Flow Experience through Conscious Dance

“Will I experience flow state during these dance events?” He smiled at me or at my question. His eyes became bright and gentle and he nodded “Yes”. I was too impatient to hear the second and last word he said. “Maybe”.

Freely adapted from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Flow cannot magically inject speed, fitness or skill into your dancing life – those take hard work. Flow is not a short-cut, it’s an outgrowth and inherent reward stemming from the commitment to do something right.

Flow can do many things. It can heighten the enjoyment you experience during a dance. It can enhance your performance by filtering out distractions, improving focus and strengthening the mind-body connection – merging action and awareness. Moreover, flow can bring you back to the dance-floor.

This is about a group of dancers practicing a weekly meditation in movement. Welcoming newcomers to enjoy dancing to curated music on a spacious hardwood dance floor in the heart of Hong Kong Island.

Absolutely suited to beginners, this practice has no specific steps to follow and pressures no one to perform. We encourage you to dance your own dance.

You will have ample time to warm up in the calm setting that has been prepared for you. A brief guided introduction gives way to freeform expression. Participants dance on their own and join with others as spirit or flow moves them.

Please wear loose, comfortable clothing and be prepared to dance barefoot or with footwear designed exclusively for the dance floor. No street shoes or socks are permitted.

Our facilitators, Flo and Thomas Vinton, have been practicing conscious dance regularly for 10 years and teaching arts-related activities for a quarter century.

Our next session will be October 8 for Buddies. Do you remember times when you were a kid dancing freely with your brother, sister, cousin or friend and moving through imaginary worlds full of laughter and silliness. Well for our next session, you are invited to bring a buddy who will receive complimentary entry. There will be surprises.

Dance Hong Kong with Muse Circle PAGE

Conscious Dance Mondays EVENT

Location

Dance Concept, 7th Floor, Great Smart Tower, 230 Wan Chai Road

Wan Chai, Hong Kong

2018 Remaining Dates

MONDAYS October 8, 22, 29 and November 5, 12, 19, 26

Rates

Set of 4 Classes $1000 – Single class $300.

Please let us know if cost is ever an issue so that we may make special arrangements with you.

10 Learnings from Detox Fasting

Here are Lessons Learned from my recent fasting experience.

I feel great and confused after 7 days of fastign using the Buchinger Method. This method is a detox fasting. It is meant to heal and stimulate body and to declutter and reboot your mind. Weight loss is often a welcome byproduct but not the main focus. I had attended several guided and supervised Buchinger weeks and recommend to only try it on your own with such experience.

One day of much reduced food intake, which is usually recommended to be two days. Five days of not eating with a vegetable essence, herbal tea, a glas of Cowmilk-Kefir and water, water, water. Then one day of slowly eating again.

“All the fantasies about food (i.e. french fries) that had persistently occupied my mind during the fasting week, e v a p o r a t e d ones I started eating again. I ordered french fries yesterday after week-long daydreams and cravings. Then I only tasted a few and could not finish the portion – feeling first deeply saturated, then indifferent and then confused…”

This was the first time that I took time off to do the fasting and yes, it was an entirely new and refreshingly different journey. Doing it in Thailand allowed me to enjoy long walks, several meditations daily, yoga stretches with a view over rice paddies, scooter rides, visiting cafes for herbal tea and Kefir, sleep whenever I felt like it AND getting spa treatments that I did not know existed.

DOWNSIDE

1. If you are on holiday you don’t have many of your usual daily routines and therefore are easier distracted and need a bit more self-motivation to get going.

2. You find yourself spending too much time daydreaming (online and offline) about all the things you will eat when the fast is over.

3. You find yourself sleepy, sluggish and tired. In particular during the second day your body will protest the reality of no sugar, no carbs, no nothing.

4. You might experience headaches or nausea in the beginning. As antidote, I introduced the Kefir following my nutritionist’s recommendation.

5. You can’t drink coffee. This is a real struggle for me as a barristonadie. Even more so when you are in a place with so many excellent coffee roasters around.

UPSIDE

5. You have more time to spend on things of interest. You gain several hours in a day by not searching for, preparing and eating food.

4. Fasting is like a food consciousness reset button. It gives you a chance to plan meals from the inside, meaning with a regained clarity of what you actually want to eat.

4. You eat more mindfully after the fast. You will be more present with the food in front of you.

3. You start to glow from the inside. Genuine happiness sets in on day 3 or 4, once your body turned to burning fat to fuel your brain your synapses come together and dance.

2. Your mind and body become deeply relaxed. An embodied sense of ease kicks in.

2. You are surprisingly functional. Working efficiently on routine tasks and being able to concentrate while feeling more responsive and in control.

1. Your senses become sharp as a razor blade. I swear I could smell coffee 3km against the wind.

1. Your mind becomes creative and future oriented. My absolute No. 1 top upside without a fail. Within one day I had clarity about my near future business and personal plans and already broke it down into action items. Done!

BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED

After having fasted for the 6th time now, one major learning shows time and again:

All the fantasies about food (i.e. french fries) that had persistently occupied my mind during the fasting week, e v a p o r a t e d ones I started eating again. I ordered french fries yesterday after week-long daydreams and cravings. Then I only tasted a few and could not finish the portion – feeling first deeply saturated, then indifferent and then confused.

Makes you wonder what other fantasies we cultivate and embellish in our daydreams, that also might just evaporate and become entirely obsolete when we approach measures to turn them into reality?!

Spoken Retreat, non-silent non-smoking

After many years of attending shorter and longer silent retreats, I came across an invitation to a spoken retreat and spontaneously registered myself because I was curious to find out what to expect. The brochure said “A spoken retreat follows the structure and format of most silent retreats with the main exception being, that the participants are strongly encourage to verbalise their minds!” Needless to say, each of the participants had to attend a short intake interview by phone and was then provided all details and instructions via an audio-file sent by email.

“All participants are strongly encouraged to express themselves verbally at all times – being on their own or with others.”

SPEAKING BY YOURSELF

As best you can put your mind’s inner commentary into words. Speak out loud what you think as often and as long as you can stay focused. Whenever you fall into silence, congratulate yourself and gently bring back the tone of your voice. Experiment with tonality, melody and volume. When your mind fatigues, start to speak to yourself and with yourself. Do it with kindness. Talk about anything you like or dislike – things you want or need to do and all the things you don’t want to do. Follow through with each train of thought arguing with yourself vigorously to dissect where your preferences and action tendencies come from and what they are based on.

SPEAKING TO OTHERS

In this retreat we cultivate speaking “to” rather than “with” others. Speaking to others means that we encourage you to speak about yourself, revealing some of your moment-to-moment awareness with each statement. Do not ask questions. If you feel the urge to ask a questions, perhaps you can work your way around it. Say “I wonder how you feel today?” Or “I am so anxious standing next to you, that I want to overcome my sense of awkwardness by asking you if you like the vegetarian food.”

THE SPOKEN RETREAT DIALOGUE

Use “I statements” as best you can. Repeat what your counterpart said and then add your own observation of the world and yourself. Example: The other person says “I like how green the gras is here.” You say “You like how green the gras is. I went to the other side this morning and found that it is even greener there.” And so on.

THE SPOKEN RETREAT GROUP CONVERSATION

Similar to the Spoken Retreat Dialogue (R), the Spoken Retreat Group Conversation was developed to increase the depth and richness of the retreat experience. When one group member makes an “I statement” all other group members need to repeat the statement and then make a judging comment based on their own view and experience. Which then in turn is again repeated by each group member. Smaller groups are preferable here for obvious reasons.

MEDITATIONS

Mindful Talking. Choose any thought that comes up in your mind and speak it, out loud. Again and again. Let’s say your thought is “I wish Arsenal wins anything this season”. Try as best you can to fully concentrate on that though and speak it out loud to yourself again and again. Slowly savouring every word. Enquire into each syllable, each word, the sound, the way you produce it, the meaning – of each word, of parts of the sentence, of the whole sentence. Find words with the same meaning for each word in the sentence: “I, myself, me, self, …”; “Wish, desire, want, aspire, crave, …”. When your mind gets distracted – for example by thinking of another football club like Middlesborough for example – say “Thinking, Thinking, Thinking” and bring your attention gently back to your phrase. If your mind drifts to images – say your favorite players holding a cup on a presentation ceremony – say “Imagining, Imagining, Imagining” and then bring back your attention gently and with kindness to your sentence. Take a fresh interest in your sentence and continue your mindful talking. If you notice any feelings arising such as warmth, fuzziness or hatred – say “Feeling, Feeling, Feeling”.

Take it from here!

Zero Tolerance – The pros and cons of rigidity

Many of my clients practice abstinence on a yearly basis, very often for a month or so. It is similar to fasting in some ways but often with a very different mindset. I think the main thing is, that you do it mindfully and where necessary with proper medical supervision.

It is a good idea from a couple of perspectives. Firstly, if your brain has it firmly etched on some habits, you can learn or unlearn things like a mandatory cup of coffee in the morning. We don’t need coffee to be more alert or to work. That is something we put into our minds with these habits. But learning to drop these things and to give the brain a chance to unlearn these habits and behavioral paths is not a bad thing to unlearn the core belief that I need to have that.

Secondly, since you have had the experience that you can actually go without alcohol or coffee or sugar, the brain will remember that. You are able to know that you did it before. These experiences are a very good foot in the door against addiction, abuse and over use.

I question the logic behind going back to the excesses you have just liberated yourself from. My wife and I did a fairly stringent and unsupervised fasting program once and it was not a good idea. We found we needed a good balance and the surveillance of a nutritionist the second time around and it was so much better. Just recently we did our third fasting according to the Buchinger Method: We had such positive changes in lifestyle so there was no way we were going back to previous nutritional and lifestyle choices.

“We had such positive changes in lifestyle so there was no way we were going back to previous nutritional and lifestyle choices. You are much more relaxed because of the changing of your habits so why sabotage things? It was far better to make those positive changes, like much more energy and brain awareness, permanent and sustainable.”

You are much more relaxed because of the changing of your habits so why sabotage things? It was far better to make those positive changes, like much more energy and brain awareness, permanent and sustainable.”

On extreme behavior

When it comes to setting and achieving goals, It’s not essential but it is very much human nature to swing from one extreme to another and is much harder to keep a balance somewhere in the middle. It’s seems to be much easier if you set 100 percent rule, but it’s not easier for many to keep it right.

For instance if you say, every single Monday I am going to the gym. Well, how realistic is that compared to setting a goal to go three times a week and having seven days to make it happen? The tendency is to strive for and set records that are often doomed to fail. Competing and proving things and setting goals is in our culture, but it is often actually just replacing another craving attachment.

Are a lot more people in HK today making conscientious efforts to improve their lifestyle choices? There is no doubt Hong Kong is rife with a lot of distractions, temptations and opportunity. So yes I would say it is a challenge for a lot of people to maintain a healthy balance.

It is certainly more open now and acceptable for people to take periods of abstinence and there is a high priority put on things like detox retreats and other sporting getaways.

Tim Noonan interviewed Sebastian for an SCMP article. Read the article…

Inspire Wellness Talks

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Inspire Wellness is a 6 part series of lectures exploring the effects of lifestyle on our health and what we can do to slow down aging. Experts from some of Hong Kong’s largest institutions in health and wellness will be sharing their research and knowledge in the areas of sleep, stress management, brain health, movement, beauty, nutrition, mental and physical well being. You will be leaving with practical tips to gain control over your health now and prevent aging diseases in the future.

Read more …

 

mellow, more mellow, marshmallow

We’ve heard the wise saying, “good things come to those who wait”. Based on the Marshmallow Experiment, self control and delayed gratification is an important character building tool for success. This Stanford experiment performed in the late 1970’s, a few researchers brought some children together where they presented to each children a marshmallow.

They would ask the child if they waited 15 minutes, they would get another marshmallow at the end. Similar research has been done since then and the results have been similar if not the same. Those children that waited, had self discipline and a sense of delayed self gratification. The ratio in all of these researches were that 2 out of 3 children would eat the marshmallow right away. One out of three children would wait for the second one. After a decade later, the different group of researchers would go back to the same group of children and perform the same test and see where they were at in life. The group of children who waited were successful in life and still practiced self disciplined and delayed gratification. Whereas the ones who did not wait were not as successful.

Those children that waited, had self discipline and a sense of self gratification.

In the Columbia test, Dr. Joaquin takes note that the kids who were at the age of 4 years already understood delayed gratification. They smelled it, played with up for close to 14 minutes and then ate parts of the candy thus still failed the experiment. From all the research done past and present, if one prolongs an action or a decision, there is a better reward or outcome. One might say that by holding out for long term gain is an investment. Therefore by choosing to have self control or control oneself’s actions is the opposite of impulsive action. Impulsive actions or reactions is very often subjective with clouded judgement and result in more likely negative outcomes. Controlling your emotions requires self awareness and self discipline, a benefit and could save yourself unnecessary pain or creating additional problems for yourself or those you care about.

Each decision we make can affect someone positively or negatively whether you see it today or for a long term outcome. Looking for long lasting results will take some sacrifice, waiting 15 minutes or a few years possibly, but if it’s well worth it, the reward will be great. For those who failed in the Marshmallow experiment, I honestly believe that even they can succeed in life once they realise what it takes. One needs to be convinced and believe, that delayed gratification is well worth it. It doesn’t mean failure won’t exist but believe that a greater reward exists. It comes down to taking control of yourself and self awareness, realising those decisions could yield a better outcome.

Leaving The Shire. And the burrow.

Located in the hilly land of Central Earth, Sebastian greets many visitors from near and far in his practice for Counselling and Psychotherapy. Many loved his cozy cavelike practice. Soon this burrow will not be suitable anymore to equally welcome the various creatures on the island: the Lan, the Kwai and the Fong …

“From January 2018 Sebastian will welcome you in his new office in Lan Kwai Fong.
The new place will feature even more space, even higher ceilings, even more daylight and even more seating choices. Just like your smartphone – lots of features are not necessary, but become quickly hard to renounce.”

In order to provide you with brighter and broader service Sebastian will move to a new office space – only a few meters away from the old address. The new address will also be in downtown Lan Kwai Fong, but closer to the MTR and Queen’s Road Central:

Unit 1302
13/F Tak Woo House
1-3 Wo On Lane
Lan Kwai Fong, Central
Hong Kong

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With the best services for mental health in mind, this place is designed to reduce stress and increase emotional balance. As usual Sebastian welcomes individuals and couples who want to work on their mental well-being and their relationships. People from around the world, who aspire to better cope with life and at work or who want to overcome anger, sadness, depression and anxiety.

Like a bird’s nest, the new practice is a protected and homey area – high up in the branches of Hong Kong’s architecture, with space for more dynamic techniques and approaches to couples counselling and more room for individual development.

Job snobbery – is success materialistic?

Author and philosopher, Alain De Botton’s Ted Talk on A Kinder, Gentler Philosophy Of Success, believes that today’s society has reached a critical point in where our careers dominate our lives so much that we have created more stress and anxiety than ever before and must be acknowledged. He gives a witty anecdotal talk, highlighting a few ideas of what causes this anxiety and that we may have very well become culturally consumed with the ‘god of success’. 

The first thought is job snobbery, the mentality that your job defines who you are to those around you. If we walk into a social gathering, the first thing one generally yet naturally ask is “what do you do”? Alluding to – what is your status? what brand do you work for? Depending on what you are doing, you have a well phrased out answer as you will be sized up, judged instantly based on what you say about your career.

De Botton continues on this line of thinking and touches on materialism. Simply that one attaining success means also showing off what you have, like a hot new red Ferrari. He quickly dismisses that those who place success in material consumption as merely an outlet for satisfying or rewarding themselves for an emotional need, possibly fill an emptiness inside of themselves, making themselves feel more valued or “loved”. The media nowadays portrays that if anyone has a real cool idea, you can be successful. The issue with that is, Alain observes, if everyone believed they can equally achieve their dream of ultimate success, low self esteem will exist alongside.

Platforms like Kickstarter an online business website, creates an opportunity to sell your idea or even yourself and gets people to back you so you can essentially get famous and rich, and quickly thus fulfil your dream. Because of how we are informed that you can do anything, this “equal opportunity” can be misconstrued and give a warped sense of motivation and drive for success. Because of this sense of equality it can also bring an unhealthy attitude like envy which of course is not a positive motivator at all long term. 

It is also possible that your initial intentions of wanting to be successful were genuine. It’s in our nature to genuinely want to achieve, improve or build and desire more and explore. There is natural and definitely healthy creativity in all of us. True success, designed by your own hand is worth much more, a well worth price to pay even if you fail, that you really did your best. Your idea could be just as crazy but as you understand that you leave this world one day being true to yourself with no regrets influencing those around you. You would exemplify ethical, loyalty, nobility, equaling true success.

A kinder, gentler philosophy of success

Experience vs. Memory – How your mind trims your happiness

By Linnea Gannon

The Riddle of experience is based on two selves, the experiencing self and the remembering self. To make a clear distinction between the two selves the experience/present self is preset in our conscious life but does not store all information we process; as we cannot remember every moment of our lives. Instead we remember significant or memorable moment due to the Remembering self. The remembering’s self though not seemingly continually present keeps score of our life with specific memories stored. This is collated to create our life story.

The experiencing and remembering self work together as Mr Kahneman shows in this Ted talk with diagrams that depict patients’ real time experience versus what they remember after a procedure. 

Patient A had two spikes of pain but Patient B had more recorded pain over time. Patient B had the most amount of experienced pain, however patient A had a more painful remembering self as the last register of pain for Patient A was higher than that of patient B. The remembering self is more complex than the experiencing self as it tells the story of our life and it makes our decisions. While we look back to make decisions we also have to look to our future to our ‘anticipated memory’.

The two selves, due to their complexity are hindered by three cognitive traps. Firstly the human reluctance to understand the complexity of happiness; it is the over usage/simplification of words like happiness that have led to the term being un-descriptive and needing a more complex word to explain happiness. Secondly is our confusion between experience and memory of our two selves. The experience self is being happy with what you are doing in life, but the memory self is questioning if you are happy with your life? These are two distinct questions that are easily confused for asking one in the same thing. There is a low correlation between happiness for the two selves they must be distinguished separately. Thirdly is the focusing illusion; we distorted a situation so both the experience and remembering self are not given representative information to form a clear emotion on the experience or later the memory.

A further strength of this argument for the two selves being divergent is that Mr. Kahneman explained through the Gallup Survey how happiness for the remembering self could vary due to income. Where as the experiencing self there is a “flat line” suggesting that money does not have a great effect on ‘happiness’ to the experience self compare to the remembering self.” He says “Money does not buy you experience happiness but lack of money certainly buys you misery. “

The riddle of experience vs. memory