I was privileged to be asked to lead a session of Tai Chi Qigong for staff members at Kettering General Hospital during their work life balance week in October. I went back on a second day during that week to carry out relaxing hand reflexology taster sessions too. Showing staff members different ways to relax, rebalance and reconnect.
I am always amazed at what the universe puts in our path. Whilst on retreat in the beautiful Dyfi Velley in Wales @www.ecoretreats.co.uk, I was practicing my Shibashi 18 Step Qigong in the meeting place and café for the site by a beautiful free flowing mountain stream. In this area there are magazines for guests to browse. I was drawn to a South African publication called Natural Medicine and there on the front were the words Movement as Medicine - Qigong. The article on Qigong inside contained a beautiful quote "Flowing water never stagnates. This is due to movement. The same principle applies to essence and energy". Qigong is the gentle movement of the body and coordination of the breath. During the flowing movements energy is drawn into the body to circulate through the meridians dissolving any blockages and stagnant energy is expelled thus promoting health and wellbeing. There I was watching a flowing mountain stream as I was helping my energy to flow through my meridians.
#seebewellbeing #ecoretreats #qigong #dyfivelley
Driving home from the gym Friday morning I caught Zoe Ball on Radio 2 with her ‘Friends Round Friday’ show talking to Kiefer Sutherland about his new album, Reckless & Me. She asked Kiefer to set up one of the tracks called ‘Something you Love’ and this is what he said.
“I consider myself to be one of the luckiest people I have ever known and I have watched too many people that are friends of mine or just off in the distance, that work so hard to do just what they can to support their family and their friends and they don’t do anything for themselves and the only thing that we have guaranteed in this life is this one life – it’s a plea for people to do something for themselves and that they love”
Then Zoe played the song with lyrics such as:
“But I’m wasting my time just paying my bills,
Staying in line but getting no chills,
A living ain’t living not without the thrill of doing something you love.
Dance all night till the moonlight’s gone,
Dive in the river with nothing on,
Follow your dreams, you can’t go wrong
Doing something you, something you love.”
It got me thinking just how easy it is to get caught up in the rat race of striving to make a living, to climb the career ladder, to accumulate wealth and material things. Before you know it 20 or 30 years have passed and then you hear a song such as ‘Something You Love’ and it helps to gain perspective over what is truly important, just how precious this life is and how we should do our utmost every day to do just one thing that we love.
This could be so simple as a dance in the moonlight or a walk at day break, listening to your favourite album or just picking up a book for 10 minutes. Spending time in the garden, picnic with the family, a visit to the gym, coffee with a friend, date night to the cinema, picking up a guitar and playing as though no-one is listening – anything that makes you feel in touch with the real you, something where you can be totally absorbed in the here and now and really feel what it is like to have the privilege of being alive. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune either!
For me getting out on my bike is a fantastic way to connect to nature whilst doing some exercise or walking down on the common land close to my house and seeing the new foals arrive and taking tentative steps close to mum. So, even though I was busy packing boxes for a move I still made sure I went for my walk yesterday and today just to stop and recharge for a while.
I am lucky enough to now be doing work that I love too, Reflexology, Tai Chi Qigong, Life Coaching, Reiki and Indian Head Massage – helping others to relax, rebalance and reconnect.
Being a Life Coach one of the things that I try to get my clients to focus on is finding 1 or 2 things that they can have for just themselves, something that they love. It helps them to relax, reconnect with their world, build self-esteem, create a positive mindset and appreciation for the life that they are living.
What can you start doing on a regular basis that you love?
Be the Best Version of You!
@wellbeingbycaroline Facebook page
Orsino in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is asking for more music because he is frustrated in his courtship of Countess Olivia. He muses that an excess of music might cure his obsession with love. Is he saying that he can lose himself in music and just for a while forget the yearnings of his heart, or does music help satisfy his appetite for a love at a deep and fulfilling level?
I haven’t been to a live music concert for quite a while, yet in the last month I have been to two. It made me realise how much I have missed a live performance and what an important role music plays in my life, how it makes me feel connected and emotionally in tune.
The concerts were totally different styles of music, KT Tunstall at De Montfort Hall and Guitar Heroes at The Stables, Wavendon, but both allowed me time to just be in the moment, listening to the lyrics and sound of multiple instruments merging to create something that is greater than the individual parts.
There were occasions when I would feel a tingling up and down my spine and the hairs on the back of my neck standing, there were lyrics that brought tears to my eyes and emotions to the surface. Music has the ability to take you to another place, help you to escape for a while and forget about any stresses and worries. Time seems to take on a different dimension when sitting in a concert – the time thief seems to be at work stealing 3 hours of my time in a blink of an eye! How come 3 hours in a traffic jam feels like 6 (unless you are playing inspirational music of course!).
I can’t imagine a world without music and yet I realised that my world of late had become a little bit quiet! What better way to start the day than listening to an empowering tune such as ‘Roar’ by Katy Perry, ‘Beautiful Day’ by U2, ‘A Million Dreams’ by Pink or even the classic ‘I will Survive’ by Gloria Gaynor.
I remember listening to Josh Groban’s version of ‘You Raise Me Up’ while battling to the summit of Kilimanjaro. Mark Knopfler's, ‘Going Home’, the theme tune from Local Hero takes me back to lying on a blanket looking for shooting stars in the Indian Himalaya’s.
There are songs that have sad memories attached to them, songs that have joyful memories attached to them, songs I love to dance to and songs that I can relax and meditate to.
The point is that music is powerful and has the ability to change our emotional state and shift our mood.
So, what are your anthems that inspire, what are the songs that you can lose yourself to? Why not create an inspiring and uplifting personal playlist that can put you in a resourceful and happy state and perhaps listen to that on your way to work or while you are getting ready to start your working day?
I would however advise not listening to Insomnia by Faithless while driving as you may risk a speeding ticket! In the words of Kelly Clarkson ‘What doesn’t Kill you Makes you Stronger’ and as Adele reminds us ‘Regrets and mistakes, they are memories made’ whilst words from Bobby McFerrin sum it up perfectly ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’!
So, what concert to book next???
A lovely new lady at one of my Qigong sessions last week said to me at the end of the session, “You must be so relaxed and calm doing Qigong every day”.
I reflected back just a few years ago when I still had my corporate role in the food industry. I remembered the stress of travelling to production sites in Europe, the early morning and late-night flights, trying to stay awake while driving home at ridiculous o’clock, the miles and hours that I spent on UK motorways visiting customers, the unreasonable deadlines and crazy workloads, the lack of ‘me’ time and fun time! It was no wonder I was showing symptoms of stress and anxiety as well as being unmotivated and tired out! I knew I wanted to step off that merry go round but it took me until last year to finally have the courage to leap off!
That one comment made me realise just what a different version of me I have become. I am much calmer, more relaxed, more positive, energised and happier. That in part is definitely a result of learning a beautiful form of Tai Chi called Shibashi Qigong.
Tai Chi Qigong Shibashi is a wonderful relaxing series of 18 flowing moves that I call a moving meditation. Through trying to co-ordinate arm and leg movements with the breath the mind becomes distracted from the day to day list of things that need to be done or the shopping that needs to be bought for tonight’s tea! The moves are very relaxing and calming and have wonderful imagination evoking names such as ‘parting the clouds’ ‘painting a rainbow’ and ‘the flying wild goose’.
Qigong means ‘energy work’ and it is working with our internal energy, helping to open the meridians and allow our Qi (energy) to flow freely, releasing any blockages, replenishing and going to where the body needs it the most. I call it a workout from the inside out. When the body is in a relaxed state it can start to heal and return to a state of wellbeing.
Since I have been practicing Qigong and going deeper into the practice in terms of the posture and breathing, I have definitely observed changes in my own health and wellbeing. Yes, I am more relaxed but I feel more energised and grounded at the same time. I feel more in touch with my own energy field and requirements of my body and my circulation has definitely improved – no more cold toes or fingers!
I am so grateful for discovering Tai Chi Qigong and finding such generous teachers in Debbie and Mark Gannon of the Shibashi Training Academy in Hinckley. Their passion is sharing the artform of Qigong with students so that the benefits can spread far and wide through their qualified session leaders and instructors. Their teaching has genuinely enabled me to take my life in a wonderful new direction.
Three or four years ago I would never have imagined I could be leading 45-minute sessions of Tai Chi Qigong moves. It gives me unmeasurable amounts of pleasure to look around the room at the end of a session while the attendees are standing in a posture called Standing Zen and to think that I might be helping each one of them find a small amount of time for themselves, where they can switch off from the demands of their busy world and find a little bit of calm and peace. I give thanks to each one of them for being there and gifting this time to themselves.
I am also so very grateful for my journey both the stress, anxiety and the calm and the peace – all of these things make me the person that I am today.
So, be open to changes in direction. Don’t be afraid to try new things and do not stop learning and developing. There is a saying - ‘it takes two and a half lifetimes to master Tai Chi’, which basically means that we are always learning! You may surprise yourself at what you are capable of and in three- or four-years’ time you may be reflecting on the amazing changes that you embraced.
Try to recognise when stress and anxiety are affecting the amount of fun and happiness that you have in your life. Know when you need to get off that ‘merry go round’ for a while and take much needed time for you and do something that you love whether it be going for a run, getting out in the garden, watching a film, listening to music or reading.
Or maybe, a session of Tai Chi Qigong could be just what you need to gift yourself that much needed escapism to just be…..
For more details of the Tai Chi Qigong sessions that I am running please visit my Qigong page . Please like my facebook page @wellbeingbycaroline so you can read about new sessions that I am starting during April and May.
Be the best version of you possible.
Renew with the colours of Spring.
I love this time of year, the daylight hours are getting longer, I am waking to the beautiful sound of birdsong, nature is renewing, trees are budding, blossom is starting to appear, bulbs are opening and the grass is starting it’s growth cycle again.
It is a time of hope and new beginnings, of germination and new life. I have seen my first spring lambs in the fields and quite bizarrely have been able to sit out on my decking in a 17 degree February sun!
I think we all start to feel more alive as Spring unfolds, our energy increases, our mindset becomes more positive. It is a great time for a ‘spring clean’ of physical and emotional clutter and a wonderful time to start new projects or plan new ventures – such as a house move!
Personally, I find it easier to keep to 'Spring Resolutions' than I do 'New Year' Resolutions, as I find it more challenging to keep myself motivated in the short, dark, cold days of winter.
I love celebrating St David’s Day with daffodils blooming in my garden. One of the things that I enjoy doing at this time of year is going for a walk in nature. I try to practice mindful walking which involves shifting my focus from the busyness of life and being aware of what my senses are seeing, hearing, smelling and feeling – to be more present and appreciate nature and the new life all around.
To feel the contact with the earth beneath my feet. To feel the breeze or warmth of the sun against my face. To hear the depth of the sounds around me – traffic, people, birds singing, dogs barking, wind through the trees or perhaps a train in the distance. To observe all that is around me, the colours, the contours, the movement or even the stillness, just to really connect and feel at one with all that I see, feel, hear and smell – even if it is horse poo or the waft from the Weetabix factory down the road!
I may stop for a few moments and check in with my breathing, making sure I am taking long, deep, relaxing breaths into my stomach and really filling my lungs with fresh air to fully oxygenate my body and mind.
Another thing I try to do to deepen the connection is to look for the chakra colours in nature and as I observe the colour to think about the corresponding chakra and allow the colour to help rebalance and renew it's energy.
On my walk yesterday I took photos of the colours that I saw:
A red primrose to connect with my root chakra at the base of my spine. This is my grounding and symbolises nourishment from the Earth energies.
An orange primrose to connect with my sacral chaka, which is associated with creativity and emotions.
Beautiful yellow daffodils to connect with my solar plexus, my power house, instinct and willpower centre.
Pink primroses and green grass to connect with my heart chakra where I try to centre in love and compassion.
The occasional blue patches of sky to connect with my throat chakra to give voice to my thoughts and feelings from a place of truth.
Indigo primroses for my third eye, evoking intuition and inner wisdom.
White pansy petals to connect with my crown chakra and the universal divine energy that is all around.
Just observing the colours and the form of nature lifts our spirits and being thankful for this new growth and life helps to fill ourselves with love and gratitude, which can’t fail but have a positive impact on our approach to our day.
So, a Spring Time Resolution for me is to take time out every day to mindfully go for a walk, however busy I might be or however lacking in motivation or time I might be. This could be as soon as it gets light to set my day up in the right way, or when I need to take a break from the laptop, or in between clients and Qigong sessions. It doesn’t have to be long either, even 10 minutes is enough to reset and rebalance. The key is to really allow your senses to do what they do best and ‘sense’ the new life of spring all around us and absorb that positive fresh energy.
If you would like to learn more about how to recharge, reconnect and rebalance, including different ways of meditating or setting and achieving new resolutions then email me or visit my facebook page @wellbeingbycaroline.
Fact – we need to move to a bigger house as my lovely 3 bedroom sanctuary is bursting at the seams with 2 self employed bods both requiring home based work space.
It is many years since I sold or bought a property and I forgot just how stressful it can be and so I am trying desperately to go through this process as mindfully as I possibly can!
The valuation itself was relatively stress free with my chosen estate agent having sold similar properties in my area, so who to choose was relatively simple. Ripples of anxiety started though when 2 young girls turned up to take pictures and particulars of the house and those ripples expanded when I drove around the corner the next day to see the ‘For Sale’ board in my front garden, a declaration to the close of my intentions!
Then I check on Rightmove to see how the house and details come across – ‘mater’ bedroom, really, you would think an estate agent would get that one correct, I don’t remember the sky being quite so bright and blue on the day the pictures were taken and boy does my bathroom look big!
Then the wait…..for the call from the estate agents for that first viewing and the associated effort of cleaning and tidying, hiding away anything that makes the house look too cluttered, all for a 5 / 10 minute walk around with complete strangers. I sit there trying to guess from their age and gender the circumstances of the walk arounds, are they first time buyers, split equity relationship breakdown buyer, (that was what I was after all, when I fell in love with this house!), downsizers, investment buyers or bank of Mum and Dad helping their offspring get on the property ladder, or just nosy buggers?!
Then the wait….for the feedback. Listening to all the reasons why the property isn’t suitable for them with most of them probably being the exact reasons it suited me 13 years ago!
Then the wait….. for the phone to ring to book further viewings.
Then the wait….. for an offer!
Then the wait....while the negotiations go back and forth!
I am trying desperately to centre myself in the belief that it will happen, that the universe will play this out as it should and the right buyer will come along at the right time and then of course the right property for us will magically be available.
There is an undercurrent of panic in me when there are no viewings booked, have I overpriced it? Is it the BREXIT effect? Have I chosen the right estate agent? It doesn’t help to hear a friend say that her sister put her house on the market recently and it sold the same day. It further does not help when 3 other estate agents send targeted letters saying they could do a better job of selling my home and one very keen removal company has also offered their services!
Then there is my secret addiction to Rightmove! It really is so tempting to log in online or use the app to see what has been listed in our price range and dream about where we could potentially live – countryside, quiet cul-de-sac, modern perfection or a project and what exactly is our budget when you take into account stamp duty, moving expenses and work that may need doing the affordability starts to fall, all of which I find so confusing.
So, what is it that is making me so anxious? I sit every day and meditate to try to reduce my anxiety and build my faith in the process.
I conclude that my anxiety is as a result of being in a fearful state, but what do I fear:
Fear of the unknown
Fear of not being in control
Fear of not being offered enough to show the affordability we might need
Fear of not knowing where our next home will be
Fear of taking my fur baby’s to new pastures!
Fear of the sale falling through when it does happen.
I realise that fear is a negative, limiting emotion that closes me off to possibilities and opportunities. Fear could stop me from actually going through with this process as it paralyses me. When we are being fearful, we are not in a loving state, we are not being the best versions of ourselves and fear attracts fearful situations whereas love attracts more loving situations.
As I meditate, I realise that I need to shift that fear to excitement to embrace the change and be open to all possibilities and doors that may open for us. I need to shift my perceptions and have faith in the universe to deliver what we need when we need it. I need to get in touch with the positive emotions that a new home will give me and feel those at my core – joy, peace, security, contentment, love, laughter, happiness. When feeling those emotions fear can not exist.
This is an exciting time, this is about new beginnings, we will have a bigger space to entertain those we love, we will have more room for our businesses to grow, we might be able to have a vegetable patch and space for some chickens, we will be part of a new community with new friends to make. I might be able to get a dog, (don't tell the cats!) This IS exciting!!
The process of change can be uncomfortable but all personal growth involves facing our fears and stepping outside our comfort zone and daring to embrace change and new challenges. I am sure I will look back in a year and wonder what all the anxiety and fear was about.
In order to help me stay centred in love throughout this process I am going to include in my meditations gratitude for all those involved in this process and thank them for their part that they will play in this move to new opportunities.
So, the next time a viewing is booked I will not view it as an inconvenience but view it with excitement as one step closer to us achieving the home we dream of and welcome the viewing with love, gratitude and smiles.
Meditation is such a useful tool in helping us to shift our perceptions and be able to show gratitude and love and yet so many of us find it difficult to take the time to meditate and be still – life gets in the way and yet it is life’s challenges that we need to approach with mindfulness.
Meditation can take many forms and over the years I have tried many and I now have probably 6 or 7 different ways of meditating that work for me. I want to help you find your way of stilling your mind to access the mindset that you need to be able to shift your perceptions from fear to love. That is why I am running a meditation workshop on Saturday 16th March 2019 in Burton Latimer. More details can be found on my website on the workshops page or you can email me at [email protected]
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” Wayne Dyer
“A miracle is a shift in perception. The moment that we choose to perceive our life with love, we can create miraculous change” Gabrielle Bernstein.
Skiing for me is a mind game - a battle of wits against false yeti's, moguls, ice patches and out of control snow boarders!
After 6 years and a nasty injury as a result of being taken out by an out of control snow boarder I decided to return to the slopes in Les Duex Alpes in the French Alps with a view to seeing if I could overcome my fears and enjoy the feel of skis gliding over snow again knowing I was in control!
I listened with some trepidation to excited talk of great snow conditions, ski types, the most challenging runs and ski guiding as the coach carried us slowly from Grenoble to a very snowy and pretty resort. I had skied many times in the past but it is safe to say that I had become all too aware of my own mortality and fear dominated my downhill thoughts rather than excitement.
Sunday morning saw me taking tentative steps in my ski boots towards the nursery slopes. I clicked into my ski's and set off for my first drag lift in 6 years! I was tense and robotic unable to relax and unable to just trust in my legs, feet and ski's to do the work.
Before I came to the resort I recognised how powerful the mind can be in building up a 'I can't do it' approach. I recognised just how negative my fear of another accident was and how through the law of attraction having thoughts such as those was more likely to attract an incident!
I realised that I needed expert help and guidance otherwise my holiday was at risk of being over before it had even started. I had pre-booked private lessons with a fantastic ski instructor called Vivi. She is an Italian bundle of positivity with a no nonsense attitude. Not being able to come down a slope safely just did not enter into her thoughts and was not an option as far as she was concerned. She is such a happy and positive person that her enthusiasm for skiing and life is infectious. Whilst sitting on a chairlift with her I mentioned her positive outlook and she replied by looking around her at the stunning mountains and said 'well, I have the best office in the world'!
She guided me down turn by turn, going back to rudimental basics and building from there. She pushed me further than I would have dared to push myself with encouragement and praise. I had complete trust in her, she was an expert, she knew what she was doing, she had experienced lumps and bumps along the way but loved what she did and wanted to share that. She wanted me to learn, to build my confidence again, to enable me to come down a slope safely with a smile on my face. She wanted me to be able to safely navigate difficult terrain by having a solid grasp of the basics that I could fall back on when needed.
To me Vivi was my skiing mentor and my skiing coach. Her help, guidance and in some cases tough love helped me to do more than I ever imagined and have fun in the process.
Throughout my life I have had many mentors and guides. Some came and went relatively quickly and others have been around me for years.
For the last 12 months I have been self employed building See Be Wellbeing, my health and wellbeing business. This was a leap into the unknown for me as I had been employed in corporate roles for over 25 years. I have now surrounded myself with new mentors that have been through the process of successfully starting and running their own businesses. Some are within the health and wellness industry, others are not. There is a common theme with all of them though. They have faced their own challenges in their self employment journey and they are all willing to help me navigate the pitfalls on my own journey and keep me moving forward and believing in my journey.
Being self employed I discovered can be quite lonely, as can coming down a slope on ski's! The mind plays games with you and the 'I can't do it' mindset starts to appear and before you know it you wobble, falter, panic and face plant in the snow!
A good, experienced mentor and coach will help you to safely navigate the path that is right for you and with gentle enthusiasm and some tough love sometimes push you further than you ever thought possible. They can help you to access positive resources that you already possess inside of you and build and reinforce a 'I can do it' mindset.
I can't emphasise enough the value I place on mentors and coaches, including Vivi, that have helped me through the years. Who do you see as mentors and coaches in your life? Are you getting the results in your life that you desire or is the 'I can't do it' mindset sabotaging your efforts? Is it time that you considered getting a new life coach or mentor to push you that little bit further to achieve more than you ever thought possible?!
Live a life that you love and expand your limits!
Life Coaching with Caroline - for more details email me or call 07947191916