Arianna Huffington is the picture of mindful success. She has to be, because she is the "poster girl" for work/life balance which, she believes, is the key to a successful life.
How is your quality of life? If balancing all your responsibilities is a major challenge, you may need to learn new life skills.
Huffington gave a talk at the School of Life in London as part of her 2014 book tour and she described how we should move away from measuring success exclusively in terms of money and power. Her philosophy is based on a "third metric": an alternative way of measuring success beyond money and power, and a new set of life skills based on mindfulness and altruism. She raised the question of what a good life is.
In her book Thrive, Huffington talks about four pillars for a good life:
A truly successful person is calm, lives in the moment, is altruistic, can make good decisions based on both information and instinct, and has accrued wisdom.
In Thrive Huffington explained how she came to the realisation that she was burning the candle at both ends.
After a fall, hospitalisation and forced rest she acknowledged that exhaustion should never be underestimated and therefore looking after your health, both physical and mental, is the key to a balanced and serene existence.
However, with the pace of modern life being so fast, achieving a good level of serenity and balance can be challenging. You could try yoga and meditation but what if you either don't have the time or you're not inclined to do these activities? To answer this question, we can look at a technique that is very much in line with these principles.
Stress is the Nemesis of Success
We need new paradigms for success and a good life: its foundations rely in being mindful, in slowing down, in giving back and in accessing our own wisdom.
If modern society entices us to "have it all" and be hyper-connected, the result is that we are in a constant state of hurry, pressure and anxiety.
Experiencing a state of stress triggers the physiological "fight or flight" reaction typical of the survival mode. Stress is the antithesis of calm and serenity.
Whether you are the chief executive of a large corporation or are a busy mother worrying about the well-being of your children, you need to be in a calm relaxed state to be able to make sound decisions and use your full mental capacity.
Mindfulness and Sophrology
Mindful living is the antidote to stress: it's savouring each moment, being completely focused in the present and not rushing.
We may be always connected to our devices (laptops, tablets, smartphones) but we have lost real touch with people and have forgotten life's simple pleasures.
We may have also forgotten that free wifi is not a basic human right: a basic human right is having a roof, food and health. Once we meet these basic human needs we can then decide what we want to get out of life: how we want to manage situations, how we want to feel inside.
Learning to be fully present means to accept to let go of certain worries, beliefs and tension and raise our awareness to a new level. But how can we reach that next level of awareness?
Sophrology can help with that (more on Sophrology here). One of the principles in Sophrology states that you can decide how you are going to experience certain events even when you can't change them. We are therefore responsible for our experience and how we respond to situations.
How Sophrology Works:
Sophrology is like a compass that enables you to orient yourself in life.
A 10 minute Sophrology practice consists of breathing, mindful gentle movements, concentration and visualization, all performed in a state of aware relaxation. The state of relaxation achieved through the practice of Sophrology can have beneficial effects to the nervous system and general well-being.
A state of relaxation allows the brain to be more receptive and allows you to reach your inner resources to solve problems and feel more in control of your situation.
This is how we can reach that next level of awareness mentioned above: first we learn to acknowledge we have a body - by being able to listen to our inner sensations we are able to know how we feel and what we need here and now. If we don't feel well, Sophrology gives us ways to let go of tension and restore balance.
The next step is to learn to work with the resources we have in our mind: learn how to focus better, to take a step back from a situation, to see a situation through different angles, to open up to possibilities and start preparing for a different future.
Once we are more in tune with body and mind, we can then practise bringing mind and body together, allowing them to function as a unit. How many times are we driven solely by our mind and we don't even listen to what the body is telling us?
For example, how many times has it happened to you that you don't sleep because you need to finish an important work document due the following day?
Finally, we also need to explore our personal values: how do you know what you want out of your life if you don't know what your personal values are? Do you feel free or do you feel stuck? Do you prioritize friendships, work or family time? Do you feel money is the most important thing? What about respect or joy?
To answer all these questions we need to learn some simple practices that help us understand what we value most in life or what we would like to value more.
So in essence, Sophrology gives a practical way to start changing your life from running around for success, money and power to a more meaningful, healthy, fun and happy life.
Sophrology is simple and accessible, it can be practised in individual or group session. It is easy to include in daily life that you can do at home and at work, as it only takes 10 minutes a day and with regular practice it can really make a difference.
About BeSophro and Dominique Antiglio
BeSophro has been created by one of the UK's leading Sophrologists, Dominique Antiglio, who is also an Osteopath and Sound Therapist.
BeSophro provides a unique offering, combining Sophrology with Dominique's in-depth therapeutic experience, broad understanding of health, and her specialism in stress-management and birth preparation.
It offers a unique approach to self-development through body and mind, making the art of transformation accessible to all, through a gradual and safe process. BeSophro means, 'To be in a state of balance and harmony'; it is about being content and happy in our daily lives - something we all aspire to.
Picture credits: Photographic Blonde