Tag Archives: mental health

Self-care soul warnings

I woke up one morning 2 weeks ago, having had another of my recurring dreams.

The recurring dreams I have aren’t exactly the same, but they have a recurring theme.  Each time I have one of these dreams, I am observing lions, tigers, or big cats of some sort, in an enclosure, sometimes at a zoo and other times in some other random setting.  The thing that is unusual about this is that in every dream, I eventually discover that the enclosure is not secure – either a gate has been left unlocked, or the fence is broken, or sometimes it’s even just a matter of me suddenly realising that this ain’t no regular big cat enclosure – wire farm fencing or flywire is hardly going to protect me if they decide they want to come and play.

I’ve pondered on the meaning of these recurring dreams over the years.  Of course there are many different interpretation guidelines and methods I could follow, but I prefer to take the intuitive route.  I’ve always felt into my dreams, to contemplate what emotions they evoke, and how they make me feel, and what the themes and specifics symbolise for me personally.

My hunch has always been that these dreams are a warning signal for me.  A soul warning that whilst on the surface things may seem to be hunky-dory, I’m actually in dangerous territory.  It feels as though I’m not paying adequate attention to a situation that seems to be under control right now, but that won’t take much to turn into full blown and life-threatening catastrophe.

I’ve wondered what specifically these dreams are pointing to.  What is it that I’m not being careful enough with?  The past 3 years in particular have seen me dedicate to working on improving my life by practicing self-care from a spiritual and energetic perspective, and I feel incredibly grateful that I’ve found and followed this path.  If I hadn’t made the changes I’ve made, I believe I’d be in a state of worsening depression and overall mental health, and declining physical health.  So I felt that even though I couldn’t pinpoint the specifics of where I was in danger, I felt as though I was taking proactive action from a broad perspective.

So, when this dream cropped up again the other week, it caught me off guard.  Haven’t I come so far?  Aren’t I doing all the right things?

Pondering this again has prompted me to get a lot more real with myself this past week.  I’m doing a lot of stuff “right”.  I generally eat very well, I exercise, I meditate, I do yoga, I manage my energy, and more recently I’ve begun incorporating my new love – essential oils – into my life for their therapeutic benefits.  But the truth is, in so many ways, I’m ignoring a number of aspects of my self-care that are having a negative impact on my health.  I’ve made no secret over the years of the fact that I struggle with disciplining myself to get adequate sleep.  There are days when I eat an entire block of chocolate within the space of 15 minutes, kidding myself that because its 95% cocoa it’s “healthy” and therefore ok.  And since beginning my business, I’ve really succumbed to the compulsion to be “on” all the time – checking and responding to emails and messages into the night and first thing when I rise.  Then there’s also the “I don’t have time” excuse creeping in here and there: my daily morning walks have become “sometimes”, and there have been a few too many instances where I’ve let my meditation practice slide.

The truth is, whilst deep down I know these actions aren’t helpful, I do them mindlessly.  I slip into habits that are supported by cultural and societal norms.  I allow my conscientiousness and work ethic to dictate over and above my inner knowing.  I zone out and let my actions happen, rather than acting with intention.  I let my ego take the driver’s seat, bowing to her justifications for emotional eating and behaviours that set my nervous system on edge.

And when my inner truth, the voice of my soul, gently whispers to me that I know full well that these behaviours aren’t helpful or sustainable or aligned, I pretend that I can’t hear her, or that I don’t know how to do things differently, feigning helplessness.

This recent dream has prompted me to sit a little more still with these gentle whisperings.  When I do so, it’s quite laughable how hypocritical I have been, always singing the praises of self-care, energy work and alignment, and yet completely disregarding the truth of my actions.

I started this business for so many wonderful reasons, many of which centre around how it gives me the freedom and autonomy to work the way I want to work – in a way that is sustainable and flexible for me and my family.  I work this business educating others about the importance of improving our health and wellbeing using simple and natural self-care solutions, and yet here I am sabotaging all the efforts I do make.  The leaders within my team promote self-care and sustainable work habits as essential to our success.  And yet, my ego does its best to convince me that I can get away with these dirty little secrets by making up for them with the good stuff that I do actually do.

But that’s not how it works.

