You may not be responsible for being down, but you must be responsible for getting up. Jesse Jackson
OMG! WHAT A YEAR?! I am not given to using the term ‘OMG’ but it’s hard to find words to describe the year we have had. I have shared that I, like most of us, have had a bit of a roller coaster of a year. So glad that I have different ‘tools’ to get me through the dark times but also glad that I have the same ‘tools’ that help me recognise when there are things to be grateful for, as well as times to celebrate. Often, when we’re on a bumpy journey, it’s easy to dismiss or not take time to notice little gems that happen along the way.
I think that this is where Mindfulness can truly make a difference. It enables us to notice that, in this moment, we are ok, we might even be smiling, we have a roof over our heads, we have food on the table, and that means we have something to be grateful for. It might not always be like that, but again, mindfulness teaches us that nothing lasts forever, things are always changing, and this too will pass.
This year has made a lot of us STOP! Many of us have been forced to re-evaluate our lives. Many have lost jobs and so many more continue to live in uncertainty, unsure if businesses, along with their jobs, will survive. As a musician, I am painfully aware of how many are unemployed, with little optimism for the near future. The Arts is only one sector, among so many, decimated by the restrictions currently in place, as we battle against the Coronavirus.
But let’s turn it around, this year has maybe given us an opportunity. I have heard of so many people saying how having to slow down has let them see how their lives had been moving at far too fast a pace. Yes, there have been many additional stresses, but we have also had time to reflect on what is truly important to us.
When I first set out on my path two years ago, as AndBreathe123, my step-mum told me that it would take five years before the business would begin to tick over comfortably. I listened, but I know that I didn’t completely take her experience and wisdom on board! Two years in and I admit it hasn’t been easy. The dark days and weeks of this year have made me look very closely at what I really want to do in my life. I have questioned every part of my life and looked deep within myself.
So, how do I want to be living my life and with whom?! At the top of my list are my grandkids and kids (in that order, so please don’t tell my kids!) and my friends. Spending time, preferably outdoors and in the hills, with those I love, is what I have missed most of all this year. I do enjoy living alone but I realise how much I rely on being able to ‘drop in’ to see people. Those informal, casual visits have not been possible this year and I have missed that social contact. As we progress through Covid, I intend to find ways of creating a more consistent social calendar (physically distanced of course). So far, that has meant that I have begun booking various friends for dog walks and beginning to explore more outdoor swimming opportunities!
I am not independently wealthy, so work must come in somewhere! Sharing my tools as AndBreathe123, is most definitely what I want to be doing. I love the interaction with people; sharing mindfulness, 16 Guidelines and working as an EFT practitioner. It takes time to build up a solid base of clients and I am in it for the long haul. My work with teenagers and adults in the outdoors, benefit me, just as much as the participants, and it is heartening to see that these sessions are beginning to be consistently booked up.
Alongside AndBreathe123, I continue to teach flute, which is something I have done for nearly 40 years now! I may also continue to have extra jobs, here and there, until AndBreathe123 IS ticking over comfortably. I feel privileged to continue encouraging and supporting others, as they explore different ways to nurture and support their mental health and wellbeing. I do appreciate your support and hope that you are also in it for the long haul!
I would love to know how this year has either changed or consolidated how you view your life.
PS I did smile when I chose 'Courage', as the guidelines for December.
'Courage: To accept responsibilities and challenges with determination and equanimity.'
16 Guidelines Handbook
Let's all be courageous as we meet the challenges of the weeks ahead. Roll on 2020!
Here we are in November already?! It’s been a typically dark, dismal, dreary November day. Leading up today, I have also felt dark, dismal and dreary, but today has seen a turnaround. The seasonal challenge of overly dark days has really affected me in the past few weeks, especially since the hour change. The curtain of darkness has pulled me down in all sorts of ways. Over the years, I have created a well stocked 'toolkit', which I use to balance out the impact of SAD (Seasonal Adjusted Disorder). However, this year, with the additional challenges of the pandemic, those strategies have not quite kept the side effects of SAD at bay. It came to a head this week, leaving me feeling that every part of my life was unsettled and I found myself focusing on the negatives, rather than the positives.
What did I do to address this slump?
