How To End Your Bad Habits In 4 Easy Steps.

What would it look like to stop analysing what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong?

How would it feel to not have a list at the end of each day assessing our successes and failures?

To close our eyes each night with the joy of moments in our lives instead of regret and think with disgust that once again we didn’t do what we were going to do and not have that second helping, second glass, fourth cup……

I stumbled across a paragraph in a book on yogic wisdom (The Wisdome of Yoga by Stephen Cope) and it said this,

(I am paraphrasing to keep it short)

“A chain of events described by the Yogis: Appraisal. Impulse. Action. An object came into contact with my senses – a smell of a muffin. I recognise the smell. A pleasurable sensation enters my consciousness and on the heels of sensation I have a reaction to it – I like it! The appraisal turns into impulse I want the muffin and then action – I am eating the muffin.

It’s almost unconscious. The yogis found that we make poor choices when caught up in the action of it all, or rather we make no choices at all.

The yogis then studied the chain and wondered if it were de-linked, could we end our suffering? They found that impulse is highly influenced by our habits and patterns and conditioned by our experience so therefore can be de-conditioned.

If we become aware of the link, through observation of self and being in the present moment, then we can break the chain and overcome our bad habits, therefore ending suffering.”

Because you would have noticed that eating that chocolate, drinking that third glass of wine or having that fourth cup of coffee has not satisfied you. It has not ended the suffering which is why we inevitably want it the first place. To end the suffering of wanting. After we have experienced the item/thing we then experience a loss of the item/thing. More suffering. Then the guilt of actually actioning the want. More suffering.

But even more than a want, its a habitual patterning. We do not want to yell at our kids and yet, when triggered, we yell, we scream, we say things that we did not know was inside us.

We cannot be with the pain of everyday life, we cannot be with the pain of the constant whining, we cannot be with the pain of boredom, with endless options, with craving and not receiving, so we impulsively act and the actions cause us suffering.

You can have pain without suffering, if you do not act. 

  1. Use your awareness to observe your patterns, triggers, suffering – the internal chain of events
  2. Let your awareness penetrate – be here now.
  3. You will find that in light of your awareness the experience that you are feeling a loss of control over is not a foregone conclusion. Its feelings are fleeting, impermanent. The cravings go, the impulse leaves you.
  4. Finally, exposed to the light of your awareness, the craving and aversion evaporate.

Can you imagine this to be true? If you are about to yell at your child, but hold yourself back, take a few deep breaths, become aware of what you are doing – do you continue to yell?

I bet you don’t. I know I don’t. The anger subsides right? The feelings that well up in you dissipate and you are free to have a normal, much more productive conversation. The pain is there for seconds. The disappointment, the disbelief, the disapproval and then the love floods in.

Sometimes I pour myself a glass of wine in the afternoon. Because a thought has been following me around saying wine, wine, wine.  I finally pour it, the voice subsides but I am doing something else and that wine can sit there, un-sipped, for an hour.

These unconscious patterns are running our lives and we are not even aware that we have the power to stop them.

We assume that we need willpower right? But have you ever noticed that the more you think about not doing something…the more you want to do it?

So how do we take actions steps? How do stop this unconscious patterning? In real terms, not in yogi jargon like awareness and conditioning?

I think the number one point is – do not judge yourself. Just by having the intent to be better, you are on the path to something more. Do not judge yourself for something that is essentially so deeply ingrained you barely know you are doing it.

Can you forgive yourself?

Can you go to bed every night, knowing that you did your best? Knowing that what you have done today is all you could have done? And knowing that the moment has passed. That we leave the past behind, no matter how much we try to make it real, it’s gone.

  1.   Watch yourself and learn your triggers. Can you side step the pattern? Can you get the kids moving half an hour before you usually do so they are ready on time and your not late? Can you skip the TV show or the instagram feed that shows EVERYBODY drinking wine? Can you swap a coffee for a tea and see how that feels?
  2. Your going to have to learn that the present moment is all we have. The best way to enter the present is to follow your breath. You’re triggered, now just breathe. Think conscious thoughts. Breathe.
  3. Can you change anything? Do something differently. Hug your child instead of yelling, even if you still feel like it. Busy yourself with the laundry instead of social media. Make dinner, even if it is early, just so you don’t eat the whole pack of chips?
  4. Celebrate the little changes and forgive yourself for staying enslaved to the patterns that linger. Just know that you have power over your life and that willpower does not have staying power. You need to shine light into your darkness not hold it under water, it will just resurface when you have run out of energy.

