Posts Tagged ‘wellness’

The Dance of Life

October 2, 2017

The title of my BLOG, ‘Listening to the Whispers’ is a phrase that came to me 20 years ago, when I was reflecting on and writing about how to come back into balance and wellness both personally and planetarily. It means listening to the quiet, wise voice inside us all that is connected to the source of all things.

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I’ve found that when I silence my mind, ask a question like ‘how can I best deal with this situation?’ and listen deeply I hear a wise, very still voice which seems to have a much larger understanding of my life than I do. I capture this voice, this guidance, both through writing and speaking out loud into a voice recorder.

‘Listening to the Whispers’ means listening with our whole being in a surrendered way, it’s about trusting and acting on the received wisdom…if indeed action is called for.  To listen and act, listen and act or in some cases NOT act.

It feels like entering into a dance, where I am not in the lead, but the surrendered partner to divine spirit.

I wrote the piece below in 1996 after asking for guidance about this.

THE Dance of LIFE

“The dance of life is uncertain. It is open and full. It goes on and on, unceasing in it’s flow.

There is an illusion that keeIMG_9390ps me from seeing it, feeling it, knowing it. Sometimes I think I have to ‘do’ life, that I have to work out what to do. That is the illusion.

I strip back the mask and there I am, there I have been all the time. It is merely a shift in perception.

 

I feel the flow and respond to it, move to it, every moment of my life…or not.

Sometimes I resist, hold on, try to work it out, doubt. I forget to listen and feel the flow. It is a current that moves me ever forward. Forward to where, I do not know. A voice whispers;

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‘Surrender. Flow. Trust. ’

It is when I resist that I struggle and get into trouble.

I feel as if I will drown, I gasp for air and try to grab onto something, anything to control and stop the flow.

‘Don’t fight it. Allow it. Move with it gracefully, like a dancer. Allow your body to feel the current and yield to it. The force is too strong to resist. You will go under if you resist. If you allow, and flow with the current you will be swept along and feel the exhilaration rise, the excitement of movement. Dance and let your partner lead… I know what I am doing.’

Sometimes the flow is strong, the movement is strong and I must make bold moves. Then the music quietens, my partner holds me, tenderly, quietly and I must wait.

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‘Be still. Rest. Do not be eager to fill the space. Listen and wait for the beat.’

 

Then the music begins again and I feel my partner’s hand on my back, guiding me gently. The current carries me forward and I am flowing, flowing.”

 

 

Is life flowing for you right now or are you being asked to be still and wait? How do you experience the dance?

 

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Do What’s in Front of You

December 31, 2015

What have you been learning this year? I’ve been learning to accept what is with gratitude and to listen and act.

On an early January morning this year I went for a walk by the river. I wandered along the river’s edge as the water lapped at my feet, contemplating and praying for guidance about my situation which felt precarious. Then I heard a quiet voice in my mind say, IMG_1596‘Do what’s in front of you’. I recognised this voice as it’s given me wise counsel before, and I knew there’d be more advice if I listened.

My employer had closed for a six week summer break and instead of having a relaxing holiday, I felt anxious about my lack of income, concerned as I’d been told my hours were going to be reduced and frustrated as I wanted to do more meaningful work, yet my energy levels were unreliable. I felt like I was on the wrong road and I didn’t know where the right road was.

 

It reminds me of an Irish joke I once heard.

Paddy walks into a bar and asks the bartender for directions. The bartender Mick says, ‘Oh no, you can’t get there from here!’

IMG_7622_2My logical mind had been trying unsuccessfully to work out how to change my situation, however the logical mind doesn’t understand the mysteries of the soul, which favours unfoldment over a clear linear path.

Without a pen and paper, which I normally use to capture these words of wisdom, I took out my iphone, clicked the voice record button, listened and spoke what I heard.

 

“Do what’s in front of you…When anxiety comes from searching, seeking, wanting things to be different to how they are right now, come back to this moment and do what’s in front of you.

 Take a breath and come back to this moment. What is it that has already arisen that you have not yet acted on? What thoughts or ideas have you discounted or pushed away? What further steps can you take that have already shown themselves to you? Come back into this moment and do those things.

IMG_5424You’re striving for more; more clarity, more insight, more answers and they will come when you do what’s in front of you right now. Let go of searching and take the steps that have already revealed themselves.

It’s like building blocks. To build something new firstly you prepare the ground so that it’s strong and stable. Then you build the foundations and imagine what the building will look like, what it will feel like to be in it. You are preparing the ground.”

 A list of things came into my mind, things that I’d previously, over days, months, even years thought, ‘do that’. Practical things from getting a better handle on my expenses, reading a specific book, recover my lounge chairs, contact specific people and find a new doctor to increase nurturing activities like dance, relax deeply, meditate daily and ask for guidance before bed.

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‘Do these things, clear the way, prepare the ground, build the foundations and as the year unfolds new opportunities will emerge, more actions will be revealed. This is a time for connecting with your heart, with nature, with all that is. Embrace and value each moment, each day, enjoy. All is well. All is very, very well.’

 

This year I’ve been clearing the way and preparing the ground by acting on old and new ideas.

 

I began to notice that serendipitous things occurred. When I asked myself, “What energises me? What do I love doing?”, one answer was the leadership coaching work that I’m trained for and rarely do as I doIMG_7468n’t find self promotion easy.

Within a week I received a call from a friend asking if I could give her a coaching session and could we do it as a swap or barter please. Our exchange? She’s a skilled seamstress and in return she helped me recover the chairs I use for my coaching work. I ticked recovering chairs off my list after a year of ‘I need to do that’.

I dusted off and repaired a portable whiteboard I hadn’t used for years and for some time I’d thought ‘either repair it or throw it out’. A week later I was asked to give a presentation on leadership at my Toastmasters club and the revitalised whiteboard was in use again. This presentation led to invitations to present at four more clubs, an area training day and then an invitation to help facilitate an eight week public speaking course at our local Council. Further opportunities for mentoring and facilitation came up in my club.

I’m passionate about leadership and supporting others to find their voice and pursIMG_7676ue their goals and in opening up my mind to ways to do ‘more meaningful work’, life presented these volunteer opportunities.

Sometimes life opens up different doors to the ones we expect.

As the year progressed my work hours didn’t drop off as I’d been told they would and unexpectedly increased for several months instead. Even though my paid work is not ‘perfect’ (whatever that is!), it’s flexible, I can work around my energy levels and I’m grateful to have it whilst I’m laying the groundwork for more reliable health and energy.

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By acting on all the quiet whispers of ‘do this’, I’m seeing that the path gradually unfolds before me, although not in the direction necessarily that I think it ‘should’.

I listen and follow my guidance some days better than others.

A sign that I’m not is when I feel anxious. Then I know that my grasping mind has stepped in and I need to quieten my mind and come back into the present moment.

 

 

As Lao Tzu said ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’

IMG_0884Acting on the things I’d already thought to do created movement and forward progress.

 

Our inner wise guide sees much more than our logical conscious mind and sometimes it doesn’t take us on a direct route. Sometimes we have to drop things off and gather things along the way.

 

If you, like Paddy and I, want to get somewhere other than where you are, revisit the things you’ve already thought to do and haven’t yet acted on, no matter how small.IMG_1468 These ideas are often delivered in a quiet whisper, when you are in the midst of another activity, not when you are focussed on finding answers. You may have ignored or discounted them and yet they keep arising, quietly but persistently. Start there.

I’ve discovered that as I put my foot down, the path is revealed, one step at a time.

 

What have you been learning this year?

This Canary Sings a Tale of Toxins

December 17, 2014

Chronic illness is on the increase. Why is it so? I first learned that multiple chronic illnesses have at least two common contributing factors over eleven years ago when I came across an arIMG_4246ticle in the Weekend Australian newspaper about Australian doctors getting significant improvements with autistic kids by using the same strategies my research had shown were successful in treating Chronic fatigue Syndrome (CFS); improving gut health and detoxifying environmental toxins like heavy metals and chemicals. Further research revealed that many other chronic illnesses have links to these same two factors. There are often also genetic and additional factors at play.

 

When the article was published on 22nd February 2003 it stated autism affected 1 in 500 to 1 in 1000 Australian children. Accelerating rapidly since then, a 2012 article puts the figure at 1 in 110. A startling increase. I’ll focus on environmental toxins in this blog post.

We’re all exposed to an increasing array of toxins and this can go part way to explaining the increase in chronic illness. IMG_3685Since the Industrial revolution billions of tonnes of toxic metals have been mined from the earth and used by humans to make things. They’ve been released into the air, water and soil and hence the food chain and there is a bio-accumulation effect in plants, animals and humans that has reached every corner of the earth. Seals, whales, polar bears and walruses, staples of the Arctic Inuit people’s diet have become deposits for the world’s 12 most toxic chemicals and they are passed on in breast milk. Toxic metals do not degrade into less harmful substances over time.

In the north of Greenland, where twice as many girl babies are being born to Inuit families than boys, scientists have discovered that toxic chemicals in their food are affecting their hormones and affecting the gender of the children being born.

 

We begin accumulating toxins in the womb. The Environmental Working Group in America (www.ewg.org) tested the umbilical cord blood of 10 newborn babies and found nearly 300 chemicals, including BPA, fire retardants, lead, PCBs and pesticides that were banned more than 30 years ago.IMG_4078

What do these heavy metals and chemicals do to our body? The short answer is damage it. They affect various enzyme systems, our excretory organs, liver and kidneys, our nervous, endocrine, immune and digestive systems and may contribute to allergies, chronic viral infections, Alzheimers disease and other neurological conditions like Parkinsons and Multiple Sclerosis. Genetic factors mean people with the same chemical exposure will manifest different symptoms .

