Self-care for Sensitive Souls
Reconnect with your inner resources
It's another new year, and with it comes the impulse to make promises to ourselves about a fresh start.
But just in case you were longing for something that doesn’t involve abdominal crunches or a losing a specific number of pounds from your perfectly lovely body, here’s my take on New Year resolutions …
Many of us approach Christmas with a mixture of pleasure and apprehension. It can seem to us that we can barely enjoy it because it feels so loaded with demands and the weight of expectation.
We’re meant to be having a great time, yet everything that habitually stresses us out gets magnified, and there seems to be lots more if it, all focused into this short period of time.
So how can we cope with the strain and make the most of the positive experiences?
The good news is that what works at this time of year is the same as the rest of the year, except that we may need to be more conscious and deliberate about it …
Do you ever think to yourself, ‘I’ve got all these techniques from mindfulness and meditation to make my life better, yet somehow, I don’t have the motivation to actually get on and practise them.’?
Even with all the teachings and tips out there, there’s very little guidance on how to keep going when we don't feel inspired.
This is where the rubber the meets the road – it’s one thing to learn about meditation and browse all those articles on the internet about mindful living, but when it comes down to actually doing it, our good intentions tend to peter out.
There is a way of keeping up your momentum in your meditation practice, that doesn’t get talked about very much. You just have to look around you ...
Our culture tells us that ‘faster is better’.
But do you ever feel that you’re running to keep up, and that something precious is getting lost in the process?
Our modern life is geared to help us go faster. We can get almost anything we want with just a click, we can access limitless information in less than a second, and we can communciate with each other instantly and at any time.
We’ve learned to be productive and to multi-task.
Yet in spite of rushing to get loads of stuff done in as little time as humanly possible, our lives continually feel incomplete and lacking ‘something’.
We feel exhausted and diminished.
What's going on here?
Have you ever had the experience of someone listening to you?
Really listening, with love and kindness, giving you the space to be exactly as you are. Not judging, not interpreting, not cutting you short with advice.
And their attention is completely with you. (They’re not checking their phone or anything.)
It feels good. It’s relieving. It soothes your pain and heals your heart. Your Big Problem seems smaller and a solution starts to appear of its own accord.
But we don’t always have a compassionate friend to be kind to us when we need it. We don’t always have someone to hold that space where our own wisdom can naturally arise.
Or maybe we do ...
You’d like to try out a meditation retreat, but you have some questions about the practicalities. Do I need to be an experienced meditator, can I have a lift, do I have to bring anything, will I be ok if my body hurts …
We've got you covered. Here are answers to the practical things people ask us about retreats.
Many of us know how challenging it is to keep up a meditation practice, even with the help of a regular class. (Or even to try meditating at all.)
Oh, the distractions.
So is it really worth it to take a whole day out to retreat into silent contemplation?
If you have stubborn pain in your life that's not responding completely to treatment that's aimed at the physical level, you may be wondering whether there’s more going on than just a physical problem.
Perhaps you suspect that your headaches, low back pain, pelvic pain or other chronic symptoms have something to do with stress or anxiety or some kind of emotional upset.
But you don't really know what exactly. Or what you could do about it, even if you did know.
Pain is complex and rarely 'just' physical. This doesn’t mean that pain is all in your head, nor that it’s your fault.
What it means is that your pain is trying to tell you something.
A few decades ago, back in the dark ages when patients knew their place, I had a brush with my doctor.
I asked her whether changing my diet might help with an intestinal problem I was having. ‘No,’ she said firmly, ‘and I will tell you what to do, not you.’
I was just a bit ahead of the curve. These days, taking an interest in and sharing responsibility for our own health is welcome in the doctor’s surgery.
But there’s a 21st century version of that conversation that can still be more prickly than purposeful, if not handled diplomatically …
February has come and gone, we’re well into March … and we're still waiting for Spring.
Since Mother Nature is holding out on us, I’ve decided to light up the bleak-dreary-cold slog with some home-made happiness.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been (mostly complaining but also) asking people how they’re getting through the unending chill.
So here’s the collective wisdom of Cheltenham folk and beyond, for bringing on our inner sunshine …
Cosying up in comfort is one of the pleasures of winter.
By the same token, spending more time indoors brings us energetically closer to our home. We become more aware of how our surroundings make us feel.
And that opens up the chance to do some energy-boosting that will take you right through to spring …
There’s still some summer left (now and then) … but are you finding it hard to get out and enjoy it?
When we’re in pain, it’s not very tempting to go out and about. We want to hunker down and take care of ourselves.
And if it’s just a day indoors here and there, it’s no big problem.
But over time, the snags with staying in can start to build up. So is it worth the effort to take a spell outside our four walls?
If you’re easily disturbed by noise, crowds, bright lights and smells, you may be having mixed feelings about going away on holiday.
I know how that feels, so here’s how to have a calm and comfortable trip …
So you’re talking to a friend about how you’re feeling. It’s not a good day, and you’re suffering. ‘I can’t take this any more,’ you say. ‘It’s unbearable.’
She's sympathetic … but then starts telling you (lovingly) that it’s happening for your highest good and that maybe you should look at what the lesson is for you ...
You won’t be surprised to learn that at New Year, there’s a spike in sales of self-help books.
But why is it we so rarely actually finish one?
We love self-help books. They guarantee a solution to our woes for £9.99. What’s not to like?
The clocks go back this month … an extra hour in bed, yippee.
All very well if bed is a lovely-inviting-sleepy place.
But at least one in ten adults in this country suffer with chronic insomnia - and if you’re one of them, you don’t slip into delicious oblivion with a sweet sigh. If only!
I don’t know about you, but I always get butterflies in my stomach at this time of year. The holidays are over, and real life is lying in wait, just where I left it.
What can you do when you need to get on, but you’ve been ambushed by your worries?
Here's how to get from uneasy to unruffled – whenever you need to ...
“No. 1 Health Rule: Give yourself permission to be happy ... Women in particular need to keep an eye on their physical and mental health, because if we’re scurrying to and from appointments and errands, we don’t have a lot of time to take care of ourselves. We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to-do’ list.”
– Michelle Obama
Amen to that!
Not so easy is it, though? Maybe you resonate with how my yoga class mornings used to go …
Free Meditation Audio
Sign up for a free guided meditation to help you ease stress and tension