Claiming Authentic Power – How Yoga Helps Us To Harness the Power Within

Claiming Authentic Power – How Yoga Helps Us To Harness the Power Within

“To the degree that we do not fully claim our own power to transform, we are more likely to be possessed by this energy in it’s shadow form” – Carol S. Pearson

I have not resonated with a quote on such an intense level for quite a while.
I’m also a firm believer that each one of us has the power to direct and redirect our energy in order for it to manifest itself wherever we desire in our lives – whether we realise it or not.
If we think about our energy in terms of both a negative and a positive force, the positive stream functioning as a catalyst for growth and progression, and the negative as a hindering and damaging force, we can begin to see how the expansion and contraction of the channels down which this power flows results in certain manifestations of said energies. While this is constantly occurring on both a conscious and subconscious level, there are certain things which can help us harness the power necessary to direct the energy where we want it to go, instead of letting it flail around excitedly from brainwave to brainfart.
Yoga encourages the expansion of these channels (or nadis, in the yogic tradition) in the right direction, opening up and creating space for the positive to flourish, while attempting to block the negative.
And so in simple terms, yoga gives us the awareness to pursue, direct and encourage the good power to succeed over the bad. With me so far?

Negative Cycles

When I first started doing yoga consistently, I was, for want of a better phrase, ‘in a bad place in my life’. To keep the anecdotal personal sob-story short, I was living at home, had no job, no clear direction where I wanted my life to go, weighed a hollowing and bone-shatteringly cold 6 stone and lacked the energy and concentration necessary to complete even the most basic of tasks, let alone care about them. I would wake with spasms of fright and anxiety at 3am. I would get brief bouts of inspiration mixed with terrifying insight that my worsening situation needed to change…and then the difficulty of doing so would ultimately prove too extensive and straight away I’d be lost again to the numbing blanket of fuzzy and fatigued negative thoughts, so ingrained as they were in my mind that any feeble form of resistance against them was immediately silenced with disturbing ease and logic;
“You’re full of shit. It’s not worth it. Don’t bother.”
In short, things were dark.

Wasting Energy

The energy required to process all of these thoughts and worries at such a startling speed and damaging ferocity was ultimately leaving me both mentally and physically drained, not to mention the preoccupation with ensuring I adhered to strict ‘rules’ which I wasn’t permitted to break – just in case a sandwich or fleeting social interaction would spark off another ricocheting thought-firework and disable me from leaving the house for the rest of the day. I was, as the above quote describes, possessed by my own energy ‘in it’s shadow form’. It was being directed towards the wrong things, and to be honest it’s exhausting just writing about it.

No Alternative

When we’re deep in the grips of a negative cycle, be it a habit, a thought pattern, or simply a way of being or conducting ourselves that we’ve gradually grown accustomed to, it can seem like the most alien thing in the world to even consider existing any other way.
The power which is being permitted to flow full-force towards supporting the negative spirals is just too overwhelming to be redirected elsewhere. It takes extraordinary force of will and repetitive, conscious, and ongoing effort to haul our minds (and bodies) out of the downward-flow of this toxic power, a fact made lighter only by the knowledge that this force is contained within us at all times, its incessant nature meaning it simply can’t sit still and watch the world go by
– it has to go somewhere.

Getting to Know It

As an alternative to other forms of physical or mental exercise which may encourage thoughts and awareness away from this authentic energy which resides within each of us – literally doing what we Irish people have done for years and just not talking about it – yoga requires us to sit with this energy and examine it in all its beauty and terrifying power. We learn how to move with it, allowing it to channel through the positive streams and manifest itself in actions, talents, skills, character, originality, and most importantly; authenticity. Our yoga practice requires us to listen to our bodies and the energies which reside within. After a while we realise that most, if not all of our negative tendencies and habits result from a subconscious lapse or disregard for the direction of the positive energy, allowing the negative to swoop in and take over.
They say that everyone’s struggle is different. This means that every individual’s ‘flourishing’ will appear slightly different too. This is why it is so important to know ourselves.

Harnessing Power

Each and every one of us possess the power within us to manifest our ideas – to create, to bring to the world something new; a new view or perspective; a new manifestation of human energy which has been harnessed to reflect the intellect alongside which it resides. Learning how to harness it is much easier said than done however, and while some people naturally excel with the self-awareness and realization necessary to project it into the world, the vast majority of us just don’t.
It’s through practices such as yoga and meditation that I have been able to finally access some of that authentic potential, allowing for the transformation of my energy down a more fruitful and fulfilling path than the one which worries how many crackers I’ve eaten or about a passing remark made by a colleague two weeks ago. Brief and miniscule slices of this potential have managed to slip through over the years, manifesting as specific achievements or the success of artistic endeavours, but it was only when I began to consistently engage with yoga and meditation that I finally felt the sensation of actually having some sort of understanding of and power over my capacity to engage with it.

Imbalances

Misunderstanding or neglecting the force of our authentic power can so easily result in dangerous imbalances of energies, along with distorted visions and versions of ourselves; our intellect, our talent, our potential. It can so easily get lost. I feel one of the great tragedies of our time is simply wasted potential.

