MUSIC, THE SOUL FOOD EARLY RETIREMENT? MAYBE NOT A LIFE COACHING CAREER
shortcut to happiness
QUALITY OF LIFE
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HOBBIES - SHORTCUT TO HAPPINESS It’s time to pursue a hobby to synchronise your body, mind and soul.
WINE AND FOOD SUPER SMOOTHIES
ANIMA BOOK CLUB HEAL WITH WORDS
EARLY RETIREMENT? MAYBE NOT
ALL ABOUT HEALTH
BOOST YOUR SELF-IMAGE WITH A POSITIVE OUTLOOK
MUSIC, THE SOUL FOOD Anima finds out how much music comforts and heals one’s inner and even outer being.
2 3 4 6 35
FAMILY TIME, FAMILY FUN
CAREER CORNER A LIFE COACHING CAREER
IN EVERY ISSUE EDITOR’S LETTER MAILBOX QUESTION OF THE MONTH THOUGHTS ON LIFE ENJOY GUIDE
EDITOR’S LETTER After months of hard work, finally, the inaugural issue
of Anima has been launched. Anima provides easy-to-digest information on well-being, lifestyle, and physical and mental health to readers, supported by opinions given by experts and specialists. As our mission statement states, we are “dedicated to promote quality of life, well-being, and personal growth. We aim to help readers understand themselves better, make positive changes in their lives, find self-fulfillment, and fully enjoy their lives.” The word “Anima” has a Latin origin, and it means “the inner self of an individual”, “the soul”. Through Anima, we hope to bring positive and inspiring messages to readers, and play a part in enriching their souls as well as their lives. In our hectic city lives, most of us are busy trying to make a living and fulfilling our family and work responsibilities. However, we must also make time to take good care of our health and spiritual needs. We need to learn to manage our work and lives well, so that we could lead fulfilling lives. In this issue, our cover story discusses the benefits of having hobbies (page 8) and why pursuing a hobby is good for you. It not only brings calmness and satisfaction, it also helps distract us from our day-time worries and problems. Maybe it is time for you to pick up a new interest. This issue also looks at the topic of music therapy (page 14), and ways to build a positive self-image (page 27). Our article on family time (page 30) also suggests fun activities for family gatherings and building strong bond with our family members. For those who long for retirement, maybe you should reconsider your plans. As pointed out in the article on retirement (page 21), maybe work, or having some work that you enjoy, is good for you so that you stay mentally active. We hope that you like the fresh look of Anima. You can pick up a free copy of Anima at our distribution points. If you want the digital or printed version or both the digital and print versions of Anima to be delivered to you every month, please register on our website: www. animamag.com. You are also welcome to share your views and opinions on the articles in Anima with other readers through our website or you could e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Last but not least, we would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the launch of Anima. Thanks to our team members, writers, and business partners. Without your hard work, this could not be done. Have a good day!
Lam Chi Fai Publisher and Editor-in-Chief
A publication of Anima Publishing Limited Hong Kong 2/F., Dah Sing Life Building 99-105 Des Voeux Road Central Hong Kong Singapore 100 Tras Street, #16-01 The Amara Corporate Tower Singapore 079027 T: (852) 2325 0287 F: (852) 2287 5002 E: email@example.com
PUBLISHER AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Lam Chi Fai firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR Eunice Wong email@example.com ART DIRECTOR John Agra firstname.lastname@example.org BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Bonnie Wong email@example.com SUB EDITOR Beulah Rose ADVERTISING firstname.lastname@example.org EDITORIAL email@example.com
GET A FREE COPY Please visit our website or send your e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Anima magazine is published by Anima Publishing Limited. Copyright 2011 Anima Publishing Limited, all rights reserved. The title “Anima magazine” its associated logos and content are the property of Anima Publishing Limited. Reproduction in any manner in whole or in part in English or other languages without written permission from the publisher is strictly prohibited. While every care has been taken, we do not accept liability with respect to any views, opinions or advice given in this magazine.
MAILBOX Dear Editor, Upon knowing the launch of the Anima magazine, which is about well-being and enjoying life, I would like to send in a word on the magazine. I believe that as we live in a cosmopolitan world where life can be very hectic and stressful, it is of utmost importance that we look after our well-being and learn how to enjoy life. We do not need a yacht, a private jet or millions of dollars to bring enjoyment into our lives. We only need to know how to achieve the bliss and also how to find time (since a lot of CEOs or busy businessmen declare that they do not have it) to put that into practice. I remember meeting an elderly American who once told me that it is no excuse to say that one does not have the time, but one should make the time. Doing exercise regularly, taking time to travel, cultivating interests or even spending time cooking meals and sharing them with family or friends, all these can help us relax and enjoy life. Reading a magazine is a useful channel for gathering different kinds of information and Anima is all set to bring important and interesting ideas to its readers. I wish every success to the magazine. ANNE HO Dear Editor, Magazines are dime a dozen and those focusing on lifestyle pack up the racks in bookstores. It is in this rabble of analysis, features and page three spreads that Anima has carved out a separate space, as it is a magazine with a difference. While others train the strobe light on external beauty pumped up by fillers and botox, Anima vouches for the fact that beauty can be enhanced when there is serenity deep down. Little lifestyle changes, a pint at a time, a wee bit of dabbling in a passion filled hobby and a large dollop of goodness is all that it takes to make life more meaningful. Anima, the trendsetter, is filled with these nuggets of wisdom that strengthens the foundation for a complete life. In todayâ€™s milieu, where happiness is forgotten in the race to achieve fame, let this magazine, grow and steer people into a realm that matters for the soul. BEULAH ROSE If you have something to say or share, please send your e-mail to email@example.com.
QUESTION OF THE MONTH I am a working mum with two children, aged 5 and 1. I now spend all my time on my job and family duties, and I always feel exhausted. It will be more stressful when my elder son goes to primary school. What should I do? CONNIE FU
Maaike van Dijk is originally from the Netherlands and has a practice as a Life Coach in Hong Kong. As a former professional dancer, she knows how important it is to check your personal balance regularly. She graduated at the Atma Institute in the Netherlands as a professional Life Coach (post Master degree) and holds an MA in Modern Dance at Codarts (Rotterdam). For more information about Maaike check: www.maaikevandijk.nl
Dear Connie, Life can become pretty hectic when you combine work and children. It is hard not to get overwhelmed by the responsibility. As much as you might love working in the confines of the office and spending time with your children you do also need to relax and reload yourself. This lack of relaxation seems to be the main problem at the moment. When you constantly feel exhausted you need to evaluate your energy level. You can do this by making a simple diagram (for example in the shape of a cake) of the energy (time) you are spending on different areas in life such as; work, caring for your children, household chores, relaxation, quality time with your partner, visiting friends, seeing family, sleeping etcetera. This list is just to give you an idea, of course you can add or leave out whatever area is suitable for your situation. The idea is that you do not look at the exact time spent on those areas, but the energy it takes you to do it. Maybe some things take more energy than others. When you are done, think about what you would ideally like to spend your energy on. This also can be put up in the form of a diagram. Do not think about the feasibility yet in this stage. Putting the two diagrams next to each other will give you a clear image of what part of your life takes a lot of your energy and what you are actually in need of. Now see if you can work more towards your second ideal diagram. The analysis will show what gives you the energy to reload and be able to be fully present in your other duties? Is it possible to say no to some things? Who could help you to make those changes? Is there someone in the family or a friend around to baby-sit, so you can spend an evening going to the movie or pampering yourself? Do you have a question on health and well-being? Please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. WWW.ANIMAMAG.COM
saving sight worldwide
68Hours to First Sight 8-month-old blind baby Zhang and his Dad walked through the darkness...
13:42 16/12/2010 After a six-hour drive from Mengzi, Yunnan and another hour of walking on rough roads, ORBIS sight-saving team arrived at Little Zhang’s village in Wenshan Prefecture. Blind in her right eye due to congenital cataracts, Mrs. Zhang, was preparing supper for the family.
17:05 16/12/2010 While the sun was going down, we still had six hours to go before we reached the city. Zhang’s Dad was able to traverse the rugged road incredibly fast. It seemed neither the father nor son could wait for the first glimpse of their new future!
09:36 19/12/2010 When his bandages were removed, Zhang’s eyes kept moving up and down to soak in the miraculous world all around him! Stuck in darkness for all eight months and another 68 WWW.ANIMAMAG.COM hours of his life, Zhang’s first sight was his father’s smile.
15:50 16/12/2010 Having met on a blind date, Zhang Chao-xi and He De-qiong seemed love at first sight and got married. They had Little Zhang size years later, sadly the baby was born with congenital cataracts and blind in both eyes. Although his Dad tried everything, he was unable to find a cure due to the family’s poverty and the lack of skills in local hospitals.
08:47 18/12/2010 After a thorough medical check-up the day ahead, Zhang was so scared he kept screaming before the surgery. Even his Dad who always wears a shy smile looked totally stressed out.
