Wellness

Are you practising Mindfulness?

There is an issue with the word ’Mindfulness’. It sounds like ’Mind-full-ness’. It should be called ’Mind-emptiness’

As I viewed my Apple News app for my daily fix of world headlines, I’m totally blown away by almost every other article talking about the US Presidency. Whether it's tapes, emails, quotes, the constitution it's all over my News app. There's almost no space for anything else. I really should stop looking. 

But that's the problem, it's hard not to. We're so wired-in to streams of content from all directions, that trying to ignore it is almost futile. 

It really is like living inside a Star Trek episode featuring The Borg. 

This is their quote:

“We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.” 

Seriously that's how I feel sometimes. And when someone says to you, ’did you see...’ and I act all clueless, they look at you as if you've committed a crime. So does that mean we all get sucked in to mindlessly having to read, watch and absorb content that we'd prefer not to?

Being distracted by so much content is becoming a task in itself. How to decide what to read, what to watch and how to relax is now as stressful as work. I'm convinced that there will be a new career in helping people to switch off from ’content overload’. Helping them to identify the real things that are truly important in their lives and will move them forward in achieving their goals and dreams. One thing’s for sure, spending mindless time on Social Media and watching TV is not going to deliver that for us.

So what advise should I give you? I haven't a clue yet is my honest answer, as I've also been assimilated. However my goal is to chunk my time in 20-minute slots. I now even teach people what to do on LinkedIn each day in just 20-minutes per day. Feel free to have a browse through the slides below.

When you chunk your time in say 20-minute slots you will not feel as overwhelmed by it all. If you do need your daily fix of news and social media, just spend 20-minutes per day on it, that's it no more and no less. 

Test it our for a day. 

  1. Catch up with the news for 20 minutes in the morning.
  2. Sit down for breakfast for 20 minutes.
  3. Catch up with email in the office for 20 minutes.
  4. Perform some of your outstanding tasks for 20 minutes at a time.
  5. Attend or chair a meeting, make it last just 20 minutes.
  6. Spend some quiet time during the day, take 20 minutes.
  7. Maybe go for a walk for just 20 minutes.
  8. Spend some time with your kids, even if it's 20 minutes.
  9. Catch up with the news in the evening for just 20 minutes.
  10. Workout for a power exercise session again just 20 minutes.

And I could go on. Chunk it down into 20-minute slots and you will be surprised how much you can achieve. Be patient with yourself, experiment and try it out, even if you don't apply it to everything. You could never watch a film in 20 minutes and that's okay. Just try it out on a few things, especially Social Media. I'll be doing the same!

Let's share how you're getting on and enjoy the process.

LinkedIn created a brilliant eBook with my favourite illustrator. @gapingvoid (Hugh Macleod) creates the most amazing messages through his illustrations. Read more about him and @gapingvoid here: http://www.gapingvoid.com/blog/team-members/hugh-macleod/

Regularly I will share one of the articles and illustrations from the eBook and give you my opinion, interpretation, insight and meaning of the words and illustrations.

@stayingaliveuk

Have you ever wanted to step off the world?

On the 8th December 2015 at 15:50 when I received a call from Clair, my darling wife, I certainly wanted to step off the world.

Luke, my 14-year old stepson, ran away from school apparently very upset, he ran for over a mile and jumped 40 feet of a structure to hit the ground with force to try and commit suicide. I will deal with the ’why’ later.

In case you're wondering, he is alive, but...

He has multiple injuries and has been in several hospitals every since, indeed so has Clair, nurturing, supporting and encouraging him back to life.

His injury list makes painful reading, multiple skull fractures, brain injury, eye socket fracture, multiple fractures in one elbow, punctured lung, pelvis fractures, spinal injury, nerve damage to his bladder (causing him to be currently incontinent), broken ankle, crushed heel. He's had major surgery to his pelvis and spine and to his elbow.

Needless to say he's receiving some counselling for his state of mind as well.

This is going to be a very very long journey and currently this is without doubt THE biggest mission Clair, Luke and I are facing so far during our lives.

