Gregg Braden talks to me about ancient ideas, culture, art and creativity.
Gregg Braden talking on Ancient codes and creativity. Find out more about what Gregg has to say about creativity in his exclusive chat with me over a cup of tea in Spain.
When I see someone cry, I can feel my heart open. Empathy immediately comes in human to human when we witness someone’s tears. A tension is created where our emotions get moved as the observer. Most of us feel touched deeply when we see tears.
I cry often and when I feel like it. Living on an island with sea all around, if I am feeling low then I head straight to a quiet beach and have a good cry into the ocean. It feels the best release with a loud sobbing session to go alongside. It feels such a release when the emotion literally moves through the body to a new place. I know I will feel differently after crying – there is a sense of feeling inner emotions on the move. Facing emotion is something that is so good to learn and avoid just heading for numbing the painful feelings with friends, alcohol, drugs or food to distract.
Yesterday, I had a neighbour at my house who was sad, felt that life was dealing a tough hand and couldn’t see the wood for the trees. I sat with her and watched her cry and sob. Held her and listened. The tears came streaming through with breathing that was anxious and fast. That moment of sharing her sadness together and witnessing her tears was a big healing for her and for me. She said she felt at that moment that it would never get better. As it got later in the evening, she went back to her home to sleep and rest. I let her sit with her troubles for a day or so at home to experience and have the emotions move through and regroup. The day after that I messaged her – she told me things felt so much better and she was feeling lighter and to just have someone there to watch and be there without changing anything made a big difference. Witnessing other people’s pain helps them a great deal to be seen and felt and loved. An activity involving little action, yet so powerful. And pain moves. Emotions move. They never stay the same.
The fantastic Rose-Lynn Fisher did a creative study of 100 kinds of tears. She photographed tears through an optical microscope at a time when she was going through tough waters. Would tears of grief look different under a microscope than tears of happiness?
In the water that springs from our eye ducts as tears there are different blends of chemicals, proteins, minerals, hormones and enzymes. In the photographs of Rose-Lynn, tears appear like lunar landscapes and area maps that look so different they feel other-worldly. Take a look.
Tears are a release. How amazing they have such different structures for all the different emotions. Our body is incredible and a constant source of amazing potential.
Spending time alone leads us on a journey of real self-discovery. Setting aside a small amount of time each day can really help our levels of inner wellbeing. With technology innovating to keep us constantly engaged with an instant connection, we are faced with a fast life and a new generation who have rarely experienced real alone time. This encourages a disconnection to self and this leads to a struggle to find happiness.
Here’s why it’s important to spend some time alone:
- It provides opportunity to clear your mind and give your brain a chance to recharge and reset.
- Time for reflection, appreciation, gratitude and observation.
- Boosts self-awareness and a deeper understanding of your emotions.
- Allows you to reconnect with YOU. To re-establish your purpose and motivation, your reason for being without external influences.
- Quiet time allows for pathways that become blocked by life’s distractions to reopen.
- It helps you gain fresh perspectives.
- When you make space, concentration increases and productivity and creativity flows more freely.
- You’ll learn to trust your intuition and find freedom to think for yourself.
- There’s an inner peace that comes with spending time on your own
We all know we need to spend time alone—but most of the time we think we’re too busy, or act this way to avoid feeling lonely. Solitude is a positive and constructive state used for inner reflection, which creates space for growth on a soul level. It´s essential to get grounded and rounded as a human being. We need a lot more alone time to carry the rest of life easily and smoothly.
Life is busy. Of that there is no doubt. Most people are becoming increasingly busy with work, social, family, leisure and a stream of social channels taking up our head space and attention with incoming messages creating more information to process daily. There is a major increase in stress and many people are juggling so many roles that life has become overwhelming and difficult for many both young and old. The processing power of the brain is being required to deal with tens of thousands of impacts every day with messages, news, advertising, emails, facebook and an explosion of social media channels. Simple living as a concept is getting harder to achieve compared to how our parents and grandparents lived but it has become increasingly necessary.
Living simply with a ‘less is more’ approach is becoming more desirable as people are realising that life is richer when we have more time. I moved out of the city with my son a few years ago to move to an island. We moved out of a big house in London and headed off with 2 bags each. The change in lifestyle and feeling of freedom was incredible. It was scary thing to do to let go off the stuff, old habits and places, but it felt good. We quickly found that we couldn’t remember what all the stuff was that we had before. We kept the special momento´s, letters, gifts from loved ones and books. But the rest – it went. With it came liberation from all ´the stuff´. Life transformed and new adventures kicked in. What was important changed and with it the whole experience of daily life. An adventure began.
