The Perfectly Imperfect New Year - Soulful Living
The Perfectly Imperfect New Year
I went on a meditation retreat this New Years with the intention of really nourishing myself in the here and now, giving thanks, getting clear on how I want to move forward and sharing time with others who have a practice of and really value meditation. I wished to embrace and welcome the year forward in a serene, authentic, relaxed and positive way. I had done a New Years retreat previously and found I embraced the New Year feeling so fresh and clear in myself. I definitely intend to make it a habit going forward in my life- it is such a beautiful way to embrace the year ahead.
Meditation is about welcoming the present moment, being alive and awake to what is, embracing it with as much acceptance and non-judgment as possible. Things are how they are or ‘this is it’ as meditation teaches us. Often in life our suffering can come from not accepting situations or people as they are, reacting and wishing things were different. It is understandable that certain situations will be more pleasant than others and therefore will be viewed more favorably by us. However, a practice of acceptance and trying to make peace with whatever situation we find ourselves in can offer a great source of serenity.
Of course there will be things in our lives that we wish to change and need to change but sometimes the sheer acceptance of what is or how people are-even if its challenging, of really embracing what is can offer a profound shift in our consciousness that is in itself deeply transformative and can make change easier. Certain things in life are within our control and certain things are beyond our control. Sometimes in life difficult moments can be accompanied by very happy moments or happy moments can be accompanied by sadness. Learning to accept and not to react but how to respond can offer a profound sense of wellbeing. It is wise in life to make peace with whatever is in order to be happier in the now.
Practicing deep self-compassion is a source of peace both for yourself and others. Self-compassion is not about accepting and loving yourself because you are ‘perfect’…. self-compassion is about embracing ourselves just as we are with both our qualities and our flaws whatever the circumstances. Self-compassion is about accepting yourself even when you don’t feel like doing that, it is about embracing all of your emotions and how you are just as you are. It is something that takes time and really has to be embraced daily to become more of a natural way of being. It is always a process as life is a process. If we are still alive to life, we are always learning and growing. You don’t need a little self-compassion to accept yourself or change anything about yourself- you need a lot self-compassion, great patience and to give yourself lots of time.
I really trust people with a lot of self-compassion. When you can have great compassion for yourself, you can have great compassion for others. When peoples own self-compassion is nurtured and can extend to others- it is incredibly healing for all. Practice of such self-compassion can enable us to offer others compassion easily, even to those who we may have an issue with for whatever reason. Self-kindness, knowing that everyone is imperfect and that is part of our shared humanity (sorry perfectionists no you are not perfect and you don’t need to be) and mindfulness are the three main components of self-compassion. Self-compassion doesn’t say I’ll love you when you are like this, when you are ‘perfect’ and when you have achieved this and behave like this…self compassion says I love you just the way you are. Such love is incredibly strengthening and really builds your resilience in life. Self-compassion says whatever may come in life even when I’m finding it challenging to love myself- I will still commit to loving myself. Self-compassion says I’m not afraid of others flaws because I’m not afraid of my own flaws. Self-compassion says what can I do to help? How can I support you? Rather than how can I change you. This is very healing. Self-compassion is more about just being yourself and letting others fully be who they are, loving them in a way that they feel fully seen and free rather than feeling the need to ‘fix’ anything. Self-compassion is about authenticity not pretense. When you can fully bring acceptance to yourself or others- that enables a beautiful allowing, blossoming and unfolding. It allows truth to shine forth. This is so strengthening, healing and such a blessing.
The whole retreat was incredibly nourishing. I feel so grateful and I am embracing the New Year in such a positive way with a renewed and deep compassion for both myself and others. Offer yourself deep self-compassion, non-judgment and notice how you feel in yourself this year going forward. Yes this also means loving the parts of yourself that you have deemed ‘unloveable’ for whatever reason. In accepting ourselves just as we are even if we might find that challenging, we bring great peace to ourselves and to what is. If the therapies I offer might be of any assistance to you in your journey towards self compassion- I’m here for you and just a phone call away. Every blessing for the New Year ahead and don’t forget to believe in your unique magic as a person, flaws and all. Your unique presence here in this world cannot ever be replicated or repeated. Don’t ever forget that -you are here to live your truth. You don’t need to be anyone else but yourself. You don’t need to look for the acceptance of anyone else- you just need first and foremost to accept yourself. There is such peacefulness in the acceptance of the perfectly imperfect and ourselves just as we are.
Some tips for Self Care and Self Compassion
-Take time to tune into your needs and to give yourself what you need.
-Take time to tune into ourselves during the day to tune into and be nourished by our breath.
-Take time to tune into your own suffering, place your hands on your heart and allow yourself to be nourished by your breath as you hold that suffering with love, almost as you would hold a crying baby. A crying baby needs to be loved unconditionally, cared for and soothed. Bring complete acceptance to your suffering and to yourself knowing that we are all perfectly imperfect and lovable just as we are.
-Take time to dream a bit and think about things that bring you joy and really nourish your heart. Do those things. When you are a source of joy to yourself, you are a source of joy to the world and you will naturally want to extend this joy out to others in a loving way not out of a space of obligation or people pleasing.
