POSITIVITY AND WELLBEING IN FEBRUARY

EVERY MORNING WHEN WE WAKE-UP there is the opportunity to engender a feeling of positivity towards all that we are going to meet during the day.  Maintaining a positive attitude while dealing with daily challenges is not always easy but making it become a practice can help us meet life’s challenges in a prepared and self-empowering way – and it is certainly good for our wellbeing and for those with whom we are with.

Cultivating positivity does not mean that we call black; white, but rather, it is where we look at a problem, or challenging situation for the positive – and it will be there if we are open to it. Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl wrote: ‘We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.’

Let your first thoughts of the day be positive ones
‘Happiness is not something ready made it comes from your own actions’ – Dalai Lama

Today has the potential to be a great day. It really does – but if that sentence is a little over-reaching for you then you may like to change it to ‘This day has potential’. Everyday has the potential to have greatness – not necessarily every moment – and not necessarily in the big, dramatic ways we would like. But everyday there is opportunity for golden moments of connection, attraction, support and loving kindness to occur – we just need to be open to it. By replacing negativity and anxiety (which can often be our default thinking and feeling modes) with new enlivened and positive thoughts and feelings we can begin the day focussed and ready for its unfolding positive potential.

Prepare positive words and statements that feel authentic to you. Remember they need to resonate as ‘feeling good’. Try and integrate them as your first thoughts of the day from the moment you wake-up – such as: ‘I like the idea of this day bringing me a sense of fulfilment’ or ‘I like the idea of this day bringing me some relief and support’.

Do an activity that feels good to do & is good for you
Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you’ – Oprah Winfrey

When we are on the daily treadmill we really need to integrate something we love to do into the mix – and for this activity to be something that is conducive with our own wellbeing. At Alamandria, we like to be able to meditate everyday, go for a walk in nature, do yoga or do a coloured chalk drawing. The time we put aside for this is not as important as making the time to do it. Whether it is an hour or fifteen minutes – it is more about making it a regular practice, and enjoying it, knowing that it will nourish our sense of wellbeing and open ourselves up to a more improved way of living.

Choose something that will nourish your wellbeing daily and make it a practice each and every day.

Surround yourself with the colour you need each day
‘Happiness is absorption’ – TE Lawrence 

Colour is known as the language of the soul and being with a colour that we are drawn to can enliven us – like watching a beautiful sunrise or sunset. On all our retreats and workshops with prison inmates, corporates, individual clients and group participants we work with the power of colour and witness their incredible effects. You can create your own colour mood drawings with chalk pastels or it may be you have coloured clothing items that you are drawn to, or a colour print you can put by your desk at work. Invite colour into your life!

Start integrating colour into your day – choose colours that lift your spirit and invite them into your surroundings – at home or in the office in the form of pictures, clothing, flowers or your own chalk mood drawing. Be open to changing colours depending on your mood.

Play a song that makes you feel uplifted
Every day we should hear at least one little song, read one good poem, see one exquisite picture, and, if possible, speak a few sensible words’ – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

So often songs can come into our heads seemingly out of nowhere. If you pay close attention you may find that the songs that pop into your head at any given time can often have lyrics that are linked to exactly how you feel at that particular moment. It is important to bring mindfulness to the music we play because of the subliminal stimulus it provides. Choose music that makes you feel good, calm, uplifted and positive as a way of adding vitality to your day. Playing an upbeat song and having a dance in the privacy of your space is a great way to take a break from a worry or concern and invites fun and spontaneity into the present moment.

Start a ‘Positivity Playlist’ – choose songs that make you feel good with lyrics that are congruent with your own inner vitality!

Start an ‘Entertainment for Wellbeing Plan’
‘There is no way to happiness – happiness is the way’ – Thicht Nacht Hahn

Similar to what is written above about music – the same can be said about movies, TV, Playstation games and Youtube. If you want to feel good then choose entertainments that are imbued with good feelings and uplifting stories. If it is a habit for you to read or listen to the news you can choose how and when you engage with it. Perhaps try and give yourself permission to take every second week off from news. Start to become a discerning consumer of your own ‘mind food’ as these often negative stories & messages go right into our psyche and have an impact without our realising it. Be mindful about how you wish to begin or close your day and the associated energies that will be helpful and healthy for you.

Think about what kind of ‘Entertainment for Wellbeing Plan’ you want to integrate? With so much at your fingertips you can choose what you will allow into your experience and what you think is best to leave out.

CHALK DRAWING
Start a colour soul mood journal

In a soul meditation journal every day is different. So often colour is spoken about today in a way that talks of ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ or ones ‘favourite’. The more that we immerse ourselves in the world of colour the more we can discover that we no longer have a favourite – instead we are drawn to different colours on different days depending on our soul mood and what we feel we ‘need’. This is because we can sense the unique quality a colour has and it can be therapeutic to have this colour before us – calming or enlivening or grounding us. We can ask ourself the question: What colour do I need today? A simple practice such as this can not only make us more self-aware of our own inner feelings, but it can also help awaken our aesthetic sense for the beauty that lies within colour combinations, and we may begin to see the colours in nature in a more perceptive and appreciative way.

All you need is a journal, chalk pastels, a piece of white t-shirt fabric (for the rubbing) and low adhesive tape.

YOGA
Catherine our Alamandria yoga practitioner will be sharing a yoga asana every month.

Virabhadrasana II (WarriorII pose)
Chosen because this pose expands the heart centre, which offers an uplifting feeling, as well as develops inner and outer strength, endurance and focus.

  • Stand with your feet together, then on an inhalation, step or jump your legs apart sideways, feet and torso will be facing forward.
  • Raise your arms sideways in line with your shoulders.
  • Turn your right foot sideways, so that your toes face the right edge of your mat.
  • Exhale and bend your right knee, aiming to keep your right shin perpendicular to the floor and keep your right knee in line with the heel of your right foot.
  • Stretch both arms sideways, from shoulders to fingertips and keep them in line with each other and turn your face to the right to gaze at your right hand.
  • Stretch the muscles of your left leg fully, keeping the knee straight.
  • Stay in the pose for as long as is comfortable, up to 20 or 30 seconds. Remember to breath.
  • Inhale and straighten your right leg. Turn your right foot so that it faces forward again. Then repeat this pose to the other side.

STRIVING FOR PERSONAL WELLBEING IN DECEMBER

DECEMBER CAN BE A CHALLENGING MONTH  for many reasons – it is a time when we are ready to wind-down after a full year of challenges & commitments and yet work, home-life and the responsibilities of the festive season often demand even more from us. In this blog we offer some ideas and actions you can implement as part of a wellbeing plan for this eventful month.

Be a Conscious Creator
‘To thine own self be true’ – Polonius

For many of us – this time of year is full of duty and obligation and many things are done by rote. A big part of creating a more conscious pathway to wellbeing is to contemplate what is going to serve you – energetically, financially, emotionally and spiritually. Re-enliven some of the more habitual and conventional approaches you have and take some time to really think about what you want to manifest over the Christmas period. It may be you decide to attend just one social gathering instead of three, or that joining the shopping frenzy is too stressful so instead you choose to write a heartfelt card to each person. It can take courage to step outside of a conventional approach and away from what may be expected of you, but this is what wellbeing is all about.

Create a space where you can contemplate what you really want to engage in and consciously decide your approach.

Appreciation Journaling
‘Feelings are for the soul what food is for the body’ – Rudolf Steiner

Many crazy thoughts can happen at this time of year – due to old triggers, expectations, tiredness and stress – making it harder to be the master of our thoughts and actions. On all our Alamandria workshops and retreats we cultivate ‘focussed attention’ and positivity. A great way to do this is to write an appreciation list each day – of everything you love, appreciate and are grateful for. You may repeat many of the same things everyday – but the important things is to cultivate the feeling of positivity as you write. This can change your energy and create positive momentum – attracting more positive interactions and opportunities throughout the day.

Buy a notebook and pen and keep it by your bed to do first thing in the morning.

Meditation & Breathing
‘I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one’ – Ghandi

Starting and/or ending the day with a meditation, breathing exercise or a quiet walk by the ocean can set you up for the day or for a good night’s sleep. These practices can provide inner nourishment and cultivate a calm disposition. Connecting inwardly through meditation or nature is also a wonderful antidote to the consumerism, media and frenetic energy that we come into contact with at this time of year – allowing us to experience a slower pace and a greater sense of objectivity.

Schedule 20 minutes as part of your daily inner practice.

Christmas Wellbeing Resolution
‘Pay attention to your body. The point is everybody is different. You have to figure out what works for you’ – Andrew Weil

Christmas has become a time synonymous with overindulgence. As we become more in tune with our own health and wellbeing we may prefer to change our usual approach and choose something that will best serve our body, mind & soul. You may decide to go alcohol free for the season, or create a healthy balance by going for a bike ride or walk every morning. Mix it up – and start a Christmas Wellbeing Resolution of your own that is going to serve you and your goal of creating a season of health.

