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 ūüôā 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 ūüėČ

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 ūüôā

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 – 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 ūüôā

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.

The Strangest of Times – Stay at Home Week 2

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Monday 30th About eighteen months ago I stopped using shampoo completely and decided to wash my hair with water only, the benefits of this I am now realising are huge. I wash my hair far less, once a week, as opposed to the once every two days it needed previously, so save on water, I don’t need to be concerned about running out of shampoo or conditioner and more importantly, as it grew happily and healthily I just let it do its own thing. It is now someway down my back and while everyone else is worrying about the hairdressers being closed I am absolutely ok. I also decided years ago, when the first grey started to appear, never to bother to dye my hair, another unexpected bonus as it turns out now. My natural hair colour is my natural hair colour. Forward planning it now seems ūüôā

I feel very tired today. I could be the hay fever or whatever it is or may be because I’ve unusually been a little stressed. ¬†For the second time in the last few days I have discovered my mobile phone operators have taken money for mobile data that I haven’t used. Reduced staff mean it is harder to get hold of anyone and of course all their stores are closed, even if I was foolish enough to go out. I don’t usually get stressed by things like this but this time have been. Maybe it is the small things that usually would roll over me that are going to seem bigger than they really are. I must be mindful of this.

Tuesday 31st Neither of us felt like walking today ¬†so we didn’t. One thing I am really learning now, is to go with how I am feeling at any given moment. No judgement, no pushing through anything, but just accepting it and allowing it.

Today we did an egg run to collect eggs from a nearby farm. It felt quite illicit as we took the car and we both went. It’s way easier to carry a tray of eggs when you can hold them and not have to mind them on the passenger seat while you drive, plus I only had to sanitise my hands when I got back in the car and not everything I’d touched in the car.

I am discovering loads about online food shopping now, such as the fact that, just like in physical shopping, the minute you get through the checkout you realise you have forgotten to buy something.

Wednesday 1st April A whole new month, it will be interesting to see what new things, what new insights this one brings.

More learning about online shopping – if you ask for spelt bread and they don’t have any they just don’t put anything in instead. Good job I make my own bread with oats and yoghurt. I am now hoping I have enough yoghurt to see us through another week as there is no nipping back to the shop just now.

Thursday 2nd For the whole of last week I did no art whatsoever, I just wasn’t in the right mood somehow. I was fine most days, just didn’t want to do art. Today something has changed and I spent a few hours working on the next Christmas’ Calendar painting for Bandon Art Group’s calendar.

Friday 3rd¬†I’m wondering if anyone has, like me, opened their wardrobe and realised that a large percentage of the clothes in it will not get worn for the foreseeable future. I have winter jumpers that, if I was going out more would be worn, but I don’t need them indoors. I have ‘going out’ clothes that I wont be wearing as I am not ‘going out’ and I have travel clothes, quick dry ones I usually wear on the holiday I am no longer going on. First world problems here. I have way too many clothes I realise and so perhaps the thing to do is re-home a lot of them once this is over. I may though need to buy a new track suit for it is about the only thing on my body these days. I could I suppose always ‘dress up’ at home as I have seen others online doing but that really isn’t me somehow. Or it isn’t at the moment anyway.

Saturday 4th I was listening to someone on the radio talking about washing their hands mindfully and using those 20+ seconds to really be in the moment. I already sing ‘Baby Shark’ in my head while I am washing them but this does seem like it might be a big improvement so will try this the 100 or so times I wash my hands today.

I have also been realising just how important it is to laugh. My art group has a WhatsApp group and am discovering that we seldom talk about art, which may be true of us as a group now I stop to think about it, ¬†but are sharing clips, gifs, jokes etc to make everyone laugh, to keep everyone’s spirits up. Social distancing at it’s most useful and I am grateful to be part of it.

Sunday 5th Gratitude is something that I frequently have to remind myself to be. I am grateful, but stopping and recognising it has never come naturally for some reason.

It is one of the five Reiki Principles:

Today only

  • Don‚Äôt be angry
  • Don‚Äôt worry
  • Be grateful
  • Work hard
  • Be kind to other people

and it is the one I always struggle with. The others frequently act as a reminder to me, pull me up sometimes but ‘be grateful’ somehow gets overlooked.

This week though, I have been realising how lucky I am and therefore how grateful I am for many things:

  • my home
  • the fact I have space
  • my garden
  • my stone circle (you can see this in the photo at the top of the page)
  • that I am not home alone but can be alone if I chose to be
  • that I am safe
  • that I live in a rural area and can easily go for a walk
  • that I am relatively fit and healthy
  • that I have broadband
  • WhatsApp and Facebook messenger
  • Friends who I now talk to online
  • my art
  • the gift of Reiki
  • Shamanic journeying which can take me anywhere

 

 

 

A Grand Clear Out

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The weather has changed a bit here and so making the most of a showery day yesterday I had a grand clear out ūüôā

Energetically it is good to have a clear out of stuff every now and then, to keep the energy moving and to make space for new things, but this was a clear out needed because my wardrobe was so full I couldn’t get any more in ūüė¶

I can be pretty ruthless when it comes to clearing out but with clothes I always find if good to have a second opinion especially when I am throwing out things that still have a lot of wear in them. Yesterday with that second opinion I filled several bags with things that were too tatty to keep even if I loved them, things that I hadn’t worn for ages and sadly some things that I love but can no longer fit in to, unless I hold my breath and don’t eat when I’m wearing them.

Having done this it then dawned on me that I have been clearing out in other ways too. I have deleted several groups from my Facebook groups, groups I hardly visit and groups I no longer enjoy. Even though these groups were just sitting there doing nothing what is left still feels much more manageable somehow. I have also deleted any friend requests from people I don’t know and have been through my lists of friends to check I really do know them all and that no-one has sneaked in.

Having done this I have since found is that my attention is being drawn back to things that I hadn’t been interested in doing for quite some time, my OBOD studies being one. I have quite clearly had too much junk around without realising it but now by ditching some of it space is already appearing. It’s really interesting as I’d not been aware of how much my attention was on things that were clearly in the way.

I suspect there is more clearing out to do still. Once started it is easy to see other areas that need to be reviewed or reappraised such as the number of books and paperwork I have connected with work…… I may be some time ūüôā

 

 

New Experiences

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I am just back from holiday and like all holidays it has been full of new experiences. This can be something as simple as trying a new cocktail but in my case included seeing an Ocelot on a night drive, mastering how to stand up on a paddle board and making tamales and tortillas with a women’s co-operative in a Mayan village.

I really do appreciate I am very lucky to be able to travel and I have come back home full of enthusiasm for trying new things whenever I can.

I am also very lucky in my work as every new client or student brings me new opportunities to grow, develop and learn as I work. This is the nature of shamanic work and of teaching anything.

I make no apologies at all for highlighting how important new experiences are to us.

New experiences help to:

  • keep our brains functioning
  • slow down the appearance of time passing quickly – our brains take longer to process new information
  • stop us being bored
  • help to alleviate fear and build courage
  • open up new possibilities
  • help us to grow
  • develop new skills
  • keep us up-to-date
  • ¬†enhance self esteem
  • feed creativity
  • breaks us out of ruts
  • provides new perspectives

So how can we gain new experiences on an overcast day at home when we have empty pockets?

These are just some of the things that come immediately to mind

  • walk a different way when you go out
  • turn left instead of right
  • pick up a different type of book when you go to the library
  • talk to a stranger
  • try drawing/singing/painting/dancing/skipping/something you don’t usually do – do it when no one else is around
  • write with your left/right hand, the one you don’t usually use
  • walk to somewhere you don’t usually go
  • write a book/an article/a letter/anything

I was going to keep going but if this has wet your appetite Tiny Buddha has 50 ways to Open Your World to New Possibilities 

Go, experience and enjoy, I certainly will be.

 

Meditation

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I am not sure if I have mentioned this before or not but I don’t meditate. This is something that often comes as a surprise to people, especially my students when they first hear it.

I have a theory about it though and that theory is connected with my shamanic work. In shamanism when I shift into light or deep trance there is always a reason for it. I am always seeking insight or information or am carrying out a task of some kind in either ordinary or non ordinary reality. Were my intention to be to empty my mind and for it to stay that way then I would not  be able to do my work.

