Start here put some time aside to do nothing other than be with yourself. When I meditate I search for the truth. Hoping to find how I really feel, what is at the centre of my heart. It is this connection I know I must nurture so listening comes first.
My meditation practice began in the hands of Leila Sadeghee and her Practices of Freedom and Wellbeing Immersion. Just with guided moments where I sat in silence and stillness. I learnt to listen here, not empty my mind but pay attention to what it did when I closed my eyes, did nothing other than exist. This taught me that these moments often have the most important messages.
But sometimes I still need support, life takes over my routine changes and my practice doesn't happen. I found Headspace a really nice way to get back into the swing of things.
The guided meditations help you sit acknowledge the challenge this can feel like and the first 10 days are free!
The most important thing when you listen is don't always expect to hear anything.
The common thing you hear is empty your mind, but no news/noise/message/feeling for me is not necessarily good news.
I am prone to disassociating from consequences as a form of sabotage. It means I need to use tools to unravel the tension/stress/anxiety/FEAR that i have most likely buried somewhere in my muscles/bones/tissue/fascia specifically lower back. See RELEASE for more detail on this one.
But there are also some excellent resources to deepen your understanding of Meditation and Mindfulness
Mindfulness for the Frazzled By Ruby Wax - A really clear 'muggle' perspective and detailed explanation of why and how this stuff is good. This is an excellent place to start if you know you are suffering but don't know if you can handle all the 'woo-woo' that surrounds this practice. Hilarious, moving and brutally honest. I listened to it first of all via Audible and then brought the book because of the amount of information in it.
The Practices of Freedom and Wellbeing Immersion 2017 with Leila Sadeghee, Bridget Luff and Heather Umlah starts in March and is an excellent way to learn and embody a deep self care practice and receive support in unravelling or overcoming the obsticles that you meet along the way.
6 week Meditation Challenge at Leyton Yoga starts Saturday 24th January having a regular practice or daily routine is hard to implement with support. This is a beautiful studio that is clean and well equipped. I also teach there ;-)
Let go of what no longer serves you.
On my facebook page you will see under occupation I state yoga teacher, gardener and mermaid. All of the above things I do require that i regularly treat my body to a release of energetic and physical build up of toxins in my body. This is my top self-care practice:
500g Epsom Salts (magnesium sulfate)
200g Atalntic Sea salt (unbleached)
200g Hymalyan Pink Salt
5 pumps of Yoganhda Muscle Soothe
Relaxing in the bath is one of my favourite things to do. I am complete addict when it comes to this practice and have at least 2 a month.
Whether I am riddled with stress and anxiety, rigid from sitting at a desk for hours or exhausted talking or moving my body all day. A good long practice can work tension out of my mind and muscles.
I was first draw to yoga as a way to relax. My body had been stuck at a desk and sat on a bicycle for years. I could barely reach my toes, I needed more than a bath.
My lower back contracted, my hamstrings super tight and I had been rounding my shoulders since i was 14. I needed release. I was tense.
Yoga released this tension and I found I became more open, as I became more open, I heard more truth as I heard more truth, I felt more free. And so it goes. I get lease tense from work these days and i have more flexibility in my body. Better capacity to manage stress and tension when it does come.
These days I have a very quick response to any sign of tears. I'll have a little weep acknowledging the need to release. If I can't weep I will at least use my breath, an audible sigh is far more acceptable and unremarkable on the tube. I will do whatever I can to avoid swallowing it or restricting this emotional and physiological reaction my body is having to life.
It started back in 2010, I was loosing it and hadn't noticed. It wasn't until the 15th time I dissolved into tears in yoga that I realised that perhaps all wasn't ok in my life. The emotion poured down my cheeks like torrents through an arid landscape.
There was a mountain of suppressed fears (unspoken words, unrelieved pain, tolerated stress, internal anxiety and held trauma) it was like someone blew up a dam at the top. From deep inside me, every time I moved my body in the special way we do in yoga especially in the hands of skilled teachers like Leila and Bridget and Tara I released a little more.
You see emotional tears are a sophisticated way of dealing with too much adrenalin:
"William H. Frey II, a biochemist at the University of Minnesota, proposed that people feel "better" after crying due to the elimination of hormones associated with stress, specifically adrenocorticotropic hormone. This, paired with increased mucosal secretion during crying, could lead to a theory that crying is a mechanism developed in humans to dispose of this stress hormone when levels grow too high."
Support your soul:
When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chodron Chapter after chapter of perspectives that pull back your focus, when everything in life has gone macro and you can't find the cracks let alone the light.
Restorative Yoga, One Life On a heated floor lie back and let go. Feel supported as you release tension and stress in this fine art of conscious rest.
The Power of Vunerability, Brene Brown Watching this TED Talk for the first time is emotional let me warn you. She celebrates and researches the empowerment felt through owning your feelings and the sharing of the truth.
Fill that space you create with something good, 'you can't pour from an empty cup', when we release and surrender the things that no longer serve us in a mindful and conscious way, we are less likely to replace them with the same thing. Top yourself up with the good stuff.
Regular exposure to art and culture in its true and not reproduced form is something I have revisited recently and more regularly. I very enjoy the time I spend alone but often completely absorbed by my view/experience. This is about personal choice finding the kind of thing you can get captivate you and stimulate thinking. The above is a photo by Alfred Stieglitz of Georgia O'Keefe's hands. I went to see her paintings but couldn't take my eyes off his photos.
Nature or not walking outside in mid day light is essential especially this time of year. Even on a rotten low cloud drizzly day, I enjoy the contrast between the land and the sky, but more importantly the stimulation of my pineal gland. It is like resting my brain changing the view from my screen (to often the case) to trees and/or clouds.
This responds to daylight exposure and so is an essential aid to better sleep. Supporting your natural Circadian rhythm a 24-hour biological cycle characterized by sleep-wake patterns.
More often than not what I need is a glass of water not something to eat. 'When you do not drink enough water, your body receives mixed signals on hunger. Dehydration causes you to believe you need to eat when you really need liquid intake. ' somehow I forget this even though I have known it for years. This post is a reminder to myself more than anyone else to pay more attention, to carry my own glass water bottle and so not deviate from this.
Healing / healed/heal is a buzz word these days and means loads of different things - to me it means feeling healthy in mind and body an optimal state of wellbeing. Not restricted by old habits and patterns and not using substances to create a sense of feeling good. They have an instant uplifting impact but caffiene, sugar, alcohol (are my worst favourites these days but there have been many more serious others) all ultimately having a detrimental not positive. It is the elements that teach us about balance and are the basis of Ayurveda and older ancient practices.
Cultivating connection with Earth, Air, Fire , Water and Ether is my spiritual practice. Balancing these aspects in my body supports that practice
Connect to the Earth by grounding yourself by putting your hands and feet directly on the Earth as much as possible. There is a great study that show the microbes in soil to have anti-depressant properties.
Even better if this practice result in the growing of your own food. Getting a supply to the freshest, cleanest food you can is the best way the guarantee the highest nutritional content.
Always happy to talk about how this could work for you and how getting an allotment share changed my life, saved my mental health and was the most creative thing I had done for years.
This is the hardest bit for me. I am very earthy and grounded most of the time. I am super inspired by fire and water as you will see but when it comes to air it is an intangible, aspect of myself, I almost just have to trust this element is part of me.
It is invisible, yet powerful, our life force (prana/breath), way of sharing (voice), untouchable and uncontainable. Yet can be destructive, transformational and empowering.
It is one of my focuses for 2017 to connect deeper with this element. This might be most obviously as via the breath. Using Pranayama, chanting and my voice to speak my words, I will endeavour to channel and understand this element.
Burn through conditioning, destroying everything in its path and ultimately creating a fertile ground from which to grow. Fire is a familiar element to me. Up to 2012 I had only had a connection to this element as a metaphor. Then it happened. I learnt prayers of gratitude, released pain and suffering that had been holding down for years and lost my favourite red leather jacket.
Bring it into to your daily practice worship of the sun is how we have evolved (to make light, grow food, track time). Harness this in your body 'burn' in a firery Yoga practice.
Rain, Ponds, Canals, Lakes, Rivers, Seas, Oceans, Taps, Showers and Baths are all an excellent way to connect with this element. I am both deeply sated and intimidated by the energy I experience with water.
It has a profoundly relaxing effect on me even just being in the presence of any of the above (alright not always rain, I am from the UK).
I am overwhelmed at the sight of endless sea, and do enjoy being far out in deep water.
In June 2017 I am hosting a retreat by the west coast to indulge deeply in the element of water, with daily Yoga practice and nourishing food we will connect with each element and ultimately centre ourselves by balancing our relationship with each element.
The power of vulnerability has transformed my life, it is the tender centre of my heart and is where I have learnt try to always move/grow/speak from. Sharing your learning, contemplations and struggles, listening to the same from others is how we heal our wounds and grow strong.
Kula is the Sanscrit word for community and this is the place I go to share first and foremost.
Explore new places.
Expand your Yoga.
These people came to London and stole my heart. Since then have I followed them to Provence, Dublin, Aarhus and then led them to Biarritz.
This is my heart tribe, where I go to learn, listen, speak and move from my heart to many hearts.
Please tell me how you feel. What if anything this means to you. I want to listen to what Self Care means to you:
This is a project devised and dreamt up by one of biggest influences Bridget Luff she is herself a pilar of selfcare. I am honoured to be assisting her and participating in this gathering of sisters and wise women.
"the wild well project is an exciting new 6 month course to both nourish yourself and serve this planet. With monthly gatherings and ongoing online resources to rise up together, amplify your power and speak your truth.
Join us in-person or online, starting this February..."
To find a sense of calm and rest the quality of the space around you is essential.
Clearing the room you sleep in from clutter and electrical stimuli (your phone) is like an energetic detox for the space you rest in.
I really loved reading 'The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up' it was super inspiring to getting some of my 'piles of crap' out the way and clothes sorted.
If you work long hours or many days in a row you probably build up sleep and rest debt.
Just spending time off work at home is super nourishing.
London especially has a fast pace environment and requires huge amounts of energy to survive.
Take time out completely from this whirlwind city, make sure you have plenty of nourishing food in the house and don't leave for 24 hours at least.
A change is as good as a rest.
Last year I left the UK at the end of Winter for warmer climates, it was so good to be in the warmth and light of the sun at a time when it had be so long since I last felt it. Also the stimulation of experiencing a new culture was fantastic. I made a pact to never do a whole winter in London ever again.
This year I am proud to be assisting Bridget Luff on her retreat in Little Karoo in the heart of the Western Cape, South Africa. I will spend a week here in service of her magic and then a week or so in Cape Town the furthest south I have travelled in my life!