Category Archives: Mindfulness

Slow down and find contentment in the moment, just as it is. Learn more about meditation, getting out in to nature, paying attention and mindful movement.

Elise Bialyew on the science of mindfulness

Christopher Burns

One of the most incredible parts of our trip so far has been the constant opportunity to dive deep in to time. Finding those little moments of mindfulness has been important (vital, actually) to me and my mental health since I started recovering from post natal depression back in 2011, but removing some of the additional layers of life over the past few months has opened my eyes to just how many chances we have to pay attention – every day.

Despite increasing research in to the benefits of mindfulness, it still sometimes suffers from an aura of woo, and while I’ve known and experienced the impact of it for years, a lot of people are still looking for proof.

So if you’re a skeptic, or even mildly curious about the science behind mindfulness, today’s poggie guest has got you.

Dr Elise Bialylew is the founder of Mindful in May and author of a brand new book, The Happiness Plan, which is about all things mindfulness, meditation and the science behind it. Coming from a background in psychiatry, as well as being a parent of a 2 year-old, Elise offers a blend of deep understanding of the science behind why mindfulness works with a real-world approach to practicing it in your daily life. Her passion for the topic shines through this conversation and her work, which is such a delight to hear.

Elise talks about how and why she started meditating, and how interaction with scientists like Richie Davidson (doing groundbreaking work on mindfulness and its impact on the brain) as well as her own personal experience at a silent meditation retreat really flicked the switch for her. As a doctor, she felt like mindfulness was the missing piece in the well-being and brain health puzzle, and it’s been her life’s work to educate people about the nature of the mind ever since. She and I go on to talk about her own personal practice (and how that’s changed since becoming a mother), the connection between mindfulness and compassion, the developments in brain science, how much meditation is enough and more.

If you’re feeling inspired and excited to try creating or continuing with your own meditation or mindfulness practice, be sure to check out Elise’s Mindful in May program. It’s a wonderful way to dip your toe in and start (and stick to) a healthy habit, with a real sense of community, accountability and support as well as inspiration and experimentation. The science behind the practice is made accessible, and daily emails, guided meditations and interviews with experts will provide you with all the tools you need to find a practice that suits you and your life, as well as an understanding of what’s going on and why it’s so valuable.

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Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

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Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

Support the Show:

Recently we hit the mind-blowing number of 4 million downloads of The Slow Home Podcast! This is all thanks to your lovely self and the community of people who listen to the show every week, send in your questions and offer your feedback. I’m so grateful you’re here and part of this, and for anyone who has supported the show in any way over the past year – thank you so much.

If you do love the show and would like to show your support by becoming a patron, head over here to make a small monthly donation (as little as $1 a month) and know that any amount makes a huge difference to us being able to cover costs.

Most importantly, thanks for being here!

The Great Outdoors: Part 3 – A Slow Experiment

If you’ve listened to the previous two episodes where Ben and I have discussed this month’s experiment, you know that I’m already convinced of its benefits. From my personal experiences I can see that spending time in nature is calming and grounding, and brings a sense of awe that simultaneously makes me feel small and important. I don’t need any more proof.

Which is precisely why this week’s episode surprised me so much. I came to this topic of nature’s role in improving mental performance with the attitude of, “Well, I don’t need convincing but if it helps other people get on board then great.” But as Ben and I chat, and even over the subsequent days since recording, I began to realise that this element of the equation is vital. If we want to create workplaces and schools and institutions and towns and cities that value nature (because we’re all starting to see just how vital it is) then we need to prove to them that the returns are there. That students learn better, employees are more productive and enjoy higher levels of well-being, that patients heal more quickly.

Personally, I feel as though it should be enough that people are happier and kinder and more well-equipped to deal with stress after spending time in nature. That our focus should actually be on nature itself and how we can become better stewards of it. But I’m probably putting the horse before the cart there, because first we need to convince the decision makers, the policy makers, the town planners and architects, school boards and huge corporations that inviting nature in to our daily life is not only a ‘nice to have’ but that it makes sense to the bottom line too.

This might just be where we start to see real, community-wide change, where we may follow in the footsteps of countries like South Korea and Japan, who both have fascinating nature programs designed to help employees recover from stress and develop mindfulness techniques to minimise stress and improve productivity, as well as programs for children to experience wild, natural spaces.

There’s a lot of research that shows how time spent in nature helps us concentrate more, be more creative, improve our memory and do better in work and study, and Ben and I talk about a lot of it in today’s poggie (you can find links to most of it below).

We also talk a lot about creativity – a less measurable mental benefit, yet one that Ben and I have both felt a lot after time spent in nature. We’ve often gone for a walk and left thoughts of a problem or situation floating around in the back of our heads, only to find a solution or new, creative approach to try after spending time outside. In fact, every time we go camping we come home energised or with a new perspective on an old issue, and I really don’t think it’s a coincidence. As Ben discusses, this actually ties directly into the research about active and passive attention, and the importance of downtime for your brain.

