Worth a Moment - Stretch & Breathe
Energy and motivation are key to almost everything we do.
An easy simple thing to do when there is the need for an energy boost or a short break from whatever we are doing, is to take deep breaths and strong stretches.
We need only look at animals, the number of times they stop to stretch and the ease with which they do it, to learn something useful.
Two favourite yoga poses are the dog stretch and cat posture, and many other postures have been inspired by the animal kingdom. They instinctively know and do what is needed.
The more oxygen we can feed our bodies the better. Sporting teams use oxygen tanks to give them more strength and energy. We have our lungs and need only to pause and focus on using them more fully and more often.
Working with breath, combined with remembering to move and stretch is invaluable. Very simple techniques, costing nothing and always on hand are often the best.
Begin with just spending a few moments as frequently as possible on stretching and breathing and feel the difference. Chances are you'll be tempted to spend longer periods recharging and looking after your well-being.
Worth a Moment - A simple List
When life becomes more hectic and even when it's calm, making a "to do" list can help us to achieve.
Although at our busiest times there is the feeling that there is not even time for stopping to list what we need or want to do, it can actually save time. It need not be a lengthy process : a hasty list and a quick numbering of the tasks or perhaps something more elaborate when the mood strikes and time allows.
However it is done, pausing to plan can help to organise thoughts and clarify priorities.
Completion is also key: not necessarily completing the list but completing a task once you begin. A very satisfying step is ticking off completed tasks or if electronic the delete button provides its own sense of satisfaction.
Do take a moment to congratulate yourself wherever you are at the end of the day. Be appreciative of what you have done. Be kind and generous to yourself. Everyone has better days as well as the not so good days.
While completing the list as planned is great, sometimes doesn't happen and it's really important to see that that is ok.
If a task plays on your mind, then put at the top of tomorrow's list.
Remember it is sensible and fair to yourself to be flexible and realise that lists and tasks, like life can be rearranged.
Worth a Moment - Adjusting to Change
Life is a continuum of adjustments, of dealing with new people, new situations and new events.
Every day is different. In fact every moment of each day is different.
Some flow past without much disturbance. Some create excitement. Others are challenging, often extremely challenging. Whoever we are and whatever our age and circumstances, this is the nature of existence.
There is no doubt that our lives are full of things we need to process and handle. Often we need to adjust our ideas and responses in order to create happier results. This happens more often and more easily if we give ourselves a chance to slow down.
Many outcomes are not so much a result of what has occurred as how we react initially.
Becoming more aware that in many instances while we cannot control what happens, we can control or perhaps modify our reactions and hence create better outcomes.
Pause for a moment, take some slow deep breaths, settle. This can lead to different responses and we can change how things unfold. Avoiding knee jerk reactions and quick judgements that may lead to further angst is worth that moment's pause.
Worth a Moment - Gently Does It
A New Year... a time for new things or for fine tuning the old. When establishing new patterns, whether for exercise, eating, sleeping or any other routine, be gentle and don't be in a rush.
The first flush of a new year is an excellent motivation for branching out, experiencing something quite different or reinforcing what you have aimed at before or perhaps admired in someone else. However, setting too high an expectation or an unrealistic time line can be deflating or disappointing.
This is not to say we need to stifle ambition.
It is important to be ambitious but it doesn't have to happen all at once.
This, of course is not an unusual or unknown concept...
Rome wasn't built in a day... etc etc.
But funnily enough, one we often forget applies to many personal endeavours.
Plan with gentleness and kindness in mind. We can always accelerate our process, but it is important to be ready to accept small steps as significant achievements and congratulate yourself often.
Enjoy achieving and also enjoy giving yourself a break, sitting back, admiring your handiwork and generally feeling good.
Happy New Year
Worth a Moment - Ten Deep Breaths
However happy, calm and settled we are, elements of stress or tension can arise as we live our daily lives. The degree of these is as varied as the causes, but a quick and easy technique is always accessible and worth spending a few moments exploring.
