Tuesday, 29 August 2017

A recent workshop highlights how mindfulness and kindness go hand in hand

Bring it OM! How Mindfulness makes us kinder in the workplace

We often hear that one of the benefits of meditation is more peace of mind, which is something we can all certainly use in our hectic, distracted and technologically dependent society. This stronger foundation of inner peace can also encourage us to open our hearts to more kindness in our daily working lives.

We can learn to judge less and simply discern more by this practice. And, there is a good reason more workplaces are introducing it – because it reduces stress levels and leads to healthier employees, less absenteeism and enhanced, more connected work relationships

Observing not controlling 

Meditation calms us down, and by the actions of slowing down and being in the moment, we allow space for living more consciously as well. And, approaching life in this way means thinking about the food we eat, the clothes we buy and even how we treat those around us. Our perspective shifts as meditation can lead to more heart expansion and patience with others and us. “Mindfulness gives us a space between our emotions and our fight-flight-freeze reactions, however brief and increases our ability to respond more skilfully.  This can lead to a reduction in conflicts, and ability to utilize empathy to drive stronger relationships. Upcoming mindfulness workshop creator Kate Kerr adds: "Even one deep breath – allows tension in the shoulders to release and expands our awareness of simply being in this moment right now. We shift from needing to change it to simply allowing it."

This centuries old tradition also encourages practitioners to allow thoughts to come and go – to simply observe not change them or try to control them - and this in turn allows us a chance to be calmer and more open, and, when we feel calmer we can handle the outside world – both the people and situations we encounter with less frustration and more magnanimous behaviour - including, to ourselves. In the words of on-line Mindfulness Teacher Artie Wu “…Anytime you step back, it will allow you to see the pain driving the actions of others. This then leads to more empathy. It also allows you to see the pain driving your own actions, and this can lead to self-empathy also.”

Radical Listening


As we breathe deeply, and listen to the rise and fall of our breath, we learn to expand our empathy for others who also share the same air and walk the same earth: We often start to feel more connected to both nature and people, and even start listening more to others with less reactivity: There’s a term for considerate hearing and it has been coined ‘Radical listening’ It means allowing people to have their say, hold back from interrupting and even reflect back what they've told you so they knew you were really listening. This can have an extraordinary impact on resolving conflict situations in any workplace.
According to Marshall Rosenberg, psychologist and founder of Non-Violent Communication, "Radical Listening is our ability to be present to what's really going on within - to the unique feelings and needs a person is experiencing at that very moment." Rosenberg points out that in employer-employee disputes, if both sides literally repeat what the other side just said before speaking themselves, conflict resolution is reached 50% faster. “

So another kind outcome from this healing ritual is simply listening more to our colleagues and family members, which in turn can create more connected relationships. We give others space to share without fixing or correcting, just simply acknowledging their stories and allowing them to unburden their thoughts.

In following a ritual of observing and allowing the mind to be, character traits such as calmness, openness and connection can only serve humanity in creating kinder environments. In fact, it seems to me that kindness, and, specifically, more caring and compassionate behavior is a natural outcome of more mindful living. Clearly, mindfulness and kindness are simply natural life partners. Bring it OM!


Steffi Black, Kindness Advocate for Schools and Corporations and founder of 'Spread the Kindness', joined Mindfulness Leader, Kate Kerr at a workshop “Unlock The Power of Mindfulness 2017 “at the Spoke Club. 

Monday, 2 January 2017

A Letter to you for 2017: March to your own drummer: Be Who You Are


Let me introduce a bit of myself to you - some of you have generously jumped on
board the train to be kindness ambassadors for 'spreadthekindness' or know me
through our respective careers or neighbourhood or friendships, but I thought I
just might introduce my authentic self at the beginning of a New Year to
encourage others to do the same in their own lives this year.

I don't know about you but I'm tired of all the masks we wear - or have worn -
pretending to be someone or something we're not - to please our culture, our
tribe, our neighbourhood, our workplaces. How bloody exhausting!
This year I invite you to truly be yourself whatever that is - loud,
introverted, animal loving, church loving, yoga junkie, meditator, Ray Donovan
fan, tea pot collector. What's your fancy? As long as it doesn't hurt anyone -
let it out - be with it and make the time to share more of the real YOU!

