Category Archives: Potential

A simple tool to retrain our brains to focus

brainfocus

I love variety. While, after 13 years doing this work, I still don’t have a ‘typical’ day, some of my favourites include a mixture of different types of work. Writing, teaching a yoga class, seeing a few clients, even doing a little admin.

And I know lots of people who’d much rather have specific client days, teaching days, writing days. Even with my love of mixing it up, it’s easy to get carried away with bite sized jobs and lose focus.

Grouping similar tasks together helps and a little tool I came across via Marie Forleo (click HERE for her video) has been pretty revolutionary.

There’s a part of me that hates the word ‘focus’. I’ve always been drawn to different things and remember being told ‘focus, focus, focus’ from the age of 10.

I’ve created a business (feelbettereveryday.co.uk and my journalism and writing) which allows me to indulge my curiosity and interest in a wide range of areas. Having said that (and a part of me still cringes writing this), focusing on one thing at a time is important.

I’m a little embarrassed to say that only after seeing Marie’s video did I realise that turning the notifications on my phone onto silent was an option. Amazing. I still check my phone many, many times a day but I do so when I choose to as opposed to it being such a Pavlovian response to a ping.

Even better is her idea of a ‘Onesie’. Writing down one thing that really must be done. I’ve always depended on my desk diary (I used to call it my ‘brain’) and typically number the tasks for the following day so I can hit the ground running when I start work and move through them in a logical order.

Marie’s ‘Onesie’ idea goes further. Rather than having the most important task of the day get lost in all the other items on your list, you write it down, as a verb.

For example, mine today is to DRAFT ____ COLUMN. Another day, it might be to draft another feature or column or to research something or even to read such and such. I don’t have to leave for clients and teaching for a while and having this, in large letters, right next to my computer means I won’t have to reschedule it. In 13 years’ as a freelance journalist, I’ve always been ahead of deadline but this extra focus really helps me.

For years, I’ve marked actual appointments, like teaching or seeing clients and supervisees, in a different colour ink (I use a third colour for social and fun things). They naturally stand out.

But Marie’s ‘Onesie’ approach is brilliant for the type of thing that takes more headspace than lots of other items but is important.

Personally speaking, I now write my ‘Onesie’ for the next workday as I tidy my desk at the end of the previous workday. I pop it under my computer and then I don’t even need to ponder the most important task for the day in the morning as it’s ready to go next to my computer and remind me to (gaaaggghh – I still have some resistance) focus until I’ve completed it.

Have you tried this?

 How did you find it?

What else helps you focus?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Have you given up on your new year’s resolutions?

Have you given up on your new years resolutions

 

Tomorrow (there truly is a day for everything) is Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day.

How does reading that make you feel? Are there some resolutions you’ve not stuck to but that you’re not ready to ditch? Maybe others are old standby resolutions you, deep down, have no intention of ever sticking to but feel you ‘should’ make each year?

Notice how your energy rises or falls as you ponder each resolution and decide which ones to maybe tweak (or gleefully ditch!). Honour where you are sticking to them, too.

If you’re feeling especially brave, you might want to involve others. Often, they can see, with blinding clarity, what we keep missing about ourselves.

What do they see us doing to sabotage our attempts to change that we’ve not even noticed?

Opening ourselves up to feedback can feel vulnerable (do choose who to open up to carefully) yet others’ insights could potentially save us remaking – and failing at – the same new year’s resolutions for years to come.

How do you feel about asking loved ones to weigh in on your resolutions?

What’s the most helpful feedback you’ve received from someone else?

What might support you handle tougher feedback? How might you ask for it to be delivered in a gentle and respectful way?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

 

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

What’s your vision for a better 2017?

VisionBoardblog

 

Happy New Year!

I’ve written so much about vision boards over the years, I’ve decided to keep this Really Simple (but, as with everything, YOU know yourself best so adapt accordingly):

  1. Spend some time gathering images and words that you feel drawn to. No need to judge or censor at this point, simply gather them together
  2. Ponder some of your goals and hopes for the year ahead. You may want to think about different areas of your life such as work, relationships, health, fitness, home, money, the world at large, your communities, travel, long held (or new) dreams, what your spirit needs – whatever crops up for you
  3. Stick the images and words down in a way that pleases you. I use a big canvas and glue. You might prefer cardboard and tape.
  4. Play with your design. The most important part of this whole endeavor is that it inspires YOU
  5. As you can see from my censored version of my latest above, apart from apparently wanting to become an elephant, I’ve written down each as if it were already the case. I like the affirmation starter ‘I am so happy and grateful that…’ so pop that on a bigger note near the top
  6. I scatter the other goals around the board, sometimes near images or words I’ve cut out that feel relevant
  7. On another larger note near the bottom, ‘Thanks for all this or something better’
  8. Play with it until you’re happy with it. Know nothing’s set in stone and it will evolve as you do
  9. Steve Harvey says he’s had words from his embroidered on clothes he sees each day. The more we can remind ourselves of our aims, the more likely we are to take practical steps towards them. I have a picture of mine on my laptop as well as the original hanging on the wall in World HQ (my teeny home office)

Have you created a vision board before?

What did you learn from it?

Have you done one for this year?

Feel free to share pics of yours in the comments below.

Wishing you a wondrous 2017 filled with all good things!

love,

Eve

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

What glass ceiling are you ready to crack?

I love this video so much. So hopeful.

While Hillary is of course flawed (like all of us, she’s a human being), she’ll make a brilliant US President.

But whatever your politics, man, woman or however you identify, while maybe not making history, what springs to mind as a glass ceiling you want to crack then break through?

How can you make it safer for yourself to do so? What supports can you put in place to minimise cuts from the broken glass (not all of us have Hillary’s resilience!)?

How can you (like Hillary’s address to the little girls watching, encouraging them to believe in themselves) light the way or offer a helping hand to those coming up after you?

Also, how can you support yourself when it feels like you’ll never make it? When it’s just all too much, too hard?

The Olympics start again soon and we’ll be swept up in athlete’s triumph, never fully understanding all the sacrifices they’ve made to become the best in their fields.

Hillary Clinton has been at this for a long time.  We have more of an idea of some of the challenges she’s faced.

What challenges did you think you’d never recover from?

With hindsight being 20/20, can you see some that actually did make you stronger?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

butterflysiglogo

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

What to dooooooo? Working with our shadows

2015-08-04 11.43.10

What can we do to avoid historian’s predictions of Holocaust-like-history repeating itself? As individuals? How can we tap into the loving, expansive, inclusive, generous parts of ourselves and humanity instead of giving into fear and loathing?

Yes, there are petitions and demonstrations.

But what about the rest of our lives? The gazillions of thoughts and beliefs we rarely even notice but which contribute to our experience and the way we relate to others?

Apart from sending Metta to places we feel helpless around, we can take a look at our own shadow stuff.

I read an interesting piece by Deepak Chopra today on Donald Trump being a manifestation of America’s shadow.

We all have our shadow aspects and they’re not easy to recognise when we’re caught up in them.

Just as we all have the potential to do amazing things with our one, precious life, we could find ourselves in unimaginable circumstances and be capable of the worst, least imaginable acts.

When we notice them, we can integrate them by owning what we’ve been repressing in ourselves and projecting onto the other.

Something we can all do is pause before posting or speaking or lashing out in any way.

Notice where our shadow might be in that moment.

Who are we most angry with right now?

What does he or she represent to us?

What hidden aspects of ourselves resonates with what they’re doing?

How does it feel to own that feeling? To acknowledge that at some point, we’ve all felt homicidal?

Again, I’m not at all advocating acting on such feelings. Oddly, making this more conscious means we’re less likely to act out aggressively. 

It can be scary.

I’m a pacifist by nature. I wish we could all just get along. We’re all the same. Where we were born had nothing to do with us. Hippie, peace, love, blah…

Years ago, I learned that trying to send peace and love to people who were annoying me was, frankly, beyond me. I think Metta’s wonderful but even that varies day to day. This was years ago and I eventually realised that owning the fury, the rage, the anger and the despair was freeing.