16:16 16/12/2010 Dinner time was about to come! Dad fed Zhang some food, while his Grannie wept with gratitude in the bedroom not quite believing that ORBIS would provide the boy with life-transforming surgery free of charge.
11:11 18/12/2010 Surgery on babies required high proficiency and ultra-precise accuracy. After three long hours, Dr. Zhang Hong, Director of Eye Department in Honghe Prefecture First People’s Hospital successfully removed Little Zhang’s cataracts, with a junior doctor attempted to enhance his skill by observing via an assistant microscope.
In 2010, ORBIS’ donors enabled ORBIS to screen and examine over 900,000 patients, perform more than 62,000 eye surgeries and train 541 ophthalmologists and 3,324 eye care professionals in China. Zhang and his family are now embracing a whole new world. The support of your organization will help transform the lives of many, many others just like them.
Donation: 2595 0263 www.orbis.org.hk APRIL 2011 Facebook: ORBISHongKong
THOUGHTS ON LIFE
“WHEN I GO OUT, MY CAMERA IS MY BEST FRIEND. IT GIVES ME A PURPOSE TO LOOK FOR NICE THINGS,” AN AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHER SAYS.
“MUSIC IS A UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE. MUSIC IS MY BEST FRIEND,” Travelling is a three-phase enjoyable process. Phase One: Planning and looking forward to the trip. Phase Two: Sightseeing, going to new places and seeing new things. Phase Three: Seeing the photos and recalling the experience.
A MUSIC LOVER SAYS.
In the complicated world, what are the basic things for our well-being? Eat and sleep well.
to ha , e f i l l ve a more blissfu you have “flow n e m ax i h ”. mize the time w A PERSON WILL EXPERIENCE “FLOW” WHEN THE PERSON IS FULLY IMMERSED AND ABSORBED IN HIS OR HER WORK THAT THE PERSON FORGETS THE SENSE OF TIME.
“Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.” JAMES DEAN (AMERICAN MOTION PICTURE ACTOR, SYMBOL OF REBELLION, 1931-1955)
SOME DESIRE IS NECESSARY TO KEEP LIFE IN MOTION.
I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. GEORGE BERNARD SHAW
SHORTCUT TO HAPPINESS It’s not just a distraction for the bored and not-so-time crunched. If you are keen to discover the joy of feeling upbeat and positive every day, then it’s time to pursue a hobby to synchronise your body, mind and soul. BY NEHA GHOSH
Every day after reaching home from work, An-
ant Pandit, a brand manager in a reputed newspaper publishing house in Mumbai, relaxes by playing FPS (first person shooter games) on his personal computer. At last count, Joyace Fang, an editor of a fashion website in Bangkok, has over 3000 crystal figurines of fairies which she has collected from her travels across various countries. The notion that two independent adults spend their time and energy in pursuing activities like playing computer games and collecting figurines may sound childish and unproductive to the sceptical and the hurried butt they couldn’t be further than the truth as actively pursuing a leisure activity has many physical, psychological and emotional benefits.
THE HOBBYIST BREED According to Senior Consulting Psychiatrist, Dr Lee Chang from the Department of Community Psychiatry, Singapore, WWW.ANIMAMAG.COM
hobbies can be classified into two categories. The activities, which improve physical health such as “jogging, yoga, and swimming” and those, which stimulate the mind such as “playing Sudoku, board games, reading, writing or painting,” he added. To give a better nonspecific explanation, hobby is an activity that makes the person feel good and hobbyists, as they are often called , are people who engage in hobbies out of interest and out of which they derive immense satisfaction. An active hobbyist Anant Pandit says, “In this fast-paced life, satisfaction of the mind is very important. After all, if my mind is satisfied, so will be my soul”. If one has to believe by trial, then to ride one’s hobby-horse’, defined as ‘to follow a favourite pastime’ has over the years continued to be popular purely for mental and physiological benefits. “Satisfaction derived from my hobby boosts my confidence, refuels my energy levels resulting in an overall positive impact on my health. So what if it happens by playing computer games, I love it,” added Pandit. Similarly, Joyace Fang likes APRIL 2011
HOBBIES NOT ONLY DISTRACT YOU GENERAL MONOTONY OF WORK AND HOME; to collect figurines of fairies because besides showing off her fantastic collection, it also “gives me sense of purpose as I know by now, no one knows about figurines as much as I do”, she added. Gardening? Collecting dolls? Painting or fishing? What acts as your fuel?
SHORTCUT TO HAPPINESS Not so long ago, people found time to do things they loved. It could be as simple as spending time with family or playing a game of chess. But times change and so do people. It’s a crazy world these days as everything is defined by speed; time has never been so compressed and work has never been so overwhelming. The below data will highlight the point slightly better. A survey conducted on 1,791 adults by the American Psychological Association reflected some alarming results. 80% of people are worried about the economy, credit to the worst financial crisis on Wall Street since the Great Depression. From trying to make the mortgage and saving for retirement, to raising kids, caring for aging parents, and getting enough exercise, people from all over the world are struggling to keep their heads afloat and it’s taking a toll on their immune systems, sleep and waistlines. “Even amidst the chaos and stress, there are individuals who understand that life is so much more than that, and they try to enlarge their spare time and take advantage of it,” said Dr Chang. Going by his statement, if we look around carefully, there are souls who are not scared to go the extra mile in pursuit of happiness. For instance take the example of Sneha Shah from London. An acupuncturist by profession and a self-confessed terrible dancer with “two left feet”, she still goes for salsa dance class four times a week as grooving to music helps her relax. “I love to dance and after a long and tiring day, it acts as a de-stressing activity for me” she said. For many of us, taking up a physical activity like dancing may seem like a preposterous idea, especially after a whole day of negotiating with clients, handling nagging bosses and annoying colleagues. But if we expand our mind a bit, hobbies such as dancing or learning a language improves the quality of our life by enhancing the level of
happiness and as Dr Chang believes, if we have a hobby and pursue it diligently, “we feel a strong sensation of fulfilment, which eventually makes us happier”. Further, our outcomes shall be more than just satisfactory, meaning that we will have the chance to do two things at a time such as doing a day job and getting involved in a leisure activity. “By doing this we get double satisfaction: a material one, money and a spiritual one,” he concluded. So it’s simple. Hobbies can act as real source of pleasure for those who refuse to be bored by the dull, dreary, stereotyped existence in the world and stay confined within the cubicle of workplace.
MIND OVER MATTER Have you ever been so engrossed doing something you love that you lost all sense of time? Maybe it was cooking a lavish meal for your family, solving a puzzle or just knitting a sweater, but at the end of the activity your mind was fresher than when you started and you were calmer and relaxed? Yes: ____ No: ____ No matter how simple the activity is, keeping some time aside for leisure activities ensure a healthy mind. “Hobbies reduce stress and provide a calming sense of control”, says Dr Nelson Lee, Medical Director and Psychiatrist, Psychological Wellness Centre, Singapore. According to him, hobbies not only distract you from everyday worries and the general monotony of work and home; it also helps to improve concentration. “If you’re focused on learning to play the guitar, then you don’t give your mind the permission to fret about work,” said Dr Lee. So whether you are learning to play an instrument, or knitting, writing poems, gardening, fishing or just about anything requiring repetitive motion, the activity produces endorphins also known as the “feel good hormones” which in turn induces a “feeling of calmness which results in a healthy heart and lower blood pressure,” he added. So at the end of the day, you may have had a bad day at work, but when you are cooking a meal, you’re in charge. You feel good and even get credit for your work, and even if you have just cooked pasta, it’s a job well done. Another benefit from having a hobby is that we develop skills connected to it. We use our brain fully. “It is like deciding an aim in life and then following it,” added Dr Lee. WWW.ANIMAMAG.COM
FROM EVERYDAY WORRIES AND THE IT ALSO HELPS IMPROVE CONCENTRATION So whether it’s taking photographs, gardening, catering, scrapbooking or quilting, hobbies can distract you from your worries by making you focus on the present moment and what you have rather than what you want. Creating something new brings a sense of peace and connects you with your deeper self.
BRAIN BENEFICIAL So by now you know that a leisure activity keeps the mind fresh and is also the easiest way to stay happy. But did you know that hobbies not only help the brain become sharper but also aids it to perform better? From dealing cards at bridge to swapping tips with other collectors, those engaging with compatible souls boost their power of resistance. “People who are engaged in hobbies or community activities are less likely to die of stroke or circulatory disorders than those who don’t,” said Dr Rupal Soneta, Senior Psychiatrist at Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai. She also added that people regularly engaged in hobbies such as sewing and gardening were less likely to suffer mental decline. “Those who pursue mind-boosting activities -- such as crossword puzzles -- lowered their risk of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia and also staved off the brain fog and loneliness of old age”, replied Dr Soneta. Trying new things and being creative‚ by singing in a chorale, taking dancing lessons, painting or doing crossword puzzles or brain teasers‚ makes the mind alert. “When you challenge the brain, your brain cells sprout new connections known as dendrites,” Dr Soneta explained, “and new contact points, called synapses, that improve brain communication.”
