Inspired action vs. reactive lack-based action

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When it comes to taking action, whether it be planning a holiday, looking for a job or starting a blog, I’ve noticed there are two different types. There’s action that feels good… and then there’s action that feels forced, obligatory, heavy and at times almost futile. I call these two types of action 1) inspired action and 2) reactive lack-based action.

Many desires come from a state of lack in that knowing what we don’t want makes it clear to us what we do want. Let’s use the example of learning to sew. Say you can’t find clothes that fit you ideally (lack) and so you decide you’d love to create your own funky pieces.

This desire feels exciting.. There’s some part of you that feels called to this challenge. It feels good to consider learning a new skill… and the thought of having custom made funky and original clothes fills you with joy! So you start to think about how you might achieve this goal of learning to sew. As a first port of call you might do an internet search and look for info, resources and classes on the topic.

Now the internet is a vast place with a trillion possibilities and as such you might find yourself experiencing information overload… with hundreds  of classes in your city… thousands of different types of machines .. and endless conflicting commentary about what brand and models are best/ worst .. you might feel completely unsure where to go next.

So what happens if you find your self getting caught up in negative emotions, like confusion and overwhelm? What happens if the longer your surfing the net the less excited you’re getting because there’s so many options it’s mind boggling? This is where you might tend to react to the negative emotions, and try to take control and “make things happen” to resolve this inner turmoil. You could find yourself frenetically making a shopping do list, enrolling in several online classes and ringing some friends to hound them on what they know.

The problem is, your dominant emotions through all of this are frustration, impatience, and annoyance.. you just want to resolve it already in fact you want to resolve it yesterday! And why are those machines so darn expensive!! Somehow you’re not even feeling exited about the project anymore.

This is lack-based reactive action taking. Action coupled with negative emotions is often not that generative. I know this because I’ve been through the process a million times. It’s like it creates it’s own tornado of negativity and then life reflects that back to you. The shop assistants are assholes, the internet starts playing up, .. you go to call your sewing guru friend but she’s away.

This, in my opinion, often happens when we take cerebral forced anxious action as opposed to inspired action.. So what is inspired action?

This is when the action simply feels “right” and in alignment. There’s often a flow and resonance to it. You still might feel eager or impatient but it’s in the context of a greater excitement that’s pulling you forward. Even if you’re pushing shit uphill and it’s crazy hard work there’s something you’re enjoying about it nonetheless, there’s a sense of trust that you’re on the right track. There’s a knowing that’s hard to articulate in words alone.

Going back to the example of sewing, if you were to approach it in an inspired action way you might still first, surf the net. But when you start to feel info overload you might, take a break and go for a walk. If you’re a spiritual person you might ask the universe “show me a good way to learn to sew” then you might go into allowance mode and trust that you will find a suitable course and that the right actions to take will come to you in due course . You might take it a bit slower because you’re more trusting. You wait for the next urge, inspiration or creative idea to move forward.

On your walk you might see a notice board out the front of the local milk bar… “fashion student offering sewing tutoring $20/ hr”. The pictures look really funky and so you call immediately, what a bargain! The student designer is lovely and her services provide a wonderful opportunity for you to get started with your hobby.  You just saved yourself a lot of internet search time and frustration!

Okay so it doesn’t always come about this easily but you get my drift. I’m sure you would have experienced these type of situations many times before. But if you’re anything like me, you might still need the reminder from time to time to refocus on trust and excitement!! Whilst it’s fabulous to have so many options in life it can also be extremely confusing when you need to make a decision. That’s why we need to keep tuning back in to our true inner beings, our broader goals and our positive overarching emotions.

Below is an vintage Abraham Hicks video exploring a similar concept. I believe it’s important that we keep returning our minds back to what excites us.. to keep that our dominant creative force. And sometimes when we do this the particulars can just work themselves out or we can take inspired action when it’s required.. but not in a forced and counter productive manner.

As Abe puts it “You blast that energy out in advance and you can create a visual, an absolute reality, that begins to vibrate of it’s own accord because you’ve given life to it, and then it vibrates and reaches out and actually beckons the action right out of you.” Abraham Hicks.

