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Five Ways to Regain Lost Confidence

Five Ways to Regain Lost Confidence

 

While impossible to prove scientifically, it’s pretty much taken as fact of life that, when things go wrong, they all go wrong at once. Generally, positive and negative influences all coexist as you go from one day to the next, neither one massively outweighing the other, but every now and then the negatives grow monster-sized and leave your confidence on the floor.

During these times self-belief dissipates and pulling yourself out of the situation seems about as likely as cracking the secrets to alchemy. However, feeling better about yourself is half the battle when you want to improve your circumstances, so it’s a good idea to focus inwards when life has taken a wrong turn. When it comes to bouncing back, there are practical steps you can take – these five ways to regain lost confidence will help you move onwards and upwards with renewed determination.

Self Care

When you feel terrible the last thing you need to do is punish yourself. Also, it’s important to remember that while a few booze-soaked evenings or retreating under the duvet for days may well be inevitable when you feel at your absolute worst (and nothing to beat yourself up over), this can’t go on forever. Finding sustainable ways to feel better can help you avoid triggering self-destruct mode, where relief is temporary and the consequences long-term.

Self care means all kinds of different things to different people but, in general terms, it’s about looking after yourself. This means allowing time to rest, doing the things you enjoy, and ultimately giving yourself a break. When we feel bad about ourselves, it can be difficult to convince ourselves that we are even worth the effort, but simply getting up, showering, dressing up a little and taking the time to eat well can make a big difference.

Meditate

As far as habits go, few have the restorative powers of meditation. Stress, poor sleep and hormonal imbalances are all exacerbated in times when external influences are negative, and meditation can help to counteract these. By allowing people to rest more deeply than is achieved in the deepest cycle of sleep, meditation helps people become energised and refreshed.

You can also combat stress with meditation, as the effects of our innate “fight or flight” stress response are lessened by the habit. Harmful stress hormones are reduced and meditators find themselves becoming calmer in general, which allows them to think clearly and become happier.

Reach Out

People can be surprisingly helpful and supportive when you allow yourself to ask for help and with the internet breaking down barriers such as distance, it’s nearly always possible to find a community that suits you.

As there are very few people who haven’t experienced the sort of situation you may have found yourself in, from losing your job to breaking up with a partner, they can give advice on how they got through difficult times, and just be there to listen. People often feel they need to present a capable and unemotional front to the world, but in showing some vulnerability you can gain the support you need.

Work on Your Own Projects

When you confidence has been shaken away to nothing you can regain some self-belief by rediscovering what it is you are passionate about and enjoy. Throwing yourself into an endeavour of your choice can provide some much-needed distraction, as well as building up your confidence again as you complete tasks that you are proud of.

Find the Positives

A positive frame of mind can seem like an impossibility when life isn’t playing along as it should, but it’s something that it’s absolutely worth putting some effort into. Tides of optimism are much more likely to deliver you to somewhere you want to be than pessimism, and much of this can be achieved by small changes in attitude.

You can take what seems like a disaster and turn it into an opportunity – because one of the things about your life being shaken up is that it offers the chance for change. Focus on success rather than setbacks, and see every positive, no matter how small, as a growing bank of evidence that everything is going to go brilliantly. The more you think this, the more it will become true, and soon you’ll be on top form once again.

If you’ve found yourself in the midsts of a challenging period in life, from divorce to redundancy, meditation could help you cope. Get in touch anytime to discuss how we might be able to help you.

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The Best Meditation Quotes

the best meditation quotes

 

Sometimes, the most relatable, wise and inspiring ideas are condensed into a perfect collection of words, formed into poetic phrases that we can’t help wonder over. Here at Will Williams Meditations, we have many favourite quotes from exceptional individuals across the world, but it’s the quotes that relate (whether intentionally or not) to the experience, philosophy and spirit of meditation that we are most fond of. While this list is by no means exhaustive, we have gathered together the best meditation quotes for you to enjoy.

Including words from scientists, meditation masters, campaigners for social justice and more, these quotes aren’t necessarily things that pertain exclusively to meditation, but that we feel resonates with the experiences we have through meditation.

For instance, when Martin Luther King Jr discussed how injustices targeted at any group go on to impact humanity as a whole, he was talking (with his usual power and eloquence) about the experiences of black people in America and their struggle against institutional racism and the hangovers of slavery. However, he also touched upon the interconnected nature of humanity and universality of the human experience – something which can feel so tangible through regular meditation.

Similarly, the words of poet Maya Angelou in our collection of the best meditation quotes describes how we are the outcome of a lifetime of experiences, even if we don’t remember them. Easing out the knots of difficult moments and old hurts which have become part of our being is a key part of a meditation practice, replacing all those negative aspects of life’s adventure with new and positive ones.

But we’ll stop going on now and let you take a look for yourself!

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We would absolutely love to know what your favourite quotes are, and whether you found any in this selection particularly inspiring! Get in touch with us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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How Meditation Can Make You Look Amazing

how meditation can make you look amazing

 

Most of the time, we tend to associate meditation with our emotional and intellectual life. From changing our perspectives to making us kinder, meditation is very much an “internal” thing – and it goes without saying that when it comes to we humans, the most important things lie beneath the surface. But while it’s pretty awesome that meditation offers lots of health and wellbeing benefits, what’s even awesomer is that as well as making us feel amazing, meditation can make us look amazing too.

