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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.

BOOK NOW FOR TICKETS TO MY FULL 360 EVENTS – A FULL DAY OF WELLBEING

Lets raise awareness of the amount of plastic in our lives by encouraging people to eliminate the use of single-use plastic. We have put a list of tips together that will make this easy.

This article was first published on thebamboobrushsociety.com

1. SHOPPING BAGS

When you’re out of the house, you sometimes make a spontaneous trip to the supermarket without bringing a grocery bag. Here’s what you do! Always have a bag in your work bag, car, or other vehicle you drive. Maybe also leave a few at the office! This way you don’t end up buying another bag.

2. WATER BOTTLES
Plastic bottle floating ocean
Let’s start with some scary facts: 53 billion gallons of bottled water are consumed globally. Only 1 out of 5 bottles is recycled. 40% of all bottled water is taken from municipal water sources. Bottled water costs up to 10.000 times more than tap water. Not convinced yet? Carrying around your own water bottle is very trendy these days! These are some of the brands we love; Mizu,  Klean Kantene and Dopper.

3. STRAWS

In case you’re running a restaurant, first have a look at alternatives like PLA straws. Maybe don’t give out straws at all. For consumers: ask the waiter to serve your drink without a straw. It’s that easy! In case you really like a straw here are some cool ones; glas straws from Simply straw and paper straws from Aardvark straws.


4. COFFEE CUPS


Coffee cups are hard to recycle. Bring your own coffee cup, some baristas may even give you a little discount. And please take your cup like you most enjoy your sunbathing: topless. Do you really need that plastic lid?

5. GROCERY SHOPPING

Špeceraj, Zero Waste shop in Croatia

A lot of cities now have zero waste stores. But there are other alternatives to ‘regular’ supermarkets that use plastic packaging for almost all of their products:
a. Choose bread sold in a paper bag or no bag at all. Or get one these cool bags from Bag Again.
b. Return fruit and veggie containers to the store to be reused.
c. Bring your own containers to the store.

6. CHEWING GUM
Did you know almost all chewing gum is made from plastic? That’s right. When you’re chewing gum, you’re chewing on plastic.

7. RAZORS
Use a razor with replaceable blades instead of a disposable razor.
8. LIGHTERS

Plastic lighters are made from heavy plastic and can travel around the world for years and years. Go back to matches or buy an oldschool lighter that you can pass on to the next generation.
9. PLASTIC WRAP

Beeswrap; a great alternative for the plastic wrap.

Who doesn’t love homemade, unprocessed food? So why cover it in a plastic wrap?! Especially when you know the chemicals from the plastic can end up in your food. Using glass storage containers is the way to go here. Or check out Bee’s Wrap sustainable food storage.

10. CLOTHING

So many new products are made from synthetic materials: polyester, acrylic, lycra, spandex, nylon. In other words, plastic. Please check before you buy; there are so many cool brands that care about the stuff they use. And maybe you can buy a little less as well.

Congrats you made it to the end of the page. Bonus tip: Plastic toothbrush replace with a bamboo one ;-)

A few years ago, I was at a party and was being introduced to a well-known Irish celebrity. He shook my hand, said, “Nice to meet you Bernie, and by the way I love your bright blue colour”.

Auras

I thanked him and we continued chatting for a while. This was much to the amusement of some of the people standing near me. When he went off to get a drink, one of his friends turned around and asked me what was all that about the bright blue colour? I explained that he had seen the colour in my Aura.

Every living person, animal, plant etc. on this earth is surrounded by what is known as an Aura. It is an electromagnetic energy field that surrounds us all. It is part of our life force. Mystics have known for thousands of years about these subtle bodies of energy and in recent years a special type of photography known as “Kirlian” has proven the existence of these energy radiations.

When you learn how to read someone, at first glance most people will see a soft white light surrounding the other person, and at a deeper level, various colours which usually radiate, vibrate or shimmer, will become evident. According to Aura experts, each colour in the Aura represents different aspects of our emotions, physicality and personalities etc.  These colours will be interpreted differently in each person and a reading will be unique to that individual.

Depending on what is going on in our Life at any given moment in time, different shades /hues/ colours will be visible to those who can read Auras. This is something that some people can do naturally, others can, if they wish, learn how to read Auras. This can be a useful tool in all walks of Life, whether used in business or pleasure, as it can often help us to tune into our loved ones or work colleagues and gauge how they are feeling. It could be described as part of our integral instinct. It can also be useful in warning us against mean or unscrupulous people, or on the other hand it may be useful for you to see how well other people are responding to you.

Auras can also give us signals when we meet someone new, or begin a relationship. What is often described as “Chemistry” between two people can be just a case of whether our Auras react well or indifferently to each other. If we feel at ease with another person, our Auras will gel and can begin to completely merge together as we begin to fall in love with the other person. This is often why, when we lose a loved one or split from someone we loved, we are left with an empty void, that can often be seen, felt or described as a hole in our Aura.

