For me balance is less about finding equilibrium on some imaginary life scales and more about alignment and awareness of my journey.Read More...
Have you ever had the intention of starting something new or doing something differently to make your life more harmonious or balanced? Perhaps your intention for the week was to be less agitated, more active, more mindful, healthier, fitter, grateful or more fulfilled. But when you arrived at the end of your week you feel anything but because life got in the way?Read More...
We go through many experiences and situations in life that cause us pain, hurt, anguish and heartache. Somethings hurt more than others. Sometimes we know exactly where the pain originated from and other times we just feel it and try and work through it.
Often, we push it down, suppress it and pretend it’s not there. We push it into the shadows in the hope that it will stay there quietly and let you get on with your life. We forget that the shadows are very much part of ourselves as a whole and that we can always light a candle in a dark room.
Emotions and thoughts are strongly held and felt within the body whether they are positive or negative in nature. They affect us on a mental, physical, emotional and indeed spiritual level. We are often so unaware of our patterns and mental chatter that we do not see the toxic effect it is having on our physical, emotional and mental bodies. When we are not aware of our thoughts and emotions and when we don’t give them the time and space to heal, they are stored in the body, stored until we are ready to deal with them.
We create ways of dealing with these emotions as we encounter them in different situations. Every habit or condition we have in our lives serves a purpose in the initial instance but after a while we no longer need it. We developed that habit or way of thinking as a means of protecting us at that time, as a way to cope with the situation. Like biting your nails, as a child you may have done it as a source of comfort or to ease your worrying thoughts. As an adult you may want to stop the habit and realise that although 5-year-old you had a good way to ease the worry when you were 5, adult you has a better way of dealing with it.
When we choose to ignore the thoughts and emotions a couple of things may happen. Similar things will continue to happen in our lives, repeating the pattern until we are ready to deal with the lesson that life is giving us. We may be blocked from moving on in our lives and remain stuck in a life that we are not happy with as we continue to believe ‘This is just who I am’, ‘that’s just the way it is’. Sometimes pain stored in the body or a long time can manifest as disease or illness within the body. A lot of people see disease as dis-ease within the body, the symptoms are telling us that something is imbalanced, blocked or damaged. This is happening because we are holding on to something that is not serving us anymore, something we need to let go of, something that we are still in pain over and needs healing.
Have you ever suffered with back pain?
Have a look at this chart and see if the area of pain for you would reflect some of the possible reasons cited below.
Our beliefs are shaped by our thoughts and emotions. Our beliefs are just thoughts we think over and over again. However we came to that belief isn’t as important as the knowledge that we can always change our beliefs. It takes time and consistent effort, but we CAN change our thought patterns and our beliefs to help us to live a happier and healthier life.
Your story to date is important but you don’t want to stay in the past chapters of your life. Your story is an important tool for you to use to see the things you want in your life and the things you don’t want in your life. However, you cannot affect change in your life if you keep thinking the same thoughts, none of your power is from where you are backward. ALL of your power is from where you are now, moving forward. The more you focus on the unwanted, on your story, on your past experiences the deeper you dig into a hole you are trying to get out of.
We know that the plant cannot survive without the root, so to change the thought pattern, you have to go back to the root cause. Again, you don’t want to get stuck at the root cause or caught up in the backstory because then you can’t move forward from there. Many of us know someone, ourselves included, who have got stuck in a backstory and tell it over and over again. They wear the badge of that situation and refer to it whenever something goes wrong in their lives or when anyone will listen. Essentially, they are just using it as an excuse and getting in their own way of moving on and moving forward. Every moment is a fresh start of where you are and where you want to be instead of where you were and where you got to be.
Louise Hay, author of Heal Your Life, is famous all over the world for creating a reference of the most common illness, diseases and health issues, their probable causes and life changing thought patterns to help us rewire our way of thinking. She speaks of the four main thought patterns that cause the most dis-ease within the body as criticism, anger, resentment and guilt.
If we think of all the situations and experiences we have been through in our lives then it is very probable that we are holding onto criticism, anger, resentment and guilt from ourselves or others, maybe even from our childhood or past lives. The more we are aware of these thought patterns, the more we can clear, heal and live a happier and healthier life.
