Art of Growing

Dedicated to a Holistic Approach to Growth

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Breathing Break


Many of us tend to run through our day from one task to another, one place to another without much thought to how our bodies and minds are coping. We tend to think because we are on the go (active and getting tasks done) we are productive and in excellent shape. This may not be true.

When we are running about …rushing through lunch and even toilet breaks (true for many people) we are not taking in enough oxygen, we are not soothing our frazzled nerves or taking note of our own internal communication (sensations in the body and emotions) which is telling us to slow down or take a second look or take care of an immediate need…

Take a breathing break…it is only three minutes, and can make a big difference in a busy and demanding day.

  1. sit down and close your eyes
  2. breathe in from your nose slowly and steadily (without forcing your body, hence, moving the shoulders too much) allowing your lungs to expand and fill
  3. hold the breath for the count to of 5 (if you are a new to this, hold to the count of 3 first)
  4. then slowly, smoothly breath our from your mouth (yes, part your lips)
  5. breathing out slowly and completely, empty your lungs … you can take your time
  6. now breathe in again (repeat step 2 – 5)

You can do 5 deep breathing for a start then slowly work your way up to 10 during the week. Take care of yourself, take two breathing breaks a day. And really spoil yourself before you go to sleep by taking another breathing break to help you relax and sleep soundly.

Breathing breaks will help you regain a calmer body and mind, improves alertness, energise the body and more.

Don’t just take my word, try it out …

Attend a half-day workshop on the 15th Feb 2014 and learn how to control the level of stress in your life.

Learn to…

  • Be more alert
  • Have more energy
  • Sleep better
  • Be in the present and more calm…

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Good Self Management

good self managementEvery day I hear someone mutter about how stressful his or her life is. It can be an adolescent or adult but the issue is the same; too many things to do, too little time. Often people are not realistic about how much “awake” time they have to perform tasks. Mostly, people are not skilful in managing life’s little challenges.

Let us start with Good Self Management. Below are some tips. Give yourself the chance to try them out.

Tips for good self management:

  • Set work activities on a 50 minute schedule: This gives you time for the little things that necessary, such as, toilet breaks, sipping a glass of water or cup of tea with ease. Or having a Breathing Break.
  • Be aware of time-bandits: Time is easily lost when you go on Facebook, twitter or any of the other social networks, day-dream and all kinds of escape activities when you should be in the working.
  • Be realistic with priorities: First step is planning and preparation for the coming week. Plan in advance. Keep the appointments and tasks especially the urgent and important with-in the allotted time frames.
  • Have the confident to say, “no”: We all have friends, colleagues who load on us their minor issues frequently, say no to this and keep your focus. Sometimes it is for the better good to say, “no” to work we just do not have waking time to do.
  •  Find your productive period of the day: We all have specific times when we more alert and focus, use this productive time for your best work.
  • Obey the alarm: Wake when the alarm rings. Do not put it on snooze/switch off and go back to bed.
  • Maintain the basics: As long as you get the basics right you can have enough of resilience to function healthily. So, the basics are sleep before midnight, nutritious food and drink, time for relaxation & personal interest, and sports/exercise.

Try these out for yourself especially if you think you have to implement some of the above- mentioned. But if you feel that you have not been functioning well (work piling, easily emotional, lethargic, procrastinating etc) then you may need more work to improve functioning, though in the meantime you can still gain some of the skills mentioned on this page.

Breathing Breaks

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Tips on Guided Imagery

  1. Your skill and efficiency will increase with practice.
  2. Imagery works best in a relaxed, unforced atmosphere.
    So try not to get too intense about “doing it right”.
    There are many ways to do it right.Beach

Let your own images come up and work for you. A group facilitator will encourage you to imagine certain scenes but will give you much lee-way for you to come up with your own symbols, scenes, people … in short your own perceptions.

It’s best to engage all the senses, especially your feeling sense, bodily sensation, emotions, smell, sounds and even taste (where applicable). Only a little over half of the population is strongly visual, so guided imagery encourages the development of other senses.

Imagery is generally more powerful in a group setting, mainly due to the contagious nature of the altered state. So a support group is a nice place to work with it. Attend workshops and classes to help you become more comfortable and in-tuned with the techniques.

ListenMusic, in almost 90% of the time, will increase the effects of imagery. Some people are not so in-tuned to sounds and may not find music helpful, so these people prefer no music at all. In a group, you may find some exercises with music and other sans music.

