Several years ago, a wise yogini shared an interesting idea during a yoga class. She said that when the world starts unravelling, it will be those with a STRONG INNER STRUCTURE who will have the resilience and endurance to get through the tough times.
Although I had no clue what she was really referring to, I immediately felt the truth of the words she spoke.
Now, that these UNRULY times are upon us, I TRULY UNDERSTAND what she was saying.
As the external structures and stability around us seem to crumble, the need for inner stability and strength becomes paramount.
How is your Inner Structure holding up at the moment? Is it steadfast and strong, or is it wavering? .... Completely understandable if it is flailing around btw. Surely it is for most of us.
So what is a strong inner structure? And how do we develop this?
Holidays can be a time of parties and celebrations, where you are around or offered more rich and decadent food and beverages than you normally would, in your every day life. You may also find yourself in stressful situations around family or busy social situations where you may feel uncomfortable, overwhelmed or over excited. For some of us, this can lead to eating unconsiously, over-eting or trigger emotional eating.
Here are 5 tips to stay mindful of what you are consuming over the holidays.
1. Be prepared. If you are going to an after-work Christmas party or celebration where you know there will be especially rich food or alcohol, you could have a small healthy & filling meal before you go. This way you wont arrive starving hungry and therefore, choosing foods that you’ll regret later… and can also minimise your desire to over-eat. Also, upon arriving you will have some food in your stomach, so if you chose to drink this will create a buffer to help metabolise the affects of alcohol more effectively .. most of us know how quickly alcohol goes to our head when we drink on an empty stomach… !!
2. Check in with yourself. Taking the time to pause before a festive gathering or part way through, can be a very powerful and effective way to bring mindfulness into how and what you eat and drink. If the desire to overeat is there, stay mindful of that feeling to eat ... And is there a feeling or need behind this? Are you excited & feel it’s time to celebrate and therefore eat more? Does it feel like a good excuse to reward and treat yourself? Or are you nervous or stressed being around family or larger groups of people and therefore feel the desire to eat or drink for comfort?
It is important during this process that we adopt an attitude of compassion for ourself no matter what may be arising physically, mentally or emotionally. Let go of the need to self – judge or shame. Can you release the idea or good / bad or right / wrong … ? Instead notice what you are feeling with curiosity and kindness.
3. Be mindful of quantities. Be mindful of how much you put your plate… do you chose to pile your plate high? If so, is your stomach really this hungry or is this desire coming from an underlying emotion as listed above. Remember, if you start with a smaller serving you can always go back for more, if you are still hungry. Try enjoying the taste of things. Maybe a spoonful or 2 of ice-cream or pudding is enough?
4. Be gentle with yourself. If you have a day of eating more than usual, this is ok, acknowledge it and maybe the following day your appetite will be smaller so you will naturally eat less...almost like a mini-detox so the body has a chance to fully digest and cleanse. As mentioned above in #2 … avoid the temptation to criticise yourself for over-eating or drinking… this is like a double-edged sword and only makes us feel worse.
5. Enjoy! Importantly, if you decide to consume something you consider a “treat” such as dessert, chocolate, wine or that extra helping of food, then really say Yes ! Allow yourself to fully enjoy the experience completely without needing to feel guilt or indecision. Remember you are in control of your food choices so once you make the decision, give yourself full permission to feel good about anything you put into your mouth!
Do you struggle with the fine art of self care ?
Caring for yourself, while at the same time caring for family and friends ? Knowing when to say YES or NO ?
I know this is something I am constantly aware of and is a 'work in progress' in my life ... Day by day and week by week, I am continually making adjustments along the way.
As a mother of teenagers ... parenting is completely different to how it was 10 or 15 years ago. Back then, when my children were young, I would book in my 30 - 60 minutes a day of self-care - for yoga, meditation or a massage... or a dinner out with friends etc. SELF CARE DONE.
Now, I do have more time available, however, my teens plans often get changed at the last minute ... so that my 'flow' can get interupted suddenly and unexpectedly, in amongst my new found space.
I still give myself 30 - 60 minutes of yoga / mediation a day, regular beach walks and catch ups with friends, however, I am experiencing a need for a deeper type of self care... beyond the yoga, massages and beach walks.
The self care that is emerging is connecting in with the way I live my life; choices I make - big and small, in every moment of everyday. The work I chose to do. The people I chose to hold close. My living environment. The food I chose to eat. Everyday choices.
