Category: Wellbeing

Day-to-day life can get stressful and overwhelming at times. It’s important to find time for ourselves, and having a regular yoga or meditation practice can really help with this. This category is dedicated to wellbeing and mindfulness, which underpins everything we do here at Wildheart.

Yoga beyond the mat: How mindfulness can change your life

Welcome! Thank you for coming and for taking part in this wonderful festival. My name’s Hannah Moss, and I’d like to start with one simple, but very powerful statement. Mindfulness can change your life. I’ll say that again: Mindfulness can change your life.

Now, that might sound a bit grandiose, a bit far-fetched even. But I’m going to explain what I mean by sharing how it’s changed mine.

Becoming aware

I used to think I wasn’t good enough. That I’d never be successful. That people found me too shy, too awkward, too quirky or too weird. And I grew up thinking my Dad didn’t really like me that much.

Today, I’m pleased to say that none of that any longer holds true. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I still have negative thoughts. I still feel very self-conscious at times and can feel almost crippled by worrying about what other people think. But, the difference is that I’m now AWARE of these thoughts. And I know that they’re simply that – thoughts. And thoughts definitely do not always equal facts.

So, what’s changed? I’m still not particularly successful – not in a career-driven, ambitious kind of way at least. People probably do find me a little awkward or weird at times. And my Dad may well find me difficult to understand or a bit of a nuisance from time to time, even if he doesn’t actually dislike me. So, nothing external has physically changed. But what has changed is my internal landscape. The way I see the things around me, the perspective from which I CHOOSE to look out on the world.

Making choices

And it is a choice. Every single one of us can choose how we see the world. How we relate to others. How we react to situations. How we deal with our emotions. Nobody else can make us do these things. Nobody else can make us feel a certain way. This power is entirely our own. Yes, our choices are inevitably affected by our past experiences, but they are still choices. And we CAN become empowered to make these choices.

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking we’re a victim. “It’s so unfair!” “Why is this happening to me?” “It’s all his fault!” “She made me feel this way.” Well, I’ve got news for you – that’s total crap! No-one can MAKE you feel anything. It’s your choice. Yes, someone’s actions can cause you to feel a certain way. Perhaps something they said or did triggered something in you that CAUSED you to feel angry. But they didn’t MAKE you feel angry; you did that by yourself. They may even have pressed your buttons and triggered you on purpose, wanting to provoke you and knowing how to do it. But you STILL have a choice as to how you react to that trigger.

Two wings of mindfulness

OK, so how do we make these choices that might feel impossible at first? And how did I change my internal landscape to see the world differently? In my opinion, and in my experience, it all boils down to two things: awareness and compassion. And, as I explain in my book The Practice of Mindful Yoga (yes, that’s my first shameless plug!) these are also the two wings of mindfulness: awareness and compassion. This idea has always resonated with me, but the more I reflect on it, and the more examples I come across in everyday life, the stronger it gets.

Because I have more awareness about who I am, how I operate in the world, and how I relate to others, than I ever have before, I’m able to see things more clearly and hold things more lightly. So, when I feel angry, or frustrated, or anxious, I’m able to hold that feeling as well as hold the position of the observer of that feeling. So, I don’t BECOME anger, I simply FEEL anger. And, as we all know, feelings change. They come and go. You know this feeling will eventually pass so it doesn’t have to completely consume you. One of my favourite phrases that an old friend taught me, and that has helped me and others countless times in the past, is, “You won’t always feel this way”.

I can even laugh at myself sometimes. During my monthly cycle I can become incredibly clumsy and accident prone, which isn’t like me at all. When I start knocking into things and dropping things on the floor, I can get very frustrated with myself. But then I bring awareness to the situation and realise it must be that time of the month again and have a little chuckle to myself. How fascinating that this happens on a monthly basis – isn’t the world a weird and wonderful place?!

Recently, during my weekly swim at the King Alfred, I was approaching the end of a lane doing breast stroke and getting ready to do a quick turn into a faster front crawl length. But a woman who had paused at the end of the lane decided to push off just at that same moment, causing me to have to stop and wait for her to get ahead. I felt so annoyed. “How dare she cut me up like that! That’s so rude!” I spent the next 2 lengths feeling very put-upon and having all sorts of imaginary conversations with her in my head, telling her what I thought of her and how rude she is. But, gradually, as I brought more awareness to the situation, I started to see how comical it all was. The chances are, she had no idea she’d cut me up, or caused me to feel so annoyed. She didn’t know I was about to do a faster length, and might have thought she should go ahead otherwise she’d catch up with me! In any case, she would have been completely oblivious to the thoughts and feelings going on inside me, so there I was getting all het up, huffing and puffing away inside my head, and the only person it was affecting was me!

So, awareness not only means becoming aware of the present moment, but aware of our own thoughts, behaviours and reactions. Rather than trying to change external circumstances that are outside our control, can we become aware of our response to them? Suffering is inevitable. With mindful awareness we’re not trying to escape from suffering, merely improve our relationship with it.

Understanding suffering

There are two quotes about suffering I’d like to share with you. The first is by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the scientist, writer, and meditation teacher attributed with bringing mindfulness to the West. He says, “Suffering is perfectly natural… it is not always the pain per se, but the way we see it and react to it, that determines the degree of suffering we experience. And it is the suffering we experience the most, not the pain.”

The second is from the late American author and therapist, Virginia Satir, who said, “Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.”

Strangely, two of my exes both lost their fathers at the age of 8. But the differences in how they dealt with this situation were immense. One let the pain and suffering overwhelm him so much that he spent at least the next two decades feeling sorry for himself, like a victim, and blaming most of his problems on the fact he’d lost his father as a child. By contrast, the other ex chose to turn this suffering around and not let it ruin his life. If anything, it actually made him more determined to live his life to the full and make his dad proud.

Finding compassion

So, it’s awareness that first brings clarity to a situation and then compassion that helps us deal with it. Compassion for both ourselves and others. Can we put ourselves in the other person’s shoes? Can we imagine what might be going on for them? Similarly, can we be a little kinder to ourselves, even treat ourselves with the same compassion we’d offer to a close friend or loved one? It’s often said that we need to love ourselves and be kind to ourselves first before we can offer the same to another. But some people find this incredibly hard, so in that case, maybe it’s easier to start developing more empathy and compassion towards others first, before learning to turn the same kindness towards ourselves.

