Author Archives: Fiona Ferreira

Culture and Self Esteem

It seems the basis of most indigenous cultures
is to teach children that they are part of the earth and without them
the earth would not survive and that they are part of a family and
without them the family would not survive.

Perhaps we could adopt such wisdom to teach our children self esteem rather than linking their self esteem to success??

Body Balance – the Science of Relaxation

If you asked yourself, your colleagues, your friends, your family what they think the Secret to Life is, I am sure you would come up with 101 different answers.  Keeping your thoughts positive, going on holiday, jumping out of planes, living your dream etc, etc.

If you asked me I would probably tell you the same, but I would also tell you one of the most important things at the top of the list should be BALANCE

balance is : a situation in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions…

Work/life balance is the current buzz word, which is not surprising because working a million miles an hour toward a successful career just doesn’t seem to satisfy us anymore (I am sure this is not just me and my potential mid-life crisis).  And why – because balance feels good – balance means we pay attention to and honour all the aspects of our lives – balance in our emotions, in our actions, in our relationships and the focus of this post, balance in our bodies.

Our bodies naturally oscillate or swing between activity and inactivity.  Moderate swings are healthy, large swings are not.  So if you imagine a pendulum swinging, on one side there is stress and hyper-arousal (anxiety, hypertension) and the other side is exhaustion and sickness.  If you do not maintain a moderate balance between activity and non-activity, if this gets out of balance, there is an increased rate of wear and tear on your body, vulnerability to illness and premature agingeek!

Your bodies are smart though and generally take care of this for you – if something has stressed you out your body has a natural relaxation response which will try to restore you to a state of balance (the nervous and endocrine systems).  However the more we react or over-react to stress, the more we get out of balance, means that we remain aroused for longer periods of time and these systems have to work harder and harder to combat this.  If it takes a long time to settle down after an incident and our relaxation response system is incomplete, we become erratic and REMAIN anxious and stressed.  This not only affects our ability to rest, but as the pendulum swings back, leads to exhaustion and sickness.

The number of stress related diseases are countless, here are a few to scare you – stress leads to heart disease and kidney and respiratory failure, high metabolic rates lead to fatigue and cell damage, muscular tension lead to physical pain and injury. Constricted respiration combined with poor heart function contributes to asthma, reduced blood supply to the digestive system and excess production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach produce a range of gastrointestinal problems and so on…

But the good news is, you can help your endocrine/nervous system out and learn to consciously activate your relaxation response. 

Physiological benefits to conscious relaxation include a steep drop in metabolic activity, reduced blood lactate levels and muscle tension, slower breathing, drop in blood pressure and those fabulous feelings of relaxation and peace.  As well as increased tolerance toward and getting on better with your roomie, your bestie, your Mother etc, etc…

Right so we have covered why, now for how can we consciously activate our relaxation response?????

The key to this is to make your conscious relaxation response just that – CONSCIOUS.  Here are some suggestions to couple with your new mantra – “I choose to… to consciously relax and help rebalance my body”:

♥      Make yourself a screen saver:  “Relax my muscles, drop my shoulders, unclench my jaw”

♥      Be religious in taking your tea break, choose a consistent time and make a cup of Herbal Tea, the English Tea Shop make a fabulous calming blend

♥      Choose to watch a mindless, non-violent TV show before bed

♥      Assess your weekends, are you constantly running around trying to catch up with countless people because it feels good to be social – or could you find more time/balance to:

♥       Watch a movie

♥       Read a book

♥       Identify and remove stressors in your life – sometimes this is easy and sometimes incredibly difficult – so start small, in the very least identifying who/what stresses you out helps to contain it/them and then you can start to break small ties

♥       Create time and space to meditate or if this is difficult start with daydreaming – making the space for meditating/daydreaming beautiful with incense and candles – this helps a lot.  Try some guided meditations from youtube, attend a class or buy a meditation CD to get you started

♥       Look for the good in whatever situation you are in, this will help to fill your life with gratitude and is a fabulous tool for combating the stress of envy

♥       Work out what it is that you love to do on your own – yes alone – and make some space to do it

♥       Make sure you have a creative outlet

♥       Laugh a lot – subscribe to ‘some not so serious’ facebook pages – I recommend Grumpy Cat

♥      Use your senses:

♥       Smell:  Buy some calming oils and wear them, burn them, bath in them – lavender is fabulous and used widely by beauty salons to instigate that “I am spoiling myself” feeling

♥       Sound:  Turn off the radio, download and listen to some gentle music on the way to work/way home – don’t tell anyone but I still love to listen to Enigma

♥       Sight:  Put some nature in your office, bring in a little flower in from your garden or if you keep forgetting buy a peace lily – hopefully you have an office with a window

♥       Taste:  Choose foods that aren’t super sugar coated for you and your loved ones

♥       Touch:  Hugs are like super food for your body, they release endorphins – etc, etc: http://happinessweekly.org/2013/01/19/fun-facts-about-hugging/

♥       Don’t ever be afraid to say no and take time out.  I know a little girl who would never say no, who would never choose to relax or for that matter go to bed, just in case she missed out – is that you?  If so, think seriously about what you are doing to your physical and mental health.  Keeping busy is a great technique for avoiding the hard stuff but it is an even closer friend of ANXIETY.

So I give you permission, without guilt, without conscience, to RELAX.  It is good for you and very, very necessary for that life balance secret.

Well there is the kettle boiling for my 11 o’clock so must go…

Relax

I listened – I heard – I know

We are constantly being reminded, especially those looking into the energies of 2014, to choose a life where intuition is used not just on an occasional whim, but as a force of habit, to hone into that source that exists within each of us to lead us forward, to find the answers to the life questions that we seek.

We are born intuitive, with a deep sense of inner wisdom but as we grow and conform to the rules of society we tend to unlearn how to access it, how to use it, how to trust it.  So as adults when we decide to follow a path of spirituality and begin to work consciously with our intuition, we may have to relearn our own ways of accessing this deep inner knowing.

We have all used it, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously, but have you ever asked yourself what does my intuition feel like?  How do I know when my intuition is at work?

Perhaps you get a feeling in the pit of your stomach – a gut feeling.  You may get an unexplainable hunch, a feeling of something you cannot dismiss.  There could be a chill that sends shivers up your spine, a feeling of just knowing or just doing, a feeling of taking action just because you feel it is right.  A calming and positive energy in a thought/action.  Or is it something that makes you stop dead in your tracks like a red light flashing?

For me its all of the above and it’s a thought that seems to be a little brighter than the other thoughts, something that seems to immediately spark my interest. 

Using your intuition enables the mind to “see” answers to problems or decisions in the absence of conscious reasoning.  And this is why it is so important to pin point, to be aware of or to be conscious of what your intuition FEELS like, for this is when you establish trust.

I mean just how well do we expect our minds to cope – without a rational thought process or conscious reasoning?

Trusting your intuition takes practice and a lack of trust in ourselves and our feelings is very often where we come unstuck.  Do you trust your intuition?  Or do you find yourself looking for and relying on external signs to give you the answers you seek (or want)?  Maybe thats because relying on and trusting your intuition can be hard work.  This very intuition, this deep inner knowing often points us in the direction away from what we think we desire, toward the difficult road and so the necessary follow on action is slipped into the too hard basket.

intuition

If we are completely honest with ourselves, however, we would know that to get where we want to be, more often than not we have to go backwards or sidewards before going forward.  Trusting in this process will bring us exactly where we need to be and to learn exactly what we need to learn – I bet you have examples of this from your own past.

And so just when you are feeling confused, fearful and anxious the challenge is to become quiet enough to notice how your intuition speaks to you, to hear that voice within, to trust and surrender to your own deeper knowing – as the quieter you become, the more you can hear.

So quieten your mind, quieten your heart – tune into yourself and hear

 

Life favours the Brave – part 2

Late last year I wrote a blog post on what it is to have courage in life.  Today I am excited to post a follow on from that story in the form of a speech that I will be presenting at a Toastmasters meeting very soon… it is personal, it is telling and its very exciting (well for me anyway…)

Life Favours the Courageous…Fiona Ferreira

Tonight it is my pleasure to speak with you about what it is to be courageous ‘in life’.  In fact I am being courageous in life right now.

Courage as defined by Wikipedia, is the ability and willingness to confront fear, pain, danger, etc and by Nelson Mandela as a choice, no-one is born with courage, it is the way that we choose to be.  So when we choose to confront fear we are being courageous in life.  The wonderful thing about confronting fear is that in return life favours the courageous.  To demonstrate this point, I will begin by looking at personal fear in general, at why we confront personal fears and then I will share with you my own personal experience of the rewards and opportunities that have been presented to me as I have faced a fear with courage.

