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Posts from the ‘happiness’ Category

Introducing Heartfulness- Balanced Mind: Kind Mind Course

April 11th, 2017

Heather Johnston

IMG_4534As many of you are aware, over the last year I have been doing some additional mindfulness training focused on friendship (or loving kindness) and compassion practices. I am now one of the first 20 or so people trained in this new course in the UK while it has been running for a longer time in Europe! I have personally gained so much from these practices- a greater feeling of happiness, a way of self soothing when things get tough and for those of us in the caring and helping professions a way of dealing with the possibilities of burnout from empathy fatigue.

I am running the course in 2 parts, before and after the summer hols. Designed as either a stand alone course or as a continuation from other mindfulness courses. This course centres around developing kindness, compassion and self compassion, joy and equanimity. Our best homes.

The material is developed from the work of Sharon Salzberg, Paul Gilbert and Erik van den Brink (mindfulness based compassionate living). It is underpinned with the latest research into affective and social neuroscience and what we need to build a happy healthy mind. This is complemented with the latest from positive psychology and the long lineage of metta meditation. Which means loving kindness or friendship.

The course is particularly helpful to those that care for others, both in a professional and non professional capacity. Helping us find balance, nourish and develop kindness and compassion for ourselves and others

Course Outline

Each course focuses on eight key themes, all interlinking and building each week through home practice.

Session 1: Our three emotional regulation systems

Session 2: Stress reactions and self compassion

Session 3: Our inner patterns (your internal voice)

Session 4: Compassion

Session 5: Our relationship with ourself and others

Session 6: Our common humanity and happiness for all

Session 7: Heartfulness in daily life

Session 8: Self healing and compassion

Self directed, choice based home practise is an integral part of the course, as it enables you to establish the skills that you are learning and apply them and see the benefits in your daily life. Participants are encouraged to be kind with themselves in finding a way to make heartfulness practise work for them.

Benefits of kindness, compassion and self compassion

Loving-kindness meditation was best in increasing positively valenced and other- focused thought and was the only practice to positively link thoughts of self and others.

The following was adapted from the Greater Good’s article on the top 10 insights of the science of a meaningful life:

A German study led by Tania Singer, recruited novice meditators to participate in a nine-month mindfulness training. They learned four different types of meditation: breathing meditation, body scan, loving-kindness meditation, and observing-thought meditation. In the end, the researchers found some common benefits: During every type of meditation, participants reported feeling more positive emotions, more energetic, more focused on the present, and less distracted by thoughts than they did before beginning—perhaps thanks to the attention training that’s common to all meditation. Loving-kindness meditation led to the greatest boost in their feelings of warmth and positive thoughts about others.

How much, When and Where?

I am currently focusing on my work within organisations. If you are interested in bringing mindfulness and/or compassion practices to your workplace do get in contact.

To undertake this course it is useful to have some grounding in mindfulness meditation…or the course can be taken as a standalone or deepening and expanding the meditation experience developed through other mindfulness courses such as MBSR or MBCT.

Who should attend mindfulness courses?

Mindfulness is generally available to most people, however for some it may be best to be trained by someone with a specific clinical qualification (such as those with an acute mental health condition).

For some people challenges can arise while meditating for a number of different reasons. While each of us is different, If you are going through a major life event (such as having been recently bereaved or divorced) or suffering from mental ill health (eg acute depression) have a learning disability or have just been diagnosed with an upsetting physical illness (eg cancer) it is best to wait and leave attending a course until life is a little more settled for you or find a course that is more specialised to your particular needs. This can be discussed with Heather and it is for this reason why we ask everyone to fill in a course screening form so that we can best support your needs or help you to find someone who can.

The course is not designed to discuss any current or past personal problems not related to the practises and if necessary, these should be pursued through individual work with a counsellor or other appropriate support.

My training

Heather has undertaken two MBSR/MBCT teacher training retreats (TTR 1&2) with the Centre for mindfulness and research practice at the University of Bangor, one of the leaders in the field for mindfulness in the UK, along with advanced mindfulness training course in mindfulness based compassionate living and further training in deep listening. Some of the people that have trained Heather include: Michael Chaskalson, Trish Bartley, Jody Mardula, Sarah Silverton, Erik van den Brink, Ros Oliver, Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter. She has also attended masterclasses with: Profs Paul Gilbert, Tania Singer and Associate Professor Kristin Neff. See my bio here.

What’s the most important minute in your life?

February 17th, 2017

Heather Johnston

P1110381
The very early signs of Spring are in the air and in this issue of Spring Reflections I wanted to use the garden as a metaphor to explore the wellbeing of you, your staff and your organisation.
So how does your garden grow? 
Gardens are complex ecosystems that need tending and care to keep them looking at their best. There are many shapes, sizes and styles of gardens and each need tailored care to their own specific needs. Keeping the garden healthy, flourishing and in tune with the wider environment needs constant attention.

On a personal level we can relate this garden analogy to our minds. How much attention are you paying to how healthy your mind is? Do you do a few overhauls a year or some steady tending week by week? Dr Rick Hanson uses the garden analogy as a useful metaphor to explore how we might build healthy minds to support us in our life today:

What would you like to let be?
What needs weeding? (let go)
What extra nourishment and sowing do we need to provide? (let in)
How we perform our day to day work and how we experience our life is very much driven by how healthy our minds are- are the weeds out of control or are we feeling truly nourished and happy?

This analogy obviously also works with organisations too, how is your ecosystem thriving? What might you need to GROW?

Backed up by the latest research on neuroplasticity, taking in the good, mind training, kindness and compassion I can work with individuals, teams and organisations to help to add a bit of fertiliser and/or help you tend a few weeds. So if you fancy a different take on your standard staff training programs, coaching, or team development then do give me a call. I can offer off the shelf and tailored interventions focused around

Staff wellbeing, strengths and happiness
Leadership and management development
Team Development
Coaching and Supervisory skills
Mind training for attention, creativity and self care for adults and children
Compassion and kindness interventions
Creative arts

So if you are an individual, blue chip organisation, small business, charity, school or government organisation I may have something to help. All prices are tailored to sector and ability to pay. Curious?

 

Got some questions?  Then please do get in touch to explore on 07801 246113 or via email heather@mindtrip.co.uk

Know someone that this may interest?… Then please do forward this mail with the links below…

It would be lovely to reconnect with those that I haven’t spoken to for a while even if you don’t have an immediate need!

What have you done to help others lately?

November 4th, 2013

Heather Johnston

Why do I ask? Because it may just help you too…At the end of October, I attended the empathy and compassion conference in society and was transported into a truly inspiring atmosphere of the latest research and thinking around ways to help improve our individual and collective resilience, so as to build a more compassionate society.

We as human beings are naturally programmed to help others, you only need to look at acts of bravery and courage (both big and small) to see how much they are rooted in putting other people before ourselves.

Taking a secular view on thinking from Buddhist meditation practices, researchers have found that those that meditate regularly develop an ability to self soothe themselves when times get tough, maintain perspective and once they get themselves balanced have a greater ability to act compassionately towards others without getting burnout.

The key? Is self compassion. When things gets tough in our ‘threat and drive’ based work organisations we all have a tendency to be our biggest internal critic and this then leeches out into a wider culture of the survival of the strongest with potentially devastating impact on people’s wellbeing, cooperation, productivity and society as a whole.

Through starting to be kinder to ourselves and being a bit more self compassionate, we naturally will start to act more compassionately towards others and this can impact up to 3 degrees of separation from ourselves, as well as increase our own wellbeing and happiness. Benefits to work organisations? Researchers have shown this is good for business too..those that start to develop more balanced work cultures that value acts of giving towards others see increased staff loyalty, increased customer service and reduced turnover as well as a reduced health bill from the impact of stress.

Want to find out where to start? Have a look at the links through this article and all it takes to get going is just 7 minutes meditation a day to take a deep breath, stop and be still. Spending time becoming aware of our own mind is a first step towards helping yourself and helping others.

