#30 Healing old wounds

Sometimes we don’t realise what we’re holding onto inside until it gets triggered by something. Maybe a conversation, or you observe it in other people or see it in a film.

“We all have the ability to recognise that which we also hold.”

With the new year, our attention is often on reflection and on what has been. For me, a major focus has been on forgiveness, both for myself and for other people. I look back on last year and see points where I said I forgive, but I’m still clutching on to it, I haven’t actually let go.

So I have taken time to formulate a way that I can be at peace with past mistakes and be able to move freely within my life without wishing for more or less. Perhaps it is also something you can relate to.

  • Identify the issue and how it makes you feel whether that’s angry, sad, guilty, hurt, betrayed, jealous. Sit with that feeling, play it over in your mind until you can almost imagine it there. Allow it to consume you, to relive the moment and all related conversations. Then breathe out and let it go, feel it leaving your body.
  • Now imagine that same scenerio from someone else’s point of view, maybe someone you admire, maybe a friend or family member, someone you trust. Imagine how they would react, what would they say to you about the issue? For instance, maybe you feel angry that a colleague got promoted and you didn’t, even though you’d put in the hours. But, from the point of view of your mentor, they say see it is an opportunity to grow and learn more, get comfortable with feedback.
  • Hopefully the second scenerio makes you feel more peaceful and more content with the issue. So now you can use that second scenerio to swish away the bad feelings and the wounds of the past. Whenever something triggers it, choose to see the second scenerio, always.

Don’t put pressure on yourself, take time to replay the sequence, sit with your feelings and work out a way of seeing the situation in a positive, hopeful way.

Olive Branch

Reach out to people to help you. Don’t be afraid to extend an olive branch and be hopeful that it comes back to you, but never assume it will. Be comfortable with the fact that it might not return.

Know that you are worthy and that you are enough, just as you are. We are all human, capable of mistakes and also capable of forgiveness. By letting go of what is hurting you, you are allowing yourself forgiveness.

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#29 Why January doesn’t have to be the start of something new

I often think that New Year’s resolutions can add more pressure than necessary. A new year does, undoubtedly, bring about a sense of energy and motivation to do more, to start over but, in fact, we are still in Winter, a time of rest and looking inwards.

Our natural energy comes in the Spring, when trees and flowers come out of hibernation and we start to see signs of life again. So in terms of setting goals, we can plant those ideas there and wait until the Spring for them to come to fruition. This doesn’t mean if you wish to lose a stone that magically it will be gone by March, but by putting that thought there you are committing yourself to something this year and also respecting your body’s rhythm by allowing it to move with the seasons.

A reason why so many people fail in their fitness goals is that they set them in January, a dark, cold and depressing time – starting back at work after a break, a long wait for the paycheck and not much going on. No wonder we all want to curl up inside!

We are so caught up in society’s wish that we all hit the gym, learn new hobbies and generally are expected to be a better person in January that we forget to look within ourselves and lose sight of what our body is asking of us. Albeit, many of us may wish for a few hours in the gym to burn off the Christmas food but we mustn’t forget that if we expect too much of ourselves now, we won’t have enough energy later in the year.

I found a nice illustration from Natural Shaman blog, which shows how all our cycles are connected with the seasons:

Natural Shaman blog

On there, they describe Winter as:

“The Winter brings our focus deep within ourselves.  We are no longer interested in the outside world.  Our mind may be busy with thoughts from the past, negative experiences or trauma.  Winter solstice is the darkest point in our year, and a time to study and learn, to keep safe and warm.  Women may experience difficult physical symptoms during this phase.  Cramps, tiredness and irritability are all signs that you need to relax into the darkness and look after yourself.  It is essential that you honour this part of the cycle.  You are in the most sacred time of the month.  Pay attention to your dreams and visions.  Sleep lots.  When we look after ourselves during our cycle, especially during this winter phase, we have a better chance of a great Spring and Summer.”

So rest up, relax and get ready for the energy of Spring.

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#28 What the snow can teach us

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It’s been a lovely few days in my area as the snow has fallen in its inches and laid a white covering across the ground, the roads and the cars. No one has been able to go anywhere and there has been a nice sense of community spirit as people venture out to build snowmen or clear drives together.

