Relationships Advent Calendar . Day 24 . Find Your Airlock

Most people are going to be slap bang in the middle of the last day of holiday preparation today .. last minute cards to drop off, ticking items off your to do list, some of you will still be at work .. and it’s tricky to move instantly from that ‘doing’ state of mind to the ‘being’ and ‘feeling’ one we value more at home .. so today take 5 minutes to work out what helps you make that transition .. maybe for you that’s a shower when you get home, a run, a 10 minute sit down with a cup of something calming after the kids are in bed, a minute of mindfully breathing or a 5 minute stretch ..

One Mindful Minute
* To prepare breathe normally while counting your breaths for one minute.
* Once you know how many breaths you take in a minute sit somewhere comfortable where you won’t be disturbed.
* Close your eyes
* Concentrate on the breath entering and exiting your body while counting each breath
* When you reach the number of breaths you usually take in a minute, open your eyes, come back into the room and give thanks for this moment of peace

When you’ve found your ‘airlock’ don’t forget your sweetie .. instead of passing them the baby as soon as they walk in the door because you’re tired (and covered in dried baby rice) give them the gift of a big kiss, and some time of their own to decompress ..

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Relationships Advent Calendar Day 15 . Express your Gratitude

Yeah yeah, been there done that .. but gratitude and appreciation are one of the single most important indicators of a relationship’s success ..

So today your task is to think of all the things you’re grateful to your sweetie for .. then pick one and make sure you let them know ..

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Christmas-proof your relationship

“Advent is the perfect time to clear and prepare the Way. Advent is a winter training camp for those who desire peace.” – Edward Hays

xmasdisasterTomorrow is the start of December, and it’s so easy at this very special time of year to get caught up with the chores of Christmas: the cards, the gifts, the cooking .. and put our couple relationship on the back burner until the New Year.

Christmas is a wonderful time, but sometimes the stress can take its toll on our relationships, with many couples seeking counselling from me after the holiday season, when stress, the family, disappointed expectations (and one too many Baileys) have resulted in relationship melt-down.

December is a great time to take stock of our relationships, and to make sure loving each other is part of the run up to Christmas. Those of you who read my posts regularly will know I’m a firm believer in the power of small sustained actions to build and sustain loving relationships.

So for the third year in a row I invite you to follow my new and improved Relationship Advent Calendar Challenge, a great way to build acts of love into each day from December 1st, as my seasonal gift to you.

And if you haven’t met your sweetie yet ..  you’re still warmly invited to take part .. use this time to practise the actions I suggest on your friends and family.

So, what’s a “Relationship Advent Calendar?

A lot of advent calendars are about getting, but this one’s all about giving, because in a relationship we give to receive. Every day in December until Christmas, I’ll reveal a new action to build and sustain your couple relationship.

Subscribe to the blog, follow me on Twitter or Facebook and & get 25 acts of love delivered to your inbox each day, starting tomorrow December 1!

I’ll be doing all of these right along with you .. I’d love to hear how you get on ..

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Are you excited about this advent project? Do get in touch using the Comments box below or my Contacts details to the right of your screen .. happy adventing!

Mindful Relationships

I was lucky enough to be asked by the lovely people at The Counsellors’ Cafe to write a piece of my choice and I chose Mindful Relationships, because as a practising Buddhist it’s something that I apply to my relationships and to my work as a relationship therapist.

It was fun writing the piece as it gave me a chance to pull out some useful resources for people from the many I’ve collected over the years on being mindful in relationships mindful parenting and mindful families.

Go take a look and let me know what you thought below, or on the Counsellor’s Cafe comments area.

I’m also very excited to be part of the first Mindful Relationships Summit, an online conference from 17 to 21 May 2017 about  how we can create and sustain mindful relationships and embrace love as a spiritual practice. Some of my favourite speakers on mindfuless and relationships like Susan Piver, Rick Hanson and Dr Kristin Neff will be there.

It’s absolutely free and it would be great if you’d consider joining me.

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Driving Meditation

Traffic in Newcastle upon Tyne and North Tyneside has been terrible this last week. I’ve had a number of clients turn up late and flustered and this morning it took an hour for me to make what should have been a half hour journey. So when I was sitting in stationary traffic with nowhere to go and no way of knowing when it would start moving again I decided to let go of worrying and use my time productively instead.

I usually arrive early enough at work to prepare for the day ahead and I knew I’d be jumping straight in so today my prep was done in the car (if not on the move) using a simple sense meditation and I found it so useful I thought I’d share how to practise mindful driving.

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First, switch the radio off so you can HEAR and LISTEN FOR the noises made by your engine, maybe the fan whirring, noises outside, windscreen wipers .. Ask yourself, are there any sounds you didn’t notice before? What are they? Are they loud or soft? Do they continue or stop? What else do you hear?

Slow your BREATHING and take the breath in a little deeper than before. Feel the cold air hit your nose as it enters your body and the warm breath as it leaves. Count to 3 on the in breath and again on the out breath, how does it feel?

Then turn your awareness to what you can SEE .. Cars, cars and more I expect, and what else? How does the sky look today? Are there clouds? What shapes are they making today? Remember you will never see this particular sky again, drink it in, be grateful for the opportunity to appreciate it in this moment.

Use your sense of SMELL to be fully aware of the space you find yourself in .. What can you smell? If you find your mind wandering to memories triggered by what you’re experiencing in the here and now just be aware and gently come back to the present.

As a driver you’ll be looking at passers by as potential hazards, but while you’re not moving look at them again and see them as people, wonder where they’ve come from today and where they’re heading. FEEL your connection with your fellow humans and with all the humans in our world who are travelling (or stuck) in this moment.

And when you do finally arrive, wherever that is, lock your mindful self inside as long as you can. I hope these words are useful to you, and may you journey well.

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I love to read your comments, or if you prefer contact me direct to discuss counselling with a mindfulness perspective.

A Meditation .. Kind Speech

“Do not break the ribbon of love because of a triviality. For once torn it is never again one – a knot always remains.”

Lotus

Today .. I think before I speak

Words possess a strong power, regardless of whether the effect they create is intentional or not. We can seriously harm others and ourselves through words. Therefore, we should speak fewer rather than too many words, and weigh them up in the heart before we speak. With friends it is easy to find pleasant, beautiful words, but to treat those we do not count as friends with love and friendship is a great virtue and takes self discipline.

I invite you to sit for a moment, read the words above and let them sink in, then go about your day today allowing feelings about others to rise and asking yourself ‘What does this mean, right now, for me?’

A Meditation .. Flow

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

– Lao Tzu

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I’ve been doing some fascinating work recently with some wonderful people who have come to me with a range of different problems they’d like to work on.

While each person is so individual, and has been through their own personal challenges and experiences, it’s striking that there is one theme that runs through each person’s unhappiness, which when they’ve been able to see it and work through it has helped enormously, whatever their past and current circumstances.

It takes untold amounts of personal energy to resist reality, whether that reality is that you’re in a relationship (at home or at work) with someone who doesn’t value you, or that you’re living with a debilitating and painful illness. Eventually the struggle wears people out, or it wears the relationship out, and that’s usually when they come to speak with me.

We all do it, and the more we do it the more our blinkers close in, the more we feel anxious and the more we struggle. I invite you to sit for a moment, read Lao Tzu’s words above and let them sink in, then go about your day today letting reality be reality, allowing the changes that go on around you and asking yourself the one question ‘What does this mean, right now, for me?’