As I sit with these truths, I can acknowledge that when I’m not getting the sleep I need, my mind isn’t as sharp, it takes me longer to complete just about everything, and I don’t look my best.  Added to that the longer term health implications of inadequate sleep in general, coupled with the hormonal imbalances and disease I am challenged with.  When I wire my nervous system with screen time into the evening and night, my sleep is affected.  When I drown my sorrows in a block of (oh-so-delicious) chocolate, the pleasure only lasts as long as the mouthful takes to swallow, and I’m left with the sugar crash that inevitably follows.  When I skip a few too many morning walks, my body gradually becomes stiffer and I feel less and less grounded.  The cumulative effects of all of these actions include sluggish digestion, mental fogginess, skin breakouts, susceptibility to illness, long term health decline, inability to practice mindfulness, mood swings, difficulty articulating myself clearly …  this list is nowhere near exhaustive.

We all know, deep down, what we should and shouldn’t be doing.

So if we know this, why do we sabotage ourselves?  I think there are a few key reasons.

Firstly, we are seduced by the notion that ignorance is bliss, that if we just squish that little niggling, knowing voice down far enough, we can hide out in the luxury of shunning responsibility for our lives.  This happens so easily and comfortably that we’re virtually unconscious of it.

The ignorant path may seem the easier option in the moment, but when we live our lives day in and day out with the consequences of our actions, the “easy” option doesn’t seem so easy to live with.  We’re forced to live with the pain of our karma.

The truth is, we essentially know what we need to change about our behaviour.  Acknowledgement is the first step.  Then it’s a matter of taking responsibility to create the kind of life that we want to live, a life that makes us feel good.  So, why don’t we do this?

This brings me to the second key reason we sabotage ourselves.  As I’ve sat with this topic since having my most recent dream, the answer has become clearer with each passing day.  I believe it comes down to our egoic yearning for approval.  Let me explain.

So often, when chatting with friends and fellow mums in particular, I find that we’re all having an almost universal experience in our daily lives: the feelings of being perpetually busy, over-extended, drained, overwhelmed, stressed, unable to get ahead, and constantly tired or even exhausted.  And what is also almost universally similar is that so many of us feel powerless to change by implementing self-care habits that will turn this situation around.  We know we should exercise more, we know meditation could help, we know we need more down time, we know we need to review our diet, we know we should get more sleep … BUT, these things require effort and energy and time.  So, we repeat the mantra of our societal era: I DON’T HAVE TIME.

The very idea of practicing self-care feels like adding more to our already overloaded list.  So what do we do?  Nothing.  We lament the so-called fact that we just don’t have the time or space to implement these changes.

We don’t prioritise ourselves.

The truth is, we could swap out these changes for other stuff that we are doing, but we don’t make them a priority, so they fall to the bottom of the list where to-do’s that are never-gonna-happen live.

I believe there is an insidious little cultural norm that drives this pattern.  We do what appears “right” from an external perspective.  We are terrified that if we actually prioritised our health and wellbeing before anything else, that we would be judged and condemned as selfish, uncaring parents, heartless citizens, and just plain bad human beings.  We think that everyone believes that self-care is a luxury for the self-centred.

We know deep down that if we took prime care of ourselves, we would have more health, energy, and vigour to gift to our families and the world.  We would get more done in less time.  We would succumb to illness less often.  We would have the energy and motivation to give our everything to the causes that most touch our hearts.  But our ego slyly pipes up with that devastating question that shuts down our sensibility: What will everyone think of me?

What will my children think?
What will my spouse think?
What will my family think?
What will the school mums think?
What will the neighbours think?
What will my employer think?
What will my work colleagues think?
What will the world think?

And as quickly as that, we place everyone else’s opinion of us before our own knowing.

The point I’m trying to make here is not to make you feel bad about yourself.  Rather, I’m observing that we all slip into habits of thinking and behaviour that society deems normal or required in modern life, and we allow these habits to derail us.  The team I am a part of in my business fully promotes and supports sustainable self-care, lifestyle and work habits to support our wellbeing, and yet it has been SO EASY for me to disregard these and slip into habits that leave me depleted, all the while telling myself that I’m practicing adequate self-care.

