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Christmas- celebrating the Light of the Human Spirit

The Festival of Light

What do Christmas, Hanukah and Diwali mean to you? Are they purely a time off work or do they have a deeper message? What messages, lessons and ideas can you take from Christmas, Hanukah and Diwali into the rest of the year?

This is the time of The Festivals of Light. Christmas, Hanukah and Diwali are all religious celebrations commemorating the Light of the Human spirit. Candles and fireworks are lit to remind us that hope, forgiveness and kindness are human traits to celebrate and practice for the benefit of others as well as ourselves.

Candles and fireworks are lit to remind us that hope, forgiveness and kindness are human traits to celebrate

The symbol of Light in this way is prevalent across the world and throughout time. It is a universal image to which all people relate. Fire has been used for millennia to accompany sacred ceremonies and mark sacred time and space. This fire can represent the divine, that universal force that creates all and, it can illustrate the indomitable spirit within each of us, which marks our uniqueness and our collective humanity. The human spirit is a flame that can be neglected, ignored and covered over. It can also be nurtured, nourished and fanned to create a blaze. The various Festivals of Light are a reminder that we need to cultivate this Light within. I believe people are naturally born with this flame inside them. It holds their Light, uniqueness, innate talents and skills that can be shared with the world.

The Light of the Human Spirit

When we are born, we possess a presence and power that radiates out. Babies light up rooms and bring smiles to people’s faces. Young children are open and free with their emotions, laughing one moment, crying the next, then all smiles seconds later. They show confidence in expressing spontaneous behaviour, sharing unsolicited thoughts and being their authentic selves. This unhampered Light shines as children play, learn and express their love.

Things can happen to cover this Light. By being made to feel wrong for expressing emotions and certain behaviours, by not being supported and encouraged, by denying feelings and longings that are deemed inappropriate, through abuse, neglect and so much more, this Light becomes dimmed and fails to shine in the world with the clarity and brightness that it did in a person’s youth.

This process can start young or later in life. For the person concerned it feels like a void, a gap, even a deadness inside that is filled with pain and a yearning to be given a voice and take action. To the outside world, it might appear as a lack of confidence or commitment, apathy, even indifference. To them it feels frustrating, exasperating and ignites a desire for change. Regardless of how it appears internally or externally, this Light still burns furiously within. It needs uncovering, oxygen and nurturing. Done consistently, we can shine brighter, burn stronger, share our Light more fully and embrace the joy of doing and being that more completely.

Uncovering the Light

How do we start the process of uncovering the flame that burns within so that we can feel fulfilled and live with meaning and purpose? There is the journey of uncovering the things of the past that stifle the flame. And there are the things that happen in the present that if left unchallenged can further diminish our Light. We can learn strategies to uncover the things of the past and the present. This in turn improves our resilience so that we are better able to face life’s challenges. There are lots of ways you can explore these strategies. Coaching is one such method in which you focus on your goals for the future and explore your habits and beliefs and ways of being that prevent you from achieving those goals. Here are some areas that might be powerful for you to explore:

  1. Mind sets supportive to your success. Very often you learn scripts from the past that actually undermine you. These scripts can stop you stepping into your best self. Scripts such as “not good enough”, “not deserving” and “I’m a perfectionist” can be self- limiting beliefs that stop your growth in important areas of your life. By challenging these old beliefs and finding new scripts that are supportive to becoming the person you want to become, you can update your inner landscape so that you can step into new roles and new ways of being. This acts as fuel for your inner Light.
  2. Living in line with what is most important to you. You probably have areas in your life that you are very keen to protect. Perhaps it is time with the kids, your workout schedule or commitment to your career.  You set these boundaries up to make sure things do not encroach on them. You might even think of them as sacred. Yet there will also be areas where you are less robust in maintaining your boundaries and your life suffers accordingly. You might not be consistent with your eating or exercise habits. You might say you’ll do something when you have the time rather than making time to do it. By living your values you make a statement to yourself and others that what is important to you matters. This really nurtures the inner flame.
  3. Self care. So many people put others first. They do it so much sometimes that they wear themselves out, making themselves ill. Alternatively, people are all for themselves. They are number one and no one else gets a look in unless it serves them to think of others as well. This idea of self- care is a delicate balance. To get it right you can think of it as caring for yourself SO THAT you can care for others. If you are someone’s long- term carer, it is important that you get a chance to recuperate and rejuvenate yourself from time to time. You can’t keep giving endlessly. If you do you might become tired, frustrated and even resentful. You have to take from somewhere so that you can continue to give where you choose to give. So many people feel guilty about this, as if to say “I don’t deserve it” or “I don’t have the time”. If you continue this way you will dim your inner Light even though it is your pleasure to give and share. The Light needs fueling. Self- care recharges the battery.
  4. Mindfulness and awareness. Sticking your head in the sand and not dealing with things that are instrumental to your growth are sure ways to stifle your inner flame. However challenging these things might be to confront, it is harder to deal with them the longer you leave them and the more painful they are when you finally feel them. Unresolved emotions have a way of surfacing in a destructive and unsupportive manner. Deal with them on your terms and they can be voiced in a healthy and healing way. This takes awareness in the moment. It will take practice if you are not used to being this way. Like all new habits, it takes some time before it becomes easier. It is worth the investment. As you lighten the burden of undisclosed feelings, your Light burns brighter and makes you stronger.
  5. Reflection and Contemplation. Life can be a relentless journey. You can move from one event to another and never take the time to reflect or consider what you have learned, what could be different and how things might change. Perhaps you are so focused on what is coming up you don’t take the time to enjoy the event you’re in? You also might not think about events in the future either or how you might want your future to look. By considering these things with reference to your sense of what is right for you and where and who you want to be, you can fan the flames of your inner Light, orienting your life towards values- driven goals.
  6. Inner Council. You have so many qualities and aspects of your character that can be developed and discovered. You can learn to embrace and cultivate these innate talents, broadening and deepening your range to make you a more fulfilled and purpose- focused individual. Noticing how people you admire and respect achieve their great success can inspire you to tap into those aspects of yourself, allowing you to make those qualities your own and enjoy success in the way that is most fulfilling to you. Another way to access your inner council is to work with your archetypes. Clients on the Mindful Movement courses and VIP coaching days with me work closely with these ideas.
  7. Whatever you achieve in life, you do so with the help of others. To surround yourself with people who will support and nurture you in your endeavours is an essential part of life success. Where you might notice you lack certain qualities, there may be no need to cultivate those skills yourself. Instead, find the people that fill that space. Whilst you might need to learn new things these may not be your passions. Work to your joys and strengths. Life can be a rich tapestry and a variety of friends, colleagues and associates can serve your growth, fulfillment and purpose a tremendous amount. True friends and other people you can trust bring more flames together to create a raging fire and allow you to enjoy confidence, support and faith in the human spirit.

