Meditation for mental health

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Meditation and mental health

Meditation is about focusing on the present. Meditation can help you feel better and reduce stress. Researchers are also studying mindfulness and related techniques such as relaxation to see if they can help treat various physical and mental health conditions.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is paying full attention to what is going on inside and outside of you, moment by moment, and without judging. It means you observe your thoughts, feelings, and the sensations of taste, touch, smell, sight and sound. You are also fully aware of your surroundings.
Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhist meditation principles. However, anyone can practise mindfulness to improve their self-awareness and wellbeing.

Meditating actually changes your brain, and with it, the way your body responds stress. Which works wonders on depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Studies have been suggesting for the past decade that meditation can bring big health benefits, but it wasn’t until recent years that research has looked into exactly how it can change the brain.

Practicing meditation

Whatever your preferred meditation technique, a common approach is to sit in a comfortable position in a quiet place for five minutes to half an hour (depending on how long you choose to meditate) without outside distractions. Set an alarm if you don’t want to lose track of time, alternatively there are various apps in your app store that will allow you to download and use up to 10 of their meditations for FREE. Meditating every day at around the same time can help you develop a regular habit, and make it easier and quicker to slip into deeply meditative states.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to sit cross-legged on the floor in order to meditate. You can also sit in a chair or in bed. However it is not recommended to lay down whilst meditating as you might just fall asleep if you try to meditate lying down, which will defeat the purpose.

Relax as you meditate

Trying to meditate is a lot like trying to sleep – attempting to force it can often make it more difficult. Thinking of a meditation session as a chance to relax, rather than as a discipline you have to master, can make a big difference.

If your attention wanders, try to practice acceptance and avoid getting annoyed with yourself. Simply direct your attention back to what you are doing and your experience of that moment.

GOOD MENTAL HEALTH

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What is mental illness and why is there such a need for good mental health?

Mental illnesses are also called mental disorders. They are extremely common in the Australian population and stem from poor mental health. This could be due to many factors such as lifestyle, diet, work and social stresses.
1 in every 5 Australians — about 4 million people — suffers from a mental illness in a given year, and almost half the population has suffered a mental disorder at some time in their life. The most common mental disorders are depression, anxiety and substance use disorders.
There are many different types of mental illness. They can range from mild disorders lasting only a few weeks through to severe illnesses that can be life-long and cause serious disability.
Mental illnesses can affect people’s thoughts, mood, behaviour or the way they perceive the world around them. A mental illness causes distress and affects the person’s ability to function at work, in relationships or in everyday tasks.
Mental illness can attract stigma and discrimination, which can be two of the biggest problems for a person with these disorders. Up to 1 in 10 people with mental illness die by suicide.
Although mental illness is treatable, about two thirds of people with mental illnesses do not seek any treatment. Psychological therapy, medicine and lifestyle changes can be effective for mental illness. If you suspect that someone may have signs of a mental illness, the first step for them is to visit a doctor or health professional.

What is mental illness stigma?

Stigma occurs whenever there are negative opinions, judgments or stereotypes about anyone with any form of mental illness.

Stigma shows when someone with a mental illness is called ‘dangerous’, ‘crazy’ or ‘incompetent’ rather than unwell.
Stigma can lead people with mental illness to be discriminated against and miss out on work or housing, bullied or to become a victim of violence.

Why does stigma exist?

Stigma exists mainly because some people don’t understand mental illness, and also because some people have negative attitudes or beliefs towards it. Even some mental health professionals have negative beliefs about the people they care for.
Media can also play a part in reinforcing a stigma against mental illness by:
portraying mentally ill people with inaccurate stereotypes
sensationalising situations through unwarranted references to mental illness
using demeaning or hostile language.
For example, if a part of the media associates mental illness with violence, that promotes the myth that all people with a mental illness are dangerous. In fact, research shows people with mental illness are more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violence.

How does stigma affect people with mental illness?

A person who is stigmatised may be treated differently and excluded from many things the rest of society takes for granted.
People with mental illness may also take on board the prejudiced views held by others, which can affect their self-esteem. This can lead them to not seek treatment, to withdraw from society, to alcohol and drug abuse or even to suicide.

Warning signs of suicide:

Listen

A person who is thinking about suicide will usually give some clues or signs to people around them. The best way to prevent suicide is to recognise these warning signs, take them seriously and act on them.
This article covers the warning signs of suicide you should look out for and how to respond to them. If you notice any of these warning signs in a friend, relative or loved one, encourage them to talk about how they are feeling and to share these concerns with a member of their healthcare team.

