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2. Breathing life into your practice

How did you find the previous reflective practice around gratitude?

  • What did you notice? Be specific, where in the body, what thoughts, sensations arose?

  • How did you know you felt grateful?

  • What does gratitude 'feel' like?

Keep a journal for your reflective practice, we know from research that we learn more effectively, and the learning embeds more deeply when we reflect on our learning and write it down.

See below for example areas you may want to reflect on – but do feel free to change and adapt to suit what resonates for you.

Keeping a reflective journal is simple, but I want to invite you to consider especially in these times, not only on the aspects of your life that you are grateful for, but also the following:

What you do that is an act of kindness for others/or that is an act of kindness directed towards you?

And given the challenges we face, how we maintain and keep emotional connections with our people (loved ones, work colleagues, friends, neighbours).

Keeping a positive reflective practice is one way you can top up your sense of well-being and to help you feel more resilient. Rick Hansen, psychologist calls it 'taking in the good'. He describes negative thoughts as sticking to us like Velcro, and positive thoughts tend to slide off like Teflon. So, we must become more cognisant of the positive and supportive elements of our lives to counteract the negative. In fact, science tells us that to counteract the effect of one negative experience, we need five good experiences!

Today, continue with your reflective practice, and see if you can weave it into your daily practice – what time of the day would work best? Perhaps as you go to bed, and you finish on a positive?

A body that is in pain or tense negatively affects our mental capacity. Ever tried to concentrate with a toothache? Luckily, the reverse is also true. With the "Stress Response", hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol raise the heart rate, quicken the breath and prime the muscles for action. It's a vital survival mechanism, however long-term stress can cause serious damage. On the other hand, with the "Relaxation Response" your heart rate decreases, breathing becomes slower and deeper, blood pressure stabilises, your muscles relax.

Also, today, I invite you to make time to relax. You ONLY need three minutes, and I know you can find time for three minutes. Below, you'll find a meditation called the three-minute breathing space.

Have a go and use your reflective diary to capture what happened during the meditation.

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