When we Need to Silence our Self-Judgment

When we start living in our “minds” instead of our lives because of buzzy-ness, we judge our inner world as good or bad, right or wrong… We then start to avoid spending quiet leisure time on our own because the sense of emptiness may be so intense that it is just too painful to be in our own company. But, as spending quiet time is one of the most important ways (aside from physical exercise and connection with others) to deal with stress – according to the Centre for Studies on Human Stress – we might as well learn how to do that. It is good to keep in mind that we are bigger than our emotions and thoughts. They don’t fill us, they travel through us.

One way to silence self-judgement according to Tara Brach, an American psychologist is moving from head, to heart, to heart-space.

1. When you spend quiet time with yourself driving, trying to get to sleep or standing in a queue, the first step will be to become aware of any critical and judgmental thoughts. Then, make it your intention to unhook from these judging thoughts. Without believing or identifying with these thoughts, shift your attention to your senses (what do you see, hear or smell) or your breathing. Remind yourself that they’re just thoughts…

2. Open up to your heart. What feelings are you experiencing…? Can you give them names? Shame… guilt… anxiety… anger or sadness? Maybe there are feelings of being overwhelmed, fragile or fatigue (OFF). How do you experience this feeling in your body? What are you unwilling to feel? Try to connect with this feeling, and to allow this while softening your heart a little.

3. Open to your heart.-space. Put your hand on your heart, while saying kind words to yourself in this moment. “It ‘s okay, I am there for you.” Decide in what way you can take good self-care in this moment. Decide to enter these next few steps of walking through this difficulty with self-compassion and loving kindness

Our heartspace is the ocean – it includes the waves – the vulnerability, the thoughts and all the different experiences that move through us. If we remember that we’re the ocean. We will not be afraid of the waves. It’s okay that they are here… This belongs…”

– Tara Brach

Mariki Smith

(PhD Psychology)

In Mediation, Mindful Meditation is Good

In Mediation, Mindful Meditation is Good

on the beat of Chris Rea

By Dirk Joubert

How another party’s position may become your advantage in mediation or conflict resolution.

This is not the ordinary position. The ordinary position is mostly that the other party is in my way.

How the other party’s position becomes advantageous to me, is a story of Mediation.

It is intensely human and it requires that parties embrace ambiguities.

This is the true golden thread through conflict. This is the extraordinary position.

Holistic Awareness and Reflection

The golden thread is found in having an holistic awareness of one’s own position and that of the other party.

To acquire this understanding one is required to develop an awareness of one-self and the other party, and the ability to reflect.

These qualities are dormant within us. As a result we all have the talent to be aware and reflect. Sometimes we must be told that these qualities are indeed defined and can be recognised and developed.

Benefits of Mindful Meditation

One of the ways to develop awareness is to practice mindfulness. Extensive research into mindfulness has shown the beneficial effects of mindful meditation.

It has shown that mindful meditation leads to less “use” of the amygdala, our flight and fight center, and an increase in activity in our pre-frontal cortex.

Mindful meditation therefore strengthens the ability to respond rather to react. Mindful meditation holds the ability to respond with kindness in its heart.

Resolving conflict in Families and Businesses

Mindful meditation, therefore, can be very useful in mediation, or in resolving conflict, especially in close-knit situations such as businesses and families where persons in conflict have to spend long periods in the presence of each other.

The ability to stand back mentally and not jump into fights, is a learned response to conflict via mindful meditation and is a crucial element in resolving conflict.

It makes sense therefore to suggest to persons in conflict or possible conflict as a result of fixed structures such as an employment relationship, to practice mindful meditation.

Andante, Six Steps to becoming more Mindful

Our Andante, Six steps to becoming Mindful online course which is available in live work sessions or online here at 360smartly.com is an easy and interesting way to start your journey towards mindfulness and less conflict in your private and public life.