Bringing awareness and compassion together

So, the first step to making any changes in our life, is awareness. We can’t resolve any of the issues we’re facing, or find a solution to a problem, if we’re not aware that there is a problem in the first place. We can experience this when a loved one is going through a difficult time, perhaps facing an addiction, anxiety or depression. Even though we might be able to see what they need, or think we know what they “should” do, we’re powerless to help them until they can see this themselves. They need to become aware.

During meditation, we’re often encouraged by our teachers and guides to try not to get caught up with our thoughts. Can we be aware that our thoughts are merely thoughts, not necessarily facts, and that we can choose not to engage with them?

Similarly, can we bring awareness to our emotions? When we’re feeling anxious or sad, it’s easy to let this feeling overwhelm us and take over our whole being, so that we know nothing in this moment except this anxiety or sadness. But, instead of BEING anxiety, can we find a way to hold this more lightly and recognise that it’s simply an emotion that will pass? So, “I feel anxious” but I can also feel other emotions at the same time. Bringing more awareness to our emotions can help to diffuse them and stop them becoming all-consuming.

When it comes to compassion, can we develop more empathy for other people and try putting ourselves in their shoes more? One example I offer in my book is to imagine you’re walking down the street carrying some shopping bags and someone hurries past you, knocking into you. Your initial reaction might be anger, or at least irritation. How dare they knock into you? Why didn’t they look where they were going? This feeling might even stay with you for some time, as you recover from the shock and the feeling of being wronged. But what if you could take a moment to put yourself in the other person’s shoes? I wonder why they were in such a hurry? Maybe they were late for a job interview? Perhaps a loved one has been in an accident, or is about to give birth? Who knows what’s going on for the other person. They might have felt awful about bumping into you but didn’t have time to stop and apologise. You probably would have done the same in their shoes. If you can bring mindful awareness, compassion and curiosity to this situation, you can choose how you react and probably stop yourself feeling worked up about it – which is only hurting YOU anyway!

Practice: Focussing on sounds

OK, so at this point I’d like to invite you to join me in one of my favourite mindfulness practices. It’s called “Focussing on sounds” and is a great way to become aware of your surroundings in the present moment.

Hannah Moss at Brighton Yoga Festival

Make sure you’re sitting comfortably. If you’re sitting in a chair you ideally want your legs uncrossed with both feet flat on the floor, and your lower back right up against the back of the chair, so you can keep your spine straight, slightly away from the backrest. Now close your eyes, or lower and soften your gaze if you’re keeping them open. Take 3 deep breaths in and out of your nose, to take the attention inwards and fully land in your body…

And now I invite you to simply notice what you can hear. There might be sounds close by or far away, loud or quiet, short & sharp or continuous drones. Perhaps you can hear voices or birds outside this room, shuffling noises nearby, or even sounds inside your own body, such as creaks, gurgles or the sound of your own breath…

Whatever sounds you hear, try not to attach any meaning or judgement to them. You’re simply a curious observer, taking in all that you can hear. Try not to fixate on any one sound, but keep your ears open for whatever might arise next…

And then, when you’re ready, gently open your eyes and come back into the room. Hopefully you’re feeling a little calmer and a little more grounded.

If you like this practice, it’s a great one to try any time you feel lost, overwhelmed or ungrounded. You can do it pretty much anywhere, and I find including it as part of a formal meditation practice is a really helpful way to stay focussed on the present.

My yoga journey

OK, so what does all this have to do with yoga?

Well, if you know me, or you’ve read my book, you’ll know I’ve been practising yoga since the age of 19, so about 24 years now. For 6 of those years I had a daily Ashtanga practice, which meant getting up at 5:30 every day and sweating out a strong, almost 2-hour yoga practice on the mat before work. 6 days a week. For 6 years. It was intense! Ashtanga is one of the most dynamic yoga styles and I got so many benefits from it. It made me fit, strong and flexible. It showed me things about myself I didn’t know before. And my two 3-month trips to its birthplace in Mysore, India, plugged me into a global Ashtanga community where I made the most amazing connections that I’ll always be grateful for.

But, one of the things about Ashtanga is that there’s a set sequence to follow. Everyone starts at the same place and your teacher gives you the next posture in the sequence when they think you’re ready. This makes for an amazing atmosphere in a traditional Mysore-style Ashtanga class, as everyone is moving and breathing to their own rhythm at their own pace. But, what I found, after 6 years of practice, is that I started to practise it mindlessly. A lot of people have said to me, when I’ve mentioned the concept of mindful yoga, “Surely yoga, by its very nature, IS mindful?” Well, yes a lot of the time it is, but, in my experience, not always.

Losing the connection

I was simply rolling out my mat each morning and going through the motions. My mind wasn’t even there any more. I’d lost touch with why I’d started practising in the first place. Now, I’m not saying it’s not possible to practise Ashtanga mindfully – I actually know many people who do, and I’m sure the more you practise, the more insights you gather about your own personality, habits, and patterns of behaviour. But, for me, it wasn’t working anymore. So I stopped. And I started moving towards more mindful styles of yoga, where the emphasis isn’t on how a pose looks from the outside, but on how it feels from the inside. And that really resonated with me. I realised that yoga shouldn’t be about one-size-fits-all; it should be about finding what works for you and your body. Because although we’re all connected and all share the same fundamental needs and desires, we’re also individuals. We’re beautifully and fascinatingly unique.

A little while after I stopped practising Ashtanga, a fellow yogi was chatting to a friend of hers who worked for a local publishing company. They’d been publishing a series of books on mindfulness and thought it was about time they included one on yoga. My friend suggested they contact me, so when I was approached, asking if I’d like to write a book about mindfulness and yoga, and drawing on my personal experiences to do so, I jumped at the chance! It felt like a wonderful moment of synchronicity.

Yoga beyond the mat

This concept of “yoga beyond the mat” is something I’ve been hearing a lot lately. There’s a class I’ve been going to that’s billed as “yoga for stress and anxiety” and the teacher talks about how yoga practitioners often say how great they feel after a class, but now they have to go back into the “real world” and back to their “normal” lives. So, what if there doesn’t have to be such a disconnect? What if we could take some of the lessons, the wisdom, the insight that we discover on the mat and integrate it into the rest of our life off the mat?

I’ve also been hearing a lot about yoga beyond the mat at work lately. The work I do is around authentic yoga marketing – helping yoga and wellbeing businesses thrive online by making sure they have a high-performing website, growing an engaged community using email marketing, and publishing regular, high quality content on their website via a blog. The work that one of our US yoga clients is doing at the moment really resonated with me. Yoga is big business in the US and it’s easy to think you have to be posting images of bikini-clad arm balances on tropical beaches, or videos of your latest yoga “achievements” on social media in order to get ahead. I beg to differ.