Imagery that elicits emotion is generally more effective than imagery that doesn’t. Responding with emotion is a good sign that the imagery is working for you in a deeper way.

You do not have to be a “believer” in order for imagery to help. Positive expectancy helps, but even a sceptical willingness to give it a try can be quite sufficient.Work

To help increase relaxation and the power of images, Touch is a powerful accompaniment to imagery. Often, the facilitator will lead the group towards being able to feel sensations within the body and also on the skin. An example would be: “You can feel the cool breeze blowing against your face…”

Using the same language, directions and gestures at the start of each session creates an “anchor” that conditions you to prepare for almost immediate response. This also helps you to “go into the mode” for a “session” when you want to do a guided imagery when you are alone or when you take a time-out during a busy day for a short guided imagery of relaxation or performance rehearsal. You will find that your body and mind will respond favourably.

If you want to stay awake, you might try sitting up, standing or walking while you are listening to a recording of guided imagery when you are new to the practice because you are likely to fall asleep during the imagery session. However, even asleep you’ll benefit from repeated listening, as demonstrated in test results with sleeping diabetics and unconscious surgery patients.

Don’t worry if you keep “dosing off” or losing track of a guided imagery narrative. This is not an indicator that you’re not listening or that you are doing something wrongly. On the contrary, a wandering mind often comes with the territory.Smiley

Some quite normal responses include: sneezing,  runny nose, coughing, yawning, feel your limbs tingling, body heavy with relaxation, fuzziness in the scalp or in your hands and feet, or experience involuntary muscle-movements.

Some other indicators of a strong response to imagery are unusual stillness, relaxed facial muscles. After some imagery, your voice will be deeper and lower, slower and more relaxed.

Usually an imaging exercise, regardless of what it’s for, will clear a headache, relieve stress, lift mood and reduce pain.

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The Power of Guided Imagery

Guided imagery is a gentle and powerful technique that directs the imagination. In guided imagery you see pictures/images in your mind but it includes any perception that comes to you from other senses such as, hearing, feeling (emotions), tasting and bodily sensations. For instance, when you recall the music you listened to at last month’s concert and then feeling the joy of being there with close friends — these are imageries. This is the language of mind-body communication.

To the body and the mind these are actual events, it cannot tell the difference between what is being imagined and events happening in real time.

I like to think of guided imagery as intentional day dreaming. Many people do not realise that day-dreaming is an altered stated (a state of relaxed focused, energy and alertness). For instance, while you are doing a guided imagery for relaxation and healing, you are focusing on releasing heavy energy in the body, untying the knots in the muscles while slowing down your breathing, the brain is sending clear messages to the central nervous system that all these are indeed taking place (now), therefore, the body respond, tension is released, muscles un-knot and relaxation embraces the body. The peace and calmness you experience is real.

When guided imagery is properly delivered to a person or a group of people, it has the capacity to deliver multi-complex, encoded messages via symbols and metaphors. Since it is a right brain activity it has the ability to engage the other functions of right brain such as music, emotions, sensitivity, intuition, abstract thinking and spirituality to mention a few.

Guided imagery calls upon the unconscious to help with the “goal” undertaken, hence, can bring up latent skills, motivation and strengths to assist in the task. In the past 25 years there has been a lot of small and sizeable research in this powerful technique and one thing seems clear; it has no side effects but its level of success is tied to efficiency in delivery.

There has been a mass of research findings showing the efficacy of guided imagery in different populations. See below:

Findings usually show positive impact on health, relaxation, creativity and performance. Apparently even 10 minutes of imagery can reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol and glucose levels in the blood, it lessens headaches and pain. It can increase skills in sport, accelerates weight loss and reduces anxiety among other things.

Research and general acceptance

Use of guided imagery is a widely accepted practice among mental healthcare providers and is gaining acceptance as a powerful pain control tool across a number of medical disciplines. Results of a study conducted at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation and published in 1999 found that cardiac surgery patients who used a guided imagery tape prior to surgery experienced less pain and anxiety. These patients also left the hospital earlier following surgery than patients who used pain medication only.

Another study conducted by Harvard Medical School researchers found that for more than 200 patients undergoing invasive vascular or renal surgery, guided imagery controlled pain and anxiety more effectively than medication alone  —