This has led me to conclude that by helping us to carefully observe our energy’s expenditure, origins, and direction, yoga can help us gain a dimension of insight into our own potential, allowing us to live and cultivate a more empowered life rather than shying away from it.
We all have this power, and are entitled to exercise and manifest it into the world.
We just need to learn how to use it.

Accessing Your Own Inner ‘Network’ – Self- Communication and the Benefits of Listening to Your Own Desires To Achieve Success

  Accessing Your Own Inner ‘Network

I’ve recently put very promising steps into place in order for me to successfully be able to work on my own terms, doing the things I not only excel at, but feel most passionately about. I’m not quite there yet, but the seeds have been planted (and deposits paid!) which will hopefully blossom into something extremely fulfilling and enjoyable – and after all, isn’t that the most we can hope to achieve from our ‘work’? I place ‘work’ in inverted commas here as I’m a firm believer in the whole ‘do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’, cliché. I’ll explain why shortly.

‘Success’ is another relative term. To achieve ‘success’, you first have to establish what your own understanding or expectation of ‘success’ is. In doing so, you may realise that you’re setting unfair expectations and deadlines for yourself without even realising it (warning sign number one!), and as such creating a mis-communication between your real passion and the human vessel through which it is trying to be expressed- that’s you, body!

Humans thrive on communication – on our daily interactions with one another. Before the days when ‘networking’ meant socialising merely for potential business or financial progression, we interacted on a more natural, humane basis, and really enjoyed having company and experiencing connection for the simple knowledge and reassurance it gave us that we weren’t alone in the world.
I despise the term ‘networking’, yet I understand why in today’s world it has unfortunately become a necessity. Even online – our interactions are now preceded with a weighty amount of agenda, pre-considered opinions and over-thought out potential scenarios – and that’s just by hitting ‘add friend’. Given the rapid-expansion of online social networks and their use and benefit for business growth, it is understandable that the trends and ‘most useful’ or most dependable means of communication are now continuously changing. Last year the most popular messaging app was Viber. Now it’s Whatsapp. Next year it will be something else, and I can’t remember the last time I sent an actual text message!

While keeping in touch with those on the outside and far away has become easier and more accessible than ever before, we unfortunately seem to have lost the altogether more important and pressing ability to get in contact with ourselves. It is so easy to get swept away in the wishes and passions of others, purely because it seems like the right thing to do or the most ‘socially acceptable’ course of action.
Whenever I find myself getting confused about my own actions or wishes, my current endeavours or simply my own reasoning for doing things, I can’t help but look at myself (as ‘Linked In’ conveniently provides as an option *rolls eyes*) through the eyes of my fellow social media users.

Would I add myself as a friend? Why? What could I possibly hope to gain from it?

Writing ‘About Me’ sections and ‘Bios’ defining myself in 150 characters or less has really forced me to sit back and reconsider my entire position in this world, and more often than not has left me anxious and concerned about my qualifications (or lack thereof) to work in the chosen fields I am placing myself within. Anyone can define themselves as a ‘writer’, a ‘musician’, an ‘accountant’, a ‘digital marketing strategist’, …the list goes on. I’ve written bios and personal statements for friends defining the areas they have chosen to dabble in, achievements they are proud of, and hopes for the future. While I’ll admit to feeling a sense of satisfaction on successfully condensing my life’s achievements and current existence into two or three carefully constructed lines of words, I’ve also questioned the very action of defining myself in such a way. It seems so limiting, so final. I’ve also worried about things I’ve posted online, purely for their permanency and irreversible presence.

The reality of it is that in today’s business and networking world, people are embarking on career changes and dipping their toes in the appealing paddling pools of new jobs and ventures becoming available like I change my mind about what socks to wear on a daily basis. The difference between those who succeed and appear content about their choice of lifestyle and those who choose to stay stuck in a rut they don’t enjoy, is that they don’t worry too much about it. They just go with it. They try it. If it works – brilliant. If it doesn’t – at least they tried. The next step might be more straightforward. If not that one, then maybe the next, and so forth….
I’ve lost count of the amount of times my parents have expressed concern or confusion over the fact that I don’t currently have a 9-5 job, and moreso the reality that a little part of me vomits a bit in my mouth whenever the thought of it surfaces. It’s simply not a bracket I see myself fitting anymore, the stifling prospect of any contract longer than a year enough to make me run a mile in the opposite direction, (or at least book a flight!).

In choosing to have a little faith in myself and my own talents, capabilities and potential instead of denying myself the possibility of happiness and creative fulfillment I have come to associate with most reliable and contracted incomes, the reality that is my life right now, has already taken a turn for the better. Even before I’ve achieved anything in the rough blueprint I’ve laid out for myself. I’m not saying this will be the case for everyone, but for me, it’s an unfortunate (or fortunate, whatever way you look at it!) truth.
I’ve muddled my way through several jobs and possibilities, considered certain routes and potential roads to take, all with the wrong outlook. Where before I looked externally to what people would think if I did this or what it would look like if I did that as a means of judging whether or not to proceed, I have now learnt to communicate with my own desires, and with the way my thoughts and talents work. I now have the tools to connect to my own inner network, and a better knowledge of the frequency it functions best at. Self-communication and understanding is the key to this.

