When we make decisions and take responsibility for our own wellbeing, we try to create systems that support us, whether that's eating a different diet, moving much more, bathing more, taking time off.
Over the past six months, clients have been coming forward to discover more about getting clear and listening to their inner compass. Meditation and quiet time practice has become part of the journey for them.
For me, having a consistent 'quiet time, be still kinda practice' (call it meditation, call it relaxation, call it being still) is just as important and is a vital system to support, nurture and ground me, especially as I'm working with clients.
However meditation seems to conjure up all sorts of feelings for people.
They try it and it doesn't 'work'.
People have a go at trying to empty their mind of all thoughts, which is actually a reeeealllly difficult thing to do, and so when it doesn't happen, (**hello thoughts**), they believe they 'can't meditate', they give up and don't bother.
Here's the thing, meditation means setting aside some quiet time every day to sit still
What you do during the 'sitting still' can be up to you.
* Some people just focus on being mindful of their breathing.
* Some people count their breath, hold it and then exhale.
* Some people use a prayer or an affirmation and say it in their mind.
* Some people use a Sanskrit mantra to help the mind to stop whirring.
* Some people will look at a candle flame.
* Some people will listen to music and lie down/sit in a chair/on the floor.
Meditation is code for 'Stopping.'
It will be different for everyone however the gem of meditation is finding the time and setting this aside as part of your daily practice.
One of the ways that works well to soothe the mind is to choose a particular mantra or phrase.
Saying this over and over to yourself, you'll find that you may suddenly remember an item for your shopping list! if you do, say 'thank you' and return to your mantra/phrase.
If you remember that you need to call a family member, say thank you and return to your mantra/phrase.
Sitting still is an accumulative practice, it builds up within your body, mind and spirit and you suddenly find, after a month of doing it, that if you miss one day, you'll miss it.
Plus add in a Mantra, your unconscious will thank you.
I am feeling Calm
I am feeling Confident
I am feeling Courageous
So Hum (Sanskrit for I am )
Time out in your day, every day, is taking responsibility for your own well being.
Whether you choose to meditate every morning before your day begins, or whether you meditate early morning, find somewhere in the morning space to sit still for 3 minutes.
You will find your own way.
But you have to practice.
Make the space every day to sit and invite quiet time in.
Try this ...
Find a chair that feels comfortable for you, somewhere you won't be disturbed, wrap yourself in a blanket, feel warm and cosy.
Turn off your phone sound and set the clock timer for your desired time.
Choose a gentle reminder tone. I love 'slow rise'.
Start with 3 minutes and build up every week until you get to 13 minutes.
Growing up, I always felt like my body was split in two halves.
The top, which I liked and the bottom, which I didn't - in fact, I would go so far as to say I disliked my lower body. I was a skinny lizzy up to the age of 11 in junior school, due to incessant bouts of tonsillitis and being a gymnastic wannabee, I would often be legs akimbo doing handstands and cartwheels in the school playground.
Something happened around the age of 12, after having my tonsils out, I suddenly said hello to 'puppy fat'. I still loved gymnastics and dancing but as I was becoming healthier, my puppy fat got the upper hand.
I stopped being picked for netball and it took a lot of encouragement to get me into a swimming costume.
I hated not being picked for netball because I loved it.
I even felt low when the Ballet Rambert Dance Company visited our school and a group of students were chosen to attend their magical dance workshops. All afternoon dancing in school.
I was not one of them.
Even though I went to dance classes.
I believed that it was because I was not the 'perfect 10'.
Looking back, at this young age I feel I anchored all the 'failure' to the lower half of my body.
Of course it wasn't failure but in my young developing mind, that's what I thought.
Of course it wasn't my lower half of my body's fault - I didn't think this through.
A woman in all her glory.
Hands up if you categorise your body and launch into a tirade of bitchiness?
(I hear you)
'my upper arms are horrendously flabby, I can't possibly show them'
'my calves are so thick and manly, I can't wear anything short'
'my knees are so bulbous and they have a kink in them, I have to cover them'
'my stomach is just one huge hangover mess, I have to wear something big over it'
'my bottom jiggles when I walk, so I'll just stop walking'
'my hips are like tree trunks, I'll have to wear bigger clothes to hide them'
The list really could go on and on.
These are just some of the things I have heard over the years in counselling sessions.
When can we start to see the beautiful vessel we are in?
All that luscious skin that houses all the cosmic atoms to make up our gorgeous self.
When does that happen?
It's time to fuse the two halves into one gorgeous whole.
Here are 3 gentle ways to begin.
1. Give your body-half, the positive attention she deserves.
Can I have a 'yeah baby to that?!'
Get dressed s-l-o-w-l-y.
Actually LOOK at your body-half in the mirror as you take off/put on your clothes.