We’d like to think that our thought process is different compared to most and indeed we have learnt a lot from many thought leaders over the years, which will help us to get through this very challenging episode of our lives. However nothing can prepare you for something like this, not even the most enlightened and trained. It certainly has knocked my positive mindset for six. I’m sure it will be back, but it will be a while that’s for sure.

We believe ’Intention’ is hugely powerful, we use it in our lives every single day and now more than ever in our lives we are asking everyone we know to hold an intention for Luke’s healing and recovery. The ’Intention’ is shown in the image below. If you are interested in joining us with this ’Intention’, we would of course be delighted.

We know that already in a very short period of time our ’Intention’ has resulted in a positive change in Luke’s condition. I wrote and circulated the ’Intention’ within hours of Luke's accident. Luke was placed into sedation to assist his pain and also prevent any brain damage, as he did have some bleeding on the brain. When after a few days they brought him out of sedation and then when he could communicate slightly, he was able to know who he was, how old he is, who his family members are and all their birth dates. The consultant doctors thought this kind of a recovery of his brain injury was nothing short of miraculous (their words). 

I first learnt about intention setting during the summer of 2006, where I participated in the first ever group ‘Intention Experiment’ hosted by Lynne McTaggart in London with very interesting and successful results. Lynne is the author of The Field, The Intention Experiment, What Doctors Don’t Tell You and The Bond. You can check out her website and learn more about her.  She certainly has done some fascinating research.

I won’t even try to explain how intention setting works, because I have no idea, except that I have read studies and witnessed many of my own personal examples. You can probably divide the world into 3 camps, the scientific, the religious and the spiritual (non-religious). And there are some that hover somewhere in-between. I completely acknowledge the fact that some of you will say that 'Intention’ is just ‘prayer’ and at some level I do agree with that too.

Anyway for now you have to decide whether you believe or not.

Apart from creating some images with the intention words, I have also asked Lynne McTaggart if she could share the intention with her audience. She has very kindly agreed to send an email blast to her database asking them to take part. This will have potentially hundreds and maybe even thousands of people who are going to be taking part. Here is the link to the email that went out on the 8th January for a global multiple intention on 10th January.

I have also created a meditation audio track, which you can listen to on Mixcloud or YouTube. The embedded tracks are below.


I promised to share with you why Luke decided to commit suicide.

Truthfully we will never really know, except to say that he had planned it and had even written a suicide letter, which he handed to his ex-girlfriend, who he had only 48 hours previously broken up with. This was Luke’s first ever proper girlfriend at the very young age of 14 years. Luke is a very balanced young man and committed to his word. We believe that he had to follow through with it because he had committed himself in writing. He has managed to briefly speak to Clair about it at times when he has wanted to. The good news is that he does want to get better and fit again.

Back in 2014, I wrote an article about suicide to highlight the dangers of those thoughts in young people. Far more needs to be done to help younger people have a better understanding about their emotions in early relationships and that they need to talk about their feelings. Easier said than done.

Thank you for reading and thank you so much if you are deciding to take part. I will of course post an update on Luke’s progress in the coming weeks and months.

Much love and gratitude ❤️

Do You Have Suicidal Thoughts?

Most of you who are reading this are no longer teenagers. But do you remember having suicidal thoughts when you were? It’s being reported regularly that teenagers these days are very prone to having suicidal thoughts and there may be no logical explanation for it. However it appears to be contagious.

Research showed that 32 per cent of young Britons have had suicidal thoughts, while a similar proportion (29 per cent) of young adults deliberately harmed themselves as teenagers. And more than one in 10 (12 per cent) felt a failure almost every day when they were under 16. http://styin.me/1ewlGuB

- flickr | Ktoine

I read some teenagers twitter feeds (no I wasn't stalking) I was intrigued and yes I was spying on my stepson’s feed because he was saying stupid things and he thought it was private!

But one feed lead to another and I could see a pattern of comments for example; ’I wish I was dead’ and ’I'm so close to taking as much pills as I can right now’ and ’Guys, don't any of you ever kill yourselves. If you are ever feeling suicidal just dm me, you can trust me, and I will try to help you <3 xx’.