Urgent help:

If you think there is a high risk of a person dying by suicide before they can get the appropriate professional help, call the person’s doctor, a mental health crisis service or dial triple zero (000) and say that the person’s life is at risk. Do not leave them alone, unless you are concerned for your own safety.
If the person agrees, you could go together to the local hospital emergency department.

Things to look out for:

Almost everyone who has committed suicide will have given some signs or warnings, even though some of these signs might be subtle. A person might show they are considering suicide in how they feel, talk and behave.

How they feel and talk — signs include:

  • feeling sad, angry, ashamed, rejected, desperate, lonely, irritable, overly happy or exhausted
  • feeling trapped and helpless: “I can’t see any way out of this”
  • feeling worthless or hopeless: “I’m on my own — no one cares. No one would even notice I was gone”
  • feeling guilty: “It’s my fault, I’m to blame”

How they behave — signs include:

  • abusing drugs or alcohol, or using more than they usually do
  • withdrawing from friends, family and society
  • appearing anxious and agitated
    having trouble sleeping or sleeping all the time
  • having sudden mood swings — a sudden lift in mood after a period of depression could indicate they have made the decision to attempt suicide
  • having episodes of sudden rage and anger
  • acting recklessly and engaging in risky activities
  • losing interest in their appearance, such as dressing badly, no longer wearing make-up or not washing regularly
  • putting their affairs in order
  • making funeral arrangements

High-risk warning signs

A person may be at high risk of attempting suicide if they:

  • threaten to hurt or kill themselves
  • possess or have ways to kill themselves, such as stockpiling tablets or buying equipment that could be used to harm themselves
  • talk, draw or write about death, dying or suicide

Responding to warning signs

It can be challenging to talk to someone about their suicidal thoughts, but if you have noticed warning signs and are worried, the best way to find out is to ask. You might be the only person who does ask.
beyondblue has tips for how to start a conversation about suicide and questions you could ask.
Where to get help
The person’s doctor or acute care team can provide a range of options for treating and managing mental health issues. The emergency department at their local hospital will also be able to help them. Alternatively, if they are in Australia, you or they can ring the following numbers for 24-hour help, support and advice:
Lifeline — 13 11 14
Kids Helpline — 1800 551 800
Suicide Call Back Service — 1300 659 467
MensLine Australia — 1300 78 99 78

Trust and distrust

How would it be to live in a household where not only did one parent not like you but they also hated you enough to not trust you and blame you for anything and everything.

This was my life growing up, my stepfather and I never saw eye to eye and never really liked each other as much as tolerate each other. It didn’t matter what happened because I usually, or more often than not, got the blame as well as the resulting punishment, and with this man there was always punishment and it was always brutal.

The bearings in the wheels on my skate board wore out, I got blamed for how I rode it, if I got a flat tyre on my BMX bike again it was my fault and he refused to fix it or even help fix it because I damaged it so it was my problem, I would have to go and earn money myself if I wanted it fixed. And when I snapped the frame after coming off my bike, if the pain from the crash wasn’t bad enough the hiding I received when I got home was.

One of my best friends when I was young betrayed me when he stole a few hundred dollars  from a local retail store and bought a remote control car, which he then bought to my place to play with and left it there so we could play with it during the week after school. I had no Idea he had stolen any money but my stepfather had already read about the theft that day and the story said it was a child involved in the theft, he found the toy car in our garage and instantly had it in his head that I must be the thief.

He asked me where I got the car from and I told him it belonged to a friend that had bought it over. Now instead of believing me he put me and that toy in his car and we drove to my friends house, all the while he was telling me about the theft of money and that if he found out it was me he was going to kill me. When my mate was confronted by his mother at the front door about his toy car he told both his mum and my stepfather that it wasn’t his, it was mine and that’s why it was at my place.

My stepfather hurled me back into the car and got in the drivers side slamming me in the chest with the back of his hand and telling me what was in store for me when I got home. We got home and as soon as the door was closed I copped the hiding of my life up until that point, he flew into a verbal tirade of calling me a thieving little (expletive) and a lying little (expletive) and laid into me physically until I nearly passed out.

These episodes with him in my teenage years were frequent and bought with them a lot of anger and trust issues for me, I had created a survival mechanism where I would make sure I always got in first and put the other person down, both physically and verbally. These where some very dark times for me and I had very little to no friends.

This is just one of the many bad times in my book entitled Walking with the black dog.

