Masterclass: How to find festive zen by Owen O’Kane
A BIT ABOUT ME
Before I chose to retrain as a psychotherapist, I was a nurse in palliative care and spent nine years working with terminally ill people. You gain valuable insight and words of wisdom from people when they’re dying. They can teach you a lot about what makes a good life and how to manage your time.
A PERFECT 10
When I was working with people who were mentally distressed, one thing that kept coming up again and again was the constraint of time. I’d ask my patients if they’d tried using any mindfulness techniques and they’d often come back saying they didn’t have an hour each day and couldn’t fit it into their everyday lives. This got me thinking about how I could create a programme that most people could use, whether you’re a teenager, a parent at home or the MD of a company. I wanted dedicated techniques where people could use just 10 minutes a day to help quieten their mind, allow them to think more rationally and openly adopt principles of living that would make their lives much more manageable. That’s when I came up with the idea for Ten to Zen.
We think we’re stuck with the thoughts in our head, but we are not the contents of our thoughts. Eighty per cent of our thinking is negative by nature, and that can have a detrimental impact upon our lives. I give people specific skills to help quieten things down, like tapping techniques (a simple and slow alternate rhythmic tapping on the thighs or upper arms ) and visualisation – practical interventions that help deactivate stress activity in the brain.
Self-compassion is one of the most important aspects of mental wellbeing. When people treat themselves with kindness, their world changes for the better. Essentially, self-compassion is a soothing measure that eases psychological distress. If you wouldn’t treat someone else with harsh, critical judgement then don’t treat yourself that way. The results are life changing.
Communication when you’re struggling and in need of some support is one of the most important things. A lot of the time, the people who are reluctant to voice their feelings are the ones who need to do just that the most.
Ten to Zen by Owen O’Kane is out on 27 December (Bluebird, £10.99). Follow Owen on Twitter @Owenokaneten