-We can be very talented in life at imagining the worst outcome to things. Dare to let yourself dream and visualize the best possible outcome to things. Bring lots of light and love into that visualization. Do that visualization a few times a day and call it to mind before going to bed at night so that your subconscious is nourished by it.
-Please find some information below about two talks I am giving on Stress Reduction in Galway. You are most welcome to come along- just email to book:
Talk on Stress Reduction and Shiatsu
Dr.Clare’s Clinic, 9 Sea Road, Galway.
January 18th at 7.00pm
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org to book
Free Talk on Stress Reduction,
56 Central Restaurant
5 Shop Street,
January 10th at 7.00pm
Tel: 083 4631710
Email: email@example.com to book
Posted by Emer on November 26, 2020 in Blog | Comments Off on Does life feel difficult? Seeking New Direction? 6 Helpful Practices in Navigating into newness.
A dear friend of mine loves to say “nothing forced in life really works…nor should it”. As much as we want certain things in life and as much as we can come into any situation in life with a good intention, some things in life are for us and some simply aren’t and you can only let go and bring acceptance to that. The sea may glimmer in the sunshine and the destination seems crystal clear but sometimes you discover that the boat isn’t as reliable as you thought and has gone largely off course. Perhaps there are holes and water clearly entering. You have the option of staying in the boat in denial and watching it eventually sink and perhaps taking you with it or you may end up having to take action and swim to the shore. There is an Irish expression which says “Is fada an bothar gan casadh” which translates into English as “It’s a long road if there is no turn in it”. This expression suggests that the twists and turns in life ultimately are part of our life. Although most of us like plain sailing (I certainly do!), it would also be be quite boring if it was all a completely straight road. There are different boats and different things that are part of our journey and certain things that aren’t meant to last. We are wise to bring acceptance to that. Difficult times can ultimately lead us into more depth, fulfillment and deeper meaning. Its important to be open to that. Let’s consider some of the things that can help when the road takes a turn….
It’s wise to step out of things that take more of your energy than they give you, if at all possible, as unsurprisingly they are ultimately damaging to your health and wellbeing. Life can be easier and happier with more authenticity and simplicity. If you have known more happiness in life and don’t need complications, why settle for less? Really weigh up what you are actually gaining in certain situations versus what you are losing and see if the balance is in sync or out of sync. The only way to change your life is to change yourself and yes even with all of this Covid situation that is possible. I find coaching in particular great for clearly looking at what is and isn’t really benefitting you in your life, what you really want and making the relevant changes. Don’t wait for Covid to be over to get on with enjoying your life, you might really regret wasting precious time. Time and your life is always precious.
LET GO OF REGRETS
We can also be redirected in life through things beyond our control, especially in the current climate. Perhaps you have lost your job, have been forced to relocate, have challenging and unseen things happening with your children etc. Rather than get into stories or staying stuck in regret in relation to the choices made, rather than ask why certain things happen, its best to console yourself with the knowing that when you have been honest, sincere and done your best in any situation, you have nothing to ever regret. Certain things are beyond our control. It’s about moving on then and redirecting your energy in a way that serves you. Try not to dwell on things too much.We learn something from every experience. It’s important to be ultimately grateful for everything we go through (after honestly processing the disappointment, hurt, annoyance etc.) because the truth is most of the time (although of course there are always exceptional circumstances), whatever we go through difficult or easy, opens our heart to something deeper and to a deeper knowing and redirects our energy to come into more alignment with our values if we truly want and are open to that. Life is about intention and action and they will always save you they say if it’s honourable and I suppose the opposite is also true. Difficulties and obstacles can make you realise just how strong you are. They can strengthen your compassion for self and others so it’s not all negative. Difficult times can make us both stronger and more openhearted. That is a possibility not to close yourself off from. I find both shiatsu and coaching wonderful for letting go of regrets and moving forward. Distance shiatsu deals with the letting go at a body level and in relation to your energy field whereas coaching works more on the practical level of letting go, planning and moving forward towards what brings you joy in life.
HONOUR YOUR HEART
It’s important to honour your heart, your emotions and how you feel, essentially your GPS in life. You have to accept and look after your emotions 100% in relation to anything. It’s simply not healthy when you deny emotions or do not process emotions properly. When you deny one emotion, you are cutting yourself off from the others and from your own sincerity, authenticity and ability to feel pleasure and joy. Trying to “Spiritually bypass things” or to “just be positive”, or adhering to cult based ideologies where everything is “100% perfect, 100% positive and 100% abundant in life” is not really a solution or realistic as life is a mixture of things. Its good to have the ability to be with it all both in yourself and in others. Its good to find your own balance, equilibrium, serenity, solutions and come into wholeness. Be discerning and reclaim your own authentic power. Coaching or shiatsu can be such a wonderful support within this. When you deny emotions you create imbalance in your body & mind that will catch up with you sooner or later. Its ok to be honest with yourself and others and to really honour your heart which is a wonderful knowing teacher that leads you towards what you really need.