When we are aware of the thought process and the probable cause we can then start to work on changing that thought process. Sometimes awareness in itself can be curative and alongside the new thought pattern change can come very quickly. Other times we need to practice the new thought pattern every day, consistently until they become natural to us. Rewiring the brain to change the thought processes is not easy work, we literally are breaking apart neurons that may be wired together for years. And often we need help from a practitioner, to help us to heal and let go.
When the physical symptoms occur again we are aware of what is coming up for us and we can quickly adapt in whatever we need to so ease that pain. However, I believe the most important tool to healing and pain is forgiveness.
Forgiveness is the most powerful tool you can give yourself. If you can’t learn to forgive, you can forget about achieving true success in your life – Wayne Dyer.
Forgiveness is not only a powerful emotion it is a powerful and empowering choice to make for ourselves. Forgiveness is a huge component in our overall happiness and healing from past situations and experiences. When we choose to forgive we are not saying that we condone the behaviour of the person who caused us pain and hurt. We are not saying that we will reconcile, become their best friend and pretend like it never happened. It also doesn’t mean that we have to publicly ‘show’ our forgiveness, there is as much power in silently working on it ourselves. When we choose to forgive we choose to let go of that anger, hurt, regret, blame, resentment, the story. We choose to remember that no one is perfect and that we have the courage, guts and strength of purpose to practice forgiveness and let go, especially when there is anger and resentment within us. We take responsibility for our part in it, our reaction and our holding onto it and instead decide to make the change and reap the benefits.
When we are angry, bitter, resentful, hateful towards a person or situations (ourselves included) we are the only ones feeling that negative and destructive emotion. The other person does not feel or is not ‘punished’ because we are feeling this way toward them. In fact, when we feel this way towards someone it is like making a poison of hate for someone and their behaviour towards us and drinking it ourselves. Forgiveness is a gift of peace of mind and heart you give to yourself. It is a gift of health and happiness instead of a life of resentment, anger and hate. It is not easy, but it can be achieved with intention and practice.
Wherever you are on your path please know that there are tools and therapies that can assist you in letting go and healing from whatever past trauma or pain you experienced. In seeking help and healing you are essentially taking back your power, your inner peace to live a happier, healthier life instead of a life of pain and resentment.
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Mindfulness is defined as paying attention, on purpose in the present moment, in a non-judgemental way. Mindfulness or meditation doesn’t mean sit there and think of nothing. It is simply a practice of awareness. In the practice you bring your awareness to your breath, to your body to whatever thoughts or emotions are floating around and instead of being consumed or overwhelmed by them you just observe as they pass by like clouds.
Think of a snow globe, when you shake it the snow goes everywhere, and it is hard to see anything except the snow. When the snow globe is placed back down, eventually the snow settles and it is easy to see again. When we are stressed, anxious, overwhelmed it is hard to have clarity about the situation or life in general. However, when we slow down, breath and allow all the thoughts or emotions to settle we can see clearly again. Our mindfulness practice allows us to do this.
There are so many benefits of practising mindfulness, here are few;
- Less stress and anxiety. Felt not only on a mental and emotional level but felt on a physiological level from the nervous system first and then the other organs.
- Improved focus and concentration
- Makes us feel better, happier
- Increased patience and compassion
- Lowers blood pressure and regulates our heart rate
- It calms and balances us in mind, heart and body
- Increases our energy levels
- Increases the strength of our immune systems
Apart from the health benefits on a physiological, emotional and mental level mindfulness practice can realign us with who we really are. Most people are running and racing from one activity to the next, never slowing down or pausing to check in with themselves. They become accustomed to stress, anxiety, ‘busyness’ or switching off in front of the TV for hours as a part of modern day living. They see and believe that they will feel better when they get over what happened in the past or reach the point in the future that will make them feel better.
This way of thinking however is not very helpful or beneficial to us. When we think like this we are like a boat floating without a rudder in the middle of nowhere. Sure, we may be staying afloat and moving but we have no real direction or destination in mind. Mindfulness helps us to stay in the present moment, to respond instead of reacting unnecessarily to things that bump off the side of our boat. It helps us to settle the boat when the water is rough. It fine tunes our awareness so that we can see the big waves coming towards us and instead of trying to fight the wave (that is coming either way) we let it pass and say, ‘surf’s up’ or get ready for a ‘wipe out’. It also allows us to take control of the oars or the wheel again and move toward the destination we want.
