Mindfulness: Where to start?

tim-goedhart-334149 mindfulness

Mindfulness is all about focusing on the present rather than worrying about the past or future. It’s a tool that you can use to manage the busy nature of modern life, increase your productivity and improve overall wellbeing.

It can be hard to know where to start with the practice of mindfulness, so we teamed up with mindfulness trainer Maya Nova to create eight short videos that can help anyone experience the benefits of mindfulness immediately.

Episode 1: Give rise to happiness Mindfulness can be as simple as looking outside and being aware of your surroundings. Watch now 
Episode 2: Our bodies are nature Quick reminder: Our bodies are nature. Watch now
Episode  3: Thoughts are just thoughts We have a tendency to believe all thoughts as facts. Discover the importance of pausing and asking yourself ‘Is this thought true?’. Watch now
Episode  4: Continual partial attention Lacking focus? You may be at risk of continuous partial attention. Watch now.
Episode  5: Complex problems, simple solutions This simple analogy may help you overcome obstacles. Watch now.
Episode 6: Existing in the moment Exist in the moment so you don’t miss out on real life. Watch now
Episode 7: Permission to be happy Time to check in with yourself and discover what makes you happy. Watch now.
Episode 8: Meditation for beginners Try this guided meditation for beginners. Watch now


How to help someone who is dying

We asked Sweet Louise support coordinator Sarah Thomson to provide some tips that could assist anyone who is supporting a terminally ill person, whether it’s a family member, friend or customer. This is what she said.

People living with a terminal illness are often at very different places on the health spectrum. At one end are those who can still look after themselves, get out and enjoy experiences. However, at the other end of the scale, termed as “end of life”, the person may be unable to carry out any activities of daily living and need full nursing care.

It is always really good to remember people who have a terminal illness often have a changed perspective of what is important to them. They will let you know their concerns because it is really important that they try to fix things in the time they have left.

They will most likely have regular hospital and other health appointments. This means they can be difficult to get hold of and are not as available as they used to be.

They may be feeling a range of emotions. It can be quite common that they are angry about being ill and if this comes across do not take it personally.

These are some of the ways you can assist a terminally ill person.  

  • Ask them what it is that is causing their main concern right now and how can you help?
  • Offer to take them to appointments or errands as it can be hard to concentrate on simple things like driving when you have so much going on in your mind.
  • A common issue for those living with a terminal illness is the extreme ongoing tiredness that may either be constant or come in waves throughout the day. Providing a meal or baking is a great way of reaching out or just a bit of housework can make a huge difference to someone who is exhausted.
  • Just being present. You don’t necessarily have to talk or do anything, just be there to share a cuppa, talk about the weather and sit in the sun.

A Guide for Carers  provides a single resource on the range of government support available  in a caring role including information on topics such as financial help, help at home, respite care, needs assessment, transport and travel, and what your rights are.

Tips for people in customer service:

  • Actively listen to what they have to say. Ask them what their understanding of the situation is, it will give you the best overall picture and give you phrases that they are comfortable with you using back to them.
  • Use the client’s first name to confirm that personal touch and reinforce that you have been listening.
  • Listen to the cue the person is giving you. If it sounds like they do not want to talk right now ask if you can talk to them at a time when it is OK for them.
  • It is not easy having emotionally charged conversations but remain professional, this is a business call. Use your normal tone of voice and try not to be overly sympathetic.
  • Be efficient and clear with your questioning. Know your policies well. Confirm what you can and cannot do for them.
  • Do not be afraid of the silence in a conversation. Try saying something like: “Take your time, it’s OK, let me know when you are ready to continue or we can pick this up again when you’re ready”.
  • Try and leave the conversation on a positive note that is suitable for the situation. Summarize what you have discussed and confirm what you are going to do for them with clear time frames. It is not your job to refer or counsel a distressed person.

The Cancer Society has a very comprehensive range of services that you can access on line or call The Cancer Information Helpline 0800 CANCER (226 237).

Remember this is not your illness. You may need to talk to a friend of colleague after the call to debrief and that’s OK but don’t hold on to someone else’s grief.

Sovereign is proud to partner with Sweet Louise, a nationwide charity supports people with incurable breast cancer and their families.

To my future self…

jake-baileyJake Bailey is currently in remission from Burkitts non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a condition he was diagnosed with in 2015 – his final year of high school. Based on his experience, we asked him to write a letter to his future self and share what he learned during this journey. Here’s what he said.

To my future self, I hope you remember…

  • Always remember how lucky you are for every day you receive.
  • Live every day with passion and pride, simply because you are able to.
  • Understand that your life could change beyond recognition in a day. Live accordingly.
  • Never have regrets. Do what you want to do, tell people what they mean to you, achieve as much as you can in the time that you have because you don’t know how long that is.
  • Don’t feel sorry for other people in situations you cannot change, it will achieve nothing. Instead, be grateful for the people in your life and your ability to live a normal life. It seems impossible, but next week you might be fighting to cling onto that life.
  • Take great pleasure in the journey of life instead of fixating on the destination.
  • Treat your body well. Just because other people thrash themselves and are fine doesn’t mean that it’s okay or healthy, or that you’ll be fine as well. If something’s wrong, then don’t take a “she’ll be right” attitude – being tough is about taking care of yourself so you can be strong, not just ignoring your body.
  • Appreciate hospital staff; the doctors, nurses, cleaners, kitchen staff, and the orderlies. These people dedicate their lives to saving others, and that’s an incredibly powerful thing. They go underappreciated so often, and they are the last people who deserve that.
  • Suffering is a building block. Those who go through life without suffering are worse, not better for it, because the blade never gets sharpened.
  • What separates those who succeed from those who fail is not the number of times they get knocked down, but how many times they’re willing to get back up and start again.
  • Some people are broken by misfortune, whilst others choose to grow from it.
  • Happiness is not an objective we seek, it’s a talent we develop.