GOOD VS BAD Even though leisure activities help the mind, body and soul to develop and rejuvenate, sometimes it gets difficult to differentiate between activities that help from the one that hurts. The line between the two gets so fine that it seems almost blurred. Sidney Rai (name changed), a computer engineer in Canberra, Australia is a compulsive flirt. He would laughingly comment that he loves the company of women and chasing skirts “is his hobby” and gives him an adrenaline high. Not surprisingly, his extreme affection for the opposite sex WWW.ANIMAMAG.COM
BENEFITS OF A HOBBY AT A GLANCE ° Special time: A hobby ensures that you have time for yourself without getting distracted by work or family. It’s a great way to connect with your soul. ° Brain responds better: Pursuing a hobby releases feel good hormones, wards of dementia and helps tackle loneliness. ° Promotes creativity and improves concentration: Pursuing a hobby stimulates parts of the brain related with creative and positive thinking. Hobbyists exhibit a deep interest to enhance knowledge on the subject. Chemicals like endorphins, and dopamine levels increase and these contribute to improving focus and interest in any activity. ° Right here and now: Hobby helps focus on the present rather than the future. ° Boosts confidence: Hobbyists think beyond the boundaries of job, work, business etc. They have varied interests with wider perception and evaluate self-worth beyond financial revenues and work performance. ° Fosters friendships: Pursuing a social hobby such as dancing, blogging or joining a club helps build friendships. ° Stress buster: Engaging in a loved activity after a long and hard day of work, acts as a de-stressor. ° Save the cash: Activities like knitting, paper mache, candle making and painting provide a great source for handmade and personal gifts. Not to forget, it helps save the dollars as well. ° Money making hobbies: You can always turn hobbies such as photography, painting and woodwork in to moneymaking proposition.
blurred his sense of judgment resulting him bedding women in his office, which ultimately resulted in him getting fired. Similarly, Nirja Patyal, a student of fashion in London, loves shopping so much that she sometimes skips meals to save money so that she can buy the latest pair of shoes, bags or to upgrade her already extensive wardrobe. Her dangerous hobby has led her to become almost terribly weak and pushed her on the brink of anorexia. Shocking? How could they? Shouldn’t they use their better judgment? No matter what you think there are very many individuals like the above ones for whom the word hobby has taken a twisted meaning . Their love or addiction for their chosen “hobby” dangles on the brink of being destructive and damaging. But the question is, is there something as a bad hobby? According to Dr Erica Kim, Family Counsellor and Psychiatrists at FCC, Seoul, Korea when a hobby becomes an addiction, it becomes destructive. “You might enjoy shopping a lot, but when you find yourself obsessed about what to buy or spending all your money by buying things you think you need, it’s a red flag,” Dr Kim said. She believes that it does not matter how ‘simple’ or ‘harmless’ you may think that the activity is, if not kept under a check, soon it may explode into a full-fledged dependence. “You can be an obsessive shopper, gamer, party animal, drinker, smoker, or a gossip monger. Your activity might spur out of control,” she continued. The side effect of such behaviour is no less dangerous. Deteriorating health, poor focus, lack of concentration, unproductive nature, the list is long and scary.
THE STEP AHEAD As the most intelligent species, we have the gift of judgment and thinking rationally. If you think that your hobby is taking over your life and not vice-versa, then its time to take action. Dr Kim advises listening to your friends and family as they are usually the first ones to spot any sort of unusual behaviour. “Don’t disregard their judgment and monitor your own behaviour. When you find your acts not so normal anymore, it’s time to do something about it,” she concluded. It’s crucial to remember that hobbies like good thoughts, is our friend. But choose to use it the wrong way and like a bad dream, it will swallow the positive and tune it into a black hole of dread. The data below should make you think. The Japanese obsession with gaming is quite unbelievable. If statistics are to be believed, an average Japanese 30-year-old male spends around 8 hours a day sitting in front of his computer playing games. The children are not too far off also. According to an internet research conducted by Goo research, it was found that 30 percent of pre-primary school boys play for more three
hours of video games every day. It is a common sight to see nursery school kids sitting and playing games on a hand held device, even when they are in the park.
FIND THE RIGHT HOBBY Things you will need: An open mind and willingness to learn and experiment. So you have decided to become a hobbyist and want to enjoy all the benefits of a leisure activity. How to go about selecting one? “It’s not as easy like picking a shirt you like off the shelf, but it is not as difficult as building a rocket for sure,” said Sweta Tiwari, a freelance photographer in Mumbai. She turned her hobby of taking pictures into a profession and believes that a confused state of mind about choosing an activity is regular and not such a fretting matter. “Just like any other activity, selecting a hobby depends upon the pursuer, his or her likes, dislikes and personality,” Tiwari added. So, if you are an outdoor person and enjoy nature, hikes and treks, picking a hobby like painting or solving puzzles will serve no propose at all as you won’t derive any pleasure from it. But looking for an activity in a haphazard manner is not the right way to go. After all, unless you have the time and money, joining fifteen different classes before zeroing on to one isn’t a feasible idea. So just like an aptitude test, before you make a commitment, it’s important to ask yourself a couple of questions to assess yourself. WWW.ANIMAMAG.COM
1. Do I prefer outdoor activities or enjoy doing things in the comfort of my home? 2. Am I willing to work a little harder to learn something new, eg; a foreign language or try something easy, eg: becoming a member of a library? 3. Am I a social person or enjoy my own company? 4. Which is more important to me? Recognition or fulfilment? 5. Do I like a physical challenge or mental stimulation? The right answers to the above questions will help you gauge your personality and then you can choose the correct leisure activity. No matter what you choose, there are certain factors that you must keep in mind before and after you pick a hobby.
GET OUT NOW Unless its monopoly, chess or scrabble, you cannot learn anything unless you get up from your sofa and step outside. Meet people, learn what’s happening outside and then choose from the various options available.
BE PROACTIVE It’s best to get associated with the pro in a field. So if you select painting, associate yourself with someone who know the art well and learn from the best.
SELF LEARN Although it’s beneficial to learn from an expert, you can always get the necessary resources to practice at home. If it is carpentry, buy yourself a toolbox and wood and start creating a home. Start a project.
CHALLENGE YOURSELF Go one step beyond just doing it for pleasure. Get professional inputs from experts in the field and soon your hobby might become your second job.
EXPERT ADVICE DR NELSON LEE Medical Director & Psychiatrist The Psychological Wellness Centre Singapore
Do people who pursue hobby lead a better life than those who don’t? ANIMA |
LEE | I think leading a better life is perhaps
more complex than that. People find meaning in different things that they do. However, I would agree that having a hobby is one way that people can find personal meaning through leisure, and it is one of the ways that can add to having a better life.
How does having a hobby benefit psychologically? A|
L | Hobbies are a form of leisure and by
themselves can lead to relaxation and that’s one good way of stress management. Often I notice that people who are passionate about their hobbies often speak about this with pride and it does lead to a general sense of psychological well-being and mastery with improved self-esteem. Often the hobbies that involve crafting also improve ones cognitive and analytical ability and also help fine motor skills.
Are there any harmful effects in pursuing a hobby? A|
L | Although a past time activity may seem
very undamaging, I would however caution that hobbies should not be taken to an extreme where they interfere with one’s ability to function socially and occupationally. Trying to become successful at a hobby may become so competitive that it is no longer enjoyable but becomes stressful. In such a situation, it may be become counterproductive.
What advice would you give to people who lead a hectic life and have no time for leisure activities? A|
PURSUE IT PASSIONATELY Hobby is a fun activity so don’t get disappointed if you don’t get it right the first time. Enjoy it and soon the emotional benefits will start pouring in. The choices are many. Pick an activity you love or may love, and watch your life improve. Others might think that you are obsessed, but you know better.
L | I would recommend some down-time for
everybody. Prolonged periods of high stress are harmful and may lead to conditions such as depression or anxiety disorders in the long run. For those who lead a stressful life, I would suggest that they allocate an hour or so every day for themselves. A hobby is very useful as it aids in relaxing and destressing.
Neha Ghosh has been working as a writer/editor for the last six years. Besides politics and sports, she has written on every genre possible. Her happiest times are when she is travelling to a new place and writing. WWW.ANIMAMAG.COM
THE SOUL FOOD Plato once said, “Rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul,” and Anima delves deeper to find just how much music comforts and heals one’s inner and even outer being. BY FARHANA HOSSAIN
Picture this. You have had a particularly
rough day at work - feeling completely drained out, all you wish to do is reach home and crawl under the blanket. As you leave office, you plug in your iPod and start listening to your favourite music and instantly, the world seems a better place. This, in itself, is a form of music therapy. But what exactly is music therapy?
