Tag Archives: meditation

Feel Better Every Day on Sea – sessions now available in Frinton

Feel Better Every Day on Sea

My main client space remains Witham, with the Feel Better Every Day Consultancy on the high street but, in recent months, I’ve been offering a few sessions a week from Colchester (and am starting teaching a Sleep Yoga class there in January).

As of this week, am delighted to be offering a few sessions a week from Frinton on Sea on Essex’s Sunshine Coast. The Connaught Clinic is just a few moments from the seafront and a short walk from the station.

Connaught Clinic

 Find out more HERE and, of course, let me know if you have any questions or would like to book an initial session with me.

love,

Eve

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Meditating with the MagnifiCat

MeditatingwiththeMagnifiCat

Clients and students often ask me about creating and sustaining a meditative practice when their children are demanding their time, energy and attention.

I recommend making them a part of their practice (being fully present with whatever’s going on). Sometimes, I tell them about how I use Rainbow MagnifiCat’s interruptions during the day to enhance my mindfulness practice. As she looks expectantly for attention, I make my lap available for her, pausing work or whatever (unless I’m with a telephone or online client, obviously) and relax into the Rainbow Appreciation Time, hearing her purr, feeling her fur (and claws and weight) and generally feeling pleasantly present and grounded.

This morning, I realised that this is not (of course) the full story. Most days, I let her out while I do my morning meditation and a little yoga. My eyes frequently open and glance towards the door, checking in case she wants to come in.

This morning, with a lot of pent up energy from her snow avoiding time indoors yesterday, she didn’t want to go out while I meditated. I told her (and her angel) that I’d be meditating and focusing on my experience yet still noticed myself getting very distracted. Lots of opportunities this morning for noticing this (with as much self-compassion and curiosity as I could muster) and gently bringing my mind back to the meditation.

And Rainbow’s a cat. Babies and children (and puppies and goats etc) are far more demanding.

What can you do to make them part of your practice in a way that’s practical for them and you?

As with everything, some days, it’s much easier to be present than others. Many mornings, Rainbow’s so peaceful and quiet on the bed, I do my meditation next to her there before I even brush my teeth.

This morning, I could have easily locked Rainbow out of the room but I wanted to challenge myself to stay focused. (I can almost hear her howl, ‘Mwah hahahaha’ from the other room where she’s been peaceful and still since I finished and put my yoga mat away.)

Children and animals are wonderful at bringing us into the present moment.

This isn’t to say it’s always easy. Just as it’s often easier to be aware of our bodies and what they need when we feel strong, fit and healthy, it’s when we’re in pain that the biggest benefits of being present and really paying attention to what we need can pay off.

Do you include your children and/or animals in your meditative practices?

When is it easiest?

When is it most challenging?

What helps you most?

Feel free to share below.

love,

Eve

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How do (or might) YOU vote for yourself?

Oprahritual

‘A daily ritual is a way of saying “I am voting for myself. I am taking care of myself. I love myself.”’ ~ Oprah

She went on to say it could be as simple as your first cup of tea of the day.

Since hearing Jon Kabat Zinn talk about mindfulness in London in March 2013, I haven’t missed a first thing in the morning meditation.

One morning, after watching Eat Pray Love again the night before and mentally comparing my prosaic meditation practice to Liz Gilbert’s Hollywood friendly revelations, I decided to swim before meditating. I would have still done it that morning but I wanted to get to the pool before it got hectic.

It was one of my worst swims ever (overcrowded pool) and I realised that while my meditations are not Hollywoodesque, starting each day clearing my energy field, being mindful of my breathing and doing some Metta (loving kindness) as well as asking for guidance is something I now depend on.

After I meditate, I do a little gentle yoga. I go through phases where I do a more dynamic morning yoga practice but, mostly, I just tune into how my body wants to move on any given morning.

Reading this, even I imagine myself waking up all serene, starting the day with a little yoga and meditation. And I know myself!

Some mornings, it’s a pretty quick practice. 20, 30 minutes tops. I’m able to concentrate and focus and it feels great.

More often, it takes much longer. Not because I’m a brilliant meditator but because my mind might be so filled with stressful thoughts, I have to keep bringing my focus back to the practice.

Sometimes, when this takes ages, I get to add extra compassion (when I remember) to the mix instead of beating myself for being a human being and not having a perfectly cultivated mind.

It’s a practice.

With recent research showing that adult meditators’ brains are, on average, 7.5 years younger than non-meditators’ brains, it’s really worth playing with it and finding a form that suits you. It doesn’t have to be first thing in the morning. You know your schedule and lifestyle best.

But it also doesn’t have to be meditation in order to show yourself some self-care, to vote for yourself.

What, when you do it, helps you start the day well?

Maybe it’s a few minutes alone with a cup of tea before life gets hectic. Maybe it’s a run! Maybe it’s writing or painting.

You know yourself best. What works for you?

Feel free to share your favourite daily rituals below.

love,

Eve

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My DIY silent retreat

fullsun

I saw a few clients last week but mostly, have been off since before Crimble.

So naturally, I set myself a ridiculous amount to accomplish today, raring to go, hoping to start the new year as I mean to go on.

Lots of deadlines, lots of clients. An extra yoga nidra class to teach each week. Other exciting projects. I love my work and it’s great to be busy.

But, I know it’s not sustainable to work crazy hours. I really loved all the extra downtime over Christmas. Catching up with loved ones.

And even though my Christmases are tame by comparison to many (not a huge family), my inner introvert was very relieved to be alone again, after a gorgeous day with loved ones.

I’m also conscious that Yule / Winter Solstice, the Pagan holiday Christmas took inspiration from, is about recharging, quiet and stillness. This can feel at odds with modern extravagances.

Because I was feeling spoiled with all the time off I was allowing myself (I’ve been my own boss for more than 11 years but, even though much of my work is about encouraging self-care, it’s taken a long time to do so for myself), I decided to experiment with a 24 hour silent retreat.

I warned loved ones I’d be doing this and said to ring the landline twice in case of an emergency as my mobile would be switched off and I’d be ignoring other landline calls. I also had no music, no computer, no telly.

And I told Rainbow MagnifiCat that I’d be communicating silently with her for the next 24 hours.

Apparently, I’m an extraverted introvert and my need for space and company is a tightrope walk sometimes.

Yule / Crimble felt like a perfect time to play with this as I knew that, in this part of the world, most others had too so I wouldn’t be missing out on anything.

I felt like I was jumping into a deep end (I’m not a naturally silent person. I can’t help chattering away to strangers a lot of the time) but I was also reminding myself that this was purely for my benefit. An experiment.

I got a lot of benefits from a semi-silent retreat I had to do as part of my yoga therapy training but where my yoga friends were looking forward to repeating the experience voluntarily, I felt like the pre dawn yoga and meditation sessions and bulk of silence along with a schedule of different types of meditation and yoga…. beneficial but more ‘Woo hooooooo! Survived! Can talk again!’ than, ‘Can’t wait to do that again!’

I prefer deciding on my own schedule. And while I did a predawn yoga practice for Yule, dawn was just before 8am so not too bad. Generally, predawn anything other than sleep does not appeal.

My DIY silent retreat was going to be about tuning into what I needed and wanted.

After the first hour, I was loving it. Before two hours was up, I’d had almost an hour of spontaneous mindfulness meditation, aka Rainbow Appreciation time (she leaped onto my lap for strokes for 25 minutes, jumped down and then back up again. Without the telly or other distractions, she had my full attention and I was mindful of her purrs, her furr, the feel of her claws (gently), the other sounds in the room and my breath.

Since adopting Rainbow, I’ve had lots of unexpected Rainbow Appreciation Time mindfulness but I’d not had such a long stretch before (or since). Obviously (being human), my mind wandered but it was a pleasure to bring my focus back to the MagnifiCat and my breath.

I began to feel smug thinking that normally, practically the only time she goes to bite (nip, but still) is when I’m meditating but this must have been extra special meditation as she had been good as gold and then… nip…

I was also conscious of how loud my thoughts felt, especially in the silence. Time seemed to stretch. After a couple of hours, I felt like it had been 4 hours. Everything seemed to slow down.

Again, being human, I thought ‘Ooooh’ and made copious notes in order to write about it later. Some anxieties crept in, too. There were some people I’d forgotten to tell and an arrangement for a couple of days later hadn’t yet been confirmed. I didn’t want to miss out but told myself I’d only be responding 24 hours later. I resisted the urge to log on.

After 4 hours, I decided to take a book to bed and curl up to read or maybe even get an early night. I did sleep but woke up a few hours later after a pretty nightmarish dream in which we were all part of the primordial ooze. Still, I went back to sleep and woke up refreshed the next morning.

