Invitation to wellbeing retreat, Tofte Manor, 25-28th May 2018

We all know what it can be like to get caught on the hamster wheel of activity, losing perspective and finding it hard to step off and relax.  Some of us may feel we are not too far from chronic stress and burnout, and sometimes may wonder what all this frenetic activity is for.

Are we living to work, or working to live?

Stepping back from the daily pressures of our ‘to do’ list allows us to reconnect with the bigger picture of our lives – with what energises us and gives us a sense of meaning and purpose. It is surprising how quickly we do unwind and feel full of energy when we find the space to nurture ourselves.  A retreat offers the perfect opportunity to reflect on patterns in your life from a different angle, and help you rediscover the wellsprings of vitality within.
 

For this reason we invite you to join us for a three-day wellbeing retreat in the beautiful, restful surroundings of Tofte Manor. 

The retreat will take place from Friday afternoon to Monday afternoon of the late May Bank Holiday, 25-28th May 2018.

We've created a special wellbeing programme that will leave you rejuvenated yet calm, and with greater zest for life. This is a chance to

  • Look after your body through yoga practices and delicious, home-made food for physical health
  • Learn to relate wisely to your thoughts and feelings through mindfulness practice
  • Align with what matters to you in life through personal development coaching workshop.


Tofte Manor http://www.toftemanor.co.uk offers a luxurious and nurturing setting. With comfortable beds, beautiful grounds, nature trails, tennis courts, an outdoor pool and the symbolic labyrinth, you will find it easy to connect with your sense of flourishing.  There will also be a highly experienced masseuse offering various treatments using wholly natural products.  

Prices start from £525 based on sharing a room.  

Janet Evans

is a qualified yoga teacher who has been teaching for over twenty years, following a thorough seven year training. Trained originally by Paul Harvey in an approach called Viniyoga which is based on ancient Indian teachings.  This style is concerned with both body and mind, and emphasises treating each person as an individual with their own needs. Janet has enjoyed running retreats and yoga holidays in the UK and abroad, and is deeply satisfied by seeing people come away recharged and refreshed. She teaches with clarity, creativity and a warm sense of humour, and is registered with the British Wheel of Yoga. 

Dr. Jenny Napier is a practising doctor and coach, whose work focuses on wellbeing of professionals. She also consults to organisations to help create workplaces that foster wellbeing.  She has been offering mindfulness-based personal development trainings and retreats that have been called ‘life-changing’. She relishes sharing her model that draws on acceptance and commitment training (ACT), nonviolent communication (NVC), and coaching tools.  Jenny brings a sense of warmth, fun, and practicality to bringing more vitality into our lives.  

For more information: see www.contextualyse.com, where you can sign up to the quarterly newsletter.

Email: Janet www.yogajanam.com at jevans238@hotmail.co.uk, and Jenny at jenny@contextualyse.com 

or call 020 3409 2545.   

Mental Wealth at Work Training

Delivering our 'Outsmarting Stress' workshop to a group of engaged and inspiring managers at GIC with the inimitable Alina Addison of Adaptaa Ltd.

We shared practical tools to enhance self-awareness, emotional intelligence and to optimise effective communication.  Managers play such a key role in sustaining their teams' optimal performance and wellbeing. Leadership is crucial for enhancing wellbeing of teams and staff, so we are delighted to have these opportunities to reflect and share with a group of influencers. And we are really pleased to have good feedback wherever we go to share skills and learning, and open up conversations. 

Doctors' Wellbeing Retreat, Autumn 2017

This year the focus of our retreat was the theme of balance. The inspiring, wise doctors who joined us for this weekend developed an engaged, tranquil community. We shared ideas, experiences, wisdom, even a spontaneous singing lesson, delicious wholesome food and a meditative log fire. We all left refreshed and replenished from taking the time out to nurture ourselves and to regain perspective on life.

How easy it is in the rush and pressure of everyday life as a doctor to be unsettled and off-balance. So it is crucial for our wellbeing that we know how to find and regain stability. On this retreat we used yoga practices to explore how to find and strengthen a connection with steadiness. In partner yoga we discerned how our responses to other people can help or hinder our balance. Dr Thuli Whitehouse taught Forrest yoga sessions which has been designed specifically for our office-bound modern society - helping release tension in neck and shoulders, and to strengthen our core. These were deeply energising and releasing sessions and I came away from the weekend feeling as though all my muscles were rested and released. My practices developed mindfulness skills, and skills in clarifying values and actions that turn these abstract concepts into manifest behaviours and habits, bringing a sense of vitality and purpose to life. Mindfulness helps with balance by bringing us very clearly into the present moment; connecting with 'me-here-now' exactly where we are on the map of life. Clarifying what matters to us - and what we want to stand for in life - helps give us a balance point to return to when the vicissitudes of life blow us off course. And turning these values into actions helps us take steps and move across the map of life towards destinations that have personal meaning. We also get clearer on HOW we want to travel there.

Facilitating retreats something Dr Thuli Whitehouse and I find deeply rewarding and satisfying. We had wonderful feedback that encourages us to do more. We will be returning to Inner Guidance Retreat Centre in Lavenham, Suffolk next November 23rd-25th, and then are planning a Spring 2019 retreat for doctors.

I am also facilitating a wellbeing retreat for all professionals at Tofte Manor in Bedfordshire for the late May Bank Holiday- 25th-28th May 2018. If you are interested in retreats, training or coaching I offer, please get in touch:

jenny@contextualyse.com, or 020 3409 2545

Or see the website for more details: www.contextualyse.com

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A journey towards sharing wellbeing skills

I've been a doctor for almost twenty years, but I have rarely been so satisfied in my work as when I ran a wellbeing course that was open to the general public. Let me tell you my story.

I grew up in a dysfunctional home. In this context I was determined to study hard and make my own way in the world, so I gained a profession. It was not at all a sure thing that I would do medicine - I was still toying with the possibility of engineering, or even linguistics right up till application day. But there was a word that had stayed with me a long time. I think I'd picked it up in a yoga book that I found on the bookshelf. That word was vitality. Surrounded as I was by the fallout of mental distress the concept of vitality fascinated me. I suppose I wanted to have a sense of vitality for myself, but I also vaguely had a sense that more humans could live with vitality. And it was this that ultimately set me on my path into medicine.

As I went through medical school I was disappointed by the dissected linearity of our studies - how we isolated body parts and organs and never put the whole picture of a human being together. Once I started work - first in hospitals, then public health and finally in General Practice it slowly dawned upon me that the remit of medicine only overlapped slightly with a quest for flourishing and wellbeing.

Finally I decided I could not spend my working life only using the medical model and its approach to diseases and treatment, especially within the context of extremely short appointments that allowed for little more than a knee-jerk reaction. Inspired by my experiences in psychiatry and palliative care I turned to psychoanalysis to understand how to help humans grow emotionally and recover from past hurt. And then I turned this more psychological lens into a research question to explore how GPs themselves were coping with the intense pressures put upon them. Luckily enough I was granted a research fellowship and was supervised by the wonderful Professor Trish Greenhalgh. It was her insight that led me to study organisational theory to get a handle on how humans together create systems that are either supportive or erosive of their wellbeing.

I gained a Masters in Consulting a Leading in Organisations and gradually discovered how I want to work - on teaching people wellbeing, and especially within organisations. Having done a lot of exploration and imbibed some wonderful tools and skills along the way - I am now clear what wellbeing means to me:

  • Looking after our bodies for physical wellbeing
  • Relating wisely to our minds for mental wellbeing
  • Connecting with what matters to us and creating enriching relationships

I now have the enormous satisfaction of teaching mental and holistic wellbeing skills (my Whole Health course) as well as running wellbeing retreats, consulting projects and coaching. It matters hugely to me to walk my talk, and so I do a daily yoga practice or swim, and keep on developing my mindfulness and communication skills. I'm delighted to feel full of vitality myself now, to be aligned with what matters to me and to be sharing some brilliantly accessible and practical wellbeing skills with all sorts of people.

