Some meditation on meditation

By Antoine Denoix

 

After a week’s holiday or a Bank Holiday weekend, the return journey isn’t so easy… and what is there afterwards? You may enjoy holidays, serenity, silence, relaxation… but what is there beforehand? The prospect of an avalanche of emails, days filled with meetings, and projects led to the rhythm of a beating drum… Decisions and resolutions pass by far too quickly. So let’s try some mindfulness meditation! Lots of things have been said and written on this subject, and from this we’ll try to illustrate what it could bring to you, and above all how to practice it, in your daily life.

 

In your professional life, you often have to struggle with difficulties: with your colleagues, with complicated problems, in urgent situations… And your natural reaction is to flee or to persevere. When persevering, by ‘overdoing’ your usual resources: your character, instincts, intuitions… your mind then has the tendency to speed round and round in circles until you run out of energy. You look for speed, while the most sensible option is (ironically) to stop! This is where mindfulness meditation steps in.  The technique was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts. To carry out this technique you must stop, fall silent, turn your gaze inwards, and observe. Distance yourself from the situation so that you may emerge renewed. Mindfulness meditation is therefore all about concentrating on your sensations, your breathing, your emotions… and distancing these from your thoughts. These tactics only have the power to work if you grant them it. Upon reacting in this way automatically, the rational response will be replaced.

 

What about the effects? It has been proven that regular practice of meditation will improve your emotional intelligence, your creativity, and your capacity to concentrate. This latter point is hardly an old wives’ tale. The abundance of screens all around us considerably decreases our ability to concentrate. It takes only a matter of seconds to lose concentration… yet it takes several long minutes for it to return!

 

So how do we get started? Find a few minutes every day to practice. One important point to remember: meditation is within everyone’s reach. It is not a privilege enjoyed only by Buddhist monks; far from it. It lends its progress to taking small steps.

Beyond strict meditation exercises, there are some simple principles to help you maintain your general concentration. First, avoid the natural reflex to read your emails in the morning. Make an effort during the first moments of the day (you should still have a clear mind), in particular for the positive activities such as reflection and decisions. Then, delete all the notifications from your phone (emails, SMS…) which oblige you to react immediately to them. And lastly, only do one thing at a time! Of course, this is all easy to say, but difficult to carry out… in as much as our natural gradient pushes our mind to wander, far from our main task.

Own your capacity for happiness

 Happiness depends more on you as a person than the outside world, and you can create happiness every day. And yet, you must always keep improving on your capacity for happiness.

What is happiness?

 

Philosophers have defined happiness as ‘a state of complete satisfaction characterised by its stability and durability. The happy man is fulfilled and leads a full life. »

 

In 2015, a magazine asked women what was essential to their happiness. Their responses were:

  • their children (91%),
  • their families (63%)
  • their love life (60%),
  • their health (57%),
  • and their friends (50%).

 

Only 48% wanted more money. 82% described themselves as stressed and 30% had seen a doctor for a depressive episode. 64%, however, remained optimistic, as they found that they had not come out too badly from the experience…

 

IN YOUR WORKPLACE

Some companies have a Chief Happiness Officer who tries to create a ‘cosy’ atmosphere within the company. What can you yourself can do at work? Try to love what you do; don’t imagine a worse or better future, but build it.

 

The key ingredients of happiness

You have a natural capacity for happiness within you, but it is your responsibility to decide whether you give this capacity a chance or not.

If you are only waiting for the weekend, your holidays, or your retirement to be happy, then you will spend a large part of your life just waiting for something to happen.

 

Every day is a new day; consider your renewed energy as a revival which will help you to awaken the best of yourself.

Instead of searching for happiness, make yourself available to it.

Open yourself to the small joys of daily life: a light, a smell, music, a taste, or a smile. Consciously savour these moments. Happiness is not about ‘having’ something, but ‘feeling’ it. Be thankful every day for three things: for life, for others, and for yourself.

 

Enjoy your passions, as they protect you from old routines and habits. Happiness is found in movement, change and creativity.

Every night before falling asleep, review and savour the positive moments of the day.

 

How to overcome the obstacles to happiness:

  • accept changes to society;
  • learn how to hold yourself (‘give and you will receive’);
  • free yourself from your fears;
  • accept yourself for who you are;
  • believe in yourself;
  • do not give in to your own illness;
  • do not be impatient.

