Aurora Spa Retreat

Time Out from The Mental Checklist

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When I was doing my morning practice of yoga and meditation recently, it dawned on me that I spend so much time during the day with the next task on my mind, my mental checklist that keeps rolling throughout the day. This is efficient and effective for our workday, however how much time do we spend without the “next thing” on our list. When do we take that time to surrender to the moment, to surrender in a way where you detach from any lists, shouldn’t, could’s, or to-do lists? From my experience with clients and for myself, we don’t spend much time in this space unless it is by intention.  This is part of the reason why meditation can be so challenging for people.  We spend most of our existence with the next task on our list, keeping our minds busy with activity and being so used to being busy that when we stop the cycle it feels uncomfortable. 

When we take a moment, whether that is 1 minute, 5 minutes or longer to consciously spend time with no ‘next task’ on the list we create some space and perspective to reset into the Relaxation Response.  The Relaxation Response is not about a sleepy space, an unproductive space, it is a highly effective zone where you can think clearly and creatively to make your best decisions.  It’s the green zone.  As opposed to the red zone, which is our Stress Response, this is where the thinking part of our brain shuts down under stress – not ideal for decision making.  The red zone is triggered when we tell ourselves we are feeling stress or pressure, maybe from our own inner task master to-do list.

We can be harder on ourselves and have higher expectations of ourselves than we do of our work colleagues, friends or family.  We can judge our actions and berate ourselves and then work even harder to do more to make up for it.  This unproductive circle can keep cycling around and on the way induce more of the red zone, fuelling anxiety and stress.

Surrendering from the list may not feel comfortable for you at first.   The more uncomfortable it is for you the more you could benefit from it.  Especially given most of us have spent our whole life thinking of the next job on the list.

Here are some tips for helping you create some space and get you mind more in the green zone:-

-Write down your to-do list – take time at the start of each day to write down everything that is on your mind. Better out than in.

-Once you have written down your tasks, allocate a time next to each task so you can actually see how long you will need to complete each task.

-Then you need to prioritise the tasks and pick out the ones that you would like to complete today.  Not some fantasy Cinderella style complete list, actual tasks that fit the time frame you have allocated to work.  So many people have 10 hours of tasks that they assign to complete with only 8 hours they have allocated to work.  Allocate less and allow space in your day for the unexpected.

-Take a period of time out to have a Me Moment. This can be 1 minute, 5 minutes or more when you have time NOT thinking about the next task on your list.  This could be when you eat your breakfast, lunch or dinner to start with.  Then you could start it when you are in transit, cars, trains, and planes. You can have a Me Moment as you apply your hand cream during the day or moisturise at night. If thoughts come in (which they will as you can’t stop your thoughts) just let them go as effortlessly as you can.  Come back to the moment, your breath or your meal.

These Me Moments can be small gaps when you can be truly present and induce more calm, perspective, creativity and space to make the decisions you want to make.  Think of your “non- planning” time as a reset for your body and mind.  A chance to let go, surrender to thoughts and lists and in doing this you will naturally balance your body and mind and feel more energised throughout your day.

To gain insights into how to manage your time better you can contact our Founder and Executive Wellbeing Coach, Lyndall Mitchell at

Mind Gym – Exercise for the Mind


In today’s busy world, we are constantly pressured to multi-task in order to get everything we have on our to-do list done, but multi-tasking all the time isn’t good for us. Multi-tasking can drain our energy, increase stress, and affect our health negatively.  Below are three easy and accessible ways to help create more focus, productivity and positivity in our lives and to help us move from “rush to relax”.

Our founder Lyndall calls these tools her Mind Gym and as we all know that you can’t go to the gym ones and be fit forever, if we want a fit and healthy mind we need to give it some good regular exercise. Some research indicates that up to 80% of our daily thoughts are in some way negative. So in order to be boost our focus, productivity and positivity we can easily visit our Mind Gym

1 – Inhalation and Breathe

Shallow chest breathing uses about 50% of your lung capacity.  Breathing deeper oxygenates our bodies and recharges our cells, muscles and organs. Like putting your phone on the charger, your body is getting a full recharge with the breath.

Also if you have ever tried to detox, a great way to detox is to breathe fully. About 70% of our body’s toxins are designed to be expelled through our breath.  So if you were just to breathe more fully you can have a mini detox wherever you are.

Start by putting your left hand on your belly and your right hand on your chest and take three slow deep breaths. Feel your left hand rise and fall. Ideally you won’t have any movement in your right hand as you breathe.

Now use that full deep breathing for an inhalation.  By simply bringing our focus and attention to our senses is an experience of mindfulness. This can help us relax the mind and body helping to create more positive and productive thoughts.