Jenny's Radio Interview on Wellbeing

I was interviewed on Steve Johnston's 'Be My Guest', Radio Harrow.  Yesterday's (3/9/17) broadcast is here: http://listenagain.radioharrow.org/index.php?id=10684.  It was meaningful fun explaining that wellbeing is:

-Relating to our minds wisely for mental health
-Looking after our bodies for physical wellbeing
-Following our hearts to create meaning and connection in life

I share some examples of coaching, consulting and training work I do to bring greater vitality into the lives of people, teams and organisations, and talk about ways to relate more wisely to our minds by connecting with the present moment.

If you like the sound of this, you will love my Whole Health wellbeing course starting 12th September - 10th October, 6-8pm, Ealing Town Hall.  

This holistic wellbeing course is usually offered within organisations, so this public course is a rare opportunity. Please do get in touch if you are interested in improving the health and wellbeing of your team or company. 

I'm a local GP with a passion for helping people and organisations bring more vitality and wellbeing into their lives, along with more effectiveness and productivity.

For more information:
Freephone 020 3409 2545
jenny@contextualyse.com
www.contextualyse.com

Equanimity

Before I really understood what it meant, I'd have thought equanimity was a rather dull aspiration. However, equanimity is now my master value - the enduring star on my frame of reference for life. So why this change?

Equanimity means to "maintain mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation."

At times we can generate anger and hostility towards others, only to regret our rather instantaneous reaction later. Such irritable reactivity is all the more likely when we are stressed with deadlines, pressures, and problems, have not slept well or feel run down. And then we can spend days regretting our actions. At other times we can feel that the world is stacking the odds against us, and we might even feel self-pity, and wallow in our low mood, helplessly giving up on projects, plans and aspirations that are dear to us. We can also lose our mental equilibrium when we go into orbit with our excitement. Our elation may quickly descend down the mood helter-skelter into anger, fear, guilt and shame if we suddenly come up against something that stops us in our tracks.

Often these changing emotions come hand-in-hand with a whole stash of thoughts that ratchet up the emotion. Remember the last time you felt angry...your mind probably went into all sorts of judgments about what SHOULD or SHOULD NOT have happened, and what a defective person it was who has crossed you in this way. Or when you were low, your mind almost certainly jumped to a supply of depressed thoughts about how you were a failure, and life never went your way, how you are always ending up feeling intolerably despondent, and what a drag it all is.

So if we manage to balance our reaction early, softening it with equanimity we can often allow a feeling to pass through our awareness before it snowballs into an overwhelming experience. Generating equanimity allows us to accept the highs and lows in life without getting totally taken over by the feelings. This means we feel the full range of emotions without being consumed by them. It means we can experience the feeling whilst knowing it is transient and not getting too caught up and identified with it. This way we can develop deeper fulfilment, satisfaction and joy, and be less caught up in the more flitting feelings that come and go.

This is an extremely practical strength to develop as it means we can be more stable in our mood, and more balanced and consistent in our actions. By being able to not get blindly caught up in an emotion, we can remain connected to what is important to us in life, and carry on moving towards our values.

In order to develop an even mind and mood it can help us to foreground it as something we are developing, keeping in mind our aspiration. It is also incredibly powerful to remain body-aware, so really having a sense of your own body. You can focus on the physical sensations of any part of your body to bring you back into the here-and-now. A particularly useful focus is the breath, as this is always present, and always moving. It draws us into the present moment. Another advantage of focusing on the breath is that we can consciously slow it down, directly settling our nervous systems into a more equanimous mode - activating the parasympathetic nervous system. A regular practice of mindfulness meditation can also help us maintain equanimity by developing our self-awareness, our awareness of how transient feelings and thoughts are, and our ability to step back from these experiences. Loving-kindness (compassion) meditation can also help us move more easily to a less hostile stance and become more accepting of other people, however they are towards us.

In my coaching and training work, I help you strengthen the skills that develop equanimity, enabling you to live a meaningful, satisfying life, with rich and rewarding relationships.

Contact me on jenny@contextualyse.com or 020 3409 2545.