Mindfulness and nature

I’ve been practising mindfulness for a few years but mindfulness only really started to make a huge positive impact on my life when I began to apply it to my everyday tasks rather than as separate more ‘formal’ practice. Although formal mindfulness practise or meditation obviously has it’s place, for me the real difference for me began when I started to approach everyday tasks in a mindful way. Using my senses to focus and experience on what it all around me without judgement. Whether it’s making a cup of tea mindfully, truly listening to someone in conversation or taking a mindful bath. I find that there is a direct link between the amount of my day I live mindfully and my levels of happiness, resilience and gratitude.

Azalea shrub - mindfulness and natureOne of my favourite things to do is experience nature in a mindful way and I wouldn’t say I’m an outdoorsy kind of person. Often it can be a short mindful walk even for just 5 or 10 minutes and it doesn’t have to be anywhere different, although a mindful trip to the beach or countryside can be very special. Using my senses to truly look around me, feel the wind on my face, and experience the world through my body and not my mind.

It’s easy to walk on by and be so occupied in our minds that we fail to notice the world around us whether it’s the smell of a summer rain storm or the beauty of this Azalea with it’s little happy bee 🙂

I’d love to know what tasks you approach in a mindful way 🙂

Love & light, The Happy Bee x

Lush Leeds spa - Sound Bath review

Lush Spa Sound Bath review

Lush Leeds spa review aka Disneyland for wellbeing seekersLush spa Leeds

I’m a huge fan of Lush spa treatments and although definitely not the cheapest, I believe they offer a truly holistic spa experience which is very hard to find elsewhere. I’ve only visited the Lush Spa in Leeds, so can’t comment on any other but at the Leeds Spa I’ve found an attention to detail which I only previously felt on my very first visit to Disneyland 🙂 I decided to try and break my ‘validation facial’ addiction by branching out and trying the Sound Bath. Lush describes the Sound Bath as ’striking a deep chord within’ and as I always aim to experience any spa treatment in the most mindful way possible, it sounded just perfect.

When arriving at the Lush Leeds Spa the Lush staff are always super friendly and appear almost as excited as I am that we’re there for a treatment! Once it’s treatment time you are greeted and Lush Leeds spaled down the stairs to the basement spa area. The spa is filled with beautiful vintage objects , reclaimed wood, fresh flowers and positive affirmations. A nice little extra is that the bathrooms are filled with Lush products for you to use before and after your treatment. As you take a seat at the huge farmhouse kitchen style table, the spa therapist talks you through your treatment. The Sound Bath began with the therapist telling me she had me a present. I found it difficult to contain my excitement as I was presented with a wooden box with swirling mist (chemistry classes would have been so much more interesting if they included how to add a magical mist to presents, instead of hours of reciting the periodic table in a musty classroom, maybe I just didn’t stick with it long enough). Anyway, inside the box contained a tiny 100% pure cacoa chocolate with an ‘eat me’ label and a tiny drink with a ‘drink me’ label. At this point I nearly self-combusted.

Lush treatment roomOn to the treatment which included a hot and cold stones facial massage, ear massage, a head massage (glad that oils weren’t used at this part), tunings forks applied to acupuncture points and ear candles. Now, I’ll be honest I was very initially very sceptical about ear candles and therefore weren’t something I’d tried before but the way that something about the way the therapist held them in place by cupping her hand on the side of my head with the warm glow that I could ‘see’ through my closed eyes that was especially meditative. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this treatment but it was probably the most immersive that I’ve tried so far. The sound track was probably my favourite so far but maybe I’m a little biased due to the welcome appearance of bees. Go, happy bee 🙂

Lush Sound BathEach treatment is ended in an individual way and with the Sound Bath I was treated to mint, lemon and agave tea served in a tea pot with the swirling magical mist and the quirky feature of a meditation bowl instead of a cup.

My verdict: If heaven was a place of earth then it would be a Lush Spa. I can highly recommend you save those pennies as it’s definitely an investment worth making. In my experience all Lush treatments live up to their names but I would say the Sound Bath was the most meditative I’ve tried so far. As we know spending money on experiences can bring more much happiness than material objects Isn’t it time we focussed on happiness not money? and in my opinion there isn’t a better wellbeing experience that a visit to a lush spa.

PS Off to buy a lottery ticket as next stop hopefully The Planets 🙂

Love & light, The Happy Bee x

Isn’t it time we focussed on happiness not money?

Gross national happiness wall image

Mario Biondi – Italian Writer

Can money buy happiness? The short answer is yes and no. Although it’s clear that not having enough money to pay for our basic needs; food, warmth and shelter impacts on happiness levels. Once we have enough money to cover our basic welfare, then more money doesn’t necessarily equal greater happiness. Studies have proven that there is very little difference between the happiness of people who earn £50,000 a year compared to earning £100,000,000 a year. Instead of money buying happiness, it is how we live our lives and spend the money that we have that makes the real difference.

Once our basic needs are covered then how we spend the money we earn matters and in the 2011 study “If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy, Then You Probably Aren’t Spending It Right” recommended;

  • Spend money on “experiences” rather than goods.
  • Donate money to others, including charities, rather than spending it solely on yourself.
  • Spend small amounts of money on small, more frequent temporary pleasures  than less often on larger ones.
  • Rather than buying products that provide the “best deal,” make purchases based on what will facilitate well-being.

Psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, the author of The How of Happiness claims that about 50% of our happiness level is a result of genetics, a further 10% is as a result of our life circumstances ie where we live and our income, which leaves around 40% of our happiness level which we can influence by our personal choices.

Although we all have a personal responsibility for our own life choices, shouldn’t country leaders also do more to facilitate a happier society? Gross national product (GNP) has long been used as a measure of successful government policy but the alternative concept of Gross National Happiness was introduced by The King of Bhutan back in the 1970s. This approach values collective happiness as the goal and emphasises harmony with nature and traditional values. Economic policy decisions are balanced with the need for environmental sustainability. Happiness is clearly subjective and therefore difficult to measure, but doesn’t measuring wealth encourage an economic divide within cultures and a more unhappy, poorer quality of life for some? The alternative being a more compassionate approach to policy making, helping to facilitate national wellbeing.

With levels of anxiety and depression rising in the UK (Office of National Statistics, 2016) then shouldn’t mental wellbeing being be both a personal and national priority? Isn’t is time as a nation we valued happiness not money?

Love & light, The Happy Bee x