What a (Mindful) day!

First mindful retreat day at kumbada studio complete — check.

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The day started out overcast with showers, casting a shadow on my plans for lots of outdoor time during the day.

My mind started doing its time-travelling thing, projecting into the future, trying to figure out how to change it up and going off on all sorts of possible scenario tangents.

As I arrived on top of the mountain, I sat in meditation for a short time at the Dandenong Ranges National Park Scenic Lookout. When I opened my eyes, the clouds had parted and the fingers of God shone down from the sky — I took it as a good sign!

kalorama scenic lookout

The day progressed with a few of these bolster yoga poses with someone later declaring a newfound love affair with her bolster cushion.

This was followed by lots of meditation exercises, most of which we had practiced so far in the course and a few new ones. Particularly popular was the mountain meditation (my favourite guided meditation). In it, we contemplate as though we become the mountain, embodying qualities of stability, strength and groundedness. We visualise the changing nature of the weather and the seasons…  through it all, the mountain just sits. It was a time to reflect on our own emotional storms, inner and outer crises, our thoughts and feelings, which are much like the changing weather beating upon the mountain. Through the stillness and insights of our meditation, we realise that we too can come to embody the same steadfast qualities of a mountain through all the changes, the pits and peaks we face.

Once the silence had lifted, everyone felt that they had given themselves a very special gift — the gift of time. Time to rejuvenate, with nothing to prove, nowhere to be and time to release all the rushing, the doing and the neglecting of our own experience.

And so, we finished the day with a quote from (the quirky, but ever-wise) Dr. Seuss:

"You're off the great places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So … get on your way!”

Nik x.

p.s.  The bonus is that all participants in the 8 week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course may attend future 'Days of Mindfulness' for free. A great way to connect and support our ongoing mindfulness practice. 
 

Me Want It (But Me Wait)

There are a lot of things that I want. I want my kids to help out more around the house, to always be respectful and look after each other. I want more time away, more holidays, more R & R, more pampering. I want a maid, a cook and a gardener! 

Alas, we cannot have it all our own way. We try harder and harder to get more of what we don't have and push away what we don't want. Life often throws us curve balls. When we are under pressure, how will we meet these challenges?

When we have the impulse to yell at the kids, our spouses, our coworkers OR to simply eat our fill of cookies, let's take the Cookie's Monster's lead as he learns to #controlmeself with mindfulness. The poster-child for those needing to master self-regulation skills, he is super cute and funny and with almost a million hits on YouTube, he's onto something here.

(to the song 'I love it' by Icona Pop). 

When me lose control, when me on the brink, 
Need to just calm down, me need to stop and think.
Me need control me self, yeah that's the way to live.

When me lose control, when me have no doubt
Me have strategies that can calm me down
Me can talk to self, me can stand up straight
Me can take deep breaths, me can self-regulate! 

 

more about me ...

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I'm sharing a few more insights into the path that led me to where I am today with Women in Business.  You can also see it featured over on the Women in Business website.

I had studied Business Management and Arts at Monash University and always found that I had an entrepreneurial spirit. While my children were toddlers, I launched myself into my children’s furniture and home wares design company.

I became interested in mindfulness after arriving at a low point in my life, overwhelmed by the stressfulness of living, where I would try (almost) anything to find some measure of stress relief. At the time, I thought I was the only one feeling overwhelmed. Little did I know that I was in company of many, many others.

I then started practising mindfulness and meditation, sporadically (and somewhat sceptically) at first. Everything changed for me after I went on my first silent meditation retreat. I had wanted to go on a silent retreat for many years; however I was very nervous about actually doing it.

My sister-in-law invited me along to a seven-day silent Buddhist meditation retreat. It was very challenging, even more than I expected. Ultimately, it became a really pivotal point in my life. I had been running from my past and during that week, I finally found what I needed to stop running.

After that, I enrolled to study counselling, which had always been a secret passion of mine. I was then lucky enough to quickly gain incredible experience at various addiction recovery centres, doing outreach, one-on-one counselling and teaching recovery groups, including courses in mindfulness- based relapse prevention.

Now that my kids are all in school, I have decided to return to my own business focusing on developing the Mindfulness Project.

WHAT'S BEEN YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE?
The discovery of Mindfulness as a method of regaining control of a life that feels out of control and enjoying and experiencing life as it should be. This discovery and my subsequent training in MBSR is allowing me to pass along this breakthrough to help others and enable them to live joy-filled, healthier and more encouraged lives.