There is nothing to fear in being authentic and true to yourself, in fact quite the opposite because it allows you to truly process things, to stand authentically, to really live and value your own truth which is unique to you alone and for energy to flow more wholly. There is something really empowering and freeing about totally claiming and standing in your own energy. You can truly love yourself then in a much deeper way. You can connect with others then in deeper way and with more compassion and understanding rather than preaching platitudes of “just be happy”, which is a nice sentiment but just doesn’t address individual needs or specific circumstances. Your authenticity and who you truly are is invaluable. You didn’t come here to be anyone else but you and you are not here to live up to others expectations. It takes courage and honesty to really live your truth but your deepest gems are gained in opening up to what is truly present and knowing that all is ok. This allows every emotion to be accessible and to flow and means you aren’t numbing yourself or lying to yourself in any way. Don’t let anything drag you down or bring you too much complexity. Such things just aren’t healthy. Let go of what does not serve you.
In the light of love, nothing is ever really going wrong so much as things are learning experiences and telling us more about what works for us and what really does not work for us. It’s all learning. You have every right to assert yourself and your needs in life, to redirect your energy at any moment you choose, to put it where it is more valued and honoured. Life is just too short for anything less.
VALUE YOUR OWN TRUTH
Sometimes we can be held back in our redirections by others. Look, anyone can have their opinion about you, your life and what you should and shouldn’t do, how you should and shouldn’t be. Anyone can think they know something about you. The truth is no-one knows what is intimately going on in your life and what is best for you but you. It’s called “your life” for a reason. It doesn’t belong to anyone else. Live your truth and care more about what you think, feel and need first and foremost. Asking yourself frequently exactly what you need and honouring what you need can be a very healing and strengthening practice and is a wonderful muscle to really strengthen. Shiatsu is largely based on listening to and fulfilling your needs. Sometimes people can become trapped in situations because “what would people think?” or “Everyone else seems to content themselves as they are, I can’t be the only one making changes. I’m too old for that…”. Such thoughts are imprisoning and do not serve you in any way. Let them go and liberate yourself. Life is too short for anything less. Coaching can be wonderfully empowering in you liberating yourself and moving forward in the best way possible.
Console yourself with the knowing that first and foremost the person whose opinion of you matters the most is you. We all like to be liked and appreciated and to like and appreciate others, however not to the extent of being imprisoned by the weight of others judgement or misperceptions. Are you going to imprison yourself because of what some people might potentially think or because you are afraid of certain friends judging you? In that case what type of friends/acquaintances are they? Are they really worth knowing and is such a friendship/acquaintance truly worth conserving? Heart-based friendships and relationships where you truly feel nourished and accepted for exactly who you are worth so much more than pretence. Allow yourself freedom to be beautiful and be yourself.
MAKE DIFFERENT CHOICES
Bringing newness into your life is easier when you let yourself be free in your choices. Know that letting go of anything is always difficult but it is essential to let go of things that do not serve us; this could be a friendship, a job, a situation or a romantic relationship. Sometimes we also do not have a choice in the matter. It’s not always easy to let go, but it’s important and part of life. You always have other choices and options. Sometimes it’s about looking at something from a different perspective. Be brave in being authentically you. The rewards can be great, life can open up once more to new possibilities. The price is worth paying if you want that. It’s not always easy but it’s always worth it to be a shade braver and more authentic. You can really live your truth then in a way that feels satisfying. You can look back on your life then and your choices and be proud knowing that you lived in a way that really honoured your truth and you were a first rate version of yourself not a second rate version… of anything else! Therein lies gold. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone just rest into your beauty, presence, serenity, happiness and knowing and let that joy and goodness spread out into the world and flow beautifully into your relationship with life. The support of things such as distance shiatsu and coaching can be really invaluable in navigating into newness successfully.
& Wellbeing Coaching over Zoom.
Online Shiatsu Sessions.
I’ve been getting really wonderful results with Shiatsu and coaching online, including with some people suffering Covid who noticed a huge improvement and lessening of symptoms after sessions of shiatsu. It has been a good support in helping to them in overcoming the virus. Coaching has also helped those now redirecting their energy in life as a result of changing situations for them. Its also been very helpful for those with long-term illness’s such as diabetes in the successful management of their condition. Have a look at my website http://www.soulfulliving.ie and my facebook Soulful Living page for testimonials or get in touch for more details
JANUARY 2021 – SOULFUL OASIS
In January I
will be starting a “Soulful Oasis” open to anyone looking for great health and
to reduce stress levels.
Every week we will be engaging in mindful movement classes to target specific organs and body systems. It will combine my extensive knowledge of training in yoga, qigong, shiatsu self massage which I’ve done now for numerous years and somatic stress-release based practices (which I’m currently finalising a training in).
It will also include a Fortnightly group coaching session focused on health, wellbeing and life coaching.
Each month you will also receive a 50% discount coupon on a shiatsu distance session. This means that you can avail of a session for 30 euro instead of the usual 60 euro. This discount can be passed to a friend or family member.