Failure is growth, If we don’t fail, we don’t learn, if we don’t learn we don’t grow.

If you want your life to change, don’t wait for it to change because you’ll die waiting.
You must change yourself, you must change what you are willing to accept, you must change what you are doing, or what you are not doing and you MUST do it now.
Because if not now, when.
If not right now, you are giving your mind the opportunity to talk you out of it, and it will, because it’s scared of changing or it’s scared of failing or it’s scared of the unknown and that’s because your brain has been there before and it doesn’t like it, and in doing so is trying to protect you by not letting you fail.
Let me tell you this, EVERYONE FAILS, if we don’t fail, if we don’t grow.
How do you think an athlete would be if they always beat the competition, would they train harder? No. And you will never grow if you continue to compete against the people you are better than.
The only people training harder than the winner, is all the athletes that failed to beat the winner.
Some athletes may give up and stop running, others will continue to run and continue to fail.
But they will continue, they will continue to train, they will continue to fine tune what they do and they will keep going, adapting, changing and working harder than the one person they have to beat, and eventually one of them will.
This will be the one who wanted it, who saw that end goal, who fought through all their failures, who kept working harder than anyone else, who ignored their brain telling them you can’t achieve this.
One of the best quotes I ever heard came from Arnold Schwarzenegger, “The mind always gives up before the body does, the trick is to get your mind working for you, not against you.
Are you going to listen to your mind, or are you going to listen to your heart? It’s a known medical fact that a developing baby heart while in the womb will start beating at approx 5 weeks, while there brain doesn’t start any sign of functioning until approx 21 weeks.
So how if the baby’s brain isn’t yet fully developed can it’s own heart start beating, medics will always have many theories on this, but I believe that the heart has it’s own intelligence similar to the brain.
I also believe this is why anything bad that happens we associate with the brain, like nightmares, bad ideas, etc. Yet anything good in our lives we associate with our heart, our loves, our passions, our desires are all heartfelt.
Chase what’s in your heart, force your brain to get you there and never let your brain tell you to give up on yourself because YOU are worth the effort.

Chase Your dreams or live your fear

Many people aren’t living their dreams, they are living their fears.

Many people aren’t living their dreams, they are living their fears. They are living their fears because in order to get to where you want to be, financially, physically, spiritually, you’ve got to make some hard decisions, you have to go through hard times. Nothing in life that’s worth doing, is worth doing easy, at the end of the day if you want to chase your dream, not what others have in store for you, I’m talking about your dream, your passion, your gift. Then you are going to have to do it hard, put in the extra work, do the extra hours, practice and practice and practice what you have to do to achieve this, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing hard and never be afraid to fail.

Walt Disney filed for bankruptcy 7 times and had 2 nervous breakdowns before he became successful. Before April 1954 the 4 minute mile was considered an un achievable goal because so many had tried and failed. A man named Roger bannister came along with one goal in his head, to break the 4 minute mile, he trained different, thought different, did everything he could, different to everyone else that tried and failed. He had that one focus and that one goal, he trained harder than anyone, he thought differently to everyone and he was never going to accept failure, sure he failed and failed and failed, but he never gave up on his belief that the 4 minute mile could be broken. Since that day over twenty thousand people have run better than his time, and many of those have been school kids, why is that. Because somebody had already done it so everyone knew it could be done, this gave them the leverage to overcome the negative thought that it was unachievable.

Don’t be afraid to fail, failing doesn’t make you a loser, giving up makes you a loser.There are losers, there are winners and there are people who haven’t figured out how to win yet. Which one are you.

Learn to live with failure because everybody fails, there is not a person on this planet (and I don’t care how successful you are) that has not failed. The difference is the people that failed and kept going became successful, if you fail, try something else, if you fail again, try something else, if that fails keep changing what it is you’re doing, keep going and never give up until you succeed, failure is not an option.

Let me tell you something I know, I wasted 47 years of my life doing nothing, I did try a few things, I tried inventing things, I tried my own businesses, I’ve taken jobs that I knew I hated before I even accepted them, but I took them because my own belief system was so low that I believed this is as good as I thought I could ever be.

I am now pursuing something I have knowledge about and that I can help other people with, it may not pay anything, but money isn’t my driving force behind this. It’s helping others to not to have to live the life I’ve led while helping myself grow as a better human being. The change you are chasing will come but first you must change yourself.

Motivation, or the lack there of.

