Posts Tagged ‘relaxation’

A Bird’s-Eye View

November 27, 2014

 

The last 6 months for me have been a period of change; healing, enlivening and sometimes challenging.

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Recently I went to the local Spa to relax and detoxify. I felt the end of week tension gradually leave and a sense of spaciousness and ease come in. I felt myself rise up above all the detail of my life and get a bird’s-eye view, an eagle’s view and gain a deeper understanding.

When I’m in my day to day life I sometimes feel uncomfortable about what I perceive as uncertainty around my work and income. Taking time out to relax through a long walk or a long soak at the spa helps reconnect me to the bigger picture of my life.

 

At the spa I became aware of the spaciousness of uncertainty and how it leaves room for change, transformation and growth. Gradually my circumstances have been changing and I’ve been changing.

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To my surprise my paid work has continued and evolved and a new part-time home-based sales role was created for me by my existing employer, working half the hours I was before.

As I relaxed in the spa, I felt like I was watching a movie trailer of my life as a synopsis of the last 6 months passed gently through my mind. I’m much more creatively satisfied than I was 6 months ago, having developed IMG_1586creative outlets through writing and photography.

 

I’ve been learning how to relax and switch off my nervous system through daily or twice daily deep rest and relaxation times.

 

I’ve brought more pleasure into my life through weekly Nia dance classes and beach walks with friends.

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At the local Farmers Market I buy my weekly organic vegetables and eggs from happy chooks, and enjoy relaxing in the company of friends and listening to the music. Weekly trips to the Farmers market used to be something to cross off my ‘to do’ list as I raced off to work and it took months to break my task driven habit of rushing.

 

I recently attended a Connecting to Your Pleasure workshop to see what I could learn there and it helped re-ignite my relationship to my senses through stopping and noticing and savouring mindfully what I’m experiencing in each moment of the day.

Having this eagle’s awareness come to me in the spa was a relief as recently anxiety had got a hold of me. As I’ve pared back my work hours I’ve been faced with what’s left. Me. No place to IMG_2045hide.

 

What’s revealed when I stop?

When I resist the urge to fill the space things begin to percolate up from inside and are revealed to me. Inner voices tell me, ‘You should get a more secure job’ and ‘You should be earning more money’. Another chides me, ‘Surely if you have nothing else constructive to do then you should be working on your next blog right now.’ Apparently rest and relaxation are not permitted activities! I dig a bit deeper, what’s under this?

 

I reveal inner voices that whisper I’m unsafe, that life is a struggle, that I can’t be REALLY healthy and on it goes.

 

On occasion I’ve been ‘shoulding’ on myself,  future tripping, ‘what if’ ing and worrying. Unhelpful pastimes. It’s no wonder I’ve been feeling anxiety as I come up against old limiting beliefs.

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Where do these voices come from?

 

Often out of our mouths or into our minds come voices we heard when we were young. It may not even be something a parent or teacher said, but something we told ourselves and came to believe as a truth due to the circumstances we experienced. Levering out these little hidden nuggets and shining light on them I can begin to question how true they are and decide whether I want to believe or follow their directives anymore. They begin losing their power to influence my life.

 

Issues of anxiety and depression have been present through my life, through watching my mother and other family members deal with them and through my own experience of themIMG_2167. My mother suffered from crippling anxiety and depression throughout her life and it was never diagnosed or treated. As a child I didn’t realise she had an illness, I just came to know life through the prism of anxiety.

 

Due to my recent anxious thinking I’d begun to feel my health sliding backwards and with some external help turned that around. Central to my healing journey over the past 14 years has been identifying, releasing and healing old emotional wounds that hijack my health.  It is by no means the only factor and it is an important one. I’ve been blessed to have a skilled facilitator to guide this process utilising Kinesiology at the Byron Bay Wellness Centre.

 

Our mental and emotional states directly affect our physical health through our etheric body and meridian system and not only our current emotional state, but emotional states we’ve experienced in the past that can be triggered by current circumstances. I’ve discovered first hand that our bodies store emotional memories and have habituated ways of responding to certain emotional triggers and they can be re-trained.

 

IMG_0964How can I feel secure in the midst of change and uncertainty?

Connecting to my higher awareness and guidance through listening to the quiet, still voice within provides me with a feeling of security, and that’s what I connected to when I was in the spa. We all have the ability to tap into ‘all that is’, the mystery of life that we are an aspect of. There are resources and wisdom available there which are not available when I am just connected to my small, fearful, anxious ‘I’ self.

I listened to my intuition earlier in the year as I wrote in my journal:

 

“23/4/14 – I am launching myself into the abyss, the fertile void, the place of all possibility once more. A path of uncertainty, of opening and expansion. My soul calls me forwardIMG_3031. A desire to expand and experience more aspects of life, beyond logic. An impulse to free up constraints and express more of my intrinsic nature, to more deeply connect with the source of all things. What’s next? Self care and self kindness, enrichment and release, listening and allowing, opening and trusting. Emerging clarity. “

 

Lao Tsu said, ‘ Do you have the patience to wait until the mud settles and the water is clear. Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself ? ‘. I’ve chosen to listen to my soul, stay in the uncertainty and allow the unravelling. I know that change takes time.

 

I’m seeing that more is drawn forth from you when you create space in your life. Both more soulful expression and sometimes obstacles to tIMG_2692hat expression. Anxious voices from within or others about what you ‘should’ do or be doing may come in and tempt you to fill the space. Wait and see if it feels right. If it doesn’t, don’t. More of you will be revealed and reflected back to you if you can stand the pressure and wait, listen and be and only act when ‘the right action arises by itself’.

 

Mindfulness, having your awareness in this present moment and responding from there, is  an antidote to anxiety. When we are mindful in each moment we are not future or past tripping or worrying about ‘what ifs’. It is an act of self-kindness and is good for our mental health, our emotional health and our physical heath and it’s something I’m cultivating.

I’m finding on my days off, when the ‘sRIMG0283hould’ voices tell me to do something that I now stop, check inside with how I’m feeling and ask myself, ‘what do I need right now?’ and ‘what do I feel drawn to do right now?’. I often find that what I really need or want in that moment is to prepare some food or have a nap!

 

 

For $15 for an hour’s soak and deep relaxation at the local Spa I got more than I was expecting. I gained a bird’s-eye view and a deeper understanding and acceptance of how my life is right now. I rose above my anxious inner voices and I was reminded that life is unfolding and taking care of me and enriching me, one moment at a time.

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STOPPING BUSY

August 21, 2014

“Hi. How have you been?“. “Busy”, is an often heard response. I caught myself saying it recently and felt a slight twinge of something as I said it.  Justification? Pride? Our society has become addicted to ‘busy’, our worth is measured by activity or output, doing has become more valued than being. An excellent article in the New York Times in 2012 called it ‘The Busy Trap‘. We are in a rush to…where? I’ve found that being busy is not necessarily related to how much I have to do in a day. Stopping can be  scary. What’s left when I stop?  I’m on a quest to find and restore my lost ‘off button’. I’ve learned good health depends on it.

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In our modern world we’re all exposed to an increasing amount of environmental toxins that accumulate in our bodies if not released and this toxic load underpins many chronic health conditions. Constant busyness creates stress that gets in the way of that release as many essential and restorative bodily functions are put on hold. When we don’t deeply relax and switch off regularly in healthy ways,  it means in essence we wear ourselves out.

 

My highest health priority is to detoxify my body after being exposed to chemicals at work, and supporting my liver, kidneys and cells through nutritional, herbal and other natural methods is only part of the picture. At an early age my fight and flight response was triggered and whilst any threat is long gone my system does not naturally switch ‘off’ and this is  exacerbated by living in a society that values constant doing.IMG_1223

I’m feeling grateful for the choice I have made to work at half pace from home right now and the time this is giving me to reconnect with myself and delve inside, to loosen up the edges and identify ways of being in the world that are toxic and unhelpful… even damaging. I’m noticing the tension that I create for myself, even when there aren’t a lot of demands on my time.

 

For example, a health practitioner recently recommended that I spend some time relaxing after my morning walk. Relax? Normally I get back home and get straight into hastily preparing and eating breakfast, then immediately launch into whatever I’m doing that day, often rushing out the door. Rest and relax? Gosh that feels challenging. IMG_0713I’m gradually retraining myself.

On some mornings I’ve allowed myself to lay down and deeply relax after my walk and I feel much more energised, relaxed and focussed afterwards. More present. I’ll confess that the insistent list of things that I believe need my immediate attention beckon me on other mornings. It’s a work in progress.

Tuesdays and Thursdays have been my days ‘off’, unstructured days with all possibilities, yet my mind gets busy, wanting to work out what to ‘do’ in that day to get the most value from that precious time. A few weeks ago I even had a day off ‘to do list’. Oh No! A list of things to DO on my day off. Then I felt the pressure to decide what to do first! A relaxing day suddenly became unrelaxed. How can I retrain myself when my habits are so ingrained? Time to call in a specialist. Enter Kylie Martin.

 

I’ve started going to Kylie’s deep rest therapy classes. She says she ‘is a specialist in stress related illness and body-mind conditions’ and has healed herself using these methods. HIMG_0270er two hour classes are about deep release and relaxation, switching off the nervous system, to help release old patterns of holding that we may have carried for a lifetime. I found myself in the first class thinking impatiently, ‘well there’s not much going on, we’re just laying here, and I am paying for this and how many people are in the room? That means….!’. Of course stopping was the point, physically and mentally and I eventually got there.

Kylie’s given me homework, including inviting me to gift myself every day with a modified Shavasana relaxation.   Shavasana relaxation is the integrative period of stillness at the end of a yoga class. I’m noticing the accumulated effects weaving into my everyday life and a sense of stillness beginning to infiltrate my body. Let me talk you through the process in case you’d like to try it. I’ve been doing it at the end of the day before I cook dinner.

 

Grab a towel, an eye pillow and some blankets and put some nice relaxing music on. Because it’s winter and a bit chilly and it’s part of the process to have weight on top of you, I lay on my bed under my doona with my feet wrapped in a blanket and pushed up against the bed head (or wall). Having your feet against a wall helps your nervous system to feel safe to relax. You could also lay on a mat on the floor. Having your knees slightly bent over a cushion is optional and IIMG_0398 prefer it that way.  Having weight on top of you in the form of blankets also helps your nervous system relax, so lay some folded blankets over you.

Put the towel around your neck like you are carrying it to the shower and then lift the ends up and cross them over your forehead and wrap the ends behind your head. You are wrapping your head up so it feels nice and cosy and held. Extremely relaxing for the nervous system. Put an eye pillow on your eyes and lay with your hands, palm upwards, by your side. Now relax. It feels like you’re cocooned. Focus on noticing and letting go of any holding, notice your breathing and scan through your body, releasing tension, bit by bit by bit. It feels delicious. I do it for 15 to 40 minutes.

 

A popular quote doing the rounds is ‘stop the glorification of busy’. Let’s replace it with the power of stopping and the miracle of being. I am beginning to re-program myself to cure my busy habit and develop new nourishing habits. I am learning how to deeply relax and literally switch off to build a healthy and resilient body and to connect to what’s important ratheIMG_1133r than what I might have thought was urgent. Many years ago I wrote a poem about this topic unsurprisingly called Stop!. The last stanza says:

I stand within the stillness of stopping

Peace and joy permeate the space

I feel excitement, joy, the urge to create

Everything is possible…when I stop.

 

Kylie told me that she gives herself a period of deep rest every day and she is able to achieve a lot without depleting herself. She is now productive, energised and relaxed rather than busy and exhausted. Sounds good to me.  So how have you been?