Get in touch for more details. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have always valued the work that I do but in the world we live in and faced with the recent Covid situation and now Ireland going back to stage 3, it seems particularly important. It helps me truly value my health, myself and my life irrespective of what the circumstances are. Whether things are going the way I want, or things aren’t quite going as planned, all is well. I can bring acceptance to that with more ease. That doesn’t mean I don’t have to work on and improve certain things, of course I do. We all do and that is part of life but I can do it with more ease and even ultimately enjoy embracing transformation. So much treasure lies in you embracing all of you. In the past, I would give more of my power and happiness to other people. If certain people were there, I was happy. If they weren’t or something didn’t work, I was unhappy. When you step more fully into your serenity, your power and your happiness you begin to see how much joy can come from just you embracing more of you and connecting with others from a space of freedom, authenticity and not looking to others to fulfil you. You need less and you can embrace yourself more. That doesn’t mean that you value people less, if anything you value them more and make space for those where there is truly mutual respect, truth, authenticity and freedom. None of us are here to waste our time or have our time wasted. Life is far too precious and an absolute gift to us all.
You can spend your whole life thinking the latest fad diet is the solution, the latest motivational speaker is the solution, the latest fashion is the solution, the latest money investment is the solution, the latest business venture is the solution, the latest holistic therapy is the solution but the truth is…you are the solution. No one can truly give you what you need but you and life is all about balance. You can do different things to explore more of you and to connect with more spirituality and divinity but ultimately healing is less about changing and more about embracing you exactly the way you are and loving all of you, even the parts of you you deem ‘unlovable’ (and yes we all have things we don’t like about ourselves). Sometimes you are looking in the wrong places and chasing the wrong things as opposed to valuing just how precious you are and connecting with things and others that truly nurture you from more of a space of authenticity. During the Women’s retreat on October 24th and 25th a space will be provided for you; to relax through mindful movement, nourish yourself through Shiatsu self massage and shiatsu nutritional advice and transform what you wish to transform through health and wellbeing coaching. There is so much beauty in the world and the practices that I do really help to connect me deeply to that beauty and also to accept and transform that which is not so beautiful. The truth is that there is so much value in going within and finding the deep, hidden treasures of you. It helps you reach out to others in a more authentic and loving way. Enjoy embracing the unique star that you are and shine bright.
Posted by Emer on September 13, 2020 in Blog | Comments Off on Empowered, Serene and Inspired.
24th and 25th of October
Take time out
for you during the October mid-term break to really nourish yourself and
restore health and satisfying wellbeing. Over Saturday and Sunday, we will start
each day with gorgeous mindful yoga and a deep and delicious, full body
relaxation. There will be a particular emphasis during the retreat on
strengthening lungs and the large intestine inspired by shiatsu and Chinese
medicine practices. After a break, you will then engage in some group coaching
where you will look at strengthening your boundary and getting crystal clear on
a wellness vision and plan to help you towards your best life. Later on in the
day, you will engage in some beautiful qigong (mindful movement which builds
healing energy in the body) and shiatsu self massage to really support, strengthen
and loving nourish your body. We will end off the day looking at foods and
lifestyle choices that nourish your organs from a Shiatsu and Chinese Medicine
From a Chinese
Medicine perspective as a Shiatsu practitioner, I honour the transition within
Autumn as a time to embrace change, come more inward and really value the metal
element. Moments of transition related to the change of seasons or other
changes can offer new and satisfying possibilities. Autumn can teach us about
how beautiful it is to let go and embrace change with courage. The lungs and
large intestine are associated with the metal element linked to this time of
year and are related to our courage, strength, empowerment and dignity. This is
where our focus lies over the two days.
The metal element is about clarity and respecting the preciousness of your body and mind. If you think of a beautiful ornate sword for example a good symbol of what the metal element represents, it is not wishy washy. A sword needs to be sharp and clear. Good boundaries are essential. By really valuing the metal element through getting clear and making good choices about exercise, diet and lifestyle choices, we begin to value, appreciate and respect our health and wellbeing more fully.
element is linked to the lungs which are described as “office of Minister and
chancellor” in Chinese medicine, helping the emperor heart with the regulation
of energy or ‘qi’ and an efficient dispersion of fluids so we don’t have health
issues and a build up of phlegm or mucus. The lungs job of effective
respiration is assisted when we breath in a more relaxed manner. Slow, nourishing,
deep breathing and mindful practices which encourage this and nourishing
shiatsu self chi massage are really beneficial to our health and wellbeing in
body and mind.
Over the two days, we will practice
Nourishing and restorative Meditation,
Yoga & Qigong
to completely relax, support and strengthen body with a particular focus on the
lungs and large intestine.
Group & Individual Coaching:
boundary building exercises. Group coaching will take place during the two
day retreat and then you will have an individual session with Emer after the
retreat to strengthen what you have gained from the retreat.
Creation of your Unique Wellness
Vision which will
strengthen and inspire you in your life and in your boundaries and wellness.
Shiatsu Chi Self Massage:Relax, nourish and
strengthen all of your body with particular focus given to lungs, nourishing
ourselves and strengthening immunity.
Food and Lifestyle Choices which nourish our lungs and large
intestine from a Chinese Medicine perspective (you will be given a small e-book
with nourishing recipes and tips for the lungs)
Mindful movement and deep relaxation
11.45-1.30 Group Coaching
2.30-3.30 Shiatsu self massage and gentle Qigong
3.30-4.30 Food and lifestyle choices which support the lungs, final deep relaxation and close
Posted by Emer on September 8, 2020 in Blog | Comments Off on Freeing yourself From Negative Bias.
