The Magic of Meditation

I have long been an advocate of making conscious choices about we put into and on our bodies. I see this as a way of creating wellness not only for ourselves but also for our planet. But I came to a point a number of years ago when I realised that this wasn’t the whole picture – that despite my best efforts to eat a mostly organic diet, to use the best certified organic products on my body, to lead an active life I was not feeling all that well, I was actually feeling disillusioned, and starting to doubt my ability to really experience the vitality and enjoyment I was seeking in life. What I discovered was that I was not also to paying attention the most important part of my body……my mind.

The mind, the most important part of the body? In my experience this is true – without care and attention to looking after the mind, all our other efforts can only get us so far. Until I began to get to know my mind, to observe my thoughts and responses I didn’t realise just how counter-productive they were to my health and wellbeing. Yes from the outside looking in I was doing all the “right” things, even surrounding myself with the right words in inspiring books and quotes, but on the inside my unexamined mind was slowly but surely stealing my vitality, joy and peace.

This is when I came to the life-changing practice of meditation, in particular the practice of awareness meditation. As I started to learn to quiet my mind, as I started to observe my habitual thoughts and responses I started to get to know and understand myself better, and very importantly I started to realise that I have a choice about how I want to experience life!!

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The benefits of meditation are becoming widely known and discussed. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, enhance immunity, decrease blood pressure, people who meditate are reported to be happier, have greater clarity, focus and resilience. For me two of the most wonderful benefits of meditation are connection with myself and others and a clarity that leads to inspired action.

What about you?

Is your mind constantly racing, do you find it hard to keep up? Are you too busy to meditate?

Yes? Then now is the perfect time to start! We live in a society that seems to value busy-ness, thinking, planning, and doing. Unfortunately in our society getting to know and nurture our minds is still one of the last things people attend to, often it is easier and more convenient to attend to the needs of the body, changing our diets, choosing better products, embracing exercise, buying the latest self-help book. But what are the costs of this? Stress related illness is on the increase and indicators of happiness and quality of life are decreasing.

How do you want to experience life?

Rushed? Stressed? Feeling burnt out? Feeling angry, impatient and insensitive towards your partner, children and colleagues? Or

Calm, clear and decisive with the capacity and joy to support and inspire others to be great?

It has been humbling and also very liberating for me to see how my mind was not only eroding my sense of joy and peace but that it was having a detrimental impact on my relationships. I now know that I am responsible for how I respond, for how I impact others and that I alone can choose what kind of life I experience. It doesn’t get much more empowering than that!

Getting Started with Meditation

I see that meditation, is a “practice”. I find this idea helps people to understand that it is not just a one off activity, it is something we need to work on, it is for most of us a new way of living and relating that we must learn, it is a new habit we create in the brain. There are many techniques for meditation but one of the most important factors when you begin to meditate (like any new endeavour) is to have a vision for your practice – to know why you are doing this and to come back to this reason on a regular basis, it will really help you stay with your practice and reap the benefits.

I recommend you simply start with the breath – it is always with you, just spending 5-10 minutes each day sitting quietly, eyes closed and paying attention to your breathing is a wonderful way to begin meditating. Simply feel the breath coming in and going out of the body, that’s it. You can do this anywhere, at anytime but it is helpful when you begin to find a quiet place without distractions. For most people first thing in the morning or in the evening before bed are ideal times to practice. Yes the mind will wander, yes you may experience boredom, this is normal, all you need to do is remind yourself of why you are doing this and keep coming back to the breath.

If you can practice like this each day for 30 days you will definitely begin to

understand the magic of meditation.

For me, meditation is an essential in my self-care tool kit, I wholeheartedly encourage you to make it one in yours too.

What is your experience with meditation? What are your questions? Please leave your comments in the space below.

I wish you well with your practice, may you experience greater calm, clarity and connection in your life.

Namaste,

Bianca

The concept of Love

I facilitate a regular online meditation sessions and recently we commenced a new series “Nurturing Relationships”.

These sessions for me are a wonderful opportunity to reflect on my own experiences, to share what is helping me live a beautiful life and pay forward the empowering teachings of the One World Academy

From my own personal journey and my experience as a One World Academy instructor I have come to see that the practice of awareness is key to the experience of love, compassion and connection. From a place of awareness love emerges and grows and this has certainly been my experience.