There’s no guarantee I’ll succeed, but then again, there’s no guarantee that I’ll fail either. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll tweak it until it does. Like a recipe you can’t quite get right – it might not end up exactly as you had expected in the first place, but if it still tastes great and nourishes you in all the right ways, then what’s not to love?

Why Comparison is the Thief of Joy…

‘Come away o human child,
To the waters, and the wild,
With a faery hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping
Than you can understand”
– W. B. Yeats

 

As we grow, whether we are taught to specifically or not, we learn and become aware of the destructive, hindering, and downright ugly habit of comparison.

To compare. To contrast. To look at others in relation to ourselves.
We are placed into this cut-throat ‘race’ – even the word conjurs up a sense of competition – to appear the most ‘together’. The most ‘on-track’, the most, the best, the highest of something, or anything…The details of the path to which no one ever specifically outlines, and to those few who through some happy fortune and lucky accident have managed to avoid the now ingrained natural inclination to compare, probably seem ridiculous. But it’s everywhere. Even the most basic and first obvious step to ‘progress’ in life – the process of getting a job. The very nature of ‘jobsearching’ in it’s most basic form being an exercise in the techniques we use to compare ourselves.

Because these details remain unclear, rather a vague ideology of what ‘should be’, or what you ‘should have achieved’ by now in your life, so too remain the steps ‘required’ to achieve it; unclear, and downright confusing.

In essence, what I have just described leads to a life lived solely for the purpose of pleasing or fulfilling the presumed ‘expectations’ of others. These expectations having been sculpted from a firm base of solid fact, into pliable muscles that can be flexed and altered depending on the strengths and weaknesses of others and ourselves, and described in relation to whatever perceived ‘flaw’ or ‘issue’ a person may be preoccupied with in any given moment. Implying that the energy a person directs correctly towards any given thought or outcome, is where prevelence will occur.

What I’m trying to say is, we end up using the energy which should be expended clarifying all this uncertainty instead to fuel false and/or inaccurate beliefs about ourselves and circumstances. By the time many of us realise where this energy has gone, it is often too late to change the course in which it has been expended.

The ‘flaws’ or ‘issues’ which caused the reckless expension of this energy to occur are seen for what they really are; our natural differences, unique qualities, and irreversible traits, consequences, backgrounds and composition, which in their realisation present us with a breathtaking understanding of our own potential.

Potential being the key factor here in our contemplation of all of this.

In all of us, there lies potential. Potential to add to the world as it already exists. As it already stands. A unique offering from our unique composition and the possibilities presented by it, that only we have access to and control over.
By comparing ourselves to any existing and unchangeable (from our point of view) person, place, achievement, action, idea, whatever it may be, we are tainting already the potential which breathes originality and newness through our uniquely crafted and formulated lungs of individual DNA, and wasting what it is silently nourishing.
Similarly, by considering ourselves in context to, in comparison to, or as an extension of or addition to any other person, we immediately limit the valuable streams of energy which hold the potential to pave new and undiscovered paths to places that people may have travelled before – but probably not in quite the same way.

In all this pent up worry, these comparative and analytical thoughts and emotions being focused on why we can’t just have what someone else has, be what someone else is, or what someone else wants, for that matter, there is no room left for joy. For happiness. For contented, simple, pleasure in one’s own company. Within one’s own skin, home, environment. There is simply no place for it.
It’s only when you’ve been away from it for so long, and failed to experience the contented, relaxed and genuine oneness with yourself and your own mind and body that you realise how far away from it you once sought validation and comfort. There’s also the rather shameful realisation that this validation and comfort could not possibly ever have come from anywhere but within.

A friend asked me recently (in more colloquial terms) how my love life is at the moment. I replied saying that to be honest I kind of like just liking myself right now, and that I’d see how that goes for a while before getting too serious about anything. If I happen to make a new friend along the way who shares a similar fondness and appreciation for me, and I for him, then maybe, with a bit of luck we might bond over our mutual interests.
If I can someday appreciate someone for all they are, whilst also(and most crucially) still appreciating myself and my own body for what it is, does, and appears like, instead of trying to change it and alter it to suit misguided assumptions of what will ‘work’; then I feel I will be doing well.

Comparing with something, with someone…with an image of what I perceive to be correct or acceptable, steals away all energy which should be used to focus on developing my potential as a human being; my potential contribution to the world; my talents, loves, passions, rather than on potential that is reliant on outside factors beyond my control; like the choices, preferences or tendencies of others.

In avoiding comparison, I am avoiding any potential and useless despair. In accepting differences, and my own self the way I appear, think, and react instinctively, though it may not always be favourable, I am ridding myself of the misery and unsolvable, unavoidable reality that for so long wasted all potential energy which could have been of benefit elsewhere. The only potential created by that person, is the potential for disaster. The sensation of joy, of childish contentment and acceptance which comes with the banishment of this comparison is so powerful that the potential which has existed all along seems magnified, and powerfully exciting in it’s possibilities.
In redirecting the attention to my talents, passions, and potential contributions… they might finally receive the energy they require to come to fruition.

To conclude, I’ll merely state that comparison serves nobody, and creates nothing in it’s destructive pattern of over-analytical and negative thoughts. In order to make room for any potential joy or happiness in our lives, we must first assess what is taking up the space so cruelly witheld from this contentment, and take steps to remove it from our lives in favour of that which allows us to grow and explore our potential.

