Saturday, 12 August 2017

Just Keep Swimming...

I was sitting with my sister at Global Tribe Cafe (having some incredible vegan food!!) and she was telling me about her experiences with Yoga and Meditation. 
One of her stories made me laugh a lot, but I also found inspiration in what she said, so I thought I'd share it here on my blog. 

She explained that when she was lying down at the end of her Yoga class in 'Savasana' (meditation pose) she began to imagine herself as Dory from 'Finding Nemo' (as you do) in the scene where Dory and Marvin become trapped inside the whale's mouth. They're both panicking, trying desperately to get out, but Dory suddenly forgets everything and begins to allow herself to be moved by the water. She feels the ebb and flow of the waves as she lets go and relaxes.

Even though it sounded hilarious at first, I thought it was a wonderful representation of meditation; when you are pushing against your thoughts, trying to relax your body, trying to breathe deeply and trying not to think about anything, when you are using any force at all you inadvertently cause yourself more stress. But, if you allow yourself to just be and to feel the discomfort, the tension, the pain, the numbness in your body, allow the thoughts and emotions to flow through you and observe them then you will find yourself meditating without realising it.

That is what meditation is. It's not about doing nothing, thinking nothing, feeling nothing. It's about observing how you feel, detaching yourself from your thoughts by observing them without reacting. It's a practise which takes time, patience and persistence. With regular practise the mind sharpens and you become better able to cope with discomfort in the body.  You develop a skill that can be harnessed during times of anger,  frustration, sadness, impatience, tiredness, stress, anxiety and so on. 

 Draw your attention back to the breath.
Mentally scan your body. 
Notice your thoughts.
Just keep swimming swimming swimming.
Before you know it, you're meditating.

Monday, 18 July 2016

10 Things to do to feel instantly calmer

1. Be Grateful

Sometimes everyone can appear to be going at break-neck speed through life; with their careers, possessions, personal successes, and so on. It's all "More! More! More!" Not only that, we're all comparing our "showreels" on social networking sites with everyone else's.

So where does that leave gratitude? - Shoved in a little box, in a corner, covered in thick dust, that's where.

 With life moving like a fast flowing river, it's often too easy to get dragged in by the current of it all; the lists of things we need to do, goals we want to achieve, and so on. 

All of the noise and chaos can leave us feeling that we're actually not really living. As if we've become almost numb to life as we blindly and mindlessly go about our everyday tasks on auto-pilot.

  It can begin to feel that we're trapped in what appears to be a never ending cycle of wanting more and never being happy with where we're at in the moment. 

Before we know it, this fast flowing river becomes a sea, accumulating and accumulating until it begins to swirl and circle around and around, creating a whirlpool that feeds itself with thoughts and emotions, keeping itself alive while dragging us further and further down into the vortex. 

Is it any wonder we get stressed or anxious?!

When we are stressed or anxious we forget about all there is to be thankful for. 

I invite you to take a moment, 

Pull out and dust off your little box of gratitude,

take a deep breath... 


Now, even if you only have 1 minute, just write down something that you are grateful for. 

It can be something very small, such as 'I am grateful for running water'. 

You might just write it onto a scrap piece of paper, but I would recommend buying a journal that you dedicate to this task as this way you can look back on it at a later date. 

The simple act of gratitude can make even an ocean of thoughts and emotions shrink right down to the size of a grain of sand that you hold in the palm of your hand.

Now drop the grain. 

2. Look

"I opened two gifts this morning. They were my eyes."

We don't always have time to light candles, soak in a warm bath or go to yoga classes and meditate. If you're short of time, try this technique for instant calm. 

Intentionally notice 5 things that you can see. 

Try it right now. 

Look around you. 

What do you see?

3. Listen

Listen carefully. 

What can you hear?

See if you can intentionally notice 4 things that you can hear.

This practise will instantly bring you back into the present moment and help you to feel calmer. 

4. Touch

Notice the textures around you.

Touch the objects.

How do they feel?

See if you can pick out 3 different textures.

