Tips and thoughts on how to have a great life.
|Posted by Elfreda Manahan-Vaughan on November 9, 2018 at 2:45 AM||comments (0)|
Those you who very kindly keep track of my online activity, and take the time to read my blog posts, will probably have noticed I’ve been posting a lot less lately. The reason being I started a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology or MAPPCP for short. It’s a subject area I am fascinated by, especially now as the focus of PP has turned from simply research, to using Positive Psychology Interventions in real world contexts like coaching. So, what is a PPI?
Positive Psychology Interventions or PPIs for short are exercises and activities used to help get people from 0 to 5 on a scale of flourishing. ‘Psychology as usual’ has for many years focussed on getting people from -5 to 0, which would mean from clinical depression and poor mental health to a functional level. A lot of research prior to the beginnings of Positive Psychology, in 1998, was concerned with abnormal psychology. Certain fields such as Humanism looked at the areas of virtue and flourishing but not to the extent that PP does. When research into PP began the main aim was to develop interventions that would allow someone who was functional to move into what is called flourishing. There are several scales or measures to test out where you are currently, such as, the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule or PANAS and the Scale of Positive and Negative Experience or SPANE which give you a measure of subjective well-being or SWB (you can find these through a Google search). There are also tests for Life Satisfaction and much more. If you have ever heard of the Gallop surveys, you may have come across some of these as they regularly test well-being across the nations of the world. Of course, once you have a measure of well-being the next step is to figure out how to improve it and that’s where Positive Psychology Interventions come into play.
Some of the most widely recognised PPIs are Gratitude exercises, Mindfulness, Forgiveness, Positive Goals and much more. Much of the self-help industry adopt these but the difference with PP is they empirically test them to know if and why they work. As part of my first assignment I have had to engage in two PPIs. Obviously, these are not new to me as I have been practicing Mindfulness and Gratitude for years and many of the other PPIs. Choosing one that was new was a bit of a challenge, but I finally chose to do a Forgiveness PPI as this particular one was not one I had done before. Forgiveness PPIs are not intended to condone anyone’s behaviour or to forgive someone who could cause you danger by forgiving them. They are intended to help you let go of unwanted emotions and to move on from a hurtful situation. So, in the interest of making this blog post brief I am going to share the Forgiveness PPI with you below and you can let me know in the comments if you tried it and how you got on.
Benefit Finding Effect - Forgiveness PPI
For the next 20 minutes, we would like for you to write an essay related to that harmful thing that someone did to you. However, as you write, we would like for you to write about positive aspects of the experience. In which ways did the thing that this person did to you lead to positive consequences for you? Perhaps you became aware of personal strengths that you did not realize you had, perhaps a relationship became better or stronger as a result, or perhaps you grew or became a stronger or wiser person. Explore these issues as you write. In particular, please try to address the following points: (a) In what ways did the hurtful event that happened to you lead to positive outcomes for you? That is, what personal benefits came out of this experience for you? (b) In what ways has your life become better as a result of the harmful thing that occurred to you? In what ways is your life or the kind of person that you have become better today as a result of the harmful thing that occurred to you? (c) Are there any other additional benefits that you envision coming out of this experience for you perhaps some time in the future? As you write, really try to “let go”and think deeply about possible benefits that you have gained from this negative event, and possible benefits you might receive in the future. Try not to hold anything back. Be as honest and candid as possible about this event and its positive effects, or potential effects, on your life.
You can do this once or as I did, which was 3 times over a period of a week. I found it really useful, and a great way to reframe hurt. It also was a useful addition to my regular Loving Kindness practice, which I wrote about in an early blog post.
I look forward to hearing how you got on. You can contact me via PM, email: email@example.com or phone 0868373582.
I hope our paths cross again in future,
|Posted by Elfreda Manahan-Vaughan on October 5, 2018 at 3:55 AM||comments (0)|
Once it hits Autumn I am usually inundated with requests about when my next Mindfulness course takes place and bookings for Mindfulness talks and workshops. It appears that once the shorter nights start, people shift focus from holidays and outdoor activities to learning and study. For some people getting to access a course is not always possible and so they embark on a Mindfulness practice themselves. For others, they’ve already done a course and they just want to get back into it. With this in mind, I have decided to give you my top tips for starting and maintaining a regular Mindfulness practice.
