Thursday, 23 December 2010
Raise a festive drink to the jolly man in the red suit!
Are your desires more simple than that? Is Christmas purely for children?
I grew up enjoying some magical Christmas times, mum in the kitchen for hours making mince pies and her traditional Christmas cake, made weeks in advance, but aired once a week for its dash of brandy. My parents returning from the supermarket, bottles of Port, Rum and Advocat rattling in the bags, Twiglets, Cheese crackers, nuts and Quality Street being displayed on the coffee table on Christmas Eve. Mum hiding in the bedroom, the sound of paper rustling and cellotape ripping. I remember one year, my dad took me to the jewellers to buy mum a new wedding ring and I was sworn to secrecy. Meanwhile, my mum had the same idea, and I was sworn to secrecy. Christmas Day that year was lovely, as they both hugged each other and I was reminded that my mum and dad were in love and I could breathe a sigh of relief and blurt out how hard it had been to keep it all a secret.
Yes, I think Christmas is purely for children. I once worked in a local pub and in response to a conversation about Santa not being real, a regular customer slammed his beer down and exclaimed really loudly "what?! Santa isn't real????". It made us all chuckle, but I suddenly thought, thats when it ends, when the magic isn't magic anymore and our dream is shattered.
You then start to experience a little of the magic again through your own children and you become 'Santa' - taking a bite out of the mince pie, a swig of the brandy and leaving footprints in the hallway. And watching their faces as they open those much desired presents. Then you eat a fabulous dinner lovingly prepared and served by your family. You might attend Midnight Mass or a Christmas Choir, because to me, there is nothing more delightful and festive than the sound of a Salvation Army Band in a rousing rendition of Good King Wenceslas with candles flickering as you sup Mulled Wine....its those little hints of what Christmas is about that give you a gorgeous burst of inner peace and warmth....have a happy and memorable Christmas everyone!
Wednesday, 22 December 2010
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY!
Image courtesy of here
Wednesday, 15 December 2010
There are several websites that give you more information on Feng Shui and you can arrange for a consultant who will happily come and assess your home, wave their wand and make it feel like you never want to leave. There are also e-learning courses that will give you advice and the creative tools to do it yourself. Alternatively, grab a copy of the Feng Shui Bible, and delve in and out to make small changes over time.
In a couple of weeks we'll be celebrating a new year - out with the old and in with the new, goes the old sentiment. Mean it this time and along with the 'new you', create a new home - it reflects your life and can be as cluttered or as clear as your mind - think about the clarity that will come when all that negative energy is thrown out....
Thursday, 9 December 2010
As I said though, I was desperate, so I made a conscious effort to change my eating habits. The clinic also recommended that I drink more water, start taking acidophalis and flax seed oil. Eat more foods containing essential fatty acids, take more multi-vitamins and minerals, use rolled oats and drink soya milk. I did everything I was advised. I eliminated all of the foods that I was 'intolerant' to, I had natural rolled oats every morning for breakfast, made with soya milk and a sprinkle of linseed seeds. I drank more water and started taking acidophalis. Holland & Barrett became my second home and it was through shopping there that I started taking an interest in essential oils and flower remedies too.
Changing your eating habits though is really, really difficult! I stuck to this new plan for a good few weeks and admittedly, I felt so much better. My tummy was less inflated, my clothes didn't feel tight and uncomfortable and my regular headaches dwindled to nothing. Unfortunately, soya milk and yogurts were not agreeing with me and I have since realised that I have an allergy to soya products. A recent trip to a coffee shop, although I can't be sure the barista used soya milk, resulted in an immediate reaction to an innocent Cinnamon Latte. I KNEW she must have made my drink with either part or full soya milk because my throat started to itch and I felt nauseas. In addition to no more soya, I found my meals boring after a while and struggled to come up with something that didn't contain the 'naughty' ingredients. I made a note at the time, of all the things I COULD eat including bananas, chicken, rice, peppers, gluten free pasta, flap jacks and rice crackers. And that was pretty much what I stuck to. Eating out, I often just risked having a cheeky white roll or a glass of wine or a chocolate dessert. Those risks soon became regular eating habits and the rollercoaster dipped again.
Over the years, my diet and weight has fluctuated and I have had bad times and good. The years have taught me lots of things, mainly listening to my body and I now know what my body enjoys and doesn't react to, what my body can be treated to every once in a while and what my body craves every day to keep it happy. I drink tons of water and less alcohol, I drink lactose free milk (milk was the major cause of bloating) and less dairy products. I DO eat chocolate, but only when my hormones are nagging me to the point where I find myself in a shop late at night, having pulled a coat and a pair of Uggs over my pyjamas in a desperate need to acquire it.
Most importantly I take measures to stimulate my digestive system by going for a brisk walk, massaging my abdomen, drinking lots of water and taking supplements that aid digestion. Again, its a habit to accustom yourself to, but once you've cracked it, it becomes second nature. The first thing I do now when I get up in the morning is take my multi vitamins and pop a green zyme in some juice. I've now started to take a product called Lactoferrin Gold which contains protein, pre-biotic fibres and turmeric to maintain the healthy digestive system I've spent years craving. Its all trial and error at the end of the day and finding what works for you. Personally, I find drinking water is the best thing you can do for your body, it flushes you through, clears your skin, keeps you hydrated, just about everything your body needs to keep it on a healthier path.
Image taken from here
Monday, 6 December 2010
So What Is All This Yoga Malarkey?
A Beginners Guide to The Soul
I remember when I first came to "the invisible side of life" and I was astounded as to how I wasn't levitating after the first week…
With a typical "monkey mind" meditation didn't sit very well with me. Actually, I didn't sit very well in meditation. The promise of calm, quiet and peace seemed to be the opposite of what I found when I tried to sit and turn inward.
