6 practices for when life feels like a roller coaster!

Last week I talked about some of the challenges that I’ve been facing after taking on the care of ‘Dakota Horse’.  If you’ve read some of my other recent posts you might remember that we’re currently also in the middle of selling up and moving house!  This is not only about our home, but also about my business and my vision of how it might develop in the future – so no pressure there then!!  All of this has meant that life is feeling a bit crazy at the moment.

At times like this it’s all too easy to slip into old patterns of overwhelm and the consequent unhelpful behaviours and thought cycles.  I am therefore doing my best to remember to practice good self-care.  I’m far from perfect, and still very much a work-in-progress, but they say that practice-makes-perfect, and it’s certainly giving me insight and a lot of food for thought.

I promised to share some of the things that I’ve found helpful in the hope that it will be of use to others to:

  1. The first and most important thing is remembering to breathe!  Yes, perhaps a rather obvious one, but when I feel stressed I know that my muscles tighten and my breathing becomes more shallow.  This means that my body feels more tense, and gets less oxygen, which becomes a negative spiral, feeding my anxiety.  On the other hand, when I remember to pay attention to my breath, and to breathing deeply and evenly, it helps me to relax.
    To help with this I recommend doing a body scan several times throughout the day.  This enables you to spot areas of tension in the body, and to see when breathing is shallow, allowing you to then breathe into the tight areas, inviting them to release and relax.
  2. This in turn helps me to take a step back and to have better objectivity, which allows me to see more clearly and rationally.  It helps me to keep a greater sense of proportion and not to spiral into overwhelm and feeling out of control.
  3. Breathing properly and being objective also help me in evaluating the reality of the situation and carefully considering my options.  If I slip into panic this is much more difficult to do – if not impossible.  It’s known as ‘blind panic’ for good reason!  Being able to think things through like this, usually allows me to see that there are lots of things I can try, and people I can ask for advice and / or support.
  4. Another thing that helps me in this is to get moving.  Going for a walk helps to break the sensation of being ‘stuck’ and powerless and helps my brain to function more effectively.
  5. I also find being outside in Nature very soothing.  I love the energy of being surrounded by trees and wildlife and find it very grounding.  It helps to restore my sense of perspective too.

  6. Mindfulness, meditation and journaling have helped me to develop more emotional intelligence and self-awareness.  This has allowed me to let go of some of the things that were no longer serving me, and to reconnect with my inner stillness, allowing me to relax more effectively.  This is so important for moving out of ‘fight or flight’ and into ‘rest and repair’ which is essential for our wellbeing.

 

Next week I’ll share some further techniques and insights that I’ve learnt along my journey.

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THE CHAKRA SYSTEM – part 1 of 8

In this series of 8 posts I’ll be looking at the Chakra System.  The word ‘chakra’ comes from the Sanskrit word for wheel.  It is a metaphor for the eternal cycle of time and so represents celestial order and balance ( Wheels of Life, Anodea Judith).  The chakras turn like a set of interconnected cogs and serve to move energy between matter and consciousness. Together they form the chakra system – a set of spinning energy centres responsible for the “reception, assimilation and transmission of life energies” (ibid.)

There are 7 main chakras in the body (and many other smaller ones) which correspond to particular parts of the body and to specific glands.  In addition each chakra reflects a particular aspect of our being.

When a chakra is metabolising energy efficiently it is said to be ‘open’ and this results in balanced and harmonious functioning of the parts of the body which are under its influence.

When there is a restriction or distortion in the energy flow of a chakra it is described as ‘closed’ or ‘partly closed’ and this causes dis-ease in the related areas of the body.

In the next seven posts I will outline a brief guide to each chakra giving a description of its attributes.  Among other things, each has its own colour, sense, food and element.  These vary slightly depending on which book you read so my description will generally follow the most common version.

 

(This post was taken from my article on the chakras.  You can read the full text here)

Feeling Your Way from Stress into ‘Flow’ – part 3 of 5

Another way to look at stress is to imagine that we have a ‘stress bucket’.  The capacity of the bucket can vary from person to person depending on the experiences we’ve had in our lives and how these have shaped our beliefs and mindset.

 

Stress comes in to the bucket from a variety of different sources.  (Doing a regular body scan as described above can help you to become aware of the things that add to the level of stress in your bucket.)  We can start some days with a high level of stress, meaning that our bucket is already nearly full, and it only takes another small amount to make it overflow!

However we can take steps to help us deal with the stress.  This has an effect similar to turning on the tap and allowing some of the contents in the bucket to drain away.  Again this can vary from person to person but here are a few examples:

  • journaling
  • mindfulness and meditation
  • practicing saying No
  • recognising and honouring our own needs, eg for sleep, rest, nutrition and hydration
  • gentle exercise, such as swimming, walking, yoga, gardening
  • spending time outdoors in natural light and fresh air
  • doing things that you enjoy – reading, singing, dancing or other hobbies
  • self care: booking in a session of aromatherapy, reflexology, massage or Reiki, for example

One very simple technique that can be used anywhere is simply to become aware of your breath.  There are a variety of breathing exercises available so it’s worth trying a few to find out what works for you.  One of my personal favourites is to place your hand over your heart, then breathe in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 6.  Visualise the breath coming directly in to, and going out from, your heart.  This helps to calm your heartbeat into a smooth rhythm which in turn ‘entrains’ your brain to a more relaxed wavelength.  Just taking a moment to be still and taking a deep breath  in this way, can help to give you that second to pause and choose how to respond in a situation rather than just reacting out of fear or anger.

Next week I’ll look at what’s happening in the body when we’re in stress and why it’s important to make time for rest.

 

(You can read the full article here)

Feeling Your Way from Stress into ‘Flow’ – part 2 of 5

Unfortunately we have become conditioned to a culture where things are expected to be instant: access to information, or entertainment, and even fast food.  This means that we often look for a ‘magic wand’ – a pill or procedure that will make us well – but in doing this we are relying on external things to heal us, when the only real and lasting healing comes from within.  We can end up giving our power away to doctors, ‘gurus’, or usually associate with this term, but also shopping, exercise and even apparently ‘healthy’ diets) trying to find a way to feel better.

But in fact we are our own expert!  When we tune in to how we’re feeling, and observe and listen to our bodies, we can detect the early signs of possible issues and also begin to get a good idea of what kinds of solutions might work for us.  Of course there is still a place for doctors and medicine and asking for help, but when we do this from a place of knowledge and understanding of ourselves, it is so much more empowering and effective.  It means that we will have a better sense of what we are aiming for, and what questions to ask in order to achieve this.

As I mentioned above, emotions are just there to give us information.  They show us whether something is serving us, or not.  It is when we don’t listen to them, or bottle them up that we can experience problems.  After all, e-motions are just Energy in Motion.  We need to allow them to flow and to listen to the insight they bring in order to maintain our balance and wellbeing.  For example if you’re feeling an emotion that makes you uncomfortable in some way, explore where this discomfort is coming from and how you could turn this around and ‘lean into’ something that feels better to you, something that makes your heart feel lighter and gives you a sense of greater space and freedom.

“The body doesn’t make mistakes, it makes the adaptations it believes it needs to make in order to feel ‘safe'”

So what’s happening when we feel overwhelmed?  Basically it’s when we feel that the demands placed on us outweigh the control we have in that situation:

Those demands can be external, such as workload placed on us by our boss, or internal, such as the high expectations that we place on ourselves.  When we feel that we have ‘no choice’ or that we have no control in a situation, meaning that our needs go unmet, then we can tip into overwhelm.  For example if a mother is taking care of a new baby she can feel under pressure to be a ‘good mother’ and have her child clean and neat at all times.  She might be tired due to interrupted sleep but not be able to take a break because her baby needs attention.  If she doesn’t feel that she can ask for help, or she has no-one to delegate to, this could easily lead to her becoming overwhelmed.

If, however, she has someone who could watch the baby for a while so that she can take a nap, this will help.  Or if she knows that exercise and a change of scene helps her to feel better, and she’s able to take the baby out for a walk to the park, it can help her to regain a sense of perspective and balance.

