“Slow-mo” moments

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Do you find yourself rushing through the day, the week, the weekends. Only to sit back in the evening asking where the day, the week or the month went and what you actually did?

We often just go and rush from one big thing to the next, trying to accomplish as much as we can during the day, overlooking the small things. Yet often it is the small that matters most!

My kids recently started to play around with the “slow-mo” movie on my phone.(*) While it is less flattering to see myself doing a cartwheel in slow motion (do I really look like that when both legs are in the air?!) it is a fun way to play around and to observe what really does happen around you at times!

Today we have a rainy day and I went out for a walk with my 8 year old daughter. Instead of bemoaning the weather we walked through the park.
We listened to and observed the different sounds the raindrops make.
We watched them dripping from the leaves and onto the ground.
We cuddled up under the umbrella, listening the different sound the drops make when we stand under a tree or in an open area.
We took time to observe the different shapes when the raindrops fall into the puddles.

And while it is no fun to get wet when you walk to a place, it doesn`t matter when you walk back home, does it? So, on the way home we tugged our umbrellas back in and let the rain fall onto our face, keeping the eyes wide open, observing how fast the rain drops down from the sky!

A slow motion video – a fun way to film things. But as well a good reminder to slow down now and then. To take time to really observe the life around you in “slow-mo”!

Have a lovely day,

AK

(*) due to my wordpress settings I can`t upload the video here but you can watch it on my At Ease facebook page if you like
https://www.facebook.com/ateaseandmore/

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Come and join my Bi-Weekly Mindfulness email

Time to start a new chapter to not let positive and well-doing-experiences simply pass by. Time to stop saying “life took over”. Life is not always easy and it is not about faking it. Being mindful is not about being happy all the time.  It is about allowing us to be in that moment. May it be good, happy, joyful, hard, exhausting, tough or sad.

Having attended a mindfulness training over 9 weeks was great.  And obviously having a teacher, and tasks and homework helped to stay focused. But as it happens so often, once the course was over “life happens”. And no matter how often we try, we lose track and put what does us good last, respectively even drop it.

This time I do not want that to happen to myself, and I want to help you to stay tuned, too!

Call it as you want – mindfulness, awareness, simply be, being in the moment, slowing down… Different wording but they all go the same direction and we all need it!

We are all busy, and I do not want to add an additional layer of stress with a daily email – a daily must-do. Instead my goal is to increase the sense of awareness, of mindfulness, with a bi-weekly email. I would love to see you becoming a part of this!

My email will be a little reminder to halt – stop. To become mindful and to focus on yourself, even if just for a short moment. It can be a poem, a quote, a text, an experience etc. The path is not clearly set in stone. But I want to create some “Food For Thought” to stay mindful in our day to day life. The emails will bring little teasers, glimpses, tasks to stay focused. Small things that we can easily incorporate into our day to day life.

Coming to an end of my intro and what my plan is, I will leave you with my first Mindfulness approach. I call it “A sip of Awareness”

Take a nice mug.  I bought this one especially for my “simply be” moment while we were on vacation in Sweden this summer.

While preparing your tea, coffee, cocoa, etc make sure to really be there! Be aware when you take and prepare the ingredients, when you boil the water or milk, when you pour it – when it all comes together.

Then do not just gulp down that first sip, take a moment to halt! Feel the warm mug in your hands, smell, embrace the moment of the first sip.

Feel, Taste and Smell – sip by sip until the mug is empty.

Be in that moment, let your thoughts fly and swirl around, acknowledge them but bring your awareness back to the cup – the one you are holding in your hands and the sips you take!

And only once the cup is finished take a deep breath let the craziness of life (slowly) take over.

I personally try to do this during the morning when everybody left the house. Or just before pick up time. Whenever I need a time out for myself or to create a transition point. It helps me to slow down, refocus, energise and breathe.

I hope you will enjoy your “sip of awareness” over the next two weeks!

If you want to receive the bi-weekly Mindfulness reminder directly into your inbox please kindly send me your email address to ateaseandmore@gmail.com.

Your contact will not be made public and be added to my personal email distribution list for this mentioned purpose only!

Finding balance

Balance – I am trying hard to not let it slip away in the hustle and bustle of day to day life. Not always easy especially when back in the big city life.

During the summer I found my balance at a lake in Sweden. Back here in Tokyo? I am still searching!

Where did you find your balance over the summer? Where do you find it in day to day life?