I know how you're feeling, usually you want to do this as quick as near damn possible, in the dark, back turned to the mirror, but when you take the time to look, notice how your body is .... and we are seriously all different shapes ... do you really want to ignore you? All those curves and maps of life on your body?
THE JD PRESCRIPTION:
Say: "I see you and all of you is lovely."
Repeat 20 times x three times a day.
2. Write positive words on your body.
Write it on there.
Declare your love to your hips, thighs, knees, upper arms and breasts and revel in knowing that when you're out, the word is marked there to work its magic.
This is not new - people have been tattooing words onto their skins for many thousands of years.
Have you read about the research of Dr Masaru Emoto - the water man - go check this out as he shows how molecules of water can change pattern and shape when hearing loving words and when hearing hateful words.
Considering the human body is approximately 70% water, that means this change can impact our hearts and minds too.
THE JD PRESCRIPTION
Grab an eyeliner/lip liner, heck, even a Sharpie and write Words of Love, think of the word that your thighs need to hear, or a word that would soothe your upper arms.
Tattooing is an option but if you're thinking of trying something temporary, visit conscious ink, there are some gorgeous temporary ones there.
3. Photograph your body
We all know the power of the selfie - what began as a fun way of using our smart phones has taken on the world.
What really is the selfie about?
It's a reminder to look in our own eyes and say 'I like you, very much, just exactly as you" as Mark Darcy said to Bridget Jones so eloquently.
Whether you publish them or keep them private, the purpose is to acknowledge who you are and begin to like yourself.
We begin to view ourselves in a different way.
Selfies are where it begins.
You don't have to declare your photos like I did to a bunch of cool wonderful women on Facebook, but in just beginning to do this practice, you will begin to fuse your split-halved-self.
THE JD PRESCRIPTION
Don't rush it, find some time where you're on your own and won't be disturbed.
Start with parts that you love - your finger nails, your neck, ears, hair, feet, and then move gently on to the half that you feel you're ignoring.
This takes time - you will often taken 20+ before you can look and LIKE.
Delight in your reflection - enjoy it.
Timer Cam is a great App so you can just enjoy the process of bringing both halves together.
* * *
September is a wonderful time to create new daily rituals.
Rituals that make you feel shine from the inside out.
Let's plant the seed and just look at 4 nurturing rituals for a smooth September start.
Hopefully they may inspire you, and I am sure you can think of more for yourself but maybe these resonate with you.
1. Create space
It is true that all things have a place and picking things up does make us feel better and creates a good feeling around our environment. Is there somewhere in your home that you feel needs a daily habit to create space?
Perhaps a plate for your keys where you know you'll always find them because this is where you will put them.
Hoovering every day may not be something that makes you dance a jig but clearing the space can be a great habit to form, as is putting clothes away every day after the washing has dried, or emptying the dishwasher, or setting a breakfast tray for the morning. Creating space means different things to all of us.
Having a Counselling and Therapy Practice within my home nudges me to vacuum throughout the space to clear the air and prepare the welcome for my clients.
2. Play 'The Glad Game.'
'Gratitude' is a buzz word and a very popular one at that, but seriously if you look into the meaning of gratitude, or The Glad Game, as Pollyanna called it, you find that it can change your perspective quite quickly.
If you're feeling out of sorts whether that be something that has happened, an interaction with a friend, colleague, or family member, one thing that can help is to sit down and make a list of everything that you 'gladdens' you about that person. It doesn't solve the situation per se, but it helps you to 'shift the focus'. You can then revisit that list whenever you need to.
At the end of every day, write down 5 things that you make you feel Glad. This can be that the sun was shining, or the baby smiled at you in the supermarket, or your dog curled up close, or your cat purring on your heart, or your partner cooked dinner. You'll be pleasantly surprised. Find yourself a little notebook and keep it by your bedside.
3. Feed the water within.
We know the benefits of drinking water, and approx 70% of your body system is made up of water. Therefore your body needs to drink it, but it also loves to bathe in it or feel it in the shower.
The best habits are to shower daily, or bathe, create a practice around this and you will reap the benefits. Drinking 8 glasses of water a day is a great way to fuel your body, as when we're dehydrated we can feel hungry, tired, and very irritable.
Always drink water before making a decision.
Have you ever tried adding epsom salts into a bath, or a tub of water to soak your feet, (if you don't have time for a bath), it can be revitalising and soothing.
4. Plan Your 'Me Time'.
You may think only people who are successful plan their days - well, it's a great ritual to begin and it's available for everyone.
Scheduling 'Me Time' into your diary, or your smart phone, will help you spend your factor in self care, which is HUGE for those of you who are in the helping/healing/customer service professions.
We often forget to do this for ourselves, often we need a little reminder, so take this from me as your reminder!
Scheduling and getting into a habit of looking at calendars and writing a to do list before bed so that you know what you need to do the following day will give you permission to sleep without it going over and over in your mind.