WHAT'S BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE SO FAR?
The biggest challenge so far is overcoming people’s scepticism. I understand it, because I was once sceptical about mindfulness and meditation myself. People have a lot of questions, which I welcome, because someone once took the time to answer my questions and their answers helped me reach the point of developing my inner strength through mindfulness and meditation.

BEST LESSON YOU'VE LEARNED ALONG THE WAY?
I ended up spending hundreds of dollars employing someone called a ‘visual communication expert’ who was totally off the mark regarding my vision. I realised along the way that I already knew what I wanted the look and feel of my brand to be. Realising that gave me the courage to go ahead with my ideas. I found a fabulous graphic designer through Etsy to help me bring it to light. It was a big lesson in learning to follow my instincts and understanding that no one knows my vision for my business better than me.

A WEBSITE, BOOK OR RESOURCE THAT HAS HELPED YOU IN YOUR BUSINESS OR INSPIRED YOU AND WHY?
I’d recommend Mindful Magazine because it encourages, applauds, and shares methods for incorporating mindfulness into everyday life for everyone.

WHICH PERSON OR BRAND DO YOU MOST ADMIRE AND WHY?
Lululemon.

I love their philosophy and brand. I love that the company was founded by a surfer, who got the same ‘surfie buzz’ after a yoga class. My favourite quote from their manifesto reads, “Breathe deeply and appreciate the moment. Living in the moment could be the meaning of life.” Oh, and they also make the comfiest yoga gear.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE STARTING AN INDEPENDENT BUSINESS IN YOUR INDUSTRY?
Stay disciplined with your own mindfulness and meditation practice, maintain close connections with a network of colleagues and enjoy yourself!

FINISH THIS SENTENCE, EVERYTHING CHANGED FOR ME WHEN…
I realised that if I wanted to raise happy, resilient, amazing kids … I had to go first.

A change of pace

Mindfulness course Melbourne

There is an old Zen saying which goes, “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you're too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”

I have been busy lately. Well, I am often busy, but establishing Mindfulness Project has accelerated my usual busyness.

However, busyness doesn’t always equal effectiveness. I can sit at the computer for hours being, for all intents and purposes, very ‘busy’, and achieve very little. I get lost down that never-ending rabbit hole of the Internet. When I’m busy, it’s easy to get muddled, feel overwhelmed, lose track of what really needs to be done.

Now I’m realising I have far more clarity, I accomplish more and I'm more effective when I Step Away from the Computer.

Sometimes, I find that I achieve more when I am at my least ‘busy’– new ideas come, plans solidify, things I need to do for my work flow quickly and more easily. I realise that letting my mind, body and spirit rest can be just as beneficial as being busy.

Going for a walk with my dog to a local café, where I write or make further plans for my work, or sitting on my deck taking in the breathtaking views of the Yarra Valley – this is when the magic happens.

I’m shifting gears now from establishing Mindfulness Project to focusing on preparations for the first Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course starting in a few weeks. I spend many hours preparing and planning for courses and as I move into teaching mode I’m feeling excited and renewed. Mindfulness practice, whilst challenging at times, is truly energising. And I cant wait to share it with all the wonderful people who have signed up to the groups starting very soon.

-Nik x. 

Fearless heart

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So, they told us we would be writing poetry on my recent trip to Openground’s MBSR Teacher Training.
Not my strong suit.

Our facilitator, Dr. Maura Kenny led us through an exercise where we drew squiggles, gave our squiggle a name and then free-associated. We could write, draw, squiggle some more – whatever came freely to mind as we let go and just let be!

To my surprise, the poet in me emerged and I am not as embarrassed as I thought I’d be to share it …

Fearless heart

support on the earth
a song in my heart
glide through the sky
only ever one dart*

smile at the sun
a possibility grows
allow it to be
and inspiration flows

everything is new
I play, swing and slide
the love of the One
in which I abide

lightness of being
fearless of heart
they tell me to trust
that sets me apart

I have no doubt
that I am that
the truth has emerged
it arrived as I sat

*One dart: the Buddha explained that pain is like being hit by a dart, suffering is the extra dart we throw at ourselves. The extra dart is the guilt, worry, anxiety, denial of our painful experiences.

-Nik x. 

Welcome

Welcome! This is my first ever attempt at blogging. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while now and so … here it is. I’m planning on talking about my practice of mindfulness & meditation, my work and my life as a wife and mother of three tween children and all the chaos, joy, frustration and fun that surrounds it all.

Hope you enjoy it!  -Nik