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I hope you have a lovely balanced day,

AK

Dear You – a poem

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I am not really a poem person but during the Mindfulness Course and as I continue with it I do come across some that speak to me. Below I like to share another one as a reminder to slow down now and then!
Take your cup of tea, coffee or you glass of wine or bubbly and sit back and take this moment to simply be!

Hope you enjoy,

Have a lovely day

AK

Dear You

Dear you,
You who always have
so many things to do
so many places to be
your mind spinning like
fan blades at high speed
each moment always a blur
because you’re never still.

I know you’re tired.
I also know it’s not your fault.
The constant brain-buzz is like
a swarm of bees threatening
to sting if you close your eyes.
You’ve forgotten something again.
You need to prepare for that or else.
You should have done that differently.

What if you closed your eyes?
Would the world fall
apart without you?
Or would your mind
become the open sky
flock of thoughts
flying across the sunrise
as you just watched and smiled.

~ By Kaveri Patel ~

A tiny smile can go a long way

Sometimes it is in the most smallest, most subtle things…

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I have to confess that I was doubtful when I heard that we were about to practice the “gentle smile” (half smile) during our Mindfulness training. I immediately had an image of a fake smile popping up. But I soon learned how wrong my perception was and what huge impact this small yet strong practice can have on my own personal well being. All within a short time, all with a simple, barely noticeable tiny smile.

It is known that the facial muscle are interlinked with the emotional part of the brain. Feelings are often linked to our facial expressions. And after a few weeks of practise I must admit that this tiny “smile” does indeed help to feel less tense, less stressed and more at ease. At times it even spreads joy.

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For the practise itself I would put the attention onto the “half” smile, in fact, it is even less – no fake smile needed or wanted here!
It is more like a gentle lift at the outsides of the mouth. It is a soft, almost an imperceptible smile. Yet this tiny change of muscles around your mouth can have a huge impact on loosening the jaw, the neck and the shoulder muscles. I even feel my eyes and the “forehead frown” relax. It is like a positive overall process taking place in the face and upper body and eventually spreading all over.

And as for all the Mindfulness practise, lifting the sides of your mouth does not mean you did not have a tough, hard day, that everything is perfect or that you are asked to pretend to be happy, joyful, cheerful!  Not at all, it is simply a little tool to help us to come back to the moment, to be present in the here and now and to release tension if needed. And if you allow yourself to really be present during this tiny exercise you may be surprised about the huge impact. At least it works for me. Why don’t you give it a try right now?!

It does not take more then to simply take a deep breath in and to gently lift the sides of your mouth the tiniest bit when you exhale. Take a few breaths like that or sit a few minutes or longer to experience the sensation spreading further. What ever your time allows in this moment!

As said, often it is in the smallest things!
And this is not a smile for anybody else but just you!

Have a lovely day

AK

Just for a day – no complaints

Before I even start – do not get me wrong, we all have crappy days, times that pull us down, when all and everybody seems to be too much. And we are all entitled to feel like that at times.

But often it seems to me that that is what we mainly do; seeing the negative, complaining,  just simply overlooking the good around us, no matter how small it is. Funny, sad and kind of bizarre how we can get upset over the small negatives, but overlook and find joy in the small positives or just take them as “normal”, isn’t it?

You don’t believe me and think you are different, then why don’t you join me? I invite you that just for a day we let go of all complaints – the ones in our minds and the ones spoken aloud!

Looking more at the positive gives so much joy,
yet it seems to be so much harder to do! 

So, just for a day no complaints of any sorts about the weather, the kids, the neighbours, the partner, the parents, the in-laws, the bad-hair-day, the service, the food, the too hot / too cold coffee, the co workers, the boss, the friends, the to-do-list, the studies, the upcoming summer holidays, the bad night sleep, the exhaustion…the whatever…

Just for a day – no complaint. Think you can do it and feel the difference?

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If you want to really see how you are doing, take a notepad and make telly marks whenever you find yourself drifting away into a complaint. Or if you want to take it further, place a dollar, a euro, 100yen into a jar for every spoken and “thought” complaint on that day.  You may be surprised by the amount of ice-cream you can buy the following day!

And if you hear and notice yourself going into a complaint? Don’t beat yourself up over it. Sadly, it is so much easier to focus on the negative and therefore I think it is time to train our minds to shift to the more positive again!

Becoming aware and simply letting go of that “thought complaint”
is a first big step already! 

After all it is up to each of us how we deal with the “complaint situations”…surely rain can suck at times, but we can put a positive spin to it, too, and decide to jump through the puddles and to dance in the rain instead!

