The Brain in my Pocket

I was listening to a chat on the radio this morning, about how dependent we have become on our devices. We no longer have to remember phone numbers or addresses. Facebook reminds us of birthdays and our trusty phones have reminders set for everything from the morning alarm to the hair appointment. It’s like keeping my brain in my pocket.
Our lives are so different to when I was a child. I had a telephone directory in my head. It was so easy to remember telephone numbers. There was no need to write them down, I just committed them to memory and there they were when I needed them. Snail mail meant everyone had an address with a postal code. I wrote many letters and always knew the addresses and postal codes. My head was a sponge that soaked up information and my filing system was efficient, so recall was quick and easy.
Today, listening to the radio it dawned on me how lazy I have become with my brain. I could justify this by saying that I am older, it’s natural to be more forgetful. After all, this is what we are told by society. It’s our go-to for all ailments… remember dear, you are older now. What a lovely excuse for being less than we used to be. I don’t want to be less, at least not yet. I work hard to maintain a level of physical fitness and I eat a clean diet of whole foods. I drink water and try to get outside regularly for a dose of vitamin D and some fresh air.
Everyone knows that to be fit takes constant training. What we don’t use, we lose and physical fitness really shows us this. If I get a cold and stop training for just two weeks and it feels like I am back to square one. Perhaps we should be seeing our brain as a muscle which needs constant training. So here is a controversial question… is “dementia” always a thing or can it be that we are forgetting things because we stop using our brains so they get “unfit” and don’t work as well as before? What we don’t use, we lose.
As a Pilates instructor, I see the effect of Pilates on the body and the brain. The brain’s primary job is to run the body. It controls everything from breath and heartbeat to how we move and what we do. Mostly we do all of this sub-consciously. Pilates is what I call prescribed movement. I am asking you to move in a specific way with specific muscles. In the beginning people really struggle with this, there is a war between what I am asking and what the brain wants to do. It’s a long way from the brain to the feet and I notice people lose their connection with their feet first, as though the brain’s field of influence is “shrinking back” towards the head. This improves with time but the minute you go off shoe shopping in your head, stop being there in the room, inside your body with your thoughts, that is when you end up using your back or doing the wrong exercise.
I believe that conscious movement, moving with conscious intent and staying conscious of my thoughts, is the best way to keep my brain and my body connected, healthy and alive. When I allow myself to run on autopilot, I am keeping myself small, staying on old neural pathways. Staying conscious and adding variety to my day by doing things differently means I am building new neural pathways. I like to think of it as brain training. So here is a challenge to do things differently… Let’s work harder to remember the date and what our schedule is for the day, so that when that reminder pings in our pocket we know what it is for and we are way ahead of it.

Until next time, be conscious, and keep moving…

Birds of my Mind

Mornings in Barrydale are melodic with the cheery greetings of a variety of birds. The chirps, warbles and tweets of the garden birds compete with the wistful call of distant guinea fowl, roosters crowing and the cry of peacocks. This morning there was an urgent gathering of weavers, sun-birds, bishop birds, doves and a robin in the shrubs below my window. The plants were alive with hopping, chattering birds. I learnt as a child to look closely at these gatherings to see who was causing such a cacophony. It may be a cat, or a mongoose, but could just as well be a snake.

It is a strange feeling, investigating such a gathering. Physically you go into fight and flight with your head telling you to move in one direction, towards the noise, while your legs want to carry you in the opposite direction for fear of finding a snake. Boomslangs and cobras, both very toxic, are common in Barrydale so you find your eyeballs hopping all over the place. Do you look in the bushes or on the ground? You find yourself walking like a chameleon: pick up a foot, wait to check three times where to put your next step, even when you are on the lawn, afraid you may step on a snake. Relief floods the body when you find a fat, furry cat stalking through the flower bed. The worst is when you spot the sleek, scaled ribbon of snake, grateful that you know where it is but flooded by the extra surge of adrenaline which your body kindly supplies for your rapid retreat. There are times when you find nothing, when the gathering of excited birds abruptly adjourns and they fly away to continue with their day. I like to call these twittering gatherings bird parties, though it may be better to call them bird parliaments, as they seem very worked up about what appears to be nothing.

