Get a little head space. ..

Recently I’ve been reflecting on my mental wellbeing. I am blessed with sound mental health. Having seen so many people I care about, of varying degrees of closeness to me, really find life difficult at times, I’ve come to realise that this is something that I should not take for granted under any circumstances. I’ve realised that if I do, I may start to neglect it and damage my mental health. And it’s so important that I don’t do that.

My favourite way to chill out is to whack on some Zero 7, or The XX. Then hand me a pen and paper and let me write with a candle burning, and some fluffy socks.

I’ve also started to meditate. 

It’s one of those things that I always thought I should do. You know the stuff. If I eat clean, if I do yoga and if I meditate, it makes me a better person who is adulting well.

***NEWSFLASH*** none of that last sentence is true.

Having said that, I do feel that my little forage into meditating is having nothing but positive impacts on my life.

Historically when I’ve attempted meditation I’ve thrown the towel in because in my eyes, I’ve failed. Pretty strong belief, huh. See the thing is, I always felt that not being able to switch off and focus on “nothing” was failing. And believe me. I DO NOT switch off with ease. It takes A LOT of gin to make that happen.

I’ve now returned to it (meditation, not gin) and I cannot begin to express how differently I now perceive it. 

A week or so ago I downloaded the head space app. Go and download it now. Don’t bother reading the rest of this. Just download it. It’s a subscribed service but there’s lots of free content too.

Now the first thing that struck me about this app when I downloaded it was that it very much talks about meditation as a practice that you need to, and can, get better at. YAY! It doesn’t matter that I suck at it!
The second thing I noticed was that the meditations in the basic course were no more than 10 minutes, and even then you can choose between 3, 5 or 10 minutes. This was news to me. It’s something I’d always believed you had to spend at least half an hour on. No wonder it had repeatedly been going so badly for me!

When I then played the first meditation session, I found it so easy. As a beginner, 3 minutes was more than enough. And guess what. No-one yells at you if your mind wanders. In fact it’s even encouraged at points.

My favourite thing about this app though, is the guide’s voice. He has a voice that is so easy, and in fact a pleasure to listen to. There’s no gimmicks. There’s none of this “fake soft meditation voice thing” that so many people insist on and fail to realise how distracting and annoying it is for the rest of us.

I’m enjoying my little wander into the world of mindfulness so much, I found myself agreeing to go to a meditation class on Sunday night with a friend. The class was in a dimly lit room at the back of a beauty salon, filled with comfy chairs and candles. I’d been told it was an hour long which seemed pretty daunting at first, but actually the structure of the class made that quite comfortable.

The first thing we did after a little round up of how everyone was feeling and finding out about people’s experience of meditation, was a short “warm-up” meditation. This was just a simple 10 minutes to bring you into a more relaxed state for the rest of the class. 

I’ll be honest – this felt weird at first. Being sat in a room, with your eyes closed with a bunch of strangers is weird. You feel so vulnerable. But it wasn’t too bad and the 10 minutes flew past!

After that we were about to do a body scan. This is a meditation where you focus on your body.  You work from your head down and focus on any aches, and then try to work through any niggles. 

We started at the top of our head, and although by this point I was used to breathing deeply with my eyes closed in a room full of strangers, I couldn’t help but feel that this was weird!

We were told to focus on the top of our head and be aware of any sensations. Well, I couldn’t feel a thing. I’m sat there wondering what the hell I was doing and desperately trying not to laugh! As I was told to draw my attention down through my body, I still wasn’t getting anything, although I could feel myself getting heavier and heavier in my chair.  They were either trying to hypnotise me, or I was getting attention bloody good sleep for a fiver!

And then we hit the lower back.  Nothing major, but I’d been feeling a little ache throughout that day. And as I continued to breathe deeply and focused my energy on breathing away the pain it went.we carried further down. The next bit for me was my left leg. I suffer from unexplained tingling in it regularly so it would be interesting to see what would happen now.

Once again, I focused on breathing the sensation away and out of my body. And it worked. Now I’m not saying I’ve found the secret of healing, but it sorted out a tiny niggle in my back, and my tingling subsided until the next morning. It’s nice to get a little respite.

After the body scan we were asked how we felt. I could pretty much sum the experience up as, powerful and better than a glass of wine!

I will definitely be returning and I will definitely be keeping up the work I’m doing with the head space app.

Whatever your mental wellbeing looks like, look after it. I really believe that meditation can help with that.

#SelfLoveWeek – Day 4 and 5

Since holiday I’ve not had a chance to post my last two days from #SelfLoveWeek. My next blog post will be a review of what I got from it, why I did it and what I’m doing to make the #SelfLove live on!

Day 4

This one was hard. What do I love about my body? Not a lot is the honest answer.

But what I do love is that how ever much I hate it, it’s still there, every single day. I can treat it so badly, saying nasty things, eating crap food but it’s always there for me. It keeps going.

Something I’ve learned in this challenge, is that I should see my body as my friend. I should look at my body and think about the things that we do together, like going to the gym, smashing those PB’s (and then subsequently eating ALL of the ice cream).

I should definitely be kinder to her, and in turn she’ll be kinder to me 🙂

Day 5

And so it’s the last day of #SelfLoveWeek and Day 5 is all about manifesting my dreams.

I’ve never really been much of a dreamer. I don’t have a particular desire to travel, own specific things, or do anything. I simply want to be happy.

My dream is simply to live a long and happy life with those closest to me. I want contentment, simplicity and to feel at peace.

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The Goddess Revolution

In my previous blog posts, I have been sharing with you my challenges from #SelfLoveWeek with the beautiful Mel Wells. I feel at this stage, I probably need to back track slightly, and tell you a bit more about how it all came to light…

You might remember Mel from Hollyoaks a good few years back. She was (yet another) one of the McQueen’s clan. I vaguely remember her in from it as it was in my Hollyoaks watching prime, which I don’t often admit to in public, but this blogging malarkey makes me feel compelled to admit all sorts of things I wouldn’t dream of normally!

It turns out that Mel had a really bad relationship with food and her body (girls all over the country rejoice that they are not alone and are in fact, human!) She decided enough was enough and she transformed her relationship with both food and her body and is now a health coach, teaching her secret. She works (seemingly tirelessly) with women all over the world, helping them to escape their demons, and coaches them to truly love themselves.

Because I’ve been on a diet for all of my twenties and now into my thirties, I’ve managed to get myself in all sorts of groups on Facebook and follow “god knows what and who” on Instagram. Because I follow lots of other women in the same boat, I started to see an eye-catching book appear regularly. I knew I had to get my hands on it (I’m a professional dieter – of course I needed to be in on the next fad! Many of you will remember how swept up in Joe Wicks’ curly hair I was!)

MEL

Pretty eye-catching book I just HAD to have!

Her book, “The Goddess Revolution” is my current read (soz Game of Thrones – you’ll just have to go on the back burner for a bit – this Goddess is looking out for her!) And it’s not quite what I bargained for. It’s not the next big thing in the diet world. Or maybe it is. It’s the next big “anti-diet” thing. YAY! At 31 and 9 days (not that I’m counting) I can finally be free of the diet! Could it be true? Well I’m only marginally way through, but everything so far has made so much sense! You’ll have to watch this space for the answer to that!

In addition to getting the book I started following Mel on all forms of social media, because that’s what you do, right? To my delight, I timed it JUST right. Mel’s #SelfLoveWeek was due to start on my 31st birthday.

I was excited to get going. How hard could it be? I’ve got a pretty good relationship with myself haven’t I? Yeah sure, there’s a bit of a blip at the moment and I’m hanging out in limbo land, but Me, Myself and I are cool right?

WRONG.

I enjoyed #SelfLoveWeek. In fact I adored it. I’m feeling so upbeat, and I love having something to focus on. I feel so positive to those around me too. My whole focus on people, particularly other women has shifted.

When Women Support Each Other Incredible Things Happen

What I can’t lie about though, is that it has made it glaringly obvious, that my self-esteem and my self-love is nowhere close to where I thought it was, and where I want it to be.