This month is all about owning your space. That means we need to talk about leaning into your desires, your calling and what you most want from life. Your dream might be to live as a digital nomad for a couple of years. To travel and have adventures. Great right? Well, the tricky thing is that your brain doesn’t see this as a simple win-win situation. It worries about you and can cause some very weird feelings and doubts around your dream.
You’ll find yourself worrying about whether your family will approve. You know they want you to settle and be stable and before you know it, you’ve talked yourself out of the travelling altogether.
Sound familiar? This might not be your exact situation, but I’m sure you recognize the pattern. We all have Fear or “ego” that blocks us from trying new things or moving forward with our business or hitting our next life milestone. We give into the anxiety, guilt and shame of what might go wrong, and we lose sight of what we were chasing in the first place. We choose to stay safe in our comfort zone because we convince ourselves that it is enough, that we’re satisfied and even happy.
Of course, this is rarely the result of staying put. It is when you leap forward, take a chance and actively pursue what you love that you find joy. In fact, you could say that a big difference between happy and unhappy people, is that the happy ones follow the love. They see the fear and go for it anyway. Despite all the worry, they choose to focus on the reward, the joy, the love.
But how on earth do they do that? Fear can be incredibly convincing, I know. It can make you believe the worst of others and even of your own abilities. For this reason, “the ego” has a petty bad rap. It is branded as the devil on your shoulder, a mean-spirited little guy that wants to hold you back from everything. I don’t buy it. There is a slightly more open concept that the only thing the ego knows is fear and it is simply trying to protect you from harm. It is like an over-protective grandma that would rather keep you in a bubble than risk something happening to you.
It doesn’t want you to risk falling in love because your heart might break again; or travel, because you’ll miss out on everything happening at home; or change careers, because it might not work out. It is even afraid of success. Yup, “success” is a big no-no for the ego. If you become successful, you would have to risk being seen, you might have more money than your friends, you might even meet people that operate on a level above you, you could become a mean person, lose your marriage, never see your kids… You get the idea…
We all have our own special cocktail of fears around success and while they make you feel guilty or ashamed or scared, it is not the ego’s intention to hurt you. It just the only way it knows how to keep you safe.
Accepting this truth was personal turning point for me. I faced my fearful ego and recognized it as the most vulnerable part of myself. In that moment I could stop fighting, stop resisting and attempt to quiet that inner voice. (All the resisting was only making it louder.) Instead I could see it with love, honour the fear and then simply let it go.
Let me break that down for you.
When I notice that familiar feeling start to creep up, I ask myself, “Hey, what’s that about? What are you trying to show me?” Sometimes, simply asking this question in my head is enough to get an instant answer, other times I meditate and free write to reveal the deeper truth behind the fear.
Either way, once I see the deeper truth (the reason for the fear feeling), I can also see it’s innocent and unknowing intention. Almost instantly, that fear feeling becomes small and manageable. I can look it straight in the eye and say, “Appreciate the heads up, but I got this.”
Asking, “What are you trying to show me?” allows you to gain perspective, accept the protective intention behind the fear and soothe it, rather than fight it. You do not stop seeing the danger, but the reward/ goal stays in focus. You can feel grateful for, and accept, the warning. You know what you’re capable of and that you will be able to endure if the worst happens.
As you practice this, you will detect your fearful voice in its early stages, allowing you to move on faster and take bigger and bigger leaps towards your goals. This is how you lean into love, how to follow the joy.
So, accept your fear as your overly-cautious grandma and you’ll learn to look it straight in the eye, see the danger and go for it anyway. Not because you’re going against it (yourself), but because you know you’re strong enough to make it.
Have you ever tried meditating? I know it can seem daunting at first. You might have wondered how to do it or whether there’s some special thing you have to say or do. Perhaps you’ve tried and worried that you’re doing it wrong. Well, let me tell you a secret: You can’t do it wrong. While there are many guided and traditional options, there really is no elite or precise process you must follow. In this super simple guide to meditation, I’ll share some guidelines that can help you get started and find your path to #meditationjoy.
Set the scene
Space – Find your spot
Create a space that you find calming and quiet. You don’t need to overdo it. Find a spot, lay down your yoga mat, place a cushion or your favourite chair, and make sure you’re comfortable. If you ask me: I love the fresh air, but find a lot of outside noise a bit distracting, so I prefer a spacious but closed off space indoors.
I’m quite a practical girl and don’t have too much time, so I prefer not to fuss too much, but if the smell of incense, a crystal or a Buddha ornament helps you set the mood, add these to your space.
