Author Archives: redorchid

The Science Behind Gratitude and Why It Can Change Your Life

Gratitude. The word is used so often these days that the practice may seem somewhat new age. But the simple practice of taking time to notice and reflect on the things you are thankful for has significant benefits.  

In fact, people who regularly practice gratitude have been shown to experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness. They even have stronger immune systems. 

Best of all, gratitude doesn’t need to be reserved only for the big flashy and fabulous moments in our lives. Sure, we might feel gratitude after receiving a promotion at work, but we can also be thankful for something as simple as a delicious piece of pie, the sun on our face or a smile from a stranger.

Science shows that developing an attitude of gratitude is one of the simplest ways to improve your happiness.

Increased life satisfaction
Research by psychologist Robert Emmons shows that simply keeping a gratitude journal—regularly writing brief reflections on moments for which we’re thankful—can significantly increase well-being and life satisfaction.

Reduced Pain
In a study called Counting Blessings vs. Burdens, ill patients were required to keep a gratitude journal. Sixteen percent of subjects reported reduced symptoms and 10% reported a decrease in pain.

Blocking toxic, negative emotions
Emotions that can destroy our happiness such as envy, resentment and regret can be reduced by practicing gratitude. A 2008 study by psychologist Alex Wood in the Journal of Research in Personality, showed that gratitude can reduce the frequency and duration of episodes of depression.

 Simple and effective ways to practice gratitude
The most commonly cited way to increase gratitude is by keeping a gratitude journal. This can include anything and everything. Start with the myriad of things that so many us take for granted each day such as food, running water and a roof over our heads. Expand your focus to those seemingly insignificant moments and events that serve to educate and motivate or just put a smile on our face. And of course, celebrate the big moments that bring joy and make you grateful.
Try looking for new things each day; gratitude for your family and work colleagues. Gratitude for advice given, thoughts shared, and emotions felt.   
How to make gratitude a social and shared practice
• Write a gratitude letter to someone who had an impact on you whom you may have never properly thanked.
• Keep a gratitude jar on your own, or with your partner, among all your family or at your workplace. How? Take a moment to reflect on what you are grateful for, note it and place it in the gratitude jar. Share contents as a group or maybe pick a day a week when you read them, or just dip in individually when you need to reboot your feelings of gratitude.
• Cultivate a habit of sharing grateful moments around the dinner table
We all have the ability and opportunity to cultivate gratitude. Make it a focus in your life over the next few weeks. You will be pleasantly surprised at the benefits that arise from simply taking a few moments to focus on all that you have.

By Gabrielle Booty

Here our holistic counsellor, psychotherapist and Kahuna body worker Sandy Beech reflects on looking at your own beliefs, values and triggers and healing through your own eyes…

As a holistic counsellor and psychotherapist, I understand the importance of working on my own healing through constantly looking at my own beliefs, values and triggers.

Recently i was away on a trip to the beautiful gold coast to celerbrate my friends 50th and I noticed the emotions I felt were not what I wanted for the weekend. They were fuelled with uncertainty and fear and I was unsure why. I had my husband with me to share the weekend. We were to swim each day, eat at beautiful cafes and share beautiful conversations and still I knew something didn’t feel right.

I had then to rely on my training and experience to work with these feeling so the weekend wouldn’t be ruined by my own internal reactions. I was reacting within myself to everything around me, my past experiences, my future ones and thus continually creating more fear.

This feeling stayed with me and I looked internally at what my emotion was stemming from which were ultimately past fears and future projections.

Then in one moment it all changed as I stopped in my tracks on the beach, I felt the sun on my back, the sand beneath my toes and opened my arms wide to the sky. I felt gratitude for this moment and again realised that I don’t need to be perfect, I don’t need to know all the outcomes and all I need is right now.

The healing is continual, ongoing and what a blessing it is to know it is always attainable.

Needless to say, the weekend was a hit and I had a wonderful time, although, if I hadn’t sat with these emotions, felt them with awareness and accepted I was allowed to feel this way given my past experiences, I may not have had the same felt experience.

It is the same with everyone who reacts instead of responds to experiences that they are challenged with.

The parts of our personality determine how our lives are run.

Do you remember the movie “Inside out?”

Well, next time you feel yourself reacting to someone or something, ask yourself who is this really? Is it Anger, impatience, fear or another emotion? Acknowledging the emotion then allows you to give yourself compassion and love for all of your parts as they each hold messages and need to connect with each other.

This is called Recourse Therapy and the belief is that our personality is made up of multifaceted parts, rather than being a homogeneous whole. These parts, which we all have are called Recourses available to help us.

(also known as Advanced Ego State Therapy as developed by Professor Gordon Emmerson PhD)

Gung Hei Fat Choi! Happy New Year – of the Pig!

The 5th of February marked the beginning of the Chinese Year of the Pig, which will continue until the 25th of January 2020. If you were born in 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, and 2019 you belong to the Pig zodiac – although if you are born between late January to mid February you you would do well to check if you fall into the preceding (Dog) or following (Rat) years as Chinese New Year follows the lunar calendar and therefore changes year to year.

In Chinese Medicine the Five Elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water) is a unique ancient system which categorises natural and physiological phases and phenomenon. The Chinese 60 year cycle in Chinese Astrology uses two interacting cycles – the first the heavenly Stems which uses the Five Elements in their Yin and Yang forms and the second the Earthly Branches which represent the twelve zodiac animals (and their element). Each year elements belonging to the Stem and Branch  are analysed by Chinese Astrologers and Feng Shui Practitioners to predict outcomes for Heaven, Earth and Man luck. The Heaven Luck predicts major issues of the world, particularly natural influences. The Earth Luck looks at Feng Shui for auspicious and inauspicious locations for the year within countries, cities, businesses, homes. The Man Luck predicts individual animal zodiac luck for the coming year.

If we focus on the Man Luck or the animal zodiac there are some interesting general characteristics of the Pig Year. It is important to keep in mind here that although two people may be the Pig sign, if they are born in different years, they have a different element affecting both their sign and year from the 60 year cycle. For instance if a person was born in 1947, a fire pig year, the influences in the chart would differ to someone say born in the 1995 wood pig year or an earth Pig year in 2019.  For a detailed and more accurate astrology chart reading, not only the Year is analysed but also the Month, Day and Hour pillars of a birth chart and the elements relating to these columns clash or combine with each other. These combinations can be very telling and quite specific to different areas of your life ie health, career, and relationships. 

Generally Pig characters are friendly and sociable, sincere and kind and may be well respected for their integrity and reliability.  This is a year where the hard work of the previous couple of years will pay off and promotions or new opportunities and improved income elsewhere may present themselves. With that said, Its a good year for Pigs to save money for the future rather than buying lovely things for today.  The most compatible animals for the Pig are the Rabbit and Goat and these relationships benefit from their calmer natures,  generosity and peacekeeping abilities.

Its a good year to seek out family members or friends who have these animals in their charts (especially in the year or day pillar) to enjoy the benefits of this compatibility (you can look this up on a BaZi calculator online or have your chart read).  The compass opposite animal for the Pig is the Snake who therefore is in clash for the year.  Although at times there may be challenges, much can be done in a clash year to set up future success. The focus is to think carefully before acting and spend more time increasing knowledge and skills. 

By Tanya McMahon

Tanya’s next post will be on the Four Pillar’s for 2019!


Are you familiar with the inner critic or perfectionist? The urge to push toward an achievement no matter the cost?
Read Satyo Sullivan’s insight into how she as a Counsellor & Psychotherapist at Red Orchid Wellness Clinic, recognises these tendencies in herself and approaches them in her daily life with mindfulness.


This is a personal tale to inspire …

As I sit down to write this post I am aware of an array of inner aspects of myself clustering in my mind and body, somewhat uncomfortably, around this next task of writing a post for Red Orchid!

To name a few aspects, there is the ‘Pusher’ part of me… “You must get this done!” That is true, it is due! But right up close to my dear old Pusher, adding to the sense of pressure, is the ‘Perfectionist’… “You must do something that really excels!” And looking over the shoulders of those two is the ‘Critic’… “You will never get this right!” Any of these familiar to you too? No wonder my mind feels tired and my body tense!
Something in me that is aware of these various aspects, or parts of myself, (or inner ‘selves,’ or “characters’…whatever you want to call them…) smiles and decides that this, yes, is actually the thing to write about here in this post.

