1. To Improve Your Mood: Move your body
Here at the Southampton Eco-Living Vitality Centre, we love to move to soul-stirring music with the intention to heal and condition the body, mind, emotions and spirit. Even 5 minutes a day of movement will have a positive impact on your mental state. Put on your favourite song and try it on for yourself!
2. To Think More Clearly: Meditate
Meditating is NOT about stopping thoughts or making the inside of your head quiet. Thoughts will continue for most of us, no matter what; however, we can train our attention. Let the thoughts float by you like leaves on the wind! The "noise" or "suffering" in meditation comes when you allow your attention to get pulled along down the rabbit hole of any particular thought. Return to your breath, and let the thought float on its way.
3. To Understand The World and its People: Read
With so much time and emphasis on watching things, reading is declining. The effort and mental focus it takes to read is entirely different than watching something. It uses different areas of the brain. The imagination gets stimulated and by default this turns on our feelings and emotions. We are much more able to 'step into another person's shoes' and really come to a place of understanding, much more than watching a documentary or historical drama.
4. To Understand Yourself: Write
Got a journal? Use it! Just start any old way and see what comes out. Handwriting is preferable to typing based on how much of the brain is stimulated with how many muscles are being used in the hands, but if you need to type to make it happen, that will work. *Instead of 'write' we can also 'speak.' If you need another option here, record yourself speaking your journal thoughts into the voice memo app on your smartphone. You will begin to see/hear your thought patterns this way, and with that awareness comes your ability to choose whether you want to change certain thoughts and beliefs you have.
5. To Learn Faster: Play - make it fun
If we take our cues from Nature, we would know this very well. Watching children and animals learning things we can be guided by their wide-eyed curiosity and stamina with poking, prodding, balancing, and hopping around something new. The focus is extremely intense, and as a result, short-lived, making the learning process happen more quickly!
6. To Grow Faster: Be Consistent
We are creatures who lean into efficiency as survival mechanism. Making actions habits programs them into the brain so that the auto-pilot takes over and less conscious thought needs to expend energy. To see faster changes in yourself, master the art of being consistent for at least a 3-week stretch with any new focus. A little and often is a powerful way through - again... it's taking our cue from Nature!
7. To Help Others: Help yourself first
When your cup is full, then there is enough to go around, right? Our societal programming (which probably feels like instinct now) to serve or take care of others is not only detrimental, it is also an avoidance tactic in a clever disguise. If you're too busy being a martyr for something or someone, you're not going to actually do your self-care and self-love practices are you? It is also very likely that you'll harbour repressed feelings of bitterness, resentment, grief etc. as you deprive yourself of much-needed you-time. Wouldn't you rather go through life with more joy? Yeah. Life is short. Fill your cup first.