As a healer, tuning into a person’s Aura can often show significant important information as to the state of a person’s well-being, and can occasionally display minor physical ailments. This in turn may enable the healer or therapist to help clear and balance any negativity in the Etheric Aura, the one closest to the physical body.

Copyright © Bernie Hickey Spiritual Journey

Today’s world is often referred to as fast paced, busy and chaotic. We are overfed stress and worry and we are undernourished in areas that truly matter. This concept of being ‘overfed and undernourished’ goes far beyond any food we put on our plate. 

 

I would go as far as saying, that our country is becoming a nation of human beings that are over worked, tired and are operating continuously at maximum capacity. What happens our minds, our bodies and our souls when we get tired, bombarded or run down? We become sick. We become fatigued. We become anxious. We become ill. 

Having worked as a Pharmacist for almost a decade – I could see first hand the frantic, stress ridden, pill popping nation that we have become. I witnessed the rising scale in antidepressants being prescribed. I saw the rise in sleeping tablets, anti-anxiety medication and stress related diseases, ranging from auto immune diseases, inflammatory disorders, skin problems, stomach disease and cancer to name a few. From behind the dispensary – I could see with my own two eyes our society crumbling into sickness and disease. 

Dis – ease, the very word meaning “a lack of ease”. 

I could see both young and old becoming a nation where the concept of “ease” in our lives was merely non existent. A nation where our norm was to be “busy” and “stressed” and if you weren’t busy or stressed, then you weren’t successful. 

But this doesn’t have to be the way. We, as human beings have an infinite inner well of consciousness that wants to be healthy. We inherently want to be happy. We want to have inner peace. We crave to live a life that is healthy, and prosperous and rich in creativity and exhilaration. 

But we tend to get caught up in the rat race, we can often get stuck in a job that doesn’t fulfil us, or a relationship that doesn’t ignite us. We somehow can find ourselves living a life that is not full of “ease”. We can find ourselves feeling “stuck” or stale, and our life can lack meaning or inspiration. When this happens we can turn to food, or alcohol or some external source to try and bring some light or life back into our lives, only to find that, this too falls short and leaves us feeling worse off than ever before. 

So what’s the solution? How can we go about finding some “ease” in our lives? How can we begin to find some meaning in our world? How can we reduce the anxiety, the stress, the overwhelming emotions that surge us on a day to day basis? One way that helped me immensely was Yoga. 

If you read my earlier article on ‘Why yoga really can be for everyone’ and the benefits behind yoga, you will know that Yoga goes far beyond just the physical. One of the main benefits that I find, and that many of my clients experience, is the escaping healing feeling that yoga brings to ones life.

 

Yoga – meaning union, unites mind with the body, and body with the soul. 

In today’s world – this connection is vital. We don’t need more noise, or more busyness, or more loud music, or more adrenaline. What the world needs is more stillness. More silence. More space. More time out. More recovery. More rest. More breathing. More connection. Yoga delivers all of the above and more. 

When you get on the mat, you centre yourself. You ground yourself. You connect. To find more ease in our lives and in our world, it’s important that we first find some balance and stability within ourselves. 

Yoga empowers connection back to our inner world. It enables you to actually stop for a second and scan your body. Scan your emotions. Scan your thoughts. Check in with yourself and listen to your intuition. One of the best ways to reduce stress in your life, is to give yourself a break. In order to find some ease and relaxation in our lives we need to first stop, listen and feel. To take some time out from the busyness and connect to a space of stillness. 

Yoga Breathing or Pranayama: 

When you get on your yoga mat – you connect your mind and body through the breath. The breath – which is our life force energy – our Prana. Once we engage with deep mindful breathing we reduce the anxiety by activating our para sympathetic nervous system. This is our rest and recovery system – the opposite to our fight or flight system where we operate most of our lives from.

When we engage in yogic breathing (see the simple excerise below) we reduce anxiety and nervous tension in our central nervous system. When we are anxious – our nerve endings can become irritated and excited. They become heightened and activated, and we thus, become “on edge” and anxious and develop nervous tension and irritability. 

Doing this breathing along with certain yoga poses (asanas) we can calm down our entire nervous system. We activate this para sympathetic nervous system and as a result reduces our stress hormone cortisol. This reduces heart rate, blood pressure and anxiety. 

Yoga breathing (pranayama) is the foundation of your yoga practice. It begins with deepening your breathing and engaging is a 3-part breath technique.

Try this simple breathing technique at least once a day for a week and observe how it affects your body, breath, and mind. This mindful excercise can be done at just about any time of day, though preferably not immediately following a large meal.

How to:

  1. Lie comfortably on your back (with your knees slightly bent and your feet flat on the floor) about hip-distance apart or lie in savasana (corpse pose), whichever is most comfortable for you.

