Total Balance Coaching Melbourne https://totalbalance.com.au Business. Creativity. Life Thu, 30 Jul 2020 01:41:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Change the way you think https://totalbalance.com.au/changing-your-thinking/ Wed, 29 Jul 2020 22:34:57 +0000 http://totalbalance.com.au/?p=9538 While life is such a long way from normal, it’s hard not to wish things were different right now. If you’re open to interacting mindfully with your more difficult thoughts and emotions, you may discover that mindfulness can help you to change your thinking. Most...

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While life is such a long way from normal, it’s hard not to wish things were different right now. If you’re open to interacting mindfully with your more difficult thoughts and emotions, you may discover that mindfulness can help you to change your thinking.

Most of us are doing whatever we can to keep our difficult thoughts at bay and much of it is imperfect. Almost everyone I speak to tells me they’re drinking more wine, eating more chocolate, spending too much time shopping online and scrolling mindlessly through social media.

Without any real sense of control, we’re all just doing the best that we can in order to manage our worries. The problem is that some of our choices create their own set of problems and they can even inhibit our wellbeing.

Soften into your thoughts and feelings

With practise, you may find you can soften into everything you feel. Even the most uncomfortable emotions and experiences become easier to bear as you work to change your thinking.

Mindfulness teacher, Jack Kornfield describes how to do this well. He says, “There is a deep joy that comes when we stop denying the painful aspects of life, and instead allow our hearts to open to and accept the full range of our experience: life and death, pleasure and pain, darkness and light. Even in the face of the tremendous suffering in the world, there can be this joy, which comes not from rejecting pain and seeking pleasure, but rather from our ability to meditate and open ourselves to the truth.”

It might seem a bit of a stretch to suggest that joy is an option right now but there really can be a sense of freedom – and even lightness – when we let go of the idea that we have control over anything.

Jack suggests that the path to inner peace involves changing the way we think. His approach is about recognising that there will always be the potential for suffering in our lives.  There’ll be a mix of wonderful experiences and painful ones too. When we have the courage to love someone deeply, we risk losing them one day too. When we attempt to pursue a new career path, we risk appearing inexperienced or potentially even failing. Even when we invite a new friend for coffee (or a socially distanced walk), we risk the uncomfortable experience of rejection.

A mindful approach means learning to go with the flow of life rather than fighting against it. This is not an easy thing to do, but what I’ve found when I do this myself is that it really is quite liberating.

Become aware

First, pay attention to the thoughts and feelings that stop you from feeling hopeful and positive about the future. Just notice them for now and if you can, make friends with them. Say hello to fear or loneliness and be curious about what it’s like to experience those feelings rather than pushing them away. Become aware of how your body feels when there’s fear, find out where it’s located in your body and just name it. ‘This is fear, I’m noticing fear.’ It’s enough to just do this for now. Soften into it, stay with it, don’t resist it

Don’t run away

Notice your tendency to want to numb the emotions that are most difficult. Learn about your habitual ways of dealing with pain. What do you feel like doing to get away? Instead of giving in to whatever you usually do, take another breath and keep making room for the emotion you feel in a mindful and open way. Keep naming what you feel. Stay with your emotions. You’ll be surprised at your capacity to bear discomfort when you stop fighting and over time, you’ll come to see how you can change your resistance when you change your thinking.

What really matters?

Once you’ve made room for the emotion and taken the time to sit with it for a while, you might want to think about what is within your control. What are your deepest desires about how you want to live your life? Even in the midst of this painful experience, who and what really matters?

Do one tiny thing

Rather than choosing your habitual behaviour, choose one tiny action step that is aligned with your values. For example, if you have a value of inner harmony and you know that mindfulness practice helps, make time to listen to a mindful meditation at the beginning or end of your day. If you have a value of connection, call someone you care about and talk with them. If you have a value of kindness, think of one small thing you can do to brighten another person’s day.

Don’t be afraid

Sometimes people worry that if they acknowledge and make room for difficult feelings, they’ll become consumed by them. In fact, the opposite is usually true. Fighting our fearful thoughts and pushing away our worries only serves to escalate them.

When you begin to trust that you can manage whatever life throws your way you come to recognise that within you is a great capacity for inner peace. From this place, you then have the opportunity to embrace the small pockets of beauty that can be found in the every day.

If you need support to change your thinking, our life coaching or online mindfulness workshop series may help.

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5 ways to increase your energy https://totalbalance.com.au/5-ways-to-increase-your-energy/ Tue, 30 Jun 2020 00:00:36 +0000 http://totalbalance.com.au/?p=9727 The uncertainty and stress of the past few months have left many of us feeling pretty depleted. With so much change in such a short time and a while to wait before our lives have some semblance of normal again, the only thing we have...

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The uncertainty and stress of the past few months have left many of us feeling pretty depleted. With so much change in such a short time and a while to wait before our lives have some semblance of normal again, the only thing we have any control of right now is how we respond to this crisis. The following tips will help increase your energy levels and build your resilience.

1. Get the basics right

Listen to your body about the foods that energise you and the kind of movement that makes you feel grounded. Walking, dancing, yoga and qigong can help to bring down anxiety levels and help to reconnect you with your body. When you’re properly tuned in, you’ll find it easier to listen to what your body needs.

Energy is derived from your emotional wellbeing so make sure you’re taking care of your mind state too. Spend a few minutes in meditation upon waking. If you find yourself feeling flat, try a loving-kindness practice,  which has proven to be the most effective form of meditation when it comes to warding off depression.

