Practicing Self Care

Photo by Madison Inouye on Pexels.com

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.

Grounding – 4 ways to ground yourself

 

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-16-16-53

I have just been reading an article in the paper regarding grounding. It’s big news apparently because it features on Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘Gloop’. Those of us who work with energy though, know exactly how important it is to ground ourselves and I for one love the summer when I can be bare foot and in contact with the earth 24/7 ūüôā In the winter I am also bare foot as often as possible even when it’s cold. There is nothing nicer nor better for your health than taking your shoes and socks off an walking bare foot on grass, earth, the beach, anywhere really.¬†It is Earth energy that feeds and nourishes our physical bodies, keeps us grounded, in touch with our bodies and which helps our physical bodies have what they need to heal.

Grounding is a practice that can also help us ‘get out of our heads’ and so is also beneficial for our mental health.

I also ground myself when I arrive in a new place when travelling. Connecting with the Earth energy of a new place or country can help to relieve jet lag and even altitude problems if arriving in a place where the altitude is high.

So how do we ground ourselves? Like anything else there is no one way that works for everyone so the best way is to experiment and find what works for you.

The following are some of the ways that I use myself and with my students. If you find it difficult to do these while you are reading you might like to get a friend to read them to you while you try them out or even record yourself in some way so you can listen and follow the steps.

 

Grounding 1

  • Go outside and find a quiet space with some grass, bare earth or beach, where you will be undisturbed.
  • Take your shoes off and walk barefoot on the grass, earth or sand.
  • With every step be aware of your foot and its connection with the surface you are walking on and with the Earth.
  • As you walk, breath in deeply imagining the breath coming up through the soles of your feet as you place each foot on the Earth.
  • Focus only on your breathing, the feel of the surface and the Earth energy as it flows into you.

 

Grounding  2

  • Sit quietly with your feet flat on the floor, without shoes is best, and make sure your spine is straight.
  • Close your eyes and imagine, sense or visualise, roots flowing from the soles of your feet into the Earth (Don’t worry if you are not on the ground floor this will still work).
  • Send the roots flowing down, spreading out beneath your feet, anchoring firmly into the Earth.
  • Now breathe in deeply imagining the breath coming up from the Earth into the soles of your feet, up your legs and into your body.
  • Continue this for a few minutes at least and with every breath feel the connection between the soles of your feet and the Earth becoming stronger as if a magnet is pulling you.

Grounding 3

  • Sit quietly with your feet flat on the floor, without shoes is best, and make sure your spine is straight.
  • Close your eyes and imagine, sense or visualise, a Lotus Flower opened out beneath you and yourself sat upon it.
  • Imagine, visualise, sense or simply know that the roots of the Lotus Flower flow deep into the Earth beneath you.
  • Now breathe in deeply imagining the breath coming up from the Earth into the base of your spine and into your body.
  • Continue this for a for as long as you wish and with every breath feel the Earth energy flowing up into your body, breathing the energy up into you as far as feels comfortable for you.

 

Grounding  4

  • Sit comfortably, your spine should be straight and your feet flat on the ground
  • Place your hands in your lap and relax
  • Take a few deep breaths and release anything on your mind
  • If you find thoughts coming into your mind, just let them go like passing clouds,¬† ¬† ¬†don’t attach yourself to them
  • Now bring your awareness to your feet and feel their connection with the earth
  • Breathe in deeply this time breathing in through the soles of your feet
  • Feel yourself connecting even more strongly with the earth.
  • You might like to sink some roots into the earth so that you are really anchored
  • Take a few more breaths through your feet and draw the energy as far up into your body as is comfortable for you
  • Now bring your awareness the base of your spine and imagine or visualise a thick taproot going from your spine into the Earth
  • Let the taproot flow down deep into the Earth connecting you even more strongly
  • Breathe in again knowing that you are breathing in all the nurturing energy of the Earth
  • Continue to breathe the Earth energy up into your body, up through your belly and up into your diaphragm under your ribs if it feels comfortable for you to do so.

New Experiences

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 15.39.39

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

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 13.10.11

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.

Injured :(

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 11.36.44

 

How ironic that a week after I wrote about healing and the stripping away of layers to reveal what is underneath in order to reach the root cause I have managed to reactivate an old injury ūüė¶

I was actually warned about this in a round about way when I last went for a massage. At the end of the blissful session my masseur commented on the fact that there was a lot of heart energy present and to be aware if anything came up over the next few weeks. I, of course, assumed it was connected with something I had been tossing around connected with my work, something that is causing me a lot of soul searching,  until that is my body showed me otherwise.