It needs nothing but a short amount of time and remembering that it is always at hand.
It is very simple and can have a wide range of positive effects.
Pause, relax and take at least ten long, slow deep breaths in and out through your nose.
In some instances this will be enough to become grounded. In other situations it can act as the catalyst for recognising that further steps are needed and may even provide an insight into the nature of the steps required.
Simple, short and certainly worth trying.
Worth a Moment - Simplicity and Nature
"Life's simple if you let it be," I was once told.
"Well, that's over simplification," I remember thinking.
But is it?
Life is certainly full of complexities but also full of choices.
We do have control over our own thoughts and responses, over our belief systems. What we choose to belief and what we choose to think is just that, a choice. Even when it feels as though events around us are becoming more complex and taking over, we do have power over how we react, what we feel and what we do.
When faced with a decision or confronted by a complicated situation, a powerful way of helping to calm your mind and simplify things is to turn to nature. Seek out a sunrise, a sunset, or simply look up at the sky. Gazing at a flower, a tree, even a leaf can lift us to a different level and give a fresh perspective. Take a moment to breathe deeply, to be still, to feel the peace and the simplicity of what you are observing. Allow your thoughts to follow suit, allow them to settle and clarify.
Enjoy working with nature and recognising how you can move towards simplicity and peace.
Worth a Moment - Planning, Plan B and Freedom of Choice
As the year rolls on, challenges appear. They are part of life.
However carefully we structure and plan things, the unexpected happens. Outcomes are not always what we were hoping for. Whatever the event, while we may not be able to change it, we do have power over the way it influences us and the way we react.
A small gift I received recently was a notebook. At the bottom of each page is written:
"Life is all about how you handle Plan B"
This really struck a chord.
Much has been written about making the best of an unexpected disappointment or change in a situation and this can be very difficult.
However, it is a choice we make, as to how we deal with such situations.
Consistent complaint or self pity rarely make things easier.
Pausing to remember that we do have options is worth the moment it takes. Becoming aware that we do have a choice in how we react can have a dramatic change for the better.
Deciding to make the best of things and work on being positive is always an option.
We are free to choose.
Worth a Moment - Breathe Deeply
As we embark on a new year with all it's joys and challenges, become more aware of the incredible gift that is our breath. Always right there, readily available for us to use, we can make it one of our most valuable and versatile friends.
Use deep breathing to greet the day and continue to accept the help waiting for you as the day progresses.
We can use our breathing in so many beneficial ways.
As a source of energy, deep breaths awaken and refresh our bodies and minds.
As a source of letting go, concentrating on breathing can bring deep relaxation .
To release tension and relax physically, three deep breaths with strong exhalations accompanied by dropping your shoulders and relaxing facial muscles takes only a few moments but can work wonders or at least be a good start. For releasing a specific area, focus on breathing the tension out of this area with every exhalation. See the tension slipping away.
To clear a mind busy with too many thoughts or to help clear your mind of negative thoughts visualise them flowing out with your strong exhalations.
Focusing on the breath has long been recommended for it's calming effect and as a lead into meditation. The wonderful thing about our breathing is that we can use it whenever we feel the need and to whatever degree we wish. It is always there.
We can all gain by spending some moments breathing in the positive and breathing out the negative.
Worth a Moment - Little Things Count
Our words and our actions help define who we are and how we feel.
Often it is the little things that can make a significant difference.
Whatever you feel is a good idea, whatever you feel is needed: whether helping out in some way, attending to details of a plan or project, making a phone call or even giving a present, often the pressure of time or the perceived enormity of the task causes us to delay, postpone, or put off indefinitely.
Apart from not providing happy moments we may easily give to others, we are depriving ourselves of positive moments. This is often accompanied by an ongoing nagging feeling of, “I wish I had done this… If only I had said that….I really should have organised things.”