Obviously, I’m not talking about acting on any of this. But recognising however we’re feeling and letting that be OK actually enables the feelings to move through us more quickly than when we try to deny them.

So writing this, thinking about certain politicians and their seemingly bullyish ways, I can either judge them and pretend it’s all about them or be open to acknowledging that bully part of myself.

The part that I don’t want to acknowledge I have yet that I realise of course I do, otherwise it wouldn’t upset me so much to see it in others.

Once I’ve done this, I can better see how I am connected to, for example, a politician. Or someone who votes differently to me. Or a terrorist. Or a serial killer. Or someone who puts his or her feet on the seats on public transport. Or child or animal abuser. Or any number of people I don’t want to think I have anything in common with.

As with everything, it’s a practice. But the more I do this, the less likely I am to add fuel to the emotional fires of the world right now with mean, small minded, unpleasant posts (I’m deleting A Lot).

Embracing our shadows not only helps us integrate and be more whole ourselves but we’re better able to reach out to others with compassion and kindness.

And this depends on us embracing our shadows (rather than beating ourselves up for not being saints, having said shadows).

Who are you most angry with right now? Who do you hate?

How does it feel to own that hatred and fury in yourself? (If a lot is coming up, you might want to work with a therapist – use all available support.)

Personally speaking, just through drafting this post, I’m feeling something closer to empathy for certain politicians than I’ve previously been able to feel.

How about you?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve x

butterflysiglogo

 

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Embodied decision making and Cicely Tyson

CicelyTysonEmbodiedDecision CicelyTyson

Now in her 90s, Cicely Tyson (pictured in The Help), told Oprah, in one of her Master Class programmes, that she bases her decisions around which roles to take on whether her skin tingles or her stomach churns.

Our bodies have so much wisdom for us when we learn to understand it.

For you, the signals may not be as easy to understand at first (practice really helps) but you may want to take a moment to think about a decision you have no regrets about and then a decision you knew wasn’t right for you.

What are you aware of in your body as you remember making these decisions?

Tingly skin and stomach churniness are just a couple of possibilities – you may have felt your heart lifting or sinking, nausea (personally speaking, when I started doing this about a decade ago, my good and bad decision signals were BOTH nausea but good had a butterfly feel to it whereas bad was pure sick to stomach. Most people’s are more easily differentiated), a heaviness, a lightness, warmth, cold… notice what YOU feel.

There are other ways to learn to understand your body’s signals but this is something you can potentially figure out for yourself, right now, if you just spend a few moments pondering both good and bad decision.

Feel free to let me know how you get on in the comments below:

How does your body let you know about good decisions?

And bad?

Have you ever ignored it?

What’s your top tip for working with this?

love,

Eve x

butterflysiglogo

 

 

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Wishing y’all the coolest of Yules and a very Happy Christmas 2015

2015-12-19 10.39.56

This Monday night / Tuesday morning, Yule (also known as the Winter Solstice in this hemisphere) gives me an excuse to start eating the delicious looking chocolate Yule Log I’ve been saving.

But more importantly than cake, it’s a great time of year to reflect on our inner selves, private lives, renewal and rebirth.

It’s a time to remember that darkness isn’t scary but a time of enormous growth below the surface. I love* Keats’ idea of ‘negative capability’. Cultivating a willingness to stay with the unknown rather than pushing for answers can allow greater creativity and progress.

Ideas around possibility and potential are really important at this time of year. We can allow ourselves to dream big for ourselves, shining light on our hopes.

Any kind of renewal also involves letting go so it’s a great time of year to release whatever’s no longer serving us (mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually and in any other way you can think of).

Letting go allows us to invite in the new.

It’s also a time of paradoxes as all this inward looking quiet energy is countered by all the festivities of Christmas. Some people find themselves coming down with bugs because they’re burning the candle at both ends.

Quiet reflection may seem like a distant dream itself.

You know yourself best. Just take odd moments, when it suits you, to check in with yourself.

What are you most looking forward to about the coming week?

