A Slow Start is Better Than No Start

Image from xojane.com

Image from xojane.com

“Everything is created twice, first in the mind and then in reality.”
~ Robin S. Sharma

 

It’s fair to say that, thanks to Lyme Disease, I’ve experienced chronic ill-health for a long time. Over thirty years, in fact. And certainly in the past six or seven years, as I have battled with cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, severe breathlessness, low blood pressure and fatigue that was exacerbated by any form of physical exertion, it is also fair to say that I have done little exercise apart from stretches and gentle walking or swimming.

But I’m beginning to feel better.

Better enough that I want to exercise. And finally I have my doctor’s blessing to do yoga after not being allowed to for so long.

So, I dragged out my yoga mat, and in the privacy of my own home, all eagerness and optimism, I began the routine I had done easily and every day for years before my lyme-induced heart attack. Forgetting, of course, that I’d last done this yoga regime with grace and ease seven long years and twenty kilograms ago.

Except that I couldn’t do it. I didn’t bend, I couldn’t move my poor stiff body into any of the positions, and I fell over. A lot.

Do you know what I did then?

I cried.

I cried with frustration. I cried because I’d lost so much ground. I cried because I was so much worse than I’d thought I would be.

Honestly, I should have known I had no hope of getting through that advanced routine, but it was the only one I knew off by heart, and I hadn’t stopped to think that the thing I’d always been able to do would suddenly be so hard. After years of illness I’d lost my flexibility, my balance, my confidence. What was I to do?

Be kind to myself is what.

I turned to my trusty iPad and downloaded a cheap little app called Yoga Studio. From its clean screen of images I chose a fifteen minute beginner routine for back pain. To my delight the fifteen minutes flew by, and although I was not elegant or graceful, I managed to do some semblance of each of the poses. By the week’s end I’d progressed enough that I could complete the routine with a kind of flow, and I’d also noticed an improvement in my flexibility and co-ordination.

It will be a while before I am setting the Byron Bay yoga studios on fire. That’s okay with me. I have found a beginning place, a place where I feel the joy of success rather than the sting of failure.

A slow start is better than no start at all, and slow starts often lead to deep and lasting practice.

Is there some place that you can make a slow start this week?

Commit to something simple and small. You can build on it later, when you’re ready. But do start. There is so much power in starting. And continuing. Slow starts give you room to move and improve. They build confidence and skill. They set you up for success.

And gee, it feels lovely!

If you need a little motivation, this short and inspiring video should do it…

 

 

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.

stillness

Doing Nothing is Productive!

Image from wallpapers-biz.co.cc

Are you one of those people who needs to be productive?

I certainly am. Not from any external pressure –  I just LIKE getting stuff done, and I always have several projects on the go, a big fat to-do list, as well as a schedule that stretches out towards the horizon.  Life, and its possibilities, lights my fire!

But there is nothing like a good dose of burn-out to help you realise that less is more, and a dose of near-death really does help you to clarify your priorities.

Where one upon a time I worked endlessly, I now work in bursts, and then have some time out that is totally unscheduled.

Before my big cycles of crash and burn, repair, go full tilt, crash and burn, repair, go full tilt, crash and burn – okay, you get my drift – my life looked like this:

Image from freeicons.eu

I was a busy little robot working harder and harder, doing more and more, and somehow expecting that I could just carry on that way forever.

I actually thought that if I worked harder and harder I would achieve more and more, ad infinitum.  But of course you end up working with the Law of Diminishing Returns.  More does not make more.  More becomes less.

More work means less sleep. Less fun.  Less clarity.  Less inspiration.  Less connection.  Less well-being. Less healing capacity.  Less opportunity to be spontaneous. Less flexibility.  Less ability to cope with the unexpected. Less true creativity. Less chance of seeing new possibilities, meeting new people and expanding in new directions.

When you keep trying to fit more and more in, something will inevitably break, and that something might be you.

I know this, because I’ve been there.  More than once.  And most of it has been self-inflicted.

I’ve had to ask myself the big questions in life.

I am okay with diminished output if it means better quality of life, and a longer life. I mean, realistically, how much can you get done here if you’re dead? And in the end, does any of that stuff on your to-do list really matter?

So now my life looks much more like this:

Image by Lecsmile – Photobucket.com

I have periods of deep rest, relaxation and doing totally NOTHING.  And then I have periods of doing things, being active, connecting, learning and being crazy-mad infatuated with taking up all life has to offer!

Truth is, I’m more productive than I ever was, in the areas that matter to me.

I hadn’t expected that.