There is a big shift towards conscious living on our planet and we often hear about mindfulness, meditation and the importance of controlling our thoughts. My mind is a part of me, just as my hand or foot is a part of me, but it isn’t all of me. My mind is there to keep me safe, to warn me of danger, even when I can’t see it, like a party of garden birds, chirping and twittering in the bushes. A word, a situation or an event can send my thoughts into frenzy, crowding my head with scenarios and scripts of what I will say, twitters and squawks of warning from the birds of my mind. My neurology cannot distinguish between what is real and what is imagined so my body goes into fight or flight and I start to do a mental chameleon walk because I know I am going to find a “snake”. I jump to the worst case scenario immediately. My blood chemistry changes as the adrenaline and cortisol feed my need to take on the threat or to run. This happens many times in a day, sometimes for hours but often just for minutes or even just seconds. The birds of my mind may well be right, there may be a snake in the bush but sometimes it is just a fat cat or most often, just a bird party which calms and melts away after a while.

Mindfulness is about knowing the difference between a real threat and a bird party. When I find myself in the metaphysical bushes, hunting a snake, I take a deep breath, centre myself. I thank the birds of my mind for their warnings and then I take control of my thoughts. I decide whether the threat is real or if it is the makings of my imagination and I take appropriate action, facing the threat or dismissing it as the bird party it is. Being mindful, noticing what you are thinking and knowing that you have the ultimate control over what you think, can make the difference between being in a state of constant stress and worry, and staying calm and centred.

Until next time, stay mindful, be conscious and Keep Moving…

Understanding Surrogation

One of the advantages of my work is that I can work remotely on someone far away. It is a wonderful gift to be able to do this but most people find the very idea weird, woo-woo or just plain creepy. It isn’t really, it’s just unfamiliar. We embrace remote connection all the time in other familiar ways in our daily lives.

The three main senses we use for interacting with the world are hearing (auditory), sight (visual) and touch (kinaesthetic). How do we communicate over a long distance using sound? We use a telephone. I remember when I was little; we had a party line phone system. Each house had a different ring and the exchange was reached by giving one long ring, turning the handle a few times. Then we had land lines. You could see the line from the house to the telephone pole outside with both of these old systems. Storms could blow down the lines and we were left without a telephone. Later came cell phones which don’t have any lines attached at all, and yet I am able to speak to someone in London or Toronto or Australia. I speak, they answer and it is all in real time, as though that person was in the same room as me. What I am hearing is not their voice but an energetic representation of their voice, enabled by my cell phone which is not connected to anything except energetically. Cell phones would surely have seemed very woo-woo in the 1970’s but are now easily accepted because we have been trained to find telephones familiar, and let’s face it, the tangled wire was a pain!

Long ago we could communicate “visually” by telegram. Not quite in real time, by close enough. Then came fax machines and computers with email and the cell phones with sms and now WhatsApp. I can type a message and it is received and read within seconds on the other side of the world. I can send a photo or a video or do a video call. What I am seeing is an energetic representation of my daughter’s home overseas, on my cell phone in real time with a video call. She in turn, can see me sitting in my garden in sunny South Africa. I have not captured her or possessed her and trapped her in my phone. My phone is showing me an energetic representation of life on the other side of the world. Creepy, weird and woo-woo? No, not at all. This has become part of life, familiar and for many, indispensable.

So what is surrogation? It is the kinaesthetic equivalent of your cell phone. If a cell phone had arms and legs then I could use it to do balances and it would probably be more easily accepted. But I need to be able to feel the energetic response of muscle testing, so I need a person to be the surrogate. Whether I use myself or someone else to test on, the muscle response I get is the energetic representation of the person I am balancing. That is all. The corrections I make are received by the person on the other side, just as they can see a video or hear a voice on the telephone.

Just as with a telephone, I need the person on the other side to answer the call. I do this by asking permission and if permission is denied for any reason, then I cannot work. The number you are calling is not available, please try again later. If it is both safe and appropriate to work, then permission will be given, the connection is made and I can begin the balance.

Surrogation can help people who are too sore to be muscle tested or too far away. It is a way to help the frail and the sick, the too young or the too old, whether they are in the same room or on the other side of the world, as long as they “pick up” and the connection is made. Nothing weird, nothing woo-woo, just the magic of energy.

How Big is your Character?

When last did you hear someone say “It’s character building”? Growing up, this was the standard response to any tale of hardship. It frustrated me no end. How big was my character supposed to be? When was it big enough to stop building, stop suffering? What is character anyway and why is it so important that it has to grow so big?

Character is who you are on the inside and how you present yourself to the world on the outside, your unique qualities. Years ago people spoke of virtues but now we hear about values,  habits of behaviour. Many of these are developed at a young age, without our choosing them. They are thrust upon us by parents, teachers, TV and the behaviour of others. Someone with a strong character displayed values of integrity, commitment, loyalty, ambition and perseverance. While someone who lied, cheated, was dishonest or unreliable may have been described as having weak character.

