Autumn and Winter
28th Oct 2018
This time of year can be difficult for many of us. The clocks have just gone back; for a while it will be lighter in the morning and darker at night. Soon though it will feel as though the darkness lasts forever. We get up in the dark, go to our place of work in the dark, come home in the dark. Sometimes we don't even open the curtains. What's the point? We never see the daylight anyway. It's easy to see how this can make us feel low in mood, lacking in energy and craving the light and warmth of the summer sun.
I am no stranger to these feelings. Every winter I feel like a dark cloud is hovering only to lift and move on in Springtime when I feel like I have waited an eternity to see the daffodils and more than six hours of daylight per day.
But what if I, and those of us who also feel this way every winter, decided to change the seeming inevitability of this perceived darkness? What if we embraced each season for it's delights as they happen? What if, instead of succumbing to the feelings of low mood and lack of "oomph" we made a decision that things will be different this year? True, the days will be as short as always, especially for us "Northerners", but we could find joy in the darkness. There could be something exciting about running in the dark with a head torch to light your way. Your dog may not appreciate an LED neon-coloured harness, but it will make you smile and may also cause neighbours to stop and comment. And did you know that communicating with fellow human beings causes feelings of contentment and belonging? Who knew?!
Maybe dragging yourself away from whatever screen you are watching, wrapping yourself up in warm clothes, and catching the frosty sunlight in your lunch break would improve your mood and energy levels for the rest of the day. (Hint: studies have shown time and again that being in nature - whether sunny or not, whether on a city street lined with trees, or in the middle of a national park - improves our mood). Try making it a habit; something you do every day. Before long you will start to miss it if, for some reason, you can't have your regular lunchtime "constitutional". It may be the only time of day that you get to feel the sun (weak as it may be) on your face, and I always notice things when I'm walking that I never do in the car.
Winter also holds other special treats: Bonfire Night (this just would not work on a summer evening!), the build-up to Christmas with lights being switched on in towns, villages and cities all over the world, the chance to visit a Christmas market and drink in the magical atmosphere (and perhaps a nice warm mug of something German and alcoholic 😉) Even when there is nothing that you think you can look forward to, just make this present moment as perfect as it can be. It's pouring with freezing rain and you have to go to the shop for something? Put your wellies, waterproofs and cosy clothes on (who cares what you look like?!) and once you are back in the warmth of your house give yourself a treat to look forward to - A warm candle-lit bath once the kids are in bed; a cosy night on the sofa with a blanket and a book; offering to give a loved one a shoulder rub (maybe they'll reciprocate!); taking a cup of camomile tea to bed and beginning to write a gratitude journal every evening. Think about what happened today that you are grateful for. If something amazing has happened then this will be easy, but not many of us will have amazing experiences every day (and feeling low can often come from expectations that every day should be like in the movies or on those annoying adverts where the husband and wife are perfect, as are their children (no tantrums here!) and so is their spotlessly clean and well-equipped house). As Rha Goddess said - I'd take real over perfect any day - and I really would.
I've gone off on a tangent yet again, but I will get to the point! I did a course earlier this year called Unstoppable Influence by the wonderful Natasha Hazlett. Amongst many other things she taught me and the amazing group of women doing the challenge alongside me - many of whom I now call friends- was to ( and I quote! ) "Stay in your own damn lane!" In other words, don't compete with others or try to keep up with what you perceive others to have. Things are very rarely what they seem, and you may find that behind the seemingly perfect veneer of the person whose life you want as your own is a person who would actually give anything to be in YOUR shoes. What I'm trying to say in my usual round-about way is that to feel content we must look to our own lives and find happiness and gratitude there. So maybe your gratitude journal would include hot running water. When my boiler recently stopped working I realised how this was something I frequently took for granted. Maybe you would write that you're grateful for your children or your partner, or even if you've had a terrible day you could still find the kindness of someone who helped you, or the fact that the sun was shining as something to be grateful for.
I'm not saying this is easy, and I don't mind admitting that I struggle too, but making habits of these things such as embracing the darkness, lunchtime walks, winter traditions, cosy nights in, gratitude journaling - really does help. My personal daily favourites are also good no matter what the season is; yoga and meditation. Have a go. Let me know how you get on. These pearls of wisdom are also available alongside a relaxing and uplifting Reflexology and/or Reiki treatment, although if you'd rather opt out of the wisdom part you can!!
Until next time, stay well and be happy.
Unstoppable Influence (next challenge starts Oct 29th 2018)
Headspace (British meditation app)
Calm (American meditation app) This is the one I started off with. Now I prefer not to use an app as I found that you get to a place where the interruptions become a little annoying! But that's possibly a personal thing.