If you have noticed your mood is lower than usual, which is not that uncommon right now, don’t leave it too long to reach out for support with a psychologist or personal coach.

2. Connect with nature, even while you’re indoors

If there’s one quick way to shift your energy quickly and create more inner calm, it’s spending time in nature. Patients in hospitals with a view of the outdoors heal faster than those without.

People who work in offices with windows get sick less frequently and a recent study of elderly people found that those who don’t venture outside are more prone to depression.

Try to get out into a beautiful natural environment at least several times each week. When you can’t get outside, brain scans have shown that even looking at images of natural environments can lower your stress levels. Use a screensaver of a natural scene or put a bunch of flowers or pot plant on your desk.

3. Stay up to date with the news, but take breaks too

Keeping abreast of the updates is essential right now, but it’s easy to slip into a state of overwhelm when you’re checking news sites too often.

Work out which time of day is best for you to be updated (preferably not right before bed) and make a habit of checking in just once a day. Consider taking one or two “news free” days in your week.

4. Spend time alone if you’re an introvert or with others, if you’re an extrovert

Tune in to your capacity for socialising. If you do better one-on-one, reduce your group gatherings – even if they are just online. If you share your home and workspace with others, negotiate some alone time every few days. And if you’re living alone and working from home, make an effort to connect in real life where you can.

5. Be kind to yourself

The biggest energy drainer of all is the pressure you put yourself under to be perfect. Try to catch the voice of your Inner Critic and counter it with a voice of Inner Kindness.

The greatest sense of emotional freedom is achieved when you can be more at peace with who you are, which includes making room for your flaws. Remember that none of us is perfect –some people might be better at hiding it than others, but at the end of the day we’re all simply doing the best that we can.

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How to find your purpose in life https://totalbalance.com.au/find-your-life-purpose/ Sun, 28 Jun 2020 20:01:43 +0000 https://totalbalance.com.au/?p=15767 In my life and career coaching work, people ask me often, how do you find your purpose in life? For some of us, it feels completetly elusive. We read stories about people like the Nobel prize-winning scientists harnessing the body’s immune system to fight cancer or...

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In my life and career coaching work, people ask me often, how do you find your purpose in life? For some of us, it feels completetly elusive. We read stories about people like the Nobel prize-winning scientists harnessing the body’s immune system to fight cancer or the seventh-generation farmer from Illinois who started a sustainable food movement or the enterprising mother of three, Jodie Harris who started local charity Mums Supporting Families in Need and we feel like our own lives are small and inadequate.

Finding your life purpose can mean a subtle shift

The problem is that we often frame ‘purpose’ as something that needs to be significant. We want it to be visible to others and we usually feel that it’s only truly valid if it’s connected to some external measure of success. We fail to recognise that a purposeful life that is humble and ‘small’ is no less significant than one that is lived out in the public eye.

For most of my introverted clients, the latter is actually more appealing and because it’s also authentic, it’s generally more meaningful too. We still need to remind ourselves that it’s equally valuable.

I was personally reminded of this yesterday after spending four hours with a lovely client (we’ll call her Olivia) who is currently not engaged in paid work, but who is still living a very purposeful life. Olivia has had a successful career but now that she’s not employed (and despite her earlier success) she feels that her life is lacking meaning.

In her early 50s, Olivia is keen to do something that will inspire and energise her and also contribute in some way. When we looked at her strengths and her values, we discovered that she’s engaging these on a daily basis. And to her surprise, we also discovered that she’s already making a difference in other people’s lives in ways that really matter to her, even if she’s not making a living from those efforts.

We spend so much time focusing on what we’re not doing, that we often overlook what is right in front of our eyes.

Like many of us, Olivia was so busy searching that she had failed to see how much purpose she already has in her life.

If you have the same concern, try the following tips to connect with the purposeful moments you already have in your life.

1. How do you find your life purpose?

One of the biggest mistakes we make is to only look to others for inspiration. Being focused outwardly is wonderful if it’s genuinely inspiring, but it can also mean you forget to tune in and listen to your intuition about what ‘purposeful’ might feel like to you.

One way to gain clarity about this is to think about how you’d love to be remembered when you’re no longer here. While it might sound morbid to write your own eulogy, it’s an excellent way to get clear about what really matters and to help you feel more connected with your life purpose.

2. Stop comparing yourself to others

In the same way that we look to others for inspiration, we often compare ourselves once we do find ways of being purposeful. The key is to find your own way of living with purpose and then to get out in the world and do that, regardless of whether someone else is doing it already or doing it in a way that looks more significant or more successful than you imagine you can be.

3. Stop measuring your success in quantifiable terms

Living with purpose is not about numbers. It doesn’t matter if you only make a difference in one person’s life on a single day in a given year – that’s enough.

It’s the intention that counts, not the number of people you help or the dollar figure attached to your efforts.

4. Stop being so hard on yourself

After listening to Olivia’s story, my experience of her was that she is generous and kind and I can see that she’s already making a difference every day. What she sees is all that she’s not doing (because, like all of us, her brain has a strong negative bias).

Remind yourself at the end of every day of the things you have done that were purposeful and if it feels helpful, at the beginning of each new day, think about one small action that will give your life purpose.

5. Get really clear on what matters

One of the main reasons most of us feel that our lives lack purpose is that we haven’t spent the time getting really clear about what our life purpose is. Here’s my simple methodology for doing this.

Get to know your unique strengths and your values; evaluate your life journey and think about the experiences that have shaped you most (both positive and negative). Then consider how you can use your life experience and engage your strengths and values to contribute to others in a way (or ways) that feel that they’ll align with you finding your life purpose. An extra tip here is that often we seek to give what we would love to receive ourselves.

Finally, write out a clear statement of your life purpose (see my example below) and do your best to bring this to life in your every day.

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Inspiring Clients Lindy Lloyd https://totalbalance.com.au/lindy-lloyd/ Wed, 17 Jun 2020 20:58:42 +0000 http://totalbalance.com.au/?p=11986 Lindy Lloyd is actually one of my dearest friends. She was a client many moons ago but for over a decade now, our relationship has been just a personal one. We met through another lovely friend, Kate, who kindly shared Lindy’s details when I asked for...

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Lindy Lloyd is actually one of my dearest friends. She was a client many moons ago but for over a decade now, our relationship has been just a personal one. We met through another lovely friend, Kate, who kindly shared Lindy’s details when I asked for a massage therapist recommendation.

At the time, Lindy was in the early days of creating her own skincare range alongside her thriving massage business. Eventually she decided that refining the skincare range would be more of a priority than massage (much to her clients’ disappointment – she’s not that easy to replace!).

Late last year, Ena was launched and within a couple of months, Lindy had stockists in Melbourne and Sydney. Have a read of her story and you’ll understand why I love her as much as I do. And jump across to her website and stock up on her beautiful skincare products – of all the gifts I give, these are absolute favourites among my friends and family.

Can you tell us a little bit about your business?

My business, Ena Products, is a range of body care products hand made from scratch by me.  Using all natural ingredients it is made with the love and care that we have come to expect from the food we eat.  I have this same philosophy with everything we put on our skin.  Named after my beautiful grandmother, Ena, it has been in the pipeline for over 10 years.  As a Massage Therapist I had been making creams and oils for myself, family & friends, and clients for the duration of that career.  Although it was an unusually long time to get a business off the ground, I knew the timing had to be right in order for me to enjoy it, and therefore be successful.  This time period also gave me the chance to test and change the recipes according to feedback from those I trusted. 

What do you love about your working for yourself?

I find working for myself completely empowering.  I can dictate when and where I work. Every day is exciting as I see my dreams realised.  Only yesterday I made a delivery to one of my favourite retail outlets – what a buzz!  But above all I have chosen something that I truly believe in – I’m creating a product that is beneficial to our wellbeing.  With so many chemicals and toxins in our modern world, every little effort helps to maintain optimum health.  It’s also a priority for me to do business with kind, like minded people – of which there are many!  I’m finding that there is an amazing support network in small business in Australia.

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What does a typical day look like for you?

6.30am.  My day begins.  Make my daughter’s school lunch and get her ready for school.  I try to get the house as tidy as possible so I can come back and start work at 9.15am (after school drop off).  I’ve made a rule, not to do ANY housework during my “work” hours.  It’s not easy!  If it’s a “cooking” day (generally twice weekly), I’ll set myself the goal of having the kitchen spotless and all the ingredients and utensils ready by 10am.  I’m not always successful at that one!  I can get quite a few batches manufactured in 3 hours.

1-1.30pm.  Break for lunch (I never skip a meal – I love my food too much). 

2pm  Meditate for 20 mins.

2.30pm  I head to my office, in the front room, and read/send emails and make phone calls.  But let’s be honest, emails and social media (for work!) are pretty much a constant throughout the day no matter what I’m doing.  I need to work on that! 

3.30pm  School pick up

On a non “cooking” day, I might be doing deliveries to stockists, or visiting potential stockists on my dream “hit list”.

4pm   After my daughter gets home, we’ll read her daily “reader” (she’s in Prep so it’s all still exciting in our house ) and talk about her day.

5pm  Dinner preparation starts, followed by all the usual night time rituals that I won’t bore you with.

8pm   If there are any orders that need to be posted the next day, I’ll prepare those.

10pm  Bed

Wednesday mornings are my exercise group, which I also do on a Saturday morning.  It makes me feel so much more energetic and alert, I really can’t do without it.

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What’s one thing you would do differently if you had your time over?

I tried to launch the business about eight years ago.  I was working full time as a Massage Therapist and trying to conceive.  It was unrealistic to think I could give the business the attention it needed to be a success.  It was definitely, at that stage of my life, priority number three.  I have since learnt that timing is everything.

Who are your role models?

My Mum is hands down my number 1 role model.  She raised four children on her own, while building a successful ladies tennis wear business, Salvado Sportswear.  She designed every piece herself and oversaw production and sales.  In it’s heyday (in the ‘70s), it was the “go to” tennis wear at all the clubs.  Her outfits were often seen on Centre Court at the Australian Open.  Beth (who’s middle name is Ena), was a kind and gentle, but determined woman.  I watched as she stoically juggled home life and work life through difficult times, but always found time for her tennis (her greatest passion), family and friends.  She had work/life balance worked out before the phrase was coined!

She’s not with us anymore, but I feel her presence constantly.  I know she’d be proud of my efforts so far.  In a way, I’m doing it for her.  There’s definitely some parallels between her business and mine!

(That was my favourite question to answer 🙂 )

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What’s been the best thing you’ve done to grow your business?

Given I only launched Ena Products in December 2015, it’s still very early days.  I’m being very careful not to grow my product range too quickly.  I have a number of products to add, but am still getting a feel for the market.  There needs to be a happy balance between taking that leap and good planning.  I think it’s important to have very clear goals.

How did coaching help you?

Working on my own it helps to be accountable to someone.  There’s also a constant supply of knowledge and resources, that a coach can bring through experience in the field.  A coach can calm my busy mind, and take the emotion out of the picture.  An objective view is, more often than not, a thoughtful and well processed view.   A coach can give you a pat on the back.  We all need those from time to time.

Where do you go for inspiration?

I love to hear other people’s stories.  Two great resources we have here in Melbourne is the Wheeler Centre and the School of Life.  Both groups have extensive calendars of speakers and events.  I strongly recommend subscribing to their email lists.  Oh and I can’t go past a good TED talk!

On a different level, watching the ocean at any time of the year, is definitely my happy place.

What are you reading at the moment? 

I’m currently reading “A Visit To The Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan.  It’s this month’s read for my book club.  I’ve only just started it, but I think I’m going to really like it!

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How do you maintain a sense of balance while running your business?

I remind myself of what’s most important in my life.  My daughter and husband are my priority.  If I put their needs first (particularly the small person) there’s a feeling of calm around us.  This creates the perfect headspace for when it is time to sit down and work on the business.

And good diet & exercise – this is a non negotiable.

What are you looking forward to?

Everything.  There’s so much to write here, I can’t even begin to list them.  You name it, I’m looking forward to it.  Life is pretty good right now actually.

What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to someone wanting to go into their own startup?

Do what you truly love and success will follow.  Don’t do what you think others want you to do – trust your intuition. 

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Unlock your creative confidence https://totalbalance.com.au/unlocking-your-creative-confidence/ Thu, 28 May 2020 07:11:55 +0000 https://totalbalance.com.au/?p=17066 When I was growing up, my family moved to a new city every couple of years. Almost always being the new girl in school meant that my books, and the characters within them, were my most treasured and constant friends. During my teenage years, I...

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When I was growing up, my family moved to a new city every couple of years. Almost always being the new girl in school meant that my books, and the characters within them, were my most treasured and constant friends.

During my teenage years, I wrote poetry in my head to help make sense of the world. Later I scribbled those poems on scraps of paper and posted them off to my favourite magazines. A couple were even published.

As I wandered the bush tracks and climbed the gum trees around our different homes, I began to dream of oneday becoming a writer. I imagined my future career and thought about how I could blend my love of thinking deeply and writing to help people who felt like outsiders, as I had often been.

In my mid-30s, I finally realised that dream when I started my own coaching business. Now I had the opportunity to support other people and a legitimate reason to share my writing with the world. While I was truly excited to do both those things, writing for others to read suddenly felt far less exhilarating than I had imagined it would be. In fact, it was utterly nerve-wracking. I seriously contemplated giving it away before I’d even begun.

I struggled to get the right words on the page and when I re-read what I’d written, it felt clunky and unnatural. By the time I drafted my first short article, I had six people on my mailing list (and two of them were family). I can still remember my nervousness before I hit send on that first newsletter. I was worried that my work was a long way from good enough and because I cared so much about writing, this small act felt more important than any other step I’d taken in my professional life.

I’ve come to learn that apprehension like this is usually present for all of us when we set out to do what we love, and it’s almost always the case when we embark on a new creative journey. When we share our creative work, we’re sharing from the deepest part of ourselves –– it’s no wonder we have moments of self-doubt.

This is the time when your inner critic’s voice becomes the loudest, cautioning you to be careful and sensible and not to make a fool of yourself. Your critic might tell you it’s safer not to try at all or at least to wait until you’ve taken another class or had another few hundred hours of practice.

The reality is that even with another qualification or a solid bank of hours, stepping over that line to put your work in the hands of other people, not just for the first time but maybe even every time, is likely to make you feel vulnerable and possibly even flawed.

The irony is that it’s those very imperfections, the very humanness of you, that will make you most relatable and real.

Over the years, I’ve found that it gets easier to hit the send button and there are also practices I’ve embraced that help to quieten my inner critic and keep me feeling grounded and calm.

Be yourself, as much as you can

When I first started writing, I wanted to come across as intelligent, so I used bigger words and wrote more formally than I would ever speak. As I became more confident, I began to find my natural voice which made writing less effort and I suspect, easier for my audience to read. It has helped to remember that no matter how well I write, some people are still not going to like my work. I stopped trying to please everyone and instead, started writing from the heart.

Remember your purpose

If you haven’t taken the time to work out your ‘why’, do this now. What is the difference you want to make most in the world with your creative work? Stay true to this and always keep it top of mind. When you find yourself questioning whether to continue or having moments of self-doubt, come back to your sense of purpose.

Go gently, give yourself time

Take the pressure off. You don’t need to hurry. You can take as long as you need. If you’re under pressure to make an income from your creative work, it’s ok to take a part-time role while you build confidence with your creative process.

Be mindful, be present

Take a deep breath and come back to this present moment. Be grateful for what you’ve already achieved. Remember to celebrate the small milestones and remind yourself that the journey is often more important than the destination.

Be inspired by others, not deflated

Even when you’re on the right track, there will always be someone further along the path than you. Try not to compare yourself with others (as difficult as this can be at times) but rather, allow the people you admire to be your inspiration.

Reconnect with the real world

It can sometimes be addictive and alluring to spend time in the online world, but it may not be the place where you’ll feel most grounded. Block out chunks of time every day to be offline. Reconnect with your ‘real life’ relationships and spend time in nature to clear your head and to remind you that there’s so much in this world to be thankful for.

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Ten guided meditations for beginners https://totalbalance.com.au/ten-guided-meditations-for-beginners/ Thu, 21 May 2020 06:44:55 +0000 https://totalbalance.com.au/?p=16975 On World Meditation Day, I’m sharing my favourite ten guided meditations for beginners. Almost five years ago to the day, a thoughtful client of mine from Spain, Carmen, sent me an email to ask if I’d be open to sharing my meditations on the free...

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On World Meditation Day, I’m sharing my favourite ten guided meditations for beginners.

Almost five years ago to the day, a thoughtful client of mine from Spain, Carmen, sent me an email to ask if I’d be open to sharing my meditations on the free meditation app, Insight Timer. I was using the app myself and loved it, but hadn’t thought to reach out to ask if they’d be open to me contributing my own meditations.

Originally developed in the US, the app had been purchased just a couple of months earlier by a couple of Australian guys, Christopher and Nicholas Plowman, who were looking for a way to share their love of meditation with the world. After Carmen’s email, I emailed and later met with the lovely Maddy Gerard, who was head of new content at the time.

Over the ensuing five years, I’ve shared many of my meditations and a ten-day course on the Insight Timer app and it has been a joy to get to know the Insight community and work with the Insight team. In every way, this has been the most rewarding collaboration.

Now home to over 15 million meditators and sharing 45,000 free meditations, Christopher and Nicho are doing their bit to create a more peaceful and conscious world, one person at a time, by offering meditation at no costs.

Today is World Meditation Day so I thought it was the perfect time to share my favourite Insight Timer meditations for absolute beginners in the hope that maybe I can play a small part in continuing to spread the word. Please feel free to share this post on your own channels.

1. Compassionate Body Scan by Vidyamala Burch (15 mins)

A body scan meditation is probably one of the easiest ways to meditate when you’re a complete beginner. Vidyamala has a lovely voice and her guided meditations are spoken without background music. This track will help you to let go of physical stress and tension.

2. Mindfulness of Thoughts Meditation by Meg James (10 mins)

I’m a bit biased about Meg’s meditations because she’s my daughter. She has a beautiful, gentle voice and her meditation is backed by soothing music. This is a great meditation to help you to become more mindful of the unhelpful ways you think.

3. Breath and Awareness by Tara Brach (7 mins)

Tara Brach is a psychologist and mindfulness teacher, whose work is underpinned by her training in Buddhism. Her work in the self-compassion space has had a great impact in my personal life and also in the work that I do with my clients. This is an excellent introduction to breath meditation.

4. Quick Confidence by Andrew Johnson (6 mins)

Andrew is trained in clinical hypnotherapy so his meditations are both deeply relaxing and powerful in their capacity for helping cultivate mental change. This meditation will help you to feel more relaxed about yourself while also cultivating a newfound sense of confidence. Backed by soothing music.

5. Mountain Meditation by Andy Hobson (15 mins)

Andy is someone who truly embodies his work. He composes his own music which is introduced a few minutes into this meditation. Andy’s meditations offer patches of silence, which I personally really love. This is an excellent track to help you feel more stable, grounded and calm.

6. Healing Through Letting Go with Sarah Blondin (12 mins)

Sarah’s meditations are quite unique. Her voice is beautifully soothing and her writing is insightful, reflective, vulnerable and poetic. This track includes music that comes in at around the four minute mark. I think you’ll find this meditation deeply nurturing.

7. Mindful Awareness Meditation by me (10 mins)

I thought I’d include one of my meditations too in this collection. This one is a simple mindful awareness meditation to help you pay deliberate attention to internal and external experiences.

8. Yoga Nidra by Zoe Kanat (15 mins)

Yoga Nidra is one of the easiest ways to access a deep state of relaxation while maintaining full consciousness, making it a form of meditation truly rejuvenating for the body and mind. Zoe’s yoga nidra is a great length for someone starting out with this practice. It’s backed by a relaxing music track.

9. Yoga Nidra for Sleep Meditation with Jennifer Piercy (15 mins)

Jennifer is Insight Timer’s sleep guru and this deeply relaxing yoga nidra practice will help to induce sleep naturally. Use it as you transition into sleep.

10. Slowing Down Your Mind by Davidji (20 mins)

Davidji has the most wonderful deep voice and he uses a traditional Sanskrit mantras in his meditations, which makes them feel a little more spiritual. This track is maybe better practised after you’ve tried some of the others as it includes around seven minutes of silence while you focus on the mantra.

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3 things to try when you’re unclear about your career direction https://totalbalance.com.au/3-things-try-youre-unclear-career-direction/ Tue, 28 Apr 2020 10:30:48 +0000 https://totalbalance.com.au/?p=14550 Over the course of the past few weeks, I’ve had a flurry of phone calls from people who are trying to discover their career direction. A few are in senior leadership roles and they feel that their lives are lacking purpose, a couple are people...

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Over the course of the past few weeks, I’ve had a flurry of phone calls from people who are trying to discover their career direction. A few are in senior leadership roles and they feel that their lives are lacking purpose, a couple are people who own businesses who are unsure about what’s next and another is a lawyer who has come through an extensive period of study only to discover that she doesn’t love the career path she’s chosen.

If you looked at each of these people from the outside, you’d see them as very successful. I’m guessing that many of their colleagues and acquaintances don’t even know that they’re struggling.

Like all of my clients, they are intelligent, capable people. They care about finding work they love, doing a job well and they want to make a difference. They’re also practical and they know that it isn’t always possible to find a career path that meets every one of their needs.

When you’re not in love with your work and you watch a clip like this one (which I love, by the way), you end up feeling conflicted. In an ideal world, all of us would find our dream role and we’d flourish in it. But it may not be entirely feasible to pursue your ultimate role right now. If it feels like too much of a challenge to upend your career, try these tips for now instead.

1. Stop believing it’s a cop-out if you’re not completely in love with what you do

Many of us dream of living the life of an artisan or escaping to the country to live sustainably but the reality is that even the most ideal roles and the most idyllic sounding lifestyle choices have their downsides.

It’s draining being under financial pressure, it’s challenging to have to constantly self-promote when you’re running your own show and it can be very isolating working on your own.

If it’s unrealistic to pursue the role of your dreams right now, find a role where you enjoy a reasonable percentage of what you do (70% is good!), try to feel a sense of connection with the people around you and do your best to achieve a degree of balance so you have time for other things you enjoy in life. You may also find that this is a time where you can set yourself up financially to find a different career direction down the track.

2. Choose to live with purpose today

As I wrote in this article last year, you don’t need to be saving the world to be living with purpose, but at the very least, you want to know what your purpose is and find even small ways to engage in your life in more purposeful ways.

If you’re not clear about your purpose, start by thinking about your values, identify your natural strengths (these are the things you enjoy doing and that also energise you) and consider how you’d like to impact the people around you.

Then, regardless of what you’re doing right now, try to do it with purpose. Even if it’s only in small ways for now.

3. Be curious and keep exploring your career direction

Don’t give up on finding a role that you love more than what you’re doing right now. If you’re really uncertain about what’s next, make a commitment to stay curious.

  • Carry a notebook around with you every day and jot down ideas that grab your attention or spark your curiosity. Make a pointed effort to explore each of your new ideas a little further.
  • Get in touch with someone who performs a role you have an interest in and ask if you can chat to them about it.
  • Read up about emerging industries and learn more about opportunities that you might like to pursue in the future.
  • Consider how you can future-proof your career by committing to life-long learning.
  • Join Meet Up groups for startups, in the tech space or for creative entrepreneurs.

Maybe most importantly, keep at it. Consider the process of finding your career direction another masters degree in itself. It’s time-consuming and effortful but at the end of the day, it’s one of the most important areas of study you’ll embark on.

If you need a hand working out your career direction, get in touch with Kate to organise a career coaching session.

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Finding courage in challenging times https://totalbalance.com.au/finding-courage-in-challenging-times/ Sat, 25 Apr 2020 08:23:13 +0000 https://totalbalance.com.au/?p=16872 The past few months have been the strangest of times, haven’t they? I don’t think any of us could have anticipated that after drought, bushfire and flooding, we would find ourselves where we are right now. 2020 will certainly be a year etched in history...

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The past few months have been the strangest of times, haven’t they? I don’t think any of us could have anticipated that after drought, bushfire and flooding, we would find ourselves where we are right now. 2020 will certainly be a year etched in history and embedded in each of our individual life stories. There has never been a more important time to build resilience and find courage.

It’s been a difficult and even devastating time for so many people. The challenges ahead are still somewhat unknown but I feel hopeful that the world will be a more considerate and caring place once all of this is over.

I’ve heard so many stories of kindness and courage that it has me thinking, there’s never been a better time to create positive change in our lives. To think about what each of us can do to make this world a better place.

When you’re thinking about how you can contribute, it often helps to reflect on your life purpose and to ask yourself, “What do I have to give? Who can I help the most? And how could I make a difference?”

Moving beyond your fear

A few weeks back, as I was carrying my meditation chair into the garden, I had these questions in mind. I knew that others would probably benefit from meditating with me. Thinking about how I could give helped me to move beyond my long-held discomfort of being in front of the camera. It was an opportunity to brave it and record a meditation video to share.

The sudden effortlessness of this act after so many years of procrastination made me realise that something else had shifted in me too. With so many families around the world grieving the sudden and unexpected loss of loved ones and so much uncertainty about how this pandemic would play out, I felt a sharper sense of the fragility of life.

On any given day, someone we love might be taken from us. The future we so often take for granted may no longer be a given. Getting to something “one-day”, may not always be an option.

Like all of us, I sometimes hold myself back for fear of not being good enough. For not having done all the research, not having all the right experience or not feeling ready yet for all the other excuses I can easily find.

Finding your purpose can help with courage

When I came back to my sense of purpose that morning in the garden and remembered how I want to give, I realised that none of these things matter. There’s no guarantee that there’ll be a next week or a next year to get comfortable with a new challenge, and even if there is, I wonder, why would I want to keep waiting?

It’s ego, don’t you think, that holds us back most often? We worry that we’ll look silly or make a hash of it or maybe someone will criticise us or tell us that we have no business being bold, finding courage or being creative.

If you’re concerned that you don’t have a special ‘thing’ to give or that your small contribution might not really matter in the grand scheme of things, maybe you tell yourself it’s easier (or safer maybe) not to start.

But would it really matter if what we offer impacts only one person? Or if what we give is imperfect?

Brené Brown shares these words of wisdom by Teddy Roosevelt in her book, Daring Greatly.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

shared my video later that morning and I’ve since shared another on Instagram. It felt uncomfortable at first but also good to have tackled that challenge. The funny thing is, those imperfect videos ended up leading to several new work projects. I was invited to team up with Medibank Live Better at Home to offer video tips on how to manage your emotional wellbeing during this tricky time. And I’ve been asked by a few corporate clients to run video mindfulness workshops for their teams.

There’s so much possibility when we get out of our own way.

What would you do if you were daring greatly?

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How to quieten a worrying mind https://totalbalance.com.au/reduce-worry/ Fri, 20 Mar 2020 06:23:13 +0000 https://totalbalance.com.au/?p=16765 We will all encounter adversity in life at different times and it’s likely there are hurdles to face ahead, but it’s also true that many of the things we worry about don’t actually eventuate. This means that the habit of worry, which uses up precious...

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We will all encounter adversity in life at different times and it’s likely there are hurdles to face ahead, but it’s also true that many of the things we worry about don’t actually eventuate. This means that the habit of worry, which uses up precious mental and physical energy, could be put to use in more effective ways. Which is why we want to learn how to reduce worry and quieten an anxious mind.

If you’re a chronic worrier, it’s generally not possible to just flick a switch and turn the volume down on worrying thoughts, however, there are mindful practices that will help you train your brain to be adept at catching worry when it starts and better manage it.

Before you begin, it’s helpful to make a distinction between the kind of thinking that is helpful problem-solving thinking vs worry. For the most part, the first kind of thinking involves reflecting and finding practical steps to address an existing problem. This thinking is generally focused on a specific issue and has an end-point. Worry, on the other hand, is habitual thinking with a strong negative bias. It’s often repetitive and unproductive, without any clear end-point in sight. Worry can sometimes be reframed into problem-solving. For example, in the case of COVID-19, our minds may be in a spin worrying about the uncertainties, but we can also move into practical problem-solving at an individual level.

Help take control of your worrying thoughts by engaging in the following five exercises.

1. Practise ‘worry time’ to reduce constant worry during the day

‘Worry time’ is a cognitive-behavioural therapy practice, backed by research that helps you to control the frequency and duration of worrying thoughts.

Set aside between fifteen and twenty minutes at a regular time each day and during your ‘worry time’, write down all of your most prominent worrying thoughts. If worry is fairly pervasive for you, you may find it helpful to do two sessions of ‘worry time’ each day — one first thing in the morning and the other before dinner each night. It’s preferable not to leave this practice until too late in the day. Worrying before bedtime is likely to keep you awake.

Don’t try to completely eliminate your worries during your ‘worry time’. The key is to get the thoughts out of your head onto paper so they’re not taking up so much of your mental energy. As you write, you may find that you naturally reflect on a couple of practical steps that will help you reduce worry and address one of your most pressing concerns.

2. Get to know your worry patterns

After a week of the ‘worry time’ practice, look over your lists and make a note of any patterns you notice. Most of us find that we have several main areas of worry. Consider whether there are practical ways to deal with these concerns or if they continue to persist, talk to your GP or counsellor about getting some one-on-one support.

3. Lock away your worrying thoughts

Outside of your worry times, try to catch your brain as it brings up worrying thoughts and say to yourself, ‘I’m worrying.’ When a worry persists, visualise putting that thought into a ‘worry box’ and locking it away until later in the day.

It’s likely that you’ll find this difficult at first, but remind yourself that you’re training your brain to be more cognisant to reduce worry, rather than allowing it to continue in its old habitual patterns. Be mindful not to beat yourself up when you do notice worry popping up.

4. Reduce negative energy and embrace a sense of lightness in life

If locking away your thoughts doesn’t work for you, try the following exercise to physically brush away negative energy. While it may sound slightly silly at first, it’s helpful to remember that we carry our worries in our bodies as well as our minds. This fun strategy will help reduce negative energy and also remind you to embrace a sense of lightness in life.

In a standing position and preferably outdoors (or at least facing a window), run your hands along either side of your spine from the upper back down toward your hips and as your hands reach your buttocks, ‘flick’ them forward and upward, brushing your worries away towards the sky. Next, run your hands down across your chest toward your hips and flick away out to the sides. Then brush your hands across the rest of your body in the same way (include your head, face, neck, arms, legs and all the way down to your feet), imagining that you’re literally brushing away any negative energy that has gathered on and around your body.

Pay attention to how you feel at the end of this exercise — if you’re like most people, you’ll feel lighter in your physical being.

5. Physically relax to help your mind to relax

Because it’s difficult to create a quiet mind or reduce worry when we have tension in the body, you may find that engaging in a deep relaxation process will help to bring your body and mind into a state of calm. My favourite way of doing this is to use a guided yoga nidra meditation. Despite its name, this practice doesn’t involve any yoga poses but rather, it’s a guided relaxation meditation that is practised lying down. You can use it before sleep or as an excellent way to obtain some rest during the day.

If you need support quietening your worrying mind, get in touch with Kate to speak about a life coaching appointment for tips about how to mindfully manage your thoughts.

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12 ways to create a beautiful life https://totalbalance.com.au/12-ways-to-create-a-beautiful-life/ Wed, 05 Feb 2020 11:15:17 +0000 https://totalbalance.com.au/?p=16751 When this year started with so much loss, I began to question how, in the face of such adversity, do we stay hopeful and positive about our lives? How can we engage in the climate change conversation, without becoming depleted by it? How do we...

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When this year started with so much loss, I began to question how, in the face of such adversity, do we stay hopeful and positive about our lives? How can we engage in the climate change conversation, without becoming depleted by it? How do we balance the enormity of the world’s problems with the smallness of our own impact? How do we create a beautiful life?