So what is personal fear?  Well it really depends on you and what it is that you fear. As you all know by now one of my fears is public speaking – in the past the mere thought of having to speak in front of an audience about anything at all made my hands perspire, my heart beat like an African drum and my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth so any intelligent sounds heard in the near vicinity were certainly not coming from me.

Conversely I am sure Oprah Winfrey has never batted an eyelid about public speaking but I do know she has a fear of balloons, the sound of a bursting balloon reminds her of gunfire so the expectation of being in the vicinity of one that is going to pop sends her body into panic and her mind into a spin.

It is therefore when we face our own personal fears, for me attempting public speaking, for Oprah stepping into a studio where each member of the audience had a balloon on her 40th birthday and continuing to work through her show, is being courageous in life, it is facing a fear, FEELING IT, taking a deep breath and then doing ‘whatever it is’, ANYWAY.

Perhaps there is an area in your life that is marred by fear, perhaps you have a fear of heights so you keep your feet firmly on the ground while the rest of your family enjoys the beauty of the treetop walk in Walpole?  It certainly is inherent to human nature when faced with a situation that makes us feel discomfort or vulnerable to avoid, duck, dodge and weave.  So why bother being courageous ‘in life’?  We all know what it is to feel fear, I know that for many of you that is why you started the Toastmaster process.  So why did YOU bother?

Its because of the rewards of course.  While everyone will have their own personal reasons for facing their fears, we are all human, therefore there must be a reward in it for us somewhere.

We are rewarded when we work on our fears by shedding light into areas of our lives that have been previously kept in the dark.  We begin to master those things that have tried to enslave us and this not only gives us immense feelings of pride and success but we are also rewarded with opportunities for experiences we might not otherwise have had.

This was recently brought home in a speech that I listened to by Brene Brown on vulnerability, she described fear as standing on the edge of a swamp.  “You can stand on your side for ever, looking at the other side where it is safe, free, green etc . You can stand there on your own, or you can grab the hand of somebody and wade across.” And the opportunity to wade through the swamp being led by a supportive hand is exactly what joining this toastmasters group has been like for me.

I have found myself a member of your group of people with whom I would have not otherwise met.  A group of people who are individually so very different yet have one common goal, to improve themselves.  A group that works because of this so that ego is replaced with nurturing, competition replaced with endless support and encouragement.

I have had the opportunity to learn about positive communication and the reassurance of active listening.  I have learned a little about Canada, soccer in Africa, how to diffuse verbal criticism and of course zombies.  Each presenter has shown their personality in the delivery of their speeches making every single presentation interesting, different and diverse so that I have learned to view public presentations as forums not for criticism, but for simply the telling of a story.

And I have had the opportunity to spend time with others who lead courageous lives which has already inspired me to not give up.

It is apparent to me that the decision to face your fears with courage, is only the beginning of things…

making this choice is the same as diving into a strong current that will carry you to places you never dreamed of when the decision was first made and as such you will be favoured by life.

The fear lyrics

Lily Allen, like the rest of us has her demons. I can’t say she has always shown exemplary behaviour, but she is a woman who has something to say within her songs and for that I APPLAUD her.

My favourite Lily song is below, tell me you haven’t resonated with at least some part of these lyrics at some time or another – go Lily…

I want to be rich and I want lots of money I don’t care  about clever, I don’t care about funny. I want loads of clothes and fuckloads of diamonds I heard people die while they’re trying to find them.

And I’ll take my clothes off and it will be shameless ’cause  everyone knows that’s how you get famous. I’ll look at the sun and I’ll look  in the mirror I’m on the right track, yeah I’m on to a winner.

I don’t know what’s right and what’s real anymore. I don’t know how I’m meant to feel anymore. When do you think it will all become clear? ‘Cause I’m being taken over by the Fear.

Life’s about film stars and less about mothers. It’s all about fast cars and cussing each other. But it doesn’t matter ’cause I’m  packing plastic and that’s what makes my life so fucking fantastic.

And I am a weapon of massive consumption and it’s not my  fault, it’s how I’m programmed to function. I’ll look at the sun and I’ll look  in the mirror I’m on the right track, yeah we’re on to a winner.

I don’t know what’s right and what’s real anymore. I don’t know how I’m meant to feel anymore. When do you think it will all become clear? ‘Cause I’m being taken over by the Fear.