This may all sound a little shallow, but we’re sure even very serious and important people like to wink at themselves in the mirror occasionally, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look at our best. So the fact that meditation can unleash the handsome devil within all of us is a brilliant bonus on top of all those other benefits we get to enjoy.

But how exactly does meditation make us look great? Read on to find out more!

Ageing

One of the biggest factors in our appearance is our age, and one of the biggest contributors to premature ageing is stress. The stress hormone cortisol is thought to break down skin collagen and even make our cells age faster, while the lack of sleep and poor diet that can accompany a high-stress lifestyle also take their toll.

Lots of sunscreen, quitting cigarettes and eating well can go a long way in keeping our skin looking healthy, but stress is undeniably harder to keep at bay. The modern world is full of pressures and demands, and few of us can afford to escape from it for any meaningful length of time.

This is where meditation steps in. Because meditating every day provides such a profound rest (much deeper even than sleep) it can help us find islands of calm even in the busiest of days. It also reduces that pesky hormone cortisol by up to a third, giving it far less of a chance to do damage.

Other stress-related problems with our appearance, such as thinning hair and acne, can also be alleviated with meditation, and as it helps us sleep well, the physical signs of tiredness can be erased. Feeling bright, well rested and happy, meditation can give us that oh-so-illusive touch of authentic radiance that beauty products never quite manage to provide.

Bloating

When we are stressed, our digestion is often the one of the first things which is noticeably affected. When we are in fight or flight mode, the energy used in general bodily maintenance – like quietly digesting our lunch – is redirected to emergency functioning to ensure we have the reserves needed to escape from danger. One result of this, along with other digestive trouble, is uncomfortable bloating.

Having our stomachs swell up beyond all sense is especially annoying when that favourite pair of jeans suddenly don’t fit as well as they usually do. However, meditation can help us avoid this situation by calming down our hair-trigger fight or flight response, leaving our digestive system undisturbed and able to perform at its best.

Good Lifestyle Choices

When we are feeling a little low or stressed out, we can develop all kinds of bad habits. Smoking, drinking too much or eating a few too many treats are an almost inevitable consequence of a life that feels drained of other pleasure or comfort, as we search for quick fixes to relieve our stress.

With meditation, however, we feel more energetic, and begin to develop a naturally positive frame of mind – making it far easier to make the healthy lifestyle choices that seem so difficult otherwise.

Because meditation is a brilliant keystone habit (something in our lives which triggers further positive changes), we can find that being healthy becomes much less of a conscious effort. Looking after ourselves with lovely nourishing food, some fun and enjoyable exercise, and avoiding things that are bad for us is much easier when we feel good about ourselves.

What’s more, when we are positively glowing with health and happiness, it’ll be immediately evident in our appearance as half of the challenge with looking brilliant is feeling brilliant. It’s why brides and grooms glow on their wedding days (although the flush of bubbly probably plays a part too!) and there’s something captivating about the truly happy. So if you fancy becoming the best version of you, and a little bit sexier to boot, pop along to one of our intro talks!

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High Functioning Anxiety: How Do You Know When It’s Time to Get Help?

help for high functioning anxiety

 

It goes without saying that periods of sadness and anxiety are an inevitable part of life. Bad mental states can weigh on us for weeks or even months, and the stress of the modern world is something that is hard to avoid. But for those with high-functioning anxiety, these normal feelings have slipped into something more difficult and profound, and knowing when it’s time to get help for high functioning anxiety is vital to long-term wellbeing.

It isn’t always easy distinguishing exactly when our feelings, worries and experience of life indicate a mental health issue. When does grief slip over into depression? Can we say for sure when extreme tidiness is a sign of OCD? At what point does a “worrier” personality type become a person living with an anxiety disorder? Doctors may have diagnostic criteria, but it’s an undeniably complex issue – especially for the individual in the midst of it all.

What is High-Functioning Anxiety?

While high-functioning anxiety isn’t an official mental health condition, it an increasingly recognised phenomenon and something that many people identify with. Outwardly, those with high-functioning anxiety appear to cope well with life and are even very successful. On the inside, however, they experience a near-constant state of anxiety, feeling beset by catastrophic thinking and nagging worry. The clinical psychologist Inna Khazan, PhD, explains:

“People with high-functioning anxiety push themselves to get things done, with anxiety constantly holding a ‘stick’ over their heads,” adds Khazan. “Fear of what might happen if they don’t move forward keeps them moving forward. And because these people are often high achieving, no one thinks that there is anything ‘wrong’ with them.”

We tend to expect people with anxiety to be visibly paralysed with fear and to withdraw from the world. This is true of some people, but others respond to anxiety by becoming as busy as possible, working hard to maintain their public face. The likely result is that the problem becomes compounded – if a person seems fine, they are unlikely to be advised by friends or family to look after themselves, or seek help.

When Does It Become a Problem?