Have you got the balance right for yourself in terms of outward energy and time with others v quiet(er) time alone or with immediate family?

How can you honour loved ones you may especially grieve at this time of year?

What supports can you put in place so feel less overwhelmed with too many social commitments / isolated and lonely?

What are your favourite (Yule / Christmas / whatever holidays you celebrate around this time of year) traditions and rituals?

What are you going to do differently this year (maybe allowing yourself more time to think about what you want to do instead of being swept along in everyone else’s wishes?)?

What are your biggest dreams and goals at the moment?

Feel free to post in the comments below.

Cool Yule!

love,

Eve x

butterflysiglogo

 

*hypothetically – in reality, I often forget and have to remind myself that whatever is unfolding is unfolding and I just need to be patient a little longer (as with everything, it’s a practice)

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

My last yoga classes in 2015

SigEvieRainbow

While I can’t believe it’s nearly 2016, it IS. So I thought I’d flag the remaining classes I’m teaching in case you’d like to bring some extra peace into your festive period by joining one of my small, friendly yoga classes.

Or maybe you’d like to book yourself in for the New Year.

 

Focusing on emotional health and wellbeing as well as strength, stamina and flexibility, they’re ideal for beginners (all levels welcome). You can find out more about my teaching style here.

I currently have two more spaces for my Yule classes on Monday 21st and Tuesday 21st December.

And I’ll be teaching on the Monday and Tuesday between Christmas and New Year – a great time to think about what you’re ready to release as well as what you want to invite into your lives and practices for 2016 and beyond.

You can view the current class schedule here.

Also, after more than a year teaching a weekly yoga class on Wednesdays at 5.30pm at DS Fitness, this Wednesday (23rd) will be my last (unless I cover).

Big thanks to Mark, David and the rest of the staff and all my students there – you’ll be in very good hands with Mina who’ll be taking over in the New Year. And if you want to take some much needed time for yourself before Christmas Eve, hope to see you there this Wednesday (this can be booked via Reception at DS Fitness).

Any questions, do let me know.

love,

Eve x

butterflysiglogo

 

 

 

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Are you, generally, happy in your own skin?

Image courtesy of Alan Cunningham, 2014
Image courtesy of Alan Cunningham, 2014

I often reassure students and clients with arthritis and other painful conditions that it’s easier for us to be more embodied when we’re feeling strong, well, healthy, flexible and so on.

When we’re in pain, it makes sense that we might try to mentally escape our own bodies. But while it’s more challenging, the benefits make it worthwhile. Research shows that mindfulness helps reduce the symptoms of chronic pain conditions including headaches, fibromyalgia, back and neck pain (as well as stress, anxiety and depression). Best of all, when followed up four years later, participants were still reaping the benefits.

I was reminded of this recently when a chronic pain condition flared up for me. While aware of it (I upped my self-care, ate better, got more sleep and generally was a bit kinder to myself), the fact that I’d been doing lots of swimming, yoga and cycling in the run up meant a few painkillers (spread out appropriately) were all I needed.

The last time this had flared up, for the first time in years the painkillers hadn’t even dented the pain. I’d been back wanting to simply lie face down on the ground until it all went away. Standing upright took an enormous amount of effort.

Coming after years of managing it so well that I can teach yoga (albeit less dynamic) even with flare ups, it was a little disheartening but my mindfulness practice helped me understand that my self-care hadn’t been adequate in the run up and my body basically screamed at me as a way to remind me that I need to be more disciplined about my own self-care.

Because I’ve become friendlier with my own body through yoga and so on, I am better at quickly pausing to say, ‘OK, Body, what do you want from me? What do you need?’ Usually, it doesn’t need to scream at me because I’m mindful enough to heed the whispers and regular voice warnings.

I knew that a cold had meant I hadn’t been having my usual swims and this meant I hadn’t been cycling as much. It was actually great (with hindsight. It sucked at the time) to get the reminder about exercise being so healing and preventing pain.

During that bad flare up, I felt so sorry for myself, even though I was mindful of it not helping, I amped up my sugar and crisp intake (I’ll never give up chocolate and crisps but I feel better when they’re treats rather than meal replacements).

