There is so much we can learn from birth. It really is a microcosm of the macrocosm of life.
From conception and pregnancy, through to labour, birth and the early days of parenthood, the creation of new anything is a spiritual initiation…it can open us to deeper wisdoms if we allow it to.
Conception can be unconscious or conscious, but either way, once we accept it and decide to allow it to run it’s natural course, we are saying a big fat ‘Yes’, to life.
And man, do we have absolutely no idea what we are in for…
No longer are we on our own- we are carrying a baby, and in life this can be a creative baby- an idea that is allowed to settle, take root and begin to gestate.
We can fully enter into the process of pregnancy if we allow ourselves to connect with the growing life inside us, tuning into something that has life but is yet unformed in its fullness.
We can feel the potential growing, day after day, but we can’t yet see the finished product.
So, we imagine it.
‘Carrying’ on the inside anything- whether it be a baby or an idea- is a time of dreaming, connecting, tuning in and relating. And also planning, sorting, organising and preparing.
We are holding our babies physically, but they- physical or creative- are also holding us– emotionally and spiritually….acting as a bridge into the unseen world, a realm of possibility we can’t see with our physical eyes, but can feel very keenly with our hearts.
These impressions can come through to us as inspirations, urges, cravings, new insights.
And new unpredictability!
Our ‘babies’ can also bring up our deepest fears, limiting beliefs, insecurities and all the numbed-out parts of ourselves…all in an effort to coax us into releasing them so to ensure the clearest possible path for their safe delivery into the physical world.
We’re already, at this point, learning about surrender…going with the flow. We’re learning to ‘listen’ not with our ears but instead with our intuition about what body positions, foods, approaches and attitudes this new ‘baby’ needs in order to grow best.
We tune in, we listen and we allow.
And we sleep…lots!
Then, after our creative or physical baby has reached full maturity on the inside and is making ready to enter the world, we experience the first signs of early labour.
An emotional turn.
Maybe waters breaking.
Contractions coming on for sure.
And knowing in our bones that it’s time.
Time to prepare the birthing room, whether we’re ready or not!
Then, early labour arrives.
Contractions at this point are irregular. Our body is slowly gearing up, our baby starting it’s journey into the world. Easing us into things, so to speak.
We can, at this point, still continue functioning. We can speak coherently, move about fairly easily, get the chores done. Nothing too demanding or strenuous but simple tasks can be completed. But, all the while our consciousness is getting ready to move into a vastly different realm.
The realm of birth.
Over hours or days, we gradually come to a point where the contractions become more regular, roughly every 5 minutes and lasting at least a minute long…in birth this means the lifting up and tightening of the uterus and subsequent widening of the cervix. In life, the contractions take the form of emotional tightenings of our hearts and the subsequent opening up of our minds.
At this point it’s hard -if not impossible- to speak during a contraction for the birthing mother, and in life it’s nigh on impossible to think clearly during one…all available energy is spent breathing through the intensity of our emotional contractions.
Things feel closed in, tight, intense. And happen without our conscious control.
Between the contractions though are rest periods, a time where we can recover and regroup in preparation for the next contraction.
The more we consciously work ‘with’ rather than ‘against’ these uterine or heart contractions, the more ‘effective’ they are. They don’t hurt less, but they get more done in less time…the tightenings more efficient, the rests deeper, more resourced, blissful even.
In birth our bodies produce natural pain-relief chemicals after contractions, encouraging us to go more and more inward with each rest period- not to zone-out or escape- because we know we gotta get this baby out!- but to resource ourselves as fully as possible in order to bring more of ourselves into the next contraction. The rests- if really entered into with our full focus and attention and gratitude- can be experienced as totally blissful- small slices of heaven between the often hellishness of the contractions between them.
As we approach ‘transition’, we have gone as far as we can go -physically in birth or emotionally in life- with the rhythmical and predictable nature of ‘established labour’. Now, life wants our conscious mind completely out of the way.
And with it go the candles, relaxing music, and all traces of ladies or gentlemen from the birthing room.
Now, it’s time for the women and men to get red, hot and holy ’cause transition is in the house.
‘Transition’ in birth is when the cervix dilates from 7-10cm. Contractions now are less like rhythmic sets of predictable waves, and more like chaotic messy surges hell bent on breaking us wide open.
Rests are few and far between. Contractions are back-to-back and even overlap each other, doubling up like monster waves, threatening to take us out.
In life, transition is much the same.
We slowly lose contact with our conscious minds as we begin getting ruthlessly tossed about on the high seas by emotional waves that seem to peak up out of nowhere and take intensity to a whole new level.
And we thought we were in pain before!
We are forced – slowly but surely – into the realm of our subconscious minds and deep into our physical bodies- right where birth wants us. Here, we start to- have to- let go of any remaining safety nets- what we ‘think we know’, ‘our perceptions’, ‘breathing!’, just to survive each moment. We let go and we Surrender with a capital S to the process that is now not only happening to us, but that we are becoming one with.
In transition, because there’s so little time to breathe between sets, & the waves are so intense, we get to a point where we either think, say, yell or scream, ‘I can’t do this’.
And that’s exactly where life wants us.
This point of, ‘I can’t do this’, ironically means that, we are.
We have surrendered and birth- life- is having her wild wicked ways with us.
No longer are we sitting upright with eyes closed on our meditation cushions or doing yoga in our pretty spot in nature, and the birthing mother has by this point completely abandoned all decorum -and usually all her clothing- and is on all fours grunting, cursing and looking wildly into the eyes of her partner, lover, doula or spirit guide with searching eyes looking for some kind of….something.
What is it we are looking for in these moments?
She’s not looking for quick fixes, or escape, or answers, or explanations. She’s after stability. A solid safe set of eyes to lock onto. Something thats not moving about so wildly like she is- something to ‘hold’ her while she goes under and into and beyond with birth….to make sure she comes back!
A pair of eyes that are strong and brave enough to lock with her own and say, ‘I’m here, I’m with you, it’s safe to let go, I’ve got you’.
‘Now, back to the task at hand’.
This pair of eyes in birth, or in life, hold the power and potential- the privilege– to make or break a birthing mother, or a person in life transition.
They offer solidarity & sureness and state calmly but confidently, ‘It’s ok and good and time to completely surrender, you are safe and I am here’, or they can reflect fear and whimper, ‘stop, you should be scared because I sure as hell am, don’t go any further- or if you’re silly enough too- I’m outta here’.
(If you are a ‘doula’ in someone’s time of transition in birth or life- get really good with your own fears and ideas about transitions, change, growth, breakdowns-to-breakthrough- because a single glance at this time of heightened physic and emotional and everything-sensitivity says a million words and sends a powerful message to either forge through or back-out.)
‘Transition’ is often the hardest part of birth, and life.
It’s when we exceed our current set points- emotionally, spiritually, psychically.
In birth our bodies physically need to open more than they have ever done before.
In life, we need to venture beyond our current emotional and spiritual comfort zones, mark new territory and claim more of our inner land in order to be more for our incoming creations…this is scary shit!
We require the pain (which if we’re smart we’ll soon start relating to as ‘intensity’) in order to force us into an altered state of consciousness.
Because we can only grow, deepen, change in a different atmosphere.
This ‘atmosphere’ is the altered state of consciousness that transition opens us to.
And in birth and life transitions, when we’re giving life to newborn anythings, great change is needed. Huge growth required.
We need to dig deeper to strengthen our roots.
And the faster we get the hint and our heads out of the way, the faster life can direct us as she needs to in order to pave the way for delivery.
We’re moving instinctually now. Emotion coursing through us. Breathing deeply. Fully embodied and painfully and pleasurably physical.
Transitions break us. But they break us open. And in this way, they really do ‘make’ us.
There’s no room and there’s definitely no time for egos or control, for candles or sweet music or people-pleasing. There’s barely enough time to breath! This time is about directing every ounce of energy, attention and focus we have to the job at hand, feeling fully into the intensity and riding the current wave we are on…
…not reflecting over the one thats just rolled us or worrying about the one that’s already rising up in the distance- but just breathing through whatever wave has us now.
Resistance is futile -and dangerous -in these conditions. And here the old adage, ‘what we resist, persists’, holds very true. The longer and harder we fight against life here, the more likely it is that we will run out of the fuel and fire and fierceness we need to get through this stage. And the less likely we are to come out of it holding all the gifts Transition offers us for our use back in our surface world.
When time has caused to have any meaning, when we haven’t slept for days, when hunger is a distant memory, we suddenly ‘come to’.
We’re back in the land of the living.
We look around us, exhausted, beaten up, ground-down- way down- and see we are in the birthing room -and we’re not dead! – and there’s our team around us quietly talking to each other.
In life too, we may suddenly wake up one morning and the emotional surf seems to have abated, our hearts oddly light, our appetite back. Our minds thinking coherently and the clock ticking again.
We touch wood.
We’ve made it through transition. 10cm.
Time for a baby.
We could ‘push’. But really who has the energy at this point folks. We’d still have a baby at the end of it, but tear we may and unnecessary stress may be caused to both us, and our babies- creative or physical.
And if we’ve learnt anything from surrender- pushing is sheer madness.
So, we allow…
We breath our babies out.
Slowly, gently, consciously. Waiting for the next contraction and working with the waves now to ride each beautiful formation of surging water slowly toward the shoreline.
No rush though, that shorelines in sight and not going anywhere.
There’s time enough to take it all in.
Here, at delivery, to a degree, we say ‘when’.
And we continue to breathe through even the ring of fire…that point where we are at our most open…and now without the luxuriously of being in the trance-like state of transition- man, does Life never let up!
We are fully lucid, fully feeling, so much so it’s almost unbearable and we have the growing knowing that we’re about to meet this deeply familiar but completely new being any moment now.
Oh that’s right- this is all for a purpose!
We keep breathing.
Then, in a moment not-so-long-ago so-far-away, it arrives, skin-to-skin.
We’re holding Her. Him. Them. It.
Our physical baby. Our creative child.
A new emotional inner-reconciliation.
An enhanced psychic skill.
A much prayed-for spiritual understanding.
Whatever we’ve birthed, it’s arrived.
They are here. We are here. In this moment, together.
We’re feeling elation, exhaustion, shock, high emotion, deep peace- all simultaneously.
Gratitude, definitely gratitude.
Gosh, we still need that breath of ours even now to process all of this- this is some good shit!
We’ve done it. We’ve birthed our new baby or project but we’ve also birthed new levels of ourselves…we didn’t bank on feeling like a newborn too!
We’re feeling like it’ll be months until we find our feet with this new gig, but even so we also possess the natural calm confidence that we’re the mother or father to this child, we understand the responsibility is ours and that life has charged us with the protection of this new life and what’s more, trusts us with its true unfolding.
So, we must have what it takes.
