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Consciously practicing gratitude has been a huge part of my healing journey.

My journey to discovering gratitude was interesting. I was never ungrateful as such, but I did have a tendency to see all the things that were going wrong in my life quite easily and I could probably have listed 10 things or more in 10 seconds that I perceived to be missing from my life when things weren’t going my way.

Consistent and constant gratitude practice means that I find it difficult to focus on any negatives nowadays but like everything it takes work.

If you would like to begin writing a gratitude journal simply follow these steps and build on them as you become more comfortable with the practice.

NUMBER 1: BUY A GRATITUDE JOURNAL

It’s nice to have a dedicated journal for your daily gratitude list. I also love checking back on how many wonderful things happen to me every day that we can easily forget. Any notepad will do.

NUMBER 2: START

Start each day with gratitude by writing down 3 things you are grateful for. These can be anything so for example:

  • I’m grateful I can nourish my body with good food
  • I’m grateful for my beautiful son
  • I’m grateful it’s a beautiful day
  • I’m grateful for my job
  • I’m grateful for all the opportunities I have each day
  • Download sample page here

Gratitude diary, gratitude practise, being grateful, gratitude, gratitude diary, being thankfulTHEN

When you are comfortable with that list take it one step further and explore why you are grateful so for example:

  • I’m grateful for my son because he teaches me to be present and being a parent has taught me about the power and meaning of unconditional love
  • I’m so thankful for the good food available to me that I can choose to nourish my body with as good food helps to keep me health in both body and mind
  • I’m grateful for my job because I love what I do and I feel fulfilled and energized after a good days work.
  • I’m so grateful to wake up in good health everyday and for my family’s health and wellbeing. It is something we all value and cherish.

NUMBER 3 GRATITUDE STONE

gratitude stonesEvery night before I go to sleep I pick up my gratitude stone (choose a stone from a garden, park or beach that has meaning for you. Mine is from Dzogchen Beara which holds a very special place in my heart) and I think of what I am most grateful for each day. I absolutely love this part of my day and it means I always go to sleep with a positive thought and a smile on my face.

Remember if you are practicing gratitude it is very hard to have negative thoughts. Saying thank you mindlessly and really feeling grateful are two very different things so try and really feel it in your body and sit into that feeling. The more you do this the easier it will become and I promise gratitude makes life easier even on tough days!

Try it for 3 weeks and let me know how you get on. I would love to hear from you

Comment below

Shine Bright,

Ali xxx

#mindfulmonday, alison canavan, be complete, goals and dreams for 2016, goal jar for the new year, 12 goals for 2016, positivity, live, go for your dreams

This #MindfulMonday I wanted to tell you about my Jar of Goals. 2015 has been a truly transformational year for me. This time last year I had so many hopes and dreams. I wanted to write a book, rebrand my website, finally kick my addictions and so much more.

That is not just any old list and it’s a pretty big ask but in the years building up to 2015 I had already been making small changes which helped me to turn corners this year.

Years ago I used to say things like ah feck it I can party like a rockstar and treat myself really poorly, eat shit food, sit on the couch and feel depressed because after Christmas I’m going to turn my life around. That my friend’s is a load of bullshit and you know it!!

 

“Living a healthy and happier lifestyle is something you do 365 days a year and not just for January.”

 

Waking up January 1st, joining the gym, cutting out all tasty food and eating bland boring seemingly healthy food (healthy food is not boring!!) will make even the toughest and most determined amongst us miserable.

The 1st thing you need to work on is your mindset. We all want to be happier but that doesn’t come from sacrificing the things that you perceive to bring you joy. It comes from changing your habits and understanding that some of the things we have been told about being healthy are lies like:

  • You will be boring
  • Life will be less exciting
  • Food will be horrible
  • You’ll have to torture yourself with exercise you hate

This list is endless but you get my point. Simply stop doing things you don’t enjoy because you think you have too!! Find an exercise you like, get creative with food, try new things and step outside your comfort zone.