Looking after ourselves isn’t rocket science.  But I’m discovering that it takes courage.

Are you triggered by this idea?  Do you feel helpless and trapped in your current circumstances?

I challenge you to sit with this notion that your wellbeing is completely within your control, and that you know what to do, right now, and that you actually can do it.  I’m not downplaying the challenges that so many of us face in our everyday lives, but I truly believe that you can create true wellbeing for yourself.  I truly believe that if you are privileged enough to be reading this right now, you have the power within you to shape your experience of life.

It’s time to take stock of our lives, and notice the areas where we are vulnerable: where are we ignorant of the fact that the lion enclosure isn’t protecting us?  I for one am spending this time in the lead up to Christmas and the new year getting real with myself about where I’m shirking my self-care responsibility and succumbing to the herd mentality that it’s all too hard to create a life of health, wellbeing, and success that incorporates caring for myself as well as others.  I’m building the courage, step by step, moment by moment, to take a stand for prioritising my self-care.  I invite you to join me in creating a 2018 where we dare to buck the trend, and place our self-care at the top of our lists.  Let’s not leave it to fate to determine whether we find ourselves suddenly face to face with a metaphorical lion, all because of our fear of judgement.  Let’s be brave together.

 


You may also find this post relevant to this topic.

Also see the previous post for ideas on how to get started with cultivating calm.


Relevant resources that I stumbled upon in the lead up to writing this post:

The Kate & Mike Show podcast: Karen Brody, Daring to Rest: https://katenorthrup.com/podcast/episode-64-karen-brody-daring-rest/

The Quote of the Day Show podcast: Work Doesn’t Work Without Play, with Shonda Rhimes: http://seancroxton.com/quote-of-the-day/289/


Main image credit: Lions by Christopher Michel via Flickr.  Used under licence.


Hmmm … seems I have a bit of a thing for lion images 😉

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School of the Modern Mystic

Two years ago, I became a student of Belinda Davidson’s School of the Modern Mystic (SoMM). Enrolling in the level 1 course set me on a path that I never dreamed I would walk, and the most exciting part is that I’ve really only just begun.

SoMM opens its doors for enrolment once a year, and that window of opportunity for 2016 is approaching in a few days. I am an affiliate for the course, because it was the catalyst that transformed my life, and I’m SO PASSIONATE about the teachings. I’ve experienced transformation for myself, I’ve seen so many other SoMM students blossom into their most joyous and soulful lives, and I wish that opportunity for everyone on the planet. The opportunity to finally break free from the pain and struggles that are holding you back, to connect with your soul, and to live in truth and joy. And so, I’m sharing with you today my experiences. Following are some of the most significant shifts I’ve experienced thanks to SoMM.

MOVING BEYOND DEPRESSION
My main motivation for enrolling in the school 2 years ago was because I believed that it could help me to break my patterns of recurring depression. At a time when I was recognising the early signs of onset, SoMM entered my radar, and I saw it as an admittedly unconventional alternative to yet another round of psychological counselling or medication. My intuition told me that this could be my answer. I’m not advocating that abandoning traditional mental healthcare treatment is the answer for everyone. For me, I knew I needed to break the cycle, and I needed a different approach if I was to have lasting results. I sensed that SoMM was MY path. I was so right.

During level 1 and beyond, I became so much better able to cope with the everyday stresses of life as a Mum that had previously brought me to my knees. I was calmer, more effective at solving problems, and had more mental resilience. I no longer felt broken. It wasn’t that I hadn’t tried to reach this place earlier – I read books and blogs, attended workshops, practiced yoga, took advice … and whilst these things were all definitely helpful, they didn’t effect lasting change. The difference with SoMM – I was clearing the energetic blockages that were responsible for my subconscious ways of operating, so my mental patterns changed without effort, without me consciously realising.

I was elated. My husband was happy. The kids had a healthier and happier mummy. I believed I had the tools to effectively move through life permanently depression free.

As 2016 swung into gear, around 6 months after completing level 1, I began to experience some depressive episodes again. Not full blown clinical depression, but certainly not pleasant. I freaked out. THIS WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HAPPENING. Life was supposed to be easy and joyful and pain free now, filled with rainbows and unicorns and fairy dust!

