A SPRING IN THE STEP

It’s definitely spring!  We’re awash with daffodils and crocuses and yellow baby chicks and pale spring sunshine. The trees are frothing with blossom, Easter is around the corner and the clocks have gone forward.

Yes! Spring is here so that means it’s the time for planting – and I don’t mean casting seeds upon the earth, for, as you well know, we can also plant metaphorical seeds into the garden of our minds. As with any kind of cultivation, things take time to grow.  But whatever we plant in ourselves now can soon start showing green shoots.

Spring is all about re-birth, so it’s good to think about what might help us grow, strengthen and renew in ourselves for the year ahead. Often this means doing a little revision on stuff we know, but forget to do!  So check out whether you’ve got a bit rusty on any of the following things over the winter months:

It’s always good to have an openness to whatever this benevolent Universe brings us, (even if what is presented to us at the time is tough and challenging), as this helps one to go with the flow of life more comfortably. How are you doing on this concept?

Your attitude governs whether you’re generally happy and content or frequently angry and resentful. Thoughts are energy and wherever you place your focus will make that area grow strong.  So it stands to reason that there’s no point in focusing on not being happy!  Instead, are you making a commitment to putting your attention into thoughts that make you feel joyful and at ease?

It’s a fact that 90% of happiness comes from how you decide to think about events and only 10% from the events themselves. So make sure you’re living your own version of happiness (not anyone else’s!), and resist the temptation to look for it outside of yourself because in the end, it always comes from within.

If there are negative thoughts churning through your mind, change direction and make a conscious decision to try to think about something else which doesn’t bring you down. How are you doing on this?

How’s your attitude of gratitude? Remember, it can go a very long way to creating a happy life for yourself.  If your ability to feel gratitude has got somewhat jaded, why not make an effort this spring to re-double your efforts in this direction?  It’s easy to lose momentum. You can strengthen your gratitude muscles by remembering that before you go to sleep at night, you think of three things you feel grateful for which have happened during the day.  They don’t have to be big things.  Helpfulness from a shop assistant or a warm smile from a work colleague or even the sight of a blue sky and spring sunshine beaming down are all things which can spark gratitude if we think about it.

Don’t let’s forget that concept of living your life with a glass half full or half empty. The paradox is that it can be BOTH things. It’s how you view it that matters.  Are you making sure that you always view your glass as being half FULL? It’ll go a long way towards helping you to be happier in yourself and generally more content.

Where are you with trying not to over-think things? Remind yourself that mostly it only complicates matters. Re-double your efforts here if this is a seed you need to re-plant. Practice looking for good to come out of every experience, and if you’ve been hit with a big challenge, spend time searching to see what might be positive in that situation and concentrate on that instead of the pain or anger you’re feeling. Don’t forget that you can choose how you view your life, and this can lead to more contentment and give you a greater sense of calm.

How often do you smile? Research shows that smiling (and laughing)  triggers a part of our brain that leads to happiness and optimism – so doing more smiling and laughing can lead to contentment and success. You can also have the pleasure of passing on happiness to others by smiling more!

How good are you at not taking life so seriously? Make sure you haven’t forgotten how to laugh at yourself – but not in a dismissive way. We all get things wrong sometimes, we’re only human, and nobody’s perfect.  Maintaining your sense of humour (especially about yourself) is a wonderful safety net. As a Zen monk once said: “If you’re not laughing, you’re not getting it”.

Who you are right now is down to whatever difficulties, heartache and sorrow you’ve overcome in the past. All those ups and downs you’ve experienced have made you a great deal stronger than you were when you first started out in life. Are you celebrating that and giving yourself some appreciation?

And finally: very often, the thing you think you want most of all in the world, isn’t actually what you’re after. More often than not, it’s the feeling of having that thing which is the real desire because that is what you think will bring you success, joy, relief or whatever. So here’s a time-tested technique you can use to help you feel like a millionaire without winning the lottery!

Whatever that thing is that you really want – think of yourself already having it! Close your eyes and think about how good you’d feel if it was in your life right now!  Let yourself experience that feeling to its utmost. Think about doing the things you want to do because you have that thing. Think about how life is so much better.  Think about how happy you are with that thing in your life and let yourself feel that happiness. Get a sense of how that joy feels in your body, how it sings and zings through your being.  Let yourself be filled up with that feeling and allow it to flow through your entire body.  Let it flow in through your head, down through your body and out through your feet and then let it flow in through your head again.  Keep recycling it  – in, through and out –  for as long as you can.

Then take a breath and see how you feel.  Notice your mood. Notice how it feels in your body.   Be aware of how it feels around your heart area.

