21.9 Hours a Year

21.9 Hours a Year

According to research by Greg McKeown and reported in The Optimist, the average “smartphone” user logs in to their phone 110 times a day.

This got me thinking. I did some simple maths. What came out surprised me. Based on this figure and a conservative assumption that it takes 2 seconds to tap in a four or 6 digit code or for a fingerprint recognition system to recognise your print, a whopping 21.9 hours are spent each year, just logging into our mobile phones.

What else could you do with 21.9 hours?  That’s almost three working days, it’s nearly a whole 24 hour day and think of the picnics with family, the chats with friends and the words you could write, the places you could visit and the precious moments with that older person you know and love who has seen the lion’s share of their time on  the planet.

I wondered how much time in the 5 years I have had a smartphone, that I have lost to its logging-in pad.  I’d like to think I don’t log in so frequently as I used to.  But it stacks up.

Greg McKeown, in his brilliant book “Essentialism” invites us to become really conscious about how we spend our time.  He contends that we can spend a great deal of time each day getting really good at a few things, or a tiny amount “good” at a million and one things.  He invites us to make a more conscious choice about how we direct our use of time.

For me, it’s more than just getting good at stuff, it’s also about attending to the things (usually the relationships) that are so very, very precious and so very, very ephemeral. It is about focussing on the question “What is essential for me today?” But it’s also about challenging the very definition of what’s essential.

Often our work drives us to do “essential things” eg make that call, file that report, design that process; but broadening our definition of essential to include what is precious and might be gone in an instant, that’s at the core of it. What it is that feeds your heart and soul, not just what is to be ticked off on a TO-DO list.  That’s what I’m inviting you to consider today.  Perhaps it’s about making your To-Do list and your To-Be list. Or simply asking  of your daily list, what is it here that’s ephemeral and will make my heart sing? Your little girl is growing up, your beloved pet is 14, your parent is unwell, your book hasn’t yet been written, your relationship is shaking.

Of course, there are things you have to do in order to keep the bills paid and the cat fed, but it’s about a bit of perspective and balance.  For a start, we could all log into our phones a few less times a day, and be with the people right in front of our noses in a real and present way.

If you’d like help becoming more present and focussing on the real essential stuff of life, join me for a day of learning, laughter and meeting new people.

Qi-Gong and the art of habit

Qi-Gong and the art of habit

Qigong is an ancient Chinese healthcare approach that combines physical postures, breathing techniques and focussed mindful attention. It also assists you to build regular habits that bring you a feeling of vitality and energy. The word Qigong (Chi Kung) is made up of two Chinese words. Qi is pronounced chee and is usually translated to mean the life force or vital-energy that flows through all things in the universe.

The Gong relates to regular practices. One interpretation of Gong refers to a 100 days of continuous practice of something. Eg 100 days of eating breakfast in the morning. Or 100 days of sitting still for 5 minutes with a cup of tea at the start of the day. 100 days of meditating for 20 minutes. The practice demands that if you break the habit before the 100 days, you begin the one hundred days all over again.

This of course is a semantic, because you are trying to achieve a long term habit, at the end for the 100 days, or series of broken patterns of 100 days the likelihood is that whatever you decided to do, you want to do everyday for the rest of your life anyway!

Qi Gong asserts that it is discipline that helps us build the long term habits that free us.

When we have begun a new term, we have such great intentions. The pressures and the busy-ness of the start of term, can sometimes seem to steal away those great intentions and break habits. What would you like to develop and sustain? What would bring more life force and vitality to you if you did it every single day?

If you would like to learn more about building your vitality, mindfulness and greater life balance, we are running a one day retreat entitled “Still Conscious” Email us for details.

Believing beauty is attainable is bad for you

Believing beauty is attainable is bad for you

In most situations in our lives, if we believe that we can improve ourselves, then we feel better. Pursuing higher levels of fitness can benefit us both physically, emotionally and mentally.  It seems that having this so-called Growth Mindset, is unconditionally good.  However research reported in the journal, Social Cognition last year suggests otherwise.

Researchers in Oklahoma found that women who believe they can be more beautiful by changing their appearance, have a much higher risk of anxiety which is related to their looks, than those who are more accepting of themselves as they are.  Such women were also more likely to be interested in cosmetic surgery, according to this study. The same effect was not observed in men. The media may be a big factor.

The presentation of very specific body types and shapes as “the desirable norm”,  often with  images have been changed technologically, sets a bench-mark which for many women is completely unobtainable. The conclusion is that it is better for your mental well-being to accept yourself for who you are and how you look, and to challenge the stereotypes presented in the media, and any self-talk that unfavourably compares you with those images.

Summer disappointment

Summer disappointment

I don’t know about you, but if you have been in the UK this summer, you might have had a few struggles with the weather.

I’d looked forward to the promise of blue skies and strong sunshine.

Somehow in the halcyon days of my youth I recall long hot summers with endless beautiful days.

The reality was probably very different.  We’ve a tendency to cherry pick “peak-moment” memories, which is kind of a blessing in itself.

Being more “present” these days than I have been in my past, I tend to really take the time to notice, feel and enjoy the weather whatever it offers. Even embracing the wet days, knowing the garden vegetables will be enhanced by the rain.

A few months back,  I was working with a client who had particularly unresourceful associations with the weather.

I’ve a regualr meditation practice, which takes many forms. One of the meditations I do is to focus a feeling of loving kindness on my clients, friends and family, as well as others.

In morning meditation I took the weather as my focus on behalf of my client and was interested to find what emerged after the meditation.

“Let got expectation” was the message that came through.

Letting go the expectation one has of the weather being wonderful, allows you to accept more readily how the weather is.

It led me to a series of meditations where the idea of “what cannot be controlled” seemed to emerge.

Over a series of lovely practices, which were really very blissful, I was left with a  series of phrases which resonated for me and also for my client when I shared them:

  • “There is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing”
  • “Yield to the condition of that which cannot be changed”
  • “You can’t change the weather but you can change: your plan, your attitude, your shoes”
  • “The weather in your head, is your choice”

Then one day in June, I saw a post on Facebook that reminded me of an old old adage and it made me smile:

It was an image of a statue of The Buddha. With the words next to the image: