Sunday, January 19, 2020
Sunday, January 12, 2020
Athletes, artists, actors, writers and musicians know what Flow means. In a state of Flow, time seems to stand still as they execute that effortless move. ‘Become’ a character in a play. Express themselves in words, music or artistic medium. The results are always transcending and awe-inspiring. Rippling outwards to touch the rest of us with wonder and excitement.
But I’m not a musician, artist or athlete,” I hear you say. Can ordinary folks like you and me experience Flow? Absolutely. In fact, finding one’s flow, greatly increases our happiness and life satisfaction – not to mention our mental and physical health.
You see, the science of positive psychology and human flourishing is also backed by the study of 80 and 90 year olds in Okinawa, Japan – one of the leading ‘Blue Zone’ places in the world. These elderly folks were already living ‘in Flow’ long before science caught up with them.
Flow and ‘Ikigai’
To them, Flow is another word for ‘Ikigai’ – a Japanese word which translates roughly to – a reason for being, encompassing joy. A sense of purpose and meaning. A feeling of well-being derived from the realization of hopes and expectations.
As living embodiments of Flow and Ikigai, these elderly folks find meaning and purpose by tending to their small farms and daily chores, becoming active members of their community, exercising, catching up with friends and loved ones daily, eating in moderation, going to bed early, singing, playing musical instruments and dancing.
Most of us have lost touch with this simple and uncomplicated way of living, in our pursuit of happiness through external rewards like money, possessions, power and position. But when you feel depressed, anxious, burnt-out, frustrated, defeated, lost, alone and stressed out, chances are you’ve moved far away from the source of your well-being – your Flow and Ikigai. You don’t have to move to Okinawa to find your Flow. You need to look within and ask yourselves these crucial questions:
Why am I here?
Our schools train us to become good students, but they don’t train us to understand our deepest needs and motivations. As a result, most of us fail to define our ‘Why’ and end up living lives that we did not choose. We don’t know who we areOn the other hand, knowing your ‘Why’ means having a deep sense of conviction, passion and purpose about your reason for being. According to author and speaker Simon Sinek, it’s like having an internal compass that directs your path, sustains you and gives you a mission throughout your lifetime.
What keeps me focused and engaged?
One clue to finding your ‘Why’ is to know what makes you feel glad to be alive. Are you exercising your skills and talents to make a difference? Any kind of activity counts. It could be helping out at an animal shelter, cooking, writing, managing a project, raising funds, public speaking or whatever. The activities that you love and are naturally good at, are keys to finding your Flow. Incorporate them into your daily, weekly or monthly routines. Or start a business and new career that puts you in Flow every day.
Who do I love to be with?
Studies have found that true happiness is not found in the possessions we own and the money we make. What matters is the strength of our relationships with our loved ones, friends and community. Social isolation and loneliness are the top predictors of depression, addiction and suicide. Flow happens when we take the time to laugh, play and enjoy meaningful conversations and activities with our friends, pets and loved ones. If this is missing in your life because of work and other commitments, seek help. Redress the imbalance before it’s too late.
When do I Pause?
How comfortable are you about stillness and doing nothing? In our success-at all-costs driven lives, it’s important to hit your ‘Pause’ button. A ‘Pause’ means taking a few moments to drop your to-do lists in order to appreciate the present and express gratitude. The Okinawans do this by spending time outdoors enjoying Nature. I do this by talking long walks. During your ‘pause,’ listen to music that inspires you, meditate, pray or just relax with deep breathing and yoga. Purposely spending time each day to be still (with no distractions) actually prepares you for Flow.
Flow ultimately, comes from the inside. It’s a potential that all of us are born with, but few ever take the trouble to find. It means following the song in your heart and living with purpose and intention – without measuring yourself against others or feeling pressured to meet their standards.
Interested to know how you can Flow?
Author: Elsa Lim
Also follow www.soyoga.com.sg
Sunday, January 5, 2020
According to prolific author and lecturer at Stanford University Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., mindful movement can quite literally reconfigure the brain. She sits down with me on this episode of the mindbodygreen podcast to discuss her new book, The Joy of Movement, and explains how movement can change the neurochemistry of our brains.
Most of us recall that familiar rush of endorphins when thinking about the relationship between working out and happiness. But, says McGonigal, there are plenty of other ways movement can create true joy and reduce pain. While that endorphin rush certainly helps, it's not the only response our brains have toward mindful exercise.
Here are three ways exercise can create joy, according to McGonigal. With her advice, you'll be inspired to get up and get moving, stat.
1. Movement fosters a connection to others.
McGonigal acknowledges that, yes, working out causes an increase in endorphins. But, she says, there's also an increase in endocannabinoids, dopamine, and oxytocin, which are neurochemical hormones that make it easier to bond with other people.
"Movement makes you more willing to trust and cooperate with others," McGonigal states.
It also creates what she calls "collective joy," which is a type of joy that primes you to connect with others. According to McGonigal, when you move with others, it creates a euphoric sense that you are quite literally connected to those people.
"It's a whole trick of the brain," she says. "If we are moving together at the same time, my brain starts to perceive me not as separate from you but almost like a superorganism that you and I are both a part of."
2. Movement can help you define yourself.
Another reason movement creates joy, McGonigal says, is because it allows you to shape your identity. Depending on the type of exercise, be it yoga or CrossFit, you'll be able to access different parts of yourself that can help you discover who you'd like to become.
She offers a few examples: "If you go to a place like CrossFit, you are demonstrating your strength. Your brain is understanding that movement not by saying you did something strong but you are strong. You are powerful."
On the other hand, if you're partial to a kickboxing class (like McGonigal herself), you might associate that movement with courage and resilience. "When I'm kickboxing, I sense bravery in my body, that fighting spirit," she says.
No matter which type of movement you prefer, McGonigal believes you'll be able to access different versions of yourself that activate those positive affirmations. Through movement, you'll have a better understanding of your identity and overall energy.
3. Movement helps you create meaning & purpose.
Along with helping you shape your identity, movement has intrinsic meaning. Purpose, as we are all familiar with here at mbg, is paramount in terms of happiness. Having purpose is beneficial for our mental and physical health, and McGonigal says that we subconsciously make meaning out of movement all the time.
"Human beings are meaning-making machines," she states. That said, we constantly are trying to make meaning out of the activities we do, sometimes without even knowing it.
That's why movement can have such a significant impact on our purpose, as the mind can naturally make meaning out of the action. Even something as simple as an afternoon stroll can be profound in terms of purpose.
McGonigal agrees: "Walking is powerful because it's a full-body experience, and it's a metaphor. You are literally moving forward, and you're on a path."
Overall, the true joy of movement is much more than a rush of endorphins we experience after a long run or hot yoga session. Even when you might not know it, exercising creates neurological responses that benefit so many aspects of our health. And, according to McGonigal, these mental health benefits may even outweigh the cardiovascular, heart-healthy effects of movement.
"Movement is more than something you have to squeeze in because it will help prevent a heart attack 20 years from now," she quips. If that doesn't get you up and moving, I don't know what will.
Author: Jason Wachob
Tuesday, December 17, 2019
While yoga isn’t actually about becoming more flexible, having a good understanding of what flexibility is, and why it’s important, can help you take your yoga practice to the next level.