Being Aware of Self-Care

Being Aware of Self-Care
Being Aware of Self-Care; People Coming together in  Group Activities is Self-Care


While presenting a Free State Institute for Mindfulness CPD – Workshop this week with the lovely, highly competent Dr Anja Botha on ‘The Ethics of Therapist Self-Care’, I realized how easily we as professional healers should implement being aware of self-care, but get stuck in a routine of being busy with life-changing, be-the-best-that-you-can-be healing moments. As this is the one thing we are good at – treating, containing, supporting, empowering those in need – this is what we fill our days with. Creating simple moments of just being – whether focusing on breathing, saying ‘Howzit’ to my inner self, just watching a loved one or a bird in the garden – get to be harder than we might think. It takes some planning… some acknowledgement of ‘get out of your mind, and into your life’ to be mindfully aware of self-care.

Habit of “just being aware of self-care”

There are many ways to get into a regular habit of just being… There certainly does not exist a one-size-fits-all way of being aware of self- care ourselves. So, by becoming aware again of the ‘Mind Map’ Tony Buzan taught us, we created a mind map for Healers focusing on Self-Care. A mind map requires whole brain synergetic thinking. It involves a process that reflects the explosive nature of the neurons zapping across your brain in search of new connections during the process of thinking. I would love to share some of the suggestions to becoming more into ‘being self-care’.

Taking Feel Self-Care

Taking FEEL Self-Care, we need to create mindful moments in our busy days. Staying aware of how we are doing (e.g. on a scale from 1 to 10) through-out the day helps us to give our best to clients and patients who trust their vulnerable lives in our hands. Self-knowledge is the first step towards emotional and spiritual intelligence. We need to do this in a kind way though, without any judgement. Therefor self-compassion (which is far from self-esteem or self-pity) is the space in which we take our mindful steps during the day.

Have Self-Care

When we focus on HAVE Self-Care, we have to make sure that we have a healthy self-awareness, remember to plan for energy hygiene (good planning to avoid in-the-moment decisions like what’s for dinner tonight), stay aware of our work satisfaction and the purpose and meaning of our jobs by taking ‘thank you’-notes about what was great during our workday, and lastly keep on giving attention to the importance of relationships in our working, but especially our private lives.

Do Self-Care

In DO Self-Care, we must be honest about the obstacles in our jobs, so we can keep on making meaningful changes, or learn to accept when it is impossible to change. We can weekly plan attending to our bodies with healthy habits concerning our eating, sleeping, exercising, and health check-ups. We need to keep on staying aware of our spiritual intentions, whether it is to spend more time admiring nature, reading spiritual inspirational lecture, prayer or doing volunteer work to those in need. We every now and again need to keep up with staying competent, even though our diaries are full, to try and attend the workshops and courses that help us being the best we can be to create a healing environment for those who need it. Lastly, we also must stay aware of healthy boundaries between ourselves and others, as well as between our professional and personal lives.

Be Self-Care

In BE Self-Care, we can attend to the ways we can pay and be creative, as well as the ways we can relax and unwind. A dear friend of mine who recently registered as a psychologist at the age of 50, taught me about the Haiku. It is a Japanese poetry form. A haiku uses just a few words to capture a moment and create a picture in the reader’s mind. It is like a tiny window into a scene much larger than itself. Traditionally, haiku is written in three lines, with five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line, and five syllables in the third line. Taking on this mindful way of appreciating meaningful moments can help us to get out of our overthinking way of doing, and put us in an appreciative way of being…

sitting here with you

sipping on mint mojito

life falls into place

By Dr Mariki Smith


How to Face up to Stressful Issues

By Mariki Smith (PhD Psychology)

Although attending to our mindfulness practice daily helps us to see our thoughts and emotions, bodily reactions and symptoms as they really are, and helps us to recognize what triggers them, our habitual tendency is to try and distance ourselves from discomfort.

According to Prof Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program at Massachusetts University, stress is the aversion of being here, while longing to be there. Consequently, this aversion often leads us to fall into two categories:distraction and denial.