16 Guidelines: 'Contentment - The art of being satisfied with who we are and what we have.
Contentment has the potential to:
A 16 Guidelines view on contentment
Contentment is a state of mind that has nothing to do with money, objects, or other people. Nor does it concern itself with how much we have, or how little. Instead, it’s about finding a point of stillness within ourselves which allows us to be quietly happy whatever our situation might be, and to be at peace with who we are.
How do we experience contentment? It can be as easy – and yet as radical – as taking a breath in, and deciding to release everything that makes us feel anxious and dissatisfied as we breathe out. Try settling deeply and quietly in a traffic jam, in the middle of an argument, or when tears are close. Let the commotion of the world simply come to rest. Is it possible to taste the experience of surrender and release?
Unless we learn to live in the moment, and to accept it as it is, we may never function well or feel fully alive. Contentment releases us from the restless desires that drive us blindly forward, and which prevent us from being open to the needs and gifts of others. It frees us up to direct our energy in fresh and more conscious ways. Can we discover how to enjoy contentment despite the hurry and worry of our contemporary existence?
Covid-19 continues to make a big impact in our lives. After the initial few weeks, back in March, I began to see it as a real opportunity to work on the business, as well as me! When have we ever had time like this to take stock and consider how we are living our lives? I fully appreciate that lockdown has been different for everyone, particularly key workers in hospitals and care homes, as well as family members caring for fragile, vulnerable loved ones. For a lot of us though, we have had extra time to contemplate these things. We will have all chosen to spend that time differently and I appreciate that too. Living on my own, I have had moments of loneliness, usually when I’m tired. However, I have spent more time in the garden, I’ve taken part in a variety of events online and in recent weeks, welcomed a new four-footed friend into my life.
June was a whirl! I love the lighter nights in June and now that Sandy has come into my life, I am back enjoying extremely late-night walks with no torch! Having a dog, makes me whole again. I admit it was quite lonely and isolating at the beginning of lockdown but having another ‘being’ in the house makes such a difference to my day! Sandy has had an adventurous life already, starting out on the streets of Spain, before travelling to the Scottish Highlands in October, 2019. She is 2 ½yrs old and has now found her forever home, here with me. Such a lovely, gently temperament and so good with my grandkids. I have started to document and share our journey together on social media and here, on the AndBreathe website.
Last week, was World Unity Week, when people from all over the world came together to share their dreams, thoughts, research and plans for the way forward for all things linked to ‘World Unity’. Topics ranged from racism, to looking after the water in our planet, to Covid-19 and lots more in between. It was a privilege to sit and listen to the speakers and to also take part in discussions.
Global Organizations Converge to Declare World UNITY Week
Over the past few months, I have also taken part in a Talking Circle Leadership programme, which has been led by Chief Phil Lane Jr, who was also very much involved with WUW. We can all learn so much from the indigenous ways, and although I have been involved with a talking circle for many years, I now look forward to sharing more about ‘Talking Circles’ in our local communities and online, with increased understanding and clarity.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about many challenges, but I think there have been positives too. The sense of community has never been stronger, with people stepping up to look after the vulnerable and elderly. I have been aware of more people acknowledging the ups and downs of their mental health, schools have spoken about the importance of supporting the mental health of staff and pupils and businesses have been looking for ways to support their staff through these tricky times.
This is where I think talking circles can be introduced to our communities. A talking circle is a safe, confidential space where people can share how they feel and what they think, without being judged or without anyone trying to ‘fix’ them. It is simply a space to share thoughts, emotions and ideas, without being interrupted. There are guiding principles (rules) that are shared and agreed on at the beginning of every circle.
By now, you might be gathering that it has been a bit busy! I have also been looking at how to work more efficiently and that involved taking part in ‘Unleashing Your Workload Warrior’ bootcamp! If you are interested in becoming more efficient in whatever you are doing, then check this group out on FB. I highly recommend it! Supportive, lovely people. I have felt a load lift from my shoulders, since putting what I learnt into practice.
I also attended a webinar with the title ‘Why?’ In this session we learned about Simon Sinek’s ‘Golden Circle’ and ‘What? How? Why?’ I won’t go through all the details but the main message was that we usually know what we do and how we do it, but do we always know WHY? For example, I work as AndBreathe. I know what I do and how I do it but WHY? When a business knows, understands, and shares its ‘WHY’, people are more inclined to be drawn to whatever it is that that business provides. There is a process to work it all out and I am currently doing that. I wonder if people notice a change in what I say or do? I think I have always been aware of my ‘Why’ but not appreciated the importance or significance of it.
I share some of what I have been doing in June, so that if any of it interests you, you can go away and find out more! I plan to be outside for the majority of July, away from screens, facilitating Outdoor Wellbeing sessions at Haddo House & Country Park. I am looking forward to it!
Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history's shame
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
As the lockdown continues, frustration is creeping in. Whether it’s the person who’s walking up the aisle in Tesco (or any other well-known supermarket!) THE WRONG WAY and bumps into you, or watching people congregating in groups when you know they’re not related, or watching our politicians quibble over who announced what first, it’s easy and understandable to feel ‘on edge’ and a wee bit tetchy. Our lives are so different. I’m sure I’m not the only person who watches tv programmes, filmed pre-lockdown, with a sense of longing. They all look so relaxed about being together, laughing as they brush past each other with no concern about being less than 2 metres apart. Living alone, I also find myself out on my daily exercise, watching couples or families laughing together, before calling out my larger than life ‘Good morning, lovely day!’ to anyone who looks like they might reply!! Yes, we are continuing to live in strange times. We have reacted or responded to this new way of life in lots of different ways. I know I have personally gone through several different ways of reacting or responding, often within the same day!
Some of us have started to learn a new language or to play a musical instrument. Others have done wonders in their gardens or redesigned and decorated various rooms in the house. As we find ourselves in the second month of this lockdown, we find that we can’t continue at such a pace, we are exhausted and can’t understand why. People who are usually competent, high achievers find themselves unsure of what to do next. Those, who have continued to work, especially those who are working from home, find the lack of boundaries confusing and draining. Then there are the keyworkers who are at the frontline. They are people like us, who have families and other family members to care for but continue to place themselves at risk. The mental and physical demands on all of us are huge. We are living through the same challenge, however we are NOT experiencing it in the same way. Some have lost family members to Covid-19 or sat with someone as they take their last breaths, some have lost their job or their family business, whilst others have been able to increase their hours because what they offer is in demand and business is booming.
There is good science behind why most of us are all feeling exhausted. In 1943, Abraham Maslow shared his paper, ‘A Theory of Human Motivation’. Here he shared what he believed to be a hierarchy of needs. Although his theory has been tested, it is still recognised as relevant today. If our most basic needs are not met, we are not in a place to focus on the other aspects of our lives. It is something I witnessed in schools and was what influenced the way I worked with staff, pupils, and the wider community. If we didn’t have children and adults who felt cared for, felt safe and happy, then we would not have learning at any level. At school, like now, it was not a level playing field and that was my driving force, as it still is. My work with families continues to be so important to me. Currently, I hope that I am providing some respite, sharing new skills and strategies to support families, as they work through their individual challenges. Providing skills and support for school staff, also continues to be high in my priorities.
Let’s consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, remembering that we cannot expect anyone to feel confident and ready for the next level until the first one has been at least mostly fulfilled:
Physiological – Our most basic needs include our body’s need for water, food, a place to lay our head and a good night’s sleep. Without those, we cannot begin to think of anything else. We might have the occasional blip but think of the homeless and the children in homes where food is scarce, at best.
Safety – If we are fortunate to have the first level fulfilled, we are now considering ‘safety’. Children need to feel safe, which is why we bring them up with love and understanding and with safe, secure boundaries. For them to grow up without fear and anxiety, they require a level of predictability (some more than others). As soon as that predictability wobbles and boundaries disappear, children will react in lots of different ways. I would suggest that many of us will find this level a stumbling block right now. The ever-present discussion on Covid-19 can be unsettling, worrying and anxiety provoking. We will find ourselves reacting to the lack of predictability, lack of boundaries and the unknown. We prefer to know what’s going on!
Love and belonging – So, here we are. I hope we've all made it to level 3 (check the diagram). It isn’t necessary to have the need at every level completely fulfilled. At different parts of our lives, we may experience changes and challenges, but at some point we all have a need to feel accepted and loved. This doesn’t just apply to our family and intimate relationships; it applies to friendship and other social groups. It works both ways, feeling loved and feeling love for others. It is increasingly documented that our physical and mental health is improved when we experience a sense of belonging. It feels good to belong! The converse is also true. Our physical and mental health can be detrimentally affected when we find ourselves alone and on the ‘outside’ of society.
