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Mindful Living

Mindfulness is a word we come across almost daily now and particularly in regards of mental health.
Brain research has shown that we can change our brain with our mind and it is evident that living mindfully has a very positive impact on many areas of our lives. It isn’t something new as Buddhism and other traditions have been using mindfulness as a daily practice for a very long time, but it finally has found a wider recognition in our society in playing a vital part towards our health and well-being.

Jon Kabat-Zinn defines Mindfulness as :
“The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, non- judgementally to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.”

As I explore the gifts of mindfulness in my own life I notice that the joy of any experience lies within its presence or absence. For example: We all have our little morning routines. One of mine is to make myself a hot lemon drink. Obviously there are many ways I can go about it and experience this event.
I discovered  that it is not so much what I do but how I do it. I can for example stumble into the kitchen grab the lemon and the cutting board whilst I run through the list of things I need to do. Whilst I am cutting the fruit I remember an incident from yesterday, a conversation I had. Then I look for the juicer, imagining how that person must feel like in their own life. As I pour the juice into the glass I remember to check my car into the mechanics. The kettle boiled and I pour the hot water in the cup together with the lemon juice. I grab my cup still thinking about the car and start worrying about the problems it may have as I wander back into my bedroom.
Now imagine the second version: I wake and have a good stretch, feeling the warmth and weight of my blanket, taking my time to connect with my body sensations.
Then I push off the blanket and feel the fresh air on my skin, roll out of my bed gently, placing my feet on the ground, feeling the smooth soft wood underneath them. As I walk into the kitchen I notice some stiffness in my joints though slowly easing off as I move. I grab a lemon feeling its nobly waxy skin in my hand. As I cut it the lemon smell evaporates into the air and little squirts of juice touch my hands. I boil the kettle. I am hearing the bubbly noise and the click to switch it off. Then as I poor the hot water I see the steam rising through the morning light. I grab my cup feeling the weight of it as I walk back into my bedroom.

I am sure you get a sense of what I am trying to say, nothing seems to bring joy if we are not doing it mindfully: aware of our senses and feeling.  Most of us most of the time live in our heads. The simplicity of bringing the mind back to our senses brings us back to the present moment. This is available to us every single moment and the shift I notice is actually quite big, metaphorically speaking, from a small black and white box to an open colourful space. I feel that the whole world is opening up when I shift from the minds conceptions to an open mind of curiosity and wonder.

Now I don’t deny thought processes we need to think through as we enquire and investigate our lives, but we may find more joy and make change in our lives more easily with awareness and mindfulness.
Even negative thoughts and feelings, when met with an open, accepting mind dissipate more easily and quickly. The tricky thing is of course that we by default move in the opposite direction: which is to avoid, resist and distract ourselves from those unwanted thoughts and feelings. We keep busy with mental things, computers, entertainment and/or drugs so we don’t have to feel.
Unfortunately we throw out the bad feelings with the good ones and slowly become more numb, dull and disconnected.  Enjoyment then becomes more and more something we believe we get through something outside ourselves. But it never satisfies us and so we become these hungry, restless ghosts looking always for more but never finding what we are looking for.
The good news is that there is a simple remedy for restlessness and unhappiness: to explore the simplicity of coming back to your senses and explore mindfulness in your life, little moments at a time. You may stumble and doubt the effectiveness at times but the more you practice the better it gets and you may even find it becomes addictive!
Blessings to you all.

Claudia M Gyr

Offering mindfulness based, body-centered Art Therapy

and sell personal shrine making kits (check out personal shrines page).



Attachment Styles and ways of Relating

The way we connected with our primary caretaker as small children has a big influence in how we relate to others later in life. To learn about our own attachment style can open new doors to understanding how we armour ourselves in relationships and how to relearn and reparent ourselves to create more fulfilling relationships with others.

Diane Poole Heller is offering some free informative videos where she shares her wealth of wisdom about attachment style and somatic experiencing used in therapy.

I hope this link works, otherwise just find her website and you will find all the information there.



Arts Therapy Group for Women who experienced trauma

I am running an other Art Therapy Group for women who have experienced trauma or domestic violence with the kind support of the Women’s Resource Service. This group has had overwhelmingly positive feedback from women who have been able to feel more confident, better able to cope with their fears, anxiety and stress. The group helps making new connections and provides women with an opportunity to step out of isolation and promote healing. These groups focus on connecting participants with their outer and inner resources and strength. We all tend to focus on the problem and often overlook resources already present. The groups are experiential and educational giving women the understanding and tools to establish a sense of control and stability which are fundamental for trauma resolution.

The program includes four major components.

1. Learning simple mindfulness practices

2. Somatic body centered exercises

3. Education about the biology of trauma

5. Creative arts process to ground experiences and encourage further insights.

What people have said about the last workshop:

“I have learned so much from our excellent tutor, Claudia. It is never too late to repair the damage done in our childhood , is something I have now learned through attending this great group of women.”

“It has supported me to move forward in my life by integrating many loose ends. Trough resolving ideas, thought patterns etc that I have outgrown or come to realise tha they don’t help and support me and installing new one’s that support growth.”

“Claudia is a very gentle, caring and insightful facilitator. She is kind, aware, hugely knowledgeable and has a very loving and healing energy. I feel very fotuneate to have attended this art therapy group. Thank you.”

“I was always too fearful of revisiting my childhood. Through the Art Therapy sessions I learned how to open that tightly closed box of a very frightening childhood.”

6 Week support group, starting 26th of February – 2nd of April 2014.

Wednesdays 9:00am-12:00noon

The group is facilitated by Qualified Arts Therapist Claudia Gyr and run at the Mullumbimby Neighbourhood Centre. Please contact Michelle Walter to make a referral or women may contact the WRS directly on 6684 4299.

Art Therapy, An Introduction

This is the fourth year of running this popular one day workshop “An introduction to Art Therapy” at the Byron Community College.

Participants will gain a basic understanding of the principles of Arts Therapy and its uses in different contexts. We will engage in some simple examples of experiential, interactive processes to give you a little taste of different approaches in the field of Arts Therapy.


Course Code: 14WL011

Day: Sat

Date: 15/3/2014 to 15/3/2014

Time: 10 am to 3 pm


For any questions you can contact me through the contact form.

For bookings call Byron Community College at Phone: 02 6684 3374
or Fax: 02 6684 3115 or


Art Therapy for Women who experienced Trauma and Domestic Violence.

The Women’s Resource Service will be offering another Art Therapy Group for women who have experienced trauma or domestic violence. This group has had overwhelmingly positive feedback from women who have been able to feel more confident, better able to cope with their fears, anxiety and stress. The group also provides women with an opportunity to be not so isolated and to make connections with other women to promote healing. Starting 22nd of October 2013.

The group is facilitated by Art Therapist Claudia Gyr and run at the Mullumbimby Neighbourhood Centre. Please contact Michelle Walter to make a referral or women may contact the WRS directly on 6684 4299.

Art Therapy, An Introduction

Participants will gain a basic understanding of the principles of Arts Therapy and its uses in different contexts. We will engage in some simple examples of experiential, interactive processes to give you a little taste of different approaches in the field of Arts Therapy.


DATES/TIMES 02/11/2013  10: 00 AM to 3: 00 PM


For bookings call Byron Community College at Phone: 02 6684 3374
or Fax: 02 6684 3115 or

23rd ANZATA Arts Therapy Conference

Kinship Ties of Creativity: Past, Present and Future

19 and 20 October (with a Masterclass on 18 October)

University of Western Sydney, NSW (Parramatta campus)


The conference which will be held in October at the University of Western Sydney, NSW (Parramatta campus). This event marks the 20 year anniversary of Art Therapy Masters education at UWS which will be celebrated with a cocktail party on the evening of Saturday 19 Oct.


The theme of the conference is Kinship Ties of Creativity: Past, Present and Future, bringing together cross-cultural perspectives of the creative arts therapies within Australia, New Zealand and the Asia/Pacific region. The conference focuses on the modalities of drama, art and dance/movement. Interactive workshops and clinical presentations will address current issues experienced within the field of arts therapy, as well as provide opportunities for delegates to participate in interactive presentations that enhance creativity.


The keynote speaker is internationally renowned art therapist Dr Shaun McNiff, Professor at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As well as local registered practitioners, this two-day event will feature speakers from New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom and North America.


The conference will be preceded by a day of master classes on Friday 18 Oct. One masterclass will be presented by our keynote speaker, Shaun McNiff, while the other will be presented jointly by Andrea Gilroy and Jill Westwood of Goldsmiths University. These masterclasses are both absolutely world class events and will each have limited numbers, so make sure you book as soon as you can.


Art Therapy conference


The Loving Brain – a free interview series by Dr. Rick Hanson

Dr. Rick Hanson is a neuropsychologist and is offering a free video interview series -  The Loving brain , he is offering through en*theos beginning July 15.

He will talk with major experts on relationships, including (in order) Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. and Helen Hunt, Ph.D., Tara Brach, Ph.D., Paul Gilbert, Ph.D., Geneen Roth, Paul Zak, Ph.D., Sara Gottfried, M.D., and Christine Carter, Ph.D. Then I’ll do a wrap-up focused on practical takeaways.

Starting July 15, for eight Mondays a new interview will be available and then archived so you can watch it any time you want, or go back and see interviews that you missed. These free offered interviews are full of warmth and down-to-earth practical help. You can download them – including just the audio portion if you want – to your computer to access any time you like.

This series explores useful ideas and tools that people can use in their relationships with friends, family, romantic partners, children, or co-workers – including in difficult situations. What happens in their relationships is the most important factor in long-term physical and mental health for most people, and this series is dedicated to providing effective help.

The topics we’ll cover include:

  • How experiences in childhood affect us today in our relationships
  • Ways to grow caring and self-compassion
  • Freeing oneself from unfair self-criticism
  • The neurochemistry of love, and how to work with it
  • How hormones and imbalances affect relationships
  • Improving relationships with children and co-parents
  • How relationships can change the brain for the better


Free talk about the Power of Self Compassion

This is a free evening talkby Professor Paul Gilbertfor our local community at the Lismore Worker’s Club on Thursday July 4th, entitled Strengthening the Mind through the Power of Self-Compassion.Please come along if you think you might be interested in being a little more self- and other- compassionate in our rather stressed out world. See below for further details.







 In just over two weeks time, Professor Paul Gilbert (UK), founder of compassion focused therapy – one of the most influential of the new psychotherapies – and his colleague Dr. Dennis Tirch (USA), author of the Compassionate Mind Guide to Anxiety, are coming to the Northern Rivers for talks/workshops. These are their only Australian events other than the international conference in Sydney which brought them to Australia.


On Thursday, 4th July, 5.30-7.00, Lismore City Council, North Coast Medicare Local, Northern Rivers Social Development Council, Southern Cross University and the University Centre for Rural Health are sponsoring Paul to give a free talk for Northern Rivers residents at the Lismore Workers Club. The talk is entitled: Strengthening the Mind through the Power of Self-Compassion. Paul’s work is thought provoking and relevant to us all. The event is free to everyone. Do come if you can; and please invite any family, friends, colleagues, clients, students or patients that you think could be interested.

The difference between self-esteem and self-compassion

This is a beautiful presentation by Dr. Kristin Neff.

During Kristin’s last year of graduate school in 1997 she became interested in Buddhism, and has been practicing meditation in the Insight Meditation tradition ever since. While doing her post-doctoral work she decided to conduct research on self-compassion – a central construct in Buddhist psychology and one that had not yet been examined empirically.

In addition to her pioneering research into self-compassion, she has developed an 8-week program to teach self-compassion skills. The program, co-created with her colleague Chris Germer at Harvard University, is called Mindful Self-Compassion. Her book titled “Self-Compassion” was published by William Morrow in April, 2011.

Kristin was recently featured in the best-selling book and award-winning documentary called “The Horse Boy” which chronicles her family’s adventure with autism.

This is part of the bio found on Dr. Kirstin Neff’s website