As Rebecca Solnit, author of Hope in the Dark, writes (my emphasis):

“Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. It’s the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand.”

For those of us who are sensitive, tuning in to the news too often can be overwhelming and we may end up feeling there’s little we can do to help. I’ve learnt from experience to be selective about my news sources and to limit the repetitive exposure that is part of the reporting of tragic events.  At such times, my focus shifts to the small actions I take that can contribute to making the world a more hopeful place.

While I’m tempted to write about everyday practices that help us to live more sustainably, my expertise lies in other areas. And while I know it may seem frivolous to think about how we can create beautiful lives in the face of the devastation we’ve seen this year, I know that filling your own cup is essential if you want the energy to give to others.

Even if you’ve experienced direct loss, there’s value and comfort in embracing small changes that will help you to create a beautiful life – regardless of your external circumstances.

1. Find your own way to take care of our planet

When I feel overwhelmed by the issue of climate change, I recall Rebecca Solnit’s words – what we do matters. There are always small ways that each of us can help. Start by engaging in these simple tips and if you’re in a position to do so, consider offering financial or volunteer support to an environmental cause of your choice.

2. Create a morning routine

This is particularly helpful when you’ve experienced a loss or if you feel ungrounded. Start each day with a small ritual. Meditate, walk, do some deep breathing or yoga stretches upon waking, mindfully eat breakfast while you’re sitting down or simply write a to-do list to make the best use of your day. The key is to create a simple routine that works for you and commit to it every day.

3. Move your body daily

Like the morning routine, moving your body is one of the best ways to restore mental strength and boost your mood. Choose an activity you genuinely love rather than engaging in a form of movement you think you should be doing. If possible, make this a time when you can also connect with nature.

4. Live to your values

If there’s one thing that will change the way you interact with the world, it’s learning to live to your values. Regardless of your life circumstances, you can live in alignment with your chosen set of values at any given time. This practice is also key to helping you find your way to your life purpose.

5. Make your living environment beautiful

Even if your home is temporary, in need of renovating or imperfect, creating a space that feels nurturing and welcome will go a long way to cultivating inner calm. Make your bed every morning. Keep your kitchen table clear so you have somewhere pleasant to eat your meals. Gather some storage boxes so you have places to put things away. Light a scented candle or diffuse an essential oil to lift your mood. Pick and arrange flowers and foliage from your garden or buy yourself a bunch of fresh flowers or an indoor plant. Turn on a lamp instead of your overhead lights. These small external changes will go a long way toward transforming your inner world.

6. Savour food

Eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures, yet so many of us forget to savour the simple experience of eating because our relationship with food is complex. Slow down and savour a meal you love. Give your meals – and any people you may enjoy them with – your full attention. Try leaving your phone away from the table. Tune into the foods that energise you most and do your best to recognise when you’re hungry or full. Add a few vegetarian options to your meal plan and buy from your local farmer’s market to take better care of our land.

7. Give yourself something to look forward to

A practice that has really helped me create a beautiful life is to plan a couple of short breaks at the beginning of each year so we have something to look forward to. If you’re busy or your finances are limited, you may not be able to schedule a long holiday to a faraway destination. Regular local mini-breaks and day trips, enjoyed alone or in company, can be equally rejuvenating. Aim to find one new activity every week or two. This can be as simple as visiting a different café, walking a new route, viewing an exhibition, starting a book or having a picnic in a park. These are times to savour your solitude or create special moments and memories with your partner, family or friends.

8. Practise self-compassion

We spend so much time being self-critical that we often forget to honour our positive traits or offer ourselves kindness when life is difficult. Be aware of any negative self-talk. Learning the art of self-compassion will go a long way to building self-acceptance and self-belief. Take Kristin Neff’s free self-compassion test here.

9. Learn to forgive

Holding onto resentment and blame is a heavy load for any of us to bear. Sometimes we feel unwilling or unable to forgive others for mistakes or past hurts because we fear we’ll be letting someone off the hook for poor behaviour or we’ll allow those things to happen again. Forgiveness is mostly about freeing yourself and it can also help with healthy boundary setting. If you’re finding it hard to forgive, try Tara Brach’s ten-day course on Insight Timer.

10. Find your own version of spirituality

There’s a growing body of evidence that confirms that having a sense of spirituality helps us to find meaning and understanding in life. Your version of spirituality might mean feeling grateful for the things that already beautiful in your life or grounding your energy by spending time in nature. It might mean tuning into your intuition or learning to practise equanimity. Allow yourself to be curious about connecting with something that’s bigger than you.

11. Meditate

When I started meditating twenty-six years ago, I was hoping to create more calm in my life. What I didn’t know at the time was that this daily ritual would become a pathway to healing, compassion, creativity and insight. Try my Mindful Morning Meditation on the free Insight Timer app. If you’re too anxious to close your eyes and sit with your thoughts, try a movement meditation such as yoga or qigong.

12. Connect with others

When you’re feeling overwhelmed about the world or anxious about your life, it can be tempting to isolate yourself while you make sense of your feelings. While being comfortable with and enjoying your own company is a truly valuable attribute, spending too much time on your own can mean getting caught in overthinking which makes it difficult to keep a balanced perspective. Even when you don’t feel like it, make a habit of keeping in touch with friends and occasionally push yourself to make new ones when you come across people you feel a synergy with. Along with connection to self, staying connected to others is vital to help you create a beautiful life.

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