It got me thinking about how this weather condition can actually teach us a lot.

1. Patience

When the snow lays on the ground, crunchy and deep, there’s no going anywhere. We stay put, invent games, entertain ourselves and practice patience. In a world when everything can be so immediate and fast-paced, it’s nice to be able to slow it down.

2. Care

There is a much greater sense of togetherness and community when we face difficult weather conditions. You find neighbours chatting whilst scraping their cars, or people helping dig cars out of drives, or offering lifts here and there. In a way this is lovely and in another way it’s sad that it takes snowfall to bring this out in people.

3. Self-Awareness

In snowy and icy conditions, you have to be a lot more careful when walking around and keeping warm which brings a greater sense of awareness to your own body. To your balance, your temperature, your circulation and your breath. It makes us focus a lot more on our core and inner self, which can only be of benefit.

4. Being Grateful

When you can’t drive to work, or run on the pavements, or see your garden plants, you realise all the things you take for granted and it offers an opportunity to be grateful and thankful for having those things most of the year round. It makes you appreciate the small things, like the berries on the trees offering vibrant colour in amongst a snowy scene, or sunlight on a cloudy day.

5. Slowing Down

Rushing around from dawn until dusk, it can seem like it never stops. Then it snows and suddenly, it stops. We breathe, rest and slow down our pace. Tasks get re-prioritised, social arrangements get postponed, we take time to assess and look around us. Taking stock of our lives is so important, it means we can look up from the daily grind and do an audit of what’s going on, both in our lives and inside ourselves. Bad weather affords us an opportunity to pause life for a few hours, or days, and check in.

Personally, I love the snow and I love that it makes things stop because we need this time. We can’t always say that the show must go on, sometimes we need to start breathing to the same rhythm as nature and say slow down.

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#27 Keeping a warm heart in the cold weather 

It is bitterly cold now. The leaves are well and truly off the trees and the landscape looks bleak and unforgiving. 

What we don’t see, however, is all the energy at the core of the trees and plants keeping them strong for the Spring. 

How about then if we apply the same principle to ourselves?

I have learnt in recent yoga sessions that the element associated with Autumn is metal. For being strong and malleable, heavier than other elements, allowing you to shape up ready for the coming seasons. 

It made me think about how we wrap ourselves up in coats, scarves and gloves at this time of year but how really this is keeping our core warm and strong, like the trees.

We often resent the weather for being cold and for having to go out in the mornings to defrost our cars. But actually, we can be thankful for the cold as it is sleep time for nature to regather strength to rejuvenate the planet come the Spring.

Not so easy to relate to on a cold, dark morning but, on reflection, a happier way to look at it. 

By keeping an open heart, a happy outlook, we can sustain ourselves through these dark months. Unlike nature, we don’t take time to hibernate and we just plod on. However, we can take time to look inwards, nurture our core and restore ourselves for the coming months. 

Being able to have a warm heart and care also means caring for ourselves. Your core is just as important as the roots of a tree and you need both to survive. 

So give a little. Give a little care to yourself and a little to a friend or neighbour. Spread the nurturing, restorative energy to others to make this a more peaceful and restful time of year. And try to lessen the expectations on yourself. Be kind.

Winter is a lovely time if year, used for reflecting and building for the next stage. It has the bustle of Christmas within it but it is really a season for slowing down.

Next time you’re out defrosting your car, think of the trees and animals hibernating and hold that thought within you to practice kindness to yourself and others throughout your day. 

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#26 City living for our leafy friends

Trees. I think they’re wonderful! Trees in the city, still wonderful but they do seem to have a rougher deal.

Leaves on a concrete pavement

Leaves in the city

No rich soil around them, no pure darkness, no real clusters like in woodlands and forests. And yet many do adapt and thrive, at least from what we see in our lifetimes.

There is no doubt that trees add to our environment, and our health, but just how reciprocal is our relationship?

We put them where we want them in the city, where they ‘look right’. Studies have shown that trees do actually work as a team to help the same species grow. Very often, trees in the city are planted in neat rows, spaced apart from one another, so there’s no real room for comradery.