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From clinical depression to breaking dawns: How this Reverend regained her reverence for life

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Adirondack Mountains, upstate New York

Rev. Pam Peterson always knew she wanted to be a minster… but life took her on treacherous journey through an abusive marriage and clinical depression before the opportunity was ripe. It wasn’t until the age of 47 that she was officially ordained to become a spiritual teacher and mentor.

Yesterday I interviewed Rev. Peterson about her experience healing from depression and becoming an “optimist with a capital O”. The picturesque Adirondack Mountains, where she now resides, provide a perfect metaphor for the peaks and troughs of her challenging life path.

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Rev. Pam Peterson

“The earth is my church and nature my religion”, she says as she talks about her favorite prayer and meditation spot in the nearby landscape… and with those views in reach, it’s no surprise that her sense of spirituality extends beyond the chapel walls.

When did you decide to become a minister? Was there a particular catalyst or spiritual experience that called you in that direction?

I knew from the time I was confirmed in the Lutheran church in 1979, at the age of 17, that I was called to be a pastor. Life circumstances, though, took me on a different journey so I did not go into the seminary until 2008 at the age of 47!

There was no one “day” or moment where I experienced an “I am supposed to do this” … rather it was many years of confirming my call to ordained ministry. That in itself is a book worth writing, with new chapters to be added every Sunday! Because of my relationship with my ex-husband during my 19 year marriage, I chose not to purse ordained ministry.

After my divorce in 1999 I searched for almost 10 years to find the right denomination that was a fit for me theologically, spiritually, emotionally and in worship and fellowship. The Spirit, through the voice of my then 3 year old grandson Brady, led me to the United Church of Christ, and I could not be happier! Not only am I an ordained minister but I am also a Provisionally Certified Chaplain through the Association of Professional Chaplains (one more paper to write and I become fully board certified.)

I served for 3 years as the Trauma Chaplain for a large trauma hospital on the east coast and am now serving as the Interim Minister for a Presbyterian Church in the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate NY. I chose to leave hospital chaplaincy for now so that I could develop a healing ministry for first responders and medical personnel whose focus is trauma – doctors, nurses, chaplains, social workers, etc.

Can you tell me a bit about your experience of depression; what was it like and how you overcame it? Did you find your spiritual faith helped you get through those difficult times or was your faith tested? What other tools were helpful?

I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression in August of 1998. It seemed to be a sudden onset of depression- like symptoms and it was at the very beginning of the newest claims to cures using anti-depressants. While I do agree that my lifestyle was the main cause of the mental anguish that I was living in (my ex is psychologically abusive) I never understood why I got so sick so fast.

I suffered from extreme anxiety, waking in the morning with rapid heart beat, sweating, racing thoughts and nausea. I would walk for 5 miles just to calm myself down. Then the wringing hands, loss of appetite, and a morphed perception of my physical body all set in. I lost 25 pounds in 2 months, suffered from memory loss, suicidal ideation and would go between sleeping 12 hours a day to sleeping 2 hours a night. I would get on crying jags that would last for hours.

The doctor (psychiatrist) put me on Paxil, I got a divorce and found true freedom for the first time in my life, and the depression symptoms stopped within a month of my separation. I stopped walking because the symptoms stopped. I had to learn how to feed myself (my ex controlled my food) I gained 80 pounds in a year. I stayed on the Paxil for 6 years because the doctor said to, and whenever I tried to stop taking it the crying jags and suicidal ideation would kick in.

I finally stopped taking it in 2004 because I lost access to health insurance and I didn’t like the side affects of the tics and electrical brain impulses “brain farts” as I called them. I tapered off over a 2 month period, was living in Boulder CO where I got a lot of fresh air and exercise, was active in a great church that recognized my gifts for ministry, and all has been well since!

Faith… that’s a great question. I lived in a constant state of prayer… I still do. I pray all of the time. Everything from “Thank you God for this glorious day!” to “WHAT THE HECK, GOD???” I believe that our faith is tested every hour of every day. I had a great, and I mean REALLY GREAT support team. My 3 sisters, brother, mom, in-laws, out-laws, friends…you name it…they all rallied behind me 100%. Especially my sisters, and they still do.

My sons were teenagers at the time and we stuck it out together through the thick and thin of it. My older son is my rock, but I am still his mom so I am careful of taking care of my own needs rather than putting any expectation on him for that. He’ll have his hands full with me when the time comes for nursing home care in 30 years…I’ll be the one that’s always escaping and getting caught in the most precarious places!!