Today, I don’t hear much about character. Now we talk about rights. Bad behaviour is justified by your right to free expression or overlooked due to your sad, neglected or difficult upbringing. We use an abused past to condone our abusive behaviour, poverty gives us the right to steal and laziness is blamed on our genetics. Our younger generations are growing up without the boundaries offered by values and character. We are so concerned about adding to their stressful lives that we are stunting their characters and in so doing, we are slowly losing our own.  We excuse our physical laziness with the belief that life has become too busy for exercise. We don’t have time to cook our own nutritious food or get enough rest. “Fear Of Missing Out” has destroyed our commitment and social status has corrupted our integrity.

The world has changed so much over the last thirty years. As I have grown older, I have become more confused about who I am. I have been told I am over sensitive, up tight, prissy, a goody two shoes, too serious, old fashioned, insecure and a perfectionist. Personal development has brought my attention back to values and character. Now I realize that I value integrity, commitment, self-discipline, self-responsibility, courage and kindness. These are the character traits that are important to me. Looking back, the people who hurt me so deeply, who shamed me for these values and confused me, those people have different values.

I feel a weight lifted, unburdened. I can be me and be proud of who I am, proud of the character that I built through difficulty, endurance and perseverance. I feel huge gratitude for the lessons I learnt and the people who offered those lessons. Understanding has brought the realization that a character is never big enough. A character needs guarding and constant work. It is so easy for bad habits to creep in; little things which break down your character and diminish you. I always have the choice of who I want to be. If I find myself lacking, it is up to me to consciously fill that gap with a new value and to practice that value until it becomes habit, thereby building and strengthening my character, becoming a better human being.

Humanity is made up of characters, you and me. If I want to help the world, to better humanity, then it is up to me to stay conscious, keep learning, keep improving myself and keep moving…

New Beginnings

At the beginning of each New Year, I like to set up a plan for the year. What do I want to learn? Where do I want to go and how can I make this year better than the last?

Before we know it, the year sweeps us off our feet and we are thrown into the frenzy of life, treading the same familiar path as before, unless we plan otherwise. We call these plans Resolutions, and we all know how those good intentions dissolve in the hot summer sun.  We start out really well but then the Peanut Gallery of your mind gets involved and everything unravels.

Your mind is part of you, but it’s not you. That Peanut Gallery of conversation which you hold with yourself is there to keep you safe but it rarely is supportive. On the second day of your new fitness routine, the Peanuts start to discuss the merits of starting slowly. Perhaps I should take tomorrow off so that I don’t get too stiff. Next Monday would be a good day to start again. But on Monday you are still a tiny bit stiff so the Peanuts suggest starting tomorrow. The days go by and the resolution is starting to fade. This is when the Peanuts suggest starting in February…

Being aware of what you are thinking is key to maintaining momentum with the changes you want to make in your life. The thoughts are just bubbles of information and you do not have to listen to them. When an unsupportive thought happens, consider it and then decide if you are going to follow the Peanut Gallery or take back your power with a more supportive thought. You always have the choice. The Peanuts will try to convince you that you must eat that piece of cake because it will be the last one for a long time. Really? When it comes to curbing food temptations, I find that telling myself “Not this time” really helps.  I am not giving anything up forever, just in this moment. Next time I get to choose again. Practice makes perfect and practicing making good choices makes it easier to choose well in future.

So my wish for you for this year is that you may be aware of what you are thinking, that you have the power to make good choices and that your resolutions bring about the changes you desire.

Happy 2019. Until next time, Keep Moving…

Heal Thy Self

It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog. Life surprised me, threw me off balance mentally and physically, in the form of vertigo. It is the strangest feeling to feel your world tip uncontrollably to one side. Your brain tells you there is no reason for this tipping sensation, but the body rebels and gravity seems to suck you violently off kilter, an invisible pressure which forces you to the ground.

There are various “treatments” for vertigo. Some people say you need to be physically rotated by a doctor, others that you need to go to a chiropractor. As a kinesiologist, I knew that my crazy tilting sensations were a physical manifestation of my emotional turmoil. I needed to work through my darkness and I truly believed I would emerge on the other side of the emotional storm, sailing straight and strong.  Sure enough, after about a month of my loopy roller-coaster, my world resettled and the vertigo vanished as quickly as it came.

