Do you feel like your batteries are running low? Would you like to have more energy?
We think we get our energy from just our food. However have you noticed how much more energised you feel when you have been walking in nature? It feels good, doesn't it?
The Chinese say that we receive our energy through the following routes:
Lets look at each one of these for a few minutes....
When I talk about enjoying nature, I mean really enjoying it. It is no good walking through a park and thinking about your grocery list - you are not really there. It works when you really participate with and enjoy the nature around you, like a good walk on the beach with a sea breeze and waves crashing on the shore.
Did you know that you can increase your energy levels by eating your food slowly? Paul McKenna says in his book "I Can Make you Thin" place the food in your mouth, put your knife and fork down, taste the food, chew it 20 times, swallow and then take the next piece of food. You will find that a) you eat less food and b) you will have more energy. Try it and find out for yourself.
Breathing... stop a moment and notice how you are breathing. Are you breathing in your upper chest, or do you breathe deep breaths right down to your belly? Oxygen gives us energy. Take a few minutes to breathe deeply and notice the difference in your energy levels - you will feel more relaxed too.
Opening your energy system through chi kung. Wikepedia gives this definition of chi kung: "Qigong, qi gong, chi kung, or chi gung is a holistic system of coordinated body posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used in the belief that it promotes health, spirituality, and martial arts training". Tai chi is a form of chi kung and so are the martial arts - you remember the Karate Kid movie? There are many forms and schools of chi kung, so you can choose from something very easy, to a full on exercise programme (although its much more than that!).
You can recharge your batteries without a hard workout and learn about your unique energy system.
Its natural to eat when we are hungry and stop when we feel satisfied. And its not rocket science to know that if we take in more calories than we need each day, we will gain weight. However, we still go against our body's natural signals in the following ways….
1. Many of us have been trained to eat everything on our plates – even if we are full
2. We eat in a hurry so we can get back to work
3. Our internal thermostat, which lets us know we are full, is overridden and eventually gets de-sensitised
4. We stand at the kitchen sink and eat
5. We multi-task when we eat and when we have distractions (tv, internet) we don't notice what we eat, or how much we are eating
6. We have forgotten what “full” feels like.
Being full means “I am satisfied – that’s enough food for now”.
Our stomach can tell us when we are full and we can respond to its signals. The way to do this is to remove all distractions, clear the table, sit down, slow down and focus on eating our meal. When we are full there is a gentle, clear, satisfied sensation in the solar plexus area. It tells us to stop eating now!
You will notice that once you are full, each subsequent bite is a little less enjoyable than the one before. Pay attention and it becomes obvious. This is why conscious slow eating is so important. Slow down.
Your solar plexus area gets more and more uncomfortable once you are full - put your food to one side and wait 15-30 minutes. If still you feel hungry then, eat again.
Here’s the food scale:
1 I couldn’t fit another thing in
5 Comfortable and contented
7 Slightly hungry
9 The hoover
10 I am going to pass out
If we listen, the body can tell us what to eat and how much - its natural after all! By paying attention, we can easily recognise when we are full and stop eating.
Its not what we eat… its why we eat.
Did you know that when we have an emotion we don’t want to feel, if we eat food it can make this feeling temporarily go away? Two things happen when we feel lonely, trapped, overwhelmed, ashamed, resentful or bored.
1. We feel these uncomfortable feelings in our solar plexus area which is right beside our stomach. When we overeat the stomach expands and puts pressure on this area – temporarily blocking these feelings.
2. When hoover our food up (eat a lot of food fast) we get a chemical “high” which makes us feel better.
Unfortunately this chemical high doesn’t last long so we need to eat more to keep the uncomfortable feeling away. The good news is that there are lots of amazing techniques for uncovering those difficult to be with feelings and changing them into a motivating force in your life.
One of those techniques comes from Paul McKenna’s book “I can make you Thin” and it's called The 5 Questions. Im going to quote from his book:
"I am sitting in a café and a bus stops outside. The engine keeps running and it’s loud. I feel annoyed. I ask the five questions:
1. What is the trigger? The emotion is a response to the noise.
2. What is the belief or judgement? I believe the noise is unpleasant.
3. What is my need? I have a need for a level of quietness to concentrate on my writing.
4. What is the positive intention behind this emotion? The positive intention of the annoyance is to re-establish the level of quietness I desire.
5. What is the first practical action I can take? I can move to another café – or I could ask the bus driver to turn off his engine."
Through the five questions you can unfold what the emotion is trying to tell you and find some solutions that bring you back to a place of equilibrium again.