If you’ve focussed on this with concentration and done it whole-heartedly, you’ll be BUZZING from head to toe.  Your energy will be in full flow.

Now, doesn’t that put a spring in your step?

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KEEPING THE HOME FRONT FLOWING

A couple of weeks ago I ventured out into my courtyard and was surprised to see that some snowdrops had appeared in one of the tubs outside.  I always think of snowdrops as the first indication of spring, and I immediately felt a rush of anticipation surging through me at the thought of the end of winter.  It’s been a bitterly cold, and blustery few months up here in the land of the North Folks (Norfolk) and my heart lifted as I conjured images of warmer days and daffodils and crocuses, and all manner of spring things peppering the landscape and bringing a sense of lightness back into the world.

As always, this time of year also nudged me into thinking about clearing stuff and doing a bit of a spring clean.  I’ve been dealing with getting rid of the huge amount of paper in my study of late, and suddenly, I couldn’t wait to finish the task.  How wonderful to have less files, less clutter, and a clear desk! Ah!  That would make it so much easier to focus on the things I want to become more engaged in this year like painting and writing. What better time to clear the path for fresh energy to flow into my home!

As you all know from my writings in the past, monitoring and nurturing the energy in my home is of prime importance to me, because I have long benefitted from making my home a place of sanctuary. I do this by creating, to the best of my ability, a balanced, peaceful and sacred environment, which becomes a nourishing environs to help me continue to grow and develop on all levels. I believe that your home is a reflection of your thoughts and feelings and therefore reflects your inner state.  In a sense, it’s an extension of your body.  You may not be able to feel the energies moving around your home, but believe me, they’ll be influencing how you’re feeling emotionally and may well be affecting your health.

The objects and possessions we keep in our homes can affect how we are. Every object you possess contains the emanations of the people who previously owned it, as well as the energy of the object’s creator. The buildings we live and work in are made up of constantly changing energy which is made up of atoms and molecules through which the Chi or subtle energy of the Universe flows. And since you’re energetically connected to everything in the universe, you’re therefore not separate from your home. Your home is alive and has consciousness – the same as you!

Many of us hold on to far more in the way of possessions than we actually need and companies now exist all around the globe for the express purpose of providing storage for our overflow.  Furthermore, research has shown that the more stuff a person keeps in their homes, the higher their stress levels. This is indeed a sobering thought which might perhaps spur you on to thinking about clearing some of your clutter!!

Clutter builds up when things never get put away, when there’s too much stuff and not enough storage space; or when piles of things end up strewn on the floor, under beds, chairs or sofas or stuffed into cupboards all higgledy-piggledy because they don’t have a home.

Piles of clutter, even when hidden out of sight are natural gathering places for negative energies.   The more negative energy is allowed to accumulate, the denser the atmosphere in your home will become because the energy can’t move and becomes stuck.  This in turn can create chaos in your life and make you feel disorganised.  Physical clutter in your home means mental clutter in your mind.  It can make you tired and keep you emotionally bound up with the past.  It can cause lack of energy, foggy thinking, general inertia, laziness, sadness and depression. Disposing of unwanted/unnecessary items not only clears your outer space but also your inner space as well. Dealing with your clutter will help you clear the way for new things, new people and new opportunities to come into your life.

So, does this inspire you to get up and start putting the home front into better shape? I do hope so because it’s a really good time to start doing it! Go with the energies of spring and let them sweep you along into making some very helpful changes in your life.

Countless books have been written about the best ways of clearing clutter.  I used to advocate doing one room at a time (or even one corner of a room or one cupboard at a time), and there’s nothing wrong with doing it this way if you prefer. But since reading Marie Kondo’s books “The  Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and “Spark Joy” I’m now a great advocate of her method of chunking the task down into categories and dealing with one complete category at a time. This is a surprisingly effective way of making a BIG clearance.  I wrote about these books and her extremely useful methods in last August’s blog which you may or may not remember. But beware! She sometimes goes OTT and gets a bit carried away with what you should and shouldn’t do, and this may not sit well with you. Don’t worry! There’s plenty that’s practical and eminently do-able to follow in her techniques, the basic premise of which follows:

Divide your clothes up into categories of : Tops (this includes shirts, blouses, T-Shirts, jumpers and cardies); Skirts; Trousers; Dresses and Suits; Underwear; Tights and Socks; Shoes; Handbags (and Man Bags);

Divide your accessories into: Jewellery; Ties; Scarves; Hats (include Woolly hats and Beanies);

You can deal with other categories after you’ve worked through the above.