The idea of keeping it simple is becoming increasingly more important and desirable in this busy world. I loved reading the recent best selling book, Marie Kondo’s guide to decluttering, ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’, an international bestseller on finding simplicity. Marie writes in a way that is simple but she has some really out-there ideas. She writes that everything around us has an energy, she recommends that you talk to your clothes as you put them away and thank them, say hello to your home and thank it as you come through the door. She could have easily been at risk of being considered mad and eccentric, but people have warmed to her ideas and love the concepts she writes about. The concepts do work and decluttering has a big effect.
I go through our house twice a year, choosing a room a day, to declutter, get rid of things we don´t need and make the space as simple as possible. Everything we have in the house holds energy and carries with it a charge of some kind. Getting rid of things to make way for the new is something that resonates strongly with me. I love the idea of keeping it simple, regularly updating and clearing out. It feels good to get rid of ´stuff´and make way for new experiences. Shifts always happen when new space is created.
When we get efficient at making life simpler, we feel like we have more time, more space for creativity, greater freedom and new experiences. The simpler my life is, the happier I am. Less clutter, less things to clean up and more head space. It´s not always easy to clean up life and get things simpler. We have jobs, responsibilities and many things that come up to get in the way. Taking a step back, having a good look and doing a habits audit is useful. Bring in some time saving hacks into the week, drop things out of the calendar and scheduling some down time like you would an appointment can make a significant impact.
A simple life is a healthier life. When we look closer at how to bring the beautiful and simple things forward into life, dropping out of the busy frame, we begin to experience life with a new pair of eyes and better good feelings. When we check out of this life, its the experiences and feelings we remember.
Being overly busy with a long ´to do´ list is common for most of us these days. The urge to be busy defines our modern living and rest seems to come secondary to work for most people. It´s something we try and find time for in between running around getting things done.
In his new book, ‘Rest’, author Alex Pang argues that we can be more successful in all areas of our lives by recognising the importance of rest. ‘Working better does not mean working more, it means working less and resting better´, says Alex. We know that real rest can help us to reset and recharge and create space for new ideas and creativity to flourish and blossom. So how do we find rest?
My favourite way to rest is looking out on some beautiful scenery. I live in a forest in Ibiza, so its easy to find some green nature around. I find that daily meditation practice is so important for me to help get rest in a busy life as a working mum. When I walk, I find the ideas flow and I feel more creative. Finding time to walk every day isn´t easy but it is worth it.
More than 18,000 in 34 countries took part and showed that 68% of the public felt they needed more rest. Clear results showed that the most restful activities were those done alone. The top ten restful activities were found to be:
- Being in nature
- Being on your own
- Listening to music
- Doing nothing in particular
- Having a bath or shower
- Watching TV
- Meditating or practicing mindfulness
The analysis team noticed that a significant number of the top ten restful activities chosen by participants are often carried out alone.
By studying the neuroscience of stress, evolutionary biology and psychology, researchers have found that the human brain is designed for survival and safety rather than happiness. So how do we cultivate the habit of happiness when it is not a natural inclination? Here a four proven and researched techniques..
- One important question
What am I grateful for? The practice of gratitude increases serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitters, which increase feelings of wellbeing.
“The benefits of gratitude start with the dopamine system, because feeling grateful activates the brain stem region that produces dopamine. Additionally, gratitude toward others increases activity in social dopamine circuits, which makes social interactions more enjoyable…
It’s not finding gratitude that matters most; it’s remembering to look in the first place.”
Source: Alex Korb
Even in those moments where we find it hard to feel gratitude, just the simple action of searching can shift negative thinking pattern of the brain.
- Name the emotion
We often suppress emotion, through shame or guilt of feeling it in the first place. Consciously recognizing an emotion can help to ease its impact on the brain.
“To reduce arousal, you need to use just a few words to describe an emotion, and ideally use symbolic language, which means using indirect metaphors, metrics, and simplifications of your experience. This requires you to activate your prefrontal cortex, which reduces the arousal in the limbic system. Here’s the bottom line: describe an emotion in just a word or two, and it helps reduce the emotion.”
Source: David Rock
- Make a decision
The decision process can be difficult. It can induce worry and anxiety, as we strive to make the perfect choice. Making a decision that is good enough, not necessarily perfect, promotes a feeling of control and in turn eases the stress levels of the brain.
“Actively choosing caused changes in attention circuits and in how the participants felt about the action, and it increased rewarding dopamine activity.”
