Four reasons Awespace is the greatest discovery of your life.

  1. Awespace  is THE key to your and your children’s well-being.

We, particularly in the West, are highly conditioned to understand and be able to navigate the external world. Through school, socialisation and even our development of our own self-awareness we are always directed externally. We become experts at navigating our external world and all the available education, guidance and laws are directed towards the external world. However, within a few moments of reflection I am sure you agree that the internal world that you also inhabit i.e. the place of your thoughts, your emotions, you feelings, your sensation, your plans, dreams, insecurities (need I go on) is a pretty large part of your life. In fact, your internal world is actually larger and far more expansive than the external physical world you have before you.

It is pretty crazy that in terms of how we deal with this expansive, demanding internal world that we are given pretty much no guidance. It is thought that on average we experience over 50,000 thoughts a day. If you were to imagine 50,000 people asking, requesting, demanding or suggesting something to you in one day, you would be pretty over-whelmed. Yet each one of us deals with that every single day within our own internal worlds. Add a day where you are stressed or worried or anxious then you can multiply that figure exponentially. It is no wonder that at least 1 in 10 children struggle with mental health issues and in both children and adults that figure is escalating. In addition to this the demands and stress of the external world are also ramping up with social media also feeding our internal worlds constantly. It is not easy.

I say, again, it is not just pretty crazy that we are not taught the skills to deal with our internal world, it is highly worrying. The good news is that the knowledge, skills and educative processes are out there. However, they tend to be built within spiritual disciplines that not everyone connects with, or a meditation or a mindfulness practice that becomes another ‘to do’ on our busy schedule. Another thing that we ‘should do’ and the last thing we want is more expectations and pressure on us.

But just imagine for a moment, that you had within you a sanctuary, a space where you could retreat and recharge whenever you need. As an expert in the external world, you can probably draw an analogy here from the most relaxing holiday you have ever had. Imagine you had a space within you, that you create and furnish that is like stepping into a spa. That you build it in such a way that when there you recharge, gain perspective and rest. With this new found space you have the strength and clarity to organise, validate and listen to all the emotions, thoughts and sensations that arise. You have a tool kit that allows you to discern what serves you and what does not and everything that does arise you treat with curiosity. This space is Awespace.

I coined this phrase from always having to talk about this space, Awespace is a place of learning and development it is both passive and active at the same time. I truly believe that if we were taught the skills to navigate and create Awespace that we could erradicate many many mental health issues particularly in the young. It is at the moment a great battle for many dealing with their internal worlds, yet the knowledge, practices and skills are there to be taught.

I suffered from terrible anxiety myself when I was younger and I know the torment of when the mind turns in on you. I am thankful everyday for having internal peace and I am so grateful that I cultivated Awespace in me

2. Awespace makes you more intelligent and keeps you young!

We know from neuropsychology that the more you practice going to Awespace and the longer you spend there the stronger that part of the brain becomes.

When you meditate you enter Awespace and we know from brain scans that experienced meditators boast a thickening of parts of the brain

Scientists from Harvard tell us that..

‘meditation practice can promote cortical plasticity in adults in areas important for cognitive and emotional processing and well-being’

These parts of the brain get thinner as you get older, so being in Awespace slows down the aging process.

3..  When you step into Awespace you open to Awe

Awe according to Professor Schneider incorporates wonder, dread, mystery, veneration, and the embracing of paradox.  Holding the meagreness of your being and the greatness and hugeness of the universe at the same time.  It leads to that moment of WOW!  Often in nature or when we realise that life is so massive and precious we have have wow moment, or sometimes this leads to an existential crisis.

However, we know from research that Awe is the antidote to self-centredness.  This is particularly important as we know the digital native, addicted to their phones generations, are the highest in narcissism.  Therefore the antidote is Awespace.

4.  If you step into Awespace you step into your creativity and genius

Psychologist have found that when the brain is at ‘rest’ and not thinking that a particular part of the brain starts getting very active.  It is all linked to a place in the brain called the default mode network (DMN).  This may well be the physical location of Awespace (although as Awespace is the space around physical things it is actually infinite. so maybe the DMN is more like a portal).