SOOTHING THE SOUL Music is much more powerful than you think. Apparently, music with a strong rhythm can connect with your brain waves, stimulating you enough to have a sharper focus and thought process so that you can react better. On the other end of the spectrum, slow music with calming beats has a more restorative effect, leading you to a more relaxed state. By enabling you to attain a positive state of mind, music actually helps in curbing stress, and in turn, makes you feel
THE GIST OF IT ALL IS THAT MUSIC CAN HELP TREAT SEVERAL PROBLEMS, RANGING FROM PHYSICAL TO SOCIAL much better! When was the last time you felt like your blood was boiling? Listening to a piece of quality music can actually alleviate this state of mind, bringing you back to a calm, restorative state. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Music therapy actually goes much deeper than this. It is a form of psychology that is even being implemented in hospitals to encourage speedy recovery. The Association of Music Therapy in Singapore advocates it as a therapy, a healthcare profession of its own. So how does it work? The association points out that music therapy is not exactly the same as relaxation by music. In fact, music therapy involves more than just music. It is a relationship between a patient, the music and the therapist. A music therapist is specially trained in this field and he is equipped with the skills to judge a patient’s strengths and weaknesses. Once he is able to decipher this, he develops what is known as ‘treatment goals’, and designs the necessary therapies to treat his patient. Once these goals are met, the patient no longer needs to attend therapy. Music therapy is used in cases of brain injury, autism, emotional traumas, speech and language impairments and many other aspects of mental health. The gist of it all is that music can help treat several problems, ranging from physical to social. Ultimately, music can “encourage contact, interaction, self-awareness, learning, self-expression, communication and personal development,” states an expert. The Association of Music Therapists and the British Society for Music Therapy state that music therapy can be beneficial at some levels. For example, if a person is suffering from emotional problems, music therapy offers a safe setting where the repressed feelings can be let out. The therapist’s role here is to support and accept the patient’s feelings, and by doing so, helps the patient to eventually obtain emotional release and self-acceptance. As a result, through the therapy, patients can find good ways of making their desires known, and in turn, increase their self esteem.
RAISING AWARENESS Ng Wang Feng, president of the Association for Music Therapy (Singapore) reveals that while music therapy can be said to be ‘popular’, it has not yet reached the mainstream consciousness, in other words it is not as popular as it should be”. He adds that only trained music therapists can offer these services.
While anyone can actually engage in music therapy, the services are actually provided to children with special needs. Ng states that at-risk-youths, cancer patients, dementia and hospice patients are among those who have benefited from music therapy. The unfortunate thing is, not many people in Hong Kong are aware that there is a treatment known as music therapy. While music therapy falls in the category of lesser-known professions in Hong Kong, there has been a steady increase of awareness in the past few years. It is not just classical music that helps bring peace of mind, one can also relax to jazz. Response to music is highly individual. There is no type of music that works for all. Farhana began her career as a Feature Writer, writing for lifestyle magazines in fields such as luxury watches and pens, green living and travel. She is currently working for a global publisher.
ROCK-N-ROLLING BACK TO LIFE! Reinforcing Ng’s words that it is not just classical music that works for people, is a grandfather in Stoke, England. It was recently reported that the 60- yearold man had been lying in a coma for 10 weeks after developing anemia. What woke him up was the classic Rolling Stones number – I Can’t Get No Satisfaction. According to his wife, she was reluctant to use the music therapy approach, but since nothing else was working, she gave this a try. Fortunately for her, it worked. The song, played on headphones, woke him right up. Later, he told the media that “I can’t remember much while being in a coma, but I do remember that when that song came on, it took me right back to when I was young. I could remember how excited I was to get it down at the record shop. I suddenly had a burst of energy and knew I had a lot more life left in me and that’s when I woke up - to the sound of the first song I ever bought.”
WINE AND FOOD
SMOOTHIES A refreshing and a healthy drink with the zing of yogurt and a dash of fruit. This is a combo that can pep up the fatigued body and soul BY JULIA KWONG A smoothie tastes almost like a milkshake, but is less heavy. It is equally
refreshing on a hot summer day but without the calories of a milkshake. A serving of smoothie is about 100 plus calories whereas a milk shake is usually more than 350 calories. A smoothie has all the nutrients of a milkshake - carbohydrate, calcium and vitamins but with less fat. The base to make a smoothie is yogurt; and that of a milkshake is milk. Both are equally nutritious but what makes the smoothie a healthier choice lies in the additive that gives the drink its taste and texture. We usually add fruit to a smoothie; but add ice cream to a milk shake. Besides the higher fat content in an ice cream, gum, hydrogenated fat, coloring and other unhealthy ingredients are added to the commercially prepared ones making it more attractive to the consumers. WWW.ANIMAMAG.COM
WINE AND FOOD
A smoothie is really a blended yogurt drink made with fruits, but there are exceptions as some even make chocolate and other smoothies too. Readers interested in checking out varieties of smoothies should use search engines in Google, Yahoo or other such websites by simply typing in “smoothie recipes”. In this article, we shall take a look at fruit smoothies. To make yogurt drinkable, we blend milk, water, or fruit juice into the plain yogurt. The plain yogurt can be in a paste or solid form. Milk gives the smoothie a smoother texture and fruit juice gives it a fruity flavor and a sweet taste. If we use the latter, we reduce the amount of added sugar in the recipe because sugar is almost always added to fruit juices sold in the store. While making smoothies, sometimes we add a drop or two of vanilla to enhance the flavor. The trick to make a good smoothie is to cut the fruit into small pieces and to freeze it before blending it with the liquid base. Just like freezing rice soaked in water will make it easier to whip up a smooth congee; freezing causes the water content in the fruit to expand and breaks up the fruit molecules to make a smoother smoothie. The smaller the frozen fruit pieces, the easier it is on the blender. Home blenders are not that powerful and we do not want to ruin a blender to make a home smoothie. It would be better if you thaw the frozen fruit a little before putting it into the blender. Moreover, some restaurants add sweetened chopped ice to give smoothies the crunchy gritty texture; and some recipes on the web call for crushed ice too. This is not recommended unless you
The following recipe and instruction act only as a rough guideline. Like any good chef, we can modify the ingredients and adjust the amounts according to our taste and sometimes our budget too. We add more liquid if we want a less thick smoothie, less liquid if we have very “juicy” fruits, less sugar if we use fruit juice, more sugar if we have a sweet tooth and we can blend the ingredients longer if we want a smoother texture or shorter if we want a more gritty one. ½ to ¾ cup of frozen cut fruit 1 cup of plain yogurt (or 4 oz of solid cut yogurt) ½ cup of milk, water or fruit juice 2 to 4 tablespoon of sugar or honey • Put all the ingredients into the blender, and blend until the mixture is smooth. Voila! You will have two servings of your favorite smoothie in two to three minutes!
have a really powerful commercial blender. Some people would freeze fresh strawberries, raspberries or blueberries to make smoothies. These fruits are relatively expensive. As we also have to watch out for our pocket book, we should use fruits that are in season.
We can use pineapple, mango, lychee, papaya, banana or any other fruits we fancy; we can also use one kind of fruit or put different kinds together. Softer fruits will make smoother smoothies; and those with lots of fiber will make coarser ones. Another thing to keep in mind is if we choose a fruit with lots of water content like watermelon, then we should reduce the amount of liquid to be added to the smoothie. If we choose a very sweet fruit, we should reduce the amount of sugar. It is of course good to use fresh ingredients. But to make life simple, some people would buy packages of frozen berries from the store for smoothies. It is hard to find frozen fruit packages in the stores in Hong Kong; and even if we do find these frozen packages, they are not inexpensive. If we really want to save some work, we can use canned fruit as a substitute. If we buy canned lychee or some such fruits that have pits, the canned product will spare us the job of pitting them too. We should also look for canned fruit soaked in its own juice or grape juice, and not syrup. We can cut the canned fruit into pieces and freeze them like fresh ones; and save the juice to blend in with the yogurt later. If this is the case, we should reduce or even eliminate the sugar in the recipe. Whether we use fresh or canned fruit, these tropical smoothies we make will be considered exotic and gourmet. Julia Kwong is a writer and she has taught at the University of Manitoba. WWW.ANIMAMAG.COM
ANIMA BOOK CLUB
Books can help you move beyond your emotional pain. Anima suggests three masterpieces which will give you the strength to heal yourself. BY NEHA GHOSH Take a moment to be still and look around. What do you see?
Heavy traffic, chaotic lifestyle, pressure to earn a living, the need to be successful, quest for the right partner, the perfect home and so on. While many of us struggle to attain the perfect life, secretly and silently most of us are trying to cope with depression, loss, failure and emotional suffering. Death of a close one, losing a job, failed relationships or just ineptness in life, there is no one definition of emotional pain. Though many choose to live in denial or in some extreme case, seek the help of the friendly neighborhood psychiatrist, now is the time to take an alternative route. Itâ€™s time to visit your local library or book store and Anima recommends three books that have made a reputation of helping millions of people deal with internal conflict and hurt. Itâ€™s time to explore the power of words and let them guide you towards a new direction. Neha Ghosh has been working as a writer/editor for the last six years. Besides politics and sports, she has written on every genre possible. Her happiest times are when she is travelling to a new place and writing.
