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Lead through inspiration, not expectation

Natalie Snooke - Thursday, July 05, 2018

As people, we thrive on what inspires us, not merely what is expected of us.

This has been one of the greatest things I've learned in my journey, especially moving from the corporate world to holding space as a coach and teacher.

Being inspired brings our authentic self into the picture. And it connects us to what it means to be human.

If we only use expectations and standards to motivate ourselves and others, our focus unnecessarily narrows. We tend to lose sight of the new possibilities and potential that arises as circumstances change and as people grow.

Mindfulness training - especially meditation - helps us to discover and rediscover the deeper inspiration that drives and calls us.

And we need to remember that being inspired is just as important in leading ourselves, as well as others.

• What inspires you every day?
• When you are inspired, how does it feel?
• What can help you to be inspiring when the going gets tough?
• How can you find inspiration in your local community?

If you're stuck for inspiration, I have a couple of events coming up at Momentum that might help to rekindle yours. Winter is a great time for diving into your personal growth!

My next six-week Beginners Meditation Course starts Thursday 12 July 2018.  You'll be supported to develop your own mindfulness meditation practice and to experience a more centred, calm and understanding approach to yourself and everyday life. 

Rediscover Yourself and Your Enneagram Type Workshop is on Saturday 14 July 2018. You'll get to explore your Enneagram personality type and understand the Enneagram system to bring greater self-awareness and ease to your everyday habits, actions and relationships. 

These are two of the most inspiring events that I have the privilege of running - and I'd love to welcome you, if they resonate. 

May you be inspirational!
Natalie

Natalie Snooke is the founder of Momentum Coaching and Yoga, established in 2007. A heart-centred and experienced facilitator, she specialises in guiding men and women to develop focus, presence, creativity and compassion in their personal and professional lives. 

 


Why the only way to start your day is with intention

Natalie Snooke - Tuesday, February 27, 2018

How we choose to start our day says a lot about how our day (and our life) will unfold.

Making the intentional change to an early-morning yoga and meditation practice in my early 30's has been one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Sometimes I still have to work at it but I never regret the effort I put in to start my day in a conscious way - it gives me the strength, joy, courage and perspective I need to face life gracefully.

According to ancient Yoga philosophy, the early-morning hours around sunrise is called Brahmamuhurtha. It means 'the creator's hour.'

This is a powerful time when our heart and our mind is naturally open, creative and the most receptive. If you listen to the birds at sunrise, they seem to know this magic!

So when we use the early morning hours to be with ourselves through the body and the breath (as opposed to doing other things, as tempting as they might be) it really pays off.

In our complex, fast-paced, modern lives we all need to find good ways that nurture and sustain us, or run the risk of burning out - and ultimately living an unfulfilled life.

A self-practice like yoga or meditation allows us to discover and tap into an inner source of energy that is life-giving and empowering.

Over time, the regular habit of 'turning inward' results in a relaxed presence and more energy, with better access to our creativity, our wisdom, our capacity to love, to make wise decisions and to be the best person we can be.

How do you start your day?

Perhaps yoga or meditation isn't your thing, but choose something that resonates with you and leaves you feeling relaxed, centred and energised for your day ahead.

And if you've never given yourself early-morning time before, rather than reach for the IPhone or get busy with the kids or your to-do list, I invite you to try a new habit - first take time for yourself - and see what a difference it makes.

Here are some tips to try:

💠Set up your yoga mat, meditation cushion or your quiet space the night before, so you're ready-to-go.
💠 Keep your IPhone out of the bedroom - use an old-fashioned alarm clock or clock radio if you need an alarm.
💠 Say to yourself last thing at night: when I awake, I will give time to myself first.
💠 Give yourself 15-45 minutes (whatever you can) to breathe, move, journal, sit quietly, meditate or practice yoga. Do it just for you!
💠 Commit to doing this for a whole week, or a whole month, and see what a difference it makes.

If you find that this approach to your day works, then why not adopt it as 'your way' and notice how it sustains you over the longer-term.

Our Intentional Living Group Coaching Program will help you with the mindset, skills, approaches and inspiration to deepen your self-awareness; increase your capacity for change and to accomplish the goals and vision you set out for yourself.

Wishing you focus, energy, and the fulfilment of your deepest desires in life - today and always!
Natalie

Natalie Snooke is an experienced Mindful Leadership Coach, Yoga and Meditation Teacher and the founder of Momentum. She specialises in guiding men and women to develop focus, presence, creativity and compassion in their personal and professional lives. She has a background in human resource management and takes a pragmatic yet light-hearted approach to her work.

If you really want to be a rebel: practice kindness

Natalie Snooke - Monday, December 04, 2017


Over many years studying human nature, one of the most valuable things I have learned is the life-changing magic of kindness. And the real challenge, and courage it takes, to practice kindness as a way-of-life.

Real kindness, to ourselves and others, means a commitment to understanding, acceptance and compassion. It involves noticing and letting-go of our tendencies to judge, complain, be 'better than' and to criticise.

Kindness is an awakening of the heart. It leads us to experience natural joy and peace, both within ourselves and for others. It allows us to make a genuine difference in the world.

I'm not suggesting that kindness means condoning or turning a blind-eye to violence, to not making a stand to protect the rights of others or against cruelty. But rather that kindness means FIRST making the effort to see and understand how everyone suffers and just wants to find happiness, albeit sometimes in their own limited, ignorant or harmful ways. Then doing what we can, within the scope of our own life to effect change, and then letting-go.

Try this as a kindness practice. Try going for one whole day without voicing any criticism, complaint or judgment - and see how you go!

Notice how common-place complaining, criticising and judging is around you. Notice what impact it has. Notice how judgment prevents connection. And notice and resist the urge to add your 'two cents worth' - this is often the really hard bit.

I promise, trying this practice, even for just one day, will open your eyes to how much 'unkindness' we create. And to the many everyday, real-life opportunities you have to cultivate an open-heart and to choose kindness.

Happy rebellion!
Natalie

Natalie Snooke is the founder of Momentum and an experienced coach, mindfulness meditation and yoga teacher. Natalie guides others to live with greater courage, compassion, purpose and authenticity. Apart from her regular classes held at Momentum, she runs inspiring and engaging workshops, retreats in Perth, Bali and India, as well as individual coaching programs.

Life is a balancing act

Natalie Snooke - Monday, October 02, 2017

by guest blogger Madeline Clare

Is balance an unattainable pipe dream?

The search for balance between work and life is a losing proposition and a potentially destructive one. Absolute balance is an illusion. What appears to be a state of balance is an act of balancing, something quite different.

To long for ‘balance’ is to use the noun, but to live in balance is a verb. It is seen as something we ultimately attain. Yet, balance is something we are actually constantly doing.

So, having a balanced life is a myth.

It is an ideal with a philosophical understanding that is based on the space between two polar opposites. The phrase,‘I need more balance’is heard when it is felt that something is missing. An upset or change tips the scales. A fulfilling life, a life of balance, is where purposeful meaning and significance are sought.

However, changing priorities and fine-tuning life’s relevance involves an invisible middle line, which is constantly criss-crossed in the act of living a full life.

Giving time to what matters becomes a balancing act.

Extraordinary results require focussed attention and time. Time on one thing means time away from another. This makes balance impossible.

Historically, balancing our lives is a novel privilege. Work was life and if you didn’t, life was short. Scholars and craftsmen, freed from forage or farm worked according to their needs and ambitions. Then, industrialisation kicked in with large numbers working for someone else. Schedules and long hours with continuously lit factories ignored dawn and dusk and movements to protect workers and limited work hours began.

To view life lived at the extremes creates something truly extraordinary. A moment where magic happens. Magic doesn’t happen in the middle when time commitments are dissipated in an effort to attend to all things with nothing getting its due. Chasing the extremes presents real challenges because at the outer edges it is a bit scary and managing lives out there becomes understandably tricky.

The act of balance is knowing when to pursue the middle ground and when to pursue the extremes. Here is the beginning of wisdom.

Perhaps by replacing balance with counterbalance elicits the sense of grace that keeps subtle states of vibration flowing. Something will always be left undone, a necessary trade-off for extraordinary results. The idea of counterbalancing is that you never go so far that you can’t find your way back or stay so long that there is nothing waiting for you when you return.

To achieve something extraordinary is to choose what matters most and give it all the time that it demands, time and again.

This requires getting extremely out of balance. In a personal life awareness is key, awareness of spirit and body, family and friends, self-care – none of these can be sacrificed to have a life. Tight counterbalancing is to move back and forth quickly between and all activities, prioritising and combining. Personal life requires tight counterbalancing.

In the world of work to go out of balance is to make peace with the idea that the pursuit of extraordinary results may require you to be out of balance for long periods to focus on what really matters. Prioritise rigorously at work, but leave nothing behind in personal life.

So, when the question of balance shifts to a question of priority and clarity of choice, doors will open and extraordinary results will happen, once the demand for a priority has been set and acted on. When a priority is acted on, imbalance is highly probable, as more time is given to one thing than another. The challenge is to determine how much time is given to that one priority. Therefore, when work is required then work it is, when play is the priority, then play it must be. When priorities get mixed up things fall apart. It is a finely-tuned act, walking the tightrope of real life.

An extraordinary life is a counterbalancing act.

How do you feel about being in or out of balance?

Love,
Madeline

Madeline Clare is a yoga teacher, artist and Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant and has been teaching yoga at Momentum Coaching & Yoga since 2016. She has been practising yoga for over three decades. Her love of yoga has evolved from the pursuit of health to the underlying curiosity to understand life. Madeline also studies Fine Art, using paint and charcoal to express the playfulness of the human spirit. Learn more about her at madelineclare.com

What it takes to be a more mindful leader

Natalie Snooke - Wednesday, July 12, 2017

I am always on the lookout for inspiring, real-life examples of corporate leaders who embody mindfulness.

This morning while enjoying my ritual morning chai at a local West Perth cafe, I couldn't help but eavesdrop on a conversation between three people at the next table.

To use HR speak, it was an 'on-boarding' meeting between two business owners and a new employee they were orientating to their business.

And as I listened-in with interest on their dialogue, it soon became apparent that these were two very mindful leaders.

The focus of their exchange over a coffee wasn't about policy and process, or performance expectations, reporting relationships or even the expected hours of the job. The focus was about getting to know the new employee and finding out what they needed from the organisation to work at their best. Sure, they shared an inspiring business vision and described their workplace culture, but the exchange was more about connecting and understanding than telling.

The tone of the conversation was calm and spacious. There were several relaxed pauses after each person spoke that showed deep listening. Even though one of the business owners had to leave shortly after the meeting began to attend another meeting, there was no hint of rush or urgency to cover a heap of material or to get across a particular viewpoint.

The two business owners eached talked about their families and the challenges around balancing work and family life. One shared about their morning meditation practice which helped them to manage stress and to be kinder to their partner. The other said they loved cycling and invited the new employee to join their local group.

A positive, yet gentle rapport had soon developed to the point where the new employee took the time to reveal some quite personal health information that needed extra care to manage whilst at work. Without hesitation, the business owner gave a clear commitment of support and offered to create a work-station that better met the new employees' needs.

A mindful leader embodies leadership presence through their focus, clarity, creativity and compassion in the service of others. I could clearly sense all four of these mindful leadership qualities.

But what I found most striking (and delightful) about this encounter was that none of these three people meeting were women - they were all men.

Professional men, dressed in charcoal suits who each bore a strong physical presence and air of success, as well as a quirky, relaxed and compassionate warmth.

I'm not suggesting that men are not mindful leaders. I am fortunate to personally know many inspirational male leaders who are very self-aware! But often it's been my experience that the 'softer skills' essential for successful and mindful corporate leadership like creativity and compassion are given lesser importance and are therefore less developed in the average male leader.

We can all learn to lead with excellence by cultivating our inherent capabilities to focus on what's important, to see more clearly what is presenting itself, to foster greater creativity and to embody compassion.

Mindfulness for both male and female leaders alike involves making more conscious choices about how we manage at work, how we manage ourselves and how we live our lives.

This mindful leadership that I was privileged to witness first-hand just made my day.

Natalie Snooke is an experienced Mindful Leadership Coach, Meditation Teacher and the founder of Momentum. She specialises in guiding leaders to develop focus, presence, creativity and compassion in their personal and professional lives. She has a background in human resource management and takes a pragmatic yet light-hearted approach to her work.