I’d accidentally broken my silence a few times whispering to Rainbow as I often do before remembering, Silence and so sending her these thoughts telepathically. I also ‘sang’ her little songs in my head rather than aloud. I think she preferred it.

Waking up in the morning with her sleeping soundly next to me, I did my morning meditation in bed so as not to disturb her and it felt different to my usual, ‘Right, brush teeth, meditate, yoga, start day…’ As I wasn’t switching my phone on for several hours, there was no rush.

I wanted to go for a walk but decided to postpone it as I knew I’d struggle to remain silent if I bumped into a neighbour or friend (or, after several hours’ silence, a stranger or even pigeon).

Although I’d promised myself that if it got too much at any point, I could quit, I was enjoying it all more than I’d imagined. The fact that I was allowing myself to read whatever I felt like reading and I even wrote a few thank you cards (so, technically, not especially retreaty) made it easier to stick to. I wanted the experience to be a treat not punitive.

I also felt extra appreciative of all my Christmas presents as I found new homes for them, putting them away in silence rather than with music on in the background.

Apart from my own thoughts sounding very loud at points, the clock, fridge and other sounds I usually barely notice felt loud. And Rainbow’s purr was like the motorcar purrs she did as a kitten.

While I rarely put music on for my yoga practice (I went through a phase of doing it to Metallica a few years ago), both days’ felt especially peaceful. I chose to break the silence to do a little chanting at the end.

With just three hours to go, I ate some leftovers. Without the telly being on, I understood what all the research around people eating less when we eat mindfully meant. I stopped only 1/3 in as I just wasn’t hungry. So I popped it away to eat later on (yay microwaves) when I’d appreciate it more rather than just going through the motions.

As the last hour passed, I became impatient to go for a walk and mentally thought about who I’d phone ON said walk. But all in all, it was a luxurious treat.

I’m definitely not the type to crave joining a convent / monastery etc but I realised that I definitely want to bring more silence into my 2016 and beyond.

24 hours, while not the several days of the semi-silent retreat, is still a big chunk of time. I think I’ll aim to do that at least 3 or 4 times a year. But each week or so, I’d like to aim for maybe 6 hours (I’m aware writing this that I completely forgot to do this the weekend just gone!)…

I’m also aware that I have it easy – no kids or other dependents.

But if more silence sounds good to you, what might your own DIY silent retreat look like?

Have you done something similar yourself in the past?

What did you learn?

What would you do differently next time?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve x

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Roaring relaxation with Crazy Lion and more with Sadie Nine on BBC Essex today

Lion

I always have so much fun with Sadie Nine and guests on BBC Essex and today, as well as talking about cat advent calendars and premium rate phone lines for customer services, I led a mini (really mini but you’ll get the idea and can expand it when you have more time and space (or to create more time and space!)) meditation and relaxation.

Click here if you’d like to listen (am live from about 60 minutes in and if you want to just hear the relaxation/meditation bit, that’s from approximately 90 minutes in).

Metta x

Image courtesy of tiverylucky/freedigitalphotos.net

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Clarity with clear quartz

ClearQuartz

If you’re interested in crystals, you may want to start by exploring clear quartz. Often neglected as not as exciting or pretty as some of the other stones, it remains one of my favourites.

I’m writing about it today because, having been working with a clear quartz crystal for a couple of days now, I’ve been reminded by how powerfully it can cut through all the confusion and help us see things more clearly.

I don’t want to limit its uses to clarity (like all stones, clear quartz has many talents – each particular rock will have its own energy although many will share certain characteristics. The way it’s treated (left natural? Cut and shaped?) will also impact it so, for example, a sphere is likely to bring a softer energy than a wand) but clear quartz, well, rocks.

It can be (energetically) as sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel. Yes, the incision will need time to heal but wow, look how what needed to be removed has been excised!

Clear quartz’ stony siblings (amethyst, rose quartz and citrine) bring their own spins on the energy. Amethyst can offer a softer energy and is great for connecting us to our spirits, rose quartz can be a wonderful emotional salve and citrine can offer a citrus like burst of joy and optimism.

In terms of helping me see things more clearly (and deciding to take action), this clear quartz has been a wonderful gift. And yet, sometimes, not seeing things clearly has its compensations. It enables us to stay comfortably miserable or simply mildly dissatisfied. We may feel our heart sinking or know that we’re moaning but forget that we have the power to change things.

