Looking for some calming, grounding, mindfulness activities you can guide you kids or students through at home or in the classroom? Given the opportunity and some simple instructions, kids can surprise you with their ability to slow down, be thoughtful, intentional and mindful in the moment. Try these 15 activities we’ve pulled together from our #mindfulmagicactivity series on our Instagram.Read More
We all agree that anyone who reads a book is a reader
But do we also believe that……
Anyone who picks up a pen is a writer
Anyone who picks up a paintbrush is a painter
Anyone who moves to music is a dancer
Anyone who takes a video is a film-maker
Anyone who plays an instrument or sings is a musician
These last two may be starting to cause a little anxiety but if we now change ‘writer’ to ‘author’ and ‘painter’ to ‘artist’, the stress levels will really escalate for most of us.
If you are anything like me, I would never have been brave enough to use those words when I described myself but I actually engage in all those creative pursuits on a very regular basis. Many of us have been conditioned to believe that only the very elite are worthy of using those tags but why? The rest of us may have been led to believe that what we are doing if we don’t identify with that elite group is kind of meaningless and just passing the time! We’ve also possibly passed those notions onto our children as parents and teachers.
Why are we so fearful of opening up to and identifying with our creative sides? Perhaps it’s time we acknowledged that these creative pursuits are helping us on our life journey. There is so much judgment that surrounds our creativity and there needn’t be! I believe we all have creativity within us and that fear is holding us back from using it. In some mediums (it was art for me) we aren’t even brave enough to try, in case we don’t produce something amazing. Judgement around creativity is heavily focused on the product but it is the process of exploration that actually leads us to be in the moment and to mindfully connect with ourselves. It allows us to know ourselves, to be ourselves and to eventually use that self-knowledge to live a life that reflects who we are.
For me, it was in a particular stage of my life experience that I discovered the joy, the freedom, the exhilaration and the self-knowledge that exploring with art brought. When I truly came to believe that it was safe enough to try anything without judgment, I gave myself permission to engage in art. I was invited to attend an art course, I accepted and I’ve never stopped. It has allowed me to truly open to myself and connect with myself. I find it interesting to reflect that I would never have previously accepted the invitation but rather used my ‘old story’ that ‘I'm not artistic so I couldn’t possibly do that and I’ll say no’!
I'm in love with the book, The Artist’s Way. The author Julia Cameron opened my eyes to how we use the the notion of success as opposed to the notion of fame as indicators of our worthiness as artists! She argues that any period spent in creative work that allows us to open to ourselves, to be in the present moment, to feel positive about how we’ve spent out time, is success! Fame is when we require recognition from others for that success! If you want to feel free and open to explore who you really are, then let go of judgment – your own and others and give yourself permission to explore your creative side in whatever form that is meaningful for you.
Being introspective, relying on our own intuition and allowing our real selves to shine allows us to move forward in whatever we choose to do without the pressure of seeking the approval of others or ourselves. We can always feel success if we allow ourselves to believe it’s a possibility and a reality. That is something we can share with our children!
If this idea interests and excites you, we still have a couple of places left in our self-discovery circle this Saturday in Brisbane. We’ll be using some of the tools that have helped me on my own self-discovery and self-reliance path. One of them is what I call ‘experimental art’ that focuses on process and not product, on connection with self and not judgment from others. This path is never ending, there is no finish line but that is what life is about after all – the journey! Above all I want to find home within myself and I can't do that unless I know myself.
Recently, I gathered some gal pals from different walks of life, from different parts of my own life and we played (literally and figuratively) with some ideas I had to hold self-discovery workshops for women. Held in a safe, non-judgmental space, in this workshop we gave ourselves the tools, space and time to open to being and discovering our real selves.
And now I’m opening up this workshop, or circle as I’m calling them, to you all - An Invitation to Open, Explore and Play will amongst other things use meditation, journaling and experimental art to open us to ourselves. The first self-discovery circle will be held on Saturday afternoon 10 November at 3.00pm in Brisbane.
This call to share in this way has been precipitated by my own life and growth. I’ve undergone big changes in my life circumstances that came about through external factors and also from my own personal discovery of my need for a more spiritual and self-connected way of living my life that more deeply mirror who I am as a person. These circles reflect my desire to share with women the tools that have greatly helped me along the way to becoming more secure in my own skin, more introspective and more confident to be the reflection of who I truly am.
Mindfulness has shown me that when we are in the present moment, we are not only connected to what is happening in that moment but also to ourselves. This opens us to knowing, accepting and loving ourselves. This knowledge helps us to more fully live our lives as a reflection of our true selves, to be on our own special path, and this brings us a deep sense of peace and belonging. Isn’t that what we truly seek?
Women play important roles not only in our own families but in the whole fabric of society. We bring what masculine energy often does not – a caring, creative, collaborative, openness but those very gifts can be difficult for us personally to manage. Often that feminine energy is heavily focused on duty and the fulfilment of others well-being as being more important than our own. I felt stuck in that space myself but I’m learning to move out of it. There is no finishing line on this type of learning but I am now at a place where I can say that I know myself well and value myself enough to realise that harnessing this feminine energy must begin with women’s own self love and self-knowledge.