So, now it’s baby steps- the two of us. Learning, growing, unfolding together. A reciprocal, fluid relationship built on the shared experience of an intense initiation, the dance of conception, pregnancy, labour & birth.
We’ve completed one huge process and now it’s time for new beginnings.
Do we have the energy?
Can we do this?
Where’s the map?
What about my ‘old’ life?
Who am I now?
All these questions float around us daily as we observe our new baby or project doing life on the ‘outside’, but they are all answered with one idea. One attitude. One approach.
We don’t surrender to anything outside of ourselves. We surrender to the relationship between us and our new creation…this third living dynamic that has a life and intelligence all it’s own.
And, we continue to simply breath.
We tune in. We listen. We follow our hunches. We take our knowings seriously. We ask for what we need. We choose our team wisely and instinctively- just like at birth- and we allow ourselves to change our mind last minute if we need to.
We are always allowed to change our mind!
We continue to create and adjust the environment around us wisely- conscious of this new life adjusting to the outside world. And we do the simple things like get enough sleep, eat well, be gentle with ourselves and remind ourselves we are doing a great job.
We got this!
And what’s more- and more important,
Life’s got us.
If you’d like to explore, work with, reflect on or de-brief any past or current birth or life experience or transition, please get in touch (contacts page) and we can tune in together. Re-visiting experiences that still cause dis-comfort or dis-ease in our current lives can allow us to go back and bring our breath into these moments, hear the story, lear what we need to learn, and also retrieve any gifts we may have left behind! We can then enter more fully and peacefully into the present, and start really moving forward and enjoying new beginnings.
I’ve felt this post all day…yearning to move from thought to feeling to words on the page. But waited I did, until time arrived at the end of the day to allow me to share what I wanted to share.
I’m writing this as if to me- but, I think we are always writing to ourselves if we’re really honest, yes? When we’re talking to another- it’s to ourselves we’re really speaking.
When we’re judging another- it’s ourselves we’re judging.
And when we’re accepting of, embracing and loving another- it’s a reflection of the depth of our own self-love.
So, as much as I’m translating my own knowings & perspectives for you, I’m also aware that it’s for me. Us. There’s only one of us- after all….millions and millions of dispersed, separated aspects of the one self, split of in seperate bodies…on a journey of re-membering our truth- that we are actually one. The day when we realise, re-member and re-mind ourselves of this, all the seemingly separated parts – integrate, come together, unify, commune, connect.
But, until then, I write. And I hope that it reaches you, me- us.
Today, it was a Horizon that caught my eye- this one…
I sat on the beach and looked out toward it with a searching, a longing, a question. And all I saw was a line across the sea with no answers, no solutions, no quick-fixes.
But, she did offer me hope.
Horizons do that- they offer us hope. They suggest distant lands. New perspectives. Unknown adventures.
So, I would say to you- offer to you- if your heart is in mourning for its true mooring, your soul getting tossed about on the sea of your chaotic days, your mind aching with regret and remorse, think about just one thing.
Horizons hunny, horizons.
And when you think about horizons- hope, possibility, new beginnings, second chances, waking up from nightmares- I want you to imagine you’re standing on a verandah.
“The innate human feeling from the verandah is that if you look out too sea long enough, something will turn up.” Tim Winton
And not just any verandah- your heart’s verandah.
See, our heart can get stuffy. Much like a house. It can get filled with moods, stuff, rubbish waiting to be put out, piles of dirty laundry.
Crap. Like, I’m talking not even sage smudging will clear that shit.
So, when it’s feeling like this, get up, walk- or crawl even- crawling is completely allowed- out through the hallway, push that wire door open and slowly step out onto your heart’s verandah.
From here, this place that is still attached to your heart but also allows you to take in the outside world- a magical living thing that wraps right the way around your precious centre- just look around, coerce the muscles in your neck to lift your head up, and reach with those gorgeous eyes out in front of you.
Because, as stuffy as that house may get, as filled with stuff and shit and muck, from the verandah you’ve also got,
Horizons hunny, Horizons.
Your heart’s verandah is where you can both grieve and be with your past feelings as they burst through into your present, but also be aware of the moments that can pull you gently yet surely forward on your path. This verandah is one magical place…
“The verandah is an interval, a space, where life is improvised” Phillip Drew
When we’re on the verandah- we’re grounded and on solid decking, but we’re also open, we’re expecting, we’re hopeful, we’re open. Close enough to the kettle and covers and those kids that need us, but still available for opportunities that may ride by waving to us, seeing if we’re up for a visit.
But all the while, opportunity or visitors or not, there remains,
Horizons Hunny, Horizons
From the verandah of my own heart when in moments, days, even weeks sometimes of just not being able to leave the claustrophic yet familiar house of an aching heart and I finally manage to eventually venture out, I’m always greeted with life moving forward.
With or without me, she glides effortlessly on.
She doesn’t stop for me, she hasn’t ever and she won’t anytime soon, but she’s always got a hand out inviting me into the dance. She doesn’t force, coerce, manipulate or tease, she’s just invites me into the present moment where she is and can’t leave- otherwise life- hope- would cease to be. And when I can’t join her, when I feel bound to go back inside and tend to the unfolded clothes of my past, the unwashed dishes of my forgotten dreams, the rubbish of missed chances waiting to be put out to the trash, you know what I do?
I meet life half-way, and fix my eyes on,
Horizons Hunny, Horizons.