Forget about guns and forget ammunition ’cause I’m killing  ’em all on my own little mission. Now I’m not a saint and I’m not a sinner but everything’s cool as long as I’m getting thinner.

I don’t know what’s right and what’s real anymore. I don’t know how I’m meant to feel anymore. When do you think it will all become clear? ‘Cause I’m being taken over by the Fear.

 

Why Try Reiki?

Reiki“After my first couple of Reiki sessions with Fiona, I feel like I am finally on the right path to healing my mind and body.  Not only has she helped me to connect with the spiritual world, but her wisdom, intuition and gentle nature offers guidance and a beautiful sense of calm. As someone who knew next to nothing about Reiki before my first session, I’m so glad I kept an open mind and gave it a go.  Fiona is a kind soul who has a lot of positive energy to share.”  Rachelle

 

Guest Feature on The Sprout

Well I am honoured this morning to be featured on ‘The Sprout’ – bringing fun into all things health and wellness.

The Sprout inspires you to feed your mind and body, built on the idea
that any seed we plant has the potential to grow into something
beautiful…

Gemma from the Sprout wanted to know what it means to live consciously…

Guest Post: Fiona Ferreira is Living Consciously

Conscious Living

My name is Fiona, I am a healer and proud business owner of Left of Centre Therapies, specialising in Reiki/hands on healing and Meditation practices AND I have a blog dedicated to ‘conscious living’.   Conscious living is… well its living consciously of course :)– but in all seriousness…

Let me start with some background…

As I think you would all agree, human nature is constantly evolving, there is so much change from one generation to the next.  History has shown us that human culture and knowledge are also continuously progressing and I believe that goes for human awakening too.  Together we are going somewhere, with each generation building on the accomplisments of the one before.

In our own way, each of us contributes to this evolution, starting young with a determination not to behave the same way that our parents did.  From watching and interacting with them, we discerned what we liked and did not like about their behaviour and vowed it would be different for us.  How smart we were as kids!

This may be where some of us leave it, we lose those conscious thoughts as we ‘grow up’ and revert to behaviour patterns learned from our parents, with little regard to our childhood insight.  We mirror their lives and their mistakes.  Others vow not to be like their mother or father and do everything in their power to be the exact opposite.  If we are lucky at some point we hear ourselves saying – oohhhh I sound just like my mother… or we realise that all that energy spent on being the exact opposite may not have brought us to a better place either.

Don’t tell your parents, but reaching this point is actually a good thing – as using these as cues we start to question, who are we and why we are behaving the way we do?  Why are we not living the life we thought we would as children and why are we constantly mending bridges (particularly with our parents) as we go?  As we work through these questions we become more and more conscious of what is really going on in our lives, what is causing our difficulties, we start to become self aware, we begin to live consciously.

Living consciously is being conscious of how and why we behave the way we do, it is the practice of self awareness. We learn to take responsibility for our actions and our lives, we resort to automatic behaviour less and less and are conscious of our behaviour more and more, we use our parents as examples and seek alternative perspectives and ways to behave, we become open to alternative solutions to our problems, we take conscious action against being limited by negative thoughts and we become aware of and find the lesson in every difficulty we face. We heal and we evolve.

Get Grounded

Do you ever feel scattered, or overwhelmed with all the things you have to do and that leads you to feeling scattered?  The very next chance you get go to the beach, make any excuse, borrow the neighbours children, their dog or their surfboard and go….

When you are there dig your toes in the sand at the water’s edge, close your eyes and let that sinking feeling into the sand ground you.  (If you are at the dog beach be a little careful of wet unsuspecting noses in the back of your knee you may find your whole body connected to the sand – yes this really has happened to me).

It will move your energies from your head into your body, help you feel and be more present, more practical and just see how much more you get done.

Beach Grounding

PS – if you can’t get to the beach, you can also ground yourself by just being in nature and breathing, walking, or doing any kind of exercise… just by consciously connecting to the earth beneath your feet.

Survival

Survival Stories

As I enter a new phase in my life there seems to be a common theme in the articles and TV shows that I am attracted to – they are all about human endurance.  Everyone (well me anyway) loves a miracle and reading these stories has inspired me not only to keep going but also to keep my faith – I have no doubt that it was faith that kept these people going in their darkest hours.  Happy Reading…

Whatever it is, sometimes humans survive situations they really have no right to…