Esteem – I’ve written this blog, not to cast doom and gloom, but to help people understand why they, or people they know, are finding life so hard right now.
We need to feel good about ourselves. There are two sides to this. One is feeling good about ourselves and the other is feeling valued by others. When these needs are met, people are more likely to feel confident and recognise themselves as valuable to their families, friends and work colleagues. If these needs are not met, there can be a lack of self-confidence and feelings of inferiority.
Self-actualisation – WOW! We’ve made it to the top level?! How many of us reach this point? How many of us feel truly fulfilled? How many of us believe we are living up to our perceived potential? Are we living the life we are meant to be living? Is now a good time to consider what is important in your life? I leave that with you to ponder.
In summary, we don’t live in glass bubbles. There are so many variables and we don’t have control over so many of them. Do we live in a fair, just society? Are we being educated in a holistic way? Can we begin to understand our place in a global context? We are on a lifelong learning journey!
So, what can we do to feel better?
Back to basics! Go back to Maslow’s first level. Are you eating well, drinking wisely and getting enough sleep? If the answer is ‘No’, then take time to make changes. Eat ‘clean’, drink lots of water and establish a routine in the evening that encourages a good sleeping pattern to evolve.
It’s all about selfcare.
Mental Wellbeing: One way to ‘defrag’ your mind is mindfulness.
“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally”. Jon Kabat Zinn
Mindfulness ‘practice’ is exactly that, it is a skill that must be practised regularly, but make it manageable. Don’t commit to one hour every day but do set yourself a realistic target. That will be different for different people. Daily is ideal for about 5 – 10 minutes to begin with, building up to longer practices.
We tend to focus mostly on breathing during mindfulness practice but there are other ways too, including focussing on sensations within the body. It’s also possible to pay particular attention whilst we are completing everyday tasks, like brushing teeth, eating meals and going for walks.
I offer different sessions throughout the week for personal wellbeing and mental health check-ins. In these sessions I share different tools to nurture mental health and wellbeing. You are welcome to come and try these sessions out without pressure to attend every week. There are other tools that I share as AndBreathe. Check them out at www.andbreathe123.com or on social media.
Create a special place in a corner of a room that you go when you are taking time for yourself. Add a candle or two, a blanket, a cushion or chair. Care for yourself, just as you would care for someone you love very much! Be kind to yourself. Patient. Gentle.
Social Wellbeing: Keep in contact with friends and family. We are so lucky to live in these times with so many ways to keep in contact. Yes, it can get a bit overwhelming at times, but make sure you touch base with people every week.
Physical Wellbeing: Again, this will be different for different people. You don’t have to pound the streets in running shoes for an hour. The emphasis is on regular exercise, a mix of gentle and more strenuous, whatever that means for you. Ideally, go outside for exercise. At the moment, when we are so confined to the indoors, it is even more important to get outside. The leaves are beginning to burst into blook, birds are singing, lambs are leaping around and being outside reminds us that nature is a constant. Being physically active also creates endorphins which are the ‘feel good’ hormones.
Most of all, be kind to yourself. We are going through challenging and difficult times. And please remember to keep in touch! I would love to hear how you are getting along.
It’s the little things…
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been aware of a bird flying past me as I duck into the log shed to fill up the log basket. On Monday, I took time to look up as the bird flapped past and saw the most beautifully crafted nest with three little eggs. How long has the nest been there? I cannot tell you because I clearly haven’t been paying attention! Luckily, the weather is beginning to warm up, so I can leave the log shed in peace for the next few weeks, but I do admit to having a wee peek now and then!
It got me to thinking about how easy it is to miss the little things.
We are all going through such challenging times just now. Each one of us is having to change the way we live, in some way. It’s hard! Following the social distancing and self-isolation guidance is meaning that we are not seeing our family and friends. Many of us have lost our jobs or, at the very least, have had to change how we are working.
What I miss most: Hugs. Being with my Grandkids. Hugs. Being with my kids (yes, in that order!!!). Hugs. Being able to pop in to visit friends and family.
What I am finding particularly hard: Constant solitude (it’s ok if I choose it but this is not on my terms?!). Financial impact of having had to cancel workshops and appointments, as well as the temporary loss of some music pupils.
What I am enjoying: Slower pace of life. My garden. Weather. Family contact on WhatsApp and Zoom.
What I am grateful for: Life. My family. Living in rural Aberdeenshire. My garden. My home. Zoom! Additional hours of work from Aberdeen City Music School and the online AndBreathe work that is gradually building up again. For all the challenges and trauma I have previously experienced, that have helped to prepare me for these challenging times (but memories have been triggered too). A nest with three little eggs. The little things in life.
What I can do to help myself: Rest. Continue to eat a healthy diet. Exercise. Be kind. Use the tools I share with everyone else!
What I am learning: I can share my vulnerability with my family. I still have onion layers to peel! I still need reminding to stop and appreciate the little things in life.
Because the little things are really NOT little things. xx
I have written this blog fully aware that each one of us has a similar story. I am sharing mine for that exact reason. We are all in this together and it is so heartwarming to watch the country come together to support each other. We can do this.
What a difference a month makes?! Life is changing dramatically day by day and hour by hour just now. There has never, in our lifetime, been something like this in Scotland and many countries around the world. We are privileged. Many other countries have faced and come through significant tragedies and continue to do so. It has given me time to reflect. However, initially I wasn’t in a place to reflect because I found myself in a dark place. Selfishly, I wondered if I could go through yet another challenge. It seemed that every single time in my life when things have settled into a more positive routine, the rug has been pulled from beneath me! I wallowed in it for a couple of days, as further details came through. But then it all changed…
The tools I have grown to love and rely on began to kick in. I tapped, I sat and focused on my breathing, listened to music, contacted family and shared time (via Zoom) with my 16Guidelines friends. Then came the realisation that every single challenge I have had in my life has brought me to this point and prepared me for right now. I am ready. I am strong. I am resilient.
At the beginning of every flight we are reminded to put on our safety vest BEFORE we put on our child’s safety vest, so I began to think about how my life was going to look for the upcoming weeks and months. I realised that in many ways my day to day life would not change very much! I live alone in very rural Aberdeenshire, with sheep as my only direct neighbours. The biggest and by far the most difficult change would be not being able to meet with and hug my family. As the news came through, all AndBreathe workshops and appointments disappeared., then schools closed. Income from AndBreathe dropped 90% (AndBreathe Patreon community still bringing in revenue). I was initially hugely worried about finances. If I, as a wellbeing facilitator with a wide range of experience and skills at my disposal, was finding it hard, then I knew there would be so many people struggling with their mental health and wellbeing.
The planning began, as thoughts and ideas flooded in. I want to share what I have done and am continuing to do, in the hope that there is something here that might help and give you an idea for your own situation.
My personal mental health & wellbeing: 1. Daily check in with myself. 2. 16 Guidelines card. 3. Meditation (often with the Insight Timer app). 4. Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. 5. Music (listening and/or playing). 6. Checking with family & friends (either messaging or Zoom) 7. Daily outdoor exercise (usually my bike through the forest).
My family: My family are spread across the world, so we are used to communicating online. We have started scheduling get togethers twice a week via Zoom, once for a Family Wellbeing session and the other time purely for chat! This is for me as much as them. One daughter is a firefighter/EMT in the US, another daughter is a paediatric nursing student, one niece is an oncology paediatric nurse and another is a 1st year medical student and the entire family has concerns about health, work and finances, so coming together is hopefully going to help us all.
My work as a musician: I am a flute player and teach privately, as well as being flute tutor at the Aberdeen City Music School. This past week has seen me teaching music via Zoom for the first time. I use Zoom in my work as AndBreathe but have never used it for music before. I am also incorporating my skills and experience as a wellbeing facilitator to support the music students. They range in age from 6 to 60+ and all have different stresses just now. So glad to be able to do that.
My work as AndBreathe: Workshops and appointments completely disappeared overnight. This sparked my dark days until I returned to my more usual solution focused outlook on life. The only income currently for AndBreathe is the AndBreathe membership on Patreon. So glad we have this community in place, not just to pay the AndBreathe bills (!!), but to support each other. My aim currently is to finally figure out how to post ‘live’ on Patreon! I failed miserably a few months ago and patrons got an email prompt at every failed attempt, so I gave up! Now, I have been given this gift of time, it is the perfect time to figure it out. More and more I am looking at this time as a gift. Time to slow down, re-evaluate and plan.
How to help and support others: On social media I am posting as normal but have also created two groups on Facebook for families. One group is for families with young people ages 3 – 11 and the other is for families with young people ages 12 – 18. We are all reacting and responding to these challenging times in different ways and it is my way of ‘volunteering’ to provide support in this way. I have also offered all friends, work and business colleagues, mental wellbeing support via Zoom, again just ‘doing my bit’ for the wider community.
The randomly chosen 16 Guidelines guideline for April is ‘Service’! I will share more about ‘Service’ throughout April, but I did smile when I turned it over. 16 Guidelines has done it yet again!
Not sure about you, but I am seeing more and more positives filtering through. From fish swimming in the canals in Venice, smog disappearing in so many of our polluted cities, connections being made throughout our communities, support being put in place for the vulnerable, people stepping out of their comfort zone to support others and businesses and individuals providing for the homeless. And thank goodness we have the NHS. May we all remember this time and not go back to what we had. I heard a wonderful explanation on the radio this morning. If a shanty town is destroyed, we don’t rebuild the shanty town, we build something better. As life as we know it changes, then let’s rebuild a better place, using what we have learned right now.
I invite you to join me and repeat this following AndBreathe mantra every morning and evening for the next few weeks and months: I am ready. I am strong. I am resilient.
Recently, I have felt like I have been ‘peeling the onion layers’ for so long that there couldn’t be much of the onion left to peel?! I have shared before that my childhood, particularly my teenage years, was not ideal. Over the years, I recognised how the turmoil had impacted and continued to impact my life. It initially became more apparent as I had children and they were growing up. Our relationship was so different from what I had had with my parents. There also came a point in our marriage where I had to question where we were and where we were going. I considered all these things even more as a teacher and head teacher, particularly when I was working with young people who were finding school a tricky place to be, and yes, I was considering my own children, as I worked with those young people. I fully accept that our four beautiful children were affected by our marriage splitting up and the possible impact now on our grandchildren. Our past informs decisions we make along the way and I know that my past fed into the success and subsequent ending of our marriage. Would things have turned out differently had I done the work I now have? We will never know, and it isn’t helpful to stew about what might have been. The driving force, as I personally heal, is that my healing can be passed on through future generations, helping them to heal too. That is also why it is so important to me to work with others, supporting them through their story. If we all work on our own healing, it will ripple out, throughout our families and into our wider families and communities. What a wonderful world it could be!
Every moment is an opportunity. An opportunity for a new beginning. From the moment we take our first breath to the moment we take our last breath we can change. There is so much science behind this. In schools, I share how we are programmed to survive, and how this can become a problem. Our amygdala reacts to a situation, as if we are in mortal danger. We experience ‘fight’, ‘flight’ or ‘freeze’. This was, and can still be, very useful, but most of the time now it can work against us. Being negatively programmed can be exhausting and lead to stress, anxiety and illness. Learning to take a step back by taking that mindful breath/moment/minute/or more (!), we can notice that we were about to react and instead take time to consider other options and respond, as opposed to rect. The tools that I use daily, enables me to get to that point, but it takes practise! It’s like anything. We can’t run a marathon without putting in the miles, we can’t score a goal in the World cup without years of practising our ball skills and we definitely can’t play a concerto with a leading orchestra without thousands of hours of playing scales and exercises. So why do we expect to be able to be mindful just because we have read about it and dabbled for a few months? It is a lifelong skill that will need to be practised and used regularly, so that when we REALLY need it, it will be a natural response.