Of course, once we know what needs to change, we need to use our will to change things. And to temper that, we need to use love, too (kindness, compassion and acceptance both with ourselves as we take what can feel like scary steps and the people we’re dealing with).

Whether or not your clarity has come from meditating with crystals (or meditating at all) or a simple flash of insight, how can you best honour your new knowledge?

What baby steps can you start taking today? And how can you be as kind to yourself (and others involved) as possible as you go through this transition?

If you’re interested in finding out more about working with crystals to create the life of your dreams (not nightmares), check out my special New Year’s Eve (daytime) workshop to help you release all that’s holding you back and move into 2014 feeling lighter and more focused.

Metta x

Image (c) Eve Menezes Cunningham 2013

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NEW – Personal Peace coaching workshops for meditation and creative visualisation in Witham, Essex

Meditation as mental hygiene  Image courtesy of digitalart / freedigitalphotos.net
Meditation as mental hygiene
Image courtesy of digitalart / freedigitalphotos.net

We all know that meditation is good for us. Over the past few decades, modern neuroscience has been able to show actual differences in the brains and bodies of regular meditators.

And you don’t have to become a Buddhist monk or nun to benefit. These classes are secular so you don’t have to believe in anything in order to access your own inner wisdom and a greater sense of personal peace.

Studies show that meditative practices can benefit everything from concentration to heart health, pain management to immunity and general wellbeing.

I first started meditating in 2001 during my crystal therapy training and over the next several years, went through phases where I loved it and did a fair bit and other phases where I missed it.

I didn’t quite believe that taking time to meditate would actually give me a greater sense of time and ease throughout the rest of each day and actually only developed a daily (as in Every Single Day) practice this year after hearing Jon Kabat Zinn speak (click here to read more).

I can’t imagine not meditating each morning any more than I can imagine not brushing my teeth and, if you’d like to make meditation, creative visualisation and relaxation a bigger part of your life, I’d love to help you.

These fun, friendly, small group sessions will introduce you to a range of meditative practices from around the world so you can experiment with what works best for you.

Themes include: Overcoming obstacles, Energising, Heart opening, Manifestation, Crystals, Chakra Balancing, Trusting life and Letting go.

Click here to find out more. And I hope to see you soon.

Metta xx

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Are you ready to say, ‘Goodbye, Inner Critic!’ – Minded Yoga therapy classes in Witham

Inner critics can be sneaky.

There’s a part of me that feels I should have dealt with mine completely by now but, of course, being a human being, there are still things that trigger my own.

Fortunately, I’ve learned many tools and techniques over the years (from NLP and psychosynthesis to meditations) which can all help me – and YOU if you’d like to join me – loosen that inner critic’s hold and enjoy life more.

There are still a couple of places on next weeks Minded Yoga therapy classes where the theme is ‘Goodbye, Inner Critic!’.

In addition to doing a yoga class, you’ll learn ways to use body, mind and breath to make peace with your own inner critics and even learn to laugh at them.

If you’d like to join me on Tuesday 14th (7-8.30pm) or Saturday 18th (12.30-2pm), get in touch today to book your place.

Click here to find out more about this and other Minded Yoga therapy classes in Witham, Essex.

Metta xx

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Happy International Day of Peace – how will you bring more peace into your life?

September 21st. Autumn Equinox and the UN’s International Day of Peace – http://www.un.org/en/events/peaceday/

If the idea of World Peace feels too overwhelming, start with yourself. What practical steps could you take to make your life more peaceful?

Little things, from getting more sleep to organising clothes and lunches the evening before could help you make your mornings more peaceful.

More challenging might be to think of yourself and others with peace and compassion. Experiment with it.

Sit comfortably and quietly repeat, ‘May all beings be free from emnity, harm and anxiety. May all beings live happily’.

Just typing this, I felt a mini-wave of wellbeing wash over me. The research backs it up. Metta meditations (like the one above) don’t just send good vibes to others but help us reduce our own stresses, anxiety, depression, helps avoid burnout and increases satisfaction with life.

It also helps us feel safer as, by sending out well wishes in all directions, we somehow change our relationship with the world around us.

In all your interactions today (and moving forward), look for ways to bring peace into your life.

www.wellbeing-at-work.co.uk

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