Coming Home to Myself

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Three years ago I began my journey of self healing. It was during my time in Singapore that I was slowly weaning myself off a cocktail of psychotropic prescription drugs. This picture was taken smack bang in the midst of it all. Even back then I knew wellness was the way! I experienced ‘brain shocks’ along with many other nasty withdrawals and side effects. It was a very hard time for me but nothing compared to the lifetime of internal pain I had exhausted myself with. I just knew there was a path for me that didn’t involve giving my power to anyone besides myself. I was so tired of being me and hearing from doctors that I was destined to live a life of hopelessness; that I would never live a “normal life”. So I drowned myself my in alcohol and drugs to numb the pain inside and it was slowly killing me. I felt as though my life was over before it even started and being given a label and identity of "Mental Illness" and a fate of reliance on a bunch of pills to be a semi functioning human just didn't seem all that appealing. I felt conquered and crushed and nothing made sense except not wanting to be alive. The pain was too much to bear and it just never ended, except when I was pretending to be someone else and self medicating. I just couldn't accept this as my reality any longer and knew that there had to be another way. I was f*%king stronger than this.

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”         – Mahatma Ghandi

 

Determined to make a huge fundamental change in my mindset and perception on how I viewed the world and myself, I set out on a mission. A mission to start loving the person I had loathed for longer than I can remember... myself. Three years later (last month to be exact) I am completely medication free and truly living the life I had always dreamed of. I now look in the mirror and smile. Don't get me wrong, I still have my insecurities, they just don't run my life or cripple me anymore. I'm aware they are there and still fight daily to accept myself just that little bit more than yesterday. 

I am the proof in the pudding, I’ve lived through a desperately defeated existence, fought my demons and won. Now, I’m not saying stop taking your meds or don't take them if they are prescribed. I’m not saying hate doctors and don’t listen to them. All I’m saying is that you have inner resources that are ready and waiting for you to find them and begin your own journey to a fulfilled and happy life. You have the power to change, all you need is the knowledge how. It starts by listening to that little voice in the back of the bleachers loving you unconditionally, no matter how much you f#*k up or hate yourself. Stop looking outside for answers, comparing and wishing things were different and and look within to find that you are your own saviour, no one else can do that work for you. 

"I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become." – Carl Jung

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After many soul searching excursions and deep inner reflective work, a ton of hard work and perseverance I am now running an online coaching business, empowering people towards their goals and aspirations, educating people via wellness coaching and introducing natural health solutions to support physical and emotional wellness, teaching yoga and meditation and offering healing retreats in the Hunter Valley. 

I now take a realistic approach to wellness with all my team, students and clients. You don't have to abstain from anything you enjoy if it's not detrimental to your health and well-being. Just merely do what is right for you and be aware of what you are putting in your body (and why) and how you are treating yourself in order to find your balance. I'm no angel, nor do I pretend to be. I still enjoy a night out and spending quality time with friends over a few vino's, I live in the wine country of NSW after all! I just love myself enough now to enjoy, not self sabotage and abuse my body as a way of escaping. You can find balance and true happiness in life, you just need to believe it's possible.

"Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life." – J.K. Rowling

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I urge anyone reading this to reach out to a loved one or health professional if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, feelings of depression, anxiety or suffering any emotional trauma. I am not a health professional nor do I claim to be one. I do, however, work alongside a network of psychologists, psychotherapists and counsellors just waiting to meet you. All available via Skype in the privacy of your own home. 