You should start with the first category (i.e. Tops) and pull out every single one that you possess from wherever you keep them (we often keep things of the same category in more than one place which of course is how we get duplicates!). Make sure you pull out ALL your tops from ALL the rooms where you keep them and dump them ALL in one big pile on the floor or on a bed. You will then realise how many you have!  Now pick up each garment one at a time, hold it and look at it and notice your reaction to it.  If you LOVE it, keep it.  If you don’t love it, put it aside for the charity shop or wherever. The idea is that if you wear only things that you LOVE, you will create a happier, more harmonious and flowing energy for yourself which will make you feel good, lift your spirits and nurture you in ways that are highly beneficial. And this is most certainly true.

Warning: Don’t keep things because they might come in useful sometime, or because someone has given them to you and you’d hate to upset them by not wearing it, or because they are new or cost a lot of money or whatever.  If you don’t LOVE it, LOSE it!! 

You may think this will take a lot of time, but it won’t.  You’ll be surprised how quickly you pick up momentum as you go through the garments one by one and use the criteria given to decide whether you wish to keep something or not.  If you feel neutral about something, you could keep it, but put it aside and check it out again a few weeks later.

When you’ve finished one category, start on another but not before you’ve finished the previous group. Do this over several days and you will be so glad that you did and amazed at how much you are able to discard.

For other categories like photographs, kitchen equipment, luggage, objects and ornaments, and general miscellanea, I suggest you do your own version of dividing things up into categories and working through each one, keeping only those things you love and discarding anything you don’t love until you’ve been through everything in that group.

Don’t touch papers and files, etc., till you’ve finished with the clothes and when you do, keep only the absolute minimum you need for information.  For pills, potions and medications throw them out if they’re past their sell by date.  With cosmetics and creams, don’t keep anything that’s over a couple of years old as these things can go off after a time.

Chunking things down in this way makes tackling clearing out so much more manageable!! And most importantly, it allows you to be able to see the progress you’re making which is a great incentive to carrying on with the task until it’s finished.

Good Luck! May the wind fill your sails and carry you along! May you be inspired to keep the home front free and flowing! May your homes be filled with love and light! You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel when you’ve done it!

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THE WISDOM OF TREES

“Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop” – Rumi

Well, here we are at the beginning of another new year and you’re probably settled back into the old routines, facing a few new challenges and doing your individual things. And no doubt, since it’s the traditional time for making resolutions about creating improvements in ourselves and our lives one way or another, some of you may have spent the last few weeks of December thinking about what you’d like to achieve, and/or things you’d like to change in 2017.

It could be that you want to lose weight and join a gym. Or make a concerted attempt to clear your clutter. Or sign up for that class/course to learn something new. Sometimes we find ourselves making the same resolutions year after year but never actually succeeding in carrying any of them through. How so?  Something happens to push us off course, or we lose the impetus for one reason or another. How many times have you set out on January 1st with good intentions only to find that, come the end of the month, you’ve fallen by the wayside with your goals?

If so, maybe it’s time to re-think the whole idea of new year resolutions and instead of making a list of aims and aspirations which you find hard to achieve,  have a look and see what it is that prevents you from seeing your plans and projects through and resolve to let any limiting beliefs go.  Why? Because by letting go of negative beliefs that hold you back, you’ll automatically find you’ve got less obstacles to achieving your aims!

Many years ago I belonged to an esoteric group where part of the teachings that we received encouraged us to refer to Nature for guidance in our lives and to do this by observing the cycles of the seasons. We learnt to ask ourselves : Are the first shoots appearing? If so, then this would be a good time for starting new projects and endeavours. Is it a time of flowering? This then would be an indication that any early planting of seeds you had done were growing and flourishing and you’d do well to notice your personal flowers and feel encouraged.  Autumn brings an abundance of fruits and berries etc., so this is clearly the time to look for your personal harvest and assess your achievements (large AND small) in the previous months and celebrate whatever you’ve managed to accomplish so far.  Are the trees shedding their leaves? Or are their branches bare? Then now might be the time to look to see what areas in your life are not serving you and to see what you could do to let go of the things that hold you back.

Every season can provide us with some new knowledge and understanding of ourselves.  All we have to do is to be observant of the changes in nature and learn.  This is what our ancestors did and they lived their lives by it.  And they found that their spirits were nourished by their closeness to Nature and the understandings that came from the earth upon which they walked.

Right now, as you look out of your window, you’ll see a lot of bare branches on the trees.  Some may already be showing signs of buds, but this couldn’t happen unless they’d first shed their leaves. Every year, deciduous trees let go of their leaves because they know that new ones will grow when the time is right.  The great oaks and elms and sycamores and their smaller tree cousins know that by discarding their foliage and letting it fall, they’ll create fertile ground in the earth beneath them in which other plants and creatures will grow.