‘Wall or Nothing’ – Yoga for Balance, Yoga for Self-Sufficiency!!

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“I’m Just Scared Without the Wall….”

Those are the words I said aloud to my yoga teacher this morning, as I transitioned into a pose I knew I was physically capable of, yet suddenly felt terrified to push into.
Overcome with anxiety in that moment, I convinced myself I was unable to pull it off. I wobbled. I shook. I gave up, laughing as I untangled myself from the confusion of limbs that had collapsed onto the mat in defeat.
Not today, Jenny.
I moved on, slightly irritated, yet able to loosen my grip on the negativity enough to let it go and finish the rest of my practice in peace; in the middle of the room, without any wall.

We’ve all been there. A confident and strong flow of daily activity, social interaction, creative output, financial stability; whatever it is, going uninterrupted and progressing steadily for a time. Then all of a sudden there it is – The Fear.

What if I’m doing it wrong? What happens if my safety net disappears??

It’s natural to worry about not being able to continue if something happens to that wall of support –the constant, whatever safety net you associate with a certain aspect of life disappearing behind you.

My yoga practice has helped me facing these sort of difficult times. Times when I have felt I’ve had no one but myself to turn to, to lean on or ask for help. Times when it would be downright unfair to burden a loved one with problems that only I have the responsibility and capacity to solve.
Not only has yoga strengthened my physical core, enabling me to stand straight in whatever pose or inversion life throws at me, but it has also strengthened my mental capacity to correctly recognise when I am leaning on or blaming things outside of my control for my problems. It has helped me take responsibility for my own life, my own problems, and become confident in my own space on this planet and potential contribution to life. I know if I try hard enough, practice regularly enough, and pace myself accordingly without expecting immediate success or results, that things will come eventually, however slowly.

Removing the walls I had constructed around me allowed me to see the extent of my own potential; the potential of the world and how much there is still to experience – to see, to learn, to explore. I’ve since started learning Japanese. Improving relationships that had suffered before due to my emotional dependency on them. Attempting and succeeding in yoga poses I’d never dreamed of being capable of. Spending time by myself and actually enjoying my own company, whereas before I would have run a mile at the prospect of a quiet Sunday afternoon spent alone with my thoughts.

I like my thoughts now. They’re not all bad.

Sometimes it’s the easiest thing for us do to depend on that wall of physical or emotional support, and fall into using it as a crutch to maintain balance. It’s natural to need support at first, but the danger begins when you become dependent on that support to maintain a steady and balanced mentality. My yoga practice has helped me in more ways than I can describe, yet this dominant strength to stand up tall and support myself is what I keep returning to with pride when asked what I see in the practice.
It’s natural to be scared when you let your walls down. But you’ll never progress anywhere if you don’t at least try to go it alone.

Of course, there are always days when a little nudge of reassurance will be necessary – sometimes even just knowing that the wall is there can be helpful. But there’s nothing quite as fulfilling as finally achieving goals alone, and sustaining oneself independently of outside support!

Here’s to being (still trying to become :P) self-sufficient!!

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How to …Escape Emotional Dependency

 

How to… Escape Emotional Dependency…

Jack-Kerouac

 

“We are not creatures of circumstance; we are creators of circumstance.”
-Benjamin Disraeli

 

Cultivating the right environment for your own growth and development as a human being, as a creative individual, as a cog in the system of whatever functional or dysfunctional structure you’re fitting into, whether willingly or not, is absolutely vital if you’re going to make any kind of progression towards a happier life.

Emotional dependency is a trap so easily fallen into and so commonly mistaken for security and self-confidence. If I’m depending on someone to support me emotionally, I am feeding off energy supplies they have cultivated themselves, whether consciously or not, for their own benefit. Using their positivity and wellness as a means to support failing efforts at establishing my own. It’s a sign there is some sort of imbalance within my own life that I have chosen to either block entirely, thus rendering me in need of reassurance, or else I have allowed it to engulf me completely, creating the need and habit for another ear or shoulder to help carry its weight. This kind of dependency and relationship can actually appear to be functional for a time, until it becomes evident that the weight of whatever underlying issue exists is not the ‘dependents’’ own burden to bear, and they withdraw from it reluctantly in order to prevent further draining of their own precious strength.

They can want to help and offer a shoulder to cry on only a certain amount of times before it simply becomes unfair to expect anything more of them – after all, have they too not got their own problems? Aren’t we all suffering?

Using others as scaffolding on which to support problems you yourself have failed to cultivate a resilience to is humiliating. It’s humiliating, and inconvenient for all involved. It’s difficult enough to admit defeat and take the help in the first place, without becoming dependent on it to keep going.
Crops failed this year. No inner strength remains to feed off of. You’ll have to borrow a neighbours’ corn.
Sorry.

For this reason, it is so important to learn to cultivate your own happiness. To figure out what works best for your unique organism of cells. The things that really make your eyes light up at the very thought or mention of them, catching fire and lifting you up when you actually put them into practice. The things that make life bearable for you; that can help you pass an afternoon of endless rain in a negative environment relatively contently.

Once you’ve reached this stage, the rest is simple: do them. As much, as intensly, and as often as you can. Work towards building something new, instead of retreating into the shell of what used to be; because let’s be honest, ‘what used to be’, wasn’t working either, so progressing forwards is really our only option here.

Once you’ve planted these roots, you can begin to feed off your own strength, your own individual cultivation, instead of digesting elements of an environment around you that don’t quite lend themselves to the elevation of your mood and happiness.

Metaphorical as it sounds, be sure to have some of this strength put aside for times of need. In the event of a storm, for example – the fat on the side, the blubber for insulation – every element of our world can be used in comparison to describe what’s inside us. The only difference with mental health is that you can’t see or visualise it. You need to figure it out for yourself, and that’s why taking time our from your regular schedule to do so is a perfectly acceptable form of ‘therapy’. Talking will only get you so far. As soon as you leave the doctor’s office, the old reliable neighbour whose crops seem to flourish year in, year out without fail; you’re left to try again alone.

Cultivation takes time, but each step successfully taken to further it onwards comes to be a comforting reassurance that you are getting there. It’s still nice to have a cup of tea now and again, to talk over plans, progress, reassuring those who have helped in the past that you’re on the right path, without allowing an emotional dependency to catch again like a swarm of locusts to the only food around they are aware of. That would be the easy option. Making your own is not only more rewarding, but soul-strengthening in every sense of the words.

As soon as the sun shines in again, that first sign of warmth and comfort, you’ll see it – the other side. The side where everything isn’t dark and stagnant and hopeless. Growth, progression, new life and strength is being cultivated even as you watch it; even as you sit and read these words your cells are fixing themselves and strengthening a core that has finally come to terms with the fact that it has the ability to stand up by itself. To nourish itself. To cultivate growth, to change, to age, and to progress. To depend on none but your own field of crops, your own emotional and physical strength rooted deeply into the ground beneath your feet, wherever they may find themselves today.

Let’s Be Honest…

Let’s Be Honest….

 I would love nothing more than to recount remarkable tales for you. To tell of great deeds and funny stories, incredible experiences I’ve had and interesting things I’ve witnessed. I relish in being of interest to people – seeming knowledgable of certain topics when they arise in conversation. I have so many ideas and plans and potential project ideas and life desires that when I get excited about them I could talk for hours on end until you’d be sick of seeing my eyes light up about all the possibilities under the stars.
‘Get real’, you’d probably say.

My blog I use as an outlet to put some of these more outlandish ideas into shape, to actually sit with them momentarily and coax them into some sort of comprehensible versions of the raving notions and ideas they really are. Even with this, I feel I rarely fully capture the essence of what I think or feel, because the passions are so fleeting and frequent and eccentric that it’s difficult to latch onto them when they pass by. Although I would love nothing more than to be a source of wisdom, advice, and comfort to anyone in need, the fact of the matter, of MY matter, and the only matter I will ever truly know, remains that I am only one human.

Only one human, who can only undertake and process one moment, one feeling, one experience at a time. Even at this, I have astonished myself with some of the friendships and connections I have managed to make in moments when these feelings and experiences have become jumbled and panicked in my mind. Those I care about and surround myself with all come from different backgrounds; we have shared experiences, emotions, good times and bad times together. I have shared struggles, lent on shoulders that were there when I was confused and couldn’t handle things by myself, and gulped down cups of tea made out of pity, out of love, out of concern by people who have shown me genuine care and affection. The one consistent thing I have found about the human race and people’s opinions towards mental health and hard times and ‘shit we’re going through’ is that in general; everyone gets it.

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Being open and honest about my own difficulties has helped me connect on deeper levels with people, and form bonds of confidence and trust stronger than your average friendship or aquaintence. Discussing things nobody really wants to discuss. Discussing things with people that they themselves feel uncomfortable about sometimes has a weird way of drawing you closer together. When you are your true self more and more, you delve into the true essence of what it means to be you – you may never find the answers, but hey, it’s fascinating (and sometimes scary!) to look. When you get the opportunity to be this self with people and different walks of life, you really realise the universality of our condition; our struggles, and of our mindsets, wants, needs, and tendencies as human beings.
Age is but a number. Nationality, religion, height, weight, shape, size – these are all just contributing factors which make up the way people have been shaped and categorized in an effort to glean some sort of understanding and make sense of the mass of people and identities who now walk upon the earth.

None of us really know why we’re here. In accepting that fact instead of continuing to struggle to ascertain myself as something different or special or to discover something new; in accepting myself and my body and condition for what I am; an unknown mass of cells making up one seven-billionth of the worlds’ population; there is a sense of freedom that I never thought could have been achievable by doing what I did and being open about struggles when they were occuring.
Because the truth is that we are all struggling. Each little tiny ant to roam the 7 continents we call home is struggling. It is how we choose to process and consider this struggle that makes the difference.

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Today I woke up, unemployed, in my parents’ home, with no particular plan or goals for myself to achieve for the day. Instead of asking myself ‘What the hell am I doing with myself?’ I chose to sit up and say “What CAN I do with myself?”
The answers to this second question were endless. They ARE endless.
I didn’t glean any monetary income from today, but I sure as hell didn’t waste it.
The sun was shining. I sent a few emails. Applied for a few jobs. Did a bit of my TEFL course online. Went to a yoga class. Made dinner. Now I’m writing this. I had every intention of creating and writing something informative, witty, groundbreaking, even, but instead I’ve accepted that the flow simply wasn’t there today. It simply wasn’t ready; the right mental stream and balance wasn’t open.

In spending so long stuck in an unbalanced, panicked and chaotic mental state, I now feel the effects of actual order and balance hyper-sensitively, and as such I am more proactive in everything I do.
I don’t mean to make it sound like the low I hit a few months ago was beneficial to me, because it was honestly the most confused, upset, and terrified I’ve ever been in my whole life. But I’m a firm believer that hitting rock bottom sometimes is necessary to be able to build your way all the way back up to where you were, and go even higher.

Like J. K. Rowling once said; “Rock bottom became the firm foundation on which I built the rest of my life”.

And she wrote Harry Potter. Enough said.

We all go through shit. We all feel like shit at times. It’s whether or not we let those feelings win, and decide not to try anymore that defines who we are. Each day is a choice. Each hour is a choice. Each step, each outfit, each meal, how we choose to spend each evening is a choice we can all make.
Do yourself a favour, and be honest with yourself. What is it you want to do? What is it that you love?
Take the time to listen to yourself – your ‘authentic’ self, for want of a less-cheesy expression, and be the contribution to this world that you would look at and say ‘I wish I did that’.
Be a radiator instead of a drain. Radiate that which you want and rave about seeing and doing, instead of just taking it all in and swallowing it up.

Let’s be honest with ourselves for once. When it comes down to it, even opening up and letting others in is only a method of dealing with ourselves – a way to help us process what’s going on in our own minds. In the end it’s up to us individually to be honest with our own needs, wants, and be that little bit selfish when it comes to putting ourselves first. Because let’s be honest; we’re all we’ve got!

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On Functioning Through Chaos…

One thing I have learned from working in a chaotic, ever-changing and active environment is that one can never ever expect to depend on someone else in order to achieve a goal. If there is something you wish to get done, I have found the best bet to be self-sufficiency, being pro-active, and taking steps myself to ensure it gets done – otherwise it won’t happen the way I intend it to.
I may sound slightly stubborn and rigid with this kind of assertion, but I truly believe that to achieve any kind of happiness for ourselves, we must do so independent of any other’s opinions or interference – it’s finding a nice and acceptable way to do this and go about implementing change for personal reasons that proves difficult sometimes.

A few months ago I took some time to listen to myself. I quit gigging, I took some time off work, and I sat at home for a few days writing, reading, and listening to my needs, my own self, and nourishing my mind and body with things that it was really crying out for. What I found was that I had more creativity, ideas, and potential to give and create and live independently than even I had ever considered possible. The waves and flow of creative energy had always been there, buried deeply somewhere among the canopy of self-doubt, over-analysation, and damaging, poisonous thoughts which had led me to destructive and disordered eating behaviours and thought patterns. It had been stifled by things I previously had in place in my life that did nothing to help them – things I had come to depend on, and thought at the time for all intensive purposes should have been positive outlets, but that had really resulted in my self and sense of individuality being suffocated.
The confusion this created was so comforting in it’s extremity that I stayed there, stuck, yet to anyone assessing my situation from outside my own body, it would have often appeared I was in a good place. This false belief was strengthened by the seemingly successful ventures I embarked on, all the while eating myself up inside at the lack of artistic space I was being allowed (and allowing myself) to express myself and true way of being. In taking time to reassess my beliefs, my needs, and my own self as an individual human being as opposed to existing as a part of or for another person or group of people, I was honestly shaken to realise the power I have over my own life.

Even now just thinking about it empowers me. I have been given this body to live in, to mould and to shape as I see fit over a period of time. I can take it where I like, dress it in whatever clothes are available to me at a given time, and imprint upon it any image or word I feel has made a lasting impact. What I choose to do with my life is actually feasible if I believe in it enough to persist and continue thrusting energy toward it. It’s the choosing part that I struggle with. But I am literally a blank canvas. Every day, every moment, is a blank canvas that we can start building upon, or tearing apart with certain behaviours if we believe it strongly enough to repeat it consistently over any length of time.

I’ve come to see that life is a continuos progression from one moment to the next, each one irrelevant to the one which has gone before it, save when we choose to link them together.

It upset me to realise how much time I’d wasted worrying about what people thought, how I looked, how people would react to things that hadn’t happened yet or that had already come to pass…It was so pointless. The lack of control I’d had really showed itself for what it was when I finally took control, and decided to do something about it.
Realising this really showed me that although people may seem to be heading in the right direction on the outside, often even lying to themselves about being happy, there really is nothing more important than to finding what serves you, only you, and allowing yourself to take it. A chaotic and fast-paced working environment is occasionally the last place you’d expect to find such grounding thought, yet there is something extremely calming and humbling in taking a step back from the madness around and into the one small space of earth within one’s own physical body that remains within our control. Because in the end that’s all we’ll ever really have.