The topic of high-functioning anxiety is something that can prompt questions about how we define mental illness, and how much we put down to personality, circumstances or low mood. As we don’t have a window into other people’s minds, we can struggle to know what is “normal” everyday stress and worry, and what we should go to our doctors about. As philosophers, religious leaders and creatives have mused for centuries, life inevitably encompasses a certain amount of suffering – but at which point is that suffering indicative of illness?

By operating well in life – turning up to work, picking their kids up from school, navigating social events with apparent ease – the characteristics of anxiety disorder that high-functioning people experience are generally considered to be at “subclinical” levels. However, the fact they can maintain their professional and personal life with relative success doesn’t mean that their anxiety doesn’t have a great personal cost.

Constantly managing worries, having difficulty sleeping, pushing down fear, suffering with headaches and digestive problems – those with high-functioning anxiety may come to believe that feeling pretty awful for much of the time is simply the reality of life, forgetting what it’s like to live without that knot in their stomach. 

This can be pretty isolating, and extremely exhausting. It can even exacerbate other health issues, and people struggle through without outside support or proper self-care – because, of course, they’re “fine”, why should they need it?

Help for High Functioning Anxiety

So how do you know, if you’re a person with high-functioning anxiety, when it’s time to get help; and what kind of help might be best for you? Here are some ideas which could be the first steps towards a less anxious and stressful experience of life.

Trust your feelings 

Just because you don’t necessarily have a diagnosable mental health issue, (although only a doctor and/or psychiatrist could tell you for sure) and your life appears to be a successful and functional one on the surface, doesn’t mean that you should discount the feelings of fear, stress and worry you experience. If anxiety is something you experience a lot of the time over a period of months or years, it isn’t something you need to accept – and going to a health professional for a chat should be your first port of call.

Take steps to understand your emotions

If anxiety is your default state, it may well have affected your perception and experience of life. You might have developed several coping mechanisms that you barely notice, or repeat patterns of behaviour because you are always in a vaguely panicked state of mind. Keeping a diary – even if it’s just a dry run-through of your day and how you were feeling at the time – can be a great way to gain more insight into your life and see patterns which otherwise may go unnoticed.

Give yourself permission to practice self-care

Even for those with a generally sunny outlook and who naturally don’t worry too much, life can be very difficult at times. If you are at the opposite end of the spectrum and tend to find yourself worrying about everything, it can be even more so. We all need to practice self-care, and it is especially important for those who tend to push down their feelings and work at 100% effort to keep everything in life running smoothly.

You may think that, compared to others, you are actually OK and should just get on with things. But you can vastly improve your experience of life simply by allocating a little more time away from professional concerns and looking after others to looking after yourself.

Whether it’s meditation, making more time to pursue your hobbies, doing less overtime at work – doing what you can to soothe and help yourself can transform your experience of high-functioning anxiety to something more manageable.

 

 

 

 

 

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Why Aren’t Our Meditation Courses Free?

why does it cost money to learn meditation

 

Meditation is a beautiful, empowering thing. Its power to change people’s lives and foster a mindset of openness, connectivity and compassion across communities is one of the many reasons why we are so inspired to teach this practice.

Recently, however, we have seen a few people ask a pointed question: “why does it cost money to learn meditation?” Some have remarked that asking for a fee is not in the spirit of meditation, or could be construed as cynical.  

We completely understand the line of thought that may lead people to this conclusion, and are open to everyone’s opinion. However, we felt this post would help to illuminate the issue.

Let’s use an analogy, albeit an imperfect one. You can argue that learning to dance is also a beautiful and empowering thing. It helps people to be healthier, express themselves and is a precious and sophisticated artform, something that should exist outside the base concerns of commerce. Like meditation, therefore, it would be possible to consider that ballet classes should always be free.

But the reality of our economic system is that ballet teachers provide a service. They must rent a studio, invest in teaching materials and contribute significant amounts of their time – not to mention the many years of their life it took to acquire their knowledge.

They can neither run their business or live at all comfortably in the world without some form of income; nor can they employ other teachers or rent a studio. It would be wonderful if a ballet teacher could pass on this gift with no recompense at all, and some occasionally have the capacity to do so. But for most teachers, this simply isn’t possible.

In an ideal world in which we aren’t so tied to the whims of an arbitrary economic resource – one which, we hesitate to add, is currently failing to serve genuine human need and potential, or reflect the availability of our globe’s natural resources – teachers wouldn’t have to make this compromise. We would happily instruct others with no greater expectation of reward than the pleasure we get in turn.

When it comes to learning to dance, taking art classes, or mastering any number of other skills, though, we are generally able to understand that an investment of time equals an investment of resources – and thus, the need to charge for classes. It’s because meditation is so close to people’s hearts, and often part of a profound spiritual journey, that we can find it harder to rationalise this necessity.

Here at Will Williams Meditation, we are motivated solely by our desire to pass on our knowledge and techniques; specific methodologies that have helped people lead more fulfilled and less anxious lives. But the economic reality of doing this (in London, no less) cannot be avoided.

In order to spread the message of meditation, we charge as little as we can for our courses and events. The economic reality of our location and situation dictate that without money to keep the wheels turning, we couldn’t realistically carry on teaching Vedic meditation, holding events, or spreading the word.