There is even an app for gratitude! I prefer pen and paper as previously discussed, but here it is if you would find an app more useful: Gratitude on android and on iOs
Gabby Bernstein is an author and motivational speaker on spirituality. These meditations may be useful depending on certain situations you may find yourself in.
Blog(?) About Being Here Now (and Being a Child of the 80's and Other Stuff)
5th Sept 2018
I keep thinking to myself "I must write a blog to tell everyone more about me and my business" but to be totally honest, I don't really know what a blog is. Is it like a diary? I'm a child of the 70's and 80's and was fastidious about writing my diary every evening. I have pages and pages of teenage angst and "he said, she said" dialogues which felt like life-and-death situations at the time. And so they were. That present moment was all that mattered back then. I was immersed in it. The drama of what I overheard the boy I fancied say about me (and I quote) "Nice body, shame about the face" obviously was a major point in my life. So much so that I remember it vividly 32 years later.
I realise I've gone off-topic slightly but I suppose what I'm trying to say is that even back then (and I've decided at this point that a blog is like a kind of diary, just FYI) I was focussed totally on the present moment. There was no teenage publication talking about "mindfulness" or "living in the present moment". I don't remember any adult I knew going for complementary therapy (did it even exist in Scotland in 1985?) to relieve stress. I assume that any adult living then just accepted their lot and got on with it. "You've made your bed, now lie in it". Harsh!
Can we assume then that 1980's adults were not allowed to make mistakes? If you married the love of your life and he suddenly turned into the Incredible Hulk (that's not a good thing Millennials) was that your own fault? You were married so get on with it? Yet again this feels like a Billy Connolly sketch (without the side-splitting humour) where he goes off topic for half an hour and then somehow comes back to his original point (hopefully). Ironic that I'm attempting to analyse mindfulness in the 80's while wandering aimlessly in the vaguely remembered and very un-rose-tinted version of my teenage years. My point, if indeed I had one, was that although the 70's and 80's are revered for being full of healthy children playing outside until the street lights came on, coming home with rosy cheeks and dirty clothes, eating home-cooked meals and falling asleep exhausted every night with all that healthy exercise they'd had building treehouses or looking for frog spawn, there was no attention paid to our mental health. No one told the two girls who bullied me incessantly that their behaviour would severely affect me in my early adult life. There was no safe way of telling a teacher without being teased mercilessly for being "a grass". No one informed my parents of the consequences on my mental health, which is why they told me to just ignore them (not an effective technique in case you were wondering).
So to conclude and make it clear what my point is (as I'm sure if you're still reading you'll be slightly curious to discover), we are lucky to have the general understanding and acceptance of individuality that we do today. My lovely teenage daughters think that Southern English accents are cool, whereas I was teased so much for my Cheshire accent when I moved to Scotland aged 10 that I got my friend to teach me how to "speak Scottish". Calling someone a homosexual in the 80's was an absolute insult. I mean, imagine being homosexual! Now lesbian and gay couples can be open about their sexuality, get married and have children. If you'd have told the closed minds of the 80's that they'd have snorted in disbelief and disgust.
There are now young people's mental health services which you can get referred to by your GP. If I had been made aware of what my endless black days as a young adult meant and got some help, then my life may have been very different. So even though we are led to believe that the world we live in would be better if we lived like we did back then, with no screens or access to any information we need at the swipe of a finger or a click of a mouse, I believe differently. I am happy to live NOW, in this moment. I practice yoga and meditation and use Emotional Freedom Technique (otherwise known as EFT or tapping) to deal with strong unpleasant emotions. I am living in my ideal life, helping fellow humans find relief from physical and emotional pain through the amazing gifts of Reflexology and Reiki.
I know it's OK to be me. There are still some people whose ideas and beliefs are entrenched in the past where bigotry and judgement live. If they won't accept my help I wish them well. I know it's not my issue. They are not rejecting me. They just aren't ready yet. It's still difficult to believe that I'm not being shunned because of who I am - those beliefs have been entrenched since the bully days. I'm getting there though. I'm still a work in progress, just as I'm sure you are. And it's OK. The journey is a beautiful one.
FYI, to test your level of judgement about these things, the idea for this blog (or diary, or whatever it is) came to me while I was meditating today and I've been scribbling these words on old-fashioned paper with a ballpoint pen since the idea appeared in my head. (I live in the present moment but sometimes it just HAS to be pen and paper!)
Sometimes the best ideas come when you're still; sitting cross-legged on a cushion. If you find it difficult then contact me and I can give you some tips, or I can help you to heal through the therapies I provide. I'm also told that I put my clients at ease so there's no need to be too cautious.
I really enjoyed this! I hope you did too! Until next time. Namaste 🙏