Feelings of regret or guilt or just that repetitive flicking back of the mind into these thoughts can absorb so much more mindspace and time than simply taking the action or at least making a start.
However much is on our plate, however short the time, the moments taken for that quick phone call, attending to a detail or taking the first step of a bigger task, can, in fact, save a lot of time and worry, and free up our minds in many ways.
Experience generally reflects that sooner is better. The old adage: “A stitch in time saves nine” emerged for a reason. It does!
Short and long term benefits will often be well worth even a few moments spent now.
Worth a Moment - Be Part of Spring
We are in the midst of spring and it is easy to be part of it. Not only is it easy but rewarding and uplifting.
Children know this instinctively and love the opportunity to be outside playing. However big or small the area, with any gardening there is fun to be had and a connection with nature and life available.
Being part of growing a plant is exciting. Seeing life develop and facilitating the growth of a living breathing life form in this way is linking into the very essence of existence.
Whether a vast garden or a herb in a pot the life force is there. Both the process and the outcome are gratifying.
Peace and calm can result from the various stages, providing a form of relaxation and meditation. Enjoying the beauty and scent of a flower or savouring the flavours of delicious herbs gives ongoing fulfilment for all our senses.
Take the opportunity or make the opportunity and enjoy.
Worth a Moment - Movement is Life
Even when asleep there is movement within as we breathe and as every cell of our body lives.
From the moment we wake this accelerates. Becoming more aware of and encouraging physical movement has positive effects deep within as well as making us stronger and fitter.
Increasing our movement has so many benefits. It doesn't need to take a lot of time, although the more you do and the better you feel and the more you want to do. Endorphins, those feel good hormones, are released and the choice of greater movement becomes easier and more appealing.
While still lying in bed in the morning we can wiggle toes and fingers, stretch arms and legs, arch to each side, move facial muscles, tighten tummy muscles and ....... the list goes on. Develop your own list and when time permits continue adding to it. When up and about stretching, moving, deep breathing and also incorporating some yoga poses can change the way our day begins. Developing habits of movement throughout the day also can make a huge difference.
Identifying and seizing opportunities for even the briefest moments of exercise will have results and inspire you to do more. Take a longer walk, go to the beach, attend a class, plan active 'catch-ups' with friends .... the possibilities are endless.
While sitting or walking a great energiser is 'finger snapping' : between the forefinger and middle finger of one hand grip in turn the base of each finger of the other hand and firmly and swiftly slide along the knuckles and off the finger tip.
Have fun exploring ways to move and increase your energy levels and general well being.
Worth a Moment - Sunshine and the Great Outdoors
Spring is already making its presence felt and presenting opportunities to refresh and gather positive energy. Becoming aware of natural surroundings and pausing even for a brief moment to enjoy and absorb makes a difference.
Albert Schweitzer wrote,
"In the hopes of reaching the moon, men fail to see the flowers that blossom at their feet."
This happens, but by adjusting our focus we can make many changes. Positive changes occur when we notice and appreciate what we have on our doorstep and we have so much.
Now more than ever as screens draw people of all ages inside often and for long periods, it is crucial to achieve a balance. By finding ways of enjoying our amazingly beautiful outdoors and and taking advantage of opportunities to interact with nature we can gain benefit from what is there for us all. Even brief interactions bring a peacefulness and calm that can be felt.
It is well worth taking time to look at the trees, to smell the flowers, to touch the leaves and breath in their energy.
Worth a Moment - A Peaceful Mind
Picking up keys, sunglasses and wallet is a five second exercise... or is it ?
How often do we hear the cry, "Where are my keys?" or "Has anyone seen my sunglasses?". Often with the ensuing panic, loss of patience and flustered expletives, that five second exercise stretches to 5 minutes or more, tempers become frayed and tension rises; then people become upset, appointments are missed and people let down.
There is a very simple solution...