  2. Place one palm on your abdomen and just breathe comfortably for a few moments. Notice the quality of your breath. Does the breath feel tense? shallow? rapid? strained? Simply observe the breath without trying to adjust it or change it, or without any judgment.

  3. Then gradually begin to relax your breathing. Slow your breath down, deepen the inhalation and try make the breath as smooth as possible.

  4. Begin to draw the breathe in for a count of 4.

  5. Slowly introduce a slight PAUSE after each inbreath.

  6. Then gracefully release your breath through a nice slow relaxed exhalation to the count of 8.

  7. So the breathing goes something like this;  inhale – count 1,2,3,4… Pause and hold for 1,2,3,4…. Exhale count 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8… Pause and hold 1,2,3,4 and repeat.

  8. Once the breath feels comfortable, relaxed, smooth and rhythmical, notice the movement of the body. As you inhale, the abdomen naturally expands; as you exhale, feel the slight contraction of the abdomen. To experience the pleasure of giving yourself a full, relaxed breath, gently try to actively expand the abdomen on the inhale and contract the abdomen on the exhale to support the natural movement of the diaphragm.

  9. Continue this breathing practice for 6 to 12 breaths.

  10. Check in with your body, mind, thoughts and emotions afterwards. (Have a pen and paper near by as you may get some moments of insights or clarity afterwards).

 

Benefits: 

  • Quietens the mind
  • Calms the entire nervous system
  • Reduces stress and anxiety 
  • Promotes restful sleep
  • Improves self-awareness
  • Promotes focus and clarity 
  • Develops inner peace 
  • Reduces blood pressure and can ease bodily aches and pains 
  • Promotes overall EASE in the mind, body and soul 
  • Promotes a sense of wellbeing and relaxation 

Examples of some Yoga poses (asanas) that can really help with reducing anxiety and stress are the following:

  • Cat/Cow pose (Marjaryasana/Bitikasana) 
  • Child’s pose (balasana)
  • Trees pose (Vrikasana)
  • Headstand or supported headstand (sirsasana)
  • Corpse Pose (savasana) 
  • Abdominal twists 
  • Legs up the Wall pose (Viparita Karani)

The trinity of Yoga, meditation and mindful breathing, is just one way that can help alleviate stress and anxiety in our modern world. It has helped me and so many of my clients. I really hope it can also help you. 

 

Are you feeling overwhelmed, over stressed and over Summer (and it hasn’t even started yet!)?? Could mindfulness help?

Well author of the Irish Better Birth Book and Founder of the award winning GentleBirth antenatal program Tracy Donegan, shares a great technique for coping with stress this summer.

sumer is coming, summer holidays, mindfulness, tracy donegan, gentlebirth, summer stress, summer camps

Summer is coming and like many parents around the world you’re scouring the pages of the local summer camp brochures trying to figure out how to keep the family sane. If you have younger children then summer camp might not be an option. Being pregnant and entertaining a 5 year old for the summer can be stressful.

As a Gentlebirth mum you know how important your daily practice is but between practice times you have a multitude of opportunities to use the tools every day.

Forget the meditation cushions and incense – and even the headphones (hardly practical when you have twin toddlers racing about the house).

DAILY PRACTISE

Your daily practice isn’t always about lying on the couch with your headphones on (wasn’t it so much easier on your first pregnancy)? The reality is those moments of madness are often the best ways to bring your focus training out of the GentleBirth App and right into your kitchen.

Author and meditation expert Jon Kabat-Zinn says children are like “live in Zen masters” and it’s so true. I guarantee you’ll have at least 10 opportunities to practice your Heart Breathing every day this Summer (particularly each time you hear the words “I’m bored”).   Try out the practice below and before you know it you’ll be paying more attention to how you’re reacting to the daily stresses of life, you’ll start to differentiate between what you can and can’t control and by doing this you’re activating brain circuitry which is protective of your mental health. Does that sound like something you don’t have time for? Focus training doesn’t mean adding anything else to your day – you’re just being more present in what you’re already doing (loading laundry, preparing dinner, changing diapers).

When you find yourself feeling stressed – what can you do in that moment to respond differently (in a way that is good for you and your family)?

TRY THIS

BreatheTake 3 deep breaths right down to your belly.

Find your feet – look at them if you can and wiggle your toes if you’re barefoot. Are your feet warm or cold? What else do you notice? (Pay no attention to the remnants of the pedicure you got for that wedding 6 months ago or that’ll just invite judgy mind to join in). If you’re wearing shoes do they feel comfortable or tight? Stay with this exercise for a few moments more – as you can probably tell this exercise has really nothing to do with your feet but it’s reducing activity in one part of your brain and activating another healthier brain circuitry.

sumer is coming, summer holidays, mindfulness, tracy donegan, gentlebirth, summer stress, summer camps

So let’s say F- THAT to Summer stress (or any kind of stress you’re experiencing at work or home) with this mindfulness technique.

 

Focus – stop whatever you’re doing

Feel your breath – breathe in and out deeply

Find your feet – notice how they feel, wiggle your toes and respond with Fierce kindness towards yourself.

 

The school holidays won’t magically become a fairytale when you become more present with mindfulness but you’ll have some tools to make it a little less stressful for everyone.

#SelfcareSunday #mindfulness

New to Yoga? Don’t know what all the fuss is about?

Here are my top 10 reasons to try it

For a newcomer to yoga you might find that explanations like “It increases the flow of prana” or “It brings energy up your spine” fall on deaf or sceptical ears! Or seeing someone in an inverted head stand pose gets you thinking – “Oh Heck! I could never do that”!

Please don’t be put off by this. Yoga really is for EVERYONE. All ages, genders, shapes and sizes. There are many styles of Yoga, some are fast paced, others are gentle. It’s just about finding a class that resonates with you.

Yoga means Union – The union or the connection between mind and body, and body with spirit. It really means to establish a connection back home to yourself.

To truly understand yoga and reap its overall benefits is to engage this union, this connection between mind, body and spirit. Yoga is about releasing tightness and tensions from the muscles but also from your internal world of thoughts and emotions.

When you begin to fully embrace the practice of yoga, you will be taken on a spiritual journey! You will begin to FEEL its transformative effects, not just in body, but in mind and soul.

yoga, miriam kerins, fitness friday, movement, destress, becomplete, mental health

  1. Yoga improves your self- esteem, increases self- awareness and boosts confidence levels. By stretching and squeezing the body and by incorporating various breathing exercises you begin to unlock stagnant or stale energy and release blockages in your energy field (also known as your Chakras). When you breathe, stretch, release and let go, both physically and mentally, you begin to heighten your awareness and elevate your vibrational energy field. As a result, you end up feeling lighter, taller, stronger and more confident in the body, and clearer in the mind.

 

  1. Yoga increases core strength, improves muscle tone and helps maintain a healthy body weight. Without any doubt, regular yoga increases muscle tone and helps build abs! Yoga can influence weight loss, but often it is not in the “traditional” sense of how we link physical activity to weight loss. Depending on your yoga class – for example; HOT yoga or Bikram yoga can burn up to 1000 calories per class, as it is an intense workout style of yoga. Other gentler yoga practices often burn fewer calories than traditional exercise (e.g., running, cycling); however, yoga can increase one’s mindfulness and sense of self -care, so the way one relates to their body is different. We begin to love ourselves enough not to over eat or self-sabotage, which is a much more rewarding and life changing outcome.

 

  1. Yoga Detoxifies the body and can prevent against disease. As you twist and rotate and stretch and squeeze, it massages the internal organs and brings fresh blood supply to enable them to function at their best.

 

  1. Yoga helps decrease stress and anxiety and reduce nervous tension. Stress can reveal itself in many ways, including back or neck pain, sleeping problems, headaches, emotional eating, substance abuse and so on. Yoga’s incorporation of meditation and breathing can really help improve a person’s mental well-being. It can be useful in reaching a more calm and centred state and help achieve a more positive outlook on life.

 

  1. Yoga increases flexibility, mobility, stability and improves posture. Improved flexibility is one of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga, along with increased strength and muscle tone. Strong muscles do more than look good. They also protect us from conditions like arthritis and back pain. The combination of the above will results in less injury and reduced aches and pains in the body.

 

  1. It increases concentration, focus and mental clarity.  A big part of yoga is maintaining balance and being present in the moment. This transfers into life off the mat. Regular yoga practice improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and brings more stability and balance in our physical and emotional world.

 

  1. Yoga provides energy, vitality and improves the immune system. When you contract and stretch muscles, move organs around, and come in and out of yoga postures, you increase the drainage of lymph (a viscous fluid rich in immune cells). This helps the lymphatic system fight infection, destroy cancerous cells, and dispose of the toxic waste products of cellular functioning.

yoga, miriam kerins, fitness friday, movement, destress, becomplete, mental health

  1. Yoga improves sleep and enhances inner peace. At the end of a yoga class you come into the gorgeous savansa pose – ‘corpse pose’ for a mediation as part of a cool-down sequence. At this point the body is relaxed, which enables the mind to become quiet. This is often where people get great moments of insight and feel utter inner peace. This definitely helps to enhance a state of easy slumber.

 

  1. Yoga improves your emotional intelligence. Emotionally yoga teaches us how to be loving and compassionate toward ourselves, because as human beings, we have self-defeating and self-limiting tendencies. Practicing yoga brings the content of our beings to the surface so we can see it. Inside the muscles, we hold the memories of every emotion we’ve ever experienced: sadness, fear, anger, love etc. Through the asanas (postures), we can tap into these memories and process our pasts. It’s the asanas that release the emotions out of the body.