My restless thoughts aimed squarely at some sort of vague idea of nothingness would do everything but hit its invisible mark. Shopping lists, things to do, random memories or just plain "fug". And when it wasn't basic mimblings, my mind would play the game that all children in the back of a car on a long, long journey are known to play: "Are we there yet? Is this it? Am I doing it right? Are we there yet?"
I couldn't get myself out of the way enough to just sit. Like all the books over and over kept telling me too. Clear your mind, focus on one thing, focus on No Thing. You know the drill. There was no serene quiet where I was looking. And then I found myself through a chain of events looking into the Hindu/Vedic system that is known as "Hatha Yoga".
A system of physical postures, breathing exercises and cleansing techniques to use the body as a vehicle for mental, physical and spiritual uplift. If your body came with an instruction manual, then Hatha Yoga would be it.
From the tales of consciousness raising, the malleable forms that the body could twist itself into and a gamut of stories and semi-mystical promises of how to engage the mind, body and evolve, it seemed made for me and so I began practicing the "Asana's" or postures.
Now, I wasn't flexible. I was awkward and had the same level of bodily awareness as plankton. People say "I'm not bendy", well neither was I. I was more brittle. Unlike most physical exertions where it's "no pain, no gain" Yoga rewards you for taking things easy. It is the relaxed state which enables the flexibility and progress, not the stress and strain. It actually stops working if you're exerting too much. You don't need to push your limits with the poses. Yoga cultivates a space where your limits find you
Slowly but surely not only did my body transform, my internal landscape did too. The restless mind started to subside over time. Living in this bustling life, the mind can become so cluttered, that when we then sit trying to get it to stop engaging, it is nigh on impossible. With Yoga, its essence is to engage the mind and channel it into the practice. Not to switch it off. Yoga approaches the mind, ego, whatever you'd like to call those whirring cogs, from the side rather than from the front. The change in mind is an effortless by-product of the practice, not the practice itself.
Rather than a regimented 20 minutes of forced goodness each day, I found that Yoga seemed to permeate my life even when I wasn't performing the poses. My health improved, I became more physically aware, more serene in my day to day dealings, more mindful, more confident. I didn't even have to try and be more focused, I simply was.
These changes in ourselves feed back into the "invisible" things, like yoga and meditation or just feeling nice which then in turn improves our lives, which then feed...you get the picture.
The yoga deepens and evolves as you do and vice-versa. No quicker. No slower.
For me Yoga has provided a wondrous foundation for the rest of my life, and opened up doors of possibility within my world and within myself that I could never have predicted.
I look back, and to think I hesitated...
Fraser Ayres is an Actor, Yoga teacher and Reiki master. He also teaches a wide variety of one to one courses including meditation and mindful breathing, dream yoga and other weird and wonderful subjects.
Sunday, 5 December 2010
"Maalox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favorite things.
Cadillac's and cataracts, and hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favorite things.
When the pipes leak,
When the bones creak,
When the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don't feel so bad.
Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favorite things.
Back pains, confused brains, and no need for sinnin',
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin',
And we won't mention our short shrunken frames,
When we remember our favorite things.
When the hips break,
When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I've had,
And then I don't feel so bad"
Editor's Note: since publishing this article, I have been reliably informed that Julie Andrews did not actually perform this song as stated. However, this version is still rather sweet and about growing old graciously!
Friday, 3 December 2010
Over several treatments, Michael began to regain his energy and fitness through the healing techniques performed by O'Doherty who worked on releasing blocked energy in the body, curing Michael of the illness that had debilitated him for three long years.
During a treatment the therapist works on locating where there are disturbances in the body's energy fields. As with Reiki, clients feel heat and a series of sensations as the energy is rebalanced and restored. The treatment includes nutritional and lifestyle advice. As with all complementary therapies, the results are better if the receiver is willing to help themselves and to make the necessary changes to facilitate a happy and healthy sense of well-being.
When we become ill, we immediately focus on common pathologies and the physical causes, but all that is needed sometimes is a push of our 'reset' button when months or years of stress and fatigue have taken their toll. The human body is a wonderful thing, but it can only cope with so much. I cannot advocate enough the importance of treating yourself holistically and looking at the bigger picture and I'll emphasis it many times on this site. I'm not perfect and I do have my 'bad' days, be it hormonal, stressed or just worn out, but we all start taking those first small steps.
Image taken from here
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
One morning, try this exercise. Get up early, maybe an hour earlier than usual. Stand at the window or door, risk opening if its not too cold and just breath in the moment - the birds tweeting, the trees rustling, the milkman cruising along in his float, just absorb all the sounds and appreciate your position in the world at that moment. Don't think too much about the day ahead, your agenda, waking up the kids etc, just give yourself ten quiet minutes alone.
Make a lovely pot of tea (green tea preferrably) or a cafetierre of coffee. If you feel inclined, harvest some freshly squeezed orange juice (vitamin c). My favourite breakfast treat is poached eggs (full of minerals and protein). Serve on some warmed brioche (high egg and butter content but yum) and sprinkle on some pepper. Or perhaps a steaming bowl of porridge is more your thing and if you do find yourself in a hurry and can only manage a quick bowl of microwave oats, then be assured that you are still giving yourself the best possible start to the day. Oats contain tons of zinc, magnesium, protein and iron and can reduce your chances of heart disease. Add honey, maple syrup, banana or berries - healthy, simple, nutritious. A happy tummy, a happy you!
Bentley's work is exhibited at the Jericho Historical Society in Vermont, USA.
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