• Goodbye jelly belly!
    Losing weight using Tony Robbins’ 5 steps to change.

    This is my first woodcut using the two blocks that I carved and showed in the previous post. I had a lot of fun making this but I ran into a lot of problems. It was a great learning curve. Hopefully the next one will be more straight forward.

    Idon’t fit my favourite dresses.
    My children slap my wobbly tummy and giggle.
    I yearn for the strength and lightness I felt when I was fitter (when walking felt like restraint because every inch of me wanted to break into a run; and when running felt easy – not heavy and awkward.) More than anything, I don’t want to let go of my belief in myself that I am determined and self disciplined.
    It’s been eight years since I was at my ideal weight (pre-children), but this year I have a plan and no excuses: I am going to use a ‘Neuro Associative Conditioning’ technique taught by Anthony Robbins (often referred to as Tony) in Awaken the Giant Within.

    Below are excerpts from the five steps to change that Tony Robbins recommends. To understand them fully it is necessary to read his book. They are laid out and explained in detail in Chapter 6 and can be applied to any change, not weight loss specifically.

    1. Decide what you really want and what’s preventing you from having it now. The more specific you can be about what you want, the more clarity you will have, and the more power you will command to achieve what you want more rapidly.
    2. Get leverage: Associate massive pain to not changing now and massive pleasure to the experience of changing now. The only way we’re going to make a change now is if we create a sense of urgency that’s so intense that we’re compelled to follow through. To paraphrase the philosopher Nietzsche, he who has a strong enough why can bear almost any how. 20 percent of any change is knowing how; but 80 per cent is knowing why. If we gather a set of strong enough reasons to change, we can change in a minute something we’ve failed to change in years. Ask pain inducing questions: What will this cost me if I don’t change? What is it costing me mentally, emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually? Ask pleasure-associating questions: If I do change how will that make me feel about myself? What kind of momentum could I create if I change this in my life? What other things could I accomplish if I really made this change today? How will my family and friends feel? How much happier will I be?
    3. Interrupt the limiting pattern. In order for us to consistently feel a certain way, we develop characteristic patterns of thinking, focused on the same images and ideas, asking ourselves the same questions. The challenge is that most people want a new result, but continue to act in the same way. Think of some of the ways you can interrupt your own patterns. One of the key distinctions to interrupting a pattern is that you must do it in the moment the pattern is recurring.
    4. Create a new, empowering alternative. This fourth step is absolutely critical to establishing long term change. The failure by most people to find an alternative way of getting out of pain and into the feelings of pleasure is the major reason most people’s attempts at change are only temporary.
    5. Condition the new pattern until it is consistent. If you rehearse the new, empowering alternative again and again with tremendous emotional intensity, you’ll carve out a pathway, and with even more repetition and emotion, it will become a part of your habitual behavior. Your brain can’t tell the difference between something you vividly imagine and something you actually experience. Conditioning ensures that you automatically travel along the new route, that if you spot one of the “off ramps” you used to take all the time, now you just speed past them – in fact, they’ll actually become difficult to take. The next step is to set up a schedule to reinforce your new behavior. How can you reward yourself for succeeding? Don’t wait a year,. When you’ve gone a day, give yourself a reward!

    I will also be using advice and tools I have discovered via The Life Coach School. I have listed the specific podcast episodes below. I’ll be logging my progress over the entire year, aiming for a weight of 47 kilos by Christmas 2018 (preferably sooner). I weighed in two days ago at 55.5 kilos. Please get in touch if you’d like to join me in getting slim, strong, and healthy this year!
    Have a great week,
    Bren

    Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins (also known as Tony Robbins)

    The Life Coach School Podcast Episode 197: Urges
    The Life Coach School Podcast Episode 129: Weight Loss and Overeating Tools Part 1
    The Life Coach School Podcast Episode 131: Weight Loss and Overeating Tools Part 2

  • Eagle Vision, Mouse Vision
    Keeping on Track to Your Goals: Martha Beck

    A few weeks ago I began listening to, and working through, Martha Beck’s ‘Follow Your North Star‘ via Audible. This audio feels to me like an important discovery. Martha Beck gently guides the listener towards living a life that brings more joy by tuning them in to their own wisdom and intuition. The author delivers the material herself and it allows a wonderfully personal touch – just like having your own life coach on call!

    This week I dug out a pattern of mine from a few years ago and recoloured it. I am about to start working with lino and woodblocks and am feeling very inspired by Japanese-style design once again.

