A Grounding Guided Meditation

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It’s the time of year when we could all use a little more rest and rejuvenation. Parties, shopping, social engagments and travel, coupled with the high tensions and expectations that this season brings, can leave us feeling overwhelmed and overstretched. One of my favourite practices to combat these feelings is Yoga Nidra. Yoga Nidra is a type of guided meditation that takes you out of your conscious mind and allows the opportunity for deep rest and restoration. It is said that 30 minutes of Yoga Nidra is the equivalent of 4 hours of deep sleep.

With that in mind, I have created a 15 minute grounding Yoga Nidra to help keep you steady and centered in the midst of all the hustle and bustle. Take a few moments over the next two weeks to come back to yourself, and I think you’ll be surprised at how nice it can feel.

Wishing you all a calm and peaceful holiday season! I’ll see you in the New Year 🙂

 

 

Fear

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Fear is a tricky emotion. Unlike joy or anger, it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause and more often than not, we work to suppress our fear because it’s unsettling, uncomfortable and unpleasant.

Fear can be useful – it keeps us safe and helps us avoid injury and death. A little fear when stepping outside of our comfort zone can help us stay alert, present and in tune with our surroundings. But fear can overtake and limit our experiences – it can overshadow and inhibit our desires and keep us small. And we can even become fearful of feeling our fear, so we work to suppress the whole feeling, never really letting it in, and in doing so, it grows and looms behind us, fulling our peripheral vision until it surpasses everything that isn’t in our direct line of sight – a large dark cloud, following us everywhere and in everything.

The funny thing about fear, is that the more we confront it head on, the smaller it becomes. Getting to the root cause of a looming fear allows us to understand what it really is that is limiting us. And sitting with our fear and allowing it to fill us up, can demonstrate how, in reality, the fear isn’t as big as we thought. Seeing it only in the back of our minds allows it to grow and expand until it overwhelms and envelops our minds and our decisions. Inviting the fear in, and offering it an audience allows us to address the root cause (which allows us either to take action to change the situation or come to terms with it if it is unchangeable), and the root cause is usually much smaller than we imagine.

Elizabeth Gilbert talks about inviting fear along with her on journeys but relegating the fear to the back seat, and although it’s along for the ride, fear is never allowed to speak or choose the direction of the adventure. Inviting it rather than fighting it ensures that we are driving, rather than being driven by our fear.

A practice for addressing fear:

Sit quietly for a few minutes, letting the body settle.

Focus on a particular and relevant fear, and allow the emotion of fear to inhabit the body – which area of the body does it impact most? Where and how do you feel it? What is the physical reaction?

Sit in that place of discomfort for a few moments, getting comfortable with the unease.

When the unease settles, start visualising beyond the fear. For example, the fear of public speaking is profound for some. So visualise the start of a speech in front of a large crowd of people. Imagine the worst thing possible to happen in that situation. How would that feel? What would be the outcome. Feel it in the body and sit with that feeling until there is a sense of familiarity with that sensation.

Just like the muscles in our body, we can train ourselves to increase our emotional resilience. The practice of yoga and meditation allows us to get comfortable feeling uncomfortable, and in the continued practice of feeling uncomfortable, we increase our emotional, physical and mental capacity to be able to deal with discomfort, the pain and the fear.

I once went to a yoga workshop with yoga teacher Kathryn Budig, and something she said stuck with me and made a profound difference on how I viewed life, and also fear: “All choices and events can be broken down two ways – into love or fear. In knowing that, we can choose love. Always choose love.”

Sit with the fear, invite it in and get used to it. Use it as a way to differentiate your choices – and then always choose love.

How do you deal with fear? I’d love to hear about it – let me know in the comments or find me on instagram @laurenewilkie

 

Presence

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I wrote recently how a digital detox helped me to feel more spacious and present. It’s all well and good to remove distraction while on holiday – but implementing the same isolation when back at home, at work and in real life is much more difficult.

A few things I’m loving right now that have helped create that same feeling of peace back home:

The Minimalists Podcast

If you haven’t heard of these guys, please check them out. While minimalism begins with a conscious cull of material possessions, it’s also a way of life. I find there are a lot of similarities between minimalism and yoga- it’s all about stripping back the layers of noise and distraction to come back to your true self. I always feel inspired to continue living consciously, mindfully and presently after listening.