For me, what really counts in a yoga teacher, and makes them stand out in the sea of yoga noise, is integrity. Have they put the work in? Are they teaching from a place of experience? Do they practise what they preach? Do their values and messaging align with mine? These are the kind of questions that matter to me. And, having practised yoga for over 24 years now, I’ve come across a lot of teachers!

So, when I started working with Amy of Yoga With Spirit, and began to understand more about what and how she teaches, I felt a strong affinity with her. Woven throughout her classes, workshops, teacher trainings, one-to-one sessions and online yoga master class, is this idea of taking yoga beyond the mat. And that yoga philosophy has so much to offer and teach us. I think for many people the idea of “yoga philosophy” and particularly Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, is that it’s a bit stuffy, academic and old-school. That the sutras are just some ancient text steeped in tradition that has no bearing on today’s world – it merely represents material we must learn by heart in order to pass an exam or teacher training course.

An exercise in Sauca (purity)

I’d like to share with you one of the exercises Amy includes in her online Yoga Philosophy Master Class. This is taken from her class on Sauca, which means purity, and is one of the Niyamas listed in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. The Niyamas are inner observances, or positive duties we can direct towards ourselves. The exercise is called “People Change the People Around Them” and starts with 2 brief stories. The first is called:

A Little Story about a Commuter Train Conductor

There’s a conductor on one of the commuter trains that runs on weekday mornings from my little town into Philadelphia that commuters talk about.

He is always super cheerful as he walks through the train checking tickets. He has a great smile. He remembers the people he sees day to day. He asks about their jobs or their kids. He comments about it being a great day no matter the weather. He is welcoming and his friendly demeanor makes his train feel like a community.

All who have met him agree that he sends you off into your day with a smile.

I don’t know if he knows that he is “known” in our town, but I sure hope he is. He makes such an impact on the commuters in our community that even a non-commuter like me knows of him.

And the second one is:

A Little Story of an Unknown Angry Driver

Just the other day, I was driving to my acupuncture appointment. There was a decent amount of traffic so there were longer than usual waits at each light.

There’s a spot along this way where the left lane, without warning, becomes a left-turn-only lane. This regularly causes a little kerfuffle as drivers who don’t know the area realize they need to get out of the left lane and others realize they need to move over.

On this particular day, the pick-up truck behind me had been trying valiantly (with his turn signal on) to get over into the left lane. He was thwarted because of the jammed traffic. As we got closer to the turn-off, he had no choice but to angle his truck into the left lane and wait for the cars ahead of him to move so he could get in. This obviously slowed the cars behind him. As he eased further into the left lane, the car behind him pulled up alongside of him aggressively.

I watched in my rearview mirror as the driver of that car rolled down her window and started screaming at him. She was screaming with all her might and with great venom. Astonished at the power of her reaction, I couldn’t tear my eyes away and even cracked my window so I could hear. She sounded like a lunatic as she cursed him out.

I know she’ll never know this, but her behavior that afternoon left a mark not only on her victim, but on me too. So much of an impression that I’m sharing it with you right now!

She then invites students to spend a few minutes imagining they’re in these stories and what they’d say to these people if they could meet them. And she poses various reflection questions to encourage students to think about any times when their own or others’ words and reactions have influenced others or shaped the world around them. Looking back, she asks them to think of a time when they could have used perspective to change their experience.

This is something I think we could all benefit from. I’m sure we can all think of times when we’ve either been shocked by another’s behaviour, or have regretted something we’ve said or done to someone and wish we could go back in time and do it differently. The old adage, “Think before you act” is very relevant here. Perhaps if we can remember to pause in future, to take a deep breath before reacting, we might be able to change a situation for the better.

Two secondary wings of mindfulness

So, yoga philosophy gives us so many nuggets of wisdom – about how to understand ourselves better, how to be more compassionate towards others, how to communicate better, how to develop acceptance of the parts we don’t like – in both ourselves and others. And, for me, at the heart of all this – what I see as the common thread running through every spiritual practice and philosophy – is mindfulness.

As I’ve said, the two main wings of mindfulness are awareness and compassion. But for me, there are two other, secondary, wings if you like, which are equally as important: acceptance and gratitude.

So, we might be aware of a strong feeling we’re experiencing, but we can still have great resistance to it. Or we might feel resistance towards a particular situation, wishing we didn’t have to do a particular task or that it wasn’t happening at all. But if we can find some acceptance – that it’s ok to feel hurt or annoyed or resentful – or surrender to the situation, we might just find that things start to become a little easier.

Practising gratitude is so simple but can be incredibly powerful. One of my favourite quotes, that I think was said by Oprah Winfrey is, “If you always focus on what you don’t have, you’ll never, ever have enough.”

It’s so easy to see the negative in our lives and to only see what’s missing. “If only I could have this…” “I wish I had more of that…” “I’ll be happier when….” But, why not be happy now? If we can switch our focus to what we DO have and find a sense of appreciation for all the wonderful things we have in our lives – a roof over our head, nice food to eat, people who love us, being able to get out into nature and appreciate the sea, the sun, the birds, the trees – then we can shift our perspective in a profound way.

There’s an old saying that goes, “It is not happy people who are grateful, but grateful people who are happy.” So, if you want to, you can decide to be happy right now. Not tomorrow, not next year, but NOW! And gratitude is a really useful tool to help us do this.

Practice: Gratitude

So, let’s take a moment to practise some gratitude. Again, I invite you to close your eyes to help turn your attention inwards. Take a deep breath in through the nose… and slowly exhale through the nose. Now, take a moment to think about one thing you’re grateful for from this morning. It could be as simple as a nice cup of coffee you had, or that you were on time for an appointment, or that someone smiled at you in the street…

Now think about one thing you’re grateful for that happened this week. Again, it could be small, or more significant. Perhaps something positive happened at work, or you received some good news, or a friend did something nice for you…

Now think of a person in your life for whom you’re grateful and why. It could be a loved one or close friend, a colleague, a neighbour, or a fellow member of a community. Just take a moment to appreciate them and experience the gratitude you feel towards them…

And then when you’re ready, gently open your eyes and come back into the room.

