Its Christmas eve, on what has been maybe the toughest year in most of our memories for a long time.
Christmas Eve was always my favorite day of the festive season. The magic of Christmas still just a few hours away; excited children eager to get to bed for once; mulled wine; open fires and knowing you have a few precious days with your loved ones – but this year I have to admit I haven’t even put up a tree, or a fairy light.
My first instinct was not to write an article for Christmas. Life has been a real challenge for us of late, and the last thing I feel is festive. I’d prefer to crawl under my shell and pretend it’s not Christmas Eve. But I know I’m not alone in this feeling – far from it. The feeling of festive cheer is not what is usually is for any of us.
Christmas is often a focal point of our year. We spend days, weeks even preparing for it, and it feels like a wonderful break from the bleakness of winter and dark evenings. The usual winter blues is lifted for a few wonderful days as we embrace the Christmas sparkle and forget our worries as we party with friends and celebrate with our loved ones. But this year many of us are not with our nearest and dearest – separated, by countries, regions, tiers and bubbles. Many have no money to treat themselves or those they love, and Christmas just becomes a stark reminder of how we are not allowed to do those things that normally warm our hearts and lift us at this time of year.
So why did I change my mind and decide to write today? Because I know in my heart that I’m not alone, in my feelings, and that so many others are struggling today, even more so because its Christmas. And I know that the only thing that will take us through these days is love. Love is with us everyday whether we feel it or not, and when we remember its presence in our lives it fills us with light and peace. We have angels around us all the time – and when I say angels I am not talking of the ethereal angels, but in the friends and family we have in our lives. Even when we cannot be with our loved ones it doesn’t stop them loving us, or us them. There are no restrictions, conditions, rules or boundaries to love. No-one can make love stay in one town, or only go out at certain times. We may not be able to travel to be with those we love, but our love still can. So whether you send gifts and cards, connect on FaceTime or zoom, or simply think of your dear ones with an open heart and send them love, nothing can stop that connection. Christmas is a time of goodwill, peace and love – so make sure you send love, and keep your heart open to receive love, because when you do, it will heal you, lift you and bring back the sparkle to your life that this year has tried so hard to extinguish. Let’s make this Christmas all about love, and let it flow freely around the world from heart to heart.
This Christmas is different – we cannot escape that, but we can embrace that difference and choose to make it special. Not in the ways we are perhaps used to, but in the way we feel and think. Let’s find our sparkle within, and let it radiate warming the hearts of those we love and find the magic of Christmas.
I wish you clarity and calm, happiness and health but most of all LOVE.
Why do we place such a huge importance on material things? Many of our possessions have a monetary value that we hold in high regard, as often we have paid for these items with money earned through hard work that we’ve maybe saved long and hard to buy. Therefore, they are not simply “things”, but representations of our own perceived worth.
Sentimental souvenirs or gifts from those we love, have even more significance as these objects have a little piece of our heart attached to them.
But it isn’t until we perhaps experience an event in our lives that make us re-evaluate what these material objects really mean to us that we can practice detachment. Being able to remove ourselves from our possessions gives us a certain sense of liberation that we cannot imagine until we go through this.
There have been several events in my own life that have shown me this. We have been victims of flooding’s, burglaries, and necessary house moves that have meant taking less and less with us each time. When our precious things are taken from us, initially its painful, as we feel such a sense of loss. But once that feeling fades, we can begin to feel the liberty that awaits us at the other side of disaster.
But the true gift that comes with detachment from material objects is the eye-opening realisation that these things do not in fact define us at all. We are not simply owners of houses, cars, laptops, phones, or even photos, and souvenirs. Not one of these items can be taken with us when we pass from this plane of existence into the next. What’s more when we remove ourselves from them, after a little time we can hardly recall what we even have that’s so very important to us. What we do long for, isn’t a possession, but the love of our friends and family. To lose that is to lose a fundamental part of ourselves, a part that exists long after this life we live is over. Our connection to our loved ones is the true definition of who we are. To know that love is with us in our hearts wherever we are or whatever difficulties we face in our lives is something that cannot be taken from us by disasters, or misfortune. It carries us and cradles us, lending us strength and courage to face another day. No amount of material objects will give us this comfort, however much they are worth.
So whether you choose detachment or it chooses to invite you to it through circumstance, embrace it. Things are replaceable, you can always buy another later, when you can pay for it. My own steps, or maybe jolts have been necessary for me to accept the comfort that being able to detach has provided.
As long as you can provide a roof, some warmth and some food, then you are blessed. You will be ok!
But the biggest blessing in your life is the love of your family and your friends. Your life goes from Ok to incredible, as you realise that nothing else matters more.
How many times do you get the feeling that you are just out of sorts, or off balance in some way? Days when you have loads to do but cannot find the motivation to even begin? Or days when you feel as though someone has plugged you into the mains – you feel so wired that you simply can’t calm down?
This happens when our brain becomes imbalanced
What if we could literally change our body’s temperature or mental state, when we feel this way?
Lets first take a look at what the two sides of the brain are best known for. The left side of the brain deals with rational thoughts and logic. It’s our analytical side. The right side of the brain is our emotional side and deals with empathetic thoughts and intuition. It wants to connect with others and is holistic by nature whereas our left-brain is governs our sense of logic, facts, and numbers.
Right brain characteristics:
Left Brain Characteristics:
Math and Science inclination
So it makes sense to try and achieve a balance in the two sides so that we can get the best of both aspects of ourselves. Both hemispheres need to work together because one cannot function without the other. When they are not in tune we have those days when we feel a real sense of imbalance, and if we allow this to continue it can have a negative effect on our brain function and health.
One of the best ways to provide nourishment to the brain is through our breath.
We can use a time-tested technique called Nadi Shodhana.
This is simply alternate nostril breathing. It so easy to do, and has an incredible effect on our nervous system and brain. Not only that but it can also have a positive effect on academic performance too. In one study on engineering students in 2011 demonstrated how alternate nostril breathing can be used to improve academic performance. The students practiced the prānāyāma every evening after their classes for three months. At the end of the study they all reported improved feelings of improved health, improved memory recall, mental stress relief and improved physical relaxation.
Follow this simple practice on a regular basis or when you feel you need to improve your sense of equilibrium or cognitive performance.
Sit with the spine erect, and try to relax all the major muscles. If possible sit cross legged, or in half lotus.
Relax your left hand in your lap
Place your index and middle finger of your right hand, on the point of the third eye, between your eyebrows.
Use the thumb to close the right nostril and take a full breath through the left nostril, focusing on the passage of the breath into the body.
Hold the breath for 5 seconds.
Using the ring finger, close the left nostril and exhale slowly through the right nostril.
Now inhale through the right nostril
Hold the breath for 5 seconds
Now close the right nostril and exhale slowly through the left nostril
Repeat this pattern for several rounds.
Allow your breath to return to normal. As you do, notice your state of mind. How are you feeling? What sensations are present in your body? Quietly observe the effects of the practice.
Its Cold and Flu Season – how will you protect yourself?
So here we are once more, at the beginning of the ”cold and flu” season, only this year has an added feeling of doom and gloom as many of us worry about the new kid on the block, who may or may not have more of a punch than our regular bad boys. However whether you are worried about “the virus” or just want to keep your immune system strong to fend off any lurgies, there are many natural remedies that will really help boost your immunity.
A few of my favourites are: • Colloidal silver (should be at least 25ppm for best effects) • Thieves oil (a blend of 5 essential oils all known for their immune boosting effects) • Oil of oregano (not the essential oil – this is different and can be used internally) • Echinacea (best used at the first sign of symptoms) I keep a good supply of these things in my natural apothecary, to ensure we are always prepared.
However one great remedy I want to share with you today is olive leaf extract. Long used in traditional medicine, olive leaf extract comes from the leaves of the olive tree and has a variety of health benefits. Research shows oleuropein, the main component in olive leaf extract, has antioxidant, antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory , and immune-stimulating properties.
Let me start by telling you about some its fantastic benefits: • Immune system boost – Olive leaf extract contains a high level of anti-oxidants, and has been shown to guard against the influenza virus. It’s also rich in anti-microbial properties helping to protect against other viruses, fungal infection and bacterial infections too! • Lowers Blood Pressure – studies have shown it to be as effective as some hypertension medication, reducing the strain on the cardiovascular system • Reduces cholesterol – a study on animals showed daily supplementation improved the triglyceride levels in the blood, further reducing risk from heart disease. • Regulates diabetes type 2 – helps with the digestion and absorption of starches, and maintains blood sugar levels • Improves cognitive function – protects against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, strokes and brain injuries, and generally helps improve cognitive performance. • Pain relief – Hydroxytyrosol, a compound found in olive leaves, has anti-inflammatory properties making it an effective remedy from pain – particularly chronic or long term pain. • Herpes and cold sores – both viruses can be treated very effectively by applying a drop topically to the area on a ball of cotton wool. It anti-viral and anti-microbial properties stop the virus from spreading to nearby cells. • Reduces risk of cancer – The component, called Oleuropein, has antioxidant and anti-angiogenic properties, thus preventing advanced tumor cells from multiplying and moving. • Helps arthritis – due to its strong anti-inflammatory properties.