So instead of trying to overhaul your life in January try a different approach:

  • Write down 12 goals on small pieces of paper
  • Fold them up and put them in a small jar
  • Plan on working on just one a month
  • Open the jar at the end of 2016 to see what you have done

I opened my jar and although I didn’t do them all I did pretty well. I wrote a book, started a new website, gave up drinking and started being nicer to myself. The things I didn’t get to are going back in the jar with new exciting ones for 2016.

So give yourself a break this New Year and don’t be so hard on yourself. Don’t overestimate what you can do in January and underestimate what you can achieve in a year!

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Ali xx

So only four more sleeps till Santa gets here and as this is also the time of year when we can lose our way a bit, this mindful monday i’ve decided to share my Top 5 Tips for staying on track this holiday season

  1. HYDRATE FIRST THING EVERY MORNING

Keeping hydrated is important every day but over Christmas you might need a bit extra if you have been out at your Christmas party. Your kidney’s and liver will thank you for the helping hand. Starting your day with warm lemon is a great idea and then try and remember to drink water throughout the day.

2. MOVE EVERY DAY AND GET FRESH AIR

It’s so important that we get out and get some fresh air over Christmas especially on Christmas day. Even a 10-minute walk will work wonders and help you digest or indeed prepare for your Christmas dinner. If you are prone to depression and feeling low its imperative that you get up and get out especially during Christmas and remember it’s only a short walk because small changes make a big difference.

3. USE THE 80/20 RULE WITH FOOD AND FUN

I use the 80/20 rule in my daily life and it has helped me to break negative patterns that I have been struggling with for years. It has finally enabled me to have some balance. So enjoy your Christmas dinner (80%) and have some dessert (20%) just try and find a balance so you don’t feel bad. Christmas is a time to rest, relax and be happy. It is certainly not the time to make yourself feel bad about the decisions you make.

4. REMEMBER TO BREATHE

Breathing is essential for survival but it can also come in handy to survive Christmas when someone pushes your buttons (family, in laws!) or when you feel stressed. Simply count to 5 on your in breath and do the same on your out breath. I do this 10 times and I find it helps enormously!

5. ENJOY YOURSELF

Yes enjoy yourself! Try and be present and enjoy the simple things like time with your loved ones and if you are a parent enjoy seeing the magic of Christmas come alive through your child’s eyes. The real spirit of Christmas comes from our hearts and not from what we give to each other so open your heart to both let love in and share the love you have in there too.

Ali xxx

Meditation for anxiety and depression, alison canavan, mindfulness for anxiety and depression, Mindful monday, prescriptions, why pills don't work, health and wellness, positive mental health

Is breathing good for you? Well of course it is we need to it to keep us alive but have you ever noticed in situations that are stressful our rates of breathing change and some of us even hold our breath without even realising it!

Down through the years I have struggled to find something that really works for my depression and anxiety. Don’t get me wrong I have found lots of things that have worked temporarily, but I was sick of being on a roller coaster and simply craved consistency in my moods and my ability to cope with everyday life.

Regular meditation practice has given me the just that! Through meditation I have received the most precious and priceless gift of peace both in myself and also in the world I live in. It helps me to cope with stress, depression, anxiety and the everyday challenges that come with daily life.

In a study called: The effects of Mindfulness based therapy on anxiety and depression, Published by The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, they found that mindfulness based therapy was moderately effective for anxiety and mood disorders and the results suggest that mindfulness-based therapy is a promising intervention for treating anxiety and mood problems in clinical populations. Their meta-analysis was based on 39 studies totaling 1,140 participants who received mindfulness-based therapy for a range of conditions, including cancer, generalized anxiety disorder, depression, and other psychiatric or medical conditions.

But too be honest the clinical evidence backing meditation and mindfulness now is plentiful and hard to argue with. The reason I actually chose this study was because the results said moderately effective. Sometimes people expect miracles but in my opinion the miracle is the ability to cope with life a bit better.

If we do a lot of little things that are moderately effective imagine how powerful they would all be when they work together?