As we approach this season of Light, please remember to nourish this inner flame. Be aware of it for yourself. Also be aware of it for others. Be an advocate of nurturing this inner Light for all. This applies throughout the year, not just for the weeks around these festivals. The human spirit shines eternal. The more you care for yourself and others the more empowered you are and give people permission to be empowered. I believe this is the message of the Festivals of Light. An eternal and universal message that you can carry in your heart all year and apply to every moment of your life.

Over to you

How do you view Christmas, Hanukah and Diwali? How do they influence your thinking and behaviour through the year? Have you ever thought of the metaphor of the flame representing the human spirit? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share them in the comment box at the bottom of the page.

Pass it on

If you know someone who might find this article useful or interesting, please send it to them by e- mail or through social media. I’d really appreciate your spreading the word. Have a great Christmas and New Year. I look forward to connecting in 2018.

Archetypes- the Lover and Connection

Connection

Connection is a powerful force. It marks out the great speakers, leaders and teachers, for they act from a place connection. In connection they show confidence, presence and a centred strength that manifests as calm, power and passion.

The true power of connection comes from within, connecting to yourself first & so allow that connection with others. It comes from a strong sense of self, freeing you to have a deeper connection with all

Connection to what you might ask? Firstly, they connect with themselves, by means of honour, integrity and living on- purpose. From that place of self- knowledge and understanding, they are able to connect to others through empathy and compassion. By extension, they love life and the world around them and remain open to its connection in its many forms.

Once this connection is in place, the love that flows along it will manifest itself in a myriad of ways. Men and women will show it differently. What will be the same is the connection that marks the quality of the interaction. You know when you are having a conversation with someone whether they are truly paying attention. You can sense it.

Confidence

It is easy to be confident when you are guarded and never give anything away. I would call this inauthentic confidence. You hide behind a mask and never show your true feelings and vulnerability.

It is a much more challenging prospect to be vulnerable, show your imperfections, share your truth and be open to the consequences of the actions that result from that way of being. To be able to do this confidently shows an inner strength and resilience that demonstrates authentic confidence.

You may find it easier to walk through life disconnected from yourself, others and the world. It is a very different proposition to maintain the connection with yourself and the people and the world around you when you run the risk of your heart being broken and your dreams dashed.

If you are to have authentic confidence and be able to relax into yourself with peace and calm, this vulnerability is essential. The bluff and bluster of a person too fearful to make mistakes and show their true feelings cannot grow in their authentic confidence. They are not in touch with their body, mind and emotions enough to know who and what they are at a deep level. They cannot truly share themselves because they have no idea how gloriously wonderful and flawed they are. It is this connection with yourself that starts the process of connection outwards into the world and the people you share your life with.

 Connection and the archetypes: Lover

In the world of archetypes, the Lover is this aspect of connection. Regardless of gender, when we live in connection with ourselves and others, we are open to intimacy. Of course this includes sexual intimacy. It also includes deeper and more enriching relationships with almost everyone in our lives.

We can do this by opening up physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Physically, we may speak about Presence. Mentally, curiosity might involve exploration and delving into the source of something such as gratitude, compassion and appreciation. Emotionally, we keep an open heart and wish to connect with others. Spiritually, we may practice meditation, contemplation and a love of life, which might also involve a combination of all of the other three. Living your life this way in turn gives others permission to do the same.

 One- sided connection

There is a risk that this connection is outwardly directed only. This is the Lover in Shadow. You may seek this connection from others and so try to please them for their love and admiration. In this you may lose your identity. This may drive you to feel eternally restless, fragmented, depressed, flat or dead inside.   The restlessness comes from endlessly seeking connection with others without that connection with yourself, to fill that gap you feel within. Without that source of connection, you may experience low mood and vitality.

 Two- way connection

In fact, the true power comes from within, connecting to yourself first, so that you allow that connection with others. It comes from a strong sense of self, freeing you to have a deeper connection with all.

The Lover seeks this grand union with all things. I have a client who started coaching seeking to explore her potential. Over the months she has revealed an incredible desire for connection that informs her relationships with herself, her clients, children, partner, family, friends and life itself. All are blossoming in the Light of her passion for connection. She opens herself and feels incredible love flowing in and out. Through vulnerable connection she is open to this dynamic dance.

Once upon a time she was dominated by fear, closed down and unwilling to interact with people without conflict. When we met she wanted to be free of this negativity. Now at last she is breaking loose and enjoying tremendous success and joy.

