moments of joyA few days ago I had what you could call an ‘A-HA!’ moment. It was a moment of joy that made my heart swell but also brought a very important realisation.

Every morning when I take my five year old to school, she likes me to peep through her classroom window and wave at her when I’m leaving. She usually beams at me and waves back or blows a kiss. The other morning though, when I peeped through the window, she’d gone to talk to her best friend. She was showing her friend her Easter bonnet that she’d made and was looking very proud of herself. In that moment I felt like my heart was going to burst with love and joy.

Obviously ths wasn’t my first moment of joy all, but this was the first time I thought ‘This is what it’s all about… it’s not about being happy all the time, it’s about all the little moments of pure joy that make us truly happy.’

On my journey of self-development, I’ve been quite focussed on finding peace and happiness. In my mind I had a picture of me in the future, in my kitchen going about my everyday life, with a big smile of happiness on my face. I think I assumed that at some point in my future I’d have ‘developed myself’ enough that I would feel happy all the time!

The thing is though, life’s not like that. There are always ups and downs. There are the stressful times, the mundane moments, the tasks we have to do but really don’t want to (that’ll be ironing for me!) We need to feel and embrace all the emotions, not just the good ones. What I’m trying to say is don’t ignore those negative emotions, acknowledge them, but keep in mind that they will pass and a moment of joy will always be round the corner.

I now know that all the self-development books and articles I read, all the e-courses I’ve taken, all the gratitude lists I’ve written and all I’ve learned about mindfulness has guided me to to the realisation that it’s all about moments of joy.

moments of joy

Where are your moments of joy?

Take a minute to think of some recent moments of joy. If you’re not feeling great or if you feel life is passing you by in blur, it might take a bit of digging but I bet you can find a few joyful moments. Your morning coffee, a kiss on the cheek from a child, reading a few pages of your favourite book, receiving a funny text that made you laugh, seeing the blossom appearing on the trees. Sometimes it’s hard to see those moments of joy so here are a couple of things we can do to make us more aware and focussed on them.

Be present

Dwelling on the past or constantly worrying about the future stops us from being present in the here and now. The thing about not living in the moment is that we get stuck in the mindset that something better is round the corner and we’ll never feel happy until [insert major life event] happens. Instead be grateful for our life as it is right now. Be mindful of the present moment and we’ll never miss a moment of joy.

Write it down

For the next week, keep a notebook with you and write down any moment of joy you experience, no matter how small. Doing this simple exercise will increase our awareness of all those little joyful moments and help us to realise that there are actually lots of them in your life. The more we are aware of them, the more they happen.

I’m going to continue trying my hardest to recognise the joy in each day. Simple moments like tickling my son and daughter, helping them with their homework, having cuddles with my kttten and laughing uncontrolably with my boyfriend all add up to such joy and happiness. We deserve these moments of joy in our life every day. Don’t let them pass us by.  All we need to do is look for them and they’ll be there.

I’d love to hear what made your day a little brighter and your little moments of joy.

mments of joy
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Mantra of the week

I have a confession to make… I’m a little bit addicted to e-courses! I love getting an email every day with a new piece of advice or something to ask myself or something to try out.A few weeks ago I took a fantastic e-course called ‘30 Day Energy Cleanse’ by a lovely lady called Mona Lisa Ondevilla. Each day for 30 days I received an email from Mona Lisa with advice and tips on becoming aware of your energy, cleansing your energy and releasing negative energy. I learned so much but one of the most important lessons I took away from the course these were two simple little mantras:

‘I release the energy that doesn’t serve me’

‘I release the energy that isn’t mine.’

So, when you’re feeling stress, anger, fear or any other negative emotion… Stop, take a deep breath and say the mantras. Say them in your head, or even better say them out loud. Then let go of your feelings and trust that the universe will take away your negative energy.

Yesterday afternoon I was feeling stressed. I was running late to pick up my chap on the way out to dinner at his family’s house. I could feel a headache coming on and I really didn’t want it to get any worse. So while I was driving I began taking some slow deep breaths and repeating both mantras to myself. I decided to let go of my negative energy for the universe to deal with… then I carried on chatting with my chap!

It wasn’t until that evening when I was thinking back over my day, that I realised that my headache had disappeared ages ago and what a lovely, relaxed, fun time I’d had. I totally believe it was down to the mantras and letting go of my stressful feelings.

I’ve used those mantras lots of times over the last couple of weeks and have found they really work for me. So give them a go. Write them down or bookmark this page. When you’re feeling any negative emotions, come back here and say the mantras a few times to release that energy that you want to get rid of. It works for me so it could work for you!