I really wish I had been given the kind of prescription in this picture when I was a teenager rather the usual pill filled kind we have become so used to today.

Meditation for anxiety and depression, alison canavan, mindfulness for anxiety and depression, Mindful monday, prescriptions, why pills don't work, health and wellness, positive mental healthDon’t get me wrong I know that there’s a place for medication but there is no way we need the amount of medication being prescribed today. I have swallowed or drank my emotions for well over half my life and making changes is hard, in fact it is very hard at times, but the thing is those changes are so worth it in the long run even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.

It costs nothing to try meditation and if you are struggling to sit still and focus on your breathing try some guided meditations from websites like Zen 12 or Omharmonics I find these great if I’m very hectic and stressed or in an airport, on a plane, bus or train.

But try my simple “first steps” approach and see how you get on:

Meditation can be done anytime and anywhere and the busier you are the more you need it.

quotes, mindful monday, meditation gives peace, meditation can help depression and anxiety, alison canavan quotes, health and wellness, how to prevent depression

START BY:

Sitting in a comfortable position with your back straight

Start to notice the natural flow of your breath

Inhale and exhale slowly and keep repeating

Don’t try and stop your thoughts, instead just observe them and let them go by almost like watching a motorway and if your favourite car drives past, let it go and don’t follow it!!

Start small and build – so even a couple of minutes a day building in more time each week. This way you will be able to incorporate it into your routine without you even noticing.

Finally Enjoy it!!!

#MindfulMonday

#BETRUE DECEMBER, ALISON CANAVAN, MOTIVATION, HOLIDAYS SEASON, STRESS LESS IN DECEMBER, GOAL SETTING, SELF CARE, BE COMPLETE,

Welcome to #MindfulMonday and this week I’m introducing my theme for December which is #betrue to you and others this holiday season.

December is a month that fascinates me for so many reasons primarily because most of us let ourselves get so stressed, burn the candle at both ends and we tend to leave ourselves depleted both mentally and physically that by the end of the month which is the end of the year, we can’t wait to ring in the new year so that we can overhaul our lifestyle and get thin, happy and healthy!!

Sound familiar? Well the paragraph above certainly has two extremes in action but unfortunately that’s how most of us live our lives these days. But extremes don’t work and as someone who has either been too high or too low for most of my life I now realize that true contentment comes with balance.

You can still have fun, spend time with friends and family, enjoy the holidays and keep balance in your life. Having balance is not boring in fact it’s a very exciting place to be because when you have balance in your life happiness and contentment usually follow and flow.

The first step to achieving balance in our lives is to change the conversation in our head with ourselves and that’s all I want you to do this month – watch how you speak to yourself! It might sound simple but it can actually be quite challenging because we are all so used to putting ourselves down that it’s not until we pay attention that we realize this.

I promise you when you try this you will see major changes and understand just how powerful it is. Pick an affirmation and every day set alarms on your phone, put a post it on your computer, write it on your mirror and keep repeating it over and over to yourself.

I am strong

I am capable

I am worthy

I am loved

I am enough

Or choose a positive affirmation you are comfortable with and one that relates to you and your current situation.

The reason I am asking you to do this is because Christmas brings up a lot of emotional issues for people because it’s a time where we examine ourselves more deeply, reflect on our year, miss loved ones and it can also be an incredibly lonely time for so many leading us to be quite tough on ourselves unnecessarily.

We tend to be very hard on ourselves anyway in life and most of the time this is down to the fact that most of us very simply just don’t think that we are good enough.

On top of that over the holidays we spread ourselves very thin to please everyone, overspend, drink too much, eat too much and the list goes on so I came up with the #betrue hashtag because this month I would love you to try and be true to YOU and your hopes, dreams, feelings and needs this holiday season.

Try and be honest with yourself and others and take time for yourself when you need it. You don’t have to go to every party and if you can’t be in three places at once on Christmas day speak up and say so.

So this Christmas try and STRESS LESS and watch everyone around you stress less too. Take little breaks and make 10 minutes just for you each day.

