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The Importance of Sleep

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They say that “Life is a choice”. That we are our choices, and that all we have to do is choose something else to make major life change.  I have to say I’ve figured this out much later in life than I would like to admit to, it is the small things that build stability and actually they are the massive things. In the days where we’re sold quick fixes via ten step programmes that will transform our lives in 5 days. Changing one thing can seem minimalist.

This morning I rose late, it was an active choice one of the benefits of working for yourself. In fact Monday is my lazy work day. I brush my teeth, I wash my face, stay in my pyjamas, I switch on my laptop and work from the couch. It’s part of my personal self-care routine. I work less and that’s what I want, 4 full days a week max and I like it that way. It means I have time for me. Lazy Monday gives me a work day without masks where there is no pretending or being polite. It is in essence and day of hermitage. Where my own emotional landscape is my priority.

A massive part of my self-nurturance journey is sleep, it’s always been sleep, if you remove it my world  falls apart rapidly. I become cranky, irritable and unreasonable. A toddler heading for tantrum territory. Sleeping and snoozing sometimes in the middle of the afternoon is one of my own keys to emotional filing. If I am disturbed or perturbed it’s my first go to solution. Napping can almost instantly transform your outlook. Its been a learnt process. I often feel that it is one of my greatest indulgences, especially in a society that suffers from chronic sleep deprivation.  Sleep deprivation is one of the greatest healing crisis facing the western world. Beyond this many of us have lost our ability to dream and find the imagery that helps us process our waking worlds. If I sleep without dreaming my emotional filing systems is failing I feel bereft, disconnected. I can’t process my days. I can’t find the symbolism that helps me interpret my life.

We have also undermined the importance of rest. Meditation and yoga are prescribed as cure alls, as they may well be. As we hope to live energised and tireless lives these are the  snappy tools for productivity. However if we are still and take time to rest we create the opportunity to delve into life and appreciate it for what it really is an endless chain of fleeting moments strung together for our entertainment.

As I travel through my own journey and envision a smooth tarmacadam surface that takes me through the dream like landscape of my own life. I often wonder about those people who have the perfect routine, that eat clean, are happy with their organic fair trade  chardonnay and bio degradable yoga mat. Of course that’s what I aspire to too and if I was ready to sink deep to the early morning fog of clarity that waking yoga brings I’d be there in a moment.

Mind Overtime?

IMG-9234For the last few months my sleep has been disturbed. Having gone through a major life change my wee brain has been on overtime to align. Unpacking what I thought should have happened, what actually happened and what is. Even God can’t change the past (Not that I necessarily believe in an omnipresent super being that has the ability to fix everything).

Our mind is a problem solving tool, that desperately wants to fix things. It’s like a massive computer crunching data so that we don’t make the same mistakes, so we can avoid pain and make new choices. In the self-development sector there is a tendency to demonise the mind as the enemy of the soul and a barrier to enlightenment. Like any other part of the human body it has a purpose, which is to protect us. It provides us with memory and allows us to access some kind of logic to avoid pain and even death. Yet when it runs on overtime like it has done for me for that last few weeks the mind can become an unsettling place to own, given that it can be all consuming. Its a difficult thing to deal with and face sitting fully with a painful thought process, especially when we know there is another way of being. Which includes allowing and accepting. Far easier said than done. Conversations are good, they provide insight. We know we need to let go. However often we need a secret piece of information to let go. That is what our mind is doing it’s running the numbers to find the glitch in the system. We have to keep the conversation going.

Having worked on myself for many years and largely operating from the space of the quiet mind it can be alarming to find yourself in a spot you thought you had half mastered. These are only thoughts, these are only images, these are not real, this does not define me. In every pain there is a gift. As we know and understand that life is supposed to be fun. When our body is in pain whether it be our mind, our leg or even out heart our physical being is working very hard to tell us something in order to grow. As humans we must listen, it can be laborious painful, excruciating even. We must sit with it and slowly is will unpick itself. The puss will ooze out and we can see the messy programing and mutated thinking that we have designed to attack ourselves. We keep on getting presented with the lesson until the lesson is learned.