 

Do you have any tips for breaking habits? Have you had any experiences that you could share and help others? I’d love to hear them. Leave a note in the comments or on social media.

What Are You Going To Be When You Grow Up?

My five year old asked me that just the other day. Without prompting of any kind.

I looked at him, quite seriously, and said, “A Writer.”

I said, “What about you?”

He said, “A Pokemon collector.”

Now you might not see this as a great career option, but let’s face it, there are people who do this kind of stuff professionally. As parents, we don’t think this way. We try to steer them logically to a more security – driven profession, or even worse we might tell our five year old that his dreams are not realistic.

But you don’t see what I see.

I see this kid in the playground, the centre of attention as he splays his cards for the crowd to check out. He is in top form as he laughs, calls out the names of the cards and declares whether they are good or bad. He enjoys the spotlight and ensures, in someway that it is on him.

He also climbs like a monkey, is street wise in a way I can’t put into examples and shakes off getting into trouble like water off a ducks back. He does his own thing. He can’t sit still and he is sweet and funny and mischievous.

My older son, also loves Pokemon but he loves the methodical nature of collecting the cards, storing the information, and doing this utterly fascinating (and sometimes tedious) thing where he can recite all of that information back to me by rote. Even before he learned to read he had all the (thousands) of skylander names and their powers stored in that amazing brain of his.

Julian is social, kind and dreamy but he likes order and doesn’t like getting into trouble. He conforms which is a good thing and a bad thing.

These are gifts shining with in them. They are not obvious like that of natural athletes of mathematical genius’s but they are just as important to recognise.

These gifts, these pursuits, interests, passions can become the joy of our lives and who are we, as parents, to tell them that they are not warranted, not important, not something to spend time on?

Now I am not saying that I haven’t banned them numerous times or that they should be allowed to just ignore everything else and do just what they enjoy, but I think we need to be more aware of their joys.

We, as a society, as a culture, as a human race, are naturally inclined to compare what we have to what others have.

What we need to teach them, what we need them to know and understand as they grow up is that comparison is futile.

There will always be someone prettier, funnier, more intelligent, more together. BUT they don’t have what they have. The ultimate uniqueness of being themselves.

Sometimes its hard to put into words why you admire others but as I get older, as I learn more, I’ve realised that the people I admire most are being the most authentically themselves. Because they embrace themselves and are at home in their own body – the Universe conspires to give them it’s abundance.

You want to be around them. They are attractive. They live a life they love. They are doing what they are doing for the pleasure and passion of it, and in turn, giving service of some kind to others through this awareness of their gift.

That is the kind of children we should be raising.

But at present, we seem to be more concerned with the fact that we might miss our children being next Tiger Woods, than encouraging them to be the best Harry, Johnny, Isabel they can be.

Our children do so many multiple sports, music, swimming, extra school lessons that they don’t often get time to work out what they like and who they are. They barely get play dates because there literally is no unscheduled time for some kids.

We might be covering up their gift of writing poetry because they are at basketball practice and have no time to be dreamy.

The ancient Indian text, The Bhagavad Gita states, “The Gift is indestructable. It is a seed. We are not required to be God. We are not required to create the seed. Only to plant it wisely and well.”

As parents, what we don’t want to do, is help our kids cover that seed with so much dirt that it may never see the light.

And we don’t want to do that to our own gifts, our own passions and dreams either.

Don’t you find it amazing that there is such an incredible range of interest, talent and diversity in people’s career choices? Some are naturally inclined to science, some medicine, some administration and some the arts…and so the world turns.

There is a reason for this and the Bhagavad Gita calls it Dharma. Your purpose. It is like you have been programmed with the gift that the world needs and your life’s journey is to figure out what it is and give it to the world.

Dharma is born mysteriously out of the intersection between The Gift and The Times. Dharma is a response to the urgent, though often hidden need of the moment.

An example is that maybe activism and woman’s rights have always held an interest for you. Maybe you work in politics or for a charity and then Trump gets elected and you find yourself, with your gifts, in the perfect space for connecting woman together to rise up and challenge inequality and injustice. This is the intersection between your Gift and The Times and your purpose unfolds.