Visualise how you want to feel over this time and decide on what resolution you could integrate to manifest this.

EXTRA TIP:

STAY HYDRATED – DRINK WATER

As the weather heats up, as well as our activity, even very obvious things like keeping hydrated can be overlooked. Drinking water throughout the day is very important – it helps keep you clear headed, healthy and alert. Keep a bottle of filtered water with you at home, in the office and in your bag. Water can have psychological restorative effects too – swimming or having a shower can help cleanse away a stressful day.

GOING DEEPER

‘If we do not believe within ourselves this deeply rooted feeling that there is something higher than ourselves, we shall never find the strength to evolve into something higher’ – Rudolf Steiner

At Alamandria we see Christmastide as an opportunity to live into the essence of what Christmas truly is – a time of renewal and deep inner reflection. For us, contemplating and meditating on themes that can help facilitate personal change and transformation over the year ahead is something we focus on over the Twelve Holy Nights which start on the 24 December.

Mark and Emily have worked with the indications that Rudolf Steiner gave to Herbert Hahn – a daily contemplative guide for each night – for many years now. If you feel like taking a deeper and more contemplative approach click on the link below for the pdf.

The Twelve Holy Nights

YOGA 

Catherine our Alamandria yoga practitioner will be sharing a yoga asana every month.

Parvatasana (Mountain pose arms)
Chosen because this pose assists to boost energy in the body and release tension in the shoulders and upper back.

  1. Kneel on the floor, big toes touching, knees a little wider than hip distance apart and carefully sit back onto your heels.
  2. Keeping your spine straight, interlace the fingers, rotate the palms away from the body, extend the arms forward then raise them in the direction above the head, palms will now be facing up.
  3. Try to keep the arms as straight as possible.
  4. Stretch your arms towards the ceiling/sky, being aware of keeping your lower ribs in and not bending from the lower back. Do not lift you arms beyond the point where you find you are no longer able to maintain a balanced front and back body.
  5. Take a few even breaths to release any tension in the body and keep your face/jaw relaxed.
  6. Slowly lower the arms. Change the interlace of the fingers, and repeat.

CAUTION: If you have injured knees, you can do this while sitting up straight in a chair, or even standing.

 

 

The Art of Meditation through Colour Retreat

COLOUR AS A PATHWAY TO SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE – If you have attended the Art of Meditation 1 retreat already, or are a practicing meditant and want to strengthen your meditation practice in the beautiful surroundings, peace and tranquillity at Riverslea Retreat, in Otaki, then this March 2019 retreat is for you. Take time out from your demanding daily routine and immerse yourself into a space of meditative enquiry, equanimity and calm relaxation. We will also have time for personal contemplation, be it a walk in the bush, a stroll or swim by the river or quiet solitude before a delicious evening meal.

On this retreat we will be exploring the world of colour as a doorway to spiritual insight and self-development. Through simple artistic exercises and contemplative enquiry we will explore how colour can create inner soul experiences of a universal nature opening our perception for supersensible phenomena.

The colours we experience in nature exist at a boundary, or threshold, between sensible and supersensible worlds. Every moment of the day we are having colour experiences but are largely not aware of it. When we gaze upon a beautiful sunrise or sunset we can be drawn forth from our mundane awareness, through feelings of awe and wonder, and be lifted to a higher more numinous experience. This is why colour perception is so useful in a meditative process in helping us transcend the material world and ascend into supersensible realms.

Colour works deeply into our emotive and psychic life in subtle ways, often affecting how we feel. It is used therapeutically to bring to conscious experience that which would otherwise lie uncovered in the unconscious, inaccessible to intellectual investigation. Through learning to become aware of the non-subjective reality of colour, as a pathway into higher realms of consciousness – we pass, unfettered, through the phenomena of the senses to a supersensible reality that lives beyond the material world. However it is also important to note that through processes such as these we develop sensitivity for the qualities and forces that underlie all phenomena, both material and non-material. The heightened awareness that can be developed through meditation, can help us be awake to the underlying nature of so many socio-political, environmental and personal challenges that confront us on a daily basis. Meditation can make us active and awake citizens of the world! Remember – meditation is not just about our self, but also about service to the world!

Emily, Mark and Catherine look forward to you joining this enriching retreat. Register now or contact us if you have any questions. We recognise people have differing financial circumstances so if money is a problem contact us and let’s talk about a plan.

