Acceptance, Essential Self, Gratitude, Grounding, Healing, Self-love

Practicing Self Love at a time of giving

Wherever you are, and whatever you do, be in love. Rumi (13th Century Persian Mystic)

As we hit the time of the holidays, we start to think about all the people around us who we love and care about. We want to reach out to them, show them we love them and buy them special presents to reflect our appreciation. In what is already a busy life, we are also building up to the biggest celebrations of the year. This can be exhausting, and so many of us collapse at the table either on Thanksgiving or Christmas day unable to fully be present and enjoy the very thing we are thankful for; life.Love quote in tree

By practicing a little self-love, we can avoid being fully spent on the day of celebration, by being mindful of who we are and what is important to us amid all the noise and activity. Self-love can sound like a very indulgent concept. Aren’t I being selfish if I only think of myself? Shouldn’t I be thinking of others at this time of year? Isn’t love about giving not receiving?

I can understand these concerns, but let’s demystify the nature of love. Love is energy; it is as simple and as complex as that. It is the life force of energy that is all around us and resides in its most concentrated form in our heart. If we remember this, we can then start to think of the analogy of a mobile phone – bear with me on this!

We all have one of these devices these days and they are great. We can talk to people, we can shop, we can pay our bills, we can play games on them, the list is endless. Yet the phone’s energy is not. So, what do you do to ensure that your phone continues to provide the same fantastic activities each day? You plug it in and renew its battery. If you don’t it dies and then there is no more fun to be had.

We are like our mobile phones, in as much as we need our energy boosting every day so that we can continue to be the loving, generous and compassionate person we want to be in the world. Recharging our batteries is the supreme act of self-love. It allows us to have a loving flow of energy constantly coming to us which we can share with everyone in our lives. In the book ‘A Course in Miracles’, it says that I give what I receive. In truth, we can only give what is present within us. I am not talking here of physical items (although the principle holds here too), but energetically. We can only give, what we have in ourselves to give.

Here are some of the ways you can practice self-love so that you can be your most vibrant, thankful and loving self during the holidays.

  • Get a good night’s sleep. This is something that we so often compromise in our busy modern lives. The body needs time to renew itself, given the highly complex biological processes it runs for us each day. Aim for at least 7 hours sleep at night.
  • Centre yourself before you start the day. Start a morning ritual that allows you to start the day in a positive way. After you have dealt with all the essential morning things, sit quiet for a few minutes (5 minutes is enough if you are always short of time). Read an inspirational quote for the day (there are lots of books out there or online resources. Look up Rumi Quotes for an example or have develop a personal affirmation (I’ll be launching an affirmation deck soon, so you can pick a fresh card every day). Use the words in your quote or affirmation to guide you into a brief meditation. Focus on your breath and repeat the words to yourself silently, until you feel calm and centred.
  • Be Grateful. We hear about the power of gratitude increasingly and that is because it is the most powerful tool in our manifestation toolkit. It’s easy to be grateful when everything is flowing our way, but far harder when we are having difficulties. Yet it is precisely at this point that it is as it is most powerful. Next time you are finding yourself angry, annoyed or upset with someone in your life, take a moment to connect with your breath and ask yourself ‘what from this situation can I learn about myself? How can this situation teach me the value of happiness?’ If you stay focused on your questions, you will see the dynamic start to shift and allow you to come up with a better response.

 

I send you the very best of wishes over the holiday season. Remember that to love yourself is to love all others. Self-love is the supreme act of bringing love into the world. There is no better gift than that.

On December 7th, I’ll be jointly running an evening of Yoga and Mindfulness with Emma Heald, near Hull. We will explore the theme of self-love. If you are local and want to join us the details are HERE.

 

Acceptance, Autumn, Grounding

Turning Leaves – the time for inner work

Autumn is quite a dramatic time of year for nature. As the sun moves further away from the earth, we head for cooler months and see a shift in the energy all around us.