Hopefully you found it relatively easy to find things and people you’re grateful for. And you can probably already see how beneficial it is. Simply focusing on the positive things in our lives helps us feel more connected, more compassionate and, ultimately, happier. So, try this simple practise every night before you go to sleep and see what effect it has for you. You might even want to start a gratitude journal so you can record your thankful thoughts.

Reconnecting with myself

At the beginning of this year I came out of yet another relationship. It wasn’t a very long relationship but it still felt quite significant. At the age of 42 and desperately wanting a family, every relationship that ended made me feel more and more of a failure. I sunk into quite a low place in my life and I see now that what I thought I had become were simply symptoms of this depressive state I had gotten into. I didn’t feel much like socialising, I couldn’t bear the thought of venturing outside my comfort zone, and I was just trying to get through each day as best I could, collapsing in front of the TV and comfort eating to try to numb the pain – even though I knew I’d feel worse for it. I felt like I was constantly on the edge of losing it, and almost screamed at a friend once when I felt unheard and misunderstood. I knew things weren’t going great but I’d lost the tools to pull myself out of it.

Then, suddenly, everything changed. I went to a one-day women’s wellness festival called RestFest and was reminded of all the great tools available to me that I’d been neglecting – yoga, meditation, gratitude, journalling, conscious dance, my connection to the Angels and the Universe, and of course – mindfulness. A few days later it was Spring Equinox and I literally felt like I was coming out of hibernation. Suddenly, the whole world looked brighter, things felt lighter and easier, and I had a fresh new perspective on my life. I realised I’d lost touch with my intuition, my inner wisdom and guidance. And these wonderful tools helped me reconnect with that, as well as restore my faith in the Universe.

So, even though my situation hadn’t changed, my inner landscape had. I was seeing the world through a different lens. And I felt like a completely different person. I felt happy and free for the first time in months. And I had faith that everything would work out just the way it’s meant to. I felt back in my flow.

I bought some oracle cards by Gabrielle Bernstein called The Universe Has Your Back and one of my favourite cards so far, which I kept “coincidentally” pulling around that time (I use speech marks because I don’t actually believe in coincidence!), is “My happiness is a direct reflection of my level of faith in the universe”. So, this was another example of perfect synchronicity!

And another great happiness quote which I recently read in Psychologies magazine, which was said by someone called Denis Waitley is, “Happiness cannot be travelled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.”

Since re-finding my flow, everything has changed and I now find myself in the most wonderful situation that I couldn’t even have imagined only 4 months ago. And I truly believe that’s down to shifting my perspective of the world, which helped restore my faith in the Universe and bring about such positive change.

How to be mindful in everyday life

So, how can we apply these practices to our everyday lives? There are a few things I like to do to help me remember to be mindful, and some of them might resonate with you too.

Get outside

Getting outside into nature is a great one, and it’s possible wherever you live. I try to get out for a walk every day even if it’s only for 15 minutes. I’m lucky to live near the sea so I get to see it most days. I always feel better after being outside and often have inspired thoughts, or a change in perspective. I also make a point of not getting my phone out whilst I’m out walking, but try to look around more, to notice and appreciate what’s around me, and become more aware of my surroundings.

Eat mindfully

I’ve been trying to eat more intuitively lately. So, mindful eating isn’t about restricting what you eat, but simply becoming aware of how different foods affect you – both physically as well as emotionally. My motto is “everything in moderation” as long as you’re eating with awareness & compassion. I believe it’s far better to eat a piece of cake feeling good about it, and really enjoying it, than being racked with guilt – which probably causes more harm to your mental and emotional health than the sugar and calories do to your physical health!

Take back control

There’s so much anxiety and depression around these days. I see it all around me, even in friends and family. People are becoming overwhelmed and they don’t know how to cope. One of the biggest issues I see is that people are feeling out of control but what they don’t realise is they actually have all the control. You can change your life, in fact you’re the only one who can change it. All you need to do is shift your perspective. Once you realise you can change how you see the world and how you relate to others by changing your thought patterns, behaviours and the way you react, your whole world will shift.

Put it down

It’s worth remembering that whatever you’re feeling, you can put it down. You can put down your negative emotions, your spiralling thoughts, the things you tell yourself that aren’t helpful about who you are. The facilitator on a recent rebirthing day I went on said, quite bluntly, “You’re never gonna sort your shit out! But you can put it down.” It’s your choice.

Practise mindful yoga

And when it comes to yoga, maybe you’d like to try approaching your practice with more awareness and curiosity. What if you do something differently, perhaps move into a posture in a new way. If you usually dive straight into the full expression of a pose, what if you hold back, move slower, let gravity play more of a part, let your body soften into the pose? If you usually practise slowly, what if you tried being a bit more dynamic? Introducing more flow, build up some heat? See how your body’s feeling in the moment. You might want to remain in stillness in a posture, or you might feel like moving, exploring, flowing. Listen to your body and see what it wants.

Tips for a mindful life

We can apply mindfulness to every area of our life – from our health and wellness, to how we communicate and relate to others, to how we deal with and handle our emotions, to how we can reduce our carbon footprint and live more in harmony with the planet. So, finally, I’d like to end with a few tips to inspire you to keep practising and hopefully boost your mood, and overall wellbeing:

  • Try to see the good in everything and everyone. We all have the same basic underlying needs; it’s just how we try to get those needs met can be very different.
  • Smiling is infectious, so smile at someone today and watch them smile back.
  • Go outside as often as you can to appreciate nature and fresh air. As Matt Haig once said, “Look at the sky; remind yourself of the cosmos. Seek vastness at every opportunity in order to see the smallness of yourself.”
  • Practise gratitude daily. Remember: feeling happy is a skill, not a gift – it’s all about the daily practice.
  • Remember to breathe deeply.
    When you’re feeling sad, low, hurt or angry, remember you won’t always feel like this.
  • Try to find moments of stillness in your day. As Brené Brown says, “Stillness is not about focussing on nothing; it’s about creating a clearing. It’s opening up an emotionally clutter-free space and allowing ourselves to feel and think and dream and question.” And Eckhart Tolle said, “When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world.”
  • When it comes to your yoga practice, find a teacher you resonate with.
  • Focus on how yoga feels from the inside, not how it looks from the outside.
  • Yoga, meditation and mindfulness are lifelong practices. They’re about the journey, not the destination. So, enjoy the ride!
  • Experiment, be curious, play, and have fun!

Thanks for listening. I hope there are some useful nuggets you can take away from my talk, and perhaps feel inspired to make small changes in your life.