We all lack motivation from time to time, but we do need to find the motivation before our depressed state is that comfortable in your life that it takes a seat because once it sits down you are going to struggle to get rid of it. For most people they don’t know what their motivation is, they have absolutely no Idea what excites them at all. I agree, it’s hard to find motivation on the lounge or in front of the tv or if you spend all your time on your phone or ipad or computer. most people say i’m not depressed, depression is simply a low emotional state. Everybody in this world gets depressed, it’s only the depth of the depression that varies. When you get hurt, lied to, upset, annoyed, beaten, betrayed, these are all depressive states. How often we are subjected to these, the longer and more frequent these happen to us dictates how quickly we succumb to clinically diagnosed depression.

I spoke with a bloke the other day about he had no motivation for his job, I told him that was rubbish, I told him that his motivation wasn’t big enough. I said to him what if I told you to come and see me here tomorrow morning at 4 am and I’ll give you a hamburger, he said he wasn’t getting out of bed at 4 am for that, I said but what if you were starving, he said he didn’t care. I said ok what if I said be here at 4 am tomorrow morning and I’ll give you 3 million dollars, he said he would be here at 3:55 am knocking on my door for that money, I said even if it’s pouring rain and freezing cold outside and he said hell yeah it would be worth the 3 million dollars. I told him he had more chance of getting a hamburger from me at 4 am than he ever did at getting 3 million dollars from me, but he wasn’t concerned because his motivation was  so great, his motivation was the 3 million dollars.

Unfortunately we are so often too focused on the little things in life that are much easier to reach with no commitment and little motivation, that we don’t chase the goals that are right under our noses, and so easily accessible if we committed and found the motivation to go out and get it. but we talk ourselves out of this by making our end goal much smaller in our heads than it actually is, so that our brain will never find the motivation your body needs to commit to seeing your dream through.

Think about all the things that you wanted out of life, forget about your bills, forget about your job, or anything that’s not going right in your life at the moment because these things will always be there, we just need to learn to deal with these but not stay focused on them.

We ALL have that dream, that end result of how we want our lives to be. Envision it, feel it, become it, focus on that picture every day of your life and use this as your motivation. Then start taking MASSIVE IMMEDIATE ACTION because the longer you wait the more chance of the negative depressive thoughts taking control of your mind and filling you with self doubt, telling yourself that you can’t do it, that your not worth it, that is rubbish.

You can do it, you are worth it and you owe it to yourself to achieve it, because no one’s going to hand it to you. You have to be willing to stand up off that couch or get out of that pub or break that bad habit and start the process. The greatest motorcycle stuntman of all times Evil Knievel once said “if something is possible, it has been done. If something is impossible, somebody will find a way to do it”. Nothing is impossible, your only limitation is you, not money, not time, not motivation, just you. If you want something bad enough you will figure out a way to get it.

How to change your life by changing “I should” to “I must”.

I’ve not been my best lately and whenever that happens, I know that I’m probably   not calm enough or happy enough with the way my life is going.

Usually that’s because I’ve had too much on my plate. More specifically, there has been too much I SHOULD do.

I should go to work. I should work out. I should make dinner. I should mow the lawn. I should do the dishes.

You’re probably not a stranger to feeling overloaded with stuff you have to do. But when you get into that mindset, you will probably start doing some things just because you “should”. But to be honest, most things won’t get done or will be forgotten about or overlooked simply because we should do them.

But  I read a great trick: how changing just one word makes so much difference – switching from I SHOULD  to I MUST every time it pops up in my head. People are always saying I should do this or I should do that, I should, I should, I should, I should, and pretty soon they are shoulding all over themselves.

When you change your should to a must you are committing yourself to fulfilling that act because it now must be done, your brain will always see the outcome differently if it’s a should and it doesn’t get done as apposed to if it’s a must and it doesn’t get done.

I must  go to work. I must  work out. I must make dinner for . I must  mow the lawn. I must do the dishes.

When we break our patterns and commit ourselves by changing a should to a must, it’s amazing how engaged we become and how committed we are to every situation in our lives on a massive level. To make massive changes in our lives we must take massive and immediate action, we can take this massive action simply by changing our should to a must.

We’re normally not aware how often we say “I should” on a daily basis. Paying attention instead to the stories we tell ourselves, giving ourselves a way out of doing the job that needs to be done, or jumping on the lounge with facebook and ignoring the things we should have done that day. While telling ourselves a different story so that we are ok with not having done them, like there’s not enough time in the day or where did the time go or I just ran out of time.

