Home About Services How I Work Contact Blog

Posts Tagged ‘mindfulness’

Creativity, play and the unconscious

Thursday, September 30th, 2010


Recently I did a workshop in Sandplay. As the name already suggests, you literally play with sand in a small tray. When you are done arranging the sand you choose figures from a vast variety of figurines and put them in the tray. No limitations, no thinking involved.

The process in Sandplay makes the unconscious visible through creative play.

Sounds weird? I have tried it myself, and it is surprising what my unconscious was telling me through the play, the sand formation and the figures. Each element told me a story. My beliefs, thoughts, patterns, my mind were on display. It told me about where I had come from, where I am heading and how I was going to do it.

Gail Pemberton who gave the workshop uses Sandplay for individual and couple counselling, and in the corporate environment. She is a wonderful person, curious and engaging and very much in the moment.


Here are some of the quotes from her workshop that stuck with me

- Every picture has a story to reveal.
- Unconsciousness has more power over our behaviour than we think. Imagery is the primary language of our unconscious.
- Imagery and creative play shows us choices.
- Imagery triggers forgotten parts of ourselves. Allows the shadow to emerge, what we don’t want to see.
- Conflicts in our inner world become more manageable because they are contained.
- It is a creative process.


Whether we play with sand or paint, dance, doodle, write, sing or make music, these are creative processes that help make the things visible that we are not aware of. Creative play is a beautiful way of learning to manage inner conflicts, to increase self-awareness and to enhance your overall well-being.

I hope this post motivates you to now and then, step outside of ‘how things should be done’.

Image: eschipul

Sound health

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Last weekend, our neighbours had a party. There was laughing, shouting, and loud music playing. It was so noisy, we even had to close our windows. Late at night the party stopped and my body immediately relaxed, as if my breath was finally able to expand again.

I hadn’t realised how much impact this noise was having on my body and mood. It only lasted a few hours, but I became more irritated, a hint of anger lingered and my neck muscles became tense.

The world is full of sound. Julian Treasure, a sound specialist, argues that sounds can not only be healing and relaxing but can also badly affect our health and generate enormous stress on our system.
One of his main points is that we should start listening more consciously to the sounds that surround us.

Listen to his talk and learn how you can improve your health with sound.

Here is also a great exercise, I found at The Emotion Machine, to practice conscious listening. You will be amazed how many sounds you can hear.

Get out a piece of paper and a pen, and then write down all the sounds you can hear within a 5 minute span.

It is an incredibly simple exercise, but it helps cultivate skillful listening, and it makes you aware of things in your auditory world that you are otherwise unconscious of. Here is an example of a short two-session practice I did the other day. The first is in the afternoon, the second is later that night:

SEPT 23 – SOUNDS – 2:00PM – 2:05PM – Outside – Backyard – Sunny Day

Wind in trees
Wind pushing against fence
Birds chirping
Cricket chirping (faint)
Construction work
Wind chimes
Cars driving (in distance)
Fly buzzing
Motorcycle (going fast)
Water hose
Dog barking

SEPT 23 – SOUNDS – 9:30PM – 9:35PM – Outside – Backyard – Clear Night
Pond waterfall (loud)
Crickets (lots!)
Eminem song playing
Someone cough
Gate rattling
Door open
Cars driving

You might also want to read:
Clutter and mind
Create space for clarity
How to reduce distractions and stay focused

Expertise and Barriers

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010


The more insight we have in our field of expertise the more difficult it becomes to communicate those ideas clearly. (“The Curse of Knowledge” in Made to Stick)

Have you ever wondered who the expert is in your life?

It is you.

Unfortunately, your expertise can sometimes get in the way of engaging people to support you in times when you need it.

We know so much about our experiences, that we often assume others know too. We therefore expect them to understand how they can help us.

Yet, how can they. It is not them but you who has all the knowledge about what is going on – your thoughts, your feelings, your pain, your beliefs, your emotions, your experiences, your interpretations, your dreams, your hopes.

So, invite people to see beyond your surface. Make them your partner in helping you through a difficult time. Combine your and their expertise.


You can start with this fun exercise to learn how to explain to others what you know so well

Pick something you use day in day out. It should be so familiar to you that you don’t waste any thought on it. This could be the fork you eat with. The chair you sit on. Take one object and describe it to someone who has just landed from a far away planet and who has never seen or used this object.

You will realise how difficult it is to describe an object that is so ‘normal’ to you. Don’t give up, because you will also realise that you will come up with new insights about this object.


So, now try and take on the role of an outsider to describe one of your experiences. An experience only known to you.
Ask yourself what is it the other person needs to see and know in order to help you in a way the really supports you.

You might also want to read:
Who is on your support team
Waiting for …
5 ways to get unstuck

Image: Image source

A welcome mat for your fears

Friday, August 27th, 2010


It’s time to put the welcome mat out for your fears.

Can you think of a situation where you stopped doing what was making you afraid? The fear probably vanished. Though I am also quite confident that this fear came back when you where faced with the same or a similar situation.

There are so many reasons for us to be afraid of doing something different, new or unknown.

The fear of…
… being rejected, not being loved, being abandoned, failing, not being liked, not belonging, becoming anxious, slipping back into the darkness, saying something wrong, hurting someone, not doing enough, doing too much, not being good enough, the future…

Fear is just as part of us as is joy. How come you push it away and try to deny its existence. Still. Quietly you adjust behaviour and adapt aspects of your life to accommodate this fear.

What would it take to get to know what you don’t want to see. Don’t want to have in your life. I know it is difficult.

I also know, the less you spend time pushing fear out of your life the more you can focus on actually doing what it prevented you from all that time. Give it some space to explain itself. You will see fear will ask less and less attention from you.

You might also want to read:
Fairy tales, monsters and life
Conversations with my pink elephant
Ride that bike

Image: Claudio Matsuoka

Wherever you go, there you are

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010


Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book “Wherever you go there you are” is one of those books I haven’t put back on the bookshelf after I finished reading it. From time to time I just re-read one of its short chapters. Sometimes as a reminder, inspiration or to regain some simplicity in my life.

Over the last few years I have gradually integrated mindfulness in my life. This practice helps me live my life fuller and more aware. It fosters my curiosity and opens a door to all my emotions, feelings, thoughts and visions in my life. The more mindful my way of living becomes the more freedom I feel I create wherein I can make choices and welcome changes.

I want to share with you a few things I have learned

1. Become aware of what is going on in your body and your mind.

2. Get in touch with the many aspects of your life. The dark faces, the pain, the fear, the happiness, the joyous moments, habits, assumptions, judgements, struggles, your beliefs.

3. Acknowledge that what is happening is happening.

4. The more you practice mindfulness the more you will see things clearly and you will be able to position yourself differently in relationship to them.

5. Let go: Holding on to your struggles, your likes and dislikes, hold you back in discovering and expanding your possibilities. Allow things to be as they are for you to find your own way.

6. Find your moments of simplicity: Even in a life where you have to manage family, work, children, friends, etc.
Choose to do one thing at a time. Start with small things. Do them mindfully.

7. Stop what you are doing: From time to time, take time out to observe what you see, hear, feel, what is happening around you.

8. Ask yourself “Where is my mind right now?” Do this a few times a day. You will be surprised how often your mind is not here, but visiting other places.

“You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf”

Swami Satchitananda in “Wherever you go there you are”

You might also want to read:
Video: Mindfulness with Jon-Kabatt ZInn

Back to top