I love this quote from Dolly Parton, “Find out who you are and do it on purpose”

Do it on purpose. Be more you. Be more authentic. Stop doing what you ought to do, what you have been told you should be doing, what your friends are doing and do what you want.

This quote from Robert Frost describes how I felt after I uncovered my seed. The seed that was so buried it took the tragedy of death to dig it out.

“They would not find me changed from him they knew – Only more sure of all I thought was true.”

We must stop encouraging our children to look elsewhere for happiness. We must stop the busyness and start listening to their thoughts and dreams and only provide encouragement. They will find out in life if they need security, a steady job, to have a year off, to live extravagantly or simply. They will make their own mistakes regardless of how much cotton wool we wrap them in.

The biggest mistake of all however, is ours if we bury that seed before it even gets a chance to bloom.

The tree of life has many branches, many different ways to climb but you must choose the one that resonates most with you and often, its the road less travelled, the one that is scary, lonely and risky and that’s why the path is so hard to take.

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Image credit: www.saintpour.com.au

 

 

How To Sneak Meditation Into Your Children’s Routine So They Calm Down

We know the benefits of a regular meditation practice right?

(If you don’t you can go here and here to check them out.)

So why wouldn’t we get our children to do it too?

Maybe you’ve asked them to and they have jokingly sat in lotus position OM-ing and then taken off?

That’s often what happens at my house but there are ways in which you can trick them into practicing and just the fact that you are exposing them to meditation is one step in the right direction.

Schools are beginning to use meditation instead of detention with incredible results. It helps children calm down, re-focus and lose those feelings of pent up frustration and anger through deep breathing and concentration.

So why wouldn’t we want some of that at home?

It definitely is easier said than done but here are some of the ways to sneak meditation into your children’s routine:

Do It Yourself 

They are not going to do it if you are not doing it. You are their role model and they won’t do something that they deem as different and not fun if you are not a good example.

I meditate each morning and without fail my boys will jump onto my lap at some point whilst I’m meditating and get a cuddle, or put their heads in my lap or sit there and hold my hand. It may be one minute or five but they are getting quiet time and being exposed to meditation at the same time.

Take Them To Yoga

This is an easy one – you don’t have to teach them yourself if you send them to class. Yoga is beneficial for kids of all ages and it’s fun too. There is usually a little breathing exercise in the beginning and always Savasana at the end where they have to lie and be still whilst focusing on their breathing.

Join them for an evening meditation in their bed. 

My boys like nothing more than me lying with them. Sometimes they will wriggle and complain if I try to put on a meditation with them whilst they are just getting into bed but they are incredibly attentive if I pop in after lights out and they can snuggle with me and listen to a guided meditation on my phone. I usually just put on one of my own, a sleep focused one, and my oldest will sometimes get out of bed and ask me to put it on for him. It’s their way of thinking they are tricking us into getting more time awake and spending more time with us.

This morning my five year old was a bit upset that he fell asleep quickly and missed the meditation I did with my seven year old last  night. They really love that one on one time.

Night Time CD’s

I have a few, especially for kids, meditation cd’s that I put on for them some nights. They are usually magical sleep time stories of heroes and dragons that ask them to focus on their breathing and imagine taking a journey.

At Home Yoga

I have a couple of yoga games that I pull out every now and then for the kids to play. They are cards with poses on it or we play What’s The Pose Mr Wolf. We always start off though focusing on our breathes and end with a short meditation.

Calming Them Down When They Are Upset

Whether they are yelling, crying or screaming, as long as they are safe and not really hurt then you can just give them a cuddle and ask them to focus on their breathing. This is a beautiful tool that they can use for the rest of their life. Ask them to make their tummy big like a balloon and blow out all the air. Or feel their breath at their nostrils – is it cool? hot? fast? slow? They might refuse to do it, but remind them each time. They won’t forget it and may eventually use these tools you are giving them when they need them.

Related:

How To Deepen Your Meditation

How To Boost Your Kids Self Esteem

 

6 Meditation Techniques That Save My Sanity

The first couple of times I tried to meditate I felt silly and a bit embarrassed (even though no one was around) and I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it for absolute ages.

I downloaded a few different apps on my phone and I tried them to see what they were like. I lay there, closed my eyes and listened. It was soo hard. I couldn’t concentrate on the voices for very long without drifting into my own stories, problems, things to do.