 

  1. Yoga helps to cultivate an attitude of gratitude and elevate your sense of self-care. In yoga, we come onto the mat to stop. To listen. To feel. We come on the mat to get some stillness in a world that is often so chaotic. We get on the mat to re-connect back to ourselves, to centre ourselves and to in effect ground ourselves. By doing this, it enables us to feel more gratitude in our lives. It allows us to feel our heart beating and to honour this life that we have. It provides us with some time and space to simply just be. To self-care, self soothe and reconnect.

If yoga is a new concept to you, I hope you can embrace it with an openness and a willingness, and enjoy the journey it takes you on.

#FitnessFriday

Do you struggle with your relationship to alcohol?

Have you been told you’re an addict?

My family is rife with “alcoholics”, most of whom are “recovered”. The dominant narrative is that alcohol made them sick and sobriety has offered them their lives back. To my eyes, however, there’s something important missing from this all-or-nothing approach that, for some, leaves, the Drink ever dancing in their peripheral vision. Is taking alcohol out of the equation enough? Is abstinence always necessary? To what end?

I didn’t drink alcohol through college and medical school. Not one drink. I was a straight-edge control freak, and I went dancing and partied sober, and enjoyed every minute of it. I owned it, but the notion of my genetic inheritance certainly weighed heavy on my mind – that long line of genetic codes spelling out ADDICT potential. But somehow I also knew that there was more to the story.

Recently, I received an email from a colleague in the field of sobriety support. She wanted to know how it is that I drink on social occasions while criticizing pharmaceuticals. Aren’t they all drugs? Here’s what I said:

Thanks so much for your support and your words. I think we may have a different perspective on this issue, and perspectives evolve, so I’m just speaking now from my current purview. I don’t believe alcoholism to be a disease any more than I believe depression is. I believe that, over the course of history, alcohol has been regarded as a ritual, a sacrament, and an informational complement to many foods. It is a fermented beverage that is recognized molecularly by the body as are hallucinogenic mushrooms, cannabis, and plant medicines like ayahuasca. To compare it to a pharmaceutical is reductionist, in my opinion. But we have strayed from the Continuum, and alcohol has, for some, become the symptom of our soul disconnection. For some. For some it has come to represent a tool of self-invalidation, distraction, and mindlessness. As I’ve written here, research has proven that healing the deeper wounds can eliminate this so called “problem”. Therefore, the context is everything.

To learn about one’s personal context requires a reset. I’m not sure if you’ve done my program, but if you have, you would know that I ask for total cessation of alcohol for the month. If there is a choice to reintroduce it, then the participant would learn about THEIR relationship to alcohol. This is enlightening and empowering for many women as they begin to understand where they have unknowingly given their power. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of the book MindBody Code but Martinez speaks to the critical importance of this concept as well.

I know what works for me because I have traveled this path. I have tremendous joy, abundance, and a growing contact with deep feminine power in my life. I have fun, I work hard. I am hoping to light this path for others to join me. But my path is not their path, necessarily. And that’s where the reset becomes a tool for self-exploration. Only through this deep inner process – which you admit rarely has been positioned before pharmaceutical initiation in these women struggling with alcohol and other substances – can we align with our highest consciousness and power. Only then will women be truly dispossessed of dogma and alienating judgment of one another.

Hope this helps,

Kelly

Let’s break this down a bit.

Is alcoholism (or any substance abuse, or behavioral addiction, or eating disorder) a disease?

We are told a story about illness, and that story serves a mindset that underlies the darkness that we feel all around us and within us. The mindset is that we are flesh robots, floating on a dead rock, in the middle of nowhere. Since everything is random and purposeless, and since it is a survivorship game of every man for himself, then thank goodness we have science and technology to help deal with the cards we’ve been dealt. Help to fix things, make them easier.

The dark underbelly of this belief system is that you are powerless to heal yourselfWhat you eat doesn’t matter, never mind the fluoride in the water, and the Roundup on your potatoes.

McDonald’s never really hurt anyone, and gluten free is a fad.

The only thing that really matters is your genes.Addiction, Alcoholism, Disease, Dr. Gabor Mate, Genes, Mindfulness, Spirituality

This is why women remove their female parts. Why we believe that diabetes is an inevitability. And why we relinquish ourselves to a lifetime of mental illness.

But we are in the midst of a paradigm shift.

We are learning that beliefs, cultural conditioning, and our interaction with our environments are the true determinants of health and illness.

And, in fact, genes are merely a suggested template.

The trouble is that we are in deep pain.

We are struggling and we are suffering. Our irritability, righteousness, and even fatigue belie a deep reservoir of sadness and of grief. Part of the reason is that we have strayed from the Continuum. Our very births send a signal of danger to our systems. A signal of missingness. And set us on a lifelong path of running from the pain.

