We have all heard that it is really important to stay stress-free in pregnancy but why is that? I, for one, was really stressed in my second pregnancy. I began feeling very anxious at the thought of having to go through birth again, with the first birth being a very long labour, with a back-to-back baby, pre-eclampsia, induction and a forceps delivery. So I tried my hardest to increase more of what helped me relax (meditation, swimming, being in nature, yoga) so I could feel less stressed, just because I didn't want to feel like that and I also had an intuitive feeling that the stress was not good for my unborn baby girl. I now know that any negative or fearful thoughts and feelings I was having, whilst pregnant, were being passed through my placenta to her. When a foetus is in a mother's womb, the mother is the external environment for that foetus and any emotions and feelings affect the baby. If the mother is relaxed and happy, the baby is relaxed and happy. If the mother is stressed, the baby is stressed. Halfway through the pregnancy, the baby's brain starts learning and it does so through the placenta, which aswell as delivering nutrition through the blood delivered through the placenta, also delivers the mother's emotions and thoughts. If I had known this, I would have been having all the holistic therapies I could and meditating every spare minute I had! But seriously, life is stressful, being pregnant is stressful and we can feel fear with the impending changes in our body and what lies ahead when we bring a new baby into the world. But if we can become more aware that if we can try to keep our thoughts positive, try to look after our wellbeing and health (by having a Pregnancy Massage or Maternity Reflexology or Reiki) or learning to quiet our mind with Meditation, we can only be sending positive vibes to our little bundle of joy.
Meditation and a spiritual life helped saved me from a life anxiety. A life of fear-based and negative thinking, feeling constantly on edge and often scared, having a lack of confidence and low self-esteem, not being able to talk sometimes, over-analysing and 'what-if' thinking, shying away from social situations (or choosing to numb my feelings with drink and drugs), heart palpitations, feeling dizzy, low energy and tired all the time, not eating properly and a general feeling of dread upon waking each day.
I discovered meditation about 20 years ago. There were not many meditation groups around and it was probably a bit 'hippy' but I needed some peace and calm in my mind as it had reached a peak and I was living a very hectic and busy life in London. I needed to connect with some stillness. I started to meditate on my own lying down on the floor with a book called The Little Book of Calm. When I moved to Portsmouth in 2000, I discovered a beautiful meditation group at The Quiet Mind Centre, which is no longer sadly there and I really started to learn. "Everything is perfect as it is", "Everything happens for a reason" and "We are all one" were 3 of the many spiritual sayings that I chose to live by and when I felt this connection, I no longer felt so alone and my healing begun.
20 years on and I am still learning and growing and I 'meditate' not only sat on my bed in quiet (which is sometimes a bit tricky in my noisy household!) but when I am working with clients, when I am cooking, when I am writing, when I am in nature. Meditation is about connecting with the stillness and I try to connect with it at many points in my day. And the reason I do this, is because it is that stillness which heals us. That stillness, that quiet place, that inner peace is an escape from the chaos of everyday life. It is like a sanctuary you can retreat to and the more you do it, the easier it becomes and the more you can feel it through out your every day life.
Meditation slows the nervous system right down, it calms the mind, it slows down the thoughts, it helps you think more clearly and more positively, it physically slows the body down and helps you to breathe properly so no palpitations, it grounds you so no dizziness, it balances all the systems so you have a healthy appetite and enjoy food, it makes you feel happy so you want to be with people and your happiness will bounce onto them too, you feel excited about life, you feel connected to something more so you don't feel alone.
The thought of meditating, when you have anxiety, can put many people off. I, for one, did not want to sit down and be with my thoughts, I felt way too ungrounded for that. That is why I have made my meditation guidance more of a treatment. So you can come to a safe place, feel super relaxed on a warm couch with relaxing music playing and just lie down and let me do the work first. Let me show you the quiet space by guiding you gently into relaxation, then a meditation. Once you feel this stillness, you will want to know how to start doing it yourself, so I will show you a very short meditation to do at home. And if you like it, we meet again and we do the same, but with some different words to show you a different aspect of how it can help you. The course is 4 parts - Body, Mind, Heart and Soul as these are the areas, I believe, are really given a boost with meditation.
So, if you feel interested, if you are suffering with anxiety or have any other stress-related, busy-mind symptoms, why not give it a try. Meditation heals. Naturally. And I would be honoured to show you this and help with your journey of healing.
Compassion is the sympathy for the suffering of others and the desire to free them from it. Yet, how does one become a compassionate person and how can we try to live life from a generous heart, when we live in a world that often encourages us to focus on our own needs?
The Dalai Lama believes that every human being has an innate desire for happiness and does not want to suffer. He also believes that the purpose of this life is to experience this happiness. Our true human values, underneath our needs to achieve what we desire in our material world, are qualities like sharing with one another and caring for one another.