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When we are aware of ourselves, our thoughts and responses we are able to take responsibility for our state of being in the world, we can choose the contribution we make to our relationships and to our world, we can choose how we want to experience life. This for me is an empowering and beautiful practice, one that has helped me reconnect to love in my close relationships.

Taking responsibility for our inner state of being is one of the most important things we can do to nurture love in our relationships.

Bringing Awareness to Your Concept of Love

What does love mean to you? This is a big question……..but one worth taking some time to reflect upon.

Is love something you want to cultivate in your life?

Is there an absence of love in your life? How long do you feel love has been absent?

Does your idea, your concept of love match your experience of life and relationships?

Have you ever questioned your concept of love?

Being aware of our concept of love helps us to see new possibilities for growth, joy and connection in relationships

The experience of love is one of spaciousness, it is an expansive creative state, it connects, it includes – is this your experience of love? Or perhaps love has felt constrictive, conditional, exclusive, desperate or just not there?

For many of us love has become a concept, a concept based on our past experiences, on our expectations, on our need for validation, on our need to be at peace with ourselves. Love has become an ideal, associated with expectations rather than a lived experience.

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We love the idea of love, we idealise love, we make it the goal, the final destination in relationships, we define it and put in a box, we feel it and we expect it to remain the same. When we don’t feel it we fret, we make the other wrong, we doubt the relationship, at times we feel desperate. We want the other to meet our needs or be a certain way. We make conditions; we set traps and want the other to make up for our own insecurities.

Is it really possible for love to be experienced or to grow in such situations?

For me it has been valuable to also ask the question is my experience of love dependent on a situation or how the other behaves or measures up to my expectations? I would have never said that I love conditionally…..…..until I started practicing awareness that is, and I saw for myself, just how conditional love had become for me, that at times I would give it as a reward, other times I would take it away as a punishment. Initially this was hard for me to see about myself, but the more I practiced the more I saw that only in awareness could I see new possibilities in my relationships.

Perhaps you can to relate to this?

The Absence of Love

I posed the question before is there an absence of love in your life? Is it true – is love really absent?

What is really happening when we think that love is absent?

The answer to this emerges when we ask ourselves what makes the difference between the experience of love and the absence of love?

Just yesterday I had cause to reflect on this. I was returning to a place I love, with people I love…..but I was not feeling the same experience of love, I was not awestruck by peace and beauty. I chose to observe myself and I saw that I was embroiled in so many thoughts, I was feeling overwhelmed and conflicted. Seeing this I knew I had a choice to stay stuck in my thoughts on a runaway train going somewhere else or to acknowledge the thoughts but pay attention and stay present where I was. Then voila! the same beauty and peace were there, the feeling of my heart softening and opening was there, it was there all the time…..it was only me that had moved away from it……

This idea was a profound awakening for me at my first Freedom in Living retreat at the One World Academy – I had gone to this retreat wanting to find a way to reconnect to my husband and children, I was feeling disconnected and disillusioned. Over the course of the week it was like a slow but steady stream of pennies dropping, seeing how much love I was surrounded by, how much I had to be grateful for, how many problems there weren’t and I’ll never forget my children’s voices and faces appearing in one of the meditations telling me so clearly – “the love was always there Mummy, you were the one that went away, we want you to come back“.

Is it perhaps possible to see that love is always here – that its just that often we don’t pay attention to it, that often we don’t feel it because we have moved away from it when we become embroiled in our thoughts, that we don’t recognise it because we are clinging onto our concept of love?

Do you recognise and connect to the love that is all around you, here and NOW?

Love and connection just like happiness are internal experiences they have little to do with external situations, they are nurtured in awareness and this is absolutely an ongoing process, not a final destination we reach.

I wholeheartedly encourage you to bring awareness to your concept of love, to grow in awareness and understanding of yourself, so that you can take responsibility for what you bring to your relationships and contribute to our world.

Please share your experiences with us in the comments as we learn and grow together.

May the light of awareness shine in our lives and allow us to see the love that is all around us, here and NOW.

