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Metta-morphics

Elfreda Manahan-Vaughan Coaching, Training and Consulting

[email protected] Tel.0868373582

Blog

Blog

When I am contemplating something or have learned something worth sharing I will post it here.

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The 5 Domains of Post-Traumatic Growth

Posted by Elfreda Manahan-Vaughan on May 3, 2019 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (0)

What Leads to Post-Traumatic Growth?

I doubt there is a single person on the planet, or any one of you reading this blog post, who hasn’t experienced some type of traumatic event in their lifetime. Oftentimes, when we think of trauma, we think of the more known ones such as abuse, bereavement, illness, accidents or the threat of losing a loved one. However, we can experience trauma with less extreme events, as trauma is an event that causes us to feel threatened in some way, either physically, emotionally or mentally and one that makes us feel fearful, unsafe and insecure or afraid for our own life or that of a loved one. For a child, moving house, or having a loved one move away, or seeing something frightening, even in a film, can be traumatic. One of the most fascinating things about trauma is that a huge number of people recover afterwards and move on with their life. Whilst studying Positive Psychology for my Masters in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology, I have been drawn to the whole field of Post-Traumatic Growth and what the ‘difference that makes the difference’ is, when it comes to growth.


According to Tedeschi and Calhoun, highly stressful events have a major impact on individuals that range from numerous psychological problems; anxiety, depression unpredictable emotional states, negative thinking, fear as well as physical problems such as aches and pains, muscles problems, gastrointestinal problems and fatigue, to name but a few. These problems can last for years, after the event has long passed, as well as unwanted memories of the trauma, flashbacks, regret, guilt and feelings of not being able to move on with one’s life. It can be especially challenging when other people appear to have moved on and you feel like you are stuck in some kind of limbo between how the past was and how it is now. I know this from my own personal experience after the death of my parents when I was in my twenties. For many years, research into trauma has focused on those individuals who ended up in a therapeutic setting because they were suffering severe psychological effects from highly stressful events. However, Tedeschi and Calhoun chose to look at those individuals who had experienced growth after a traumatic event which is why Post-traumatic Growth (PTG) is part of the field of study of Positive Psychology.


One interesting aspect of PTG is the fact that the trajectory of growth is more advanced in individuals who are younger because as we age, we have already had much life experience as well as having developed greater levels of resilience. However, anyone can experience PTG at any stage of their life. Adolescents and individuals in the in twenties often demonstrate the greatest levels of growth whilst older individuals often display higher levels of hardiness and therefore their ability to cope with major stressful events reduces the potential for growth.


Tedeschi and Calhoun in their research discovered five domains of PTG, which are the changes that occur in an individual when they experience PTG. They are as follows:

Personal Strength: the feeling that you can cope with life’s adversities and have more wisdom and maturity as well as feeling stronger for the experience

• Closer Relationships: knowing the value of close relationships as well as having a greater sense of who the important people are in one’s life

• Greater Appreciation of Life: feelings of gratitude, hope, kindness towards others, love and teamwork

• New Possibilities: working towards goals, prioritizing values and time commitments and greater understanding of friends and family

• Spiritual Development: readjusting beliefs to encompass the trauma or revising spiritual beliefs altogether.

I am sure many of you already identifying with these aspects of your own growth. If you haven’t experienced this yet, there is still plenty of time. PTG can take time as it is necessary to go through the emotions associated with the stressful event and move towards a place of recovery. There are, however, also a number of factors that can support you in moving towards growth after a traumatic life event.


• Brutally Honest Optimism: believing that you can be ok and that you have the power to get over this experience

• Perception of Control Over Events: taking action after the event, as well as reframing it into a context that makes sense.

• Coping Style: having an active coping style that leads to problem solving rather than an avoidant coping style that leads to denial and impedes recovery

• Strong Sense of Self: having a purpose in life and a healthy narrative that makes sense of what had happened to you and prevents you from repeating some of the mistakes that may have been made by others that lead to the stressful event.


One of the most important things to remember when you are going through an intensely stressful life event is to get the support and help you need. If you are struggling with your mental health then working with someone who can diagnose what you are experiencing, especially when it comes to Complex PTSD, PTSD or Personality Disorders and provide you with the right kind of therapeutic support. If you are feeling it’s time to make changes and move forward in your healing then working with a coach who can help you work on your ‘New Possibilities’ as well as help you to develop a healthy narrative around your trauma is an excellent way to move to a more healthy place in your life, or what Positive Psychology calls flourishing.