How yoga and gardening get you back to your true nature

Alison Hilton - Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Most days my garden is my yoga. Its a joy and an ongoing reminder of impermanence and the cycle of birth, growth, flourishing and decay.

As a self-confessed gardening nerd, as well as a yogi, I love sharing tips and tricks with other more experienced gardeners and, most of all, just being 'in it' - outside with nature's green, the air and the earth.

Maybe it’s the oxygen and the beauty of nature or maybe it is just the thrill of watching something growing and transforming day by day. Just like us, anyone with an observant eye will notice that a garden is forever changing. Not only from the seasons and weather patterns but also the animals that inhabit the space and our skills and impacts as gardeners - and as yoga practitioners.

The more I think about it, the cycle in a garden mirrors the yoga journey throughout our lives.

Sowing a seed in yoga practice first requires a healthy foundation, just as a gardener needs to tend the soil before planting. There needs to be just enough sunlight and the right combination of healthy soil and water for seedlings to burst through the soil. In yoga practice, there needs to be just the right amount of focused yet relaxed attention, control of the breath and placement of the body for the energy to flow.

In a garden, it’s all about the soil. It needs to be well-fed with just the right amount of nutrients for plants and flowers to grow well - and so too for us.

For yoga practice to work its wonders, our body needs the best nourishment we can give it – fresh, high-quality food in the right proportions, adequate water, plenty of rest and tender loving care. Over time through consistent self care, we begin to notice positive shifts in our physical, mental and emotional health, just as a plant begins to thicken its stalk and produce branches.

In plants and in our yoga journey, the small changes that happen day by day are almost imperceivable but after a while, we notice just how much growth there's been.

We might notice how we have become calmer, how our tight hips have loosened or our self-esteem has improved after a few months of regular practice. Just as we might realise how tall a plant has become and delight as tiny blossums appear.

An experienced gardener expects results from their garden instantly. They might think that just planting a shrub will result in it growing! Whereas the seasoned gardener, just like the seasoned yogi, knows there is a little more to it. The key to that shrub really flourishing is the careful planning, soil cultivation and patience - just as the seasoned yogi knows the importance of having the right mindset and lifestyle to support yoga practice so we flourish in the long term.

Gardeners also know that there are times when we need to prune, to cut right back to the base of a plant in order for it to survive and thrive. It can look stark, bold and be quite scary to do. But after a few weeks its amazing how thickly and beautifully a plant will respond with new shoots and growth.

In a yoga practice, time and time again we need to come back to the basics. Back to the moment, back to the breath and the simplicity of it all, rather than trying to add another technique or try another yoga style or another yoga teacher. Although it can be confronting to come back to the basics rather than to entertain the whims of the mind, in yoga, less is more. Simplicity leads to a depth of growth and inner stability, often in surprising ways.

Just as you'd think about your garden, consider where you are at in your life and in your yoga practice:

  • How might you better tend to yourself and your yoga practice?
  • Are you allowing enough time for your yoga practice (and your self growth) to really flourish?
  • What nutrients are missing from your self-care?
  • Does anything need to be pruned back for you to rediscover simplicity?

Both gardening and yoga are about connecting us with nature and noticing things just as they are. And they are the perfect fit when it comes to reconnecting us with our true, inner nature - that's calm, content and blissful.

Happy gardening and happy yoga!
Alison

Alison Hilton has been teaching yoga at Momentum for six years and specialises in pre and postnatal yoga classes. When not refining her tree pose she is most likely to be found pruning one or smiling joyfully in her garden!

Yoga and love

Natalie Snooke - Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Love – many would say is life’s greatest mystery.

Yet many also come to find that through the paths of yoga, meditation and other forms of spiritual practice, love becomes something more knowable than they ever thought possible. Myself included.

When we think about love, it’s usually the romantic or emotional form.

When we ‘love’ somebody it creates a myriad of feelings such as joy, tenderness, care, affection, appreciation, wonder and lust, towards them. Love has an emotional attachment to it – and we cannot help that. It is our human instinct to want to be bonded to another and to be ‘loved’.

Yet there is also another kind of ‘love’.

A love that transcends emotional attachment. It has to do with presence. It has to do with a deeper, inner, pure form of love. And it is this form of deeper love that, if we are open, we can learn to experience through yoga.

The poet Rumi says: “Love is the bridge between you and everything.”

When we are relaxed and present, and not identified with our egoic mind, thinking and emotions, we experience a deeper state of consciousness that we call presence - or awareness, higher Self or spirit. To experience ourselves as presence, whilst on one hand is simple, is not always easy because of our conditioned habit to identify with our mind and emotions.

When we are truly present with another person, it means that we are not trapped in the judgements of the egoic mind. Our presence is clear. And we can also see and sense the other's clear presence. We feel connected. And if we stay gently yet intentionally attuned, we realise that this shared presence is energetically very real.

When we are truly present, we come to ‘love’ the other person because we recognise the same presence of who we are, in another.

Regardless of someone’s personality (which is just the conditioned mind and its patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving) we recognise that we are all the same – this sameness, this energy, this connection is love at its deepest level.

When yogis say they ‘feel the love’, which may be taken jokingly, chances are they genuinely mean it! We don’t need to be in a relationship with someone to sense this presence and love.

Feeling this deeper love is always available to us (whenever we are present, that is) and it is deeply satisfying. The Ancient Greeks referred to this kind of love as agape meaning the divine, highest form of love or the unconditional, selfless love of one person for another.

“Love ultimately, is true love beyond emotion, it is the recognition of yourself in the other.” Eckhart Tolle

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the emotional form of love – it’s just that we need to understand its limitations.

We need to be aware that emotional love changes form and can easily turn into many other emotions such as frustration, guilt, sadness or its opposite: hate. If we therefore rely on emotional love from someone else to feel happy and good about ourselves, then we are ultimately setting ourselves up for disappointment and dissatisfaction.

However, if we commit to seeking a deeper love, then we have the chance to potentially enjoy lifelong fulfilment. The first step is to experience and trust the presence or awareness in ourselves.

