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CREATIVE MINDFULNESS

School of Modern Psychology Issue 5, February 2015 AU $7.95

Inside this issue: Creative Mindfulness Courses Articles & More


CREATIVE CONTENTS Page 3

If Not Now, When

Page 5 Risking Courage Page 7 Enough is Enough Page 9 Finding Purpose Page 11 Rosemarie’s Journey Page 13

Why Mindfulness Matters

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The Flip Side of Mindfulness

Page 17 (article continued) Page 19 Character Strengths Page 21

Become a Creative Minds Member

www.schoolofmodernpsychology.com.au


MINDFULNESS EDITORIAL Welcome to our fifth edition of Creative Mindfulness. As we begin our Creative Mindfulness Practitioner and Coach training this month, I’m excited to welcome new students from across the world into our programs. During a recent launch, Art Therapy Without Border (ATWB) promoted our free mini-course on their Facebook site and as a result, thousands of people stopped by to check out what it was all about. I loved that we could share the journey with many psychologists, counselors and art therapists who wrote to me saying how wonderful it was to have their own creativity refreshed. For many working in ‘helping’ careers, we need to be mindful of the importance to top-up and revisit that which inspires us most. To everyone on this latest journey with me, thank you - I loved your engagement and interaction. To Linda Andrews and Jenny Long who are working with the School, thank you for supporting those on the Facebook group with your insights and care. Your input was fresh and vital, and I welcome you to the School :) I’d like you to gift yourself a moment or two and sit back with this month’s e-journal and read some of our latest articles - there’s quite a few on mindfulness that I particularly hope you enjoy!

Barbara Grace Director, School of Modern Psychology barbara@schoolofmodernpsychology.com.au


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If not now when, i then who?

In November 1989 students living in Prague were a catalyst for what we now call the Velvet R It came about through the creative thought of one man, Vaclav Havel whose inspired writing living in Czechoslovakia under Communist rule. One month later saw Havel being installed as President. For me this story touches a personal place where I know that change against seemingly great I can only imagine what living under communist rule must have been like. Yet imagination, hope and dreaming brought a vision into reality.

As we begin this year, imagine your own ‘impossible dream’ and consider how your vision co the power of your own creative endeavour. Begin by asking these three questions:

1. Do I have the power to do this by myself?

• If your answer is no, ask yourself who you’ll need to ask for assistance or guidance. • If yes - list your attributes that will guide you through the challenge.

2. Do you have the skills and knowledge to do this? • If no, then where could you go and what could you do to get what you need?

• If yes, list your skills and rate how strong they are from one to ten - then place a circle aroun consider how you can apply them. Put a square around anything under ‘5’ and consider wher improve them or who can do these and would also be willing to assist you.

3. Can I do this now?

• If no, then ask yourself when and begin a plan to bring what you want into fruition.

• If yes, sketch out a calendar, create mini-goals and put them into the calendar, design rewar once you meet those mini-goals and then START NOW! Page 3


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if not you,

Revolution. touched many people

odds is possible.

ould come alive through

nd your ‘10s’ and re you can go to

rds to keep you going

Czechoslovak President Havel waves to a crowd from the balcony of the Prague Castle after his election in 1989.

“Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” Vaclav Havel

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An exercise from a recent free mini-course


A bold statement upheld by a woman whose diarised life filled a number of published volumes of ‘living moments’ that bridged decades. From age 11 through to her death at 74, Anais Nin’s diaries synthesised her inner thoughts, capturing and clarifying everyday moments in poetic insight.

One of her reflections still resonates with me: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Courage and risk – two elements most of us either greet or deny when glancing in the bathroom mirror each morning. They’re either present in our deepening wrinkles or absent in our eyes. And it’s usually their presence or absence that indicates how we will start and end a year. With courage comes risk. Without risk we don’t need courage. For some of us, playing it safe means never taking a chance, never exposing our soft inner bellies or never reaching out to grasp what we really desire. If courage is rarely sought it’s usually never found. To put it plainly, setting intentions or goals for the year that require neither courage nor risk ‘let us off the hook’ as we know that once January slips into February, best intentions fade like a summer tan. Twelve months ago I set an intention of creatively journaling my year. While I didn’t achieve a daily ritual, I can look back on five journals filled with creative doodlings and thoughts. Last week I flipped through them – a year of personal growth and reflection forming the backbone of a number of online courses shared world-wide. Journaling (or Creative Mindfulness as it became) began as an idea that transformed into something bigger than the journal’s wire-bound simplicity suggested. Ideas are precious moments that if not captured become fragments lost to chance and memory. It’s in capturing them, holding them like jewels, polishing their roughened edges and cherishing their possibility that they have the chance to breathe. Then, in bringing them to life, all it takes is looking yourself squarely in the mirror and embracing a dash of courage and the risk of putting yourself out there to stand up for what you believe.