Maybe you're a person who loves to read, be by yourself and sit home and curl
up in flannel pjs; maybe you want to dance more but are too shy to do it; maybe
you want to hug people more but are afraid of being judged.
What do you have to lose by being more yourself? By marching to your own soul's
drummer? Maybe your friends won't approve or your kids' school friends' moms or
your husband's workmates?

Maybe or maybe not .... life truly is not meant to be lived pleasing others.
Take it from me a "reformed people-pleasing gal."' My own mom dedicated a part
of her book to her people-pleasing daughter. She thought it was a compliment,
But it ain't worth the cost to fit in.

When I learned to move to my own rhythm more I felt happier. It didn't exactly
conform to the conservatives around me but I felt more aligned to my own inner
compass. When I moved into my middle class neighbourhood I was doing yoga, going
on silent retreats - yes no talking and eating meals with a sister in silence -
learning about astrology and hugging trees - yup I do - and occasionally hosting
a Goddess Camp of free thinking women. Some neighbours may have thought me a bit
wacky but many were receptive. One of my favourites got me a sign that says
'you're the right kind of crazy for me!" God Bless you Margie - a Jewish girl
from New York who embraces her "spiritual junkie" gal pal from Haileybury,
Ontario.

And let me tell you why I love astrology - not the daily horoscopes- which can
hardly be accurate if they don't know your moon and rising signs (a little
astrological lingo for you). But the in-depth astrologically correct
psychological astute birth chart reports. I have learned so much from a reading
by an amazing astrologer that I even incorporated what I learned in parenting my
child. She's a Scorpio moon and doesn't like to be pushed to share her feelings
so I stopped asking her lots of questions when she was upset. I let her come to
me when ready and she knows I'm always there.
My point is what does your soul call you to do more of in your life? Not what
the tribe wants - what you want. And does "soul" make you feel uncomfortable?
Too bad - I'm not so worried about pleasing others anymore - I love the word
"soul" and try to listen to mine every day!

I want to have more real and deep conversations, more messy stories, more deep
throated laughs. Thank you Catherine for your hilarious curse filled
observations on life and heart of gold. I want to crack up especially when my
kids act up and not think that I know more - since I don't! I want to dance and
and sing out loud more - even when it embarrasses my 11 year old daughter.
Scorpio Moon children didn't like obvious overtures of attention:)

I want to listen more often to that quiet inner voice. Yes I have left a good
party to go home, be quiet and meditate. I want to continue studying
Ho'oponopono- an ancient Hawaiian practice of love and forgiveness because I
believe we should love one another and find inner peace within ourselves and not
worry so much about what others say and do. I'm sorry if you find that corny.
This is the authentic me and no apologies for it.

I want to continue sitting with amazing people as a coach to hear their
personal stories and be present in the new inner discovery they are ready to
undertake, no matter how painful it can be. I want to be there - not because I
know more but because I want to remind my clients that they do! They are
awesome. Everyone has a unique inner spark the world needs to see.
I want to continue to study Wing Chun - an ancient martial art invented by a
female because it grounds me and connects me to my energy (and yes I believe we
are all energy!). Thank you SIfu John for the incredible learning both
physically and mentally.

And I want to discover all the authentic Celtic pubs in the city. Thank you
Denise for being there for our initial forays. Our adventures since our 20's are
one of life's true blessings! Always make time to go dance with girlfriends and
hear great music. And I want to be there when a friend or person is struggling
and not fix but just listen and remind them no one walks alone on this
tear-stained, sometimes painful but often beautiful journey.

And yes, along with forgiveness, I truly believe kindness can make the world a
better place. Science has proven it makes us feel better. I hope I can take
this message to more workplaces . It's not just about ambition; it's about
belief in this powerful trait - that when it's truly shown to others it can
increase our inter-connectedness and we feel less alone. And it doesn't have to
be grandiose- sometimes a simple smile can warm a stranger's heart or make
someone having a hard day feel a little bit better at least for a moment.
So there you have it. I shared some of my authentic self and would love to see
more of yours so join me in loosening that mask and opening up more of who you
truly are. The world and your spirit need it!
 

Monday, 25 January 2016

Powerful Methods of Change: Hypnotherapy is the focus of this week's Life and Career Corner




Rena Greenberg understands the human condition. She, herself, went through a serious illness to change around her own life so she understands others’ struggles very well. And, through her own transformation, she became interested in bio-feedback and then hypnosis.

Today, she is a very successful hypnotherapist who helps people all over the world with her empowering hypnotherapy and tools to overcome addictions as well. In fact, she has developed many successful programs including being one of the first hypnotherapists in the U.S. to start employing gastric bypass hypnosis.

