Tag: Mindfulness

Feeding the correct wolf!

A very heart-touching guest post

Yesterday I used as a sub-heading “I will never, ever tire of the wonderful connections made by this blog!

I wrote that before Sydney sent in a guest post which reached out to me, to Jeannie and, undoubtedly, will reach out to many others. Sydney further validated the power of the wonderful connections that blogging brings.

Here’s how it came about.

Not that long ago, there was a new follower to this place. As is so frequently the case that new follower was also a blogger. Their blog is called very beautifully: Recovery For All Of My Heart. As I always try to do, I went across to leave a ‘thank you’ note. I also read the About page that I want to republish here by way of my introduction to Sydney.

Hello, I am in recovery from an eating disorder, depression and anxiety. The way I got to the best place in my mind is by changing my perspective.

In this blog, I use my new open-mindedness to show the world the beauty I see in hopes that others will then see the beauty in themselves. For me, all it took was to see the beauty in myself, but I needed someone to help me see it first. My hope is to be that person for others.

There is a way to see the good in every piece of you. You can get your mindset to see what others love about you. The proof of everyone’s beauty lies in changing your perspective and this blog hopes to put into light the beauty in everyone that ever existed.

So now to Sydney’s post. (And if you want to understand why I chose the title to this post, then please read right down to the end.)

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Mindfulness and a dog named Bailey

By Sydney R. February 23rd., 2017

Bailey
Bailey

When I was 21 years old, I got a hound boxer puppy named Bailey. Previously, I had a dog my mom and I raised when I was seven; she was named Rachel.

I only speak of Bailey in this post because of a certain situation I want to talk about, but I also wanted to mention how amazing Rachel was too.

Anyway, I raised Bailey to be the sweet almost two-year-old he is today. He is not a normal dog to me. This is because I believe him to be extraordinary (so original for dog owners, I know), and also because I have struggled with my mental health.

I have struggled with depression and he has changed my life for the better. One day last year I was having a very hard time with my depression. I wanted to just lay in bed and quit my job and begin isolating again. I wanted to just sleep and not fight the thoughts and just let them rattle on inside of my mind while I lay there.

I grabbed my dog as he was lying next to me and held onto him ready to remain in my negative thoughts for all eternity. Then something changed: I felt his fur. I felt my cheek against his fur. I heard his sweet little breathing that used to put me to sleep when he laid on my chest when he was a puppy. I was being mindful without even realizing it.

I was aware of everything I was feeling when holding this thing that is so dear to my heart.

Suddenly, all the pain went away. I was reminded of this feeling I can have while holding my dog. I can fight this depression and I can have a wonderful life. If you ever are feeling extremely sad or have any type of negative urges, and this can be about anything, grab your furry little one and just stay in the moment until they pass.

And why is this?

Research has shown that if you look into your dogs eyes, the hormonal response is activated just like the one that is activated when you look at infants. Scientists took blood samples of dogs and their owners before and during time spent petting. The results were that the levels of oxytocin went up in humans during a petting session of a dog and it was at very similar levels of new mothers and their infants.

Even more amazing, dogs had the same levels in their blood as well, showing how happy they are around their owners. During my depression that night, holding onto my dog was not just helping me overcome my sadness, he was having a nice time as well.

Now what I am guessing is that if you are sitting down, petting your dog, but not really paying much attention, your dog will be happy, but your oxytocin levels will not be as high as they could be. When you are mindful and staying in the moment whilst petting your dog, you could be seriously happy, to the point where your oxytocin levels from your dog stops you from ruminating on your negative thoughts.

Don’t just pet your dog when you are upset…make sure you are completely in the moment.

Notice your body and notice what your hands and arms are feeling as you wrap your arms around your dog. Let your hands and all of your arms feel the fur. Use all of your senses. Make sure you hear your dog and do not let your thoughts block out being in the moment. Regular petting of the dog is enjoyable. Mindful petting of a dog could change your life, like it did mine.

Now I will always know that I have something to go to when I feel depressed. This is extremely important because one huge part of depression is hopelessness. This is the feeling that you will always feel depressed.

With a dog, you have hope to get out of those feelings. I know that I have my dog to go to and I will never fear being sad forever again. I always have the mindful petting of Bailey or Rachel that will make the negative thoughts drain away.

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Good people, I am genuinely humbled by both Sydney’s desire to share this with you, and by the magic of having a dog in our life.

So let me close like this.