5 Questions That Will Bring You Back to This Moment (and Help You Greet Yourself as an Old Friend)

5 Questions That Will Bring You Back to This Moment (and Help To Greet Yourself as an Old Friend)

‘The time will come when,
With elation,
You will greet yourself arriving
At your own door, in your own mirror,
And each will smile at the other’s welcome,
And say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
To itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
For another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
The photographs, the desperate notes,
Peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.”

– Love after Love, Derek Walcott

“Come to greet yourself”, they say at the beginning of any good yoga, meditation, or mindfulness practice. Say hello. Greet your mind and body as you would that of a stranger. Consider yourself with the curiosity you would any new aquaintance. Who are you? What kind of books do you like? What’s your favourite food? Are you hungry?

 I’ve recently found taking these steps a very good approach to calming nerves and anxiety, and in coming to terms with issues that often present as larger than they really prove to be. By greeting ourselves in the moment and as a new person we are directly coming into contact with, our current mind and body are brought back to the forefront of our consciousness, and awareness is directed back into the present moment, as opposed to roaming around somewhere inbetween the regretful margharita of last night and the hazy uncertainty of tomorrow’s meeting.

When I ask myself these questions, I try to start at the beginning, and to maintain an open mind right the way through.

  1. Hello…How are you today?’ – this should rarely be as simple as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ answer. Try to elaborate, and really dig deep into your emotional and spiritual state of the given moment.
  2. What is it that you’re currently struggling with/worried about/working on?’ – Again, honesty is key. Be honest and open with yourself, just as you would appreciate the honesty and openness of a friend in need divulging their problems to you. Frivolity should not be an issue. You would not belittle another’s struggles, so why do it to yourself?

             Now sit with that. Sit with yourself, and with your struggle, be it an ill-fitting new pair of shoes or a pending medical examination. Sit side-by-side like two old school chums. Now dig deeper.

  1. How are you going to ease this struggle? – Are there any immediate solutions available to you? If so, what are they? If not, what precautions or procedures do you need to put in place in order to ease your discomfort? If this requires work or effort on your own part, are you willing to undertake it?
  2. Is it inside of or outside of your control? – So often we concern ourselves with issues and trying to overcome struggles that are ultimately completely outside of our own control. Identifying our stance in relation to these issues is key to overcoming the anxiety and worries that may surround them, and helps maintain an objective mindset when it comes to dealing with others.
  3. Can you do anything to change it right now? – If the issue is a worry concerning something which has either already happened, or not even come to pass yet, there is not a lot that can be done right now to solve it, and so this would signify that it is beyond your control. This thought alone should ease the persistance and immediacy of it, and allow you to sit in the moment, accepting now for what it is. If there is no immediate solution, this thought, worry, or preoccupation is not serving you in the slightest. In fact it is hindering your current moment, your current life. It’s hindering your ability to exist right now, and to be part of the environment around you. In this situation, the best thing to do, is to let it go.

But what if you can’t?

If you can, if you suddenly remember you have an emergency stash of plasters in your bag with which you can remedy the painful heel-cutting shoe, then by all means, do so. If however, like most of us, you would not generally ever think so far ahead as to pack for this kind of situation, you simple have to make do, and sit with the discomfort until such a time arises when you can fix it. It may well be that it’s the sort of issue you will never be in a position to control. If this is the case, then sitting with it is all the more important, to ensure it doesn’t become locked away and stifled amongst the waste-chute contents of the smaller day-to-day problems. Sitting with it and considering it from your current persepective is the most effective way to ease anxiety in the moment, and really to feel your feelings. They are there for a reason. Allowing them to flow freely through you like the air your breathe comes from recognising them when they occur, and accepting their presence, even if the reason or cause behind them may seem unimportant – if it has resulted in the developemt of a certain emotion or feeling, it is most certainly not. Identifying struggles and sitting with them in all their limiting and hindering glory is all part of accepting who we are, and ultimately coming to be comfortable sitting alone with ourselves.

These questions are things I find myself needing to ask myself on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times a day. They help me return to the moment, return to where and who I am in that very minute, and realise that I am nowhere else, and cannot change the fact that I am where I am. It’s a grounding and humbling thought process, that takes careful practice and active engagement to succeed in, yet is so rewarding when dealt with properly.

I’ve always found I revert to a very polite and external version of myself when placed in a situation involving new people and introductions, and in doing so I present elements of myself I wish people to recognise or find attractive. We all do this. In others, we accept immediately what they present us with, a shaking of their hand or other form of salutation allowing us a brief interaction, which we generally accept as it is. If a person is sad, distressed, jovial, or energetic, we generally pick up on this vibe during our brief encounter, and take that for what it is also. Greeting myself every morning in this sense reminds me to accept my own mind, body, spiritual and emotional state for what it is at the time, and allows me to begin to take steps to overcome any issues or struggles I may be presented with that particular day. It requires a constant awareness and ability to pull back and listen to myself, yet it does not take long for the practice to become a habit.