In a calmer frame of mind spend a few moments giving serious thought to the best place to make permanent homes for these things. Deciding on places for essentials that you need at short notice and putting the time and effort into training yourself to stick to these places may sound trivial. Indeed, the concept is a simple one. That does not mean it is easy. It does take self discipline, determination and consistency. However, if it means we avoid the scenario described above and have more peace of mind more often, then the time spent is a really good investment. No doubt, some people are born with this gene naturally in tact and do not need to read this article. However, from general observation, I believe most of us weren't or if we were, we lose it in the flurry of life .... along with the keys!
Peace of mind and a peaceful mind are rich rewards for some forward planning and for spending the time and effort developing these simple habits. On the occasions when we do slip up, do remember that three long deep breaths work wonders.
Follow the old adage, working towards having "a place for everything and everything in its place", and enjoy calmness more often.
Education Benefits of Nature
Reading - bring the brain into balance
Try this balanced approach to reading—start with a picture book. If your child is
struggling with reading, then find funny stories, funny pictures and comics and
you will be amazed at how the brain works to find the words that would otherwise
be difficult to read.
Often characters in comics face situations which children relate to and sometimes they can find an answer in the comic. This helps expand their imagination to think of ways to change situations.
All children want to learn, they don’t want to be left behind, and comics are a
potent and effective way to recharge their interest, using both sides of the
brain. An added benefit of comics is, when the humour is there, the laughter
comes and it releases the stress and frustration of reading.
There are not a lot of quality comics with great messages are not around at the moment, but the market will grow. The Adventures of Tin Tin is a long standing favourite and free downloads can be found on the internet.
Other ways to bring the brain into balance prior to reading by;
• Breathing: To balance your brain, simply breathe by holding one nostril closed and breathing in and out through the other nostril for 4 breaths, change over nostrils and breathe in and out 4 times. After only a minute or so your child will feel refreshed and balanced.
• Creativity: Creativity is vital for the development of imagination and balance. If a child spending all his/her time focussed on academic learning, then it is time to stop, and do some drawing, painting, cooking, sewing. Any creative activity is good.
Creative children also need to balance their creativity with their left brain, and be careful not to feel stressful and fall into their mid-brain and come out fighting or be withdrawn.
• Draw a lying down 8 (an eternity sign) and use a pencil to continually draw this shape for a minute or so. This also enables the brain to balance itself.
• Movement: Switch hands for a while. If your child is usually right handed, ask them to do something with their left hand. The brain has to switch over to the other side.
• Brain Gym® movements that switch on your body for optimum learning, focus and concentration. There are many excellent sites for the movements, go to google, put in Brain Gym and follow the trail.
Parenthood Emotions - when to say yes...and when to say no
Parenthood, emotions, when to say yes… when to say no… Anyone who has gone through the fascinating task of raising a child and has done it to the best of their abilities deserves a Nobel Prize, I would say.
Being a parent myself, I was able to discover that helping a child in their growth and development is probably one of the most difficult tasks one can undertake in life. It requires dedication, discipline, know-how and most importantly, patience and love. The rewards of a job well done should translate into a well-balanced and mature individual that can do well at school, in their careers and able to develop healthy relationships.
This is easy to say but it is not always simple to do. Raising children involves learning as you go. Each child is different, they have a unique brain and personality traits so the hints and tricks you get in a book and family advice is often not enough to be a good parent. We must work on ourselves as individuals to improve our skills, our intuition and our awareness if we are to do a good job.
Experts in the field say that if we want to predict how our child is going to turn out when he/she grows up - it is not an achievement or an IQ test that will give us the answer - it is how the child gets along with others, how he/she behaves socially. And this depends significantly on how we relate to our child as caretakers.
How parents deal with conflict with their children has proven to have an important effect on the child’s emotional abilities, including the ability to connect, understand and empathise with others.