Here’s the tip, you didn’t run out of time or daylight to do what needed to be done, you made your entire day a should. When you get out of bed at 9am and sit on the lounge playing social media or games or watching tv until late in the afternoon, you are going to run out of time “EVERY TIME”. You need to make your should a must, and you must commit to it.

We never run out of time, more often than not we run out of energy, or we never had the energy or the motivation in the first place. This is because we often see the things we have to do as painful or annoying or time consuming. They may be but they still need to be done and unless you have an endless bank account to be able to pay someone else to do it, you are going to have to find that motivation.

The easiest way is to retrain our brain to seeing things as they are and not worse than they are,  we all have this ability to see things worse than they really are and this always gives us the ability to avoid doing something if in our heads we have already built it up to  momentous level that’s almost unachievable.

The moment I switched from “I should” to “I must”, I started enjoying life again. I never thought I had time to do the basic things that needed doing at home without being overwhelmed by anything else being thrown into the mix, but now I have a job, set up my own website and face book page, I have written my own blogs and a book, I am currently working on another few books, I have massive support for what I am doing from my family, friends and the public, I am following my passion, I have people that want to be friends with me now, and I am helping others in the community in there journey of abuse and depression, I have good health, I go out and exercise, all because I changed my should to a must.

Understanding Depression.

The term the black dog has been used throughout the centuries before being made famous by Winston Churchill’s chilling account of his own battle with the black dog of depression in the 1930’s.

We quite often find ourselves in times of self doubt, self pity, hate and uncertainty that we seem to focus more and more of the negativities in life and forget about the positives. I myself discovered I was suffering depression due to family abuse and break up dating back as far as 1976.

I had grown up in a family affected by sexual, physical and emotional abuse with both a father and a step-father that had unfortunately left me psychologically and emotionally scared to the point that I trusted no one. I inherited this self destructive behavior from my own family, and for years found it hard to communicate and even deal with people.

I ended up homeless on the streets of Kings Cross Sydney in 1985 at the age of 15 where I was surrounded by street kids, bikie gangs, drug dealers, sex workers, drag queens, transvestites, corrupt cops and extreme violence.

I had gone through life working jobs short term, this isn’t because they were short term jobs, this was mainly due to my attitude. I would work for months and sometimes years with no problems when all of a sudden, out of the blue something would go wrong and I would not let it go. I would always blow it up to be bigger than what it was. I would attack not so much other workers but senior employers, I would challenge them, talk down to them, intimidate and often fight them.

I could see that I was putting my loved ones through hell, particularly my wife. In April of 2017 I wrote a short 15 page story to myself about my life and some of the things I had been through to see if I could make any sense of my life. After quite a bit of soul searching and internal conflict I decided to let my wife and my mother in-law read it. My mother in-law cried while reading this as she had always seen me as this hard person and could now see why.

My wife convinced me to expand on this as she knew there was a lot in this story that I had not said and she believed it would help me to understand everything I had been through a lot better, both the good and the bad if I wrote it down. I decided to do this and I was blown away by not only how much I remembered but how much detail and how all these situations made me feel. I grew up feeling alone whilst in my family, I felt scared, overwhelmed, anxious, hateful, but mostly I felt hurt. Not because of the abuse, I grew used to that but I was hurt that I had absolutely no protection by my mother from any of this.

I know there are a lot of people out there that know exactly what I am talking about from their own experiences, but there was one thing I could also see by doing this that it wasn’t all bad times, there where some good times as well, and although I may not have been able to help what happened to me as a child I now see that the negativity I was so focused on while growing up certainly dictated where my life headed as an adult.

Everything we do in life, every decision we make is based on emotion, how we feel about a situation or someone, previous things that have happened to us. How we react to these situations determines the direction our life will go, once we understand this basic principal we can make the fundamental changes within our lives needed to achieve positive outcomes.

Everyone is different when it comes to the amount of abuse they have endured or the amount of time spent suffering from depression, My hope is to help people discover that although life may not be going your way at this point in time, and let’s be realistic here, things are always going to go wrong from time to time. We don’t have to stay stuck in that moment because of our emotion towards a problem. As Tony Robbins once said, a problem is merely a question that hasn’t been answered yet, If you can’t find a solution to a problem, ask better questions.

You certainly don’t need to beat yourself up about it, acknowledge what has happened by seeing it as it is but not worse than it is and allow yourself to move on, at the end of the day the only thing preventing any of us from being happy is ourselves. I will share with everyone the tips and techniques I have been using to stay focused via blogs, links and apps in future publications.