For plants and animals, this is a time to conserve energy, to go inwards, and to trust mother earth to support them through the harsh months to come. Our deciduous trees are vibrant at this time, as they turn to shades of red, gold and orange and lose their foliage. Their sap drops deep into their core and their energy returns to the roots through the decaying leaves all around them. Many other animals start to slow down or hibernate during this time, finding warm and safe spots deep within the earth.

In our modern times, when we seem to have conquered so much of nature and feel protected from the worst extremes of its seasons, you might ask; what has any of this got to do with us?

The illusion of our separation from nature is only that; an illusion. Our bodies and to a certain extent our minds go through the same changes that many creatures and plants go through during this time. Our energy seeks to go inward. Our circadian rhythm starts to change in response to the shorter days, the colder climates and the differing moon cycles. That might seem hard to believe, but when we remember that we are mammals supported on a planet that is orbited by a moon and circles a sun in a vast universe, we start to realise that we have very little control over anything, least of all our bodies deeply instinctive responses to the changes ahead.  We can however start to think about habits and routines that will help us to be more in sync with the changes around and within us.

We don’t have the luxury of being able to hibernate or reduce our working hours, just because Autumn has arrived, but we can find other ways to honour the inner changes that are happening.

  • Our diet is important. It is no surprise that the root vegetables harvest at this time of year, given that they bring rich nutrients from the soil, as well as important vitamins and trace minerals.  Think about having root vegetables roasted, in stews or in hearty soups once or twice a week.
  • Morning routines can be difficult to maintain when we wake up to darkness. We can feel slower and stiffer, as the fluid in our joints thicken, and we need to be more aware of warming up thoroughly ahead of any sporting activities. Consider starting some morning stretching exercises to help you to awaken your body slowly and gently. The five Tibetan rituals is a routine I find useful, but there are many others.
  • During the summer months we are used to drinking cold water regularly, but as we move towards winter, think about switching your water bottle for a thermal mug and having more regular warm drinks. Non caffeinated drinks such as herbal teas have a great nourishing and balancing effect on the body and will help to maintain good energy levels.
  • Lastly, think about going to bed an hour or so earlier. We tend to need more sleep in the winter, as our body struggles both with the light deprivation and the increased energy we are using to keep warm. The best way to replenish this is to get a good night’s sleep.  It also makes it much easier to face a dark morning when we feel well rested.
Acceptance, Book Writing, Forgiveness, Healing, Oneness, Self-love

Three reasons why forgiveness helps us to heal (Does this resonate?)

Business AssistanceMany people have asked me why I have chosen for my second book to write about forgiveness?  In my first book ‘Coming Home to You’, I focused on the many ways we can live a joyful and happy life, by reclaiming our relationship with ourselves. Once we balance our relationship with our body, our mind and our spirit, we find that we have harmony with all of life and the happiness and peace that comes from this will naturally flow to us. Yet, as I speak to many people through my work and travels, I find that many live in a stuck-ness that is not borne from their inner world, but from their outer one.
We find ourselves dwelling on past sleights, hurts, transgressions and bodily assaults that have left us feeling weak and vulnerable. In a world that feels scary and hostile most of the time, the one thing we most want to avoid is feeling vulnerable, so we become hard, close our heart and vent our anger at the source of the cause of our anguish. In many ways this is a natural reflex built into us, that we may not even realise is there until it has come out through our words or deeds.
So if it is one of our most natural human responses, why should we think about changing it? What we create from these natural human responses is a spiral of decline in our relationship with others which leads to the madness that we see in the world around us. Our lack of forgiveness is part of the destructive cycle that we see in our age. It leads to conflict, war, aggression, hate and deep unhappiness in our hearts. Yet it is possible to transcend these responses, to find a different path, one that is no less easy, but leads to a place of healing, understanding and ultimately to peace. Forgiveness is not an easy concept to live by, but as we see in our daily lives and in our media every day, living in a world without forgiveness is not easy either. In fact, we can see that living without forgiveness can only ever lead us to destruction.

