Tag Archives: meditation

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

26 September 2013 – Animal Totems

While there are many religious beliefs providing theories on the origin of life and the Human Race, it was the scientists such as Carl Linnaeus and Charles Darwin who explored the theory that the Human Race evolved from animals.  Assuming this to be true, as time goes by, we continue to evolve further and further away from our origin, the animals, as we lead practical lives surrounding ourselves with concrete, pseudo experiences and the ever pressing need for material success.

However, in our spiritual lives, it is the animals who have much to teach US.  Wherever wild animals exist they remain connected to the earth, surviving by the use of their instinctual nature and characteristics unique to their kind, characteristics which they have developed to enhance the survival of their species.  It is these instinctual, survival characteristics that we identify in animal totems that can be used to guide us spiritually through our own lives.

Totem, derived from native American language, refers to kinship, and an animal totem Animal Totemis an animal who you personally develop a kinship/relationship with.  This Native American tradition provides that we are connected to 9 different animals that will guide us throughout our lives.  The particular animal totem present at a particular time will depend on our journey or the direction in which we are headed.  In seeking to connect or find our animal totems, we are seeking to connect and bond with the spirit of an animal that means something to us and recognise the qualities in that animal that may be needed, at that time, in our life.

For example, my current animal totem is a deer.  The deer is a gentle and graceful animal and has been recently present to encourage me to take a gentle and graceful approach to the difficulties I am facing in my life right now.

Finding your own animal totem is very simple.  Below is an exercise you might like to try to discover your personal animal totem and thereby gain guidance for your own journey and self discovery.

Sit or lie comfortably, close your eyes and pay attention to your breathing.

Notice any tension and breathe into it, pushing it away.  Look for any tension in your head and breathe into it, any tension in your shoulders, your torso, your hips, your legs, your feet.

Pay attention to your feet, let them feel heavy and connected to the earth.

Then go to a room in your mind.  In the middle of the room is a chair, sit down on the chair.  In front of you there is a large wall made of glass.  Through the glass you can see a landscape, it may be a forest, a mountain, a field, it might be a beach.  Whatever landscape it is, take in the scenery.

Then you notice a door in the wall, stand up, walk through the door and into the landscape.   There is a path that winds safely through the landscape, set off walking down that path.  Notice any sounds, any sensations, any movements.

You follow the path until you come to a protected space, it might be a clearing in the forest or a large, horizontal boulder on the side of the mountain.  Find somewhere to sit and relax, you have come to this place to meet your animal guide.

Ask your animal guide to come out and meet you and then relax, they will come when they are ready.

When you see them feel a warmth around your heart as you connect with this kindred spirit.

Look into the animals eyes, ask it any questions you may have, maybe you could ask it what characteristics it possesses that you may need in your life right now?.  Spend as long as you want to in this space with your animal.

When you are ready to go, stand up and look for your path.  Walk back along the path noticing any movements, any sounds – enjoy your walk and finally return to your room.

Walk back through the door and sit back on your chair.  When you are ready wriggle your toes and fingers, take a deep breath and open your eyes.

So now that you have met your current animal guide, look out for it in pictures or dreams – remember life is symbolic, it just needs interpreting!

To help you, here are some common animal totems and their meanings – though there is much more information available in books and on the internet – enjoy – and any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask:

Bear Industrious,   instinctive, healing, power, sovereignty, guardian of the world, watcher,   courage, will power, self-preservation, introspection, and great strength.
Cat Guardianship,   detachment, sensuality, mystery, magic, and independence
Dog Noble,   faithful, loyal, teaching, protection, and guidance
Dove Cross-world   communication, spirit messenger, peace, gentleness, love
Eagle Divine   spirit, sacrifice, connection to creator, intelligence, renewal, courage,   illumination of spirit, healing, creation, freedom, and risk-taker
Elephant Strength,   power, affection, loyalty, royalty, and wisdom
Owl Deception,   clairvoyance, insight, messenger.
Wolf Loyalty,   perseverance, success, intuition, and spirit

22 June 2013 – healing is like emptying a backpack

Below is an extract from a talk I recently gave on Healing at a gathering of Perth Wellness Bloggers.  The wonderfully successful event organised by Jacqueline from Upon Wild Stars was a day to nurture our bodies, minds and creative sides (Jacinta’s flower headpieces – http://cintism.com/)…   

The notion of healing may be different for everyone but for me I see it as like emptying a backpack.

We are born with an empty backpack and as we go through our childhood we are influenced by many situations, some good, some bad and we fill up our backpack.  With our negative experiences we store consequent negative beliefs and the backpack gets heavy and weighs us down.

When we then face similar negative experiences later on we dig around in our backpacks to find and use the same coping mechanisms that we have learned in the past, behaviours that have been stored based on how we have seen others behave or how we have best protected ourselves.  We run away, get aggressive, get anxious or become the victim.  These coping mechanisms attract further negative experiences and the trend continues.