During brain resting, the mind begins to wander however this is not cognitive thought it is visions and visuals.  It is documented in a peer reviewed journal

In 1932, Einstein was thought to have said “A cruise in the sea, is an excellent opportunity for maximum calm and reflection on ideas from a different perspective.”

He would enter Awespace and his mind would wonder and it is here he came up with the theory of relativity

It was whilst driving down the highway in Awespace that  Nobel Prize winner Kary Mullis had the eureka moment of how to duplicate DNA fragments while driving down the highway.

The simple secret to a beautiful child

‘Research suggests the greatest indicator of well-being is gratitude and its not about just saying ‘thank-you’’ Dr. Jeannine Goh.

We all want happy and well-adjusted children.  Yes…we all want our children to thrive, but in-amongst the plethora of well-meaning parenting guides and advice, sometimes it is difficult to know whether we are a good parent or not. Do they really need music lessons, extra tutors, good SAT scores, to be invited to everyones’ parties, the latest iphone, no sugar, no screens, the coolest trainers, outdoor play and meditation lessons?  And do we, as parents, really have the time or inclination to sift, assess and provide?

The good news for us parents is that according to researchers (Wood, Joseph, & Maltby, 2008) of all the psychological variables it is gratitude that has one of the strongest relationships with well-being.  In simple terms, that means that having a child that is grateful also means they are likely to be high in well-being. Before I hear you groan ‘Oh no…not all that wet stuff about children being grateful and thankful…we’ve heard it all before’, do hear me out.  ‘But we’ve tried it all before…going home and encouraging  our children to say thank-you for their dinner, thank-you for being allowed to watch telly, thank-you for their bedtime story, thank-you for us reminding them to clean their teeth, thank-you for encouraging them to say thank-you’.  ‘And then retreating under our duvet to bemoan how thankless parenting is.  Not more pressure to do more good please…!’

But, please bear with me as there really is good news for us over-worked parents.  What these researchers were getting at is that it is not about saying lots of thank-you-s.  Actually, it is a bit deeper than that. What they are saying is that there is a personality trait which they have coined, ‘a positive life-orientation to gratitude’ which in simple terms means that our children (or us in fact)  just need to ‘notice and appreciate’ things to be grateful and thus be happy, well-adjusted and high in well-being.  Hooray!  We do not actually have to do more activities, or more ‘things’, we just need to notice and appreciate, with our children the things that we, do, do and ‘scaffold’ this type of positive-talk with our children and that is it.  It isn’t rocket science and the links are clear between this and all the research on, for example mindfulness, which is very well-documented as greatly increasing well-being.  We, basically need to slow-down (hooray), create more space in our lives (hooray), simplify and detangle our lives (hooray) to have more time to notice and appreciate what we and our children do (hooray hooray!).

And it is not just well-being that will improve.  Wait for it…it has been found that engagement in mutual and supportive relations is associated with positive youth development (Rubin, Bukowosi, & Parker, 2006), and increased levels of gratitude in adolescents is also linked to positive affect, optimism, satisfaction with school, community, friends and self (Froh, Yurkewica, & Kashdan, 2009), higher life satisfaction, social integration, and less envy, depression and materialism (Froh, Emmons, Card, Bono &, Wilson, 2011). High levels of gratitude in adolescents is also associated with academic achievement (Froh, Emmons, Card, Bono, 2011).  So….what are we waiting for?  Let’s develop this positive personality trait in not just our children but ourselves too.

But……… what do we do to encourage this wonderful ‘positive life-orientation to gratitude’? The great news is that it is not about getting the new iphone, or sending our little one off to lots of clubs.  It is not about what you actually do it is the encouraging of positive emotion and an understanding of the transaction involved.  For instance, rather than asking them to repeat the phrase  ‘thank you’ after dinner, it is the appreciation of the processes behind getting that dinner on the table that can be talked about around the table.  Who cooked it despite a hard day? Why they cooked it? That they made it because they love you and want you to be happy.  That there are rumours that there are 100 people who touched that meal to bring it on your plate (from planting, manufacturing, selling).  It is the understanding of these deeper aspects of the gratitude exchange the ‘gratitude-talk’ that is important.  Putting good, solid, sentences in their heads to help them understand gratitude on a deeper level than just saying ‘thank-you’.