ANIMA BOOK CLUB
Eat, Pray, Love
The Celestine Prophecy
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Author: Rhonda Byrne
Author: James Redfield
As a 30-something writer Elizabeth Gilbert has everything – a job, which takes her all over the world, a handsome husband, and apartments in Manhattan and suburbia. Yet, at the prime of life, this author of three novels hits a midlife crisis of impressive magnitude. Money and status fail to bring her relief, and she is overtaken by panic, sadness and confusion. This propels her towards a divorce, a profound depression and a condemned love affair, which drives her to the edge. Unwilling to give up, Gilbert takes a bold and life-changing step. She sells her property, quits her job and embarks on a solitary journey of transformation and self-discovery. Eat, Pray, Love is a witty account of a crucial year and her travels through Italy, India and Indonesia. Full of funny moments and a honest examination of her personal life, Gilbert manages to keep the readers entertained and asking for more. There is no self-pity or regret in this memoir, just an observation of her past memories and wrong turns and ultimately understanding of the fact that, redemption lies within and you can decide the course of your life. Not surprisingly, the popularity of the book has ensured a Hollywood movie with Julia Roberts playing the author.
What do you really want? A bigger house? The latest sports car? A promotion at work? More money? Your ideal partner? You can have it all and much more by just changing how you think. It is as simple as that and that’s the secret behind the international phenomenon “The Secret”. Inspired by the book “The Science of Getting Rich” by Wallace D, ‘The Secret’ propagates the thought that what you think you will get. So, if you want to improve the quality of your life, then you must change the way you think. The formula behind “The Secret” is quite simple. 1-Ask. 2-Believe. 3-Receive. So if you want a better job, then make a wish to the universe, believe that an opportunity is just around the corner and wait for it to manifest itself. Sounds too simple? It actually is. The Australian author, throughout the book gives information on how ‘The Secret’ works, ways to use it, how to apply it and make it work for you in every part of your life. Written in a simple and engaging manner, there are also expert advice from physicists, doctors, philosophers, teachers and authors. The book focuses heavily on being grateful for what you have in your life right now instead of wishing you had more. It encourages you to make a list of things that you are glad to have in life, example, a house, a great job, family, a car, your health, money in your bank account, your pet. Once you are thankful for what you have, it will attract even greater stuff in your life. Try and find out if it works for you.
During the late 1990’s, The Celestine Prophecy, literally took the world by a storm. For three years it was the biggest selling book and generating comments from readers such as ‘It changed my life’ or ‘It is utter trash’. But if you ignore the remarks and choose to focus on Redfield’s messages, which are categorized in the nine insights intertwined in the story, it has the potential to alter the way you think about yourself. The book talks about coincidences in everyday life, and if it is happening more often, to a large number of people then it is somehow linked to our evolution as a species. The book in its basic format is an adventure story, which carries the reader into the Peruvian Andes, where an ancient manuscript surfaces in the jungle ruins. It states that the end of the 20th century will be a time of spiritual awakening. Extremely engaging and fast-paced, each chapter explains one basic insight, which helps in understanding a person’s life, from the kind of job they are in, their relationships with their partners and much more. Cleverly written with an engaging plot, this hyper-seller is the mother of all self-help books and it has rightfully earned the title.
EARLY RETIREMENT? MAYBE NOT
Days cannot be whiled away lolling on a beach, as it would soon turn stale. Retiring from the rat race is an option worth considering, but it can be stimulating “I’m dead bored.” Mumbling those words to a stranger with whom he had just got aconly when the retiree quainted was my cousin, retired no doubt, sipping coffee in Starbucks and emerges once in a staring vacantly at passers-by. Just a few weeks back, he was bubbling with while to dabble in anticipation to start a new chapter in life. At forty-eight he had made milsomething productive. lions of dollars in the stock market and was ready to retire. He had then BY JANSEN LIM
pictured his future as trips to exotic places, waking up late, golfing whenever and wherever he desired, and enjoying unlimited time with his wife. Instead, days passed in a blur of sun-bleached sameness as he found himself lolling at the swimming pool, a daily activity sandwiched between prolonged meals and watching television. Even his wife became bored and decided to take up tutoring assignments. His state of inanition was unwittingly summoned in a confession to me. APRIL 2011
“Sometimes, I feel that conversing with a stranger in Starbucks or anywhere I happen to be on a particular day could be my highlight for that day,” he sighed.
TOO MUCH FREE TIME AIN’T GOOD We often dream about all the things we’ll do once we retire. What we don’t think about is how easily we can become tired of doing these things day in day out. Suddenly with so much spare time at our disposal, there may simply be no urgency to make the most of it. I have a friend who became wealthy beyond his dreams at the age of thirtyfive. Like many who flex their chimerical muscles during years or even decades of active work, envisioning themselves in their retirement sailing in Monte Carlo or sampling delectable pastries in a famous café tucked away in some corner of Budapest, my friend was not any different. He made an ironclad resolution to travel round the world and live the life of a bon vivant. True enough, he did travel to places that he’d always yearned to visit like Russia and South America. All the thrills he experienced could barely fill up the seemingly inordinate time available to him, which felt like a jungle foliage grown wild and big almost to the point of suffocation. “There’s just so much sightseeing or even dining you can do for a while. After that, then what?” he replied when I asked him why he had returned to work only a few months after retirement. I have no qualms that my friend did appreciate the luxury to go travelling without worrying about either budget constraints or all that work in the office piling up in his absence. Perhaps he just didn’t value or treasure it as much
as someone like me who has to not only scrimp on daily expenses in exchange for a decent trip to somewhere nearby but also wrestle with a busy work schedule to take time off. Let’s just say that when we invest more time and effort into making something happen, it will tend to hit a sweeter spot in our soul, as compared to those who get by without even raising a finger or breaking a sweat.
WATCH YOUR HEALTH However, a bigger if not more ominous problem other than feeling bored looms large in the horizon of retirees. According to a study by the University of Michigan, it was found that those who retired completely from the workforce saw their health deteriorate much more than those who kept working. For instance, the retirees who participated in the study suffered an eight per cent increase in lifestyle-related ill-
nesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure and an 11 per cent decline in mental health, measured by indicators of depression. Research also shows that if we want to preserve our cognitive performance, we have to keep ourselves mentally active. Hence the workplace, more than any brain teasers and crossword puzzles, has proven to help us function optimally by virtue that our minds are kept reasonably alert and robust from tackling work challenges. Even with no more than a sprinkling of deadlines and the slimmest of tasks, we tend to chalk up more psychological mileage than retirees who trade productive work for sunshine in a beach resort, ending up going through their goalless days systematically breakfast, suntan, lunch, nap, dinner, evening walk - and feeling terminally bored. A decline in mental well-being is often associated with the diminished ability to think and reason, something
RESEARCH ALSO SHOWS THAT IF WE WANT TO PRESERVE OUR COGNITIVE PERFORMANCE,
ing of Spanish so that I could mingle with the locals, and it was really a fun thing to do. But when I learned Spanish again after retiring, I realised I was going nowhere since there weren’t many people here with whom I could speak the language. I became more restless than I felt while working,” said Marian Lee, a sixty-five-year-old former teacher who shared with me her retirement experience. She also mentioned that it would be beneficial for us to retire together with our spouses and even a group of close friends. Not only would these people allow us to see ourselves from their perspectives but also open up new interests or deepen current ones. For health reasons, it’s worthwhile emerging from our cocoons at random intervals to undertake part-time or freelance assignments. Of course, we wouldn’t want to spend seventy hours on the job while getting paid for forty. At this point, we just want to do something for the fun of it. Furthermore, it doesn’t take a lot of hours for the income to be meaningful if we don’t have a mortgage or car payment. Alas, the next time we dream about how nice it would be never to work again, or get up early or meet deadlines, we might be better advised to realise that it’s hard to find fulfillment and meaning in what we won’t do but rather in what we will do. We wouldn’t want to end up missing that spark in life, the jolt of the unexpected – something beyond wealth – that’s utterly necessary to make a retired life complete. And given what has been discussed, I feel it’s indeed a privilege to be working while we are able and willing to do so.
WE HAVE TO KEEP OURSELVES MENTALLY ACTIVE.
that can happen if we retire without any goals or objectives in sight. Besides, the workplace keeps us rooted in a social network where swapping ideas and engaging in small talk with colleagues may serve as fodder for our vitality and self-esteem.