Do you ever wake up in the morning feeling low?
Are you always struggling with your mind to get into a positive state?
Our minds can be pretty funky places at times.... And it if occurs often enough (we feel flat every day), it can become a habit. When we feel low, everything feels bad. Our body tends to have more pain and tension, our diet deteriorates, the day at work seems harder, the verbal dialogue goes around and round, we beat ourselves up and stop being fun to be around.
The trick to changing this is to change our thinking. (After all it is the one thing we do have control over).
We all get a bit flat at times, and I am no exception. One morning I got the idea to rev up through using affirmations (this has always worked for me in the past), so I took a look on internet to find some fresh ideas. I came across a talk by Abraham Hicks on called "The Easiest Way to Start Positive Momentum". It was a great talk, and I want to summarise it for you in this blog.
Esther Hicks and Louise Hay both say that using affirmations help shift our mental state and reality, but unless we get into a positive feeling state, affirmations do not work. Let me give you an example. You own a heater. You know it gives you warmth. But it only works when you turn the power on. Likewise with affirmations, they only work when we have a strong positive emotional feeling behind them. The emotional power literally turns the affirmations on.
So if you wake up and invest emotional energy into self talk about how flat you feel, that is what you will get - a bad day. If you wake up and invest your energy is a "rev up" pep talk with positive emotional energy behind it, then your day will be much better.
The easiest way to do this is to make yourself a recording of your affirmations when you are in a good mood and play it to yourself first thing in the morning. Leave enough space between each affirmation to repeat it, and remember to get into the feeling - like you already have it. BE excited!
I have one below which you can download.
Abraham Hicks says best way to start your 'rev up talk" is with something general.
What do you appreciate right now? Think of all the things that are easy to appreciate.
Think generally: your body, your home, your comfy warm bed, food in your cupboards, a hot shower...
Then go out into the community: people at the bank, your friends, the library service, the supermarket...
Then globally: the electricity to your house, the roads...
Take a moment to appreciate the wellbeing of the people around you. People who inspire you.
You could compare yourself with all the people who live in other places, and appreciate where you live and what you are accomplishing right now
GOOD VIBES ATTRACT GOOD VIBES
When you can put a good, excited, happy, uplifting feeling into your words/appreciation, this puts power into them. Often we let our good feeling go, and slump back down to apathy. So set an alarm in your phone a couple of times a day to remind you to lift your vibe again.
Abraham Hicks says the next step is to receive what comes your way. Allow yourself to go with the flow. Let your positive vibes carry you along throughout your day. We all know how good it is to be around someone who has these vibes. You can be like that too. People sense this - they will want to help and support you.
It takes commitment to keep picking yourself up and getting into a positive vibe. But ask yourself: which mouth do you want to feed? The happy one or the sad one?
One day is not enough to break a habit, but one week can start showing you some positive results. It takes about 28 days to change a habit, and probably 3 months to have it embedded into your system Practice pays off!
Take a moment to listen to your thoughts about yourself.
How you feel about your body?
Your state of health?
Do you like the way you look?
Many people would say:
I am too fat, too thin, too short, dumpy, stupid.... and so it goes on.
This week I saw a three minute video about a woman who hated her body. It struck a chord with me... I realised that I quite often verbally beat myself up! I want to share this video with you - it's about a woman who chose to look differently about her body. Click here to look at this video (it is a promotional video but the message is well worth hearing).
So often when I work with people, I get a sense that they don't like their body, or the part that is hurting them. For some it is their hormonal system because they can't conceive a baby, or it makes them moody, or menopausal. For others it is their "pain in the neck" or "pain in their butt". I have noticed there is a kind of tension that sits in the body, and it appears when we go on a negative self talk rampage. Many a client will tell you that during a session I have asked them to breathe deeply and SMILE into their body. To appreciate it - after all the body still keeps working, even if we have a poor diet, bad posture, don't move enough, laugh enough, play enough.
This is the analogy I give to my clients about our self talk:
Let us pretend you work in a factory. You have been there a long time and some of the machinery is a bit unpredictable, which affects your output.
Boss A comes in. This person is always grumpy with you, telling you what is wrong, making you feel useless, picking holes in you, yelling sometimes. How do you feel? Do you shrink down? Do you dread Boss A? Would you grumble and complain outside of work? Would you even want to go to work? And if you had a good idea about how to make things better, would you tell this Boss? Probably not.
Boss B comes in. This person really likes you. They praise you for your work, despite the difficult circumstances you are working in. They tell you what they appreciate about you, admire you. How do you feel now? Stand up tall? Feel proud and appreciated? Do you look forward to showing up at work? Would you be willing to share with this Boss any of your good ideas for improvement? Yes, because they are likely to be well received.
I believe it is like this with our body. When we berate it, it shrinks, constricts and gets tense. When we love and appreciate it, it softens, relaxes, gives us feedback, and tells us what it wants.
Every cell in the body is connected. If I were to stamp hard on your toe, every part of your body would know about it, right? So it only stands to reason that when we are internally beating ourselves up, the body responds.
I have noticed that when I really care and speak highly about my body to my body, a type of new wiring happens. I get ideas how to look after it, I make different choices about my health and activities.
How do we love our bodies?:
1. Talk to it in a loving/caring manner (even if it hurts)
2. Ask it to tell you what it needs and imagine getting wired up - painful body part to the brain - so that the information/inspiration can come to you on how to help it
3. To consciously do caring things for your body... have a bath, do a relaxation exercise, take a walk, have a nourishing meal.
If you are a woman, dealing with moods are part of your life.
Our hormonal cycle, health of our organs, stress levels, past experiences and
state of mind all have an impact upon our moods. Being able to experience the highs and lows of life can be quite a ride. Emotions are part of being human and make up the tapestry of life. There are times when it is appropriate to be angry, it moves us towards making positive change in our lives. Other times its okay to be sad - grief is a natural process of letting go. But sometimes we get stuck, and this "stuckness" can stay with us for years. Unresolved issues of the past
takes away our enjoyment of the present moment.
Prolonged moods, such as depression, anxiety, fear or anger can affect the chemistry of our body. Once our chemistry is out of balance it then feeds into accentuating our moods. Likewise, if our chemistry is out of balance through poor diet, alcohol and drug use, then our emotions will be affected.
What helps our moods:-
Firstly we need to balance the chemistry in our bodies. A healthy diet (avoid alcohol), along with herbs which calm our emotions, tone the organs and balance the hormones. Very often if we experience prolonged stress our adrenal glands become exhausted. Licorice tea acts as an adrenal gland tonic (not to be used with high blood pressure).Calm the mind. This could be through meditating, using visualisations, deep breathing practice, or doing an ascetic activity that requires your concentration i.e. gardening, painting, sewing or dancing.
Deal with the issues. If you have problems or work, suffer from long term grief or anxiety, feel constant fear - get help. Sometimes all we need is a trained listening ear to unravel how we feel and some new skills for dealing with feelings when they
Learn Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). We are always going to have issues and feelings coming up. So why not learn a tool which you can use whenever you want to deal with them? This is a marvellous skill which can shift negative feelings very quickly.
Love yourself. Often our health and well-being is out of balance just because we beat ourselves up with our words and thoughts! Imagine if you were an employee doing the best job you could and your employer said you were no good. How would you feel? Crushed...Deflated....Discouraged. Now imagine if that employer said you were "awesome". Would you feel Excited...Enthusiastic...Keen....Proud? In chi kung we use a practice called The Inner Smile where we send loving thoughts to our inner self and develop self love. Its simple and easy to do.
Learn how to breathe. Put a hand on your chest and one on your tummy and take a breath. How do you breathe? In the upper chest or tummy? Do you breathe shallow or deep? Rapid shallow upper chest breathing causes anxiety. Slow deep tummy breathing causes relaxation. Our breath is related to our nervous system.
Transform your emotions. There is an ancient practice I use called the Six Healing Sounds. It uses movement, sound and colour to transform negative emotions into positive ones. Let us say our body is like a garden in which plants grow. The
weeds are like negative emotions and the vegetables are like the positive ones (virtues). Like weeds, negative emotions contain energy and nutrients, and if we compost them in the garden, then the energy and nutrients from the weeds can be used to enable the vegetables to grow. Likewise when we use the Six Healing Sounds, a composting of emotions happens and good feelings/virtues are able to develop.
Having boundaries in a massage is important, it creates safety and trust for everyone. Once someone’s trust is broken, it is rare to restore it again. It can also be very unpleasant for the recipient – they might not know how to stop you or ask for changes in the massage style, which creates resentment and distrust later.
A good massage course should teach you how to create boundaries and agreements with your recipient.
Both the giver and the recipient are responsible to look after themselves during a massage. This means feeling relaxed/confident enough to ask for what you want, speak up if something doesn’t feel right and stop when you have had enough.
It is well worth while spending some time with each other before the massage begins checking out what expectations each of you have for the session. Make an agreement about:
• The type of massage you are going to do: deep tissue, relaxation or sensual.
• Where you are going to massage: arms, legs, back etc.
• How to say “stop” if they want to or to ask you to move to another part of their body.
• Problem areas of the body and how to work with them.
Keep to your agreement throughout the session unless it is obvious something else needs to happen. Check in with the recipient of they agree to this change before making it. It is better to do something new in the next session rather than break your agreement for the current session.
As the giver of massage, you too need boundaries:
• Do you want to give a massage to this person?
• How long are you willing to give the massage?
• Are you expecting something in return for the massage?
• Massage only where it feels comfortable for you. i.e. You might not like massaging a persons lower abdomen as it is a potential sensual area and you don't know them very well. Or there may be an injury/health condition where you need to ask the recipient to check with their Doctor if it is okay to massage before you work with them.
• If the recipient touches you, check in with yourself as to whether it feels okay.
It is important for both people to express their concerns before the massage begins. Be direct and find out what the other person expects and clearly state what you want to give. Clarity comes with feeling 100% okay with your agreement, if you do not have this, postpone the massage until you are clear.
Whether someone pays you or not for a massage, you are always entitled to decide not to give a massage if something doesn’t seem right, even if it all looks okay. Following your gut feeling is important. You can always renegotiate to massage them on another occasion.
Ultimately massage is about the connection between two people. The more open hearted, caring and relaxed the massager is, the more benefit the recipient receives. It’s not about “doing a job”, it’s about listening, caring and giving to another person. This comes through safety and trust.
Have you ever received a massage where the person left you with bruises because they were too rough, or it was so soft you feel like you haven’t had a massage at all? Being massaged where you want with the correct pressure and speed is the key to a good massage. This is where we come to the Art of Listening and to do this we need to use our senses:
TOUCH: When giving a massage imagine that you have little eyes in your fingers. You are looking around the body, checking out the texture of the muscles. Are they soft or tense? Do they feel like guitar strings or do you discover little lumps within the muscle? Sometimes there is just one big lump. Let your hands become explorers, curious to know about the body.
SOUND: Take note of how the recipient is breathing. If they are holding their breath you are probably using too much pressure and speed – they may be in pain or are afraid. If they are shallow breathing
they might be stressed – encourage them to breathe slowly and deeply into their belly: this helps them to relax. If they sigh or breathe deeply, it is likely that they are enjoying the massage.
SPEECH: Asking questions is helpful.
• How is the pressure? Would you like more or less? Experiment with the recipient until you get it just right.
• How is the speed? Generally if you are using firm pressure you also use slow strokes. If you just want to stimulate blood flow and the pressure is medium, go fast. If you want to relax a person,
find out the pressure that is relaxing for them and slow down.
• If you feel a lump or knot under your hand, find out what pressure they need. Too much pressure causes pain, redness, inflammation and bruising. Take care, even if they ask for lots of pressure.
• Check that they are comfortable. When you find a sore spot talk to them about it.
Keep conversation to what is going on for the recipient rather than what happened to you today. If you are massaging a person after an accident, or because their neck is tense due to a busy day at work, it is helpful for the recipient to talk about it – it’s a type of decompression. Focus on their feelings and acknowledge them. This is a constructive way to help someone unload their tension or transform their stress.
If you are giving a person a massage for relaxation or intimate connection, keep the conversation focused on what they experience in their body. I tell my clients they are having an “an appointment with themselves”. It’s a time to go inwards. It is not a time to be outside of themself discussing what is on the menu for dinner or how to dress for a party.
SIGHT: Look at the colour of the skin. As you massage you may notice certain areas going pink. This is a good sign as blood is getting into tight areas. However do not stay there too long as this could cause bruising. Observe the recipient’s behaviour, if they are fidgeting a lot they may be uncomfortable, in pain or wanting the massage to stop. People change facial expressions if you touch
FEELING: Listen with your whole body. To do this we need to be fully present and relaxed in ourselves.
Sometimes we just get a “knowing” about what is needed – trust it but do ask the recipient first. Respect brings trust! Sometimes my hands just wonder to a sore area. Or I just know that I need
to stop and hold a certain part of the body. Or I get a sense to say something. People ask me how I know this – it’s just a feeling inside of me which I listen to and follow.
Elayne Lane is an instructor of the Universal Healing Tao. She has been teaching and doing bodywork in excess of 25 years and hypnosis over the past 5 years.