As I’ve re-emerged from that dip on the roller coaster of life, I can see through hindsight a number of things. Firstly, I had unrealistic expectations of what post-SoMM life “should” be like (i.e. unicorns etc.!!?). Healing yourself and improving your life does not mean that you will no longer face challenges, hardships, or disappointments. Secondly, the massive energetic and spiritual changes I’ve begun negotiating thanks to SoMM have raised a lot of fear and uncertainty, fine fodder for the ego to go wild. The status quo is no longer a viable option in my life post-SoMM – half truths don’t cut it, hiding is futile, and the truth can be painfully uncomfortable. This stuff can feel terrifying! This is where I discovered that my mindfulness practice, from the third module of level 1, was not yet as strong as I had naïvely assumed it to be.

But … this was all a part of my healing journey, teaching me along the way. And, it was the SoMM teachings that brought me back online, back to my centre, and back to mental health again.

I believe with all of my heart that these teachings are rock solid. Foolproof.

The take-away for you from this experience is that SoMM offers you the UNIVERSE, but it sure as heck isn’t for the faint hearted. It is amazing and transformational and literally miraculous, and it will fill your life with light and love, IF you devote yourself to the spiritual practices that it teaches you. It will also crack you open, and demand that all that is not love, truth, and purity, all that is fake, all that is playing small and hiding, all that is conformity, be shed. I know from experience that that is not easy, and it’s not for everyone. It’s a choice. But if you’re willing to make that choice, you’ll find magic.

I could probably stop there, but I’d like to share with you some of the other beautiful gifts I’ve gained through SoMM.

TRIBE
The online SoMM community – my SoMM sisters (and the odd brother here and there!) – is an absolute joy and treasure. To have found a tribe of (mostly) women whom I didn’t even consciously realise I was desperately searching for has been an incredible gift. Like minded women, on a journey of the soul in this physical life, together. So much love. So much support. Connection. Friendships. The opportunity to meet with many of my SoMM sisters in the flesh has been extra special – I’ve been craving this kind of connection all of my life.

INTUITION
Putting aside my new-found fascination for psychic perception, my own intuitive abilities are steadily building in subtle ways. I imagine something, and then it actually happens. I have insights that enable me to prepare for what would previously have been unforeseen circumstances. I have the ability to solve problems based on intuitive hunches, often preventing further complications from arising. So far, this phenomenon is intriguing, helpful, and warmly welcomed.

COMMUNICATION
I’m discovering my voice, on many levels. It’s still emerging. An example: my husband and I mutually acknowledge that open communication has never been our strength, is something we must constantly work on, and is something we easily slip into avoiding. Post SoMM – it’s an ongoing work in progress, but we’re having the conversations no matter how difficult. WIN. As I said before, there’s no more hiding.

SPIRITUALITY
My prime motivation for enrolling in SoMM was to overcome depression and gain mental health. I got so much more than I bargained for, but that somehow, on some subconscious level, I was yearning for and could sense that SoMM would give me.

The spirituality of SoMM is what has transformed my life, and is what now informs every waking moment of my day. I have a new relationship with God. I have a new relationship with myself. I’m finally coming to understand a lot of what I was taught in my Catholic upbringing. Things that hadn’t made sense to me previously, things that seemed like fictional stories or outright lies, I’ve been able to reframe and discover the truths that they hold. SoMM is not a religious course, but through it and discovering my spirituality, I’ve been able to develop an appreciation and understanding of what was being taught to me through religion that I’d never managed to absorb. It turns out there is more than one path to God.

GLOW
The last thing I’ll mention here is kind of random and unspecific, but I attribute it to the spiritual practices I learnt in SoMM. People tell me I look different – in a good way. I have a sparkle in my eye that wasn’t there before. I look well. Personally, I think it comes and goes relative to how I’m showing up for my spiritual practice, but I haven’t tested that theory out for external validation. Whatever the case, I like it.


If SoMM is right for you, you’ll know. You’ll be curious. You’ll feel drawn in. Something about it will call to you. If that’s you, I encourage you to follow where your curiosity leads. In my eyes, if you choose to dive in, it will be impossible to regret it. You will be held, and supported, and loved. Strap yourself in for the ride! If you’re in, be sure to let me know, and I’ll see you in the school yard.