Altruism means a sense of caring for others and developing an attitude that our own individual concerns are less important than those of others. Love, compassion and forgiveness are basic human values that we would do well in trying to nurture within ourselves on a daily basis. Usually when faced with problems, we look at them from our own point of view. But to look at the situation from others' angles or with a wider perspective, can create compassion. We can see that we are all seeking to achieve happiness, we are no different, it is better that we solve this mutually, rather than creating disharmony and fighting. By recognising that the mind can be changed, that we can change our attitudes by using different thought processes, we can transform our minds from negative thinking to compassion. Meditation is an effective training of the mind which allows us to connect to our heart and develope our compassion. Human emotions are very powerful and sometimes overwhelm us. But if we can distance ourselves from these strong emotions before they arise in us, we can see them for what they are and that they will too pass.
If you can develope patience, tolerance, peacefulness and calm in your mind, these are signs of strength. The difficult times in your life provide the best opportunities to gain inner strength and develope a warm heart. The Dalai Lama suggests that as long as we are part of human society, it is very important to be a kind, warm-hearted person. This beautiful poem, sums it up:
May the poor find wealth,
Those weak with sorrow find joy,
May the forlorn find new hope,
Constant happiness and prosperity.
May the frightened cease to be afraid,
And those bound be free.
May the weak find power,
And may their hearts join in friendship.
Understanding automatic pilot
We operate on automatic pilot most of the time, floating along in life from activity to activity, not really paying attention and one day it's all going to pass us by and we never really were truly present. We think the same thoughts, we react unnecessarily when things don't go as planned and we create stress in our minds and bodies. But the good news is that there is a way out of these habitual patterns.
Doing mode is what most of us operate from most of the times. We work, we have tasks to do, things to achieve, people to see and we do this mostly on automatic pilot, without really thinking about it all. We get to the end of the day and it has gone so quickly and we wonder why? Because we have been lost in our heads in this doing mode all day at such a fast pace. And we are beginning to realise that staying in your head space all day, without taking a break from it, can cause many health problems in the body and in the mind.
Being mode is when you connect with the present moment. You become aware of all your senses. You bring your head energy down to the heart, which is where the true 'you' lives, you become aware of your emotions and thoughts but without getting caught up in them. You accept things for what they are, rather than what you think they are, which is often based on past fears or future worries. You can step into this mode at any given moment, it doesn't require years of practice.
Combining being with doing
And once you learn how to 'be' more and 'do' less, you can combine the two, to create a more harmonious life. We all need to do things but you can come out of the automatic pilot of doing and embrace more of the being, and really start noticing what is going on around you. Life will flow in a more slower and smoother way, with less stress and less distractions from the external world and an increased ability to connect with your internal world.
How can we do this?
By learning to meditate, learning to live mindfully, learning to appreciate the simple things in life, learning to let go of past concerns and future worries and learning how to connect with the present moment.
A simple daily breath meditation is a great way to start. Your mind will start to quieten and your thoughts will slow down and you will begin to discover the beauty of just being, rather than doing everything on automatic pilot.
Message me for more information on meditation practice, which I now offer as a home visit.
The freedom to move our joints is something we take for granted but over time, our ability to do this lessens. Ageing, injury, the menopause, over-use of a particular area, can all result in limited mobility and sometimes pain and an onset of conditions such as arthritis.
How can we keep our joints mobilised, flexible and in full-working order? One of the ways is to use an Ayurveda oil to massage the key areas. Ayurveda works on the principle of three 'doshas' - vata, pita and kapha. We have these 3 elements in our body and by keeping them in balance, we keep our bodies in balance, thus preventing illness and disease. With a busy lifestyle, stress, lack of exercise and a poor diet, our doshas can easily become out-of-balance and this is when we may start to feel achey joints as one of the results of imbalance.
The vata part of our body is the key part which affects our joints. It is related to coldness, stiffness and roughness. It explains why our bodies get stiff when they feel cold. So when we have a massage, it increases warmth in our body and joints and balances out the vata part. An Ayurvedic oil such as the one I use in my Ayurveda Massage contains 37 Ayurvedic herbs to specifically warm the body and pacify excess vata in the body.
Another way to balance vata in the body is to do gentle exercise, such as Yoga or Tai Chi, which will help support your joints and flexibility. Gentle walking will also help circulate oxygen around the joints and keep them supple.
Adding anti-inflammatory herbs to your diet, such as turmeric, ginger and cinnamon, can help support healthy circulation and tissue support.
Boswellia (Indian Frankincense) is a great Ayurvedic supplement, which is well-known for it's anti-arthritic, pain-relieving and anti-arthritic properties.
Why not try an Ayurveda Massage today. £45 for 1 hour. Your joints will thank you!