Tag Archives: depression

Meditation and yoga can’t be rushed!

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Over the holidays we have been decorating and installing a new bathroom, a job which was long overdue.  We’re not quite finished yet,  but I can’t wait for washing to become a more spa-like experience!

Decorating is not something which comes naturally to me. I’m more of an ‘ideas girl’. I love to come up with the colours and dream about what the completed room will look like, but the actual painting isn’t one of my natural skills. I started in the airing cupboard, before the new pipework and cylinder went in – it was probably best I started there before getting to the walls people would actually see! It was very hot and confined in there, but in the end I did an ok job – not brilliant, but not terrible, either.

So now I’m on the bathroom.  I didn’t think it would take all that long. It’s a tiny room, and a lot of the wall is tiled, so really, I expected it to be done by now. Not by a long way! I had completely underestimated just how much preparation goes into making a nice smooth wall to paint, particularly when that wall used to be completely tiled. We have filled and sanded twice over, I’ve primed and prepared, but the perfectionist in me can see this still isn’t ready – more sanding is going to be required (hopefully just one more time!) I am itching to see it finished, but I know it’s going to be a busy weekend, and maybe, just maybe, I might get to put the first coat of actual coloured paint on the walls!

But, all this painting is a good opportunity to practise some mindfulness. I need to be completely focussed on the task in hand (I don’t want to mess up my beautifully white ceiling that I have finished!) I don’t want to have to clear up sploshes of paint from the floor, the tiling or the window (which has already been beautifully painted, thank you very much!) Cutting in requires full attention! And, over the past couple of weeks, I’ve found a much greater enjoyment in decorating than I had ever believed possible – and I’ve learnt to be patient with the time it’s taking to get to the end result.

In short, I’ve learned to enjoy the process, one step at a time, rather than being endlessly focussed on the end result. And this, if you’ve been wondering how the title fits this post, is where meditation and yoga come in. My morning yoga and meditation practice, each day, is a chance for me to listen to my body, listen to my mind, and  select the practices which seem right for that very moment in time. I don’t have a goal, and some days the whole thing is more satisfying than others. When we start out in yoga, we may very well have a goal that gets us started – mine was recovering from a lengthy illness, as I wrote about here.

That goal may be less aches and pains, feeling fitter, being able to relax, better sleep, relieving stress, anxiety or depression – the list goes on. To start with, you’ll feel full of optimism and enthusiasm. But as you go on, you’ll realise, you need to relax and enjoy the process. You will keep moving closer to your goal, but the process itself can’t be pushed. For instance, if you want to be able to touch your toes when you haven’t reached past your knees in years, don’t expect to reach that goal on day 1! Don’t expect too much, or you’ll just get frustrated and feel that yoga isn’t working for you.  If you want to meditate, accept that, initially, you may be continually having to bring your mind back from whatever train of thought it keeps heading off on, and wriggling around to try and find a more comfortable position. This is just a part of the process, like sanding my wall – yuk!  – which we have to embrace in order to get to the other side (beautiful bathroom / peaceful mind and comfortable body!) If we try to rush things, and expect too much, too soon, we run the risk of giving up before we get anywhere.

So, by all means, have a goal.  Just don’t rush things, take your time and enjoy the whole experience 🙂

Alison x

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Why mums can’t do everything…

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newborn-1506248_1280Mums do so much. So, so much. Yet they always think they can do even more. They feel guilty if they stop, even for a few minutes.  Sitting down, in the day….NO! Going to bed when they’re exhausted….NO WAY, there’s still more chores to do!

But here’s why us mums need to take care of ourselves. (That’s us mums of whatever age, with one, two or more children, babies, toddlers, or teens). We can only give our best when we feel at our best. And we frequently feel way less than our best. Sometimes, we forget what our best even felt like.

When we become tired, exhausted, and depleted, we lose something of ourselves. Mums frequently say they can barely remember who they were before they had children. Becoming a mother is certainly a life-changing event, a momentous thing for any woman. We grow very quickly, learning our baby’s, and then our older child’s needs. We very quickly learn to put their needs before our own. There’s probably nobody more selfless than  mothers. And that’s the way it has to be.

