What is Mindfulness & How to achieve it?

Umeni Therapy – De-stress Coloring book

Mindfulness. 
It’s a pretty straightforward word. It suggests that the mind is fully attending to what’s happening, to what you’re doing, to the space you’re moving through. That might seem trivial, except for the annoying fact that we so often veer from the matter at hand. Our mind takes flight, we lose touch with our body, and pretty soon we’re engrossed in obsessive thoughts about something that just happened or fretting about the future.Indulging in over multitasking. And that makes us anxious.

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

Yet no matter how far we drift away, mindfulness is right there to snap us back to where we are and what we’re doing and feeling. If you want to know what mindfulness is, it’s best to try it for a while. 

While mindfulness is innate, it can be cultivated through proven techniques, particularly seated, walking, standing, and moving meditation (it’s also possible lying down but often leads to sleep); short pauses we insert into everyday life; and merging meditation practice with other activities, such as yoga or sports or the most popular & effective method of coloring.

When we meditate it doesn’t help to fixate on the benefits, but rather to just do the practice, and yet there are benefits or no one would do it.When we begin to coloring that page filling in colors as we interpret shapes & figures in your heads, it shifts our entire focus from whatever was on our mind to just this one page!
When we’re mindful, we reduce stress, enhance performance, gain insight and awareness through observing our own mind, and increase our attention to others’ well-being.
Mindfulness meditation/practice gives us a time in our lives when we can suspend judgment and unleash our natural curiosity about the workings of the mind, approaching our experience with warmth and kindness—to ourselves and others.

Without thinking twice, I would often pick up a pen and begin to draw shapes & color them on empty pages of my notepad at work. It was only after a couple of minutes that I sort of came to realize that “this is actually really therapeutic”. This is when I made Umeni Therapy

On the face of it, sitting there coloring in the hippos, crocodiles, sky and grass would seem kind of mindless for an adult but in practice it’s really mindful.
Therefore Adult coloring is really a thing, and it’s hugely popular.

Adults from all walks of life are turning to coloring books as a form of stress release, therapy and just plain old fun. But before you dismiss this colorful craze as “not your thing”, check out what researchers are saying about the power of art to improve emotional, mental and even physical health.

10 Big Benefits of Adult Coloring

1. Relieve Stress

Researchers have discovered that coloring activities help relax the amygdala – the section of the brain that is activated in situations where you feel stressed or scared.
Simultaneously, coloring activates the parts of the brain that support creativity. A study conducted in 2005 by Nancy Curry and Tim Kasser found that those who colored in mandalas reported drastically decreased anxiety levels.
This is especially useful for those who suffer from constant anxiety or experience anxiety as a side effect of disorders like PTSD or depression.

2. Exercise the Mind

As previously mentioned, coloring sparks brain activity and activates the parts of the brain responsible for creativity and logic.
Coloring is considered a good ‘mind exercise’ because it utilizes both sides of the brain’s cerebral cortex– an important system of control as it promotes motor skills and coordination.
When you color, you utilize the logic-based part of the brain through the choice of color or pattern. When you choose to pair or blend colors, you utilize the creative part of your brain. Coloring works out both brain hemispheres, so that’s a total win-win!

3. A Creative Meditation

Tried meditating the Eat, Pray, Love way and couldn’t get to grips with silent meditation? Fortunately, that’s not the only way to get centered.
Psychologist Carl Jung believed that coloring mandalas helped patients experience many of the benefits of meditation, like inner calm and self realization.
Jung believed that the mandala pattern was a representation of the intricacy of ‘self,’ and noticed that many of his patients would doodle circle drawings.
He used the idea and the practice of coloring to promote wellness among his patients, noting that creating and coloring mandalas symbolized “a safe refuge of inner reconciliation and wholeness.”

4. Thought Swapping – Replace Patterns of Negative Thinking

Plagued by worries about your bills, your health, your family or your future? All of the above? Coloring may actually help replace patterns of negative thinking with more positive ones.
The focus that coloring necessitates makes concentrating on issues very difficult, and often when people color, their negative thought patterns abate.
The negativity is replaced with more positive thoughts when ‘colorists’ react favorably to the pairing of colors and the creative pattern.
Neuropsychologist Dr. Stan Rodski explained that coloring elicited real neurological effects, stating: “We started seeing changes in heart rate, changes in brainwaves…the most amazing things occurred.”

5. Self Soothe

Learning how to control your body’s stress activation system (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system…phew!) is a vital component of mental and physical wellness.
Those who can influence how their bodies deal with trauma are much more resilient and have higher coping mechanisms.
Learning to self soothe during a period of trauma is essential to coping, and many are finding that coloring helps combat tough experiences without getting wrapped up in the accompanying emotions.
Researchers have found that coloring works in a variety of circumstances, one being debilitating illness.
A 2006 study by researchers at Thomas Jefferson University found that coloring and other art therapy was essential to reducing stress, anxiety and fear during women’s cancer treatment periods.

6. Make New Friends , Reduce Social Anxiety

That’s right. you can color and make new friends. Coloring has become so popular that coloring chapters are forming in some neighborhood and cities where avid ‘colorists’ are taking advantage of the phenomenon.
Though coloring is traditionally seen as a singular activity, these clubs seek to promote positive social interaction between members of the community, organization or even a family. It is a great activity to indulge in with all the members of your family.
It helps people to interact meaningfully with other people without the pressure that often accompanies social gatherings or family outings.

7. Walk the Middle Road for a While

Life today is a rat race of accomplishments, stress and competitions. This may be self evident, but coloring is a pretty low-pressure activity. There is no way to win, lose or even play the game.

Having an activity that takes the ‘middle road’, that is not reliant on a time limit, a ‘correct’ answer or a competition is freeing and can be incredibly cathartic and restorative after a long day of work or stress.
 

8. Encourage Yourself to Be Present

It’s no secret that people today are distracted more than ever. With all of the hustle and bustle of everyday life and the notifications that *ding!* constantly from our phones and tablets, it can be hard to focus when you really need to. Coloring to the rescue!
An art therapy student from Lesley University recently attested to the increase in coloring books in her university lectures to help students focus.
She noted that in group therapy discussions, those who have issues concentrating often do better with the aid of a coloring book, stating “we have several adult coloring books at my site to offer the clients.”

9. Build Mental Strength

We know that coloring books can help release stress in tough situations, but coloring books can also train our brains, making us more efficient, logical and mentally strong.
That’s right. Coloring can actually make you sharper and healthier. Leslie Marshall, a clinical counselor, states that coloring “opens up the frontal lobe of the brain- the home of organizing and problem solving – and focuses the mind.”
This can improve reasoning abilities as coloring gives the brain a chance to focus selectively. Additionally, psychologist Gloria Martinez Ayala notes that coloring is so efficient in activating the cerebral cortex that the pastime can delay or prevent illnesses associated with aging, like dementia.

10. An Easy Way to Relax & Have Some Simple Fun

Some may view coloring as frivolous, but when is the last time you sat down and did something just for the fun of it?
Coloring can act as your designated “me-time,” and also as a way to increase self esteem.
In fact, a 2012 study showed that participants in a drawing and painting class reported 80% increased confidence and motivation. Other studies have pointed to the role of art in positive self realization and self representation, as well as increased involvement in a community.

Over the past few years, coloring has evolved from a children’s pastime to a legitimate form of therapy and meditation.
 If you want to give it a try, check out this reasonably priced adult coloring book on Amazon! 

If nothing else, your life will be a little more colorful!
Happy Coloring! 💟💟💟💟💟

What is your emotional quotient (EQ) & how to improve it?

What is EQ?
EQ is a popularly accepted abbreviation for Emotional intelligence/Emotional quotient. It is the ability to recognize your emotions, understand what they’re telling you, and realize how your emotions affect people around you. It also involves your perception of others: when you understand how they feel, this allows you to manage relationships more effectively using self awareness & empathy. Overall high EQ enables us to deal with people & situations in a more balanced manner, and improves the quality of our relationships. It enables us to inspire, engage & motivate people around us better.

No matter which field you are in, your journey to success will involve relationships & people. Not everyone you meet will be of a temperament or nature similar to yours. Your ability to built constructive interpersonal relationships with people at home or work is the measurement of your EQ. High EQ is gradually becoming a predominant quality of the most successful people in every walk of life. Yes, they have talent/knowledge but what makes them more successful is their EQ (70% of the credit is given to their EQ). With the worldwide growth in the business fraternity it has become imperative to have leaders & managers who are able to lead people with more EQ, primarily because human interactions drive our day to day lives, whether at work or at home.

Now emotional intelligence is not a skill one is born with, in fact it is a skill we can learn & master. This is the reason why it has made its way into school curriculum worldwide. Introducing this skill into the minds of kids early is a result of research on this subject & its positive outcomes.

If you want to check what is your EQ here is a link I found online, that can help you with it – https://www.iq-test.net/eq-test.html

Based on my knowledge & experience and reading some great people’s work in this field,
 I am sharing some of the simplest ways to improve your EQ in a jiffy(kidding) it will be some work, but totally worth it. EQ isn’t something you develop once then drop. It is like rebuilding & updating your inner software from time to time. It’s a lifetime practice, and it is possible to keep improving. Even when you feel like you’ve mastered these steps, remember to keep practicing, and you’ll reap the benefits for the rest of your life:

1.Practice Observing How You Feel & Behave:

In the process of rushing from one commitment to the next, meeting deadlines, and responding to external demands, many of us lose touch with our emotions. When we do this, we’re far more likely to act unconsciously and inappropriately too.The emotional reaction we experience might be due to the current situation, or it could be that the current situation is reminding us of a painful, unprocessed memory.
When we pay attention to how we’re feeling or become aware of our emotions, we learn to trust our emotions, and we become far more able to manage them.
While you’re practicing your emotional awareness, pay attention to your behavior too. Notice how you act when you’re experiencing certain emotions, and how that affects your day-to-day life. Does it impact your communication with others, your productivity, or your overall sense of well-being?
It could be a feeling of stress, resentment or anger, how do you react then? Make a note of these instances.

EXERCISE: Maintain a dairy, a journal of sorts, pen down the highlights of your day/week, this will help you vent out your emotions constructively and you will also be able to analyze them without jumping to conclusions.

2.Take Responsibility for Your Feelings and Behavior

This is probably the most challenging step, and it’s also the most helpful. Your emotions and behavior come from you—they don’t come from anyone else—therefore, you’re the one who’s responsible for them.
If you feel hurt in response to something someone says or does, and you lash out at them, you’re responsible for that. They didn’t “make” you lash out (they’re not controlling you with puppet strings, after all!), your reaction is your responsibility.
Once you start accepting responsibility for how you feel and how you behave, this will have a positive impact on all areas of your life.

3.Practice Responding, Rather than Reacting

There’s a subtle but important difference between responding and reacting.
Reacting is an unconscious process where we experience an emotional trigger, and behave in an unconscious way that expresses or relieves that emotion (for example, feeling irritated and snapping at the person who has just interrupted you).
Responding is a conscious process that involves noticing how you feel, then deciding how you want to behave (for example, feeling irritated, explaining to the person how you feel, why this isn’t a good time to be interrupting you, and when would be better).

4.Practice Empathy

Empathy is about understanding why someone feels or behaves in a certain way and being able to communicate that understanding to them. It applies to ourselves and other people, and practicing this ability will improve your EQ.
Start by practicing with yourself. When you notice yourself feeling or behaving in a certain way, ask “Why do I think I’m feeling like this/doing this?” At first, your response might be “I don’t know,” but keep paying attention to your feelings and behavior, and you’ll start to notice different answers coming through. Use empathy & sensitivity towards people,their reactions and yours as well.

5.Create A Positive Environment

As well as practicing the skills I’ve mentioned so far, its imperative to make time to notice what is going well and where you feel grateful in your life.
Creating a positive environment not only improves your quality of life, but it can be contagious to people around you.Your mindset will transform and you will be able to adapt to situations & learning in a better way.
EXERCISE: Maintain a dairy, a journal of sorts, pen down what you are grateful for on a daily/weekly basis. I call it the gratitude journal. It infuses our minds with the required dose of positivity. 

6.Practice mindfulness

Indulge in activities or practices that help you step away from the chaos and explore your emotions.
It could be yoga, meditation, journal-ling or even coloring. The choice is yours, choose what inspires & intriguies you and then make an effort to be consistent with it. In todays fast paced world it is so easy to get bored of doing the same thing, but this behavior only adds to our anxiety. Learn to curb this fidgety feeling & dedicate yourself to an activity that helps you relax & destress on a regular basis.
Lately, after the release of my coloring book for adults titled UmeniTherapy, I received emails from people using it as a daily ritual to engage themselves in a positive manner. Coloring is helping adults step out of their mobile crazy routines and explore their creativity, calmness, mindfulness & peace in their minds with only 15 minutes a day.
Perhaps, it is right to believe, if there is any skill we wish to learn or master we need our minds & our sanity to help us get there.
Hope this helps you be positive & improve your EQ!
Stay blessed!