Whilst all authentic forms of yoga cultivate presence, there is one yogic path that also cultivates love. Bhakti Yoga is the path of union through devotion. Bhakti is characterised by the yogic practices of mantra repetition and chanting to cultivate a direct experience of deeper love. These practices work because they bypass the judgmental, egoic mind and connect us straight to the heart.

One final note. Even if you happen to have a sense of deeper love, you cannot force another to find it. One must undertake the inner journey and discover it for oneself. We might plant the seed, but it is up to the other person to want to water it!

And if you are lucky enough to be in an intimate relationship where emotional love is present as well as deeper love, then that is cause for gratitude and great celebration, over and over again.

I leave you with these words of love, again by Rumi:

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

With love,
Natalie

Natalie Snooke is the founder of Momentum and an experienced coach, mindfulness and yoga teacher. Natalie guides others to live with greater courage, compassion, purpose and authenticity. Apart from her regular classes held at Momentum, she runs inspiring and engaging workshops, retreats in Perth, Bali and India, as well as individual coaching programs.

Why can't your pregnancy be a little more blissful?

Alison Hilton - Tuesday, March 14, 2017

I haven’t met a single pregnant woman who wants an uncomfortable and stressful time during their pregnancy, birth and transition to motherhood.

In fact, if ever you meet a pregnant woman who beams at you and says “my pregnancy is amazing and blissful” you might think she was completely crazy. Or probably lying. And underneath it all, you'd probably be feeling totally envious and wondering what was her secret.

Pregnancy is an incredible time in the journey of a woman's life. It's a time to celebrate and shine in all your feminine glory.

Yet I’m not suggesting that pregnancy, birth and motherhood will transport you to a fluffy, ethereal world with cherubs playing harps for the rest of eternity. But surely you deserve a little of the bliss? This bliss I’m talking about, is not something we find on the outside, it is not handed-out alongside the pee-cup to confirm our pregnancy at the doctor's surgery. It's something that we must create for ourselves.

It saddens me that for many pregnant women, pregnancy and birth is not blissful. Rather, it's just something to be endured or 'pushed through.'

Yes there are plenty of unwelcome and uncomfortable aspects to pregnancy. You may be quite familiar with your old friend ‘morning sickness’ (which never just greets you in the morning right?). There's the sore boobs, achy back or those restless and sleepless nights. You might've even experienced some of the less common side effects like random, dizzy spells in shopping centres, swollen ankles and hair loss!

Whilst pregnant we tend to focus a lot on the physical side – how the body feels and looks - and it’s not always a positive focus. What can really help us to enjoy the experience more, and even enjoy a bit of bliss, is our mindset. How we think and react is something we can control and nurture. And sadly, it is often completely ignored by both ourselves and those around us.

Doctors and medical professionals are intensely focused on your physical body and your baby’s growth and development. And we want that – that’s why we hire them.

But who attends to and nurtures your mental and emotional state during this period of change and growth? That's up to you.

You can choose to take time-out for yourself by joining a supportive Pregnancy Yogagroup. This is where you'll get the time and space to be honest with yourself and consider and share important things that can really make a difference to your mental and emotional state. Things like: your attitude; your worries; how to manage work stress; dealing with your feelings about pregnancy and how it might be to be a mother. Doing this helps you to make conscious choices and thrive in pregnancy! It's invaluable to your overall health and wellbeing.

Too much time is spent obsessing over the best model pram or deciding on colour schemes and themes of nurseries, instead of reducing stress and increasing ‘down time’.

Why shouldn’t you feel great when you are pregnant?! Pregnancy is an exciting and even euphoric time. Don't let society pressures leave you feeling inadequate, scared or just unsure about what's going on.

Pregnancy Yoga is a great way to spend time nurturing yourself, not just feeling good in your body or alleviating the aches and pains, but also giving you space in your mind to leave all the demands, expectations and responsibilities aside.

With a clearer head-space, pregnant and birthing women are able to:

  • Make better choices about their own health and wellbeing (and ultimately the health and wellbeing of their unborn baby);
  • More positively influence their attitudes towards their changing body and emerging role as mother and carer of a new life and;
  • Remain calm and enjoy their pregnancy and birth experience more.

A totally uncomfortable and stressed out pregnancy experience doesn’t have to be your default position. Why not take the opportunity now to shift it?

Can you stop, right now, just for one minute. Close your eyes and in this moment focus on one thing that is great about being pregnant. Notice how that makes you feel.

For more than one minute of bliss and contentment, book into our next 6 week Pregnancy Yoga Course where you'll meet a group of like-minded women who are also keen to have a positive, relaxed mindset.

Alison Hilton is Momentum’s Pregnancy and Postnatal yoga specialist. She has been teaching yoga for 5 years and also works in adult education in the university sector. As a mum herself she realises that bliss during motherhood some days can be when your darlings are peacefully asleep and you can sink back into the couch and have a moment to yourself!

The true healing power of community celebration

Natalie Snooke - Monday, January 30, 2017

The-healing-power-of-community-connection

Community celebrations are not just good fun - our soul yearns for this healing connection.

On the weekend I was honoured to participate in One Day in Fremantle and Silence Speaks - two very special community events that each created a profound sense of celebration, connection and empowerment like I have never before experienced.

On Saturday 28 January, One Day in Fremantle was the City of Fremantle's alternative to the traditional Australia Day.

Celebrations held on this day meant that Noongar people, the local Aboriginal custodians of the land, could share their culture and celebrate being Australian, just like the rest of us.

In the 15,000 crowd it was tremendous to see a proud cohort of Aboriginal people fully-engaged and abundantly sharing their culture through song, dance, conversation and ceremony - their sincerity was palpable, drawing a tear or a smile from everyone around them. Celebrating alongside each other as Australians there was a natural cameraderie, a sense of understanding, of love and indeed, oneness.

It's times like this when we realise that our human heart yearns to simply connect person-to-person. And when we do, it brings us deep happiness, understanding and healing.

On Sunday 29 January, Silence Speaks was the Save the Beeliar Wetlands silent gathering in Forrest Place, Perth. Over 1000 people came together, standing in silence and stillness for one hour against the destruction of native wetlands. Standing together as a group of passionate, caring citizens, choosing to rise above government adversity, was incredibly powerful. The aftermath of joy was unbelievable, giving us a renewed sense of energy, hope and purpose.

We want a safe world. We want world peace. We want our community to thrive. We want our children to be happy. We want our environment to remain in tact.

Yet when we focus on staying at home, fixated 'in our own world' or behind the safety of a screen without making a real-life community contribution, not only do we increase our risk of mental illness such as anxiety and depression, we rob ourselves and each other of the chance to learn, grow and become better people, in the way that nature intended us to - through human connection.
Numerous studies throughout the world have proven the link between social interaction, well-being and a decreased risk of mental health disease, such as anxiety and depression. (Source: Western Australian Department of Sport and Recreation).

Next time you gather in community - for your yoga or meditation class , for your children's sporting event, at your local community centre, for a volunteer meeting, busy-bee or for a larger-scale community celebration - embrace the chance to learn from and connect with those around you. Celebrate your common-purpose. Trust in the natural healing that can come when our minds and hearts unite.

And if you aren't already actively involved in your community, find out the opportunities in your local area and commit to becoming more involved in 2017.

Immense gratitude goes to the volunteer teams who put both events together - thank you for your tireless work and energy! May we each relish the great healing and joy that comes from making a meaningful contribution to our community - irrespective of outcomes - but simply for the greater good of all.

With joy,
Natalie

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Why relaxation is not lazy - its healthy

Natalie Snooke - Wednesday, March 28, 2018

 

Many of us grew up in the 60s and 70s in families that (unconsciously) instilled in us the belief that resting or doing nothing was lazy.

I am from a typical farming family where Dad was out working from dawn until late at night and Mum was constantly on-the-go doing jobs and running the household.

Whilst the pace of life was slower back then, resting and relaxing, except on Sundays, wasn't something that was encouraged or role-modelled on a daily basis.

Fast-forward to today, and thanks largely to a technology-driven world of instant access and gratification, a culture of busy-ness has taken over business and family lives.

The pressures to be seen as successful, to have more, have the perfect body, fit everything in and keep-up with the latest trends in food, gadgets, holiday destinations or entertainment, are rife. Whilst there's nothing wrong with wanting to experience all the amazing diversity that life offers, the need to keep-up and keep-doing is exhaustive and having massive impacts on our health and happiness.

Sadly, one of the most common phrases I hear people say when it comes to being able to slow down or relax is "I just can't keep still" or "I can't switch off". This is not just in adults, its also in children and teenagers. And hands-up if you pride yourself on 'being busy.'

We've lost the ability to simply 'be'. Unfortunately, despite most of us knowing (on some level) that a frantic pursuit to get everything done isn't good for us, we are still not convinced to take the time-out that we need to.

More than just chilling-out, true relaxation is where our parasympathetic nervous system activates, our breathing rate slows down and we feel a deep sense of contentment and ease. Being in this state allows our body's natural ability to rest, to digest, to regulate and to heal.

Relaxation is crucial for personal well-being, for healthy relationships and for productive, successful workplaces. If you are among the majority of people who are stressed and who don't make relaxation a priority, it may be time to reevaluate your perspective - and your schedule.

And if you have children, it is essential that you role-model routines and behaviours that teach them how to relax in healthy ways.

Research shows that many minor and life-threatening illnesses are stress-related, and therefore preventable. Stress, and the lack of regular relaxation, has harmful effects on your body's immune system - everything from catching colds and getting coldsores, irritable bowel syndrome, sleep disorders, infertility and chronic anxiety to heart attacks and cancer.

We are each responsible for taking time-out every day so that we can effectively relax.

It starts with the decision to make your self-care a priority and a commitment. If you replenish yourself first, you will feel better about yourself, be loving and have more to give to others. Let-go of any guilty thoughts or selfish feelings that might arise because you are choosing to do something for yourself.

Does your life vision include being happy, peaceful, helping others or making a difference? Then try setting some personal goals that recognise the importance of regular time-out and relaxation.

Consider giving yourself 5-10 minutes every day where you do 'nothing'. And in this time, connect with your breath and just notice how you feel physically, emotionally and spiritually.

If you don't know how to relax, then explore ways that you can learn. Take a beginners yoga, meditation or relaxation course close to where you live or organise one in your workplace.

Other ideas can include spending time in your garden or a local park, even during your lunch break. Giving yourself designated screen-free and phone-free time time every day just to ponder and wonder. And taking-up a creative hobby that appeals to you and encourages 'being in the moment' verses achievement like drawing, craft, photography or singing - just for the enjoyment of it.

Ultimately, more than just good health, this ancient Chinese proverb sums up the opportunity we each have to rediscover ourselves and reach our full potential, through regular relaxation:

"Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are."

To your health, happiness and potential,
Natalie

Natalie Snooke is an experienced Life Coach, Mindful Leadership Coach, Yoga and Meditation Teacher and the founder of Momentum. She specialises in guiding men and women to develop focus, presence, creativity and compassion in their personal and professional lives. She has a background in human resource management and takes a pragmatic yet light-hearted approach to her work.


 

 

Why the only way to start your day is with intention

Natalie Snooke - Tuesday, February 27, 2018

 

How we choose to start our day says a lot about how our day (and our life) will unfold.

Making the intentional change to an early-morning yoga and meditation practice in my early 30's has been one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Sometimes I still have to work at it but I never regret the effort I put in to start my day in a conscious way - it gives me the strength, joy, courage and perspective I need to face life gracefully.

According to ancient Yoga philosophy, the early-morning hours around sunrise is called Brahmamuhurtha. It means 'the creator's hour.'

This is a powerful time when our heart and our mind is naturally open, creative and the most receptive. If you listen to the birds at sunrise, they seem to know this magic!

So when we use the early morning hours to be with ourselves through the body and the breath (as opposed to doing other things, as tempting as they might be) it really pays off.

In our complex, fast-paced, modern lives we all need to find good ways that nurture and sustain us, or run the risk of burning out - and ultimately living an unfulfilled life.

A self-practice like yoga or meditation allows us to discover and tap into an inner source of energy that is life-giving and empowering.

Over time, the regular habit of 'turning inward' results in a relaxed presence and more energy, with better access to our creativity, our wisdom, our capacity to love, to make wise decisions and to be the best person we can be.

How do you start your day?