Softness and strength are partners not opposites. As women learning how to open to our own soft, creative selves, we are not inviting weakness. We can be soft and gentle and loving as well as strong women who live our lives according to what we believe, and who we really are. But first we need to give ourselves permission to explore and discover our real selves in a safe, playful space which we hope to create in the self-discovery circle.
Each person’s soul journey, lessons and purpose are different but the women attracted to this work in the self-discovery circle are those who feel they don’t focus enough on themselves and want to concentrate more on discovering their gifts and true nature. There will be exploration through easy, simple, playful tools that can be incorporated into everyday life. Ultimately living a more mindful life is the key to opening to your true self, to presenting your real self to the world, however that may look. You’ll be encouraged to be gentle with yourself, to trust yourself and, to embrace what you find in your self-discovery because what you find will be exactly what you need to allow yourself to live a life that more fully reflects who you are. It is a safe place, amongst women, without judgement.
Opening to my creativity was inherent in my own self-discovery path and here in our circle it isn’t about the product but rather about a process of experimentation that opens and frees you to see yourself as the creative soul that perhaps you have not acknowledged before. Creativity is such a present moment experience that it allows us to go within ourselves, to leave the mundane issues of life for however long we can manage, to give ourselves enough self-love by giving ourselves permission to focus on ourselves and celebrate what we find, to show up as we really are for others in our lives.
As sisters we share much, including the long history of struggle to balance our feminine energy with the masculine energy that is so strong in our world right now.
‘Being with real people who warm us, who endorse and exalt our creativity is essential to the flow of creative life… every woman is entitled to an Alleluija Chorus.’
- Clarissa Pinkola Estes in Women Who Run With The Wolves.
If you think about it, as women we are faced with enormous change during the course of a lifetime. It is how we choose to deal with those changes that can define us and give us great opportunities to intimately learn about ourselves and to come to realise that we are our own home.Read More
Sometimes you read something and it illuminates you. These words from the warrior woman and author of the sun and her flowers, Rupi Kaur, I find irresistible and life affirming, if not life changing!
It is a passion of mine to believe those words to be true, to discover those things deep within that we have buried for any number of reasons that give us permission to bloom into our true and beautiful selves and move forward on our path as we always were meant to; that is my definition of the journey of life.
Treat yourself gently on this journey, let guidance come gently, explore avenues for self-discovery gently, create gently, communicate gently, let the feminine energy within you grow and blossom as you yourself grow and blossom as well.
We need to honour ourselves by making the time and space to reveal the real version of ourselves, the real person deep within that sometimes lives with the struggle to be free, that sometimes lives with criticism both from herself and those around her of what she does, thinks and feels.
It is not an arrogant thing to believe yourself to be your own source – when we honour our own special being, we are more fully able to honour others. Let yourself be the example to others in your lives. If you honour yourself and truly believe that you have all you need within yourself, you only need to find ways to open to it, to dig a little deeper than you have ever dug before and to rejoice at what you find, no matter what it is you find. Judgement has no place here, only acceptance of our true selves.
These can be applied to everyone but my interest in women and how they find themselves and see themselves is warming my heart as I write because it is also part of my own personal life journey. Women who choose to explore this too can help others do the same – their children, family members, their friends and lovers. It can be an ever-expanding circle in reality. All life’s realities started somewhere so why not with a gentleness of spirit that comes when we honour ourselves and believe in ourselves. It’s the ripple effect. Create meaningful, mindful, free, self-fulfilling adults and they will be the example for a future generation to move forward. Not only by pure example can we do this but also by the sharing of the knowledge and the experience.
Thoughts like these are coming more and more into my writing and into my social media. They are bound with my belief that fostering a new generation of adults is tightly aligned with allowing ourselves to be the best adults we can be so as to be the example and give guidance to that generation.
I’m being called to make changes in my life, some of them enormous. I’m no stranger to making big changes but this is, I’ll admit it, making me feel less brave than I’d like to feel. I’m not really ready to share too much about this particular change, it’s in its formative stage so needs some brewing before it’s ready to air but I am looking around me and seeking inspiration to be brave, to step into my own self more fully and to be open to what I find.
I feel inspired by people who are brave and go out into the world to make change, to believe in themselves enough to begin making a wave, no matter how small the start. I love this too as an example to our children of what it means to be brave and to be a true open-hearted warrior. It is so easy to be the opposite, to sit in safety and hide and as parents and teachers if we seek to be inspirational to our children how amazing if we can find some place in our lives to show them bravery and commitment so they too will believe they can be a strong warrior themselves.
In times of finding/questioning/challenging my own bravery, I am often am called to revisit Brenee Brown. If you have ever heard her speak (here’s a link) or read any of her books (names ) you’ll know she is a woman who steps out of her comfort zone and speaks and writes about difficult topics difficult like shame. Her wisdom brings comfort to many but in doing so she bares her soul and often. I so admire her for being brave and for having the courage of her convictions.