If taking BP medication its best to avoid or consult with your GP
Avoid during pregnancy – not enough research has been done on the effects during pregnancy, to date.
If taking blood thinners please avoid or consult with your GP first.
It can irritate the stomach if too much is taken at once. Start with small does and work up if your stomach is sensitive.
If you are lucky enough to have an olive tree nearby, its super simple to make this great remedy. You can also buy olive leaves and make it yourself too. This recipe is for a 1:3 strength ratio.
You will need:
• 50gms of fresh olive leaves
• 150ml of 40% proof triple distilled alcohol
• Glass jar
Wash the leaves in filtered water and allow to dry. When dry, pack them into the jar and cover with alcohol. If necessary add a little more to make sure all the leaves are covered.
Seal the jar and leave for 4-6 weeks in a dark closet.
Shake the jar occasionally to make sure the leaves are still covered.
After the 4-6 week period, strain the leaves out and pour the tincture into dropper bottles for ease of use.
Add the tincture to hot water and drink when cool enough. The warm water will make the alcohol evaporate. Use a ratio of 1 to 1. 1 part hot water, to 1 part tincture. E.g. 40 drops in 2ml of hot water.
What happens when those we have trusted all our lives let us down?
When all your life you are led to believe that someone ultimately has your best interest at heart, and you start to feel that they haven’t, it’s a very unnerving feeling. It happens with relationships in our lives – very common between lovers, and friendships, but even in parent/child and sibling relationships too. That person who you thought loved you unconditionally didn’t. The moment you truly needed them to be there – they were not. When tendrils of doubt in your most trusted relation or friend begin to creep into your gut, they are accompanied by feelings of anxiety, disappointment, and resentment.
It isn’t only a relationship with a close person that can let us down so deeply. What if our entire system is in breech of the exact same wrongdoing? The system comprised of a group of people, whom we as a democracy put in place, regardless of our personal view. In the western world we take pride in our democracy; our ability to feel our voices are heard whatever it is we are shouting about. But what happens when we can see that there is no left and right? The government is uniting in its decisions to impose their will against any logical advice from qualified, verified, experienced professionals from the tops of their respective fields, let alone against the feelings of the people, either those that elected them or those that didn’t.
Why are they unanimously acting against that advice? Why isn’t the left using this to say the right is wrong? If they are not fighting each other for our votes any more, why are we fighting each other? They want us to see division that isn’t there.
So whom do we put our trust in when our government doesn’t seem to be taking care of its people anymore, and we have allowed ourselves to become divided reducing our trust in each other?
The only way forward is for us to stop seeing divisions. We are humans. We all have the same ability and capacity to love, to forgive, and to open our hearts to one another. We may not have faith in those we have or haven’t voted for, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could learn to trust each other again? When we hear another opinion, know that it is true and right for the person who speaks of it with passion, and that it’s their emotion you should respect if you cannot agree with their words. See the passion, the fire in their heart. Mostly whether their words enrage you, or have you nodding in agreement, they are a good person who has been sold a narrative – and this applies to all of us. There are very few of us who are deliberately obnoxious or abrasive, and those who are probably have an emotional anchor to a root cause too.
Once we can learn to understand that the way we feel about the world at large is totally taught to us; handed down by parents, teachers, musicians, actors, politicians, journalists…. We firmly believe our views are our own, but how can they be, when we have constant waking exposure to a narrative from the people we are exposed to? The only part of our own belief system we should trust is what we feel in our heart.
We must learn how to trust again, by trusting the only person who will never let us down – ourselves.
Start listening to your own true voice again.
Switch off the madness in your reality, and then sit quietly and switch it off inside your head. Be still, be quiet and tune into the silence; into your breath. When you really stop and listen you can hear only one true voice, the one who will never ever let you down, who will only ever speak the truth. Your heart will tell you who will be there for you when no-one else is, who to believe and who to walk away from. Trust in yourself, and listen to no-one but your own intuition.
I wish you good health, clarity and calm and most of all love ❤
The Sri Yantra is a 12,000 year old symbol and is considered the mother of all Yantras. Yantras are geometrical designs based on the principles of sacred geometry and are used for meditation. Traditionally, such symbols are used to balance the left and right aspects of the brain, focus our minds or to focus on spiritual concepts to obtain spiritual benefit. The Sri Yantra is a mathematically precise design and based upon the Phi ratio, also known as the Golden Proportion.
Focusing on a geometric pattern during meditation can have a profound effect on the pineal gland in the brain, helping to strengthen and detoxify this vital organ.
The pineal gland is responsible for the production of melatonin (the sleep hormone), serratonin (the happy hormone) and is related to the third eye.
You can either print this Yantra or focus on the screens image.
You will also need a blank piece of white paper.
Position the yantra so its centre is at eye level and a comfortable distance away (approx 2ft). Sit with your spine straight. Breathe in and out slowly until your breath flows naturally.
Slowly move from taking in everything around you, and begin to narrow your gaze.
You can begin by focusing at the centre, and then try to take in the whole yantra from this central point. Allow your eyes to become acquainted with its entirety, receiving the overall image.
Now shift your gaze to the square at the outside edge of the yantra. The square represents the Earth element. This is the wall between the material world, the boundaries held up by negative emotion. Allow anger and fear to dissolve and release any attachment to the physical world.
Allow feelings of bitterness, resentment, jealously, irritation, or envy remain outside the walls, and now move towards the portals; the yantra’s four T shaped gates. Notice that they point toward the interior of the yantra, the inner spaces of life. They represent our earthly passage from the external and material to the internal and sacred. Stay there at the portals for a few moments. Then ever so gently, move deeper into the yantra.
Observe the 3 circles. The outer circle represents Manah (mind), the next one represents Buddhi (intelligence), and the innermost circle represents the Jeevatma (human soul). The significance is this: our wavering mind should apply its intelligence and find the ways to understand the soul. They are the cosmic rhythms – they have no beginning or end; the rhythm is both within you and outside of you.
Within the circles are 16 lotus petals. They open outwards representing the unfolding of our deepening understanding. Each petal relates to the 5 organs of perception ( tongue, skin, nose, eyes, ears) the 5 organs of action, (mouth, feet, hands, organ of excretion and organ of procreation), and the five elements ( earth, water, fire, air and space). The 16th petal represents the mind which processes and interprets the information from the sensory organs and the elements.
Our deeper layer of understanding is represented in the next layer of 8 lotus petals. These govern activity – speech, grasping, motion, excretion, enjoyment, revulsion, attraction, and self control.
As we move deeper into the final circle we find the set of triangles.
Nine interlinking triangles — four upward facing Shiva triangles, representing the male energy, movement, transformation the left side of the brain and the fire element. The five downward facing Shakti triangles, the feminine creative power, the womb of all creation the right side of the brain and the water element. They form 44 triangles including the central point or bindu. First focus on just the downward set of triangles and their representation and then shift your focus to the triangles that point upwards.
Finally let your gaze rest on the source, the centre of the Yantra. The Bindu. The flower of life – the merging of the white flower of Shiva and the red flower of Shakti. This represents pure consciousness and the original state of being.
This phase should take between 5 and 15 mins, depending on how long you wish your meditation to be.
Now shift your gaze to a plain white surface or a piece of plain white paper and allow the yantra to be recreated on the blank surface. Allow it to manifest and play out in front of your eyes, until it begins to fade.
When it does close your eyes and visualise the yantra through the third eye folding and unfolding behind your closed eyes.
The patterns of creativity represented by these primordial shapes express the fundamental forces of nature that flow through the universe and through you. When have completed both parts of the meditation, just sit and slowly let the energy of your experience ripple through your thoughts, your being, and your breath. Notice how you feel. Take a few slow deep breaths before allowing the breath to flow naturally.
Be calm and gentle for a while after you finish. Don’t rush to undertake practical tasks. Move slowly and smoothly as your re-engage with your day.
Can we still feel sexy and vital after we go through the change in life?
There are a few reasons we experience a loss in our libido, from feeling rundown with the stress of our daily lives to have any energy at the end of the day, to body image issues that make us feel ashamed that our maturing bodies are no longer the smooth, supple, slim forms they once were.
One of the biggest reasons we, as women experience a loss of libido is the menopause. It’s a surprisingly common symptom. Studies show that approximately 50% of women experience a change in sexual desire after menopause. Other menopausal symptom’s such as vaginal dryness and weight gain will both contribute to the decline in our sex drive, but the main reasons are related to our hormone balance and the fact that some women become more introvert as the desire for them is to journey within as their sexual energy takes a different turn – biological fertility gives way to spiritual fertility.
The physiological reason for this is because the temporal lobes of the brain increase, making inner focus and greater intuitive energies more prevalent. In fact our ancestors looked upon postmenopausal woman as wise women, to be honored and respected in the communities – an admiration, which only grew as she grew older, drawing people to her to counsel them in her wisdom. This beautiful reverence of the elders in the community is something, which is very sadly lacking in today’s society.
After we go through the menopause the ovaries no longer function as endocrine organs although when the levels drop from the ovaries the adrenals step in to take over the production of estrogen and progesterone in the body. Our adrenals are already busy little organs producing testosterone, cortisol and adrenaline, so if we are stressed and our adrenals are overloaded they will not be able to cope with this extra workload. Taking care of our adrenals is paramount to enjoying good health and maintaining our libido well past our menopause.
And it is not only our sex lives that are facing a potential demise, we are also at risk of weak vaginal tissue which results in poor tone and eventual incontinence beginning with sneezing, laughing and trampolining becoming activities we’d prefer to leave in the past!
But it need not spell incontinence, a weak, dry vagina and the end of our sex lives. In fact with a little training women can learn to not only take back their libido and but to learn to let it take them to places they had never before imagined existed.
Women should be able to – and can, choose to take their sexual energy and turn it into healing, restorative energy for both themselves and their partners.
Please visit my YOGA pages for some asanas to increase the energy in your pelvis and hips to help rejuvenate your libido.
If this article resonates with any challenges you are facing at this time in your life, please click follow below to be alerted to my upcoming workshops on female hormonal health and how to find your libido after the menopause, and enjoy a very enriching, healing and satisfying sex life.
Prana or Chi is our life force. Our life force is intimately entwined with the breath. When we inhale deeply, we are taking in the vital energy we need to exist. The expansion of the breath is the expansion of our life force.
Our sexual energy is synonymous with prana. When we practice focused breathwork, we can energise our sexual organs with our prana, and replenish our sexual energies.
Try the following asanas very slowly and mindfully. Breath into the part of your body that you are focusing on and feel the movement of the breath within you.
Half Lotus Breathwork.
Sit in half lotus with the sit bones fully grounded and lift tall through the spine. Now relax your shoulders and your hips without losing the length in your spine or your grounding through the sit bones.
Focus on your root chakra or perineum. As you start to inhale gently draw up mula bandha (your pelvic floor), then as the inhalation continues draw uddiyana bandha ( your navel) gently upwards, and allow your ribs to expand laterally with the breath, feel it all the way up to the throat (jalahandra bandha), and to the crown.
Exhale very slowly feeling your weight come back into your perineum and sit bones as you breathe out and relax the entire body.
Repeat this flow of breath with conscious movement through the chakras and engagement of the 3 bandhas, for 5-10 mins
Upward Facing Bow or Urdhva Dhanurasana
Opening the front of the body, in any heart opening asana will help to stimulate the nervous system and create an open channel for sexual energy.
Bow pose can also help to release tight hip flexors, which is said to make orgasms more intense!
Wide-Legged Forward Fold or Prasarita Padottanasana C
Open the hips and the shoulders where we hold most of our stress. Align the hips over the ankles, soften the knees if necessary and keep your tailbone lifted. Think of reaching long with the spine and then slowly bring your arms over, making sure your hands are fully clasped together and not open. This engages the muscles in the shoulders safely and then you can relax into the pose feeling the shoulders and hips open.
Reclined bound angle or Half Lotus.
This is perhaps the most important one to do, if you’ve only time for one asana. As women we hold much of our tension in our hips. Especially emotional and sexual tension. Really allowing the body to relax in this asana creates a really strong flow of energy in the pelvic bowl, and tension slowly leaves this area, leaving you feeling free and soft.
Lay your hands on the crease between your upper thigh and pelvis, and feel the warmth from your hands melting into your hips.
Those with a predominance of ether and air are mainly vata, having the characteristics of those elements as their traits and tendencies. For example a vata dosha person would have a tendency toward dry hair and skin from the air element and the attributes of creativity and expansiveness from the element of space.
Dry skin & hair
signs of imbalance:
Weak immune system
Weak nervous system
solutions to help regain balance
Try to engage in pursuits and lifestyle choices that offer the following traits:
Some examples include:
Choose cooked grains & vegetables, especially root vegetables. Warm drinks and foods build strength
Eat frequent small meals
Use spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, fennel, cumin, and ginseng in teas, food and warmed milk.
Avoid eating when nervous or worried
Try to stick to a routine
Avoid late nights
Avoid strong stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol.