Category Archives: Potential, purpose and meaning

Last weekend’s library workshop in Witham

afterworkshop

Thanks again to everyone who came to my first library event for 365 Ways to Feel Better: Self-care Ideas for Embodied Wellbeing and to Witham Library for hosting.

I wanted to share a taste of the tools from the book without (I know, a lot of my weirdness is there in the book) being too weird. So we started with a simple goal setting exercise moving on to some exercises that worked with the mind-body connection to boost confidence in the moment and while thinking about goals.

We also did some meditation and grounded the workshop with some crystal work. It was delightful to meet everyone.

If you’re Essex based (or near enough) and would like to find out more, I’m doing a couple of library workshops at Frinton on 16th October and a yoga and meditation workshop in Colchester on 30th September – click HERE for more information.

love,

Eve

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Happy Positive Thinking Day! (Bleugh)

 reframe

 Urgh. It’s a bit forced, isn’t it? The idea that no matter what’s going on personally and/or globally, we ‘should’ be seeing the positive.

Sometimes, it’s really important to honour however we’re feeling even if that’s saying ‘Bleugh’ to the idea of seeing the positive.

Still, in honour of the day, if you’d like to reframe something you’ve been seeing in a limited way, it’s an ideal time to play with it.

How might you feel if you think about the potential benefits behind whatever issue you’re finding challenging right now?

Maybe it’s making you stronger?

Forcing you to learn to ask for support even when that’s the last thing you want to do?

Recognising that you’re not a machine and need to say ‘no’ to some of others’ demands on your time and energy?

Even if you have to dig deep, notice the possibilities that arise as you imagine how Future You will have grown so much stronger as a result.

What problems have turned into benefits (long term) in the past?

How did you do this?

This isn’t about rushing ourselves through the bad to feel the good, just holding the possibility that something positive is trying to emerge and being open to that.

Feel free to comment below.

 love,

Eve

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What helps you notice the beauty in life’s dramas?

 innerturmoil

I left for today’s sea swim in the rain. The forecast for the coast was (a little) different but I genuinely like swimming in the rain. We’ve been spoiled by so much glorious weather this summer.

The sea was so choppy that it actually knocked my goggles away so they filled with water. Not my most restful swim. It felt like a proper workout even though I only stayed in for 20 minutes. The water was much cooler than last week but still divine.

On the way home, my soul felt happy to have had its sea swim fix (am still hoping for a couple more this year). Sitting on the train home, watching the dramatic rolling clouds over expansive fields and basking in the beauty of it all, it occurred to me that I’m much better at appreciating nature’s moods and rhythms than I (still – after all these years of doing this work) my own.

I see a thundery sky and think it’s stunning. But in my actual life, I can still get caught up in judging myself for feeling whatever turmoil I may be feeling.

I am far quicker at doing what I encourage clients to do and notice that judgment and instead ask myself what I need in that moment but still, it’s far from instant.

Which problems feel like storm clouds brewing over your life right now?

How might you see the beauty in them even as you batten down the metaphorical hatches and take whatever practical precautions you need to take?

What might help you express your needs and wants to the people around you? How can you access all the support available to you?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

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Do you have TOO much empathy and compassion for others?

boundaries

 When someone hurts you, do you immediately imagine where they’re coming from and see their point of view in an effort to forgive and forget?

I was raised Catholic and when I was about 5, I had the very odd ambition of wanting to be a saint. Ideally a martyr (I blame having read waaaayyyyy too many Lives of the Saints books).

As I got older, I stopped going to Mass but hugely admired fictional characters like Atticus Finch (in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, NOT Go Set a Watchman) who turned the other cheek.

While still very pro peace, a key aspect of my work (and I was my first client) is encouraging clients and students to look after themselves first.

When people have experienced interpersonal trauma, been in any kind of minority group or have been bullied, it’s easy to automatically connect with the needs of more powerful people than your own.

But by recognising you deserve so much better, you can set healthy boundaries and maintain them even when people are taking the p.

It’s another practice (progress not perfection) but so worth doing.

Next time you notice yourself being compassionate and empathic towards someone you’re struggling with, ask yourself if you’re also being compassionate and empathic with yourself.

The more we can be whole ourselves, the more we CAN extend that compassion and empathy towards others but now it won’t be in a way that gives mixed messages or leaves us vulnerable to abuse.

Being boundaried is a practice – I have been working on it for decades and still get sudden crash courses which remind me I’m still vulnerable to getting hooked into old habits – but it’s so worth getting better at.

And now, when I get triggered, I’m a bit better at saying, ‘Thank you, Universe, for this new opportunity to practice setting and maintaining healthy boundaries’. Not immediately. I still often shame spiral wondering what I’ve done to attract the situation but not to the same degree.

Have you ever sided with a bully, abuser or oppressor over yourself?

What helps you turn your compassion and empathy spotlight back onto yourself?

 Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

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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

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Advanced practice alert

DarylDavis 

Last week, I shared a Facebook post about a man who has been engaging with those who want to kill and oppress him in an effort to befriend them and let them get to know him as a person.