    In ‘Follow Your North Star‘ Martha Beck teaches simple techniques to guide you towards your ‘right life’. She teaches how to access what she describes as the compasses within your mind, body, and spirit that are always turning you towards the life you are meant to have. She details distinct phases of change you will go through, how to gently manoeuvre through the obstacles, and she offers tools to check you are on track. There is much valuable material in ‘Follow Your North Star‘, but my favourite take-home tool is Eagle Vision, Mouse Vision. It’s purpose is to ensure you are on course towards your desired life and goals:

    Eagle Vision, Mouse Vision

    From Follow Your North Star by Martha Beck:

    The eagle is an animal that rises high above the earth and can see things at a great distance, so eagle vision is the ability to look far into the future, far away from the present. A mouse is an animal that can’t see very far but is very sensitive and good at picking up detail about what’s right in front of its nose, so mouse vision is where you look at what’s directly in front of you.

    Go into an eagle vision mode; picture yourself rising up above your life and seeing everything with perfect clarity from a long way up. Answer these two questions:

    • How do you want the world to be different because you have lived? (Nothing can be too small or too big, but something must have changed)
    • How do you want to be different because you have lived in this world; in other words, what experiences do you need to have to feel like you’ve been on all the rides you came for?

    Martha suggests you go back to the eagle questions frequently because you will get different answers on different days, but if you do the questions consistently she says you will find that common elements arise over and over again.
    Now picture yourself dropping from an eagle perspective down to a mouse perspective. A mouse looks at what is right in front of it, so look around you. Where are you? What are you doing?
    Ask yourself :

    • Is this task in front of me moving me in the direction that my eagle vision wants to go?

    Do this several times a day to check that your mouse is headed in the same direction as the eagle.

    Rambling Flower Burnt Orange by Bren Michelle. Licensing options are available; please contact me for more information.

    If you are already very clear about where you want your life to go, and what your goals are, then simply checking your mouse vision several times in a day is so quick and effortless, yet could yield some valuable results. There couldn’t be an easier way of keeping on course! And if you are not yet clear, then the Eagle questions can guide you towards the things that your heart truly desires. I really hope you’ll check out ‘Follow Your North Star‘ by Martha Beck. You never know -it might just change your life!
    Have a great week.
    Bren

    Follow Your North Star by Martha Beck, Available on Audible

  • The Work of Byron Katie:
    An Extraordinary Tool for Wellbeing

    Ihave recently become fascinated by the work of Byron Katie and I am excited to share it here because I think it is the most powerful tool I have discovered to date. I love Elizabeth Gilbert’s take on it below:

    “Byron Katie has rocked my world and shaken loose my mind more thoroughly than any other spiritual teacher I’ve ever encountered, living or dead.” —Elizabeth Gilbert

    I created this pattern as an experiment in Procreate (iPad app). I found the recolouring options frustrating so I then took it to Illustrator. I’ve not given up on Procreate though – more practice necessary!

    Byron Katie (or Katie as many call her) has an intriguing story. Following almost a decade of severe depression, self-loathing and suicidal thoughts, she suddenly woke up one day and saw things differently – or in her words, “woke up to reality.’ She realised that what had been causing her depression was not the world around her, but the beliefs she’d had about the world. It was an epiphany that was to change her life forever and has seen her go on to helps millions of people.

    I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that.

    Byron Katie

    The following excerpts from Katie’s audio book ‘Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life’ explain how Katie’s process of inquiry she calls ‘The Work’ can help radically shift your perspective, setting you free from suffering:

    Suffering is optional. Whenever we experience a stressful feeling, anything from mild discomfort to intense sorrow, rage or despair, we can be certain that there is a specific thought causing our reaction, whether or not we are conscious of it. The way to end our stress is to investigate the thinking that lies behind it, and anyone can do this by himself with a piece of paper and a pen. Through ‘The Work’ – Katie also calls it ‘Inquiry’ – we discover that all the concepts and judgments we believe, or take for granted, are distortions of things as they really are. When we believe our thoughts, instead of what is really true for us, we experience the kinds of emotional distress we call suffering. Suffering is a natural alarm warning us that we are attaching to a thought. When we don’t listen, we come to accept this suffering as an inevitable part of life. It’s not.

    Fill out the Judge Your Neighbour Worksheet (which you can download on thework.com)
    Write down your thoughts about someone who upsets you – a situation past or present that feels unresolved in your life. (Katie suggests that if you new to inquiry don’t start with yourself. It is easier to do our judgements of others.)