It’s not as if I haven’t tried. I can clearly remember when I was training ¬†in Chios Energy Healing talking to my tutor about the difficulties I was having with the meditation. The meditation in Chios is an important part of the practice and in it the mind is cleared while the energy of the human body shifts to energetically become what is required of it. However, when I practiced when training my mind would fill with images, with scenes unfolding, information being imparted as they did so. I would push them away only for them to return almost immediately. Discussing this with my tutor I was told to just allow them to be, for they were there for a reason. And so I did and still do. None of this affects my ability to free my energy from its human bounds to allow it to be something else in any way.

What I do instead of meditating is I do Reiki. Through self treatments I am able to be still and even though I follow the energy, am aware of where it is working in me and yes sometime receive information and insight even when self treating it still brings me into that meditative state. Fortunately there have been studies that have shown practicing Reiki to have the same effect on the brain as meditation so I am completely content with what I do.

Taking time

 


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much we rush around nowadays and how little time we all seem to have for anything. We only have to look at over the counter pharmacuetical products to see how this lack is reflected in what we are being fed by companies too. Everything is express this, faster acting that, delivered yesterday or at worst in a few minutes.

It has taken a summer of being unwell to make me stop and take time. Firstly I had allergy asthma that progressed to bronchitis. This required three lots of antibiotics each one progressively stronger and each wiping out my body and immune system as fast as they were ‘curing’ me. I had no choice but to take these as without them my lungs and heart are seriously compromised but this doesn’t mean I liked doing it. Anyway, a few weeks after recovering I picked up a viral sinus infection which had vertigo like symptoms. It was, according to the Dr I saw, a mild version although it didn’t feel that way. She put it down to the effects of the antibiotics and I learnt then that it takes the body six weeks to overcome one lot of antibiotics so I can only imagine what three lots had done to me! This virus again cleared up only to return with a vengeance.

As a result of all this I decided to give myself what I clearly needed which was time. I stopped rushing around, I made space, once I felt well enough to go I allowed myself to wake up properly before going to the gym and to sit and have coffee and food afterwards. I have done things in small bites rather than all at once, and yes this is taking longer but so what.

I also made time to go for a massage and the conversation with my therapist reinforced my thinking. We were talking about the changes in my body, seven years after a car accident, lots of physio, Reiki,  Chi Kung and Tai Chi, massage, Bowen treatments, sound healing, cranio sacral work, and finally five months  (minus the time I’ve been unwell) in my local Curves gym. My muscles are different, stronger, my back tightens but lets go now rather than holds on and my body feels different now to both her and me. This has all happened because I allowed time, time to heal, time to recover, I listened to my body and what it needed, I paid attention to when things weren’t working, like yoga and Pilates, worked out why and then sorted out what might work. It’s been a long journey and it’s not over yet for there are still things I can’t do and which need more time.

This has all helped me to realise that we need to allow ourselves time to heal all the time and not just when something drastic happens to us. We should stop expect quick fixes where our health is concerned and give ourselves the gift we really need, we should be patient and allow ourselves to heal. We are and our bodies are immensely powerful but only if we give ourselves permission to take time and give ourselves what we need.

So heading into the winter I am doing what I can to build up and support my immune system, feeding and nourishing myself and I am going to continue to be patient with myself and allow myself to take time.

Clean vs Dirty

 

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I’ve been seeing quite¬†a lot or posts and articles recently about clean versus dirty eating. Now don’t ask me what they both are exactly as I haven’t been reading them in any depth, my interest has been more in the extremes to which people are going, both in their choice of diet and in their vilification of anyone who disagrees with their views. Last night I read of a blogger who hides the fact that, for the sake of their health, they are no longer vegan. They are hiding this because of online attacks by others who feel they should remain loyal to veganism. I suspect I could have equally written this about any type of diet and anyone who blogs or vlogs about their way of being, holding it up as an example of something we should all follow.

One of the things I do is allergy and intolerance testing and much of the time my work is about helping people be aware of what works for them, what feeds and nourishes their bodies and what causes their systems to protest in some way. This then allows them to make informed choices about what they consume and the effects it has on them. What this work has taught me over the years is that we are all different. What suits one of us in terms of diet, supplements or environment, like so much else that we do, does not suit the next person, and indeed why should it.