Connection in action

In the Moving Meditation courses I run, we explore the Lover in the four aspects of embodiment: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. We start by connection internally which inevitably leads to external connection and an automatic, natural and organic connection happens spontaneously.

And for those of you who think the Lover is reserved purely for romantic gestures. In my experience, the Lover informs all the other archetypes I explore. Firstly, Warrior is more empathic rather than emotionally detached. Sovereign is more compassionate instead of exhibiting over baring control. Magician is more interested in universal service rather than self -serving. Jester is more insightful than simply a comic raising a laugh. Finally, Rebel is empowered by a cause for the greater good rather than to destroy for the sake of change.

Over to You

Where do you find yourself disconnecting in relationships? How does that show up in your behaviour? In what way do other people respond? How do you react when other people disconnect from you? In what way are things different when you remain connected? Where do you see the Lover showing up in your life? What areas of your life would you like to see your Lover show up more? I’d love to hear your comments and observations about the power connection has in your life.

 Pass it on

Thank you for reading. I hope you found this article useful? If you know anyone who would benefit from reading it too, please pass it on and help others delve deeper into their true potential. It will also help expand the Potentiality Coaching community.

Taking Action and what you can learn from it.

Taking Action creates momentum

When you do something new and step out of your comfort zone there are mind sets that are going to inspire you to take action. There are other mind sets that will do the opposite. Therefore, it is essential that you give attention and energy to those mind sets that lead to positive and empowering action. Alternatively you can focus on why you can’t do something and remain where you are. 

There are of course advantages to the latter strategy. You are not taking any risks so it feels safe. You are a large fish in a small pond and so you feel confident in a narrow range of areas. As a consequence you do not grow. You do not feel you need to invest in learning, making effort and putting your neck on the line. 

Recent months have seen me move my business forward in ways I have wanted to do for some time. 2017 has seen me launch a beginners Mindful Movement course.  Below are some notes of thoughts, ideas and learnings I have had by taking that step. I hope you will see parallels in your life if you are looking to do something new and innovative.

  1. Waiting for things to be perfect- things will never be right. Do them anyway.  Do not let this be an obstacle to doing anything new. Excellence will come the more you try, develop and innovate. Perfection is not possible. 
  2. You know more than you realise. What you don’t know you can learn. You have a phenomenal wealth of experience and expertise. These skills can be invaluable in many areas. Do not think your skill set is restricted to a narrow field. If you focus your intention and goals firmly and pursue them persistently you will find out what you need to learn. Then, you can take the time to educate yourself, confident in the knowledge it is taking you where you want to go. 
  3. Be open to feedback. One of the things we fear most is getting things wrong. I think we learn this mind set at school where making mistakes is not necessarily turned into a positive learning experience.  Mistakes are incredibly fruitful if they are framed as an opportunity to learn.  Everything is a work in progress. Therefore learning to adapt to change is essential for success. If you are providing a product or service, you want to know it is exactly what your ideal clients want and need. If you are employed, growing into a role that is great for your career and personal development it is a win- win for you and your employer.  When you learn anything, there is a learning curve that means mistakes are inevitable.  Learning is impossible without mistakes.
  4. Be clear about what you want to achieve (and be open to change). When I set out to design the course I had clear goals in mind. For example: to develop awareness of mind and body to promote relaxation and resilience and reduce tension. I designed it around that. Every session has been altered before, during and after to create a better client experience.
  5. Don’t play it safe- taking risks is highly subjective. What is risky for one person may be not appear that way to another.  Try and push into that risky zone just enough to challenge you to get the best out of you.  Just outside your comfort zone is where risk and the creative magic happen.  
  6. You are good enough to make a difference. We all have talents that can serve others positively. Realising that for myself has been a long journey. Once your talents are used more and more, your skills to use them deepen and widen. Therefore, you become more of what you are meant to be.
  7. Don’t try to do too much- be prepared to chuck stuff away. It may be a director’s best scene or your best piece of work!  If it doesn’t fit the client like a glove, enhance the movie or make a better product, ditch it!!! Or adapt. Also, if you have more material than you have time you can edit it out as required. Depth and breadth of knowledge are invaluable.  They give you firm foundations and walls with which to give you and your clients confidence.  You don’t need to share it all in one go.  Think about “What does the client need?” not necessarily what you feel you need to show the client.  Also, life is a journey.  Do we need to get as far as possible?  Does that extra thing we achieve make all that much difference?  Can we enjoy the journey, take a little longer, connect a little deeper and laugh a little louder?
  8. Start from where you are- get traction. So often I have tried to run things based on skills I’d like to have rather than the skills I do have. When I have it never works.  Work with what you have. Continue to learn, innovate and grow. With perseverance and dedication you will become better, wiser and more discerning.
  9. Let things grow organically once the course started I realised I had so much material and scope I could comfortably run Intermediate and Advanced classes as well as bespoke workshops.  I’ll be keeping the website updated with new dates and locations as they are confirmed.

Over to you

Does any of what I mentioned above resonate with you?  What have you learned by running new courses or stepping into new roles?  How do you feel about taking risks?  What are your thoughts about taking action and just doing it?  Would you rather stick with what you know or go for innovation and development?  As always, I’d love to hear from you.  Please post your comments below.

Spread the love……

Why not share this blog with a friend or colleague who might enjoy it?  If you know someone who is thinking of taking action steps to create something new, perhaps this blog might help.  Please pass the blog on to anyone you know who might benefit.  I’d really appreciate it.  They might really appreciate it too?  If this is the first Potentiality Coaching blog you have read, welcome.  If you would like to receive monthly reminders of blog posts, news and free training videos you can sign up to the Potentiality Coaching mailing list here.