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Anais Nin once said that ‘life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage’.

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Risking Courage

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CREATIVE Enough is Enough Most of us have a running dialogue with ourselves. And while this could be good (imagine being your own best friend), more often than not we’re discussing whether we’re good enough, rich enough, successful enough, smart enough or resilient enough to be enough.

we’ll never know if we have enough or are enough.

That word, ‘enough’, is enough to make me question what will ever be ‘enough’ for our inner critic. Is it enough to satisfy parents, friends or peers? Enough to earn a decent living or have a job? Enough food to keep a belly full? Enough clothes in the cupboard?

Realistically, we need a standard to measure things by, just like doctors have a measure to know whether our blood pressure is ok, temperature is within normal range, or whether weight and height are in proportion.

And by whose standards are we measuring ‘enough’ anyway? In first world countries ‘enough’ never seems enough. If we’ve found ourselves on a treadmill working to pay the mortgage so we can feed ourselves and pay bills, we know the answer. Perhaps another 10% more in our pay or another ten thousand a year would create ‘enough’. And there we have it. When we earn more we spend more, when we have more we consume more, and when we feel we aren’t ‘enough’ we victimise ourselves and feel we’ve failed – yet again. So really, what is enough? And is our internal critic even asking the right question?

If I went to the doctor and complained that I don’t think I have ‘enough’ and could she check if I had a deficiency – I may receive a referral to a counsellor or therapist as I wouldn’t be making sense.

Robert and Edward Skidelsky asked similar questions in their 2012 book, Money and the Good Life. One of their answers was to ‘curb insatiability’ and live in harmony with the seven elements of the good life: health, security, respect, personality, harmony with nature, friendship and leisure. Wise words. Perhaps it’s time to squash ‘never enough’ thinking and start saying: “I am enough.” “You are enough.” “We are enough.” And believe it wholeheartedly. We don’t need to be rich, famous or beautiful to be enough. It’s all about choice – and knowing how much it takes for you (and me) to be enough.

‘Enough’ suggests scarcity, yet if we don’t have a benchmark to measure this by – Page 7

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“Have you found your life purpose yet?”

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Perhaps it’s time to embrace a new career as a Creative Mindfulness Practitioner, Coach or Trainer. The School’s Creative Mindfulness Coach program commences on 1st February 2015. Join us and discover how to use Modern Psychology, Creativity, Mindfulness and Coaching to not only learn more about yourself, but to also help others live life wholeheartedly. To receive our brochure about this life-changing program email barbara@schoolofmodernpsychology.com.au


Rosemarie’s Journey “ Thank you so much Barbara for reminding me to see things in a positive light.

When I first started the ten week course, I remember writing that I was frozen with procrastination.

Now I have a drive and purpose within me that I haven't experienced for quite a while, and it's a wonderful feeling. I just have to be careful to balance my enthusiasm with realistic goals and deadlines! So this is how I've looked back and seen my inner Journey. In fact, it's inspired me to continue the theme in my work! And thank you to all of you who have given support with your comments, and shared your own journeys, many of which I have also learnt from! Rosemarie O’Leary Artist To see more of Rosemarie’s work go to: www.facebook.com/RosemarieOLearyArtist http://www.rosemarieoleary.co.uk

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CREATIVE Why Mindfulness Matters We’ve recently completed our latest free mini-course where over 1,300 people around the world were introduced to the joy and inspiration of Creative Mindfulness.

Throughout the course, I was reminded of why the Mindfulness aspect of Creative Mindfulness is so important. Mindfulness, for me, is about showing up fully in my life, bringing a new level of awareness to who I am, where I am and ‘how’ I am. In the majority of situations we face daily, we logically think our way through problems, hiccups or irritations that are part of daily routines, believing we can ‘nut out’ or think through anything that comes our way. Yet there are times when perhaps this isn’t the right way to bring about a resolution. Perhaps, it’s ‘overthinking’ the issue that becomes part of the problem, leaving us unable to remove ourself from an everturning merry-go-round. There are times in many of our lives when things happen beyond our control. We know this, because we see evidence of it each day on the evening news. Page 13

Wars happen where once children played in local backstreets kicking a soccer ball. Illness can be painful and tussle with the most positive-minded person. Financial investments don’t always rise, affecting pension plans and savings.