We carry within us an innate wisdom and the god given ability to heal. Modern life has tricked us into forgetting that we are the expert for all things “us”. It helps to have a sound board, someone who can stand as the Isumataq, the keeper of the sacred space in which wisdom is revealed. A facilitator can guide you to discover your own inner wisdom and thus initiate your own healing. There is calmness in knowing that sometimes symptoms, though physical in nature, may have an emotional or energetic root cause. There is a great deal of fear triggered by illness or dis-ease. We have become so focused on life threatening conditions and so dependent on pharmaceuticals, we seem to have forgotten that sometimes we have a cold because we need to get rest, or that constipation may be a function of holding on for dear life, to all we no longer need. Tummy aches are often connected to fear or anxiety rather than a bug. Considering what your symptom prevents you from doing can give you clues as to the cause of your dis-ease. We have been programmed to believe that it takes a long time to heal. Sometimes, when the message your body is sending is understood, healing can be instantaneous.

Take back your power, listen to the ancient wisdom within and be your healthy self, Heal – thy self.

Until next time, keep living, keep learning, keep moving…

 

Energy – Everyday Magic

When I am asked what I do, I say I work as a kinesiologist. The blank look on the face before me is always a giveaway; I may as well be speaking Russian. So I explain that I work with energy….. and I’ve lost them!  New Age, woo-woo, weird? Not really.

Everything on this planet, and beyond, is made up of energy. We know from our school days that everything is made of molecules, which are made of atoms, which are protons and electrons, positive and negative, energy. If you replace a plug, you will know the importance of connecting the wires correctly. If you don’t the electricity, unseen energy, is likely to cause all sorts of loud bangs, sparks, shocks, melting of plastic and who knows what else. We all have a very healthy respect for electric energy, not because we can see the energy, but because we can see the results of what it can do. Sound waves can shatter glass or show you an image of your unborn child (ultrasound) and an MRI uses magnetic energy to produce images of your physical anatomy. We are very good at believing what we can see but what about what we can feel? Hot water bottles allow us to feel heat energy and static electricity can zap us with sparks. People talk about having a gut feeling, good or bad vibes, or being in a creepy place. We can feel energy if we are aware enough. All of this falls into the “Normal” range.

Let’s see if we can go a little more into our un-comfort zone. People are more aware of acupuncture these days. Many have had dry needling done by a physio but why does it work? The human body is a bundle of energy. Energy meridians run like rivers between the organs and muscles, wrapping around you like ribbons. Chakras, very woo-woo, are energy vortexes, the 7 main, most well-known ones are each over a vital gland in the body. The needles used in acupuncture are interacting with your energy flow, restoring flow where it is blocked much like clearing the debris out of your gutters. Pain is an over energy. Something causes a blockage in the flow so it dams up and overflows, like a storm drain filled with litter.

You don’t have to use needles to clear energy flow. There are many ways to work with energy; sound, touch, visualisation, massage, colour, metaphors, polarity.  Rubbing on a neurolymphatic point for the Large Intestine meridian can result in an instantaneous release of back muscles by restoring meridian flow. A headache may be caused by tension in the gut. Looking at a problem from a different perspective can bring about release in the physical body or re-energise a muscle.

Still not convinced? Why not host a workshop where I introduce you to Energy – Everyday Magic. It’s fun and enlightening and great for a get together with the girls.

Keep learning, keep growing, keep moving…

True Colours

As a child, I loved a new pack of crayons or Koki pens. The potential of those unused, pristine colours was inspiring and I felt compelled to test each colour to see how it looked on the paper. There were usually eight or sometimes twelve colours in a pack. I remember once receiving a pack of twenty five colours! Glorious, wonderful variations of green and peach, lilac and tan, colours I had never had before. Each colour was unique and beautiful and I loved that. There was a feeling of let down and disappointment when two colours, though different in their outer wrapping, proved to be the same on paper. I felt cheated.

So why is it that as humans we strive so hard to be like others? We want to look like others, dress as others dress, have what others have. We are so afraid to own our style and uniqueness. We judge ourselves against others and what others will think of us and our work. That age old fear of failure, of not being good enough, is lurking in the depths of us all. It limits us, curbs our potential. We try to emulate others by doing as they do and so we fail because we cannot be what we are not. An orange crayon can’t be blue. It can only be orange, glorious in its own right with its own unique potential. Just think how orange turns the sky from summer-day blue, to a vibrant sunset.  Because we judge ourselves to be “less than”, we think others will think the same. We rob the world of our own unique contribution and we cheat ourselves of our sunset potential.

