• Mountain Solid: A stabilising tool for when you are feeling vulnerable or agitated
    -Thich Nhat Hanh-

    I’ve created a vivid mountain scene inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh’s wonderful meditation tool.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if nothing could rattle you? That’s definitely not me! I’m most definitely ‘rattleable’ ; just ask my children. But I am realising that very simple tools can have powerful effects if they are integrated into a daily practice. I’ve only just started using Thich Nhat Hanh’s ‘Mountain Solid’, but I’m amazed by its capacity to quickly ground me. I only wish I had discovered it sooner, which is why I would like to share it here. I use it on-the-go, as well as doing it as a seated meditation, and I find it extremely powerful. I’ll give the suggested instruction here and you may like to adapt it to your needs too. If calling it a meditation puts you off don’t worry, this doesn’t have to take long. I prefer to think of it as a mindfulness tool. Use this tool when you feel agitated, vulnerable or fragile. It will help you to feel stable again.

    1. Take a stable seated position. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests the lotus position or half lotus position. The stability of the body will help to bring about the stability of the mind.

    2. Practise breathing in and out. Think:

    Breathing in I see myself as a mountain.
    Breathing out I feel solid.

    (You can shorten this to suit yourself. You may say just ‘mountain’ and ‘solid’.)

    3. Simply repeat until you feel more solid. I visualise a stunning, snow-capped mountain with an enormous base. I try to feel how absolutely unmovable it is and how that feels within me. Practise it daily and you will feel a stabilising effect. When you feel overwhelmed it will be there to ground you.

    Thich Nhat Hanh explains that when we are overwhelmed by a strong emotion we feel we are very vulnerable, but we are actually more solid than we think. He uses a beautiful analogy of a tree to illustrate his meaning:

    “When you look at a tree during a storm, you see that the top of the tree is not solid. You can only see the tiny branches and a number of leaves on the top of the tree swing back and forth. You have the impression that the tree is very vulnerable, very fragile; but if you see the tree is firmly rooted in the ground the impression that the tree is vulnerable will vanish. You will see that the tree is much more solid than it looked at the top.”

    He goes on to explain that we are like that too. We can connect with our stability by breathing in and out deeply into our ‘trunk’ (concentrate on the abdomen just under the navel) and repeating the Mountain Solid meditation.

    I like this tool for its simplicity and the ease with which I can use it on the go. Sometimes just a mindful ‘mountain, solid’ is enough to remind me of my strength, but I need to practise it daily for it to come to me in those moments when I truly need it.

    This is just one tool of several from Thich Nhat Hanh’s “The Art of Mindful Living”. Another favourite of mine is ‘Flower Fresh’. I highly recommend this resource, not just for the tools offered but for the general spiritual wisdom. Extremely beautiful.

    The Art of Mindful Living by Thich Nhat Hanh
    (Available on audible at the time of this posting)

    Update on my weight loss program: I am posting my progress publicly to keep myself accountable! I’m doing well at 52.6 kg. I’ve lost 2.9 kg since January 12th. If you are interested in how I am doing it – using Tony Robbins’ 5 steps to change – click through to the original post.

  • 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