BREATHING, MEDITATION, MINDFULNESS, CONNECTION, BREATHWORK, PEACE, INNERWORLD,

BREATHING MEDITATION:

For this meditation we are going to use the breath as a support.

I find it helpful to take 3-5 really deep breaths as I start to help calm my system down (as most of us are always rushing around)

So

  • Chose a quiet place and sit in a comfortable position either on a chair or on the floor
  • Keep your back straight
  • Close your eyes gently and relax the face, jaw and shoulders
  • Place your palms face up or down on your lap, whichever is more comfortable
  • Take 3 deep inhalations and exhalations through your nostrils
  • Then settle and start to notice the natural flow of your breath. You don’t have to breathe in any particular way here just breathe as you always do
  • As you breathe in and out it can be helpful to focus on one point like the tip of your nose where the breath enters and leaves again
  • It’s completely natural for your mind to wander so don’t get frustrated when this happens just gently say to yourself “whoops there I go again wandering off” and come back to the breath again.
  • Continue with this breathing meditation for 5-10 minutes each day and build from there

MY TOP 3 TIPS:

START YOUR DAY THE RIGHT WAY

I meditate in the morning as I find it helps start my day in a positive and intentional way. It’s a great way to settle yourself before the madness begins and I find if you give yourself 5-10 minutes in the morning your ability to cope with stress and any obstacles you encounter during the day is much better. Focusing on our breathing is a very powerful tool to help with anxiety and depression.

 

SMALL STEPS EACH DAY

Real change happens when we are consistent with our habits. 5-10 minutes each day is far better and more beneficial than 2 hours once a week. Even though small changes might not feel like a lot, trust me they make a big difference and the kind of difference you are really looking for = REAL CHANGE.

 

BE EASY WITH YOURSELF

As you begin your journey into meditation be kind and compassionate with yourself. It’s too easy to beat yourself up for wandering thoughts or unwanted emotions arising but this is not the time for that, we do that too much anyway. Instead, this is your time to focus on the present in a non-judgmental way to increase awareness, which in turn helps to calm the body and mind.

Join me on Facebook in my Minding Mum Group for live weekly meditations

Shine Bright

Ali xxx

When we talk about mindfulness people can get stressed thinking they have to allocate large amounts of time and energy to it. The trick is to simplify it and bring it naturally into your day. For me being more mindful is learning to pay attention more to what is happening in the moment. We can do this while driving, cleaning, and exercising or indeed during conversations with friends but one of the most important times to really try and become more mindful is at meal times.

We are always being told about what we should eat but what about HOW we should eat? How many of us eat on the run or at our desks or in front of the TV. This mindless form of eating is actually wreaking havoc on our health. We have lost our connection to food and food is our life source so it’s important that we understand the value of not just eating right but also eating mindfully.

A lot of people view food as the problem in life and are constantly on diets and restricting the very thing that nourishes us physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually. When we switch this up and see food as a solution it can help us to reconnect to ourselves our emotions and our habits around eating. Health is all about balance and the winter months are the perfect time to reconnect with food in a deeply nourishing way. Christmas time is also about food and connecting with those we love. It shouldn’t be about feeling bad or even guilty afterwards.

How we eat is how we live and how we live is how we eat. In other words our relationship to food and eating represents our relationship to our lives. Think about how you eat, keep a food diary for a week and start to notice how you are treating yourself through food. If we eat artificial, processed and fast food than we become that. Do you eat for emotional reasons, which is basically eating instead of feeling, this is something most of us do on a day-to-day basis so don’t worry you are not alone. The trick is to tune in, slow down and pay attention.

The benefits of mindful eating are plentiful but most importantly your digestion is improved. When you are stressed and busy you are in what’s called fight or flight mode or “stressed mode”. This is when the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated leading to all sorts of digestive problems starting with your digestive system being shut down and fewer digestive enzymes being released. There is also less hydrochloric acid in your stomach released which is not good as you need HCL to break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins into the vitamins and minerals that are needed for optimal health. If you are stressed, your hormones and mood will also be deranged and your immunity compromised.

MINDFUL EATING, MINDFULNESS, EATING WELL, HOW YOU EATSo here’s some of my TOP TIPS:

  • EAT SLOWER AND BREATHE– Most of us eat too fast so even slowing down a bit will help enormously. Take three deep breaths before each meal too as this will help encourage your body in a para-sympathetic mode AKA the one you want! When you slow down you are more likely to notice when you are full too.
  • CHEW, CHEW, CHEW– Most of us barely chew these day but chewing allows your food to be mixed with digestive enzymes in the mouth which helps to begin the digestive process. It will also help you to eat less too.
  • NO DISTRACTIONS – Turn off the TV, phone and step away from the computer. All of these distractions encourage mindless eating so instead of tuning into your devices tune into to the taste, smell and colour of your food, which helps to stimulate senses and connect your body and mind with your food.

