally so much to read about the topic that’s for sure. Just when I find something which I’m certain is true something else comes along and changes my mind! A girl I met told him something interesting when I told her about this blog. She said ‘When you ask people about happiness, they tell you about sadness. When you ask about love, they tell you about pain.’ I thought about this and I understand what she means – both happiness and love are what we, as humans, are all programmed to pursue – yet they the hardest things to keep. When we have them we are in a state of high and if we lose them, then it is as if we have lost a piece of ourselves. Does that sound too deep (clichéd)? If there is one thing I have learnt so far is that happiness isn’t a state of continuous bliss. It’s just impossible (and just unrealistic) to try and stay ‘happy’ all the time. Happiness is about becoming internally more positive so that when something bad happens it feels less like falling off a cliff and more like a bump in the road. I also think it’s about finding things you like doing and making time to actually do them. And it’s about having a future goal and working towards it. I’m still searching, I really want to have my own (ethical) – business (hey, u can’t take the hippy out of the girl what can I say?!)and just waiting for the right idea, but in the mean time I try to be thankful for the good things I have now.

There’s still so much I want to try – trapeze swinging anyone? There’s bound to be more dancing with strangers.

And so the journey continues!

Thank you to all those who have got in touch to say how much they enjoy my posts, it’s always awesome to hear from you.

More soon.

Peace

x

May happiness always win

How to be kind – An introduction.

I’m a bit behind with my blog entries at the moment eek! Sorry Readers. I went to this great event by Action for Happiness a couple of weeks ago that I’ve been meaning to tell you all about…

It was called ‘Kindness Behaviour Training (KBT) – How to live a more meaningful life’ (an interesting title from the off) and it was a lecture by Dr Paramabandhu Groves who is not only the founder of the technique but an experienced NHS consultant psychiatrist and mindfulness teacher.

KBT uses ancient Buddhist principals (fundamental practices in Buddhism are the development of mindfulness and the cultivation of kindness (also known as metta bhavana)) with practical modern science and evidence based techniques. As far as I was concerned, this mild mannered man at the front of the room was more than your average yogi offering – this is a man of Science.

(I felt it was apt that the stage he was on had the words ‘to thine own self be true’ written in gold calligraphy above it. No better stage for a bit of self- discovery then.)  

According to the literature – ‘Mindfulness and kindness have been practised by millions of people for over two and half millennia to create states of well-being, emotional resilience and inner freedom.’ I frequently lack any sort of emotional resilience so for that alone I was willing to give it a bash.

So what is Kindness Behaviour Training? (Sounds like it belongs in a Nintendo?!)

Although the basis of the technique is far deeper than what I learnt in the seminar – usually the course takes 8 weeks – the most basic principal is that all human beings (in fact all warm blooded animals) have the ability to care – it’s evolutionary. (Some animals eat their young, we are programmed to love, nurture and provide.) With this noted it is safe to say that everyone has the genetic ‘kit for kindness’ – we all have the ability to care for another being. KBT reinforces this ability/behaviour and builds it into all areas of your life.  

But what exactly is ‘kindness’? When I went along to this event I didn’t realise that it was such a loaded word for so many people – and that there are lots of negative connotations as well as positives such as pity, sentimentality and weakness which go along with it.

True kindness, we were taught that true kindness comes in three forms:

  1. Emotional kindness – shown through sympathy, (different from sentimentality which is often the rights noises without true depth of feeling or action) and empathy.  
  2. Wisdom – kindness does not mean blindly being nice to everyone or being a doormat and saying yes to everything. It’s about intelligently understanding what is going on and have the courage to act on that understanding.
  3. Action – this includes concern for our own and others well-being – It’s not about being a martyr. More though, it’s a willingness to act on the concern for ourselves and others – if you can make a positive action you should.

Yes I know it’s all very well and good knowing we should be kinder to our fellow man… but it’s different when you’re pressed up against said fellow man on your daily commute – or listening to your fellow women whinge on and on in a meeting. Putting kindness into action takes work. It ain’t called training for nothing – it takes practice.

Part of this practice comes through meditation – we did a couple of exercises together in the room – imagining breathing out kindness is harder than you think! But choosing a friend and sending kindness to them was a genuinely lovely experience which made me appreciate the people in my life. (The poor guy sitting next to me fell totally asleep though and woke up just as we were told to share our feelings with the person you were sitting next to. We had a giggle as his main experience was ‘that is was very relaxing’)

So, the big question. How do we start putting kindness into action?

  • Practice being content in your life. (This is one I should probably practice the most!)
  • Take a genuine interest – when was the last time you were on the phone ‘listening’ to your friend while actually watching TV or being online? Or your colleague is telling you about their weekend when all you can think about is what you’re going to have for lunch. We’re all guilty of it.
  • Put kindness into what you say – were you actually a bit harsh in that last email?
  • Be less judgemental – We all have stuff going on in our lives. Even that guy at work who tried to make every day more annoying than the last. Or that young chap on the bus who likes to play his music out his phone (ooo, that’s a tough one not to want to punch isn’t it?!) We were told to imagine that most people are doing the best they can. Try to remember this.
  • Do a kind act. Dr. Groves made us all think of something we could do after the talk and the audience fed back. People’s answered ranged from buying flowers for their wife, buying a sandwich for a homeless person – but the biggest round of applause went to the girl who said she’d take out the wet washing for which ever housemate had left it in the machine in her shared house. See, it’s the small things in life!

If we cultivate this kindness then the effects are enviable: self- acceptance, positive empathy for others, having a kinder internal voice (ladies, this is particularly for you as we are often our own worst enemy) and an increased interest for others.

What it comes down to is the idea that if we are ‘kinder’ then we become less rigid in our expectations of others and have a wider perspective of people. We appreciate our universality. In each person there is so much more than what we see. (Yes probably even that guy on the bus) And by taking this outlook – it makes life easier!

Who doesn’t want an easier life?!

After the lecture I text my friend Lydia to say I’d dedicated my meditation to her because she was one of my dearest friends…. and she text back saying I had made her day. It took 5 seconds to send that text and I had made someone else feel good.

What could you do today or this week in an act of kindness?

Try it and let me know how it goes!

More soon! (Last night I went to an awesome drumming circle which I can’t wait to tell you about!)

Peace

Pinkbananashoes.

x

To learn more about Kindness Behaviour Training at Breathing Space (a centre which teaches Mindfulness Based Approaches to help people look after their mental health) – click here

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