 

For more information, see the free wellbeing guide from AXA Prevention by visiting the following web page: https://www.axaprevention.fr/concours/formulaire-commande-guide-bien-etre

 

5 reasons you’ve lost your motivation (and how to get it back)

Setting health goals can be a great way of motivating ourselves to improve our wellbeing, whether it’s completing a marathon or perfecting a ‘plank’. It can help us to bring to mind the reasons behind our goals when we’re thinking of skipping a gym session or ordering a takeaway. It can also boost self-confidence when we start to notice progress.

But despite all of our good intentions it’s normal to feel our motivation waver occasionally. That’s ok! None of us are perfect. If you’re feeling uninspired to keep going, here are five common causes and tips on how to get back on track.

 

1. Your goal is vague

Maybe you want to be ‘healthier’ or ‘fitter’, but what does that actually mean? What would it look like? Setting SMART goals can help us pin down what we’re trying to achieve and, importantly, how we’ll achieve it. In turn, this can help keep us in a positive frame of mind. SMART stands for:

  • Specific – for example, eating five portions of fruit and vegetables every day or completing a triathlon on 1st June. It could be a long term goal or a short term goal, but be precise.
  • Measureable – this could be counting steps, doing regular weigh-ins or achieving 30 minutes of a particular activity each day, such as practising mindfulness.
  • Achievable – think about your starting point compared with your end goal. Does it feel like a reasonable leap? Set small manageable goals.
  • Realistic – how will you schedule activities to support your goal around your other commitments?
  • Time bound – as well as having timings in place for your end goal, it can help to set micro-goals to help you see progress as you build up your activities.

Setting clearly defined goals means we can measure our progress and take pride in our achievements.

 

2. You’re focusing on outcome, not performance

Setting an outcome to ‘be more active’ doesn’t spell out what you’re going to do or what you mean by ‘active’, so how will you know when you’ve made progress towards it?

A better way of staying motivated is to focus on the activities you’re going to do. For example ‘complete 70,000 steps each week until 1st July’, ‘curb caffeine consumption after 2pm’ or ‘make 5 home cooked dinners each week until the end of term’.

You can then plan the journey of how you’ll get there. So to complete your 70,000 steps you could decide to park in the furthest car park from work, put reminders in your diary to walk each lunchtime or sign up to a 5k run.

Developing healthy habits as part of our daily life gives us the best chance of sticking at it.

 

3. There’s no urgency behind reaching your goal

It’s easier to stay motivated when there’s a real need, rather than a desire, behind your goal-setting. The need could be health-related such as reducing your blood pressure or cholesterol, or perhaps you’ve signed up to do a sponsored walk or race in 6 months’ time that you need to prepare for.

It can also help to turn our fears into motivation – for example the fear of being unhealthy as it sets a poor example to our kids, or the fear that our health is declining while we’re stuck behind a desk.

It might help to write down the motivating reasons you need to achieve your goal, put a visual reminder somewhere you’ll see it, or simply tell someone about it so they can support you. It’s then easier to put a plan together about how you’ll incorporate activities into your working week, including achieving short terms goals to help keep up your commitment.

It’s helpful to think about the reasons behind our goals, write them down and make sure they’re personal to us.

 

4. You’re hung up on past failure

If we’ve failed at reaching a particular goal in the past then it can lead to low self-esteem and we can develop a negative mindset about trying again.

It can help to look at our previous attempts and use this information as an opportunity to learn reasons behind the lack of previous success and what we can do differently next time. For example:

  • Was the goal too stretching? If so, try planning some short term SMART goals so you can track and celebrate your achievements.
  • Did you schedule in time for your activities? Logging them can help you prioritise and stop other things getting in the way.
  • How did you track your progress? A food diary, training log, or writing down activity times or distances can help. Activity trackers can give objective data to help you set daily or weekly goals, challenge yourself against family or friends and act as a reference point for setting new targets. Writing down how you feel in a diary or even a blog can help remind you of the benefits and spur you on to keep going.
  • Did you have the right support? Friendly support through a running club or online forum might help you stick to your plan. Similarly, group exercise can be great for morale. Anything you do that improves your confidence will help you towards your final target.

Working towards our goals is probably going to mean getting out of our comfort zones and doing something different – embrace it!

 

5. You’ve lost your passion

Choosing activities that play to our interests and make us feel good mean we’re more likely to stick with them as they’re less of a chore. If you hate going to the gym, that’s fine! Why not try a dance class instead? If you’re struggling to make time to achieve your target number of steps at the weekend, how about making Sunday afternoon walks a regular family activity? It’s important to make time for your wellbeing and plan time for your passions, so why not combine them?

Our goals are personal to us so how we achieve them is up to us too.[:en]

Setting health goals can be a great way of motivating ourselves to improve our wellbeing, whether it’s completing a marathon or perfecting a ‘plank’. It can help us to bring to mind the reasons behind our goals when we’re thinking of skipping a gym session or ordering a takeaway. It can also boost self-confidence when we start to notice progress.

But despite all of our good intentions it’s normal to feel our motivation waver occasionally. That’s ok! None of us are perfect. If you’re feeling uninspired to keep going, here are five common causes and tips on how to get back on track.

 

1. Your goal is vague

Maybe you want to be ‘healthier’ or ‘fitter’, but what does that actually mean? What would it look like? Setting SMART goals can help us pin down what we’re trying to achieve and, importantly, how we’ll achieve it. In turn, this can help keep us in a positive frame of mind. SMART stands for:

  • Specific – for example, eating five portions of fruit and vegetables every day or completing a triathlon on 1st June. It could be a long term goal or a short term goal, but be precise.
  • Measureable – this could be counting steps, doing regular weigh-ins or achieving 30 minutes of a particular activity each day, such as practising mindfulness.
  • Achievable – think about your starting point compared with your end goal. Does it feel like a reasonable leap? Set small manageable goals.
  • Realistic – how will you schedule activities to support your goal around your other commitments?
  • Time bound – as well as having timings in place for your end goal, it can help to set micro-goals to help you see progress as you build up your activities.

Setting clearly defined goals means we can measure our progress and take pride in our achievements.

 

2. You’re focusing on outcome, not performance

Setting an outcome to ‘be more active’ doesn’t spell out what you’re going to do or what you mean by ‘active’, so how will you know when you’ve made progress towards it?

A better way of staying motivated is to focus on the activities you’re going to do. For example ‘complete 70,000 steps each week until 1st July’, ‘curb caffeine consumption after 2pm’ or ‘make 5 home cooked dinners each week until the end of term’.

You can then plan the journey of how you’ll get there. So to complete your 70,000 steps you could decide to park in the furthest car park from work, put reminders in your diary to walk each lunchtime or sign up to a 5k run.

Developing healthy habits as part of our daily life gives us the best chance of sticking at it.

 

3. There’s no urgency behind reaching your goal

It’s easier to stay motivated when there’s a real need, rather than a desire, behind your goal-setting. The need could be health-related such as reducing your blood pressure or cholesterol, or perhaps you’ve signed up to do a sponsored walk or race in 6 months’ time that you need to prepare for.

It can also help to turn our fears into motivation – for example the fear of being unhealthy as it sets a poor example to our kids, or the fear that our health is declining while we’re stuck behind a desk.

It might help to write down the motivating reasons you need to achieve your goal, put a visual reminder somewhere you’ll see it, or simply tell someone about it so they can support you. It’s then easier to put a plan together about how you’ll incorporate activities into your working week, including achieving short terms goals to help keep up your commitment.

It’s helpful to think about the reasons behind our goals, write them down and make sure they’re personal to us.

 

4. You’re hung up on past failure

If we’ve failed at reaching a particular goal in the past then it can lead to low self-esteem and we can develop a negative mindset about trying again.

It can help to look at our previous attempts and use this information as an opportunity to learn reasons behind the lack of previous success and what we can do differently next time. For example:

  • Was the goal too stretching? If so, try planning some short term SMART goals so you can track and celebrate your achievements.
  • Did you schedule in time for your activities? Logging them can help you prioritise and stop other things getting in the way.
  • How did you track your progress? A food diary, training log, or writing down activity times or distances can help. Activity trackers can give objective data to help you set daily or weekly goals, challenge yourself against family or friends and act as a reference point for setting new targets. Writing down how you feel in a diary or even a blog can help remind you of the benefits and spur you on to keep going.
  • Did you have the right support? Friendly support through a running club or online forum might help you stick to your plan. Similarly, group exercise can be great for morale. Anything you do that improves your confidence will help you towards your final target.

Working towards our goals is probably going to mean getting out of our comfort zones and doing something different – embrace it!

 

5. You’ve lost your passion

Choosing activities that play to our interests and make us feel good mean we’re more likely to stick with them as they’re less of a chore. If you hate going to the gym, that’s fine! Why not try a dance class instead? If you’re struggling to make time to achieve your target number of steps at the weekend, how about making Sunday afternoon walks a regular family activity? It’s important to make time for your wellbeing and plan time for your passions, so why not combine them?

Our goals are personal to us so how we achieve them is up to us too.[:]