Do What Makes You Happy

I have not had the desire to pick up my drum, practice yoga or go for a healing treatment, I just wanted to be……I think it is important to listen to your body, let your soul and spirit speak to you and feel what is in your heart. We spend so much of our lives trying to please other people and not necessarily ourselves. Sometimes you need to be selfish and do what is the right thing for you. Do what makes you happy, do what makes your heart sing, do what you want to do, when you want to do it, even if it is just for a short time.

Just before I took my healing sojourn this month, I attended the annual Lupton Festival, I got there in plenty of time for the opening ceremony which we were all given strips of coloured ribbon to attach onto the ancient oak tree on the front lawn of the house. It was a very magical and special moment. I have always had a strong affinity with the Lupton Healing Oak Tree, its majestic trunk routed firmly in the ground with its boughs spreading out, enveloping me in a massive comforting hug, supporting a whole universe of other plants and creatures within its branches. If I place my heart against its truck I can feel totally at one with the energy of the universe, plus no one bats an eyelid if you hug a tree here.

I attended several workshops at the festival although it was on for two days I was only able to make it on the Saturday. I enjoyed a wonderful gong bath with Sally and then this followed with a Shamanic journey facilitated by Christa together with Sally and the gongs; both therapies I found to be very powerful and healing, they took place in a marque and lying on a blanket on the grass with the sound of the fountain in the background really solidified the whole experience.
Later in the day I moved into the coolness of the Sanctuary to make my own Traditional Incense with Mortar and Pestle Magick, following a delicious vegetarian wrap for lunch, I headed back to the Sanctuary for an Orgonite Workshop, the three pieces that I created are now spread about my home and apart from the benefits of turning negative into positive energy they look amazing. I was unable to stay for the evening, which included fire walking, music and drumming no doubt it was an enjoyable night. I however felt immense gratitude for allowing myself the time to do something that makes me happy.

It was in the first week of my holiday I decided to try an activity that I had not done for years.
As a child, I used to cycle everywhere, giving me the freedom and independence to go off to explore. Becoming older and in not so great health I still have that desire to feel the wind in my face and that sense of freedom once again. I decided to hire a bike, the route chosen was alongside an estuary on a cycle path, I thought it would be flat, but suddenly a hill emerged along route and I had to get off and push, the bike I hired had only three gears and a very uncomfortable saddle. I was a bit wobbly to start with, once I realised you never forget how to ride a bike, the feeling of freedom and the wind through my hair brought the biggest smile to my face. My only fear was fatigue taking hold of my body, leaving me struggling to get home. Luckily despite being a bit achy when we returned to our starting point, nothing that a cup of herbal tea and a big slice of salted caramel chocolate brownie wouldn’t put right!
It was then I decided to try an electric bike………hills, no problem and when I feel a bit tired, pressing a button and it is as if someone is giving you a little push that helps you to dig a little deeper. I’m now hooked on cycling again at last I can do a physical activity without the fear of running out of steam. Yes, you have guessed it, this makes me happy.

I have always loved to dance, usually it has been in a club, at a party or more recently around a fire. I was somewhat surprised that whilst in my local supermarket a track was being played that found me shaking some moves down the fruit and veg aisles. It all came a bit too naturally and made me chuckle. I realised it was a track that we have in the Zumba class. I cannot wait to get back to it and perfect those routines, so I can go shake my booty whilst carrying out the weekly shop. This is going to make me happy.

It wasn’t until earlier this week that I returned to my weekly yoga practice. Since I started Kundalini yoga earlier this year, it is a practice that fills my body with energy and gives it a good work out and I have noticed an increase in my lung capacity, practicing the breathing techniques. The mediation and mantras we do give me the opportunity to look inwards. The beautiful village location has a wonderful energy and a great outlook onto the meadow behind. I leave the class feeling amazing and watching the cows run across the field gently lowing to the farmer always makes me smile. This makes me happy.

My mum always said, ‘Do what makes you happy’. So that is exactly what I intend to do. Life is very precious, and we are here for only a short amount of time, so doing things that make you unhappy cannot be good for your wellbeing. No matter what challenges my health throws at me, if I am doing what makes me smile, all will be well in my little corner of the world.

Lupton House

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It is so worth it…….