It is so important in life to live your life in happiness, in serenity and more in alignment with your values, whatever they may be. It so important to let yourself be free in changing your mind and really loving yourself throughout the process. Sometimes you try something out and realise that it’s really not for you. This can apply to anything. Are you able to be kind enough to say “I tried this out and I thought it was for me. It isn’t what it seemed to be and I want to honour who I am and step away from it or to find something different that is more in alignment with my values and that honours me more”. Are you able to do that without getting into a negative story about it and allowing yourself to realise that ultimately all is well? Are you able to see that one door closing opens other possibilities and opportunities up? Life is all about perspective.
I have had a couple of realisations like that of late and I find that life is opening up for me in a different way and that I’m coming into a new depth and appreciation of my life and of life in general. You could easily get into a negative spiral when something in your life is changing because we are creatures primarily of habit and negative bias. You realise when you train in health and wellbeing coaching, our minds are kind of hardwired that way. You tend to think in terms of negative to protect yourself within life. This was definitely essentiel for our evolution during the Stone Age for example but perhaps not so useful in your day to day life. However, when really look after yourself, work on yourself and open up to the possibility that a certain situation may not mean what you think it means, possibilities open up that you may not have even considered previously. Life begins to feel full of beauty, possibility and pleasant surprises once more. When you really trust yourself in life and within the process of change life feels satisfying. When you let other peoples actions be their actions. When you have good boundaries and take responsibility for being honourable and focusing on yourself, life feels empowering and inspiring. You can reach out then to others from a more nourished and authentic space.
I’m doing a short course with the Poet David Whyte at the moment and by coincidence a similar theme is running through his work, Autumnal change is in the air I suppose! He speaks in his work about the importance of allowing silence to find you and to allow yourself in life “to drink from a deeper well”, and not engage in things that make or keep you small “be brave enough to walk away from that which isn’t good for you”. Even if it is as simple as to not engage in a conversation that you don’t really want to have with someone, you always have that choice and we should really value our choices within life. Innocence he deems as being our ability to be refound by the world and you should be free he insists to find yourself today, in a way that you didn’t find yourself yesterday at all, which I find very touching, freeing and true. When we do this, life is more open and its easier to throw away certain habits. Listening to David Whyte as he lets Sonnets flow and draws from a deep well of literary knowledge reminds me very much of listening to my own father who was also a talented poet when he was alive. My Dad had such depth, wisdom and he was such a learned man who also was incredibly humble and kind. He loved to recite different works and draw from his own deep well. He too would have cautioned me to beware of “easy answers”, things that don’t really ring true or that make us small. He too would have encouraged to be brave enough to ask the questions to take you where you want to go. Our ancestors gave us so many things to be grateful for. As a woman now I can also draw from my own deep well and truly enjoy and take pleasure in what I find there. I’m feeling a real sense of gratitude in my life and a desire to savour and bring acceptance to what is.
Albert Camus comment that ‘Autumn is like a second Spring with every leaf a flower’ is one of my favourite quotes about Autumn. The truth is Spring is my favourite times of the year and I love the elements of Autumn that remind me of Spring.
The transition towards colder weather, shorter days and less sunlight however just doesn’t excite me as much as Spring, I have to be honest. I definitely do know however that there is something to be learnt from each season and such things are always an inner job and mindset. There is great strength in surrendering to the power and depth of Autumn and the changes and inner journey it brings. Autumn offers a different flavour to life and it’s good to accept it as it is because it is how it is and we learn different things in every season and moment of our life. There are definitely things that we can do to help with this transition. Its important that we continue to get good exercise and add things like garlic, organic veg, sprouted seed, protein and foods that nourish our lungs to our diet to keep cold and damp from negatively impacting upon our bodies.
As a shiatsu practitioner, I look at these things from a Chinese Medicine perspective and the transition within Autumn is associated with the element of metal, the lungs and large intestine and the characteristics of courage strength and dignity which are associated with the archetypal father. In really facing and accepting transitions (however difficult they may be or whatever they may relate to from a change in season to more difficult life changes), we can harness more of the strength of the metal element and the courage and strength of what good ‘father energy’ teaches us.
None of us like to go through difficult things within life, however you can get support within such moments and difficulty can also make us better people if we let that be the case. If you really think of your strongest and possibly even your kindest qualities within life they were most likely developed in coming successfully through a difficult transition in time. The old adage of what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger really does ring true if we decide to learn from life’s experiences and if we don’t let ourselves be hardened by them or take them too seriously but instead see them as learning opportunities. Shiatsu and the different therapies I offer can help with this.
The metal element is linked to the lungs which are described as “office of Minister and chancellor”in Chinese medicine, helping the emperor heart with the regulation of energy and an efficient dispersion of fluids so there is not a build up of phlegm or mucus. The lungs job of effective respiration is assisted when we breath in a more relaxed manner. However, every time you exhale you can release up to 70% of the body’s toxicity! This is why long, slow breathing is so important. If you are feeling strung out, it can be helpful to bring your attention to very slow and steady out breaths. It is more important in such moments to effectively bring attention to the breathe out and to really let go. Calming, relaxed breathing nourishes our spirit. A helpful breathing technique can be to breathe in and then on the out-breath purse your lips slightly and really follow your out-breath very fully and slowly. Mindful movement practices nourish and strengthen your lungs, your immunity and your body and mind in general in a powerful way.
Change is an integral part of life. To a large extent, you are the deciding factor in what change means within your life. Some changes in life you will want, others you won’t. Change isn’t always easy. We may be at a point in our lives when we are fed up with a particular situation, a particular pattern or habit that we have. However, as much as we want some change at times and we might want certain things in life to be different, most of us if we get really honest may not want what change also entails which is a certain amount of risk and uncertainty. Any type of change within life, wanted or unwanted, entails some level of risk and uncertainty. When you learn to befriend risk and uncertainty more, you harness and live your courage. Within risk and uncertainty also lies opportunity for newness and when we gradually get a little bit more comfortable with risk and uncertainty, we can perhaps see that change isn’t such a bad thing after-all and offers advantages along with some level of initial discomfort. Even if it is just the newness of coming through an experience in life with a different perspective or of being much stronger and more confirmed and confident in your own truth and value.
Change can offer great opportunities to grow and to really come into your own strength and power. Sometimes a painful realisation can cause you to change something within your life. This is hard, but pain is also a great teacher. From pain you can be reminded of what works for you and what really does not work for you, get clearer on what your values are and are not and you develop more wisdom and alignment as you journey through life. Your own self truth and value are absolutely invaluable and one of the most precious things you can truly own. Change isn’t always easy but if it means a better outcome for you, a life where you value yourself more and say a clear ‘thanks but no thanks’ to untruths, time wasting or things you don’t want to live or subject yourself to, then it is always worth it.
There are also changes in life that are very unwanted. For example all of the changes within this recent COVID world have been largely unsollicited by most of us. I don’t know many who find mask wearing and being able to socialise with less freedom a lot of fun but to some extent, we can choose how we deal with this unwanted change. We are aware that at the moment, it is necessary. Social distancing really means physical distancing and does not have to mean social isolation. There are many ways to connect these days, there are many things that can nourish us. There are always choices in life and ways to find serenity even in the midst of difficult change, whatever those changes may be.
In relation to changes that you do want in life, small amounts of change that happen gradually can be a really good thing. It is always better to honour your truth and your knowing. As the saying goes, the truth might annoy you at first, but it always sets you free. A good question then is more how much do you value your freedom, self worth and wellbeing over the situation that you are in?
I am a shiatsu & mindful movement practitioner and a
health and wellbeing coach. I have numerous different tools that I use that help
myself and others lead a fulfilling life. One of the ways that you can approach
change as a shiatsu practitioner is linked to Chinese Medicine, the five
elements and ensuring that your are honouring and meeting your needs. Looking
at the five elements and how they are present/absent in your life can be very
helpful within moments of change. A shiatsu treatment (akin to acupuncture but
mindful touch replaces needles to get energy flowing in an optimal way), a
coaching session or a mindful movement session are all good ways to support yourself
during moments of change and transition.
-The element of wood seen to be linked from a Chinese perspective to the Liver and Gallbladder, helps us to nourish our roots and to find really solid ground. Looking at and honouring your truth, needs and value can be helpful with this. Being kind to yourself and others while also being assertive is helpful. Really honouring and respecting yourself in life and the choices that you make in life and standing firm in what you believe is also good for the wood element. What for you is solid ground in life and how do you find it? How do you or would you like to feel fully within your strength within life?
-The element of fire, linked from a Chinese Medicine Perspective to the heart and small intestine, helps to nurture our hearts and be open to connection, warmth and love. It is helpful here to remember that the heart needs to connect with others and it also needs space, stillness and a connection with whatever represents the divine for you. It can be really helpful to connect deeply with yourself and then others…then our connection comes more from a centred and nurtured place. Develop a great love of yourself first and foremost. Not in the narcissistic sense of the word but in the sense of respectful self love that really nourishes you and then naturally expands out to others to nourish them. I say this because sometimes you might be looking for something in others that you really need to give to yourself first and foremost. Your connection with everything begins with your connection with yourself and self love. Your connection with yourself is a life long love affair…..make it a good one! How is the fire element manifesting itself in your life and would you like that to change in any way?
-The earth element, linked to the stomach and spleen helps you to really nurture and care for yourself and to rest into receiving the goodness of what is around you. The earth element is one of the most important elements when resting into transition. When we nurture the earth element and really rest into nature etc. our intention expands and is clearer and brighter. How are you connecting with the earth element in your life? Nature and things that comfort us and remind us of the beauty of nature and the world we live in and of comfort and ease are very helpful. The great writer John O’ Donoghue commented that in difficult times always keep something beautiful in your mind, and find a place in nature if possible and just let beauty unfold, I couldn’t agree more.
-Metal, from a Chinese medicine perspective which is linked to the lungs and large intestine, is an element which can help us nourish our spirit and the capacity for an appreciation of life. The Metal element is nourished through valuing our strength, courage and dignity. The metal element is about clarity and respecting the preciousness of your body and mind. If you think of a sword for example a good symbol of what the metal element represents, it is not wishy washy. A sword needs to be sharp and clear to cut through something. By really valuing the metal element through getting clear and making better choices about exercise, diet and lifestyle choices, we begin to value, appreciate and respect our health and wellbeing more fully. How do feel about the metal element within your life?