Recently I felt blessed to have found and to take part in the Worldwide Womb Blessing. It is an example of how a woman, Miranda Gray began to flourish her own idea; she put the idea and herself out there for her dream to foster more feminine energy into the world. Not only does she see it as personally healing and empowering for women as part of their journey to being their real selves but she also whole-heartedly believes in feminine energy as a way back to world healing, so strongly entrenched in masculine energy as the current world is. Not only did I love the womb blessing experience on a deep and personal level but I loved even more that this started with a woman who was brave enough to begin such an event.
Every week on our Instagram feed we feature an instagrammer we admire. This week we featured @kindstars who as a teacher runs a Kindness Club at her school and promotes kindness on her feed! Speaking up and beginning something like this is a seemingly small act on the world stage but it is powerful at a grassroots level and has the capacity to blossom as the lives that are touched by her initiative will be multiplied many times over!
But if you want to be a living example to your children in being brave, you don’t need to foster a world-wide event, become a world authority, or even begin a local initiative. You can be brave in your own life in so many ways and it starts in knowing your own truth and being brave enough to stand in it. It is what living mindfully fosters, to take the values we identify as our own and then to live our lives by those values.
For me, I want to be brave for myself but I also want to be a great example of bravery for my children. The reality though is they have been far braver than me and I have learned from them that to be brave and live your own life is all there is. They have abandoned unsatisfying lives and careers, moved states and countries and really are an inspiration in bravery for me. Your own children may be living examples of bravery for you or you for them. Whatever or whoever is currently fostering the role of bravery it is an assurance that better lives come when we live as a reflection of ourselves.
Recently, I have been deeply drawn to the sacred feminine and it feels like home. It is a relief to fully acknowledge to myself that I am a woman with all the variations I need to be truly me! I look around and see so many expressions of feminine energy in humans often not knowing how to deal with it as they navigate and struggle to live with their feminine energy and soul in a world predominately dominated by the masculine energy. I acknowledge that this applies to anyone identifying partially or mostly with the feminine, not in anyway confined to cisgender females. The world seems to tell us we must compete, we must push ourselves to be the best, to be the most recognised, to be the most outspoken if we are to be heard and appreciated.
How releasing to acknowledge that if we are ourselves we are being our own version of our real feminine selves. We can be creative, open-hearted, connection based, welcoming of others achievements and greatness, caring and empathetic. I lived in a strongly masculine world for much of my life and I don’t want to live that way anymore. I’m over pretending I’m one thing when I’m not, about caring about things that I Don’t! I simply want to be myself, with no judgment around what that actually is and means.
I’m re-reading a beautiful book, Female Energy Awakening by Miranda Gray and I’ll review it at some later time but in it she is all about honouring, accepting and living in your real feminine self. She has further developed this theme by establishing a five time a year event that I’ve been drawn to. It’s the international womb blessing. It’s a virtual blessing based on a meditation that we all use at the same time. If you feel likewise drawn, this is where you can register http://www.mirandagray.co.uk/register.html and you can find out more about it here http://www.wombblessing.com/
I love the idea of thousands of people connected with feminine energy receiving a blessing together so we can all learn to honour our feminine selves and to heal by being honest and open to the tradition of revealing our real selves and living according to it.
I’m in an introvert’s paradise! I identify as someone who re-charges in her own company, not in the company of others. I don’t dislike others, I’m not anti-social, I just need alone time to feel energised. Being with others for a long period of time drains me like nothing else! I’m best in the company of a small number – either being companionably silent or discussing topics that I find meaningful – small talk is a killer for me!
So this beach place I find myself, in Northern New South Wales, house-sitting, is a quiet haven for someone who loves alone time and quiet time! The beach is virtually deserted. I am alone with the surf, the sand, the sky! I can feel the wind on my face and the sand on my feet, the sun on my arms and the water on my toes and no idle conversation.
You could say I am ‘re-wilding’ by the beach! Its regular meaning is to go into the wilds all alone and re-connect with nature. I’m modifying it a little – I’m re-wilding at the beach, specifically one with virtually no people! It’s easy to find myself here and to connect with myself using two of my favourite vehicles – time in nature and being alone.
I have no real routine, other than getting up and going to bed, going for walks, eating when I please. Being creative is a large part of the day. I write. I draw. I make music. I fantasise about moving here, nesting among the sand dunes, with the seagulls for company.
Having this time alone is teaching me to rely on myself in all its capacities. To be my own entertainment, my own company, to trust that I can be that for myself, to trust my own intuition, to believe that I know what is best for me.
This is no indication that I want to live a hermit’s life – far from it – but what it does is teach me that I can live in the real world, but I can do that on my own terms using my own self as my guide, using my own self as the one who provides the guidelines for my life, the structure on which my life can be built.
My vista is a mixture of blues and greens and whites – the vegetation of the foreshore, the water and sky, the rolling waves and the clouds and the sand. These are my companions and my inspiration! They demand I am creative, open myself to my inner energy and create something…..anything! When I create I am home. It is the doorway to my real self. Real self-knowledge comes easiest I find in the quiet and the peaceful and the solitude. It opens the gate for me. In the silence, I am open to the energy all around me. If we are constantly noisy how can we feel the energy, sense the energy, hear the energy of our surroundings and most importantly from ourselves?
I’m searching right now to live what I intellectually know to be true. I know I am strong, capable, kind, thoughtful and good company. I want to fully live like I am all that to myself.
People come and go; even close friends and family members are not constant. But I never leave myself – it’s a strong statement but a manta I want to live by.
I want my children to see it so they can be all things to themselves. It’s my gift to them, an offering only learned by experiencing it. I can’t only tell them this is a truth and then live my life not following that truth.
I need and want to be the person who lives as she chooses, makes decisions based on her own values. I want to be a real reflection of myself in every way I possibly can.
It doesn’t mean I need to be alone and selfish with no regard for others but there is a need for a deeper regard for myself, to fully engage in self-love as much as in love for others. It’s about a change of emphasis, a way of prioritising and building a life that works for me. It’s an invitation to myself to be real and authentic to myself.
How can I move my life to a place where this is the norm and not the exception? I have structure and responsibilities like everyone has.
As I write this I am in a noisy café and this is a great analogy of how I can live my life whilst many other things are happening all around me. I can hold my own peace, be my own focus if choose to make it be.
Poem and pastel artwork by Lea
I love the idea of being in your best place, doing your best work, being your best person, with the emphasis on what works for you because we all have our own version of ‘living our best life’. My thoughts this week centre around what this means to me and how you might also investigate what it means to you and your family and children.
Each week I write my blog here in the State Library in Brisbane. It’s a beautiful space – very open and the workspace I always choose faces the Brisbane River through a vista of trees. Aesthetics are important to me. Somehow being in beauty and being in an ordered environment help my creative juices to flow and for me to operate at my best. It’s not the same for everyone but this is what I’ve discovered through trial and error what works best for me.
I know of others who can sit amongst any manner of mess and stare at a blank wall or computer screen and it’s an open invitation to create. For them, it’s like the mind can best create when their outside world is not ordered. Then for others, they create an entirely different environment as they seek what is best for them.
One of my children finds she can’t do her best creating on a computer – it must be hand-written in a journal and then transcribed to the computer. She finds it inconvenient but has conceded to herself that this is part of how she creates at her best.
Not everyone has being creative as their focus for ‘living your best life’. For me to be creative is where I feel at home, where I feel calmest, most focused and most definitely most fully myself. For others, that is not the case and some feel their best uploading data or creating systems, managing people or places or any other manner of activities!
It’s part of the process of getting to know yourself and what works in your life. How fortunate we are that we are all different and have different ways of operating at our best.
There are naturally restraints that don’t allow us to live in our best place all of the time but it’s a goal worth working for and prioritizing for an amount of our lives to be in that space. It will make a difference to our levels of contentment and joy.
As parents and teachers, there are opportunities to make sure we help our children to be aware that we all are different, to feel it’s a goal to find what allows us to operate in our ‘best place’ and to also help them find what is their own best place.
We can offer them alternatives to try in their lives by way of experiences, activities, clothes, foods, environments… the list is endless really. Remember when they become engrossed in an activity, or in a particular space then it is a good indication that this entices them to be their best selves. Being there allows us to almost lose knowledge of time, to feel exhilarated and contented but most importantly, in this space, we can be truly ourselves.
I’ve always admired this quote from Michelle Obama and wanted to use it – I think it sits well here to close.
'Find your space. Find your spot. Wear what you love. Choose the careers that may have meaning to you, because there’s always somebody who will say, ‘I wouldn’t have worn that colour,’ or ‘Why didn’t you do that job?’ But if you’re comfortable in the choice and it resonates with you, then all that other stuff – it’s just a conversation.’
- Michelle Obama
Clearing out ‘old stuff’ can be most cathartic! I guess I’m in the mood after spending 2 weeks at a retreat and it feels like a new beginning is happening for me. I’ve written lately about living a more minimalist life here and so I’m trying to incorporate those findings into how I live my life. My reading is steering me to lead a life that is very authentically me, and part of this is making space for the newer version of my life. The one that is unencumbered by the past and embracing what is presently happening in my life with all its possibilities, the one that reflects me in my truest sense.
It is a wonderful project to embrace as a family and even in a classroom – do all these possessions really reflect us as a collective or even any of us as individuals? Chances are you’ll find many possessions that are cluttering up your life and keeping them could be cluttering up your energy. There is no doubt in my mind that objects have energy and if you listen to your intuition you’ll get the feeling of what is energetically positive for you and what is not. Be brave and let your life reflect who you really are and where you are going and get rid of what isn’t serving you in that quest.
Children can easily lean into this concept and embrace the notion that to be really themselves they need to examine parts of their lives that don’t really reflect them or their values. Perhaps it’s a stepping stone to letting go of material possessions that they never use and fostering generosity in understanding that others can use what we no longer need. If you live in a first world country the reality is, possessions may have appeared that you have no need or desire for. I believe to invite what we really want into our lives, we need to let go of what no longer serves us.
An interesting concept in itself to explore with your kids is needs versus wants. The two can be very different. Some of us devote a lot of energy to procuring the wants because they provide entertainment, bring short-term satisfaction, or perhaps will bring us external validation! I’m not saying get rid of all the wants but it’s a life skill to be teaching our children, as parents and teachers to question and evaluate what we have, to examine our goals and the role possessions and our desire for them play in our lives. And importantly whether they reflect our authentic selves. A guiding principle I can leave you with from William Morris is to only invite and allow that which is useful or believed to be beautiful in our lives.
I have been blessed to spend 12 days at Sukhavati Ayurvedic Retreat on the beautiful island of Bali. I’ve been there many times before and totally enjoy the experience and gain wonderful health benefits from the deep cleansing. There is always an abundance of really interesting people to share the experience with and I go back to life, as I know it feeling invigorated and peaceful.
This trip, however, was different. This time for one reason or another there was less opportunity for social interaction, resulting in me spending more time alone. My health has always been excellent but this time, after a stressful period of my life, I had manifestations of that stress which meant my treatments were more intense so I couldn’t participate in general activities as much as usual so hence even more alone time.
Turns out this is what the universe had in store for me all along and this period was not only physically healing but emotionally, mentally and spiritually as well. During this alone time, I went within on a deeper level than usual. I meditated a lot, up to 4 times a day, alongside my usual TM practice I did guided meditations that connected me more deeply with my higher self and spirit guides. I read inspirational books, one, in particular, it seems the universe was signalling me to read for a while now. It was there waiting for me in my room at the retreat, after being previously offered but I had never gotten around to reading it. The treatments themselves also culminate in a holistic whole mind, body and spirit cleaning so all these elements coming together were perfect timing for me. Sometimes everything aligns to allow you the time to engage in self-love and to accept the time and space to be open to re-discover your true self and what you are needing to move forward on your path.
All the messages I kept receiving were centred around a simple yet not necessarily easy premise, “Be present and be real’. If I’m honest, I have to admit that I had been doing a good job of distracting myself. I showed up when I needed to but my head had become skilled at distracting me from anything I didn't really want to deal with; painful things or boring mundane things or things that I just deemed ‘too hard’. It is when we are present and real with ourselves that we can face our reality in a very healing way.
Now, after this period of healing, I feel far more centred within myself and ready and able to face the reality of life. My own intuition had already been telling me that I was distracting myself, the first step for change but I didn’t feel emotionally strong enough to make that change. I now feel so much more comfortable with myself, believe in my ability to deal with what arises and very importantly, to realise that this is life, I’m living, there are a series of challenges that happen – some fun and easy and others just the opposite! But to get to this point, time and opportunity were needed with myself alongside the acceptance of what I found. I don’t have all the answers but I do feel more able to keep asking them.
Find below a poem I wrote during my time away...
Making Mindful Magic doesn’t just talk about living mindfully, we live it too! And that includes in the way we run our business. We’ve been running Making Mindful Magic for a few years now, with Lea at the helm and her daughters Louise (left) and Katie (right - that’s me writing this post this week!) alongside her, and we’re learning so much as we go, through trial and error.
So we’d thought it would be helpful to share with you what we’ve learnt so far, as a small business trying to do things slowly, organically, consciously. It’s been an interesting ride seeing what’s worked and what hasn’t and it always seems to come back to the fact that we need to do everything with love and good intention, without shortcuts or force, always in the spirit of being of service and connecting with like-minded souls out in the world. With so many of our readers also running small, mindful business we thought you might be able to relate! So read on…
1. Be real
We’ve found that the more we can reach into the deep well of our hearts and souls and express something real that’s going on right now, the more people will connect with our message. When Lea writes her blog post each week and the quotes you see on our Instagram, she bases it on whatever challenge or learning she’s facing that week in terms of mindful living in her own life.
We can quote the masters like Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra who’s words inspire us greatly all we like but we’ve always found our most successful content to be the content that Lea writes herself and pulls from her own well of inspiration. It’s almost like you guys can feel the strong connection between our words and us! So our first tip is to be real in whatever you do, draw your products, your marketing words, your blog posts, your workshops from the well of your own heart and soul and you can’t go wrong.
2. Connect and collaborate
Over the years we’ve tried all different kinds of ways to advertise, market and distribute our books, always with the intention to spread the message of our children’s book, Making Mindful Magic and other products and articles further and wider. It’s exciting when people connect with your message and what you’re trying to do in the world! And after much trial and error, the results are in: the absolute best way for us to reach new people and get our book and message out there is through authentic, organic collaborations with people doing similar things. Whether it’s connecting with bloggers or distributing our book through mindful education channels, paid advertising and marketing that seems to be a shortcut to expanding your reach for so many businesses online just pales in comparison to the results we see when we collaborate with someone who has a genuine connection to what we’re doing. So what we’ve learnt is that the most sustainable and successful way for us to get our business and our message out there is to forge lots of small connections with likeminded businesses and bloggers, building our network slowly and authentically with lots of small channels getting our book and what we do out to the right people for us.
By the way, if you’re a blogger, yoga studio, mindfulness practice, retailer, writer or anything else in between and you’d like to collaborate with us or distribute our book, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, we’d love to hear from you and work with you!
3. Little by little
Little by little, every little thing adds up to something that grows bigger and bigger every day. We’ve not had any ‘big breaks’ as yet catapulting us into the world’s eye or to Oprah’s couch (yet) but we’ve had so many small wins - connecting with mindful bloggers, retailers, book distributors, yoga studios, magazine features big and small, hosting workshops and reading events and connecting with every single person who found us and reads our blog, subscribes to our newsletter or follows us on Instagram.
What we’ve been surprised, delighted and incredibly grateful to notice is that all these things start to add up in time and before you know it, you look around and you have a community, a microcosm built all around your business and its message. So little by little, keep chipping away, do that workshop for 10 people, work with that blogger to reach a hundred people who might really love what you do, have a coffee with a blogger or writer who’s interested in your work, it all adds up and the little connections, moments and likeminded people you’ll meet along the way are almost the whole point of having a mindful business anyway!
4. Give it away
About two years ago Lea started to notice that whenever she gave books away, she’d always be paid back in return in one magical way or another. She’d give a book away to a publication and see 30 books sold in return when the magazine came out in the press. Or she’d give a book to a friend to pass on to someone in the mindful education world and she’d then be put in touch with a great distributor who could stock our book in small practices around Australia.
It seems obvious but it’s something that’s really worked for us, again little by little, is to just give away your product or service when it feels right to do so, pay it forward without expecting anything in return, and we think you’ll find it comes back to you in some way or another. Doing business with the main intention of being of service and spreading your message and knowing that you will be valued in return always has been very successful for us
5. It’s supposed to be fun
Our final and most important thing we’ve learnt about running a mindful business - it’s supposed to be fun! And though we sometimes waver away from this rule, we always come back to it, the whole things is supposed to bring us joy and when we create and work from this space, we create our best work, we think you can feel it. If you think it would be fun to create that product, collaborate with that person, be featured in that magazine, host that workshop, that’s a sign you should do it - even if that feeling of joy is accompanied by a little fear at times! Make it fun and it will feel fun for your audience and customers.
Maybe you’ve learnt a thing or two also about running a mindful business, we’ve love to hear your learnings in the comments in our Instagram post! Comment and share here.
Recently I saw a documentary, ‘The Minimalists’ – which highlights primarily the work of two friends, Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn who have books, a website and lectures that support the concept of minimalism. They are a pair of young, former high-flyers who discovered that despite their amazing jobs and top salaries and the myriad of possessions they had accumulated, they were far from content and happy. They subsequently abandoned these lives to take up the challenge of living with a very small footprint.
Their message definitely resonated with me as ‘simplify’ has become a big goal in my own life. For many years life was very complicated and burdensome and I’m now in a place where things are far simpler. I was kept busy doing a myriad of things to support the multitude of ‘stuff’ going on in my life and it felt heavy and at times drama-filled and even out of control. So much time, energy and money are involved in maintaining a life like that! It can mean we sacrifice what we consider truly important – people, both others and ourselves.
So to continue with ‘The Minimalists’ Ryan and Joshua simplifed their working lives so they could be more in control, more in the moment, work less and be less stressed but they also embarked on a major downsizing in their possessions and I feel myself being drawn to this concept as well. And it isn’t about giving away everything you love and existing in a life without esoteric pleasure. Instead they explained that they have fewer versions of everything but absolutely love what they do have! For example, instead of having twenty shirts that are ‘ok’, they have six they absolutely ‘adore’! I love this idea too – how freeing to look in your wardrobe and be happy to wear anything in it! I’ve still got some way to go – my wardrobe is way too big! I wear perhaps 20% of my wardrobe but every outing and every day involves wading through it all to make the decision of what to wear! I feel a new project coming on!
They weren’t the only minimalists featured in the documentary, they shared a myriad of people living in a very similar way. One was a permanent traveller whose total life possessions were in two small carry bags. There was another who had chosen to abandon the big house for a tiny one so she could reduce her expenses, work less and lead a simpler, more connected life. Another segment featured a young family and the parents decided to minimalize their personal possessions and household items substantially. However, they felt the kids didn’t need to be so strict with their own personal stuff so were using their own example of how they live to positively influence their children towards leading a less materialistic life. I admire that gentle parenting approach – it’s thoughtful on many levels and joins the other people featured in a common theme of mindful living.
‘Love people and use Things’ –Joshua Fields Millburn made this comment of undeniable wisdom in the documentary. It keeps going around in my head. I understand that most probably we all agree with this sentiment in an intellectual sense but do we actually live our lives according to it? For me that is at its essence what this is about – it’s about honouring people – ourselves and others and to treat possessions as what they really are – things to be gratefully used! If we make mindful decisions about how to live our lives, how much attention we place on accumulating ‘things’ we will find far more time, energy and yes even money for the things that matter – people and that includes ourselves as well as others.
Last week I held a workshop for parents and children at a playgroup. Many were very small so it was as much for the parents as it was for kids! I used Making Mindful Magic as a basis and parents and children did these experiences from the book together. It was a wonderful reminder to me of why this all started for me – the goal was and remains to bring adults and children together so they can live a more mindful life, one where it is normal to take life slower and more purposefully rather than the constant rushed life that can easily become normal!
As we all shared the mindful experiences, adults and children alike and as I spoke with parents afterwards, I realised more and more that we all need these mindful moments and reminders. I’ve been told by many adults that they use the book for themselves as much as for their children. I love to hear this and it, of course, illustrates the point that as adults we need to be aware that being mindful needs our attention and by taking the time to practice, the more it becomes embedded in our lives and flows down to our children.
Especially at the beginning and with kids, we need a plan to put mindful moments into practice! It maybe sounds very formal and in a way, the antithesis of being spontaneously mindful but actually diarising a mindful experience is a really good way to begin to remind us to be mindful! So, what if we all knew that at the start and end of every day we would sit, adults and children, for 2 minutes and be still and quiet and to breathe slowly and calmly? What difference do you think that could make to a household or a classroom? I think those couple of minutes could make a huge difference with little effort. You can start this as early as you like with your child. If you sit still and breathe calmly yourself and ignore any call for attention, I believe they too will adopt this practice as their own because that’s their normal. They come to think, it’s just what happens in my life, I know it and I do it.
You can not only be the example but you can be the coach as well – try wrapping yourself around them from behind and being the security blanket that keeps them in place. You can use props – timing bells to start and finish, a cushion which is always the ‘sit quietly cushion’, a special crystal to hold that tells them it’s time to ‘sit quietly’, slow, calm music to set the mood. The reward is everyone leads a less stressful life as being in this calm moment becomes almost addictive as we search for me of and that’s how it can become our ‘normal’!
I like to think our book, Making Mindful Magic is for everyone and I hope you can use it as a conversation starter, a motivator and tool to create your own mindful experiences with the children in your lives. You’ll find a guide for adults at the back of the book if you’d like a little more background or theory. Visit our website to buy the book and have a ‘hold it in your hand’ reminder to leave on the coffee table and you’ll also find there more ideas and resources. I also invite you to Join us every Friday on Instagram - we're @makingmindfulmagic - for our Weekly Mindful Activity. You’re always welcome and we love sharing! Being educated about mindfulness and practicing it as an adult invites us to share the gift with our children!
I often receive messages into my heart that everything will be as it should, that opportunities with people and experiences will arise and all I really need to do is keep the portal open to receiving them. Being present enough to recognise and receive them is the challenge.
On a personal level, the universe sends me frequent messages to keep my options open! It bombards me often with advice. When I’m walking out and about I hear, ‘Smile.’ When I’m meeting new people I hear, ‘Be accepting of who you find.’ A new opportunity or experience may arise and I hear, ‘Be open to new things.’ I’m feeling the need to be open to life, to keep the portal open and let life stream in! And I need to be present for that to happen.
It’s not easy to fall into judgment when you view life in this way because people, places and experiences become things you encounter; there seems little point in judging. Every day I move closer into the belief that life happens, that all will be revealed in the fullness of time and whatever is part of my life plan will happen and grow or wither, accordingly. The challenge is again to be mindful that this is how I want to view life.
It reminds me of a story my son tells. It’s about a spiritual guru who was constantly being asked questions about what the secret to his contentment and happiness was. In the end his simple, yet profound answer was, ‘I’m okay with whatever happens!’ When you think about it, it’s a brilliant life philosophy and one I’m trying to incorporate into mine.
Life is also full of the unexpected and sometimes we can be upset when challenges and opportunities that come our way are not exactly as we had anticipated. Like many of my generation, I had a pretty solid plan of how my life was supposed to look and for a long time I kept to the plan. Now, not so much! I believe the universe had other plans for me and my own plans became overturned. Interesting because as I became more open to letting go of the plan, the more interesting life became with new opportunities presenting themselves. The more present I am, the more I see them and the braver I become in accepting them and living through them with some working out and others not so much.
Not that I think my earlier life experiences were wasted – far from it! The learnings that took place in that earlier life are so useful to me now, but in a way that I hadn’t predicted. Life skills are life skills and will always be useful no matter what path our life takes.
It’s easy in our attempt to set ourselves goals that we actually lose sight of all that life offers in the present moment. By keeping ourselves open to whatever comes our way we are really allowing the universe to help move us through instead of spending time thinking about what could have been and imagining what might be – better to open to what is, in my opinion! I’m coming to trust the universe to inspire me and move me forward. I encourage myself to give up the blinkers and I aspire to be brave enough to be open to what life offers.