Living with pain does not mean I need to stop doing the things I have always enjoyed doing, but it makes me stop and consider the impact it will have on my body, we all need to take care of ourselves and love who we are. Life is very precious, as is our health; having poor health makes it more challenging but not impossible to live the life that the heart and soul desires.

This month has been interesting with the hot weather, I have noticed that my Chronic Fatigue heightened and I have spent some weeks just wanting to sleep during the day, I awake in the morning feeling unrefreshed and this is when I know the pain will start to niggle its way into my joints, starting with knees, elbows and feet. Some mornings getting out of bed causes such severe pain in my toe joints that I hobble around until, the pain gradually subsides. What possibly didn’t help was dancing until the early hours either around a camp fire or more recently jumping up and down at a concert; However, on both occasions it was so worth it!!!

At the end of June, I went to a gathering of like-minded souls in the heart of the Dorset countryside at Gaunts House, the reason; to Celebrate life and being alive, a retreat and gathering between the worlds, what a fantastic way to empower and rediscover myself. I haven’t lost me, but over the past 5 years facing the challenge of living with chronic pain, something changed; I became a person who I hardly recognised, someone old beyond their time, a someone who ends up not doing things as they feel too tired or their joint pain puts heed to their activities. I look well, but hidden beneath my shell, is a body that sometimes just lets me down. With Fibromyalgia, pain changes and moves around the body without warning, there is no set pattern with the disease, it effects those living with the condition differently and we all have our own unique symptoms, there is no cure or control over this, making it more difficult to get on with life. Fighting any illness daily, leaves you feeling exhausted in mind, body and spirit, which is why I explore all types of holistic therapy to enhance my wellbeing.

I have previously experienced a workshop run by Christa Mackinnon in Shamanic Journeying, accompanied by my friend Sally Free who is a Gong practitioner, at Gaunts they were joined by Heike Jenkins who runs drum and music circles and provided us with canvas and glitter for our amazing art work at the weekend. The three of them, facilitated the most wonderful weekend I have ever had the chance to participate in. I was joined by a number of like minded souls, some camping and others like myself decided to have accommodation which was in the old stable block, or the main house. It was an incredibly hot, sunny weekend but the outdoor pool, provided a cool refreshing pastime should anyone wish to take a dip and many did.
The food at Gaunts was vegetarian and prepared by an amazing group of volunteers, the main house still maintains its grandeur of a family home, the tranquil grounds surrounding it provided plenty of space for quite reflection, walking, journal writing and just being . Yani Vark took the most beautiful photos that captured the real essence of the gathering.

Celebrating Life was a wonderful weekend of empowerment, connecting with nature using gongs, music medicine, shamanic journeying and working with the medicine wheel. The weekend was filled with activities, but with space to take time to reflect on being in the moment. After the opening ceremony on the Friday night, it was followed with the Gongs played by Sally which encouraged a deep restful sleep for me.

Saturday morning dawned with the promise of wonderful experiences to come and I was not disappointed. We started with a gong bath, followed by music medicine ran by Heiki, I picked a shaker that made me feel like I was in the ocean, it moved from side to side in a gentle rhythmic sound of the ages. Making me smile. This then continued into shamanic journeying with Christa, during which I had a sense of freedom and memories of my childhood playing in the fields, no sense of danger and a great feeling of the love I have for life. I could feel tingling in my legs and the right-hand side of my body, the side that the pain tends to dwell in. I felt a strong desire to heal and be healed.
After lunch we danced and danced and danced….. and then walked the labyrinth whilst continuing to drum. The rest of the afternoon involved glitter and glue and sticking things on to some beautifully prepared canvases, you can never have enough glitter in your life. Creating art work is very powerful and encourages the brain to switch off from over analysing things and to just be in the moment. The remainder of the afternoon was to collect bunches in preparation for the fire ceremony later that evening. I went off in search of wild flowers and herbs similar to the bunches I used to make as a child with my mum and it was on this forage that I came across the old walled garden of Gaunts, where just the gentle humming of the bees and the stillness of nature was a joy to immerse myself in.