Oh my goodness I wish I’d know this important little nugget of wisdom years ago.

Less is more.

Image from msugradwellness.wordpress.com

That’s right.

Doing nothing is good for you.

If you don’t know how to do nothing, here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Naps.  Napping is awesome!
  • Curl up on the couch with a magazine.
  • Go to bed early or sleep in.  Sleep all day if you feel like it.
  • When something frees up in your schedule, don’t fill that spot with another task or expectation.  Let yourself luxuriate in that new spare time.
  • Dawdle. Potter along on a nice slow walk, amble through a park or shopping mall.
  • Go to the movies.
  • Read a book.
  • Nap.  Did I say that already?  Oh well.  Have another one!
  • Lose yourself in a book.
  • Hang out at the library.
  • Go for a surf.
  • Get a massage.
  • Take a bath.
  • Quit something so you can free up your schedule!
  • Say no to things you don’t want to do.
  • Have an early night and bunk down with some tasty treats and a good DVD.
  • Go on holidays.
  • Have a phone free, computer-free day.
  • Stay home and do… nothing! No housework, no odd jobs. Do what makes you happy. Maybe some craft, or cooking, or just hang out.
  • Spend time with the ones you love.
  • Sit in a coffee shop and read the weekend papers while having a long breakfast or an extended brunch/lunch.
  • Go window shopping, just to pass the time and fill yourself up with images, ideas and dreams.
  • Sunbake.
  • Sit by the ocean or the river.
  • Perch on top of a mountain.
  • Fluff around, not getting anything much done, but not minding that either.  Some people call this procrastination – I call it exploring my desk or kitchen drawers to see what’s really in there…
  • Spend time with the family pet – these guys really have relaxation down to an art!

Magic happens when we give ourselves down-time. And a magical life is definitely one worth living. You never know what might happen if you just create a little space in your day…

Image from The Fox and The Child, Hopscotch films, 2009

 

Bert says sorry…

Hello, I’m Bert, Nicole’s trusty secretary…

And I’d like to say sorry.

 

You see Nicole wouldn’t play with me this morning.

I tried my best to look fetching, but she kept ignoring me.

I even tried emotional manipulation…

But she was still ignoring me!

When she went to do her yoga stretches that was the final straw.  I sat on her mat in protest!

So now she’s taking me for a walk instead of writing her blog. Sorry about that! hahaha

I’m taking my ball and my mum and I’m outta here. Bye! xx

Journal for Clarity and Connection 1 – All about my Body

Week 1:  All About My Body

This week we are focussing on our physical bodies and all that entails for us.  Our plan is to understand and connect with our physical selves, a part of us often ignored as we rush through our busy lives.

Journaling Exercise:

Buy a journal if you don’t already have one..  Commit to writing a few pages every morning, and spend this time reflecting on what you like and dislike about your health and body.  Use any of these starters to help you:

  • When I tune into my body I feel…
  • The parts of me I have neglected are…
  • If my internal organs, and my body could talk, they would tell me that…
  • The sorts of movement my body enjoys are…
  • When I look at myself in the mirror I…
  • I would like to look at myself in the mirror and see…
  • When I eat…
  • It feels amazing to…
  • I look really great in…
  • I would feel better if…
  • There are a few things I need in order to look and feel my best.  They are…
  • People who could help me are…
  • A time in my life when I felt really good about my physical self was…
  • My body would love it if…
  • The things I am grateful to my physical body for are…

Read back over your journal in the evening. Use a highlighter to mark things that are important to you so you can form a clear idea of what changes you would like to make in your life.  Continue this exercise for the whole week, focusing on health, nutrition, clothing style, hair, makeup, sleep, exercise and well being.  Create lists and tasks to help you move your body to a place of wellness and feel-good.  Transfer your lists to a day planner or master list book, and begin to action them.

Activity:

Go for a walk each day, or do some form of exercise that refreshes you.  Clean out your fridge and kitchen cupboards, get rid of all the junk, and shop for healthy food.  Eat fresh fruit and vegetables every day, drink plenty of clean, fresh water, cut down on caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, processed food and sugar.

 

Sort out your wardrobe and bathroom cabinets.  Throw out old, broken, never used and low self-worth stuff.  Work out what you need to do to start looking and feeling better and add those things to your list!

Nurture your body with massages, baths, oils and lotions. Treat it to good eating, and gentle (or more rigorous if you’re up to it) movement. Tell your body often that you are grateful for all it does for you. Thank it and love it and appreciate it. Listen to it, and it will tell you what it needs!