We can also notice and appreciate all our children do, that they work so hard all day at school (I had this realization at the last parent’s day…it really is a hard day at work for our little ones).  Appreciating that they are a little human-beings with their own responsibilities, worries, concerns and joys.  Enjoying their souls, spirits and minds and exploring together what is out the window, the changing of the seasons, understanding the beautiful world we live and the transactions that are cashless and are acts of kindness, love and compassion.  Revelling in the wonder of life for all of its challenges and triumphs.  Through these subtle exchanges we are empowering our little ones to not just have a ‘positive life-orientation to gratitude’ but to become thoughtful, sensitive, emotionally-literate, good, little human beings.

For more information or to buy Dr Goh’s parent’s guide and story-book  that encourages a ‘positive-life orientation’ in children http://www.awespace.org/books/

The Enchanted Child Book

And do sign up to the blog below to get the latest articles on children, yoga, well-being and how to create space in your life!

Photo credit: Mi Pham

DISENCHANTED TO ENCHANTED: KEY THEMES TO EXPLORE WITH YOUR CHILD

Gratitude, compassion and awe are central to well-being and for your child to thrive. The key theme of gratitude,  has formed a focus of recent research in psychology. This research, the idea of ‘noticing and appreciating’ what is around, has seen to be strongly related to well-being, and is described as a form of gratitude. Gratitude is often taught by encouraging children to say ‘thank you’.

Whilst it is great to have this verbal exchange in terms of politeness, it is clear that genuine gratitude is about being connected enough to an exchange to truly feel gratitude for it. Therefore it is about ‘noticing and appreciating’ the deeper aspects of the exchange. The latter takes more energy, and it requires contemplation and careful exploration to encourage this level of connection in children. It’s certainly not easy to achieve, but we have found inspiring ways to convey and explore gratitude with children.

In modern western society, we are encouraged to be unique, autonomous individuals, and whilst this has its merits, it also has its pressures. In the recent UNICEF survey, UK children scored poorly on the social measures. Add this to the narcissism and lack of empathy that is being reported in the academic literature and this is cause for great concern. We must start asking questions about, where the strong teachings, centred on co-operation, communion, and harnessing greater and deeper connections to one another, should be coming from? Again, whilst this is taught in a cognitive way in schools – the ‘you should share because it is nice to share’ approach – actually having children truly connect to this concept is a much deeper process.

With children, we have found that it involves discussions of the greater good and exploration of this in their close groups, which can then be widened to their community, and more widely to the world. Once more, this level of connection is not easy to achieve, but we have found inspiring ways to convey and explore these concepts with children.

At the heart of the development of these deeper connections lies compassion; or more specifically trying to help children understand and develop compassion. Academic research reports levels of empathy declining in our young, and we believe that having children develop their compassion will be central to increasing empathy. Moreover, we take this to deep, philosophical levels, by, for instance, talking to the children and encouraging them to explore interconnectedness.

We guide children to the realisation that we all share life, and we all have life running through us. As a point of exploration, we may, for example, show children a dying brown crispy leaf and compare it to one which has life running through it and is thriving. We are not afraid to discuss deeper issues such as what life is and what happens when life no longer thrives. In fact it is these realisations, that are a platform for everything else to be explored. From a recognition and respect of life, we become connected to each other and nature, and we begin to respect the earth and the conditions needed for life to survive. We feel gratitude for the earth, the elements and the wider cosmos, visible as the sun, the moon, and the stars.

We believe these to be important discussions to have with children. To discuss and consider what happens when life leaves something, what happens when life thrives and how can we cultivate life? When children connect themselves to being part of a bigger whole, they realise that they have a responsibility and a job to do, we are custodians of the earth. It is wonderful to observe in children these realisations growing in a very gentle way. This can be an awe-inspiring experience and with it comes a natural care and feelings of compassion and gratitude. Moreover, from this realisation of interconnectedness the child develops a profound sense of belonging.

These ideas are, not new to us, but sometimes it is the obvious, or the conveyance of the basics, that can slip past us without us realising. We can loose our ground; or more probably we have lost our ground. The themes themselves are no strangers to us, and certainly form the basis of many religions and spiritual doctrines. Some of you may even be starting to think that the ideas conveyed are starting to sound religious…even this thought may lead some people to start closing off…please don’t. These concepts can also be viewed philosophically, they are basic wisdom; it is just common-sense.

They are aspects to life that underpin religions, but they are also non-denominational. Religions gather these concepts up into neat packages with a clear overriding narrative, which allows people to access and understand the deeper aspects of life. Indeed, without a grand narrative to hang these off, the teachings can just become disparate units that are difficult to put together, or connect to, and this is part of the challenge. But these concepts, this deeper connection, can be taught in an inclusive, non-denominational way, and we have to explore this.

We believe we have found a wisdom approach, a common-sense approach, to teaching and exploring these concepts. We have found a way to give children a basic foundation of the basis of life, that we can then build on. Those who wish, or are encouraged at home, to take it further with spirituality or religion are free to do so; those who don’t are still able to connect to these deeper issues without them (or their parents) fearing that it is leading to places they do not want to go. There is a commonality between us all, and we truly believe that a lack, or sometimes a fear, of addressing this is causing tears and rips deep in the fabric of society.

These basics, and how to explore these in a secular community, is something we have shied away from on a practical level for too long. We are bravely stepping forward, not claiming to have the full solution, but we have certainly taken gentle, careful steps on this path. We are also certain that if we want to repair some of the rips and damage deep in the fabric of our communities and society then we need to create space for this type of non-denominational, wisdom-based, heart-led approach to evolve.

We have touched on some deep issues for contemplation, as we do in our school programme and our work. However, in our school programme we balance these deep periods of contemplation and realisation, with vibrant periods of dance and song. Along this path there is so much to celebrate and the desire to sing and dance with glee, to jump for joy, be free, just overcomes us.

We want to celebrate: the life that we all share; that we are alive at this very moment; the exciting realisation that we have a life full of possibilities ahead; and the fact that we live in this expansive universe. We celebrate each of our talents, and encourage each other to find these talents and share them with the world. This leads me to end with a quote, I’ve never been sure who said it, but if it was you, thank you… I love it! It goes something like this…

‘Ask not what the world wants from you, but what makes you feel alive and go and do it, the world needs people who are truly alive.’

Are you a Modern-Day-Mystic?

I am excited!  After three years of reading libraries of books, undertaking some deep, deep mystical practices and fascinating research, and scribbling away furiously, I am going to reveal some of the material from my new book at a lovely festival called Breathe in August. This festival is organised by someone very special who I have known for a long time and she has  invited the top International teachers of Breathwork to run workshops and talks there (in amongst some other fantastic offerings – including an outdoor swimming pool).  It’s going to be quite an experience…unforgettable…unmissable!

So…as many of you know, I am a Doctor and lecturer in Psychology (expertise in self-awareness), an author and the Director of a social enterprise called Awespace.org. I am also an inspirational speaker, a very loving mother and over the last few years people have been starting to refer to me as a modern-day mystic… Ooooo fancy!  To be honest I am not particularly fond of titles as they lead to all sorts of pre-conceptions and the idea of a mystic certainly brings up all types of associations and imagery. For example, that I am going whip out a crystal ball and appear shrouded in a purple mist (although that might be quite entertaining).  But….as the mist starts to dissipate what emerges is nothing ‘all singing and dancing’ but actually something rather private and something really quite humble.

The etymology of the word Mystic, we can trace to The New Testament and the verb muo and this simply means ‘shutting the eyes and mouth to experience mystery’.  That’s pretty nice…and something softens in me when I hear this.  We are also pleased to discover that whilst religion is exoteric i.e. it comes externally, that Mystic is esoteric i.e. it is internal or contemplative.  Grand narratives, or being told what to do, or what to  believe (externally), have become increasingly difficult for many of us and therefore religion problematic for many modern-day seekers.  We are talking about unseen forces here and as we have seen again and again in the past these have been exploited.  It becomes difficult to know what to believe, it is sometimes difficult to know your new-age bullshit from the life-changing practices. Moreover, these unseen forces have been side-lined and mocked by traditional Western Science, but …these forces can never be ignored or pushed away even if they are obscured. We are in a new epoch and these unseen forces are creating (as Nikola Tesla predicted) the greatest of revolutions. And, this is not just in quantum mechanics (where the unseen forces are kicking ass) but within each one of us.  In the book I call this wonderful internal transformation, The Silent Revolution of the Self.

Each of us is poised ready for this revolution (or may be well on the way) and each of us has a different path to tread.  We each have a different understanding of our own internal worlds, and our own unique belief system. No one can tell us exactly what to do and what to feel, our path is our own. However, if we choose to tune into our esoteric internal world, transcend the chatter of the mind and recognise the life-force within as a deep intelligence we are stepping into the mystical realms.  In these realms the wise, wise words of the ancient mystics become so beautiful and profound that they can touch us so deeply and bring us to tears.  They also provide a humble and ethical framework and a stable, wise ground on which to grow our own beliefs. We are guided to sense and develop an internal barometer to gauge and be guided by the unseen forces (and to sniff out the bullshit).  A more beautiful world opens up to us. We become the Christopher Colombus of our own internal world, embarking on an adventure of a life-time.  We thrive…,life becomes more simple, we become more humble and everything all of a sudden makes just perfect sense.

See Jeannine talk on the 1st of September at Breathe

Also, join our mailing list for notifications of more blog posts and news of the free places on Jeannine’s forthcoming on-line course to accompany the book

The simple secret to a beautiful child

‘Research suggests the greatest indicator of well-being is gratitude and its not about just saying ‘thank-you’’ Dr. Jeannine Goh.

We all want happy and well-adjusted children.  Yes…we all want our children to thrive, but in-amongst the plethora of well-meaning parenting guides and advice, sometimes it is difficult to know whether we are a good parent or not. Do they really need music lessons, extra tutors, good SAT scores, to be invited to everyones’ parties, the latest iphone, no sugar, no screens, the coolest trainers, outdoor play and meditation lessons?  And do we, as parents, really have the time or inclination to sift, assess and provide?

The good news for us parents is that according to researchers (Wood, Joseph, & Maltby, 2008) of all the psychological variables it is gratitude that has one of the strongest relationships with well-being.  In simple terms, that means that having a child that is grateful also means they are likely to be high in well-being. Before I hear you groan ‘Oh no…not all that wet stuff about children being grateful and thankful…we’ve heard it all before’, do hear me out.  ‘But we’ve tried it all before…going home and encouraging  our children to say thank-you for their dinner, thank-you for being allowed to watch telly, thank-you for their bedtime story, thank-you for us reminding them to clean their teeth, thank-you for encouraging them to say thank-you’.  ‘And then retreating under our duvet to bemoan how thankless parenting is.  Not more pressure to do more good please…!’

But, please bear with me as there really is good news for us over-worked parents.  What these researchers were getting at is that it is not about saying lots of thank-you-s.  Actually, it is a bit deeper than that. What they are saying is that there is a personality trait which they have coined, ‘a positive life-orientation to gratitude’ which in simple terms means that our children (or us in fact)  just need to ‘notice and appreciate’ things to be grateful and thus be happy, well-adjusted and high in well-being.  Hooray!  We do not actually have to do more activities, or more ‘things’, we just need to notice and appreciate, with our children the things that we, do, do and ‘scaffold’ this type of positive-talk with our children and that is it.  It isn’t rocket science and the links are clear between this and all the research on, for example mindfulness, which is very well-documented as greatly increasing well-being.  We, basically need to slow-down (hooray), create more space in our lives (hooray), simplify and detangle our lives (hooray) to have more time to notice and appreciate what we and our children do (hooray hooray!).

And it is not just well-being that will improve.  Wait for it…it has been found that engagement in mutual and supportive relations is associated with positive youth development (Rubin, Bukowosi, & Parker, 2006), and increased levels of gratitude in adolescents is also linked to positive affect, optimism, satisfaction with school, community, friends and self (Froh, Yurkewica, & Kashdan, 2009), higher life satisfaction, social integration, and less envy, depression and materialism (Froh, Emmons, Card, Bono &, Wilson, 2011). High levels of gratitude in adolescents is also associated with academic achievement (Froh, Emmons, Card, Bono, 2011).  So….what are we waiting for?  Let’s develop this positive personality trait in not just our children but ourselves too.