What is your spirit of death?

Lisa Gunnery, NZ CEO The Hunger Project.

africa-1Imagine a village in one of the most remote areas in Malawi. People in this village have very little and struggle to feed themselves. Most live in mud huts and have no education. History is passed down through word of mouth and is often built around a belief in powerful spirits which can both give and take away in equal measure.

Part of the work in ending hunger is addressing the surrounding and complicating issues that are happening in a community. This can be infrastructure related, like access to fresh water and sanitation, and it can be health related – as in the case of HIV education in Africa which is incredibly important given the remote nature of the rural villages where The Hunger Project works.

A few years ago, when an educator from The Hunger Project was teaching people about HIV in this village he came across a potential stumbling block called “The Spirit of Death”. This spirit came into play whenever a husband died suddenly in the village. The wife had to appease the spirit by performing a ritual which was out of line with the practices for HIV prevention. If the spirit was not appeased, the belief was that a member of the woman’s family would die each day until it was.

For the first time these people understood the impact of HIV and how to prevent it, but they found themselves in a difficult position – they remained afraid of the Spirit. In order to get more information the trainer gently questioned the story behind the Spirit. Was theirs the only village the Spirit came to? Yes. Were there other ways to appease the Spirit? No.

After the questioning process, the villagers met and discussed the situation and much to the surprise and delight of the trainer, came up with a solution which both continued to honour the Spirit but also invoked sense in terms of safe sex practices.

It’s easy to scoff at the idea but the truth is that we let our own “Spirits of Death” stop us from doing what we want to do every day. Whether it’s a cultural or a personal limitation our “Spirits of Death” are always present. We can learn a lesson from the villagers in Malawi. They found a way to honour their tradition but in a way that supported the group rather than hindered them.

Take time to explore your Spirits of Death – what are the self-limiting beliefs that you have and which stop you from achieving what you want? Are they real – or are they a story you have conformed to? Can you rethink the limitation and come up with a way to remove the block? If you aren’t able to let go of the belief – is there another way of honouring it that will bring about a similar outcome but in a more positive way?

The role of insurance advisers

Insurance products are complex, which is why the service that insurance advisers provide is so valuable when you are considering what cover you need.

Advisers can assess your needs and decide which cover is right for you, help you complete your application, advocate on your behalf with insurance companies and assist you in making a claim. They can also reassess your needs over time as things change.

Here are some questions to ask when you’re selecting an adviser:

  1. What type of advice do you give?
  2. What insurance providers are you aligned with?
  3. Do the products you sell suit my needs?
  4. Can you advise on any products that I already have?

All advisers have a legal responsibility to act with care, diligence and skill. They must not mislead, deceive or confuse their clients. And they must be registered on the Financial Service Providers Register.

An adviser’s licence will set out the types of products and services they are able to offer. A Registered Financial Adviser is qualified to give advice on products like mortgages and insurance. They must be registered but they don’t need be authorised by the Financial Markets Authority.

Authorised Financial Advisers can advise on the same products as Registered Financial Advisers, as well as investment products, including Kiwisaver. All Authorised Financial Advisers must comply with a Code of Professional Conduct Code and need to meet minimum standards for competence, knowledge and skills, client care, ethical behaviour and ongoing professional training.

A Qualified Financial Entity Adviser can advise you on the same products as Authorised Financial Advisers if those products are provided by the company they represent.

Many advisers work on commission but some may charge a fee, depending on the complexity of your needs, so it’s a good idea to talk to them and make sure you know what’s expected. Insurance companies will pay them a percentage of your premium.

You can use our online tool to find an adviser near you: https://www.sovereign.co.nz/Personal-Insurance/Pages/default.aspx

Here is a video explaining the role of advisers


What is life insurance?

Life insurance takes care of your family, your health, your lifestyle and your future if you were to lose your income through death, illness or injury.

There are a few types of insurance that fall into the category of life insurance but they’re all a bit different.

Life insurance pays out a lump sum of money when the insured person dies or is diagnosed as terminally ill.

Income Protection looks after your biggest asset; your ability to earn. If you suffer from a long term illness, disability or loss of income that is not covered by ACC and are unable to work Income Protection can ensure money is still coming in.

Permanent Disablement cover pays you a lump sum if an accident or illness leaves you permanently disabled. This could be caused by either an accident or illness. You choose how to spend the money paid out to you. That could be the mortgage, looking after your children, getting access to the best medical care, or ensuring your business survives. It’s your choice.

Critical Illness Cover pays a lump sum of money if you’re diagnosed with a specific illness or condition listed on the insurance policy, giving you time to recover. This could be; a heart attack, stroke, cancer or conditions like multiple sclerosis. Some critical illness cover can pay out multiple times based on the severity of your condition.

So when do you need these types of insurance?

Consider where you’re at in life….

Are you the main income earner for your family, or do you live alone and rely on your income?  If so, Income Protection means you can keep receiving income even if you can’t work.

Permanent Disablement Cover and Critical Illness Insurance are good to consider at any age. Even though most of us think we will never have to make a claim in our lifetime for an illness like cancer, or for a back injury that leaves you unable to work, it can happen. These types of insurance give you financial security if life does throw you a curveball.

You can find out more about the life insurance products available from Sovereign here.