On Friday in the gym I was aware of a pain under my left shoulder blade. Now this was unusual in that yes, the old injury was to the area in between my shoulder blades but previously had always been to the right of my back. By the time I left the gym it was across  the whole of my upper back and so on getting home I reached for the anti inflammatory cream and my pendulum. This is after all the back of my heart chakra so definitely warranted investigation. If my body is sending me messages in a physical way then it is quite likely I have been ignoring something that it has been trying to tell me and having run out of ways of getting me to pay attention has decided to hurt so I will actually stop and listen.

Previously when working with this area of my body I have been aware of releasing layers and layers of emotions as well as healing on a physical level and so I wanted to discover if this was something that was now¬†surfacing, my body attempting to shift something I was eventually¬†ready to let go of and which I could assist happen. I asked¬†question after question relating to what this might be and all I could get was ‘yes’ this was something that I was ready to release but that there was nothing I could do, other than let it happen. I tried asking about everything from regression to a shamanic journey for either insight or healing and got a clear ‘no’ to everything I suggested.

And so it is that I am sat here with a heat pack on my back as this eases the dregs of the nagging pain. I have been able to release much¬†of the tension and tightness in the muscles (I always knew that massage training would come in handy) and it is all so much better than it has been. I no longer feel sick from the pain, can now sleep on both sides of my body as well as on my back and can turn over without the pain waking me up, another huge improvement ūüôā If my body wishes to release now in a physical way all I can do is continue to support it while it does so. To these ends I have a cranio sacral session booked for later in the week, my body is happy with this and usually responds well by releasing and so enabling healing to take place. I have my fingers crossed it will do the same on this occasion for I have been working on this for many years now and there can’t be much left there for me to let go of…..surely.

 

Grounding

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-16-16-53

IMHO grounding ourselves is one of the most important things for any of us to be doing every single day. The more grounded we are the more we are in contact with our bodies, our physical beings and the more we can deal with whatever comes at us in a practical and useful way.

When we are stressed and have lots of things running back and forth through our minds it is easy to get caught up in that headspace, grounding ourselves can help to bring us back into contact with our physical bodies and settle us. I am not saying for one minute that it will solve all of our problems but it can help. I often see clients who are stressed, anxious or depressed and almost always, helping to settle their thoughts by balancing their energy and bringing some back down from that head space and into their bodies can really make a difference. Grounding ourselves and our energy can do the same.

I always work with my students whether it be Reiki, Chios or Shamanism or something else that they are training in by making sure they all know how to ground themselves. When we are running energy, having energy caught in our higher chakras, or the upper part of the energy body, is a sure way of becoming unbalanced and even sick, grounding before we work can help stop this. That spacey, away with the faeries feeling can be lovely but is not good for any length of time, neither is it safe. The warning about not driving, operating machinery, making important decisions should apply to everyone who is running or working with energy but who is not grounding themselves regularly.

At the end of a treatment with clients I always ground them before finishing as this can stop them being light headed or dizzy when they sit or stand up.

There are many ways of grounding ourselves and on my website I have an article on Grounding  which has several ideas for how to do this and which you might like to explore but here I am sharing two simple ideas with you.

Grounding Exercise 1

Go outside and find a quiet space with some grass, where you will be undisturbed.
Take your shoes off and walk barefoot on the grass.
With every step be aware of your foot and its connection with the grass and the Earth.
As you walk, breath in deeply as you place each foot on the Earth.
Focus only on your breathing, the feel of the grass and the Earth energy as it flows into you.

Grounding Exercise 2

Sit quietly with your feet flat on the floor, without shoes is best, and make sure your spine is straight.
Close your eyes and imagine, sense or visualise, roots flowing from the soles of your feet into the Earth (Don’t worry if you are not on the ground floor this will still work).
Send the roots flowing down, spreading out beneath your feet, anchoring firmly into the Earth.
Now breathe in deeply imagining the breath coming up from the Earth into the soles of your feet, up your legs and into your body.
Continue this for a few minutes at least and with every breath feel the connection between the soles of your feet and the Earth becoming stronger as if a magnet is pulling you.

 

If you would like to delve back into the archives you can find my ‘G’ post from 2014

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.

Under the weather

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 09.48.34

 

I seem to have been neglecting my blog recently but to be fair I have some good excuses.

Firstly I injured my arm at Boot Camp. I didn’t realise I had injured it at all until I got home and noticed the bruise on the back of my hand. Red at first and situated between the middle and ring fingers of my left hand, this gradually turned black. If I traced a line from the bruise down my arm it was tender and then it began to ache. Deciding I had probably done ‘something’ I strapped it and ignored it but out did restrict the little ability I have to type.

Then came the weather along with pollen, dust and mould spores at which time my allergy asthma kicked off and I ended up at the doctors on a nebuliser and came home with antibiotics, steroids, something for nighttime and the normal inhalers and antihistamine. The good news was though that I got my arm checked….a torn muscle, the remedy for which was to support it so its now, even as I type I am wearing a support and will stop when it begins to ache.

To say all of this has wiped me out is an understatement. Breathing and getting enough oxygen into our system is something we take so much for granted. Even with allergy asthma, because it is system overload and fortunately only happens occasionally, it is easy to forget this. I really had forgotten how much my body relies on my being able to breathe to feed the muscles let alone anything else. It has been quite a shock to go from three sessions a week at Curves to not being able to potter around for an hour without feeling like someone has unplugged me. I’m not sure I have ever known my energy to drop so quickly and so dramatically.

And then there is the cough and the light purr that even now on the final day of my meds is still there. I won’t bore you all with these but they are part of it.

I am grateful that I can now see signs of improvement, that I can almost sleep through the night without shocking myself awake coughing, that I have good friends I can call on to send Reiki, that I know to drink wild garlic tea (harvested and dried in the spring) to stop it sinking to my chest and I am grateful that I live somewhere where I can see my doctor on the day I need to and not a week or more later, or even not at all.

Anyway, my arm is aching now so I am stopping. If I’m not around for a bit you at least know why.

Shades of Grey

I don’t often get down so when I am it comes as a bit of a surprise. Yesterday was such a day and always one for a bit of self help I spent some time trying to work out what was going on, what had caused that way of feeling so I could try and pull myself out of it which gave me this list:

It’s grey.

It’s cold.

It’s too cold not to have gloves on inside so I can’t paint or draw easily.

I spent the weekend being one day out so on Friday I thought it was Saturday, Saturday was Sunday and so on …

I’m tired

It’s January

It’s dark even though it’s only 2pm

Nothing there to really explain the feeling then but maybe that is just it. Perhaps it is never really any one thing that contributes to how we feel, rather lots of small things that when they come together have a positive or negative effect on our well being.

I am lucky in that I know this will pass quickly and probably by the time this is posted I will be feeling more like my normal self but I do pay attention to how I am feeling and recognise the signs. At this time of year especially, many people are prone to feeling down or low. Grey overcast days, cold weather, snow, ice, winds, lack of energy, lack of money, lack of sunshine, lack of anything really, all take their toll. Yesterday was a firm reminder of how easy it is to slip into a blue funk.

I have several go to remedies that I can use when feeling this way. One is to treat myself with Reiki, especially working around my head in particular the back of my head over the occipital bones which are release points in many complimentary therapies. A second is to take some Waratah, one of the Australian Bush Flower Essences which is a fast working essence for the ‘dark night of the soul’. A third is to have a good laugh and cheer myself up, there is bound to be a video on Facebook that will make me smile or even laugh if there is no one about to help. A fourth is to wrap myself up and go out into nature to wake myself up and energise myself. A fifth is to write about how I am feeling which helps put it all in perspective – hence why I have written this.

I am not for one minute suggesting that any of these are magic solutions for anyone seriously depressed but we all have days when we feel down and on days like these we can help ourselves if we try and if we do so, we can stop ourselves slipping any further or getting stuck here.

 

Making Time

imageThe past few weeks have been crazy busy for me. It’s been a real mixture of work that needed doing around the house, big stuff, not just the hoovering, alongside my work with clients plus weekends working with students, plus of course my blog and my OBOD studies. Sitting here on a Monday morning at the start of a new week though I have just realised how despite being so busy it has still been possible to make time.

Somehow I found the time to have a 2 hr top to toe massage, a luxury at any time but a real luxury in light of all that has been going on. Then yesterday my husband and decided to go out for lunch but as the sun was shining instead of getting the car out we walked. It was a 45 minute walk there, mostly downhill with stunning views over the sea, both the view and the light changing constantly as the road turned. Then a wonderful dish of tagliatelle with spinach, asparagus and mushrooms along side a pint, after all neither of us were driving were we ūüôā The walk back took a few minutes longer being uphill but there we were, the middle of October, in shirt sleeves with the sun beaming down on us.

The result of making time has been a general feeling of well being. I feel refreshed, grateful, energised, and as if I’ve had a real break somehow. How different to those weeks where having been busy I’ve spent the time I could have been enjoying myself, either making myself more busy or crashing for a while complaining about how busy it’s been.

I feel completely ready to tackle the week ahead even though the diary looks full. In the future I will try and remember that making time makes me feel good as well as making everything feel so much better.