We can draw an analogy between the leaves and the stories and mantras we recite to ourselves subconsciously each day.  Examples might be (fill in the gaps) :  People like me never get to do …….;  I’m not worthy of love because I’m not …..; If only I could have ……..I’d be  happy; I’m hopeless with money …….. ; there’s too much competition out there for me to succeed – and so on.

You may well resonate with the examples above – or find you have other negative mantras which come to mind.  Perhaps you’d love to change aspects of yourself and have tried many times before but failed. So it’s time to understand WHY.  Look carefully at past situations and see how what has happened previously which may have created limited expectations of yourself.

Looking at your perceived failures this way is very useful.  Instead of feeling defeated or lacking in ability, you can begin to see how negative self-talk (i.e. limiting beliefs) prevents you from achieving your aims. And these are the “leaves on your tree” that you’d benefit from shedding.

So…….if you’re up for wanting to shed some of your metaphorical leaves and would like to have a crack at a different approach to letting go, here’s a powerful little ritual you can do to help yourself:

FIRE CEREMONY

You can do this using a fire in your grate at home, or simply using a candle – but if doing the latter, make sure you do it safely so that the burnt paper falls into a metal container or sink – and have some water nearby just in case!

  • Take a few sheets of paper and cut it into 10 strips.
  • Then using a pen, write down 10 limiting beliefs, memories, fears or habits that are holding you back. (If you can’t think of 10, then just write out as many of them as come to mind.)
  • Take your time to do this as it may require quite a bit of soul-searching. Ask yourself why you haven’t taken that next step in your career/relationship/personal and spiritual development.  Write down the negative self- talk that comes up consistently for you when attempting change or when you face challenges.  Write these things down on the ten strips of paper.
  • Once you’ve identified these emotional blocks and written them down, light your fire or your candle.
  • Then take each piece of paper one by one and read out what you’ve written aloud and really FEEL the emotional intensity of what you’ve written.
  • As you read each strip of paper, hold it over the fire or candle flame and say : “It’s time for us to part and go our separate ways. Goodbye.” Let each piece of paper go as it ignites in flames.
  • Exhale as it turns to ash.
  • Then take the next piece of paper and do the same, and so on, until you have burnt each strip of paper.

Ceremonies like this go back a long way in time.  They’ve been used for centuries to help unblock those inner obstacles and help in the healing of emotional and spiritual wounds. Doing this ritual with focus and intention can be very liberating and many people experience an immediate inner shift as they burn the papers.

By interpreting the wisdom of trees in this way we’re following their example. Give it a try!  Remember, trees have been around for about 350 million years which is a whole lot longer than we’ve been here!  They must have learnt a thing or two during that time!!

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NOW IS THE TIME

As we approach the last few days of 2016, the Winter Solstice draws near and will take place tomorrow on Wednesday December 21st.  We’re also, of course, coming up to Christmas, the Christian Festival of Lights, and a new year looms on the horizon. The Solstice is the shortest day and the longest night of the year and marks a turning point in the orbit of the Earth when it tilts on its axis and shifts its angle more towards the sun. From this moment on, we can begin to see the sun gradually climb higher and higher in the sky thereby little by little dispelling the long dark days of winter.  For centuries, this has been cause for celebration for its welcome sign of rebirth and the coming of spring.

Christmas as we all know, is a celebration of the birth of Jesus who is seen not only as Our Saviour but also as “The Light of the World”. His teachings are infused with the need for all human beings to give and share LOVE, to learn and demonstrate compassion and understanding, and to practice tolerance and avoid judgemental thoughts and behaviour.  These are all things that our world could do with a lot more of at the moment, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

So now is the time to remember the real reasons for celebration over the next twelve days which cover Solstice, Christmas and New Year. Whether your spiritual leanings are based on organised faith religions or a synthesis of different beliefs and understandings which you have made into your own over the years, this is a time of gathering and being with family and friends.  Now is the time when we can show our love and appreciation for others with any gifts we may have bought; show care and compassion through random acts of kindness; and give thanks for the good things in our lives.  But most importantly, it’s an ideal time to find that place of peace and LOVE within ourselves.

With this in mind, I’d like to share some wisdom from two different sources for you to ponder upon over the coming days.  Firstly I’m going to quote words spoken by the legendary Native American, Black Elk, Medicine Man and Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux Tribe

The True Peace

The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people

When they realise their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers,

And when they realise that at the centre of the universe dwells Wakan-Taka (The Great Spirit),

And that this centre is really everywhere, it is within each of us.

This is the real peace, and the others are but reflections of this.

The second peace is that which is made between two individuals,

And the third is that which is made between two nations.

But above all you should understand that there can never be peace between nations

Until there is known that true peace which, as I have often said, is within the souls of men.

Black Elk, Oglala Sioux & Spiritual Leader

The second set of quotes I’d like to offer you were written by Bob German https://www.facebook.com/YoungAtAnyAge/

The time is now ……for us average citizens to come together like never before with courage and conviction, to become willing agents for social change. It matters not what political party you favour, what you are or your economic status

….to rid ourselves of indifference

The time is now ….for all of us to use goodness and loving kindness as our power for peace and equality for everyone

…..to quit complaining and criticising about what’s happening and instead turn that energy to action by doing good things even while others may be doing bad things

The time is now …..for each of us to step up and do something ….anything….to support fellow human beings in our cities and towns who are being discriminated against, harassed, wronged, exploited, enslaved, at–risk, violated, vulnerable or victimised

….for each of us to be a safety net for all those who are scared

The time is now……to gather collectively and individually to reach out and help people who are suffering and in need of allies.

…..to be the light of the world that is often very dark for those who are deemed “different” in the eyes of some.

The time is now…..for compassion, doing good and choosing to LOVE in every instance.

Take a little time over the next couple of weeks to think about how you can – as Gandhi said –  ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’, and resolve to keep on doing it! Remember, we can help to bring about changes in the world by changing ourselves.  Everything – the big and the little things (and all the ones in-between) – starts within!

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WHISPER THOUGHTS AND UNDERCURRENTS

For many of us, it’s been a rather turbulent month. I personally succumbed to a nasty bout of Bronchitis which laid me low for about 3 weeks, and I know of a number of others who have been going though health problems recently. But others are enduring worse things, like, for example the continuing heart-breaking catastrophe that unfolds daily in Syria.  On a more general front, there are further rumbles about Brexit and gloomy forecasts about the economy. Plus, let us not forget the results of the US election earlier in the month, which shocked many and appears by no means to be to the satisfaction of the majority. Rather like the aftermath of Brexit (only on a larger scale), we find we have global divided opinions causing people to be at odds with each other, and there is a lot of uncertainty about the future as the world waits to see how this major scenario is going to unfold.

International tension constantly hums in the background of our lives and is strengthened every time we read a newspaper or watch the news. The media feeds on negativity, and it seems there’s nothing it loves more than dissecting and analysing and sending out doom-laden prognoses! And whether we’re aware of it or not, we are affected by it.  And even if you think you’re not, the mind states of those that are (affected by it) can be very disturbing. Believe me, other people’s mind-states are contagious, and their vibes can quite easily permeate our own energy systems.  Those whose frame of mind tends to be of a negative disposition can have an undermining effect on our own thoughts, actions and sleep patterns whether we’re aware of it or not.

The wonderful HeartMath Institute (www.heartmath.com)  to whom I so frequently refer, talks  about “Whisper thoughts and feelings”.  These are feelings which “constantly stream through our awareness – whether we’re at home, at work, sleeping or riding in an Uber. Most whisper thoughts move through quickly if we don’t feed them, yet occasionally, a thought will snag our focus and begin to loop and grow in feeling.”

So, if the US Election has caused numerous whisper thoughts to buzz around your mind like mosquitoes and then burgeon into something akin to an atomic dust cloud; or if there is some other issue which is taking up your focus and attention and causing unease, the good news is  that there is something that you can do about it.

But first, let’s look a little deeper at what’s happening.

One of my teachers, William Bloom, describes the problem of catching other people’s mind states thus:  “We live in a huge interconnected energy field and people’s emotional and mental vibrations roll through this field like waves in an ocean.  If we are sensitive to these energy waves, then distressing mass events can influence us in a negative way, causing anxiety and depression.  Even if you have a strong and upbeat disposition, you can be wobbled into temporary discomfort”.

Last month, I was talking about how Autumn brings change, and changes are certainly what we’re all experiencing right now.  Change is part of life. Nothing stays the same for ever. Growth is a series of changes. It’s inevitable, and if we learn to look at it positively, we can always find some good in it.  But for some people, dealing with change is akin to facing bereavement, causing mourning and an enforced letting go, which in and of itself can bring up strong feelings of insecurity. At times like this, the mind can go into overdrive as it tries to figure out how to get by.