The person untouched by these, or other events - personal or professional in nature - is fortunate indeed. And yet even for those untouched by tragedy, so many feel unfulfilled, out of touch, ‘untouchable’, unable to feel love - and unable to give or receive affection wholeheartedly. Sometimes it’s as if feeling anything seems a fairytale memory buried in childhood. - 000 In Africa, on the Serengeti Plains, herds of gazelles and zebras - on sensing danger pace the ground leaving a flurry of dust to escape being attacked by lions or leopards. More often than not, at least one of the herd doesn’t reach safety. When danger is over, the herd bow their heads once again and return to grazing and meandering in a way that makes the threat of life and death seem no more than an illusion best forgotten.


MINDFULNESS As humans, we don’t respond with such calmness after facing danger. We project what could have happened into the future and search for ‘why’ and ruminate until we can ‘fix’ or solve the problem and relieve the fear that’s tripping our internal electrical system and putting fear into hyper-drive. From an evolutionary perspective fear has helped us survive. It’s also what keeps our body in a semi-permanent state of alarm as our amygdyla pumps stress hormones through our blood stream so we maintain a constant state of arousal and alertness even when the attack is not by leopards or lions, but instead a deadline that’s looming, an appointment to attend, a work schedule to meet or even our ever-busy ‘to-do’ list. The cost? A drain on our energy and our emotions - it’s pretty tough feeling you could be attacked at any moment by a large blood-hungry beast who may walk through the office door (or your front door) at any moment. We know though, that while the beast is hungry, we’re never safe and so we keep ourselves constantly aware - vigilantly waiting for something to go wrong. And it’s in this moment that our fears manifest,

resulting in deadened emotions, feelings of being drained, flattened spirits and loss of desire. For me, mindfulness has assisted me to stop the rumination by noticing the thoughts and then letting them pass - whether as a thought floating down a stream, a feather disappearing beyond the horizon or a balloon sailing out of view. Mindfulness is a practice - not a destination. It’s a practice that needs cultivation. Its richness is letting it deepen over time. And in this place it’s a tool to breaking unconscious habits of thinking judgementally and self-critically that practice gives meaning. Is it a discipline - yes. Do I need to remind myself when I get a little stressy to take my own advice - yes. Is it a place where I can give myself self-compassion and accept myself for who I am - yes. This year, I’m aiming to further expand my practice and be more mindfully aware of my thoughts, releasing those with selfcritical judgement before they have the chance to churn the dust beneath my feet in the hope of escaping the beast. I hope you’ll join me. www.schoolofmodernpsychology.com.au


CREATIVE The Flip Side of Mindfulness While mindulness is a process that’s been in existence since ancient times, it’s in combining the playful spirit of creativity with it that makes Creative Mindfulness quite special.

of a joyful existence within a reflective space.

Anxiety, stress and tension seem to be the modern day norms. Yet, these words are merely collective ‘bundles of thought’ according to Mark Williams and Danny Penman It’s in expressing our in their 2011 publication, creativity that most find an ease, a lightness of touch, and Mindfulness - a practical guide to finding peace in a a gesture of intent released frantic world. Anxiety, stress through the tip of a paint and tension are raw feelings, brush or pencil. bodily sensations and Creativity and the natural impulses. The emotion that state of mindfulness that occurs when in that beautiful arises from them more like the glue that has the power state of ‘flow’ allows for a deep reflective state. So many to fuse all our thoughts, describe it as enlivening their feelings, impulses and bodily sensations together until senses, tuning more into their intuition and allowing we reach an overall ‘state of mind’. heart space and thoughts to ... ctd page 17 be more as one. The beauty of immersion in Creative Mindfulness is to be reminded of the simplicity Page 15


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CREATIVE How we see ourselves - as perfect or imperfect humans, reflects the world we experience around us.

Today I think the ‘islands make-believe lives lived o There was a time, not so long ago, that seeing myself in the mirror made on ourselves believing we me recoil. I remember as a child being chastised for spending too much condemned by the idea of we take ourselves whereve time staring at myself. hopes, failings and desires Yet in hindsight, mum got it wrong - I wasn’t admiring myself, I was physically marooned or n wondering how I could feel more like Ginger from Gilligan’s Island Every passing moment is - who wouldn’t feel amazing wearing full-makeup and a sparkling of our determination, of w evening gown at the beach?? (Think I had my priorities a little twisted opening our eyes that thin looking back now - lol.) I saw in Ginger a possibility. Although I didn’t grasp it then, I know it now. A possibility to escape the ordinary and live in a place where the hope of rescue kept dreams alive. Ginger’s ‘improbability’, her confidence, her swaying hips that even then I suspected had an allure was a world away from suburban Sydney with its rows of duplicated fibro homes and simple gardens parched by the western sun. I wanted what she had. All it took was the intro music and I was there, nose as close to the TV screen as I could in the hope of catching her scent. After the rolling credits I’d retreat to my bedroom under the pretext of homework, grab a texta and in front of the mirror create an over-sized beauty spot right where Ginger’s sat. I’d practice puckering my lips with that over-exagerated quiver I now associate with filler. And I’d raid the back of my mother’s cupboard for an evening gown, that hadn’t seen light of day for decades, and pace like Ginger back and forth in front of the mirror. Sadly I discovered neither the look, nor the feeling.

My mother was not impre sequined gown that was fi undermined and under-fi

So when the texta was rem perfumed cupboard - I’d l used to sleep in.

The dusty springs above m mattress gave me a vantag inhabitants breathe - like Mum’s broom clacking ag swept the floor, dad’s pape Daily Mirror, my younger the polished lino into mu long hot summer’s staccat

- 000 Sometimes I think we ask ourselves the wrong questions. It seems so obvious now - yet if I ask myself, ‘What did I see as a child that I found so alluring in Ginger?’ during those hot and dry afternoons while Gilligan played goof and the Professor postulised I’d have to say that it was a sense of possibility. A sense of creating my own dream in a place where few actions had real meaning and routines were inconsequential. A feeling of freedom. While I can see the cast of Gilligan’s Island now as flat one-dimensional characters - back then the desire to move beyond the grey paling fence that rimmed our home seemed so important. Page 17

Children know more than problem is a child’s ability cake mix in a porcelain bo be moulded and baked.

Maybe mum was right all make me look any more l told - all along I felt much


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s’ we choose to live in are no different to the on Gilligan’s Island. We place the same limits e’re trapped and unable to leave, yet we’re of invisible boundaries. I’ve come to realise that er we go - carrying our insecurities, dreams, s in our over-stuffed bags whether we’re not.

a micro-capsule of who we are, of our choices, what we notice, of who we choose to be. It’s in ngs can become more clear. - 000 -

essed by my texta beauty spot, nor of her filled with her once youthful memories being filledby her 8-year-old daughter.

moved and the dress returned to its stalelay under the old bed in the room that Nanna

me and the tucked-in sheets around the old ge point for hearing the house and all its a communal sucking in of a heated afternoon. gainst the cupboards in the kitchen as she er lightly rustling as he turned the pages of the r brother scooting a battered metal car across um’s moving target and the heated hum of a to. - 000 -

n some parents may credit them for, the y to express it is yet as unformed as a chocolate owl. Its potential is palpable, its future yet to

Self-portrait, Barbara Grace

A poor self-image is the magnifying glass that can transform a trivial mistake or an imperfection into an overwhelming symbol of personal defeat. David D. Burns

l those years ago, staring in the mirror didn’t like Ginger than Gilligan did - and truth be h more like Gilligan than I cared to admit. www.schoolofmodernpsychology.com.au


CREATIVE Are you waiting for your “real life” to begin? Receive your share of joy and begin living wholeheartedly with a Creative Mindfulness course through the School of Modern Psychology. • Practitioner and Coach Trainer programs begin 1st February, 2015. • Creativity Programs are 100% online and self-paced. • Our Membership program is less than a weekly cappuccino - ridiculously inexpensive for the joy you’ll receive! Contact barbara@schoolofmodernpsychology.com.au for more information.

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Creative Minds Membership If you’d like to remain connected with the School and receive great activities and reflections each week, including a monthly webinar – we offer a value-packed bundle where you can become a Member of our Creative Minds group and be part of our wonderful community. That way, you’ll never miss receiving a copy of this journal. Copy and paste the link below to check it out. It’s less than a weekly cappuccino - and lasts a whole lot longer than a quick hit of caffeine!! http://bit.ly/1vSAZWb

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Creative mindfulness February 2015  

Check our latest publication for articles on Mindfulness and Creativity

Creative mindfulness February 2015  

Check our latest publication for articles on Mindfulness and Creativity

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