After dinner I took a stroll down the lane to visit the Starhenge cosmic stone circle, there is something very magical around stones and circles and only wish that I had taken my dowsing rods with me.
The fire was lit later that evening and we all sat around it with our drums and collected bunches, I felt a deep connection to our forebears as I placed my flower and herb bundle in the fire and watched the rosemary scented smoke rise to the sky. The ceremony was closed down and then as the fire continued to burn and the night sky darken and so the dancing began.

Modern society has changed our being and it was here at Gaunts house dancing around the fire that it dawned on me, that there is something very powerful about dancing around a camp fire, primitive, soul enhancing, I felt a huge sense of joy connecting with the fire, dancing on the earth in bare feet. It was here I reconnected with myself. It was in the early hours of the morning as the fire died down that I found myself heading off to bed, with dirty feet covered in ash, but a heart and soul full of joy and the most amazing feeling of being alive, really alive. My body ached but I knew the adrenaline pumping around my body would sustain me for a few days within the state of euphoria.

I slept well, maybe from exhaustion but woke feeling refreshed, Sunday was started with Heike’s drumming circle, music is very powerful it aids healing for mind, body and spirit, following this with one of Sally’s gong baths, Christa explained how to worked with the medicine wheel, I found this ancient form of meditation to confirm; I believe I am me, being true to myself, can help me heal. I have always had faith that this time of suffering with pain will pass, to be free from all that holds me back, to love life and live.

Following lunch the weekend came to a close with a drumming circle and closing ceremony. I came home from the weekend feeling so amazing, I knew that I would be tired but I was so high on life, sometimes it is really important for me to weigh up the consequences of enjoying myself and feeling alive or giving in to the pain that ravages through me. Fibro has taken my body, but I refuse to let it take my soul and spirit.

Sometimes you really have to embrace the opportunities that come your way; Celebrate life and being alive. Believe me it is always, so worth it.

www.christamackinnon.com

www.heikedrumshare.com

www.soundsforthesoul.co.uk

www.gauntshouse.com

 

 

Walking Your Own Path

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk in the footsteps of your ancestors. To experience their pain, hardship and maybe joy. To explore what it really means to live and survive in an often-hostile landscape and environment. To see through their eyes the beauty and wonder that this planet had to offer?

Every time a look at the news it is about war, violence, politics, plastics in our oceans, crime, disorder, ill-health, greed and the like…… I am curious; did our ancient ancestors have the same issues or were they very different. How did this all come about?

I recently had a week of enlightening experiences, I was not expecting to partake in one of them; it all happened by chance. But I am learning in life as I walk along my own path to healing, that there are no coincidences. After receiving healing at Lupton a couple of weeks ago, I arrived later than normal, and when I came out The Tashi Lhunpo Monks were about to start their opening ceremony for their Peace Sand Mandala. I was invited to stay and how awe-inspiring I found both the monks, the creation of the Mandala and the significance of me of being there, at that point in time.

I felt such a strong urge to follow this path to see the creation of the Mandala and then witness its destruction, the following morning I made 45-minute journey to spend time mediating with the monks, before seeing more work on the mandala. During the mediation I found a depth of clarity and rewarding of how simplicity can aid in nourishing the soul, leaving behind the pain, trauma and stress that I seem to invite into my life.

I was unable to attend the following day but felt the urge to see this through. On the final day I decided that I would give yoga a miss and again return to Lupton, to witness the destruction of the beautiful peace mandala.
My soul was searching for healing, it has been just over a year since my father died and I have been finding the right moment to scatter his ashes. It seems that spending time with the monks was giving me strength through meditation to find a way forward. As the ceremony took place, I commented to a friend, that wouldn’t it be lovely if our cremated remains were the rainbow colours of the sand mandala, she said, ‘but they are, in here’ and held her hands to her heart. Oh how true, how the whole mandala is so symbolic of birth, life and death. As I watched the coloured sand pouring back into the water, it all started to make sense. We are but small grains, but together we can make something so beautiful and then return to the earth. I was invited to take a small amount of sand with me, knowing exactly what I intended to do with it.

The next day I had arranged to join a mindful walk on Dartmoor, exploring our ancestors, dowsing and using earth energy to connect with the landscape, although it was cold, wet and windy for most of the time, it was exhilarating to experience the harshness of the moor at its best. After exploring some tors, stones rows, round houses and stone circles, I became connected to the energy of the ancient ancestors that left their mark on the landscape.

