Practicing Self Care

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This year has been a bit of a shock all round what with lockdown, social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, daily figures……….I could go on but you all know how it is and the effect it has on our mental health and in some cases on our physical health. Many of the avenues we would have used to practice self care have been closed off to us and where those have now reopened, or are in the process of doing so we may not wish to take the risk, however small of accessing them.

In the past when I needed to give myself some self care it would have quite likely taken the form of getting a hands on Reiki treatment as well as booking myself in for a massage, reflexology or something similar. Earlier this year though I had a health scare which occurred during lockdown so nothing like this was available to me which was difficult at a time when I was not well enough to fall back on my own resources.

One of the things that was gentle enough for me at the time was the free weekly guided meditation sessions via Zoom with Dzochen Beara. The other form of self care I used was to reach out to friends who could do distance healing with Reiki and Shamanic healing. Once I was feeling up to it I also began to join in a weekly Reiki self healing and found the group energy helped support me there.

Listening to my body, what it would allow me to do at any time, what it needed me to do come to that, focusing inward rather than outward and really paying attention to both my physical and mental health have been a really powerful form of self care. I used to always be reminding clients and students to do this and although it is something I have always tried to do I am not sure I have ever done so to this extent.

My self care so far has included, in no particular order:

  • walking barefoot in the garden
  • stepping outside to take in the fresh air
  • opening all the windows for fresh air
  • listening to audio books when I couldn’t read
  • reading ebooks once I could read again
  • allowing myself to sleep as often during the day as I needed to
  • going for very short walks that gradually increased in length over time
  • walking on the beach
  • listening to music
  • attempting not to get caught up in the news too much
  • painting or drawing for no reason
  • simply sitting and being still and not feeling I should be doing something
  • using Reiki to support me at all times
  • beginning to move my body again through gentle exercise – Feldenkrais, Somatic Yoga at first and now light resistance work
  • giving myself permission to do whatever was needed
  • recognising when I wasn’t ok
  • letting others help me
  • not reaching out to help others when I wasn’t really ok to do so
  • putting my own health before everything else

I am sure there are other things I have been doing as well but underpinning everything has simply been listening to what I really needed and still need rather than letting my mind try and dictate to me. Self care at its most fundamental.

Navigating Difficult Times    with the Web of Life

Navigating Difficult Times with the Web of Life

These last months have been difficult ones for all of us and it stuck me today exactly how many of the adverts popping up on Facebook are for Mindfulness courses and how much most of us are in need of support right now. Today I also read an article in an online paper relating to the growing popularity of Tarot and the fact that in these times of uncertainty people are turning to ancient practices both through therapy and as a form of practical advice and guidance as well as to provide support and comfort.

I have shared here before the Moon Books free ebook Weathering the Storm which is a great source of support but until I read about Tarot today, had completely overlooked suggesting my own Moon Books Publication Web of Life as a means of support in these challenging times.

Web of Life is a way of deepening your connection to the world around you, a modern way of accessing the ancient wisdom of the medicine wheel but one that is personal to you. Within the book are exercises that help you to understand how you connect to everything, plus where and how you can find guidance that is specific to you. There is also a way of making cards for yourself that can be used for insight, to plan a path or to see your way through a time in your life or even a project.

Working with the exercises in Web of Life will help you to learn more about yourself, how you connect to everything around you and can provide comfort through helping you to know exactly where you are and giving insight into what is happening.

I’m going to share a few reviews here to save you trawling back through posts to find them:

https://solitarypath.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/new-book-review-for-web-of-life/

https://solitarypath.wordpress.com/2016/11/28/shaman-pathways-web-of-life-review/

https://solitarypath.wordpress.com/2016/06/13/shamanic-web-of-life/

And of course if you feel drawn to work with Web of Life you can find it both as an ebook and paperback at Amazon UK and Amazon USA

Still Weathering the Storm

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I don’t know how it is where anyone reading this is living, but here in Ireland it’s not exactly getting any easier. At the beginning we knew where we were, the advice was clear, precise and easy to follow. Although we only had a caretaker government, I for one had faith that the decisions taken were considered ones. Just before the change in personnel though, the country skipped a stage of reopening, moving us forward quickly and this looking back is where many of the problems associated with reopening the country probably began.