DECEMBER, MINDFUL MONDAY, STRESS LESS, BE TRUE, BE COMPLETE, ALISON CANAVAN, MOTIVATION FOR DECEMBER, INSPIRATION, STRESS MANAGEMENT, **Christmas is also a really important time to give back and help those less fortunate. If every family that could afford it helped even one family have a better and less stressful Christmas imagine the difference it would make???? Give presents, toys, food, clothes or whatever you can to your local charity like Society of St Vincent de Paul or even donate your time. Every little helps and it is very much appreciated.

SO JOIN ME THIS DECEMBER FOR #BETRUE MONTH AND FOLLOW ME ON

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AND LETS MAKE THIS A DECEMBER TO REMEMBER FOR ALL THE RIGHT REASONS

ALI XXXX

Alison Canavan, west cork, dzogchen beara, retreat, sogyal rinpoche, meditation, buddhist retreat

Its #MindfulMonday again and this week is a very special Monday for me as I have just returned from Dzogchen Beara in West Cork, where I have been on a meditation retreat for the weekend with Sogyal Rinpoche. Rinpoche is a world-renowned Buddhist teacher from Tibet, and author of the highly acclaimed The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying which I read when my dad passed away and it helped me to make sense of my grief and it also helped me to heal and understand the human condition better.

 

I have been working really hard and I really needed a weekend of meditation and teachings. I now know when I’m entering what I call the danger zone and warning lights come on letting me know that I need to act to prevent myself slipping bad to my old ways and into a world of anxiety and depression. Over the years this has become increasingly easier as I get to know myself better and become more comfortable in my own skin.

 

My old way of dealing with these issues was very simply to go out and drink my head off leaving me with the “fear” the next day along with some free gifts of depression and anxiety. After 20 years that became frustrating and incredibly boring and its nearly a year now since I’ve had a drink and let me tell you it’s a very different world.

 

I’ve been making changes very slowly during the past few years, which is the only way they become part of your daily life. Making too many big changes quickly usually leads to a feeling of frustration as you try to keep up and then end up disappointed when you can’t keep up and revert back to your old ways.

 

What we need to remember is bad habits took years to develop and they will take quite a considerable amount of time to break.

 

I went looking for something this weekend, answers to problems and daily frustrations but what actually happened was that I left something behind and I’m glad I did. I was desperately trying to get rid of my negative thoughts, tiredness and patterns that just don’t serve me anymore.

 

We are all constantly changing and I was reminded yet again this weekend to be kinder to myself and to understand that as a human being as I evolve and grow I will reach hurdles and obstacles but as long as I’m willing to work through them I have the incredible opportunity to really learn and grow. I was reminded once again that happiness is an inside job but a job well worth putting the effort into.

 

So this week be kind to yourself and take time to just be in the moment. It’s these small changes that will move you forward to becoming the most complete you that you can be.

 

Ali xxxxx #becomplete

 

Keep going, mindful monday, coach, alison canavan, fall, autumn leaves

Its #mindfulmonday and I wanted to recap on some of lessons so far from #KeepGoing month. The main reason I wanted to do #KeepGoing month is to help people realize that we all deserve much more than we think, but we need to push through our fears. The main message is to stop making excuses for yourself and don’t put off what you can do today till tomorrow!!

In my opinion there is no such thing as new years resolutions (they usually fail). If you were living the life you want to live every day you would have no need to feel like you must change everything at the beginning of every year. Moderation and finding a balance is the key.

Setting goals and having a game plan for a new year is a great idea but be the person you want to be all year round. Show up for yourself every single day and not just on January the 1st.

NovemberMotivation_7

What is January the 1st anyway but just another day and why does everyone feel like they have to go to the gym every day when they hate it, eat bland food because seemingly thats healthy and deny themselves of everything that they perceive gives them pleasure??

“Follow your own passion and follow your own truth.”

So many people in this life will tell you so many things about yourself, but you don’t have to believe them all. Choose to believe what you know to be true for you. You already know it. It’s in your heart.