New research presented at the Paediatric Academic Societies in Denver in 2010 showed that children are more likely to be aggressive towards others if their parents frequently feel angry with them or feel their child bothers them a lot.
These findings are useful in helping us understand the importance of noticing when we are angry or frustrated ourselves. It is essential that we manage these strong emotions effectively instead of dumping them on the child.
The ability to notice and understand our own emotions is called “emotional awareness” and fortunately it is a skill that is now starting to emerge as a life skill worthwhile to develop.
Dr. Ben Palmer, an Australian PhD from Swinburne University developed a model of Emotional Intelligence which consists of 7 essential skills that can be learnt independently of age.
Emotional awareness is the first of these skills. Once we understand how we are feeling then we can apply some strategies to diffuse the strong emotions that could affect the way we speak or deal with our child.
The topic is incredibly interesting to explore and it is useful to take away 3 tips that you can apply at home to increase involvement with your children:
1) Take the time and be open when talking and sharing ideas with them.
2) Listen and acknowledge their own ideas and build on them without saying: that idea will not work or it is not possible.
3) Meet as many of their friends as possible. Be involved and interested in what they do and who they share their time with.
Author of ‘What Did Your Parents Teach You about Emotions’
- What did your Parents teach you about Emotions.pdf 93 Kb
- Adobe PDF Reader required, download it here...
A Love of Learning
Everyone has a love of learning, especially children, whose natural curiosity causes them to continually ask that question “Why?” So, 'why' do we feel that many children just don’t want to learn..and many of them will tell you “I don’t want to learn”.
Ignore that statement!, and discover ways to engage their interest and they will want to learn more. Children can find a game challenging on the internet. Many of them can play for hours, perfecting their technique, and at every stage they are learning. The challenge is to make it useful and valuable learning. The aim is to find out what engages their interest and to transfer this to reading and writing. Children love to learn through play, through excursions in nature and through experiences. School work can be made more interesting if you take the time to be inventive in the ways you encourage them to learn.
Once you have captured their attention with a subject that interests them, then it is easier to get them to read and write about the subject and this leads on to new discoveries, such as the enjoyment of reading and researching more.
To encourage A Love of Learning
1) Have pictorial books around the house (especially on subjects that interest your child).
2) Let your child see you reading for enjoyment.
3) Read to your child. Even if they can read well, the enjoyment of someone reading to them is great.
4) Take your child to the library and let them see the range of books on the subjects they like most.
5) Give your child the responsibility of choosing and taking out library books.
6) Water gives the brain an extra boost of energy - ensure your child is well hydrated.
7) Fresh air is vital for the brain - open the windows and doors and let the new air in.
8) Good nutrition is important for good brain function. Give your child Omega 3 oil and organic fresh whole foods.
9) Don't sit in front of television and expect your child to read - be a role model.
10) Make reading fun, not a chore.
How We Learn
Most people fall into three styles of learning, audio, visual and kinesthetic, this means that people learn by listening, seeing, or doing. Variations occur when there is more than one type of learning preference, however one style is usually more dominant than the others.
This can be a challenge for teachers in a class of 30 children with a mix of learning styles. Around 40% of children are visual learners, 40% kinaesthetic learners and only 20% are auditory learners. An interesting thought when the traditional way of education is auditory, resulting in around 80% of students not being engaged in lessons. When bored or disinterested this contributes to behavioural and learning difficulties. And, for parents it is can be just as challenging if you have children with different learning styles.
You as the teacher or parent also have your particular style of delivering the messages. Without this understanding it can be difficult to have the perfect communication. Being aware of this is the first step and to tailor your approach for better communication.
VISUAL learners need to look at things, they see words by sight, remembering faces, having a great imagination and thinking in pictures, often expressing emotions through facial expressions. Don’t expect Visual learners to write lists and take notes, you gain better results by drawing a picture, doing a diagram, using video or written instructions.