Each and every one of us has a purpose for being here, one which only we can fulfil. Do we not owe it to the world to do whatever it takes to find our unique colour and add it to the box of crayons? What drives you? What do you love? Do you love something because it stirs your soul or because a significant other loves it? Do you love something but pretend not to for fear of judgement or ridicule? Own you, be you, love you and don’t be so quick to judge. Self-judgement disempowers you and steals your gifts from the world just as a box full of only red crayons steals the delight of a child. Draw what you love, film what you love, do what you love. If you HAVE to have a fear, which you don’t, let it be a fear of NOT. Not saying your say, Not showing your idea of beautiful, Not sharing what makes your soul sing.

From this moment on, make a deal with yourself to pick your colour, love it, flaunt it and never hide it in favour of another. Being you will only deepen and enrich your colour, so find more that is you, grow and learn and Keep Moving…

Life de-‘FINE’d

Everyone knows it’s not cool to complain so we speak in code instead. You bump into a friend and exchange greetings. “How are you?”  How often do you use the word FINE to convey the politically correct, seemingly all happy response? FINE can mean many things, but it rarely means fine; the dictionary definition of the word which is…  “quite well or satisfactory, in a good, acceptable or comfortable condition” (Encarta Dictionary).

If you have just come from unsuccessfully trying to query your municipal account, you are probably feeling Flippin’ Irate, Nettled and Explosive. But we don’t generally feel this way all the time. A new Mum may be Feeling Isolated, Near tears and Exhausted while someone who has started their own business may be buried in Filing, Invoicing, Networking and Excel sheets. Someone who suffers from depression may find themselves Feeling Ignored, Negated and Exiled. Many of us are trying to lose weight but when we are not coping with life, and when we are feeling Flipping Insecure Neurotic and Emotional, we Feel an Intense Need to Eat.

You may argue that it’s OK to say FINE, that maybe you are having a good day. Wouldn’t it be better to say “I feel amazing, thank you”, fantastic, glorious, awesome, inspired perhaps? This is what I call a “Quick Fix” for your toolbox. Just saying these words puts a spark in your day and a little more spring in your step. It lifts your spirits and those of the people you meet. We are so serious and so afraid to be happy lest we shine too brightly. Happiness is contagious, or so the saying goes, but I find that heavier emotions like worry and doubt seem to poison a room so quickly. Happiness dissolves like mist in the morning sun and gloom descends. Everyone is FINE. Work is FINE. School is FINE.

Next time you catch yourself using FINE to define your day, figure out what it stands for and then choose a better word, one which uplifts and inspires you. We make our lives what they are. We choose the narrative. So make your life a better one by choosing better words.

If you find your life to be FINE and you don’t seem to be able to lift yourself to brighter things, contact me and we can set up a free session to help you define what is missing and how to move forward and Keep Moving.

Birdsong and Cloudscapes

Birdsong, it’s the start to every day. Even before the light of morning has eased through the darkness, the crow of the roosters and the sweet warble of thrushes, trickles into my consciousness. It is a new day, a new beginning, a chance to start over and do better than yesterday.

I am a morning person. I love the early hours when the village sleeps. I love to be outside, exploring today’s world. It is my way of practicing being in the moment, conscious. The sun catches clouds and they blush with its first rays, cerise, pink, apricot or gold. Sometimes great sheets of colour fill the sky and other times there are just wisps. The sky is never the same. Once that gift of the new day has gone, it’s gone forever. It is never the same again. Did you see it, or did it pass unnoticed?

We miss so much in our world because we are busy, rushing around DOING instead of taking time to just BE. Our stress levels rise and our worlds shrink. We get into the habit of Doing. When last did you hear the song of a robin or watch the rain fall?  We allow the gifts of the day to pass us by without a second thought.

Night and day, heat and cold, winter and summer: all things have their shadow side, their opposite. So too, Doing and Being. There is balance to our world and when ignored, our lives become off kilter. This is when dis-ease creeps in. First it may be anxiety and later depression. The blood pressure rises and so does the weight. We start with medication and as we get older, the amount of pills we drink gets more. We tell ourselves it’s because of our age. We fill our lives with the noise of TV and news, Facebook and Internet. We are numb to nature and the world around us.

If this resonates with you, start to make small changes. If you are not a morning person, make a point of noticing the evening sky. Take time to be really conscious whether you are stroking the cat or raking up leaves. Be aware of what you smell, hear and see.  Connect with something and you will connect with yourself, you will feel an energy stir within you, a swelling in your heart. Notice beauty in whatever form, feel grateful for what you have and for what you see. Gratitude is the best medicine there is and the more you practice being present, in the moment, the more gratitude you will feel. Every time the sun rises, you have a new day to practice with. Don’t wait for tomorrow, start today, start now, and keep moving…