Daryl Davis has kept their KKK robes. Even typing the words makes me feel nauseous. Since the Charlottesville horror where a neo Nazi killed Heather Heyer and many other anti-racism protesters were hurt, the regular sight of them on the news, emboldened by their president, in 2017, has made me feel like I would physically be sick.

Yet Daryl Davis has found it in himself to do what Barack Obama encouraged us all to do before he left the White House and not only engage with the ‘other’ but befriend them.

Daryl Davis has been doing this for decades. You can read more HERE.

As the piece says, ‘He gets to know them because, in his words, “How can you hate me when you don’t even know me? Look at me and tell me to my face why you should lynch me.”’

While it hurts my soul to give any headspace to people filled with such hate, I think it’s phenomenal that Daryl Davis has found the strength to meet hate with love.

While I’ve always been what many of my nearest and dearest call ‘hard work’ (challenging casual racism, sexism etc), it feels more important now than ever to engage with the people we know personally who have been taught to hate and, with as much love and compassion as we can muster, attempting to hear the ‘other’ and be open to whatever is trying to emerge.

As Nelson Mandela wrote in Long Walk to Freedom, ‘No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.’

Resistance is hugely important. People acting out or threatening must be stopped. But pretending they don’t exist isn’t working.

So when we hear those milder versions by people we know or work with, we can curiously and compassionately encourage them to think about what they’re saying and explore. Not condone (at ALL) but pay attention.

This still feels beyond me, even as I type. And yet we all share the one planet.

What helps you listen to people you feel very opposed to?

Do you find that repeating your opinions louder and louder works or does opening up and hearing what someone else is trying to say create more room for progress?

Daryl Davis is an extreme example (I simply cannot imagine the courage and openness it must take. Even the keeping of the robes, I’d want to burn them and all they stand for) but we all have much smaller ways accessible to us to listen and hopefully, by doing so, help release some of that hate.

How do you feel at the prospect?

What has helped you if you’ve done something similar in the past?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

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What’s your arms only rope climb equivalent?

 

SimoneBiles

Fitness is a funny thing. We might get injured or distracted. Things we’d previously worked up to and got to the point of doing with, if not ease, then less struggle, suddenly feel impossible again.

This might be lifting a particular weight, a speed you’ve not matched, a yoga pose you’ve not done for a while… Just as getting stronger, fitter, more flexible and powerful has a positive impact on our confidence and mood, getting out of the habit can have a detrimental effect.

I often wonder how Simone Biles is doing.

After her phenomenal performances at last year’s Olympics, the image that stayed with me was of her daily workout’s inclusion of climbing a rope ladder using only her arms.

She made it look – like her gymnastics – like FUN.

You can see her brief pre-Olympic interview with Ellen DeGeneres, including some gymnastics clips and the infamous rope climb HERE.

‘It’s very easy,’ she tells Ellen as if she means it. ‘I do one rope a day like that.’

Every so often, when psyching myself up to cycle to the pool, I wonder. Does she still do it? What would happen if she had a week off?

I’m not an athlete (although, when I had a whole lane to myself at the Olympic pool in Stratford when it opened to the public, I did imagine – for a few seconds – being an Olympic swimmer).

Even so, I notice that if I don’t cycle for a few days, I feel the effort more when I do again. My 3 or 4 swims each week (sometimes I only manage two) are almost always for an hour but I notice that when I’m more on top of things and going more often, I’ll swim faster. Some of them – many of them – are pretty leisurely. I’m no Olympian but I love being in the water.

Injury means that for almost a year, my yoga practice has been lighter on the upper body work. I crave certain poses but know I’d be foolish to try them again before I fully heal (I have delayed the healing by not being so patient in the past). I’m also aware that I might not be able to do them again and that saddens me.

And this is another key, when recovering after injury or getting back into any kind of training: Being friendly to our bodies and appreciating what they can do today. Not beating ourselves up remembering through rose tinted glasses how we could do more in the past.

What do you do quite effortlessly? How often do you test yourself to keep it going?

What’s your arms only rope climb equivalent?

How’s your self-talk when you’re in that zone?

What are you building up to?

What helps you be kinder to yourself when illness, injury or other obstacles mean you can’t reach your fitness goals?

I am regularly awed at how quickly I start to feel like an amoeba if I don’t swim enough and then, it’s like magic how much better it makes me feel when I get back into the pool and sea.

Do you notice an impact on your mood when you’re working out well and when, for whatever reason, you’re not?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

 

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How privileged do you feel?

 JamesBaldwin

 We hear a lot, these days, about white privilege, male privilege, heteronormative privilege, cis privilege and more. Often, it’s said with snark. People get defensive. We compete over who has less and how it’s not our fault if we have more. No one connects. And nothing changes.

The events in Charlottesville this weekend, where so many neo Nazis went to spread hate in a university town and someone was killed and many more injured, can’t be ignored. It was obvious, with a US President endorsed by the KKK, that this would embolden such hateful attitudes but no less shocking or horrific. Things have to change.

