Self-care for Sensitive Souls
Reconnect with your inner resources
There’s something that often surprises people on our retreats.
As you might expect, we start by sitting quietly … we do the familiar things … we practise settling in our body, resting in our breath, bringing our wandering mind back (lots of times), and opening ourselves to a deeper truth within.
And this isn’t always easy. We know that meditation for all its rewards, can be challenging.
But what’s unexpected is how much easier - and yet deeper - our practice becomes when we’re outside, in nature.
Some of the most beautiful surprises and aha moments can come from a simple walking meditation.
The experience is profound yet readily accessible.
So what exactly happens?
Do you ever feel that your life consists of getting through the day?
Many of us spend our energy and focus on an endless to-do list.
We have family, bosses, bills, the relentless inbox and other assorted demands to manage.
We’re constantly responding to these demands. Prepare for tomorrow's meeting, pick up some milk, fill up with petrol, read the meter, go compare (again), make a massive chilli to freeze, answer the important email I should have answered yesterday, clear out the spare room.
And if all that gets done (good job with the spare room), we’ve made it through another day. Till tomorrow.
We know we’re in a hole, but we can’t seem to dig ourselves out of it.
So we tell ourselves we’re busy and productive. The more ticks we have on our list, the more productive we feel. (Anyone else write down completed jobs just for the satisfaction of ticking them off?)
The same routine follows day after day, week after week.
The big snag is that eventually, months and even years can go by like this.
And almost imperceptibly, the opportunity for a deeper life slips away.
But a beautiful remedy is already right here with you.
Spring is open season for experts on decluttering. The internet is crowded with articles about the hideous psychological mess you are in if your house is untidy.
So should you just take a deep breath and cleanse your soul with the help of a dozen black bin bags?
Well you could, but you'd be missing out.
Here’s a way to make the whole thing a lot more light-hearted, with the bonus that you’ll be practising mindfulness ...
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 …
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’re highly intelligent, creative and accomplished, yet you’re easily overwhelmed and stressed.
Thanks to our culture’s bias towards being controlled and logical, you may have learned to see that sensitivity as weakness.
Sensitivity is out of our rational control. It can make us feel vulnerable, and because it’s not encouraged, we don’t learn how to be with it.
As a result we judge our sensitivity and try to suppress it, instead of celebrating it as the gift of caring, empathy and awareness that it is.
Is loud noise overwhelming to you? Is time alone every day as essential to you as the air you breathe? Do people call you ‘over-sensitive’? Does it break your heart when you see suffering?
You may be a highly sensitive person – someone who feels intensely and is unusually intuitive, aware and perceptive.
Our sensory system is like an antenna, receiving information from our surroundings. Some of us have a body that is naturally more highly tuned to stimuli in our environment – things like bright lights, confusion, strong emotions or energy – that other people barely notice.
As a result we may feel easily overloaded and need to retreat.
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.
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?
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 …