Our founder, Will Williams, hasn’t taken a wage for many years, and personally subsidises our meditation centre in order to bring Vedic meditation to as many people as he can. However, it would be deeply unfair to expect our other teachers and members of staff to work without a salary.

Volunteers only have very limited time to give, and with the ever-rising costs of essentials such as housing, food, and childcare, people cannot live on fresh air alone. We must also manage significant costs in our studio space, plus the hundreds of other hidden costs of running an organisation.

In order to reconcile this reality with the ideals of meditation, we take every step we can to make sure our students get the best teaching experience possible, and at the best value for money. We strive to ensure our prices remain as low as possible, and are more than happy to negotiate price plans for those who need it. In addition, we hold many free events throughout the year, including our recurring and well-loved Shavasana Disco.

After our courses, we hold regular free group meditations (which can be attended by people who have learnt Vedic/TM meditation elsewhere) and offer extensive complementary aftercare. A student can contact us any time they are looking for answers to their questions, or advice on how to develop their practice, and even if they are in need of emotional support.  

We are not in it for commercial success, we are here to help all those who really need and want help. We discuss this issue an awful lot as a team, and one day we would love to produce an app which is free or extremely cheap to buy that mimics the teaching experience. But to do so would require an investment which runs well into the hundreds of thousands of pounds. For this you need investors, and investors expect a return on investment – and once again the question of economics raises its head.

At Will Williams Meditation, we also don’t feel we can teach this technique with effectiveness or integrity if we were to carve up this ancient and holistic wisdom into bite-size “taster” packages, add-ons and other such deals. If we can’t teach Vedic meditation properly, and in the form which is most helpful to people, it would feel far too much like a corporatism and westernisation of something truly special – a fast-food-style “start with 30 minutes free today and double up for extra enlightenment!” that guts the original meaning out of the technique. And we don’t feel this is in the spirit of what we feel called to do.

Unless some amazing technology comes along that enables us to humanise the learning experience and generate sufficiently strong learning outcomes, or some even more genius technique is found that can be taught via such cost-effective platforms, it will always have to be taught live, in person, with staff, and and all the other crazy stuff that goes into it. And because you need teachers, a space to teach in, and many other hidden things, it simply isn’t possible for this to be free.

We aim to support everyone in the practice of meditation, and will continue to strive for the betterment of all our students. Please feel free to get in touch if you want to discuss any of these points further – we always love to hear from you, and enjoy discussing questions from enquiring minds.

Note: Those questioning cost sometimes point to Buddhist centres who teach meditation. Here, whatever donation you can afford is enough for you to learn. However, it is important to remember that Buddhism is a religion, and similar to how you can walk into a Catholic Church and enjoy Mass for free, their services do not rely on set charges, as they will have many generous and committed donors.

Volunteers and monks work extensively in religions such as Buddhism, making their staffing costs low. Churches and religious organizations are also generally exempt from income tax and receive other favorable treatment under the tax law. Finally (although this isn’t inherently a bad thing and leads to lots of good work) religions are ultimately motivated by guiding people to embrace their own particular belief system – whereas our organisation is entirely secular.

 

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Helping Staff Manage Stress During Tough Times

Helping Staff Manage Stress During Tough Times

 

Here at Will Williams Meditation, we think corporate wellbeing is really important. We spend so much of our lives working that making that time as enjoyable and fulfilling as possible should be a big priority across society. If you run a business or manage employees, helping staff manage stress during tough times could make a huge difference to their lives in general.

Employee stress (and its impact on both personal wellbeing and professional productivity) is a persistent concern for business and team leaders. According to the Health and Safety Executive 526,000 people suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2016/17, and 12.5 million working days were lost.

When times are tough and businesses (or other organisations) experience commercial uncertainty, a difficult transition, or the sudden departure of a key member of staff, this stress can be compounded. Entrepreneurs and managers carry the responsibility of guiding the establishment out of the storm, while simultaneously protecting their employee’s health and wellbeing.

Leading your team back to stability and success is not without its challenges, but by following these tips you can keep a lid on employee stress.

Be Honest and Open

While the impulse to not worry your team is understandable, if you are dealing with profound and noticeable problems, a lack of communication on your part can foster atmosphere of speculation and fear. You don’t have to share every detail, but openness and honesty will bolster the trust employees have in you and your integrity, and will help them appreciate their place in the long term recovery.

Acknowledge the Problem, But Find the Positives

It’s important to acknowledge the difficulties your business is experiencing, but it is possible to find the positives even in very demanding situations; often by focusing on the opportunities that come with change.

For example, perhaps operational problems have made it clear that the business or organisation would benefit from some restructuring. In this case, you can use the change to actually benefit your employees by asking them where their skills are underutilised, and tailoring a job role that is more suited to them.

Help Your Staff Manage Their Workload

Whether you’ve been forced to downsize or have had an influx of business that’s left you with more clients or customers than you can currently cope with (one of those “good problems”), there are many moments in the working world where every member of the team sees an increase in workload.

Your key focus will be to resolve the issue as soon as possible, whether that’s by taking on new employees or streamlining your services so your team can cope with demand. But in the meantime, there are other ways you can keep stress at bay.

