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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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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Spring Wellbeing

Sometimes we need to see a reason for making a change and for taking action. For me, my wellbeing enables me to give back to the world, my wellbeing helps me to care for my family, my wellbeing allows me to cultivate a beautiful life.

I urge you to consider this for yourself – your health and wellbeing have a ripple effect on your family and your community. Your health and wellbeing allows you to make beautiful contributions to the world. Your wellbeing is the world’s wellbeing. And, that is what embracing the energy of the seasons is all about.

Will you embrace the emerging energy of Spring?

Spring is a delightful season – a season of possibilities, of new beginnings, of taking action. It is a time when we often feel the need to start afresh and “clean out” physically, mentally, emotionally and/or spiritually. I always feel an urge to get rid of old things, declutter my internal and external spaces and to take action on my winter’s introspection. I also usually feel an urge to eat a bit lighter, add more vegetables and raw foods into my diet (especially greens), and let my body detox a bit.

To understand the energy of Spring I look to one of my favourite teachers – nature. What do I see? There is abundant growth, new life is emerging, the days are warmer, longer and lighter.  We are not separate from the natural world and it is empowering to realise that he very same process happens within us – we all have the potential to grow, bloom and be renewed.

What does this inspire in you?

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When I think about embrace the emerging energy of Spring* I think about clearing and cleansing.

I love to clear out the old in my internal and external spaces and make way for the new.  

*If you live in the Northern Hemisphere Autumn is also a wonderful time for cleansing and clearing, for further information please contact me and I will email you a copy of my article “Autumn Reflections”

Why cleanse?

Cleansing and detoxing are becoming popular and widely talked about – I will use the terms interchangeably. You may ask do I really need to cleanse? It’s a question I ask myself.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine Spring is associated with the Liver and Gall Bladder – these are organs of detoxification and elimination. Other holistic health systems such as Ayurveda and Naturopathy also recognize the benefit of periodic cleansing to support the bodies innate self-healing capacities and optimal wellbeing.

It is a reality in today’s world that fast paced living, environmental pollution and suboptimal nutrient intake for most people mean that our liver and other organs of detoxification and elimination are overburdened and in need of extra support and periodic rest.

For me, Spring is the perfect time of the year to emerge from the heaviness of winter, to support the liver and focus on releasing and clearing out on all levels – it’s like an inner imperative arises that won’t take no for an answer!

Usually when people think about cleansing they think about food, so let’s start there. Below are some of the foods I like to favour during Spring. I highly recommend you consult with a wellness practitioner for further suggestions and individualized support (this is particularly important if you are overweight or have a pre-existing health condition).

Foods to favour

  • Locally grown, organic, biodynamic and chemical free foods nourish the body best in any season.
  • Spring eating should be light, with a greater focus on raw foods. A great time for salads; fresh vegetable juices; or warm soups and salads (when the weather is still cool).
  • Flavours such as bitter and sour help stimulate the liver and gallbladder. Starting the day with fresh lemon juice in warm water is an excellent tonic.
  • Focus on green foods especially fast growing greens and herbs. Nettle, kale, broccoli, parsley, and coriander are excellent choices for spring cleansing.
  • Cut down on (avoid where possible) alcohol; processed foods; excess fats especially hydrogenated vegetable oils; salty and heavy food.
  • Cooking methods for spring include stir-fry or steaming.
  • Re-think breakfast – start your day with steamed vegetables, homemade miso soup, a smoothie or vegetable juice.
  • Add organic herbal teas to your daily menu – my favourites for spring include dandelion, calendula, nettle, peppermint, and chamomile or try a delicious combo using common household ingredients such as fresh ginger, turmeric, rosemary and lemon.

To get you started here is a simple food based detox plan that I like to use.

But is there more to Spring Cleansing?

An optimal diet is very important for cleansing and wellbeing but alone it’s not enough. Our thoughts create our reality and it is hard to achieve wellbeing and vitality even with the best diet if you sabotage yourself with judgemental thoughts and use food as a way to punish yourself, rather than nourish yourself. Research has shown that we can influence the wiring of our brains, our habitual responses and even the receptor sites on our cells by the quality and consistency of our thoughts! (Have you seen the movie What the Bleep Do We Know?)

From my own personal experience there is nothing so disillusioning than eating an amazing diet only to find that you don’t feel so amazing. For me bringing awareness to my thoughts has been an essential part of self-care and healing.

The need to cleanse or detox does not mean that we are “unclean”, to me detoxing is about embracing the self-healing capacity of our amazing bodies. We deserve vitality and wellness, not merely an absence of disease – the good news is that each and every one of us has the capacity for this! Let’s help the body by choosing the best foods possible, minimizing toxins going in and embracing supportive lifestyle practices – see this as a way of loving yourself, you deserve this.

Making your spring cleanse holistic

When I approach spring cleansing or a detox I focus on a lot more than just food. You might like to consider some of these:

Meditation – spend time each day in quiet reflection, set your intention for your cleanse and revisit this regularly, allow yourself some quiet time when you are cleansing, minimize external activities where possible and focus on releasing and rejuvenating your mind, body and spirit – this is particularly helpful if strong emotions such as anger, frustration, and irritability arise, take time to observe these emotions and get to know the thoughts that underlie them.

Add organic superfoods to your day – there are many detox supplements and superfood products on the market but my preferred supplements during a spring cleanse are these certified organic superfood powders.

Breathing – did you know you can eliminate up to 70% of toxins via the breath!! The breath is always with us, so let’s embrace its full potential. I spend time each day bringing awareness the breath, and during Spring like to make the exhalation twice as longer as inhalation, begin with 2 in 4 out and build up to 5 in 10 out. Try for 5-10 minutes each day.

Abdominal massage – one of my favourite self-care practices. This helps to relax tension and stimulate digestion and bowel movements. Best done on an empty stomach in the morning or before bed at night and make sure you follow the direction of the colon.

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Qi-gong and Yoga regular practice of qi-gong and/or yoga is highly beneficial to support the body during a cleansing process. If you like to practice at home I highly recommend the DVD Qi-Gong for Cleansing by Francesco and Daisy Lee Garripoli.

Minimise exposure to toxins – does it make sense to you to work on cleansing the body if you are still exposing yourself to toxins, even applying them to your skin? Skin care, body products and household products can contribute a significant amount of toxins to our daily life. Become informed about how to read labels and be a conscious consumer or make your own. Miessence products are my choice to support daily wellbeing and enhance the effectiveness of any detox or cleansing program.

Maximise your time in nature – breathe in fresh clean air, swim in the sea or a fresh water stream, contemplate the seasonal changes you see in nature, let nature be your teacher too.

Embracing the emerging energy of Spring – Are you ready? Are you willing? Are you still unsure?

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I wholeheartedly encourage you to reflect upon these questions, and as you do bring awareness to your thoughts and take note of what you observe:

Are health, wellbeing and fulfilment priorities for me?

What is stopping me from starting afresh and cleaning out my internal and external spaces?

What is stopping me from starting a new project?

What is holding me back from realising my dreams?

What is it that I want in my life?

 

Until one is committed,

There is always hesitancy,

The chance to drawback,

Always ineffectiveness……..

Whatever you can do,

Or dream you can,

Begin it.

Boldness has genius, power and
magic in it.

Begin it now.

(Johann Wolfgang Goethe)

 

How will you embrace the emerging energy of Spring? 

Remember, your wellbeing is the world’s wellbeing.

 

To support your journey this Spring I offer you with love this short meditation session.

Wishing you happy, healthy and fulfilling days to come.