Of course as always, if you have any questions that I can help you with or if you want advice about the kind of support you, or your loved may need, then please get in touch via email: [email protected] or via phone: 00353868373582. I see clients face to face and online and can support you using Coaching Psychology, Positive Psychology, NLP, Hypnosis, CBT and Mindfulness.

Thanks for reading.

I hope our paths cross again in future,

Elfreda

 

 

The Mental Health Continuum and Wellbeing

Posted by Elfreda Manahan-Vaughan on March 28, 2019 at 8:30 AM Comments comments (0)

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Staying Mindful When Life Gets Difficult

Posted by Elfreda Manahan-Vaughan on January 25, 2019 at 8:15 AM Comments comments (0)


 

As many of you who follow my blogs post or who know me will know, I am no stranger to heartbreak and loss. When my parents passed away, in my twenties, I had no mindfulness practice to see me through that challenging time. In more recent years I’ve lost two uncles, my father in law as well as two cats and a dog. When each of these occasions arose, I returned to the present moment as best as I could and although I was sad, I was able to cope much better than I had previously.


As I write today my beloved dog McLovin is very ill with a suspected brain tumour, how much time he has or whether he will recover enough to have some time left is uncertain. Times like these have the ability to pull you from the present moment very easily, like leaving money at the atm in a supermarket, only for a staff member to find you after a customer had handed it in, that happened yesterday. That situation had two lessons for me, one is that I need to be more present and the second was that there are some kind and honest people out there in the world.


I am acutely aware that when I dwell on what’s happening, I fall into tears and a sense of loss but if I bring myself to what is here, right now, I can still work and take care of what’s important but most importantly be there for my ill dog. It is every easy to slide into the past, remembering how he was before, going over the events in the run up to this day, wondering what we could have done differently and yet none of that will change where I am now, other than make it harder. If I rush ahead to the future, I am consumed with potential grief, loss and imagining my life without him. This is neither useful or beneficial either.


Staying in the present allows me to be with my emotions as they arise, letting them ebb and flow knowing that they will soon pass to be replaced by another. Focusing on what is right in front of me keeps me in the here and now and helps me to experiencing gratitude for what I have. I am glad that Mc’s illness gives me time to prepare for what is yet to come. I am grateful for all people who are supporting me and James through this, friends, family and the veterinary staff who have all been so kind. I am grateful for the concerned comments from colleagues and neighbours as they enquire about his welfare and I am grateful for my mindfulness practice that keeps pulling me back to the present.


I cannot know what will happen but for now I can rest in what is within my power and allow myself to experience the fullness of my life in each passing moment.


Thanks for reading. If you want to get in touch PM me, or email [email protected]

I hope our paths cross gain in future,

Elfreda (Mind Coach, Trainer & Meditation Instructor)

 

Time to Reflect

Posted by Elfreda Manahan-Vaughan on December 27, 2018 at 4:30 AM Comments comments (0)


As the year draws to a close it is time to reflect before beginning the New Year. Practising gratitude is a regular part of my life and as I am sure many of you may know it is an essential practice in Positive Psychology. The Count Your Blessings intervention has been made well known by the father of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman. This time of year, is a time of huge gratitude for me as I look back on all I’ve achieved, gained, received and shared in this past year.

As a year 2018 has been an eventful one. There have been many changes for me, some disappointments and health issues. However, each of the challenges I faced brought me more gratitude as I realised how amazing and supportive the people in my life are. I have also been blessed with sharing my time with some wonderful people. To all of you who attended classes, listened to me speak and sat opposite me in a coaching session, I am truly grateful. You are the reason I do what I do, and your presence encouraged me to get out of bed even on those days it was struggle.

To my colleagues, those I teach with, train with and my fellow coaches, you are a constant source of support and encouragement. I know when no-one else may see my social media posts one of you will always respond. You encourage me to be my best and challenge me to push my boundaries. This past year some of you have gone above and beyond to support me and help me, especially when things got difficult. I won’t name you but if you are reading this you know who you are.

I am also blessed with a wonderful network of friends, family and loved ones. It is always a joy to be around people who get me and who will accept me, warts and all.

Next year is already looking exciting. I have seen more clients in the past few months than I ever have before and thanks to you and all the referrals I already have bookings for the New Year. I will be speaking in schools to students and staff and delivering lots of mindfulness, well-being, confidence and stress management courses. My studies will continue and by May I will have my Post Graduate certificate in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology, the first step in my Masters. It’s all very exciting and I can’t wait.

I wish all of you a very Happy New Year, I hope it brings much joy, success and achievement. Thank you for all the comments, Likes, Loves and Shares, you have no idea how much it helps.

I hope our paths cross again in the New Year,

Elfreda (Feeling Grateful)

[email protected]/ 00353868373582

 

 

 


Two Short Mindfulness Practices to Get You Through the Festive Season

Posted by Elfreda Manahan-Vaughan on December 21, 2018 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)


Whether you love it or hate it the Christmas holiday period can have stressors. It may be the build-up, as you try to get everything ready or it may be on the day when you juggle family with present opening and the big feast. This week, as my classes ended for this year, and this term, I taught two short practices to help students if the pressure cooker of stress starts build. I’ve decided to share them with you here too. They take less than five minutes. One is done with eyes closed and the other you can do either with eyes open or closed.

3 Minute Present Moment Awareness.

Sit up straight with your eyes closed. Notice your feet, lower legs, knees and upper legs. Then, notice your pelvis and the feeling of your body on the chair. Notice your stomach and chest and feel the breath entering and leaving your body. Notice your lower back and upper back and then your shoulders. Notice your fingers and thumbs, hands, wrists, upper arms and lower arms. Then notice your neck, back of your head top of your head and face. (This should only take one minute).

Next notice any sounds you can hear, keep listening and if your mind wanders come back to the sounds. Listen for loud ones and quiet ones. Try not to think about what they are, just notice that you can hear things. After a minute move on to the next stage.

Lastly, for one minute, notice your thoughts. Are they thoughts from the past or future, are you worrying, talking to yourself or going over something in your mind? Just notice what is there, without trying to change anything or judge yourself for your thinking. After the minute is over just notice your breath and then open your eyes.

The Power of Three

With your eyes open or closed, notice three different sensations in your body. They may be just in different parts of your body, or you can see if you can find three different specific sensations.

Now see if you can notice three different sounds. Start with louder ones and then move on to quieter ones.

Finally, notice three different types of thoughts you’ve been having. They may be repetitive or recurring. They may have been momentary; pleasure, pain, happiness or discomfort. See if you can find three then, move your attention outwards to what you can see. If you wish you can then look for three things of a specific colour, such as three blue things. Then you can look for three things with numbers. If you are in a public place you can look for three people with hats, bags and so on. As soon as you feel your focus has moved from whatever has been stressing you, you can stop.

You can do either of these exercises at any time, to pull you away from any stressful thinking you may be experiencing. We can’t stop ourselves thinking but we can change our focus.

Wishing you have a very happy Christmas, if you celebrate.

I hope our paths cross gain in future,

Elfreda [email protected] 00353868373582

 

 

 


Two Short Mindfulness Practices to Get You Through the Festive Season

Posted by Elfreda Manahan-Vaughan on December 21, 2018 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)


Whether you love it or hate it the Christmas holiday period can have stressors. It may be the build-up, as you try to get everything ready or it may be on the day when you juggle family with present opening and the big feast. This week, as my classes ended for this year, and this term, I taught two short practices to help students if the pressure cooker of stress starts build. I’ve decided to share them with you here too. They take less than five minutes. One is done with eyes closed and the other you can do either with eyes open or closed.

3 Minute Present Moment Awareness.

Sit up straight with your eyes closed. Notice your feet, lower legs, knees and upper legs. Then, notice your pelvis and the feeling of your body on the chair. Notice your stomach and chest and feel the breath entering and leaving your body. Notice your lower back and upper back and then your shoulders. Notice your fingers and thumbs, hands, wrists, upper arms and lower arms. Then notice your neck, back of your head top of your head and face. (This should only take one minute).

Next notice any sounds you can hear, keep listening and if your mind wanders come back to the sounds. Listen for loud ones and quiet ones. Try not to think about what they are, just notice that you can hear things. After a minute move on to the next stage.

Lastly, for one minute, notice your thoughts. Are they thoughts from the past or future, are you worrying, talking to yourself or going over something in your mind? Just notice what is there, without trying to change anything or judge yourself for your thinking. After the minute is over just notice your breath and then open your eyes.

The Power of Three

With your eyes open or closed, notice three different sensations in your body. They may be just in different parts of your body, or you can see if you can find three different specific sensations.

Now see if you can notice three different sounds. Start with louder ones and then move on to quieter ones.

Finally, notice three different types of thoughts you’ve been having. They may be repetitive or recurring. They may have been momentary; pleasure, pain, happiness or discomfort. See if you can find three then, move your attention outwards to what you can see. If you wish you can then look for three things of a specific colour, such as three blue things. Then you can look for three things with numbers. If you are in a public place you can look for three people with hats, bags and so on. As soon as you feel your focus has moved from whatever has been stressing you, you can stop.