At the end of the episode, we also share a bunch of ideas for those living in urban environments who are finding it challenging to get out in nature. These include things like:

  • Take your lunch to a park and eat it there
  • Find a patch of grass and sit on it – take your shoes off and pop your feet on the ground, see what it feels like
  • Make a date with friends/family and go for a picnic
  • Drive out of the city one night and look at the stars
  • Make a date every month and make that your nature day – no phones, just hanging out, outside
  • Buy a couple of house plants
  • Looking at images and listening to sounds of nature
  • Go camping

If you’re playing along, don’t forget to share how you’re going over on Instagram using the hashtag #slowexperiment, or comment on Facebook. We’d also love to know what you’ve found challenging or easy so far, especially if you’re in an urban environment.

In the meantime, enjoy!

 

 

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Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

——

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

Support the Show:

Recently we hit the mind-blowing number of 4 million downloads of The Slow Home Podcast! This is all thanks to your lovely self and the community of people who listen to the show every week, send in your questions and offer your feedback. I’m so grateful you’re here and part of this, and for anyone who has supported the show in any way over the past year – thank you so much.

If you do love the show and would like to show your support by becoming a patron, head over here to make a small monthly donation (as little as $1 a month) and know that any amount makes a huge difference to us being able to cover costs.

Most importantly, thanks for being here!

 

The Great Outdoors: Part 2 – A Slow Experiment

“Everything resets outside. Your mind resets, your priorities might reset. All these different things click over. And when you come back, you have this spark of creativity; the barrier that was there is no longer there. How powerful is that?” – Ben

We’re one week into the Great Outdoors experiment, and, unsurprisingly, it’s off to a super enjoyable start. In today’s episode, Ben and I talk about how we’ve spent the last week getting out in nature and what we’ve been noticing in ourselves as a result. We also dive into some specific research around the emotional benefits of spending time outside (there’s a lot more than I expected, to be honest) and while some of it feels a little “Well, yeah, obviously…” I find it amazing that we know how beneficial time outside can be and still manage to avoid it. Us humans are so accomplished at putting off those things that benefit us the most, aren’t we??

We also talk about how we spent our outdoors time over the past week. It’s been a combination of solo time and family time, active and contemplative. One day I spent my 60 minutes outside just sitting by the river watching the water flow, and loved being reminded that we don’t need to overcomplicate this idea of reconnecting with nature. It doesn’t need to be grand, it doesn’t need to be exercise, it doesn’t need to be Instagrammable. It is so often enough to simply focus on the being rather than the doing.

Ben talks about the difference he’s noticed between time spent outside in nature versus time spent outside in an urban environment. He shares some research where this distinction was made between urban and natural outdoor environments, and the different impacts they had on stress, happiness, creativity, generosity, kindness, attention and the feeling of being alive. No surprises, nature comes out ahead.

The other discovery I’ve made this week, as I’ve been reading up on the emotional benefits of time spent outdoors, is that awe is one of the most effective experiences in delivering big emotional benefits. I always thought that feeling awe-inspired by nature was nothing more than a beautiful by-product, but I’ve discovered that there is a significant amount of research that shows just how important it is as a standalone emotion. Studies have found that awe is more important than happiness when it comes to unlocking all the emotional benefits of time spent outside, as it forces us to slow down and be immersed in the thing we are in awe of. Pretty magical stuff, right?

So I’d love to encourage you to try and keep that sense of awe and childlike curiosity with you this week as you spend time with nature big and small, and stay tuned for the experiment episodes for the rest of the month, where Ben and I will look at the mental (especially performance) and physical benefits of spending time in nature. If you’re playing along, don’t forget to share how you’re going over on Instagram using the hashtag #slowexperiment, or comment on Facebook. We’d love to know what you’ve found challenging or easy so far, and if you’ve noticed any emotional benefits at all!

Enjoy!

——

Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

——

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

Support the Show:

Recently we hit the mind-blowing number of 4 million downloads of The Slow Home Podcast! This is all thanks to your lovely self and the community of people who listen to the show every week, send in your questions and offer your feedback. I’m so grateful you’re here and part of this, and for anyone who has supported the show in any way over the past year – thank you so much.

If you do love the show and would like to show your support by becoming a patron, head over here to make a small monthly donation (as little as $1 a month) and know that any amount makes a huge difference to us being able to cover costs.

Most importantly, thanks for being here!

 

The Great Outdoors: Part 1 – A Slow Experiment

Let the experimenting begin! Yep, the #slowexperiments are back for 2018, kicking off this month and happening every second month hereafter. As we mentioned in last week’s episode, March is all about the great outdoors, and the experiment is to prioritise spending time outside every single day.

Ben and I are aiming for 60 minutes a day, but if you’d like to play along, you don’t need to try for an hour if it doesn’t work for your schedule. Simply find an amount of time that works (for you) and try sticking to it. The aim is to keep it simple but consistent, and to put “spend time outside” a little higher up your to-do list than normal, even on the days when it seems too hard.

We all know at a deep level that spending time in nature is good for us, and in this poggie I talk about some of the symptoms of “too much inside time” I notice in our family: irritability, excess energy, feeling cabin fever-y and craving that delicious buzz of tiredness that can only come from spending a day outdoors. Sound familiar?

And while we know, on that deep level, that spending time in nature is good for us, we’re going in with an open mind as to what we’ll get out of the experiment. In preparation for this month we’ve done a lot of reading on the topic of time spent in nature and its impact on our overall well-being, and it’s been fascinating to dig in to the research that’s been happening over the past 15 years. Increasingly it shows that spending more time outside in nature has a massive impact of many areas of our lives, from mental and physical health to emotional wellbeing, as well as performance in school and work. We talk about some of those studies in today’s episode, as well as some different and creative ways you can try to incorporate outside time, from the big to the small, as well as some ways to feel the benefits even on the days when getting outside is literally impossible.

Stay tuned for the experiment episodes for the rest of the month, where Ben and I will talk through our own efforts to spend time outside, as well as diving in deep to some of the benefits and research that’s been done. If you’re playing along, don’t forget to share how you’re going over on Instagram using the hashtag #slowexperiment!

In the meantime, how are you going to get outdoors today? If you’re stuck for inspiration, you can download a Great Outdoors Scavenger Hunt checklist here.

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Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

——

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

Support the Show:

Recently we hit the mind-blowing number of 4 million downloads of The Slow Home Podcast! This is all thanks to your lovely self and the community of people who listen to the show every week, send in your questions and offer your feedback. I’m so grateful you’re here and part of this, and for anyone who has supported the show in any way over the past year – thank you so much.

If you do love the show and would like to show your support by becoming a patron, head over here to make a small monthly donation (as little as $1 a month) and know that any amount makes a huge difference to us being able to cover costs.

Most importantly, thanks for being here!

 

Rachel Jonat on the Joy of Doing Nothing

Nanda Green

Three-time guest Rachel Jonat of The Minimalist Mom is back! This week brings some real-talk to the topics of slow living as a family, as we catch up on the changes in Rachel and her family’s life since she was last on the show, as well as talk about her new book, The Joy of Doing Nothing.

You might remember way back in Episode 30, Rachel and her family had just moved to Vancouver from the Isle of Man, and she and I talked about the ways city living and slow living tied in together. That conversation had a big impact on my understanding of slow, simple living, as previously I’d always imagined city living in opposition to slow. But Rachel shared the multitude of ways that city living actually made simple living easier (public transport, closer community, smaller living spaces, less home maintenance, easier access to farmer’s markets) and the reasons it worked for her family.

In Episode 93, the talk turned more specifically to kids and slow living, how Rachel managed to declutter and simplify with three young kids, and the expectations vs reality. For anyone who has a young family it’s a realistic, helpful, practical episode that I’d highly recommend.

In today’s episode we flip the script entirely though, as Rachel and her family have recently moved away from the city to a small town.

The decision to sell their condo in Vancouver and buy a house in a small town in the mountains of BC was a well-thought-out one that aligned with the needs of Rachel’s family, and also her and her husband’s values. She and I talk about the reality of making this decision, what led up to it, and how the change in location has impacted her family’s lives.

Rachel talks about the shift in pace from city to small-town living, which, given her new book, The Joy of Doing Nothing, is utterly relevant. She was working on the book right before she and her husband made the decision to leave Vancouver, and felt inspired by what she was writing about to try and find a life that gave her the time and space she wanted. The book is about slowing down and simplifying, but rather than being about stuff, it focuses on simple, actionable ways to create quiet time for yourself to really unplug and just be. It’s not an extreme approach in any sense, but it definitely taps into that fear so many of us have of not being entertained, distracted or scheduled, and encourages us to hit reset a little more often.

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Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

——

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

Support the Show:

Recently we hit the mind-blowing number of 3.5 million downloads of The Slow Home Podcast! This is all thanks to your lovely self and the community of people who listen to the show every week, send in your questions and offer your feedback. I’m so grateful you’re here and part of this, and for anyone who has supported the show in any way over the past year – thank you so much.

If you do love the show and would like to show your support by becoming a patron, head over here to make a small monthly donation (as little as $1 a month) and know that any amount makes a huge difference to us being able to cover costs.

Most importantly, thanks for being here!