Being mindful will help me move to that place. To keep the portal open means to be in the present moment. We can’t see what’s there if we are constantly thinking about the future or the past. Those opportunities can easily pass us by if we aren’t looking for them in the here and now.
Last week-end I had lunch with a group of people who I don’t know really well but I see once a month as part of an interest group. One of the women gave me a compliment that meant a lot to me. Without knowing my passion for mindfulness, she said, ‘You always seem so calm’. It got me thinking about cultivating that because other than my regular morning routine I hadn’t done anything else deliberately mindful that morning. I think you become calmer because you have a desire to be and as you practice more and more often to be mindful, it slowly filters into your everyday life. Being calm just feels normal eventually. Of course, there are times when we are reactive and agitated but over time these become fewer in frequency and shorter in duration.
Last week’s blog was pretty much about that theme and when we focus on children at home or school it makes total logical sense to invite them to participate in mindful experiences as almost a medium that will ultimately deliver them into a self-induced mindful way of living their lives.
With this in mind, we’ve introduced a weekly mindful activity into our social media regime. Mostly they will be easy and inexpensive and always fun! They will be delivered on a Friday in case you need to plan for the experience and it also opens the opportunity for it to be given some priority in family life in much the same ways as swimming lessons – maybe put it in your diary or make a sign and stick it on the fridge. Perhaps it could then become a bit of a random game you can play once you have collected a number of ‘mindful experience cards’ and can be done however often you can. In my workshops (link here) as a parting gift I give each child a card with a mindful activity written on it. I invite them to not only do the activity but also to use it as a reminder to be mindful by putting it in a prominent place at home – maybe on the fridge or noticeboard.
As you might have already decided for yourself – encouraging mindfulness is not hard. It just needs in the first place for us as adults to be mindful enough ourselves to remember it as a priority and to provide not only the example to be mindful but also opportunities for our kids to practice being mindful. We are then also offering them the opportunity for that feeling of peace and calm to become a part of who they want to be. Peaceful, calm children who become peaceful, calm adults may be the perfect antidote to the increasingly crazy world we live in.
Starting a regular mindful practice in your life need not be daunting and can slowly be built into your existing structure – not only for adults but for kids too and not only at home but in the classroom as well! Here’s a little of my own story and how I built my own mindful routine.
I’m writing this on a Wednesday, the morning I start my day with an early morning Tai Chi class on the banks of the Brisbane River with an earnest Chinese woman whose traditional, reverent practice is an example in opening to the new day’s energy. I like to start my day with a mindful routine and part of it is some physical activity. My routine helps ground me and focuses me on finding the calm place within myself. I’m fortunate that I am able now to indulge in self-care to this level but it wasn’t always like this and I most definitely built up to it and had to make initial adjustments to my thinking and way of life!
When I first learnt Transcendental Meditation 10 years ago the thought of setting aside 20 minutes every morning and every afternoon for quiet meditation quite honestly terrified me. I was the one who got out of bed at the last minute, luxuriating for as long as I could in the cosy warmth. What to do? I started getting up earlier to fit in meditation time. The afternoons were also hard. It was generally such a busy time – with 3 kids after school meant lots of commitments including feeding a family of five every night for dinner! Again – what to do? I started preparing for bed earlier and incorporating the meditation into my bedtime routine.
What I found as I became more entrenched in my mindful routine was that I craved the time because once you start, you begin to reap the rewards of self-medicating with the quiet routine and its absence leaves you devoid of the benefits. I then began wanting longer times for an escape into the quiet and peaceful so added more elements to my routine. I now enjoy calm, soothing music, burn some incense among other things and have established a quiet place to enhance my practice.
Start small and build up as much as you want and within the restraints of your own life. Bring your kids along with you for the journey, be it at home or in the classroom and the security felt with the structure will be the first reward. The next reward will be a calmer, quieter home or classroom and in the long term, the benefits will be children and adults who are less stressed, more focused and healthier and happier.
My morning mindful routine (40-50 minutes), ten years later now looks like this:
But yours can look anyway you like and will depend on your time availability, the age of your children and the other commitments you may have. There is no right way to establish a mindful routine. Maybe a morning routine either at home or school, could look something like this or you can begin with just one element of it:
Sit quietly for a few minutes, focusing on your breathing
Put on calming music
10 minutes of yoga poses
Think of 5 thing that makes you feel grateful
Perhaps as part of your bedtime or after lunch at school routine you could use a guided meditation.
The point of course is to value the routine and the need for quiet time and that you will overtime become more motivated and able to incorporate being mindful into all of your day. You can find resources to help you establish and add to your own mindful routine on our website including our new guided meditation 'Connecting With Your Quiet Place Inside.'
NB I’m not perfect and neither will you be! We’re human after all and need to celebrate our flaws as part of our real authentic selves. If you miss your routine – accept it and yourself and instead of beating up on yourself, think of tomorrow as a new day ready to be embraced with doing the best we can!