Namaste,

Bianca

P.S. If you are ready to embrace yourself and nurture your relationships with awareness please consider joining us for the Nurturing Relationships online series

A Summer Pause

Pausing seems to be a theme for me this summer and pausing gives me time to ponder. These days when I ponder I am drawn to look within, I reflect on the vision I have for my life, I reflect on the importance of self-care, and I smile as I reflect on all the blessings of life.

In this midst of my pausing and pondering an “Ode to Summer” has emerged.

 

As Summer builds, I slow down…

A smile grows to replace a frown.

I sit and I breathe deeply… 

I pause and take the time to ponder,

I close my eyes and I start to wonder…..

At times the heat, it gets to me…

Until I remember to just smile and be.

I sit and I sip slowly…

I look within, I see a light,

It’s always there shining bright…..

I look and see the sea turn wild,

With eyes wide open just like a child.

I sit and I smile broadly…

The thunder rolls, lightning does crash,

In pours the rain with forceful splash…..

As evening falls, cicadas sing,

Another special Summer “thing”.

I sit and I sigh deeply…

The season is Summer, the time is NOW,

My heart full of gratitude, I take a deep bow…..

Do you have an Ode to Summer (or any other season) that you’d like to share?

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A Summer of Self Care

Each season provides us with valuable reminders about living in greater harmony with nature and embracing the natural rhythms of life. For me, Summer is the Season of Self Care.

What is self-care?

For me self-care is the intention and consequent action to foster wellbeing of oneself, to embrace oneself with awareness, to accept the truth of who we are. In essence self-care is about cultivating a friendship with oneself.

Why is self-care important?

Becoming a mother to two beautiful daughters has inspired me to ask the question – what is the legacy that I want to pass on to my children and to the world around me? How do I want to experience life and how will I be able to give the best of myself to my children and to others?

The answer for me has centred around taking responsibility for my own wellbeing and happiness. In fact I have come to see that taking responsibility is the BIGGEST responsibility in life.  I have seen that it is in showing rather than telling my children how to care for themselves that they are learning to cultivate the practice of self-care. This is not something I have grown up with or that I have inherited from past generations in my family, and in the past I certainly have not been a friend to myself. But self-care has become an essential part of the way I live my life today.

In my experience I have found that self-care ensures I can give the best of myself and fully shine my light into the world. If I can be the best version of myself and light the way for others, then I am on track to leave a beautiful legacy in the world. For me self-care is not so much about “what” I do but “how” and “why” I do it. We each have a multitude of opportunities each and every day to practice self-care, it does not need to be an “additional” job we need to find time for, but self-care does take commitment, patience and persistence.

Cultivating a practice of self-care

If you reflect on what it takes to cultivate a friendship, you will be on the right track to developing an understanding of what it takes to cultivate self-care.

How do you cultivate a friendship?

For me, there are 3 key aspects of cultivating a friendship:

  1. You invest time getting to know someone;
  2. You listen with presence and without judgement; and
  3. You are honest, you speak kind words and give your love and acceptance unconditionally.

When we practice self-care, it’s the same….except that someone else is you 🙂

 

Not sure where to begin with the practice of self-care this Summer?

Here are 5 of my favourite ways to cultivate a friendship with and nurture myself in the Summer months.

1. Keep Hydrated – Sit and Sip – our bodies are at least 65% water, we need water to maintain vital organ function and optimal wellbeing, keeping hydrated is essential in the Summer months. Water is wonderful (filtered or fresh from a clean source is best), add a slice of lemon or lime or some mint leaves for great flavour, a spoonful of chia gel will also help to keep you cool. Here we have a great daily opportunity for self-care – each time you drink a glass of water, pause, sit with yourself and remember that this is a way that you care for yourself, give thanks for the water that is easily accessible to us, I like to remind myself at least once a day to “Sit and Sip”.

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2. Pause and Ponder  – When we pause, the mind becomes still and we pay attention to the moments of life. Pausing provides an important balance to the intensity of the fire element in Summer and to the often habitual “busy-ness” of daily life, it is an opportunity to be with yourself, to invest time in cultivating that friendship with yourself. Sometimes it helps to have a focus when we pause – you can light a candle, watch the moon, gaze at the sea, draw, write in a journal, pause in the shade and lay on the earth, take time to meditate (perhaps you might like to join us for Monday Meditations). If you are still not sure about pausing, you might like to read my post A Pause is Powerful.