In order to test I work with a pendulum, charts and lists and more often than not, much of what comes up as a problem is not any real surprise for my clients. Many of us do listen to our bodies, to things we crave and which make us feel better and things we eat or expose ourselves to, knowing that afterwards we will feel worse in some way, and not just through guilt at having eaten the whole box of chocolates/doughnuts or having drunk the whole bottle or wine/vodka, (substitute food or liquid of your choice here). Our bodies are amazing machines and our intuition is something we all have which can guide us, if we listen to it. Much of intuition is about just that, listening and paying attention ,not ignoring it and our bodies do try to send us signals when anything is wrong, signals which intuitively we are more than capable of picking up if we are in fact paying attention.

If anything we are doing be it diet or something else, is making us feel ill, tired, lacking in some way then we should change what we are doing. Extremes are rarely good for us so why would a diet that is extreme either in a ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’ way be any different. Balance is what is really ideal for us¬†in all areas of our lives ,or at least as much of it as we can obtain, and balance can only be found once¬†we get better at recognising and responding to whatever it is that tips us out of balance.¬†If we understand this there really never be any¬†need to vilify or attack¬†anyone¬†for not eating or behaving in the way that is right for them.

Practicing Patience

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I am not by nature patient with myself even though I can be very patient with others when I need to be. Over the years I have learnt to be a little more gentle when it comes to me but it is still not something that comes naturally and I do have to work at it.

Whatever ‘bug’ I have¬†had these last couple of weeks is really testing my patience, even though I know others who have had it and who talk about it lasting two or three weeks. I am used to being well and on the odd occasion when I am not, usually find that once I begin to feel better, I continue to do so day on day. Not this time though, this time I might have a day when I feel a bit better followed by one where I feel worse. It really is strange and I am certainly finding it difficult.

Yesterday was a good day, today when I woke up I felt ok but by the time I had got up and showered I had to sit down and recover. This is not like me in any way.

So I am practicing being patient. I am breathing, working with my breath ¬†and am yogic breathing to exercise my lungs. I am grounding myself, walking barefoot and breathing in the energy of Earth to feed and nourish my body. I am being still and allowing my body to do whatever it needs to do to heal. When I have enough energy I am working on my¬†art and when I don’t I am reading or playing online. I have given up the idea of planning to do anything and am taking it one day at a time in the hope that ‘today might be a good day’.

I am not a good patient which is maybe why my energy is as it is. If I feel ok then I will dive back into life and maybe, just maybe, I need this time out, time to be still. Perhaps it is good for me to be reminded about what this feels like, but if so, trust me I have got the message, loud and clear and hopefully¬†this ‘bug’ will let go of me soon and then I can stop practicing¬†patience.

 

My body is in charge

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Well I am now at the end of my second week of feeling decidedly rubbish ūüė¶ Unusually for me I had just given in and rolled with this which means I am at the end of my second week of doing …….. nothing very much.

I have been listening to my body and my body is screaming at me ‘rest’ even when my mind is saying I really should be doing something. Listening to my body and allowing it to be in charge, hard though it is, is actually making this all much easier than had I been fighting it.

When my mind is in charge it tries to make me do things, makes me feel bad when I am not doing anything, makes me eat even if I am not feeling hungry, makes me move about, makes me try and work through being unwell because that’s what we do isn’t it. We tell ourselves we do not have time to be ill and we push ourselves on.

The problem is that when we do that, when we push ourselves, when we ignore the messages our body is giving us, we can end up being worse than we would have been if we had stopped and given ourselves chance to recover. I have done this many, many times before now, sometimes because I am too busy to be ill, sometimes because I feel, incorrectly I might add, that I am too indispensable to stop, sometimes just because I can.

I have a book in my workspace ‘The Secret Language of Your Body’ by Ina Segal which is all about the messages our bodies try to get to us by not being ok in some way. I talk to my students and clients about how important it is to be paying attention so that we don’t end up really sick or so we can help ourselves to heal. Perhaps if I had been paying more attention before I was unwell I might not have reached this point, the pulled muscle in my side and torn muscle in my arm might, had I been aware enough, have been signs to stop or at least slow down, but rather than give myself a hard time over this I can at least allow¬†my body to be in charge now so that I do not make myself worse.

So I have been paying attention and I really have been listening. When my mind tells me that it is two weeks since I was in the gym but my body reminds me that I barely have the energy to make a cup of tea I am sitting down and resting and when my mind says I should get up and do something but my body is struggling to hold itself upright I am staying put. Hopefully my body will take pity on me and recover quickly now as I am reaching that dangerous stage of beginning to feel a little better. I just hope I can continue to listen and allow my body to be in control.