Positive Pause – 14th November, 2016 – Awareness and Nightmares

awareness and nightmaresThis week the world needs as much positivity as it can get: is seems almost unbelievable that Donald Trump is in power.  The less said the better…awareness and nightmares
Instead, I prefer to turn my attention to the passing of Leonard Cohen.  Death is always sad, but in this case, we have much to celebrate – Cohen has left a wealth of music, poetry, and inspirational quotes for the world to enjoy.  Before his career in music, he dedicated himself to writing, mainly poetry and lived a semi-reclusive life on the Greek island of Hydra. The world should be thankful that, due to a lack of financial success, he came out of his shell to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter.  A clear example here of every cloud having a silver lining. Cohen lived his life to the full and released his fourteenth album only last month at the age of 82, writing and creating right up to the end of his life.

This week, the political events in the USA must have crawled into my subconscious because, despite  my best efforts to remain positive, I had a number of nightmares.  If you are the type of person who remembers your dreams, you will know how disturbing a nightmare can be.  Symptoms can include hot sweats, panic and overwhelming fear. When I was younger I used to get quite upset whenever I had a nightmare and saw it as a sign that my mental health was not good. However, I now choose to embrace these disturbing dreams as a  necessary part of my mental well-being. The nightmare is a mechanism whereby the subconscious mind deals with anything that the conscious mind has not done during your waking hours.  Thank you subconscious mind! My subconscious seems to be particularly suggestible which is why I have to be careful about the information and experiences that I expose myself to.  If you think of children and how impressionable they are, you can begin to see how your subconscious mind works. awareness and nightmares

On Friday morning I had the chance to impress 200 young minds by giving a short talk on mindfulness to Luca’s school assembly.  I explained to the children aged from 4-12 that they have a choice in how they wish to feel, think and behave and that this choice lies in their ability to be aware. I sincerely believe that this is a message that needs to be sung from the rooftops or at least taught in every school and not just once, but every day.

One of my favourite Leonard Cohen quotes is,

“Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you act.”

Awareness is the greatest gift of the conscious mind and is what separates us from most of the animal kingdom. Choosing to use your awareness to shape your own life will allow you to rise above all the fear in the world that is created by just the opposite, a lack of awareness. Just like Cohen, you have the choice to be brave and to bring out the best in you today and everyday, no matter what is going on around you.  And don’t worry about having nightmares – your subconscious is dealing with it! awareness and nightmares

Positive Pause – 1st August, 2016 – Just Be

just beIf you want to be happy, be.’ Leo Tolstoy

This quote on happiness from the Russian novelist seems, at first glance, almost too simple.  With a little reflection, the depth of his words become profound.  The state of “being” and not doing is at the core of mindfulness and meditation.  The cultivation of “just being” is the constant returning of our awareness back to the present moment. When we are truly “being” in the present moment and our minds are free from the constant traffic and noise of our thoughts we have every chance to implant the seeds of happiness and joy.  just bejust be

This week, try to quieten your mind by observing its relentless activity and focusing only on what is here and now. Without the “white noise” of the mind dictating your every moment you will find a peace and tranquility that will enable you to engage more fully with life. Just be.

Please read the 5 star reviews that my online program, The Positive Habit is receiving.

Fiona Brennan on A Lust for Life – Epigenetics

Epigenetics - A Lust for Life logoIn addition to the wonders that neuroscience has contributed to illustrate human kind’s ability to choose how we wish to think, feel and behave, there is also a growing body of scientific research into the area of epigenetics.  Epigenetics is the study of genes and the word “epi” comes from Greek, meaning  “above”, so in this case, a force that is above our genes.

This science shows that our genes are NOT pre-determined but are, in fact, formed by external or environmental factors such as diet, stress and our connection to others. Bruce Lipton, a leading celluar biologist and author of ‘The Biology of Belief’, has uncovered incredible evidence to show that our beliefs literally create our reality at a celluar level.  Lipton says that: ”Belief controls biology”.  He also states that simply being told to ‘think positive’ does not work as most of our brain power is actually subconscious.  Read more…

Positive Pause – 24th August 2015 – Why Positivity?

Positive thinkingWhy think in a positive way? Simply put, thinking negatively makes you behave in a stupid way.

Cast your mind back to a time when your negative emotions were high and you had to focus on work, give a presentation or even have a simple conversation. It probably wasn’t easy to focus and to deliver the best results. The reason for this is that when the mind is flooded with stressful emotions the rest of its thinking capacity is shut down.  The body goes into attack mode as the cortisol rushes through you and as a result, you can’t think clearly, you can’t focus and you won’t make good decisions.  Many of us have experienced the pressure of trying to focus under these circumstances where our minds work ten times as hard to deliver a simple sentence and when we have no idea of what the other person or people have just said.  These kind of experiences slowly erode our confidence and our ability to deliver well. Your subconscious records the event and will send out early warning signals when it feels any similar emotions arising.  The mind  and body shut down to protect you; they have gone into survival mode and they are saving your resources so that you can either fight or run.  Think of how impractical either of these reactions are in a meeting or when you are about to give a speech or having a difficult conversation with your boss or even a family member.

The converse is the case when we have a positive and open mindset; we can think very clearly and easily.  Creativity flows and our capacity to make connections quicker is much greater.  The result is that we make better decisions.

This week, notice what triggers you to think in a negative way.  The process of being aware of these triggers is the first step to cutting out the negative effects on your ability to think clearly.

Positive Pause – 10th August 2015 – Fuse into Positivity

flowIn a plug there are both positive and negative fuses.  Humans are wired in much the same way.  According to the positive psychology movement, a strain of psychology founded by American psychologist Martin Seligman in 1998, the basic premise of positive psychology is about reaching beyond a normal state where we feel adequate or just ok, to reach a state of “flow”. In this state of “flow” we can achieve remarkable feats and create beautiful art.  We can be fully present in the moment and reach our full potential.

This week, consider how you can tap into this state of “flow” – what it is that you do that fully absorbs your attention in an active way and when you are unaware of time passing. It could be playing a sport such as tennis or golf, or it could be painting a picture or dancing to your favourite music.  This week, identify the activities that allow you to reach this state of “flow” and start to incorporate them more fully into your daily life.