The first step is to recognize when you are under stress and become aware of your automatic escape routes. Any activity can be entered into mindfully or in a spirit of escapism to avoid pain. Escape routes of numbness (sleep, drugs, alcohol or isolation), escape routes of activity (work, fitness, gardening, housework) or escape routes of sensation (entertainment, sex, parties or pleasure).

When confronted with a highly charged stressor, the fight-of flight center in our brains acts like an automatic alarm system. Our brains and nervous system were created this way, to protect us from danger. The branch of the automatic nervous system that is stimulated during stress situations in the amygdala is known as the sympathetic branch. The function of this system is to speed things up. Back when humans were hunter-gatherers, running away was a valid response to threat. These days, most of our stressors are internally caused. And to complicate matters, we begin to stress about our stress.

When we start to worry about our worrying, we start to ruminate and our motivation is shut down. Intrusive thoughts, worry and rumination may even turn an acute stressor into a chronic one. Our ancient flight reactions don’t work against such enemies. Modern-day flight reactions take creative forms – we may attempt to distract ourselves by a binge of shopping, entertainment or eating, working overtime or overdoing our workout at the gym. Many times our values become distorted, and our true priorities such as relationships, parenting, health or friendships suffer as a result. The escape can only be temporarily – once we stop and spend time alone again, the challenge or stressor floods back.

An anxious mind can find it difficult to distinguish between activities that are avoidant and those that are part of a balanced life. Mindful self-understanding should clarify the difference. Mindfulness is not about detachment – it is about engagement. Whether our experience of our situation is pleasant or unpleasant, we should spend some time with it, lean in with a kind curiosity, patience and self-compassion. Such self-compassion is not a matter of protecting ourselves from discomfort by flight or denial – it is more a matter of being fully aware of it, seeing how it arose, and recognizing it as an experience from which we can learn and grow.

If we learn to perceive these bodily sensations, thoughts and feelings mindfully, with awareness, kind curiosity and non-judgement, our parasympathetic branch can step in. During times when things are calm, this system helps our bodies to rest and digest. It can act as a brake and can help to slow things down a bit. This way, by learning to be mindful, we can start to settle, and we can learn to respond rather than just to automatically react.

Human beings are remarkable resilient creatures. We are copers and problem solvers. We cope through sheer determination, through our creativity and imagination, through prayer and religious beliefs, through involvements and diversions that feed our need for purpose, meaning, joy, and belonging, and for stepping outside ourselves and caring for others. We cope and are buoyed up by our own tenacious love for life, and by receiving love, encouragement, and support from our family, our friends and our larger community”. – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness Exercise during Stressful Moments

  • Become aware of any physical or emotional sensations – whether it is pleasant or unpleasant. Notice that your stress reaction just tells you that this matter is important to you.
  • Turn to your breathing. “Breathe into the areas in your body where you have the sensations. Welcome the sensations into your open awareness as a key to self-understanding.
  • Notice any automatic need or reaction to distract yourself from your situation. Try not to react on it. Instead, spend a few moments with yourself with self-compassion. Is this a situation you need to accept? Can you do anything to change the situation? Can you create a plan B for in case? Think of one way you can take good self-care: plan some meaningful time with loved ones, ask someone for advice or plan and take good care of your health for the next week.

Saying Howzit to my Feelings

By Dr Mariki Smith

Let’s not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives, and that we obey them without knowing it. – Vincent van Gogh
Working with a Jungian approach, constantly aware of both the mysterious shadow- and light-side of myself and clients, I was quite skeptical about ten years ago when my PhD promotor, Professor Maretha Visser decided my thesis won’t only include spiritual intelligence (values, motivation and meaning), but also emotional intelligence (EQ).
My thoughts were: “but it’s so positive psychology! And I don’t believe in “don’t worry, be happy” (my apologies for my then simple understanding of Positive Psychology). Ten years later, I am forever thankful for leaning into EQ when I did. In the next years after finishing my thesis, I was first introduced to Emotion-Focused-Therapy in 2012, and later to Mindfulness in 2014 – both in Stellenbosch. Gradually, everything I learned about psychology, fell into place – like a puzzle.
So now, when I enter the sacred space of clients risking it into my practice, my frame of reference is Emotion-Focused Mindfulness Therapy. In the words of Pema Chödrön: ‘Be fully present, feel your heart, and leap… The practice of being fully present is a way to claim your courage, your kindness and your strength… Whenever it occurs to you, you can touch in with how you’re feeling both physically and mentally, and then connect with your heart… This is a way of extending warmth and acceptance to whatever is going on for you… Having connected with what is, with love and acceptance, you can go forward with curiosity and courage.’ (Living Beautifully).
Psychology Today define emotional intelligence as the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and those of other people. It incorporates emotional awareness, emotional application, and emotional management
Emotions are possibly your greatest source of instincts, intelligence, and energy. All emotions contain genius, and our emotions are crucial for thinking, learning and understanding others. Each of our emotions are necessary. We use negative emotions to know that something doesn’t feel good, and needs addressing, and positive emotions to know that things feel good and can or should continue. According to Daniel Goleman, who made the term ‘emotional intelligence’ popular in his widely-published book on EQ 1995, we won’t get too far in life if our emotional abilities aren’t in hand; if we don’t have self-awareness; if we are not able to manage our distressing emotions; if we can’t have empathy and effective relationships, no matter how smart we are. As EQ is a strong predictor of managing and enjoying relationships, job performance, solving problems, seizing opportunities and unleashing superior performance, it is good to know that we all can improve on this.
The single most important way to improve on our emotional intelligence, is by becoming more aware… more mindful. If we step out of autopilot and become more aware of our inner and outer world with a kind, non-judgmental approach, our lives become more meaningful and real. So, how do we do this?
Emotional awareness means being aware of the feelings we are experiencing, as well as those of people around us. If we can name our feelings, whether they are pleasant or unpleasant, with no judgment, allowing them to be there with patience and acceptance, it is less likely that we will act impulsively on it, that rumination of the thoughts accompanying them will take place, or that we will suppress them. We learn to observe them… to allow them… to regulate them. In this way, we learn to proactively apply our emotions into our everyday life instead of allowing our emotions to engulf our thinking. In becoming aware of the thoughts that accompany our feelings, we learn that they are also just there to tell us how we are doing in the moment. We realize sooner that we cannot always believe and act on our difficult thoughts when we are upset.
In our understanding how our limbic system is intimately involved in the production of our emotion, we can luckily train and change our brains. Two key components are the pre-frontal cortex and the amygdala. In learning awareness of thoughts and feelings, while focusing on our breathing, we make sure that information about the external world travel from the thalamus to the cortex (where info is encoded with more detail) and then back to the amygdala for more appropriate responses. This way, there is no short cuts directly to the amygdala with unfiltered information, leading to impulse regretful reaction.
So we need to regularly check in, becoming aware of our feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations (which tell us a lot about how we feel) and our breathing. We have to do this with no judgment, and kind openness. One way we learn that is by means of the Breathing Howzit Exercise in our Andante Six Steps to Mindfulness Course (see fsmindfulness.co.za AIM).
In practicing self-awareness (which is the opposite of self-centeredness), we grow into self-compassion and self-kindness. When we start to manage our emotions and take the responsibility to control the relationship we have with our emotions, we also start to respect the emotions of the people around us. Instead of blaming those around us for their difficult thoughts and feelings, we validate them, and are more able to uplift those around us when needed. In this way, our new-learned self-compassion becomes other-compassion.
When we learn to you can apply our emotions, both pleasant and unpleasant, to work for us and not against us, we start to enjoy our life journey so much more, with resilience and growth.