3. Breathe fully and consciously – a powerful tool for any season, use your breath to keep calm and cool this summer – try this it actually works!! Pause and spend a few minutes each day paying attention to the breath, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed, “rushed” and overheated. Simply feel the breath moving and out of the nostrils. You will begin to notice that there is a little pause after each inhalation and after every exhalation. Paying attention to these pauses returns us to a place of calm, and peace and cools us down.

4. Eat for the seasonSummer is a time to “lighten up”. Foods and flavours for summer are ideally light, fresh, cooling, dispersing, soothing, calming. Each time we eat or drink we have an opportunity to practice self-care but choosing what we put into the body, we also have an opportunity to pause, to give thanks for the food and drink we have, to give thanks to this amazing body that enables our experience of life. Some of my favourites in summer are bitter foods, raw salads, sprouts, vegetable juices, smoothies, lots of leafy green herbs and I love including cooling, soothing hydrating ingredients such as coconut, aloe vera, chia gel, cucumber and combinations of chamomile, dandelion and peppermint or fresh ginger and lemongrass (for cooling teas on a hot summers day). Adding in some high quality protein is also important to help me stay grounded and focused.

What are your favourite foods and flavours in Summer?

5. Get in touch with yourself – Sometimes it is easier to take time out for yourself if you have an “activity” or “something to do” – Summer is the perfect time for the practice of simple self-massage for the face and body. You have an opportunity to send love and care to yourself whenever you touch your body – do you embrace this opportunity? Self-massage is a great way to reconnect with yourself. Don’t be afraid to explore and nurture your body, think of all the amazing things your body does for you each and every day! Trust your touch, find the perfect fit, your intention is the key to a nurturing experience. The practice of Yoga and Qi Gong (in particular the Radiant Lotus Women’s Qi Gong practice) has been am empowering way for me to be more confident in getting in touch with myself.

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What are your favourite ways to cultivate self-care? 

Do you need support in cultivating a practice of self-care?

I will be posting regular reminders on the Share, Grow and Heal Facebook page to support you to embrace self-care and I would love to hear about your experiences and journey with self-care along the way.

Remember……

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Creating a Vision for An Extraordinary Quality of Life

And so 2014 is coming to an end and, we are about to welcome in a New Year, a new beginning. For me it is an ideal time to reflect upon the vision I have for my life and what it means to live an extraordinary quality of life.

How do you prepare for the transition to a New Year?

Are you in the habit of making New Years Resolutions? Do you stick with your resolutions?

Do you have a vision for your life?

As I reflect on my vision for my life I keep coming back to an important point, one that has transformed my experience of life. And that point is…..We are each responsible for the quality of our life and for our experience of happiness or suffering.

What was your experience of life in 2014? I encourage you to take a few moments to reflect upon this.

What are the words you would use to describe the year?

Have you ended the year where you wanted to be?

Is it a surprise to see where you are today?

Are you dismayed to find you are experiencing the same conflicts and challenges just like you were last year…..and the year before?

How do you feel about your experiences within your relationships?

Is there any relationship that needs to be nurtured or healed?

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I have come to realise that any changes that I want to see or feel in life need to begin with me and I believe it’s the same for you.

Do you have a vision for your life?

A vision guides your life, a vision gives you strength and reminds you of your purpose in times of challenge and let’s face it there will be challenges in life, a vision helps you to hang in there until the next step becomes clear.

I didn’t realise just how important a vision was until recently and I was surprised to find that I was living without a vision, that in many ways I was waiting for life to happen around me without being an active participant and playing my part in the web of life.

My mentors at the One World Academy have opened my eyes to a new understanding of what a vision is and what it means to live an extraordinary quality of life.

A vision is not about what you want to achieve, it’s not the same as having goals, it is more than just making New Years resolutions. A vision is more about how you want to experience life, how you want to interact with others and experience relationships, the contribution you want to make in the world, rather than what “success” you want to achieve, the holidays you want to take, the amount of money you want to earn…..

