Tag Archives: habits

The Art of Peace, and the secret of balance: how to recover more easily when life throws you

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Just a snippet today from one of my favourite philosophers, Morihei Ueshiba (O Sensei), the founder of Aikido:

[O Sensei in action ]

“After observing O Sensei sparring with an accomplished fighter, a young student said to the master, ‘You never lose your balance. What is your secret?’

‘You are wrong,’ O Sensei replied. ‘I am constantly losing my balance. My skill lies in my ability to regain it.’”*

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And for a taste of what this amazing man could do:

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[*Nb the quote above comes from the excellent book Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen from the Harvard Negotiation Project, p 122. ]

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EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique or ‘tapping’)  is a great tool to help you recover your balance after something throws you and to empower you to turn and face it.

For more info check out What is EFT?

And if you think I might be able to help with some one-on-one coaching, give me a call on 0419 580 382, or check out ‘how I work’.

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Some thoughts on stress, emotional energy, and well-being

It is becoming increasingly accepted these days that stress is a major contributor to disease. But what is stress exactly?

To me, stress is simply an emotional energy that has not been able to move through the body and be discharged or recylced into new energy.

This is often due to cultural discomfort with showing and experiencing emotions in general, and some emotions in particular.

Different societies have different attitudes to emotional display, and different hierarchies of acceptable and unacceptable emotions. Then there is also the specific culture within your family of origin. And finally, your own personal emotional culture that you cultivate in response to a combination of your personality, these wider cultures of influence, and your particular life experiences.

You may have a belief, for instance, that it is wrong to ever be angry. Or to cry in public (or at all). Or have come to label certain emotions as unacceptable and unattractive — resentment, for instance — and hence bury these feelings instead of allowing them to come up, be acknowledged, move through you, and be transformed.

Transformed, for instance, into energy for taking action.

‘Big boys don’t cry.’ ‘Oh well, there are people worse off than you,’ ‘But she didn’t mean to hurt you.’ ‘Can’t complain, can you?’ ‘Don’t be a sook.’ These are some of the many ways we try to damp down emotion in ourselves and others, and way too often in children. Thus very often feelings of shame or anger get added onto the original feeling and buried in the mix.

Or you may have been a very sensitive child in a less-than-perfect family situation, who was never given appropriate help or modelling for how to handle emotions in an effective way. Being the ‘feeler’ in a family (the ‘cry baby’, the ‘over-sensitive one’) can be extremely painful. So perhaps at some stage you made a decision to simply shut them down and not feel them, to become very ‘rational’, and ‘think’ your way out of feeling.

But burying feelings doesn’t just create momentary stress. It can have severe long-term effects. Perhaps not immediately, but almost always eventually.

Emotions are powerful. Their energy — like all energy — doesn’t just disappear. It is either transformed (felt, acknowledged, released: fuelling action or change or growth), or it stays in the body, stuck, stagnating, causing havoc.

For instance, a buried feeling (perhaps going way back to early childhood) can create a ‘trigger’, so that anything that is similar in some way has a tendency to re-activate this dormant energy, causing a stronger than necessary reaction to the new event (an ‘over-reaction’).

Each time this occurs, if the energy of the new emotional experience is not dealt with appropriately, then it gets added to and stored with the original one. So that each time this happens, the emotions become harder and harder to ‘control’ and more disruptive and painful.

For some, repressing or disowning emotion can become a habitual response — so that eventually it happens in a nano-second, way below the level of awareness. This habit can be very serious, because it means you no longer have access to your most important guidance system.

The tiny alarm bells that allow you to move through the world in a relaxed way are things like ‘Hmm.. for some reason this makes me feel bad’. If you have this shut off, then how are you to distinguish between safe and unsafe?

Without this internal guidance system, the whole world can feel potentially dangerous. ‘Be vigilant’ and ‘brace yourself’ becomes the default position rather than one activated temporarily and as appropriate.

To be in this state of chronic ‘hypervigilence’ (always in a mild state of ‘flight, fright or freeze’) is increasingly being recognised as a significant factor in physio-neurological conditions (most chronic conditions) and in the creation of disease.

Here’s some questions you might like ask yourself whenever you feel even slightly destabilised:

What am I feeling?

What do I need?

Two questions that, asked often enough, might just change your life.

Thanks for reading.

‘Feeling Delicious’ – what’s in a name? or When life isn’t always sweet

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It took me a while to set up this blog, because – to be honest — I don’t always feel delicious. Like most of us, my life has a lot of challenges. Yet I was drawn to the name and whenever I tried to think of another one, I kept coming back to it.

‘Feeling delicious’ is a great aim; although trying to feel delicious all the time can actually be a strain.

Perhaps the best goal is simply to notice when we feel delicious, and fully savor it. To feel it fully; but also to feel painful states fully too — the ouches and the purrs. And let them move through us, without holding onto either state.

Perhaps, by becoming aware of all our emotions and how important they are in a healthy balanced life, we can feel surprisingly delicious more often.

I remember watching a film a few years back, something I’d recorded late one night to keep for a rainy day; unfortunately I can’t remember the name. It was about a North American woman struggling with grief in the aftermath of losing both her husband and child in an accident, who goes to Burma for a holiday. It was 1988, and when the security forces fired on pro-democracy demonstrators somehow she got swept up in the chaos and ended up on the run with a group of dissidents.

Their escape from the city was fraught and horrifying and full of danger and tragedy. They reached  a village where they had some friends and were able to spend one night where they could be safe. Able to wash, given clean clothes and food, they laughed and talked with their hosts. The next day, they headed off again, into danger, uncertainty, pain and grief.

The North American woman was astonished and said to the older man who was with the group, ‘How can you be so peaceful and enjoy yourselves in the midst of all this?’

I was going through a rough patch at the time and his reply affected me deeply. What he said was something like this:

‘You Westerners think that happiness is your natural state and your right. And so you suffer when you don’t feel happy. Whereas we are surrounded by pain and hardship and struggle and see it as normal. Thus when we do have moments of happiness we embrace them with complete joy and make the most of them. We see these moments as a great gift.’

By naming my blog ‘feeling delicious’, I don’t want to suggest that life is or can be continuously sweet. Or that we are doing something ‘wrong’ if it isn’t.

But there are always moments of sweetness, even in the darkest times, if we can allow ourselves to be awake to them.

So this is my aim –  to feel all the moments in my life (this moment, right here): to taste the bitter and the sour, the salty as well as the sweet —  all the flavours of a rich and juicy embodied life experience.  To chew things over mindfully. To take in what nourishes me and throw out the bones and the bits I don’t need. To become adept at savouring and digesting experience and emotions fully, so I can let them go when they’re over, and keep moving into a new present.

Here’s to being open to the new, to reducing the junk in our lives, embracing what is fresh and alive, exploring a full palate of flavours and textures, relishing the spice that adds variety, letting go easily, respecting and appreciating the abundance of this planet, and sharing wisely and generously with good companions.

Or in other words, here’s to feeling delicious more often, whatever is on our plate.

Namaste,
Beth