Perhaps yoga or meditation isn't your thing, but choose something that resonates with you and leaves you feeling relaxed, centred and energised for your day ahead.

And if you've never given yourself early-morning time before, rather than reach for the IPhone or get busy with the kids or your to-do list, I invite you to try a new habit - first take time for yourself - and see what a difference it makes.

Here are some tips to try:

💠Set up your yoga mat, meditation cushion or your quiet space the night before, so you're ready-to-go.
💠 Keep your IPhone out of the bedroom - use an old-fashioned alarm clock or clock radio if you need an alarm.
💠 Say to yourself last thing at night: when I awake, I will give time to myself first.
💠 Give yourself 15-45 minutes (whatever you can) to breathe, move, journal, sit quietly, meditate or practice yoga. Do it just for you!
💠 Commit to doing this for a whole week, or a whole month, and see what a difference it makes.

If you find that this approach to your day works, then why not adopt it as 'your way' and notice how it sustains you over the longer-term.

Our Intentional Living Group Coaching Program will help you with the mindset, skills, approaches and inspiration to deepen your self-awareness; increase your capacity for change and to accomplish the goals and vision you set out for yourself.

Wishing you focus, energy, and the fulfilment of your deepest desires in life - today and always!
Natalie

Natalie Snooke is an experienced Mindful Leadership Coach, Yoga and Meditation Teacher and the founder of Momentum. She specialises in guiding men and women to develop focus, presence, creativity and compassion in their personal and professional lives. She has a background in human resource management and takes a pragmatic yet light-hearted approach to her work.

 

What it takes to be a more mindful leader

Natalie Snooke - Wednesday, July 12, 2017

I am always on the lookout for inspiring, real-life examples of corporate leaders who embody mindfulness.

This morning while enjoying my ritual morning chai at a local West Perth cafe, I couldn't help but eavesdrop on a conversation between three people at the next table.

To use HR speak, it was an 'on-boarding' meeting between two business owners and a new employee they were orientating to their business.

And as I listened-in with interest on their dialogue, it soon became apparent that these were two very mindful leaders.

The focus of their exchange over a coffee wasn't about policy and process, or performance expectations, reporting relationships or even the expected hours of the job. The focus was about getting to know the new employee and finding out what they needed from the organisation to work at their best. Sure, they shared an inspiring business vision and described their workplace culture, but the exchange was more about connecting and understanding than telling.

The tone of the conversation was calm and spacious. There were several relaxed pauses after each person spoke that showed deep listening. Even though one of the business owners had to leave shortly after the meeting began to attend another meeting, there was no hint of rush or urgency to cover a heap of material or to get across a particular viewpoint.

The two business owners eached talked about their families and the challenges around balancing work and family life. One shared about their morning meditation practice which helped them to manage stress and to be kinder to their partner. The other said they loved cycling and invited the new employee to join their local group.

A positive, yet gentle rapport had soon developed to the point where the new employee took the time to reveal some quite personal health information that needed extra care to manage whilst at work. Without hesitation, the business owner gave a clear commitment of support and offered to create a work-station that better met the new employees' needs.

A mindful leader embodies leadership presence through their focus, clarity, creativity and compassion in the service of others. I could clearly sense all four of these mindful leadership qualities.

But what I found most striking (and delightful) about this encounter was that none of these three people meeting were women - they were all men.

Professional men, dressed in charcoal suits who each bore a strong physical presence and air of success, as well as a quirky, relaxed and compassionate warmth.

I'm not suggesting that men are not mindful leaders. I am fortunate to personally know many inspirational male leaders who are very self-aware! But often it's been my experience that the 'softer skills' essential for successful and mindful corporate leadership like creativity and compassion are given lesser importance and are therefore less developed in the average male leader.

We can all learn to lead with excellence by cultivating our inherent capabilities to focus on what's important, to see more clearly what is presenting itself, to foster greater creativity and to embody compassion.

Mindfulness for both male and female leaders alike involves making more conscious choices about how we manage at work, how we manage ourselves and how we live our lives.

This mindful leadership that I was privileged to witness first-hand just made my day.

Natalie Snooke is an experienced Mindful Leadership Coach, Meditation Teacher and the founder of Momentum. She specialises in guiding leaders to develop focus, presence, creativity and compassion in their personal and professional lives. She has a background in human resource management and takes a pragmatic yet light-hearted approach to her work. 

What is mindfulness?

Natalie Snooke - Friday, April 29, 2016

Mindfulness. I well remember the time in my early 20's when I first made the discovery. When I realised I could 'observe' my own mind without getting involved in its story. 

I was at a communications skills workshop with well-known facilitator Rachel Green, who had us in pairs talking and listening. One person had to talk while the other person had to listen and at the same time, watch their own internal dialogue and reactions. As I was listening to my partner, I realised that I could also see what was going-on with my thoughts and reactions without getting caught up in them or in the other person's story. It was one of those light-bulb moments. 

Up until that point in my life, it hadn't really dawned on me that I could actually 'watch' my own mind. 

It was like I had discovered a new way of being with myself - not that I had any idea of the significance of this discovery at the time, I just thought it was pretty cool! And later as an adult, this realisation would deepen, become the cornerstone of my life and lead to tremendous growth and joy, as well as my fair-share of frustrations along the way.

I had discovered the art of mindfulness - the capacity of human beings to be mindful or self-aware. 

We all have an inner-observer. A part of us that is simply aware or conscious of what is going on around us and, that can also be aware of whatever is going on within us. It is widely accepted amongst scientists that the capacity to be self-aware is what distinguishes humans from other animals, yet its significance and importance is often misunderstood and under-valued, especially when it comes to our happiness and sense of fulfillment in life.

In fact, mindfulness is the essential ingredient of creativity, wisdom, authentic happiness and living to our highest potential. 

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness has several aspects to it. As we make our way through life it means to:

  • be aware of our thoughts, feelings, senses and physical experiences, moment to moment;
  • pay attention to our immediate surroundings;
  • be at ease and allow whatever is happening and;
  • be kind and intentional in our thoughts, words and actions.
The concept of mindfulness originates from the ancient Buddhist tradition and the Pali word sati meaning to remember. It is understood that without having some foundations of mindfulness, something to anchor our attention to, we simply 'forget' to be present. And this leads us to suffer and be unhappy.