5. Smell

Take a moment to smell something good like a piece of chocolate or a cup of coffee.

It can be anything, but preferably something you enjoy smelling. 

If you're out and about and don't have anything with you to smell... think again. What about smelling your hair, the perfume on your wrist, the lip balm in your hand-bag, the mints in your pocket.

Alternatively, you could try to prepare yourself for times of heightened stress/anxiety by investing in a scent that you love, perhaps a relaxing scent, such as lavender. 

See if you can smell 2 different scents.

6. Taste

Notice the taste of your food. Eat it slowly and carefully, noticing the texture, colour, flavour and scent. 

If you're out and about doing things, you could carry a little something with you, such as, a packet of raisins, mints, chocolate, anything you like. When you feel stressed, take a moment to eat your snack mindfully. 

If you're looking for foods that are relaxing, watermelon has a calming scent and is very healthy.

7. It's Okay

Befriend yourself.

We can all feel that we are our own worst enemy sometimes. It's that moment when you realise the bullying things you are telling yourself, such as 'I can't do that', 'I'm not good enough', 'I looked so stupid', and so on... 

Just think 'would I treat others this way?'

Acceptance brings you closer to healing. 

It's okay not to be okay. No-one feels great 24/7. Acknowledge how you feel, whether that be anxious, tired, sad, angry or in pain and know that whatever you are feeling right now, it's okay to feel that way.

Connect with your inner child.

Whatever it is that you are feeling, try writing it down and then read it back imagining that you are reading the words of a child.

What would you say to that child after having read how they feel?

How might you help them?

What advice would you give them?

When you accept your feelings you can begin taking steps to help yourself. 

8. Breathe

A simple breathing technique can be used to feel instant calm.

Inhale for a count of 4. 

Hold you breath for a count of 2. 

Exhale for a count of 8. 

You might also try alternate nostril breathing. 

Seal the right nostril with your right thumb and breathe in through the left nostril. Pause for a moment while you seal the left nostril with the right ring finger and then breathe out through the right nostril. Now breathe in through the right nostril, pause while you seal the right nostril with your thumb and then exhale through the left nostril. Inhale through the left nostril... and you get the picture... 

Continue this breathing technique for up to 5 minutes.

Here is a very helpful video that guides you through alternate nostril breathing:

9. Distract yourself

Distracting yourself from your thoughts can help bring a feeling of calm and focus to the mind and body. Here are a few examples of things you might do to distract yourself and feel instantly calmer.

Colour in
For children, colouring in is something that they do on most days. It may sound silly to be colouring in as an adult, but the truth is that for many people colouring in is extremely calming and soothing. 

You can buy adult colouring books from most book stores, but if you don't want to invest in a colouring book then simply drawing a sketch yourself and colouring it in works just the same. 

Colouring in can take you back to how it feels to be a child again; free of responsibility, stress and worry, a time of playfulness and creativity.

  It can be anything; a magazine, a book, an article, a newspaper, just find something you're interested in and read about it. 

Call or message someone that you trust and chat with them. If you really trust them then you might even tell them how you're feeling and that chatting with them helps you to feel calm. 

Listen to Music
Make a playlist that you really like so that you can pop in your headphones and listen on the go to help you feel calmer. 

Watch something
See if you can find a video on Youtube that covers the particular topic that interests you then watch it, chances are you'll learn something new whilst also helping yourself to feel calmer. 

10. The Body Scan

Mentally scan the body. 

You might begin with your head and slowly work your way down the body, or begin with your toes and work your way up through your body, from your toes to the feet, ankles, calves, shins, knees, thighs, butt, hips, stomach, chest, shoulders, arms, wrist, fingers, neck, face, forehead, jaw, nose, mouth, ears, tongue, eyes, eye lids, and so on...

Without judgement and without trying to change anything, simply notice the areas you may be holding onto tension. 

The aim is to just be with your body. 

You are an observer.

So, there you have it: 10 Things you can do to feel instantly calmer. 

Please leave your comments below if you have any. 

Carla xxx