Now that my brain has run every single potential out come and finally realised that everything is in divine order and also manged to unpick some deep and damaging programming. Its time to repair. How do I know? It’s ready to sleep. To slumber and bask in another world of consciousness. It’s just decoded a massive information stream and it is now willing to let go of the work. It’s handed over the project and looking a clean desk and waiting for the next pile of paperwork. Or mind can be an incredible tool and as I deepen my skill set and witnessed the brain going haywire, from an objective point of view I now know that it is working to my benefit.

 

Expand Your Circle

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Beyond drinking enough water and getting enough sleep. If there was one thing that I would recommend for a good life it is friends. Now first of all this might seem obvious. Second of all it wasn’t to me. I have spent much of my life chasing good friendships. If you really want to get to grips with what is going on for you in your life, friendships will act as a mirror to your challenges as much as any romantic relationship that you might have.

The impact that your close knit support can have on you can be profound, to the point that they may very well deny your basic needs, from a glass of water to unbroken sleep. It’s true and many of us humans are in deep denial about the impact that dysfunctional relationships can have on our basic survival even as adults. If you are indeed in a situation where none of your basic needs are met, where you don’t feel supported, then as challenging as it might be it’s time to leave.

Everyone is deserving of support. Everyone is entitled to a glass of water, a safe place to sleep and to feel connected and held by the people who surround them. Often time depending on how we have been raised we can believe that just because people are there that and that they have not chosen to abandon us that they are our friends. This is not always true. Often people try to hold on to us in there lives in order to feel powerful. They get power out of demeaning us, undermining our own thought and ideas, or belittling and berating what brings us joy or purpose. You may suspect that people don’t want what is best for you. As you feel that they corrode your self-worth.

You are in control of how you feel about yourself. You are always able to love yourself and as you take steps towards self-nurturance you will soon understand that although it is nice to have people in your life. You can choose who those people are and how you want to feel. The next time that you are in someones company, what I would encourage you to do is to become aware of how you feel. If someone backs you feel special than that is the person you want to be round, if someone makes you feel a little knarly round the edges, maybe it’s time to examine what going on there.

Like relationships, no friendship is perfect. You are in a friendship to give too. We have to accept another persons humaness and do our best to not make our humaness another persons burden.

If you genuinely have no friends, feel isolated, and have no support network it’s time to get out there and find your tribe. The exist and they are just as flawsome as you. The only way that you are really going to find the friends that your deserve is by being  yourself. Only then can you attract people that are the right sort of weird to your irresistible flame. What you might also like to do is to make sure is that you are clear about what kind of friend that you want to be. Do I call people back? Do I keep in touch when someone is having a tough time? Do I remember peoples birthdays? Be the friend that you want to be and a beautiful human is sure to turn up with the right kind of food for you.

 

 

 

 

 

Authenticity v Positivity

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From where I’m sitting within the self-development community Authenticity and Positivity seem to be the two pillars of personal growth.  Through my own journey I am witnessing my responses to these two bath and found that I have a very interesting inner battle going on. In my role as a life doula I really dig deep to engage with people. Us self-help types, I promise you are interesting and diverse bunch, largely because there are so many different ways to heal. From laughing yoga to detoxing your yoni, there really is something for everyone.

Quite often I come across super smiley types who I can’t easily be mistake for cuddly fluff balls they might want to be mistaken as. I find them unsettling and I think my f-bombs might flatten a few of them. Consciousness asks us to be aware of our thoughts, our words, our vibration and what it is that we are actually manifesting.

Positivity is for me very much about trying to alter your inner dialogues. Changing the way you think, banishing the bad and focusing on the good. It’s a great idea in principle however for many of us it can sap a lot of energy trying to uphold a representation of yourself that isn’t exactly you. Unless of course it is. For twenty years I’ve been observing my dialogues and wondering how much the words and thoughts that appear in my head influence my feelings and how they impact others. There is a lot that can be tweaked. From gratitude diaries, to saying thank you rather than sorry (Which is a mini form of gratitude). Or even switching your words round…. I hate Mondays, to I love Fridays. I don’t like coffee to I prefer tea. What ever we say or do it is a reflection of our inner world including a grimaced smile.

