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  1. Mindfulness and Meditation

     

    Many of us spend our days with our heads filled with thoughts, racing from one thing to the next. Whether we are making plans for the day ahead, remembering conversations and situations from the past or day-dreaming about the future, our minds often end up feeling like the London Underground in rush hour… CRAZY BUSY! 


    We often hear about the benefits of meditation and its claim to longer, happier, healthier, more peaceful lives, so why are we not meditating all the time?

    If you are anything like me, it may well be that the thought of sitting crossed legged watching your thoughts pass through your mind like “clouds in the sky” is a little daunting. Firstly, I am not sure I want to examine all of my thoughts that closely and secondly, finding 5 minutes of quiet to myself seems like a mountain to be climbed in itself. So what can a person like me do to find a little more peace of mind?

    There is a widespread assumption in the West that meditation means sitting still. Through yoga, I have discovered that this is a huge misconception. Meditation is about gaining the ability “to direct and sustain mental activity without distraction” or to hold mental focus towards something… your thoughts, the washing up, walking the dog, or moving your body in synchrony with your breath like you do in a yoga class. 

    Meditation is not about separating ourselves from the world. By keeping our eyes open and our bodies active, we do not isolate ourselves, but instead find focus in the world in which we live; a much more valuable skill for our modern way of living, removing the need for the “perfect conditions” to focus. Simple mindful activities, like eating while being fully aware of flavors and sensations, make eating a far more enjoyable experience, help us to digest our food better and also train our minds. This makes it far easier to build this type of meditative focus into our daily lives. 

    I have been working recently on repeating a mantra to myself while walking to the tube. A mantra is a short phrase, you can choose any phrase that resonates with you; the Internet is full of great examples of these positive affirmations. I discovered quickly that my mind would wander on to other things, before I had even managed to repeat the phrase once. Each time my mind moved away from the mantra, I would re-focus on repeating the phrase and I am now able to repeat it seven times without other thoughts taking me away elsewhere. 

    Now, this might not seem like a big change to you, but to me it is like holding the reins of my galloping team of horses for the first time. Once I am done, making sure I have repeated the mantra to myself 11 times, I feel more peaceful, more positive, more accomplished and better prepared for my day ahead. 

    I have learned that with the right attitude, any activity can become a doorway to mental peace; it is all about your approach to the activity. Walking the dogs, cooking, cleaning, writing, reading, playing with the kids… any activity that you can completely focus on, while observing everything you can about your body and thoughts, can bring you out of your crazy busy state.

    So, if you are new to the whole thing like I was, I suggest finding a local meditation or mindfulness class, or even a beginners yoga class to get you started in the right direction.

    Visit www.theradianthand.co.uk to find out more about a great little studio in Tooting, where they offer meditation classes on Saturdays at 2:45pm to get you out of rush hour thinking and into the easy flow of focussed thoughts.  Even better, book onto a yoga retreat with The Radiant Hand, where you will be guided through a meditative practice daily!


  2. childs pose pink mat

    Do you ignore pain in your body? Unless we have an acute injury or sickness, most of us are reluctant do anything about pain until it begins to limit our life in someway. And even then, some people never do anything about pain, whether it be back, knee, hip or neck pain; we see pain as a part of getting older and living our modern lives, something we have to put up with.

    My own journey with pain began in my early teens with deep knee pain, due to what my family doctor labelled as growing pains. Fast forward to my late twenties, I still had the same pain and could no longer jog, swim or cycle. In addition I had developed lower back pain, sciatica and a trapped nerve in my neck from laptop use. Becoming more and more limited in my ability to keep fit, I turned to yoga as it was billed to be restorative, gentle and re-aligning…right?

    Luck or destiny helped me find a yoga school, The Radiant Hand, that taught dynamic yoga, whilst also having an in-house physiotherapist and massage therapist. I started my healing journey, by joining one of their retreats, and never looked back. Encouraged by some very quick progress in my flexibility, strength and weight loss, I embarked on a committed course of physiotherapy and acupuncture sessions. This, combined with regular yoga practice and a massage every so often, soothed the changes my body was going through.

    The truth no one tells you is that healing is painful; physical pain manifests when something is not only misaligned physically, but also mentally and emotionally. The reason that yoga, physiotherapy and massage provide you with a way out of the Bermuda triangle of pain is because they give you the platform to approach the cause of your pain on all levels.

    The more I learned on my yoga mat about how my body worked, the more I learned how my mind worked. I could see the impact my thoughts had on my emotions and how my negative emotions, unless acknowledged and worked through, were stored in my body as physical pain.

    Deep memories would come to mind out of nowhere, as if I was experiencing the situation all over again. Emotions came and went in waves, I continued going to yoga classes and physiotherapy, so I could live out the remainder of my life pain free.

    It took a year of dedication and commitment to taking care of myself. Happily and gratefully 8 years later, I have never had pain in my knees since, or my lower back for that matter. I am continuing to work on aches and pains higher up my body through yoga and bursts of physiotherapy/massage when needed, but I now know what I need to do and how it is possible for me to live free of pain.

    So, what are the golden rules for escaping the Bermuda triangle of pain?

    Firstly, never go more than 3 weeks in pain; if it has lasted that long, you need help to release it. Relying on drugs for long periods only masks the pain, simply because drugs tackle the issue on a physical level. If you really want to be pain free, you have to work on the emotional and mental levels as well.

    Find a good yoga teacher. It is challenging to see yourself objectively; a true teacher will hold up a mirror so you can see exactly who you are and the pain you cause yourself and others, through a lack of awareness in your thinking and behaviour. It is not always comfortable, but once you have the truth you can begin to make changes physically, mentally and emotionally. Finally, remember you are worth it and deserve to be free of pain completely, for the rest of your life…we all do.

    To meet a fantastic holistic therapist with deep knowledge of physiotherapy, yoga and massage visit www.theradianthand.co.uk and make an appointment today…

    And if you fancy having all your needs taken care of in a gorgeous setting, far away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, join The Radiant Hand on one of their luxury retreats. It is sure to be an amazing start to your journey out of the Bermuda triangle of pain and will leave you with a renewed sense of hope for a pain free life ahead.