From my experience of working with many people in counselling and psychotherapy, a combination of aspects, or inner energies, like this can exist in various forms in so many of us. Left with full rein, they can contribute to a sense of pressure and stress, often pulling us into anxiety and depression. We can get all tangled up in their demands and lose a more wholistic sense of who we are and how we want to live.
I take a big breath as I write that.

Something more spacious is here with me now, my awareness is becoming SO much bigger than when at the mercy of this powerful trio. Even naming them up can help! I can also sense that there is room now for a playful aspect, or playful ‘self’, who is enjoying the creativity of writing this post, seeing what unfolds. And there is a more mindful me too, sitting here, connecting to the present moment, aware of the chair and my fingers typing, of the sounds of my husband putting things away in the kitchen and of little bells on the patio, tinkling. I am experiencing a much more relaxed aspect of my being, integrated into who I am, and the Pusher/Perfectionist/Critic trio are no longer in the foreground. Before this sense of letting go happened, the urge to be more relaxed was experienced in me desperately as… “When will there be time for me? When can I get some time off and have space?” But, ah, here is my relaxed self now, quietly with me as I address this next task on my list. A sense of ease filters through, just as the evening sun reaches me through the blinds.

So how do we step back from some of these more powerful pushy aspects of ourselves, so that we are not running around frazzled by their demands?

How do we bring more awareness into ourselves in the hurly burly of daily life?

It is too big a subject to write on in full here, and I don’t wish to write something prescriptive. However, I hope that from my sharing of my own experience, some of the process I went through just now, to find more awareness, and then more choice, in how I was living this present moment, comes through to you. Perhaps you resonate with some of it? Perhaps you have similar stories of how you brought more awareness into your present “way of being”…especially when it was a “way of being” that could be detrimental to your overall wellbeing.

When clients share their own stories of all the expectations they put upon themselves and the burden they feel, we explore where it all comes from, find how entrenched these patterns of being are, how to unravel more about them, and how to step back from them more. Together we can bring in the lights of awareness and understanding… and often healing….especially when a strong ‘inner critic’ is involved, for this can hurt and hold us back from much that is good in life. New possibilities of being begin to arise as my client and I work together like this. Lesser known aspects of who the person is may want to come more into the limelight of their lives. We look at how to make room for these, while acknowledging the presence of these other parts that have been prone to dominate. Together we grow in more wisdom about pressures, living a meaningful life, our own inner dynamics, and what it is to have a compassionate stance towards ourselves around the struggles we go through as human beings.
The personal tale I have told here, of my moving from a pressured state to more of a sense of wellbeing, is only one small story of bringing in enough awareness to find a more workable and wellbeing way of responding to “pressure.” There are many ‘feeling pressured’ scenarios in our lives and many possible meaningful ways through. In my counselling and psychotherapy practice there are often intensely complex stories of a sense of pressure to unravel…from without as well as from within that person’s own being.

What seems important here, to complete this particular reflection, is that we do attend to the effect of these pressures upon us, that we do what we can to find some way through, so that we can live with enough care and respect to ourselves, even amidst our often immense life challenges. When it feels too hard to do this on our own we can reach out to the companionship of counselling, or to other therapies, to support us in finding our way. Staying trapped in a tangled knot of demands and stressful expectations, our bodies, minds…and our more spirited response to life…suffers. And, inevitably, those around us suffer too! When I am really bound up in a knot of pressure, I can be tight, distracted, overwhelmed, unavailable for relationship or even pushing it far, far away, leaving my partner and myself cut off, isolated from one another.

After the rise in wellbeing that accompanied my writing this post I was able to return to the living room and sit down next to my husband with a feeling of buoyancy and delight. This didn’t come from having “got another thing done.” It was from a far richer and more whole place than that. Something fundamental had shifted. I shared my writing with my husband and we could relate and laugh together, reach out and hold hands. And with that added bonus of “connection” my sense of wellbeing was able to increase even more!

The benefits of acupuncture

Red Orchid 15 Mch 2017