At home we even had to call the police, because someone said on twitter that they had actually swallowed a load of tablets. When we also reported this to the head teacher at the school of this youngster, she confirmed that the instances of these are on the rise.

So why are youngsters having these thoughts and why are they sharing these openly with not just their followers, but if they realised, with the whole world!

Is it just attention seeking or is something fundamentally wrong with society, education, parents, nutrition (sugar overdose), lack of exercise, social media, television, gaming, greed, government or something else?

I know teenage years are about self-expression and finding your place in the world around you and yet for some reason they appear to be obsessed with wanting to end it all?

How do parents and teachers deal with this heightened threat of suicidal thinking in kids? Surely this must be playing out in their minds all the time and putting them in a place of fear themselves?

Do teenagers even realise what they are doing with this behaviour? Do they realise this behaviour increases further stress on their parents, who are already under pressure having to deal with a world of expectation, financial worries and keeping their kids happy.

Does one tell them to stop behaving so stupidly or do we take them to counselling? Is it just a phase of hormone development or are there serious underlying issues?

I can't help thinking that when they finally want to find a job their social feeds will be explored by employers (it's not illegal yet), who will find all sorts of silly communication on there and thereby making up their mind about whether to give them that job or not. And unfortunately teenagers don't see that as a potential threat at all!

- flickr | ohmann alianne

If we want our kids to be successful no matter what their background, then we seriously need to tackle this epidemic of suicidal thoughts in young people.

Should this become part of the curriculum at schools, should teachers openly discuss this with students and get them to open up and discuss these feelings in group sessions? Should we encourage their friends to speak up about those that are openly declaring these thoughts?

I haven't got the answers but one thing’s for sure something needs to be done.

What are your thoughts? And if you have youngsters go and talk to them and find out what's going on in their heads, that is if they'll tell you!

Success

Do You Drive a Car?

Share_the_Road_Sign21552I do and I'm also a cyclist and a Dutchman. I grew up in a cycling nation, where the bicycle has priority over cars and cars respect the cyclist. In The Netherlands most cyclists don't even wear helmets, because they know that the risk of an accident is very low and the car driver would more than likely get prosecuted if they knocked someone off a bike. I've lived in the UK for 36 years and the cyclist is still treated like a bl..dy nuisance on the road. Car drivers treat us cyclists like we shouldn't even be on the road.

I won't generalise but most car drivers speed, yes indeed, most break the law and drive way over the speed limit. Do I? I did in the past, so I'm not one to judge, but I don't anymore, it saves fuel, it's safer and you don't get there any faster, FACT.

So if you take disrespect for cyclists add some speeding to the mix, you've got a recipe for death and disaster.

I like to cycle whenever the weather is fine and dry. I don't live in the middle of the countryside but I'm also not in the city. I live and cycle near a few towns and yes the traffic at times can be heavy, although actually most of the time it's fairly quiet, but that's part of the problem. Car drivers also believe they are invincible and that mostly there are no cars coming the other way...wrong!

And...car drivers see me as a massive nuisance on the road and for some bizarre reason decide to speed past me. Whether these are small cars, 4W drive cars, people carriers, taxis, trucks, vans, ambulance, fire brigade, police, basically everyone does it.

IMG_0257

I am convinced that those drivers have never been a cyclist as they would know what it felt like to be out in the elements, very often with strong winds in this country and to have vehicles speeding past you, you do feel very vulnerable and very much in danger. I know keen cyclists who have given up on cycling and sold their bike, because they are in fear of the British roads.

And when they pass at high speed they have no regard as to what might be coming the other way. I witnessed 5 near miss head-on collisions in just 3 cycle trips. And I see at least 1 on most trips. They are in such a hurry to get past me that they take risks and have no regard for oncoming traffic and pass even though there might be blind spots.

At least on every journey, people pull out in front of me, cut me up and speed past me so close that their wing mirrors nearly clip my handle bar.

These drivers may have their own children and I wonder how they would feel if they knew, when their kids were out on their bikes, that cars behave in this way?!

They would soon change their own attitude towards cyclists.

So if you are reading this and you can look in the mirror and identify with the fact that you are one of these drivers who has no patience for cyclists, now is the time to change your attitude.

I see many drivers who slow down to a snail’s pace for horse and rider, but I virtually witness nobody doing the same for a human cyclist.

I've just been to Amsterdam for a short holiday and OK it's my home city, so I will be biased. The inner city is almost completely void of cars now. It's a joy to be seeing how cyclists are given priority and are treated with respect, something I feel probably won't happen in the UK EVER!

DSC01220

Some great comments and discussions started as a result of this article, please read them below in a special storify slideshow.

Re-Igniting my 'Juicy' Lifestyle!

I discovered the benefits of juicing back in 2004, when I attended Anthony Robbins Health Mastery event in Vieques, which is off the coast of Puerto Rico, it changed my life completely and I started juicing as soon as I got back home. This is 8 years ago. Following that I lost 44 pounds and I felt amazing. My weight has been an issue for me since I was 7 years old. My eldest brother Steven used to make fun of me and told me I looked like a 'Biafran'. These were the kids in Nigeria that were dying from famine in the mid 1960's, during the Nigerian Civil War and we saw photographs regularly on TV and in the press of starving children with huge distended stomachs from protein deficiency, which horrified people around the world.

Here's a photo of me when I was that younger skinny child!  I thought I looked healthy, what do you think?

Now, I am not blaming my brother, because I am the only one responsible for my decisions and what followed was, what I can now regard, as an 'eating disorder' and my addiction with sugar.

I slowly gathered extra kilos and didn't feel good about this, which made me eat more sugary sweets, to compensate for the feeling I had recognising that I was getting heavier and heavier (The Dutch are masters in liquorice and sweets and my Grandfather worked for the Dutch Sugar Company too!).

My Mum told me it was just 'Puppy-Fat' and that I shouldn't worry so much. I believed her although deep inside of me I realised that it wasn't going away.

Cut a long story short, I have struggled with my weight for decades and when I finally shifted the weight in 2004, I vowed that it would never ever happen again, but of course it did…

When I shared with people that I didn't 'do sugar' any longer and that I never wanted chocolate again, they told me not to be so silly and convinced me that I was taking too hard a stance with sugar and should relax a bit. So I did and that was a mistake!

You never tell an alcoholic that they should relax it a bit when they have stopped drinking, in fact we call them a recovering alcoholic and that's what they become for the rest of their lives. Well it's no different with sugar. In fact the issues that alcohol cause in the body, are virtually identical with sugar, see the image below.

Sugar (in the form of chocolate and sugary foods) entered my diet again and it slowly increased week on week, month on month, year on year. And in the past 3 years I have ensured I had my fair share of sugary foods on daily and regular basis.  Besides that most 'label foods' have added sugar to make you want to eat them even more!

I even stopped juicing, which had become part of my lifestyle for years and I was getting major regrets, which made it even worse.

And what's even more ridiculous, I studied this stuff. I am a trained Kinesiologist and I should know better! I also trained to be an exercise trainer in Psychocalisthenics, but gave it up, because I felt a fraud teaching people to exercise, when I was overweight myself.

So I started a new journey back in September 2011 to increase the amount of exercise and upped my cycling regime and I had great success, because I steadily increased my routes and kept adding mileage every week, accumulating 260 miles in a month and even more in October 2011.

But I hadn't changed my diet, so although I was getting fitter and my average heart rate was dropping, the weight wasn't shifting.

So the winter was upon us, my cycling slowed down, because of the weather and the food still hadn't changed. I did 'try' a couple of times to cut out sugary foods, but found it tough with two stepsons, who love sugary food and it's in the house. OK so I could have been disciplined and stop myself from eating it, but I just couldn't resist. Sugar has been an issue for me for over 45 years and the sugar terrorist within me demanded it!

Come January when everyone goes on a detox, weight loss and exercise regime of some kind, I did manage to get back on the bike again and managed 156 miles in the month. Not bad going I thought.  But the weight was still there!