1. Find a teacher
I know I said above that not everyone can get to a class but there are still plenty of ways to get access to a teacher. There are lots of online courses, including my own, as well as apps that have teachings from reputable teachers. Finding a teacher is very important if you want to have the right kind of practice for you, to make sure you are practicing correctly and also so that you can ask questions if you are finding it challenging or aren’t sure if you are on the right path. Make sure the person you choose to learn from is a regular meditator themselves and clearly demonstrate that they are living mindfully. This does not mean they are stress free and happy all they time. What it does mean is they are clearly self-aware and managing their stress and demonstrating the core teachings of mindfulness.
2. Choose your time wisely
Knowing when to meditate is very important as it is not the same for everyone. I am a morning meditator. I like to do it first thing so that way I won’t miss out on it if my day gets busy or if I am too tired later in the evening. That being said, I also allow myself the flexibility of doing it later if I decide to have a lie in or if I am extra enthusiastic and decide to meditate a second time later in the day. Other people prefer last thing at night because it helps you relax and can be great for sleep. If you do choose to meditate at night, then it’s better to do it somewhere other than your bedroom and most importantly not your bed.
3. Get a Timer
Often when people start to meditate they sit down and close their eyes with the intention of meditating for a few minutes. In my experience without a timer they rarely do the time they intend and spend most of they time checking their watch wondering how long they’ve been. If you get a timer, I recommend the Insight Meditation Timer App, then you can set your time and get on with it, knowing it will ring when your time is up. You can also set interval bells if you want to extend your meditation and like to have some idea of what stage you are at. You can do 5-minute bells, for shorter meditations and 15 minutes for longer, for example. The Insight Timer is also useful because it logs your meditations, which can be very motivating for some, including me.
4. Choose your duration
As with all things, there are recommendations and best practices. According to the research, which you can find in the book Altered Traits by Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson, the optimum time for meditation is 20 minutes. In the beginning this length of time can feel like an eternity so, it is important to start slowly and work your way up. If you go all gung-ho at the beginning, you will very likely give up after a while as the commitment may seem too much. Start by doing 5-minute slots, adding a few minutes a week over a period of weeks until you eventually get to 20 minutes a day. After that if you wish to do longer sessions, that is up to you.
5. Choose your location
Having a set location where you meditate every day is helpful. Having your zafu, stool or chair already set out with a blanket and cushion helps to make your practice formal, but also eliminates any excuses you might make for not having somewhere to practice or things not being ready. This should preferably not be in your bedroom or if it is, it shouldn’t be your bed. If you meditate in bed you will fall asleep. Having a candle or an altar can help some people too, as it gives the practice a sense of importance or value. Decide what works for you.
Mindfulness is a commitment. You must commit to doing it every day if you want to reap the benefits, or at least 5 to 6 days a week. Naturally we all miss a day every so often, but the research tells us that it is the daily practice that makes the difference to your brain and when we stop things go back to the way they were before. There are days when you will be challenged but if you make it part of your routine and commit to doing it for your own benefit, and the benefit of those around you, then you will be more likely to keep going when you’ve missed a day or when it seems like it is too hard.
7. Let go of your judgment
Mindfulness is a non-judgemental practice. What this means is, it is a way of being that allows what is, without trying to change or resist it. This is important when you practice because some days you will feel great and other days your head will be melted with over-thinking, itches, pain, uncomfortable feelings and general irritation. These are the times when you need to keep going and push through. This is when you need to be able to accept what is and let go of your attachment and judgement to wanting it to be different. These are the meditations that make the biggest difference when it comes to difficulties and challenges in your life. If it was always easy, then you wouldn’t reap the benefits of being able to deal with the hard stuff in life when they arise.
8. Give it a go
Finally, just give it a go. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Play around with different types of meditation and find the one that works for you, and if you struggle with sitting do some mindful movement or walking. There are lots of types of meditation out there, I’ve trained in Zazen from the Zen tradition, Metta or Loving Kindness, Healing Meditation and Visualisation meditation, such as those used in Reiki. I practice them all at different times depending on my mood or needs.
If I can help you in any way or if you have questions then, please feel free to get in touch. You can find my online course on my website and links on my Facebook page and if you would like a one to one session this can be done via Skype or Zoom or face to face.
Thanks for reading.
I hope our paths cross again in the future,
Elfreda (regular meditator, often itchy, fidgety and has a monkey mind).