  • Trust that voice that makes you feel alive.
  • Trust the feeling that lets you breathe.
  • Trust the feeling that leaves you fulfilled with a smile on your face and a heart full of desire for more of the same.
  • Trust you because you know best.

Be on a constant journey of growth and self-improvement. Small changes make a big difference. You are more likely to stick with them, which means they will actually make a difference to your life. So please #KeepGoing and don’t try and overhaul your life in January only to slip back to your old ways leaving you deflated, disappointed and unmotivated.

Get up, look at yourself in the mirror and ask:

  • Do I want to feel better?
  • Do I want to get up earlier?
  • Do I want to eat well?
  • Do I want to try a new hobby?
  • Do I want to chase my dreams?
  • Do I want to pick up the phone and talk to a friend that you haven’t seen in years?
  • Do I want to mend bridges with someone?
  • Am I ready for change?
  • Am I ready for today?

If there is anything you would like to change, then today is as good a day as any to get going and keep going.

Write a list and start ticking it off, take action and show up for you.
Change never happened with a maybe or a next week or a tomorrow it happens when you take action today.

Alison Canavan, keep going, motivation, coach, mindful monday, runner

FOLLOW ME FOR #KEEPGOING MONTH ON:

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AC_days_MindfulMonday3_2_11_2015

Dear Me,

 

I’m writing this letter to apologise for not treating you properly, for not wanting to spend time with you and for always speaking to you in a way that no one should ever be spoken too.

 

The thought of failure used to scare me into hiding from you. The fear of never being good enough led me to do anything and everything to escape spending time with you and for that I am also sorry. The poison I took and the poison I spoke; sometimes I am shocked you are still here for me.

 

I allowed myself to believe I didn’t deserve success and that it wasn’t good enough to just be me. I felt like giving up every day, my bed was where I felt safe especially when I was sleeping.

 

For all of those things I am sorry because now that I have gotten to know you I realize that you are not to be feared and that you are actually strong, capable, pretty good company and if I’m honest my best friend.

 

I’m sorry life kicked the shit out of you because of my actions but I promise that pain was not in vain. I will fight for you now because you are worth it. I will rise to the challenge and make you proud because now I know its possible for me to live my dreams, push the boundaries, think outside the box, break the rules, and be myself while I do it.

 

Now I promise to live my life with passion, power and pride. Now I realize that just because I was down on my luck it did not mean I couldn’t come back. I will do what I have to do to get to where I want to go.

 

Now, I’m not afraid to fail although I have many many times before. I will keep pushing myself because I now believe it’s the right thing to do. I will no longer listen to people who tell me its not possible, the people who caused me to doubt you for so long.

 

Realising that how much money I have in the bank, having what my peers do, being liked by the right people or being represented by the biggest and best agency in the world does not define my worth has given me more freedom and strength than ever before. Knowing that I have access all day every day to my own happiness is like being given the golden ticket.

 

I have already won because I can breathe with ease so

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you

From Me

AC_days_MindfulMonday1

It’s Mindful Monday again and today I wanted to talk about mindfulness and meditation becoming trendy and cool.

I thought this was great in the beginning but now the inevitable has happened and on a daily basis I now get people sending me links to articles questioning does it work or is it just ridiculous. Where’s the real proof etc…

I’ve been meditating for over 15 years now. I was first introduced to it at the end of my yoga classes in London but then it developed into something much more. I have explored many different types of meditations in my time and I currently practice primordial sound meditation and I also have my own visualization techniques and affirmations that work for me. I have never needed science to back up how it made me feel.

Over the past few years I have deepened my practice further and again I have not needed studies that cost millions to verify the benefits that I am living, feeling and noticing in my day to day life from my practice.

I do however respect and understand people that are interested in the scientific proof and thankfully we have that now. This area is called neuroplasticity, which is a term that is used to describe the brain changes that occur in response to experience.
There is an abundance of studies on how meditation affects the brain now and they are amazing to read with more and more benefits being proven everyday.