It took many years, but I finally found therapists/counselors and pastors that I could work with. Most of my depression and anxiety “symptoms” were a result of a lifetime of co-dependency and it took a fantastic therapist to help me get to the root of that. I also stay active in playing music (I’m a flutist), journaling, reading…and I’m an extrovert who is a 7 on the eneagram wheel so I know that I need to be around people! I’m also an Optimist…yes, with a big “O” and have belonged to the Optimist International organization where I learned how to always look on the sunny side of life.

Can you tell me a bit about your more recent experience with anxiety, what were the circumstances and how did you overcome it?

When I left the work of trauma chaplaincy in a huge city (3 years of 40-60 hours a week with at least one 24 hour shift/ 3-7 deaths a day, rarely a day that I did not witness CPR or an infant death) I moved to a rural mountain town in Upstate NY in January. No family, no friends, one acquaintance and my cat. Within 3 months I had finally caught up on my sleep, watched all of the reruns for my favorite shows, read 10 books by my favorite author and adopted my dog, Buddy B.

I also gained 25 pounds. Out of the blue I started waking up at 5 am with anxiety-like symptoms. Rapid heart beat, short of breath, weakness in my legs. The doctor wanted to put me on Welbutrin and I said, “Hell no.” I figured out on my own that my body was still pumping the adrenaline for the trauma work into a brain that was, well, on vacation! Within a week of figuring that out my son recommended I listen to the Joe Rogan show with Dr. Kelly Brogan and now here I am!

Changing my eating patterns and selections has been a tremendous help. I’ve lost all of the weight, meditate to relieve the anxiety symptoms and I am back on track. No pharmaceuticals either! I still wake up many days with the rapid heart beat and I’m trying to figure that out. It lets up with meditation, especially the Kundalini anxiety and adrenal healing meditations, so I’m thinking it’s still my body and brain trying to figure each other out.

I should also mention that I do have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and take levothyroxin. I’m pretty sure that my next blood tests will show that I need to cut way back on the meds as I am healing!

As a minister do you find yourself self called to help others recover from mental health challenges? What have you found helps people recover?

As a minister and a chaplain I am always dealing with what is perceived as mental health challenges for people. Now that I am learning about the VMR program and learning about Dr. Brogan’s theories and research, it’s a whole new ballgame in counseling for me. People are calling me out of the blue to talk to me. People are having prophetic dreams about me. I’m “popping” into people’s thoughts and they are calling me to thank me for who I am. There’s a lot of weirdness going on in my life right now and I am just taking it all in and laughing with the Spirit as we figure it all out.

One thing that I do know is that so far, some people don’t want to hear about how to get better without pills! They would rather medicate and eat whatever they want, rather than eat what their body needs and do the work of healing. Healing is A LOT OF WORK!

 

Take what you need and leave the rest

“From all the things you read and from all the people you meet, take what is good – what you own ‘Inner Teacher’ tells you is for you – and leave the rest. For guidance and for truth, it is much better to look to the Source through your own ‘Inner Teacher’ than to look to people or books. Books and people can merely inspire you. Unless they awaken something within you, nothing worthwhile has been accomplished.” The Peace Pilgrim

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What can we learn from a penniless pilgrim who walked for 28 years across America?

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Peace Pilgrim in the late 1970s. She had walked 25,000 miles by 1964, and continued for almost two more decades. She carried only a pen, a comb, a toothbrush and a map.

Recently I was at my local library looking for a good read, perhaps something to escape the weight of pending bills and a prolonged sense of penny pinching … when I overheard this conversation.

I’ve just come from a lecture about Peace Pilgrim, I’m so inspired .. have you heard of her? 

No, who is the peace pilgrim? 

She walked across America for 28 years promoting peace… she renounced money and material positions and simply walked until offered shelter and fasted until offered food. Between 1951 and 1964 she walked 25,000 miles and gave lectures about peace along the way.

After hearing this curious dialogue I found myself looking up The Peace Pilgrim rather than a light escape novel as originally planed. What I found was nothing short of fascinating and her teachings couldn’t have reached me at a better time.

