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mindfullness

What We Bought for Our First Baby & Why

George & myself have been trying to live as mindfully as we can the last couple of years. We aim to only buy what we need & think about each purchase before going through with it. This avoids impulse spending and the over consumption of commercial items.

 

We wanted to apply our beliefs to the process of shopping for our first baby. There are so many options out there of “must haves” for having your first child that decision fatigue can happen very fast and mindless spending can occur very quickly. The fact that all baby stuff is super cute doesn’t help how hard it is to say no.

 

The process we went through to choose what we really needed was pretty easy. We started to look up bloggers who live the same lifestyle as us. We checked out their blogs to see if they wrote anything on what they got for their new born, what worked & what didn’t. Basically, we took their advice and made a list of essential items from what they suggested from their experience. Alison Mazurek in particular from  http://www.600sqft.com/about blog was huge help to us. She wrote a brilliant blog on what they needed and what she would recommend for a new born. (See post here)

 

We took that list and decided that’s what we will use. I believe doing your research is key to investing in any purchase. When someone who lives likes you & you respect has done the research and recommends something, I always take their opinions very seriously.

 

Alison’s list was so helpful as she has researched items for their design and for how well they would work in a small space. We live in a one-bedroom apartment and are not planning on moving to a larger place. With clever design & an open mind a one-bedroom apartment can work wonderfully with a baby.

 

Please see the list of items we bought below:

 

Item Bought Reason Second hand Price
Bugaboo Bee Stroller in Red Folds small, fits in hall closet & great for city $350
Maxi Cosi car seat in Red Great reviews & fits our stroller $75
Nuna Leaf baby chair Neutral Beige Nice design & fits in our closet $100
Monte Rockwell Bassinet Nice design, light for moving & doesn’t take up too much space in bedroom $200
Puj Tub in Grey Folds flat & can be used camping $15
Ergo Baby Carrier Grey Best rated baby carriers which we can face baby both front & back $165
Gathre Leather changing mats Great for on the go & replaces baby changing table $90

These are the major equipment items we bought. We sourced all from Facebook market place. Once we had the list of items we needed, we kept an eye out on Facebook market place for these items to pop up. We started sourcing the items from 6 months into the pregnancy. To be honest Vancouver is an excellent place to shop on Facebook market place for babies & children. There are so many new families here. The only item from the list we bought new were the Gathre Leather changing mats. These we bought online at www.gathre.com. The above list in total came to less the $1000, the stroller new alone would cost more than that.

 

We also created a little capsule wardrobe for our baby, only sourcing clothing which we need and not having too much of the one thing. We are planning on writing another blog on new born clothing essentials. Again, we researched online for what a new born needs and created an essential list from that. The majority of clothing was bought pre-used and were given to us by friends. Any pre-used clothes given to us we sorted through and kept only what we needed, the rest we donated.

 

The reason why we chose the above items came down to design & functionality. We love the look of all the items we bought and they work so well in a small space. The bugaboo stroller folds small and it fits into our hall closet. I really like to hide things away in closets and keep as much free space in our home as possible.

 

We didn’t believe a changing table was essential for our baby. Instead we purchased the Gathre leather changing mats (1 for the home & 1 for the travel bag). These mats can be placed on a bed, couch, floor, table, grass…. anywhere so a special table for changing didn’t make sense to us and it takes ups valuable space in our home.

 

The puj tub is super cute. As children we were washed in the kitchen sink, those photos are the best. The puj tub is like a foldable seat your child can sit in while being bathed in the sink. Our bathroom is old and the tub is really low. The idea of being able to wash our baby while standing at the sink is more appealing than bending down over a very low bath. The puj tub can then be unfolded into a flat surface and stored away very easily.

 

Shopping for all the above items on Facebook market place was so easy. Not only did we save so much money, we avoided having to go into shops & malls. Our weekends are precious to us and spending time shopping is at the bottom of our favourite things to do on our time off. In addition, avoiding stores also limits the commercial bombardment and the temptation of buying items which were not on our list. We searched for sellers around our area and scheduled to pick up items on our way home from work in the evenings. So simple & effective. Every person we bought from was great & had everything ready on time at pick-up.

 

Overall our experience of purchasing items for our baby has been so chill & easy. This method really worked for us. There was no stress involved, we had all the spare time we usually have on our weekends and we had no financial pressure as we bought the majority of our item pre-used.

 

We are hoping this will be helpful and if you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them below.

 

Have a great week!

 

Chat soon,

 

Theresa xxxx

The Yamas – There Is More To Yoga Than Postures

There comes a point in everyones life when our brains are so full of thoughts, decisions and emotions that we come to a stop. Our joints dry up like the tin man in The Wizard of Oz and we slow down and stall.

I read a parable about two monks who were about to cross a river when they saw a woman who needed help to cross. One monk carried her and the other monk berated him after, “We are forbidden to touch women,” he said. “How could you do this?”

“I put the woman down on the other side of the river,” replied the other monk, “but you are still carrying her.”

I have carried thoughts and worries with me for a long time. I carried them like a great weight, my shoulders and back were constantly tense and I did not realize I could put it all to one side.

We pick up our problems and hold onto them for dear life like they are our precious possessions. So important are these problems that we carry them everywhere. We do not put them down.

After a time, I realized that three simple things would allow me to put down my burdens:

  1. Exercise
  2. Fresh air
  3. Meditation

For me, yoga is a door way to these paths, it is also a catalyst for consistency. Yoga is not just postures, it is not just meditation, these are important aspects of yoga but each is only one of eight parts.

The Eight Limb path of Yoga is laid out as follows:

  1. Yamas – Moral restraints
  2. Niyamas – Observances
  3. Asana – Postures
  4. Pranayama – Mindful Breathing
  5. Pratyahara – Turning Inward
  6. Dharana – Concentration
  7. Dhyana – Meditation
  8. Samadhi – Union with the object of meditation

I instruct yoga once a week at the Rob Lee YMCA on Burrard Street, guiding people through the asana (postures). I do my best to emphasize the importance of breath, though I find it difficult to get that across but in light of the above, I teach only a small part of yoga in my classes.

Over the next week I plan to explore one of the eight limbs of yoga in more detail – The Yamas.

The Yamas, to me, are a moral guide to how we should make our way through life. They are just as much a part of yoga as the postures we practise in class. The yamas are as follows:

  1. Ahimsa – Non-harming
  2. Satya – Truthfulness
  3. Asteya – Nonstealing
  4. Brahmacarya – Moderation
  5. Aparigraha – Nonhoarding

We can all practise an aspect of yoga without ever stepping on a mat.

Ahimsa

We can inflict violence on ourselves and others in many different ways. Physical violence plagues our planet, sometimes it may be hidden behind closed doors other times it is out in the open rearing its ugly head for all to see.

There is the violence of rage, which can be silent and contemplative, seething like a sickness, or loud and boisterous like an angry thunderstorm.

The violence of thoughts, when the anger rises in our minds and we think of lashing out.

It can be as simple as an unkind word or thoughts which, when we allow them will light a spark that can burn into an anger that sits with us, hidden in the background.

I have said before that a successful day starts the night before. My Sunday night consisted of staying up late working on the iPad. I found it hard to sleep after the screen time, the blue light firing my braincells up like a Christmas tree, my thoughts going back and forth like Forest Gump whacking a ping pong ball.

The result was that I stayed in bed later the next morning. It’s funny how much of a knock on effect that has. Instead of my regular 20 minute meditation session I gave it 5 minutes.

I set out with the intention of nonviolence but was not set up to carry that through.

I often talk about finding our true selves. I also wonder if we can lose our true selves. As I drove to work I met a lady who hesitated at a fourway stop. She looked at me like I was an idiot and I reacted in anger. That is where we lose our true selves, it is not the real me. Just like the monks at the river, I put that person down a long time ago, but he comes back sometimes. If we were face to face neither of us would have reacted like that.

Two more times I got frustrated on the way to work. A strong person would have noticed the impulse to react, felt it and let it settle and become still like a ripple in water. The person who meditated for twenty minutes that morning would have let it go also.

Meditation (Dharana), just like the Yamas is another part of yoga. They are all interdependent. One leads into the other. Yoga is a way of life, not just a physical practise. That was obvious to me on my first day to examine the Yamas.

Satya

Tuesday brought me to Satya (truthfulness). It is a difficult one to put into action. It can be interpreted in different ways. This evening I was coming to the end of a difficult yoga practice when bridge or wheel pose was offered by the teacher.

Sometimes I will attempt wheel for two or three breaths when my body is warmed up and I decided for my third round I would go for it. The offer from the teacher was either pose.

It was then I realized that I was doing this pose for my ego rather than because it was what my body needed. This was the truth of my yoga practise. I came to the matt open to honesty and ready to practise truthfully.

Satya refers to truth both in thought and action. It can be found in many places in our lives, we just need to open our eyes to it.

There are many forms of dishonesty but dishonesty with ones self is the most difficult to escape. It is invisible and sneaks into our lives like a dark ghost in the night. Only with constant practise and mindfulness of Satya can we ward off this spectre.

Asteya

Asteya (non stealing) can take many forms aside from the obvious, for example, when we do not give our full effort to those who have paid for our services, we retain some of the attention and effort which has been promised to others.

This is human nature, I take out my phone in work and see a notification which is more interesting than what I am working on and my fish mind takes the bait. We fly to the shiny object like a moth to a candle.

How many times through out the day is our time or attention stolen by those who it is not intended for. My attention is intended for those who have put their hard earned cash into paying for it, or for those who I love and who deserve my attention and those who are kind and have earned my respect through friendship or courtesy.

The mindless attention leaches on social media and plastered over unsightly billboards do not deserve our attention, yet they latch onto us and drag us down into the depths of cat videos or online shopping and literally steal hours a week from us.

Non stealing can be looked at either directly or indirectly but either way the most precious things we have, our time and attention can be stolen from us or else not directed towards those who deserve it. Our most precious gifts should be held tight to our chests and given to those who matter most or those to whom we owe a debt.

Brahmacarya

This means moderation. I am vegetarian but I am also a realist. The world will never turn vegetarian or vegan though, this change would have a huge impact on climate change and eliminate unethical treatment of animals.

Eating meat is natural in the animal kingdom but over consumption is not. We eat so much beef that cows farts are literally choking the planet to death.

Whether vegetarian or carnivorous, we all have a responsibility to the home we will pass onto our children. Eating ethically sourced meat mindfully, in moderation will have an impact on this planet of a magnitude many of us do not realize.

Brahmacarya can save us, for we have nowhere else to go.

Brahmacarya can also apply on the mat in relation to the extent of the physical practise. We are always encouraged to push our selves. According to David Goggins, when we think we are spent, we have only reached the 40% mark.

This is true, but we must keep in mind humility and moderation. Taking your body straight to handstand without the experience and practise is not pushing yourself to your limits, it is pushing yourself to certain injury. It will serve your ego rather than your development.

Aparigraha

Non-hoarding. We often, by our nature, accumulate items. We fill our lives with stuff which takes up space both in our homes and in our minds. There is nothing more freeing than letting go of items we don’t need.

A cluttered space is a cluttered mind. The things you own start to own you. More space and more things require more time and maintenance. In my opinion we should only spend our time on those things we really love. If we free ourselves from those things that do not add to our lives we liberate our minds.

Just like the monks who crossed the river, we are guilty of mental hoarding. We hold onto emotions even when the moment has long past and they do not serve us. Often times I find my mind wander back to some perceived wrong which I still carry like the monks at the river. I hoard it.

In conclusion I encourage you, if you are a yoga practitioner, to go deeper and explore how we can take the entire practise, not just the the postures and breath work, off the matt into our everyday lives. Practise yoga every day, not necessarily twisted like a pretzel or meditating on a mountain top, but by being aware of the eight limbs of yoga and putting them into practise as much as possible.

There is much to offer, dig deep and you will find it.

If you liked the blog you would pay me a huge compliment by sharing it.

Thanks for reading,

Peace.

George

Are You A Multi-Tasker?

Do you consider yourself a good multi-tasker? Can you multi task? Think about it for a minute before you read further.

I don’t think there is such a thing as a good multi tasker. In fact, I dont think multi tasking is even possible. Here’s my thoughts.

I try not to take my day job home, but sometimes it is necessary. Wheb I had to do this I would play Netflix in the background while going through emails on my laptop. Multi tasking. Watching a movie while working.

The truth is that I concentrated on neither task fully and I would have been much better off working with no distractions to completely finish my task and then sit down to enjoy something on TV.

The lesson here is that multi tasking does not lead to productivity. Single tasking does.

In other words, we need to concentrate on the task at hand until we have successfully completed it or reached a milestone where we are happy to move on to something different.

This is something we find very difficult to do nowadays. There is so much additional stimulation that we find it difficult to concentrate on one thing for any length of time. Even as I write this I feel the urge to check my smart phone.

In my opinion this is connected to the current smart phone / screen addiction. Maybe the effect of short term gratification from todays technological gizmos are wiring our brains to multi task more. I am willing to bet that multi tasking is a relatively recent phenomenon since the invention of screens and phones.

Todays technology also makes us more accessible to interruptions, forcing us to multi task. In some circumstances these are unavoidable but you can put measures in place like putting your phone in flight mode, closing your door or telling people to f*** off (JOKING – maybe don’t do that, we all about distressing and getting along here).

I think that we are also over whelmed with too much information these days. Too much information gives us too much to deal with and so we feel the need to multi task. The result is that you do not put your full attention into these items.

We also have the illusion that we will achieve more through multi-tasking. The brain rewards us with a dopamine hit when we complete a task but the satisfaction would be far greater if we complete a task knowing that we have given it our full attention.

We also have to deal with the ASAP syndrome. As an experiment in your professional life, take note over the next week of what the response is when you ask somebody “When do you need this?” I am going to guess 80% of the time the answer will be yesterday or asap. This encourages our desire to multi task. Outside pressure forces us to jump straight into action mode, rather than taking a breath to assess where we are at and what are our next actionable items.

The term, “jack of all trades, master of none,” applies to multi tasking. We certainly cannot be experts in anything when we spread ourselves too thin. Jacks of all tasks, masters of none. We are juggling our work load, but just like a juggler, we have a couple of different balls in the air, but we are only touching one at a time. In other words, we may think we are multi tasking but we are actually rapidly switching between tasks. It is this rapid switching which prevents from concentrating fully on any one task.

Put down the balls and pick up one at a time. When we attempt to multi task it may actually take 40% longer than putting our full effort into it. This brings me back to my Netflix / work example. I could have worked single mindedly for half the time rather than splitting my attention between two tasks.

According to Clifford Nass, a communication professor at Stanford, the more we multi task, the more difficult we find to learn, concentrate and be nice to people. I can think of many times where I cut somebody off or was rude because I had too many things going on at one time.

Nass says that if you think you are good at multi tasking, you aren’t. “People who multi task all the time can’t filter out irrelevancy. They can’t manage a working memory. They’re chronically distracted.” This is something I struggle with my self. I find it difficult to filter out the irrelevant and shut out the distractions.

Just as practising self control and meditation re-wire our brains, multi tasking also rewires our brain. These scattered habits have a similar scattering effect on our brain and our attention span.

Many studies support the fact that humans cannot multi task, we rapidly shift attention between tasks which does not allow us enough time to give these items our full concentration. This effects our proficiency and dilutes our abilities.

It is my intention to try to devote my full attention to everything, single mindedly, whether it is reading a book, answering emails or having a conversation with someone in a bar. If we take the time to pause, we can clearly define our next goals and the next task we need to address, making it easier to avoid hopping from one task to another and back again in quick succession.

Remember to focus. F.O.C.U.S.

Follow one course until success.

If you liked this blog, please share it.

Peace,

George

Patience: There Are People Who Stand And There Are People Who Sit

You may have recently read my blog on our trip to Argentina. Nobody likes airports. At least I don’t anyway. It is the same thing every time. We check in, go through security and then wait at the gate while watching a bit of Netflix or reading (Or in Theresa’s case, almost having a heart seizure watching Extras).

Then, the same thing happens, no matter what part of the world we are in or what time of the year it is. 90% of the passengers line up and spend around 40 minutes waiting in line to get onto the flight. The seats are always reserved, we have a specific seat number which nobody can take and yet we line up regardless. The plane will not leave any sooner nor will we get a more comfortable seat by lining up.

Is it FOMO. Do we have a fear of missing out on the optimum seat or baggage spaces?

Is this because of impatience?

Columbia University Professor David Maister argues that “occupied time feels shorter than unoccupied time.” In other words, people like to feel they are being productive when they are waiting in line for something. It would be far more productive to take a seat and actually get some work done rather than standing in line. I believe the subconscious thinking is that we are advancing our immediate goal of getting on the plane.

We are also influenced by other people. This is called the herd mentality where we follow the majority or in some cases not even the majority, just the first ones to make the move. Studies have shown that as little as five people can influence a crowd of 100 to follow suit.

Waiting is frustrating and demoralizing. So why do it? Why wait in line when we can have a comfortable (as comfortable as airport chairs get) seat and board at our leisure?

Maybe the answer is a simple as boredom. A watched pot never boils. Those of us waiting in line at the gate feel like we are watching the pot and that standing in line is moving things along somewhat. Occupying the time, so to speak.

This seems like a lack of patience on our part. I wonder was this always the case? Did we line up for planes in the 1950’s even if we were guaranteed one particular seat on the plane, or is this a knock on effect of today’s society in which instant gratification is the norm so we subconsciously expect instant boarding?

Modern cultural norms like text messaging, Amazon delivery, the afore mentioned Netflix have changed the way we think. We want everything now, but the more we are made to wait, the better we become at it. Or at least that is what one would believe. But the truth is we never willingly wait for anything. Everything is instant, so we expect everything now. Our objective must come to us in a hurry and if that is not going to happen then we will go to our objective in a hurry.

In this case, the aeroplane is there, we must get on.

We cannot wait for anything anymore. It is all about short term success. But in my opinion we need to slow down…..and……… s … t … o … p ….

We need to listen to ourselves. We need to listen to our bodies, our sub consciousness, our needs and our troubles.

The aeroplane is simply an analogy for how we hurry through life these days. We need to take stock of where we are and actually stay in the present moment, rather than letting our minds race ahead to the plane when boarding has not even begun.

It is this quick, immediate, instant mentality that pulls us to the line up. It is not our desire to board the plane, rather it is the fact that our mind is already ahead of us to a completely different destination.

Do not confuse this with thinking ahead. Planning is one thing but letting our minds wander so far ahead that we try to (metaphorically) push through doors that are not even open is another thing.

We have our best ideas when we stop. Have you ever allowed yourself to get bored? That is when things really start to happen in the mind. That is when the mind starts to find some breathing space and work out the kinks that we have buried so deep in our efforts to be somewhere else that they have been forgotten.

Impatience not only takes us away from the present moment, it also takes us away from ourselves and from each other. Impatience kills relationships.

Would life permit us to count to ten before we made every decision? Things would slow down that’s for sure but is that so bad? Is it so bad to have to actually sit at home on the couch and let the mind wander rather than having Ricky Gervais at the touch of a button to make us piss ourselves with laughter?

I watch my fair share of Netflix, but maybe we should think about pressing the pause button a little more and allow the mind to take a breather. I can’t remember the last time I sat in silence (apart from meditation) with no book, no TV, no phone, no stimulation. Maybe I should practise what I preach.

I watched a TED Talk today from a man named Albert “Key Lay” Keys. Albert is paralysed, in a wheel chair. The chair thought him patience and wisdom it seems. He tells us that “patience is the thin line between an argument and an intelligent debate. If we can be patient with ourselves, it is only then that we can be patient with others.”

So, maybe since it’s Christmas time, let’s see if we can actually slow down, rather than speed up like we usually do at this time of the year. Let’s take the time to sit in silence and ignore the honking horns, the frantic shopping needs and the jam packed parking lots.

Let’s stop and just soak it in. Feel what’s happening. Feel the goodwill, and if we can’t feel it we can create it.

Let’s start by stopping.

Peace,

George

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