Firstly, make it clear that you completely understand that your staff are under extra pressure, and make sure – as the boss – that you are seen to be working just as hard as they are to keep everything together. Secondly, look into the areas where you can save people time. One solution is to cut back on meetings (the Harvard Business Review surveyed 182 senior managers in a range of industries, and found that 65% said meetings keep them from completing their own work) and allow trusted members of staff to make executive decisions.

Don’t Let Workplace Wellbeing Practices Slip

It’s understandable, when you need everyone to be working efficiently, to let good practice in workplace wellness to slip. However, this can do more harm than good, as burnout and stress damage productivity and can even lead to extended sick leave.

Make sure staff take their breaks, don’t check emails outside of work hours, and if you simply cannot avoid a key deadline and you need staff to work late into the night/do consistent overtime, give them a couple of free days holiday when things calm down. It’s also helpful to encourage wellness habits like meditation, or get the team to leave their desks and go on walks during their breaks.

Even the smallest everyday actions can make a difference, and as a employer, you can make a real difference to people’s health, happiness and state of mind – even through challenges and tough times.

Check out our corporate wellbeing page to find out more.  

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Finding Calm in the Everyday

being calm every day

 

A presiding feature of the modern world is that it’s an extremely busy place. Planet Earth is a huge 24/7 hive of activity – with all of humanity working, shopping, tidying and socialising throughout the day, and deep into the artificially-lit night.

When you start to quantify just how much is going on at any given time, the numbers can be mind-blowing. There are 7.6 billion people, 1.2 billion cars, 1.9 billion smartphones and 36,899 branches of McDonald’s serving 68 million customers every day. With all this rushing by, it’s no wonder that catching a few moments of calm is by no means guaranteed.

And the thing about all this is that it’s relatively new. Only a hundred years ago, there was about 6 billion fewer people, zero smartphones and not one sinister clown selling burgers (we presume). It’s clear that the globe is an awful lot more hectic than it once was, and the result is an environment where we have to consciously carve out moments of serenity where we can.

Our ancestors could take a certain amount of peacefulness for granted, which isn’t necessarily true for us in the modern day. We live in a very different place than the inhabitants of pre-industrial England, who would have shared the whole country with less than half of the current population of London, and probably heard few things louder than church bells. But being calm every day is still possible – if we know the right way to do it.

 

Seeking nature

 

We are, for the most part, separated from nature. Here in the UK, 90.1% of the population lived in a city in 2010, and by 2030 this is set to rise to 92%. City dwellers appear to experience greater issues with mental health than their rural counterparts, suffering a 40% increased risk of depression and double the rate of schizophrenia, according to the Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health. Whether it’s living in high rises, constant noise or lack of community, there seems to be something about city surroundings which make us feel stressed out.

The mental health charity Mind extolls the many benefits of getting out in nature, and green, leafy spaces can be incredibly soothing. But we don’t always have to hop on a train to the countryside in order to feel the benefits – we can bring a little more nature into our lives with simple everyday changes.

A 2008 study found that people recovering from surgery that have flowers in their room felt less anxiety than those who didn’t. Similarly, having more flowers around your home could help you create a more relaxing atmosphere. The act of caring for plants can also be very therapeutic, so keeping them in your living space or spending more time in the garden will provide plenty of calming, mindful moments.

While they may at times add a certain amount of chaos to our lives, pets can also be a source of calm. Having another (and rather different) living being around can take you out of your worries and into the moment, whether it’s laughing at a dog’s exuberance or staring into the fascinating otherworld of a goldfish bowl. Of course, this is less true when your cat has upended the bin in search of chicken bones, but you can argue it’s worth it for all those quiet moments with them purring in your lap.

 

The problem with time

 

It isn’t only the physical separation created by increased urbanisation that affects us. Rather than living in tune with the natural world, we work to a man-made schedule which has little in common with anything our hunter-gatherer or agricultural forebears experienced. Time pressure is a great cause of stress and frustration, and it is almost entirely artificial – a modern construct that doesn’t actually reflect the reality of our existence.

When the 40-hour work week was introduced, it represented a huge step forward for exploited people working 14-hour days. Yet as technology has advanced (and we can complete far more in less time) our working hours haven’t been reduced, despite grand visions in the 50s and 60s of humanity being freed from labour. The reason for this, some people argue, is those who feel short of time make better consumers, buying convenience and easy entertainment in order to maximise the limited free time they have.

 

Stopping the clock

 

Whatever the source, the fact remains that it’s a perceived lack of time which stops many of us from truly pausing and living in the moment. We’re so used to compartmentalising our day – we go to the office for work time, sit down for dinner time, head to the gym for exercise time – that we forget that we don’t have to schedule enjoyment or relaxation. We don’t have to be on holiday to catch moments of calm – we can find them throughout the day.  

One way to do this is to avoid the impulse of using every spare second to tick things off your to-do list. If you are the sort of person who cleans out the fridge as your pasta cooks, or answers emails while you are on hold, it can be worth trying to go a little slower and appreciate quiet moments for what they are. Rather than trying to optimise every second, and focus purely on productivity, allow for rest as much as you can.

Even something quite dull like hanging out the laundry or doing the washing up can be strangely peaceful – if we simply stop trying to do eight other things at the same time and focus on the task in hand – appreciating perhaps the afternoon glow of sunshine or feel of warm water on our hands.