FURTHER READING:

Scholar works
http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/01/eight-weeks-to-a-better-brain/

I have always been drawn to the more spiritual side of life and this is something I have shared with very few people for obvious reasons down through the years. I used to get slagged off for going to my weird classes and retreats but in recent years it has become cool to pay for expensive retreats where people are hoping to get all the answers to their problems and that is where the problem lies. We live in a quick fix world of instant gratification. People expect to practice meditation and miracles to happen.

We are all looking for something to help us navigate this complex and somewhat difficult journey called life. The fact that mindfulness and meditation has become such a cult trend is a huge warning sign in my opinion that there are an awful lot of people desperate for answers and some peace in their lives.

We all have different tastes in music, clothes, food, exercise, people and so on which means one type of relaxation technique will not work for everyone. The Telegraph newspaper has even called mindfulness the saddest trend for 2015, but too be honest what I find sad is that we are living in an age where chronic diseases are at an all time high, stress is our biggest killer, our food is packaged and processed beyond recognition and depression and anxiety issues are crippling society.

I know that I would personally rather been meditated than medicated.

For years I was both and it has not been easy to trust myself, but the only person you can really trust on this journey is yourself as you are the only one who can decide what is right for you.

I will admit you need to very discerning in this field because just like any other trend it has started to attract a lot of opportunists trying to exploit people’s vulnerability. I was extremely vulnerable when I was looking for answers years ago. I was always looking to outside sources for answers but as corny as it sounds all the answers lie within you. By all means study, practice and try new things but at the end of the day you are the only person who can truly know when you feel at peace.

If meditation and mindfulness give you peace in your life it really shouldn’t matter what anyone else says. Some people never feel peace their entire life don’t be one of them.

AC_days_MindfulMonday stones

If you have been brought up to believe in certain things, achieve in a certain way and follow a path that other people in your family have before you there’s a good chance you are not following your passion!

Afraid to disappoint and step outside of our comfort zone, we are brought up in a school system that expects us all to conform and as we try and navigate our way through the system if we don’t perform we don’t feel good enough. We are told that we need to figure out our career path at 17 and get good grades to secure a place in a good college so that we can have a good career.

How many people do you know who get up and go to a job they hate everyday? How many people do you know who hated their chosen college course and how many people do you know who feel that there is nothing that they can do about their current situation?

Well whether you agree with me or not I believe that there is always something you can do.

  • If you hate your job change it
  • If you need to go back to college do it
  • If you have to make temporary sacrifices make them

Life was not meant to be easy but if you follow your heart and work hard you will reap what you sow.

Yes this can be easier said than done but by taking baby steps and moving out of your comfort zone you will start to effect change.

It took me nearly 34 years to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life, what I was good at and who I am as a person. I don’t have all the answers but I know in my heart I’m finally heading in the right direction.

As a single mum I was faced with a very harsh reality a few years back and I knew I had two choices. Feel sorry for myself and expect everyone else to feel sorry for me too or get up off my ass and figure a way out of the situation.

During the past few years I have failed many times in an effort to find my way. What you see on social media are the times I have succeeded. I have stood in front of so many people with so many ideas that I thought were amazing but they did not!!

Since I was 15 I have been told ‘NO’ on a daily basis. Too tall, thin, wrong body shape, too pretty, not pretty enough, too old, too young and more recently: its not what people want, not marketable, too real, too honest, not mainstream enough.

But what I have realized is that when you find something you are passionate about it just doesn’t matter what people say because your energy, your drive and your belief is what’s important.

If you feel that you have not found your passion or if you are not sure you have one at all, please keep trying. Try anything and everything. I have started more college courses; night classes and hobbies than I care to remember and although I knew most of them were not for me at least I was finding out what I didn’t want to do.

You are never too old, it is never too late and your current situation does not define your future. If you can’t see a way out ask for help but do something or you will never know just how amazing you are and can be.

Believe in yourself and there will come a day when others will have no choice but to believe in you too.

Ali xxxxx