My first book Minding Mum is all about understanding that self-care is not selfish in fact it’s probably the most selfless thing you can do.

I learnt this lesson the hard way after I had my son James who is now just nearly six. I completely neglected my own needs post birth and was certainly not Minding Mum. I pushed myself way too hard, didn’t eat properly and it came at a huge cost to both myself and my son as I became very ill with postnatal depression. What I have realized the past seven years on my wellness journey is that if our own tank is empty we have no strength and energy to give to others.

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SELFCARE

Once I started to value myself enough to eat well, exercise, talk kindly to myself and practice daily happiness habits I began to understand the power of self care. I learnt what it truly means not only for ourselves but for those we love.

I now have more time (believe it or not), patience, energy and vitality for James since Minding Mum. Practicing self-care does not mean you are shirking your responsibilities. In fact as a parent there is no better way to instill confidence and self-esteem into your kids than to be a healthy and happy role model.

I know the first thing mums say is that they have no time for Minding Mum and since they have had their children they can’t even go to the bathroom alone anymore. The only time I have had a shower alone without 20 questions is when I’m away.

I was an impossibly stubborn Mum and thought this too. However when I was unwell I found it incredibly difficult to get dressed most days and knew something had to change. There is real power in self care and even more power in taking small steps to get there.

BABYSTEPS

Rome wasn’t built in a day and sometimes we need to relearn or learn in my case to like ourselves and value ourselves. The small changes I have made over the past few years have led me on a path of true wellness. Not only that I have discovered the true contentment I have always craved but never been able to find. After I had James I stopped placing my worth in external things like property, boyfriends and job status but I started to look within and face my fears.

It’s been a rocky road and some days I’ve felt brave and others scared but every day I have been giving life my best shot. I am now living an anxiety and depression free life, which is something I never thought, would be possible. I have daily happiness habits and if you scroll through Facebook for 10 minutes you can do this too.

TIPS FOR MINDING MUM:

  1. THANK YOU

Say thank you every morning as you wake and keep a gratitude diary. This should take no more than 3 minutes each day. Recent research from Harvard happiness researcher and author Shawn Achor says that if you pick 3 different things each day that you are grateful for not only does it help your optimism but also it actually rewires our brain. This is one of the most powerful tools I use daily and this habit helped to drag me out of some dark times. Sometimes we can become too focused on what is going wrong and miss everything that is going right!

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2. FIND YOUR WELLNESS FORMULA

We’re all different which is the beauty of life and what’s works for one will not work for another so have fun and find a formula that works for you. In life we tend to focus on just one area at a time like diet or exercise but what I have found is that a little of everything is better than a lot of one thing to help you find that balance. (PG 23 in my book)

Minding mum, gratitude, book, author, be complete, family, parenting, mums, gill books, self care3. EAT REAL FOOD

We’ve made food very complicated and there are thousands of diets out there now. My advice is keeping it simple so eat fresh wholefoods. Remove the word diet for your life, as they simply don’t work! Steer clear of processed foods and ease up on sugar. Stay on the outskirts of the supermarkets (usually where fresh produce is) cook and freeze for the week if you are short on time and try to eat a variety of colour.

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4. KEEP HYDRATED

You will never realise how bad you feel until you start to feel good, and hydration or dehydration can be the cause of so many illnesses [so too much hydration could make you sick too?]. For the past fifteen years I have started my day with lemon water. It all started at a photo-shoot one day, when my skin was bad as I suffered with adult acne. A make-up artist told me that drinking warm lemon water every morning would help. It is something that I have done ever since and since studying nutrition I have come to realise that the benefits are far greater than I could have ever imagined.

So my first tip for hydration is to wake up your body with a glass of warm water and lemon each day. This will kick start your digestive system and metabolism. It’s small changes like this that will make a massive difference to your health. Just think of how dehydrated you are after a night’s sleep. Does it not make sense to drink fluids first before putting more food in? When I take a break from drinking warm lemon water in the morning I really notice the difference in how efficient my digestive system is and I also notice a difference in my energy levels.

