Easy Five Minute Meditation

Image from Daily Mail

Image from Daily Mail

“Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.” 
~ Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

 

Ever feel like there’s just not enough time in your day? I have a technique that literally extends moments, even when life is non-stop.

One of the things I love about this meditation is that it is both a an act of mindfulness and a celebration of one of life’s most accessible and simple pleasures.

To begin this meditation you require the following things:

  • A beverage of your choice. It can be hot or cold. You may make it yourself or have someone make it for you.
  • 5 minutes of time on your own, with no interruptions. No book, no laptop, no iphone, no company. Just you and your beverage. If you like you can even set a timer.

Location is not so important, but part of the pleasure of this meditation may be in mindfully selecting one. I’ve done this meditation in a cafe, in a workplace where every day was a misery, on my veranda at the farm, in a park, at the beach, in the middle of trying to move house – surrounded by boxes and chaos, at a train station and at home in bed.

Image from SeoulGirl

Image from SeoulGirl

Method:

Sit down with your beverage.

Breathe in deeply, and then exhale gently and completely. If you have been feeling very stressed allow a minute or so just to breathe, consciously relaxing your neck and shoulders, the muscles in your face and jaw, your abdomen, buttocks and thighs. Let your entire body become softer.

Take a wide view of the room or space where you are sitting. Be aware of the noises, the smells, the light. Soak it in, not focusing on any one thing, but gently taking in all of your surroundings.

Now bring your attention to your beverage. Notice the container which holds your drink. Pay attention to the shape, textures and colours.

When you are ready, pick up the beverage. Feel the weight of it in your hand. Notice the temperature, and anything else about the container.

Now bring the beverage close to your face. Breathe in. What does it smell like? Really give yourself to this experience. Savour the aroma.

Image by James Kerr

Image by James Kerr

Now take a sip.

Feel the liquid move across your lips and into your mouth. The warmth or chill of it. Roll the liquid around on your tongue, covering all of your tastebuds. Let the flavour fill your mouth. Notice and appreciate that flavour.

When you are ready, swallow.

Feel the liquid moving from your mouth, over your tongue, and down your throat into your stomach. Feel it warming or cooling you.

Then sit empty for a breath or two, just holding the beverage or having it in front of you.

In your own time repeat this process of mindfully engaging with and consuming your beverage. Let each mouthful be filled with awareness. Let it be a sensual experience that nourishes you on many levels.

Think only of drinking this beverage. If your mind wanders, bring it back to your breath. Bring it back to each mouthful.

You’ll find that five minutes provides a much more expansive feeling of passed time, and your will be refreshed and relaxed by the end of your mindful meditation.

Enjoy!

 

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Saying No to Conditional Love

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“You can be the most beautiful person in the world and everybody sees light and rainbows when they look at you, but if you yourself don’t know it, all of that doesn’t even matter. Every second that you spend on doubting your worth, every moment that you use to criticize yourself; is a second of your life wasted, is a moment of your life thrown away. It’s not like you have forever, so don’t waste any of your seconds, don’t throw even one of your moments away.” 
~ C. JoyBell C.

*Warning: Swear alert. Swears ahead.

I did something quite out of character for me yesterday.

There is someone who has been an important relationship in my life for a long time. You know the kind of relationships you just expect to endure, and to stay strong and connected. This person knew me, loved me, and was proud of me back when I was well and riding the crest of a wave of successes in my personal and business life.

The life I like to think of as my ‘former’ life. The one pre-illness. The one pre-psychic awakening.

The life I live now embarrasses the hell out of this other person. It has made things uncomfortable and awkward between us, without any kind of touchstone where we can easily connect, no matter how hard I try.

But in truth, we’ve been grown apart for a very long time, and so much of my championing and nursing along of the relationship comes from a sense of duty as much as from a place of love.

We speak intermittently. It’s been months now. I do my best to keep them in the loop of my life, so they were aware that I have been unwell. That I’m still unwell. When they called my home yesterday, Ben answered the phone because I was outside with my head in the toilet, violently ill from my lyme meds. He let the person know that I’d be a few minutes. He was politely honest about my situation.

Still, in keeping with the way this relationship has headed, the person did not ask after Ben, or me, or the farm. They talked instead of their latest achievements, and the achievements of others in their family.

When I was finally able to take the phone, this person did not ask after my health, not even in the polite way we all do where we don’t really need to hear the answer but we do want to observe social graces.

They just wanted to know what was happening with my career. Was I published yet? Why was everything taking so long? What was the hold up?

All I could do was stumble around saying that these last two years hadn’t been my finest (for those of you who don’t know, I was dying from unresponsive congestive heart failure, and then received a diagnosis of lyme disease where the treatment is saving my life but in the process making me endure the seven circles of hell) as this person insistently reminded me of who I used to be, and what I used to do. The life I had no choice but to walk away from.

For a moment I felt like one of life’s greatest losers. The shame was overwhelming. I felt so small.

Image from Midlife Rebel

Image from Midlife Rebel

I’ve been raised to be polite. But something happened yesterday. I got angry. And in that space of anger I also felt a need to put a stop to this.

“Fuck off!” I said gruffly. And then I hung up.

I shocked even myself.

But now, with some time and space between me and the big ‘hang up’, I’m feeling better about things. Cleaner.

Truth is, I still love them.

And I see the insecurity in THEM. The need for me, as part of their life, to be someone who others will judge well, and so judge this person well too.

But allowing them to heap shit upon me is not an act of self-love. Perhaps you remember that back at the end of 2013 I ran a retreat where all of us made a sacred vow - to love and treat ourselves well in 2014, to put ourselves and our needs front and centre in our lives rather than always playing second fiddle to everyone else.

I’m living that vow, and it is radically changing my world. In the best of ways.

It really is okay to say NO to conditional love. I hope that in sharing this experience, you can embrace that truth too.

Much love to you, Nicole xx

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Morning Rewards

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“As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?”  ~ Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes

It’s still early. But already I’ve meditated. I’ve taken my morning ‘before food’ drugs. I’ve fasted and I’ve given vial upon vial of my blood to be tested for positive signs of health progress.

It’s time for a little reward. A well made latte.

I shall sit here on this golden morning and sip my coffee, savouring the aroma and flavour.

Then a day for me of doctors, specialists and various things of a medical nature.

But that’s later.

All that matters right now is that the morning is beautiful, and my coffee? Sublime!

I hope that in the day ahead you too find a few peaceful moments for yourself, a little time to nurture, nourish and just BE.

Much love to you, Nicole :) xoxo

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Image from Heidi Lamberton

Image from Heidi Lamberton

The ’10 Lovely Things!’ Challenge

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“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” 
~ Marcel Proust

Yesterday morning my lovely husband set me a glorious distraction (for those of you who aren’t up to speed I am currently taking a savage amount of drugs to combat Lyme Disease and various co-infections that left me with cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure and brain lesions) – to take a picture of ten ‘Lovely Things’ that made me smile or feel grateful during the day.

You know I am a huge fan of gratitude, and it certainly did help the time pass more easily and pleasantly.

Here are my ten pictures below:

Fat passionfruit on my neighbour’s fence – almost ready to eat! (And there’s two of my favourite passionfruit recipes here: Nana’s Passionfruit Slice and Passionfruit and Lime Curd)

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The beautiful colours on the trunk of this gum tree down near our cattle yards. Can you see the scratch marks left by Mr Koala?

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Green beans and tomatoes looking cheerful and tasty before we gobbled them up for lunch.

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Red Bull (isn’t he getting big!!!), peering out from behind the safety of the fence. I can be quite scary, I guess…

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A friend from the farm down the road invited me over for a quick visit and loaned me her cherished family cookbooks. It was an outing in my pyjamas! She pointed out all of her favourite recipes – explained over cups of tea and chocolate biscuits of course.

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Mae West, our youngest calf (whom we also call Daisy Mae due to her sunny personality), keeping company  with Blossom the cow, who is due to give birth any day now.

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Pearl – named after my favourite pirate ship :) – licking molasses out of the bucket. She’s such a sweet-natured girl too!

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Tiny sweet heritage strawberries that I found hiding away from the blue-tongue lizard who usually beats me to them.

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The strawberry-stealing blue-tongue lizard who has a fondness for napping in my laundry basket.

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Big green tree frog (bigger than my clenched fist) who landed on the kitchen window with a thump as I was putting together this post. He’s busy eating bugs and croaking love songs in the rain while I upload my pictures!

2012-01-19 20.55.22I also mentioned this challenge on facebook and had the gift of many other photos and words from friends expressing gratitude for the everyday blessings in their lives.

I hope you know I include you in my Blessings. Thanks for being here and sharing the journey with me.

Maybe you could find ten lovely things to be grateful for today too! It sure is a feel-good way of remembering just how rich life really is.

Big hugs and love, Nicole xoxo

Living like life means something!

Image from wallconvert.com

Image from wallconvert.com

“What day is it?”
It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
My favorite day,” said Pooh.” 
~ A.A. Milne

It’s a year since I first started my Lyme meds. I’d like to say that time has flown, but that would not necessarily be true…

Still, a year ago I was dying. I could barely catch my breath. My poor heart was about ready to throw in the towel. Things were grim.

Now I’m twelve months down the track, and that track certainly hasn’t been an easy one, but I’m hanging in. Sure it’s uncomfortable having to live through this drug therapy. It’s inconvenient being in pain, tired and muddle-headed. But hey, I’m still here.

I’m still here.

Today I’m going to savour each moment. I’ll breathe the salty air of Byron Bay and draw it deep into my lungs. I will lie on the grass at the farm and feel the sun on my face and the earth beneath my back. Every sip of tea, every mouthful of food – I’ll honour it. I’ll let myself really taste it.

I’ll surrender myself to each moment. It doesn’t need to be special. An ordinary day is just fine by me.

It’s all good. The hurty bits. The sad bits. The boring bits. The lonely bits. The fun bits. The tasty bits. The loved-up bits.

It’s all good. And I’m so glad to be here.

Thanks for sharing the journey with me.

My wish for you today is that you take a moment and really BE. Just be in your skin. Just breathe in that air. Be present with the ones you love. Savour the ordinary. Savour the miracle that is your life. Will you do that for me?

Much love to you, and some squishy big hugs, Nicole xx

A little Solitude is good for the Soul

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“Language… has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone.  And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone.”  ~ Paul Johannes Tillich, The Eternal Now

 

If you’re energetically sensitive like me, then you might already understand the importance of time on your own.

Interacting with others draws energy from us. When we are speaking to others, emotionally supporting others, teaching others, healing, helping or even simply thinking about the needs of others, energy flows from us to them.

That’s okay. In fact, it can feel wonderful to give. For many of us, it’s a prime driver. We want to help, we enjoy reaching out and being here for others.

And of course we so often get energy back as we are giving. Especially with the ones we love it becomes a two-way flow.

Image from Transcendia

Image from Transcendia

Some people can actively draw energy from us too. Haven’t you ever come home from a social event, or ended a phone call feeling totally drained, and knowing that the other person went away feeling stronger and more uplifted?

Energy Vampires need to be treated with caution, or avoided, especially on the days when you feel weak, tired or unwell. You know who I mean – the people caught in their own dramas who constantly clutch at you as if they were drowning and you were their only support, people who undermine and criticise you, people who gaslight you, people who are totally self-interested, people who are always takers and never givers. Some of them may be co-workers, friends or the spouses of friends, but some of them may also be your own family members. Sometimes you may even need to end the relationship, or at least put some distance between you.

Energy-VampiresThat’s why a little regular solitude can be so refreshing.

Solitude – time happily spent on our own – recharges us, strengthens our aura and allows us time for creative and spiritual connection.

You don’t need large amounts of time if you make solitude a regular part of your day. But then again, I also recommend a big chunk of solitude every so often to help top you up and bring you back into balance when your coping mechanisms are becoming thin and worn from too much connection with others.

For many years now I have found my solitude by getting up early, while the rest of the house sleeps. When people and animals are sleeping they are disengaged from us, leaving us free to concentrate on ourselves completely.

Try this for yourself. If someone else is home, but awake (whether they are in the same room or at the opposite end of the house), the energy will feel quite different to that of them being tucked up in bed, sound asleep.

I wake at four each morning, meditate, do healing work, spend time in spiritual communion, and then I go to my desk and write. It’s my quiet time, and it anchors my entire day. Far from tiring me out to rise so early, I feel that it recharges me, and leaves me free to focus on whatever I like, without the need to be thinking of others unless I deliberately choose to do so.