Moment App

This app tracks phone usage. I cannot recommend it highly enough. You can set a daily limit for phone usage, and also see which apps have held your attention most during the previous day. It tracks the number of times you pick up your phone and when you’ve reached your daily limit, it buzzes and wails until you turn it off. It’s made me much more mindful when using my phone, and I find myself more easily limiting mindless checking and scrolling in an effort to save my phone time for when I really need it (connecting with friends, using the map when out and about, etc)

Daily Meditation

This month I’ve been strictly meditating for the same amount of time every day. It’s been both difficult and wonderful. In my last post on discipline vs freedom, I wanted to cultivate more balance, and my daily meditation has helped achieve this. For some ideas on how to meditate, check out my Instagram page @laurenewilkie (I did a meditation challenge a few months back), and also my October 2016 blog archives (I featured meditation ideas all that month). Daily meditation gives my mind space and sets me up for the rest of the day. As one of my teachers put it, a daily meditation practice gives everything else a bit more space.

Essential Oils

I’ve been diffusing some essential oil blends for relaxation, peace, and uplift. My favourite blend at the moment is doTERRA Frankincense, Cheer and Citrus Bliss. Frankincense is the oil of truth which reminds me to stay true to my inner guidance and not get waylaid by other voices; Cheer is (obviously) the oil of cheer and keeps my outlook positive, and Citrus Bliss is the oil of creativity, which helps to bring motivation and drive when it is lacking. In combination, these oils keep me grounded and steady, but moving forward – living mindfully and present, as I desire.

What do you do to keep a sense of presence and peace in your life? I’d love to hear about it. Let me know in the comments or find me on Instagram @laurenewilkie. If you’d like to learn more about incorporating essential oils into your daily life, click here.

Photo credit: @paula_sandersonphotos

Digital Detox

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I recently got back from an amazing holiday in Sri Lanka. Before we went, life had been full and hectic, and I knew that I wanted to take some time during the trip to really switch off and restore my body and mind, so that I came back feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. We spent the first week on an incredible yoga retreat with Holly Warren, a remarkable teacher who is somehow able to find a place for the reverence of yoga, without making the atmosphere heavy. This is the second retreat I’ve been on with Holly and both have been transformative and magical.

The second week, we found an incredible AirBnB in a quiet part of southern Sri Lanka and I decided that to make the most of the breath-taking surroundings, I would stop looking at social media and checking my phone until we came back to reality. Ironically, often when I’m on holiday I find myself checking social media MORE, as I post photos of our adventures; not having anywhere to be also eliminates the natural deadline for a forced switch-off.

I’m not going to lie – I found it really hard. Not just at first – the whole time. What is it about those sites that is so addictive? I persevered and managed a full 5 days without looking at Instagram or Facebook. And it was only at the end, when I started checking again, that I realised what I had gained by switching off.

I had so much more space in my head! I wasn’t constantly feeling the need to consume words and images and to know what was going on everywhere that I wasn’t. My thoughts slowed down and I could actually figure out what I was thinking and feeling. My internal dialogue slowed. Everything inside me felt like it was moving at a manageable pace, instead of racing around on super-speed.

I realised that by the continuous filling up of my head, I hadn’t left any space for my self: for the guidance of my intuition and my heart. And that by limiting the amount of time on social media, (and therefore the number of messages that came into my brain) I was more able to relax, more able to concentrate and more able to feel and be.

I realised also that checking our phones is both a habit and a distraction. In a short amount of time, we have forgotten how to feel bored. Waiting in line, waiting for the train …. waiting for anything really, has become an opportunity to consume rather than reflect and observe. By not taking this time and allowing the space, we supress our natural instincts and especially our emotions (which of course, then come out in other ways when we least expect it). And we fail to notice what’s gong on around us – interesting things, opportunities, thoughts, emotions …. All of which could be extremely useful or just fun.

So for now, although I’m back on social media, I’m trying to limit the amount of time I spend there – allowing more space in my head, allowing emotions to present, and allowing more presence in my life … even if that means being bored for a few minutes each day.

I’d love to hear if you’ve tried a digital detox and what happened? What did you discover? Let me know in the comments below or on Instagram or Facebook (after the detox, of course!).

Morning Routine

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One of the things I love most about being self-employed is not having to get up a certain time everyday to go to a workplace. While I enjoy structure, I love being able to create my own rather than fitting into someone else’s daily plan.