You can do either of these exercises at any time, to pull you away from any stressful thinking you may be experiencing. We can’t stop ourselves thinking but we can change our focus.

Wishing you have a very happy Christmas, if you celebrate.

I hope our paths cross gain in future,

Elfreda [email protected] 00353868373582

 

 

 


Trying out Positive Psychology Interventions for Forgiveness

Posted by Elfreda Manahan-Vaughan on November 9, 2018 at 2:45 AM Comments comments (0)


 

Those you who very kindly keep track of my online activity, and take the time to read my blog posts, will probably have noticed I’ve been posting a lot less lately. The reason being I started a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology or MAPPCP for short. It’s a subject area I am fascinated by, especially now as the focus of PP has turned from simply research, to using Positive Psychology Interventions in real world contexts like coaching. So, what is a PPI?

Positive Psychology Interventions or PPIs for short are exercises and activities used to help get people from 0 to 5 on a scale of flourishing. ‘Psychology as usual’ has for many years focussed on getting people from -5 to 0, which would mean from clinical depression and poor mental health to a functional level. A lot of research prior to the beginnings of Positive Psychology, in 1998, was concerned with abnormal psychology. Certain fields such as Humanism looked at the areas of virtue and flourishing but not to the extent that PP does. When research into PP began the main aim was to develop interventions that would allow someone who was functional to move into what is called flourishing. There are several scales or measures to test out where you are currently, such as, the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule or PANAS and the Scale of Positive and Negative Experience or SPANE which give you a measure of subjective well-being or SWB (you can find these through a Google search). There are also tests for Life Satisfaction and much more. If you have ever heard of the Gallop surveys, you may have come across some of these as they regularly test well-being across the nations of the world. Of course, once you have a measure of well-being the next step is to figure out how to improve it and that’s where Positive Psychology Interventions come into play.

Some of the most widely recognised PPIs are Gratitude exercises, Mindfulness, Forgiveness, Positive Goals and much more. Much of the self-help industry adopt these but the difference with PP is they empirically test them to know if and why they work. As part of my first assignment I have had to engage in two PPIs. Obviously, these are not new to me as I have been practicing Mindfulness and Gratitude for years and many of the other PPIs. Choosing one that was new was a bit of a challenge, but I finally chose to do a Forgiveness PPI as this particular one was not one I had done before. Forgiveness PPIs are not intended to condone anyone’s behaviour or to forgive someone who could cause you danger by forgiving them. They are intended to help you let go of unwanted emotions and to move on from a hurtful situation. So, in the interest of making this blog post brief I am going to share the Forgiveness PPI with you below and you can let me know in the comments if you tried it and how you got on.

Benefit Finding Effect - Forgiveness PPI

For the next 20 minutes, we would like for you to write an essay related to that harmful thing that someone did to you. However, as you write, we would like for you to write about positive aspects of the experience. In which ways did the thing that this person did to you lead to positive consequences for you? Perhaps you became aware of personal strengths that you did not realize you had, perhaps a relationship became better or stronger as a result, or perhaps you grew or became a stronger or wiser person. Explore these issues as you write. In particular, please try to address the following points: (a) In what ways did the hurtful event that happened to you lead to positive outcomes for you? That is, what personal benefits came out of this experience for you? (b) In what ways has your life become better as a result of the harmful thing that occurred to you? In what ways is your life or the kind of person that you have become better today as a result of the harmful thing that occurred to you? (c) Are there any other additional benefits that you envision coming out of this experience for you perhaps some time in the future? As you write, really try to “let go”and think deeply about possible benefits that you have gained from this negative event, and possible benefits you might receive in the future. Try not to hold anything back. Be as honest and candid as possible about this event and its positive effects, or potential effects, on your life.

You can do this once or as I did, which was 3 times over a period of a week. I found it really useful, and a great way to reframe hurt. It also was a useful addition to my regular Loving Kindness practice, which I wrote about in an early blog post.

I look forward to hearing how you got on. You can contact me via PM, email: [email protected] or phone 0868373582.

I hope our paths cross again in future,

Elfreda



Top Tips for Starting and Maintaining a Regular Mindfulness Practice

Posted by Elfreda Manahan-Vaughan on October 5, 2018 at 3:55 AM Comments comments (0)


Once it hits Autumn I am usually inundated with requests about when my next Mindfulness course takes place and bookings for Mindfulness talks and workshops. It appears that once the shorter nights start, people shift focus from holidays and outdoor activities to learning and study. For some people getting to access a course is not always possible and so they embark on a Mindfulness practice themselves. For others, they’ve already done a course and they just want to get back into it. With this in mind, I have decided to give you my top tips for starting and maintaining a regular Mindfulness practice.


