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At The Happy Starfish we are dedicated to providing a wealth of information, products, workshops and articles all aimed at celebrating health, happiness and peaceful living. We believe that life should be an awesome adventure filled with love; love life and life will love you back. Are you willing to surrender what you think you are for what you could become? Are you ready?

Monday, 28 April 2014

Interview with Sandy Newbigging

When I first met Sandy a few years ago he had given a talk on health and happiness.  Talking to him afterwards I asked him how it was possible to apply the techniques he spoke about, in a situation such as mine when I am in constant physical pain.  He told me the pain wasn’t my main problem but the fact that I was resisting it.  At the time I thought, to be blunt, it was a stupid thing to say, how could pain not be my main problem?  However after getting to know Sandy, undertaking his workshops, his teacher training programmes and fully understanding his philosophy I am a full advocate of his methods which have greatly helped me on a personal level.  It was a pleasure, therefore, to interview him regarding the meditation he teaches, through which, Yoga Magazine given the accolade of branding him “one of the best meditation teachers around”. Sandy currently has a new book available "Mind Calm" published by Hay House and I am proud to be a qualified Mind Calm coach, as well as a Mind Detox Practitioner.

Sandy, you help people eradicated their unhealthy beliefs through your Mind Detox Method to enable them to feel at peace, why do you recommend meditating too?

Therapy works on changing the mind, meditation works on changing the relationship with the mind.  It is very powerful to combine a good form of therapy with a good form of meditation that can help you to reconnect with the permanent, on-going experience of life.

In your opinion, is therapy not enough on its own?

It can be but there is a very high chance that when the client goes home they are going to find a new problem because that's what the mind does.  Often that person then thinks it’s because that therapy didn’t work but the therapy did work, but the real ultimate problem is thinking so much.

So if you don’t think so much you don’t keep coming up with new problems?

Exactly.  When you stop thinking so much you get present and start to experience the perfection of life and more peace, happiness, more love and contentment.

So we can use meditation as a tool to keep us in the present moment?


Why do we find this so difficult to do naturally?

The mind by its very nature is very judgemental and wants to put everything in a box, whether good, bad, right, wrong, better or worse and as long as we are in that cycle and constantly thinking then we can not only feel that something is lacking in our life but we can be missing the present moment because thoughts are always taking us to the past or the future.

Ah, I can totally relate to that because I was forever thinking about the past wishing I was healthy again. You always seem so relaxed.  How would you sum up living in the present?

You can’t help but rediscover the permanent aspect of you, the underlying nature of you and all reality which we suggest is still, silent space or consciousness and if someone is exploring consciousness then they are exploring peace and love and contentment.

You make it sound very beautiful and you clearly love teaching?

I want to share the experience of peace with others, it is not an intellectual, conceptual belief, meditation is freeing and liberating and helps you reconnect with your inner experience of peace.

And I can vouch for the fact it really does work. Thanks Sandy, as always, it has been a pleasure.

You can check out Sandy's website here.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

My Easter Zombie Adventure

Whilst driving to lunch today I asked my husband to pull into the car park of a large retail shopping complex we were driving past. As it is Easter Sunday and all the shops are closed today I wanted to see the car park empty. We slowly drove around the deserted area whilst I pretended a zombie apocalypse was the cause for the lack of activity, making up an elaborate tale as I pictured, in my mind’s eye, exactly what could have happened.
Although my body often feels worn out, possibly more than it should at my age due to a chronic health condition, mentally I never feel any older.
I am grateful that through my mindfulness practice I can now choose to be fully present, letting my overactive writer’s mind be still, but I love the quote “you don’t stop playing when your grow old, you grow old because you stop playing“. I hope never to lose the joy I find in life.
When was the last time you played?

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Homemade chocolate recipe


There has been much controversy the last few years regarding chocolate. First you should eat it, then you shouldn't and then you should only eat it whilst standing on your head whistling the MASH theme tune (ok I made the last one up).

I always have a tub of homemade chocolates in the fridge to dip into and love experimenting with different flavours. This is one sweet snack that's full of an incredible amount of antioxidants and serotonin (the happy hormone) you can enjoy guilt free.  To make: -

Gently melt 1/2 cup cacao butter in a glass bowl over a pan of hot water. Do this slowly and your patience will be rewarded with a batch of super smooth chocolate. If you try to rush this step the butter is likely to separate and then cannot be salvaged.  Once melted add 4 tablespoons of agave or maple syrup and  3 tablespoons of cacao powder. Mix together and then taste. If you want it sweeter or more chocolately then add more powder or sweetener. The consistency will be quite thick now. Pour into silicon moulds and freeze or place in fridge until set (approx 30 mins in freezer). Store in the fridge.

