Breaking Through Your Comfort Zones

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I went for a beautiful nature walk yesterday with my dear friend Charlotte. We were wandering through the dappled, sunlit woodland behind her land, meandering over bluebell laden pathways, stopping to pick wild garlic and swapping our recent news. I was telling this divine sister how Bali had been for me, what I had learnt about myself and how it had changed me, and she commented “you need to write about this Steph – it’s important because so many of us feel this way!” So in honour of her request, here it is!

The quote above by Neale Donald Walsh – I’ve heard it so many times in my life and whilst I understand it of course, I got lazy within it. I got lazy mainly because I’m quite familiar with stepping outside of my comfort zones in life, going for my dreams, being bold and believing, and yet here I was in Bali recognising that this in itself had become my comfort zone if you get what I mean? Let me expand – the ‘going beyond’ had become comfortable, but the true challenges to my ego and my sense of self were still lurking in the background, and this I discovered when it came to an invitation from another dear sister to host one of my workshops whilst in Bali.

Now this is a workshop I know very well and have taught every year for the last 6 years in the UK, so of course I happily agreed. I was honoured to have been invited. In the run up to actually hosting it though, boy did my self sabotage kick in and it wasn’t straight forward either, it was sneaky! “Oh there aren’t enough bookings, let’s cancel” – “it’s not really what people will want here in Bali is it?” “there’s an abundance of this stuff in Ubud, who am I to think this is good enough?” etc etc.

I actually tried to cancel it once or twice but fortunately my host, a warrior of a woman, said “I have a strong yes for this Steph, let’s do it”, and I just couldn’t wriggle out. I had to face my fears and present myself with all of my assumptions and projections about what I presumed the Balinese ‘high vibe’ women would want from, or think about my work. I had to take my workshop to this wonderful woman’s home, show up and be seen. I’d become comfortable in my comfort zone. Now I was uncomfortable in it.

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I put this collage of Edward Munch’s ‘The Scream’ together when I was an art student many years ago. At the time I related to the panic, the sense of isolation, the claustrophobic strangling of life and the paranoia, now here it was presenting itself again to me only for very different reasons; can I do this? Am I good enough? Am I a fake? What can people possibly have to learn from me? All of these questions arising, biting at my psyche in as real a way as the mosquitoes were in that muggy climate.

But I showed up to honour myself and to honour my word.

Right before starting (it ended up a full workshop) I picked a couple of angel cards from my friend’s pack on her altar and I received the messages “you are lovingly supported” and “divine guidance” – pretty good right? I released a huge outbreath and went for it.

I delivered a strong workshop – I received great feedback and people went into process, which is why I do what I do. I work to take others outside of their comfort zones too, and how the hell can I do that if I’m staying within mine! I’m not going to lie – by the time I had finished I felt relieved, but I also felt accomplished and really proud of myself. I had gone beyond my self imposed limitations, ignored the self sabotage, and been present to my thoughts and feelings throughout the process; all of them.

Doing this work changed me; I lost my fear of being seen. It expanded me; I now believe I can offer this work anywhere in the world with confidence and curiosity rather than fear and self doubt. It taught me; I know my voice, I know my worth, I know my unique medicine here in this world. It humbled me; I am no different to anyone else when it comes to the power of ego in keeping me small.

I stepped the one step beyond my comfort zone, and from this I grew exponentially and I’m super grateful for that lesson. Please please please everyone, if you doubt yourself, feel the fear and do it anyway, because without that willingness, one thing is certain – “keep on doing what you’ve always done and you’ll always get what you’ve always got,” but change the parameters and watch yourself grow, witness yourself as you fly and bathe in that sense of achievement. Why? Well the image below says it all really…

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#liveyourjuicylife


Walking on sunshine…

IMG_4812…and don’t it feel good!

I woke this morning to the sound of the birds singing, the sun shining and the skies bright blue. I don’t need much else it must be said to feel immediately ready to start my day, and yet walking out with my friend, I heard myself complaining about my city. I’ve been craving more nature around me lately – not just nature I can step out and walk in, but nature I can really LIVE in.

As I was speaking I was struck by my arrogance! How luxurious it is that I have choices. How wonderful that I live in a city and also have a nature reserve on my doorstep, that I have easily accessible places of great beauty, and the freedom through my life choices to really enjoy those places. So I put aside my complaints and listened, through my newly relocated to Manchester friend’s eyes and ears, her wonderment at all we have here. I heard her honour the rich diversity of community, the abundance of wonderful events and conscious connected people, the balance of nature with culture and activity, the f**king freedom! So many have people little or none of this in their lives, so many live in fear, or in war, or in subjugation….and I don’t!

So today I’m expressing and feeling fully, my gratitude. I’m thanking myself too for those wise and wonderful opportunities I’ve been gifted through my ancestry and grabbed hold of and embraced to create a fantastic life, the lessons I’ve learned, the things I’ve changed in those old ancestral patterns and the qualities I have taken from their struggles too – strength, resilience, steely determination. My ancestors were poor – really poor. Life was hard for them, but they found ways to change that, slowly and intentionally creating things for their children they didn’t have, and for their children’s children, until it came to me – and here, my ancestry was starting to change already. My grandmother had educated my mother and my aunt; that brought opportunity she had never had. My father worked his way out of his own poor background, again through resourcefulness and education, and the fact I can access all of this is down to them.

My life looks very different today to how it did a decade ago, twenty years ago even more so – none of my grandparents and both of my parents are alive now and there’s something very sobering about being the one at the front of the line. I honour them, all of them, who they were and who they were not, all of the distortions they faced to their true nature of love, all of the conditioning they could not break out of. I honour them because I have broken out of it, and so how could I do anything other than show them compassion and love. They were my greatest teachers and I am grateful for this moment in time when I can make my mark, create greatness for my own children and remember how lucky I am to have choices.

This is me in the middle of my parents! How sweet to find these old photographs that tell in part, our story. And how wonderful to find the courage to change the parts of those stories that don’t serve us too! Aho!

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Floating into bliss…

IMG_4997Remembering that from which we came.

I had another virgin experience today; my third in two weeks. Starting last week with my marathon swim, followed by indoor bouldering, I was gifted a floatation session (also known as ‘sensory deprivation therapy) today at the Float Tank centre in my city.

I’ve been fasting intermittently again this week after a heavy weekend of teaching at a beautiful retreat in Wales, UK, so my body was feeling lighter already and my energy levels were good. Stepping into this clinical space, I felt kind of reassured by the minimal decor, the spartan lines of the place, and the clean and hygienic feel of it all. The space allowed me to feel unimpeded by busy mind chatter, and were it different, I may otherwise have been overly engaged in the surroundings rather than the process. As it was, I was ushered straight into the room with my float pod (pictured above), a shower, a clean white towel, and little else beyond some super strength ear plugs and a band-aid in case the salt water was likely to sting on any recent cuts or grazes. I can honestly say I’ve never experienced anything quite like it!

At first it felt uncomfortable as my body tried to find its way into trusting the process of being fully supported in a weightless, warm environment. My head felt too heavy, my neck was tight and my legs felt awkward but I told myself ‘just breathe Steph’ and all began to gradually settle down.

The intro music faded, the lights went out, and my body began to really relax. I could quite literally feel the muscles and ligaments unwinding as I dropped into the stillness. Floating effortlessly, my mind (which I had thought would get super busy) just began to switch off too. I focussed on my breathing and some powerful techniques I’ve learned from The Alchemy Of Breath which really began to amplify the experience, so much so that a deep memory began to surface; one I had long since buried. It wasn’t unpleasant though which was the strange thing, because the moment itself most definitely was! What happened though was that this memory just appeared and became present in my body rather than my mind, and in allowing it to be there, my body simply adjusted itself as the image faded and I felt my thighs return to a new place, a place I felt was how they once may have held themselves before I began building up life experiences, a place of being in their naturalness rather than their tension.

I was also super aware through my session of what I can only imagine was a womb like feeling of peace, a sub-conscious memory of this ‘feeling’ of stillness and holding, support and being-ness from which I came into physical being, and it is the essence of this ‘energy’ to which I will return. I came out of there a blissed out bubble of love, soft acceptance and re-aligned perspective.

Chatting to the young man who had been in the next pod along (you do get separate rooms), he told me he comes every month now to re-set. Apparently top athletes use them regularly for muscle recovery and for setting strong intentional focus. I am a convert! I will be going again without doubt – highly recommended.

*massive gratitude to the gorgeous women who gifted me this amazing experience. You know who you are xox

P.S., Below is some of the amazing stuff it is supposed to do for you – go make your own mind up is always my advice….

General well-being
  • Promotes total calm and peaceful relaxation
  • Eliminates fatigue and jet lag
  • Improves sleep
  • Alleviates stress (mental and physical)
  • Energises, rejuvenates and revitalises
  • Increases motivation, diminishes depression, anxiety and fear
  • Facilitates freedom from habits, phobias and addictions
Mental benefits of floatation
  • Stimulates left/right brain synchronisation
  • Shifts brain waves from beta to lower frequency alpha, theta and even delta
  • Creates mental clarity, alertness
  • Increases creativity, problem solving
  • Heightens visualisation
  • Deepens meditation
  • Expands awareness, intensifies acuteness of all the senses, accelerates learning
  • Enhances hypnotherapy and self-hypnosis
Physical benefits of floatation
  • Decreases the production of cortisol, ACTH, lactic acid and adrenaline
  • Increases production of endorphins
  • Speeds up rehabilitation and recovery
  • Relieves pain (arthritis, migraines, injuries and so on)
  • Boosts immune function
  • Improves circulation and distribution of oxygen and nutrients
  • Reduces blood pressure, pulse, heart rate and oxygen consumption
  • Improves athletic performance
  • Helps prevent sports injuries, speeds healing process

http://www.floatlevel.co.uk to find out more


Drink your love juice…

IMG_4799It’s good for you!

So, when I had a juice bar, we named it Love Juice. We knew at the time this would bring forward the chuckles and sniggers, but myself and my delicious friend Louise (we’d gone into partnership at this time) had both met through tantra, and really enjoyed playing with the double entendre and our naughty sides, and so Love Juice was born. I also had a long time love of juicing so the name Love Juice did have another meaning too! The signature smoothie (pictured above) was one of our top sellers, and we loved to listen in on the cheeky conversations this drink brought forth!

It’s a purposely designed aphrodisiac blend, and I can think of no better way to seduce your lover/s! If you love Turkish delight, you’ll love this smoothie. To make:

330ml Coconut mylk

handful fresh strawberries and a handful of frozen (frozen thickens it up)

Teaspoon organic maca powder

Tablespoon de-hulled hemp seeds

Cap of rose water

about 6 drops of pine pollen tincture (optional as it’s now always easy to get)

I’m on my 6th yoga class of the week today, and tomorrow makes it 7 in 7 days! Boom! Energy coming back up, heart healing, love spreading and life is pretty good. Wishing you all a joyful weekend – stay juicy! xox


My yoga mat, my island…

7-Comforting-Yoga-Asanas-That-Will-Help-You-Deal-With-VertigoIn the middle of a sea of emotion, what practices do you have?

I was on my yoga mat this morning, the 4th class of the week already, thankful, and I mean really thankful to have this practice in my life. It’s a practice that started less than a year ago and which has now become a devotion to self and to community insofar as it keeps me balanced and well, which inevitably serves both me and therefore by default, the wider circles of my world.

When I first came to practice, dragged along by my insistent friend Lorna, a wise and graceful being, I really had little energy or desire to be there, but so persistent was she, that I went along in a fatalistic, ‘oh well what do I have to lose’ kind of a way. It was the best decision I’ve made in years.

Like anything, it is the practice that is key – not giving up or getting lazy, not getting despondent or demoralised, not comparing yourself to others or over pushing myself (my pattern), and equally not showing off either. I had/have no desire to be the best to anyone other than myself, and that lesson is serving me well. Twelve months later and I am miraculously observing my body doing things it could never have imagined even a relatively short time ago, and the point is not that I do that, but that I have surpassed so many limiting beliefs and that my body, mind and soul feel infinitely better for it. Of course there are days when I can’t be bothered, and on those days, I usually just make myself get in my car or on my bike and go. Those are the days when the breakthroughs represent my breakthroughs in life. Those are the days when I say to myself “well done Steph – you did it”!

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This week, my practice has again saved me. It has soothed me, taken me into balance and  brought to the surface all that needs to be felt. I have cried in almost every class, letting the tears fall as my heart speaks, letting my body release it’s burdens, and that’s felt good – really good.

This morning as I rolled out my mat and began the class, the theme of which was ‘space’ and how to create it, I suddenly had a flashback to an old childhood game. I saw myself around 7 years old leaping around my room from one strategically placed pillow, blanket or piece of clothing strewn on the floor to another, remembering how I would pretend these random things were islands, islands surrounded by sharks and wild beasts, but that once on them, nothing could ‘get me’. I believed back then in the ‘monster under the bed’, and not touching the floor was my way of staying safe, somehow these monsters could only dwell in the lower realms, unable to reach the heights – and what a great metaphor that is!

So my mat became my island as if I was transported back in time. This small purple rectangle was my sanctuary, the place where only I could find me, where nothing else mattered and where nothing else could hurt me, and in this sanctuary, my heart found solace once again.

Having regular practices is not something to be sniffed at or taken lightly, they bloody well work! They require effort, devotion, and consistency, and they require your attention and your time, but without them, we will all too often find ourselves drowning in that sea of sharks and wild creatures, monsters and mythical armies.

I am teaching my course tonight, the penultimate session of my 9 Weeks To Transform Your Life group, and our topic happens to be the importance of daily practices and creating great habits. If you want to know more about my work, please email lifealchemytherapies@gmail.com – the next course is available as an online meeting so you can join me from anywhere in the world, all you need is a decent internet connection and a lot of that commitment to show up.

Wishing you all a life full of islands in your storms. I love you xox

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Mindful Presence

IMG_4761Where turmoil and tenderness meet…

There’s a lot of talk these days about mindfulness; about eating, thinking, speaking and living mindfully, so much so you could even say it’s a bit of a buzz word at present, but what does it really mean? What is mindfulness and is it different to conscious awareness?

For me, mindful somehow has a more gentle ring to it, I feel as though I want to tread gently, to whisper, to smile softly, or to self love more sweetly when I think of mindfulness. When I think of conscious awareness, for me it has more of my Kali energy in there; I want to burn down the barriers to that bliss consciousness, stomp the house down, weep and laugh more, and the self love feels directed, no-nonsense,  and crone like in its energy, but that’s just my interpretation. The dictionary says this:

mindfulness
ˈmʌɪn(d)f(ʊ)lnəs/
noun
“the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
“their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition”
a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”

This definition of mindfulness is inclusive of conscious awareness, so I guess it’s not possible to have that mindfulness without awareness as the first port of call then?

For me, becoming mindful has been a lifelong lesson of self mastery, of developing great communication, of inimitable self awareness, of knowing where my ‘stuff’ is, how to not respond to my triggers, and how to see other people’s with compassion. It’s been about recognising the value and importance of my own voice and perspective and this necessitates the recognition of the voice of the ‘other’ and that’s just the external part. The internal part is where it gets really juicy – what do you do when you are triggered and feeling all kinds of emotions flaring up? You breathe deeply, and you walk your f**king talk! That’s what you do.
This morning when massively triggered, I could feel all of my old patterns rising to the surface like the bubbles from a freshly opened bottle of Prosecco. There I was, challenged by another’s perceptions, language and assumptions and truly called into my heart – the only place from which I can respond any more, and the only place that will ever bring peace to a situation of contrast without doubt. A while ago, this place would have taken me into my automatic fight/flight/freeze responses – comfort eat, drink into a fog, destructively self medicate somehow or have the mother of all arguments in my own head, all based upon what I would like to have said had I allowed myself to not be mindful, but to be mindless instead! But guess what, that’s just us poisoning our own systems and does it feel good? Hell no! There is a saying that goes “holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to feel ill” and for me that’s definitely a thing I have learnt. I now ask myself ‘does this reaction feel good in my energetic field? Is it raising my vibration or lowering it? (you will know in your body the answers to these questions) and then if it feels destructive rather than constructive, I change it; mindfully.
So today I chose differently, and in the eye of the storm I got up, juiced a whole ton of green veggies, went for a long walk and got my yoga gear on ready to get on my mat and practice despite my resistance.
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Yoga and meditation, nature and self love all make order of my monkey mind, they calm the chitta vritti (mind chatter) and keep me humble, healthy and strong. They remind me that the moment is where it all goes on, and anything else is projection into an imagined future, nostalgia for a long gone past, or an irritating distraction from full presence. I practiced and felt the waves settle, I am practicing again tonight to really calm that sea of turbulence and I will become mindful of my inner and outer worlds no matter what. Anger begets anger, judgement begets judgment, hatred creates more hatred and a lack of self awareness means it’s all the more challenging to recognise any of that s**t!

Add in clean food, a ton of juicing and superfoods (if necessary) and just watch yourself rise straight back up to your true compassionate, wise and tender self. We don’t need to aspire to perfection, only improvement. It’s a measurable thing…we know when we are changing because it feels different – we suddenly realise we have responded differently and this is like strengthening a core muscle – it’s a good feeling to aspire to be a good human.

Make mindful practice part of your daily habits and it will eventually become you rather than you trying to become it! Let me know how you all get on in the comments below xox


Negative Self Talk

13344585_10153482377906481_3030925878515268143_nSpeak no, see no, hear no…

My Morning Motivational Meditations have now become a ‘thing’. Driven by a deep inner need to be outdoors in nature ever since I returned from Bali just over 3 weeks ago,  I began to record myself in communication with what began as a conversation with myself, a part of my own process of grieving the loss of my soul home in Indonesia, but I rapidly found it had become a communication with my wider networks. I found on this walking, talking journey meandering through my thoughts that others were being inspired, began to message me about what I was doing and how much it was helping them, and could I do more please!

I go out without a plan, I start walking, I listen to the river, the birdsong, the wind in the trees and I start speaking, the language of nature surrounding the language of humanity. I tried to record one indoors one day and it just didn’t flow – I’m somehow carried by the potency of this great and natural earthy mystery – it feeds and nourishes me, and that seems to transmit to those who ‘walk’ with me wherever they tune in from. Facebook live – who knew I would grow to love it so much!

Today’s subject was negative self talk – about how we all too often annihilate ourselves every day with a stream of criticism, judgement, comparison, less than, and punishing thoughts. These thoughts are transmitted through our being as if they are as real as being spoken directly to us by another human being. How sad is that? We love to speak about our conditioning and our triggers, to blame others for our pains and struggles, and yet here we are having massively successfully carried the baton of self loathing over from our parents/educators/peers/rivals etc to carry it very willingly ourselves. It’s like hearing “I need a volunteer to step forward and shoot themselves please” and as if we’ve all rushed forth with our hands held high saying “pick me – I’ll do it!”

We are all products of our conditioning – that’s kind of inevitable as when we are children and adolescents we believe what our carers tell us; we believe the messages they give us, we know nothing about ‘projection’ or their own conditioning at this stage, and why would they hurt or lie to us right? They love us don’t they? Well perhaps they do  and here I am reminded of the Christ on the cross saying “forgive them father, for they know not what they do,” and whilst I’m not a religious person, I totally get this. The people who bring us up and tell us what to believe are so often out of awareness of their own wounding and programming, so it gets passed on to us and becomes our epigenetic profile unless we consciously change that back by getting super clear about our own part in this drama.

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We are around 60% water in our make up. Most of us by now are aware of Dr Masaru Emoto’s Messages In Water research – if not here’s a clip below explaining a little:

When you translate this into what is going on in your own body with the very same imprints – well it’s pretty startling right? We are quite literally changing our vibrations, hurting ourselves, reinforcing every negative message we ever received, and why would we do that? Because we don’t know any different. Our thinking has become habitual, our habits have become ingrained in us to the extent they become us, and that saying “you are what you eat”… well “you are what you think” is also true!

Start today! Change your negative automatic thoughts by catching them, bringing awareness to them and as I advised on my Motivational Meditation Talk today, start new habits born of self love. If you find it hard then just “fake it until you make it!” Thank your body every day for all it does, thank it and send loving messages with intention through every part of your being, and one day, before too long actually, you’ll wake up realising you feel inexplicably different somehow. You’ll realise that you like yourself more, and keep going…because then you’ll come to realise you are loving yourself with a genuine, beautiful, deep and juicy self love and let me tell you, that feels really good!

It’s my belief that self love absolutely must be mastered before we can love another person in a healthy way. Imagine if you spoke to another person the way you speak to yourself; you’d have no friends and likely a lot of enemies! You’d be lonely, shame filled and guilt ridden no doubt, so stop doing that to yourself right now! I can’t tell you enough how crucial this is to your life, your health and your wellbeing. Don’t do it for anyone else’s benefit, do it for you…because you are the one who has to live with yourself daily, and you are magnificent!