I receive emails from Jason Vale 'The Juicemaster' and I saw that he was organising a worldwide juicefast in January. I didn't join it then and was disappointed that I hadn't. I know juicing works, because I have done it before in 2004/5. When I lost a massive 44 pounds, had a 32" waist, which I can't remember ever having in my adult life!  So why didn't I join in??

So I continued doing nothing about it.  No, it wasn't working, so when Jason Vale sent another email in April suggesting another worldwide event, this time it was called '14-day spring clean', I decided to join it.

I started on the 16th April and within a week lost 6.5 pounds, which I am delighted about. The most brilliant thing of juicing and following Jason's routine is that it stops all the cravings for sugary foods. Once you cut them out for 7 days (and as Jason says, we can all do something for 7 days), you just don't want them anymore. I can truly say that although the snacks, chocolate, donuts, crisps are everywhere around the kitchen for me to see, I just don't fancy them now and in fact, I know that I won't be going back there either, which is the best thing.

Furthermore the fact that this is a 14-day plan, means you are staying off these foods for even longer, reducing the cravings further, literally re-wiring your brain to say, I don't need those any longer in my life.

Here's my testimonial video for the 14-day spring clean.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrtJeL5wEAI

I did it with alcohol back in 2004 and also with meat and I have never needed them again.

Now they say after 30 days whatever it is that you are doing, you will form a habit. So my decision was to continue on Jason Vale's 'Juice Yourself Slim' plan for an extra 16 days, which consists of juices during the day and soup in the evening.

I love the juices and soup has always been a favourite of mine, so I can't see that I will have an issue with it, in fact to be more positive, I will be very successful in doing it.

Of course I will be flexible, as I know I will have some business meetings to attend, which may include lunch, in which case I will just ensure I eat a salad or rice and vegetables. It's not rocket science is it, I just need to be sensible.

After an extra week after the 14-day plan, I was still on target, the weight loss continued and the soups were getting more varied and tastier. I have even begun making my own soup recipes. Making fresh soups is so delicious and healthy too. Jason talks about 'no label' foods and it makes so much sense.

I even found that I have more energy with my cycling, well I suppose you would have when you are roughly a stone lighter. I set myself a target to lose 10kgs or 22 pounds by the end of June. And I am already 60% there after just 3 weeks in early May, so I guess I need to revise my target to the end of May! At time of writing this, I have lost so far 16 pounds in just 3 weeks.  It really is amazing what you can achieve when your mind has decided to change forever!

Weight reduction chart in kgs.

Whilst doing this I also found some great videos to motivate me.

There is one by Robert Lustig, it's over and hour long but well worth it. Then the University of California also released a short series of videos by Robert Lustig. So I am sharing both of these with you here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

Some fascinating new research on the effects of sugar on the brain and how in the past 30 years we have managed to switch off the hormone leptin, which tells the brain that we are full. This phenomena has been caused by the amount of insulin that gets secreted when we over eat sugar. But watch the videos and that will explain all.

My clothes are getting looser on me and I can already visualise the fact that I will be wearing those smaller clothes which are in storage. Thankfully I held on to them knowing that one day again I would fit in them again. And I know I will very soon.

Jason talks about 'Freedom from the Diet Trap' and he's absolutely right. I know in myself that I haven't been free for years and that now I know that I am free.

Watch Jason's video here;

It's taken me decades to get to this point and then again I am a classical case of going through the 6 stages of change, where I managed to change back in 2004, but relapsed and went back to the start of the 6 stages of change and my sugar addiction. This has been well researched and below is the link to the article to give you more insight about it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transtheoretical_model

Note: as with all these things, there are some criticisms on this, but you have to see if it makes sense and relates to you and certainly it relates to me perfectly.

I am pleased to say that I feel and know in myself that I have reached the final stage, which is described as;

'Individuals have zero temptation and they are sure they will not return to their old unhealthy habit as a way of coping'.

If you want to learn more on how to do this, please go to www.juicemaster.com and join the thousands of us that have become free from the 'diet trap'!

Success!