Through staying connected on Facebook and other social media (and with some, in real life), I can see that people who have very different politics feel similarly to me in other areas. Everyone feels that they are doing their best for their loved ones. As far as I can make out, everyone on the planet wants the same things.

Thinking about privilege, even though it’s often used in that sneering way, can be helpful as long as we don’t get sucked into victim mode. This isn’t at ALL to suggest that oppressed minorities should get over it, more that those of us, recognising the privileges we DO have, can make a positive difference by owning it rather than complaining when someone points out that, in some way, we might have had it easier than them.

And that even the most historically oppressed have privilege in other areas (eg beauty). One of my favourite explorations of privilege comes from Anna Guest-Jelley’s book, Curvy Yoga. She writes, ‘Those whom society has decided to favour (read: white, thin, fit, able-bodied, make, heterosexual, middle-class-at-a-minimum) move through the world with greater ease than the rest of us… that’s what privilege means: Some people move through our world with more ease due to certain traits society deems “better”.’

She goes on to talk about ‘thin-privilege’ and ‘beauty privilege’, ‘age privilege’ and others I’d not considered and while her point is about ensuring as many students as possible feel welcome in yoga classes, by pausing to think about our own privilege – with compassion and curiosity – we can hopefully find more empathy for our fellow humans.

I’m really struggling with the notion of people I consider to be racist who, rather than attempting reparation for the horrors of slavery and colonialism, seem to be trying to turn back the clock to resuscitate it. As James Baldwin wrote, ‘Not everything that is faced can be changed but nothing can be changed until it is faced.’

I saw an American on the news last night talking about how his country has been built on genocide (of the native Americans) and slavery and how countries like Germany have reminders of their part in horrors of the past.

They’ve been willing to face their part in the past and vow never again. It’s naïve to think that certain countries are all sorted when there’s unrest all over but, psychologically speaking, it’s a saner approach to acknowledge the facts of history.

How does it feel to consider, no matter how oppressed or invisible you may feel in some areas, you have privilege in others?

My parents were recently laughing at 6 year old me when we were at a friends’ house. They told these friends about how I chose to take a ‘slave’ role in infant school because I hadn’t wanted to be a slave owner / perpetrator. One of the friends immediately said, ‘But you could have set the slaves free.’

This hadn’t occurred to 6 year old me. Now in my 40s, I can see that there’ve been a whole range of ways in which I’ve self-sabotaged because I’ve felt guilty about some of what has come easily and ashamed of what I’ve struggled with.

Do you disempower yourself because you recognise that it’s not fair that your life is easier than others’? 

For example, by taking better care of personal finances, someone can do more good in terms of donating more and making a difference than if they underearn and overspend because they feel helpless about the inequalities across the globe.

By speaking up and offering support to someone who is being targeted with any kind of hate speech, someone can do more than slinking off feeling ashamed of their fellow man/white person.

How might you use your privilege for the benefit of others rather than shame spiralling because (let’s face it, none of us did anything to DESERVE where or who we were born to) of guilt or fear?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

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How can you dig deeper today?

extragrounded

The more grounded we are, the higher we can reach. If you’re feeling stuck, in any area of your life or work, rather than trying to rush through the feelings, what might happen if you allow yourself to really pay attention to what’s going on for you?

I love when things make sense in hindsight (Oh, THAT was what my body was trying to tell me when I was in pain with that…) but find the deciphering phase more frustrating. Even so, with practice, I think I’ve become a bit better at it. Even if it simply means trusting the process more. Allowing the ickiness before we can see beyond our feet and instead glimpse the sun through the trees above us.

The more we bend our knees, the closer we get to the ground, the higher we can jump.

What helps you feel most grounded?

What do you resist the most when you know getting grounded would really help you?

Right now, I’ve been resisting cleaning my bathroom – something I do automatically each week but which this week feels like something I don’t want to do. Typing this and recognising that cleaning  – like cooking, gardening, getting organised, going for a walk and so many other everyday things – is grounding means I’ll do it now… That feels much better.

Some people talk about needing to wash up before they can get down to writing. Rather than beating yourself up for procrastinating, recognising it as part of your process means you can enjoy it (as much as anyone can enjoy cleaning etc).

For some, it’s scrubbing potatoes. Others, organising closets. Digging… Any kind of exercise or movement.

Maybe it’s a more metaphorical digging you need and some time journaling can help you.

What helps you ground. What do you notice afterwards? 

Next time you’re reaching high for something, when it feels like maybe you can’t quite reach, before grabbing a metaphorical ladder to climb even higher, come back to the earth. See what more you can accomplish from a more solid, strong and grounded foundation.

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

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My yoga feature in Happiful magazine (published June 2017)

happifulcoverjune17 effectsofeverydayyogajune17

I still have quite the backlog re features I’m meaning to upload to my blog… Here’s one from a few weeks ago (available online this week).

You can click HERE to read it.

If you were to do just one yoga pose each day (not forever but for now), what would it be?

What benefits does it offer you?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

 

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