Going back to peeling the never-ending onion, I did peel quite a chunk this week! Throughout a large part of my life I have not had the healthiest relationship with food. I have attempted several times to figure out exactly why, although I did have a fairly good idea. I have previously tapped with a colleague, but we didn’t hit the exact spot, then a few months ago I bought a book called ‘Tap, Taste, Heal’ by Marcella Friel. I have scanned bits of the book now and again, but hadn’t looked properly at it till last week, when I came upon the chapter on ‘The Secret Wisdom of Sabotage’. This chapter talked about how we have our self-identified ‘roles’ in life, with reasons and stories about who we are and why. We might be ‘the good one’, ‘the bad one’, ‘the fat one’, ‘the thin one’, ‘the rebel’, ‘the crazy one’ and so on. By now I am quite sure, your role will have popped into your head! I had a few!! I tapped on this, which seemed to start the ball rolling again. I then had a session with a fellow practitioner (practitioners regularly get together to discuss, share and practise EFT/Tapping). The session very quickly identified a meal when I had been asked to eat olives in a salad, when I was about 15years of age. This was a very vivid memory. I was a ‘good eater’ but at that time in my life I HATED olives. It was not so much the olives, but the controlling element, the adult involved and the ongoing situation at that time, that had been the main cause of distress. As I tapped, we revisited parts of my life that I had buried for many years. WOW! What a difference I felt, as we delved deeper. It seems that the more we deal with the past, the further back we go, and we can keep going (if we want to), until we are at peace. How does that sound to you? The ‘lightness’ I have felt this week has been fantastic, even though I was quite unwell for a couple of days after the EFT session (it has been noted that this can happen when a big shift has occurred). I am having another session in a few weeks and am looking forward to it. It feels very liberating to be finally tackling, what I believe to be the core of my onion.
Everything happens for a reason....
How many times have you heard that before?! I often repeat that mantra, maybe not always wholeheartedly buying into it at the time but deep down I do believe it completely. All the catastrophes and challenges in my life have led me to this place and without them I would not be the person I am right now, and I am very happy to be the person I am right now!
However, I digress. Yesterday I sat down to write my blog for February. TBH I was weary after a hectic week, unfocussed and striving rather than inspired, but being the thrawn (one of my favourite Scots words!) person that I am, continued to pull words from the depths of my being until I had a fairly (?!) interesting, but, in my humble opinion, uninspiring blog. As I went to 'publish' it, the text disappeared! Internet here is not very reliable, so I am usually very canny about saving as I go, but in my autopilot state I had not done this. After a momentary reaction of disappointment, I quickly appreciated that fate had played its hand well yet again. Maybe there wouldn't be a blog in February and that was ok.
Fast forward to this morning. This morning is the beginning of me having AndBreathe appointments at my studio just outside Insch, on the first Saturday of every month. My first client was a Reiki client. I value all my clients and prepare for each one in a different way. However, there is something about the preparation for my Reiki clients that encourages me to take more time and more care. I take more time to look after me. I also take more time preparing the room and by the time the client walks through the door, I know we are completely where we are meant to be. All clients place trust in me when they mae that appointment. I never take that granted. I have been invited into the most private corners of their lives, sharing thoughts and emotions that have often never been shared before and the bravery it takes, is not missed by me. May they know that I will never break that trust. To be there with 'Love', 'Hope' and 'Faith' in all their forms creates a very special, unique opportunity to support someone on their lifelong journey.
Part of my preparation for this morning was to draw my guideline for the day. Today's card was 'Forgiveness'. Forgiveness is a card that appears only now and again but when it does, I always have a sense of apprehension and intrigue. I often feel like the child about to be guided to 'do the right thing'! How was forgiveness going to encourage me to think and approach the day differently? Best thing was to read about how the 16 Guidelines perceives 'Forgiveness':
"Forgiveness is the capacity to reclaim our peace of mind when something has happened to disturb us. As we go through life it is inevitable that we are going to hurt one another. In fact, as our world becomes more complex and interconnected, the opportunities for conflict increase. We have the choice whether to respond to these hurts and conflicts with anger and bitterness, or with forgiveness.
Forgiving is not the same as forgetting. It does not mean that we gloss over the harm that has taken place, or pretend that it never happened. What it does is to allow us to let go of the destructive attitudes towards the past that imprison us and the person who harmed us in a cycle of recrimination and guilt. When our desire for reconciliation and peace is stronger than our anger, disappointment or pain, then forgiveness offers the opportunity to make a new start.
Forgiveness can seem insurmountable, and has vast consequences, but in essence it is nothing more than a shift of mind. The motivation to forgive has to come from a genuine wish deep inside to relieve the pain and discomfort of ourselves and of others. It cannot be forced. Does everyone have the capacity to forgive? Can everything be forgiven? Is forgiveness something we can learn?"
I will leave 'Forgiveness' with you to ponder over the next few days. Each of us will take something different from the text and at another point in our lives, it will be different again. For me, it has given me a wonderful opportunity to contemplate several current situations in my life and with the framework of 16 Guidelines I feel safer, as I do so.