 

Stemming the tide of information

 

If we think about how often we check our phones – reading news stories, scrolling through social media and checking our notifications – we realise just how much time these little devices are taking up. And along with all that time there’s the mental energy we invest as well, where we find ourselves constantly processing and reacting to information we’d otherwise be completely oblivious to.

This isn’t to say that being informed is a bad thing – our smartphones are undeniably useful in many ways – but the endless deluge of content we’re presented with now is often overwhelming.  Learning to switch off our phones is a key part of switching off in general, and it’s important to practice just sitting with ourselves in quiet moments, rather than looking for the easy distraction provided by technology.

It’s something nearly everyone does, but in those five minutes here and there throughout the day where you find yourself with nothing to do, it’s likely that you pick up your phone. This isn’t a negative all of the time, but you can embrace calm and quiet by taking in the opportunity to look around you, rather than down at a screen.

Our brains don’t need to be constantly engaged, and by breaking the habit of constantly seeking information, we give ourselves a much better chance of relaxation – ultimately helping us reach the goal of being calm every day and making us happier people. 

 

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International Children’s Day: Teaching Children How to Be Happy

Teaching Children How to Be Happy

 

Today is International Children’s Day, proclaimed by The World Conference for the Well-being of Children in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1925. There’s also another Children’s Day on 20 November 2018, but we suppose we can’t resent the little monkeys for getting more than their fair share – they are rather delightful, after all. But despite our collective care, love and concern for these miniature wonders, there’s been worrying rise in childhood mental health issues – which raises the question, should we be teaching children how to be happy?

The idea that childhood should be a time of breezy carelessness has been present in our culture from about the time we stopped using them as chimney sweeps. Human beings are hugely invested in cultivating the happiness of their children, and adults become very disconcerted if they feel children are distressed – as this quote Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents illuminates:

“The well-being of children is more important to adults than just about anything elseMore than two-thirds of adults say they are “extremely concerned” about the well-being of children, and this concern cuts across gender, income, ethnicity, age, and political affiliation.”

Even the famously fraught experience of puberty is looked at fondly, and (usually) with a certain amount of indulgence. It makes sense that teenagers are going to be stomping around, trying to go to parties they’re too young for and writing furious diary entries about the injustice of having such unreasonable parents – because that’s what they are supposed to do.

Childhood is there for endless summers, falling out of trees and giggling at sleepovers, while teenagers are free to be clueless, creative and full of heightened emotion; revelling in every discovery, disappointment, heartbreak and triumph that life throws their way.

Which is why it’s so worrying to hear a recent report by the Children’s Commissioner describing an “epidemic of anxiety” among children, with the number of young children seeing psychiatrists rising by a third. A study published in October in the BMJ that found self-harm among young teenage girls had risen by nearly 70 per cent between 2011 and 2014, and there are warnings that children are resorting to illegally acquired Xanax to help them cope.

Childhood Sadness – Whats Normal?

Crashing lows tend to come with the territory for adolescents – it isn’t easy becoming more self-aware and experiencing those first knocks to your self-esteem – but this is meant to be temporary; a learning experience and something easily remedied with a bit of adult guidance.

It’s also true that even very young children have always had to face difficulties, and we can’t completely shield them from emotional distress. Whether it’s divorce, bereavement, or even not getting on well with their siblings, children often have to confront unpleasant emotions, and allowing them the space to be unhappy and express their feelings is important.

However, these moments are simply a regrettable part of life, and if a child is generally happy, well loved and emotionally resilient, they can weather these storms – not moving on unaffected necessarily, but also not being so impacted as to find it difficult to function throughout life either.

It seems both concerning and extremely unfair that more and more children are being denied the cheerful, unselfconscious years that should be their right. The number of children referred by their schools for specialist mental health treatment has spiked by a third in the past three years, and it’s impossible not to ask, what on earth is fuelling this childhood unhappiness?

Of course, there’s many theories. Perhaps it’s smartphones, the competitive and testing-based nature of schools, the lack of community in our society. Maybe there is something inherent in the way we organise our modern world that is hostile to the developing brain and its ongoing wellbeing.

Whatever the cause, it seems more important than ever to give children all the tools they need in order to be happy.

Teaching Children How to Be Happy

To a large extent, we need to change the world in which children live to truly ensure we are giving them the best possible start in life. There are obviously factors in our society which are incompatible with human happiness – such as aggressive individualism, lack of community and inadequate mental health support. However, we are aware that this is not something that will happen overnight. On a more immediately achievable level, teaching children how to be happy will also do a great amount to help.

Part of this is lifestyle. Researchers in Finland of the Finnish Forest Research Institute found that people began to feel psychologically restored after just 15 minutes of sitting outside in both the park and forest. Allowing children to spend time in nature not only gives them an amazing playground to explore, it could also boost their mental wellbeing. And while there’s little formal evidence to say that smartphones and tablets are making children unhappy, intuitively it feels important to cut down on children’s screen time – where they are most susceptible to advertising and addictive social media platforms.

Cultivating a sense of optimism is also vital. Life doesn’t go smoothly all of the time, so a natural propensity to think about things in a positive light will be a big asset to young people. In this, we feel that meditation and meditative practices can help in a significant way.

Here at Will Williams Meditation, we wouldn’t necessarily prescribe a formal meditation practice for very young children. Generally, 10 – 15 year olds can meditate as adults do, but they only need to practise a minute for every year of their age – so a 12-year-old can do 12 minutes, for instance. In our opinion, however, the most helpful thing would be to introduce the spirit of meditation into schools, allowing more time outside of learning and the pressure to achieve where children can simply be themselves.

Our society’s focus on success and achievement can make it difficult for those who don’t feel that they measure up – whether socially, in their appearance, or academically – and even those young people who are “succeeding” can feel a huge amount of anxiety, as if any day it could all go wrong. By letting childhood be the mostly carefree time it’s meant to be, and giving children the space to live their lives without too much pressure to perform, we should hopefully help them grow into healthy and happy adults.

 

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Why Are We Still Failing in UK Mental Health Support?

failing uk mental health support

 

In recent months, the news about mental health support in the UK has been, with few exceptions, overwhelmingly negative. Whether it’s NHS shortfalls and a lack of beds, which impacted patients who later died1; children with mental health issues facing “unacceptable”2 waiting times to get help; or women who find it difficult to access mental health services during the particularly vulnerable time of pregnancy3, the overarching picture looks bleak.

We are arguably far more enlightened on the subject of mental illness than we were 15 years ago, and politicians have been trumpeting their commitment to spend more money on services, and bring about parity in treatment with physical health. Yet it seems we are still failing, far too often, to help those who need it most.

The reasons behind this are (perhaps unsurprisingly) many and complicated. It’s generally accepted that the NHS is underfunded, with a fall in the proportion of GDP spent on health services and cuts to social care placing huge pressure on the service. Add to this an ageing population and the burden of treating long-term illnesses, and there’s even more strain. So the NHS in general is struggling, and mental health services are facing their own particular challenges.

Firstly, with raised awareness has come an uptick in the demand for services, as more people seek help. Secondly, mental health issues are on the rise, especially amongst young people. Finally, there’s been a worrying fall in the number of mental health nurses around to look after people4.  

We also have to consider the fact that no matter how far we’ve come in understanding mental illnesses – not looking at it as attention seeking, laziness, or something to be feared and locked away – there’s still an awful lot of misunderstanding and prejudice that can hinder treatment. People still tell hair-raising stories (even if they are very rare) of professionals making disparaging remarks or not taking them seriously.

Mental health problems can benefit hugely from early intervention. Take the example of someone who has started having panic attacks for the first time. They may well ring a ambulance or turn up at A&E, because the nature of panic attacks means that a large proportion of people who experience them will be certain there’s something physically wrong with them – such as a heart attack, or stroke. However, even if that person is absolutely certain they are going to die, they will probably be sent home without any treatment, because they aren’t in any ‘real’ danger.

This, of course, makes a certain amount of sense. Doctors have to prioritise the people who are actually facing a physical threat to their life. Yet it doesn’t help the person who is still convinced, each time they have a panic attack, that they are facing imminent death. This is a terrible state in which to have to wait for a GP appointment, and to potentially wait months more for therapy. Things become even harder if the usual medication prescribed in these cases doesn’t work for an individual, leaving them to battle the feeling of mortal danger all on their own.

The kind of delays which are highlighted often in the news could make the difference between this person experiencing panic attacks and then quickly recovering with the right support, or the anxiety becoming entrenched. Regularly experiencing panic attacks is mentally exhausting and upsetting, and leaves the body in a similar state to someone who’s been fleeing from a predator for days on end.

Without fast intervention, people can begin to self-medicate to relieve their symptoms. Some young people facing anxiety have started to abuse Internet-acquired Xanax5 and alcohol, complicating their illness and putting them in danger of addiction. The result is a vicious cycle, in which people are de-prioritised and face delays as health practitioners deal with the most difficult cases, and as a result become more difficult to treat themselves.

The commitment and hard work of the vast majority of those who work in UK mental health support is unquestionable, with many working huge amounts of overtime and facing stress and burnout themselves. There are simply too many people who need help, and not enough funds or resources to provide it. As Peter Kinderman, a clinical psychologist at the University of Liverpool, puts it: “The entire NHS is suffering and the mental health system is a large part of the NHS – and it’s suffering too. I think there’s been quite a profound change in the last 25 years, that people are now more willing to talk about their mental health, but we just don’t have the systems to respond to it.”

So what’s the solution? While we wouldn’t presume to have a panacea for this serious and complex issue, we do think there are ways to support mental health outside of simply allocating more money (which, ideally, would be the initial step). Firstly, although the demand for services has increased, we must continue to foster an open and honest atmosphere around mental health, so people feel able to discuss and seek help for their problems before they hit crisis point.

Secondly, we need to ensure that children – through schools and other societal programs, as well as reaching out to parents – get the best start possible, learning about self-care and being given the emotional tools they need to face the inevitable difficulties of life. Increased equality would help hugely in this, as poverty is a leading cause of chronic stress6, and discrimination is linked to stress and poor health7. Creating a more holistic education system, which values emotional wellbeing as well as academic achievement, and allows children the room to express themselves and follow their interests, could also help to protect their mental health.