    Ask:
    1. Is it true?
    2. Can you absolutely know that it is true? (Invites people to inquire more deeply.)
    3. How do react when you think that thought?
    4. Who would you be without this thought?
    5. The Turnaround: This is a chance to experience alternatives to the original statement that may be as true or truer.

    Notice when your thoughts argue with reality. The only time we suffer is when we believe a thought that argues with ‘what is’. When the mind is perfectly clear ‘what is’ is what we want. If you want reality to be different to what it is you might as well try to teach a cat to bark. You can try and try and in the end the cat will look up at you and say meow. You can spend the rest of your life trying to make a cat bark, and yet if you pay attention you’ll notice that you think thoughts like that dozens of times a day: – people should be kinder – the queue at the supermarket should be shorter – my husband should agree with me – I should be fatter, thinner, more successful. When you argue with reality you lose 100% of the time.
    The work reveals that what you think shouldn’t have happened should have happened. It should have happened because it did. No thinking in the world can change it. This doesn’t mean that you condone it or approve of it. It just means that you can see things without resistance or the confusion of your inner struggle.


    Judge your neighbour.
    Write it down.
    Ask four questions.
    Turn it around.


    The power in this process cannot be denied if you hear it in action on ‘Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life’ (available on Audible). I think that to really make this process work for you it is necessary to dedicate a significant amount of time to listen to (or read) Katie’s material. I have found that the more books of hers I read the easier it is to understand Katie’s way of looking at the world and how it can be applied to my own. It is time very well spent in my opinion.

    If you want reality to be different to what it is you might as well try to teach a cat to bark. You can try and try and in the end the cat will look up at you and say meow. When you argue with reality you lose 100% of the time.

    You can learn more about Byron Katie and ‘The Work’ at her website thework.com. There are free resources and videos on her site, and there is a large selection of books available on Audible. I think audio is a great way to be introduced to this process, as much of the content in Katie’s books is dialogue. I suggest starting with ‘Your Inner Awakening: The Work of Byron Katie: Four Questions That Will Transform Your Life‘ and ‘Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life‘ The latter really does offer a lot of insight by letting us hear the process as it is applied to people’s real-life situations. Some of the stories are heartbreaking and yet she is able to help them see through the pain to another perspective. I found it truly compelling and inspirational.
    I hope you find ‘The Work’ as exciting and as helpful as I do. Have a great week,
    Bren X

    Your Inner Awakening: The Work of Byron Katie: Four Questions That Will Transform Your Life
    Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life

  • A Mindfulness Tool for Unwanted Thoughts

    Today I would like to share a tool I learned years ago when I was struggling with anxiety. It can be an extremely effective tool with practice, even though on the surface it seems very simplistic. I think I originally learned it from the spiritual teacher Jack Kornfield.

    My creation this week uses a mix of media. I created the bird by lino-cutting. I then took it into Photoshop and completed the composition using a combination of drawing and photography. Copyright Bren Michelle 2017.

    When you first become aware of a thought that is unwanted or unhelpful, imagine you are on a bus. Ask yourself if you are happy with the direction the thought is going in. The bus is a metaphor for the thought. Is this a bus you want to be on? Is it taking you somewhere you would like to go? The final destination may be somewhere very unpleasant and difficult to get back from.

    Is this a bus you want to be on? Is it taking you somewhere you would like to go? The final destination may be somewhere very unpleasant and difficult to get back from.

    If the thought is unhealthy, make the decision to get off the bus. When I do this I visualise pressing the button, hearing the buzzer it triggers and feeling the bus slow to a halt. I step off the bus and into the warmth of the sun.
    It helps to have a place to go immediately; I like to think of three things that I’m grateful for (new things each time) so that my brain does not default back to the unhelpful thought. If gratitude practice doesn’t appeal to you, choose something that you like to think about. A healthy problem for the brain to work on is an ideal distraction – what your next art piece will be, what to have for dinner, what to do on the weekend etc – anything that can engage the brain long enough to change course.
    It takes quite a lot of practice but can be powerful – especially when adapted to suit yourself. Allow yourself to be curious because some thoughts need to be investigated or explored (and some very important thoughts make us uncomfortable), but become an expert at recognising when it is a good time to get off the bus. With time, just pressing the buzzer may be enough to switch the thought off.
    This tool can be a good one to teach kids too. I hope that is helpful. Good luck!