But……… what do we do to encourage this wonderful ‘positive life-orientation to gratitude’? The great news is that it is not about getting the new iphone, or sending our little one off to lots of clubs.  It is not about what you actually do it is the encouraging of positive emotion and an understanding of the transaction involved.  For instance, rather than asking them to repeat the phrase  ‘thank you’ after dinner, it is the appreciation of the processes behind getting that dinner on the table that can be talked about around the table.  Who cooked it despite a hard day? Why they cooked it? That they made it because they love you and want you to be happy.  That there are rumours that there are 100 people who touched that meal to bring it on your plate (from planting, manufacturing, selling).  It is the understanding of these deeper aspects of the gratitude exchange the ‘gratitude-talk’ that is important.  Putting good, solid, sentences in their heads to help them understand gratitude on a deeper level than just saying ‘thank-you’.

We can also notice and appreciate all our children do, that they work so hard all day at school (I had this realization at the last parent’s day…it really is a hard day at work for our little ones).  Appreciating that they are a little human-beings with their own responsibilities, worries, concerns and joys.  Enjoying their souls, spirits and minds and exploring together what is out the window, the changing of the seasons, understanding the beautiful world we live and the transactions that are cashless and are acts of kindness, love and compassion.  Revelling in the wonder of life for all of its challenges and triumphs.  Through these subtle exchanges we are empowering our little ones to not just have a ‘positive life-orientation to gratitude’ but to become thoughtful, sensitive, emotionally-literate, good, little human beings.

 

For more information or to buy Dr Goh’s parent’s guide and story-book  that encourages a ‘positive-life orientation’ in children http://www.awespace.org/books/

The Enchanted Child Book

And do sign up to the blog below to get the latest articles on children, yoga, well-being and how to create space in your life!

 

Photo credit: Mi Pham

Awespace has landed!

We are really excited to be releasing our website today and give a huge thanks to the creative dynamic team of designer James Stiff and Fiona for this beautiful creation! We hope that the text is inspiring and sets out our ambitious plans. Please do feedback, get involved, get excited with us, we are all about co-creation and collaboration.

Its all hands on deck at the moment preparing for our first event, The Magic of Life Festival. Many feelings of excitement, mixed-with nerves in our team and in the schools. We have many after-school clubs running with our dance lead Bridget working with the children to explore our music through movement. We have a beautiful harmony choir working with our professional singer Fiona. Sal who is directing the show has uncovered magic in two lead child actors, and our live band have started rehearsals. Our artist Sam and costume designer, Bridget are going down to grumpy tomorrow to source costumes and materials to create a giant puppet head and a magical, harmonising, wisdom tree. Yup you’re in for a great show!

The event is shaping up to be a ball. We have now confirmed Jubacana a youth samba group will be playing an acoustic set and we have two beautiful musicians creating deep and inspiring music in the Great Nave. In-between we will have one-off inspiring workshops and a fun-festival theme. its going to be a lovely day… a not to be missed event!

Also how lovely it will be to be in The Monastery. This building is very special as you will soon find out AND we have just been told it will have its Christmas decorations up. Pure magic to share with your friends and family!

Wonderful Workshops

We run a range of different workshops in various different environments. At the heart of all our work are the themes of wisdom, creativity and compassion. We also consult and run workshops on creating awespace in both the physical and psychological realms.

For children

In schools – we run many workshops in our Soulful School programme.

At events – we create our own events. Our first large event is the Magic of Life festival. We aim to grow this to into an international festival.

In the community – we are available to create bespoke workshops for any event.

For adults

Although most of our work at the moment is child-focused we are in the process of developing our very exciting and diverse adult work. Within our collective lies a body of wisdom of psychology, philosophy, yoga, meditation and a huge pool of creative talent to deliver unique and pioneering workshops and courses. At present we are drawing in more expertise and expect our adult work to start piloting in 2015.

Our founder psychologist Dr. Jeannine Goh who is also an experienced yoga practitioner also presently runs adult workshops exploring the body and mind connection, and specialising in creating awespace. Please subscribe to our blog to find out about upcoming events.