How Maleficent Reinforced my New Year’s Resolution

One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year, was not to judge others, for anything. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a judgmental person in the slightest. I like to think of myself as kind and compassionate.  I wouldn’t have chosen my line of work if I wasn’t.  I am talking about judgement that can be formed about those you don’t know, the grumpy woman in the supermarket, the rude angry driver on the road, the person who just looks miserable or the views of people you disagree with. Often judgments can be formed against the people you do know; the friend who’s actions you find strange,  the people whose habits irritate you and ones who let you down .  I am not perfect and six months on, yes I have lapsed. There has been the odd spot of gossip I have been drawn into, and people’s actions have perplexed me, however when they start to bother me, I then start to question why that might be.

I like to put myself into the shoes of that other person, they may be acting that way because of a number of reasons; they may be running late, they may be dealing with a lot of stress in their life, they may be scarred from past traumas. The truth is we don’t know the story that people carry around with them. We all have a story.

In my workshops and in personal consultations with clients I often hear these stories.  I feel humbled and privileged to hear their stories because often these stories have never been shared with another person. Sometimes these stories are tragically sad, they are often stories with deep trauma attached to them. Our stories can define who we become. On the surface you cannot see this story, however traits can come out in other people’s personalities that can give us cause to judge or form an opinion on that person.

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I went to see Maleficent at the cinema recently, and aside from being a fantastic film, the overriding message for me was a reminder of my new year’s resolution. Maleficent is the perfect character to form judgement on – the wicked fairy who put the curse on Sleeping Beauty, the classic Disney villain, how can you not possibly judge her? How on earth could we find compassion for her? Then we hear her story. Our feelings towards her change.  Understanding her story changes our feelings towards her, judgements…gone. I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t seen the movie, but if you do get the chance to see it then you will understand what I mean.

I am reminded of a quote by one of my favourite authors, Dr Wayne Dyer ” When you judge another, you do not define them. You define yourself”

So how does this benefit my life? I am a calmer person, I think before I speak and I think before I react. I put myself in the shoes of others, I remember that they have a story and I send them love and compassion and I hope that on an energetic level, it reaches them. Imagine what the world would be like if we all did this?

Image Credit Disney

Its weird but it works!

For the past three years I have been engaging in an activity which I thought, when I was first introduced to it, was completely bonkers! Even now, as a qualified practitioner, it is something I prefer to do privately. I used to feel a bit embarrassed talking about it, and even now, some of my family members don’t know that I make a living doing this. What is it I hear you ask?

It is Emotional Freedom Technique, EFT or Tapping as it is also known. In a nutshell, EFT is best described as acupuncture without needles with a good helping of modern psychology thrown in. We use our fingertips to tap on certain parts of the head and body whilst talking about the problem in hand. In this video below, I describe in more detail exactly what EFT is.

Whilst I love helping clients with EFT and seeing the transformations that can occur, EFT has become an essential part of my daily routine. When situations arise that leave me feeling anything other than good, I start tapping. Think of instances you come across in a typical day – events that leave you feeling stressed, frustrated, angry or worried (hopefully not too many), or times when you have feelings of anxiety, desperation or a shock of some kind? I have used EFT successfully on each of these occasions. In a few short rounds of tapping, you are freed from the emotion and left in a more positive frame of mind.

Recently a friend arrived on my doorstep in the middle of a crisis, feeling scared, desperate and hopeless. After 10 minutes of tapping, she left feeling calm and focused. Whilst the tapping didn’t take away the crisis, my friend was not able to think clearly or take action while she was feeling so desperate, however once she was focused and calm, she was able to go back home, think the situation through rationally and make a clear and decisive action plan.

The thing with negative emotions such as worry, stress and anger is that when they are left unchecked and not dealt with, over time they can manifest themselves into physical symptoms. It is therefore best to release these emotions as quickly as possible. Hence the name Emotional Freedom Technique.

I am using this blog post to launch a series of videos I filmed recently, to show how EFT can be used for a variety of common problems, including food cravings, overwhelm and how it can even be used to overcome physical symptoms such as headaches! Tapping really can be used on anything.

EFT is gradually becoming more mainstream, and it has been reported that celebrities including Madonna and Lily Allen are fans of this therapy. Formula One Driver Fernando Alonso was spotted using EFT at the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix, and it is the tool of choice for many PGA golfers to get into “the zone”.

Madonna

As well as using EFT on myself, I often tap with my six and nine year old children on typical childhood issues such as not being able to get to sleep, feeling sad or worried, physical symptoms such as feeling sick and getting mentally prepared for a sports game, usually with amazing results.

EFT is an easy technique to learn, and has miraculous results. Pause for a moment and see what emotions you might be holding onto? Isn’t it time to let them go?

Image credit, The Guardian

How to manage the stress in your life

Recently I was invited to be on the West Herts Drivetime show on Radio Verulam with Danny Smith to discuss stress and ways to manage it. If you missed it, here it is again.

We all have varying degrees of stress in our lives. Some stress is good, it keeps us motivated, it gets things done and it keeps us on our toes. However as we also know, prolonged stress is not good. It can make us ill.

Stress comes under many guises, it can be the day to day stress of being a parent, the demands of a stressful job, financial strain, ill health or it could be all of the above, take your pick. These can be described as everyday underlying stresses. Big stresses in the form of redundancy, unemployment, bereavements or divorce are problems that sadly many have to deal with. Unfortunately, all these things are a part and parcel of the package we call life. Stress, it would appear is just one of those things we have to deal with, or do we?

The problem with stress is when we don’t recognise it and mask it with things such as food, alcohol or cigarettes which can then lead to secondary problems such as overeating or addictions. It is widely reported that up to 90% of illnesses have their roots in stress. Conditions such as anxiety and depression, skin complaints headaches, insomnia and stomach problems often have stress at the core. If left unchecked, what can start off as a minor complaint can manifest into something more serious.

It is impossible to eliminate stress from your life (sadly), however once the signs are recognised, it is possible to reduce the symptoms, one of the most effective ways to reduce the physical impact of stress on your body is to relax, really relax. For me relaxation is not just about relaxing the body, but it is about relaxing the mind and stopping the mental chatter that can consume us, ie the worrisome thoughts. My favourite way to relax is through meditation. Some people find the word meditation a bit off putting and it can conjure up an image of chanting ohms in a forest somewhere – lovely but not very practical.

My Beginners Guide to Starting Meditation

1.When faced with a stressful situation, before reacting, pause and just take some deep breaths for one minute. Inhaling through the nose and out through the mouth. This one minute can bring down your heart rate and allow you to focus and gain clarity on the situation.

2. Meditation could be a walk in nature where you can just let your mind drift into a daydream, focus on your steps, take in your surroundings, be present and breath deeply.

3. Find a quiet time and place, either before everyone else is up or before you go to bed. (or anytime you can grab a few minutes really)

4. To begin with just limit yourself to five minutes, just focusing on the inhalation and exhalation of your breath. If you find thoughts popping into your head, don’t worry and take your attention back to your breath.

5. Treatments such as Reflexology or Reiki are ideal to relax your body and mind. Combined with regular meditation, you will soon find that stress is managed much more effectively and the benefits to your health and well being will be enormous.

How did you relax today?

 

 


The importance of self love

Recently I ran some workshops on the topic of self love. What is self love? It sounds a bit self indulgent and rather egotistical, but actually it’s something we, as a busy stressed out society, don’t do enough of, especially busy mums. Our needs often come at the bottom of the list, somewhere after changing the sheets, making packed lunches, organising the family’s social diary and feeding the dog!

When there are 101 things on our to do list, anything more than a cup of tea, whist reading a magazine can leave us feeling incredibly guilty with that nagging little voice at the back of our heads telling us we should be doing something on our list instead.

to do

Self love, or another way of putting it **whisper** “putting ourselves first” is actually essential to our very life force. Rushing around from pillar to post at a hundred miles an hour, feeling that there is not enough time do do all the things that you need to do can eventually take its toll on your health. Your body’s fight or flight responses are on high alert, which can lead to adrenal fatigue.* Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include- general fatigue, even after a good nights sleep, irritability, feeling anxious about trivial matters and weight gain. If left unchecked, the prolonged stress that your body is under can lead to even more serious illnesses. It is a well known fact that many diseases and illnesses have their root cause in stress.

Why should we put ourselves first?

In a nutshell, if we don’t look after ourselves, both physically and mentally, we won’t do a very effective job of looking after the people around us who are dependent on us. To begin with small steps should be taken. One of the first things we should do is to tune into our body’s messages, what is it saying? Are your eyes strained? Yes? Book an optician’s appointment. Do you need to lose a few pounds? perhaps its time to reassess your diet, or start some form of exercise.

Top five ways we can love ourselves more

1. Don’t say yes to requests for your time when you actually would rather say no. Say no graciously

2. Take time to pursue a hidden passion, this may be something immediately obvious, or it may take some time to unearth, e.g. join an amateur dramatics group, adult dance class, joining a sports team, by continuing to bury a hidden passion, you are not realising the full you.

3. Once a month (minimum) take some time out to really pamper yourself, have a relaxing treatment of some kind, for example reflexology, a quick manicure or a proper haircut in a gorgeous salon.

hair do

4. Take some time out to PLAY, forget the to do list, play with your children, your partner or your dog. Be in the moment and enjoy!

5. Take a nap, even a short 10 minute nap can energise more effectively than a cup of coffee.

There are many reasons why you shouldn’t , couldn’t or simply don’t have the time to do any of the above, but what are you doing instead? What do you have to lose? You may just find that that you have an extra spring in your step and a bigger smile on your face.

Be kind to yourself, be your own best friend and love yourself just that little bit more.

To explore the subject of Self Love in further detail, I recommend reading The Art of Extreme Self Care by Cheryl Richardson.

(*This happens when the body produces too much cortisol and adrenalin which are your body’s stress hormones, this strain on your adrenal glands can lead to adrenal fatigue) Please do not diagnose yourself, if you think you may have adrenal fatigue, consult your doctor.


The Art of Visualisation

 

So in my first blog post, I told you a little bit of what led me to alternative therapies, and how using visualisation and the power of my imagination had enabled me to have positive birth experiences. It didn’t fully occur to me in the early days of motherhood what visualisation was all about and I put it on a back burner and switched on to full on mummy mode.

With hindsight I wish I had visualised a baby that slept through the night and a toddler who ate everything presented to him – never mind!

It wasn’t until I read The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne, and other similar books that it was beginning to dawn on me how powerful visualisation could actually be.

After giving birth to my daughter (number two). I started to dream about a different career that would feed my love of alternative therapies, whilst being flexible with my children. I knew that eventually I wanted to be doing something that would fit around school, so I trained to become a Reflexologist.

Whilst I was training, I was also working in the recruitment industry (I had gone back to work part time after having the children). I happened to work very near to Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, where Who Wants To Be A Millionaire was filmed. Having been a bit of a game show fan, and that one in particular, I applied to be a contestant. Back to daydreaming mode, I could quite clearly picture myself sitting in front of Chris Tarrant, and I would often do this as I was driving past Elstree Studios. I could clearly picture the scene in my minds eye, and even feel the tension mount as I was climbing up the money tree. I submitted my online application, a cheeky Cosmic Order and I waited!

img018Fast forward 18 months – my daydream became a reality. I was there, sat in the famous chair, in front of Chris Tarrant, and with a little help from my phone a friend husband, I won £20,000! OMG!

Bingo!, it was proof for me that visualisation worked. Top athletes and sports professionals routinely use visualisation as part of sports psychology to “get into the zone”, so this is not a new concept – Visualisation works!

My tips for successful visualisation

  1. Focus clearly on your desired goal
  2. Picture the goal clearly in your mind
  3. Think about how your vision makes your feel (excited, joyful, in anticipation) Feelings supercharge your vision.
  4. Visualise your goal daily, morning and evening.
  5. Consider making a Vision Board or attending a Goal Setting Workshop
  6. Wait!

There are many books that explore the topic of visualisation in further detail, my favourite is Creative Visualisation by Shakti Gawain. Visualisation can be used in all aspects of your life, it should be used in a fun, light hearted manner. Being a complimentary therapist, I often offer guided visualisations focusing on health and wellness. It can be used as part of your daily routine to help your day run smoother (visualising parking spaces, short queue at the supermarket etc) and also for the biggies, the goals, dreams and aspirations. Try it for yourself, what will you be visualising tonight?

 



Maybe daydreaming isn’t so bad?

Maybe daydreaming isn’t so bad?

Being a Piscean, I was always prone to daydreaming. As a child, I would fantasise about being a pop star or a dancer in a West End musical (actually, make that Broadway). My friends would joke that my head was always in the clouds, it often was! As I got older, thankfully the daydreaming became less frequent, but sometimes it got the better of me, gazing out of the train window on the commute to work, or being miles away at the traffic lights, only to be honked at when the lights turned green. Little did I know that in later years, daydreaming, or visualisation as I prefer to call it now was going to become a very important part of my life.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I read a book called The Gentle Birth Method, by Gowri Motha, a book which for me was life changing. Before I read this book, I had a very negative view of pregnancy, and the thought of childbirth terrified me, the prospect of a natural delivery filled me with fear and dread. Gowri Motha changed all this. In her book, she advocates pregnancy yoga, Reiki and reflexology. I dutifully followed all her advice and also did something else she suggested, which at the time I thought was highly bonkers , visualisation.

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She suggested, amongst other things, listening to a pre birth visualisation CD and a guided meditation which involved (rather bizarrely) miniaturising myself and my husband, transporting ourselves inside the pelvis and pushing the sides, (cuckoo!). Anyway I went into this with an open mind and did my daily visualisations. As I mentioned earlier, I am an expert day dreamer and found the guided visualisation easy to do. By the end of my pregnancy, my mindset had completely changed. I booked into the birthing unit at Watford General Hospital, and on 1st January 2005, I gave birth to my beautiful son in a birthing pool, with just some gas and air. I vividly remember one of my first thoughts being “that was bloody painful but it wasn’t that bad”.

When I hear of a friend’s pregnancy or if a client comes to me for pregnancy reflexology, I always recommend this book. What I still hadn’t realised was that the power of my imagination and actually visualising the perfect birth scenario had resulted in the perfect birth experience. With my next pregnancy two years later, I followed Gowri’s programme again, I had regular reflexology and Reiki and once again I listened to the CD (which these days is available as an app). I literally made it into the birthing pool with seconds to spare, I didn’t even get time for a quick puff of gas and air!

My positive birth experiences opened my eyes to alternative therapies and I was fascinated. My interest in these therapies grew and I trained In Reiki and qualified as a Reflexologist. It wasn’t until I read another life changing book that I realised the full power of visualisation, and how using your imagination can actually manifest a desired outcome. This book was Creative Visualisation, by Shakti Gawain. In my next blog post, I will tell you how the power of visualisation led me to be on a very well known game show which ended with a spectacular outcome.

Do you daydream? I would love to hear your comments.