Our human hearts hold so much sadness, so much pain. It’s seems an insurmountable task to uncover all this in just one lifetime- let alone a moment. We intuitively know for sure that there’s goods underneath, but our arms get heavy with uncovering, our legs get worn out from searching, our minds get tired and lazy from disappointment. And so, for these times, god built us all a verandah around our hearts- somewhere to sit, to wrap our fragile fingers around a warm cup of coffee, somewhere to dream undisturbed and unashamed, somewhere to have conversations late at night with owls and ask them if they have the answers.
If our verandahs are by the sea, we ask the ocean instead…
“The sea is more forthcoming, its miracles and wonders are occasionally more palpable, however inexplicable they be. There is more bounty, more possibility for us in a vista that moves, rolls, surges, twists, rears up and changes from minute to minute.” Tim Winton
And as the ocean moves in and out, onto the land and back out to sea again without a goodbye or a sorry, we wait and we trust and we keep our heads up and our eyes on
Horizons Hunny, Horizons.
For me, in my own life, as my capacity to feel pleasure deepens- often bringing me to tears- the depth that I experience pain widens also. It’s a deal we do with our hearts.
They just have to open- it’s their job.
Sometimes it’s best and right and good that they open through intense pleasure. Sometimes, we learn more quickly and surely- never to forget this lesson baby!- through pain- brutal, unforgiving pain.
In both instances, our heart opens…or can if we allow the emotion to surge through us, if we welcome the tears up and out, if we refuse the temptation to project our pain outward and instead burn fully and willingly in the fire of our own inner transformation.
If we fight through the tiredness and the urge to go to sleep and instead use our fierceness to stay awake and alive through the insanely strong pull of numbness, threatening to take us out.
When our hearts are breaking open…either through pleasure or pain or both (god- that is one hell of a ride!)…we grab hold of those railings on our verandah and what do we do?
What do we look for?
Horizons hunny, Horizons.
And then, one day- in a moment that doesn’t even bother to let us know it’s arrived so that we can have our best dress on and give our shattered-open hearts the heads’ up, that horizon brings with it something new. And not just a possibility. It brings with it an encounter, a conversation, a connection, a hard-to-pin-down series of events where we find ourselves somewhere new.
An experience where we feel how we are now different.
More open. Feeling more.
We’re not on the verandah anymore…we’re out in the street picking flowers and having conversations with strangers and making plans.
The house in our heart is still a bomb but it’s kind of ok- it’s now looking kind of lovely- lived-in, homely, holding memories that tell stories and tales of adventures that brought us steadily along to this moment we’re now in.
This moment where we’re feeling new feelings- or maybe they’re not new? Maybe we’re just feeling them more fully, with a more transparent heart, one with a good deal more cracks in it so that the good stuff can bubble up on up.
And what’s that feeling?….oh, we know this one!…Gratitude. Grateful not so much for the present moment feeling of happiness for no apparent reason other than we’re not feeling so heavy anymore, but gratitude to ourselves.
That we made it through.
That we endured the unbearable.
Forgave the unforgivable.
Accepted the seemingly unlovable- our feelings….we listened, we waited, we walked on out to that verandah.
And then we listened, we waited. And we looked to,
Horizons Hunny, Horizons.
And we then laugh. Because really, the horizons never gave up the goods. They never brought a tall ship of answers or a sailing boat full of solutions.
What they did do was offer us the promise of the possibility of new life on the other side of where we were at whilst we weathered the daily conditions of our heart as it moved through it’s beautiful but gruelling yet completely necessary process of opening.
And now that we’re that little more open, we know it is highly likely it will happen again- life dealing us cards that break us open even more- but we know we’ll get through that and more, and we’ll remember what to do.
We’ll calmly, confidently, courageously and with a cup of coffee in hand like one who’s been here before and more, move out onto our heart’s verandah and greet
Horizons hunny, Horizons.
If you’re after support and someone to hold a safe space whilst you move through your own heart openings, give me a call or email (contacts page), I’d be honoured to assist you in a Wellbeing Session
My latest article on Mindfulness for Young Children can be found in this month’s Care for Kids Educator Newsletter…
I hope you enjoy the read and get some practical tips on how to bring more mindfulness into your home and family life
Lately I’ve had a lot of past memories coming up into my awareness, triggering strong emotions and a feeling of being ‘lost in time’ and not being able to really come into the present. At these times it feels really scary to be with my feelings, as I’m scared I’ll get too strongly pulled into the past and be unable to return to the present. It’s these times when I really have to trust in the spiritual tool-kit I’ve been working on for so long- my perseverance, strength, trust, patience and acceptance.
When old memories come back to us, accompanied by intense feelings, we often either try to deny them – shutting them out or pushing them back down out of awareness- or we dwell on them, losing all touch with the present moment we are now in, becoming completely absorbed in the past and running the risk of being pulled back into past patterns and habits.
So, what can we do when a person, situation, place, photo, song or anything triggers us into a past emotional state?
Is there something we can do instead of running away from it (not facing it) or becoming completely absorbed by it (becoming overpowered by it)?
Is there another solution?
What if we find the courage, the patience, the trust, the strength, to just BE WITH it. Not BE iy. But be WITH it.
What if we can pause, create some sacred time and space for ourselves, and invite our larger presence- even if that’s just our breathe- to observe what’s going on.
Not a cold, unfeeling observation devoid of humanness. But a soft yet strong, gentle yet firm, neutral yet accepting unconditional acceptance of ALL feelings that are surfacing for us in that moment.
What happens then depends on our own process, our own journey, but ultimately as we invite in a non-judgemental, unconditional acceptance into our current emotional experience, we create a kind of energetic solution (just like the other meaning for solution as an aqueous substance) in which our emotional experience can dismantle into the larger ‘solution’ of our neutral presence, and then slowly reassemble into a more coherent state, one more closely aligned with our larger, peaceful presence.
You don’t need to engage in a highly complicated spiritual ritual to do this, and it doesn’t require any special objects, person or place. All that’s needed to achieve the energetic alchemy of your emotional experience of fear, confusion, frustration, anger or any other dis-comfort or feeling of dis-connection, is YOU.
You ARE the solution- your focused attention, your choice to turn to you- right now, as you are.
And not only that.
But your current shit/stuff/baggage/problems- internal (feelings or sensations) or external (people or situations) – is WHERE to start. In fact, it’s the ONLY place to look. Because in this pile of mess is where you will find emotional liberation. And once you find that, all else follows.
So when discomfort strikes, don’t run from, it, push it away, push it down, and don’t become engulfed by it either.
Just stay with it.
Invite in your larger presence and be WITH it. Use your breath to observe it, explore it, feel your feelings and allow them to shift- in their own time, in their own way.
Imagine you are a mother to your feelings- meet them with support, calmness, encouragement and unconditional acceptance, with a strong firm knowing that after the tantrum, the release, the expression, they will settle and find the re-connection they are seeking.
It may take some patience, some perseverance, some trust and some mental strength- but you’ve got this. And you’ve got enough to start exactly where you are and as you practice being with your feelings, inviting in your calm neutrality you’ll grow these importance skills that will serve you for life- trust, patience, acceptance and perseverance.
You can use anything annoying or uncomfortable in this way, as an invitation to return to the present moment, because the very fact that you are experiencing anything other than joy and peace is a sign that there is some part of your attention not in the now moment…so when viewed in this way, every annoyance- tiny or huge- can become like a homing signal to use your breath and turn on your presence to BE WITH the part/aspect of you that is being pulled away from the present moment, so that when it is ready (after you’ve sat with, listened to and acknowledged it) it can once again re-memeber, re-intergeate and re-turn to the whole of you, in the present moment.
Let’s embrace our selves- our light, our dark, our everything. We are worthy. Worthy of our own time, patience, acceptance, trust, perseverance and love.
Let’s re-member ourselves, slowly, in our own perfect time, in our own perfect sequence. Let’s place value on this, and invest in ourselves.
Let’s re-member that we are the solution we seek- when we feel that longing, anger, regret, loneliness, pain, confusion…let’s take ourselves seriously- let’s pause, listen to, be with, validate all and everything about us- and observe how slowly, but very surely, these dis-membered parts of ourselves find expression and naturally shift, returning to where they belong- in the present moment, in joy.
And then the relief- that we never needed to fix anything or solve all the problems out there… all we needed was our own loving time and attention….simple but not easy. But definitely do-able- right now, and always just a breath away.
THIS is our real work- mindfulness of our own experience- and mindful that it IS OUR own experience…and that we can use our mind and our choice to turn inward to BE THERE for ourselves- fully, with everything we have, even if we think it’s not enough, especially when we think it’s not enough.
Life presents us every day with ample opportunities to do this inner work. It requires a slowing down and a conscious decision to take life around us less seriously, and ourselves more seriously- and by seriously I mean validating our feelings (but not projecting them), listening to our bodies’ stories (but not buying into them) and accepting ourselves as we are, right now (by not wanting to feel anything other than what we are right now- showing unconditional love and deep trust in our own process).
If you are requiring support, inspiration or motivation to re-connect more deeply with yourself, and build your own spiritual tool-kit, contact me for a session. Supporting others in building their spiritual confidence, experiencing emotional liberation and enjoying the abundance of precious moments in every day is what I love to do.
There was so much fun, enthusiasm and excitement today at Magical Mindful Me: Mindfulness & Wellbeing for 7-11yr olds!
With the gorgeous backdrop of the sand and surf of Killcare Beach, the kids & I explored how mindfulness is a really useful tool to use when we want to become aware of our feelings and experiences in order to be in a position to select more pleasing ones.
We worked out that we have something called an ‘iBRAIN’.
Much like their iPads, their ibrain is a computer- some pretty sweet machinery but essentially useless until there’s someone using it.
The kids clued on pretty quickly that THEY are the programmer in charge of what thoughts (codes) they use to create their apps (beliefs).
These apps, when installed (focused upon), tell their body how to feel, and influence the experiences they have (just like the game experience!)
So, as a team, we worked out that the best way to change the game they are playing or app they are using – a situation, feeling, relationship dynamic (maybe a sibling is annoying them or a friend is being unkind) is to go back to the programming!
…and here comes the ‘coding for wellbeing’…
We worked out, together, that MINDFULNESS could be a pretty useful tool to help us become aware of what apps we’ve got installed in our brains!
Once we know what’s there, we can then decide what stays, what goes, and what requires an upgrade.
We explored how we can create our own upgrades- one way is to add a few more codes (positive thoughts) or for a whole new app we can flip the belief over like a coin…’I’m bad at maths’ becomes ‘Maths is ok and I can do it!’
From here, we work backward to figure out what coding we’d require to build the software we want to end up with…smaller thoughts (coding language) like ‘maths is useful’, ‘I can make it fun’, ‘theres pretty patterns in maths’, ‘my teacher is kind’, ‘when I’m feeling good I understand better’, ‘theres no rush’ and ‘I’m doing great at maths’.
Now we’re ready to spend some time building this app so that it’s ready for installation (no rush with this, it’s best to get our app just how we want it;-).