As soon as one of my family wakes, I feel it, and the spell of my solitude is broken

I may then put my boots on and go for a walk around the farm. Even if the dogs come they usually race ahead, and are caught up in their own busy-ness, and by then I am ready for their company anyway.

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There are many ways to find a little solitude for yourself:

  • Stay up a little later or get up early, so that the house is yours and you can have some quiet time.
  • Take a journal or your ipad and go to a park, cafe or a library. Strangers won’t have the same energetic pull as people who know you, so you’ll still be able to enjoy some solitude even if the world around you is busy and full of life.
  • Go for a swim, a bike-ride, a run or a walk.
  • Get out into nature.

If you’re in need of a bigger break, take a day off and don’t fill it with friends and family. Let yourself be refreshed by time in your own company.

Take a holiday on your own, or check into a motel for the night. Not to feel lonely, but to feel spaciousness and that luxurious sensation of being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want. Note: this can be challenging for people who are used to making the happiness of others their constant priority but who aren’t in touch with their own needs. When faced with too much time on your own you may end up suddenly feeling lost, lonely and small, which is not the point of the exercise!

When we make time for ourselves, healing happens. Ideas occur. Creative inspiration visits. We remember what’s important and find clearer direction for ourselves, and answers for our problems.

A little solitude is a good thing. It restores you to yourself.

Wishing you some time for yourself today! Much love, ♥ Nicole xx

Image from freepeople

Image from freepeople

PS – You might also find these posts helpful:

How to deal with toxic people

Finding moments for yourself

Writing yourself into a brighter future

 

Coming Back to Centre

“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” ~ Lao Tzu

“I want you to be everything that’s you, deep at the center of your being.” ~ Confucious

There’s a small ritual I practice often. It’s easy to do, and there is a great power to it, although it is simple. It’s one of the best stress-busters I know. The essence of this practice is to centre yourself in mindfulness and stillness. It encourages you to pause in the craziness of life, take a breath, let go and go within.

It also opens, cleanses and balances your heart, throat, third eye and crown chakra and aligns the energy centres of your body.

Let me show you how it’s done.

Sitting or standing, put both feet squarely on the floor and straighten your spine. Allow your feet to feel heavy, anchoring you into the earth.

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Bring your hands together in prayer pose, directly in front of your heart. Soften your eyes and gaze out into the world. Take a slow and deliberate breath. If you are extra stressed, stand or sit this way for a few breaths until you feel yourself begin to relax a little. Let your heart beats slow. Be aware of your body.

Now tilt your head gently down towards your heart. This helps to quieten the chatter in your mind, and begins a connection between mind and heart. Allow the muscles in the back of your neck and shoulders to ease and relax. Consciously focus on your breathing. Feel yourself become calmer.

Woman in prayer pose

Close your eyes. Fill your body with slow steady breaths, and exhale away all the tension. Draw your attention inwards – away from the outside world and into your heart.

Stay in this space a while. Let go of all your worries. Be open to insights and emotions. Fill yourself up with a sense of peace. Feel the sacred connection of your conscious awareness with the wisdom of your soul.

Feel your body dissolve, and let yourself expand in all directions. Just be. Breathe. Rest. Enjoy this pause in your day.

And when you open your eyes again take a moment to come fully back into your body before you resume your day with renewed clarity, energy and peace in your heart.

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Someone to watch over me…

A light in the darkness by crywolf

A light in the darkness by crywolf96

“It is the custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put things straight for next morning, repacking into their proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day. If you could keep awake (but of course you can’t) you would see your own mother doing this, and you would find it very interesting to watch her. It is quite like tidying up drawers. You would see her on her knees, I expect, lingering humorously over some of your contents, wondering where on earth you had picked this thing up, making discoveries sweet and not so sweet, pressing this to her cheek as if it were as nice as a kitten, and hurriedly stowing that out of sight. When you wake in the morning, the naughtinesses and evil passions with which you went to bed have been folded up small and placed at the bottom of your mind; and on the top, beautifully aired, are spread out prettier thoughts, ready for you to put on.” 

~ J.M. Barrie

Remember, I was telling you about the lady who came and sat on my sister’s bed when we were little? Back when I was four, and Simone was two and a half?

I felt quite afraid those nights when my sister was sick. Her skin and hair was sticky with sweat. She was so hot, and she tossed and turned and whimpered in her sleep.

Each night after the world was asleep the beautiful lady surrounded by the silver-blue light would come to our room.  Each night she would comfort my sister, sing to her, and talk to her in her low, sweet voice. She spoke the funny language that I found out much, much later was French.

At the end of one of these visits, when I sensed she was about to leave, I asked her why she was visiting.

“I am her Mummy,” she said to me somehow. “Her Mummy from another time. When a mother loves her child, the love lasts forever.”

She touched my hand. It made me feel so warm inside. “We are family,” she said.  “Remember that.  Family means love forever. There is always someone watching over you.”

She kissed me on the forehead. “One day you will remember…”

And then she was gone.

At the darkest times of my life I have recounted that conversation. After my grandmothers passed away, Marga in 2011 and then Nana late last year, I finally understood what that meant – to have someone watching over you. I felt it in my heart.

As my sister and I research our family tree, and connect into previous generations and our more ancient lines, I feel the weight of this love more and more.

For all of you – those who already feel loved, and those who feel lost or alone – let me reassure you. There is family stretching far back, whose lives are braided through with yours over and over again.

Some call it family, some call it ancestors, some call it soul group. It really doesn’t matter by what name we know it.  All that matters is this – the magic in this world is love. It’s the energy that follows us, sustains us, and lifts us up. It’s all around us, even when we can’t see it.  Even if we choose to believe it’s not there.

I’m looking forward to sharing more of that magic with you…

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Inviting Stillness…

“The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

How can you be well, how can you know peace, if you are always busy? Always rushing?

If your days are blurring one into the other, if you are exhausted and defeated in spirit, or lost and no longer certain of your path, then stop!

Just for a moment, allow yourself to be still. Just for a moment be aware of your breathing, of the air on your skin, of the time of day, the temperature, the beat of your heart, the position of your body.

A moment or two of stillness refreshes everything.

In a moment of stillness rest comes.  Peace comes.  Answers come.

You can’t find that space and expansiveness when you rush, rush, rush.

You can’t find that comfort when you are so busy that your head is spinning.

Today, find a quiet moment.  Allow yourself to enter into stillness.

Rest there.

And wait.

Stillness is always where the magic happens.

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Midnight Visits

Image from www.mota.ru

Image from www.mota.ru

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
~ Lao Tzu

 

I’ve been herxing badly the past few days. Herxing is a strong physical reaction to the die-off of pathogens, which release toxins into the body. It’s a good thing – or so I tell myself.  It proves to me that the antibiotics and herbs I am taking for my Lyme disease are working…

But it also means I wake up after a few hours of sleep, bathed in sweat and wracked with pain. I haunt the house at midnight, trying not to wake anyone as I roam around looking for relief from my discomfort. If I am lucky, I find sleep again as the sun is rising.

Last night I found myself crying downstairs in the darkened lounge room. My skin was on fire, the pressure behind my right ear made me believe my head might actually explode, my troublesome left eye felt once again as if someone was stabbing it with a fork and roasting it over hot coals.

My legs ached with a pain deep in the bones. I spasmed and twitched. I ran hot and cold by turn. I was not having fun.

I tried to meditate. I tried prayer.  Nothing much was working. It was hard to keep a lid on my distress. In my exhaustion and discomfort I felt quite alone.

I lay down on the lounge and focused on my breath. As I consciously drew each breath in and then slowly exhaled I began, finally, to relax. The pain was still there, the skin on fire, the eye, the ear – but the tight sense of panic let go.

After an hour or so the deep perfume of flowers filled the room; roses, gardenias, jasmine, lavender and soft floral notes. A sense of presence and love seeped into my soul. I was no longer alone.  I felt a tangible connection to my grandmothers, my great aunts, and women from my family lines I’ve never known. I felt the divine energy supporting and underpinning this experience. I understood how much I am loved, and how that love reaches its hands across time and space to bring comfort.

This morning I am still wretched; fatigued, nauseous and herxing badly. But oh how my soul sings.  How uplifted I feel. If this is the gift of my disease – to realise the foreverness of family and that enduring heart connection – well I can honestly say that this suffering is worth it.

No matter what happens in this lifetime, I know with every cell of my body that I am okay, that you are okay, that love surrounds us and holds us, and that we too will one day stand on the other side and send that same love and comfort to others.