MistAs we travel down our roads using our same old mind sets we continue to fill our backpacks until the weight of life and our experiences causes us to get stuck, slow down or have a crisis and a veil of yuck covers our senses so that we struggle to see the road we are supposed to be travelling on.  The signs are there as our body breaks down, our relationships break down, our relationship with ourselves breaks down.

Eventually a correlation, an AHA moment needs to be made to identify that WE are attracting our own negative experiences into our lives by how we are behaving.  At that crunch moment, the moment we face up to the fact that we are responsible for all that is happening to us, the good, the bad and the ugly, we have a choice to continue on with an ever increasing load and more mist than on the Scottish Highlands, or stop and start to remove or change those innate, stored behaviours from our backpack.  And this is healing.

And so healing begins with the conscious acknowledgement of the need to heal. 

Now while I have used a simple metaphor likening healing to removing items from a backpack, healing is anything but simple.  Once we have decided to take the plunge we are often faced with a myriad of questions and a sense of confusion which can be overwhelming or bring an anxiety all of its own.  Where do I start, what do I do now, how am I supposed to behave, how can I change from the person I have always been?

Healing is a personal journey.  It is a step by step process of change to our energy, our thought patterns, our perspective, our behaviour to ways which serve us better.  It may require throwing out all our preconceived ideas and starting afresh.  But there is much help at hand…

From my own experience I have learned to heal through a combinationReiki Left of Centre Therapies approach.  I work with energy tools (reiki, meditation) to reduce the anxiety, gain clarity, get answers and to change my negative energy to positive which in turn attracts positive experiences, I work with mental tools (guided meditations and books, books and more books) to make cause and effect changes and I work with physical techniques (exercise, food) where I need to make physical changes. 

In an effort to heal myself I found reiki, which now is my passion.  Reiki is an energy healing technique that picks up on anxieties, feelings and emotions that are stored in the body and which are sometimes expressed in the form of physical ailments.  A hands on healer can feel these stored negative energies and will raise them during a session to bring them from the subconscious into the conscious.

So once they are in your conscious the Healer can then work with you to find out what experiences you have stored in your backpack that have caused these emotions and determine ways of dealing with or releasing them.

I recently worked with a client who had a deep seated fear of teaching which was evident from a tooth infection.  As a child her parents berated her for her inability to learn quickly.  She was now helping her own children with their homework and behaving in the same way as her parents.  The infection was a result of her attacking herself as she subconsciously knew she did not like how she was teaching or behaving.

Once we worked this out she was able to approach the teaching/homework issue in a conscious way, she has looked into tutoring where her children needed specific help and is mindful to both her children’s and her needs in this area of her life.

A reiki session also rebalances your energy, draws in external energy and moves energy around your body to help unblock blockages, temper those strong emotions, bring clarity and leave you feeling more positive and in a better place to attract better experiences into your life.

There are other amazing energy tools you can also use to help in the healing process and which I use in session.  Crystals for example are little rocks full of magic.  My favourite is rose quartz a stone for your heart, it is a stone to invoke universal love and can really help you to live through your heart.

Most days I get a little rose quartz from my collection and hold it in my hand, I speak to it and project love into it.  I do this by thinking about something that makes me feel lovely and asking the stone to take that feeling with me throughout the day.  Then I carry it around in my pocket.

Spirit quartz is related to other quartz crystals but is made up of very fine facets usually of amethyst or citrine.  I use mine to meditate with, I speak to it first and ask it to give me clarity and intuition and place it on my forehead.

And finally black tourmaline is a protector stone and for anyone who is looking at doing Healing is a must to wear to retain your own energy and not take on the energy of your client.

There are also tools useful for making mental changes, to work on cause and effect.  I use guided meditations which guide you into to a relaxed state and bring your inner most thoughts, feelings and experiences to the surface so you can take control and use your own mind to consciously change your perspective and associated behaviour.  It is an exercise which you can repeat and practice at home.

Using all these tools and techniques, Healers can provide a sanctuary, a place where you can get closer to your own intuition, your subconscious, your faith and begin to heal.  However there is also work required of you to achieve lasting healing success and this is the homework, the deep cellular work.  Being committed to healing requires time spent by yourself allowing you to get to know YOU, to notice when things aren’t working, to notice when you don’t feel good, to determine when and how you need to start the healing process and determine what works for you.  Which is why Healing and Self Awareness go hand in hand.

Life is cyclical, it doesn’t matter how much you heal there is always more work to be done, but this work gets easier, quicker and the lessons further apart.

My path as a Reiki and Hands on Healer has been an exciting one.  There is so much to explore, so many different tools and techniques to investigate, try and learn.  Sometimes there are too many choices but on this journey you need to find out and work with what resonates with you.

Most importantly you need to be or become self-aware and even when things get tough with healing and they do, ensure you give yourself plenty of TLC, love your scars and continue to strive to make the world a better place.

Backpack