As the years have grown since my first attempt at meditation, a handful of fundamental meditation principles has helped guide and shape a practice that is purposeful and significant to me today. Here I share with you five of those principles. I hope they are an aid to you in your own path of meditation discovery and growth.
The magical month of December is here once again. I love the festive season. The days are filled with sunshine, social events and delicious food. But December isn’t here without its difficulties. The array of indulgent treats that cannot be avoided present a problem for many of my clients. So I’ve put together my thoughts on how to find balance this Christmas.
Say you have a specific health issue that you are trying to treat with dietary changes, such as leaky gut (no gluten) or candida overgrowth (low/no sugar). The key to getting through the Christmas season is planning ahead. Initiate an honest conversation with dinner hosts/restaurants about your dietary needs in advance or explain that you will be bringing something for yourself.
Give yourself permission
While we must honour and nurture our physical bodies, we must also nourish our emotional self. Sharing a meal or a drink with friends and family brings joy into our lives. If you have been working on improving your diet, a day of indulging will not undo all that hard work. On these days, you can counter the negative effects of more sugar, fat and alcohol by adding in some additional digestive and liver support. Letting go of the strict standards we put on ourselves is part of self-love and in itself can be immensely healing.
Support your digestion
Here are my top tips for optimising your body’s processing of dietary “bad guys”:
- Drink fresh lemon/apple cider vinegar in warm water each morning to give your digestion a boost. It stimulates the vagus nerve, which is largely responsible for digestive secretions. If your tummy struggles with indigestion and reflux at the best of times, you may benefit from taking betaine hydrochloride and digestive enzymes to get you through.
- Add in a liver support supplement over the Christmas period. St Mary’s Thistle, Globe Artichoke and Turmeric are among my favourite herbs to support bile acid production (breaks down fat), support detoxification and protect the liver against damage.
- Take a daily probiotic such as Saccharomyces boulardii to help control gut bugs that are prone to growing out of control when we eat and dink more sugar.
Support your mind
Stress levels can go up this time of year with more work pressures, increased busyness on the road/at the shops and less free time – which is exactly why we all need to prioritise finding time to calm the mind. Checking in with the breath each hour or a 15 minute morning meditation is enough to switch on your parasympathetic nervous system, the part of your nervous system which is responsible for “rest and digest” activities, such as producing stomach acid.
Don’t let guilt ruin Christmas
Perhaps the appeal of the Christmas spread was a little too good and you ate too much, leaving you feeling unwell and disappointed in yourself. What a perfect opportunity to turn that guilt into something positive and practice self-forgiveness. Holding onto negative feelings toward the self only exacerbates health issues. So let those feelings go and replace them with something positive, such as looking forward to the goals you’re going to kick in 2018!
Looking for recipes that take into consideration your dietary needs? At Narayani Wellness we love online resources by Teressa Cutter “The Healthy Chef”, Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar and Deliciously Ella, Jamie Oliver and Lola Berry also offer some great ideas in their cookbooks.
After my last blog post about me getting real with myself, I thought I’d dig a little deeper and share my personal top tips to help any superwoman create life balance. (And yes, this is definitely applicable to all you awesome supermen)
1. Get real with your expectations of self.
What pressures are you putting on yourself? Are they really necessary? Or can you cut yourself some slack.
After all, you’re only human.
I highly recommend doing a brain dump of all your expectations of self and try to fit it into a weekly calendar. If you find yourself coming up against the limitations of time, then get real with yourself. It’s best to make a conscious decision of what needs to give, rather than letting something important slide or ending up burnt out.
Be careful that you don’t fall in the trap of giving up the essential (and I mean critically important) time for self, exercise or time with friends. Yes, work at times can be a priority but a life of all work and no play is a life of struggle. I believe that when we get our life balance right, spending time having fun with your loved ones can make your time doing work so much more productive and engaging.
2. Set a benchmark for your achievements each day.
Rather than having huge to-do lists, and becoming overwhelmed with it (which usually results in procrastination or lack of balance as you throw every single minute into ticking it all off), set a benchmark of what you need to do each day to feel successful, happy or productive.