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LEMONS

Lemons are great because they contain bioflavonoids, potassium and Vitamin C. Bioflavonoids are super antioxidants that contribute to good heart health and have powerful anti-carcinogens. Potassium stimulates the brain as well as helping keep your blood pressure under control and the antioxidants from the Vitamin C will really help your skin (healing, especially after a C-section). Vitamin C is required to produce collagen, a protein that plays a critical role in the structure of our bodies. Collagen is the framework for our skin and our bones and without it, we would quite literally fall apart. Vitamin C also aids the absorption of iron and if you live in a big city just look at Vitamin C as a giant fire extinguisher for all the pollution and nasty toxins out there.

TOP TIP: Get more water into your day by keeping a bottle with you all the time and by drinking herbal teas (caffeine is a diuretic). Eat your water by including water-rich fruits and vegetables in your diet, like cucumber and watermelon.

5. CATCH NEGATIVE THOUGHTS AND SWITCH THEM TO MORE POSITIVE ONES

This sounds easy but some of us are in a pattern of consistent negative thinking without even realizing it and it’s a habit that we can break with practice. I use my STOP- CATCH – CHANGE formula which is Stop your negative thought, catch it and change it to a positive one. This might seem unnatural and hard in the beginning but it becomes easier with time. I use it to catch negative thoughts about myself, others, work and life in general. Building good self-esteem means appreciating yourself and treating yourself with compassion.

6. FIND AN EXERCISE YOU ACTUALLY LIKE

Fitness is meant to be fun and if it’s not for you then try something new. Life is hard enough without dreading our exercise class or the gym. There are 100’s of options to keep moving and keep fit. I get bored so I switch it up all the time from yoga to Pilates and the gym. You need to feel good about what you are doing as our body, mind and spirit are all connected.

7. MY TOP BEAUTY TIPS ARE

Keep it simple and keep it real. Make up should be used to highlight your features and I’m definitely a “less is more” girl. From a health perspective I have also started to use more natural and paraben free products after all, a lot of the chemicals in our beauty products are absorbed by our skin and enter into our bloodstream.

When I was recovering from depression and anxiety I started to understand that the products we use disrupt our endocrine system and our hormones, which is all related to mental health. (CouleurCaramel.ie and Phyts are great brands) Try switching up your deodorants to a more natural alternative too. It’s the cumulative effect of all the products that causes the problems as our bodies are actually very good at detoxing naturally but they just can’t cope with being overloaded with environmental toxins, product toxins, bad food and a bad lifestyle!

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8. ALWAYS CLEAN YOUR SKIN PROPERLY AND WASH YOUR PILLOW CASE REGULARLY

I have suffered from adult acne so my rule with my pillow is

SLEEP-TURN-SLEEP-WASH

So you sleep on one side, then turn it over the following night and sleep on the opposite side, and then wash it. It’s simple and effective.

9. USE YOUR BREATH

Stress is our biggest killer these days and using mindfulness and meditation can help. Its simple, if you can breathe you can meditate. Our breath is our most powerful asset yet it is the most underused resource we have and its free and available all the time. As a busy mum you can feel overwhelmed quite often and very often just taking a moment to stop and breathe can make all the difference.

Stop, breathe and be

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10. STOP JUDGING AND START SUPPORTING

I have one rule and that’s always try and be there for another mum who needs you. All mums are working mums whether you stay at home or go out to work. There is no ideal situation as each one of us are completely different. To create a good work/life balance you need to do what’s right for you. There is a full chapter on PND (post natal depression) in the book, which is honest and offers great tips on asking for help and helping yourself!

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There are many more tips in my book ‘Minding Mum’ which you can buy here which you can buy here.

So what does selfcare really mean?

Selfcare is something that only you can provide for yourself and is by far the most important ingredient for true wellness.

  • It means showing up for yourself every single day.
  • It means taking the time to work on yourself instead of avoiding yourself.

In 2017, we saw words like selfcare, authenticity and mindfulness often being overused, yet very misunderstood.

Saying and doing are very different things. Having struggled with my own mental health and addictions for 20 years, words like selfcare, authenticity and mindfulness are sacred words upon which the solid foundation of a strong and healthy lifestyle is built.

Real self care is about valuing yourself enough to treat yourself with respect and kindness. It’s about understanding that there are no prizes in life for being a sacrificial lamb, and understanding that when you give to yourself first, you have so much more to give to others, so it’s a true win win. Just think about aeroplanes when they ask you to put on your own mask first before helping others.