PLAN BEFORE YOU LEAP In order to escape the retirement curse, we need to do prior planning. To cite the obvious, we must ensure that we have enough money to accommodate our lifestyle, bearing in mind that we can control, up to a certain point, how
much we spend, how much we save and our consumption habits. The next critical thing is to unlock and profile all our hobbies that have been the bedrock of our personal amusement throughout the years. Think about what we normally love to do and whether that will sustain us after we retire. Some of us have hobbies that give us a sense of purpose, a narrative arc to our lives. In the same breath, we may also need to differentiate these from interests with short-term expediency as illustrated in the following case. “I remember when I was on a vacation in Madrid, I picked up a smatter-
Jansen Lim left the corporate world to pursue his interests in creative writing and teaching. For the last 10 years, he has been working as a freelance lifestyle writer as well as an adjunct lecturer in Communications & Language.
ALL ABOUT HEALTH
Anima explores why walking is such an advocated sport all over the world. BY FARHANA HOSSAIN In todayâ€™s world,
walking anywhere is almost unheard of. Especially in a cosmopolitan city like Hong Kong, where transport is so efficient, that one is easily able to access his destination with the help of a car, bus or train. Walking then almost becomes unnecessary. The unfortunate side to this is that people lose out on the benefits of walking. While it may seem trivial compared to vigorous exercise,
walking, in its own quiet way, does have its plus points â€“ both mentally and physically.
MENTAL MAGIC Have you ever felt like you just needed to get away from it all? Walking might provide the ideal respite for you. Any form of exercise stimulates blood circulation, and walking does just that. It encourages blood flow to the brain. In fact, experts have found through a survey of senior citizens, aged 60 and above, that walking 45 minutes a day helped improve their thinking skills. Improving thinking skills for senior citizens is important, mainly because their mental strength wanes as they grow older. The mental benefits are not just for senior citizens but for people of all ages as one can feel relaxed after a brisk WWW.ANIMAMAG.COM
walk. Walking releases endorphins, better known as “happy drugs”. The release of endorphins helps to calm you down if you stalk out of the house in a huff and decide to walk off the steam. If you are very stressed about a deadline at work and you cannot think of a solution, the best thing to do is to drop everything and go for a walk. The endorphins released will definitely restore positive energy, filling you with the determination and desire to get your work done. Depression and stress have affected millions of people around the world. Every day, people visit the doctor for medication to help treat their depression and alleviate their stress. What they do not realize is that becoming dependent on the medication only makes things worse. Without medication, the depression and stress will bounce right back. What’s a better opWWW.ANIMAMAG.COM
tion, then, to make the nasty feelings go away? Walking, of course.
WALKING OFF THE STRESS VERSUS MEDICATION Earlier, we mentioned that walking helps one to calm down but the power of walking extends far beyond this. It helps to improve your mood and gives you sweet dreams at night too. Your heart gets a good workout, and you can lose weight. However, the biggest draw and an important plus point is that walking costs you nothing, and it will not have any side effects. This means that anyone, from any walk (no pun intended) of life can indulge in it. You do not need to have money in the bank to pick yourself up and walk in the streets! On a more serious note, certain medication can cause serious side ef-
fects and allergic reactions to some patients. Because of this, there is always the danger that the medication will prove ineffective. Once again, it is walking that proves to be effective and safe, because there are no side effects; just sore muscles, which will feel good because you have burned calories!
WALKING EVENTS Experts believe that walking is beneficial not only biologically, but psychologically and socially too. In Singapore, walking is viewed as an excellent source of goodness. Every year, the country’s popular newspaper, The New Paper, organizes a walking event called The New Paper Big Walk. Last year, it was held in July, and participants were required to walk five kilometres. The beauty of this event is that it is not organised for competitors. Everything is APRIL 2011
ALL ABOUT HEALTH
WALKING BRINGS ABOUT PEACE, DEFINITELY, BUT IT ALSO HAS THE VERY ATTRACTIVE QUALITY OF REFRESHING ONE’S MIND.
friendly, and in fact, the organizers of the event pride themselves on calling it “one of Singapore’s largest family and community events”. Another initiative that shows Singapore’s support to walking is through the Brisk Walking Club, formed by the North West Community Development Council. The Brisk Walking Club was first formed in 1999, and there were just 350 members spread over four clubs. As more people discovered the benefits of walking, the number of enrolments grew steadily and a recent tally showed 26,000 members in over 109 clubs! The idea behind the clubs is to promote a healthy lifestyle and also to bring people from different walks of life together.
PEACE! How, then, you may wonder, is walking so fantastic that thousands of people incorporate it into their daily lifestyles? Walking brings about peace, definitely, but it also has the very attractive quality of refreshing one’s mind. Ever felt extremely drowsy at work after a heavy lunch? Take a short walk. You will be amazed at how refreshed you will feel after a five-minute walk.
AN INTERESTING TAKE ON WALKING
Canadians have taken walking to a different level altogether, with a sport called Nording Walking. How does it work? At first glance, it appears as if people are brisk walking with ski poles in their hands. They are not far from the truth, though. The website ParticiPACTION states that when done with the correct technique, poling improves posture and engages up to 90% of the body’s muscles, significantly lower than the 300 muscles used for regular walking. This is good because it is a low impact activity, thus suitable for a larger group of people. The benefit is that it burns as much as 30% more calories than regular walking! By using poles, walkers not only engage their abdominal muscles but also enjoy a good upper body workout. So ‘pole’ your way to rock hard abs with Nordic Walking! (Information credit: http://participaction-en.blogspot.com)
For the overly stressed, you may want to try out a technique called ‘walking meditation’. Thích Nhất Hạnh, a Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist, defines walking meditation as ‘a way to practise moving without a goal or intention’. You are fully aware of every step you take. You are not hurrying to catch a train; you are taking every step carefully and with utmost awareness. You can do this anytime and anywhere – you could be walking to your car or you could be walking to the post box to post a letter. Just be mindful of your steps. Agreeably, Hanh adds that ‘mindful walking can release our sorrows and our worries and help bring peace into our body and mind.’ If you look at the action of walking as a cleansing tool, you are not wrong either. If you have suffered an unhappy relationship and are looking for a way out, the best thing to do is to walk out, or away. Physically walking away has its cleansing properties. Not only have you mentally left behind all the things that hurt you, you are physically leaving it behind too.
THE GIST OF IT We have all learnt how to walk as toddlers, but how many of us take additional steps outside our daily regimes of walking to places that are absolutely necessary? Introduce walking into your life; be it as part of a brisk walking club, or simply just an additional ten minutes a day, and feel the benefits for yourself. Walk on! Is there a health topic you want to know more about? Send your e-mail to email@example.com. Farhana began her career as a Feature Writer, writing for lifestyle magazines in fields such as luxury watches and pens, green living and travel. She is currently working for John Wiley and Sons, one of the biggest publishing houses in the world. WWW.ANIMAMAG.COM
BOOST YOUR SELF-IMAGE WITH A POSITIVE OUTLOOK An individual’s self-concept is the core of ones personality. It affects every aspect of human behavior – the ability to learn, the capacity to grow and change. A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success in life. BY MANISHA MONGA
Self-image is the image that we hold
of ourselves. This mental image or self-portrait does not all the time depend on how we actually look, but on the perception we have of ourselves. It is an internal dictionary that describes the characteristics of the self and these characteristics form a collective representation of our assets and liabilities as we see them. “Just as we have an assessment of other people (which determines our likes and dislikes), we also have an assessment of our own self. This would include our thoughts about how we look, speak, our abilities, talents, how much we are liked by others or what others
think about us,” defined Dr Sanjay Chugh, India’s leading psychiatrist who specializes in stress management, relationship counselling, adolescent psychiatrist, de-addiction, psychotherapy and analysis. If the self-image is positive, we feel good about ourselves and carry on in life with a certain level of confidence. However, if the self-image is negative, we end up feeling poorly about ourselves and are unable to progress comfortably in life. Parents make the greatest contribution to our self-image. They are mirrors reflecting back to us an image of ourselves. Our experiences with others such as teachers, friends and family add to the image in the mirror. The image we see in the mirror may be a real or distorted view of who we really are. Based on this view, we develop either a positive or a negative self -image. The strengths and weaknesses we learn as children are internalized and affect how we act as adults today. Mike McCaffrey, author and international speaker reiterates, “Fortunately, we are not born with a good or bad self-image. We acquire positive and negative inputs through conditioning, from our environment and from other people. It’s too bad so many people let their past play such a role on their present and future by the negative inputs that were given to them throughout their lives. However, we are the ones with the ultimate power to accept or
reject what is said to us or even dealt to us. We hold the keys to our success or lack of it.” An individual’s self-concept is the core of ones personality. It affects every aspect of human behavior – the ability to learn, the capacity to grow and change. A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success in life. How we think and feel about ourselves influences the way we react or respond to life stressors. A positive self-image affects our physical, mental, social, emotional and spiritual well-being. One can have a poor self-image because of life’s hardships, such as a disability, poor health, financial or other major problems. These things can, in turn, affect other aspects of ones life like academic, financial success, relationships, and even health. Body-image is also a part of self-image. Our body-image includes more than what we look like or how others see us. It also refers to how we think, feel and react to our own self-perceived physical attributes. Body image development is affected by cultural images and the influence of family, peers and others. Rita Freedman in her book Bodylove: Learning to Like Our Looks and Ourselves says that if you have a poor body image, you pull away from other people. You can’t relax when you’re alone with your partner – you may de-
velop a fear of intimacy. “…those with a poor body image have more trouble developing intimate contacts. They may sabotage relationships before they start or before they become really important,” she adds. Here are some of the tips that will help in enhancing your overall self-image. Groom yourself: Try to incorporate
healthy habits in your daily routine and maintain hygiene. This will make you more likable and presentable to others. Dress according to your body type
and just do not blindly follow the trend, for example if tight jeans are in fashion and you body type does not look best in it, avoid it. Wear something you are comfortable with at the same time something that suits you. Similarly, hairstyle too plays a major role in you overall look. Again go for a style that suits your hair type and face. Visit a hairstylist, who can cut and shape your hair according to your face cut and texture. These simple things can do wonders to your overall look. Positive thinking is one of the most
important aspects in boosting your self -image. A positive body image contributes to an enhanced psychological adjustment. Distortions in our thinking contribute to a negative body image. Changing body image means changWWW.ANIMAMAG.COM
ing how we think, feel and react to our body. Learning to have a positive relationship with an imperfect body increases the ability to love yourself and boost your self-image.