We spoke about her success and the steps in becoming a hypnotherapist in this week’s Life and Career Corner:




As they say "the proof is in the pudding" – her clients' testimonials reveal the changes including those who have lost over 100 pounds. As Rena shared in the interview, it is about giving people a new conversation – via their own self-talk - to make lasting change and taking your power back to make your own transformation.
 
And, as renowned researcher and author Napoleon Hill wisely shared in his powerful book: Think And Grow Rich: “Whatever the mind of man can achieve, he can conceive.”

Monday, 7 December 2015

Why we Love How A Challenging Life Experience Created A Mission To Empower Others (And You Should Too!)

She has a simple but powerful mission – with the creation of her Live From Your Heart and Mind Community and upcoming book – Catherine B. Roy aims to simply help others connect to their ‘heart and mind’ and begin on a simple and do-able road to satisfaction and success.





Life Challenges Can Lead to Transformation


Like many inspirational leaders, it wasn’t always easy for this awakener, who was awarded the top 30 Under 30 Young Leaders in the world, as she also suffered a serious health challenge, one of the factors in leading to a major transformation: As positive writer David Leonhardt shared: “We sure love our comfort zones, and we resist leaving them; we live in denial.  A traumatic event is harder to ignore...” And pay attention Catherine did, in fact, her challenging periods helped lead to a re-birth of focus on empowering others, as she shares in our recent Life and Career Corner Interview:




How Algorithms can Help You Live a Better Life




This member of MENSA is certified in the fields of psycho-linguistics and positive psychology, among other specialized empowerment areas, and she believes her system is tailored to the individual because the LHM algorithms lead to personalized answers, which help increase both your emotional and mental potential.

In this age of social connectivity, group forums can be powerful tools for encouraging positive change:  You can visit the LHM Facebook forum for crowd sharing or you can visit her site for some simple steps to begin.


What are you waiting for? Try the 10 easy steps for happiness  and see if your own personal challenges can be made a little easier with some accessible outlets and tools.

Monday, 30 November 2015

You think you're up for it?! Let's talk Improv in the workplace with an expert in this area


Looking for a fun, interactive way to boost employee creativity in the workplace? Have you ever thought about improvisation-based techniques? It might just be a less-structured way to loosen up the status quo and create some team-bonding at the same time.

 Why To Consider Improv


David Leonhardt of Ghostwriters for Hire is a fan of its’ ability to challenge: “I love improv! It is both fun and challenging, but it is hard work and can very tiring if you have to do it for long.  Improv is all about thinking on your feet and paying attention to the person or people you are working with.  You train yourself to be hyper-aware of what they are doing, and to direct your actions or words according to what you observe them doing.”

In the most recent Life/Career Corner, I had a visit with, Lori Pearlstein, former actor, casting director and, yes, standup comedian.  This versatile Corporate Trainer has a variety of experiences that contribute to her strength in this role:


Take your choice: Different types of workshops for teams 

  1. Brainstorming
  2. Presentation Skills/Spontaneous Speaking
  3. Team Building/Conflict Resolution
  4. Training the Trainers/Making the Sale


If you’re still not sure about  ‘shakin’ up the status quo, here’s some feedback on improv possibilities from BGDMarketing:

"Creativity is the key to innovation in business.
There is a saying in business that creativity and innovation differentiates people from succeeding and failing. One of the troubles that businesses have is their inability to create and adapt to different situations. Employees and staff get used to routines and get comfortable in their current system. The mentality is usually 'If it isn't broke, then don't fix it'. But if creativity and innovation isn't pursued, then the business is unlikely to grow in stature and value. The book 'Who moved my cheese' preaches this. Improv is a great way to stimulate creativity among employees since they tend to focus more on function than creativity to add value to a business. 
Improv can help to develop solutions to problems, suggest new workflows, formulate new product ideas and even change the dynamic and culture of a business. All of these add to the positive operational efficiency of the business, resulting in increased productivity and value output.”

It's about your goals for your organization, and you can visit Playworks for more background on whether improvisation can contribute positively to your current workplace culture.

Steffi Black is a Life/Career Coach and Kindness Advocate for Schools and Corporations. She hosts weekly interviews for Life/Career Corner and you can check out www.steffiblackcoaching.com for information on her signature talks to corporations and Kindness Presentations/Workshops that help bring in a more caring,compassionate culture.