Like humans if we were left alone, we would want to expand our roots and find friends, so do trees. In the process, they inadvertently damage pavements, water pipes or any other constricting structure in their way.

Yet we seem to take this as a personal vendetta and trap the roots further in cages or other such restrictive things. 

I’d say the relationship isn’t very reciprocal at all. Trees aren’t here to look pretty, they create powerful ecosystems, cleanse our air and add to the food chain. And what do we do? Chop them, shape them and restrict them.

Not just in cities but across the world. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had woodlands in our towns and cities, spaces where trees, and wildlife, could truly thrive. Cultivated areas of soil, left to its own devices, could generate the sort of green space, and I mean truly green not just grass and plant pots, that we all benefit from. 

Trees in a woodland

Happy trees

Trees have been around for millions of years without our infrastructure and will be here for millions more years I am sure. They are magnificent in both scale and complexity but let’s not forget that, just as humans weren’t designed to fly, trees weren’t destined for city living. 

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#25 Honouring the quiet of the coming Winter

November has arrived in a flash. I barely had time to part with October and we are now on a rollercoaster ride towards Christmas.

What a strange disconnect then between our cycles and nature’s cycles. Whilst we do mad dashes to shops for seasonal gifts, pelt to and from work in the growing darkness and try to keep up with our 24/7 schedules, nature is beginning to slow down and rest.

The trees are allowing their leaves to fall, focussing their energies inward to be strong for the spring, grasses are slowing their growth and settling in for the Winter and animals are getting their homes ready for hibernation.

Autumn sunrise

This is a time of year to be still and quiet, to reflect inwards and practice restorative hobbies – long walks, yoga and curling up indoors with a good book. It is a time to ready ourselves for the coming seasons, to work out where to focus our energies in order to bring things to fruition in the Spring.

Our culture doesn’t really allow for cyclical adjustments. We do 9 to 5 all year round, we are expected to keep up our ridiculous schedules throughout the year. What we really need in Winter is more time outside during daylight, so shorter working days, and more time to be peaceful, so less demands on our time.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just hibernate away from all of it for a few months?

So how do we make the best of our situation whilst also honouring the requests from Autumn to get ready for what’s ahead? We have to adjust. Change our schedules, take more time to just be. Not everything has to stop of course, we still need social interaction, but learning to take 10, 20, 30 minutes here and there to be still and reflect is beneficial to us at this time of year.

Follow the examples of nature, get rid of things that no longer serve you, strip back your schedule to the bare minimum and prepare yourself, and your home, for a peaceful season ahead.

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#24 Being stuck between your head and heart

Some days, I want to get out of bed in the morning, drive to work and work hard all day. Other days, I resent the morning, I turn the music up loud in my car to drown out the world and I don’t feel like doing any work. I call those my rebel days.

Rebel days, to me, are a wrestle between my heart and head. My head says you need to go to work to earn money to pay the rent. My heart says the sun is shining, I want to be outside, walking in the trees, writing all day and being free from deadlines and demands.

It is days like these that make me feel angry, trapped and frustrated. These are the days where I want change, where I make change happen. I rebel a bit. I take an extra 5 minutes for my lunch break, I don’t check my emails all morning and instead I research travel destinations, new jobs or classes. I come away from the day feeling in control, on track, further ahead with my plans.

And, perhaps unsurprisingly, these days are often followed by standard 9 to 5 days, I go in, I do work and I go home. But the cycle repeats, often. And I feel as though it’s a sign from the Universe to challenge myself more and push boundaries.

I’m learning from these days every time. Sometimes they help me make progress, other times they make me upset because I don’t feel I am getting anywhere. But I know, deep down, there is a fire burning within me that is sustaining me and that I am on the right path to whatever I need.

People tell me everyone has days like these and I agree, they probably do. But not everyone sees them as an opportunity to grow or learn. I am a deep thinker, I enjoy talking about what’s going on inside, about the soul and the Universe, and I feel these are all signs for me to connect deeper within, find out what my purpose is, where I am going.

The surface value of work, bills, routine is only a part of what we do. I believe we all have more to give in this world. I want to plant more trees, to help small businesses and to spread more positivity but it all happens gradually, until you get to a moment where your head and heart both sing Yes! at the same time.

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