Please don’t get me wrong, it is fine to have goals, make resolutions, to be successful and celebrate your achievements. However, we often prioritise external growth, accumulation and goals at the expense of our inner growth and paying attention to the moments of life. Often we don’t live our life with the understanding that happiness is a choice that we each need to make and that we are the creators of our destiny.

I sincerely believe this is worth our time and energy to cultivate a vision for living a beautiful life. For me creating a vision increases and enhances the passion and purpose you experience in life and what the world needs is more people living with passion and purpose.

What creates an extraordinary quality of life?

Is it a successful career? Is it earning a huge income? Is it having dream house full of the latest designs and gadgets? Is it travelling all over the world? Is it having the perfect partner and children? Is it achieving perfect health?

All of these situations can change in a moment…..so what then?

What if we lose our successful career, if we can’t find the perfect partner, if our children don’t live up to our expectations, if our house is destroyed by fire, if our income decreases or disappears?

Does this mean that we won’t be able to experience an extraordinary quality of life and that happiness will elude us?

Are the world’s richest people the happiest people? Are the world’s poorest people the unhappiest?

What does it mean to live an extraordinary quality of life?

For me it is about how we experience life, rather than what we do, have or achieve in life. To live an extraordinary quality of life is about experiencing connection, ease, peace, calm, joy, happiness and acceptance of yourself and others. You realise you are a part of the web of life and you take responsibility for your choices and actions.

I have come to see that an extraordinary quality of life is not dependent on external circumstances…..rather it’s entirely dependent on internal circumstances, that is, my state of mind, my inner environment.  Living an extraordinary quality of life does not mean I will not have challenges, but I am more able to handle and rise above those challenges. Living an extraordinary quality of life is much more than merely enjoying life, it is about having a beautiful impact on those around you, it is about contributing peace, love, tolerance, understanding, joy and connection to our world…..and I believe that this is what our world needs most. Living an extraordinary quality of life has only become possible through the creation of a vision for my life.

I will ask you again….

Do you have a vision for your life? Do you have a vision for your relationships?

Roman philosopher Seneca once said,

“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable”

It’s the same when we live without a vision…..how will you know which direction to take, which opportunities will lead you in the direction you are seeking? Will you be inspired to even try to live a beautiful life, to create beautiful relationships?

Creating a vision for your life comes from the understanding that we are each responsible for our own happiness and experience of life and that we live in an interconnected world where we impact life around us every moment.

We are all one – so what you do for yourself, you do for the world, how you choose to live, impacts others.

Does this inspire you to create a vision to experience an extraordinary quality of life or to reflect on your concept of living with a vision?

Creating a vision is an opportunity to create a beautiful destiny!!

A vision to live a happy life, to experience peace and joy, to cultivate and express gratitude becomes a gift that we can give to the world, we can choose the legacy we want to leave behind. It’s an opportunity too good to pass up!

An important aspect of creating a vision is to know yourself, to look within. In this link I share with you a guided meditation to deepen your awareness of the experience of happiness in life.

I wholeheartedly encourage you to create a vision for all aspects of your life, particularly your relationships – see yourself living a beautiful life and leaving a beautiful legacy in the world. 

Are you ready to look within and create a beautiful vision for your life? Please let me know if I can support you on your journey.

Wishing you a peaceful and joyful end to 2014 and many beautiful new beginnings in 2015.

Namaste, Bianca

P.S. As you are creating your intentions and vision for your life you may like to consider joining me for the Freedom in Living 7-day retreat at the One World Academy in 2015. This is an incredible opportunity to reconnect to your passion and purpose in life and to experience a beautiful new consciousness. 

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Summer – A Season for Self-Care

Summer where I live can be a tumultuous time. The humidity rises, sweat starts to pour, tempers can get a little frayed but then the clouds begin to roll in, thunder booms and lightning crashes…..the rain begins and there is relief. Other days the rain doesn’t come, but a chorus of cicadas and the sound of the sea soothes the feelings of heat and remind me to embrace where I am and the many beautiful blessings of summer.

What about you? What does Summer mean for you?