So lesson (for now, I’m human. Bound to forget and relearn again when I get complacent about it) learned.

What are your warning signs? 

Maybe you have a chronic pain condition with clear warning bells?

Maybe you’ve got to know your body’s stress signals? (An estimated 90% of GP visits are due to stress and stress symptoms exacerbating existing conditions) What tells you you need to amp up your self care?

Do you listen to your body’s whispers to guide you back on course or do you sometimes make it scream for attention?

What have you learned about your body that will help you put supports in place for the next time you feel vulnerable and less happily embodied?

What’s a nourishing, gentle and easy to implement treat you can soothe yourself with even on your most amoeba like days? (I genuinely start feeling like an amoeba if I don’t get my swims in.)

Feel free to comment below.

Trust your body.

Make friends with it.

Bionic medical advances aside, it’s the only one we get.

love,

Eve x

butterflysiglogo

 

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Dealing with life’s ‘Grr!’s by looking at some sticky shadow stuff

Rainbow investigating HER shadow side*

Rainbow MagnifiCat investigating HER shadow side

 

I’m seeing a lot of posts on Facebook about people defriending others due to political beliefs. I’m aware that my rate of deleting posts I’ve typed before publishing them has increased massively since last night, too (and am conscious that a friend joked about a secret tool they have to read deleted posts!).

So I thought I’d spend some time with my shadow today. Jung popularised the idea of our shadow selves, where we project what we’ve disowned in ourselves onto others (be they loved ones, colleagues, strangers, politicians or people from other parts of the world and religions).

The bad news is that this leads to much acting out unconsciously.

The good news is that by reclaiming those unloved aspects of ourselves, WE CAN HEAL. We literally become more whole.

Thinking about this in the pool today, I realised that one of my personal triggers is people blocking the lane in the swimming (it’s a verb) pool. They could be standing to chat in a million other places, my incensed thought processes rant, and there are so few places to swim…

And on a good day, I can smile to myself recognising that this little Grr may have more to do with me than with the thoughtless people chattering away (ditto people blocking doorways, cycle paths, putting feet on train seats etc – I could go on but will restrain myself).

I can ask myself if there may be (even a teeny tiny) part of myself that may be jealous of their casual oblivious approach to life? That maybe I can acknowledge that swanning through life with less consideration for others could potentially be more fun. And as soon as I can acknowledge that, yes, of course, there’s a thoughtless, oblivious aspect of my own personality, I suddenly feel far less bothered by the previously seemingly Evil Lane Blockers.

Sometimes, like today, as soon as I have that epiphany, they move away!

I have a tendency to be overly empathic sometimes, focusing more on others’ needs than my own. This can be a useful thing (in my work, for example) but I’ve also worked hard to dial it back in my personal life as it’s not helpful (or fun!).

By being aware of this shadow aspect to caring and empathy (RAGE towards thoughtless people who don’t give a ****), I’m better able (progress not perfection) to own my own stuff and have a much nicer swim / bike ride / train journey / life etc.

If I remained oblivious to my own shadow, I might act out (swimming violently to SPLASH said Evil Lane Blockers (I’m joking, they’re totally normal people, just like you and me) or even saying, ‘Excuse me!’ in a slightly passive aggressive way.

You get the picture…

What springs to mind when you think about the people and situations that irritate / infuriate you the most?

Think about who makes you go ‘Grr!’ (if you want to – this is not for the fainthearted. Our shadow aspects are parts of ourselves that we, at some stage, unconsciously deemed So Awful, we cut them off, burying them in the dark).

Does a particular person (known personally or maybe on social media or on TV – anyone at all) really trigger you?

If you were Really Honest with yourself, what might your irritation or anger be trying to tell you about an unclaimed shadow aspect of yourself?

I’d love to hear your thoughts (if you’re happy to share) so do feel free to use the Comments section below and let me know what makes you go Grr and what that means to you?

And, of course, if you’d like to explore this in more depth, do get in touch.

love,

Eve x

 

 

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail