Turning Mindfulness into Heartfulness this festive season

During the time leading up to Christmas I read that 40% of Australians are feeling rushed and pressed for time and that issues related to personal finance are the top source of stress.  This so called festive season is for many an anxiety driven experience, where the pressure of family expectations, social commitments and the cost of Christmas presents can lead to people having increased cortisol and heart rate levels combined with an overall negative and/or drained life experience and energy. So maybe it is THE time to practice mindfulness?

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Mindfulness is such an "in-expression" these days, but what is it? Before the whole mindfulness -trend started it was called in the  Yoga world "expanded or heightened awareness". This different awareness one would practice while doing asanas (yoga postures) as well as during the practices of pranayama (breathing techniques) and as a result one would not only have an easier time getting into meditation practice but this heightened awareness could  also then flow naturally into every day life activities. Basically it would show effects on our interactions with others and with how we do things or work. What we call now mindfulness was called training the outside observer, the witness within us.  It has become very popular to promote mindfulness at the workplace, because one has found that through the practices of mindfulness the attitude of the person and therefore also the behaviour changed into a more conscious one. One point no-one has talked about so far is the most important part that it should develop, and that is a connection with one's heart. As my Yogamaster Swami Satyananda said we have to know which parts of our life require the head (the mind) and which ones the heart (feeling and compassion).  I would like to say during the festive season this year let's move from observing the mind to expanding the heart and act from there rather than from the mind. Let's practice "heartfulness". Through this practice where we allow ourselves first to look and observe what's going on inside us and then move our awareness into our heart and allow ourselves to truly feel, we will have a fresher outlook onto this year's festive season and we will know what and who is important to us and create a truly festive season.

Retreat into Balance and Vitality

Retreat means to withdraw or to move back.  Does this have to be a special time at a special place? From time to time a special retreat place will surely help.

There has been a lot of talk about work-life-balance in the last years. Being stressed and constantly busy is almost normal in our society. Nevertheless we strive to get back into balance and keep our energy levels up. Last week I read an article by Fiona Anson, talking about the work-life-balance seesaw. ( Let's talk about the work life balance seesaw. ) We mostly go-go- go, we deplete our energies and then take a break to quickly recharge and then start again powering us out of energy. 

Mostly at times of bigger stress - when a loved one suddenly gets sick or someone close to us dies, do we start to revaluate what is really important to us. We realise that our health and family and friends are most important if we want to achieve anything else in our lives. Every day there should be time for a mini-retreat, a time to reconnect and recharge. We can do little centring practices with yoga and breath meditation in the morning or if we really can't get up 10 minutes earlier in the morning, it can be lunch time work yoga. Why? - Because re-focussing is far more effective than pushing through. 

This is how someone looks like who tried to push through the day: 

 

And his is how a happily productive and balanced person looks like:

And where is it easier to learn that than at a retreat? 

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Workplace Wellness Just A Twist Away

For every $1 invested in workplace wellness, a company can expect $3 in cost savings or benefits (University of Michigan Research Center), as it reduces sick leave costs and medical claims due to work related repetitive stresses. Programs offered by Brisbane based AtWorkYoga at the same time improve workplace morale, increase motivation and productivity through our focus on balancing individuals and corporations. Here is one thing you can do: "Twist again and keep healthy and flexible on many levels"

Put your left hand on right shoulder and the left hand behind your back on left hip and twist to the right side, gently pushing the right shoulder back. Your knees can be slightly bend. Feel the twist in the whole torso and enjoy it every time you exhale, letting go of the resistance you may feel in the beginning.

Yoga offers a variety of twisting exercises that can be done standing, sitting or lying down. Some can even be practiced in a chair. Twists simply wring out tension from the body, stimulate circulation, raise energy levels and relieve tired muscles. Physiologically, the gentle twisting movement stimulates blood flow and thus circulation. That's why one experiences refreshing effects of a twist straight away.