The Happy Starfish

Living Mindfully & Celebrating Health, Happiness & Peaceful Living


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Morris the Mindful Monkey

 

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Mindfulness is more than sitting in formal meditation, it’s being fully absorbed in the task in hand, not engaging with distracting thoughts. Yesterday I didn’t want to do a long meditation, I wanted to spend some quality time with my son so I got my creative on and we transformed a pair of his socks into Morris the Mindful Monkey. It’s hard not to be present when doing something expressive.

In today’s super-busy society hobbies can fall by the wayside, but hobbies are often where our minds quieten and our feelings of stress can dissipate. Finding the time to factor something you love into your day is not always easy. It can feel self-indulgent and encourage feelings of guilt, but by looking after our own emotional needs we are then better placed to help take care of family and friends.

When was the last time you did something just for fun?

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Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Course

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8 week Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy programme, based on the original programme devised by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

MBCT combines traditional cognitive behavioural therapy with mindfulness and meditation. MBCT enables the participant to recognise and step out of automatic cognitive processes that can trigger stress, anxiety and depression. Participants recognise that certain thoughts and feelings are mentally destructive and are taught to allow the mind to move from automatic thought patterns to conscious emotional processing.

Scientific research supports the effectiveness of mindfulness for reducing depressive relapses, reducing cravings for substances people are addicted to, combating stress and being an effective tool for managing chromic pain and health conditions.

The MBCT programme takes place over 8 weeks. There is a weekly course and practice is done outside of the class with the use of MP3’s for regular meditation and techniques to integrate mindfulness into daily routines. The course is a blend of experiential meditation and theory enabling participants to really explore and understand the mind/body connection and how our thoughts impact on every aspect of our wellbeing.

See what previous participants are saying here.

Our courses will run regularly at the Oxford Street Therapy Centre in Wellingborough, Northants. £160.00 each. A course manual, worksheets and MP3’s are provided.

Our current course is full. A new course will be starting on Monday 15th June at 10.00-11.30 am. Places are limited.

Contact us for further details or fill out the registration form to secure your place.

Week One

Automatic pilot

Doing and being mode

Week Two

Suspending judgements

Week Three

Staying present and dealing with stress

Week Four

Acceptance and allowing

Week Five

Exploring difficulty

Week Six

How can I best take care of myself?

Week Seven

Forgiveness

Week Eight

Practicing gratitude

Moving forward mindfully

 

This can also be taught via Skype or in a 1-to-1 coaching session.

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Zen tale – The businessman and the fisherman

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The businessman and the fisherman

A few years ago, a very rich businessman decides to take a vacation to a small tropical island in the South Pacific. He has worked hard all his life and has decided that now is the time to enjoy the fruits of his labor. He is excited about visiting the island because he’s heard that there is incredible fishing there. He loved fishing as a young boy, but hasn’t gone in years because he has been so busy working to save for his retirement.

So on the first day, he has his breakfast and heads to the beach. It’s around 9:30 am. There he spots a fisherman coming in with a large bucket full of fish!

‘How long did you fish for?’ he asks.

The fisherman looks at the businessman with a wide grin across his face and explains that the fishes for about three hours every day. The businessman then asks him why he returned so quickly.

‘Don’t worry,’ says the fisherman, ‘There’s still plenty of fish out there.’

Dumbfounded, the businessman asks the fisherman why he didn’t continue catching more fish. The fisherman patiently explains that what he caught is all he needs. ‘I’ll spend the rest of the day playing with my family, talking with my friends and maybe drinking a little wine. After that I’ll relax on the beach.’

Now the rich businessman figures he needs to teach this peasant fisherman a thing or two. So he explains to him that he should stay out all day and catch more fish. Then he could save up the extra money he makes and buy and even bigger boats to catch even more fish. The he could keep reinvesting his profits in even more boats and hire many other fisherman to work for him. If he works really hard, in 20 or 30 years he’ll be a very rich man indeed.

The businessman feels pleased that he’s helped teach this simple fellow how to become rich. Then the fisherman looks at the businessman with a puzzled look on his face and asks what he’ll do after he becomes very rich.

The businessman responds quickly You can spend time with your family, talk with your friends, and maybe drink a little wine. Or you could just relax on the beach.

The fishermen smiles ‘but that’s what I’m doing now.’


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Mental Health Awareness Week

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Count your blessings

Count? My mind is hazy. I cannot concentrate on the simplest of tasks.

Snap out of it

Snap? I have slept for twelve hours but still don’t have the energy to move.

A good meal will cheer you up

I told you I cannot eat. My throat is constricted, my stomach a mass of swirling emotions.

Turn that frown upside down 

I try. I really do, but my face feels like a grotesque mask.

If you can’t be bothered to help yourself

I am screaming for help, can’t you hear me? But the room is silent and you turn away.

 

 

It is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. Depression is not something you choose.

 

We have experience in teaching Mindfulness within the Mental Health field to sufferers and carers. 

Please contact us for more information.

 

 


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The simple life

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The simple life is the best. To live an uncomplicated, stress free life is something people often talk about, but if the simple life really is the best why aren’t we living it?

Realistically, there are not many of us who could go and live up a mountain, or deep within nature. We have friends, family, people we care about. We have careers that are necessary to pay for the homes we live in. We work hard, we want nice things, holidays, evenings out.

We get tired. We want entertaining. The days of standing around the piano singing are long gone, we stream movies, shop online, check social networking sites an inordinate amount of time.

We often eat in front of the tv, plates balanced on our laps, smartphone in hand, the tv on in the background.

The harder we work, the more we want to rewards ourselves with material possessions and holidays. The pleasure holidays and new purchases give us is often fleeting, leaving us dissatisfied, wanting more, so we work harder. We worry more. We overthink. We miss the present moment.

We put huge amounts of pressure on ourselves to have the ‘perfect life.’

Mindfulness enabled me to strip back my life, to step away from the drama, to break the endless loop of unhelpful thinking, to get back to basics and really appreciate what I have, right here, right now.

‘Life is simple but we insist on making it complicated.’

I don’t entirely agree with this quote. Life isn’t always, can’t by its very nature always simple, it can be wild, unpredictable and challenging, but the more fully present we are, the simpler life feels and the more contentment we have.

How complicated is your life?


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Have yourself a stress-free Christmas

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“Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more….” Dr Seuss.
 
Wow, it’s hard to believe we are in December already, this year has flown by so fast. Have you written your cards? Wrapped your gifts? Feel in control of your pre-holiday preparations?
If the thought of the impending celebrations make you want to cower under the kitchen table you’re not alone. Follow my tips for a stress-free Christmas.
 
     Look after yourself. This has to be number one. It’s only natural to worry about everyone else making sure they have what they need to enjoy the festive period but if you are not ok your family is not ok. Frantically running around in your lunch break searching for the perfect gifts will take its toll on your emotional and physical health. Take regular time out to rejuvenate. 10 minutes mindful breathing a day will do wonders for your stress levels. Delegate where you can – who says you have to do it all on your own?
 
     Take a reality check. You may have a to-do list a mile long but what would actually happen if you didn’t do everything on it? The world wouldn’t end if everything wasn’t perfectly co-ordinated or if the place cards weren’t handmade. Condense your list down and don’t sweat the small stuff.
 
     Let go of traditions that don’t work for you. You probably have an idea of the ‘right’ way to celebrate christmas that comes from childhood traditions but do they actually work for you and your family? My friend refuses to cook, spends all day in her pyjamas, has pizza for dinner and has the best time.
 
     Embrace the imperfection. It is natural to want the day to be perfect but demanding perfection is a form of control. Relax. So the kids want to decorate the tree their way, the decorations are hand made, not symmetrically hung and would never be featured in a glossy magazine. Who cares really but you
 
     Cheat if you want to. I used to be THE worst for having to have everything home made. Stuffing, bread sauce, you name it, I would slave over a saucepan to create it. Now I am happy to buy store bought to make the day easier for me. I get to spend more quality time with my children and nobody notices the difference. Everyone remembers a big family meal around a table. The love, the laughter and the sharing. Nobody remembers whether the cranberry sauce came out of a jar or not.
 
     Ditch the judgement. Your Uncle Jack is notoriously hard to buy for but you have found him the perfect gift. He opens it, frowns and places it to one side. How do you feel? Don’t let the negative committee in your head tell you that you got it spectacularly wrong, that you have failed in some way or even that he is an ungrateful pig. Take a breath and move on.
 
     Memories not material. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. It’s not worth starting a New Year stressed out and debt ridden. Ultimately the most important thing about the holidays is the memories you create. In ten years time your children will never remember what presents they received but they will remember the togetherness. Find perfection in the love not the stuff.
 
Happy Holidays x


5 mindful ways to start your day

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“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.” ― Jon Kabat-Zinn

What do you do when you wake up? Do you instantly lurch headlong into a world full of status updates and tweets, or ease yourself mindfully into the day ahead? The way we choose to spend those first precious moments after waking can set the tone for the hours that follow.

It is all too easy to reach for the smartphone to turn off the alarm and automatically start checking emails, social networking sites and the news. Our minds go into overdrive. Our thought train has gone from resting to racing, absorbing depressing news stories, frantically compiling a list of things we absolutely mustn’t forget to do. Beginning the day in such a busy way can cause underlying anxiety and agitation affecting the way we react to inevitable forthcoming challenges.

 

Integrate these five steps into your morning routine and notice how centred you feel as you go about the rest of your day.

1) When you wake carry out a mindful check in. Start by becoming aware of your breathing. Feel the weight of your body on the bed. Notice your temperature, any physical sensations that are present. Spend a few moments noticing any thoughts and emotions that are present. What is your underlying mood today?

2) When getting out of bed, fully feel your feet on the floor. Ease into some mindful movement. Bringing awareness to your movement trains your focus, a tool you can use in everyday life.

3) Bring presence to your routine. When showering become aware of the sensations of the water on your body. Hear the sound of the cascading water. Notice the scent of the products you use. Fully feel your fingertips massaging your scalp as you wash your hair. How does it feel to fully experience the present moment?

4) Eat your breakfast mindfully. Fully connect with the pleasures of eating, without feeling the need to be multi tasking. Notice the texture, the smell and the flavours of your food.

5) Before leaving for work meditate for 5 minutes. Sit and notice the breath where it makes itself most predominantly known to you, be it the abdomen, nostrils or chest. If it helps you concentrate count each breath, the in breath as 1, the out breath as 2 etc. until you get to ten and then begin again.

Prioritising your internal world and leaving the external world where it is for a few moments longer eases you gently into the day with calmness and purpose enabling you to react to any challenges with clarity.