The pain is the wound that addictive and compulsive behaviors attempt to distract us from, bandage up, and temporarily ease.

The pain is the diagnosis and we must ask, why the pain? as Dr. Gabor Mate has invited us to do.

From addict to psych patient

Dual diagnosis is what we call them.

This is the label slapped on the labels slapped on the human struggling with what is perceived to be the separate problems of addiction and mood disorders. Of course, we can put many hats on this multi-headed dragon, but we still haven’t even begun to engage the process of taming it, slaying it, or befriending it. And everyone’s dragons are different.

If we look at addiction as a genetically driven disease, then it makes sense that alcohol is the problem. It also makes sense that the residual struggles – the untended wound – would then be labeled neatly as a discrete and separate mental illness. And since mental illnesses are chronic problems that reflect inherited chemical imbalances, well, then we are back to the magic pill solution!

Where in this rubrik have we even attempted to address the root cause driver of pain and trauma?

Addiction, Alcoholism, Disease, Dr. Gabor Mate, Genes, Mindfulness, Spirituality, Kelly broganInstead we are inviting patients to continue to externalize their struggles, label them impersonal illnesses, and we are – quite literally – addicting them to the most habit forming chemicals on the planet when we replace their alcohol abuse with psychotropic medication.

These chemicals retain the same power over their consciousness that alcohol once did. It is a divorce from self and a suppression of the soul.

This is why, in his banned Ted Talk, Graham Hancock speaks to the sociocultural support and tolerance of substances such as alcohol and psychotropics that foster a level of consciousness supportive of the world destroying machine, and our current state of soul-less affairs.

How can you learn what alcohol is to you?

Dr. Martinez writes about the difference between ritual, routine, and habit. A primary distinction is in the application of mindfulness. He references centenarians who drink and smoke cigars every day, but he notes that they do so with a level of ritualistic care and awareness of the role of these so called substances in their daily experience of life and its available joy.

We are in a time where self-learning and self-exploration brings you closer to others. It’s N of 1 medicine practiced in a community setting. Where we find ourselves and we merge with others and the planet in the process. Where there are highly personal “rules” to our own self-alignment.

It’s my belief that there is a simple formula for getting clear enough to begin to read yourself. A simple take home assignment that brings you one giant leap closer to identifying and healing your wounds.

If you are interested in learning what these habitual relationships mean for you, personally, I ask that you consider removing addictive consumptions from your life – alcohol, coffee, sugar, wheat, dairy – so that you can quiet reward pathways, silence inflammatory alarm responses, and eat more informationally dense foods. While you’re doing that, I ask that you meditate once a day, every day. I ask that you detox. And I ask that you tap into your faith that there is something incredible waiting for you. I have found time and again that this simple process of ritualizing self-care opens a portal to unseen, unacknowledged, and circumvented feelings that bring you closer to the real you.

Then, after that month, you can choose to learn specifically what kind of effect these agents have on your consciousness, your body, and your general experience of yourself. When you shed these externalities, the lightness and expansion you feel is yours alone. There is nothing out there that has control over you. You are in control, learning, healing, and open.

Over time, and over your healing journey, you may find that your wound closes, and that the places you empowered with your pain – including alcohol – may have a very different alchemical effect or none at all.

What heals addiction?

I love the Rat Park study. Here are the details:

spiritualityIn the 70s, Bruce Alexander conducted the famous Rat Park experiments (thanks to Will Hall for sharing this vital science with me!) where he rips the foundation out from under the drug war, the chemical addiction model, and the notion of the addict as mentally and physically disordered. His elegant experiments play on the presumption that rats in an isolated cage with one water and one cocaine dispenser go onto addict and eventually kill themselves. This seemingly demonstrates that chemical nature of the addictive process.

He then went on to conduct subsequent experiments in a “rat park” where the rats had a social network, space, and an enriching environment, in which they no longer chose to consume the cocaine and would even detox themselves voluntarily if they entered the space previously addicted.

What this tells us is that, even in animals, community is the prevention and the treatment for self-abuse. Many argue this is why and how 12 Step programs enjoy the persistent success that they do. They offer community.

But the problem with them is that they still make the substance the enemy. Charles Eisenstein has taught me that viewing the world through a lens of good and bad maintains the very bad we seek to eliminate. In demonizing alcohol (or anything, for that matter), you maintain the war forever. We empower this seeming enemy when we choose to perceive it as a dangerous overlord.

When there is an enemy at all, we are divided, and we strengthen the very dynamic of warfare that we were hoping to resolve through our efforts.

That’s not to say that cessation and abstinence are not necessary for clarity and the opportunity to begin this exploration. But the outcome of the exploration should not be that you are always and forever one drink away from total consumption into the void of terror and destruction. That leaves no room for radical healing and no acknowledgment that context drives the relationship.

Spirituality has the power to heal the war. It delivers to you the exact medicine you need, and it teaches you how to be with your pain. How to even love it as a part of the wholeness of you. And how to have compassion for yourself when you hurt because your most human needs are not being met.

Stop running from yourself

Spirituality also involves radical responsibility. You make choices. Your genes don’t. This is the nature of mindful living. When you stop running, distracting yourself, and making excuses, then you look at all of it and you engage witH open eyes.

Hands down, the mantra of my practice, my online program, and my personal journey is this:

a am coming home to myselfI am coming home to myself.

Over and over and over again, I hear this phrase. I am becoming more and more myself. I am being liberated into my own truth and beingness. And in doing so, we come home to each other, and to Mother earth, and to the fabric of our connectedness. We look back on the path we have traveled and we say, yes…it needed to be exactly this way. Nothing was bad. Nothing was wrong. Hard, maybe. Painful, sure. But I am not broken. I am not diseased. And nothing is a foregone conclusion or an absolute certainty.

Only you can divine the path of self-realization, and you’ll know when you’re on it because you will feel the terrible pain and the glorious beauty of this life all at once, and you will feel, finally feel, free.

© Kelly Brogan MD. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of Kelly Brogan MD. For more articles, sign up for the newsletter at www.kellybroganmd.com

#TherapyThursday

I like to refer to it as ‘the practice of being present’ as it truly is a practice and something we have to work on every day. Being present to me means being aware and feeling fully alive. Do you feel present in your life or does life generally feel chaotic?

What I have learned is that it’s not about ticking off a to do list but rather being more present with the things I am doing each day like reading a story to my child or working on one project at a time and not juggling six different things at once. Multitasking might work for some but over time I have found that it’s distracting and leads to many jobs being nearly finished instead of properly finished and done well.

Becoming a mum was the first time I was forced to be present because that’s what children do – they live in the present. They anchor you in the here and now. As James grew I learnt to really live in the here and now whereas before I ran from problems and the thought of being alone with myself was quite terrifying.

presence, mindfulmonday, in the moment, present moment, live, mindfulness

I saw the true beauty of the world through a child’s eyes after James was born and realised just how much we take for granted or miss when we become adults. The first time he saw a bird in the sky and a plane flying it was sheer amazement and I remember when he was a toddler he kept saying mum – wow!! One day as I walked over to him he was looking at ants on the ground and he was simply stunned watching them. His little face looked up at me and I felt really emotional at how powerful the moment was.

However practicing being present caused me to feel very emotional in the beginning as it was so awkward for me to really feel my emotions? When you are present you feel and see things more clearly and when you have been suppressing that aspect of yourself for so long it can almost be like freeing all these emotions that are hyperactive after having been locked away for too long. They can be unruly and unnerving and you need to figure out how to deal with them.

Having struggled with mental health and addiction problems for so long, working on being more present in my life allowed me the space to finally heal. It’s an awareness that I have built up and something I work on daily. Some days I’m better than others but that’s life and I try to take the rough with the smooth, have fun with it and ease off beating myself up for not doing everything right.

For years I strived for perfection (whatever that is) and it’s exhausting and unrealistic. There is no such thing as perfection as we are all so different and our standards and views of the world differ so greatly that its ridiculous to do anything other than work on our own internal happiness and contentment.

Through my daily meditations, gratitude journals, food, fun, fitness and therapy being present has become the single greatest gift I have ever given myself. It’s like slowly discovering life’s elixir. Over the years the more I got the more I wanted and the better my life became.

journal

What I realized is that I had become an obsessive list ticker desperately trying to get through different tasks in an effort to be supermum but in reality I was missing out on actually being a mum or really living. During my recovery from postnatal depression I became emotional because I had finally allowed myself the time and space to simply just be with my son. You almost feel guilty initially as if allowing yourself to do this means you are lazy.

I now realize that we attract what we are into our life. I now look back and realize my run of incredibly bad luck with work, boyfriends and life events was actually caused by me and how I was living. Our life changes when we choose to live differently. Our life changes when we choose to be present.

[bctt tweet=[bctt tweet=”Life gives you plenty of time to do whatever you want to do if you stay in the present moment. Deepak Chopra” username=”alicanavan”] username=”alicanavan”]

Here are some simple ideas to help you become more present:

  • Focus on your senses – how does your food taste?  What can you see when out in nature? Tune in to smells and colours!
  • Savour your shower and start the day mindfully. Tune into how the water feels on your body and in turn you will tune into how you feel.
  • Notice the miracles in each day by practising gratitude. Gratitude helps to ground us and bring us into the present. Start to notice the small things like someones smile or a refreshing glass of water.
  • Stop, breathe and become fully aware of the moment.
  • Take a short meditation break.
  • Write in a journal.
  • When in conversation give the person your full attention.
  • Have digital free time with loved ones and for yourself.