Walcott’s poem is a testament to the importance of being able to sit with oneself in comfort as opposed to losing our energies and emotions getting caught up in worrying about something or someone else. To nourish our bodies we must eat well and regularly, and to nourish our minds we must practice a mindful acceptance of that which is, being kind to ourselves and rejoicing in the time and talents with which we have been afforded. It’s been predicted and prophesized many times that the sun will eventually burn out and cease to support life on earth. And so we are so lucky to have this time, this short handful years, even if it eventually proves to have meant little in the grand scheme of things, we are privelged to have this chance to experience the sun and it’s potential. If the world were to end tomorrow I want to be able to look upon it and say;
‘Yes, there’s the Earth. I lived there’.
Right now all I can do is embrace it for what it is and enjoy the warmth of existing here as a result of the sun’s light. Feasting on my own life and existance feels so good after prolonged undernourishment, and lack of acceptance for what and who I am. I almost feel I owe it to the sun and to those around me to be kind to myself and develop to the best of my potential -after all, it’s exactly what I’d want for and advise any friend to do.

“You are Beautiful. Stop looking at your phone.”

‘You are beautiful. Stop looking at your phone.’

I found a note on my phone the other morning with those words saved to it. I don’t remember saving it there, when or what even prompted me to write it, but I’m so glad I did.

When I looked up I realised that sure, all I was doing was sitting on the bus searching through my phone for some entertainment. But then I really thought, and I saw that I was sitting on the bus.
I looked around, and instead of shifting my gaze awkwardly from the searching eyes of the technologically-challenged elderly woman opposite me who had nothing but the world outside the window to pass the journey with, I looked at her full on and gave a simple smile.

Because at that moment, that was all I could do.
There was no point staring at the screen of my device and wishing I was elsewhere, or talking with someone online and losing myself in a life that’s not my own while my body was physically transported across the earth. From the past, I had inadvertently chosen to divert my attention into this present moment, and to interact with my surroundings.

And guess what the woman did?
She smiled back.
She didn’t have to, and I didn’t make her – but she smiled back.

 A short message, most likely written as a result of an inverted and paralysed moment of anxiety at some point in a public situation, had opened my mind and spurred me on to smile at this stranger. Purely because I had reminded myself of my own worth, she had then smiled and prompted a chain-reaction of positivity that would not have been possible otherwise.

Distraction

It’s so easy to look away when we feel we’re not worth looking at.
So easy to distract ourselves from our busy thoughts with other unimportant aspects of our lives, and get worked up about things that aren’t true, and most certainly aren’t worth it. We do it all the time with factors that are completely out of our control – we look away and ignore the world outside unless the sun is shining when we get up in the morning. But the world is still there, even during a storm. Even on a bad hair day, it doesn’t change the fact that I still have hair, no matter how many hairbands or hats I try to hide it with.

Power to Change

How often have you found yourself avoiding the mirror and leaving the house with a frown because of something you can not change at that present moment– be it your hair colour, height, weight, outside influences or thoughts about tasks you must complete within a given day?
By establishing mental boundaries and accepting the environmental factors that are both within and outside of our control, I find that my mind calms somewhat, with the knowledge and reaffirmation that although I am strong in myself, that there will always be things outside of my control. It’s a grounding and empowering realisation all at once, which places me firmly within my own body, and aware of both the potential and the limitations of it.

Everybody Gets It

We’ve all been in positions where we wish we could disappear or change certain aspects of our appearance. In grounding yourself in the moment, letting go of ‘what ifs’ and ‘should haves’, and coming to terms with the you that is in the minute right now, reading these words, it allows a lot of these preoccupations with beauty, perceptions and opinions to become irrelevant. We can begin to finally accept ourselves for what we really are.

So look away from that phone screen, close the laptop, and turn off the television for a mere few minutes – a fleeting moment in which you can think about where and what you are, and meet yourself there.

Just look up.

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“You’re Grounded”

‘You’re (very) Grounded’

“Wherever you are, be all there.”

Gone are the days when being ‘grounded’ meant being punished or told what to do. For me, now, there is nothing more important than remaining stable within my own body and mind, and maintaining that connection and awareness with the ground beneath my own two feet.
It’s not something that people generally think to take into account regularly, yet when you do, the mental and emotional benefits are so reassuring. I am here, in this moment, typing what you’re reading right now. For the time being, this is me.
I’ve just finished a morning yoga session, having previously consumed a small cup of coffee. The combination of these two things made for a peace and sense of self far stronger and more empowering than any temporary buzz or high available from the excess consumption of a substance, be it food or alcohol. This is me, this is the real person within this body, touching the mat at three main physical points, aware of the weight of my hands, knees, and elbows on the mat. Aware of my space, and of the fact that I occupy it.
The fact that I was grounded meant not that I was stuck in one place, but that I was aware of being in that one place, and of my potential to be in any one of the endless places accessible to me at that time.
It’s a far cry from being told to stay in my room on the weekend and banned from the computer and television. The freedom that comes from realising one’s own mobility and potential is remarkable. It’s a freedom I never thought would be possible, and is liberating in the sense that not only do I know that I can go anywhere I want, but the availability and accessibility of the world has also become clearer.
Maybe the confines of being restricted to stay in one place indoors will not seem so bad if I consider them in terms of being physically grounded, as opposed to the mental guilt-trip of parents telling you you can’t do something. I don’t know. But here’s to constantly moving forward, and being always present in the place where I find my body.

“Cíbe áit ina bhfuil tú, is ann atá tú”.