I love to honour seasonal transitions during the year and pay attention to the themes of each season. I believe that when we pay attention to the seasons, when we observe our local environment and when we look within it helps us to foster a connection with our environment, helps us to align our diet and activities and reminds us that there is a season for everything, that life is a series of seasons and transitions and that we are a part of the web of life, not separate from it.

The Summer Solstice

The traditional beginning of summer is marked by the Summer Solstice – a celebration that reminds me to reflect and give thanks for the gifts we are given each day by the light and energy of the sun. It is also a time of the year when I am drawn to reflect upon the light that lies within us all.

I was born near the Summer Solstice so perhaps this is why this is such a poignant time for me to reflect and remember.  As I reflected on another year of my life that has passed, something stood out very clearly to me. If there is one thing that I have learnt that has helped to transform my experience of life, it is this – that I am responsible for my experience of life, for the quality and for the contribution I make to this world. We are each responsible for this. I have learnt that there is a light that shines within me – others may have told me this but it took a while for me to see it – and to know there is an amazing depth, strength and potential.

This light is not only in me, it is in each of us and I am so blessed to be touched by the light of so many radiant beings. I have learnt that peace, love, and joy are possible and that they begin with me, however I can’t just merely wish for the world to be more peaceful, loving and joyful – I need to be that peace, to embody that love and feel and share that joy.

I have also learnt that my light shines into the world more brightly when I take responsibility to care for myself – I see this in others also, the greater the care and self-awareness, the greater the light and impact a person radiates into the world.

Summer for me is a season to embrace stillness, to go a little slower, to revisit and embrace the practice of self-care, to renew my intent for the upcoming year and to refocus my vision to live a beautiful life and contribute to this world.

The energy of Summer

The beginning of summer is associated with the fire element in Tradition Chinese Medicine. Fire has an intense, passionate and creative energy that many of us feel in summer, but left unchecked fire can destroy and exhaust all that it consumes. Feeling the heat begin to rise in summer, feeling the intensity of fire within and without gives me yet another reminder that self-care will ensure I enjoy the potential of summer without being exhausted by its intensity.

How do we develop a practice of self-care?

One of the first things to embrace is the idea that self-care is essential, and that self-care not only supports your wellbeing but it supports the wellbeing of others around you. Consider this – when are you most sensitive, most compassionate and loving towards others? Is it when you’ve been run off your feet, focused on the needs of everyone else, desperately wanting to make your mark on the world, desperately trying to help an important cause? Or is it when you are feeling peace and calm within, when you are well rested, when your body, mind and spirit are nourished? If we truly want to give to others, if we truly want to contribute to a more beautiful world then we need to begin with caring for ourselves.

Please ask yourself….

What would a summer of self-care look like for me?

Do I value self-care and incorporate it into my life?

What acts of self-care do I already embrace?

What challenges me about practicing self-care?

It is my deepest wish that we each come to know ourselves and appreciate the light that lies within us all. May this light shine fully into this beautiful world, and may we acknowledge the light of others. Life is a precious gift, we are touched each day by precious moments and we each have an opportunity to give precious gifts in return to our world – our light, our gratitude, our love, our awareness, our calm and our peace. May we each take responsibility for our life, for practicing self-care and for our contribution to the world.

Do you need support with creating a practice of self-care? Please let me know I’d love to support you on your journey.

In an upcoming post I will share some of my favourite ways to practice self-care and I will also be sharing regular reminders on the Share, Grow and Heal Facebook page.

May your beautiful light shine brightly in the world.

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A Pause is Powerful

A pause is powerful, this I know

So why is it that I resist it so?

What will I see, and feel and hear?

That brings me to a place of fear?

But still I choose to pause, and be kind,

To myself, and whatever I may find.

Are in you in the habit of taking time to pause regularly?

Do you know how powerful a pause can be?

I’ll be honest and say that I am in the habit of telling people how important it is to pause but in reality I don’t always heed this advice myself. Recently, I was reminded of just how profound, powerful and simple a pause can be.

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The time of bleeding is often a wonderful barometer of how I am handling the ebb and flow of life and of the level of attention I am paying to my internal environment. The bleeding phase of my cycle for me is also the most powerful time to pause (if you are a male reading this I also believe there is a cyclic rhythm that impacts males too).

