Our health and wellbeing is affected by many different factors. Sometimes it can feel like those things aren't in our control.
Living with chronic pain was a very dark period in my life. Here I hope to share some of the practices and experiences that continue to help me to live a happy, healthy life.
When we make the daily choice to focus on the things and people in our lives we’re grateful for, we open ourselves up to a whole new way of living. We begin to say ‘YES!’ to life. We move away from a state of resistance and negativity, towards a healthier, happier life.
'Realise deeply that the present moment is all we ever have.' Eckhart Tolle.
Most of us spend our time focused on the past or the future and miss the beauty that surrounds us. I start my days with a meditation and a forest walk. Both give me a chance to disentangle myself from my thoughts and encourage me to stop and recognise how wonderful life truly is. The beauty of a flower, the sound of a bird, the touch of our pet or loved one, the taste of our first meal of the day... all these things are much more enjoyable when we slow down to really experience them.
My go to setting when I was in pain was to close myself off and avoid others as much as possible. Now I recognise the value of going to groups, classes or events and I choose the ones that really resonate with me. If you're experiencing mental, physical and/or emotional pain , connecting with people who will listen and offer support is invaluable. If you feel your loved ones don't understand, reach out to support groups or agencies who specialise in whatever it is you're experiencing.
As a species we have become unnaturally sedentary, hunched over our laptops and sat at our desks all day. Movement creates a release of all those feel-good hormones from our brains. Any kind of pain, be it chronic or temporary, can leave you feeling safer curled up on your couch with a warm cuppa. Movement is essential for our energy and emotions to flow through our bodies. Finding the strength and motivation to do a short walk, dance around your living room, or even just some gentle stretching, can make a huge difference to your mental and physical wellbeing.
EFT is a powerful holistic healing technique which helped me to heal from years of pain. It's based on the principle that our emotions can get in the way of our balanced energy, causing blockages which cause physical and emotional pain. The EFT Tapping technique involves focusing on a negative emotion or problem and using your fingertips to tap 5-7 times on 9 specific meridian points of the body.
Tapping can help to regulate the nervous system, overcome fears and phobias, and reduces stress and anxiety. It helped me overcome the chronic pain in my arms... allowed me to clear out bucket loads of anxiety, guilt, fear, sadness and hopelessness... and even helped me to summon the courage to go gliding!
I have a list of things that really make me smile... things I know will help clear away any dark clouds. I have separated them into things that help to calm my nervous system down when I'm anxious, and things that really lift my vibration when I feel low. My calming list includes: writing, reading, stretching, forest walks, yin yoga, baking, yoga nidra, meditation, gong baths and taking a hot bath.
My raise the vibration list includes: kundalini yoga, dancing, painting, laughter therapy, running, high intensity interval training and time with loved ones.
Both lists of course include time with Bodhi!
When we're in constant pain we can feel so down on ourselves that we forget who we truly are. We listen to all the negative thoughts in our heads and believe them. Take a deep breath and try to step back from all of the chaos. Try to achieve something small. For me it was getting off the sofa and trying a short walk... then longer walks... then fundraising walks and eventually running. Sometimes even getting out of bed is an achievement. Try to focus on what you CAN do, rather than what you can't.
I still have moments when my negative thoughts grab my attention and I tune into hear what my inner critic has to say. It's like an autopilot setting but these days I usually catch it quite quickly as I know it's a dangerous, downwards spiral. The simple practice of putting my hands together, or over my heart, and saying 'Thank you' is so powerful. There can be some resistance to doing this, particularly if you feel there's nothing in your life to be grateful for. For me it only takes a few minutes, sometimes even seconds, before my mind is flooded with reminders of all the wonderful things and people around me. My energy shifts from a miserably low kind of vibration to an uplifted, grateful one! Shifting my focus in this way brings a smile to my face and reminds me how much abundance there is in this Universe.
Slow down. That's it. Take a break. The world was forced to take a huge pause recently but how much have we really learned from this? When I started to work from home every day I instantly noticed the impact on my mind and body. My nervous system didn't like it and my pain levels increased. I realised I needed to calm everything down. I started doing yoga nidra (a waking sleep meditation) in my lunch breaks, I began taking nice, hot baths in the evenings and I took longer walks in the forest. I was lucky enough to go on several retreats in the years before the first lockdown but we don't need to go away to find this kind of peace and rest. I make relaxation part of my routine and find peace in reading in a cosy spot, lighting candles/incense and meditating, laying outside with Bodhi in the sunshine or listening to some healing music. It's okay to allow yourself to relax. Nothing is so important it can't wait. Nothing is more important than YOU.
'No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.' Aesop
During the six years I lived with chronic pain, I found it increasingly difficult to think about others. My job as a Support Worker meant I was helping people every day but I noticed I was giving less in my personal life because I genuinely felt exhausted and burnt out.
A big part of my recovery from chronic pain was to start doing things for charity. I started doing bake sales and sponsored walks and it made me feel great to know I was achieving something, as well as helping others. It doesn't have to be volunteering or charity work , showing kindness to others can have a huge impact. I try to practice a kind attitude and do small, daily acts of kindness wherever possible. Sending someone an unexpected gift... baking a cake... giving your time or kind words... it only takes a little bit of effort to make a big difference.