Three reasons why we need to work on our forgiveness:

  1. We become more humane, gentler and kinder, when we can learn to be tolerant and accepting of the differences of those around us. This is true in our personal relationships, but also in our work as well. Rather than living a life that is constantly fueled by irritation and annoyance, that can spill into anger, we can be calm and learn to see the differences in others as a way of learning more deeply about ourselves.
  2. We can appreciate that we have no real control of the world around us. When we live from our ego state, we are only concerned with control. We want to know that our plans will go exactly as we have laid them out, we want people to behave they way we expect them to and we want the world to comply with our own view of how it should be. Living from this ego state is a sure path towards madness. We are warring as much with ourselves as everyone around us in our wish to find the illusion of control. Once we let go of this illusion we can learn to be free and accept and respond more appropriately to what is happening around us.
  3. We take full responsibility for our emotions and only our emotions. What happens if we are hurt of have suffered transgressions from others, is that we start to not only trap the trauma in our body, allowing it to fester and grow, but we also start to project emotions we want the other person to feel.  We want them to know our pain, to know suffering and feel the same indignation that we felt at their hand. This is a false path, that will only prolong our own suffering. We have no control over anyone else’s emotions and spending time trying to come up with ways to influence them is taking precious time from our own life when we could be coming to terms with our own needs and learn to move on. We are continuing an emotional entanglement with someone that continues to erode our sense of who we are. At some point you have to ask; is it worth it? Is my peace of mind less important that my projections towards another.  Our path to healing starts with attending to our own emotional needs, healing our own wounds and forgiving ourselves first. Anything else binds us to our suffering.

 

Would you be willing to share your experiences of forgiveness?  Throughout August, I’ll be launching a survey to gather views on how forgiveness is experienced as part of my research for my book.  If you have the time and are willing to share, please click HERE.

 

 

 

Acceptance, Essential Self, Habits, Life Enhancing, Personal Power, Self-love

Three ways to connect to your inner life force

For many years my life was my battleground, until, I decided to stop allowing it to be one.  This was not some overnight transformation, but something I learned over time, through clear intent to do something different, to see life differently, to respond to life’s challenges in a more positive and mindful way. I believe that this is possible for everyone and that was one of the main motivations for writing about it in my first book.

I was born to Irish Catholic parents in Birmingham.  The youngest of 4 surviving children, with a neurotic mother, an alcoholic father and a sister with Autism; we lived in a chaotic and highly charged family home. It wasn’t until my early twenties that I started to see that there might be alternatives to the way I was living. I could make choices not only in how I lived, but also where I lived.  I made the decision to leave Birmingham and my childhood influences and took a live-in position at a country hotel in the Cotswolds.

It was there I was to meet the love of my life. Despite considerable resistance to our relationship and having to deal with the disapproval of my parents, the loss of my live in position and being shunned by friends, because my partner was also female, I never once doubted the choice I had made. It taught me some incredibly important life lessons about facing difficult decisions with courage, being open and authentic about who you are and learning to accept yourself with love and compassion.

Later, after having a very successful career as a consultant, I was suddenly struck down with a serious illness whilst in Africa. It was another moment in my life to take stock, observe and choose my response. After innumerable doctor’s appointments, hospital visits and tests after tests to define what was wrong with me I became exasperated that I would never feel well again.  Until one day I realised that nothing was wrong with me.  Not in the most essential level of my being.  With the help of a doctor who was also an energy healer, I started to realise that healing and harmony are as much about state of mind as they are about our lifestyle choices.  When I could accept that at my most fundamental level, at the centre of my being, all was well, the healing of my body could take care of itself. Through my own healing journey and the road back to health, I learned to connect with my inner life and connect with the energy which is the life force inside of me.  I saw the illness as a lesson in how to slow down and appreciate life more.

 

Three powerful practices to connect to your inner life force

Three very powerful practices have helped me in dealing with my life’s challenges. If you do nothing else but these, you could find that your life goes through an extraordinary transformation in a matter of weeks.