So, we get creative!
Out come our journals and we write our our coding, cut out pictures from magazines that represent our new belief (app) visually, use stickers, crayons, texts…anything to really bring our new app to life for us (we just check with mum & dad that they’ve finished reading that magazine before we cut it up ;-). In short- we make it really MAGICAL….using our image-in-aCtion!
Once that’s done (our ‘homework’ for the week until next lesson), we’ll select our self-created awesome app. How? With our intention & focus…enter in mindfulness (present-moment awareness) + heartfulness (generating positive emotional states).
Finally, we INSTALL it via taking action, action in our outside world that SHOWS us it IS installed in our ibrain- like showing up more positive to maths, enjoying the patterns in numbers, tutoring a younger child (to build our own confidence & emphasis what we DO know).
But, as we all know, our iPads, iPhones, and in the case of ourselves, our ibrains, can become too full- that’s where we can use mindfulness once again to create space for upgrades & new apps…this mindfulness thing is suddenly becoming MUCH more appealing to these wellbeing-coders in the making!
Daily Mindfulness Practice is a daily cleaning software for our ibrains, ensuring that there’s always plenty of available memory for any new app we’d like to install.
So, we do have a brain (or now it’s an ibrain!), but it’s not the boss- WE are. Our ibrain RESPONDS to our direction (or app selection), giving instructions to the body to feel, move and interact in certain ways (behaviours) which have certain outcomes (situations).
The REAL boss is our larger ‘mind’
And what exactly is this ‘mind’?
It’s a creative space, (consciousness) of awareness, neutrality, acceptance, non-judgement, curiosity.
And it’s very, very cool…as these kids are learning.
We can use Mindfulness to both foster states of calm, peace and self-acceptance (noticing what’s been installed with our focus in the present moment, de-installing some apps with our breath- the breath is very magical like that…we delve more into ‘the breath that dissolves all faulty apps’ next week ;-).
We can also use mindfulness as a way to create more space in our brains for funner apps! (this is the incentive that this age group needs to really invest their time into mindfulness.
In Magical Mindful Me classes the children and I combine Mindfulness (becoming aware of their current thoughts/apps AND making space for new ones) with Heartfulness-generating intentional states likes gratitude and kindness (the codes behind their new beliefs (apps). I totally join in with the kids for the 30min activity part of the class because it’s important we are ‘learning about this together’, rather than me teaching them- children learn from what we do (95%), not from what we say (a measly 5%). I participate in the coding process because it’s so ridiculously fun! (as you can see I want more time for guitar practice).
Pretty complex and beautiful stuff made simple, understandable and relevant with a really cool metaphor that’s also gender neutral.
Lots of fun art supplies and some time and space to practice the process together, and the magical mindful 7-11’s are already discovering- or rather un-covering, their magical mindful coding abilities.
There’s room for a few more children next week at the 4:30pm class at Community Connect Killcare SLSC, but do let me know if they’re coming along so I can have their journal ready for them.
The lead up to christmas is the perfect opportunity to begin or strengthen your mindfulness practice.
And your mindfulness practice doesn’t have to be anything formal- it can be a few mindful moments when you wake, during the day, and when you wind down for the evening.
Mindfulness is simply paying attention to the present moment, without judgement and with an attitude of curiosity. Bringing compassion into mindfulness adds an element called ‘heartfulness’- that spirit of gratitude, appreciation and compassion for self and others.
Mindfulness + heartfulness taken in regular doses every day = better focus and concentration, increased self-worth, improved emotional regulation and a stronger feeling of connection to yourself and the world around you. All this leads to sustainable happiness…the kind of happy that is generated from within.
In my naturopathic and wellbeing practice working with both children and adults, I’ve found that mindfulness, along with the ‘magical’ element of heartfulness (hence my ‘magical mindful me’ classes for young people), is the best medicine around…second only to laughter of course! Even where herbal, homeopathic and nutritional medicine is needed to return balance to the body, mindfulness greatly enhances these things by decreasing stress in the body, and allowing physical medicines to work more quickly and effectively.
Prevention really is the best medicine, and the #1 tool I use with now with myself, my family, my clients and class participants is mindfulness & heartfulness.
I’ve created a series of classes starting term 1 2018, along with holiday workshops in January, to introduce your child (adults are always welcome to come along) to mindfulness, and through fun, creative and engaging activities, empower them to create their own daily wellbeing practice centred on Mindfulness & Hurtfulness…so that they can connect with with ‘Magical Mindful Me’ inside, and from this place, more consciously choose their thoughts, words and actions…selecting those that truly reflect who they are what they desire and the kind of world they wish to live and play in.
For adults, I run weekly mindfulness classes in the Bouddi area of the Central Coast- at Bells Resort, Killcare SLSC and in the Bouddi National Park. I’d love to see you there and support you along your own mindful journey into more wellbeing.
In the meantime, why not use the build-up to christmas and it’s hustle and bustle as an invitation to dive into a deeper stillness in your body and mind. You can do this simply by, whenever you think of it, taking one mindful breath and infusing it with gratitude by bringing to mind one thing you are grateful for in your life.
A few moments like this…and magic can happen.
Magically, Mindfully Yours,
I just LOVE my chai.
Apart from the gazillion health benefits including digestive, immune & mood support, a simmering pot of chai on the stove warms up the heart and home like nothing else.
Masala (spice) Chai (tea) is commonplace at cafes now, and it’s no wonder…with it’s delicious balance of sweet & spicy this magical blend served with milk and honey is not only good for you, it tastes divine.
The Bouddi Bliss Masala Chai blend contains star anise and honey bush to provide extra age-defying anti-oxidants and add an extra kick of amazingness- making it the perfect Christmas gift for the chai-loving tribe.
Bouddi Bliss Masala Chai is 100% Organic, 100% Locally-blended (by mwah!) and 100% inspired by everything we all love about chai- health benefits, delicious taste and intoxicating aromas that warm the mind, body and soul.
To order some Chai now for Chrissy gifts click on the button below and it’ll take you straight to the shop…and be sure to grab one for your beautiful self to sip on whilst you wrap your pressies and soak up the festive vibes.
Welcoming back the Bouddi Boosts!…everyday totally- do-able tips from a naturopath for a Happy Healthy BOD.
BOUDDI BOOST #1:
FRESHLY SQUEEZED FRUIT & VEGETABLE JUICE!
Drinking a couple of glasses of freshly squeezed juice is OUT-OF-THIS WORLD for your health…It will hydrate, remove toxins, decrease inflammation and deliver nutrients to your beautiful body in their natural and most bioavailable (your cells can suck them up more easily!) form.
I HIGHLY recommend investing in a juicer (hot tip: check out your local vinnies, salvos or other pre-loved goods store as they usually have loads of pre-loved juicers …we got ours for $15 and it works wonderfully!)
Spend that cash you saved on your pre-loved juicer on local and organic produce to increase the healing-power of your liquid lush-ish-ness (is that a word?- unsure, but I like it!)
Parents- make freshly squeezed juices a non-negotiable in the house- serve up a freshly squeezed juice to your kiddies first thing on rising in a jar or cup they have pimped up to their personal taste! Then, wait for 30-60 minutess before serving up the main meal -‘breakfast like a king’ remember- breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day as it’s the most important.
In our household, the after-school snack-a-thon is heralded in by a 2nd freshly squeezed juice…they are usually famished, thirsty and quite frankly HANGING for a real re-charge.
Get juicing this spring and really FEEL the gentle and gradual improvements in your vitality.
Make juicing a habit, and your body will thank you
It’s the buzz word right now.
And for good reason…it offers a plethora of proven benefits for our minds and bodies.
And as a Mindfulness educator myself I am all for it.
When it comes to releasing trauma (stored emotion/energy in our bodies and minds), another ingredient is often required.
And we all have some degree of trauma…even the smallest upsets as child get lodged in our body tissue and psyches…and they stay there buried down deep in the dark where they can’t be touched until they have a chance for liberation…and mindfulness often IS that very invitation for liberation!
The very nature of being mindful means our awareness of our current experience increases. The issue is, if there’s stuff we haven’t processed fully, our ‘current’ experience isn’t always the ‘here and now moment’.
Instead, it’s an individual reality composed of ‘past’ stories, patterns and ways of perceiving the world that may not be so helpful for us. Or our ‘current experience’ may also be a blend of ‘future’ worries, anxieties or concerns based on an effort to avoid repeating past experiences. In either case (and usefully it’s a lovely blend of both- yippee!-), Mindfulness can then become not only difficult and uncomfortable- but Just. Not. Doable! for a lot of us, at least some of the time.
I was reminded of this problem (…and it’s inevitable solution!) by a recent article I read by Anna O’kaolin entitled, ‘Mindfulness: When Not to Use It’, read it here
It spoke to me on every level. Not least of all on a practical, everyday commonsense level.
Like when I work with people in Wellbeing Sessions, most often the most effective emotional releases and perspective shifts happen in outdoor sessions- when we are on the move, allowing the body to move when it needs to and how it needs to. I’ve always intuitively known this is the way to go as our bodies aren’t meant to remain stationary, especially when we’re releasing lots of emotion- which wellbeing sessions of any kind can initiate.
It’s why we often move through more ground and come up with more creative solutions when we ‘walk and talk’, rather than sit down and try to solve a problem.
Often, the practice of Mindfulness is presented as, or practiced in, a way that does not allow for the release of emotional energy that naturally arises when we bring our awareness to our thoughts. Sure, if we are a Zen master or Buddhist Monk we may be able to remain still and stationary amidst a torrent of emotional turmoil and old memories bursting up out of our subconscious into our conscious mind, but, if you’re anything like me- a ordinary human who’s constantly discovering deeper layers of my life experience calling for release in the form of habitual emotional responses, strong body sensations or unexplainably strong reactions to people, places or events, then when another page of your story of life comes up for review (and hopefully release!) then you’re natural (and GOOD) reaction is to run!
So, if we acknowledge this reaction to physically move in reaction to emotions bubbling up, especially in our mindfulness practice, then we can begin to work WITH it, rather than AGAINST it.
What if we didn’t sit still?
What if we didn’t run away from the sensation, or feeling, or memory or image….but ran WITH it instead.
Moved with it.
What if we allow ourselves to crawl, collapse, stretch, curl up and really viscerally FEEL the feeling that’s arising, as we listen to, trust, allow for and follow our body as it naturally un-winds old ‘stories’ of experience from deep within it’s tissues and re-tells them in a more coherent, real way, allowing us to now respond to life consciously, rather than continue to react from unconsciousness.
I find that when I infuse Mindfulness with ‘ME’…Ie. my truth in any moment- whether that’s the need to move in weird ways mindfully, eat mindfully, cry mindfully, laugh mindfully, make love mindfully, say no mindfully, say yes mindfully, not know mindfully, run as fast as I can mindfully and then stop suddenly in my tracks not knowing why mindfully- I’m fully EMBODYING mindfulness.
It’s then that my practice becomes PLAY.
And it is actually EASIER, more ENJOYABLE and deeply LIBERATING. It’s like I know what I’m doing is right, even though I don’t really know what I’m doing. How? By how I feel in my body- spacious, peaceful, alive, connected….ME again.
Mindfulness Practice evolves into Mindful Living.
And a mindful life isn’t always one that’s sitting silently serene with legs crossed, eyes closed and a look of calm serenity.
It’s whatever it is, wherever you are, however you’re feeling…just as long as YOU are there with your expierence- YOU the human- the one who listens to your body, trusts it, follows it…without the conditioned patriarchal need to understand or fix things…but instead the red hot and holy feminine desire to fully embody and experience whatever is coming up for you RIGHT NOW- because nothing is too much for your deep and brave listening.
And true listening, a pre-requisite for a fully embodied mindful life- is about being silent in your mind– not your body.
So I invite you to, next time you sit for your mindfulness practice, stand instead.
Swim, ride, speak with it instead. Share mindfulness in your own unique way, silencing your thinking mind but not turning down and definitely not turning off your instrument of expression- your body.
Bring YOU back into the heart of your Mindfulness practice.
Do it YOUR way. Make it beaUtiFULL again, and move firmly onto the fast-track lane to delicious wholeness, in the way that only you know how to.
Practice may not make perfect, but you are, so bring yourself into your practice and watch it bloom in fulfilling and creative ways that allow you to be mindful WHILE releasing the layers underneath that hold the solutions that you seek.
Oh, and don’t forget to breeeeeeeaaaaathh-).
I was at the beach this morning with my youngest son taking our border collier x kelpie (aka THE most active canine EVER) for his morning walk (aka wild crazy gallop).
As our animal ran free along the sand with 4-6 ft waves rolling in, we sat and waited for the sun to rise up from behind Mt Bouddi, to herald in another new day.
As I sat on a washed up log, marvelling at how we will never be able too train the ‘wild’ out of our domesticated animal, I didn’t miss the message behind it that I will never be able to train the wild out of myself or my children- as much as I try to domesticate all the untamed parts of myself and my kids. And, for once, I felt ok with that, as I watched our dog, whom my eldest named ‘Ranger’- range his shoreline, free and unashamed, in full acceptance of his wild nature.
Then, as I sank into this lovely new acceptance of my own and my children’s ‘animal’ natures, along with all the other parts of ourselves, Indiana asked me a question,
‘Mum, why are all those lights on?’, as he pointed to the glistening house windows on the headlands jutting out near Sydney heads.
I explained that the lights weren’t on, but that the windows were reflecting the light from the sun that was rising opposite them from behind the head land to our left. I explained that we couldn’t see the sun yet, but that the windows, from their higher vantage point, could, and that they were showing us a little preview of what was to come…if we just wait a little longer for the sun to rise for us.
He asked me why all the windows weren’t reflecting the light, and I fell in love with his question – as I do often when he hits me with these golden opportunities to share what I’ve learnt through experience- because he always throws them out to me in at just the right time and in just the right way- for us both.
“Well”, I explained, “not all the windows are clean. Some are dirty, and the sun’s light can’t reach to the glass to reflect itself off of, but others are clean and it’s easy for the light to reach through to those.
It’s kind of like our minds, I guess. Like, when we have unhappy or worried or angry thoughts in our minds, we can’t receive answers, or happy thoughts, or inspiration we need to feel happy and warm. But, if we take a little time each day to keep our minds clear from thoughts that clog up our view of the sunrise, then it’s easier for the happy thoughts and the sunrise to reach our minds. And then they do, we can then enjoy receiving them and let them warm us up. And we can also reflect them to others or anywhere we like- through our thoughts, words or actions.”
“Oh yeah, he said, that makes sense. Let’s clean our windows soon Mum, they are getting dirty”.
As this beautiful metaphor slowly marinates and sinks into his consciousness, we will indeed go home and clean the windows in our house. And I’ll continue to talk to him about how having a clear mind allows us to receive and reflect light, inspiration and creative solutions- he’s just started taking a mindfulKIDS course with his friends so I’m loving the timing of this new enquiry of his.
Meanwhile, conversations like this one act as a beautiful wake up call to me to keep my mind clear- on a daily basis, because it’s well worth it- charity of thought, emotional balance and physical lightness and ease are the pay-off.
Mindfulness forms an integral part of all my Wellbeing Sessions, because it truly is the most effective way I know to real, sustainable wellbeing- which is a totally natural thing once we re-learn the knack of how to allow it it flow into our daily lives.
In regards to animal natures and letting our wild selves run free, Mindfulness actually creates a space for us to come into more acceptance of the untamed, unruly, undomesticated parts of ourselves.
Because Mindfulness encourages us to release judgement, let go of black or white thinking, and move into a natural curiosity, an engaged neutrality and an empowered wholeness that allows us to feel both balanced and peaceful, yet totally accepting and OK with every part of ourself.
To book in for a session or to come along to a mindfulness class to develop your own daily practice and move into a more fluid and connected state of being, send me an email and we’ll find you a time.
In the meantime, have a little think about how often you’re ‘cleaning the windows’ of your own mind, and whether a little time daily spent washing the grime away may just allow you to receive a little more light and a lot more wellbeing.
Sunshine, light, wellbeing- it’s always there- it’s just about whether you’re receiving it or not.