There is nothing more essential to our health and well-being than breathing. We take over 25,000 breaths in a day and in the last couple of days wearing a mask at work and other indoor public venues I have become even more aware of my breath. The last time I was wearing a mask I became very aware that I breathed through my mouth and not my nose more frequently than I thought. This motivated me to take a deep dive into the book “Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art” by James Nestor. I can highly recommend reading this book to any human being that breathes!
There are many definitions of mindfulness and meditation. There are also many and varied methods of mindfulness and meditation practices. Sometimes mindfulness and meditation are terms used interchangeably and in some ways they mean the same thing and in other ways they are quite different. There are “sound meditations” offered where participants lie down to be bathed by sounds. I would say these are more sound relaxations however some forms of conscious relaxation could become meditation. In fact practicing a progressive muscle relaxation and/or body scan done seated or lying down is a technique that combines the benefits of relaxation and meditation.
Goals are external achievements. Intentions are about your relationship with yourself and others.
As 2021 comes to an end it is a time for new beginnings, making plans and setting goals. Many of you will make or consider making New Year resolutions. As an alternative I invite you to consider focusing more on your core values and intentions rather than setting specific goals. Goal setting is still a very valuable practice particularly for the completion of tasks and they can motivate you. It is particularly helpful if you make those goals S.M.A.R.T – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. But setting large, unachievable goals can set you up for failure and this is why so many New Year’s resolutions are not fulfilled or not even started.
Many of us have had feelings of anxiety and this is normal however when these feelings persist, happen for no reason or impact our regular activities in life it may be the sign of an anxiety condition. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released data in December 2018 that indicated that 13% or 3.2 million Australians had an anxiety-related condition, an increase from 11% in 2014-15. Data released in August 2020, as part of the ABS Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, indicated that over two in five Australians reported feeling nervous (46 per cent); restless or fidgety (41 per cent) and that everything was an effort (41 per cent) at least some of the time in the previous four weeks. Beyond Blue states that anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia with 1 in 4 people likely to experience anxiety at some stage in their life.
“Once you’re facing in the right direction, all you need to do is put one foot forward.” – Zen saying
One of the causes I have chosen to support this year is the Black Dog Institute One Foot Forward walk for mental health in October. The mission of Black Dog Institute is Science. Compassion. Action. They are the only medical research institute in Australia to investigate mental health across the lifespan and their aim is to create a mentally healthier world for everyone. 1 in 5 of us will experience symptoms of mental illness in any given year. In Australia that’s around 5 million people. And roughly 60% of these people won’t seek help.
The theme of the 2021 International Day of Yoga is “Yoga for Well Being” which is very relevant in this time as the world deals with the impact of a pandemic, particularly the lasting impacts on our mental health. But yoga for well being has always been my theme as according to 2017-18 data from the ABS 47% of Australians have 1 or more of the top 10 chronic health conditions. Mental health, back pain and arthritis are the top 3 most common chronic health conditions for both men and women.
I was recently asked to contribute a blog post to Ahead for Business which has been developed to support small business owners to take action on their own mental health and wellbeing through personalised resources and tools that are tailored to their specific needs. More than 4 million people experience mental ill-health each year and almost half the population has experienced a mental illness at some time in their life. I reflect on my own journey into small business as a solo owner operator and some of the challenges and tips I have to share.
With all that has been unfolding in the world over the last year or so I have found myself coming back to the Yoga Sutras to find equanimity in these polarising times. Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga outlined in the Yoga Sutras provide the means to achieve the ultimate state of balance and harmony both within ourselves and the world around us. One of the most acclaimed exponents of these principles was Mahatma Ghandi.