Mariki Smith (PhD Psychology)
051-444 00 27

Mediation and Mindful Solutions to Problems or the Rules of Victory

By Dirk Joubert

The Orange

You can peel it and break it open, or leave it unpeeled and cut it in halves or quarters, or press the juice out- party-positions in mediation may leave as many possibilities.

The Onion

Peel away the layers of the narrative of a party to mediation- there is always another layer underneath until you reach the essence. Sometimes the Mediator will leave a layer untouched. He or she is not busy with therapy.

The Golden Thread

The Mediator searches for and pick up the trail of true facts throughout the narratives.

Conflict Myopia

The narrative of a party is subjective. He / she is only aware of his /her part of the narrative when in conflict. The Mediator must broaden the parties perspective via re-framing.

Power Distance

People have relative power- it is situational if you have acquired rights vis-a-vis another person, or is for a moment financially more powerful. If your position has not been acknowledged, you have less power. The mediator must acquire a balance of power to succeed.

In-Person Myopia

Parties will take a position, for example as a victim- this position is not the party’s true being. The mediator must center the parties in who they really are.


A true Mediated settlement will recognise and acknowledge the positions and feelings of parties, on the journey of finding a solution. This acknowledgement may restore a power imbalance.

Party Driven

Mediation is party-driven. The mediator owns the process. The parties own the solution.

Full Awareness or being Mindful

All of these concepts are central to a Mediated resolution of conflict and requires a full awareness by the mediator of the positions and interests involved, diced and peeled.

Mindful Mediator

A mindful mediator will be fully aware and committed by her body language, eye contact, active listening and re-framing of a narrative towards practical issues that can be effectively resolved.

Mindful Parties

Mindful Parties are parties who have understood the need for self-compassion ( i.e. self-awareness) and other -awareness (other-awareness and -recognition), as well as the need for patience and realistic outcomes.

How to Fight

The essence of a mediated settlement lies within the concepts of Mindfulness. This allows parties to take the whole. The rules of How to Fight are laid down in the Art of War by Sun Tzu,* These rules turn on the concept of taking whole. A great general takes the whole by her leadership, not by destructive battle or pre-battle tactics, but by taking into account and integrating the various positions of opposing parties into a greater whole at a higher level.

This process leaves no remnants to fester. It requires awareness of the self and recognition of the other, awareness and self- and other -compassion. It requires persuasion, acceptance, and breaking out of moulds, step by step, moving forward.

  • The Rules of Victory, James Gimian and Barry Boyce, Shambhala

Towards Accepting Physical and Emotional Pain

By Mariki Smith PhD

It was in his second group session of FSIM’s Andante: Six Steps to Mindfulness, that the kind doctor told us his story. His finger was recently amputated because of cancer, and he still experienced tremendous pain. Doing a mindfulness exercise, he realized that the pain was phantom limb pain – by means of the daily body scan and breathing exercises, he could lean into the pain, become more aware and learn to accept. Between his first and his second session, he was very grateful that he could stop all his pain medication – especially because the medication was robbing him of being awake and alive.
When we’re in pain, we want it to go away… Immediately. We definitely do not want to pay more attention to the pain. As physical and emotional pain activate the same parts of the brain, namely the anterior insula and the anterior cingulate cortex, the effect of practising daily mindfulness is the same for both. We hate to face our pain. In my psychology practice, I understand how difficult clients find facing their emotional pain through talking, journaling, experiencing their stress and pain in their bodies, or their breathing. But, when clients take the vulnerable, courageous step to lean in, we experience time and again what research confirms: mindfulness seems to be a highly effective practice for treating pain. But, when clients take the vulnerable, courageous step to observe their pain, allow themselves to experience it, remember that they are not their pain, and learn not to judge their pain, time and time again, the healing starts to kick in.
When we experience pain, it is like we are hit by the first arrow. When our minds naturally launch into a judgments and negative thoughts about the pain we are hit with a second arrow. We start ruminating about how much we hate the pain and want it to go away. We judge the pain, which only makes it worse, and can lead to frustration, stress, anxiety and even depression.
Mindfulness teaches us to investigate our pain with a kind curiosity, self-compassion and no judgment. What we want to do as best as we can is to engage with the pain just as it is, and learn to relate to our pain differently. Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn, who founded the first Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic in 1979 for patients with stress, pain or mental disorders, writes in the introduction of The Mindfulness Solution to Pain, “From the perspective of mindfulness, nothing needs fixing. Nothing needs to be forced to stop, or change, or go away.” According to Kabat-Zinn, although awareness and thinking are both extremely potent and valuable, it is mindful awareness that is healing, rather than mere thinking.
As our kind doctor experienced, mindfulness provides a more accurate perception of the pain – where it is experienced, how the intensity fluctuates during the day, and how often it peaks. There are a few ways to deal with pain through mindfulness:

  1. The Breathing Howzit. This daily exercise is part of the Andante Six Steps to Mindfulness, and is based on the Three Minute Breathing Space (Teasdale, Williams & Segal: Mindfulness Cognitive-Based Therapy for Depression). We have to become aware of our thoughts, feelings, bodily experiences, needs, breathing and external surroundings. This awareness is done non-judgmentally, with self-compassion and kind curiosity. Becoming aware of pain, without the resistance, is the first step towards dealing with pain. We can then shift our focus to a pleasant sensation, thought or feeling, which can be very powerful.
  2. Bodyscan. This involves bringing slow awareness to each part of the body, and bringing more attention to the parts the brain wants to move away from. However, instead of immediately reacting or trying to ignore the pain, the body scan teaches the brain that it can actually be with what’s there. When we can experience our pain with acceptance, we can move on to focus on the body parts where we experience pleasantness and lightness.
  3. Radical acceptance. When physical or emotional pain arises, our reflex is to resist – whether by means of stiffening our body, contracting our muscles, but also contracting our minds. We feel like a victim and amplify our pain with our judgments and stories. Tara Brach, senior teacher and founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, and author of Radical Acceptance, teaches us that radical acceptance has two wings: seeing our pain clearly (mindful awareness), and then accepting with compassion for ourselves.
  4. Breathing exercises. Breathing is a gift we all received. It can energize us, heal us calm us and teach us to accept what is. It is an important part of the previous exercises, although we can do an exercise which only focuses on breathing. Making our out breath through the mouth longer than the inbreath through the nose activates the parasympathetic system, which calms us during times of distress.
  5. Distraction. According to Vidyamala Burch, writer of Living Well with Pain and Illness, compulsive distraction, where we try to escape or deny our pain, actually makes the suffering worse. Aware distraction on the other hand, where we consciously choose to take our mind off the pain by engaging with something else like reading or watching a comedy, can sometimes be very effective.
    Like everything precious in life, leaning in and accepting your pain will take daily practice of awareness, with compassion and acceptance.

8 Ways to Stay Present in a Busy World

By Madeleine Eames, Salmon Arm, Canada

Have you ever woken up wondering where you have been all your life? Or at least for the last day, week or even the last 20 years?
We often don’t remember parts of our lives simply because we actually weren’t there.
I live in a beautiful part of the world surrounded by nature, mountains and beautiful sunsets. But even the most stunning sunset won’t mean a thing unless we are here for it. Often we only realize in retrospect that we were ‘lost in thought’ for a significant chunk of the day. Most days I am now here, but many I am not.
In today’s world it would be a tall order to be open and available to every event, interaction and interruption, but we know that in order to have some sense of well-being, being present is high on the list.
The ground-breaking research by Harvard Psychologist Matt Killingsworth (2010)found that 47% of the time we are not present to our lives, that is, we are not focussed on what we are doing. We are lost in thought. This might not seem surprising but the kicker is that people are thinking about what is not happening almost as often as they are thinking about what is happening and that those that are present, are happier.
We all have an innate capacity to be aware of the present moment. If you feel like you have enough to do, don’t worry, being present only ever requires a shift in attention and if you are already here, why not actually be here?
Every time we become present, our brains shift. The more we shift, the more we create neural pathways that then become our default. But more importantly over time and the more we practice, we can experience a better quality and depth of our lives. In other words, we can be here, and not miss out on this very life we have been given.
Being fully present does require one thing: responsibility. When we are present we feel what we feel and notice what is happening right now. We don’t escape. We notice what is happening for us at this moment, right now, in and around us. And that it is unique to us.
“The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.”  Jon Kabat-Zinn
Small task? Not really. Most problems in the world boil down to one thing: a lack of presence.  If we were fully present with our anger and frustration at our boss would we cut other people off in traffic? If we were fully present with our own grief and loss would we yell at our kids as much? Would we drink away our work stress or eat away our low self-esteem? Would we tweet out our anger when we wake up in a bad mood?
If you’re wondering why you should be present to so-called unpleasant or negative feelings, here’s the thing:  what we resist, persists.  Does that shame really go away with a glass of wine? Maybe temporarily, but then it gets stored away until a later date when it gets triggered and makes it’s grand appearance again.
“Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.”
Eckhart Tolle
Presence offers a pause in between the stimulus and response. This is where we can find all our peace and freedom and choose a response as opposed to a reaction. Is it perfect? Nope. It’s always a practice. A practice of what it means to be human.
” Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
If we can manage to stay present even just a minute longer, things can begin to change.  But don’t believe a word I say. Experiment with it yourself and see what you notice over time. Practice a habit for 30 days and then decide.
Pick only one or two of these simple practices and start today:
1) Breathe in bed before you get up. Really, it’s 30 seconds. Lie on your back with your hands on your belly and breathe to expand up through your upper back. Don’t rush. Think of 3 things you are grateful for. I had heard this advice hundreds of times before I actually really started practicing it. I can say it has changed my days, and the effects are cumulative.
2) In a conversation today, really listen. Be aware of yourself and your thoughts and perhaps your need to create a response before the other person finishes.  Just listen. Make eye contact. Your attention is the biggest gift you can give someone. Or, you may notice that you feel it’s time to end the conversation and exit respectfully. The only way we create clear boundaries is being truly connected to ourself.
3) Taste your tea or coffee. Really taste it. Smell it, feel it and savour it. If you are going to drink it everyday, you might as well be there for it.  I realized this after drinking thousands of cups mindlessly in my car since I was 20. Now my coffee taste has become somewhat refined and my consumption has decreased because it’s not going down mindlessly.
4)  Look at the sky at least once during the day. Research shows consistently that nature even in small doses has profound effects on learning and well-being.  Even better, get outside and breathe deeply, taking in your surroundings with ‘beginner’s eyes’. That is, as if you had never seen it before.
5) Breathe deeply 2-3 times before you start your car and also when you park.
6) Walk a little slower. I live in a house with three males who stomp, thump and crash when they walk. I slowed down even walking down the hallway and not only did it reduce my own stress level while walking, I am more present when I enter the next room and magically I think they have slowed down too. Try it when you stand up next.
7) In the shower feel the water on your skin. Be in the shower, not in your next meeting. Feel the temperature, the sensation, the touch. Marvel that you have running water. It’s such an overlooked luxury but what would life be like without it?
8) Do one task mindfully from beginning to end. Be in it fully and do it like your life depended on it. In a world of multi-tasking, you don’t have to give it all up.  Just. One. Task. Today.
At the end of the day when the sun goes down you can know that you have been here a little more and contributed to your own well-being as well as the well-being of the planet.
Are you looking to find ways to release stress and be more present in your life? I am now offering intensive transformational counselling sessions to help you move past stress and anxiety and into your life.

If this interests you, you can read more here: http://www.mindfullivingnow.com/welcome/