I’ve found that having a routine in the morning helps set my day up so that things flow smoothly, I feel more grounded and life is a little easier. On days when the routine feels heavy, I simply skip it and come back to it when it feels light again; I want my routine to feel joyful rather than burdensome. From time to time I change it up, depending on what resonates at that moment, but generally it involves a little meditation and maybe some writing.

At the moment, I start my day like this:

  1. Wake up
  2. Write in my 5 Minute Journal (sitting up, but still in bed). This little book has been an easy life-changer with very minimal effort.
  3. Essential Oil Meditation (still in bed, I add one or two drops of essential oil into my hands and breathe in deeply for about 5-10 mins, until I’ve had enough. At the moment, my favourites are the doTERRA respiratory blend and doTERRA Frankincense mixed together)
  4. A bit of yoga, Pilates or cardio – I either do self practice yoga or Pilates, or a video on the PopSugar Fitness app – most are only 15-20 minutes but they really get you moving.
  5. A good playlist or podcast while I shower and make a healthy breakfast (my favourites are smoothies and porridge).

And then I’m ready to go!

Once I’ve done those 5 things, I feel set for the day. I even do this on days when I have to get up early to teach, as I can adapt most of the activities (maybe I skip the podcast on these days) to a shorter period of time.

 

I’d love to hear how you start your day, and if you have any routines that really set you up for what lies ahead. Let me know in the comments, or on Instagram (@laurenewilkie) or Facebook (Lauren Wilkie Yoga and Pilates).

Photo by Paula Sanderson Photography

 

New Year Ritual

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Each year, with the onset of Christmas and the end of year fast approaching, I feel the urge to reflect, reset and contemplate on what lies ahead. Sometimes I do this formally, taking a couple of days to think and write and ponder – other times it’s more intuitive, the planning and reflecting taking place in my head. On New Year’s Eve, after the festivities and indulgences of Christmas, my husband and I usually spend a quiet night at home, chilling and chatting. Over the years we’ve developed a little ritual that leaves me feeling grounded but excited for the upcoming year and a fresh start. It doesn’t take long, but allows for some reflection, some planning and a release so that the year starts new. Here’s what we do…

Take two pieces of paper and on the first page:

  • Write five things from the past year for which you are grateful.
  • Write three things from the past year which you’d like to let go.
  • Write three things that went well
  • Write three things that you would do differently (and how that might look)

On the second page:

  • Write three things for the upcoming year that you’d like to see, do or accomplish.
  • Write three things for the upcoming year that you’d like to feel or be.
  • Write three things for the upcoming year that you’d like to stop doing or finish.
  • Take a few moments to think about how the choices you will make in the next year can align with these intentions.

Take the first page and set it (responsibly) on fire, honoring the gifts you received and the lessons you learned. Let that shit go.

Take the second page and place it somewhere you will see it often (bathroom or kitchen are often good choices); revisit a few times throughout the year as needed to revise or update. Keeping it close will remind you of what you want for the year when faced with difficult choices or when you get off track, but also how much you can change in a short amount of time.

I wish for everyone, a peaceful and happy holiday season, and a fantastic 2017. See you in the new year!

 

 

Finding Centre

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In Pilates, the centre of our bodies is often called the “powerhouse” because it’s where so much of our physical strength comes from. Whilst having a strong physical core is essential for safe and effective movement, this is also the place in the body where we find our inner strength.

In yoga, the centre of the body is known as the solar plexus chakra (manipura chakra) and this area governs our self-esteem, sense of personal power, sense of belonging, stamina, will power and ego. It’s the place the allows us to be confident and in control of our lives.

Working on developing physical strength in this area can help us feel more confident and strong, but we can also connect to our personal powerhouse of emotion and energy:-

Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Place one hand on your heart and the other on your belly. Notice the heat radiating from your body. Watch the rise and fall of your breath. Bring the breath deep and low in the body – fill up the belly and let the belly really expand.

Feel whatever is in your body, deep at the core. Let your hands be a reminder to stay focused on feeling what is in this part of you. Start to connect with the deep-rooted power inside.

Sit with this for a few moments, a few breaths or a few minutes.

Release your hands and notice how you feel, sitting in stillness a little longer. When you’re ready, take a deep breath and continue with your day, centered and strong.

I’d love to know how this exercise makes you feel. Let me know in the comments below or use #corepowerinnerpower.