Finally, people need to be aware of – and not made to feel ashamed of pursuing – the non-medical actions which can help them maintain their mental health. Self-care can feel like an ‘airy-fairy’ term, but small everyday actions can make all the difference to a vast amount of individuals. Like our physical health, small daily choices have a huge cumulative impact, and our physical and mental health are intimately connected. Empowering people to take actions which improve their own wellbeing could reduce costs to our overstrained healthcare system, and make our whole community healthier and happier.

 

1 https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/mar/06/lack-of-beds-and-staff-for-mental-health-patients-crucial-failings

2 https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/health/children-mental-health-issues-face-14563856

3 https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/apr/19/women-across-uk-denied-mental-healthcare-around-childbirth-say-doctors

4 https://fullfact.org/health/are-mental-health-nurse-numbers-down/

5 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-43431453

6 https://www.stand-together.org/toxic-stress-poverty-effects/

7 http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2016/03/impact-of-discrimination.aspx

 

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A Big Night Out With a Difference: World Meditation Day at Fabric 2018

World Meditation Day at Fabric

There’s only a few days to go until World Meditation Day 2018, on Tuesday 15th May, and we can barely contain our excitement! We are celebrating with a unique wellness event that combines meditation, music, sound bathing and amazing food and drink to create an evening of the most amazing natural highs. Here you can revel in an evening of fun that leaves you glowing, refreshed and walking on air – a wonderful opportunity for experienced meditators and curious newbies alike to experience a different kind of hedonism.

Located at the iconic nightclub Fabric in London, the event is in support of the mental health charity CALM, and we hope by introducing people to meditation we’ll be helping them to improve their own health and happiness.

“I was always a massive party boy and had many a debauched night in Fabric, but having realised there is a more balanced way to achieve my highs, and stay feeling good all week long, my team and I are spreading the meditation love with events and courses that are accessible and relevant for everyday folks. This is Manumission for the 21st Century”. Will Williams.

What to Expect

Guided Meditation

https://www.willwilliamsmeditation.co.uk/what-is-meditation/

World Meditation Day at Fabric 2018

Our founder (and the creator of World Meditation Day) Will Williams is committed to passing on the ancient knowledge of Vedic meditation in a way that is practical, enjoyable and relevant to people from all walks of life. It doesn’t matter if you meditate every day, or have never meditated before, under the guidance of Will Williams you’ll gently and effortlessly float into a state of pure relaxation.

 

This is made even more powerful by the fact you will be sharing this experience with a room of other people, a phenomenon that has to be felt to be believed – and World Meditation Day promises to be the largest group meditation that London has ever seen!

Akala

 

 

Gracing the stage this World Meditation Day is none other than BAFTA and MOBO award-winning hip-hop artist, writer and social entrepreneur, as well as the co-founder of The Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company Akala. We’re absolutely delighted that this amazing musician and thinker will be treating Fabric goers to a special performance of acoustic versions of his greatest hits, as well as spoken word poetry from his upcoming book ‘Natives’.*

We found this quote from Akala and it really resonated with us:

If I could solve something as complicated as conflict in the world, I would change the education system. Full stop. Not just along the lines of race, but along the lines of how people are taught to view the whole of human history, and on what education provides. It doesn’t provide any spiritual, emotional wellbeing.”

*(Hodder & Stoughton), out 17th May 2018 and available to pre-order here.

 

Jordan Rakei

https://www.jordanrakei.com/

A producer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, 25 year-old Jordan Rakei is a unique talent. Born in New Zealand and raised in Australia, Jordan moved to the UK when his EP Groove Curse found fans and acclaim in Europe and America.

“Really glad to be a part of this. Meditation changed my life five years ago. This is such a great cause, so I hope to see you there!”

 

B.Traits 

https://soundcloud.com/btraits/essentialmix

B.Traits made a name for herself in her home country of Canada at clubs such as Automactic, before going on to play venues across Europe and the US. Since 2012, shes held various slots at BBC Radio 1 and she expresses her considerable musical talent in her work as a DJ, record producer, remixer and radio presenter.

You can hear a preview of the super-chilled out DJ set B.Traits has in store for our Fabric attendees over on her Facebook page.

 

 

Sound Sebastien

https://www.soundsebastien.com/

Using the “harmonics of gemstone, mineral and crystal alchemy”, Jasmine Hemsley’s and Toni Dick’s Sound Sebastien allows you to sink into a nourishing and blissful cocoon of sound; an experience that grounds and revitalises you. All you need is to lie back, close your eyes and become immersed in the perfect sensory space created by Jasmine and Toni’s therapeutic music.

 

 

 

About CALM

The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is leading a movement against male suicide. For men under the age of 45, suicide is the biggest killer. Mental health is an issue we take extremely seriously here at Will Williams Meditation.

The combination of our own personal experiences here in the team, and the experiences of those who’ve reached out to us for help, have made it clear to us how widespread and under-discussed problems with mental health can be. We hope through our work teaching people the self-care tool of  meditation, and by supporting the charities who work tirelessly to highlight and alleviate these issues, we can do our bit to help.

ORDER YOUR TICKETS HERE.

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