I do believe that there is a huge amount to be gained from having a positive and loving outlook towards ourselves and the world at large. However the positivity trap seems to be adverse to the reality of the world that we live in. There is day and night and we have broad vocabularies so that we can identify a multitude of thoughts, feelings,  ideas, theories, or even objects. No object is inherently negative, not even a weapon. It’s the ways in which we use or label our language, dialogues, thoughts, feelings, ideas, theories and objects that can be either supportive or chastening.

Positivity is a lot different from authenticity. Authenticity is where I am at.

Authenticity is about taking the good with the bad and not having any judgement about it. As far as I am concerned emotions are the magic thread that takes us to our deeper truth. The subtleties of how our emotions connect is a language that has it’s very own personal code and only you know what it is.

I, like anybody, have my dialogues. As I work this process I find it’s more like ironing, some of those creases just come right out and then there are the folds that are stuck right on in there, like they are part of the sheet itself.  We can twist it anyway we like, we can silver line it, re-frame it look for the gifts and it still sucks. What we want is a pristine flat white sheet. The fold in the sheet has absolutely nothing to do with the sheet’s purpose or it’s ability to fulfill it’s role of protecting our bodies. We even get disgruntled at the experience of a sheet protecting our bodies. That it ends up with stains or holes as the result of protecting out bodies. We deny a white sheet it’s very being. Instead we have projected ideas of cleanliness, purity and our own moral value and even work ethic in the appearance of a white sheet. When actually it acts as a beautiful canvas of our lives. When really there just ain’t no way round all those creases and stains other than to accept them and love through the process. That’s true.

It’s the same for us. We deny ourselves the right to be human. We can’t even get the sheets dirty even though we have orifices that leak fluid and we have to sleep 8 hours a day. I’m more interested in being able to shit myself accidentally in public without shame, than forcing myself to view it as a positive experience. In truth all experiences that force growth in the end have a positive up-spiral. Those experiences can  still embarrassing, painful and traumatic. We can own that.

I’m happy to cry in public and say thank you to the people holding space for me. I’ll also happily lose my shit in a particularly pressing moment and again be grateful to those who continue to hold space for me.  There it is again though in the quest for the authentic how many of you out there are willing to hold space for sadness yet not tolerate anger?

We all play dress up with our emotions and appearance. Where do we draw the line between real and make-believe.

Self-Nurturance

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If you go to my home page of this website you will find that I emphasis the importance of basic self-care. The importance of breathing, sleeping, hydration, eating and safety. I mean the absolute basics. One thing that has truly revolutionised my life was drinking water I spent years feeling exhausted and it was only once I truly committed to drinking 500ml of water first thing in the morning that I really noticed a peak in my energy levels. When before I might have rolled right over and forgotten that there was a schedule to keep. Instead I went to bed with a full water bottle next to me and when I woke up it was the first thing I reached for. I slowly began to realise that if I drank the water and continued to stay in bed by the time I really needed to get up I was refreshed, energised with a clear head. It was like finding the secret on switch to my body.  I was far less lethargic and getting up in the morning turned to a joy rather than a slog.

Almost all of us are capable of self-care unless we already suffer from chronic or acute illness. Self-care is simply the process of keeping ourselves alive, which can be a lot more challenging than you might think, dependent on our physical environment, access to basic resources,  family circumstances, access to education or healthcare.

The current westernised system attempts to propagate the idea of exponential growth, where monetary profits are more important than the human condition or even that of our fellow earthlings.  Where the colour of money comes shining through, depriving many of us humans the ability to breath clean air, drink clean water or eat fresh and nutritious food. Much of the above is far out of a person’s reach. Safe housing is for many quite simply a luxury. Instead the majority of humans are eating poison, masked as food, that will take many of us to an early grave and where life expectancy in modern countries looks like it might start to drop rather than increase. Now when we look to these circumstances, especially when you live in a city like Cape Town, we have to dig deeper for an understanding of where we are heading as a human race. Survival is self-care at it’s most basic level. If we want to push through that and step out on the path for of personal growth it’s time to take a step towards self-nurturance.

Self-nurturance lies somewhere between self-care and self-love and for me is based in the idea, that we alone, hold the key to our prosperity. It’s about gently raising our vibrations so that we no longer experience the world as a hostile place and see the potential of love. Some of us have never felt this strange fluffy thing that is largely represented by a bouquet a thorny flowers.