In Part 3 I’ll explore stress and things we can do to help us deal with it constructively.

 

(You can read the full article here)

Case study of a dog with a spinal condition (Part 4 of 4)

In the previous 3 posts I’ve shared what happened at a recent zoopharmacognosy (self selection) session with a canine client of mine, Willow.  The session was offered via Skype by Rachel Windsor-Knott of My Animal Matters.  Having asked Willow’s owner to fill out a detailed consultation form Rachel then sent a box of samples and, during the call, described how to offer these to Willow.  Rachel’s selection of herbs and oils was spot on, and Willow worked with everything in the box.

Rachel also recommended that Willow’s owner offer her Coconut oil in addition to the remedies to make sure that she was choosing the macerates for their herb content, rather than for fats (see further information in Part 3).  Willow proved to be very keen on this and her owner realised that it has also been helping her skin.  (Willow had had a tendency to lick at her paws causing redness and broken skin but this has now cleared up.)

Rachel added Spirulina to Willow’s selection of remedies.  This is helpful in cases of anxious behaviours and joint problems.  It is detoxifying and helps to stimulate the immune system.  It’s also a great supplement for senior dogs or those who are a little run-down as it is rich in protein and nutrients.  Willow proved to be very fond of this too!

Following the initial session, Willow’s owner continued to offer the remedies, particularly the Peppermint, Marjoram Sweet and Violet Leaf oils, the Comfrey and Arnica macerates and the Rose water.  To these she then added the Coconut Oil and Spirulina.  She shared this message with us when her box of remedies arrived:

Willow was so excited when your parcel arrived and was ripping off the bubble wrap with me! She’s loving the arnica, comfrey, violet leaf (rubs on side of head with it and mouthing/chewing the cloth) and marjoram on her back, more than the others… She is much more relaxed and softer… 

Rachel had included small sachets of Devil’s Claw and Barley Grass which Willow took for a few days. (Devils Claw is good for arthritis, inflammatory pain and musculoskeletal issues.  Barley Grass supports animals with anxious and hyperactive behaviours and those with skin conditions.  It is rich in nutrients, particularly magnesium). Her owner then sent us this message:

Not keen on devils claw today so offered barley wheat grass … then offered spirulina… Lucky I put a towel down, specks of green everywhere! … Still wanting marjoram on her back and generally sleeps with either violet leaf/peppermint. 

Willow is twitching now, she hasn’t done that for a while.

Throughout this whole process I was also offering Reiki to Willow to help her body enter into it’s Rest and Repair mode.  She can tend to be an anxious dog who is always on the alert so the Reiki helped her to relax so that her body could heal and so that the oils and other remedies could work effectively.  Several of the remedies she chose were also supporting her on this emotional level.  This is a picture of Willow after one of our Reiki sessions:

In our fifth session, Willow’s owner said that had she not seen it for herself she would not have believed the change in her dog over the last month.! From having been very wobbly on her back legs and walking with a rather odd, wide-legged gait, scuffing her toes, Willow now almost looks normal when she walks.  She had lost some muscle tone but is slowly building this up again as she regains strength and feeling.  She now knows when she needs to go outside for toileting and so there have been no further accidents in the house.  Her owner is overjoyed!  When she’d first been given the diagnosis from the vet she had thought she might soon have to say goodbye to her beloved dog whereas now it seems that Willow has been given a new lease of life!

If you’d like to know more about how these therapies could be used to support an animal in your life please get in touch:

robyn@equenergy.com

07980 669303

For Reiki and META-Health information you can see my website:

www.equenergy.com

For information on Zoopharmacognosy (self selection) see:

www.myanimalmatters.co.uk

 

(You can read the whole article here)

Case study of a dog with a spinal condition (Part 3 of 4)

In the last 2 posts in this series I’ve described a zoopharmacognosy (self selection) session offered by Rachel Windsor-Knott of My Animal Matters to one of my canine clients, Willow.

Having offered all of the remedies that Rachel had sent – of which Willow accepted every single one – we then put each remedy on the floor and watched to see what she would do.  She lay down with her jaw parallel to the Peppermint oil.  Throughout she had kept returning to this cloth and Rachel suspected that, as she was inhaling rather than licking, she was using it for it’s clearing properties, more than as a pain killer.

As Willow was lying there she began to twitch gently, as if she was dreaming, and she did appear to be asleep. (During the session she had also shown blinks, yawns, licking, chewing and stretches as she worked with the oils, processing and releasing).

Rachel recommended continuing to offer this selection to Willow, particularly the Peppermint, Marjoram Sweet and Violet Leaf oils, the Comfrey and Arnica macerates and the Rose water.  She also suggested adding rice bran oil and / or coconut oil* to Willow’s diet to ensure that when she chooses the macerates this is done solely for the herb content rather than the fat.  (Fat is essential for nerves so she might be choosing these remedies for this as well, particularly as she’s on a dry food diet which can result in low levels of healthy fats.  Coconut oil is also antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral so helps with infections.  The vet had said that this is a possible cause for the lesion in Willow’s spine so this oil might be beneficial in this way too.  It is also good for the skin and coat, and supports the thyroid.)

The day after the session Willow’s owner posted this message:

Hey! Just wanted to say – Wow!! Willow’s legs have improved dramatically! After only one session! So I’m very hopeful and can’t wait to continue on with it. 

Less collapsing … she also seems more relaxed and affectionate and her muscles are softer. She is always tense and alert being the alpha dog and protects the house… this morning seems a bit tense/back to normal but no collapsing yet, plus she told us she needed to go outside for a poo (she has been having a lot of accidents so we have to make sure she goes out regularly) so she is definitely feeling her back end and legs again. 

Thanks again! 

Rachel replied: 

That’s amazing. Which makes total sense with the peppermint in particular as it’s able to stimulate new nerve pathways.

Next week I’ll share further information on how things have been progressing for Willow since this session.

 

*Please note that fats should not be offered to dogs who suffer from pancreatitis

 

(You can read the whole article here)

Case study of a dog with a spinal condition (Part 2 of 4)

Last week I started sharing a little about a recent zoopharmacognosy (self selection) session with a canine client of mine.

Rachel Windsor-Knott, of My Animal Matters, sent a box of samples to Willow’s owner and, via Skype, talked us through how to offer them and what signals to watch for.

Having offered some essential oils, we then moved on to the 2 macerates that Rachel had thought would help Willow: Comfrey and Arnica.  Willow devoured these, lapping up all that Rachel had sent.  (Comfrey – also known as ‘knit bone’ – is good for fractures and also helps in cases of soft tissue damage.  It eases inflammation of the stomach, too, so can be helpful in easing the side effects of pain killing medication.  Arnica helps with bruising, muscular injury and inflammatory pain.  It is also an immune system stimulant.)

Rachel then suggested offering the Rose and Valerian Root waters.  Willow licked and chewed at the bottles so her owner poured some out and again she lapped these up and wanted more.  She seemed to have a slight preference for the Rose water.  (Rose is used in cases of anger and resentment, hormone balancing, feelings of rejection and emotional wounds, trauma and unwanted memories.  Valerian root is a muscle relaxant and sedative which helps in cases of anxious behaviours.)

We then moved on to Marjoram Sweet.  This was on a cloth and again Willow showed interest.  Her energy come up and she appeared quite playful.  She approached her owner which made Rachel think she might want to have the oil applied.  Rachel gave instructions for Willow’s owner to rub the cloth on her hands and offer these to Willow.  Willow accepted this so her owner gently rubbed her hands first on Willow’s chest, then her neck and shoulders and on down to her back.  Willow then turned  round and presented her rump and back for the oil to be applied there too!  (This oil is an antispasmodic, helps to ease stiffness in the muscles and is also very comforting in cases of grief.)

Lastly there was a cloth with Violet Leaf oil.  Willow showed great interest in this, chewing at the cloth.  (This oil is very supportive when there is anticipation of pain.  It is comforting to the heart and helps those of a nervous disposition.)

Next week I’ll talk about how we drew the session to a close and how things progressed for Willow.

 

(You can read the whole article here)