The Peace Pilgrim, was a an American non-denominational spiritual teacher, mystic, pacifist and peace activist. At the age of 45 she she set of on a walking pilgrimage across America to promote inner and outer peace. Her only possessions were the clothes on her back and the few items she carried in the pockets of her tunic which read “Peace Pilgrim” on the front and “25,000 Miles on foot for peace” on the back. She vowed to “remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walk until given shelter and fast until given food.”

Whilst some may see this as freeloading off the generosity and charity of others, the Peace Pilgrim saw her mission as “work” as she explains in her book Steps Towards Inner Peace

“I work for my living in an unusual way. I give what I can through thoughts and words and deeds to those whose lives I touch and to humanity. In return I accept what people want to give, but I do not ask. They are blessed by their giving and I am blessed by my giving.”

Part of her work included giving lectures at universities (see talk below at California State), and often people would offer her food or a place to stay in exchange for experiencing her teachings or good deeds. For those times where people didn’t offer her food or accommodation she said she trained herself to sleep rough, in parks or at bus stops and just went without food for days at a time. However she said she never went more than 3 days without someone offering her food and that in the end God always took care of her.

So what can we learn from this curious and eccentric character? Although I don’t plan on renouncing my material possessions or sleeping rough in parks any time soon her story challenged a few of my limited beliefs about basic needs and happiness.

What you will quickly see if you watch her videos or read her material is that she’s exuberant; brimming with vitality and zest. For many of us the risk of homelessness might be a terrifying thought, something to be avoided at all costs but for The Peace Pilgrim it was part of her unique mission and purpose.

This is one of the greatest exercises in “trust” and pushing the boundaries that I’ve ever come across. To give up everything and put your faith in the goodness and generosity of others requires a level of trust that most of us simply don’t have.

But what would happen if we took a leaf out of the peace pilgrim’s book and trusted a little more in living our own version an inspired life?.. even if that looked a bit unusual? If she was happy with essentially nothing but a toothbrush then what are we waiting for? What’s stopping us from having that same inner peace? What are we using as an excuse to not be happy?

Perhaps the answers to those questions might be found in her book, which is of course available at no charge here.

 

 

How your big dreams start with an adventurefest mindset

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Ainsley Micallef, Life Reinvention Mentor 

What if achieving those big and ridiculous dreams begins with a simple shift in mindset?… What if realising your slightly crazy aspirations starts with an adventurefest inside your head?

Meet Ainsley Micallef, a Life Reinvention Mentor and creator of The Adventurefest Method, who says changing your mindset is the key to achieving any goal, big or small.

Yesterday I interviewed Ainsley to get a sneak peak into her intrepid approach to lifestyle design, which found her overcoming depression, adventuring around the world and reinventing her brain.

“You’ve got to make peace with the inner monsters,” she says and then “all it takes is one step ONE MOVE FORWARDS”.

Tell me a little bit about yourself, your career path, lifestyle and interests.

I’m a Life Reinvention Mentor which means I help people get out of a rut and create a new future for themselves. My main objective is to get them starting a business so they’ve got freedom to travel … but it covers all areas of their lives.

I predominantly do mindset work with them, because how they think is the starting point to creating those big ridiculous dreams. And then I teach a framework I call The Adventurefest Method which is a 6 step method to achieving any goal.

My interests include travel, I’m a nomad by nature so have spent the last 20+ years working, living and travelling around Australia and the world. I’m a HUGE animal & food lover … and my big ridiculous dream is to have my own tour company as well as an elephant sanctuary in Thailand or Vietnam.

What do you love about being a teacher and mentor? What are the greatest challenges when it comes to facilitating personal development?

I love the results people get. One of my former date coaching clients got engaged the other day. I also get a kick out of blowing their brains out with what’s possible if they allow themselves to think that big.

The greatest challenge is that I’m a rescuer by nature … so I have to remind myself to step back and let them figure it out instead of trying to solve it for them.

You mentioned in your mentoring blogs that you have experienced boats of depression in the past. What was it like, what were the circumstances and how did you overcome it?

I did a lot of drugs and alcohol from age 14 until my mid 30’s.

So the depression was definitely a result of that, but it was also a result of feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere and trying to figure out my own identity … and being ok that I’m not ‘traditional’ by nature. I’m a free spirit so the picket fence, marriage and babies thing wasn’t something I pursued with a lot of interest.