Right now we are going to focus on our sense of smell with the application of your favourite hand cream.

Let’s go on a mini holiday for your mind, eyes closed or open, lift your hands to your face and take in the aroma and focus on your sense of smell. Breathe fully. Let go of any other thoughts…..

If you would like to create an inhalation habit, link it to something you already do like applying some hand or body cream or even having a coffee.

2 – Turn off technology and light a candle during dinner

Turn off your technology and light a candle during dinner.  Be present as you eat dinner and engage in conversations and be more mindful with your eating.

Benefit: This helps digestion and helps your body to wind down ready for a good night’s sleep.

3 – Progressive Muscle Relaxation.

You can do a Progressive Muscle Relaxation anywhere and it helps to release tension in the body.  By taking your attention to a particular body part we are going to be tensing and relaxing muscles through your body.

Begin by taking a deep breath in, and hold this breath for a moment.  Holding, holding… then relax and let go…

Now move your awareness to your legs, contracting and tensing the muscles in your legs, squeeze and hold………. then relax and let go…..

Now moving your attention to your core, contracting and tensing all of your abdominal muscles, squeeze and hold ………………..then relax and let go……

And now to your shoulders pulling your shoulders up towards your ears, squeeze and hold ………………..then relax and let go……

Now just notice how relaxed your body feels.

We have just focussed on 3 major muscle groups. You can take this technique and apply it to any part of the body, hold it for longer, repeat areas that are particularly tight.

The key is to breathe deeply from the abdomen, getting as much air as possible in your lungs. The more oxygen you get, the less tense and anxious you feel.

A New Name, A New Identity, A New Price

Blog ASPAR launch 2014 Banner_v1

Through hard work, a little luck and, most importantly, the ongoing support of our valued clients and customers, ASPAR has experieinced the kind of growth and success that enables us, now, to source our ingredietns and materials more cost effectively. And we want to pass these savings on to you.

You can look forward to an average saving of 20% across the range though on some products you’ll save a little more including one of our best sellers, the Ultra Rich Body Cream (200ml) which will now retail for $36 (was $52).

Click here to view the entire ASPAR Collection.

To Stress or Relax?


The stress response is the body’s natural response to a stressful situation.  With The stress response we unleash our “fight or flight” response where our bodies release stress hormones.  In the days of humans as hunter gathers, we needed this response to stay safe and it served us well. In today’s world our stress response can be triggered more frequently in our 24/7 hi-tech society.  However, the effects of triggering your stress response frequently can lead to many health issues. Whilst having some stress in your life is positive, having too much can lead to an imbalance in your body.

Some of the effects of the stress response are:

  • Heart rate increases
  • Blood pressure rises
  • Shallow breathing
  • Muscles contract
  • The immune system is less effective
  • Anxiety increases
  • Digestion is less effective amongst many other bodily and brain responses

In the 1970’s, Dr Herbert Benson conducted an extensive amount of research on the effects of how we respond to different situations – a stress response vs a relaxation response and how they affect our bodies. He found that a relaxation response can counterbalance the effects of stress.

A relaxation response is a more positive response that helps to keep our stress levels down. The relaxation response is the polar opposite to the stress response as it helps to restore a state of equilibrium in the body.   The relaxation response is what helps us to increase mind and body balance as well as concentration, creativity, immunity and digestive health and also to reverse the predominant stress response effects. There are many ways to cultivate more of the relaxation response, think about what you can do when you are relaxing, nourishing or nurturing your body.  Some ways that I like to have more relaxation in my life are having a bath, a quiet cup of tea, a massage or reading a book.  It is a time when nothing is required of you and you are doing something you feel is pleasurable. More relaxation, less stress sounds like a great recipe for living your best life.


Breathing rate increases

Heart rate increases

Blood pressure rises

Adrenaline increases

Cholesterol levels go up

Immune system is less effective

Anxiety increases

Depression is more prevalent

Sleep disorders increase

Fat is more likely stored around stomach

Irritability increases

Digestion works less effectively

Sex hormones/sex drive decreases





Breathing rate slows down

Heart rate slows

Blood pressure lowers

Adrenaline lowers

Immune system improves

Sense of wellbeing increases

Sleep improves

Brain wave patterns slow down

Thought process increased

Digestion improves

Increase in creativity and concentration

Sex hormones normalise

Internal Skin Brightener Juice


½ pineapple
3 oranges
3cm piece of ginger
ice cubes, to serve

Juice pineapple, oranges and ginger through a juicer. Stir and serve over ice for a quick energy and immune system boost.  Serves 2.

Recipe sourced from Squeezed, Murdoch Books Australia, 2006

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