BBC Television in the UK currently have on their iPlayer site a drama series called Death in Paradise: The programme website is here.

Detective drama series set on a Caribbean island.

In a recent episode there was this profoundly wise observation made by the detective, Jack Mooney, played by Ardal O’Hanlon.

Detective Jack Mooney
Detective Jack Mooney

There are always two wolves deep inside us.

One is a hateful, angry, selfish wolf that doesn’t hesitate to try and do you harm.

The other wolf is a soft, gentle creature that responds to love and always wants to love you back.

So which wolf is in charge?

The wolf we feed!

Footnote:

This came to my ‘inbox’ a short time ago (as of 09:30 Sunday morning):

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How normal is it to be normal!

But first off this is not going to be a normal couple of weeks!

My daughter, Maija, son-in-law, Marius, and grandson, Morten, aged two, are staying with us over the next couple of weeks, arriving tomorrow.

So being able to offer a daily fresh post on Learning from Dogs will be a challenge.  As indeed, it should be: Family should always be the top priority.

However, rather than leaving you with blank pages, I shall be regurgitating some earlier posts, starting tomorrow.  In wandering through rather a large number of posts (1,775 as of today!), I was reminded that at the start one of my fellow authors was Jon Lavin.  He wrote a number of posts before deciding that his ‘day job’ was too demanding of him and something had to go.  It wasn’t just writing for Learning from Dogs that Jon had to let go, even his own website, The People Workshop, is a tad out-of-date!

But even so, there’s an article on Jon’s website that I wanted to share with you and, with Jon’s permission, here it is.

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Normal!

10 AUGUST 2011 BY 

Constant.
Constant.

Normal – it’s not a particularly challenging word; or is it?

The fact is that for most people their ‘normal’ business day is far from being effective.

What I do, indeed my passion, is to work with people and allow them to see the huge benefits that come from bringing ‘mindfulness’ into their everyday working environments. What do we mean by mindfulness?

Generally, anything that brings us into a state of mind where we are making decisions, interacting with people, communicating in the here and now, not away somewhere where we are controlled by what happened in the past and our fears of what might happen in the future.

Bringing change into business requires many qualities and if ever there was a time for displaying the qualities of integrity and compassion, it is now.

I believe we are on the cusp of an enormous change that will affect us all – it already is, we’re just hoping that it will go away and we’ll be able to carry on as before after this unpleasant recession is over. It’s more likely we are living through a core change in society.

I’ve realised that I can no longer rely on ‘out there’ for support, instead, it has to come from within.

By knowing myself and having a different relationship with myself, I encourage a balance in my life and recognise what ‘resources’ I need. Being out in the fresh air, in the woods and fields ‘resources’ me.

So when I work with my troubled clients who may be reeling from the latest batch of redundancies, I am able to be in a state of calm rather than the anxiety which is such a familiar friend.

Have you ever noticed how people are attracted to calm people when insecurity and uncertainty are around? From calmness and balance, options in the here and now present themselves to us. We are aware that we are connected together and working together in an atmosphere of integrity and trust to do the best for all.

My clients use me when they are dealing with circumstances that demand the very best from their employees, and when those employees demand the very best from my client company.

I would be interested to hear your comments!

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Do please offer your thoughts to Jon’s essay; I will pass them back to him without delay.

What Jon underlines is the power of relaxation, of taking time off at regular intervals during the day, the dangers of overload; as I recently highlighted in this recent post.

Thus proving, once again, that old adage – less is more!

Let’s do …. nothing!

The restorative effect of doing …. nothing.

A week ago I published a post called On quietness.  It was predominantly comprised of a republication of a much earlier item written by Jon Lavin.

However, in the way that things happen, shortly after that post (last Friday’s one) was published I came across this TED video of Andy Puddicome.

I’ll say no more – enjoy the video.  (Beautifully delivered in ten minutes, by the way!)

When is the last time you did absolutely nothing for 10 whole minutes? Not texting, talking or even thinking? Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe describes the transformative power of doing just that: Refreshing your mind for 10 minutes a day, simply by being mindful and experiencing the present moment. (No need for incense or sitting in strange positions.)

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 “Most people assume that meditation is all about stopping thoughts, getting rid of emotions, somehow controlling the mind. But actually it’s … about stepping back, seeing the thought clearly, witnessing it coming and going.” (Andy Puddicombe)

The TED profile of Andy P. offers this:

Andy Puddicombe
Andy Puddicombe

Why you should listen to him:

Andy Puddicombe wants you to take a break — not just from work, but from your own mind, which is so full of anxieties about the world and anxieties about its own anxieties. To help you do that, Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk, co-founded Headspace, a project to make meditation more accessible to more people in their everyday lives. Puddicombe also writes prolifically for the Huffington Post and the Guardian, on the benefits of mindful thinking for healthy living.

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So as someone who seems to have real trouble relaxing, I mean real relaxation in the letting go sense, I’m flirting with the idea of committing 10 minutes of meditation each day.  Andy offers a charmingly easy way of doing this, as you will discover if you go to his website Headspace.  Here’s a quote from the ‘What is Headspace‘ page.

Here at Headspace we’re on a mission to get as many people in the world as possible to take 10 minutes out of their day, to practice a simple and easy-to-learn meditation technique.  And if you like the way it makes you feel, then we’d love to show you how to make that a life-long skill.

This is meditation for modern life – simple, scientifically-proven techniques, that you can use every day to experience a healthier and happier mind.

Those articles published by the Guardian as referred to above may be found here: The Guardian, if you want to browse around some more.

Stay tuned as to the outcome of me and meditation; I’ll share with it you via Learning from Dogs.  Let’s face it, dogs are very good at chilling out for ten minutes!  Oh dear, something else to learn from our doggies!

P1120193

Managing in a mad world.

Even in the midst of great pain, we must think through our choices

The last week has been really mad.  I have been working in different companies and organisations and having to be part of redundancies, power struggles and people rebuilding their lives.

For example, I was in a company that had just let its second lot of people go in as many months. It’s gone past losing ‘dead wood’ and now people with valuable skills needed for recovery are going. I’ve noticed previously that good, employable people with key skills start to get concerned and will often take voluntary redundancy rather than hanging around to see how things pan out.

End of job!

It’s the shocking way that it’s done as well that’s unbelievable. No warning, just a phone call to attend a meeting, no hint as to what the meeting is about, then an envelope slid across the table and then a rapid escort off site. All done and dusted in 5 minutes.

Having been through this myself some years ago, it’s not something you forget in a hurry. Lots of feelings of rejection and feeling unvalued and unwanted are what I remember. Perhaps its part of being bought up in a job-for-life culture and then having that illusion shattered.

Working with people in this situation is literally quite shocking and traumatic because it clearly affects them and their lives and the lives of their families, and it affects me because the work we started comes to an abrupt end usually with little or no warning, and so does a source of income to be brutally honest. I don’t even have chance to say good-bye in many cases.

Every Thursday I become a trainee psychotherapist and work with people who mostly struggle to hold down any sort of job. The reasons for this are generally because of upbringings that are awful beyond description. The shock and trauma that is in the air when working with these people is amazing, and so scary for them that the idea of being present in the room with me and is virtually impossible.

So that brings us to managing in a world where lots of mad and non-integrous things happen. I believe that mindfulness can provide a key to these situations; being present for another does more than any instruction manual!

Being present means we make ourselves available at many levels to someone who is suffering. By avoiding the subtle invitation to join someone in their shock and trauma but by being there for them, to the best of our ability and listening to them at depth, we can provide an environment where real reflection can take place. Then options may be chosen which are not born of panic and reaction but come from reflection and response.

I believe that this approach gets us out of the ‘noise machine in our heads‘ (that is forever churning and worrying, in my case) that we have no control over, and creates space for more subtle things to come through the quiet and calm.

Most people I’ve met in my engineering work like to assume that they think their way out of tight situations but I’m not convinced that this process is actually effective. I have heard and practised many times the activity of ‘sleeping on something’ and then being able to decide on a course of action the following morning with relative ease. My psychotherapy clients can’t think their way out the awfulness because thinking about things has got them into a spiral

Albert Einstein

process which is highly addictive, predictable and virtually impossible to break without the intervention of a higher level of awareness. I think it was Einstein who said something like, “you can’t use the same intelligence that created a problem to solve it“!  In other words, a different approach or level must be used.

I believe that this different approach or level can be used to solve most problems we have. By bringing a different level of awareness to a challenge, whether it is redundancy or some other sort of deeper problem always gives different results and provides more options. It’s just that initially it needs to be facilitated, until we can do it under our own steam. I am heartened that even in the depths of a recession that there are still companies out there that support this approach and the work I do.

By Jon Lavin [This article from the BBC is worth reading in conjunction with Jon’s excellent Post. Jon may be contacted via learningfromdogs (at) gmail (dot) com]