Source: Alex Korb
- Stop texting and hug
Human touch is an undervalued yet powerful tool to promote feelings of happiness. A simple touch of the hand or a hug can reduce feelings of fear and pain. If a hug is not available, a massage can have similar effects.
“A hug, especially a long one, releases a neurotransmitter and hormone oxytocin, which reduces the reactivity of the amygdala.”
Source: The Upward Spiral
The idea is simple: spending time in the forest can have calming, healing effects on our physical and physiological health and wellbeing.
Shinrin-Yoku or ‘Forest bathing’ was developed and introduced in Japan in 1982. It has since become hugely relevant in preventative healing and medicine in Japan. Over 8 years and $4million worth of research have resulted in scientifically proven studies demonstrating the calming and healing effects of simply being and spending time in the ambience of nature and wilderness. Here is a list of proven, researched benefits and reasons we should spend time amongst the trees:
- Boosted immune system functioning, with an increase in the count of the body’s Natural Killer (NK) cells
- Reduced blood pressure
- Reduced stress
- Improved mood
- Increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
- Accelerated recovery form surgery or illness
- Increased energy levels
Source: The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs
We have always know this intuitively. Now we have access to scientific research and evidence to support it. Taking just 15 minutes out of our fast paced, modern civilisation to spend time in a forest or park can entirely change and soothe your day.
As depression rates surge, one in four Americans suffer from severe depression at some stage in their lives. Where has our society gone wrong?
Dr Steve Ilardi, a professor of clinical psychology and author of The Depression Cure gives an insightful talk reminding us that we were never designed for the sleep-deprived, badly nourished, fast pace of modern civilization. With such radical changes to our environment in the last two hundred years, we have not had time to adapt genetically to living in considerably more stressful conditions.
His six principals to curing depression naturally are
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids
- Healthy Sleep
- Anti-ruminative activity
- Social connection
Unfortunately, these seemingly simple actions that were once a simple way of living, are not always quite as easy for many people to sustain in this modern day. As we increasingly replace face time with screen time, it’s important that we make a conscious effort to take things back to basics.
Watch the video here..
Exams: these are not what life is about. Reducing stress for children should be our focus – not exam grades.
Kids are stressing out more than ever in tests at school. Here’s a list of personal qualities not measured in tests. Kick out these out of date methods? What is the answer for future testing?
Wonderful talk from a 13 year old on creativity. How moving out of mainstream school made him happier and more creative.
Why artists should get paid. The shame of blocking artists income.
Why I love luxury shopping in my local food shop. No walls or ceilings. No music. Fertile earth all around, fresh organic produce straight from the land – that is pure luxury.
Depression is a harsh condition. We can’t just persuade someone to feel better and lighten up. It doesn’t work this way. Here are some useful steps to consider when faced with deep emotion.
I’ve been working with the Hemsley’s for a few years now. This week saw the launch of Hemsley and Hemsley cookbook number 2 – ‘Good and Simple’.
I love cacao, coconut and dates. These have it all. A recipe for incredible choc balls. Easy to make, just a few ingredients, no cooking.
Depression is affecting 1 in 3 people. It’s widespread and frightening for adults and children. Here’s a cosmic take on the condition.
“I started meditation on July 1, 1973, on a sunny Saturday morning at 11 o’clock. I remember it as if it was yesterday. It was so beautiful.’
An eye opening story and a reminder of how we influence and affect all living things by our thoughts and intentions. Opening the door of possibilities on animal to human communication.
How much do we judge one another? Within a tenth of a second we form quite a strong impression of a stranger from their face.
How to eat well at home – conscious eating that’s good for you and the planet
Farmacy Kitchen Cookbook One of the things that brings me great joy as a writer is the chance to inspire people and offer new perspectives and points of view. That’s why I’m so happy to see that the most recent book I’ve worked on, ‘Farmacy Kitchen’, is successfully doing just that – inspiring people with […]
Why I make time to meditate and how you can too
Making meditation a daily habit There’s an ancient Zen proverb that says, “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour”. How relevant this wisdom is for this busy modern age where many people feel that they don’t have time for the […]
Detox Face Mask – Farmacy Kitchen Cookbook
From time to time, everyone’s face can use a little extra loving care. This is my go-to recipe for a great face mask treatment using pure and natural ingredients. You can use this weekly or whenever you feel you need a beauty boost. The clay and charcoal naturally draw out impurities from the skin. The […]
Conscious Living: What does it mean and why is it important right now?
I love the timeless quote from Gandhi, ‘You have to be the change you want to see in the world.’ I realised I could make a real difference when I accepted that change starts within me. I’m responsible for my thoughts, words, actions and it sits with me whether my action and words are having […]