What I did find however, is after the set period of time (10-20 minutes), I did feel refreshed, more focused and like my thoughts had been downloaded. Like they had been stuck and now were accessible and available. They were put into an orderly fashion as well. So whatever I was doing, even though it didn’t feel like meditation, was working.

Some days I couldn’t wait for the meditation to finish and other days I fell asleep. At no time did I really think I was “meditating”. I had this idea that meditating meant having absolutely no thoughts and going to another place entirely. For the entire time that I was doing it.

Its absolutely not true. It would be great if it happened but for me at least it doesn’t happen for any great length of time.

So why do it?

God I feel great after I meditate. I may wriggle and fidget and think of a million different things but the very act of sitting still helps my overloaded mind chill out.

There are so many benefits to meditating but to name just a few:

Reduces stress

Increases well-being by boosting immunity

Increases focus and concentration

Improves mood

Increases learning capacity

Helps you set a clearer intention for your life

Improves self-awareness

Say what? Just by sitting there you get all that?

Ok, so how do you do it?

There are so many ways that you can meditate – I like to mix it up. I will go through my favourite six ways and key you decide which ones you want to try.

1.Mantra Meditation

My absolute favourite for this is Oprah and Deepak’s 21  Day Meditation Challenge. You can buy them here or subscribe to their email list and wait for notification of the free ones. They have been hosting them every three months or so for the last couple of years.

They start with a topic or theme – like Manifesting True Success and then explore that theme each day for 21 days, delving further into the topic. The chatting lasts for about five minutes and then you are given a mantra to think about for 10-15 minutes whilst you meditate.

2. Meditones

My second favourite is to listen to some beautiful meditones through ear phones like Sonescence  I think of my own mantra for the day whether that is just something simple like, “I have inner-peace” or “I am surrounded by abundance” or I use a Sanskrit Mantra that I have learned either through Deepak Chopra or my beautiful teachers at Tamara yoga, like So Hum – meaning  I am.

3. Kriyas

In my yoga classes and through my yoga teacher training at Tamara Yoga I have been learning more about Kriya yoga.

An example of a Kriya is the Hum- Sa Kriya. I use these when I am feeling anxious and need to calm down or when I want to rid myself of some negative feelings.

Whenever you breathe in, silently visualize and hear the sound “Hum” going up the spine from the base of your tail bone to the space between your eyebrows. And whenever you breathe out, use the sound “Sa” down the spine and try to feel the energy move from the mid-brain down to the base of the spine.
Very important: Do not force the breathing.
On your inhalation, visualize a white ball of light lifting up your spine and into the middle of your brain, and on your exhalation, visualize the ball of light slowly floating down your spine back to the base.

4. Transcendental 

I paid for an online meditation course from Tom Cronin a couple of years ago. He gave me my own, private ancient sound to repeat and the course ran over what I already knew about meditation. I still use the sound occasionally but I find now that I am in the groove of meditation any word will do.

5. Guided Meditation

Some of these meditations can be simply divine. I had a meditation during a retreat that was run by a psychic once and it was a beautiful story where she guided us into a forest and by a stream and we met the person we most wanted to meet there. I met the little girl I lost during pregnancy and she was three years old with blonde hair. It was very emotional and I felt very peaceful afterwards. These kind of meditations can really give you deep insight into yourself.

6. Third Eye Chakra Meditation

The first time I ever went to Tamara Yoga I went to attend a meditation workshop there with my Mum. Tamara taught us to sit upright, spine straight, lick our thumb and press it to our third eye chakra. Just above the eyebrows and in between the eyes. We were then given breathing techniques and asked to focus on that spot. She gave us a mantra to repeat. This really helps if you are new to meditation as there is something about focusing on that spot from the inside that can really provide a feeling of going deep inside yourself.

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There are of course classes on meditation you can attend, workshops, retreats to learn different techniques and there is a beautiful feeling that you get when you meditate as a group. The most beneficial practice however is your own, private practice that you can do daily. Creating the habit is the important part, the meditation is the easy, blissful reward. It is called a practice for a reason – it needs to be ongoing and regularly and you will find that the benefits only increase with time.

I always find it special to light candles, have that meditation or meditone music on,  but often it’s me on the couch in the morning with three boys racing round me begging for peanut butter sandwiches.

Meditation is an amazing, free thing that you can do anywhere, anytime and improve  your health, happiness and sanity.

Enjoy the practice and let me know which one you like best x

 

Related articles

How To Deepen Your Meditation

Teaching Meditation and Mindfulness To Children

Why It Is Necessary To Relax

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Ways To Stay Zen Instead of Yelling

If you lose it occasionally, find yourself yelling at a loved one, the kids or strangers who have cut you off in traffic – that’s pretty normal.

But if you find yourself yelling daily, feeling totally exasperated and worked up on numerous occasions throughout the day, then there is a lot you can do about that.

That pent up, anxious, angry feeling – that stressed, can’t quite catch your breathe state is caused by many things, from a refusal to slow down, to grief, to feeling stuck in your own life.

There are many times that life can get on top of you but you don’t have to let it turn you into a person that you don’t recognize. You don’t have to be that person that everyone steps on eggshells around and you don’t have to be that Mama that is always yelling and achieving nothing.

Here are just some of the things that you can do:

Time-Out

Yep, you send your kids there, but you totally need it too if you are going to lose it. Sometimes I just have to excuse myself and head to my room. I meditate, I put on a guided meditation that I have as an app on my phone, and I just listen and sit. It lowers my heart rate and improves my mood. I lock the door and make sure I’ve told my husband to keep the kids away. You may not want to meditate but if you are feeling on edge then take the time-out and do whatever you like to do that is quiet, alone time. Whether its surfing the net on your phone, reading the paper, a good book or chilling out listening to music – you need to do it.

Regularly Do Some Form Of Movement

Emotions don’t go anywhere if you don’t exercise. You need to literally shake them off. Get moving – go to the beach for a swim, play tennis, run, do handstands on the grass – make them move through you. In yoga we believe that there are energy systems in the body,72,000 little lines that can get blocked at anytime and if most of them are not loose and free then you get that feeling that you are absolutely going to burst. Yoga is designed to free that energy and let it run through your body. Yoga practices like Yin are specifically designed to remove those emotions that are stuck in your body, in your hips, the backs of your shoulders, your neck, your abdomen. When you have a tight body you are always wound up. So move. You know it makes you feel better.

Believe That You Too Deserve Free Time

Whether that is a class on the weekend, a night out with friends, a trip away with the girls – you actually do deserve it. You actually owe it to your family make that extra effort. Sometimes my husband actually says to me when I am in a bad mood, “Do you need to go to yoga or something?”. Everyone likes to be around someone who is happy, who has good energy, who is not going to go nuts over the slightest little thing. Free time, for just you, will help you get there.

Do A Clear Out

A cluttered house, a messy kitchen, bad vibes, bad moods can all be sorted out. This may actually be the source of all that pent up frustration. If you can’t look around your home space and be happy then you need to change it. Throw things out so you don’t have to clean them up all the time. Reduce your possessions. Change your artwork. Change your furniture around. Do a sage smudge (clears out bad vibes in the house). Stick on some upbeat music to dance around to. Change your state by changing the state of your dwelling. Sometimes on the weekend I literally clean to feel better – I know that I won’t feel relaxed until the clutter is gone, the benches are wiped down and the house is filled with music,  and happy hearts.

I will walk around the house with a sage stick, candles burning, Fleetwood Mac on in the background and a fresh coffee brewed. Then I will go from room to room making sure it’s the way I want it to look. It does absolute wonders for my perception of life and I feel much more loving towards my family – especially if they pitch in and help.

Treat Yourself Better

Without a good night’s sleep I am not someone you want to be around. If I have had too much nutrient deficient food, I can feel it. If I haven’t had enough playtime with my friends then  you will know it. If I haven’t meditated or been to yoga in a while then the baseline of my mood changes from permanently chilled to slightly hysterical.

There is an immense need to look after yourself until they become non-negotiables. You should be able to notice when you are not doing the right things for your body. If you don’t notice then you are in a permanent state of abuse of your body. You need to start treating yourself better simply because you are a beautiful human being and your body is a vehicle in which you will need for the rest of your life. You know what to do – eat more greens, drink more water, exercise daily, get in nature, go to sleep earlier, go out and catch a movie.

You treat your body right and it makes it so much easier to change your attitude and love your life. img_5697

Too Much To Do? Read This

I know you’re busy. I know you probably don’t have time to read this. But indulge me. Indulge yourself.

What if you didn’t have to be busy?

What if the most exhausted person you know, wasn’t you?

What if you slowed down.

Stopped?

What would happen? Would your world fall apart or would the fun, the love, the happiness creep back in?

Why do we try to squeeze it all in when it is pushing out the joy?

For years I have loved yoga without really knowing why.

Why do I feel so good after yoga when other exercise, although endorphin-inducing, doesn’t give me that same buzz?

Yesterday, when looking for a quote in a book that I could relay in my yoga teaching class, I found this,

“After practicing poses for several minutes, it is a good idea to relax and feel the rebound – calmly focus on the sensations of chi (prana).” Paul Grilley

Prana is life-force and it is seen as a universal energy which flows in currents in and around the body.

Regardless of the exercise you choose you to do, it will allow the prana to flow,but yoga specifically focuses on opening the channels in the body for the prana to flow more easily and freely.

My quoted paragraph pointed to feeling the rebound and that is where yoga differs again. In yoga, we are told specifically to stop and focus inwards. How are you feeling now? What are you feeling? Focus on your breath. Just be. This is our chance to feel the rebound. We might be in child’s pose, tadasana (mountain) or savasana to do this.

Usually in the down time in-between exercises, whether it is tennis, cycling, pilates etc you are encouraged to get a drink. you might also find yourself chatting to others or picking up your phone to see messages you have missed.

What you are actually missing out on here is the rebound. The opportunity to focus inward and feel the sensations of that prana flow throughout the body. Without it, that quiet opportunity to stop and reflect, you are skipping the most important part. The part where your mind chatter stops and sensations in the body take over.

That’s when you understand the true meaning of yoga. That calm, that inner-peace that takes over and you take that feeling with you when you leave. That feeling improves relationships, improves tolerance, empathy and compassion and instills a greater joy within.

I think it is a practice however that should go beyond our asana practice, the physical practice.

In life, between juggling to-do lists, children, work commitments, social life, family, we are missing out on feeling the rebound.

Today I got up, flew around the house getting the kids and myself ready to leave the house for school and preparing for my day. I squeeze in meditation, a hot breakfast, coffee, showers and lunches and then it’s in the car. Drop first kid off, then second, then third – now to yoga. Then to the shops. I looked at my watch, oops have to race to doc’s appointment. I had an x-ray on my foot and then I picked up a parcel from the post.

I was starving so I thought I’d pit stop at home for a coffee and something to eat. I was going to head straight out again – to do errands that could be done at anytime, instead I decided to stop and feel the rebound.

Enjoy my coffee. Come down from the whirlwind of my morning and regroup for the afternoon’s activities.

It’s so important to realise that life is about enjoyment. It’s not about getting stuff done or winning because you are the most busy or exhausted.

If you think about it logically being busy and exhausted is actually the opposite to how we want to feel and yet we persist and over-schedule until we squeeze all of the enjoyment out. I know that if i schedule back to back outings on the weekend or go out too many nights in a row – fun things become drudgery.

So slow down and feel the rebound during your day.

Being busy and always moving forward will not fulfill your dreams of a joyful and content life.

Standing still is where you can enjoy all the prana, the life force, you have created in you beautiful life xx

I will leave you with a piece from the Radiance Sutras, Lorin Roche.

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How To Create A Life You Love

Today I am reflecting on my life and how it came to be.

Today is the first day in seven and a half years that I am on my own, during a weekday. My two eldest are back to school and my littlest Elijah has started his little pre-kindy program.

I was a very different person seven and a half years ago. In fact, as I overlook my picket fence to the lake and enjoy the serenity of the trees, I don’t actually think I would recognise my life if I had been transported from then to now.

We all know that Motherhood changes us. That the love for our little people re-shifts priorities, interests, friendships and relationships. It changes our relationship to ourselves as well. Sometimes Motherhood allowing us to bathe in our own magnificence for creating something so perfect and at others it feels like our soul is being torn out of our body and the aliens are invading. Or maybe just some kind of exhausted half-ass alien.

But Motherhood creates a strength. It strips us back to our basics, without the bells and whistles. It forces us to take care of ourselves in ways we never had before and it quite literally pulls our hearts out of our chests and gives it to our beautiful creations, as a gift to take on their journey.

So then what is left? Who are we. Without our role as Mother, Wife, Daughter, Worker, Carer. What do we like to do? What do we want to say?

What do I choose to do with my time? Where will I make the biggest difference?