One thing I keep close when meditating is my journal. It stays closed and once the bell rings to bring me back, I pick it and write. I write about everything and anything for about 10 minutes. Sometimes, I have new clarity on an idea and it spills onto the page and sometimes I open and just free-write. I set the timer and continue writing until it goes off. You’ll be surprised at how revealing this can be about your current state of mind.
Music or no music?
Either. Really, there are no rules. Just keep your intention in mind. You are trying become still to tap into your inner guidance. For this reason, I personally prefer no music, as the silence helps me stay connected. There are, of course, times you need to drown out some other noise, or a busy inner-dialogue. If this is the case, opt for the classical or instrumental option so you don’t get sucked into lyrics.
Use a timer
Not too many of us have unlimited time available, which is why I find setting a timer allows me to stay in the present. I know that I won’t be late for my next engagement and I don’t worry whether I am doing it for long enough. Put your phone on do not disturb, set a calming tone as your ringer and keep it close for easy reach. Start with 10 minutes and increase or decrease as you need to.
The key is not to overthink or wait for the perfect moment. Sit down somewhere quiet, get comfortable and you’re 90% of the way there.
What do you meditate about/ for/ to?
While practicing a structured meditation (there are thousands of traditional practices you can follow if you are looking for a methodical or specific style) can have many benefits, it is not required to search for a guru or to focus the next 6 months on resolving your anxiety. Meditation is a lifelong practice that provides a pathway inward, towards your deepest truths. For this, you don’t need a schedule, but a willingness and openness to simply be still and to listen.
Rather than worry about the how, focus on your intention for today’s meditation practice. For most of us, we meditate because we seek connection or answers. Allow me to elaborate.
- To become still and (re)connect to center:
Its primary intention is to stay connected, grounded so you may respond more resourcefully to triggers like stress or overwhelm. (It keeps you cool EMOJI.) When I am consistent with this practice, I honestly feel calmer and more together; I get a lot more done during the day and generally feel like I am moving towards my goals.
- Find an answer to a question (or make a choice):
If something is troubling you, you may find that by simply offering it up to a greater force than yourself, you immediately feel lighter. From this place of relief, you are able to gain a new perspective that leads towards a conscious, connected and considered decision that moves you in the right direction.
It is not uncommon to meditate with a question in mind and not experience a huge moment of clarity during the practice. When this happens, open your journal and write about the question or challenge you are experiencing. It is almost as if the meditation brought a new perspective to the foreground and the writing allows you to see it and discover surprising solutions.
Begin by choosing your intention. If you are choosing to connect, let go of all expectation and focus on your breath and the prompts below. Allow yourself to clear your mind of busy thoughts and stay in tune with your breath.
Should you have a question, keep it in your mind. Try not to add an attached outcome to your question, like “How do I lose 3kgs by December.” Reframe your question in a way that allows for new solutions. Something like, “How do I stay focused on my health goals?” Essentially, you are asking for a new perspective, “How can I solve this problem/ reach this goal? I am open to new ideas.” Perhaps you are facing a choice. If so, you may want to ask, “Which of these options will keep me aligned and move me forward.”
Sit with your legs crossed on the floor or on a cushion. If you have trouble sitting like this for a while, sit on a chair with your legs uncrossed and feet flat on the earth. Rest the backs of your hands on your knees in a gesture of receiving. Lightly allow your eyes to close and take a deep breath in.
Feel the breath start at the base of your spine, move up the length of your back and pull up your torso, shoulders and head and neck. As you exhale, let your shoulders lower and settle into your spine in a comfortable, yet upright position.
Observe your chin and if you’re looking up, perhaps lower it to so that it rests parallel to the ground.
Now, bring your focus to your breath: Inhale through your nose, feeling as your breath travels into the base of the lungs as your belly expands with this new enriching oxygen. As you exhale, notice the reverse. Your belly and ribs collapse to release the air back up and out through your nose. Pause at the top of the outbreath.
After a few continuous rounds of focused breathing, the pause will create a light and spacious feeling in mind and body. Without chasing, keep breathing into that space and that feeling of expansion will gradually grow.
Thoughts will enter your mind. When they do, simply acknowledge them and then choose to let them go for now. Many people imagine the thought drift away on a cloud. Do what you need to do to and bring your attention back to breath. (Even saying the words “inhale,” “exhale,” can be helpful in bringing you back.)
Closing your practice
There are a number of ways you may seal your practice. While you find your preferred manner, I invite you to join me with this sweet and simple mantra of appreciation:
Once your timer goes off, calmly tap it to end the ringing. Then, with your eyes still closed, bring your hands to heart. Pressing your thumbs to your chest, say to yourself:
Thank you for your practice today
You are worthy of this time
I love you
Bow your head to your hands and gently blink your eyes open.
Meditation is a tool that anybody can include in their life. There is no pre-requisite and you can start anytime. Give the above suggestions a try and soon you’ll discover just how effortless and enriching meditation can be.
The biggest reason we become overwhelmed and burnt out by our business, our health goals, and other life expectations, is that we place too much focus on the future. Rather than doing what needs to be done today, we worry about the list for tomorrow, which results in little or no progress at all; and spirals into limiting or unkind thoughts about ourselves and what we’re capable of.
Here are a few tools to help you avoid the future trap and step into your NOW:
First: Break down your Year
Perhaps you have a goal or outcome set for the year? You’ve listed the steps required to reach this goal, but about a week (or a month) into the year, things get fuzzy. You start feeling anxious about your ability to achieve this goal, feel unsure of what step to do first and start seeing everything as “urgent!” If this sounds like you and you’re ready for less overwhelm, why not try this:
- Write down the full list of steps to achieve your goal or to reach your outcome.
- Next, to that, note how much time you will need for each task.
- Now, rank your tasks in the order they need to be completed.
- Finally, add your tasks to your calendar in order and with enough time to complete.
Let each task have its own space. In this way, you can fully dedicate your time to each step, with the comfort of knowing that everything else will get done in due course.
Second: Prioritize the excess
No matter how hard we try, sometimes we just don’t tick everything off our to-do list and it rolls over to the next day or next week. This causes lists that are way too long and far too cluttered, but before you scrap your list and attempt to start again, go through each item and ask:
- Has “not doing” this item held me back from moving towards my goal?
- What would happen if I simply removed this item from the list?
Your answers reveal the importance of each task on your list. If the item is critical in moving you closer to your goal, commit to a deadline and get it done. If, however, the task carries little or no tangible impact on your success, perhaps you can remove it altogether? Declutter your to-do list to make space for the important, forward-moving tasks.
Remember that busy work distracts you from getting ahead. Doing more is not the same as moving forward.
Third: Give yourself enough time
While close to 90% of “overnight successes” say that they achieved their goals with slow, systematic progress, we continue to rush outcomes, strive for instant results and add unnecessary pressure with unrealistic deadlines. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be ambitious or dream big. I’m simply suggesting that you create the space to truly dedicate yourself to your goals and that you do so without hurting yourself in the process.
Giving yourself enough time doesn’t take away from the achievement. You do not need to get there today or this year. Take your time and make sure you keep moving forward, without burning out and losing more time as a result.
The formula is simple: create enough space for everything and then commit to focusing on the next right step. Trust that you have it under control and that each bit of progress is an achievement in and of itself. Stop chasing and transform your schedule from a race into a calm, yet exciting plan-of-action that is perfectly crafted to get you to your goal.
The other day I watched a webinar hosted by one of my heroines. I adore everything she does, from her books to her emails, to her courses. (I am such a fan.) I signed up the second I saw the ad for her free Master Class and stayed up to attend the live event late that night.
I knew this call would include an offer at the end, but I was fine with that, as I had actually purchased her entry-level manifesting course a little more than a year ago and loved it. In fact, I have planned to revisit the course later this month.
As expected, she didn’t disappoint. I immediately felt the same admiration, joy, and eagerness to grow. The content was life-affirming. In fact, her three solutions for a “breakthrough year,” were almost identical to my top three goals (not kidding!)
Hers: Back to basics
Mine: Keep it simple and focused
Hers: Know thy self
Mine: Grow within my spiritual practice and get closer to my truth
Hers: Find your tribe
Mine: Grow my tribe of spiritually curious, “personal development junkie,” entrepreneurial ladies.
Weird right? I was definitely feeling inspired. As she continued her class, all the concepts and proposed outcomes aligned beautifully to the course-on-offer, and since I was in the same mental space, I instinctively felt this would be an incredible opportunity for me. A chance to be a part of a great community, peel back a few more of my layers and learn some new tools.
Then she mentioned a payment plan and I became really excited, as I knew I could make it work financially. It was hitting all of the boxes, but then… (Yes, there’s a “but.”) I noticed a couple of sneaky fear feelings perk up. “Will you have the time?” being the primary culprit.
At first, I fought this feeling: “Just go for it,” I told myself, “Make the leap and you’ll find a way to make it work!” I probably could find time somewhere, give up something else and dedicate the next few weeks to this course.
But when I thought a little further, mentally searching for a small crack of time I could exploit, I realized how much I have going on: I currently have a job, freelance here and there, and run Bloom. My professional life is pretty full, very focused and it bleeds into most of my time.
As she started fielding some Q&A’s, I reflected back on an earlier portion of the webinar where she spoke about the mistakes that she, and many women in her community, had made the previous year. Some of these included, “taking on too many projects,” “becoming distracted,” “over-extending yourself” and “losing focus.” This wasn’t unfamiliar to me. I tend to suffer quite severely from “Shiny Object Syndrome 😜,” and while I love to plan and make lists, I sometimes struggle to execute and follow through.
That’s when I had my “aha moment”: My concern was not because of a money block or Fear peaking its ugly head. This was my inner guide saying, “Hey lady, you’re on a pretty focused path here, do you really need this extra work?” This nurturing source of knowledge was trying to show me that I had a good thing going and that the resources to achieve my goals were already in place. Check it out:
Goal 1: Keep it simple and focused:
I simplified my business model and planned my year out in advance. I am busy executing my to-do list and taking action – so, it’s working. Plus, revisiting my Manifesting course would help me declutter further and stay focused.
Goal 2: Grow within my spiritual practice and get closer to my truth:
While I had been a little less disciplined with my practice these last few weeks, I am getting back into it. My first meditation of 2018 felt like reconnecting with an old friend. I’m also returning to my beloved yoga practice after the holiday season. All this strengthens my resolve, lifts my energy and allows me to push further.
Goal 3: Grow my tribe of spiritually curious, personal development junkie, entrepreneurial ladies:
Working online, it can’t be much of a surprise that I am a member of 3 or more incredible Facebook groups filled with entrepreneurs, spiritual teachers and students. They are all very responsive, supportive and energizing and all I need to do is get more involved to find a massive network of badass ladies who are taking over the world!
The Universe never fails either. As soon as I decided to “grow my tribe” I started meeting new people and connecting more deeply with people I previously only engaged in small-talk with.
Still not quite convinced that I shouldn’t do the course, I kept pondering as I lay in bed, wide awake. Was it fear trying to hold me back or intuition trying to protect me? In that moment I realized something pretty powerful: I was already on my way towards a Break Through Year! I am 100% happy with where I am and confident that my strategy is taking me to where I want to go. #nodoubt
To be clear, I believe the course I’m passing up on is indeed a phenomenal opportunity and it is not my intention to suggest anything to the contrary. I’m sure that my mindset would grow to new levels if I took it on. In fact, if you are searching for a way to achieve some big goals this year and you are looking for a real, practical and inspirational teacher I recommend Denise Duffield-Thomas and the Money Breakthrough course combo with all my heart. It is just that, right now, I am enjoying the slow and gradual climb in these early stages of my business. I am learning a lot as I grow into my role at my own pace, and I simply don’t have room for more at this time.
When you are presented with an opportunity for your business, a course you’d love to do or a vacation you’ve always dreamed of, allow this post to take the pressure off. If you’re not ready, there is no need to jump and saying no, doesn’t always mean you are giving in to fear. Sometimes saying no, keeps you focused, clear-headed and poised to take on the next opportunity for even greater gains.
If you are sitting with a “should I, shouldn’t I” situation…
Ask yourself the following questions to help you make the right choice for your journey:
- What is the proposed outcome of this offer/ opportunity/ course?
- What do you already have or do that is similar or has the same intention as this new opportunity?
- Will this opportunity add (amplify or focus) or distract (give you more of the same or push you away from your path)?
- Do you have space for this in your life right now?
- What would you potentially need to give up to make space for this new opportunity?
- Is it worth it?
If you should do it, your answers will reveal how to make the most of the opportunity. You’ll know you shouldn’t do it if the opportunity seems to conflict with or distract from what you already have going on. If nothing else, you’ll realize how much you already have at your fingertips.
So, do the course, take the risk and don’t not do something because you’re afraid. Just remember that new is not always better and that you can say no (even to possibly wonderful opportunities) in order protect your journey. Trust in your own knowing of what is right for you.
There seems to be a lot of confusion around Feminism. This confusion causes conflict, expectation and pressure that takes away from what it’s really all about. It is probably one of the most important movements of our lifetimes, and our grandparents’ lifetimes. It is a movement aimed at a simple ideal: equality.
Contrary to the popular belief that Feminism is exclusive to being a lesbian who hates men, fashion and makeup (although that is an option), it is simply about giving the same opportunities to all people, without judgement, expectation and prejudice.
It is not about women being better than men or renouncing everything that makes us feminine and it is not about creating another exclusive society that sets more rules to live by.
No-one is proud of their character flaws and our typical response is shame and self-hate. Judgement is at the top of the list of nasty flaws we hide and don’t talk about. I have struggled with insecurity around my identity and my go to defence mechanism for this is judgement. While this doesn’t put me in the best light, I want to share it with you as understanding the meaning behind judgement has turned it into a useful tool rather than the ugly crutch I used to lean on.
In the past, I was so afraid of revealing my true being and my vulnerabilities that I would shield them by critiquing others and myself, usually adding humour to further hide. While doing my first round of decluttering close to a year ago, I noticed this pattern and how I was using it to bury my true self. Now, I had made the commitment to work on myself and when you do that there is no room for hiding. The faster you face up to your blocks and fearful beliefs, the faster you grow and the faster you get closer to your vision.
Seeing the total pattern, I saw the vicious cycle I was in: I would have a judgemental thought/ action about someone and then immediately feel guilty and ashamed, judging myself and so I would go on. Learning more on the topic, I discovered that my brain had the best intentions. There was something that would be painful for me to face up to and my brain was trying to protect me from that truth. The irony, of course, is that it stunts your personal growth and you are not protecting yourself, but harming yourself in the long run.
This was a major breakthrough that immediately broke the cycle of perpetual judgemental thinking. I decided to stop judging myself and chose to see the positive intention in my thoughts and actions. I did this by acknowledging the judgemental thought as soon as I recognised it and following a process learn from it.
Next, I needed to address the source. I needed to understand what my brain didn’t want me to see so that I could learn the lesson and clear the pattern with forgiveness. My strategy was simple. I would use my defence mechanism as a tool. I became vigilant in noticing judgemental thoughts as they popped into my head and followed a 3 step process each time.
These three steps break the vicious cycle of judgement as a crutch:
STEP 1: How can I see this with love?
Judgement and insecurity come from a place of fear. They help you avoid; to keep people and painful emotions away from you, but when you choose to see your thought with love, you acknowledge its best intention and you let your guard down so you can see what it is trying to hide. So right there, when and where you have the thought, say (to yourself) “How can I see this with love?” If that’s all a bit too woo-woo for you, you could use either of these options too, “Mmmm, that’s interesting, I wonder what that means?” or “How can I see this positively?” That takes the edge off, allowing you to change your response to a more authentic expression of your true self. With this first step, I am choosing my response and how I want to participate in the situation and I immediately feel safer and more secure to do the next step.
STEP 2: What is the lesson?
Still in the moment ask yourself, “What is this trying to teach me about myself?” Or “What is the lesson here?” When I ask these questions in my head I always get an answer or a realisation of how I am falling into old patterns. A couple of times I have even experienced profound moments of clarity where I suddenly see a problem from a new perspective that allows me to deal with it and move forward. However small or big the realisation, I make a note of it right there so that I remember to do the third step later when I have some time to myself. (If you’re worried you’ll forget, pretend you’re writing a text and make a quick note on your phone.) The answer isn’t always obvious, so if you’re feeling a little stuck, try looking at your judgement as a reverse mirror for your insecurity. If your thoughts are commenting on someone’s point of view, it is likely you are insecure about your own perspective on the topic. Ask yourself why this is? Do you feel unqualified to have an opinion or like you might look stupid? That’s what you need to look at a bit more deeply in step 3.
Now, these first two steps might seem like a lot of work in a social situation, but with a bit of practice you will get to know yourself better and find that you run through them in under a minute.
STEP 3: Let it go.
A bit later, when you have some time to yourself, the last step is to address your fearful pattern so that you can clear it with forgiveness work. When you do forgiveness work on your fearful patterns, you are able to clear and let them go so that you can get closer to your personal truth and who you truly are. The principal is to forgive the situation, yourself for your part and the other party involved. This is not AA and you don’t need to make contact or say it out loud. What is important is that you acknowledge the experience and then forgive any blame as you accept the lesson and the opprtunity to learn more about yourself.
While I would love to say that today I don’t have any judgemental thoughts, that is just not the reality (yet). However now that understand that my judgmental thoughts are really signs that there is more to learn and more to clear, I actually celebrate them. I know they have nothing to do with the person or situation I am judging and everything to do with me getting to the next level in my journey. Every fearful belief that I clear leaves me with more clarity and increases my drive towards my vision. Ultimately the goal of this practice is to clear these lessons until I no longer have a use for judgemental thoughts, meaning I won’t have them anymore. But that is a long, so for now, I choose to see these thoughts with love use them for good and for growth.