Discover ‘WellBeing at the Convent’ with a day of fresh perspectives on wellbeing, with free talks, workshops and taster sessions, and chat with practitioners firsthand in their studios to learn more about the many practices which can help you flourish.
Ahead of the Convent’s WellBeing Open Day, we chat with the practitioners you’ll meet on the day, exploring how mental and physical health impact each other, and how practices such as yoga, Feldenkrais and Qigong can help with both!
Louise – what is Feldenkrais, and how does it help with our psychological and emotional wellbeing?
“Movement is the basis of life through which every thought and emotion manifests itself.”
The Feldenkrais Method is a unique approach to learning about how your ways of moving contribute to, or in some cases interfere with, your ability to achieve the things you want in life. Restrictions in movement, pain and even milder discomforts can stop us from moving forward and often impact on many facets of our health and wellbeing.
Feldenkrais is movement-focused work which uses each individual’s experience as a basis for exploration and learning. You can learn to make subtle distinctions in the way you move which will enhance your use of yourself in everyday life. This involves a process of exploring and learning about your body, yourself and your capacities in an atmosphere based on acceptance and respect for individual differences.
The Feldenkrais process will also help you to access the flexibility and control required by other disciplines such as Pilates and Yoga. It also provides valuable perspectives which can be used by people who may be engaged in a range of other health activities.
In a lesson, awareness of how you move acts to change the existing movement image in the brain, and shows the body a more effective way of action. With this enhanced awareness, you discover new ways and perspectives of moving through life.
Robyn – you mention that exploring individuals’ values helps them flourish. As a psychologist, how do you help people identify, nurture and align with their values?
As a clinical psychologist, the pathway to helping people with their health and wellness is to be fully present and appreciate each individual as a whole. My role is to bring compassion to suffering, help people expand on what is really important and what makes their heart sing, and discover what is getting in the way of this! We identify individual values through life story, exercises and appreciation, and sometimes via mindfulness, as the pathway beyond wellness – to flourishing. All of these approaches are based on evidenced-informed practice.
Abby – what is the basis of Qigong, how does it differ from yoga, and how can it help people to flourish?
Qigong is a treasured ancient Chinese practice of healing and energy medicine. It is the art and science of combining mindful intent, breathing techniques, gentle movements and meditation to cleanse, strengthen, circulate and harmonise your energy system as well as the physical body.
Qigong is suitable for all ages and fitness levels. Active Qigong involves mindful fluid movements synchronised to mindful deep rhythmic breath. Stillness Qigong involves meditation – standing, sitting or lying.
The movements are simple and gentle and work on all parts of the body including muscles, tendons, fascia, spine, joints, organs and more. The breathing methods work on many levels to improve your physiology, physical, mental and emotional health. Together they improve your central nervous system, organ health, qi meridians circulation and strength and balance. They also improve your respiratory, vascular, digestive, lymphatic and endocrine systems.
Qigong is a practise that reduces stress, depression and anxiety. It fosters relaxation, calmness, clarity and centredness.
Qigong is a holistic practise that cultivates a healthy body, mind and spirit.
Ulli – your session will explore some key thought patterns, habits and emotions that prevent us from achieving wellbeing. What are some common themes which hamper our wellbeing, and how does your practice help address these?
Our wellbeing can be hampered by our ingrained beliefs, thought patterns and habits, many of which are subconscious and therefore difficult to remove. Some common limiting beliefs often stem from childhood and revolve around feeling inadequate or ‘not good enough’, feeling shame or guilt from behaviours considered inappropriate, and experiencing self-doubt from an inability to trust our own decisions.
Negative and restricting thought patterns include ‘black and white’ thinking, catastrophising things and applying personalisation which can lead to anxiety and depression, while negative habits such as addictions generally stem from our need to feel safe.
Hypnotherapy helps a person to surface and understand their limiting beliefs, habits and thought patterns by using a range of processes to help eliminate these, and reframing beliefs and thoughts to create positive and empowering change. It helps people to change negative patterns and habits by identifying their underlying needs and creating new positive habits to meet these.
Anahata – your session will explore love as the foundation of living a fulfilled life. Is ‘loving’ something we can learn, and if so how? Is love the foundation of your One Heart yoga and meditation studio at the Convent?
It is interesting that it is often assumed that we will learn how to love and be loved from our families, but families – and culture in general – do not always demonstrate love well. Through awareness-based practices we can learn how to love ourselves and others. By bringing deep listening and mindfulness to our inner world, we can learn ways to heal wounds, unravel conditioning and reactivity, and rest into the part of ourselves that is whole.
I think the best measure of the effectiveness of yoga and meditation practice is how well our practice helps us to love ourselves and each other to create a more compassionate world. So, yes, love is the underlying foundation of practice at the One Heart studio, although it is not spoken about directly in the classes. We offer a very spacious practice so that students can make their own meaning of their practice. We do offer guidance for bringing greater awareness and self-acceptance to your own embodied experience; then love can arise naturally in its own timing.
Julia – what is neuroplasticity, and how can it assist our physical and emotional wellbeing?
Neuroplasticity is our brain’s ability to change and remodel itself in response to physical and mental experiences. Scientists believed the structure of our brain pathways were relatively fixed until recent times. Now neuroscientists recognise that with new learning, the connections between neurones change, form new connections and develop in complexity. Subsequently, the structure of the brain itself changes. Our activity is not only the result of brain function, but the shaper of it.
Neuroplasticity can be applied to improving physical and emotional wellbeing via a variety of natural non-invasive approaches. A key aspect of this is changing unhelpful patterns and habits that have a negative impact on how we, think, feel and do things. Methods include specific counselling, movement and other techniques that access the brain through the body and its senses. This new understanding in neuroscience is very inspiring and encouraging, and valuable for improving wellbeing and ability.
Kathleen – your session will explore the ‘koshas’; the five layers of human experience. What are these, and what role does yoga play in this?
The koshas are a conceptual model in yogic philosophy that helps us make sense of our human experience. There are five interconnected sheaths, or layers. These can be pictured as the layers of an onion, with our physical body as the outermost layer and, at its centre, our essence, which is pure joy and serenity.
Yoga practices cultivate a deeper awareness of and positively impact our physical body, mind and heart. For example, the practice of asana, the yoga postures, impacts our physical body (annamaya kosha) and also influences the other koshas.
Pranayama, or harnessing the breath to cultivate life force energy, balances our energy body (pranamaya kosha).
Manomaya kosha, the part of the mind responsible for our perceptions, thoughts and actions, is soothed as we practice pranayama and meditation.
As we deepen our meditation practice, we cultivate deep presence, gain perspective and clarity, and access our higher mind or body of wisdom (Vijnanamaya kosha).
The various yoga practices are a gateway to experience a sense of wholeness and touch our essence at the core of our being (Anandamaya kosha).
Aruna – what is ‘beingness’, and how does meditation help with this?
‘Beingness’, or being, or simply just ‘to be’ is our most fundamental and essential nature. It is not a phenomenon or an object. It can be likened to space in that we can’t say space is an actual object, but like space there’s no centre and no boundary to ‘being’.
Meditation is a very essential tool for uncovering beingness, as beingness is always present and it’s only the movements of thought and emotional conflict that covers up beingness.
Meditation stills the mind of thoughts and calms the emotions, thus creating clarity that allows for the insight into beingness. Beingness has qualities of peace and contentment and is a causal. Connection to beingness gives life true meaning.
Join us for WellBeing Open Day at the Convent on Saturday 28 October 2017. Come to any or all sessions – all free of charge!