 

Developing Resilience

January 17th, 2013

Heather Johnston

In my coaching with individuals and supporting Leaders and Managers within Organisations the topic of resilience, positivity and ‘can-do’ attitude generally comes up. The following are books that talk about concepts, tools and perspectives that are at the heart of my coaching with both individuals and organisations. Each book interlinks with the others and focuses on the relationship between how we see the world and our emotional and behavioural reaction to it.

To help us in developing our resilience, through coaching, it is useful to explore the links between our thoughts, actions and emotions when people are resilient and when they are not.

Source
by Joseph Jaworski
As he did in his classic Synchronicity, Joseph Jaworski once again takes us on a mind-expanding journey, this time to the very heart of creativity and deep knowing. Institutions of all sorts are facing profound change today, with complexity ...
Life Coaching
by Michael Neenan
The way we think profoundly influences the way we feel, so learning to think differently can enable us to feel and act differently. Derived from the methods of cognitive behaviour therapy, this book shows how to tackle self-defeating thinking and ...
Mindset
by Carol S. Dweck
Now updated with new research, the book that has changed millions of lives with its insights into the growth mindset. After decades of research, world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., discovered a simple but ...
Positivity
by Barbara Fredrickson
World renowned researcher Dr. Barbara Fredrickson gives you the lab-tested tools necessary to create a healthier, more vibrant, and flourishing life through a process she calls "the upward spiral." You’ll discover: •What positivity is, and why it ...
Conquer Your Stress
by Cary L. Cooper
The authors of this text assert that conquering work stress is actually no different from acquiring any other management skill: it just needs understanding and practice.
Curious?
by Todd Kashdan, PhD
“Curious? is one of those rare books that can make you rethink how you see the world.” —Arianna Huffington “This is the perfect book to read when you are having second thoughts about challenging yourself to explore that next step in life ...
The Resilience Factor
by Karen Reivich
A look at the role of resilience in promoting a happy and healthy life introduces seven proven techniques for developing the capacity for coping with the challenges and setbacks of life, from self-criticism and negative self-images to crises ...
The Positive Power Of Negative Thinking
by Julie Norem
How often are we urged to "look on the bright side"? From Norman Vincent Peale to the ubiquitous smiley face, optimism has become an essential part of American society. In this long-overdue book, psychologist Julie Norem offers convincing ...

 

Wellbeing at Work Survey for both Individuals, Teams and Organisations

January 15th, 2013

Heather Johnston

Tools

At the end of last year, to further develop my services to sustain wellbeing within organisations in these current tough times, I attended a Masterclass with Nic Marks on a new Wellbeing at Work survey. Nic is known for his great work on wellbeing and developing the happy planet index

The survey is available to individuals and small teams (up to 5) and for a small cost of £6 per head (plus VAT) an organisation/team can survey its staff and gets results broken down by their own chosen demographics. Larger organisations will be able to take advantage of lowering marginal costs per user if they choose to survey the whole organisation. Small organisations can for the first time have a state of the art staff survey at an exceptionally reasonable cost.

The survey is based on a dynamic model of wellbeing developed with leading experts and is uniquely grounded in the latest psychological findings around wellbeing and happiness. Each question has been carefully selected to reflect what the evidence says impacts well-being at work and has been tested with thousands of respondents.

The wellbeing survey results give a more complete picture of employees’ experience than standard engagement surveys as it includes engagement and stress but also employees’ positive emotional experiences. For Chief Executives, Directors and HR departments the results can be compared between teams or by other demographics and the results act as a “mirror” reflecting back what is happening within the organisation and help people to have insights on how work could be happier.

What I like about the survey is that it provides instant individual as well as organisational results for real-time feedback, provides a simple interface presenting results in traffic light colours and has National benchmarks automatically built into the questions, providing individuals, teams and organisations with an anchor point to understand and compare scores. The survey can also be repeated over time to measure any change. To find out more have a look at the survey website

If you are interested in taking a temperature check of your organisation or team and are committed to some follow up action I believe this is a great tool to open up some very important discussions around sustaining and improving happiness at work. As research shows happier employees are more productive, healthier and creative and are more loyal and provide better customer service to clients. A win-win!