In the past couple of months I have not honoured the need to pause as much as I knew was needed. At times there is a fear of discovering some “inconvenient truth” that I will then be faced with acting upon, so I avoid the pause. But when a feeling of deep fatigue, resentment and aching began to arise I knew it was pause or panic….and the panic is never pretty for me or those around me.

So after a little resistance I chose to pause, I told my daughters I needed some quiet time and I went to my yoga mat and bolster to sit, to breathe, to reflect and to stretch my body. That’s it, nothing fancy.

I began by observing where the breath was restricted, what areas where calling my attention. In no time at all I was reminded of the sublime experience of consciously feeling the breath moving into and out of the body, of how the very act of breathing with attention can relieve a deep aching. Thoughts started to flow, creative ideas that I had been waiting for but were as yet not forthcoming…..I had pencil and paper handy and felt a flow of words and a return of calm.

I always find that after a few minutes of settling into the body, of allowing my thoughts, of observing breath, body and mind, that I begin to “remember”. This time it was several yoga poses that are beneficial for me, other times I remember a food, some herbs (last time it was nettle) or a sage piece of advice….and I smile “Ah yes, this is what I need”. The initial resistance gone I am able to just sit, breathe and be in the beautiful space of NOW.

Being in the NOW meant I could hear the ocean lapping in my ears and feel it washing over my body, I could hear the symphony of cicadas reminding me that I am not alone, the sound of my daughters voices was no longer “too loud” or “demanding” but a joyful reminder of the light they shine into my life and of the consideration they had shown me. I smiled as I felt a gentle breeze waft over my skin and I was reminded about the love and care I now show to my body when previously I was not able to do so.

I see that my resistance to pausing is rooted in fear. The thoughts arise – am I being lazy – what will people think of me? Am I letting down my children, being an irresponsible parent? Am I selfish to want to pause, to need a break? What happens if I stop and drop my bundle then can’t pick it all up and getting going again? What value am I if I am not doing? Of course these fears are all a creation of my mind.

Perhaps some of these thoughts resonate with you.

I have come to see this fear for what it is and it no longer paralyses me, I acknowledge that I continue to push on at times seeking affirmation of my value from others by “doing” and I know that almost always I am my harshest judge.

A pause is like giving yourself the gift of nothing…..and everything. For me…..

The act of conscious breathing, becomes the gift of an internal massage I give to myself.

The act of consciously pausing, becomes the gift of kindness and patience I give to myself.

The act of consciously bringing attention to my thoughts without judgement, becomes the gift of friendship I bestow upon myself.

The act of consciously laying my hands on my body and feeling the energy flow, becomes the gift of nurturing touch I give to myself.

So you see, this is how I know a pause is powerful….not to mention the ripples that are created for the rest of the day.

“It is worth doing nothing and having a rest”

Taking a pause is as much about self-care and self-awareness as it is about looking after others, the adage “what we do for ourselves, we do for the whole world” holds true here. When we pause we are able to recognise the impact we have on others and what it is we need to be our best and to be able to serve others….what the world needs is people who are aware of themselves and the impact they have on the world around them and who take responsibility for this.

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If you are thinking “but I don’t have time to pause, to rest, to reflect right now”, “it’s such a busy time” then this is the perfect opportunity to begin your practice.

It is worth doing nothing and having a rest; in spite of all the difficulty it may cause, you must rest, Vasco — otherwise you will become RESTLESS! I believe the world is sick with exhaustion and dying of restlessness. ~ Michael Leunig

What will your breath, your body, your very being tell you when you pause and look within? Where will your attention be directed? Will you have the courage to act upon what you see and what you come to know in your heart?

We live in a time of instant gratification, instant feedback and this can make the concept and the practice of pausing seem daunting – to pause asks that we adopt a slower pace, that we may not always see the path ahead, that the answers may not always be instantly apparent and that above all else we will need to (re)learn that we can trust in ourselves.

Are you ready to take that pause? What will a pause look like for you?

May you be deeply nourished by your next and every after pause.

P.S. If you have not read “A letter from Mr. Curly to Vasco Pyjama” in “The Curly Pyjama Letters” by Michael Leunig I highly recommend it.