Although mindfulness is a simple approach, and most people can understand it, it isn't easy and takes effort to put into practice. 

Unfortunately our conditioning and our habits, the things that we do mindlessly, get in the way. We've trained ourselves in unhealthy ways - with the help of things like Facebook, Thermomixes and a materialistic, complex and technologically-driven world - to have a fairly scattered quality of attention. Somehow, we've convinced ourselves that we feel good when we multi-task and get as many things done as quickly as we can, whilst often paying little attention to the details and to what we are thinking or how we are feeling in the moment. 

Because we tend to be two-steps ahead and focussing on the future (or 'shoulding' about the past) rather than in 'the now' we therefore 'miss out' on a lot of what's actually going on inside us. This means that we can't access our creativity, we aren't able to be in our hearts and fully connect with others, we miss the warning signs that our body isn't coping or all too often, we feel like we don't know who we are anymore. I witness many people who suffer from one or more of these symptoms - also known as a mid-life crisis.

Is this making sense?

Consider how mindful you are in a typical day. If you:
  • spend most of your time remembering or regretting about what you 'should' have had, said or felt and/or;
  • spend most of your time thinking, planning, hoping or worrying about what you're going to have, do, say or feel like 'next' and/or;
  • drive somewhere but once you arrive you cannot remember anything about the journey you've just taken and/or;
  • find yourself forgetting someone's name after you've just been introduced to them only moments before, then this would indicate that you are normal! But that you're not paying full attention in the present moment - you're not being as mindful as you could.
Mindfulness is not about perfection.

Sure, being mindful one hundered percent of the time is a challenging task and we are not seeking some impossible perfection! Part of the paradox of mindfulness is that it's about accepting and allowing ourselves and life to be just as it is, warts and all.

With mindfulness, there's a middle-path to explore, a way for us to create balance between accepting things as they are and putting in meaningful effort to create greater ease and harmony. Most of us would find we'd feel more naturally happy and satisfied with ourselves, others, our work and our life if we were more self-aware, more allowing and more mindful. 

The benefits of mindfulness.

Plenty of research compiled at the American Mindfulness Research Association shows that mindfulness reduces stress at work, improves heart health, enables us to better manage our food intake and improves the quality of our relationships. Being mindful or not can be the difference between: being stressed or being comfortable; feeling anxious or feeling at ease and; suffering in life or embracing life as it is.

When we become more mindful, we gain clarity about what's really important to us and we're able to peel away some of the unnecessary complexities of life. 

One of the best ways to cultivate mindfulness is through a regular meditation or yoga practice. These kinds of body-centred practice trains us to remain present and anchored to our body and our breath, as well as to be allowing and kind to ourselves, moment by moment. And anyone can learn these skills.

To learn more about mindfulness and how to practise it in daily life, we recommend starting with our Beginner's Meditation Courseand Beginner's Yoga Courses, run throughout the year at our centre in Melville.

Over time, mindfulness allows us to suffer less and to love more. It leads us inwards, back to our heart, to the greatest ease and joy that's available to any human being. Are you open to it?

Wishing you well in the moment!
Natalie

Optimism and resilience: the positive benefits of being creative

Natalie Snooke - Thursday, October 08, 2015

No matter what your age, your occupation or your life path, it is never too late or too egotistical or too selfish or too silly to work on your creativity. The biggest mistake you can make when it comes to creativity is to think that you don’t have any! 

We all have the seeds of creativity within us. To be creative is to be human. To bring what is inside you out into the world, as only you can, for the pure sake of your expression and enjoyment, is to be creative.

How to be more creative.

Think of creativity as more of a state-of-mind than an end-product. Sure, sometimes it’s about producing something but equally it’s about being more open and creative in our approach that yields us the same pay-offs.

By keeping a conscious, present, open-minded and open-hearted attitude in how you approach things, from the big projects to the smallest of everyday tasks, you'll experience creativity benefits both now and as you age (more on that later in the blog.)

Remember your creative childhood?

As children we played, invented, danced, coloured, built, explored, devised, spray-painted, carved, bombed, burned, rallied, jump-started, dressed, cooked, joined, thread-and-needled, smashed and fixed just about anything and everything, where several hours would often go by effortlessly and our mothers would come to find us happily engrossed in our business. We didn’t think twice about it. Being creative was all that we knew.  And yet sadly as we grow into adults and experience our fair share of life's challenges we simply ‘forget’ how to be playful, spontaneous and creative.

If we neglect our creativity then a valuable part of our soul withers away and we can end up feeling (unnecessarily) grumpy with ourselves and disenchanted with our life.

There are as many forms of creativity as there are people.

Let go of the idea that to be creative you need to be able to paint or draw. Art is just one form of creativity.

Creativity is about joy and exploration in a myriad of forms, rather than mastery. It’s anything that allows you to enjoy, explore and express your perspectives, views, beauty and/or ideas. Just about anything you do can be approached creatively.

The big benefits of being creative.

Practicing creativity generates many benefits. According to researchers Ebersole & Hess (1998) it has been shown to:

  • Increase resilience
  • Maintain your sense of integrity
  • Help to resolve conflicts
  • Give a greater sense of well-being and personal growth
  • Help to build better relationships
  • Make thoughts and feelings become clear.

Ruth Richards, psychology professor at Saybrook University and Harvard Medical School says that encouraging creative behaviours makes us more dynamic, conscious, non-defensive, observant, collaborative and brave. 

Studies of older people who practice creativity found that they stayed healthier for longer, had fewer visits to health care providers, used fewer medications, were more outgoing, more socially active, less lonely, and more optimistic. 

How to Boost Your Creativity

Ask yourself: what interests me? What intrigues me? What have I always wanted to try but haven’t? What work, process or routine chore could I re-engineer to make it more fun?

Make a list of all the things that interest and intrigue you. Include big things as well as small things. Even though you’ll probably have mind-blanks and blocks, gently persevere with yourself and keep writing (without editing) until you have at least a half-page of writing. Let yourself ponder and have fun with it.

Like anything that you want to improve, you can boost your creativity by simply paying more attention to it and setting the intention to bring more creativity into your life.

Try changing a routine or habitual pattern. If you always go to the same café for coffee, change the route you take or change the café and notice what you see.

Renew an old hobby. Dig out the guitar, your scrap books, your favourite recipes or your tools.

Start a journal. Expose yourself to more arts. Spend more time in nature. Go bush-walking. Play and explore.

Give your creative side the air-time it needs.

We have the tendency to lead overly busy lives which has the effect of drowning-out our ‘inner voice’ and the cornerstone of our creativity. To become more creative it’s important that you can slow down and carve-out some regular time (eg 2 hours) in your schedule for creativity, just like you would schedule a work meeting or dentist appointment.

This approach might sound a bit unromantic, however the reality is that if you are already busy and don’t set aside the time in advance, it’s unlikely to happen if you just leave it to chance. Make a commitment to yourself that you will keep this appointment. Make arrangements to be child-free or get creative with your children, if that works for you. Be prepared to decline other offers that come along. Do whatever you need to give yourself dedicated creative time. 

What have you got to lose? Go get creative and see what a positive difference it can make.

If you struggle with creativity then you can always reach-out for one-on-one support and accountability through Life Coaching or join us for some regular yoga to get your creative juices flowing.

May your creative seeds blossum and grow.
Natalie

Why its important to know your strengths

Natalie Snooke - Thursday, July 30, 2015

Four_Powerful_Ways_to_Optimise_Your_Strengths"Realising our strengths is the smallest thing we can do to make the most difference" - Alex Linley

One of the most powerful tools that everyone has is natural strengths. Call them gifts, talents or even quirks.  We all have them. Yet when it comes down to it, I often meet people who are genuinely confused or shy about owning or developing theirs!

Studies in the field of positive psychology show that strengths help us to experience less stress and greater well-being, plus reach our goals with greater ease. 

Once you know your strengths, using them on a day-to-day basis is a very effective way to boost your energy and healthy self-confidence. But it doesn't stop there. Its knowing and being mindful of when, how and how much to use your strengths over the course of your life's journey that ultimately leads to growth, transformation and to being the best person you can be.

Simply put, knowing your strengths is key to unlocking more of your natural potential.

By strengths I mean a "pre-existing, natural capacity for a particular way of behaving, thinking or feeling that allows you to thrive".  They're not attributes that you would like to have or admire in someone else. They are what you already are - and are becoming. Although it may come as a surprise, strengths are not static. They evolve as we do. 

A part of healthy self-growth is about refining and expanding your repertoire of strengths over the course of your life. 

Step #1 - Know Your Strengths.

When you're at your best, what are you doing? Think about what comes easily and naturally to you. What gives you a buzz? What things did you love to do as a child and did effortlessly? For example, were/are you: adventurous, caring, quick-thinking, gregarious, calm, organised, determined, patient, team-oriented, curious, goal-focused, analytical, creative, passionate, intelligent, empathetic, open-minded and/or precise?  

It's important that these attributes are expressed in your day-to-day life. Otherwise you're likely to experience disappointment, frustration or find it difficult to make head-way along your chosen path. Use these attributes as often as you can, according to context and situation, without overplaying them.

For my strengths, out of that list above, my top three would be creative, empathetic and organised. These parts of me get lots of airplay in my day-to-day personal and working life. Which is probably why I love what I do and the life I have (mostly anyway!)

Practice: Identify your natural strengths and if you're not sure, then ask your partner or a trusted friend or sibling for their input. Then go about putting them into practice every day. 

Step #2 - Know Your Weaknesses. 

This step can often be a clincher! But don't skip it. Everybody has weaknesses or things that challenge them. We can also call these our shadow-traits or blind-spots - they're the parts of us that we'd prefer not to own or admit to. Knowing about yourself warts-and-all helps you to grow and to become a 'whole' person. And it will also make you more likable - and lovable.

What are the things that you find challenging or draining? What do you know about yourself, but find it hard or don't like? For example, are you: fearful, arrogant, impatient, impulsive, greedy, moody, passive, undisciplined, stubborn, shy, short-sighted, vague, controlling or negative? 

These are the areas to focus on for your development. Although these aspects will probably feel de-energising, they have their place. Take a deeper level of responsibility for your weaknesses in day-to-day life. Acknowledge when you notice them at play. Have honest conversations about them with your loved ones. 

Although it was awkward at first, and I'm not sure it will ever be feel completely comfortable, coming to terms with my weaknesses is something I keep working on. I've realised that having a level of honesty about myself, to myself, just makes things easier in relationships and a whole lot less painful in the long-run. My weaknesses would be: impatient, moody and controlling.

Practice: Choose one weakness to focus on for a week at a time - and try not to be hard on yourself. Mindfully and gently investigate what's going on for you inside, in the moment, when it's playing out. Be curious rather than judgmental. Notice what's happening in your body, emotions and mind. By becoming more aware of your weaknesses, over time you will develop more self-control and the negative impacts will lessen.

Step #3 - Discover Your Unrealised Strengths.

This aspect of you is something you are good at and enjoy doing, but do it less often. There is a likely untapped potential to developing this aspect of you into a strength.

Explore putting your unrealised strengths more into action. Remain on the lookout for the right situation or opportunity to surface where you can utilise this skill, attribute or behaviour. Try setting a goal or intention to practice on a regular basis. 

My unrealised strengths from the initial list are: curious and precise. By being precise, rather than generalising, and being curious rather than controlling, I'm noticing that it helps me to delegate responsibilities when I can and allows others to understand me more easily. Just like you, I'm a work in progress!

Practice: Try setting a goal or intention to put one unrealised strength into action. For example, like me, if you choose precision, your intention might be 'When I tend to generalise things in a conversation, I practice being more precise about sharing exactly what I am thinking and feeling.'

Strengths and weaknesses are good approaches to self-development that always have something valuable to teach us. The beauty is, that we never stop growing and evolving, no matter what's going on in our lives, and tuning-in to the strengthened people we are constantly becoming makes for a very rewarding ride. As the saying goes, we might not be able to stop the waves, but we can teach ourselves how to surf!

If you'd like to uncover and develop your natural strengths, as well as be honest about what challenges you to help improve your relationships, then I'd love you to consider my Life Coaching or Mindful Leadership Coaching.

Here's to YOU!
Natalie



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