The Power of Yes

When you say “yes” to things that empower, you are saying “I am worthy” and “I believe that I am good enough”.

Yin  and Yang of ” Yes” and “No”

This month’s blog is about “yes” and the power it can have in our lives. Everything works in balance. Last month’s blog we discussed “no”. Each time we say “no” to something we are also saying “yes” to something else. This balance is brought to light by Yin and Yang, the ancient Taoist concept of balance. It also illustrates how the birth of something is rooted in its opposite. “Yes” and “no” are an ideal example.

The Power of “Yes”

The things we say “yes” to have the potential to enhance us, diminish us and hold our lives in stagnation.

Stagnation

Very often we will say “yes” to things that keep our lives on the same path. We choose to do the same things, go to the same places, learn ideas that agree with our world view and mix with the same people. There is nothing wrong with this. It may be very powerful and rewarding to do things like this that keep us moving forward. It is when we stagnate that these things no longer serve us. This may be because we may be afraid to change. We choose to say “yes” to them to stay comfortable and unchallenged.

Actions that diminish us

We may say “yes” to things that diminish us because we think we are unworthy or undeserving. We may have that cigarette or that ice cream that we know are bad for our health. We’ll have them anyway even though it engrains habits not supportive of our health, dreams and success. This sabotaging behaviour can be tackled head on with coaching, supported by a strong and clear vision of goals. Saying “yes” to friends and family that do not support our growth can also be a challenge to our success.

Behaviour that empowers us

It is when we say “yes” to success that life moves into fulfilment and purpose. When we say “yes” to health and wellness we say “no” to cigarettes and cream cakes. When we commit to family we take time to be with them, nurture them and grow with them and “no” to always prioritising other things. This consistent and persistent behaviour moves our lives towards success the way we choose to define it. With that clear focus we can sometimes deviate from the path chosen. When we do we do so mindfully and we are not deviated from our overall goals.

Authenticity

There are times, however, when you say “yes” because you feel you should or perhaps because you can’t say “no”. Therefore you do not experience the power of an authentic “yes”. Neither does the person you are saying it to.

You may also feel disempowered by saying an unauthentic “yes” trapping you into a series of activities that feel progressively less comfortable and pleasing to do. You squirm as you do each thing wishing you hadn’t said “yes” in the first place.

I have been guilty of saying “yes” simply because I do not want to let people down by saying “no”. I have hoped people will like me for saying “yes” to every request. I used to get roped into things that I didn’t want to do, resenting myself and others as a result. It was really stressful.

The Power of “Yes”

When I began to say an empowered and confident “no”, I had found self respect and could tell people respected my answer. They do not like me less or think less of me. People appreciated the honesty. I was saying “yes” to my own boundaries, self respect and well- being. I could relax into myself and felt more confident.

Saying “yes”‘ is also about you. When you say “yes” to things that empower you it sends a strong message to your psyche. It says “I am worthy” and “I believe that I am good enough”.

Over to You

The next time you have choice, think about what you are saying “yes” to. Is this serving you? Could there be a better way? Are you thinking about the bigger picture if your life context and what you like to achieve? If so does it make it easier to say “yes” with confidence, power and authenticity?

Pass it on

Will you say “yes” to passing this blog on to someone you know? It may get them thinking about what choices they are making and what direction they’re taking. Who knows where that might lead?

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The Power of No

It is important to be able to say a powerful and meaningful “no”.

“No” is often such a hard word to say. We don’t like to disappoint people or let anyone down. And then there is the fear of appearing unreasonable, difficult or arrogant.

The importance of “no”

At some point in your life you would have had to say “no” to something- a job, a relationship, a plea for help, a client, a cream bun, a cigarette? In some way you know it is harmful to you, taking you in a different direction to the way you want your life to go.  Very often we do not find the resolve to say “no” unless we are clear why we are saying so in a way that feels really powerful from within. 

Recently I declined a workshop opportunity. I had run these workshops before and enjoyed them. It had been good publicity for the business. Now however, times had moved on and it did not serve the direction of business. I was heading into new territory and this would have brought me back to where I had been. As hard as it was I said “no” and it allowed me to pursue my new business direction more cleanly.

However, initially I said “yes”. Afraid to disappoint and let down people who were relying on me it felt wrong to decline. When I sat down and thought about it logically, strategically and from my heart I knew this wasn’t right for me. I felt conflicted. As soon as I told them my reasons why I felt much better, more confident and on purpose.

Three ways to say “no”

Depending on how resolute and confident you feel you might say “no” in a number of ways:

  1. You might say it loudly, aggressively or rudely. Perhaps even to the point where you might damage the relationship.  Saying it this way leaves people feeling like they cannot ask again. Coming from a place of weakness, doubt or a lack of confidence you might over- compensate for this lack by expressing yourself emphatically, even violently. You might feel your body go rigid, your breath quicken and become shallow, your stomach and shoulders tighten and your voice feel strained. 
  2. Conversely, you might say it softly, with doubt or a tone that says you are willing to bargain over this. Here, you are also coming from a point of weakness and you convey that doubt with a weak voice. Your body may also feel weak, with a sunken posture. You may feel like you are pulling away. Perhaps you have a sinking feeling in your stomach and you feel cornered and that you can’t say “no”. This leaves people thinking they can impose on you again and again and earns you no or little respect. 
  3. Alternatively, you can say “no” with confidence. You give a strong and resolute answer which leaves no doubt of your boundaries. People know where you stand and because you said it calmly, they feel happy in the relationship to be able to ask again in the future. You said it with a strong calm voice and your body was strong too. It was said without tension in it. You said “no” from a centred place coming from strength. 

Do you recognise any of these in others? Which of these do you do most often? “No” is an important word to say. Not just for your relationship with others. It is also really important with your relationship with yourself.

The inner power of saying “no”

To uphold your beliefs and values sends a powerful message to yourself and others. It says “I take care of myself first. I am better able to serve others when I am coming from a place of self respect and empowerment.”

An embodied “no”

This ability to say “no” is more than just an intellectual exercise. It is an embodied, integrated response that speaks volumes about your relationship with yourself. Because of the mind- body connection a strong body posture re- enforces a strong mental state to say “no” with confidence, authenticity and conviction.

Working on your body state as well as your mind set can free you from responding from a weak place of doubt and fear. You can say “no” from a place of strength, maintaining your values, integrity and self- confidence. 

If you’d like to work more on your confidence and your ability to say “no” with strength and conviction, please get in touch and we can speak about the possibility of working together.

Over to you

Do you find it easy to say “no”? Are you a “yes” person? Do you blur your boundaries and find it hard to reassert them? What do you experience when you do not say “yes”? Would you like to be able to say “no” with conviction, confidence and calm?

Why don’t you…….

Please write your comments in the box below this blog and share your experience. If you found this blog useful please pass it on. If you relate to anything you’ve read here and feel ready to work on changing that dynamic and relationship with yourself, please get in touch. You can do so here.  Alternatively you can sign up to the free Potentiality Coaching Confidence e- course here.

Body and Mind- a two way mirror

Woman sitting on a stool reflected many times in a series of mirrors

The relationship between mind & body is like a two way mirror. They both affect each other

Your posture in stillness and motion communicates to you and others all the time. The way you hold yourself is conveying to you how you feel and what is going on inside your body mentally, emotionally and physically. Your state of mind influences how you hold and use your body. Therefore, the body is a mirror to the mind.

A Mirror to the Mind

How does your body feel when your mind is focused? Perhaps it feels energised, calm, efficient, powerful, fluid, at ease or fast. Think of a word, group of words or phrases that describe the sensation. How does your body feels when your mind is distracted or confused by comparison? May be it feels agitated, uncomfortable, irritable, tense, unsettled or sluggish? Again, please think of appropriate words or phrases. Hopefully, this makes it clear that the mood of the mind affects the way the body feels and by extension the way it holds itself and moves.

Be careful to ensure you notice how your body feels, not how your mind is thinking when doing this exercise. Thought and feeling are very different. One comes from the mind the other from the body. It is a question of where you place your attention. Most people place their attention on the mind. This has its place. It is also of benefit to pay attention to what the body expresses- it is much more receptive to what is happening in the moment.

The Hips Don’t Lie

When I teach martial arts, I can tell whether someone is focused or distracted simply by the way they move. As you get to know someone you are able to discern how that person is feeling simply by looking at their body. When someone moves slower than normal or seems to look less vital than usual, it might illicit a question from you asking if they are OK? If their lips are pinched or their brow furrowed you might ask if they are worried or agitated about something. This type of awareness is familiar to most of us. When someone does not recognise the signs that another person is upset and interacts with them without regard for their feelings, you might be surprised or incredulous at their apparent insensitivity. Perhaps instead it is simply a lack of awareness of these cues that might require some training and practice.

A Two- Way Mirror

This mirror between mind and body is actually two- way. The actions of the body can be used to affect the mind. We know how much better we feel in our mind after some light exercise. Just the way you hold yourself can affect your mood. Research with MBA students showed that interviewees performed better when they sat straight (perhaps having a conversation with another person or doing some mindfulness activity) or moved around (standing, walking or using “power poses”) before the interview compared to sitting slouched (such as looking at their mobile phone or “weak poses”).

Martial arts students always say they feel more focused, confident and positive after the session, even one that is not very physical, just for some light movement and holding themselves in a more upright and confident way. This is not unique to martial arts. This is something we feel after a walk in the country or taking the dog out, a trip to the gym or a swim in a lake. It is the feedback the body is sending the brain that makes the mind feel more calm, focused, revitalised and confident.

Ways in which the body affects the mind

It is with this knowledge that we can use the body to purposefully affect the mind so that we have a mindset of focus, confidence and relaxation. Here are some ideas:

  1. Regular exercise

    Physical activity relaxes and focuses the system of the body so that we can be more productive and creative personally and professionally.

  2. Reduce artificial stimulation

    When we feel tired and lethargic we often reach for the high caffeine drinks and the high sugar and fat foods to get us through the day. This momentarily stimulates the body and mind but quickly leads to a crash. Being more organised about food through the day means you can take snacks that better fuel the body in a healthy way. For more information go here.

  3. Rest more

    Mind and body do not want to be stimulated all day, every day. They need rest to recharge. When your body is telling you it is tired, please listen and schedule some R & R into your week. Rather than struggle on regardless, take some time as appropriate and rest up. Have you noticed how you get ill after a long bout of late nights and early mornings? Your body battles through for you but the lack of rest and continued stress lowers your immune system and you become unwell. Ignore this long term and it may become more severe.

  4. Avoid continual stress

    Short- term stress is an essential part of our lives and our bodies respond well to it. However, continued stress without much let up has all kinds of negative effects on mind and body, including inattention, health issues, lack of productivity and effectiveness etc.

  5. Being aware of how you stand and hold your posture can have a huge affect on how you feel

    Long hours spent still and slouched over a computer, TV, books and meals leave the muscles tight, the breathing shallow and the body generally operating below par. This often leads to feeling lethargic, being unmotivated and reducing productivity and engagement or unnatural stimulation. Regular movement and better posture throughout the day lead to more energy, greater motivation, productivity and engagement because the body and mind are more active as a consequence of this two- way mirror.

How the body controls the mind

It is to this final point that I would like to focus lastly. Use this two- way mirror to control your mood. A confident posture creates a confident mindset and so you are able to portray a confident demeanor. Exciting the body through fast movement excites the mind as well, conveying a vitality that is attractive and engaging. Sitting still with strong posture makes the mind calm, making you more receptive to what is going on around you.

What do you need to convey to make this meeting go well or get the results you want from an interaction? Do the people around you need you to be confident, a leader, a listener, a joker or a guide? What does a situation require of you? Once you know that, then you can use your body to help you achieve the correct mindset. Communicate this to yourself through your body and your mind will follow suit. Not only that, the people around you will also feel what you are trying to convey and that can be invaluable in the many roles you play in your life.

This is one of many tools I use with clients to help with confidence, awareness and relaxation. I also cover this and many more during my Moving Meditation Courses. Please e- mail me at david@potentialitycoaching.co.uk to learn about future courses.  We can also discuss how we can work together to build your confidence from the inside out. Click here to find out about and book tickets for future Moving Meditation Courses.

Over to You

What do you notice about your breathing when you are relaxed and stressed? Do you find you experience shortness of breath? How do you control your mind and body when you’re in a stressful situation? I’d love to hear from you and learn about how you use your breath.

Pass it On

Think this article or the Moving Meditation Course might be useful for someone you know? Why not send them a link to the blog or forward them the details of the course. I’d really appreciate you spreading the word.

The Power of Breath

The breath is a powerful force. Not only does it keep you alive, it also helps you manage your mood and state of being

When was the last time you considered your breath? You take breathing for granted. As long as it is working so that you can work, rest and play you do not give it a second thought. From the moment you are born this essential process happens subconsciously, fuelling the body, feeding the cells the oxygen they need to perform their essential tasks to keep you alive and in good health and getting rid of the carbon dioxide that would otherwise build up to toxic levels in your system. On average, you take about 960 breaths an hour (that’s over twenty three thousand breaths a day). Until that moment when this process stops and your thoughts, emotions, feelings and awareness are no more.

The Power of Breath

The power of my breath was brought home to me most strongly when I as a teenager learning to SCUBA dive. Part of the training process is to learn drills should something happen underwater and you have to safely get back to the surface. One such drill is buddy- breathing. You always dive in pairs and if one of you runs out of air or your equipment malfunctions the other one can share their air while you both make a safe ascent. On one such practice dive, I was sharing my air with my buddy. As my buddy passed the mouth- piece to me so that I could take my 2 breaths, the instructor, unknown to me, turned off my air.

The feeling of trying to draw air and getting nothing in return sent me into panic. In fear I broke for the surface, which can be fatal for a diver, as the air is pressurised and expands as you rise. The instructor grabbed me before I got too far and got me to think about what I had to do to be safe. As I shared his air gratefully I felt the panic subside and clarity of thought return.

Needless to say, it was a dramatic lesson in how we are wired to take that next life- sustaining breath. I was also intrigued about how to control my thoughts, feelings and emotions in such a situation. Knowledge, practice, awareness and experience are all essential ingredients to success during an otherwise potentially stressful event. There are practical steps you can take to ensure you respond with confidence, calm, effectiveness and creativity.

The Relaxation Response

There are two strands to the way you respond to situations. There is either the relaxation response or the stress response. We are most familiar with the stress response: fight, flight or freeze. The relaxation response is less well known and is coined “rest and digest”. These two strands activate completely different parts of the nervous system.

When you are stressed and in the fight, flight or freeze response your sympathetic nervous system is engaged, driving your heart rate up, quickening your breath and dilating your blood vessels and muscles for action. This stress response is really important and useful in small doses. When your system is exposed to this long term, it can harmful affects on your mind and body, suppressing your immune system, making you irritable and aggressive, reducing effectiveness and creativity and much more.

Conversely, when you are relaxed, your parasympathetic nervous system is active, your heart slows, your breath slows and deepens and your blood vessels and muscles relax. You are meant to be relaxed for the majority of the time, promoting a strong immune system, a calm and relaxed demeanor, giving you resilience during stressful situations because generally your body and mind are not worn out by the excessive effects of long term stress.

The Power of Awareness

When you find yourself in stressful situations for much of the time, you can learn to engage the parasympathetic nervous system.  This promotes relaxation. You can learn to relax your muscles and calm and deepen your breathing so that you remain calm, attentive and aware throughout the day. The first stage to this is awareness. You have to realise that your body is reacting in a stressful way. Awareness exercises practiced regularly allow you to become more mindful of your state of mind and body so that you can recognise your state of being and consciously act to alter your state. They have the additional advantage of regularly relaxing your body system, keeping it calm for more of the time so that you enjoy better health and well- being. You will also interact with people better as a result and give off a feeling of calm and confidence.

Deep breathing in meditation and pranayama (yoga) practice is used to access spiritual connection, calming the body and allowing the mind’s brain waves to change to a beta state and even lower giving deeper rest, relaxation, awareness and realisation.

Controlling the breath

The breath is a powerful force. Not only does it keep you alive, it also helps you manage your mood and state of being. People tend to breath one of two ways, either by moving the chest or stomach. Chest breathing tends to be more shallow and is reminiscent of the stress response. Breathing from the stomach is much deeper and calmer. You are not literally breathing with your stomach. You are moving your stomach out, leaving room for your diaphragm to contract down, drawing more air into your lungs. This is much more healthy, calming and relaxing for the whole body. This is how you control your mood and response. Practice breathing deeply using the stomach and you can use this to activate the relaxation response during more stressful situations.

Moving Meditation Course

This is one of many methods I use with clients to help with confidence, awareness and relaxation. I cover this and many more during my Moving Meditation Courses. Please e- mail david@potentialitycoaching.co.uk to learn about future events.  We can also discuss  how we can work together to build your confidence from the inside out.  Click here to find out about future Moving Meditation Courses.

Over to You

What do you notice about your breathing when you are relaxed and stressed? Do you find you experience shortness of breath? How do you control your mind and body when you’re in a stressful situation? I’d love to hear from you and learn about how you use your breath.

Pass it on

Is this article or the Moving Meditation Course useful for someone that you know?  If so, please send them a link to the blog or forward the details of the course. I’d really appreciate you spreading the word.

How can centring lead to greater relaxation and confidence?

Find the point of balance and relax into the calm experience of the present

Is relaxation a stranger to you?  Do you find yourself getting irritated at the drop of a hat?  Is long- lasting contentment something that eludes you?  Do you struggle to experience true peace in your life?

Does your body feel tense most of the time?  How is your posture and do you experience aches and pains in your body regularly?  Do you find it challenging to adapt to change?

If your response to these questions is “yes”, then you might be struggling with remaining centred.  Centring affects all four of your states of being- the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.  When you lose centre you give away your power physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.

Off- Centre

In martial arts we speak about being centred. This means keeping your posture well balanced and strong, moving from that place of strength and continuing to move from that place of strength, regardless of the situation you are in. 

This is a metaphor for all life situations. When you are off centre you do not feel strong. You feel doubtful, unsure, lacking confidence, strength and power. 

In a physical context, being off- centre means you do not move well and you lack strength. Emotionally, when you are off centre you react poorly to situations. You might over- react or give an inappropriate response. You may shut down and struggle to express your true emotions. Mentally, you might be rigid in your mindset and so find it hard to adapt to changing conditions. Spiritually, you may find yourself guided by your conscious, logical mind consistently, rather than by your intuitive, relational, creative subconscious when it would better serve you.

Balance and Centre

When you find your centre all of that changes. To do that you need to bring your awareness to your body, mind, emotions and spiritual energy, find the point of balance and relax into the calm experience of the present. That is at least how I experience it.

Once you find your centre you are physically more confident. You stand taller, stronger and more present. Adaptability, versatility and spontaneity are more easily achieved. You are less likely to injure yourself, eat poorly, remain inactive too long or over do yourself physically.

Emotionally, you are better equipped to experience your emotions and express them in an appropriate way.

Mentally your mindset is more fluid and at the same time you are more confident to argue your case without being defensive and aggressive.

Spiritually, you realise your life experience is not a solo venture. It is a co- creation with all the many facets of your life and existence. You are not a lone wolf, you are part of an indivisible whole.  And you are on your unique journey that contributes to that whole that only you can do. Therefore, it serves you and everyone else for you to be centred for then you can share your unique gifts with the world.

Awareness and Relaxation

Keeping centre is a matter of awareness, balance and relaxation. Tension takes you off- centre. Walking through life asleep keeps you off- centre. You remain out of balance when unaware and so sustained centring is impossible to achieve. You might stumble upon it by chance, only to lose it moments later.

Practice centring throughout your life. It is an essential ingredient of confidence. Make it a life- long study in all 4 areas of your being- physical, mental, emotional and spiritual- and see your confidence soar.

Over to you

What is your experience of being centred? Has it been easy? Do you find it a struggle? How does it affect your well- being?  When centred, do you find relaxation and balance easier to sustain?  Please share your successes and challenges in the comments section below and help bring the world to centre. 

Pass it on

If you know anyone who struggles with confidence or centring please think of sending this blog to their e- mail inbox. If you’d like to know more about centring and work with me on building your confidence from the inside out please get in touch.  Alternatively, you can sign up to the Potentiality Coaching monthly newsletter and receive a free e- course on confidence here.

Self- Growth, Realising your Potential and Building Confidence

Like all life you start your existence as a seed in fertile soil, full of potential that may, or may not, be realised

How do you know what you are capable of? What qualities do you possess that lie within you unnoticed and unfulfilled? How are you going to discover these hidden talents? How will these talents manifest in your life? What difference will they make to your quality of life?  How will they affect your confidence?  Finally, what does personal growth look like to you?

Seeds of Confidence

Like all life you start your existence as a seed in fertile soil, full of potential that may, or may not, be realised. It is only through life situations that you discover your talents and so grow in confidence. Some you are placed in by chance and others by design. That design can be your own or others.

By chance or design these situations shape you, drawing out skills, qualities and talents that drive you forward, see you grow and make a contribution to the world. Both play an important role in ensuring your growth and improving your confidence.

Growth by Design

Firstly, it is in design that you take control of your growth. By placing yourself in the path of mentors, teachers and guides you are introduced to new things, made aware of previously unseen skills and encouraged and inspired to step out of your comfort zone and grow as an individual.

Therefore, I am constantly seeking support from people who can teach me to grow my business, show me new skills to cultivate myself and ways in which to help others. Life is a never- ending classroom that can lead to on- going growth and development of that seed into something magnificent.

There is also self- directed growth. Learning does not need only come from outside of you. It can also come from within. Through exploring a subject you can get beyond text books, courses and external teaching and begin the process of innovation, integration and development. Your unique journey gives you a unique view on all of life.  As a result, will you bring that unique vision to life and share it with the world, your community or family? Would you walk the path less travelled and forge a way forward that creates something new for you as well as the world around you?  Can you purposefully step into the unknown and discover what lies in the void?

Growth by Chance

Nevertheless, in amongst all of this design there is the chaos of chance. New and unexpected events, opportunities and learning will come your way that contribute to your growth. Some of it will be painful, much of it exciting and inspiring. This is the nature of growth. Only by putting yourself in the charge of guides and stepping out and creating your place in the world will you grow and open yourself up to chance and chaos.  The opportunity for growth, on- going development and fulfillment will follow.

How will you know which direction to go? You can take the advice of other people who have experience in the areas you wish to develop.  You can also follow your Intuition.  This means asking “What are you drawn to?” and ” What do you get the sense you are inspired to do?”  For years I have had a sense that I am drawn to help people discover their life- purpose.  At one time that looked like running a martial arts business.  I helped people with their self- confidence and trust in their own ability and intuition.  More recently, that has developed to include life coaching.

Chance and Design

I never expected my previous career in science to come in any use once I walked away from biochemistry and neuroscience.  Now I am drawn to using that expertise in helping people with finding their life- purpose as well.  I am currently exploring meditation and seeing how that can be incorporated into movement.  Together they help combat stress, tension and encourage relaxation, self- expression and creativity.  These are all key elements in living your life- purpose.  The journey unfolds one step at a time and help and support comes in many guises, both internal and external.

Consequently, many of my clients are taking the steps towards living with greater fulfillment. By a combination of trusting their own intuition, creativity and resourcefulness they become empowered to follow their life- purpose and reach out for whatever help and support will get them there.  By living in- line with your life- purpose you ensure continual growth and fulfillment.  See yourself flourish and thrive in such a positive and empowering environment and grow from a seed into a beautiful, healthy and vibrant plant: strong in its foundations; fruitful in its creativity and furthermore; unique in its shape and expression.

Over to you

What is your experience of growth? How do you live your life- purpose?  How do you continue to grow?  I’d love to hear your comments and offer inspiration for people who are travelling a similar road.

Pass it on

If you know someone who would enjoy this blog and find it useful why not send them the link? I’d really appreciate it.  May be they will as well?  If you’d like to receive a direct link to the Potentiality Coaching monthly blog into your in- box, why not sign up here and receive a free e- course on Confidence as well?

 

Being in Your Own Skin

Do you feel comfortable in your own skin?

Do you feel comfortable in your own skin? Are external validation and seeking praise from others things you wish for? Does your confidence sink or rise on whether you are accepted? Would you not speak your mind for fear of being ostracised?  Is conformity a driver for you or is expressing your uniqueness more important?

The expression “being in my own skin” speaks to me of authenticity. I think there is a powerful force in human nature that challenges authenticity and that is the need for conformity.

Conformity

From an early age we conform to family values, patterns and behaviours so that we fit in and feel like we belong to our tribe, the group that raises us, protects us and nurtures us. We fit in to ensure that we are loved and looked after.

Later on we go to school and learn to conform to school rules and playground rules so that we have friends, feel safe and become an accepted member of the community. If we do not fit in with the majority, we find a minority to be with. If we cannot be accepted by some group or other we can feel lonely, ostracised and isolated.

This dynamic plays out in our working life as well. As a result, we try hard to conform, work long and hard hours to be accepted by the boss, manager and team. We seek acceptance from those we are surrounded by.

Throughout our lives it is an important dynamic. For all its benefits, there is one huge cost conformity may make us pay: the expression of our unique voice.

Your Unique Voice

In denying our true thoughts and feelings so that we can fit into some group or clique or other, we do not listen to ourself and do not take the time to understand our motivations, feelings and urges. We become a stranger to ourself and do not know what we believe and value at our very core. We feel lost in a crowd, alone at a party of friends unable to explain why we feel as we do when to the outside world we appear to have all we desire.

External conformity can lead to internal estrangement. When people reach a crisis point in their lives it is often a catalyst to looking inward and discovering what we truly think and believe. Much of the inner transformational work is understanding this process and finding your unique voice as part of that journey.

Suddenly, you come to an understanding as to your true self and feel happy expressing your deep thoughts regardless of the crowd. It becomes important to say what you think and feel rather than fit in with the crowd. For some it marks the beginning of a new career, hobby or even a new relationship. For many self- employed people, it is the drive of their unique voice that inspires them to step into the unknown and do what they love, confident in the knowledge that doing what brings them joy will bring with it the motivation, determination and love that will make it a success.

Some people will not like the change in you. Others will love it and many will accept it. At least they see the real you rather than a false image. At least you can express the real you too rather than hide behind a mask.

Comfortable in your own skin

The bottom line is that you feel comfortable in your own skin. A peace and certainty comes over you as well as a confidence. No amount of conformity will allow that. What little confidence and certainty conformity may bring is short lived because you are always measuring yourself against an ever- changing external benchmark. It is the difference between external validation which the conformed seeks and internal validation which the authentic seeker longs for.

If you are happy within yourself then you can weather the storm of those that disagree and do not support you. When you are confident in your own skin, the line from Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” rings true: “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two imposters just the same …….. You’ll be a man my son”. It is not a question of manhood for this applies to men and women, young and old. It is a quality of selfhood, the challenge to be all that you can be and fulfil you true potential.

Over to You

As ever I would love to hear from you and discover your experiences of becoming comfortable in your own skin.  Do you feel comfortable being yourself?  What is it like for you being on that journey?  Do you struggle feeling comfortable in your own skin?  Please share your experiences so that other people can gain motivation, consolation and inspiration from your words.  It might make all the difference in the world to someone you never meet and inspire them to take the step that makes them feel happy to be themselves.

Pass it on

Please pass on this blog to anyone who you feel would benefit from it. If you’ve come across the blog while browsing, why not sign up to the monthly newsletter here and receive an e- mail straight into your inbox with a link to the most recent blog as well as news from the world of Potentiality Coaching.  If you would like to receive a free confidence e- course you can sign up to that  here.