I’ve had many emotional ups and downs … and I never wanted to take medication for it. Instead I used personal development and mindset work on myself to overcome the obstacles in my head.

It’s not as fast acting … but it’s more sustainable and has mountains of benefits that will last me a lifetime.

In the personal development and self-help world we often hear about the Law of Attraction and the idea that we can manifest our goals via the power of positive expectations, thoughts and feelings. Do you think this process works? Are there any essential truths left out of this way of thinking?

One thing I get frustrated with in a lot of LOA teachings is they avoid the fact that obstacles and facing them are a part of life and learning.

A lot of LOA stuff glosses over problems with ‘just think yourself happy’ which leads to a lot of people feeling like failures because they’re not projecting positive vibes all the time.

You need to deal with the monster first … make peace with it. And you need to do a lot of mindset training to become this ‘perfect beacon of light’.

But I also think obstacles make you stronger. So make yourself a problem solver.

When you have that mindset it makes you curious about fixing things. It becomes a fun little game where you get to say to yourself, ‘I wonder what’d happen if I did this’.

Want to start your adventurefest today? You can read more about Ainsley’s awesome work below.

https://ainsleym.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ainsleymadventurefest

5 holistic health hacks that won’t cost the earth

(This cheesy 80s aerobics video will get you pumped!)

Lets face it, cultivating health can be REALLY expensive. Mind boggling, heart attack-inducing, paralysingly pricey. In fact so much so that sometimes it defeats its own purpose.

Fortunately with doctor google, a discerning eye, some cheesy videos and a bit of common sense there are ways to implement our own more affordable holistic health regime without breaking the bank.

On my journey of healing chronic gut pain, I’ve tried many different holistic health products and services, many of which were a great waste of money. However eventually I found the tools that did serve me, and now I live mainly without any pain. Naturally my mood is a lot brighter too when my physical health is good.

So here are 5 tools that helped me navigate the holistic health world on a tight budget… and some happen to be good for the planet too!

1. Find a holistic physician/ GP who has additional qualifications in nutrition (or who is at least knowledgeable/ interested in nutrition)

Seeing a medical doctor with a good understanding of nutrition is like receiving two services for the price of one. They might be a bit more expensive but overall it’s great value. I see an awesome integrative GP/nutritionist and her tips and advice on adjusting my diet reduces the risk of future ailments and potential pharma expenses down the track.

If you can’t afford such a practitioner consider writing a letter to your preferred health professional to explain your financial situation and offer to barter services, volunteer at the clinic or pay it forward later when you’re in a better position. I’ve don’t this a couple of times now and it worked out really well.

2. Only take vitamins if your dietary intake is inadequate, and if it is change your diet. 

Many holistic doctors will encourage you to take supplements, which is fair enough since so many of us have inadequate diets and are too lazy to make changes. However, some doctors get huge commissions from vitamin companies and have a vested interest in pushing certain brands and regimes onto their patients. My doctor told me upfront she doesn’t take commissions and as such I find her advice more balanced and trustworthy in this area. Each to their own but supplements can be crazy expensive. I personally would rather prioritize my spending on better quality food.

There’s a disclaimer on many vitamin pill bottles which goes something like “vitamins may only be of assistance if your dietary intake is inadequate.”… so you have a choice here, you can either work towards a diet that IS adequate or take expensive supplements.

Having said that there are all sorts of arguments out there about why supplementation might be helpful/ necessary even when your diet is great. You can always give supplements a go and see if they help you, (they never helped me) but if you’d rather explore other options here are a few ways to “up your vitamin intake” naturally.

  • Consider buying organic or biodynamic produce where soil enrichment practices are often implemented. If it taste good that’s a good sign that the produce is nutrient dense.
  • If you can’t afford the above consider buying at least some things organic or growing your own veggies. Even just a few plants can make a huge difference.
  • Eat veggies or salad for breakfast. Most people eat bland cereals for breakfast which aren’t particularly nutrient dense. I’ve grown to love eating a non-traditional breakfast such as tufu, nuts and veggies or fish and veggies with a liver cleansing Asian lemon dressing. Try it before you knock it, I swear it’s awesome!!