But staying with the analogy of bereavement, when you’re faced with the death of a loved one, no-one is expected to be incredibly organised, or make decisions easily or even to be able to think that clearly.  What happens for a lot of people is that they stop trying to control the situation because they know they can’t change anything, and simply allow the reality of the situation to sink in.  At this point, there’s three steps to take which can always be helpful: Pause; Breathe; and Wait.  In pausing, we can come back to centre; in breathing consciously, we help ourselves to ground and in the waiting, things can begin to calm and the way ahead slowly becomes clearer.

When the world and you and yours are going through a turbulent period, William Bloom has some wise and effective advice:  He says: “…..when faced with humanity passing through one of its regular upheavals, we need to (focus on) the wonder and goodness of life, and not just humanity’s distress”.  It’s therefore really important in times of disruption and turmoil, to feel a sense of connection to the vibrations of the cosmos, be this through the Divine,  Jesus, the Angels or the Goddess or simply via beholding the extraordinary beauty and power of Gaia, our Mother Earth, and/or opening oneself up to the energy of the sun, the moon and the stars.

If you wonder how best to do this, it’s simple. Stand outside and gaze up at the night sky and behold the stars and let yourself be filled with a sense of wonder at the vastness of the universe.  Or, get out in Nature and  let the wind whip through your hair on a country walk; stand on a seaside promenade and watch the waves surging onto the beach; walk by the sea; watch a river flow by; or look at a sunset. Notice how Nature instantly brings peace to your mind and heart and make a point of focussing on that instead of the confusion around you.

Another good thing to do is to practice kindness, compassion and patience with yourself first of all, and stop beating yourself up!  We are all our own worst critics.  We do untold damage to ourselves with the way we judge ourselves.  Notice when you’re being hypercritical towards yourself and consciously break the pattern by self-correcting and instead, thinking about yourself in a more sympathetic manner.  As you get better at doing this, you’ll find that kindness and compassion begin to spill out from within you, radiating a benevolence and goodwill that encourages good in others. This way, we stay immune to other people’s mind states. And we don’t add more anxiety to a worrying situation.

Above all, remember, we all have much more power than we may think we have regarding how we choose to feel and respond to life’s situations.  The heart has a natural intuitive intelligence which enables us to engage with the essence of things, their true nature, and not be pushed off course by the appearance of things on an outer level. Bring about a partnership between heart and mind by pausing, breathing and waiting (holding still).  Allow yourself to connect to Nature, and a greater sense of clarity and peace can be the result. It’s down to us to make the effort to find that balance and be willing to reach for it little by little in order to get there in the end. Try it and see for yourself. It’ll lift your spirits and have you feeling better about yourself and your world.

“All shall be well, all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well …for there is a Force of love moving through the universe that holds us fast and will never let us go”.  Julian of Norwich.

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AUTUMN ON AN INNER LEVEL

I’m sure you’ve all been noticing the glorious colours of the trees as Autumn struts her stuff in full glory. It’s a beautiful time of year and the period when nature starts preparing herself for the winter days as a spring board for the re-birth and new growth which comes in Spring.

Those of you who have been reading my newsletters for while will be familiar with my frequent references to nature holding up a mirror to our inner energies.  No matter that the climate is changing and the seasons are sometimes haphazard, there is still a movement from the early growth of Spring, to the burgeoning of Summer and the bounty of Autumn followed by the withdrawal time of Winter. The seasons are Nature’s energies manifest, and as we are all energetic beings, we are, at a certain level, totally at one with Planet Earth and what is happening to Nature.  This being the case, we can all benefit from tuning into the seasons and seeing  how the time of year corresponds to where we are on our individual journeys.

It helps to know what “the theme” is for each season and this really isn’t hard to work out, because Nature is doing it all there right in front of us as a demonstration!  In a nutshell: Spring is about planting seeds, Summer is about flowering, Autumn is about harvest and letting go,  and Winter is about reflection. We can work in tandem with Nature as our teacher and let her show us where we might focus in order to better understand ourselves, manage our emotions and grow and develop into who we really are. It’s simple beginner’s stuff energywise, but it never hurts to re-visit the basics because, each time we do, we can always  gain some deeper understandings.

So let’s look at Autumn: the most obvious manifestation of it is not only the colour (the ripeness) but also the falling of the leaves. So in terms of ripeness, in what areas of yourself have you noticed  some growth and evolution? Don’t worry if you can’t see much –  if any – of this in yourself!  Just be aware of how you’re definitely on a journey and that every small step you take towards greater wellbeing is a step in the right direction.  And if you can see where you’ve grown (think back to this time last year), make a note of it, and acknowledge the efforts you’ve made and the changes which are beginning. It’s very important to do this, because we can be such hard taskmasters to ourselves, and efforts and results which go unrecognised invariably lead to feelings of downheartedness or the belief that we might just not be “good enough”.

