I am often stunned by the natural beauty that surrounds us.
Walking by the beach recently I was arrested by the sight of the Cobalt Blue sky, the Viridian Green sea, the glimmer of Orange on the horizon as the sun was setting. Wrapped up warm and snug to brave the chilling wind, soothed by the hush of the waves lapping the seashore.
Sometimes, overwhelmed or lost in the distraction of our thoughts and emotions, we loose sight of what is in front of us. Travelling to the future or past it is easy to miss the gift of presence. In presence our senses are soothed, as our nervous system relaxes and we are bathed with nature’s magic.
Try it see what happens!
2018 was a memorable year. I was celebrating a special birthday, and I had planned to visit Canada, but one of my closest friends had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Canada felt wrong. I needed to visit somewhere to lift my spirit, to hold her in love and in hope of wellness. Tibet seemed to speak to me. My partner rose to the challenge of Tibetan travel. I trusted my instinct and in May 2018, following my heart, we departed to Tibet. Travel restrictions were plentiful and we risked not being able to get to access to Tibet. We opted to enter via Lijiang, in the northwest part of China’s Yunnan province. We flew to Lhasa at 3 700m, to explore the ghostly Potala Palace and the mesmerising Jokhang Temple, known as the most sacred temple in Tibet, a magnet for Tibetans and fellow travelers.
Then we set about driving hundreds of miles, with numerous Chinese checkpoints. Sharing music, laughter, kindness and often receiving insightful Tibetan teachings, on route from our local Tibetan guide, Jigme and driver Phuntsok.
We climbed deep into the beauty and wilderness of the Hymalayas, navigating some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever experienced in my life. Journeying by sacred lakes, untouched landscapes and crisp mountain passes to reach Everest’s majesty.
As we drew closer, I was faced with my altitude fear in the first aid oxygen sentinels lined up at the hotel entrances, on the route. Our serene and wise Tibetan guide Jigmay encouraged me to shield my eyes. He smiled, helping calm my fears, “do not look at the oxygen tanks, you will be ok Lou Mam”. Trust, you are safe. He was right.
When I reached the stunningly dizzy heights of Everest Base Camp at a lofty altitude of 5500 metres, again I was a little fearful, but a kind little voice inside kept telling me I would be fine and I was. Jigmay and Martyn quietly and gently encouraged me to climb, at attitude, to experience ancient caves and magnificent sights. I felt truly blessed.
At Everest, I experienced presence. For me, it came in the form of feeling true peace. I felt peace in the energy of the limitless azure skies, as I rested beside freshly, flowing, glaciated, aqua waters and the simple, uncomplicated natural landscape. Still getting over the loss of my mum, I felt her peaceful presence in the shadow of Everest. Einstein’s quote came to mind.
“Energy is neither lost or created it is passed from one form to another.”
Our synchronistic journey introduced us to numerous special sights, meetings of local people, ceremonies and blessings by Tibetan monks in frightfully exciting ancient Indiana Jones locations. I felt present at a pivotal point in Tibetan history amidst the major changes to their country, landscape and culture. I learned about the humility, respect, and compassion shown from Tibetans to all even, those that challenge their culture. This presence gave me insight into the mystery of wellness. I smiled to witness the local Tibetan and Chinese Guard sharing music on their phones in Everest’s Tearoom. Two young men with common humanity and shared interest.
Tibetan people, the lost temples, the clear blue skies, and breathtaking mountains amazed me. No doubt, waking to a Yak by my window, then watching the golden sun go down on Everest were some of the highlights of my trip.
Today elementas mindfulness brings new life to traditional business and coaching approaches enabling clients to harness:
This helps clients to discover how to:
elementas business mentoring, and 1:1 coaching and wellness clients experience true, natural, life-changing changes with lasting benefits.
P a u s e f o r a m o m e n t
What do you think Mindfulness is?
The Mindfulness Association’s (MA) working definition of mindfulness is:
” K n o w i n g
w h a t
h a p p e n i n g
w h i l e
h a p p e n i n g,
w i t h o u t
p r e f e r e n c e.”
P a u s e f o r a m o m e n t
“As you sit and read this, you can choose to be mindful. You can choose to come into the present moment and know you are sitting here, while you are sitting here.
Spend a moment just becoming aware of your experience as you sit here: any thoughts passing through the mind, any emotion you are experiencing now and any physical sensations you can feel in the body.