Why are some people more affected ? It seems that some of us have a genetic predisposition to not excrete heavy metals and chemicals as well as others.

 

An article in the August Prevention magazine says “’We all have a IMG_3941different genetic ability to detoxify…it is not uncommon to be missing one or two detoxification genes or have a polymorphism (genetic variation) which may affect your ability to detoxify’…says Jan Purser, naturopathic nutritionist and clinical detoxification expert. ‘If someone says to me things like, ‘I can’t have more than a few drinks without getting a bad hangover’, or ‘I feel really unwell if I don’t eat vegetables every day’, I think to myself, ‘I bet they’ve got a polymorphism in their detoxification genes.’ “ .

A hair mineral analysis is one way to get information about the toxic heavy metals you have stored in your body. My hair analysis reveals that I still have high levels of mercIMG_3860ury, lead, arsenic, silver and uranium, despite years of detoxifying. I also used to have high levels of copper and aluminium. They all damage the human body.

The circumstantial evidence is strong that I, like many others, have genetic factors at play in dealing with the increasing amount of toxins we’re exposed to in our everyday lives.

When I was 18 I began going out to clubs with my friends, dancing, drinking, meeting boys and experimenting with this new freedom of being a ‘legal’ adult. One memorable ‘morning after’ saw me being  violently ill up until the next night. My friends who drank a similar amount to me had no significant side effecIMG_4218ts from our night out. Understandably I’ve been a cautious drinker ever since! Even one drink of alcohol can make me feel ill.

The other pointer to me possibly having a genetic pre-disposition to not excrete toxins so well is the fact that my sister Carole, the eldest of my 4 siblings, has also experienced Chronic Fatigue in her life and her daughter Fibromyalgia. When I told Carole earlier this year that I’d worked out the fumigation chemicals on the imported jewellery at work had been affecting my health, she recounted a story that I’d not heard before, which put another piece of the jigsaw in place for me.

She told me that when she worked as the Manager of a shoe store many years ago IMG_3808she became very sick and worked out that it was due to the chemicals used on the leather products. Leather tanning is one of the most toxic industries in the world because of the chemicals involved. She felt sick when she opened the shop door in the morning, as the off-gassed toxins had built up in the air in the shop overnight. It was the onset of many years of debilitating chronic fatigue. I asked her ‘when did you recover?’ and she said, ‘ I don’t think I ever have fully’.

Genetic predispositions to detoxifying may explain why Carole and I have both been affected by toxins in our work environments, whilst others working in the same or similar environments are not. Perhaps genetic pre-dispositions to detoxification may partly explain why some people develop chronic illnesses, from autism to MS and Parkinsons and some do not.

I was fortunate to find a doctor many years ago who diagnosed my illness correctly after one doctor told me my ill health was psychological, a common and distressing occurrence for people with these type of conditionsIMG_4247 and two other doctors shrugged their shoulders, having no idea how to help me.

That doctor explained to me the exponential affect of having multiple heavy metals in the body. Apparently adding one more heavy metal or chemical has the effect of times 10 or times 100 rather than plus 10 or plus 100.  One recent GP who had no understanding of environmental toxins on health said to me ‘Megan we are not taught about this in medical school’.

 

The Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine provides training and education in this field. Anyone looking for a doctor with awareness about these issues can look at a practitioner list on the ACNEM website.

Those of us with genetic issues impacting detoxifying can be considered to be the ‘canary in the coal mine’. Canaries were once regularly used in coal mining as an early warning system. Toxic gases in the mine would kill the bird before affecting the miners. Signs of distress from the bird indicated to the miners that conditions were unsafe. The use of miners’ canaries in British mines was only phased out in 1987.IMG_4158

There are things we can all do to support our body to detoxify, like eating foods that support our liver and support detoxification, including fresh green foods. We can have saunas and take herbs and nutritional supplements. I recovered my health this year, as I did previously, by following a comprehensive and extended detoxification program with a skilled and experienced practitioner and  I recommend getting professional support from a detoxification expert, especially if you have a chronic condition.

There are also ways to limit our exposure to toxins in the first place, like eating organic foods and using chemical free personal and cleaning products. The first step is becoming aware of what chemicals and toxins are in our environment, in products we use or eat and in environments we spend time in. There will be more than you think. You may already know about mercury in dental amalgams and aluminium in dIMG_4079eoderants for example but did you know there is often lead in lipsticks and mercury in eye drops?  Do you cook food in non stick or aluminium pans? We are surrounded by them in our homes and work places.