Finding an analogy with the leaves takes us down various avenues.  On one level it’s about clearing and sweeping up – so a great time to de-clutter, and make some more space.  And of course, as you make more space outside of you, automatically, you start feeling more space inside of you! Remember the old Feng Shui principle that re-ordering the outer energies (i.e. your home, your environment) results in a re-balance of the inner ones? (Any of you bought one of the Marie Kondo books on tidying I told you about back in August, by the way???!!!  It’s still not too late!! – I‘d love to hear how any of you are getting on!!) Energy has a fundamental need to move, but it doesn’t mean you have to move mountains to make any difference – even small movements are beneficial.  Think how just tossing the tiniest stone into some water will still make ripples. Energy that’s stuck becomes stagnant, breeding feelings of discontent, hopelessness and difficult emotions. Once you’re there, it’s much harder to move yourself up and out, and motivation can go out of the window because your energy levels are so low. You stop thinking clearly, decisions are harder and you’re likely to over-react to difficult events. If you recognise yourself from this description, it’s good to seek help via a professional practitioner who can steer you towards ways to change and help you take the appropriate steps to do so.

Change is very much the key word for Autumn.   Look around you.  Isn’t that just what’s happening? Nature is going through a pretty dramatic change. Yes?  So where have you changed? What are you trying to change?  How are you doing with it? Make a note. Give yourself some appreciation.  Even if you’re just beginning, you’re on your way!   And if you can’t see that much change, don’t despair and above all don’t be judgemental towards yourself. Instead, be kind to yourself.  Be compassionate. Be understanding.  It takes time and it takes as long as it takes, but as long as your intention is always to keep going, you will make progress – no matter what you’re trying to change. Energy runs through everything and the state of your energy affects everything.  Get the energies moving a bit better in one direction and they’ll have a domino effect on some other level.

Change is all about letting go.  You can’t make changes by sitting tight doing the same thing or remaining in the same place.  You’ve got to come to an agreement within yourself to allow room for manoeuvre so you can start to move forward.. You need to be willing to make some shifts, e. g. give up hanging onto outworn ways of putting things right which you have seen time after time don’t work, and try something different!  And you don’t have to do this without any kind of guidance.  Aside from the many teachers and therapists that are out there to help you, there’s a mass of stuff to help you online which costs you nothing and a plethora of books available to help you make those changes. And of course, there’s always Nature to give you guidance – and that’s free too!!!

So open up and embrace all this Autumnal stuff.  The Autumn energy is there to help you in your resolve.  And be playful. Enjoy making little changes (or big ones if you can!), and revel in the difference it makes in how you feel.  Feeling energy is simple. You’ve been doing it since you were a child but like many others, you may well have forgotten how to do it. Your energy is like a ripple, a wave, or a stream.  You notice it when you get a thrill of exhilaration, a shiver of nerves, a flush of embarrassment, a tingle of pleasure.  When it moves, it moves fast like the swift flight of a bird swooping down from a tree. Energy is signposted by our emotions which are the feedback system of the energy body. Energy can soar to the heavens, it can be  sweeping and flowing and it can be the stillest, deepest, most silent place within which brings utter peace and a sense of oneness with everything. Energy is a river, a sea, an ocean which lives and flows through you and everything else. We all have it! And you can learn to change your own energies, which in turn will change the way you think, act and feel. Energy, when it flows unimpeded, brings freedom of mind, heart and soul, but keeping it banked up and locked down can cost you dear in terms of health and well-being.

So loosen up!  Remember the child in you to help you get back in touch with your energies. Enjoy shuffling through those leaves. Pick up the conkers. Carve a pumpkin.  Light some sparklers. The great festivals of Light are coming (Christmas/Diwali etc.) with all their magic and spirituality. Enjoy the thought of that! And choose to make some changes to your current status quo. Listen to Autumn within, tune in, open up and resolve to let go!

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TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF

“Take care of yourself” is a phrase we bandy about a great deal.  But how much meaning we imply when saying it is another matter.  It’s often just casually added as a pleasantry when saying goodbye to someone to which the recipient more than likely responds saying:  “you too!”

However, every now and again, someone will say it to you with real meaning because they want you to be more mindful of your needs, requirements and/or health. And most of us will have been on the receiving end of that implication at some point in our lives either once or several times. Which begs the question: how much do you (and several other million people in this world) actually manage to really take care of yourself?  I’m asking because it’s something that a lot of us simply don’t do very well.