To find out more about School of the Modern Mystic and sign up to be notified when enrolment opens in the next few days, click here

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Getting Honest

I’ve been attempting to write blog post number two for weeks now.  I’ve started writing so many times, and failed to come up with something I deem publish worthy.  Some attempts have turned into lengthy journal entries, which have been cathartic, but not worthy of sharing with you.  It’s been frustrating, and has left me wondering, at times, whether I’m cut out for this whole blog thing after all.  But I’m choosing to hang in there.

My aim is to write content that will uplift, inspire, and delight you.  This is where my problem currently lies . I can pretend all I like to be a shining beacon of positivity and “perfection”, full of sage advice on how to live an awesome life, but that would be a big fat lie.

The truth of the matter is, that right now, my head is a very messy place to be.

This truth came to its latest peak on Saturday, with a series of three mini meltdowns.  Exhausted and emotional, I spent a good chunk of yoga class hiding my mental turmoil and my tears in child’s pose.  When my beautiful yoga teacher showed me some love and kindness with a hug after class, I disolved into a fresh set of tears and escaped as quickly as possible to the privacy of my car.  Later in the day, whilst having my hair cut, the conversation with my long-time hairdresser (13 years and counting!) had me admitting that I was unstable, whilst a fresh set of red-eyed tears washed over me, and she spent the rest of my appointment giving me heartfelt advice and love along with an awesome haircut and blow wave (not to mention a dreamy head massage!).

This is certainly not the day of someone who’s got life all sorted out.

So, instead of pretending to have “it all” figured out, I will instead just tell the truth, with the aim of sharing the lessons I am learning along the way.

My beautiful, clever, wise and loving hairdresser made me promise that I would get help.  I’ve been mulling over my options and talking about it with my husband.  I’m not certain yet what all of that help will entail, but I’ve finally made a commitment to myself, to take care of me.  It’s time to take responsibility for myself.

We’ve heard it a million times – to take care of your family, you must first take care of yourself.  Almost every article I’ve ever read on the subject refers to the in-flight emergency oxygen mask analogy: fit your own mask first, before helping others.  But it seems I’m a little slow and stubborn to allow this message to really sink in, or to actually take it on board.  I needed close to 5 years of motherhood related meltdowns to learn this crucial lesson.  I know I’m not the only one – too many mothers I know follow the same pattern, putting the needs of their family, and especially their children, before their own.  The inevitable result: meltdown (like my day on Saturday), breakdown, physical ill-health, mental ill-health.  The lesson is clear: MY FAMILY NEEDS ME TO TAKE QUALITY CARE OF MYSELF, IN ORDER FOR ME TO BE CAPABLE OF TAKING QUALITY CARE OF THEM.

Perhaps I should give myself “lines” – write this sentence out 100 times!

So, for me, it begins with this: I commit to care well for myself, body, mind and soul.

For me, it seems logical that whilst I need to care for all three of these parts of me in order that they all work indiviually, the key aspect is caring for my soul.  Without nourishing my soul, what is the point?  It’s the essential part of me, the eternal part of me, and without it, I am nothing.

I recently watched Oprah interview Gabrielle Bernstein on Super Soul Sunday, and it spoke to me deeply about how I can nourish my soul, and be a spiritual person.  Gabby, a New York Times bestselling author, speaker, yoga and meditation teacher, video blogger and self-confessed “spirit junkie”, described the following steps as nessesary in order to become more spiritual:

1. A willingness – to become more spiritual.
2. Pay attention – when you’re willing, guidance, opportunities and assignments will appear, if you pay attention.
3. Show up – when the guidance and assignments appear, you must show up for the assignments.

So, I’m willing.  I’ve stated my commitment to self care, body, mind and soul.  I’m paying attention, and it amazes me how the universe has given me the exact guidance I need.  Specifically, I need to sleep (who would have thought?!), and I need to meditate.  Step 3: show up.  That is my task now.  I’ve begun.  Early to bed, and I’ve begun with 5 minutes daily meditation.  Simple.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

What about you?  Do you practice quality self care?  If so, what does this include?  If not, what’s stopping you, and what’s the first step you can take to change this habit?  I look forward to hearing from you.

x

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