How do you practise being present? I would love to hear from you – Share in the comment box below

Shine Bright

Ali xxxx

#mindfulmonday

Some days just run like clockwork, things fall magically into place and you feel aligned and connected.

But then there are days you feel out of sync and have a run of bad luck and on these days it can be hard to stay positive and get back of track but fear not as I have some tips to share.

Anyone who follows me knows I’m a huge fan of living a positive lifestyle. That does not mean avoidance and seeing the world through rose tinted glasses. It means that I feel, deal, heal and get real.

I believe that tough times make us stronger and ultimately no one gets through life without some struggle or hardship, no matter who you are. We will all experience grief, failure, disappointment, heartache and much more at some stage throughout our lives but its how you bounce back from these times and what you learn from the experience that determines the person you will become in the future.

  1. THIS TOO SHALL PASS

Sometimes when we are in the middle of a crisis its hard to see a way out but things change every second, every minute of every day so I always find it comforting to think that no matter how bad you are feeling it will pass and things will get better.

 

  1. BREATHE

Our breath is one of our most powerful tools especially when we don’t know what to do. It calms the nervous system, lowers our blood pressure and according to yogis and ayurvedic medicine practitioners our breath is the carrier or prana, which means energy! So help to move that energy around your body by breathing better.

 

  1. BE KIND TO YOURSELF

No one needs help taking out the stick to beat ourselves with. Being unkind to ourselves is an all too familiar habit for a lot of people these days and does nothing but create a negative behavior pattern and lowers our energy and vibration. So use my golden rule: if you wouldn’t say it to your best friend then don’t say it to yourself.

[bctt tweet=”So use my golden rule: if you wouldn’t say it to your best friend then don’t say it to yourself.” username=”alicanavan”]

 

  1. PRACTISE GRATITUDE

Without a doubt, gratitude is my superpower that keeps me sane. It helps to ground me and no matter how bad things are gratitude helps me to see the miracles even when they are hidden. Start your day each day with gratitude by saying ‘Thank You” upon waking. Then choose 3 things you are grateful for and why and really feel into that energy of appreciation. When you consciously start your day in that energy, anything is possible.

[bctt tweet=”Without a doubt, gratitude is my superpower that keeps me sane.” username=”alicanavan”]

 

  1. KEEP GOING

No matter how much you want to give up you must keep going. Never throw in the towel no matter how much you feel like it. Life is a journey and what goes down must come up and vice versa. When you stop trying you become stagnant and life starts to happen to you as opposed to you happening to life. When this happens the victim mentality can creep in. 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. So my message is just keep going and know that every morning is a chance to start again.

[bctt tweet=”No matter how much you want to give up you must keep going” username=”alicanavan”]

 

Mindfulness really is a hot topic of conversation at the moment which is why I have teamed up with Sports Philosophy for #mindfulmarch.

A lot of people might think that mindfulness is just another buzzword that will pass, however, mindfulness is actually a very important movement for our current age of distraction and disconnection.

Where we are in society is very noisy and busy. People are sick and stressed and there is a real need for people to have some quiet time in order to live a more balanced and integrative lifestyle.

Giving yourself that essential space even for just a few minutes each day allows you see the world through a different lens. The benefits range from lower stress, increased empathy, emotional maturity, better digestion, better relationships with yourself and others, increased confidence, concentration, productivity and the list goes on!

 

MINDFULMARCH, MINDFULNESS, PRESENCE, CONNECTION, SELFCARE, MEDITATION, SPORTS PHILOSOPY, ETHICAL SPORTSWEAR, MINDFUL TIPS

Magenta Prism Laser Sports Bra £52.00 Magenta Prism Leggings £85.00

 

Sports Philosophy is an ethical luxury active wear brand offering beautiful performance clothing for the stylishly fit men and women. Every piece is made with carefully sourced Italian fabrics and designed to enhance your workout, all whilst making you look good.

 

The label is also deeply passionate about doing good too and the creator of the brand, Stella, sees the world through a similar lens to me. They help to fight child labour, through their own charity, the Freedom for Children Foundation, which you can read more about here

 

MINDFULMARCH, MINDFULNESS, PRESENCE, CONNECTION, SELFCARE, MEDITATION, SPORTS PHILOSOPY, ETHICAL SPORTSWEAR, MINDFUL TIPS

Black Prism Laser Sports Bra £52.00 and leggings £85

 

Each week in March we will be bringing you a simple but effective tip on how to include mindfulness into your every day life. The theme is reconnection so we will be looking at reconnecting with our food, our breath, and the world around you and of courses ourselves.

 

You will have seen week one above so here’s week 2 where I encourage you to reconnect with what we put into our body and why mindful eating is so important.

 

 

In week 3 we will look at reconnecting to nature and in week 4 we will look at reconnecting with you through the act of appreciation and gratitude. Keep an eye on my social media for updates

Till then

Shine Bright

Ali xxx

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