I call this Self Care for an AWESOME LIFE.
Because every choice we make along the way is planting seeds for our future in some way, conciously or unconsiously. And ultimately, we are attending to our most inner needs on a deep, fundamental level. In a way, there are no small choices... every choice is big and important.
Every time we say yes or no to someone or something, it is like we have come to a fork in the road. Saying yes, takes us along one path and saying No will take us down the other path. Perhaps one path is wider and more commonly used, while the other path is overgrown and less travelled .. even a little scary. Either choice will put us on a new or different path from the one we are currently on.
And sometimes we travel along a path for a little while and realise that it's not right.. and so we may back track to the fork to take the other road, or even take the adventurous route through the forest to find the other track.
Ultimately this is a super exciting prospect - knowing that we can make these choices and chose our life ahead.
When we make choices and decisions in our life, it can be enlightening to notice the layers of intentions involved in the decision making process. Sometimes this is very simple and straightforward, such as I am hungry, so I need to eat. Although, there may be deeper intentions at work, often less seen or completely in shadow. For instance, I am hungry (for more sweetness in my life), so I am choosing to eat chocolate or a sweet desert.
I realise this may seem easier said than done.
The first step is noticing.
Noticing when a decision or choice does not turn out the way you had hoped ... or didn't end up feeling 'right'. This may be an 'icky' feeling in your stomach or ended up creating conflict with someone.
Intuition definitely plays an important role in this process. And intuition works best when we give ourself a quiet moment to connect in with our deepest feelings and needs. From this place we can make the most loving and empowering choices for our wellbeing and those around us.
From here we can make a different choice next time, so we are continually refining and evolving the practice of deeper self care.
Maybe you have heard the term ‘Attachment Theory’ being thrown around?
Do you know what it means? Are you curious to know more ?
I know I would have loved to have known more about this theory in my younger years, while I was forming relationships and while I was gestating, birthing and raising my children….
Attachment theory’ was first coined and developed around the mid 1900’s by British Psychologist, John Bowlby, referring to the way in which a child bonds with his/her mother or primary caregiver.
Bowlby was joined by fellow psychologist Mary Ainsworth, who together developed 3 attachment styles in babies & children. The theory was studied and developed by his students and many therapists over the years and has come to be a widely accepted system for understanding the consequences of the child / parent bond. Eventually, a forth style, Disorganized Attachment was added.
Modern day Psychologist Dan Siegel, talks about ‘mirror neurons’ which imitate caregivers’ state of being, and ‘implicit memory’, which he explains is ‘raw unconscious body memory’ that becomes encoded in the brain, nervous system and throughout the body.
This idea is based on the premise that because babies and children rely on non-verbal communication they are easily affected by the moods and emotions of people around them. This in turn, contributes to babies development of empathy.”
4 ATTACHMENT STYLES
Babies / Children:
Consistent, positive bond with mother or primary caregiver results in a confident, stable baby & child. The child receives empathy and love.
This person is trusting, empathetic and experiences ease in relationships, transitions and in life. Usually emotionally stable & caring.
Babies / Children:
Anxious and in-consistent caregiver resulting in clingy, unsure child who will become distressed when parent leaves the room, or has tantrums.
In adulthood, referred to “pre-occupied” attachment. This person craves love and attention in relationships and lacks boundaries
Babies / Children:
Emotionally & physically distant caregiver resulting in overly independent and dismissive child, who gave up hope of intimacy.
Are usually self reliant, independent and feel uncomfortable with intimacy. They take commitments seriously, and may feel smothered.
Babies / Children:
Child experiencing severe neglect, abuse, chaos and lack of connection resulting in high levels of panic, fear, trauma or even play out as care-giver
As an adult this may show up as trauma & mental imbalances, such as addictions, extreme anxiety, depression, paranoia etc.
Perhaps you can relate to one or even more of these attachment styles … within yourself, your partner or your children.
The good news is – Bowlby, Ainsworth and other attachment theorists believed that it was possible to re-write one’s insecure attachment style.
Modern day research of neuroplasticity and epigenetics are scientifically proving this as fact. It is being demonstrated that it is possible for our brains and nervous systems to re-wire and establish a secure base through consistent, caring and stable relationships with a partner, teacher, therapist and. This is called ‘earned secure attachment’.
We can create earned secure attachment for OUR SELF by becoming aware of how our relationship dynamics currently play out. With this understanding, we may chose to surround our self with supportive family, friends, therapists and/or healers, while we give our self time and space to unravel and release old patterns and conditioning. For some of us, this may be a long-term or lifelong journey, for others this can occur during an intense, short period of transformation.
As PARENTS we have the opportunity to gift our children a secure attachment by creating a calm and loving environment during, especially during pregnancy and the first years of life.
By giving our children consistent love, intimacy and emotional connection, they will learn what it feels like to be in a supportive, healthy relationship, and they will learn to believe in them-self.
They will come to know that they are loving and lovable.
Be able to give and receive freely.
Be comfortable speaking and listening.
What a magnificent start to life. What a GIFT !
(Szalavitz & Perry 2010).
(Siegel, 2010). (Siegel, 2010).
(Bowlby, 1969, 1982).
Having a strong digestion is incredibly important for breaking down & metabolising foods efficiently… and importantly - keeps us healthy, and prevents illness and disease.
Knowing how, what and when to eat can be extremely confusing especially with so much information out there. So instead of being guided by books, website and social media, you have an even better resource … YOU and your super intelligent body !
Below are some simple guidelines which help you develop more connection and intuition around food and eating. Try these tips out and see if they ring true for you. Remember, nothing replaces your own body's instinct and intuition about what is best for you to eat and when.
Rest & Digest
I had the most precious moment with my teenage daughters this week.
We had been in lock down for 2 months prior and so, to say the least, it had been an intense time for us individually and as a family unit. And, as I presume most of world had done, each of us had gone into our own cave of self-isolation, even within the small space of our home. We had all been - knowingly or unknowingly – grappling with our demons and dark, difficult places within in us. And so during these weeks, at times it had felt, like an invisible distance or divide had appeared between us.
This particular day took place in the few weeks that our hometown began loosening the isolation; shops opening, 10 people allowed out in groups, school went back a couple days a week. And so there was a lightness emerging, and a feeling of togetherness, even within our usual intimate tight knit family.
One of my daughters had some tears, an uncommon thing for this resilient one. She was sitting up in her bed, head slightly bowed down and quietly crying. And so I walked in to sit on the bed next to her. I gently placed my hand on her arm to offer support and comfort, while still allowing her own adolescent space...
Time slowed down and the moments took on a magical timeless quality...
1. Find a daily routine that works for you most days. Ideally we awake by 6am and are making our way to bed by 10am. These times help us work with our own body rhythms and the cycles of nature. When we have a consistent routine, our entire being & particularly our nervous system can relax knowing that there is some sort of structure to our day. In the same way that babies & children like to have routines in their day, so do adults. Eating at similar times each days assists our digestive system to function better by preparing our bodies with naturally occurring digestive enzymes. Ayurveda suggests that generally breakfast be a light, yet nourishing meal; lunch be eaten around midday when the sun is at it’s highest and dinner is eaten as the sun goes down, at least 3 hours before sleep. If you do a lot of travel, there will still be ways you can create a regular rhythm within the irregularity of your routine, such as a practice you do every-time you get off the plane for example: a shower & body oiling, sitting quietly or a 10 minute meditation or a walk. As you develop daily rituals & routines, you will notice a sense of freedom within this nourishing container of time.
Perhaps you have read or heard stories from hundreds and even thousands of years ago, when women gathered together in sacred spaces.. The Red Tent has been popularised in recent years thanks to the well known book by Anita Diamant, called The Red Tent. Here she tells the story of midwives and biblical characters from ancient times, weaving the life experiences of women coming together in the Red Tent.
Traditionally, humans did live in tribes and communities with extended families, where a regular and consistent support network was available. This allowed women to retreat into their ‘Red Tent’ when needed, knowing that life would carry on, held by the responsibility of others in the community.
You may be wondering what has been happening at Red Tent Yoga over the last few years… well, I am happy to share a bit about it. Feel free to put the kettle on, put your feet up and read on with a cup of tea.
As you may know, 3 years ago, I sold the beloved Red Tent Yoga studio space and passed it onto to a young woman who brought her woman’s business into the space. Then a year later was sold onto another woman her woman’s business. Over these few years, I continued teaching a handful of prenatal & mums yoga classes in the former Red Tent Yoga space, however, basically Red Tent Yoga was on pause for these few years.