The first practice is meditation. This is incredibly powerful as it helps us to observe our thoughts, slow them down and even turn them into more positive inner dialogue.  When we are feeling that life is against us, we often create a victim voice in our mind.  We will say things like ‘this is always happening to me’ ‘why do I always feel so tired’ ‘life is so unfair’.  This kind of dialogue is life sapping and sends signals out to the universe to deliver more of the same.

Through the regular practice of sitting quietly and noticing your thoughts, you can become aware of the messages that you might be giving to yourself and sending out to the world.  Doing this on a daily basis, even 5 minutes per day can make a big difference.  Over time you will learn to quieten the constant chatter of this incessant and negative voice.  The art and the practice of putting distance between you the observer and you the internal saboteur is the first step towards raising your awareness and choosing your thoughts more wisely.  It was the late Louise Hay who said ‘Change your thoughts, change your life’, and science is finally catching up with her and proving this to be true.

The second practice is equally simple and brings enormous benefits if done on a regular basis.  Journaling involves writing down your inner thoughts and observations. It has some similarities to meditation and can be practiced alongside or as an alternative approach.  It too allows you to express your thoughts, emotions and ideas in a very concrete way.  Sometimes the very act of writing something with no set idea of what it might turn out to be, allows our sub conscious to communicate with us in a way that our talking voice never can.  We don’t know why this is the case, but it is another powerful way we can learn to notice our thoughts, connect with our dreams and passions and learn to release negative and blocked emotions.

The third practice is gratitude.  When we are grateful for the many good things in our life and are thankful when we see the little blessings that come our way, we open the door for more of the same to come our way.  If you are struggling financially, but learn to say thank you when a bill is less than you expected, or you get a great discount on something, you are sending out positive vibes about money.  This can help you change a difficult relationship (with money) into a positive one. You can do this with just about any area of your life: your health, your body, your relationships, your career.  All you need to do is start the day by declaring your gratitude for all the things that you have in your life and close your day by being thankful for all the things you experienced.  You shouldn’t have to look too hard for little blessings or gifts that made your day go well and the more you do it, the easier it is to live from a place of gratitude.  There is nothing more powerful than gratitude to turn your fortunes around.

No one is likely to go through life without the odd challenge.  Life’s knocks help us to become stronger, build our resilience and teach us valuable lessons along the way.  I learnt to appreciate every moment, live in the present and express love and compassion all around me.  When you connect with your inner self and that wonderful reservoir of happiness within, then I know you will too.

If you would like to attend one of my workshops, find out more about up and coming dates here

You can find many tips and exercises to hep you in my book Coming Home to You, Available at Amazon and other booksellers.

Acceptance, Change, Emotions, Grounding, Habits

How to choose and anchor your emotional state

Emotional resilience is not something we are all born with, but it is something we can develop with some simple habits and techniques.

Have you ever had a day when you have woken up feeling happy and vibrant only to find that it disappears after a few moments in the office? Or perhaps after a few moments talking to your mother on the phone?  Our emotions can feel like changeable things that are at the behest of others and our situation. But that is only a story we tell ourselves.  We often believe that our emotions are something that we have very little control over, yet when we consciously choose to be calm, happy and peaceful, we find that this will remain the case for as long as we make that our choice.

 

In this short video, I demonstrate a simple technique to enable you to anchor your emotional state.  It’s very quick and easy and allows you to have an immediate and quick way of reconnecting to your chosen emotional state, rather having one imposed on you by circumstances.

Give it a go and see what you think.

 

Acceptance, Guided Meditation, Happiness, Life Enahancing, Mindfulness, Soul Purpose

Finding your life purpose – a guided meditation

In June I’ll be participating in an online summit which is focusing on how we find our life’s purpose.  If I asked you how closely you felt you were living your life’s purpose what would you say?

Does it feel like something that is deeply embedded into your life’s journey?  Or does it feel like a vague notion to you?  If you feel it is the latter, you are not alone.  Many people would describe themselves as being led by the circumstances of their life, rather than living the life they really choose.