Play around with different flavours once you have perfected the basic recipe. Vanilla bean paste, grated orange rind, toasted almond and raisin and peppermint are all favourites of mine (not all together)!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

When to let go of a friendship that no longer nourishes you


“Letting go means to come to the realization that some people are a part of your history, but not a part of your destiny.” Steve Maraboli
Last night I was due to have a meal out with one of my oldest friends. As our appointed hour of meeting drew closer I began to get a fluttering feeling in my stomach. Was I excited? No, the feeling was dread. I knew exactly how the evening would pan out (much the same as every other meeting over the past couple of years). We would meet. We would talk about her for three hours. I would pay the bill as “you wouldn’t believe how crazy my outgoing have been this month”. We would leave.
Recognising that this had turned into a toxic, one-sided relationship was sad but letting go of people who do not nourish your authentic self is an essential part of self-love. Healthy relationships allow both parties to grow and change. It is a natural progression that some friendships will dissipate to make way for new friends who inspire and nourish us.
Friendships are the same as any relationship, there will be ups and downs, times when one party has to support the other through hard times and times when we may feel joy and sorrow. However, if you find you are constantly compromising your happiness for the people around you it may be time to ask yourself the following questions: -
1)  How do you feel when you think about seeing this person? How do you feel when you are with them? Is your friendship all about what you can offer them or do you feel loved and supported?
2)  Are you on the same path? People join us on our journey with similar ideals but as we move ever forward recognise that we may have learned/taught all that was needed. The friendship may have come to its natural end and that’s ok. You cannot grow and not lose people along the way.
3)  Do you feel any resentment? If you friend is no longer acting the way they used to or in a way you like it can be natural to feel a degree of resentment. Holding onto bitterness is self-damaging. Forgive them for not being the friend you want, free yourself of any guilt and move on.
4)  Are you fruitlessly pursuing this friendship? Remember it takes two to make a friendship work. If you are the only one trying to keep in touch and arrange meetings it may be time to look at why. Friendships should flow and if you are the only one putting effort in it may be time to take a step back.
5)  Are you relying on friends to make you feel a certain way? There is nothing like a good night out with friends to give you a lift but remember ultimately you are responsible for your own happiness. Look within rather than externally to find what you need. 
 Ultimately you know in your heart when it’s time to walk away. Letting go doesn’t mean you don’t care anymore but that you love yourself more.

First published on MindBodyGreen

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

I am not a superhero

Last night I attended, what I thought was a talk on publishing by a creative writing group. Being brand new to fiction writing I was curious about the process.

On arrival we were given a word and then timed for 10 minutes while we wrote a piece relating to our prompt. After 2 minutes of staring blankly at the page I managed to cobble together a perfectly acceptable little story. 

Phew. And breathe. 

Umm, not quite. We then were invited to read out our pieces with me going first.

By this time I was so far out of my comfort zone I couldn't even see it. With sweaty palms and a shaky voice accompanying my trepidation I somehow managed to get the words out.

Pre mindfulness I would have had a lot of negative things to say to myself about the anxiety I felt during this experience.

What mindfulness has taught me is compassion and self kindness. Yes it would have been great to have been able to have read my piece, with no anxiety, and enjoyed it but I was able to accept the moment exactly as it was without any judgement,

It is perfectly natural to have times we feel nervous, and I do. Mindfulness hasn't given me super human powers and the ability to choose exactly how to feel all of the time but it has allowed me to give myself a virtual pat on the back and say "you know what? You did ok". For that I am grateful.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

What you believe you achieve

My young son made a profound decision last night as we watched The Voice, the singing show.
“When I grow up”, he decided “I am going to be a judge on The Voice because they look like they have so much fun”.
Ok, possibly a tad unrealistic or is it? The fact is none of us know what opportunities are going to arise for us on our journey through life. The truth is that many of us, as adults, close the door on them. We have this long internal list of why things shouldn’t work, couldn’t work, won’t happen. We think we don’t deserve it, couldn’t achieve it, wouldn’t be able to sustain it and out of fear we turn away with a “it wouldn’t have worked out anyway” shrug.
I love having a young child in the house. It’s a great reminder every day to live in the moment. They believe good things will happen to them every day and you know what? They usually do.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Cashew nut cheese with fresh salsa

My husband and I love to sit down with a snack once the kids are in bed and this is one of our favourites. Packed full of vitamins, minerals and protein, the tangy salsa accompanies the creamy cheese perfectly. 

For the cashew cheese blend the ingredients for about 5 minutes until smooth and creamy (yes it's that simple). (Store any leftovers in the fridge).
                                                  6 oz cashew nuts
                                                   75 ml olive oil
20140305-185750.jpg75 ml water
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
Juice of 1 lime

For the salsa place one, deseeded red pepper in blender and lightly pulse (or finely chop). Pour into a bowl. Lightly blend a handful of cherry tomatoes. Add to peppers and add 2 tablespoons of corn, a sprinkle of chilli flakes and 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. Season to taste and give a good mix.