To walk down a line of stone rows, that have stood since the bronze age; feeling the energy, following an ancient route that had a burial cairn at the top and then a gentle gradient downhill towards the river, again I was being shown the cycle of life. When you stand in the centre of a circle surrounded by stones and connect to your being, understanding how our ancestors studied the movement in the heavens of the sun and planets and built monuments that relate to moments in time, that have stood the test of millennia. It is with awe and complete wonderment that I wish to honour them, and myself. Four years ago, I would never have managed or even contemplated trekking over the moor. For me it is about never giving up hope and taking opportunities that cross my path.

Sometimes my healing journey takes me off at a tangent, now and again; but health is not just about aches and pains. I really believe that your soul needs to heal first, then mind and body will follow. I have learnt that well-meaning people will offer advice, and when you do not act on it, they feel put out. That’s their stuff to deal with, not mine. Making your own choices in life is important and only each and every one of us can know or experience what it is, for us.

My fathers ashes are now scattered together with those of two of our beloved dogs and a little bit of coloured sand, I have honoured my ancestors; now I feel, I am free to continue to walk my own path…..

Find out more about  Mindful walking tours

 

The Journey Continues

As part of my holistic journey I have found sound therapy to be beneficial to the management of my chronic pain caused by Fibromyalgia, this sound has taken the form of gong, tuning forks, crystal bowls and drumming whilst also practicing yoga, Reiki and more recently joining a Zumba class. I would not have believed that I would have been able to participate in a dance fitness activity following my diagnosis in 2014, when I was walking with the aid of a stick. I have always maintained that I will keep on fighting this, exploring activities that I feel will benefit in assisting my body to heal itself. I believe that a lot of my healing has been a reaction to the sound and rhythm allowing the very cells of my body to absorb and be agitated, bringing them to life; it makes me smile, I feel happy and with that, energy seems to flow and the pain melts into the background.

I have always been interested in how our ancestors dealt with health conditions using herbs and natural therapies to alleviate pain and health conditions often administered by the wise elders of the indigenous groups around the world. Something that I feel, we have lost in our modern society of technology, stress and burn out.
This has led me on to the path of Shamanism, learning to feel the connection between nature, mother earth and my whole being. Rhythmic drum healing is a very ancient therapy that has been practiced for thousands of years by many cultures to promote wellbeing and healing using the natural law of resonance to restore the vibrational integration between mind, body and spirit.

I could not believe my luck when I was offered the opportunity to birth (make) my own Shamanic Drum in a one day bespoke workshop which was held locally.
Prior to the day we were asked to source a piece of wood to use as a beater, so during the storms and following the blizzards a couple of months ago, I wandered along the seashore and found a beautiful piece of drift wood, which I felt was perfect for my drum.
I attended the workshop with a mix of excitement and apprehension, after being so poorly at the start of this year with a chest infection and chronic fatigue, I knew that birthing a drum was going to be very special. I would be creating this wonderful tool for healing and it would be taking place on the full moon.

There were five of us attending the workshop, our first task was to select our 16 inch rounds of wood than had been handcrafted to form the frame for the drum.
It’s really strange when you sit and think about making a shamanic drum for yourself, I really wanted to feel that I was in touch with my ancient ancestors, the night prior I had not had the best of nights sleep and had been very restless so arrive feeling a bit jaded.
We were invited to select our deer skins that were outside in five buckets, Phil had had spent a lot of time in the days prior, preparing them for our use. He explained they were all different sizes. I selected the last reamaing bucket, this turned out to be the smallest skin.
At first I felt I little bit of disappointment, but then realisation that envy is something that I need to work with, I was starting to discover that my little deer was going to teach me some very valuable lessons in life. We started to connect with our drum, by some shamanic journeying which is similar to a deep mediation whilst a drum beat is played, we did this at various stages throughout the workshop.
After cutting out the circle to make the drum from the skin, we were asked to make the umbilical cord to lace it all together, from the same piece of skin. There was a concern that I would need to use an additional skin as my hide was quite small. However I ended up with about so much cord, I had a lot left over after I had laced it, my second lesson from my little deer, just because something is small, it does not mean that it cannot generate a bountiful supply.