1. Find a teacher

I know I said above that not everyone can get to a class but there are still plenty of ways to get access to a teacher. There are lots of online courses, including my own, as well as apps that have teachings from reputable teachers. Finding a teacher is very important if you want to have the right kind of practice for you, to make sure you are practicing correctly and also so that you can ask questions if you are finding it challenging or aren’t sure if you are on the right path. Make sure the person you choose to learn from is a regular meditator themselves and clearly demonstrate that they are living mindfully. This does not mean they are stress free and happy all they time. What it does mean is they are clearly self-aware and managing their stress and demonstrating the core teachings of mindfulness.


2. Choose your time wisely

Knowing when to meditate is very important as it is not the same for everyone. I am a morning meditator. I like to do it first thing so that way I won’t miss out on it if my day gets busy or if I am too tired later in the evening. That being said, I also allow myself the flexibility of doing it later if I decide to have a lie in or if I am extra enthusiastic and decide to meditate a second time later in the day. Other people prefer last thing at night because it helps you relax and can be great for sleep. If you do choose to meditate at night, then it’s better to do it somewhere other than your bedroom and most importantly not your bed.


3. Get a Timer

Often when people start to meditate they sit down and close their eyes with the intention of meditating for a few minutes. In my experience without a timer they rarely do the time they intend and spend most of they time checking their watch wondering how long they’ve been. If you get a timer, I recommend the Insight Meditation Timer App, then you can set your time and get on with it, knowing it will ring when your time is up. You can also set interval bells if you want to extend your meditation and like to have some idea of what stage you are at. You can do 5-minute bells, for shorter meditations and 15 minutes for longer, for example. The Insight Timer is also useful because it logs your meditations, which can be very motivating for some, including me.


4. Choose your duration

As with all things, there are recommendations and best practices. According to the research, which you can find in the book Altered Traits by Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson, the optimum time for meditation is 20 minutes. In the beginning this length of time can feel like an eternity so, it is important to start slowly and work your way up. If you go all gung-ho at the beginning, you will very likely give up after a while as the commitment may seem too much. Start by doing 5-minute slots, adding a few minutes a week over a period of weeks until you eventually get to 20 minutes a day. After that if you wish to do longer sessions, that is up to you.


5. Choose your location

Having a set location where you meditate every day is helpful. Having your zafu, stool or chair already set out with a blanket and cushion helps to make your practice formal, but also eliminates any excuses you might make for not having somewhere to practice or things not being ready. This should preferably not be in your bedroom or if it is, it shouldn’t be your bed. If you meditate in bed you will fall asleep. Having a candle or an altar can help some people too, as it gives the practice a sense of importance or value. Decide what works for you.


6. Commit

Mindfulness is a commitment. You must commit to doing it every day if you want to reap the benefits, or at least 5 to 6 days a week. Naturally we all miss a day every so often, but the research tells us that it is the daily practice that makes the difference to your brain and when we stop things go back to the way they were before. There are days when you will be challenged but if you make it part of your routine and commit to doing it for your own benefit, and the benefit of those around you, then you will be more likely to keep going when you’ve missed a day or when it seems like it is too hard.


7. Let go of your judgment

Mindfulness is a non-judgemental practice. What this means is, it is a way of being that allows what is, without trying to change or resist it. This is important when you practice because some days you will feel great and other days your head will be melted with over-thinking, itches, pain, uncomfortable feelings and general irritation. These are the times when you need to keep going and push through. This is when you need to be able to accept what is and let go of your attachment and judgement to wanting it to be different. These are the meditations that make the biggest difference when it comes to difficulties and challenges in your life. If it was always easy, then you wouldn’t reap the benefits of being able to deal with the hard stuff in life when they arise.


8. Give it a go

Finally, just give it a go. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Play around with different types of meditation and find the one that works for you, and if you struggle with sitting do some mindful movement or walking. There are lots of types of meditation out there, I’ve trained in Zazen from the Zen tradition, Metta or Loving Kindness, Healing Meditation and Visualisation meditation, such as those used in Reiki. I practice them all at different times depending on my mood or needs.


If I can help you in any way or if you have questions then, please feel free to get in touch. You can find my online course on my website and links on my Facebook page and if you would like a one to one session this can be done via Skype or Zoom or face to face.

Thanks for reading.

I hope our paths cross again in the future,

Elfreda (regular meditator, often itchy, fidgety and has a monkey mind).

 



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