 

There are many resources available on this topic, one resource on my bookshelf is called Invisible Killers. It is an invisible but very real factor that contributes to a lot of ill health. I’ve learnt to trust my instincts and act on this when the tangible evidence is hard to find and when there is little awareness of these issues amongst medical professionals. When the word ‘neurotoxin’ popped into my mind during a massage earlier this year as my health was declining I listened and acted.

We can all make a positive impact on our own health as well as the health of the world by the consumer choices we make. It’s become much easier to source organic and chemical free products due to higher demand from a more aware populace.  As an Inuit leader said ‘We are the land and the land is us. When our land and animals are poisoned, so are we.’  Awareness is the first step.

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.

There’s Something in the Air

August 29, 2014

There’s something in the air, a turning, a glimmer of newness, I can smell it. I’m feeling the imminent change of seasons, the excitement of Spring is a sniff away.

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It’s the last week of winter and the days and nights are still cool, although not as cool as they’ve been. It’s not just the temperature that’s marking the change. The days are getting longer, my afternoon walks more leisurely. I’m noticing that I don’t having to rush back before darkness descends. In the mornings I’m waking up earlier with the coming of the light. The birds seem more active, more vocal, the rainbow lorikeets screeching and chatting to each other as they feed on the grevilleas, drinking in the nectar. The bees are buzzing around the flowers that are opening more each day. It feels like everything’s beginning to wake up.

 

Winter for me has been an inner time, a time to stop and rest, to reflect, heal and regroup, perfect winter activities. In the last two weeks I’ve been handing over my Office Manager job to someone new,IMG_1504 after over 3 months of working part-time from home. My paid work is now a day by day proposition as I finalise the handover.

In my waking hours I believe that new paid work will come soon and that there is nothing to do but keep focussing on the type of work I want and keep listening and wait for the beat to signal what further action I must take toward it.

 

 

My sleeping hours are sometimes different. I recently had a dream that a typhoon was heading toward me at a fast rate and my anxiety was rising. I was about to be tossed about by a tempest and woke up in a sweat. I told my friend Val about my typhoon dream and she replied in an excited voice, “storms can be exciting!”. That’s true. After a storm has wiped away the old, new life always springs forth. Always. Just because you can’t see what it is yet, doesn’t mean that it won’t come. Val is an optimist and as a trained pessimist who has retrained herself to be an optimist ( in my waking hours!) I know it’s important to focus on what I’d like rather than what I fear.

 

My birthday is this week during the last week of winter. Birthdays and New Year are natural full IMG_1194stops and I find them a perfect time to review what I’ve achieved in the year that has just gone and think about what I want to create in the year ahead. On reflection I realise I’ve achieved a great deal in the year I was 50, including caring for myself well by taking a sabbatical and turning my health around, reconnecting with myself in a deeper way, with the natural world and my passions and finally getting this blog started.

 

So what do I want to create in the year ahead? Twelve years ago I was trained by Kate Ramsay of AnD Leadership Consulting to be a leadership coach and a life vision coach and I learned from that work the power of having a vision. Part of the coaching process is to clarify and describe how your ideal life would look and feel if ‘I have a magic wand’ and there were no obstacles in the way. Bringing to the spoken our deepest wishes, how we’d like our lives to be, helps us navigate our way there. It is a simple and powerful process. I’ve learned that the path to achieving our desired state may take longer than we think and may involve many more steps than we thought, sometimes leading us up unexpected roads. It demands we surrender all that is unlike it.IMG_1459

 

The visioning I did with Kate when I was in my corporate career in 1994 crystallised what was important to me and led me to change everything about my life, from where I worked to where and how I live.

 

What do I want in the year ahead? In the coming year I’d like to invite in resilient and ease-full health. I’d like to become involved in a project that’s IMG_1458making a positive difference in the world and which inspires me. I’d like to be contributing both my skills and ideas and the great people I work with pay me well. In my vision I absolutely love and enjoy what I’m doing and I have a manageable workload that means I’ve time in my life to write and develop my blog, to walk and spend time in nature, spend time with my friends and family and if a lovely man is part of that then that will be a bonus. I dance, sing, play, create, laugh and relax deeply. I love and care and am connected to and support my community. I make choices for the benefit of all and combine with others to remind our politicians about what is important and vital for our grandchildren’s grandchildren and the most vulnerable in society.

 

What about you? What have you achieved in the last 12 months? If you write all of your achievements down, you may be surprised at how many things you can think of. What would you like to bring into your life in the year ahead? Spring is almost sprung. Creating a vision of your ideal life is like sewing seeds. Water it and nurture it and then let go and surrender to the wisdom of life. Listen carefully and you’ll be guided toward it, one step at a time. Maybe that is what I can smell. The scent of new life.

 

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?