Later we following the Shamanic tradition walking in single file, stepping in each other’s footsteps, while Alex drummed for us, making our way into the woods. We came to a large tree and then took it in turns to test the strength of our umbilical cord, which we had taken with us. We were asked to lean back and take the strain of the cord to see where it breaks, having completed that ritual, we returned to lace our drums.
This was the most challenging part of the process, I discovered you need a lot of strength to lace the back, to ensure the face is kept taught. I think this was the time when I felt most connected to the process and started referring to the drum as her, I don’t know how or why, I just knew. After a fair bit of effort and some help from Phil I finally birthed my drum.

I have been taught that great patience is required both during the making process and the need to be allowed to completely dry before being played, each day I kept going to look at the change in the colour on her face and eager to hear her first sound. Her markings are similar to looking at the moon, I see pure beauty; the significance of birthing my drum on a full moon is being able to use the strong energy as a very positive opportunity and illumination to the world.

Two weeks later, on the new moon when an energy portal is opened up to bring in your good intention and manifest healing energy, I knew it was time to hear her play. The sound that she gives out is so very special, I feel a very deep connection to nature, to my ancient ancestors and also to the spirit of the deer coming through the drum.

Earlier this week, after a particular challenging day, I picked up my drum, sat out in the garden in the evening sunlight and quietly played, letting the gentle rhythmic beats flow through my body, quieting my mind and bringing loving healing energy to my soul. I feel truly blessed, and so the journey continues……..

 

If you would like to know more ~

About birthing your own drum please contact  Phil Rowe Drums

About Sound Healing Sally Free ~ Sound Therapist

 

 

 

Dance to your own rhythm

This is me………………………………I am starting to emerge from wherever it is, that I have been lying dormant, waiting for this moment.

Life has been a bit of a struggle the last couple of months and I been battling with my health, not necessarily Fibromyalgia, but a lot of chronic fatigue and issues with coughing and the infection in my lung. Having had all the tests and the medical profession finding nothing to report, I had a bit of a déjà vu moment, in 2014 the day that I got my Fibro diagnosis, the life changing label. Only this time it was different. Nothing to report, no diagnosis, no further treatment. I was going to have to find my own way out through this again… I still had the cough, I still had the exhaustion and I still wanted to feel well again.

Having not been to a yoga class for 5 weeks, I decided now was the time to try to find a different sort of yoga, having been practicing a similar type of yoga since my fibro diagnosis, I wanted a more dynamic class, but one where I could still do my own thing, if all became too much.

Well I found it and the venue has a heated floor as well, luxury. It looks out onto the lush green valley side and whilst practicing you have the sound of nature; the screech of a buzzard, the chatter of nesting birds and a small brook babbling away. The class is so different from any other yoga I have taken part in, it is more active with options given for each pose. The session starts with mediation and breathing, which flows on into and through the practice. At the end of the class I feel more energetic, grounded and at peace with my body, mind and soul.

With my new found energy, I also decided I wanted to try out a new fitness class, I’m not a gym bunny and the ideal opportunity arose with a Zumba class. I went to the first session before I had my chest infection, and then unable to attend due to lack of breath for some weeks, I have now returned and I love it.

The fantastic movement that Zumba allows, even for those suffering from chronic pain is that you do what you can and what you want, within your own range of mobility. Even my lack of coordination doesn’t matter, my feet are often going the wrong way, but who cares there is no one watching; well at least I hope not! Apologies to those lovely ladies who end up behind me.
I think I shocked a few people at first, when they heard I had been to a Zumba class, “that’s fast going isn’t it?”, “you be careful” and “wow that’s amazing”. Yes it is amazing, and no matter how young or old you are, or feel, you are given a warm welcome and there are no judgements, your body joins into the rhythm of the music and it becomes contagious. After the class a few of us may even head to a local hostelry to replace our lost fluids!

I gradually started to feel better, the more I stretched and exercised my lungs, through walking, yoga, Zumba and a bit of light digging in the garden, the more the coughing ceased, my lungs felt more open and the tiredness began to evaporate. I even noticed that I danced across the lawn when the sun was out last week! I have started to feel more alive, energised and ready to absorb the new wonders that are awaiting me whilst I continue on this magical journey of self-healing, soul expansion and enlightenment.