We take our selves for granted. We think we’ll be OK and we’ll get through another round of burning the candle at both ends, a punishing work schedule, drinking too much, eating too much, eating the wrong foods for our constitution, getting stressed, shouldering heavy responsibilities etc., etc., etc., without too much damage being done. We’re so used to living in our bodies and having them work for us that we think they’re going to be able to do that for ever. However, years of neglect will eventually take its toll and it may be that it’s only when the body gets ill or our mobility lessens that we start thinking we ought to be more careful about how we treat ourselves.

But the time to do it is NOW!

Some people think that taking care of themselves means paying attention to their appearance and so they take time making sure they’re well- groomed and wearing nice clothes.  Their attention might also extend to  spending a bit of time in the gym, or playing sports to keep in shape.  And yes, to a degree, this is indeed taking care of you. But in truth, there’s more to it than that.  Of course your physical body  needs care, but so does your mental, emotional and spiritual body. You could look fabulous, be fit and have a lean and enviable  physique, but if your emotions are all over the place, you’re not taking care of yourself. Why? Because you also need  be mindful of any emotional wounds you’re carrying around which may well have resulted in having a stack of limiting beliefs, and, like as not, believing that you’re not good enough.

The best way to take care of yourself is to grow the ability of being able to love yourself. But here’s the rub: many of us were taught that it’s selfish to do this. As a result, how often do we sacrifice our own needs and go through life missing out on opportunities over the years that might have boosted our self-esteem, improved our ability to love ourselves and learn who we really are? Some of us were taught the Christian ethic of “Love thy neighbour as thyself” – and believe me, that’s a wonderful way to treat others.  But what if you don’t love yourself?  How much love can you truly give to your neighbour then?

In her latest book “What if this is Heaven?” Anita Moorjani addresses this problem, amongst others.  She says: ‘It’s impossible to truly love others unless we learn to love ourselves unconditionally first. The myth that loving ourselves is selfish is the complete opposite of what we need to believe in order to live our lives fully and joyfully.’  She also says:  ‘Self-love is not just about giving yourself praise and telling yourself how awesome you are.  It’s about loving the real you, the human you – the person who has feet of clay, who comes undone under criticism, who sometimes fails and disappoints others.  It’s about making a commitment to yourself that you will stick by yourself – even if no-one else does!’

The bottom line of taking care of yourself is about learning to love yourself more.  In the book, Anita writes about ways to help you in this respect.  She also gives a list of ways to spot when we’re getting it right :

  • ‘It’s when (you) allow (yourself) to make choices that feel like fun and that bring (you) joy and pleasure, instead of constantly worrying about what others are going to think
  • ‘When (you) stop feeling guilty when (your) life is going well or when (you’re) living a life of joy
  • ‘When the voice of (your) self-critic is no longer the loudest voice in (your) head
  • ‘When (you) stop deflecting compliments others give (you) and instead respond with genuine gratitude
  • ‘When what (you) do for others (you) do freely and joyfully instead of out of a sense of obligation or guilt or because (you) feel manipulated
  • ‘When (you) recognise that (you) have the right to be happy, even if the people around (you) are not in a good place or are not themselves happy’.

These are all very worthwhile aspects to reflect upon.

Whilst talking about the need to give ourselves more love and care, it’s also important to talk about caring for others.  Many of us find it easier to do this than to look after ourselves.  Are you one of these people? If so, why do you think that might be? Maybe you feel you don’t deserve to give yourself that kind of love and attention? Or maybe you just forget?  It’s worth taking a bit of time to look and see what might be preventing you from giving yourself the same consideration.

And what about those of us who are acting as primary carers for others?  It’s estimated that there are over 7 million unpaid carers in the UK.  Looking after a sick or disabled friend/partner/spouse/relative is an onerous task which can be very tiring and anyone involved in doing this will know how exhausting it can be.  It’s therefore even more important for the carer to take good care of themselves!   Remember, if you allow yourself to get burnt out with all the caring, who’s going to take your place?

William Bloom, who is one of my teachers, has set up a wonderful website for such people http://everyonecares.com  Here you will find 15 short videos which will explain  techniques you can use to improve your energy and wellness and which will then spill over into care for others, (though actually, they’re all good methods of self-care whatever your situation is!). The techniques are simple to do but highly effective and can certainly make a big difference in terms of giving yourself the support and care you need.  Why not  have a look and try some  of them?  Also, do please pass the information on to others you know who may be interested.

To re-iterate:  Taking care of yourself is not only important for your health – it has a very beneficial knock-on effect. For if you have more of a sense of well-being, then everything else in your life is likely to be far less of a problem. Ultimately, it boils down to learning how to love yourself.  And when you get better at doing that, you can begin to change your whole world.

As it says in that commercial  –  you’re worth it!!

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