Similarly, as we start thinking positively, we will be able to recognize our negative thoughts. Killing our negative thoughts is the next mammoth task. If we are successful here, half the battle is won. Dr Chugh stresses on killing the negative thoughts. According to him, we can develop a positive self-image by first identifying all the components of our self-image and then marking the ones that are not helping us i.e. the negative factors. One by one, start to rule out each of these negatives by confronting them. The whole idea behind enhancing the self-image is to be able to accept yourself just as you are. He suggests some of the ways which will help in developing positive self-image like, ‘We can write down affirmations for ourselves, specific to the negatives that we have to undo eg ‘I love the way I look’. “We can practice saying these to ourselves by looking in the mirror. Give yourself a compliment each day. Before going to sleep each night, think of at least five positives about yourself for that day. Give compliments to others and appreciate them. Be grateful for all the things that you have,” he added. WWW.ANIMAMAG.COM
Positive thinking should lead to positive action. Action, actually, is the key to developing self-confidence. It’s one thing to learn to think positive, but when you start acting on it, you change yourself, one action at a time. You are what you do, and so if you change what you do, you change what you are. Act in a positive way, take action. Talk to people in a positive way, put energy into your actions. Difference will be so obvious not only to you but to others too. Next step is to focus on the solutions instead of problems. Focusing on solutions instead of problems is one of the best things you can do to gain confidence. It will help you to get out of the problem instead of getting trapped there. Poor self-image may lead you to avoid social gathering or even make you a loner. If you are one of them, challenge yourself. It is a good idea to take up new activities and hobbies that one always wanted to do as this helps, by giving a fresh opportunity to do something new and to feel confident. Attending social gathering will not only help you in boosting your image but also in making new friends. Improving your body language can make a big difference in people skills, attractiveness and general mood. First, to change your body language you must be aware of your body lan-
guage. Notice how you sit, how you stand, how you use your hands and legs, what you do while talking to someone. Practicing in front of a mirror is a good idea before going out into the real world. Make eye contact with people you are talking to but don’t stare. Eye contact creates a better connection with people you are talking. Smile and laugh – lighten up, don’t take yourself too seriously. Smile, whenever you interact with others. It increases your face value along with the confidence. Many people lack confidence because they lack knowledge. Keep abreast with current affairs and this helps in increasing your awareness and boosts your confidence. Do not criticize yourself too much. It is okay to make mistakes, but learn from your mistakes and try not to repeat it. You will be amazed to see how little things can do wonders in your life. It helps you in warding off negativities and enhances your self-image. Manisha Monga studied Applied Psychology and completed a master’s degree in Mass Communication and Journalism. She currently works for one of the top publishing houses in Singapore. During her spare time, she writes on various topics related to human behavior. APRIL 2011
FAMILY TIME, FAMILY FUN Looking to spend quality time with your children? MAGDALENE NG offers tips for fun times with the family. With today’s rising costs, double income families are the norm. As such, many
of these parents want to spend significant quality time with their families whenever possible. But quality time doesn’t come in ‘instant’ packages and parents can’t just ‘add water’ to create a memory; they however must make time for the family no matter how busy they are. They have to make it happen, but just like everything else they have to schedule it into their lives. In a report in The Straits Times dated 1 August 2009, Mrs Mildred Tan, Chair of the National Family Council’s Family First @ Work Workgroup, had also underlined the importance of setting aside family time “like we do for business meetings”. “Strong family bonding does not happen by chance... if we have a plan and we work towards our goal, chances are we will have the time to build the strong and stable family we desire,” she said.
The same article also reported that 39 per cent of chief executive officers polled had blocked out weekends to allocate time for the family. And for the second year running, business leaders ranked family as most important, followed by health, career, money, personal pursuits, religion and community work. Spending time together is crucial; it gives everyone a chance to understand and enjoy each other’s company, and grow closer. Time well spent together creates unity and loyalty, builds selfesteem, and helps develop a resilience during a crisis. Spending time together as a family does not mean having to incur an expense (for example, purchasing a new board game), instead it could be time well spent crafting something fun like a photo frame from recycled materials. It is all about looking for ways to have fun as a family.
tune with their children, making communication easier. The payoff is indeed tremendous – and it’s all worth it. Below are some ideas for fun times with the family: INDOORS
° Cook a meal: Ensure that everyone does something. This not only gets all family members involved but also helps build their culinary skills, co-ordination and team work. Who knows, there may be a chef in the making?
° Do household chores together: Let everyone take on a task which he or she is capable of handling on their own. The good thing is that in no time, each family member becomes expert at a chore and can contribute on a regular basis.
° Play *computer/video games: Choose games in which two or more players can team up. This creates an opportunity for each team to work together, and as a result, get to know each other. Parents become more in
° Have fun with card/board games: Remember traditional ones such as ‘Happy Families’, ‘Donkey’, ‘Snap’ and ‘Monopoly’? These tried-and-tested oldies can still be fun. Make up silly ones too. Or create silly rules! ° Listen to music: Ask everyone to talk about what they like or dislike about a selected piece. This is a good way for parents to bond with their children, especially bridging the generation gap. Parents can also gauge or elevate their children’s artistic appreciation. ° Make special photo frames: Suggest that everyone makes a frame for each other. Use ice cream sticks to form the sides of the frame, and decorate with paint, beads, or glitter. Add a cheeky message such as: ‘You’ve got the world’s ugliest smile but I like it!’ ° Create a family scrapbook: Select favourite photos from a recent trip,
STRONG FAMILY BONDING DOES NOT HAPPEN BY CHANCE
then cut out words or phrases from magazines and use stickers, coloured construction paper and so on, to make a collection of family memories. This activity also helps parents see the creative side of their children and spot a potential artist! ° Build a story: Begin the session with one parent initiating a funny story. Then everyone takes turns to add a sentence to it. You will be surprised how silly the story can turn out to be. The sky’s the limit – let the creative juices flow! ° Have a conversation: Get a parent to start a conversation with phrases like “My favourite family outing was…” or “The funniest thing I ever did was…” or “Do you remember when…” and so on. The aim is to keep to the theme. This activity can help keep children focused on a topic. OUTDOORS
° Get outside: Toss a Frisbee, play catch, shoot hoops, or take a walk in the park. The great outdoors gives the
° Enjoy free outdoor concerts: children much needed space and is the perfect place for families to bond. ° Fly a kite: Look for a park with space to fly a kite; an inexpensive way to have fun for all. Pair up with a child and challenge each team to fly the kite as high as possible. Remember to check the weather first. ° Go on a picnic: Pack everyone’s favourite finger foods and pick a spot where you can enjoy the surroundings or watch the world go by. One of the favourite things my family enjoyed was the sandwich picnic – we packed tuna, egg mayonnaise and luncheon meat fillings and made our favourite sandwiches on the spot!
° Participate in family-bonding events: Look out for events like walk-
athons, fun fairs, or family carnivals in your district. Many charge a nominal fee or are even free of charge. The organisers line up a variety of fun-filled programmes.
° Go for discounted events/activities: Scrutinise credit card mailers as
many events offer as much as 25 percent discounts for early bird sign-ups.
Browse the newspapers or magazines for schedules. The children can learn to appreciate music and rhythm at such events.