I believe, if you really want to do something and improve your quality of your life, you just need to give it ago, do it your way. Listen to your own body, let your breath be your guide in dancing to your own rhythm, do what is right for you.

‘Dance like nobody’s watching.
If you sense they are, let them make eye contact and smile, show them that your soul is free.’

 

Want to find out more, please click on the links below

Yoga Loveliness                    Zumba – Shake it Fitness Devon

 

My recent blogs

Behind the Mask

The Crystal Healing Bed

 

 

I am going to enjoy this!

 

I recently met an inspirational lady who has really changed the way I see and do things. Earlier this month I had a text from a yogi friend who gave me the heads up, that we would be doing laughing yoga on our usual Friday yoga practice. As a lady who had come into her shop to buy an ice-cream, had ended up leaving her, agreeing to show us the practice of laughing yoga!

 

I had heard of laughing yoga, but had not ever had the opportunity to try it out. So it was with great anticipation and excitement that I rocked up to yoga that Friday, ready and willing to laugh my socks off. I should point out at this stage, that my long-suffering yoga teacher Virginia often has to become a bit stern with the Friday group, as we are a bit raucous and exuberant with our energy on Friday mornings,  that she has to try to contain the naughty ones that can be very disruptive. (naturally that’s not me, as you all know I am very quiet and unassuming!!!!!).   

 

I met Kirti the lovely laughing yoga lady on route to the studio and immediately warmed to her wonderful aura. Once we were all settled she explained about the benefits of laughing yoga, and when she told us of her age and some medical conditions she had; I was blown away by this passionate and extremely well looking lady. There is definitely something in it. Her positive attitude shone through.

 

We started off the session by clapping and saying ho, ho, ha, ha, ha and then went through some various exercises that had me in hysterics, including greeting each other and talking gibberish, it was hilarious. My face hurt so much from smiling and laughing.

 

Kirti explained that we often go through life with a copy and paste attitude. Each day we have a habit of copying and do the same things from yesterday and end up filling our lives with stuff, without any time to Just Be and Notice……. That really struck a chord with me. I now make sure that I take time out to just be and notice the little things, even if it is just to change the way I do things.

 

By nature we tend to always clean our teeth with the same hand. TRY THIS…….clean your teeth with the opposite hand, not only does it clean your teeth differently due to the change in angle, but it is retraining your brain away from default and then try standing on the opposite leg from the one that is cleaning your teeth. I nearly choked on the toothpaste as it started to make me laugh.

 

Oh what Joy………the blissful sound of laughter, the smile, the feeling, the great energy it creates.

 

You want to keep your brain active? Get a note pad and on the right hand side jot down the numbers 1-10 with that hand then on the left hand jot down the numbers 1-10 with your left hand and then write the number one next to the number and two and so on with right and left hands then progress onto sentences….in time your non dominant handwriting will look the same. I still have a long way to go, my brain is getting a full work out. It is a great form of meditation.

 

At the end of the session we sat back to back with each other and started to slow our breathing down and back into a calm state. This was so hard, I carried on laughing so much it made me cry! I left that morning with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. I had a few weird looks whilst walking around the supermarket, if only they knew what I know! Oh how they may be able to enhance their lives.

 

Later that evening, I started to giggle, my husband asked what I was laughing at, which make me laugh even more, so much so that I became hysterical and couldn’t speak, as I was laughing at the fact I was laughing about nothing, that made me laugh even more. I felt great, I even laughed away the pain that I got in my side from laughing so much. It must be good for you. When you breathe out and laugh you empty all the stale air from your lungs, it’s a proven thing, try it! It’s really difficult to breath in when your laughing…..  

 

 Kirti has this amazing Mantra that I have started to use:

When faced with challenges in life, as we all are; instead of facing it head-on with fear and dread. Take a deep breath in and say to yourself, I AM and as you breath out slowly say to yourself GOING TO ENJOY THIS.

 

Go on, try to live your life differently, change the way you think, stop copying and pasting, tell the people who matter that you love them, let the little things make you smile and most of all, laugh and enjoy life! 

 

 

Want to know more about laughing yoga, please contact ~ Kirti Sharma   www.bodymindlaughter.co.uk
Come to the amazing yoga studio, please contact~ Virginia Compton www.holisticyogasangha.com

 

 

My Holistic Fibro Fighter Blog