Colour Circles Web2

Colour Meditation by Mark Geard
Chalk pastel on paper
900mm x 1200mm

Creating an Ethical Foundation for Meditation through Self-Mastery

At the Anthroposophical conference held in Hastings in October this year Emily addressed the theme Meditation in Action: Finding the Will to Transform by speaking to some of the basic things we can do to develop a practice of self-mastery to help establish a sound, ethical foundation for everyday life and for meditation. She referred to six fundamental exercises given by Rudolf Steiner which can be practiced every day while we go about our daily responsibilities. These exercises are thoroughly described in his book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and its Attainment.

On our Art of Self-Mastery & Mindfulness and Art of Meditation 1 retreats we introduce participants to these soul-strengthening exercises through creative artistic exercises that can be fun to do while awakening self-awareness.

The first of these addresses the activity of thinking itself where powers of concentration are enhanced. This is said to be beneficial for the productive guiding of thought processes in meditation, without succumbing to chaotic and random disturbances. The second exercise addresses our life of actions – our willing. So often we intend to do something we feel is important and fail to carry through our intention. We can learn to strengthen our resolve through simple daily tasks. The third activity is to bring harmony and balance within our emotions. Through exercising equanimity within our feelings we can develop a strong inner centre, a place of balance that is not subject to extreme waves of emotion that could destabilize and cloud sound and healthy judgement. Exercises in developing a positive attitude and open-mindedness along with an inner harmonization of all of the above constitute the six basic exercises, thus forming a schooling that aims to help those aspiring to a rich and positive practice of self-mastery.

The two retreats mentioned above are coming up in early 2017 – The Art of Meditation 1 will be in February at the beautiful Riverslea Retreat, on the banks of the Otaki River, and edge of the Tararua ranges, and Art of Self-Mastery & Mindfulness will be in March at the Aio Wira Retreat Centre in the stunning Waitakere ranges in Auckland. We both feel these venues offer the perfect place to relax, find peace and experience an inner awakening through our unique Alamandria approach to self-mastery.

For three books that also explain in great detail Steiner’s six basic exercises see: Enlivening the Chakra of the Heart by Florin Lowndes, Stairway of Surprise – Six Steps to a Creative Life by Michael Lipson and The Sixfold Path – Six Simple Exercises for Spiritual Development by Joop Van Dam

 

 

 

 

 

 

finding-the-inner-hero

The Anthroposophical Society held it’s annual conference from the 21 – 24 October 2016 in Hastings with keynote speakers Taherama Hollis, Ron Dunselman and Emily Fletcher. Emily’s talk spoke of the formidable counter-forces we face today as a global society and how we can meet these challenges with purposeful inner activity. She discussed that by strengthening our will capacities we can become more conscious human beings with heightened perceptions and a greater capacity for positive impact through our outer deeds.

Download a pdf of the talk

 

Meditation: self-serving or a serving self?

There can at times be criticism from some, that meditation is a self-indulgent activity and that it is better to be actually doing good things in the world rather than closeting away navel gazing. We have to say that we suspect such sentiments come from people who have never been practising meditants. Meditation is not about escaping from the world but rather entering more coherently into it! In a healthy meditation practice any insights or gifts that may be bestowed upon the meditant are not seen as directly personal, but rather of a universal nature and therefore to be integrated into worldly life as service to others. For example if we look at the vast contribution Rudolf Steiner gave to the world in areas such as education, agriculture, the arts, health, philosophy and the social realm; it all came through his meditative insight. There are many others in the world today who actively engage the world, changing lives, through the fruits of meditation.

If you think about it, meditation requires strength of will, perseverance, trust and the birth of a global awareness. Those who have established a meditative practice know that the inner stability, calmness and focus that is engendered through meditation can resonate throughout the day and be a steady compass amidst the demands and trials of daily life, making one a more useful colleague and serving member of society. Yes, meditation is not only about self, but also service!

Mark & Emily

WHAT-MATTERS_2

WHAT MATTERS? TALK BY MARK GEARD

The Anthroposophical Society held it’s annual conference from the 1 – 4 October 2015 in Hastings with keynote speakers Henare O’Keefe, Noel Josephson, Greg O’Connor, Carolyn Hughes and Mark Geard. Mark’s talk addressed the question of What Matters through the central issue that underlies most of the challenges we face today – what does it mean to be truly human? Mark references his prison work, the struggles many inmates go through to change and also the challenges we all face in defining our healthy relationship to technology.

Download the PDF of his talk.