I’ve just shared a smashing weekend with a fabulous group of women in Yoga – that means unity for the uninitiated – at a weekend retreat in Sussex. Spending time with like-minded souls, sharing space, food and a love of yoga is positively uplifting.
Try Something New
We wandered out of our comfort zone to try out one of the oldest branches of Chinese Medicine known as Qi Gong with Sound Therapist Ruth from Dao Natural Health. Apparently Qi Gong is a medical science, it was a subtle yet powerful experience that left us feeling energized and relaxed at the same time.
A Change Is As Good As A Rest
Later we bathed in the sound of a fascinating array of instruments, from the larger gongs to the smaller Tibetan bowls and rain sticks that transported us into various states relaxation and mediation.
Added to this throughout the weekend was a delicious, balanced vegetarian diet with the odd (more sensational than odd) fruity treat thrown in.
This left us feeling satisfied and satiated on a mental, physical and spiritual plane!
Find Your Tribe
share the pleasure of taking time out to immerse yourself in the things that bring you joy.
If you suffer from anxiety or just plain old stress this is a gentle nudge to nurture yourself by spending time with people who share the same hobbies, pastimes or sports as you, so that you can return to everyday life feeling more contented and at one with yourself.
When depression descends it‘s not easy to shake yourself out of it and for some just not possible at all, so if that’s you, you might want to stop reading now.
Many people who experience depression say that as part of it, they feel helpless and hopeless and it’s understandable as it can leave you feeling stuck and impotent. Anyone can be hit by depression at any time in life and it’s important not to judge.
It’s also important to know that it’s not your fault and doubtless you have done and are doing the best you can. It can be very irritating if not downright annoying to have people tell you to snap out of it and I wonder if one of the reasons is that for some, depression is an inward expression of anger. To have well meaning people lay unhelpful platitudes on you, can triggers more frustration and can make the depression even more intense.
My personal experience of depression and that of working with others is that it invariably strikes people who are highly thoughtful, sensitive and usually kind and caring. They ‘feel’ deeply and can struggle with boundaries, because they are used to picking up on the emotions of other’s but aren’t used to protecting themselves from it. Like a sponge they unconsciously mop up negative energy from those around them.
Developing a supportive inner voice can help. Over time I learned to tell myself that ‘this will pass’ and for me it did and thankfully I did not remain in a permanent state of depression. Knowing that it would pass I was able to use this knowledge to help myself. I would sit in the same place each time – in my case my wicker meditation chair and remind myself that nothing stays the same and that it would pass. When you’re in the midst of it however you can be forgiven for thinking it wont!
Funny thing is, even some of my closest friends may be surprised to discover that I’ve wrestled with depression and the reason for this is that I’m not a lover of labels, so I’ve chosen to not say that I have had depression. My concern was that it would become ‘my’ depression and I certainly never wanted it to be mine!
Here are a couple of things that have helped me in the past and others I’ve worked with.
Sit with a trusted friend or therapist and investigate the last 3 or 4 episodes of depression with a view to identifying what the triggers were. Aim to recall what happened the day or the night before. What did you eat or do, what time did you go to bed, what were you watching, who did you see, what activity were you participating in before the depression started? Aim to unearth the patterns that lead to the depression and make them more conscious.
When we throw light on something that has previously been unconscious i.e. in the dark, it usually has the effect of de-potenising it, taking away some of it’s power.
Don’t do this on your own, because you obviously don’t want to trigger an episode.
Once armed with a knowledge of the patterns or people that seem to trigger the depression you can start looking at things to put in place to avoid those triggers. For example if you realize that depression can start when you lay in bed thinking about things for too long, or listening to the news, train yourself to get up within 5 minutes of waking up, or make the decision to turn off the news and choose something more positive to listen to.
You can use stick thinking i.e. “If I lay here any longer I know I’ll end up with that sinking feeling in my stomach that leads to me feeling really stuck and miserable” or carrot thinking… “If I get up now I can get on with… or meet up with so-and-so to walk her dog, or to just make a nice cup of coffee and listen to the birds singing”
Commit to becoming vigilant and aim to catch the depression as it starts, imagine you’re a spy and your brief is to watch and wait to ‘catch’ it before it takes hold so that you can interrupt the pattern it takes.
Make a decision to do something different until you notice a change no matter how subtle. Even a tiny shift can make a huge change to the way you feel.
That shift might be an arrangement that you strike up with a trusted friend to call them the minute you feel the depression starting so that they can come over to support and motivate you to do something different. This is of course by prior agreement.
Whilst we know that exercise is a great way to combat depression, it isn’t always easy or possible for everyone to join a gym however one simple step that you could take is this.
Stand with your feet hip width apart and raise your arms up slowly up into the air as you breathe in. Then slowly breathe out through your mouth like you’re blowing air out with a long sigh as you bring your arms back down. Do this at least 10 times – longer if possible. Do it several times a day on a bad day.
You are lifting your heart and lungs with this simple movement, engaging your cardio-vascular and respiratory systems which change your breath, your mental state and of course your physiology. This can be done sitting down too.
Depression isn’t just a state of mind; it can also be a feeling that emerges somewhere in the body or just outside of it.
Depression has been described by some as a heavy weight, a black hole or a dark cloud hovering over them. Others say it starts as a sinking feeling in their stomach and some say that it’s like having someone or something sitting on them. No wonder then, that people can feel stuck or disempowered.
It can be helpful to externalize the feelings and one way to do this is by drawing or painting your feelings on paper. No rules, you don’t have to have any artistic skills, nobody else will see this – unless you choose to share it.
When you’ve finished drawing, bin it, burn it or bury it but get rid of it. By doing so you’re making a powerful symbolic statement – to your unconscious mind- that you’re taking action to erase it.
Another powerful thing to do is to write, by hand, letters to people who you feel have a part in your depression whether past, present, dead or alive. I’ve worked with many people with depression who have been bullied in the past and when they’ve done what I suggest here they have been amazed at the results. You really will feel lighter when you do this.
Write to the bullies, tell them exactly what you think of them. Let the people who have played a part in the way that you feel, know your truth, tell them exactly how you feel. When you’ve finished the letter bin it, burn it, or bury it but definitely get rid of it permanently, this is the most important step. I do not advocate sending the letters – this is for you, it’s your therapy.
Your unconscious mind believes whatever is put into it, so it willbelieve that you’ve sent the letters, even though you know at a conscious level you haven’t.
This might sound ridiculously simple but it really can take care of unfinished business in the back of the mind. Don’t take my word for it try it yourself to find out that this powerful exercise really does work!
Anything that you can do to empower yourself will be helpful
So the next time you’re feeling brighter write a list of the things that lift you and allow you to feel glad to be in the world. Put that list on the inside of a cupboard or on a mirror where you can see it to remind yourself to take tiny steps toward a better day.
Although I would never say I’ll never be depressed again, I do feel fortunate to be free of depression these days. I have used all the tools and tips I write about and whilst I appreciate that they may not be for everyone, I sincerely hope they help someone.
On Thursday I woke up with a violent migraine, an aching body and not much in the mood to drive for an hour to the spectacular gardens of RHS Wisley.
Efforts had to be made as it was my partner’s Birthday so I lay in bed and listened to my own Healing Now download which triggered the energy needed to make breakfast and drive us via the M25 into Surrey… it was my treat.
I couldn’t have made a better choice! The beauty and elegance of the gardens at Wisely is staggering and within ten minutes of going through the entrance I experienced a tremendous sense of peace and wellbeing.
A one point I sat for ten minutes of eyes open mediation … bliss!
You really can’t beat nature when you need a little soothing and healing. Being surrounded by the full spectrum of vibrant colours, with the sound of gentle water running from miniature waterfalls accompanied by birds singing, was only surpassed by the subtle waft in the air of perfume from the flowers.
It was heart warming to see so many people volunteering their time to create a place of such beauty. It has a really strong sense of community there. I overheard a couple talking, they were financial contributors and had a sense of ownership and pride about the place.
We watched people enjoying picnics, drinking coffee and eating ice cream in the cafe’s.
We smiled a lot! It’s a place that melts tension and brings peace.
A limb of yoga known as Ayurveda suggests that most people benefit from being surrounded by nature. Why not make a weekly date to bathe in nature, whatever the weather, you can wrap up warm or peel off layers as you go out to your local nature reserve, woodland or coastline and spend some quality time soaking up the blues and greens of the earth.
I wanted to share a little of my day with you so take a moment to watch the clip and allow your eyelids to be heavy as you watch the screen and breath in for three and out slowly for five. You can watch and replay this as often as you like for a de-stress and mini energy boost. Enjoy!
Isn’t that what life is? Just a moment or should I say a series of moments. It’s true. If you really think about it, five minutes time, tomorrow or next week hasn’t happened yet and two minutes ago, yesterday or ten years ago is the past. So the only bit that’s real is now! Enjoy it!
Looking back and realizing what a great evening that was or anticipating the enjoyment of a forthcoming holiday is something we all do. Whilst it’s pleasant to reflect on the past and future, we may be in danger of actually missing out on the moment, the here and now, the present.
If you’re one of my yoga students you’ll know that I’m always directing your awareness to the presence of the ego mind. This is the part of the mind that is in charge of filtering. It sifts and sorts, categorizes and labels and is an essential part of our thinking. Without it we would all be bonkers!
Although an essential part of the mind, the ego can take over, acting as if it’s the only ‘mind’. It can gather steam with its labeling, comparing, judgments and criticism and before long it’s the only part of our inner dialogue that we hear.
If your ego mind is very busy and loud it will drown out deeper intuitive thoughts from your Self. These thoughts could be considered as natural perceptive ‘gut instincts. They have just as much, if not more value. They wish to serve you in the pursuit of being the ‘best’ you. They may for example alert you to a health issue that you are not paying attention to, this pushes you to take the necessary action that could be preventative.
Think of it like tuning a radio. If you only ever listen to Radio 1, how do you know that radio 4 exists, with all its amazing programs and information?
How do we access this deeper intuition you might ask? By being present is the answer.
Being here now equals less stress. If we want to enjoy life more and feel less pressured we need to make a conscious effort to be in the moment. Being present requires being ‘psychologically awake’ and more conscious.
Take a moment to notice what you can see right now around you. Now notice every single sound near and far. Next observe what you can feel… hungry, happy, and irritable, the fabric of your clothing, the air in your nostrils, the wind on your face and so on.
Practice this as often as possible so that you become the observer… the watcher… the listener… then you may wonder ‘who am I’?
Enjoy the Easter break I wish you lots of light, love and peaceful presence.
If you feel like you can’t continue in your current existence, you are not alone. Every year thousands of people reach a point where they can no longer continue working in the same way, with the same people or in the same job or industry.
You just wake up one morning and know that it’s time for a change.
I was in my mid-twenties when I reached that point. I had come to hate my job, the industry and I didn’t like most of the people I worked with either.
I felt trapped by the money, I had a mortgage from the age of 22 and the notion of walking away from a well paid job seemed totally reckless.
I was run down, stressed and miserable and as a result became pretty unwell. After the third spell in hospital, I recognised this as a massive nudge from somewhere deep inside, to wake me up, shake me up and take responsibility for changing my life. I realised I was waiting! Waiting for something to happen. Waiting for someone else to make my life different.
This was at the start of the self-help movement and I read hundreds of books to help me find the confidence and methods to make those changes. I developed a habit of getting clear about exactly what I wanted and then applying certain steps to make sure I got it. I’ve retrained in a number of different fields, Psychotherapy, Hypnotherapy, Yoga, Reiki. I’ve become an author, a blogger and a jazz singer. I’ve since spent the best part of twenty-eight years helping thousands of people to redefine themselves, to follow their hearts and launch new careers. You can do it.
Want to know how? Here are my starting steps when I want to make change.
Firstly create some space where you can be still and quiet and ask yourself the following questions.
What one thing am I really good at? What one thing do I seem to do naturally well?
Now ignore the voice that throws up the negatives and keep asking yourself that same question until you get some good answers.
I remember thinking defeatedly ‘I’m not really good at anything, there’s no area in which I excel.’ But I stuck at it and eventually a little voice said “You’re good at talking to people” It was true, I could stand at a bus stop and a total stranger would tell me their entire life story, then get on the bus and say “Do you know I’ve never told anyone that!” Eureka. That was it… the only thing I could come up with!
Yet that simple answer started a whole new career for me which I still love and enjoy with every cell in my body.
When you’ve come up with a couple of answers write them down, stick them on the back burner. The process is starting.
2. If I didn’t have to worry about what anyone else thinks. If I didn’t have to worry about money or how I would pay my bills. What would I do for work?
Again, ignore all the negative, whiney head trash that wants to bring you down. That’s your ego battling for position! Write down the stream of positives that come to mind, such as … “I’d work with animals, I’d travel the world, or I’d be a yoga teacher” Now put those ideas into the pot on the back burner.
In a few days some ideas will begin to brew. Watch out for them and write them down.
When you get some idea, some direction that doesn’t contain a negative, you’re ready for the next step.
3. Just suppose (imagine) you were going to do that thing… the idea that you thought of, how would you go about it? What would be your first step of enquiry? Can you google some information?
Can you find someone who’s doing what you’d like to do or has what it is you would like to have?
If so call or email them and ask if you can buy them, a coffee or lunch, explain that you would like to ask them some questions about their work. Be honest and transparent. Naturally some people will say no, but many are flattered be asked and want to help.
First gather this information. Gradually all the ideas, information and knowledge come together and you will feel excited. This is your cue. If it’s a feeling in your heart GO FOR IT!
Find a way to make this happen. Go back to learning, take that course in your spare time, negotiate taking some time out of the workplace. Do what you have to do to kick-start your new career. When it’s something you feel passionate about, trust me, it will not feel like work. You will be happy to be up to the early hours of the morning writing your plans, or studying, because you know that you are working toward something really meaningful to you. Something heartfelt and positive.
When you live, breathe and talk about your dreams you bring a powerful energy to it that will attract a similar resonance. If it’s your dharma (your calling) doors of opportunity will open for you, you will be wafted along pathways that will support your calling. You will meet the right people at the right time who will share similar dreams and values.
DO NOT share your dreams with people who criticise, judge and search out the negatives in your plans. Why would you. You need to believe in yourself and your dreams.
If you need additional inspiration or support to get you over your fears about making change, grab your copy of my book Super Charge Your Confidence and the accompanying download of the same name from my shop.