Leading A Yogic Lifestyle

Photography  By Jessi

Photography By Jessi

Coming into the final days of my Yoga Teacher Training I find myself reminiscing on the past 6 weeks and I am in awe of how fast it came and went. I feel like it was just yesterday I was unpacking my bag in my apartment. Speaking of baggage there has been so much I've unpacked metaphorically speaking since then that has been fundamentally life changing and when I think of those moments the time catches up. I've met a group of big hearted, beautiful and caring humans and I will be ever so grateful for having the pleasure of spending this time working side by side of each and every one of them. It's been one of the toughest challenges I've ever pushed myself through but the reward is priceless. I've created a lifestyle for myself that I want rather than self destructing in one I hated. In saying that I find myself wondering who I will be once I head home and how I will implement the tools I have learnt in every day life. I have learnt some valuable lessons to carry with me once I leave this place:

Food is Medicine

I have been on this bandwagon for quite sometime but never completely implemented it into my own diet. I was cutting out toxins and known allergies and intolerances but still eating a lot of stuff that was putting pressure on my digestive tract and liver such at fats, meat and other things that my stomach and system couldn't handle with the fragile state that it was in. I came into this course with rashes and digestive issues from a weakened immune system. After 6 weeks of a vegan, gluten free diet consisting of mainly fruits (bananas and papayas for the most part) and void of all processed sugars (only natural sugar from small amounts of honey and fruits/freshly squeezed or blended fruit juices) or any type of animal produce I am now frolicking around with the clearest skin I've had in as long as I can remember, completely healed and not an itch in sight.

Hydration is King

Speaking of skin, I can absolutely attest to looking 5 years younger! My skin has been completely replenished and rejuvenated. Fine lines are gone and I'm literally glowing. In fact, I look around in class and there isn't a face that isn't beaming with vitality. I never drank enough H2O and constantly felt dehydrated and dry and it was showing in my face. H2O is the new botox I say. Apart from making me look great I've felt a huge difference in the way my body is running. I feel lighter and more fluid (pun intended) rather than heavy and sluggish. It's such a remarkable difference. I will be chugging 1 litre of water in the morning and before bed and then some in between until I die! The one thing I will miss about India is the fresh young coconuts that are literally on tap here in India and cost a mere 50 cents only.

The Art of a Sharp Mind

FOCUS! Oh how I lack thee! I've always had trouble concentrating on one thing for more than a few seconds or minutes without my mind wandering or flicking the channel that is my fleeting brain. One of the main reasons I had chosen such a strict and challenging course was that I did not possess the ability to be able to hone in on the silence of the mind for long periods and felt like somewhere that doesn't do things lightly was the best place for me. I have fought against the depressive thoughts in my head and won, although, stress and anxious feelings are still a current worry. Whether it's nervous tension or a stressful or emotional thoughts my mind still overpowers me sometimes and I find it really hard to concentrate. Spending 6 weeks properly practicing and studying the art of mastering the mind with daily yoga and meditation, I find myself calmer, more settled and less jittery than when I first walked into the Shala at Atmavikasa Centre of Yogic Sciences. 

Routine

I've never been a morning person, never bounced out of bed and jumped excitedly into the day. Quite the contrary actually. There have been times where I haven't been able to bring myself to even feed myself at regular intervals (if at all) for days on end due to my mindset. Bed was somewhere I hid and slept the day away to avoid life and myself because it was all just too hard to deal with. I always worked long rostered night shifts, sleeping during the day, lazing around and never really having a normal routine because I was such a mess. It has only been since I have started the course and throughout the duration of it that I have truly realised how much I need routine in my life in order to feel grounded, centred, balanced and energetic. Routine is key to a healthy, balanced lifestyle and it will be set in stone for me moving forward if I want to have any chance of keeping this positive momentum.

Patience

Time is a virtue, something that we all take for granted. I know I do, often. I don't use it wisely enough and spend it frivolously on things I care not for. That being said I feel that we live in such a fast-paced world these days and it is easy to pick up the habit of impatience. I have learnt here at Atmavikasa to be patient not only with every day things but myself. Change is hard and harrowing and will not happen in a flash. Old habits and patterns die hard and it is only with patience and perseverance that I will be able to slowly choo choo up that hill on the little engine that could.

Perserverance

The meaning of perseverance is "persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success". This idea is new to me, I've always gotten by with natural intelligence, charisma and my looks (not being vain, just honest). Always fallen into things when they come along and never put my mind to something and worked hard for it. Perseverance above all is what I will take away with me. Chip away day by day and constantly put one foot in front of the other no matter what happens. There is no other option for me now.

Self belief

There have been many moments where I have doubted myself during this training. I know I came into it with higher expectations than is realistic and that has really got me sinking into some crappy thoughts. I was the weakest in the class and it showed. I was completely unprepared physically and knew mentally it would be very hard. I've caught myself every time though and pushed through reminding myself of how far I've come and not to be so hard on myself. Rome wasn't built in a day. If I am to build something amazing I have to demolish the old structure first in order to lay new foundations. I'm only going to be able to achieve this by staying in alignment with my goals and aspirations and believing in myself entirely. 

Push Through the Pain

I've come to learn that pain is your friend. It is there to show you your boundaries so that you can cross them. If we didn't know pain we wouldn't know pleasure and it is only in facing pain that I have completely felt a sense of true strength. Sitting with my pain and witnessing it has been fundamentally life changing. By allowing yourself to see it as an observer it somehow seems to begin to dissipate. Pain is a gauge for me to see my limitations, to work through them, not to stop me every time it hurts. I learn something from every type of pain, emotional and physical so I will take away from this that pain is my greatest teacher.

Self Discipline

Another reason why I have not been able to achieve anything solid in my life or stick at anything longer than a year. Total lack of self discipline. I would always find a reason to leave any situation, job, relationship, living arrangement etc due to the constant need to run away from my problems. Ones I created on my own, obstacles I put in my own way. My mind has put up a good fight, and to be honest, still is, but how can I expect to change 30 years of negative behaviour and brain chemistry overnight? Which leads me to my last point...

Discipline is Love

My teachers were two of the strongest people I have ever met, Acharya's Venkatesh and Hema. Their strict intensity made us all us students quiver like young school children scared of being sent to the naughty corner. It was their disciplined (yet caring) attitude that I found to be the biggest epiphany for me. Discipline is love. I have always viewed it from how it was shown to me as a form of punishment but now I realise that I couldn't have been more wrong. Acharya Hema especially kicked my butt several times and I thank her for it. Sometimes I would feel as if she saw all of us as her own children with the time and love she gave us. Supporting me and giving me motivation and words that shook me to my core with inspiration in my tough moments allowing me to find the courage to keep going.

In order to love myself completely I am going to have to set solid self discipline principles for myself and be a little harsh in order to be able to break through the barriers of excuses, self destruction and laziness that have in-prisoned me my whole life. Harsh meaning utilising the self discipline, perseverance and patience even when I feel I can't, even when I am exhausted and feel like giving up or giving in. Whenever I feel like throwing the towel in I will remember the moments like those mentioned above and will be ever grateful for my time here at Atmavikasa

Photography By Jessi

BENEFITS OF BAREFOOT WALKING

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What's the first thing you think of when you hear barefoot walking? Tree hugging hippies with dirty feet? That was my first thought too (mind you it's high time I accepted that I am a hippy myself now, I sit here in India studying yoga sporting pants covered with elephants wearing crystal mala beads and my hair drenched in sesame oil) but after a bit of research I was quite surprised at how many benefits walking around with no shoes on really has on the body. 

Have you ever wondered why it feels so good to get away and connect to nature, escape from all the hustle and bustle of city life and taking a break somewhere serene? Why everyone wants a holiday to a tropical island, to head up into the mountains or out in the country somewhere green and lush to rest and recharge?  If you think about it logically we all come from the earth, our mother and father created our lives but fundamentally we are grown and nourished from the planet itself. There's something in anchoring ourselves back into nature that is healing. We also went a fair few years without wearing Nike's or Birkenstocks before footwear was even invented. So it only makes sense that connecting to the earth or "grounding" in our most natural form without any buffer in between is the best thing for us and this has been proven scientifically to be true for quite some time now.

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Studies have shown that the act of strutting without footwear neutralises the negative energy in the body and aids feelings of anxiety or stress and even changes the electrical activity in the brain. We are bioelectrical beings living on an electrical planet and that point in itself is pivotal to understanding how important it is to be "plugged in". The natural charge of the earth supports us when our bodies are in direct contact with it and helps us to absorb the energy that we have all become quite disconnected from by wearing shoes, sleeping in beds and walking on man made surfaces. There's nothing better than feeling sand between your toes whilst walking along the shores of a beautiful beach. Now I know the science behind why, it means a lot more. I now understand the logic behind my reasoning for being so drawn to feeling the earth beneath my feet and grounding my energy in it. 

 

By walking in nature you allow yourself to unwind, disconnect and centre yourself back to your authentic state of innate wellbeing. It brings a balanced feeling to your mind, body and soul! In particular "Earthing" as it is called means to walk barefoot on a natural surface ie sand, grass or soil. Essentially nature walks are not only beneficial to calming the mind from a psychological perspective, science has proven that it has a positive effect from a physical standpoint as well! Some physical benefits of barefoot walking are:

  1. Reduces inflammation - earthing brings about a detoxifying effect for the entire body thus removing and aiding inflammation that causes all sorts of diseases and conditions
  2. Reflexology - works on healing and balancing every area of the body via relieving stressed nerves by stimulating acupuncture points on the bottom of the feet which also are connected to every organ in the body
  3. Sleep cycle - due to the release of stress/anxiety the body is able to relax and enjoy a deeper sleep cycle
  4. Reduces chronic pain - by strengthening feet and legs as well as the hips and spine and reducing inflammation pain levels decrease
  5. Boosts the immune system - as well as the physical act of walking the breath also is synchronised and therefore the endocrine and nervous systems are calmed bringing about a healing effect on the entire body
  6. Strengthens and stabilises the entire body - walking in general is great but going barefoot and by walking consciously on the feet in the correct way ie using the outer parts of the foot rather than allowing the ankle to roll into the arch of the foot it distributes the weight of the body evenly and allows the body to correct itself (if you're anything like me and have worn heels for half your life you'll understand) and in turn works on building a solid structure and correct alignment

This being said it isn't always easy to motivate yourself to get into a routine of doing it daily (I know I'm definitely struggling as I am allergic to grass and there's no sand where I am currently) so if you can't find the time to walk daily for 30mins (as my yoga teachers recommend at Atmavikasa Centre of Yogic Sciences) then at least try to spend 10 mins in the mornings when you first wake up (maybe while you eat breakkie) outside with your bare feet on the ground. You may need a pedicure a little more often but your body will thank you.

Barefoot walking is a simple and cost effective solution for taking charge of your health and wellbeing as a whole.

Barefoot walking is a simple and cost effective solution for taking charge of your health and wellbeing as a whole.

buy barefoot books at their best

retrain your brain

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Do you have a niggling knowingness in the back of your mind screaming desperately for change? Are you frustrated and tired of falling into the same old patterns day in, day out? Do you talk to yourself worse that you would speak to a loved one or a stranger? Have you ever wondered why you can’t seem to get out of that rut?

I spent so much of my life comparing myself to others and only seeing my flaws (well what I thought were flaws at the time), speaking to myself like shit and leading a life of self sabotage and debauchery because I didn’t believe enough in myself to make positive changes or think I was worthy of having a happy and fulfilled life. I thought that would never happen for me, it just wasn’t in the cards.

Let me paint a picture for you from my life experience before I get to the good stuff… I was diagnosed with depression as a teenager and told by several doctors that I had a hereditary disease in my brain that would never get better and that I would need to be medicated my for the rest of my life. This wasn’t good enough for me. There came a point where I said that there had to be another way so I started looking. I began digging for answers and researching into mental health and alternatives to support a healthy lifestyle and mindset and took a good hard look at how I was living my life and the way I was treating myself (and especially talking to myself) and decided to make a change, a big one – I decided to go on a journey of self discovery and learn to accept the person I am. The best decision I’ve ever made. For no amount of drugs can cure you if you live a life of self hatred and self harm. I just decided that accepting the diagnosis’ I was given wasn’t going to be the end for me. Don’t get me wrong, if you need help get it, if you aren’t feeling well by all means reach out to a professional, all I’m saying is learn how to look after yourself too.

I felt helpless and trapped, like I could never achieve anything in my life because no matter what I did it was just a matter of time until I would fall back into the black hole. I believed that I would never be ok or be able to live a normal life and I absolutely hated myself to the core. I would look in the mirror every day with disgust, self pity and hatred and all I saw was ugliness. I told myself I was hopeless and pathetic and truly thought I was a waste of space on this earth. I was a loser, not worthy of anyone’s love and that I would never be good enough (whatever the f*ck that means?).

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How can anyone ever move forward or grow if they tell themselves this nonsense from the time they wake up until they sleep at night? It takes unbelievable strength to push through the day when your mind monkey is shitting all over you at every waking moment.

I still don’t understand how we can be sent to school and taught all the wonderful subjects such as PE, history, geography, music, drama, languages, design and technology, hospitality etc etc and not be taught the basics of emotional intelligence that is absolutely vital to our functioning as humans on the most basic level. Isn’t it about high time that we had a good hard look at how we are educating our youth and raising our children? That’s a rant for another day though, and before we do that we must educate ourselves. We MUST learn to love ourselves and understand our bodies and how they work.

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I came across this amazing article How to Shift Negative Thought Patterns that resonated with me so much and is packed with life changing info! Stuff I have been slowly learning about for years now all smushed into one blob of awesomeness. Negative thought patterns are programmed into our subconscious from a very young age and how we are conditioned by our environment and experiences in those early years basically creates the content for the mind movies we play in our heads when we aren’t fully present in the moment and are constantly playing like a TV in the back ground of our precious minds flickering feelings and phrases of fear.

The good news is that we can change that crap channel on that plasma and rewrite the script to begin a new season of the series that is us! And everything you need, all the resources required are already inside every single one of us. I’m almost bursting out of my skin writing this because for such a long time I never thought there was any hope. I now know very different and have realised that coming gently from a space of love rather than fear-filled resistance is the key to switching the style up on the way we perceive the world and looking through a different lens. An illuminated one with bright beautiful colours.

Some other resources you can utilise are at the tip of your fingers, it’s just knowing where to look and start. I never thought I could finish reading a book until I tried it. I wasn’t a reader at all. Now I can’t get enough of the bloody things. The book that changed my life was A New Earth by Echart Tolle. Very “new agey” and spiritual which I took to like a duck to water and haven’t looked back since. I feel every human on the planet could learn something from that book but you have to be ready to read it, work through it a few pages at a time and allow it to absorb. There are all sorts of motivational and inspiring literature out there. Audio books are awesome if you don’t want to attempt to tackle a book head on. It doesn’t matter how you get there, it only matters that you do. YouTube rocks for guided meditations, TED talks, motivational videos, inspiring shiznit and so on and so forth. You get the drift.

There are loads of topics to research in the ways of personal development and retraining your brain. Neuroplasticity is a freakin fabulous word to google the hell out of. Emotional Intelligence (EI) is another. People like Dr Joe Dispenza, Dr Kelly Brogan, Dr Bruce Lipton and my main man Tony Robbins are pioneers in their industries and extremely conscious humans that I have obtained priceless and life changing information and inspiration from. Once you start looking and open yourself up to accepting and attracting positivity your entire world will change. You will be drawn to the right information that leads you to the path that only you are meant to walk. All it takes is that mental decision to want something more for yourself.

If you are feeling stuck, sick of watching reruns of the old episodes in your life and any of this rings true or strikes a chord it’s time to turn a new leaf on life and build yourself a bigger and better future because trust me, it’s not worth wasting years of your life having the shits at yourself for never giving your life a real go.

You have the most powerful piece of equipment sitting up there in your big noggin and it is yours to control and command as you please. So don't waste another minute thinking you are anything less than extraordinary and start creating your life rather than allowing life to shape and create you.

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