Have a lovely, complaint free, day

AK

Please feel free to join me on Facebook for some smaller, more regular thoughts on staying “at ease”, too!  https://www.facebook.com/ateaseandmore/

 

 

Don’t judge a book by its title – “Happy for No Reason”

We can never obtain peace in the outer world
until we make peace with ourselves.

~ His Holiness the  Dalai Lama ~

I recently came across a book I would have never picked up myself due to its title “Happy for No Reason” by Marci Shimoff. As I mentioned in a previous blog (Happy life, the ultimate goal?) and during several discussions  with friends I am not a big fan of the ‘happiness’ talk. I am more looking at being content, experiencing joy, feeling at ease, etc.

Now, I understand that all these can all be words that do describe “happiness” but to me this “happy” sounds on the one hand too superficial and on the other hand it can put a lot of pressure onto a person. All this talk we “we have to live a happy life”. Then again, perhaps it is just me that has an issue with the happiness talk?!

But – I am getting away from the topic here, back to the book. Overlooking the title the book intrigued me as the subtitle reads “7 steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out”. So what is it that we can find or change inside us that can lead to more happiness?

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The book is structured into three sections. The first part explores “the paradigm of true happiness” that the author classes “Happy for no Reason”. Within the second part you get a step-by-step guidance on “how to raise your happiness level”. And leaving you in the third part with some “direction about how to put the Happiness Habits into practise every day”.

Setting myself up to read this without any higher expectations and expecting too much “happiness talk” I was surprised. And while the title did not sit with me, most of the content did. Some great research information gave me surprises, confirmation, ideas and food for thought throughout the reading!

I learned for example that we all have a happiness set point; so “that no matter what happens in our life” we “tend to return to a fixed range of happiness.” And this “happiness set-point will remain the same unless you make a concerted effort to change it.” And this was undermined even more by going into details that in fact  “50% of our happiness comes from our genetics”, 10 percent are determined “by circumstances such as our level of wealth, martial status, and job.” And a whooping 40 percent are “determined by our habitual thoughts, feelings, words, and actions”!

We then indeed have an explanation why some are happy more easily than others, but that at the same time we all have a rather big chunk on ourselves to decided how happy we want to be in our situation!  And we can change or improve our habits to get to a higher level of happiness as “we all have the right to practice happiness, not chase after it”!

So, it is a lot about changing habits. And I had to laugh as it shows again that somehow everything around us is linked together. And not only because I recently read the book about habit changes.

As mentioned, the second part goes deeper into practices and it was enlightening to read parts of it and I will for sure take some of them into my day to day life. I won’t go into details as I think everybody needs to find his/her own way and has his/her own focus points. But just to give a little idea, think about how often we all tend to complain about something or somebody every single day, how we blame others and may feel shame. We have to start with ourselves instead of looking to the outside! Just go and try do not complain about anything at all for a whole day? Sounds easy? Then try it!

Same counts for our thoughts. After all they are just thoughts, not the truth. Yet their impact on how they make us feel is scary! And we are kind of programmed to focus more on the negative around us, then paying more focus on all the good. Perhaps it is really time to change this, what do you think? Let the positive linger longer than the negative?! Sounds good to me.

Forgiveness was as well an important part that got to me. And I was grateful that it was not just brushed of to simply forgive the other person but instead to focus on ourselves. “It is ok if you still feel angry; the purpose […] is to begin to release the pain in your heart, not to excuse others for their actions.”

And obviously our diet, sleeping-, exercise- and relaxation habits, or let`s just say our own personal wellbeing regime are points within ourselves that can contribute in increasing or reducing our “happiness level”.

And so do people around us. Have you ever noticed how you sometimes pick up the same moods or emotions of some people around you? Yes, moods and emotions can be “contagious”. “When you surround yourself with relationships that support you, your energy expands. When you have a lot of toxic people in your life, your energy contracts. […] Think about the people in your life. Do you want to “catch their emotions”?” Or do you have “happiness vampires” around you? But be as well aware to not take the “people who mean the most to” you for granted. Make sure you acknowledge them more!

This leaves me with part three in the book which gives a great short overview of all the steps mentioned on how to “take ownership of your happiness” and leaves you with additional ideas on how to move forward.

Coming to an end, I must say it was a much better and insightful read than I expected and I do recommend reading it. A bit too many “happiness” words but I guess that comes with the title.

And for me personally it was great to see yet again how all the things around me do not stand on single pillars but all are connected; may it be habit changes, being more mindful, finding passion and inspiration, to simply being more content or at ease in life. One does not happen without the other, but it all starts from within us!

So, how “happy” do you want to be?

Have a lovely day,

AK