3 Steps to getting started
The first step in starting any new skill or habit is to commit. Commit to yourself first. Maybe even sit with your thoughts on this for a few minutes. Why do you feel drawn to this? What is your intention for this practice, what do you want to get out of it? Less stress or anxiety, more peace? Then tell a friend or a loved one about the challenge you have set yourself so that they can support and hold you accountable (in a non-judgemental way – if you feel you have no such person then you can share with me in the daily posts)
You don’t need any special equipment to start your mindful practice. You just need somewhere to sit comfortably with a straight spine (on a chair, in lotus position, on a cushion or bolster) where you won’t be distracted or interrupted. You can set the timer on your phone (then turn it on aeroplane mode) and bring your attention to your breath. If you want to light a candle or play some relaxing music this can help to get you into a relaxed state.
- Pick a time that will best suit your lifestyle and routines and try to stick that time as best as possible. Of course, things will get in the way but if you pick a time that is least likely to be interrupted it will be easier to establish and maintain the practice for the month and hopefully after.
Remember as with everything in life the practice is an informance not a performance, informing us of where we are at that particular day on that particular time.
Join me on my instagram page for the Mindful March challenge and take 5-10 minutes each day for yourself to establish a mindfulness practice and reap the benefits in mind, body and soul!!! I will be sharing lots of tools and techniques each day to help you to create a practice that suits you best!
Love and Light,
Tonight, the clocks go back, giving us an extra cosy hour in bed in the morning but also reminding us that winter is upon us.
Some of us may be reluctant to accept the cold, dark mornings and evenings. As the dark nights approach the shadows grow stronger, we are either running away in fear or getting ready to embrace this time of reflection and introspection of our growth and journey throughout this year.
I love this time of the year, the colours, the sounds, the smells, the crisp and fresh mornings. I love getting wrapped up in winter woollies and going for a walk or having a hot cuppa and a chat.
However, I also know that the darkness of these seasons can be daunting or scary as they can reflect the darkness with us all. The dark places within our physical bodies that are not illuminated in activity. The dark places within out emotional bodies that hold onto hurt, fear, betrayal and pain. The dark places that we act from when we are tired, angry, pissed off or being judgemental. The dark places within our mind that we dip in and out of in varying depths, depending on our own experiences and challenges. These dark places cast shadows that we ignore, suppress, hide from because to lean into them means discomfort, pain and necessary healing.
Instead of fearing or repressing these dark places, within us, that cast shadows on other areas of our lives, why not try to accept them?
Accept them for what they are, not good, not bad, just what is.
Accept them as without them we would not be able to acknowledge and revel in the brightly illuminated places within us.
Without the contrast there is no dark or light, no up or down, no good or bad, no left or right. One cannot exist without the other to compare it against, as within everything is a piece of its opposite.
Think of the yin and yang symbol, the ancient symbol of harmony, balance and duality.
With a gentle and compassionate heart (because exploring the dark and shadows within is scary business) accept the darkness, accept the shadows as part of who you are. Embrace the shadows and dig deeper to see what is lurking behind. Maybe it is just like walking into a dark room, a little scary at first but once you turn on the light the fear seems unjustified.
Maybe you need to confront the dark shadow causing you fear, call it out and work on it by bringing it into the light.
Here are a few powerful questions for thinking about or journaling about as we embrace both the light and dark within us all in the coming months.
- What are the traits you don’t like about yourself, the ones you suppress and pretend don’t exist?
- What emotions trigger these traits within you?
- How are you judging yourself about these traits within your shadow self?
- How can you embrace them, learn from them and shed some light on them?
- What are most scared about in acknowledging / sharing these shadow qualities?
“Your life will be transformed when you make peace with the shadow. The caterpillar will become a breathtakingly beautiful butterfly. You will no longer have to pretend to be someone you are not. You will no longer have to prove you’re good enough. When you embrace your shadow you will no longer have to live in fear. Find the gifts in you shadow and you will finally revel in all the glory of your true self. Then you will have the freedom to create the life you always desired.”
Author Debbie Ford
Be kind to yourself and the emotions that may some up as you write. Seasonally it is a time for letting go, maybe you too can let go of some things hiding among the shadows.
Love and light,
Wellness, the hashtag or tagline for many an online post from the knowledgeable to the influential. It is often thrown around with reckless abandonment with others such as organic, natural, superfood and the newest member, mindfulness to engage you in a product or health promotion of some sort. However, the word wellness has been around since the 60’s and 70’s, long before social media was even born. Wellness, a word coined by the leading psychologists, behavioural change therapists, counsellors and life coaches at the time who pioneered the way for the whole person approach we know today.
As this is a wellness blog, I thought it was necessary to dig a little deeper…
What does wellness mean?
And more importantly what does wellness mean to you?
I have often posed this question to individuals and groups as a Health & Wellness Coach and the answers are always similar;
– Wellness is the opposite of illness.
– Wellness is being fit and healthy.
– Wellness is having a healthy diet.
– Wellness is being healthy.
All the above are true and important aspects of wellness, but not the whole picture. To bring awareness to your wellness is to bring awareness to all areas of your life, looking at you as a whole –in mind, body, soul and environment.
Wellness isn’t just the absence of disease, you can be disease free and in a neutral position between wellness and illness and still feel unsatisfied or unfulfilled. Almost like wearing blinkers or driving on auto pilot. Not really tuning into what is going on in your body, mind or heart but getting by because you haven’t started to show the signs or symptoms of illness yet.
How often have you been totally satisfied in some areas of your life such as career only to realise that your relationships or health are in total disarray? Feeling so satisfied in some areas only to feel empty and wanting in others?
Don’t worry you are not alone in feeling this way. How else can we truly know what we want without having the contrast of what we don’t want. So always embrace and be grateful for this contrast as it is there to show you what you do want.
For me, wellness is an inside job and it starts with our awareness. After all, awareness can be curative. When we bring awareness to all areas of our lives and ask ourselves a few honest questions as to how we are truly feeling about them we may be surprised at how deeply we connect with the answers.
So where and how do we start? Let’s get this wheel turning!
As I said when we look at our wellness we don’t just look at one area like diet or fitness, we need to look at all areas of meaning within our lives. These may vary but for the majority they can be focused around these main areas.
- Personal growth
- Significant other/ Romance
- Physical environment
- Fun and recreation
- Diet & fitness
Take 5 or 10 minutes and think honestly about these areas within your life. You can add in or take out areas if you wish.
If you were to rate your satisfaction in each area out of 10, what would that look like? Shade in your wheel to correspond with your rating.
Think about each area from both sides. For example, I might rate my diet & fitness a 6/10 because although I eat very healthy 80% of the time, my fitness levels have dropped as I have prioritised other areas of my life.
Look at your wheel, the inner shaded wheel you have created and ask yourself, how confident would I feel using this wheel on my car? If the answer is not very confident maybe you can make some changes to those certain areas of your life to ensure a smoother ride.
It is not about having the perfectly rounded wheel, it is about bringing your awareness to your wellness as a whole and improving it by looking at specific areas.
It is about changing the direction of your wellness, a direction of which you are steering and not being led.
As wellness is an ever-evolving journey for everyone you could do this exercise 100 times over and have different insights each time. I have often done this and thought, I am not satisfied with that area of my life, I am going to make a conscious effort to see that person more or do this less. In bringing our attention and awareness to an area you could bump a 5/10 to an 8/10 and make a huge change to our overall wellness in a matter of minutes.
Other times the change might be a bigger lifestyle change that we may need to seek help with and or set goals accordingly.
As I said, it starts with awareness. So, bring your attention to all of the important parts of your life, give it some honest, non-judgemental thought. The wheel should not be a tool you use to beat yourself up that you haven’t got your life perfectly balanced (Let’s be honest, who does?). It is a tool that acts as a starting point from which you can consciously improve your health and well-being.
We are the only ones who can take control of our wellness and change it for the better, we just need to make that choice.
Are you ready to take control of your health and wellness and change it for the better?
Where will you start?