Every blessing to you for the month of February!
Welcome to our next chapter! Yesterday, I randomly picked the AndBreathe guideline for the month of January 2020 and it was 'Courage'. Many of you will know by now that I use 16 Guidelines in my every day life, both personally and professionally ( https://www.andbreathe123.com/16-guidelines.html ). It will never cease to amaze me that the randomly chosen 16G card is always the 'right' one for where I am. More about that later.
The title of this chapter is '2020'. Each and every previous chapter has led to this point. Although we don't want to dwell in the past, we don't want to forget what has gone before either. I for one, want to remember the lessons learned and hold close the precious memories. In the past I have set new year's goals, targets and aspirations, berating myself for not achieving the previous year's 'resolutions' and proceeding to do the same again in a repetitive cycle! It began to feel like a negative process, setting myself up to fail every year. There was also a feeling of turning my back on the previous year and starting afresh, a feeling of wanting to dismiss the blunders along the way! In my life, I have been a very focused, driven person, always wanting to do better, go that one step further. I was never 'good enough'.
However, over many years, but especially the last few years, I have grown to realise that maybe I am 'good enough', maybe I don't need to always look for that next challenge, that next goal. I have grown to realise that what I need to do is get to know 'me' better, get to like 'me' and most importantly begin to love 'me' for who I am. It's taken a long time but I cannot emphasise enough how good it feels to be on that path.
Instead of looking to change myself, I now look at what I have learned from the previous year, what I enjoyed, what made me laugh, what I want to do more of and then take it from there. It hasn't been straightforward getting to where I am and I am grateful for all the tools I have at my disposal now. 'I'm not good enough' was a very long EFT/Tapping session just over a year ago, where I tapped on every single aspect of my life where I felt that I wasn't good enough. I can share with you that it was a very, very long session!!! It also involved a big box of tissues, especially when I tapped on 'young Gillian' and how hard she had tried to do her best in very challenging times. The change that came after that afternoon was massive and has lasted within me.
Take time to reflect on the past year and begin to recognise areas of your life you would like to nurture and develop. Take a few days to mull it over. Search for the positives of 2019 and how you would like to manifest more of the same in 2020. There will be positives, even if it is just that you have got this far.
Now, let's return to the 16 Guidelines focus for January, 2020, which is Courage, and how it can apply to the month ahead.
A 16 Guidelines view on courage: "Courage is about stretch. It’s about seeing, feeling or realising that something more or different can be done, developing the determination to do it, and then carrying through despite all obstacles. We know in our bodies when we’ve been courageous. There is a glow of satisfaction and relief. Something has shifted, and we have grown in size.
Courage is not defined by what we do, but what we overcome within ourselves. It comes in many forms. It is found in a steady approach to everyday difficulties as well as in the single spontaneous gesture. It is happening quietly all around us as well as in the news.
Courage involves acknowledging our fears, but not being deterred from offering something that goes beyond our own immediate needs and comfort. Most courageous people have decided that the well-being of others is more important than their own, and have allowed this decision to drive their actions and the way they live. Invariably, they seem to find their own happiness in the process."
I think you will agree with me that Courage is a perfect guideline for the beginning of the year?!
Time for reflection:
1. Set aside some time in a quiet space.
2. Choose a couple of areas you would like to nurture/develop.
3. Focus on the process not the outcome.
4. Make it something you enjoy.
5. Research and plan e.g. Does the swimming pool timetable fit with your timetable?
6. Find a support network – go with a friend?
7. Tell someone close to you (or on the AndBreathe posts!) what you are going to do and write it down or create a vision board.
8. Learn to deal with set backs (Remember the 16 Guidelines focus - Courage!) .
9. Take a few seconds at the beginning of each day to remind yourself why it’s important to you.
You are not alone! Follow AndBreathe (andbreathe123) posts on Social Media or join AndBreathe Membership ( patreon.com/andbreathe123 ). Being with like minded people can get us through the tricky times and challenges. It is also good to be able to share the celebrations with us too!
Please let me know what you have decided to nurture in your life in 2020. I will share too!
Thank you for reading this far! AndBreathe... is a very exciting venture and I am glad you have joined me on the journey!