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simple 5 step morning ritual

 

I would love to be one of those people with an amazing morning ritual. I’d love to wake up at 5.30am, meditate, do yoga, knock out a blog post and bake breakfast muffins – all before the rest of the family wakes up! Unfortunately I’m not a morning person. I never have been. Given the choice I would hit the snooze button a dozen times before I finally drag my bleary-eyed body out of my lovely warm cozy bed. Then I end up rushing, feeling stressed and shouting at the children!

The way I start my mornings sets the tone for the rest of the day. If my morning is rushed and stressful, the rest of the day will be as well. If my morning is calm and centered, so will be the rest of the day!

Simple 5 step morning ritual

I knew I needed to change and introduce a morning ritual but I’m well aware of my dislike for getting out of bed. So I’ve developed this simple morning ritual of 5 mindful practices I can do before I even get out of bed!

1 / Breathe… I like to listen to a 5 minute guided meditation. It might not sound like much but it’s enough to really focus my mind and helps me feel calm and peaceful all day. If you’re not into meditation (why not? Give it a go!) try this simple 16 second breathing technique – Breathe in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4. Repeat 3-5 times.

2 / Gratitude… I always try to get in a bit of extra gratitude! Being grateful for what we have in our life is the key to happiness and peace. Being grateful for what we have attracts more and more things to be grateful for. So after meditating I get out my journal and I write 3 things I’m grateful in that moment.

3 / Set intentions… Next I write 3 intentions for my day in my journal. Intentions are goals that help guide us through the day or something we want to accomplish. They can literally be anything and will vary day by day. Some examples are ‘listen more’, ‘do yoga’, ‘play with my children’, ‘have fun’, ‘be more loving’, ‘get outside’, ‘be kind to myself’, ‘be a calmer driver’. I think you get the idea!

Simple 5 step morning ritual

4 / Visualise your day… Now I’ve set my intentions, I visualise my day ahead. Visualisation is one of the most powerful ways we can turn our intentions into reality. I find the best way to do this is to close my eyes and run through the day in my head, but I fill my visualisation with emotions, how I want feel as I’m going about my day. By focussing on our feelings, it imprints them on our subconcious so we’re more likely to create them throughout the day.

5 / Let go and smile… All that’s left to do is let go of our thoughts into the universe and trust that all the positivity will manfest itself for us throughout the day. Lastly plaster a big smile on your face! Smiling, even a forced smile, has been proven to release feel good endorphins that instantly lift your mood.

The morning ritual is a very important part of my day and I’d love you to introduce my ritual into your life. Be kind to your mind and soul and set a positive tone that gets you into the right state of mind for the day ahead. Now you are primed and ready to take on any challenges and opportunities that the day may bring!

Are you a morning person? What’s your morning ritual?

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The Amazing Power of Gratitude

I moved to my new home in August 2015. Since then, every morning I open my bedroom curtains and take a few moments to savour the view. I often take a quick photo if a beautiful sunrise greets me. The view is nothing spectacular, my house looks onto a small grassy area with woodland behind which then leads down to the canal. But to me it really feels like I live out in the countryside (when actually I live in a busy village fairly close to town!) and over the last year I’ve learned that I need to be surrounded by trees, fields and nature. Every day I’m grateful for the view from my window, my home, my street, the sunrise, the clouds. I count my blessings and never ever take those things for granted.

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey.

Gratitude is incredibly powerful! Gratitude is being thankful for what you have, counting your blessings, looking for the good in every day and noticing simple pleasures. Being grateful for what we have in our life is the key to happiness and peace. Being grateful for what we have attracts more and more things to be grateful for.

I can’t stress enough how life changing gratitude can be. Being grateful makes us more aware of all the good and beautiful things in our lives. It keeps us focussed on the good that we already have so we can let go of anything negative or lacking in our lives. Being grateful is not saying that our lives are perfect, it’s just acknowledging all the blessings – big and small – in our lives.

I know that counting our blessings is not always so easy. At the end of a seriously rubbish day, being grateful might be the last thing on your mind. But simply sitting down with a notepad and pen for a few minutes at the end of the day and writing down three things you are grateful for is guaranteed to lift your spirits. When we’re going through a particularly difficult time, staying focussed on the good things can be hard. But this is when we need gratitude most. It can help to remember that there’s a lesson is every single event in our life, so in the face of adversity ask yourself ‘what can I learn from this?’, ‘what’s good about this?’ or ‘how can I benefit from this?’ During hard times, if we can find even the tiniest thing to be grateful for it can help put things in perspective and open us up to the beginnings of hope, peace and happiness.

If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, that would suffice.” – Meister Eckhart

Gratitude takes practice but there are lots of ways we can bring more of it into our life.

Keep a journal. There are some great journals like The Daily Greatness Journal or The Happiness Planner which you can use for your gratitude practice. I use a simple (but beautiful) note book. All you need to do each night is write down 3-5 things that have made you thankful and happy that day. It can be something as simple as having 5 minutes to sit down with a coffee or having cuddles with your children. Make a habit of doing this every day to focus on what makes you happy.

Express your gratitude. Make a point of saying thank you to your loved ones. Tell them how much you appreciate the little (and big) things they do for you and how happy they make you. Maybe send a little card or note to let them know how you feel, I bet it’ll make their day too.

Make gratitude a family affair. This is something I’ve recently introduced with my family. Each night at bedtime I ask my son and daughter to think of something that they’re thankful for or something that has made them happy. They love telling me happy things from their day (5 and 7 year olds can come up with some really amazing things!) You could do his any time when you’re all together maybe around the dinner table or even in the car on your way to school.

Gratitude meditation. Gratitude makes us feel good and meditation helps us to achieve a state of deep relaxation and contemplation. So combining the two together can be a very powerful experience. You could try either a guided meditation like this one on YouTube by davidji or a breathing meditation while thinking of all the things you’re grateful for in your life.

How do you practice gratitude? What are you grateful for today?

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beginners guide to meditation

I’m guessing you’re here because you want to learn about meditation? I thought so! Everywhere you turn at the moment, there are articles about the benefits of meditation and it seems like all the celebs are jumping on the bandwagon too. Well, I’ve been meditating for about a year and I can tell you that what they say is all true! Meditation helped me through an incredibly stressful time in my life last year, it helped me stay calm, feel grounded and let things go. If I hadn’t been meditating throughout that time I don’t know how I’d have coped with my stress levels. I even got up extra early to meditate on the day I moved house… my first house move for 13 years!

Before I started meditating I wanted to learn everything I could about it. What I really wanted to know was, what are the benefits? Why meditate? How do you meditate?  To say I did my research is an understatement! So I’ll try to answer those three basic questions now.

What are the benefits of meditation?

For a start off meditation strengthens the brain. Think of it as a workout for your brain. It’s the same concept as excercising to strengthen the muscles in your body only meditation exercises your brain to strengthen it. And when you strengthen the brain, your concentration and memory improve too. Meditation has also been proven to help to reduce stress, anxiety and depresson. Meditation helps us to control our emotions and deal with stressful situations. There’s also the added health benefits of better quality of sleep, lower blood pressure and lower risk of heart disease.

Why meditate?

Everyone meditates for different reasons. It’s personal to you so you decide what you want to get out of it. Many come to meditation for the health benefits. Others begin meditation to free themselves from fear, angry or painful thoughts. Or you might want to start meditating to find a sense of calm, clarity and peace. Many meditate to find greater self understanding, improve their intuitive powers or deepen their spiritual awareness. The fact that you’re here reading his means that you have an interest in meditation, so take a few moments to think about what you want to get out of meditation.

beginners guide to meditation

How to meditate?

Meditation is incredibly simple. You don’t need to sit for hours on the floor in the lotus position! There really is no wrong way to meditate. I’m going to show you a very simple way to meditate that’s great as an introduction for beginners.

First set a timer for how long you’d like to meditate. You can start at just 5 minutes and add a few more each day until you’re doing 20-30 minutes a day.

Make sure you’re sitting or lying in a comfortable position. I like to sit on my bed with my back supported and my legs crossed. There’s no particular reason for this, I just find it really comfortable.

Gently close your eyes.

Take a really slow deep breath in and completely fill your lungs then slowly let your breath out. Do this 3 times. With each exhale feel your body letting go of stress and tension and feel more and more relaxed.

Breath normally now and keep your awareness on your breathing. Just observe the rising and falling sensation that it creates in your body. Notice where these sensations occur –  your belly, your chest, your nose, or anywhere else. Feel the breath as it enters and leaves your nose. Feel the breath filling up and leaving your lungs. Feel your chest and belly rising and falling.

Now you can silently count your breaths: 1 as you inhale, 2 as you exhale, 3 on the next inhale, and so on, up to 10. Then start again at 1. It’s perfectly normal to drift off to thoughts and physical feelings. Don’t worry if you do, just bring your awareness back to your breath and carry on counting. Continue until the timer sounds.

Spend a few moments just sitting and enjoy the feeling of peace and calm.

As I said, this is a very simple meditation for beginners. You might like to try a guided meditation where you listen to someone talking you through the meditation. There are literally millions of guided meditations out there but I like the Calm app and Stop, Breathe & Think app. Davidji is one of my favourite meditation teachers so I would recommend having a look at his website too.

Finally my two top tips for meditation…. COMMITMENT AND CONSISTENCY! It’s essential to commit to the practice of meditation and be consistent. No matter how long you can spare, even if it’s just 5 minutes each day, it’s more important to meditate for a short time each day than just meditate a couple of times a week. Commit to meditating every day and you’ll receive some wonderful benefits – it’s a gift to your soul.

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