Further reading

If you’d like to learn more about mindful yoga, about breathing techniques, and about mindful practices such as mindful eating and walking, loving speech and deep listening, loving kindness, body scanning, focusing on sounds, labelling thoughts and practising gratitude – then check out my book The Practice of Mindful Yoga – A Connected Path to Awareness.

Buy hannah’s book


Top 4 mindfulness apps: Which one is right for you?

Mindfulness has become somewhat of a buzzword recently. More and more people – including schools, prisons and government institutions – are realising that mindfulness is the key to navigating our busy, stressful lives, and reducing our susceptibility to both mental and physical illness.

And of course, as with most things these days, there’s an app for that! Although many of us are looking to reduce our screen time and reliance on devices, the truth is, they can come in very handy sometimes. And if we’re going to be using our phones anyway then why not use them for something beneficial, something mindful? After all, awareness is the key to any mindful practice.

There are 4 mindfulness apps I’ve come across recently which I find really useful in different ways. So, I thought I’d share them with you and offer some insights into the benefits each one provides. Whether you’re a seasoned mindfulness practitioner, or just getting started, one of these apps is sure to be right for you.

Insight Timer

Insight Timer is probably one of the longest running meditation apps. It started as simply a way of timing your own meditation practice, with different starting bells available, including the traditional Tibetan singing bowl. You can set the duration, number of intervals and ambient background sound to create different presets for your meditation sessions.

However, it’s now evolved into much more than this. It’s effectively an online meditation community, which allows you to connect with other meditators around the world. You can make friends, see who else is using the app at the same time as you, and even send them a “Thanks for meditating with me” message!

Insight Timer has a huge, ever-increasing library of guided meditations and talks from a wide variety of teachers, including ‘big names’ such as Tara Brach, Wim Hof and Judson Brewer. You can search for topics centred around different emotions, benefits, types of practices and traditions. You can listen to thousands of different music tracks and stories to help you sleep. And if you upgrade there are also 10-30 day courses you can take, in subjects as diverse as anxiety, grief, Buddhism, Chakras, addiction, fertility, masculinity, tantra, attracting love, Ayurveda and mindfulness for teens.

Cost
The great thing about this app is that most of the content is free. You can upgrade to the premium version for £59.99/year (after a 7-day free trial) to access their ‘Daily Insight’, additional material, downloadable content and their entire catalogue of 150 courses. But, personally, I think the free version is more than adequate.

Pros

  • Preset timers to keep you on track for your own meditation sessions.
  • Huge library of guided meditations and talks.
  • Bookmarks for your favourite meditations and teachers.
  • Personal profile with stats, milestones, messages, notifications and groups.
  • Most of the app is free and it sounds like they want to keep it that way.
  • Half of all their income is paid directly to the teachers.

Cons

  • The only bad thing I can think of to say about Insight Timer is the ‘My Progress’ section of the profile. Whilst I’m sure this is helpful for many people and can help keep them on track with their meditation practice, I personally find this has the opposite effect! If you’re anything like me – task-driven and ruled by my to-do list – then you might find the urge to rack up a higher and higher number of consecutive days becomes the focus of using the app, rather than the actual meditating! After a while I found I was listening to a quick 5 minute guided meditation just to keep my consecutive days up, which was kind of missing the point! So I had to let go of the ‘progress’ part of the app, and stop comparing myself to how often my friends were meditating. All useful lessons of course!

Headspace

The first thing you’ll notice about Headspace is the playful illustrations and animations they use, which show people meditating in everyday places, such as on park benches, on public transport and in gyms. As Anna Charity, the app’s head of design says, “Often people have been put off meditation by the mystical language, and visually they think of chakras and pebbles and incense. We show our meditators sitting on trains or in the park so people can visualise themselves engaging with the practice in everyday situations.”

The main focus of Headspace is helping people learn to meditate, so it’s great for beginners. You can sign up for free and access their ‘Basics course’, but after that you’ll need to subscribe to access the full library. This includes: hundreds of themed guided meditations; on-the-go exercises for activities like cooking, eating, commuting, and more; and ‘SOS sessions’ to skilfully manage moments of panic or anxiety. There’s also a sleep section offering sleepcasts and sleep sounds, an animation library, and Headspace for kids.

Cost
You can pay £9.99/month for the app, but it’s cheaper if you opt for the annual subscription at £71.88. There’s also a family plan for £14.99/month which includes up to 6 accounts. According to Apple’s App Store, there’s also a Forever subscription where you pay a one-off upfront fee of $400 USD (around £310) for lifetime access.

Pros

  • The app feels friendly, lighthearted and welcoming.
  • Offers a great way for beginners to learn how to meditate in just a few minutes a day.
  • Subscribers can access the full library of content, including exercises, bite-sized meditations and sleep sounds.
  • The family plan option means you can get your kids involved and the whole family can benefit from learning to meditate.

Cons

  • Although you can get started for free, you need to subscribe to access most of the content.

Calm

The deal with Calm is that you have to buy a subscription – you can’t access any content until you sign up and start your 7 day free trial. But I actually liked it so much I decided to buy it anyway.

They claim to be the number one app for meditation and sleep and offer an extensive library of guided meditations as either one-offs or series. These are based around topics such as sleep, anxiety, beginners, stress, self-care, focus, relationships and kids.

One of their USPs is their ‘Sleep Stories’ – “soothing bedtime stories to help you fall into a deep and natural sleep”. At the time of writing some of the narrators of these included Stephen Fry, Matthew McConaughey, David Walliams, Jerome Flynn and Leona Lewis, so they’ve got some big names on their side.

There’s also a music section offering varying lengths of ambient sounds to help you sleep, focus or relax, plus lullabies, soundscapes and nature melodies. I’ve been trying these out while I work and practise yoga.

There’s a ‘Daily Calm’ you can listen to, which is usually around 10 minutes long, and they also have a Calm Kids area, Calm Masterclasses from world-renowned mindfulness experts, and Calm Body. This includes various types of exercises to relax and stretch your body in the morning or evening, to warm up or cool down, or to look after your back.

Cost
After your 7 day free trial, a subscription costs $59.99 USD/year (around £46 at the time of writing). Or you can get lifetime access for $400 USD (around £310).

Pros

  • Calm is aimed at helping beginners learn to meditate, as well as offering hundreds of programs for intermediate and advanced users.
  • If you have trouble sleeping, their Sleep Stories, guided sleep meditations, lullabies and sleep sounds could be really beneficial.
  • Many of their meditations are offered as series around a particular topic, to encourage daily or regular practice.
  • I like that they include a physical aspect too, with their Calm Body stretching section. After all, a calm body leads to a calmer mind.

Cons

  • You have to sign up in order to access any of the content.

Happy Not Perfect

I can’t remember how I first came across Happy Not Perfect but I think it’s great! Their whole ethos is around creating happiness in your life by using simple tools for just a few minutes each day.

I’ve been using their ‘Happiness Workout’ which is, “filled with science-backed exercises to help you find a positive mindset and keep you feeling cool and calm”. It takes you through 7 steps using a combination of the following:

  • Mood selection: allows you to check-in with yourself to see how you’re feeling by selecting from a list of positive and negative moods.
  • Deep breathing: guides you through taking just a few deep breaths to help you connect to your mind and body.
  • Grateful diary: invites you to write a few things you’re grateful for in your life today.
  • Letting go: asks questions around getting things off your chest, which you type and then virtually ‘burn’ to destroy the evidence!
  • Compassion: provides writing prompts to help you fill your compassion cup, such as, “Name two things you admire about yourself”.
  • Goal setting: allows you to set your goals for the day because, “Small wins everyday helps happiness stay”.
  • Challenges: invites you to create your own small challenges to help you feel good about yourself.
  • Positive vibes: you can choose from a selection of encouraging images and messages to send to a friend.
  • Drawing: invites you to draw a picture from a prompt, such as your favourite place, or something that makes you happy.
  • Mindful games: these are simple games to focus your mind on the present moment, such as a maze, a puzzle and a not-touching-the-sides game.
  • Meditation: the Happiness Workout always ends with a simple 2-3 minute guided meditation to help you connect to your breath, body, mind and emotions.

There are also guided meditations and courses available, mostly split into a few minutes over several days, but you do need to upgrade to access these. The library doesn’t seem nearly as extensive as the other apps mentioned above, but I think this expands when you upgrade, as they claim to offer, “400+ meditations, coaching sessions and life hacks from world experts”.

There’s a ‘Daily Dose’ of a few inspiring, uplifting or thought provoking words, which is usually less than a minute long, you can set reminders and track your progress in your profile, and there are also inspiring quotes dotted around throughout the app and that pop up when you complete a workout or task.

Cost
When you upgrade to Premium, there’s a free trial for the first 7 days, then it’s £54.99/year.

Pros

  • Offers a great way to start developing a more positive mindset in just a few minutes per day.
  • Includes practical tools and exercises, rather than simply meditations.

Cons

  • The Happiness Workout is free when you first download the app, but at some point it tells you you’ve reached your limit and you have to upgrade to continue using it, which felt a bit misleading to me.
  • I found the typing area in some of the exercises quite frustrating to use. It’s a very small area, you can’t scroll or move around easily, and once you’ve hit ‘Done’ you don’t seem to be able to go back and edit it before submitting.

Which mindfulness app is right for you?

There are lots of meditation and mindfulness apps out there, which can help us tune in, block out external noise and stress, and hopefully find some inner peace and clarity.

The apps I’ve mentioned here are either very well known, or ones I’ve personally found useful for my own mindfulness practice. So, which app is right for you? Below is my summary, depending on what you’re looking for.

Insight Timer

  • Most cost effective – you can access most of the content for free.
  • Best for seasoned meditators – timer option for unguided meditation.
  • Best for online community – connect with friends and send messages.

Headspace

  • Best for beginners – a straightforward, accessible approach to learning to meditate.
  • Best for families – get the kids involved with their monthly family plan.

Calm

  • Best for sleep issues – strong focus on encouraging better sleep.
  • Best for mindful movement – includes Calm Body.

Happy Not Perfect

  • Most interactive – includes writing, drawing, games and other exercises.
  • Best for increasing happiness – centred around creating a more positive mindset.

What do you think?

Have you tried any of the apps mentioned in this article? Do you agree with our reviews? Are there any parts of an app you think work really well or you don’t like at all?

Or are there other meditation or mindfulness apps you’ve come across that you’d recommend?

We’d love to know what you think, especially if it helps others live a more mindful life. So, feel free to leave a comment below.


How to be more mindful at work

Most people would agree that stress, tiredness and feeling overworked are on the rise, especially when it comes to the workplace. In the UK alone, a 2016-17 study by the Health and Safety Executive revealed that over 500,000 British workers suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety, resulting in the loss of 12.5 million working days.

Whether you’re the CEO of a multinational company, a small business owner juggling several proverbial balls, or a freelancer wondering where your next project will come from, it’s more important than ever to safeguard your mental health and wellbeing, particularly at work.

Your to-do lists, deadlines and other pressures might be outside your control, but there are some things you can change to ensure you’re looking after yourself and working to the best of your ability. In this post, we look at some of the things you can improve in your workplace, including a mindful exercise you can practise anytime, anywhere.

How’s your posture?

Whether you sit at a desk to work, lie on your bed, or even walk and move around to do your job, you’ll be spending a huge proportion of your working week in this position. It’s therefore imperative to check your posture to ensure you’re comfortable and aren’t causing any long-term damage to any areas of your body.

If you sit at a computer, make sure your back is well supported. There should be a natural curve towards the lower half of your back. If you tend to slouch your shoulders forward, try wedging a cushion in your lower back to help you sit up straight, or buy a portable back support, like the McKenzie D Shaped Lumbar Roll.

Your screen should be at eye level so that you’re not craning your neck up or tilting your chin down to comfortably see the screen. If you need to raise your screen, try placing it on a pile of books, or invest in a laptop riser. Nexstand makes a lightweight, portable, adjustable one that comes highly recommended by our Content Queen Hannah.

Whatever posture you adopt for work, listen to your body. Aches, pains and niggles are your body’s way of telling you that something’s not right. Try making a few changes if you can, and your body will thank you for it.

Food for thought

Do you take time to eat a decent meal at work? Or do you usually grab and go? Or wolf something down at your desk?

It’s important to make sure you’re well nourished during your working day, otherwise you run the risk of feeling weak, sluggish and probably unproductive. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a 3-square-meal type of person or a little-and-often grazer. What matters is that you’re putting food in your body that’s right for you.

As a general rule, a lot of refined carbs at lunchtime will make you feel very full, heavy and sluggish and you’ll probably experience the dreaded afternoon slump. So, you might want to avoid huge plates of pasta, jacket potatoes, chips or a doorstep sandwich. A lean source of protein (organic white meat or fish, cheese, beans, pulses, houmous, tofu, eggs, nuts or seeds) plus vegetables is usually a safe bet, if possible.

As always, listen to your body and do what feels right for you. Perhaps test out different foods and track how they make you feel and how this potentially affects your work, then start to make small changes to improve your diet at work.

The art of communication

How do you tend to communicate with your clients and colleagues? Are you always professional and respectful, or do you sometimes find yourself being short with them, snapping, or even getting angry?

Mindfulness isn’t only about noticing the present moment. It’s also about noticing how we relate to others, how we react in certain situations, and becoming more aware of the way we are in the world generally.

When it comes to communication in the workplace, can we find a bit more compassion towards others? If we’re able to centre ourselves, stop and breathe before we speak, we might find we can respond to our boss, speak up in the meeting, reassure our clients and even send out emails with more awareness and clarity.

Gimme a break!

Are you taking enough breaks during your working day? It’s really important, especially if you have a stressful job, are doing a difficult task, or feel yourself getting tired and cranky, that you give yourself the space you need.

Take 5 minutes to get up and move around or go for a walk around the block. Even if you’re working on something urgent, or feel like you can’t stop until a certain task is finished, it’s important to look after yourself. The world won’t end simply because you pause for 5 minutes!

If you’re feeling very stressed or overwhelmed at work, what can you do to lessen the load? Can you re-prioritise your to-do list? Are there any tasks that could actually wait for a day or 2? Do you have someone you can delegate some tasks to? Or a peer or colleague you could call on for help? If you have a manager, can you ask to speak to them to explain how you’re feeling? Take a moment to think about the steps you could take to lessen the pressure so that you can be more productive in the long-run.

If you look at a screen all day, even looking away into the distance for a few seconds every hour is said to help reduce eyestrain. Again, listen to your body. Do your eyes feel tired? Are you getting headaches? Do your shoulders feel sore? Take regular breaks to move your body and rest your mind (within reason of course; we don’t want to get you fired!)

Oh, and remember to breathe. If you can close your eyes and breathe deeply 3 times, focusing on the breath as it moves in and out of your body, this will help to ground and centre you in present moment awareness. Even if you need to go to the bathroom to do this, we highly recommend it!

Practise mindfulness

Mindfulness can be a wonderfully transformative tool for bringing more awareness, clarity and compassion into your life. There are many mindful exercises you can practise on a daily basis, and some of these can even be practised discreetly at work. Our Content Queen Hannah explores some of these practices in her book The Practice of Mindful Yoga: A Connected Path to Awareness.

One of these practices ‘Awakening the senses’ is ideal for the workplace, as it only takes a few minutes and can be practised anytime, anywhere.

Awakening the senses

No matter where you are or what you’re doing, pause for a moment, take a deep calming breath, and follow these mindful steps:

  1. Notice 5 things you can see. Take a moment to really take in each object. It might be something you see every day, but you might never have truly ‘seen’ it. Notice the quality of each object: form, texture, colour, etc. You don’t even need to label what you’re seeing; simply notice.
  2. Now close your eyes if you can and notice 5 things you can hear. There might be sounds outside, like people or traffic. Or sounds within the same room, such as voices, music or a machine humming. Or perhaps you can hear more internal sounds, such as your own breath or some gurgling noises inside you. Closing your eyes will help you tune into these sounds more easily.
  3. Keeping your eyes closed, notice 5 things you can feel. This could be the chair you’re sitting on or the ground beneath your feet. Perhaps you can feel the fabric against different areas of your body. Or your breath as it passes through your nostrils and across your upper lip. You might identify some areas of tension or even the emotions you’re feeling, such as anxious, worried, happy, content or excited.
  4. Now, slowly open your eyes and check in with yourself. How are you feeling?

This exercise should help you connect with your senses, bring you back into your body and ground you in present moment awareness. Try it anytime you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed or need to take a break.

Further reading

Hannah Moss has studied various approaches to mindfulness and meditation, including a 10-day Vipassana meditation course in India. She practices mindfulness in her everyday life and is passionate about the benefits of mindful yoga. In June 2019 she had an article published in Yoga Magazine, sharing her journey into mindful yoga, and promoting her book.

If you’d like to learn more mindful exercises that can be practised both at home and at work, you might like to buy a copy of Hannah’s book The Practice of Mindful Yoga: A Connected Path to Awareness.

As well as introducing both yoga and mindfulness, Hannah explores how the breath becomes the bridge between these 2 practices. She invites the reader to join her on an inspiring journey of self-discovery and conscious awareness to help both beginners and experienced practitioners live a more mindful life both on and off the mat.

Buy hannah’s book


How do you start your day? The power of a daily morning ritual

Book covers of The Artists Way and Zero to One

Getting older

When I turned 40 this rather significant milestone cast a long introspective shadow over my thinking. Not in a bad way, mind you, but it definitely got me thinking about time and what I do with it and what I’d like to spend more of my time doing.

Being a business founder, the concept of time management is hardly new. On a regular basis, I ask myself the following 2 questions:

  1. What should I be focused on now?
  2. What could I do to be more effective?

The 4-hour work week

This spirit of enquiry is echoed in the work of Tim Ferriss aka ‘The 4 hour guy‘. I regularly listen to his podcast The Tim Ferriss Show where he interviews a successful person each week and one of his questions is always focused on daily rituals. In fact he’s written an interesting post on the topic of Daily Rituals in which he references a great book that I’ve now added to my reading list – Daily Rituals by Mason Currey.

The Artist’s Way

One important aspect of the daily morning ritual is keeping a journal and in one of Tim’s posts he shares what his morning pages look like. The phrase ‘morning pages’ was coined by Julia Cameron in her powerful and transformative The Artist’s Way and is essentially stream of consciousness writing that you do daily on waking.

I’ve attempted The Artist’s Way twice. I’ve never quite finished it because so much positive change happened that I was holding on for dear life! The first time I started it, I quit my job and set up my first digital agency zero G media, which I ran for a rollercoaster 6 years! The second attempt led towards closing down zero G media and setting up Wildheart Media with my wife Leia.

If you want to radically change your life for the better, I’d suggest doing The Artist’s Way. And if you’re thinking to yourself ‘But I’m not an artist!’ you’ll benefit even more from the book!