Becoming aware of our experience relates directly to the ‘knowing what is happening while it is happening element of our definition.” (MA)
elementas works with this definition, and dovetails a mindfulness approach to coaching and business mentoring services. Clients are show simple tools and skilfully facilitated to be more familiar with their minds and their habitual tendencies. As a result clients recognise they have more choice, and are more motivated to make better work and life decisions.
Mindfulness brings together awareness of all elements of our life. Integrating true Wellness, be that physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
Lou Booth’s Mindfulness Experience and Training
“I believe that Mindfulness is a bridge to the healing power of Self-Compassion and that elementas coaching sessions offer a unique process, space and approach for lasting change and powerful growth. ” Lou Booth
You are in confident hands. In 2015, I started a three-year training pathway to mindfulness, compassion, and insights, as a practitioner with the Mindfulness Association, which I successfully completed in June 2018.
As a coach I am always encouraging people to step out of their own comfort zone and so I have ‘walked my talk’ by undertaking a 3 year MSc in Mindfulness with the University of Aberdeen. It is challenging but fun!
Here my richer understanding of mindfulness and compassion is flourishing with new ideas and techniques. I love to carefully synthesis and deliver the practical benefits of mindfulness daily to individuals, teams, and organisations. I am motivated by the fabulous changes mindfulness brings to peoples’ lives.
I am committed to my personal daily practice, weekly MA practitioner’s mediation, and attend conferences to share good practice with clients and colleagues.
Check out my free resources and I would love to hear from you, if you are interested in my approach.
As we move thought the season of Winter, what do you need to do to support your wellness?
Traditionally winter has been a time of coming in, of keeping warm, of rest and of renewal.
The Midwinter Solstice (Hibernal Solstice) 21 December reminds us of our connection to season cycles. It marks and grounds our relationship with our earth, linking with the light and energy of the sun. In the dark, as in life, we know and appreciate the light.
“Ancient peoples whose survival depended on a precise knowledge of seasonal cycles marked this first day of winter with elaborate ceremonies and celebrations. Spiritually, these celebrations symbolize the opportunity for renewal, a casting off of old habits and negative feelings and an embracing of hope amid darkness as the days once again begin to grow longer.” CNN Travel.
Today, most of us live in a world that is always taking us out. Even within the winter months we have little time to come in and life often does not slow down naturally.
Maybe when you have chance take a moment to come inside. To rest your body on the earth and rest your mind in the safety of your body, for a short while.
Connect both body and mind, and recall your natural cycle of life. Remember to call upon your inner wisdom; often rediscovered in these moments of stillness and of calm.
And in those moments of reflection, dare to plan, to dream, to nourish yourself and hold sacred your hopes of Spring’s horizon and another New Year.
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience” Ralph Waldo Emerson
So as we all move through the darkest months, enjoy the journey back into the light.
Into new beginnings.
Merry Christmas and here is to a wonderful New Year for you all.
All the Best,
For more information on coaching please get in touch:
Her colourful coat begins to descend on our outer landscape, a sweeping technicolour brush. Magically transforming our natural landscape from rich shades of green to an artist’s pallet vibrant with rich golden ochre, oranges earthly siennas, burnt umbers and fiery reds.
A reminder of all I love about this world and the changing nature of everything, the good the bad, the uncomfortable, the comfortable, the happy the sad. The impermanence of it all.
We see this in our moods, our weather systems, the moving clouds, rain showers and sunny days and our thoughts, our feelings. Present in the beautiful nature that surrounds us from the trees, hills and seascapes to the seasons.
Recently I heard young man tell me he didn’t like change. He caught me unaware, but reminded me that an appetite for change can be less about age and more about our character. Our wealth of experiences and associations with change can mark our response and our attitude. As can our level of inner confidence to deal with change. As our world and our external landscape changes we will respond in relation to where we are in our life. This is relative to our inner world and current mental, emotional and physical wellness. Psychologist Rick Hanson talks about how we manage our challenges, protect against our vulnerabilities and increase our resources. Imagine having a true knowing and trust of our inner and outer resources to lead us through change.
On reflection I sense change is more unsettling when it happens without our permission, without ‘our say’. It often does. Much of my working life has been helping organisations and individuals to plan for and navigate change, or to help both deal with the impact that change has had on their lives.
This happened recently to a coaching client who in his words had a “Career change – but not through choice. “
“Having worked for a company I absolutely loved with a team of people I had grown and developed it came as a complete shock to be notified of a re structure and it was pretty clear that my role was to go and whilst other opportunities existed, whether it was hurt or middle aged stubbornness, that I opted for voluntary redundancy. Clearly, I was angry, upset and confused, and it was pretty clear to me that I needed a sounding board…..” Stuart
All eventually unfolds, the expression of trust and of patience ‘further along you will understand why, further along you will know more about’ that sees me through many transitions comes to mind.
“Lou was inspirational and provided me with the environment to safely vent, which I needed to. It was only then was I able to re focus, yes, I was challenged, it was at times uncomfortable, I didn’t know how to respond sometimes, but Lou persisted and it worked. Very quickly after only two sessions do I now have clarity, my confidence and self esteem is not just back, but far better, I have a new job already and excited. Thanks Lou,” Stuart.
Change can be unnoticeable. It can be exciting or challenging or dam right scary, activating our hidden fears! It can be absolutely major, reshaping our lives and relationships with family, friends and colleagues. It can impact our roles, our jobs, our health, our wellness. Change can bring gains or losses. Change can be minor from our favourite beauty, brand or food product being discounted, to shifts to our daily home and work routines, journeys and traditions.
Well worth a read is the book Lost Connections , author Johann Hari explores some of the issues around the “Causes of Depression and the Unexpected Solutions”. Hari brings into awareness the normal big and small changes we navigate. He talks about the benefits of living to our intrinsic value systems, where we can and the challenges of living in an unpredictable world. All can seriously cause havoc and impact different dimensions of our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health and wellbeing. Such awareness and building, restoring and retaining our wholeness and health is core to elementas wellness coaching.
I realised the importance of having certainty in change recently when I felt a subtle draft of change blow through areas of my life. I found myself rather perplexed when my some of my favourite and delightful food haunts from Todmorden to Brighton closed their doors. Silly really, especially as I pride myself as loving adventure travel. I know, with support, I’ve navigated some big and painful changes, close family and family losses over the last few years. A gentle reminder, that during big life changes I take joy in the simple and the familiar. And that certainty acts as an anchor to the choppy seas of change!
We often need anchors and ‘the certain’ to light our way in life’s storms. As I reach for Rick Hanson’s book “Resilience” where Rick clearly simplifies our three basic needs for safety, satisfaction and connection. Explaining why perhaps our mind likes and needs certainty and habits. That our mind is often on alert, constantly scanning to keep us safe. This is why I believe by keeping open to what is unfolding, yet retaining some routine helps at times of transition. Routine means we can rest and relax, and or focus on the areas of our life that bring us satisfaction and reward, bringing in the good.
Sometime change is small and incremental, yet eventually it can add up to something bigger, valued or not! I am definitely learning of the benefits of being more mindful and present. To appreciate and be grateful for is, what is no longer and what may be.
So as Autumn beckons, I recall my favourite season. I bring out my favourite winter clothes, make some soup and take a joyful walk and rustle through Autumn’s tailcoat of leaves.
And I feel truly grateful for her annual familiarity.
Coach, Wellness Mentor, Mindfulness Practitioner
Peace can be often difficult to find in our busy, hectic day to day existence. Crowded out by the demands and commitments of daily life. Can you remember the last time you experienced the presence of Peace?
But where do we find real peace. You know those audible moments of silence and emptiness that bring some welcomed space to our day?
The moments when our world stands still, and we see our senses are arrested into a gentle submission of wonder?
I may find moments of peace walking in nature, in moments of stillness in my daily mediation, or maybe during a swim or a yoga session.
Personally I find more profound peace is far more difficult to achieve. It takes work. Would you agree?
However, undaunted, receptive and open-minded I found serendipity was at play, on a special birthday trip traveling in China and Tibet.
Image, Everest Base Camp. Tibet May 2018
And I was to happen upon the elusive Peace, in an audience of her full grandeur.
She mindfully met me in the shadow of Everest. In the limitless azure skies, resting beside the freshly flowing, glaciated, aqua waters. In the simplistic, uncomplicated natural landscape.
Here I felt peace, real peace. I found her in nature’s deafening silence.
She was arresting and profound. I can feel and almost touch her now as I type these words, she is firmly etched and home in my “inner scape”, and so I gratefully hold and recall Everest’s soothing majesty.
Can you remember, when and where you last encountered Peace? And are you truly receptive to her presence in your daily life?
Waves like thoughts and feelings, they roll in they roll out.
Sometimes big sometimes small.
We can’t stop them so watch them, appreciate them, witness their rise and fall.
Notice what happens when you do.
Notice the mindful moments of stillness.
Notice what happens when you pay attention to what is happening when it is happening (without a need for it be one way or another, without a preference).
And use the tip from Jon Kabat-Zinn
(Wherever You Go, There You Are)
“Try: Asking yourself from time to time, ‘Am I awake now?’”
Time to Study.
I have been learning with the Mindfulness Association for over three years. Training in Mindfulness, Compassion and Insights to become a Practitioner
Feedback from clients as well as my recent adventure to Tibet, lead me to decide it was the right time to continue this journey and gain a deeper understanding of Mindfulness.
I will be starting my MSc Studies in Mindfulness in August 2018, with the University of Aberdeen. I have made a commitment to study three years part time.
As a coach I am always encouraging people to step out of their own comfort zone and so I will walk my talk!
I hope to learn from the experts, meet lots of new people, share new ideas and gain a deeper understanding of the benefits mindfulness can bring to our everyday wellness and business thinking for myself and others.
So I have picked my inspirationally designed notebook to remind me of the new mental pathways and blossoms I intent to create. The books have arrived. Time to Study.
Please watch this space and see what unfolds.
My recent trip to Tibet brought much wonder. It made me think about the link between our wellness, compassion and living to our inner values.
Tibet’s 17th Century Potala Palace stands tall. Potala is a world famous cultural and historical icon. A towering ancient monument overseeing the rapidly changing infrastructure of Lhasa below. Today Potala watches the advancing tower blocks and western high street brands below; symbols of globalisation and our thirst for materialistic culture, our 21st century religion.
Potala’s heavily restricted and guarded access pays testament to Tibet’s complicated history, and current spiritual and political tensions. Heightened by the absence of the World famous figure of compassion and the Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the 14th Dali Lama. His Holiness has been unable to return to Potala, (his winter home and palace) since his exile from Tibet in 1959.
Around the base of the Polala however, a mesmerising sight. Local Tibetan people, of all ages, connected together mindfully walking their early morning ritual, their daily Kora. Unfazed, walking clockwise in their Tibetan dignity, quietly chanting, prayer wheels and beads in hand. Dedicated in their devotion, to their deep spiritual roots.
Intrigued I ask Jigme my Tibetan guide “why are people walking round the Potala?“
“Lou mam, The Daily ritual of Kora, helps the Tibetan people bring peace of mind to their daily lives. They rise early before work to undertake the 30 minute circular Potala, maybe one or up to three times, a practise to show their inner faith, prayer, love and compassion for their spiritual leader and others.”
One cannot help but be touched by this profound show of devotion, their compassion, purpose and meaning. The Kora is a powerfully quiet and peaceful demonstration of Tibetan inner faith, a focus connecting inwards to their strong sense of intrinsic values. All set amidst the landscape of “The Cultural Revolution”, initiated in 1966 by China’s Chairman Mao.
Later chatting Jigme explained “In Tibet Buddhism there is no “I”, there is a “We”” , he continued knowing my interest, “I is for Illness, We is for Wellness”. A very different philosophy to the Western culture that I know so well that focuses on the ego and individualism, and poor self-compassion. My guide smiled at me knowingly, as “I” in true Western fashion opted for the closest seat in the restaurant’s stove to warm up!
The lack of influence Tibetans have on their outside world is well known, from restrictions on access to information and lack of freedom to travel. At times we felt the officialdom with countless police and army checks, visas and controlled movements in our trip. My thoughts move to what I hear about the rise of and growing stress and anxiety in the Western World. In my role as a coach I listen to clients voicing the restrictions they feel about their personal and work lives, their concern over personal wellness. I hear that their relationships, jobs, bosses or organisational cultures often fail to meet their basic intrinsic needs. Basic needs described by psychologist and neuroscientist Rick Hanson Ph.D., of feeling fulfilled, valued, safe and loved.
Turning again, back to Tibet. I notice the spirit of community with the Tibetan people. They appear unfazed and authentic, bringing a peaceful, calm antidote to the surrounding hostility and armed police presence. I observe the normal, every day, human interactions between the young officials and Tibetan children and Elders. I wonder are the Tibetans quietly revealing their ancient, inner secret, their sacred wisdom of wellness?
Going inwards, the Tibetans seem to be finding a way.
Now another mountain to climb as we make our way along spectacular hairpin bends and mountain passes to the roof of the world and Everest Base Camp.
Lou Booth (May 2018)