I understand that it can be really hard for you to find the time to really connect with what is important for you.  Here is a short meditation to help you do just that.  When you have a quiet moment, listen to it and see what ideas and pictures emerge for you.  Follow up and take some steps towards the things that will make you happy and more fulfilled.

Life is all about us making positive choices towards our purpose. 

Is today the day for you to do just that?

Enjoy

 

Acceptance, Coming Home to You, Energy, Essential Self, Gratitude, Oneness, Personal Transformation

A recent talk on One-ness

It’s been quiet around here lately and that’s been because I took a few months off to go globe trotting.  I wanted to refresh my energy, be awed by the beauty of this amazing planet and take time out to create some great content that would help you to continue your transformation journey.

One of the amazing places I was lucky enough to visit was Hawaii, where I was invited to share the ideas from my book ‘Coming Home to You’ and how these could be applied to our transformation.

In this brief video I talk about One-ness, Acceptance and the real purpose for us as human’s on this wonderful planet.

I hope you enjoy.

 

 

Acceptance, Gratitude, Habits, Happiness, Life Enhancing, Personal Power, Personal Transformation

Starting a happiness habit

 

When you hear the word habit, I bet your mind automatically starts to think about all of the bad habits that you have developed and how difficult they are to break.  Well let me bring you some good news.  You don’t need to dwell on your old habits.  If you want to make changes in your life, you can focus on creating new and more life-enhancing habits instead.

Many of the habits we form are to make our life easier and to stop us having to think about endless choices.  They tend to be actions with little conscious energy attached to them and therefore are the easy option.  But if we do not review our habits regularly and question whether they are serving our best interests, they can become our prisoners, stopping us from being able to move on and find new ways of expressing ourselves.  We can consider a habit as bad for us, when we know it leads to feelings of unhappiness, worthlessness or dissatisfaction.  Whatever the reason for the compulsion to follow an unhealthy habit, we need to find the will to create new ones to take their place.

What new habits could you start today?

The good news is that habits can be very easy to create.  We need to focus less on the effort of breaking bad or unhealthy habits and more on creating new ones, which will no longer be compatible with the old ones.  This is a much gentler and supportive way to bring about change without using a negative or judgemental inner voice, which is often applied to ‘break’ bad habits.

Ask yourself what one thing can you start to do for yourself today, which will make a big difference to you and your life?  If it is achievable and you can see a definite reward in doing this habit, set your intention to start it straight away.

Whatever area of your life is asking for your attention, commit to a new habit to support it for three weeks. If it hasn’t worked, don’t get disheartened or give up; simply try a different habit! Keep going until you find one, which works for you and when it does work, stick to it. Over time you will see that crowding out the old habits with the new habits is the best form of change you can make.

Here are some simple habits that will help you

  • Write down your goals. This simple act of writing something down gives it a solidity, that we cannot achieve by merely thinking it.  In the same way as we might write down goals for work, we need to write them down for life.  Target 2 – 3 goals that you would like to achieve over the next three months.
  • Start a gratitude Journal. Being grateful for the little things in life, opens us up to receive much bigger benefits.  We don’t know exactly how it works, but the theory runs something like this: if we give out the frequency of gratitude to the universe, it responds by giving us more and more things to be grateful for. Now what greater incentive for a new habit do you need?  This one is a win/ win.
  • Start your day as you mean to go on. One of the most influential times to set our thoughts, emotions and habits in train for the day is when we first wake up. Just as we transition from dream state to our waking state, our ego mind wakes up and starts babbling lots of thoughts about what we should, could or will do for the day. Instead of allowing your mind to go on to auto-pilot in this way, stop, breathe and set your intention for the day.  Intend a positive day by repeating a phrase such as:  ‘Today is going to be a great day’ or ‘I will take every opportunity to make this a happy and positive day’.

 

If you’d like a little more help in developing some new life-enhancing habits, download the worksheet below that will help you on your way.

Acceptance, Change, Happiness, Personal Transformation, Resilience, Self-love

An intentional new year

For anyone who’s new year’s resolution has become a distant memory, perhaps the issue is more to do with where you started from than, rather than where you were aiming to get to.
We talk a lot about resolutions at this time of year, as if we have to fix something within ourselves; a judging voice inside us, telling us we are not good enough. Such a starting point is hardly motivational and its not surprising that we find that our resolutions dissolve before the new year has begun. A cycle of negative self-talk only compounds our sense of failure and gives us the impression that we cannot stick to anything and have no will power.
Resolutions come from a world of lack, they are borne from a view that we are unhappy with ourselves and that there is something implicit within us to be fixed. Our thinking, when we are resolving on an issue looks something like this:
I need to lose weight – I am fat and ugly (or worse unloveable)
I need to go to the Gym more – I am lazy and becoming a slob
I need to read more books – I am out of touch and becoming boring.
When we set resolutions like these, we start from a place where something is lacking in our essential make up and only by showing dissatisfaction with our current position can we move to a more satisfying one. The negative self-talk that drives these resolutions is hardly motivating, which is why we can run out of steam very quickly when we set them.
Setting intentions has a much higher chance of success. When we become intentional we focus on a motivating goal and put our energy into achieving it, without the negative self-talk that accompanies resolutions.
When we feel passionate and motivated to achieve something, we feel an endless flow of energy to support us, because passion is the very fuel of life. Intentions still drive us to make big changes, without the dragging and judging voice that is behind resolutions.
There is a general rule here that we can apply to any changes we wish to make in life: if we start any change by being more supportive and encouraging to ourselves, we can cope with setbacks and challenges we experience along the way in a constructive way and stay on course to achieve our goals.
So, if you are starting with a goal in your life that you want to achieve and you are struggling to do so, here are some things that might help you along a different path.

  • Start by thinking about what is really motivating you towards your goal. For example if it is about losing weight, what is the reason why your current weight and body shape needs to change.
  • Take some time to reflect and go inward and really listen to the reasons behind your need. As the thoughts start to take shape, notice if any of them are negative. If they are, just let them go and continue to allow a more constructive understanding of the need to emerge.
  • If you hear ‘I’m too fat.’ ‘Nobody will find me attractive looking like THIS’, notice the thoughts as they arise and rather than letting them take hold – just say inwardly notice it and then allow it to pass.
  • As you allow the negative thoughts to dissipate, stay in a quiet reflective mode until you hear more encouraging thoughts arise.
  • These might sound something like ‘My health is important and I want to support it.’ ‘I’ll be able to do more for myself/ my kids/ with my partner, if I am slimmer’. These are thoughts without judgement but with clarity and if you remain inwards you will notice a lighter feeling in your heart and perhaps a little buzz of excitement as a level of motivation comes behind the thoughts.
  • Go with it. This is the path to intention. And if you develop it in yourself and believe in it, you will succeed.
  • When you are clear about your intentions, write them down in a journal. When we write down our intent, it has a powerful multiplying affect in our mind, allowing us to feel the reality of a goal, through the process of articulating it and recording it. It will also be a line in the sand that you can use to review your progress.

So if you need to re-visit your fading new year resolutions, do it today, but in a more mindful and intentional way. Try out the approach above and do let me know how you get on by leaving some comments below or emailing me on mary@findyourjoyfullife.com.
If you want more ways to become intentional, you can find more details in ‘Coming Home to You’ A handbook for personal transformation, available on Amazon.com.

Take the free 7 day email course below to enjoy a daily guide to make positive changes in your life.

Acceptance, Change, Gratitude, Mindfulness, Resilience

Irish Times Women’s Podcast – Book Interview

Quote of connecting to our subconscious from meI was recently interviewed by Jennifer Ryan of the Irish Times Women’s Podcast.  In the interview we cover a range of topics including the nature of resilience, the power of writing down our thoughts, why perfectionism get’s in the way of us learning and how to develop a daily mindfulness habit.

To find out more listen here: