Mindful Monday: A little bit of NO with all of your GO

A little bit of no with your go

A little bit of NO with all of your GO‘ – such a great phrase I overheard Chaitanya say at a Cycles Of Womanhood Yoga Workshop yesterday. I loved the workshop with learning how breathing and yoga poses can be really medicinal for your body! Her website is here if you want more info? https://www.wombtempleyoga.com

BUT the most important message was the need to rest for healing and releasing and insights to occur….and we just don’t get enough of it in today’s world. We all need to learn how to say NO to rest more…amongst all of the GO, go, go …

Then this great quote popped up in my email today (I love the synchronicity!):

‘One of the most exhausting stress loops for women starts with saying yes when we feel no. Becoming your most authentic self is the first step to learning what a no and a yes feel like in your body. We often tell women to say no more, but equally as troublesome is that we also don’t feel and then follow our yeses’. by Karen Brody, author of Daring To Rest….

Both of these amazing women, Karen & Chaitanya are advocates of yoga nidra – one of my favourite mindfulness exercises! Research shows that 20-30 minutes of yoga nidra is equivalent to hours of deep sleep!

I used to listen to a recorded yoga nidra daily when my kids were little to give me a boost of energy for the afternoons! The more you listen to a yoga nidra, the more quickly and deeply you go into deep rest!   Being so still and rested is essential and it also helps us to tune into our hearts and bodies to determine clearly what we need to say No or Yes to. I couldn’t do without my daily meditation practice for this benefit alone!

You can read more about yoga nidra here: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-yoga-nidra-works_us_58efcea5e4b048372700d692

A range of free yoga nidras can be found here:   http://www.yoganidranetwork.org/downloads

It’s worth giving a go – saying NO to the phone / email / facebook /family / friends / work and giving yourself some moments of deep rest – we all need it!!

I’m off to rest deeply with a yoga nidra practice!!

Will you join me? x Sara 🙂

A lifetime’s work not a season…how can we prevent future burnout…and step out of the rescuer role!

We are here to do a life’s work, not a season. Do not burn out now. You are needed for the long haul. It is time that we deeply honor these cycles and stop expecting things and ourselves to be always on‘. Rebecca Campbell, Rise Sister Rise

This quote deeply resonated with me in January this year and yet somehow, during September, I was feeling deeply burnt-out….despite all of my self-care strategies!  And I was feeling a little ashamed as it was this time last year that I was feeling so run down too! (Mindful Healing Blog November 2016)

How many times does it take to learn and to change…?

Have you been in this position too?

Is there a re-occurring pattern in your life of burn-out?

I love how in A Path with Heart, Jack Kornfield says ‘Every spiritual life has a succession of difficulties and each of those is a place to discover wisdom, love, patience, balance, awakening, and compassion…and although we make one mistake after another…each is an opportunity to learn…’

So it seems mine is to learn the same lesson over and over to conserve my energy – to remember I am here for a lifetime’s work – and not just a season!   I guess it is peeling off another layer of the ‘onion’, losing a layer of defensiveness and being in the world that was entrenched so long ago and no longer serves… It’s never easy to undo years of patterning and yet it can still feel so frustrating when caught in a spiral of learning!

So I wanted to share with you – what worked for me on the road to recovering my strength, energy and passion for the work that I do… just to see if any resonates with you?  I’d also love to hear any strategies that have worked for you?

I initially returned to all of my self-care strategies; back into healthy eating, walking in nature, meditating (and allowing for this to become an afternoon nap if needed), journaling, lots of loving kindness (really feeling loving kindness and gentleness towards myself as Christopher Germer suggests in the Mindful Path to Self Compassion), reducing expectations, letting some non-urgent jobs go, sessions with my coach, booking in to see my naturopath and getting back on track with some great supplements and seeing my acupuncturist….

ALL of these strategies helped & I highly recommend them…but there was something else there, something deeper that I had to work with….it was as if it was incubating, waiting until the right moment to reveal itself…and I found it really hard to be patient!

Then one day something clicked….like any insight or revelation it’s hard to describe how it happened – one minute I wasn’t conscious of it – the next minute I was! And also like any insight all the readings & many of the conversations I had been having were leading me to that moment – it’s just that at that point I FELT the insight in my heart and body…it was no longer just an intellectual idea/ concept!

My insight was the extent to which I have been over-functioning, striving to people-please and seeking approval from everyone, the amount to which I had been putting myself in the role of rescuer, and the one who is responsible for everyone else’s well-being…   And then it clicked how strongly this was linked to the Drama Triangle (Thank you to Kareen for introducing me to this concept!).

For a great 5 minute intro on the drama triangle – check out this 5-minute video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_XSeUYa0-8

Or this diagram from https://targetteal.com/en/blog/office-drama-understand-whats-behind-it/

Drama Triangle

It turns out I have been way out there on the RESCUER corner this year…no wonder I was feeling burnt out!  I’d known this was my tendency for awhile now…but this revelation was like discovering it on a whole new heart and body level!!!

This diagram below from David Emerald http://powerofted.com/     suggests how it is possible to flip the drama triangle and instead of being the rescuer, become the coach!!

From Drama Triangle to Empowerment Dynamic 2

And here I am a coach!!!  But I realised that on a subtle level I had been feeling responsible for my clients’ well-being, trying to rescue, feeling very responsible for all aspects of my business – and I had definitely been rescuing and feeling overly responsible for my kids who were now all teenagers – and other family members / friends / colleagues…

Suddenly I didn’t want to be a rescuer / ‘over-function-er’ anymore….I wanted to, as Brene Brown said, ‘stand my sacred ground’- I wanted to be in the centre of the triangle, BEING, not shrinking or puffing up….just BEING…allowing others to live their lives…and being present to it all but not taking on too much responsibility for others’ well-being!

Like with any good insights I then found that all podcasts or books that I read referred to the drama triangle in some way!  Tara Brach from Radical Self-Acceptance & Brene Brown in Rising Strong gave great descriptions of how we can:

  • Push away, be aggressive or judgemental: Persecutor
  • Numb or avoid or go into denial: Victim
  • Conform, please, strive to make it better: Rescuer

And both of them write about how the ‘rescuer role’ is highly praised and appreciated in our society…it’s a hard role to step out of!

Do any of these roles (above) ring true for you? Which one do you go to under stress?  Do any relationships trigger you to go into one of these roles?  Can you relate to over-functioning, rescuing and being overly-responsible?

So what can we do instead?  Here’s a description of the Empowerment Dynamic by David Emerald – and the alternative roles we can take on! From Victim to Creator, From Rescuer to Coach, From Persecutor to Challenger.

The Empowerment Dynamic Triangle

Image: https://www.lifehacker.com.au/2015/10/how-you-can-ditch-the-victim-mentality-and-become-empowered/ (see the above link for an awesome article on shifting from victim to creator role!)

I’m particularly interested in finding ways to stay centered in the middle of the triangle only moving into coach, creator or challenger role as we need to, with awareness, without slipping into our more comfortable roles when under stress of victim, persecutor or rescuer?

I think mindfulness & loving awareness helps us to stay centered…and that is definitely a life-long practice!!!

Somehow realizing this insight on a heart and body level has helped….and made me see how sometimes we need years of mindfulness practice and teachings for life-changing insights to happen?  We just need to be patient!?

After this insight, I was really lucky to have two weeks of school holidays – to allow it to bubble and percolate away into my consciousness!   The time off meant I could step out of my usual roles and spend more time resting and reflecting….This gave me space to very consciously notice when I slipped into rescuer (or victim and persecutor toles) or ‘over-functioning’ and consciously breathe and step back, when I could, into a ‘being centered’ position of BEING.

I have a feeling that this could be a life-long journey/practice but I am very grateful to have got to this insight – more unraveling and unfolding…more finding my true nature and letting go of patterns that no longer serve.

Being on holidays was also a refreshing chance to get out of routine – try NEW things – tyre tubing down a river, camping somewhere new, trying outrigger canoeing, rearranging furniture in the house…all ways to step out of old stale roles and see each family member anew and create space for something new to happen in my life….and refresh and recharge my energy levels.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the drama triangle and any roles you have played or stepped out of!  And also what do you do when you are feeling burnt out?  How do you sustain your energy so you are here for a lifetime’s work and not just a season?

Big Hugs, Sara x 🙂

Daily Practice For Change To Happen…

How do we keep going with developing new life patterns and new ways of thinking…..when the old ways and old patterns just keep drawing us in?

Feel the Fear book photo

It’s been very comforting to read Louise Hay, Heal Your Life & Susan Jeffers, Feel The Fear & Do It Anyway who both strongly recommending daily practice for change…and the need to be gently persistent and very kind with ourselves as we bring change into our life…it’s not a quick overnight process.

I find that it’s very easy for me to drift back into negative thinking/emotions or old patterns and ways of being – it is hard to undo a lifetime’s worth of patterning!!  I actually believe it is human nature to focus on the negative…it’s how we have survived – focussing on what can go wrong or what might not be safe… So it takes time to navigate a new pathway in our brain, just like learning how to drive a car or play guitar…but with much more practice!!
I have a list of strategies that work for me – but not all the time – and for me it is a daily practice to move towards the life I want to live, to be the person I want to be, while still finding a way to be gentle and compassionate with myself -and accepting what happens in life and accepting I am human – and learning many life lessons as I go…
I think life will always throw us some curve balls – it’s just that we can change the way we react to them, we can change who we are in the moment…with lots of practice…
I’ve been practicing since 2011 and I’m still practicing!!  My daily/weekly list has grown as I’ve read books, done workshops, been in coaching sessions and completed the Artist Way…it has been a process of gathering what works for me….
Here’s my list:
  • Meditate twice a day (5-10 minutes – longer is great but not always easy)
  • Journal stream of consciousness – and add to that prayers / affirmations & what I am grateful for
  • Affirmations in the Mirror (when I remember)
  • Mindfulness – reminders to breathe, to pause, to take in the present moment, engage my senses
  • Walking in nature
  • Swim / Dance / Yoga
  • Creating /playing with colour- and adding in my affirmations
  • Connect with a good friend
  • Hugs with those I love
  • Have a mantra / affirmation that helps me in the hard times ‘I am OK, this time will pass, I am nurturing myself, I am willing to change’- I find the affirmation needs to ring true for me in the moment..
  • Choose to focus on what I am grateful for rather than worrying…
  • Imagine sending the person/thing I am worrying about a colour rather than worried thoughts
  • Forgiveness prayer- ‘I forgive you, I forgive me, I set you free, I only send you love and light, it is done, it is done, it is done
  • Loving Kindness prayer – ‘I wish you well, may you be safe & protected, may you be at ease & in good health, may you be kind loving and peaceful to yourself and to others
  • Read an inspiring gentle book like Louise Hay Heal Your Life
  • Potter outside in the garden
  • Imagine protecting myself with a colour / energy
  • Oracle cards
  • Book in for a counselling / coaching / healing session
But most importantly sometimes I just need to validate my emotions, validate that I’m not feeling great that day – and do some self-care so I begin to feel a little better…& sometimes I just need to start again tomorrow…sleep is great for resetting the brain!
So I’m really curious about what you use to stay on track…to lay down new patterns and new ways of thinking and new ways of approaching your life?  What works for you?  And is there a new practice that you can add to your day?  Nothing to big or tiresome – just something small that helps you to feel more positive or more present?
Susan Jeffers talks about a plane when on auto-pilot, is constantly auto-correcting it’s flight path, constantly going off track and then correcting itself.  She mentions how life is like that – constantly going off-course – and then we need to correct ourselves, over and over again – I found that comforting – and I guess that’s why it’s great to set up a daily practice…..
But if this is new to you – just start something small and achievable – with great flexibility and kindness so it becomes a rewarding part of your life – not a punishing activity to fit into your day….and slowly build – that’s what has worked for me…  Slowly over time noticing which daily activities feed my soul rather than those that drain it or numb it and then being able to choose those nourishing practices…and constantly, gently, auto-correcting!

The need to re-treat ourselves…

rotto-3

One thing I am always amazed by is that when I go on holidays I become suddenly so much more aware of just how stressed I am – my body tense, my mind on hyper-alert, my heart all armoured up.  And it is only as the holiday progresses that time slows down, my body unwinds, my thinking slows and becomes more in the present moment and my heart becomes open with love and softness to what is happening here and now.

I was fortunate enough to have 10 days on Rottnest Island, WA this January, camping, riding, snorkelling, creating and reading with my family….no power, no cars, no outside world intrusions….and it really felt like a retreat.

rotto-1

At the start I was worried about would we have enough to do??  By the end, of the 10 days, I didn’t want the holiday to finish and we still had so much to gently explore!!  Funny how fast paced our world can be that we can’t imagine slowing life down so much that all we need to think about is what to eat and which beach to visit and that fills the day beautifully!

This got me thinking about the idea that a retreat is really an opportunity to re-treat ourselves.   It is so much easier to be mindful on a retreat….to really be aware of our thinking, our stress levels and what we really need.  On a retreat it is easier to listen to our intuition, to feel deep gratitude and to feel at one with the world….although it can take a little while to settle our thinking, worrying, planning minds and process all that we have stored up in our bodies since the last retreat!

rotto-2

So my intention this year is to attend 3 whole day retreats, to book in for a week long retreat and to plan some more holiday retreats for my family…knowing just how important it is.  Now is the time to book them in before the year gets too busy or I forget just how important they are to me.

So what are you going to do to re-treat yourself this year?  What can you book in?

Finding Self-Compassion

Small changes seem to bring BIG changes if we can just persist and practice enough…

It is amazing to me when things start settling in – first we understand a concept with our minds, and then over time as we practice,  we understand it deeply with our hearts – and then the real change happens…   In my experience real change happens faster when we involve the right side of our brain and our subconscious and art journal / sketch / doodle responses and bring in visualisations / meditations.  Slowly for me have I been learning self-compassion…

self-compassion-book

I’ve been lucky this year to do Brene Brown’s Gifts Of Imperfection Art Journalling course and Kristin Neff & Brene Brown’s Self-Compassion course- both online:  http://www.courageworks.com/shop/classes/self-compassion-with-kristin-neff-brene-brown and Tara Brach & Jack Kornfiled’s incredibly in depth Power Of Awareness online mindfulness course http://www.soundstrue.com/store/power-of-awareness where self-compassion is a key component…

We all have that inner critic, that war within ourselves…sometimes without us even being aware of it. The expectations we place on ourselves can be unrealistic and unachievable and we can be constantly beating ourselves up for not being better, perfect…

When I find myself getting highly critical of my loved ones then I know I’m being even more critical of myself!  Kristin Neff talks about how we are so much kinder and more compassionate to a best friend or child than we are to ourselves in the same situation yet it is very hard to express authentic compassion to others if we cannot express it to ourselves.

For me the journey of reducing this intense self-criticism began when I first became a Mum almost 18 years ago and had post natal depression.   I needed to let go of the ‘perfect’ should messages and give myself permission to have a messy house, look messy and have a messy garden and be tired and grumpy sometimes!   Since then it’s like I’ve needed to peel back the layers – uncovering other aspects of being too harsh on myself that I didn’t even know were there!

In the Gifts Of Imperfection Art Journalling course a powerful exercise is to find photos of your younger self and write down messages of self-compassion…it was very healing to find teenage photos and remember all of the angst and instead write with empathy, understanding, kindness and gentleness…as you would to your own child who is struggling.

Then in Kristin Neff’s Self-Compassion course I learned that there are 3 core components to self-compassion:

  1. Mindfully notice that you are at war with yourself
  2. Realise our common humanity – we are ALL imperfect, we are all struggling on some level, we are all on a journey
  3. Offer words of kindness, and explore how to actively nurture yourself…

If you think about it this is what we would offer a friend or a child – we would

  1. Notice they are struggling
  2. Empathise and offer that reassurance – ‘it can be difficult’
  3. Offer words of kindness and give a little nurturing

As Brene Brown puts it when we are truly compassionate for another human being it brings out our best selves – yet often the same scenario for ourselves and we treat ourselves worse than anyone else!!  We would never say to someone else what can go through our own minds!

So I have been art journaling and reading and meditating on this topic for a few months now…practicing….and then just recently I was at war with myself.   I had good intentions to change my life for the better but my inner critic was LOUDLY saying ‘give up, it’s not worth it, you don’t have the will power, you’re not strong enough’ And the debate in my head was so unpleasant I wanted to give up JUST to silence the inner critic.

But then I remembered – self-compassion! I noticed and labelled what was going on….’I’m at war with myself’ – just doing that made it a little easier to breathe…then I was able to place my hand over my heart and breathe into the feeling and recognise…’gee it’s tough sometimes to be human, to have all these choices, to make a change for better’….then I remembered times in my past where it has taken at least a year to make one small change to the point that I can easily do it daily … and I was able to offer some kind reassuring words…

And just that small moment – resonated through my life to be a BIG shift – all week it was easier to make the change, all week I was kinder to myself…  So it took awhile for the info to go from head level to heart level but when it did – it was a beautiful moment!

I’m wondering if you have experienced something similar?  Or if you would like more self-compassion in your life?

I’m excited that we’ll be reading and discussing Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff as part of our online Mindfulness Book Club in February 2017.   We’ll also practice some self-compassion exercises and if you live in Port Macquarie then we’ll meet in person to discuss and practice… I’m really looking forward to it!

self-compassion-mindfulness-book-club

More Info: https://www.mindfulparentingmindfulcoaching.com/mindfulness-book-club

or you can join us on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/littlemindfulmomentsbookclub/