We have had a new coalition government for some months now and things are going downhill fast. There seem to be conflicting views between officials about the way forward with the pandemic, fierce lobbying from interested parties such as airlines and ‘wet’ pubs to get everything opened faster and the numbers of Covid cases increasing everywhere with outbreaks in all kinds of places. The number of contacts everyone has has increased and contact tracing is also getting more complex it seems.

The upshot of all of this is that on one hand we are hearing that local lockdowns are the way forward and on the other being threatened with full lockdown if ‘we’ don’t get cases down. It no longer feels like collective responsibility and that we are ‘all in this together’.

A stressful situation is naturally being made worse by all of this, plus weekly announcements from everyone, where anything can happen it seems.

Not having had any kind of break we decided to look at booking short ‘staycations’ which has been an interesting experience as the first question has become not do we want to stay somewhere, but what is their cancellation policy. I know from talking with friends we are not alone in this but it is hard to know whether to chance it or not.

In amongst this uncertainty I am trying to listen to my own advice to live in the moment, one day at a time and so on but somethings do need to be planned in advance. Life even in a pandemic has to be lived otherwise it is just existing which is not the way things should be for any of us if we can help it.

So when we can’t do what we know we need to be doing and need new strategies to cope where can we go? I have mentioned this before and have no difficulty doing so again as it is something I am dipping in and out of; the free or almost free ebook (it depends where you download it from) Moon Books Collective ‘Weathering the Storm’

If you, like me need a bit of variety in your coping strategies as the situation changes and you haven’t yet got your copy yet, do go off and download it now.

 

The Strangest of Times – Staying at Home Week 9

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I like siting in the garden and quite enjoy doing ‘big’ things like building a new bed, a path or a wall, but hate the fiddly stuff, so as a non gardener I am fascinated by the fact that this year I am lovingly nurturing lettuce. They were purchased, planted in small pots and have now been transplanted to larger ones so they have room to grow. The photo is an early one and some are now big enough for us to be taking leaves for our tea. Some lettuce plants are also in a small bed in the garden and I visit daily monitoring their growth and comparing the potted ones with the garden ones. Now it seems it’s not only lettuce I am growing. A few weeks ago I had a conversation with some friends online about growing coriander from supermarket seeds. We all took a different approach. Both of them bruised their seeds as recommended by his Indian father, one soaked hers and planted hers in a pot, the other planted his straight in the pot. I researched online and placed mine between sheets of wet kitchen towel and waited for them to sprout. After about two weeks of nothing happening I got fed up with watering mine and with nothing happening, threw them away. At the weekend I was sent pictures of both sets of coriander plants, tiny little shoots peaking above the earth. So I have now bruised seeds and have them planted out in pots. Three weeks time all being well I should have tiny shoots appearing. If I am still writing this blog by then I will let you know.

This week I actually managed to do a live online yoga class. Really gentle yoga that worked on the psoas muscle. I have had an ongoing abdominal injury for well over a year now. The ‘it settles, I do something and it goes again’ kind of injury. Nothing serious but annoying enough to stop me doing lots of things such as a lot of exercises in the gym and also now Zumba which I am really sad about. Anyway, the psoas muscle connects to the abdominal muscles and by the end of the session of slow stretching, the right side of my body which is where the injury is, had felt tight at the start had loosened a little. So far so good 🙂 I woke up the next day and was aware my ribs were sore, by the end of the day I could hardly move. I couldn’t get out of the chair, cough or laugh without it hurting. Not an injury but muscles that hadn’t been used for the last months being woken up. So much for slow gentle yoga! I am doing it again as soon as this settles enough for me to move 😉

We are now a few days into Phase 1 of easing the lockdown. Online there were pictures of queues at DIY shops and MacDonald’s which opened 6 of its drive throughs in Dublin. For me though the only difference it made was that the small garage in my village opened and I was able to get my car serviced and so keep the warrantee valid 🙂

I tried to do Yoga Nidra this week, something I usually love but found it hard to settle in to. I am used to doing it at the end of a yoga session and not as a stand alone so this may have been part of it, maybe it wasn’t right for me today, or maybe I am just too scattered to relax in to it at the moment. I’m going to let it go for now and come back to it another time, see how I feel then. Like everything at the moment it seems best to simply acknowledge it, let it go and move on.

On a positive note I have managed to read not one but two books recently which is a huge improvement on how I was a few weeks ago. My concentration seems to be improving as far as reading is concerned at least.

I am still working with Air which is the energy that connects to the mind and so governs the intellect, reasoning, memory, thoughts, knowledge and comprehension. It is interesting that I have now begun working with yoga which focuses a lot on the use of the breath, the inhalation, the exhalation and the sigh, the cleansing breath to release as the body is allowed to settle.

I’m not sure how long my Air phase will last but I am certainly less ‘scratchy’ than I was last week, a little calmer and feeling a bit more like myself.

 

The Strangest of Times – Week 8

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I’m beginning to find it harder to know what to write here now as the days are all starting to merge into one and it is getting difficult to recall what has happened and how I am feeling. This may of course be a bi-product of the lockdown as I read somewhere the other day that confusion and forgetfulness are common when the brain is not being used in the same way as it is used to. Not too sure mine is being used at all really.

So how have I been spending the time? The garden is getting a tidy up in areas that we have been putting off for years. We have actually finished sorting out a large corner in the front of the house. I say finished because we started this about a year ago. The guys that cut our hedges have, for the last two or three years, been itching to get in there and cut it all back. Every year I stop them telling them we have plans. Last year we cut back overgrown shrubs, cleared brambles and ivy and there it sat. Until the last few days that is, when we moved large stones to form a border, raked earth, made a small curved bed and filled the remaining space with gravel to connect it to the drive. Our stone Buddha was moved from the back of the house and ornamental grasses planted in the bed. What was really lovely was that the whole time we were working we were joined by a Robin searching for nesting materials and any bugs we dug up. Nice to be working in harmony with nature.

I think this work in the garden fits with the clearing out and decluttering that was suggested as part of my work with Air 🙂 I kinda think the author, Denise Linn, had rooms in the house in mind but as the garden is part of my home for me it counts. We have also been rescuing plants, shrubs, hedging from overgrown ivy which definitely counts as clearing out.

Although we are still getting home delivery for our shopping we made an Aldi run this week to get some things we can’t get online. No browsing, structured list each according to shop layout, a trolley each, a quiet time of day and we were in and out without a bother. Our wine rack is full, we have nuts, seeds, hand soap and hand cream plus of course a few things that were on neither list of course, but no browsing and nothing from the middle aisle 🙂

I also had to pick up a repeat prescription this week and our pharmacy has a system where you text and they have it ready for you at the pick up time you request. This is a million times better than going in, ordering and having to wait around while it is done so I do hope this is one thing that carries on after the lockdown.

I have been doing some art work this week and am enjoying working on a new piece. It helps that I took a photo that really called me to work with it, so it is something I actually want to do. All our exhibitions are cancelled or postponed for the foreseeable future so I have no purpose for doing this other than that I want to, which is lovely.

Also I have begun to read again, not snippets online but an actual ebook. I get ebooks online from our library and usually get through one every few days. Since the lockdown I have had to renew every book I’ve borrowed at least once. I had only been managing a about a chapter before I lost interest and found my attention wandering, but the last couple of days I am up to four or five chapters which is a huge improvement. It would be nice to stop feeling scattered and unable to concentrate on anything for long, so I really hope this continues. It does feel a step in the right direction.

I have noticed that I am getting a bit ‘frayed at the edges’ and that others seem to be the same. I have been getting a lot of ‘your lockdown is easier than ours’ online because the sea is within our 5km, but this is hard for all of us wherever we live. I think we all need to bear in mind, myself included, that we really have no idea how anyone else is feeling or how they are coping with the lockdown. We still have a long way to go with this.

The weekend saw a welcome break for all of us here with our village community online Bingo. This was 2 hrs of much needed craic. We had all registered online, been sent bingo cards for two games, prizes of chocolates, wine, spirits, vouchers were donated and last night everyone logged on to the youtube channel and the fun began. Prizes for a line and a card and spot prizes throughout, online live chat and a good bit of banter made the time fly.  A lot of work went into the preparation and execution but it would be really good to do it or something similar again.

The coming week sees the first easing of our lockdown. Garden centres, hardware shops, opticians. garages, electrical, phone and computer repair shops and a few other ‘essential’ services can reopen. This is good news as my car is due a service, We can also meet up with four other people outdoors as long as we maintain social distancing. We have pretty much been doing this anyway, by chance, when coming across neighbours or friends when out walking but it’s official now anyway. Golf and tennis are also allowed reopen but only to those within 5km. We are all still staying at home and exercising within 5km apart from shopping, medical etc so this won’t mean any change for me at all except I have had a friend, who lives locally, ask if I’d like to go for a socially distanced walk one day. I will, as a new person to chat to while walking, even if it is from either side of the road, could be nice 🙂

 

The Strangest of Times – Stay at Home Week 5

The Strangest of Times – Stay at Home Week 5

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I had a tough few days last week for some reason, maybe it was the weather as we had thick sea mist, low visibility and sometimes rain, although this doesn’t usually bother me over much if it’s relatively short lived which this was. Maybe it was the way ‘the future’ is being spoken about in the news, no end in sight, talk of 2021, 2022 or even never. If I was a decade or so younger I don’t think this would bother me the same way but in my mid 60’s with a husband a few years older, taking one or two years away from us seems huge. There are all kinds of implications regarding our health, fitness, both physical and mental, and our ability to continue doing what have always loved to do which is to travel long haul to explore and have adventures. I actually resent the fact that this may never happen again and that what is left, what we have now, as good as that is and as lucky as we are, may be as good as it gets. I have toyed with the idea of shifting how I am feeling which I can do relatively easy but for some reason to feels important to experience this fully. No doubt at some point I will realise why I need to do so. Right now the purpose escapes me so I am just going with it for the time being. I have since discovered that a lot of people were feeling the same way around this time, seems we all ran into the same wall.

OK the doom and gloom lasted until I did a Reiki distance swap with a friend who was feeling the same way. We both described seeing and feeling a huge cloud being lifted from us which was amazing. All good again and back to normal now 🙂

I actually think we owe it to ourselves to be able to have off days, days where we feel low or overwhelmed and to acknowledge these for what they are. To have light we must also have dark, there is always duality in everything and if we force down or hide the dark times and try to always be in the light, to pretend everything is always ok, it can have a detrimental effect on us. The challenge we all have though, is to keep from getting dragged down into the dark, to accept it, to acknowledge it for what it is, to let it stay while it needs to and cheerfully wave it goodbye as it leaves.  I am obviously not talking about real depression here which is something else entirely, but the ups and downs of living through a period of uncertainly which can be stressful, even for those of us who usually shake off the stress. It is ok though not to be ok.

What I had lost sight of over the last few days had been living in the moment. I had been looking ahead which I realise now is fatal. I will be trying as hard as I can not to make the same mistake again. Taking each moment at a time, each day at a time, is really the only way I am going to get through this. Just for today do not worry is a Reiki principle to really try to live by in these times it seems.

As is show gratitude and today I am grateful for

  • insight
  • awareness
  • someone to swap distance Reiki with
  • the sunshine and warm breeze
  • walking in the fresh air
  • the apple blossom in the garden
  • bees

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  • my new camera
  • springtime
  • new life 

 

One thing I have noticed this week is that when I get stressed it seems to be by things that wouldn’t bother me usually such as our online shopping arriving an hour and a half after the booked time, my computer only working when its plugged in or my headphones working on my husband’s computer but not mine. This is possibly something to do with not having an alternative, the need to be reliant on others and things that are out of my control. I suspect the further we go in to this, the more not being in control will come up for me. The whole situation is outside my control though, so yet again I am back to the need to live only on the moment, letting everything else go.

A new thing I have realised this week is that I am not really reading books which is completely unlike me. I can easily read one in a day or two and when I get a new Stephen King have to ration my reading to make it last. I can only put this down to my attention span being much shorter than usual. I am flitting between things, not staying anywhere long and so concentrating to read a book is much harder than say reading something online.

We should have been in Singapore now celebrating my husband’s birthday with afternoon tea in Raffles hotel. As we can’t be there, or anywhere come to that, we are celebrating with an afternoon tea at home instead. I ordered a small birthday cake from a local baker and having collected it this morning have to say it looks delicious. There are home made savoury chou pastries, and eclairs, shop bought cakes and I will be making some finger sandwiches – smoked salmon and proscuttio await, plus there are strawberries and champagne. I’d say we will be more than ok 🙂

The Strangest of Times – Stay at Home Week 4

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I keep coming across the idea that having a routine is important when we’re stuck, safe at home. I was talking to a friend online the other day about this and she was saying how important having a routine is to her. This got me thinking about my own routine or rather lack of it, for about the only routine I have now is to sit and enjoy a coffee first thing in the morning followed by checking in to see how I feel and what, if anything, I need to be doing that will help with this. Feelings and emotions seem far more important to me at the moment than imposing a routine upon myself or those around me.

Maybe the need for routine depends on what we were doing before all of this and as I am self employed I was already working from home so probably already had a more flexible routine than others. I also balk at the idea of knowing what I am doing too far in advance after years of having had a full diary. I still enjoy the spontaneity of not having anything planned and even though I have no-where I can go I still enjoy the sense of having a ‘free’ day…….. every day 🙂

This enforced lockdown has really emphasised to me how lucky I am, for as a therapist I have all kinds of resources I can call upon to help shift any emotions quickly as soon as they arise. As well as this I have Reiki which I can use to support me at all times. I am very aware that by working on myself I improve the energy in the space around me i..e in my home, and so improve the health and wellbeing of those I live with too.

I also have Reiki friends who support each other and with them I am part of a WhatsApp group that joins with other groups around the works to send healing to the Earth and to each other at 8pm every day. It feels as if the longer this goes on the more important support networks of every kind are becoming.

I have been doing some distance work with a friend this week and so have been using my workspace to work rather than as a gym, which is a bit of a novelty at the moment. While I was out there I found myself drawn to a set of cards. Now I don’t work with cards very often but my favourite ones are the “Osho Zen Tarot’ which are not tarot in the strictest sense but are more to do with self awareness and self development. Drawing a card from this pack I got the card No-thingness. I drew it for myself but the summary of the card feels very fitting to share here as it is all about being in a space where there is nothing, no plans, no sense of direction and no idea what may lie ahead. A void if you will and like all voids it is full of potential, full of infinite possibility. It was a good reminder to me to just relax into this space,  to treasure each experience here, and to be aware that amazing things may come out of this time and space. In other words to make the most of it.

This week we ventured out in the car for an essential visit to the pharmacy 11 km away and a slightly less essential visit to the garden centre. We are lucky as the garden centres and hardware shops have been allowed to re-open since the Easter weekend, as long as they adhere to social distancing etc. The visit wasn’t strictly essential but was as far as our patio tubs are concerned and we came home with bedding plants, potting compost and some lettuce and rocket plants.  Enough to give us something beautiful to look at over the summer and something to supplement our online shopping, as long as we can keep the rabbits from eating them that is.

It’s felt a longer and to some extent more difficult week than other weeks have been. I had a couple of days where I felt really rushed and pressured. This was how it felt from my perspective anyway which was a crazy way to be feeling as there is nothing to be rushing for nowadays in any way. The feeling passed and I have had one whole day where I have done pretty much nothing at all, almost as if I needed to make it up to myself.

The weather isn’t helping at the moment either as the last couple of days have been been much cooler, darker and rainier.  With the sea mist rolling in, visibility is down to very little and so it feels as if everything is closing in, not back to winter but towards it anyway. We are even back to lighting the fire in the evenings which in itself is a little depressing. I know though that as soon as the sun shines and we can see the sky this will all change again.

I try to only read the news in the morning for a quick catch up and then check in the evening to get the latest Covid19 figures for Ireland. It is though getting increasingly hard to stay optimistic and positive through all of this when hearing that the lockdown is likely to continue for a long time (today I read the UK are suggesting a year) for those with underlying conditions and/or over 70. At the same time we are also being told that there doesn’t seem to be very little if any immunity for those contracting Covid19 and that the chances of finding an effective vaccine are low. I am really getting to the point where I need a little light at the end of the tunnel now and suspect I am not alone in this. If this is my life for the foreseeable future I don’t like it one bit.