° Dine at hawker centres/food courts: Check out different food cen-
tres for a variety of choices at each dine-out session. Let each family member take their pick. Share each other’s choices and enjoy both the food and the company! Eating at these places also allows parents to teach the children about thrift. Improvise on the above suggestions and come up with your own family favourites. Remember it is important that everyone in the family participates. It is not about the activity but about making human contact. Start today and have fun connecting with each other. Do you have questions in mind related to relationships? Send your e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Magdalene Ng is an English teacherturned-editor. She has pursued a career in print publishing since 1996 and has edited about 300 titles in the last 14 years. She is currently a communications manager, and writes columns and articles of varying topics on a freelance basis regularly. *For those who have invested in Wii or Xbox which have games requiring two or more players, it can be fun for the whole family.
It’s not only in competitive activities like
sports that we need a coach to help us along the way but a coach is also needed to live life fruitfully. This is where Benoit Foucher comes in. Since 2007, this native of France has worked as a life coach in Hong Kong, counseling clients and helping them find the answers they need to put their lives back on the track. Inspired by his experiences, Benoit also authored “Ta Reelle Victoire” (“Your Real Victory”) and has begun to teach yoga professionally. Like all successful people, Benoit had his share of professional and personal challenges to overcome before finding his life calling as a life coach, but the challenges were exactly what he needed to spur him on. In 2002, Benoit Foucher was traveling the world on the ATP Tour as a professional tennis player. However, he realized that he couldn't win physically or mentally against the pressures of the profession and decided to stop playing professional competitive tennis. “There was one point...I realized that I was not made to be a tennis professional all the time,” says Benoit. Even though Benoit could not be a tennis champion, he now helps others, as he puts it, “become champions in their own lives.” Even during his tennis career, Benoit continuously questioned his life choices and grew an interest in spiritual developments. With friends who were also in the field of life coaching, it became clear that life coaching was his path and his life's calling. After he withdrew from professional tennis, Benoit began taking up tennis coaching while also learning NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming) in order to reach his goal of becoming a life coach. This is why he uses many tennis analogies in his counseling. “The game of tennis is amazing because there's everything,” says Benoit, “there are the dreams, the challenges, the struggles – inside and outside the court – and when I teach tennis, I also make references to life, so there are always cross-references.” In 2007, Benoit felt that France was “like a box” and couldn't give him the opportunities he needed, so he decided to start with a clean slate by moving to Hong Kong to pursue an international career. For him, Hong Kong was the best choice in Asia where he could interact with people from all over WWW.ANIMAMAG.COM
A LIFE COACHING CAREER Through his coaching work, Benoit Foucher gives a little nudge to others so that they can chart a successful course in life BY KEVIN MA
the world, a place where everything is possible. But after three months in Hong Kong, Benoit realized on his 30th birthday that he had no money, no visa, no job, and no friends. And that's where Benoit's philosophy came in. To him, the biggest opponent in life is one's own fear, and overcoming these fears is life's biggest challenge. Instead of retreating home, Benoit stayed in Hong Kong, taking up tennis coaching again, established contacts, and kicked off his life coaching career step by step. However, being a life coach isn't just simply being able to help people find answers. There are APRIL 2011
THE BIGGEST OPPONENT IN LIFE IS ONE’S OWN FEAR, AND OVERCOMING THESE FEARS IS LIFE’S BIGGEST CHALLENGE. proper certification trainings involved (Benoit got his training from Coaches Training Institute based in the United States), as well as many workshops to conduct and participate. More importantly, Benoit needed the clarity he gained from his life experiences to know which paths were right and which paths were wrong. He may be relatively young at 33, but Benoit insists that his tennis career (which he started at a young age) brought him many experiences and challenges to overcome. “If we don't have clarity about ourselves, it's impossible to help others,” says Benoit. In other words, Benoit coached himself to overcome his own challenges before he began coaching others. While Benoit's writing is specifically about making connections and building relationships (his life coaching company is also called “Daring Relationships”), people use Benoit's services for all kinds of reasons, ranging from a woman who wants to boost her confidence in meeting new people to a 13-year-old tennis player that Benoit is coaching and also helping live a fulfilling life. The entire coaching process usually takes about ten months, and essentially involves Benoit giving counseling over the phone on a set schedule. Like a psychiatrist of sorts, Benoit first asks the necessary questions to help find what a client is looking for in life. When the two find the answers together, Benoit then helps the client find ways to execute it. However, there are many schools of coaching, and they differ in how much a coach should do for their clients. Benoit's own school (CTI) believes that a client has all the answers, and that the coach's job is to help find the answers within him/her. On the other hand, Benoit's own experiences with his own tennis coaches taught him that some flexibility is needed when it comes to executing what one is taught. “Sometimes, some people have been so far away from their inner truth, and I played so much with their inner fears that they don't know anything anymore,” Benoit recalls, “I remember one session, there were a lot of questions and a lot of silence. Silence is sometimes a good thing, but too much of it isn't”.
After some consultation, Benoit found that suggestions and storytelling are other effective ways of helping people who are truly lost. However, Benoit insists that it's still up to his clients to help themselves. “As coaches, we don't want to be the center of their lives, because you're responsible for your own lives...Even though I give suggestions, I don't know your life. You know it better than me”. Benoit points out that finding out what one wants doesn't take very long. However, getting that person to do the things that would get what one wants is where the real challenge lies. To succeed in coaching others out of their own comfort zone, Benoit believes that he must practice what he preaches. One of the things he teaches his clients is to interpret challenges as positive opportunities, and that's exactly what he did when he was one of the thousands of people stuck in the airports around the world as the Icelandic volcano ashes crippled the skies of Europe. As he recalled in his blog (and elaborated during our conversation), instead of worrying about making his scheduled trip to France to promote his book, he used the delay as an opportunity to do other things, such as giving his client a coaching session and using the extra time to go to the gym. In his work, Benoit teaches his clients that to be a champion in life one has to overcome challenges, and this is a mantra that he himself lives daily as well. In addition to life coaching, teaching yoga (“Yoga deliberately brings you to face challenges and tests how you deal with that”, Benoit says when asked about his attraction to yoga.), and getting “Real Victory” translated from French to English, Benoit is now taking notes for his second book, “Loving Myself Loving Others”, which supposes that people must nourish oneself in order to love others. Acknowledging that life coaching tends to be available only to people who can afford it, Benoit plans to expand his life by coaching those less fortunate via volunteer work in 2011. While Benoit believes that he has already found his life's calling with his current career(s), he is open to the idea of taking on further challenges. After all, challenges are not obstacles for Benoit Foucher – they're his catalysts to bigger growth and better things. Do you know of an interesting personality we could profile? Send your e-mail to email@example.com. Kevin Ma is a writer based in Hong Kong. His main interest is film criticism and scriptwriting. He currently works as an Assistant English Editor and writes film critiques as well. WWW.ANIMAMAG.COM
EVEREST BASE CAMP YOGA ADVENTURE TREK – A PILGRIMAGE INTO THE HIMALAYAS Organiser: Nepal Social Treks & Expedition Date: April 17, 2011 to May 1, 2011 Calling yoga students to embark on a journey of self-discovery! The Everest Base Camp trekking experience will be offered combining eastern and western philosophies of yoga, meditation and pranayama. Join the two weeks of trekking in the highest mountain range in the world. Website: www.nepalsocialtreks.com
HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL COACHING COMMUNITY International Enneagram Association (China) 2nd Conference April 23-24, 2011 The conference 'Enneagram in Action' explores how Enneagram is being used in Business, Relationship, Self and Spiritual development as well as other Innovative uses. There are over 25 sessions conducted by Enneagram experts and professionals from the US , Australia and Hong Kong and it is the biggest Enneagram Conference in Asia. Website: http://ieaconference.ieachina. org/en_index.html
SURF N’ YOGA BEACH CLEANUP Organiser: The Karma Collective Time: Saturday, April 9, 10:30am - 6:30pm Location: Tai Long Wan, Sai Kung, Hong Kong Activity: Beach Cleanup followed by surfing and yoga The Karma Collective is about creating positive change and elevating community consciousness through action, participation, and collaboration throughout Hong Kong and Asia. Website: www.sukhasamui.com
SHAKTI HEALING CIRCLE REGULAR WEEKLY EVENTS Monday: Pilates Matwork with Heidi Brady, 12 noon to 1 pm. Cost: $150 Monday: Kundalini Yoga with Neil Irwin, 6.45 to 8.15 pm. Cost: $150 Wednesday: Fitness Qigong with Master Lawrence Tse, 7 to 8.15 pm. Cost: $220 Friday: Guided Kundalini Meditation, 7 to 8.45 pm. Cost: $150 OTHER EVENTS Saturday 2 April: Reiki Level 2 class with Pervin Clasper, 11.30 to 6.30 pm. Cost: $2500 Wednesday 6 April: Talk on Breathwork for managing stress by Ann Harrison, 7 to 9 pm. FREE Tuesday 19 April: Talk on Family Constellations for Women's Empowerment by Rebecca Szeto 7 to 9.30 pm. Cost: $250 Website: www.shaktihealingcircle.com
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