Please get in touch if you would like to find out more!

 

Looking back and Looking forwards

January 7th, 2013

Heather Johnston

heathernew

It is the time of year for thinking about resolutions and considering what the future might hold. Many of the goals set will last a matter of days and some will last the test of time. Key in thinking about the goals you set yourself at this time of year is whether they are intrinsically motivating to you- are they something you feel you ‘should’ or ‘must’ do rather than something that you are genuinely interested in.

In the following, I have listed some thoughts from the fields of positive psychology and wellbeing to help you in setting yourself up for a happy and healthy 2013:

1. Take a moment  to look back at 2012- what were the high points, what made them high? Try and relive them in your mind and savour the moments. By building savouring into your everyday you will start to look out for the good things as they happen. By taking notice of your surroundings and what makes you feel alive you will start to become more and more aware of what feeds you and what matters to you and build more of these experiences into your daily life.

2. Set some goals. By becoming clearer about  what you would like to happen we set up a chain of events that create an energy and momentum working behind the scenes on these goals. Trust your creative mind to come up with some ideas rather than feeling that you have to plan everything down to the finest detail. Recognise that goals are statements of intent and that key is the movement towards the goal and the learning along the way, not necessarily whether you achieved it totally or not. Recognise the level of mastery you are obtaining. Finally, make sure that the goals you set yourself  inspire you, work to your strengths and move towards something positive rather than away from something negative.

3. Find ways to connect with people in as many ways as you can to help build a support community for you and for them.Try and ensure a balance between virtual connection and physically being present. Give people the luxury of your total attention (minus the technology distractions)

4. Find ways to get physically active in a way that works for you be it running, walking, dancing or gardening

5. Try something new, get curious about something and find out as much as you can. Anything that helps you learn and do something that you haven’t done before. And when you have done that find something else that engages you…

6. Think about how you might give something for the benefit of others. Be it time, money, knowledge, expertise or anything else for that matter. It feels good to help others.

7. Find ways to build creativity into your life, get curious- do something that you have never done before or that surprises you. Do something completely different to what you would normally do and challenge yourself. Once you have mastered something new increase the challenge to maintain your level of stimulation and keep boredom at bay!

8. Give yourself permission to relax, stop, recharge and reflect!

 

 

 

 

Employee engagement versus employee wellbeing

May 11th, 2012

Heather Johnston

perspective

Central to my positive psychology approach to Organisational Development and Coaching, is looking at whether an individual is flourishing in their work and their wider life. By focusing on helping an individual explore their strengths and helping align these with their work there can be a win/win in terms of an individual’s happiness and wellbeing as well as an increase in individual and organisational productivity.

An interesting article, written by Dr Bridget Juniper and promoted by Action for Happiness, about the downfalls of traditional productivity orientated employee engagement measurement, argues the case for employee wellbeing becoming more central in workplace productivity measures and quotes

…the top 10 drivers of employee engagement, identified by Towers Watson – ISR, show that, of 75 possible areas, the one that was rated the most important was the extent to which employees believed that their senior management had a sincere interest in their wellbeing.

The research goes on to ask employees whether or not they think their senior management actually exhibit this behaviour, with only 39% believing this to be the case. By contrast, the second driver relates to employee development, which is more often associated with conventional engagement measures.

In these times of uncertainty and strain, even more consideration needs to be given to employee wellbeing both for the benefit of the individual but also for organisations and society as a whole. By creating leadership strategies and working practices that help to enhance wellbeing, we will be helping all of us to remain resourceful, happy, healthy and productive.

 

 

What drives you…is it from within or without…?

April 15th, 2012

Heather Johnston

heathernew

Great article about intrinsic and  extrinsic goals and their link to a person’s overall happiness. We all need money but it is not that that fundamentally makes us happy- check out the article to find out more about what is driving you and whether that is good for you! money and happiness

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