2. Exercise 

Intuitively most of us know that exercise is good for us. But if you need further convincing Google “scientific studies on exercise” and you can find endless research on the topic. Exercise is particularly awesome for mental health as it releases powerful feel good chemicals in the brain.

Exercise doesn’t need to be expensive. Simply walking, especially briskly or around hilly areas delivers great returns. I used to do Ashtanga hot yoga (at $17 per class) which was very challenging and used to hurt my knees for some reason. As hard as I tried I found it stretched me beyond my limits.

So I gave myself a more realistic challenge: if I could achieve simply walking most days for over a year then I was ready for hot yoga or something else more intense. And I did it .. one year of walking almost every day. After that year I found I really enjoyed walking and wanted to keep going with it..rather than going back to yoga. I also really enjoyed how it’s free! So to up the challenge from there I decided to continue walking and add aerobics videos to the mix (and an occasional $17 fitness class).

I got a cheesy workout DVD set from a thrift store (go captain planet!) , which I did religiously for 5 years! I even used to do the videos in the back yard with my housemates. We’d play a video on a lap top hooked up to speakers and get the benefits of the sun at the same time. It probably seemed a bit crazy to our neighbours but it was so cheesy fun!!! (weirdly the song “Let’s get physical” just came on in the cafe where I’m writing this.. ha love the timing!)

3. Go to student clinics for muscular skeletal or alternative therapy 

Muscular skeletal therapies like osteopathy and massage can be $100 + per session! That’s more than my food budget for the whole week. You can often find student clinics housed within universities which offer these services and much lower rates. For example, I went to a student Osteopathy clinic when I sprained my ankle earlier in the year and it cost $20 for a session.

You get a 4th year student supervised by an experienced clinician/ teacher. They always come in to check what’s going on and make sure the therapy is correct. These guys have literally saved the day for me a number of times over the years.

4. Explore free meditation online or at buddhist centres

There is growing scientific research demonstrating the benefits of meditation. Yesterday I posted a few introductory videos on the benefits, which offer a good place to start if you’ve never tried it before.

Mindfulness meditation is the term you will hear most often as it’s found its way into standard psychological therapy. I’ve really enjoyed Jon Kabat-Zinn’s guided sessions such as this body scan.

If you prefer to go somewhere and mediate with a group of people there are often free or low cost sessions at community centres, buddhist centres or temples. Be careful of cults though, some groups might appear like traditional religious centres but are actually destructive cults. If in doubt look them up on the Cult Education Institute forum to see what other people are saying or enter at your own risk!

5. Channel your own health guru then write a contract to yourself… and sign it!

Many of us already know what we need to do to achieve better health. We all have an inner health guru that’s loaded with sound advice. Much of it is common sense, such as the ideas explored above but often we don’t actually DO what we know will help.

For me I sometimes think I won’t stick to a goal and get sucked into pessimistic ideas based on previous failures. To overcome this I created a note book where I list a goal/ intention and then if I achieve it later I write about it on the opposite page. This reminds me, every time I set an intention that I have previously succeeded many times before.

I have also found the simple process of writing a contract to myself and signing it quite helpful. Some people suggest making yourself accountable to others such as publicly announcing a goal and asking others to hold you to it.  If you can find people who truly will hold you accountable then great but I have found this process backfired when people were a bit half assed about checking in and seeing if I actually was doing what I set out to. At the end of the day you’ve got to find that spirit within that wants you to succeed and be accountable to it. (note to self!)

If you’ve read this far then well done! I hope some of it has been helpful and wish you the best of luck on your health journey 🙂

Body scan meditation

I’m in the process of writing a few posts which are taking a bit longer than expected… some interesting topics coming soon though including an inspiring recovery interview and an article about holistic health hacks on a budget!

Yesterday I sent these three videos over to a friend who’s never tried meditation and was considering giving it a go. If you’re in the same boat and wondering about the potential benefits of meditation and where to start here’s a few interesting videos worth exploring.

The first video from Beyond Blue, explains meditation and how it can rewire the brain and lead to better overall welbeing. The second is a TED talk by a neuroscientist who lead some studies on how meditation changes the grey matter in the brain. The third is an actual meditation session lead by Jon Kabat-zinn, who was instrumental in bringing mindfulness meditation to mainstream western psychology.