But when we get tired and neglect our own needs for too long (and we all know it can be VERY long!), we start to lose ourselves, that glimmer and sparkle that makes us who we ARE. We may lose our sense of humour, we may lose our vitality, we may even start to lose that vital empathy and ability to see things from our child’s point of view. Those things that bother them can start to feel so small compared with our own mountainous fatigue. We may become impatient, irritable, or depressed. We may stop enjoying and savouring this time with our children as much as we feel we should (oops, there’s that guilt again!) The sheer wonder of being a parent can start to pass us by, and it can feel like an endless uphill struggle.

So – we need to take time out. It isn’t selfish to look after ourselves from time to time. Who are we kidding if we tell ourselves we can be awake for 20 hours a day, every day, and still be supermum?! Yes, the house might be tidy, but the children crying again will feel like the last straw. Someone else can wash up for a change, someone else can bring in the washing and fold it away. Take those few  minutes for yourself, have a sit down with a good book, your favourite music, do some exercise, have a lovely warm bath – whatever you need to replenish your energy levels and bring back some of that lovely sparkle that makes you YOU!

What are your favourite ways to relax and recharge? Leave your comments below!

If you’d like to have more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox, and receive a FREE deep relaxation recording, sign up for the Sunfish Yoga and Therapy newsletter here: http://bit.ly/sunfishnews

Alison x

 

 

Keeping the waters flowing

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In my post ‘A feeling of belonging’, I wrote about the sense of security which we find when our base chakra, mooladhara, is strong and open.  When we feel secure and grounded, we find it easier to move and flow with the events and circumstances of our lives, and to deal with strong emotions a little more easily (they will always be a challenge!).  When we come to our second chakra, svadisthana, situated at the sacrum, we come to the element of water – as opposed to the solidity of the earth at our base.

Water should flow.  That’s what it does.  And at this very emotional centre, we can learn to flow like a clear river or stream, rather than stagnating like a muddy pool (yuk!).  We learn to allow our emotions to pass through us, to truly feel them, and then to let them go.  We learn to be flexible in our lives, and to be truly in the moment, adapting to where we actually are, rather than dwelling interminably on where we hoped to be.

Svadisthana is the chakra which will be rocked by grief and its less intense cousin, sadness.  When you are dealing with watery emotions, particularly when you feel blue without any idea why, you can be sure that swadistana may be needing some attention.  Equally, if you find it hard to cry and to show your emotions, you may be experiencing a block at this level.  This chakra, together with Vishuddhi chakra at the throat, is also associated with our creativity, with birth and renewal.  And if you have experienced grief  or depression, you may have noticed how these emotions really dull your creativity.  They are stultifying emotions, extinguishing the ability to create new possibilities for ourselves. If we think of our creative impulse as a spark, then the waters of an imbalanced second chakra may quench the spark before it really gets going.

If you are working with the chakras, it is always worth working with an experienced teacher, who can help you deal with difficult emotions as they arise.  Sometimes, there are current circumstances which elicit these feelings; at other times, they arise seemingly out of nowhere, or previous experiences may come back to the forefront of our minds.  But when we work on svadisthana, through yoga asanas, sequences, meditation or concentration (dharanam), we learn to calm the turbulence of our emotions, as if calming a rough sea.  In yoga, we may use the Moon sequence, Chandra Namaskara, to help balance this centre, visualising the moon shining serenely over still, calm waters.  We may work with forward bends, such as Paschimottasana or Padahastasana, which powerfully affect the lower spine. In Dru yoga, we always precede intensive postures which will activate the lower chakras with heart-opening moves, so that any emotions released at the lower centres can be transformed at the heart.  After a forward bend, we will stretch upwards, extending the spine and bringing the energy up through the spine to the higher centres.  We balance our practice not just on a physical level, but also on an emotional and energetic level, simply by pairing our forward and backward bends.