AUDITORY learners learn best hearing what is being said, they enjoy discussing problems and learn by reading aloud or listening and express themselves best through their voice. Traditional teaching suits these children and they succeed when they hear the teacher discussing the lesson.
KINESTHETIC learners like to touch and make things. They are great at demonstrating their point of view by building and making something. They learn well on excursions and learning through drama, science experiments and hands on activities.
Neurofeedback - The Permanent Alternative to Medication
For the Treatment of ADD/ADHD, autism and learning difficulties
(by Chantal Kayem http://www.chantalkayemgazal.com.au)
Biofeedback / neurofeedback for the treatment of ADD/ADHD and learning difficulties are often not well understood, and here Chantal Kayem reports on how Neurofeedback can help your child.
What is Neurofeedback (NF)? EGG neurofeedback (or biofeedback) is a treatment for the brain disregulation that occurs in many conditions including ADD/ADHD, learning disabilities, autism, anxiety, depression, behaviour disorders, sleep disorders, headaches, migraines, emotional disturbances and more.
How Does NF work? What does the process involve? How long does it take to see improvements? What results can be obtained for ADHD, ADD, learning disabilities and behavioural problems? Are there any side effects? How effective is NF? Where can I get more information on NF? All these are answered and more when you click on the pdf file.
Back to School - our hopes and expectations
As parents there is much we can do to support our children’s education.
The first hope most have is that our children really enjoy the experience of school, that they relate to their teachers and enjoy the company of all their classmates. Too often a child can feel isolated from others in the class. If you feel this is an issue, then it may be necessary to step in and invite some of the children to your home after school. When children are able to play together in a happy environment, they forget the pressures of the playground and simply enjoy the playing.
Know what is happening at school, join the P&C, work at the canteen, volunteer for excursions and extra activities. In this way, you will learn how the whole class is progressing and see how happy your child is within the school environment.
As parents we must release our expectations and encourage the children to enjoy learning. Don’t stress over homework. When you place pressure on your child to do the homework, they may rebel and begin to dislike the learning experience. You may have a great expectation that your child will be a genius and won't achieve in life unless the homework is completed and done well. In theory this works, but in real life, when you look at the great achievers many of them did not do well in school, they spent their time in creative pursuits and were only really interested in studying the subjects they liked.
You don't have to give up your expectations, simply encourage your child to do the best they can, to be open to subjects whether they like them or not, and encourage them to know that whatever they do in life, it they really love it, they will do well. For many people finding the thing they love most is harder than schoolwork.
Let the Children Play
We see puppies, kittens and lambs playing and think how cute they are
and then tell our children to sit down and be quiet!!
Children need to play games where they make the rules and set their own guidelines.
Play is a great way for children to learn social context. It requires leadership, it requires, team work and each child has the responsibility for playing it their way. Unstructured
play helps children to build their imagination, to make decisions, to work as a
team and enjoy being with friends. These are important lessons for life and they come naturally when the games are filled with fun and laughter.
Play is the natural way for children to develop, however, today too many children miss out.
They are kept ‘safe’ indoors, sitting in front oftelevision or a computer screen. If you want
them to develop better social skills, better brain function, and take calculated risks - get the
children outside to play.
Another advantage is the close link between play and healthy cognitive growth. Play is the foundation for academic success in reading and writing and helps with scientific and mathematical concepts. Play is critical for building imagination and problem-solving skills.
Reasearch suggests that make-believe play increases empathy and reduces aggression.
Plus the fun and laughter builds the overall health of your child.
Make time for yourself to play with your child - also builds better relationships!
Play, play and more play.
More ways to gain better brain function
You've heard them before. And for good reason. They're among the most sure fire ways to ignite your brain.
Better oxygenation breathe rhythmically and deeply and do it gently
Increase hydration drink filtered water and more of it – our brain is around 90% water
Better nutrition eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to alkalise the body
Increase exercise exercise activates the brain
Take on creative pursuits use both sides of your brain for balanced learning and thinking