My daily journal

My own daily morning ritual

I’ve practised a daily morning ritual for over 13 years now with some variations. Generally speaking, it includes journalling, drinking coffee and practising yoga or reading some inspirational text.

I think the true benefit of my daily ritual is contentment. It’s allowed me to focus on what’s really important in my life and most of that stuff is in my personal relationships and my relationship with myself. One of the questions I’ve spent years asking myself is “How can I do more, achieve more and be more successful?” But I’ve come to realise that this is actually the wrong question to ask myself. A more useful question is: “How can I do less, achieve less and be more successful?”

Thinking big

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this might make me an under-achieving navel gazer with no big dreams or vision. Externally that may appear to be the case, but internally the opposite is true. I care deeply about the big stuff, but it’s so big that it can sometimes overwhelm me and my focus has always been to return to the small stuff, the inner life upon which my external life in the world rests.

It’s exactly this passion that is the defining value of Wildheart Media, hence our strapline ‘Content marketing with passion’. Check out my Finding passion in work post if you’re interested more in this topic.

Going from zero to one

I recently read Peter Thiel’s inspiring Zero to One where he asks his readers to think big and take on solving complex and difficult problems. This has really got me thinking and my take away is that you need to be absolutely sure of your resolve before embarking on solving a complex and difficult problem, and there are just so many to choose from, ranging from environmental, healthcare and education issues.

I’m pretty sure that technology will be key to unlocking solutions in many of these areas. But for many the human touch is still needed, perhaps more than ever. Thiel also reminds us that we have to think both big and small because, as the expression goes, the devil is in the detail!

So how do you start your day?

So, coming back to those small things, it’s worth saying that how you start your day is super important, but most importantly you need to find something that works for you.

Here are two suggestions to get you started:

  1. Start small with something that takes 10 minutes.
  2. Buy The Artist’s Way and start doing it!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Leave a comment below to let us know how you start your day and if you have any morning rituals you’d like to share.


Finding passion in your work

How do people end up loving what they do for a living?

My dad was a copywriter so I’m always on the lookout for great copy. Cal’s principal question in this talk is “How do people end up loving what they do for a living?” Not quite as catchy as that headline, but he’s been researching and writing on the topic for a few years and knows his stuff. Cal is also a bright guy, a theoretical computer scientist by day and an author by night.

Cal challenges the prevailing wisdom that goes something like this: In order to be happy in your work life you need to find what your passion is and do that for a living. He references Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford speech, which has over 7.5 million views on Youtube.

If you don’t know Cal he’s an author of 2 great books with a focus on being more productive and getting great results in whatever you do. How to Become a Straight-A Student is his first book. His latest is titled So Good They Can’t Ignore You – what a great title, eh? The subtitle is “Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love” which gives you a pretty good idea of Cal’s position.

Video highlights

The video is just under 22 minutes long so here are some of my highlights:

  • Cal starts from a philosophical standpoint and moves to practical suggestions on how to achieve work life happiness.
  • Cal goes on to reference research done at a Canadian university. The idea of following your passion assumes that you have a pre-existing passion that can be converted to a viable business. In fact, most of the students’ pre-existing passion was ice hockey and less than 5% had a skill that could be translated into a job. Oops!
  • According to Cal, the argument for pre-existing passion goes something like this: “The only way you’re going to persist in developing a rare and valuable skill is if you have a huge amount of passion for the topic.”
  • He discovered unsurprisingly that people love what they do when they’re good at it. He found that these people had, over a period of time, developed rare and valuable skills. How do we develop rare and valuable skills? With lots and lots of regular practice and hard work over a sustained period of time.

How do you get really good at something?

As a daily Ashtanga yoga practitioner, this concept of sustained regular practice really resonated with me. I’m on my yoga mat at 6:30am five or six days a week and have been doing this since 2006. I’ve also spent nearly every day for the last 18 years working in marketing and digital media.

So, over time, those who love their work have systematically built up their skills and experience and then leveraged this to change their life. Cal goes on to state that you can’t expect a really good working life until you’re really good at something.

This begs the question – How does anyone get good at something? Cal has 3 suggestions:

  1. Don’t automatically follow your passion (this is too simplistic an approach).
  2. Go deep with building up skills and rituals.
  3. Focus and persist.

In order to get really good at something you need to do what Cal describes as deep work. He defines this as: “Focusing persistently and without distraction on a cognitively demanding and valuable task.”

He goes on to add that persisting even when it’s uncomfortable is exactly the point at which you improve at a cognitive skill. For me, this is exactly the point where I quit learning the guitar: trying to play a barre chord. My guitar teacher called it the quitter’s chord – and he was right.

Where Steve Jobs fits in

In his talk Cal uses 2 high profile examples to make his case:

Steve Jobs

In his Stanford address Jobs encourages his audience to find what they love and not to rest until they do. But this wasn’t how it happened for Jobs himself. He actually stumbled across success with Apple – he became obsessive and got better and better at it until his passion grew.

Bill McKibben

Cal’s next example is the celebrated environmental writer, Bill McKibben. He was renowned for his work ethic as a student and refined his skills as a writer over time. His first book The End of Nature became a modern classic in environmental books. By the time he wrote it, McKibben had become one of the most talented environmental writers of his generation, working as a staff writer for the New Yorker. He got a book deal with Random House and his book was serialised by The New Yorker. This got him a lot of eyeballs and allowed him to leverage his skill and reputation in order to change his life. He quit his job and moved to an idyllic town in Vermont to become a full-time author.

Cal suggests that it’s perhaps not how you get started that’s important but what you do when you get going. He also highlights McKibben’s work ethic.

What practical steps can we take today?

Cal goes on to make 3 suggestions of what we can do practically in our working life to facilitate deep work:

  1. Time blocking (this is a technique from Cal’s first book How to Become a Straight-A Student).
  2. Have a clear outcome or artefact.
  3. Systematically focus – and increase this gradually by only 10 minute increments.

He touches on something that I’ve found essential to becoming more effective and productive: developing rituals and habits that support your goals.

Cal Newport closes his talk with a bang: “If you want to love what you do, do what Steve Jobs did and not what he said.”

Need some help writing blog posts?

If writing blogs for your business is one of those things you wish you were good at, we can help! As Cal says, you need to focus and persist with regular practice over a sustained period of time. Check out our post How To Craft Awesome Blog Content for all the tools you need to get started, plus tips on how to write and publish consistently high quality, regular blog posts. Who knows, you might actually end up finding a passion for it!

How to craft awesome blog content