I agree that selfcare can be difficult sometimes because it asks us to be present and deal with life as it happens instead of pretending everything is fine. Very often we wear a mask for the outside world when our world inside is crumbling. But it is only through facing the very things that scare us can we have real change and peace in our hearts and minds.

selfcare, mindfulness, thoughts, intentions, authenticity,

Selfcare means finding and following our passion and purpose. It means being strong and aligning with our true values and ethos instead of merging with the masses and losing our way. When we practice authentic selfcare, we work with our mind and transform it to create a better life not only for ourselves but also for those around us.

Selfcare awakens our authentic self and allows us to live out our true calling and not one mapped out for us by others. However its needs ingredients like consistency, awareness, mindfulness, love, kindness, gratitude and daily practice to be transformed into a way of living that continuously delivers miracles to us daily.

When we practice living like this, we experience a shift in perception, which encourages us to be kinder and more loving to both others and ourselves.

LIFE IS A JOURNEY

As individuals we never stop growing, learning and evolving till the day we die. When we do, problems happen. One of the biggest learnings I have had so far is that you can either consciously choose to live life to the fullest, or you can do what I did for years and walk around dead. There are so many people in the world today who are alive but dead.

I became stagnant in different areas of my life and stunted my growth. Very often, as human beings, we have a goal in life such as leaving college and getting a good job or getting married and having kids. What can happen when we achieve these things is that we become complacent and dare I say even lazy. We have now hit our target and so we stop trying and sit back to enjoy the ride. I did this for years as I reached goals I thought ‘that’s it fantastic life will now take care of me’ but I learnt the hard way that it simply doesn’t work like that. You get out of life what you put into it and every time you get to a place where you feel comfortable, it’s time to push further and grow more.

 

This is how you stay alive, excited, curious, connected and adventurous. When you live this way, you are happening to life and life is not happening to you. When you become stagnant, life happens to you. This is when you become a victim.

I used to be a victim! Nothing was ever my fault. It was always someone else’s. If I didn’t book a big job it was my agents’ fault, my sisters’, boyfriends’ or whoever was lucky enough to be standing to close to me at the time. If I missed work because I was out drinking, it was the fault of the people I was with, not mine.

 

It’s hard to take responsibility, it’s hard to look at yourself in the mirror and see aspects of yourself that are not so appetizing.

selfcare, mindfulness, thoughts, intentions, authenticity,

Responsibility and selfcare go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. Self-respect and selfcare go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other and boundaries and selfcare go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other.

I learned all of this the hard way. I had no self-respect; little or no boundaries and I never took responsibility for my behavior even when it meant I was hurting others.

Addiction will strip you bare. It will chew you up and spit you out. It will lie to you and for the small moment that you think it relieves your pain, it will give you more and multiply it by four each time.

Facing and feeling the issues and problems that life presents to us heal pain. It doesn’t work by turning your cheek and running the other way. I know because I did this for most of my adult life. Avoiding pushes those experiences and feelings down further. You push them down so hard and far you think you are clever and that they are gone forever but one day they will bubble back to the surface and what do you then?

They will present themselves in all sorts of ways through illness, depression, anger and rage. Just think of it like a bottle of coke that you have been shaking for years. Now just imagine when the cap comes off, the mess it makes. Does it not make sense to feel and deal as we go along so that the mess doesn’t get so overwhelming?

Now I’m well aware that life is complex and each one of us has our own journey. Some people are given the tools to cope and some are not. I had none and mental health is certainly not a topic that was ever spoken about when I was young. Mental health issues and addictions bring shame and guilt into a family and that cycle can only be broken when each one of us accepts that no one is perfect and we need more understanding, support and compassion.

Shame, blame and guilt are deeply ingrained in Irish culture, primarily a hangover of the control the Catholic Church had for so long. When you have been reared like this, it’s hard to break the cycle and break free.

Part of practicing selfcare means being genuinely kind and compassionate towards yourself and when guilt has been your comfort zone, the shift to love can take time.

My golden rule is to treat yourself as you would a best friend. Every time you say something mean, ask yourself ‘would I say that to a friend’. Our words have real power and negative self-talk lowers our energy and vibration.

selfcare, mindfulness, thoughts, intentions, authenticity,I also believe mindfulness is one of the most important daily practices and something that is not optional anymore. We need to consciously include mindful moments in our lives because the digital age has now removed the ones we had naturally. We have become wired and tired and need to bring more mindfulness in to help calm and control both our body and mind.

Overall selfcare enables you to find your way among the masses, to find your way home to your true self. After all it’s an inside out world regardless of what the illusion of this world would have you think.

So why should you do this and practice selfcare?

Because you are unique. You are the only you on the whole earth and you are a unique expression of our creator’s love.

So don’t ever expect to be like anyone else. Just be you. Your beautiful bright, bold and unique self.

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