-Water, from a Chinese Medicine perspective is linked to the kidney and bladder, is an element that can help us nourish our deepest wisdom and our capacity to connect to our essence and potential. Meditation and mindful movement practices are excellent for nurturing the water element. Embracing life, going with the flow and choosing non-fear or to feel the fear and do it anyway along with persevering are also wonderful for nourishing the water element within us. Is there anything you would like to change about the water element within your life?
From a coaching perspective, change happens when one is ready and support can help with this. As Prochaska would say there is a period of pre-contemplation and contemplation that is necessary. As other therapists have pointed out, change is also something that happens as a spiralling process. Life presents you with opportunities to heal certain things. In truth more self acceptance and self love is the deepest change you need to see within your life. Looking at the five elements can be very helpful as a wellbeing and self care tool. There are many different ways you can support yourself during a moment of transition and change. Get in touch if you need support around changes you wish to make. That might consist in getting a nourishing shiatsu session to support flow and the movement of five elements within the body, a shiatsu nutritional advice consultation, a health and wellbeing coaching session or booking a mindful movement session.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world. A sedentary lifestyle, food which doesn’t nourish us and smoking can all be real culprits. Chinese Medicine would also say that heart disease can result from too much excitement and excess which leads to the disturbance of heart energy. Its good to look for the middle way in life and find balance without excess or deficiency. Coming back to gratitude and simplicity can help and learning to know when you have enough is also helpful to the heart if you have a tendency to overdo it. Sometimes less is more if you have a tendency towards excess. If you have a tendency towards deficiency you will need to nourish your heart more through connection with what and whom we love, openness and focusing on things that nourish your heart and bring it joy.
If the fire energy burns too bright, we may become agitated and anxious. Conditions such as high blood pressure and hypertension may result. An excessive fire can also lead to burnout and ultimately a state of deficiency where low blood pressure and fatigue results. This shows us the importance of balancing fire energy and really nourishing our hearts and listening to our hearts needs. Our fire energy should feel like a warm, comforting and cosy fire. The kind you can happily sit around and really rest and find refuge beside. You don’t want a fire burning too strong! Equally if our fire energy is too weak and it feels like sitting around embers that are about to extinguish that is not what you want either. Some passion, joy and a bit of “joie de vivre” in life is good without overdoing it. Aim to find balance in life. When fire and heart energy is balanced it feels open, comforting and warm. The “emperor” heart (the heart is referred to as the emperor in Chinese medicine) can then rule as it should with ease, flow and without complications. This is very helpful to your body and conducive to good health.
It can be helpful to write about things or call to mind things that bring your heart joy. Drop down into your hearts knowing and feeling to do this. It’s not so much an exercise that is thought as felt. Take moments to pause today and savour things that really bring your heart beauty and joy. Take time to open and savour connection with what and whom you love and brings joy.
Posted by Emer on July 15, 2020 in Blog | Comments Off on The Hearts Calling-Honouring your Hearts Needs.
The heart from a Chinese Medicine perspective is related to the season of the summer and the element of fire. The nature of the power of fire is seen in its ability to transform and nourishing your heart and small intestine is very transformative work. Your fire element is nourished through many things including connection that stimulates us through our love of friends, family, community, a loving partner and discerning what we love to do and what makes us happy. At its deepest level, your heart is nourished through its relationship with the divine. Love doesn’t necessarily mean romantic love. A love of life also nourishes your heart.
Openness is an important quality of the fire element. The heart is linked to what the Chinese refer to as our “shen”, awareness or divine spirit. When the heart is clear, divinity shines through, authenticity and sincere qualities are present. Presence in the moment is the deepest expression of human shen. Meditation is deeply nourishing for your heart. The Chinese see the heart as ultimately reflecting our relationship with the divine. When this is in flow, everything else flows. The heart is obviously strongly connected to the blood and when blood is strong, the shen or spirit is strongly anchored which is conducive to being calm and getting good, quality sleep. The heart is nourished through connection and also finding some space, quietness and moments to pause and savour for yourself. Nourishing the stomach and liver are also important in nourishing the heart.
The heart needs to connect through openness and connection but also has a necessity to be protected through the small intestine (which governs how we absorb and assimilate nourishment from food and things around us), the pericardium (akin to a shield that protects heart) or heart protector and the triple heater (akin to a thermostat which regulates the three main areas of the torso: the abdomen, solar plexus and chest). Because the hearts job is so important from a Chinese medicine perspective, these three helpers are essential. The heart is considered in Chinese Medicine as the “emperor”. It is said that it should never be touched directly. Its job is to govern and to have the ability to face difficulty while staying open to all that is beautiful and good. The heart is capable of embracing paradox in life whereas the mind seeks more certainty. I guess how we would phrase it is that the love of the heart is all embracing. The heart gives the capacity to receive all of the experiences of life and to integrate all of these experiences. It seeks to integrate from the five senses and generate appropriate internal response. When the heart is healthy and thriving you experience openness, strength, clarity and compassion. When the heart is balanced you can let go of stress, fear and doubt and feel light and expansive. Ideally we want our heart to be strong yet calm and brave but kind and generous.
Over the next while, I will be posting about the heart and how to nourish your heart through food, mindful movement, lifestyle choices and different acupuncture points, stretches etc. This relates to my online course “Nourishing and Strengthening your organs through Chinese medicine nutrition, mindful movement (yoga & qigong) and shiatsu self massage”.
Today I’m going to focus on nutrition which nourishes the heart from a Chinese Medicine perspective. Your heart is nourished through joy so cooking and food should be a joyful experience filled with things that nourish your heart. A slightly bitter taste nourishes the heart but too much bitterness will have the opposite effect. A bitter salad prepared with rocket salad, lettuce or dandelion leaves with some pesto vinegrette dressing is very nourishing for your heart. Foods containing red pigment are also said to be good for the heart such as beetroot, tomatoes, cherries, strawberries and red peppers. Meat is also nourishing for the heart although too much can have the opposite effect so strive always for moderation. Basmati rice, red lentils, red beans, egg yolks, mung bean and oats are also very nourishing for your heart. Breathing, smiling and an acceptance of what is nourishes your heart. Enjoy cooking joyfully and exploring what nourishes your heart. Stay tuned for more tips over the next while, enjoy.
Less is more. We can hear that and appreciate that but to embody it is a lifelong journey accessed only through enjoying the process, love and acceptance of what is. As we are human for any of us…..it’s always going to be a process. There is an art of effortlessness to savouring more serenity that cannot be reached through striving, it’s about the quality of our presence. It’s more about allowance and appreciation of what is than about striving to do. A lot of what brings me joy in my life is reached through complete simplicity and valuing my heart. I live in the countryside and connecting with nature, knowing nature to be part of me and me to be part of nature is very satisfying. Sunrises, sunsets, elderflower bushes in full blossom, the sight of foxes and playful rabbits all nourish me deeply along with many other things that are satisfying and simple. I think of what John O’Donoghue said about the joy of finding a spot in nature and just letting something unfold. The joy of becoming a complete observer in what you witnessing within nature and being held deeply within that beauty. It is really wonderful to let yourself be consumed by such moments.
I appreciate that life and work is busy for all of us and that there are always things to do. That is just a fact of life and its important to be in flow with the rhythm of the day, the week and the seasons. However, I think rather sometimes than wishing for more time, its interesting to notice the quality of presence that you are bringing to what you are doing. I wonder at times even in the midst of being busy, we can bring a quality of presence to what is and let ourselves find that little pause, appreciation or breath more deeply and serenly within the moment adn notice the difference that makes. I wonder if that deeper serenity can be somehow accessible irrespective of what we are doing, even if it’s just to momentarily touch it throughout the day. I suppose in truth we can sometimes bring a deeper state of awareness to our day, that gives us back some of the time that we are seeking. I do know this to be true in my own life and savouring simplicity can be helpful.
Here is a poem I wrote that relates to savouring simplicity.
There Will Always be Dishes
There will always be dishes- the chopping wood and carrying water of day to day life. Washing the last plate, I feel my body release in pleasure and relief that “they are done now, its over”. My selective naievity will not allow me to accept that this is a never-ending cycle in which I play a part. It will not stop because life goes on. I dream, I plan, I yearn and yet….there will always be dishes.
In the acceptance of the now, I feel the warm water silkily engulf my skin. I open to the delicate, orange aroma wafting from the thick, clear liquid gel. I squeeze and watch it ooze and be consumed by the all embracing water. I plunge yet another plate into the water cleaning and enjoying the firmness of each plate. Grasping and turning on the tap, the cool flow of fresh water that coldly washes the dreamy suds away. I leave this renewed plate to it’s pure state as I stack it to dry. In the acceptance of what is, the sensual and serene enjoyment is here and now. For me to open to or reject.
Unless I stop savouring and devouring life, unless I stop living or being open to the bitter sweet messiness and aliveness of this world-there will always be dishes.
It’s so important in life that you value yourself. Not in a big-headed or arrogant way at all but just to truly recognise your value and your worth. Why wouldn’t you? Its wonderful to value others and I’m deeply grateful for those in my life that have taught me so many different things. At the end of the day however, its unhelpful to value others and not value yourself. Its unhelpful to see the light of others and not your own. You can see the beauty and strength of others but can you fully recognize your own beauty and strength? Until we can fully receive ourselves and accept every ounce of ourselves with gratitude, can we truly do that for another? It’s important that you love yourself without reservation and that you bring love and acceptance to what you have deemed “unloveable”. For years I found my sensitivity, love of creativity and beauty something that I hid away for example. Growing up I was very strong and very driven academically. I did that very well and that was what was valued. Today I really value and recognize my sensitivity along with my strength as something that enables me to connect with the world and with others with depth and authenticity and now it is a wonderful strength as a teacher and a wellbeing practitioner. This sensitivity allows me to be present, awake and alive to the world and to others and to inspire others.
Today there are people who truly inspire me and who I respect deeply but I respect and inspire myself first and foremost. When I do this I honour serenity and solidity within myself first and foremost. “Love one another as I have loved you”…I dont think Gods love of any of us is in any way limited, its infinite. Love yourself from this divine space and let the hero within you shine. “You dont need the acceptance of others. Firstly you need to accept yourself”. This to me is the first step within heroism. Acting with certainty because you source that certainty from yourself and acting with certainty whether times are uncertain or not. “Be beautiful, be yourself”.