I went to two yoga classes this morning, with my newly found freedom and now I am sitting at my desk, with my beautiful view to look at, writing my joy and happiness.

I think of my funny, independent, quirky, different, amazing, miraculous children and I feel joy.

I think of my charming, humorous, loyal and adoring husband and I feel joy.

I think of my family, I have been gifted with two amazing ones, who are loyal, kind, generous and supportive and I feel joy.

I think of my friends and all so different but all loyal, fun-loving, do-anything for you kind of people and I feel joy.

I think of who I am and I feel joy.

I think of my life filled with beauty, nature, ocean swims, sunshine and love and I feel grateful.

Maybe you are here with me, today, so intensely grateful for all you have or maybe you are wondering where you took a wrong turn.

If so, I wanted to write down five things that are essential to creating a life you love, so you can have it too.

1. Acknowledging what is truly important

If it is important to you you will priorities it in your life. What you have to make sure is that you are important to you. If you look at how you are spending each day – where are you having fun – where are you feeling joy?

You do have time for the things you want to do if you value yourself enough. You are important. You can get to that gym class (sewing workshop, yoga, painting tutorial etc) if the kids do one less activity this term, or if your husband cooks the dinner one night. You can go out with your girlfriends, get away from the kids and have a date night, go for a lone swim at the beach…. you just need to figure out what is important to you.

There are brave souls out there who have realised that their lifestyle choices such as mortgage, fancy cars, and expensive material possessions were keeping them in a life that was joyless. What happens when they quit it all and follow what is important to them instead of what society has deemed important?

You need to know that your life is your own creation.

2. Simplicity

I say no a lot.

To nights out when I am swamped. To emails from companies I don’t want to email me. To more things. To added activities for the kids. To playdates when I am exhausted. To the status quo. To things I don’t believe in.

A lot of us fill our lives with the meaningless, the inane, the boring, the over-whelming and then wonder why we have this feeling of dissatisfaction, despite our full lives with material wealth.

Having no down time, no space in the clutter, no time to breathe or even think is detrimental to our mental health.

If you are feeling over-whelmed, weighed down, burdened, unhappy or even a little depressed it’s time to make things more simplistic. What can you dump? Clear out. Stop doing? Say no to?

It will make a difference.

3. Making Sure That You’re Manifesting What You Actually Want

I built a life once based on other people’s perceptions of what it should look like. I followed other’s plans and paths because I didn’t know what I wanted. I never got clear enough on who I was, to know what I did want. There were glimpses of my true self, sure, but it can sometimes feel like an out-of-body experience when you are not living a life you love. You wonder how you got here, you blame others, you make excuses and you feel stuck.

You need to make time for yourself to get clear on who you are and what you want. Follow your bliss, your joys and do things you love. Meditate, turn off your phone, get some space, some silence, some quiet time in your life so you can hear yourself. Because your true self whispers and sometimes she’s hard to hear.

4. Gratitude

Being grateful for what I have is one of the best things I have other done.

It’s easy to get off path and think other’s have it better. It’s easy to think that you don’t have enough because you always have desire. It’s easy to think that we are not good enough.

However when you focus on gratitude your perception of life starts to change. I am grateful that I can pay that horrendous bill, rather than feeling resentful. I am grateful that the crappy meal I put on the table means that my family have eaten. I am grateful that my sore muscles means that they have given my body the gift of movement.

Everyday there are so many things to be grateful for and I truly believe you cannot love your life if you are not grateful for what you have, right now.

 

5. Surrendering to a Higher Power

Give your best efforts and surrender the results. No effort on this path goes to waste.

I live for these two sayings. The more I live them the better I feel.

We are creators of our lives, yes but I believe we are co-creators. Life always has a curve-ball to throw at us or a dream that is better than we ever could think of.

Whether you surrender to God, to the Universe, to Life itself – giving up control of how things turn out is one of the most amazing things that you can do to make yourself happy.

That sounds counter-productive right? It’s not.

Trying to control the outcome is sometimes a futile purpose as you cannot control all the elements. Trying to control the outcome will give you expectations and when things don’t happen like you want, you make yourself unhappy.

Do we really want to make ourselves unhappy?

I don’t think anyone really wants to be unhappy, we just don’t know how to remove ourselves from this cycle of Want, Control, Expectation.

The answer is in all the ancient wisdom – cest la vie, what will be will be, let it be.

Give your best efforts and let the rest go.

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