Yes, it’s tricky for us over-achieving types, but once you get the hang of it I promise it can seem almost miraculous. You let go of pressure, life flows easier and you start to cultivate a feeling of satisfaction and success.
Since I’m balancing a newborn and running a business, my benchmark is just one thing related to my work each day. One thing only. When I manage this, then I allow myself to sit in the satisfaction of a productive and successful day.
3. Learn to prioritise and learn when to let things go.
This supports the previous two tips. It’s critical to push through your beliefs around the need to get through your to-do list or else.
Or perhaps the need to prove to everyone just how capable you are?
If you don’t get your entire to-do list done, the world won’t stop turning and chances are your life will only benefit from it. You won’t lose value and your peeps will still continue to love you.
Give yourself permission to prioritise time for self or creativity over doing the dishes or cleaning the house (unless of course these tasks really light you up). If you are a writer, then prioritise time to create in the morning, rather than leaving it until you’ve cleaned up after the kids, gone shopping, paid those bills… you get the picture. After all what’s most important to you?
4. Don’t get so busy working in your life that you forget to work on your life.
Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of reading “The E-myth” by Michael Gerber, an extraordinary book for business owners or people considering becoming a business owner. He makes the wonderful point that too often we get engrossed in our lives with the doingness and day to day busyness that we forget who’s driving it.
Allocate time for you to contemplate, reflect, learn and grow.
Be the driver of your own life.
5. Learn to delegate and do it the right way.
What is it that you absolutely need to be doing? I bet that for most, it would translate to only 5% of what we are doing.
In his book “The Big Leap”, Gay Hendrix describes four zones of being. The incompetent, competent, excellent and genius zones. For tasks that fall in our incompetent (we have no skill in doing the task) and competent (we can do the task, but we don’t enjoy it and we don’t do a very good job) zones, it may be helpful to delegate these to someone else. Let them go, as they don’t fill your cup and well, truth is, someone else could probably do a better job.
And whilst it makes sense for us busy superwomen to delegate tasks like house-cleaning or car maintenance, be careful to not abdicate the more important tasks that fall in your incompetent or competent zone.
It’s definitely worth getting clear on what outcome you want (and how to get there in some cases) then to leave it up to Frank or Mary, who with the best intentions may only create even more problems for you. Yes, it’s easy to think that it’s too hard to understand or too far out of your comfort zone, but be careful of letting go of all control in that area of your life. You may just be giving your power away.
I’ve done this plenty of times myself including early on with marketing the first event of The Healing Forum, a day focused on sharing healing stories and healing wisdom. I hired a marketing student to “take on” the whole marketing side of things. I was so excited initially as I believed I was delegating tasks correctly. Something that I’ve really struggled with. But in this instance, rather than delegating I was abdicating my responsibility to this very important aspect. I gave very little direction and didn’t take the time to research what I wanted or felt was best for our brand. I actually convinced myself that handing this over to a complete stranger was a show of respect…. Well, it resulted in a nightmare and ended up taking a lot longer and a lot more month. The attitude of “you just deal with it” doesn’t always work out well in the end.
When delegating be clear what outcome you want, give direction about the process and be sure that you don’t give your power away to someone else.
6. Finally, recognise there is much to be gained by being. So stop doing, and start being.
I can’t say I’ve mastered this one, but I’ve certainly glimpsed the truth of this statement. Solutions, ideas, and some of my biggest ah-ha moments have happened when I’m away from my desk having a walk in nature or a cuddle with my boys.
The most productive countries in the world are also those that promote shorter work days. But better than this, they also happen to be some of the happiest countries. Rather than getting caught in a spiral of hard work and struggle, these statistics are showing us that containing our working hours and prioritizing activities that make us happy, will actually be of benefit to our work and career.
With that, I can now tick off my one thing to do today and can go finish a jigsaw puzzle my son got for his birthday (thanks Abi!)…
Kapow! Bam! Zap!
Om Namo Narayani,