Thoughts on the world, homeopathy, mindfulness and food...
A collection of blog posts - feel free to respond with your thoughts and comments - I love to have feedback - thank you!
It's funny how it starts so young. You hear 'They're winding me up'; 'they made me do it' and lots more. What I find even funnier though is how it carries on for so long. 'You're making me feel (insert word of choice)' isn't an uncommon phrase to hear. And yet how can 'they', 'it', 'he', 'she' or 'them' really, really honest make us feel any which way? The situation may more often lend itself to a certain way of behaving but we do have the ability to choose our response within that.
Nelson Mandela famously demonstrated this and is summed up in the simple quote “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison.” I believe we can choose prison or freedom daily. And it makes a big difference to the joy I feel. Or don't. My choice.
Listening to Byron Katie talking in London helped to affirm this for me. She responded to one question with the example that even whilst falling, we could enjoy the momentary flight through the air, we don't know if it's going to hurt or not until we find out. So why anticipate it, tense against it and lose the ability to enjoy the moment? Why decide something is good or bad if we don't really, can't really know?
Maybe it's a very human trait, to pre-judge. I think on some levels it's vital for survival, and yet often it no longer serves us in many ways. So my challenge this week is not to pre-judge. To give myself up to not knowing until I know. To discovering. To turning to face situations with love and wonder.
I wish you a very happy week of discoveries and love, em x
I do so love people. All people. My gorgeous friends and family who support me, nourish me and love me. The people who challenge me, help me be better at what I do and point out where I need to work on my hang-ups and insecurities. The people who just are.
Today I had one of those moments with a brilliant friend who's been kind enough to have been a guinea pig the last few months with the mindfulness work I'm currently studying. She's brilliant, sharp, quick, and prepared to look at the not so fun things that will help her to move through onto the getting more of the fun stuff. Chatting over my stuff briefly as I left our regular yoga session (I did my first hand stand today - which brings me to another point... in a moment) I discussed an ongoing issue. She immediately reflected back to me that I in my waffle mentioned 'I've dealt with it...but...'. Hmmm it seems not quite totally dealt with and resolved as yet! A little more work to do me thinks. And fortunately I know where to take it.
The focussed mindfulness study I've been doing provides tools to be able to examine stressful thoughts, feelings (physical and emotional) and reactions in ourselves and work through these without judgement or agenda. Working with a practitioner enables us to let go of the need to be both roles, and just be ourselves, however several of the techniques do also provide tools that one can use at home on your own with painful situations or thoughts. So I'll have a play at home but I also have a supervision session coming up (which is an integral part of the course and training) where I can take it should I need to.
I would recommend the workshops and courses to people wishing to discover more about dealing with their own painful emotions or physical issues but particularly to practitioners, coaches and those working with people on a day to day basis. More can be discovered about these at Absolute Specialists - until now the workshops and courses have only been available in the North but now they are shortly to be available in London too... Check out the website for more information.
And as to my first handstand - with a little bit (OK my legs were being held up!) of support and belief I found out I can do a new thing today... most proud and looking forward to more! I wonder what tomorrow holds?
With love, peace and gratitude for the opportunity for growth x
I'm aware that really we can only ever speak for ourselves. I find the idea of eating meat now repulsive. Someone would have to pay me a lot to put something that had lived and breathed on my fork and raise it to my mouth, to chew it and swallow. It would be like being on I'm a celebrity eating some form of inedible insect. And yet, two years ago I was eating it believing that I needed it (or at least, my growing child did). So things change.
It struck me very recently that the process that an animal goes through from field to fork is simply barbaric. It's brought into the world to be sacrificed for someone who may not even appreciate that act. Who may joke about how it's really an evil mastermind, how it wants to sell drugs to your kids - really? No really?! If you're going to do it then at least respect it. But for me, I recognise that the amount of adrenaline, stress hormones and sheer energetic terror pumping through that animal as it faces it's inevitable fate - well that's something that I no longer want to be responsible for, let alone consume and allow to become part of my body.
So no surprises for my number one food that drains me! I'm staying firmly away from meat.
Fish likewise to be honest. It's experience of drowning in air, of panicking as it could no longer get what it needed to survive is again something I can live without. Aside from the radioactivity in the oceans, the mercury, the accumulation of heavy metals and the wiping out of the ocean due to farming and fishing methods. Just not all that appetising anymore!
Milk is another that once my eyes were opened - most significantly by The China Study but other texts along the way, just not all that tasty once you know the truth.
Salt is one that I'm battling my personal demons with - I love the taste of it but I know it's really not good for me and it really is all in my head. I'm fine without it - far less dehydrated, bouncier, lighter and possibly even happier!
And lastly for me - larger amounts of nuts and seeds or oils really ground me - without them I feel bouncier, lighter and more energetic.
So to the foods that boost me - I love my fruits - water rich fruits in a morning such as a melon or two. Loving my melons ;)
Greens - greens are sooooo good and I've had mornings (might have been when I realised I definitely was a crunchy mama) when I've thought 'I need the spirulina' - and felt better for it. Placebo or not. Feeling better is good for me! I love my kale especially at the moment although we also go through lots of baby leaf spinach and in summer plenty of romaine lettuce too.
Tasty raw food dishes - it doesn't have to be boring! My favourite at the moment is a coconut curry with cauliflower (and kale sometimes) 'rice' or vegetable 'noodles'. Love wraps using a romaine leaf, tomato based dishes, raw soups (mango and cucumber is my current absolute favourite).
So check out your boost and drain lists - see how you feel after certain foods and others - experiment and enjoy!
Oh and lastly, ice cream. I love love love banana ice cream made from frozen bananas and blended. Nothing more. Such a fabulous and healthy treat. Speaking of which I think I'm off for the ice cream tub. Time to go do some studying. Bath. Ice cream. Lesson notes. Perfection.
It seems strange to think it's been a year. Seems like I've eaten this way for a long time, and other times feels like I'm still very much at the beginning of the journey. I think perhaps we always are at the beginning of the journey. It's just a step at a time, and what went before is gone, what's to come is so far away it's only ever about this step.
I've been reflecting a little recently on the year and my experiences and thought I'd share a few...
I love eating raw. I love the way I feel when I totally engage in it and don't nick the odd leftovers off Isla's plate. I can feel totally hungover if I have salty things or too much cooked food.
I totally absolutely love eating whole food plant based and completely feel right doing that.
I really don't like the term vegan. I don't think it describes much, I think it's so broad but narrowing at the same time and I think it has lots of attachment to it for lots of people. I eat whole food, plant based raw foods that enrich and support my body and mind.
It's all just a big experiment. One day I might listen to my body and feel totally great, another I might listen to my ego based mind that tells me I 'need' this or that - I might feel great or not the next day. It's OK. It's all just a big learning curve. Life.
It's just food. There's so much more to life than food. I think if food isn't doing you good then life can be hard but clean up the food and get out there enjoying life. I don't need to talk about it all the time. I am happy to, and to be honest can't talk about Eastenders or other soaps but there's lots more than just where the protein does or doesn't come from. That said, I am happy to engage and discuss it all on an intelligent level. I am totally disinterested in arguments that go along the lines of 'but animals like to be killed and eaten'. Tolerance has run a little low just there!
I love it - have I said that? I love I've explored new foods, that I actually love being in the kitchen, creating new dishes, sharing recipes and writing my raw food book.
I don't need people to agree with me to feel good. Which is probably a good job as I don't know many people who care to eat this way (but so appreciate my lovely friends who are happy to try things, taste stuff and play out raw from time to time). I have some opinions that some people disagree with. This isn't about me, it's their stuff - they can think their stuff and I can think mine. And that's perfect. Whether that be around vaccination, co-sleeping, food, work, whatever - it's all good.
I love life and feel more connected to life, the universe around me and the magic that's out there all the time.
I think that's enough for now. I'm sure I've learnt much much more but now it's time to go play on the guitar.
With thanks and so much love for reading, commenting, liking and sharing my blog posts, recipes and website information,
I want to devote this blog post to some amazing women. The passion, fire and power out there is phenomenal and I am frequently inspired and amazed by the drive and love of many of them. And the support, gentleness and compassion for each other in the midst of some crazy times. Truly beautiful.
I was musing today after some iPod shuffle tunes put me in mind of a friend and a conversation we'd had recently whereby I'd got a little upset, a tad defensive, had stepped away and then used some of the mindfulness techniques I've been working with to help me continue on with my day in a calm and rational manner. I absolutely know there was no intent to upset, and yet I found it difficult to totally let the situation go and fully move on. Until probably today when I realised after working with a client that whilst I'd used some great techniques for myself at the time, I'd not done so to the best of my capacity with myself.
I worked with Byron Katie's Work whilst hiding away in the bathroom and had felt was doing well. Well enough to carry on with my day without needing to do anymore about it. And to continue in a happy frame of mind although it still niggled at me. Today I realised that it was nothing to do with the statement made by them, it was about my belief that I'd allowed to be created in myself.
Talk about penny dropping! The realisation that it's nothing to do with what someone might say, it's about what belief we attach to that statement is so often the issue. The projections we put onto so many things that we do. This I knew in theory but living it is just so incredibly liberating. The belief I attached that day? That I was doing a bad job of parenting. No wonder I found it hard to put away when I allowed myself to believe that. Not to say I feel I'm a perfect parent - far from it, but I do know I do my best and allow myself to learn on the job.
Questioning the belief fully today has brought a wonderful sense of relief. It was just a thought. Nothing less, nothing more. Attaching to it (or any self limiting belief) is generally going to give rise to constriction and discomfort, dis-ease with ourselves. Allowing it to be free, to fly off and look at it with compassion and a sense of humour is a far more peaceful thing.
Cycling this afternoon I realised a sense (as the lorries hurtled past me and cars sped along at 60mph overtaking me on my shiny new bike) of my own mortality. What was the worst that could happen? Well I guess I could collide with one of them and then end of play. To compare it to my conversation that upset me - what was the worst that could happen? Someone could think I was parenting badly in that situation. That I can live with. And the funniest realisation? That wasn't even what was being said. I certainly wasn't really listening.
And I thank them, wholeheartedly, for their part in my growth.
Within a relatively short space of time, two posts had come to my attention highlighting the naked body. One, a beautiful collection of images of yoga poses, done completely naked, and the other, a blog offering 5 reasons to get naked everyday.
For me, the most beautiful sentence in the blog, or at least the most thought provoking was:
'When was the last time you looked at your body in all its naked glory? I mean really looked at it. No squeaming at chubby thighs or grimacing at lanky arms. Just looking at, understanding, and accepting your body in all its perfectly imperfect brilliance'
How many of us think 'I'd like my body if...' I'm definitely not immune to it, although aspire often enough to elevating myself beyond this place. Elevating may be the wrong word - total acceptance of my body in all it's perfect imperfection is, I suppose what I'd like to aim for. And I have no doubt I'll get there. It's been a lifetime's work so far, and from a place of fairly intense food restriction to gain control in an uncontrollable part of my life story nearly 20 years ago, I've come a long way.
What saddens me though is how young this judgement starts. I hear my 7 year old tell me that 'friends' have told her she's fat and ugly. She's neither, but that's not really the issue here. What are we thinking that these gorgeous beings are calling each other these names? And, more importantly, how do we strengthen their inner knowledge that they too are, imperfectly perfect. People will, at various points, or at least may, knock our confidence in ourselves, in our bodies, in our beliefs. I just wasn't aware that the training starts so young.
For me, mindfulness comes in, self confidence in ourselves, taking time to get to know our bodies, accepting and giving thanks for the beauty that is within and without. Not to be ashamed of our own bodies in front of our daughters and sons and to work on our own stuff with the hope of releasing them from a similar place. I feel lucky I grew up in a house where we could all wander around in with nothing on (not that we often did - it wasn't quite that sort of house...) but there was no judgement - and still I fell into a self loathing trap of telling myself I was fat daily so I would have the resolve to restrict my food (and probably covered up more so no one was aware of my journey at that point). Beating myself up to get results didn't lead to happiness - although I suppose it did lead to an unhealthy level of weight loss at the time. And so now I see the BBC news around obesity suggesting that they use terrorising tactics and light stigma to assist in our obesity crisis.
I don't doubt the crisis - I would call it a health crisis, an overabundance of processed food crisis, and probably a shocking lack of foresight in people who are in government handing out watered down information in the hope that people could achieve it instead of trusting our intelligence and giving real, true information crisis.
Damn I've done it again. My blog was about the beauty of the naked body and it's becoming a food rant. But hear me out, there's a point to it all. If we eat well, we feel well. If we feel good about ourselves we are inspired to eat well and look after ourselves. Making people feel bad - whether it be in the playground, in the workplace, in the consultation space or even just sat at home watching an advert doling out some 'light stigma' tactics is unlikely to lead to an enhanced sense of wellbeing and ambition to give our bodies life enhancing foods.
Let's learn to love. Ourselves, others, our bodies. Our glorious naked bodies which do so much for us and get so little thanks. Today I stood in front of a mirror and thanked mine for being what it is. Doing what it does and helping me everyday.
So let's go naked now and again. Even if that's only naked, unprocessed food to start with. Imagine funding for subsidised fruits and vegetables (or even just buying more ourselves) and a campaign on TV for juicing, upping fruits and veggies, starting every meal with a large salad, increasing the greens, learning to love greens. And ourselves. Loving us for being imperfectly perfect. Just the way we are.
I thought I'd share a couple of things as I'd mentioned I would be water fasting. For 3 days. So... about that! More like 36 hours. Which was, in itself, an insightful and valuable 36hours. And, boy was I glad to see that watermelon for my break-fast!
Mostly I learnt how often I absentmindedly eat, tasting a bit of this, grabbing a bit of that, how much I eat on the go and don't appreciate my food fully. It was an interesting experiment, one that I'll repeat sometime and maybe for a little longer but for now will share my thoughts here as a result of it, and around weight loss in general.
I've for a long time intended to stop and eat but realise how often I can get swept up in the things going on around me - making school lunches, dinners, washing up, study to do.... But now I aim to sit, give thanks and cherish the meal in front of me. Appreciating the food instead of distractedly reading, watching or planning. I want to think about what foods will nourish my body - and fully enjoy them. When I started my vegan lifestyle the biggest realisation that drove me was that if I'd been told I had compromised health I would want to eat better. Why wait til then? That would be crazy!! I know we are our own best nutritionalists, we know what we're doing. If we can just listen to ourselves.
I knew that I wouldn't want to be taking shakes, supplements or concocted manufactured powders or drinks. I'd want to know what I was eating and why. And so I began. My journey has taken me far and is still continuing to drag me into awareness as I study hard, watch, learn, comprehend on a daily basis. What I would want then I decided, as I know still now to be true, was minimally processed, whole foods which were kind to my body (and I realised that that equates to being kind to nature too - killing them to assist in killing me seemed totally illogical).
Animal based products, as do fats and oils, tend to enable and assist rapid growth of our bodies, so for anyone wishing to lose weight then dropping the milks, dairy products, meats (which includes fish - it's still muscle of another animal) and losing the oils should often see the pounds fall away too. Upping the greens, getting hold of some great cookbooks (I particularly recommend The China Study Cookbook and also a read of The China Study (which is not half as dry as it sounds) to fully understand the whys
Exercise too is an essential part of the equation - to do what you can whatever that may be. There's so much available that's free to us - walk, run, ride, swim, dance (even if it's just around the kitchen) and love your body. It's good to you so be good to it.
Having had a lovely morning so far and time to reflect on the start of a new year approaching I thought I'd put a few notes down here of my mental wanderings. Probably the biggest thing that comes to mind is all the New Year Resolution that get made. Each year people decide on new things that they're going to change - to eat better, to stop drinking, be more, do more. And each year it seems that within the first month many of those great intentions have fallen by the wayside.
Instead of radically changing ourselves, or at least intending to, how about growing to be ourselves more, accepting ourselves, getting to know ourselves even, and allowing that person to be and flourish. Judging ourselves harshly never allows us to be ourselves to our full capacity and yet how many of us do that? I know I've been in places where I've beaten myself up over things that have happened in the past - choices I may have made or not made. And ultimately, where is the value in that? Enough can happen around you to drag you down, we don't need to be doing that to ourselves. Homeopathy and mindfulness can both be invaluable in this process of letting go of the 'baggage' we don't need to take onwards with us.
Speaking of letting go, that's one of my intentions for the new year - to free myself more from the clutter of things I just really don't use or need. On both a mental and physical level. From frying pans to clothes I've not worn for years but are still there 'just in case' (except for the nice dresses - you never know when there might just be a ball you need to attend!) We've already started, with books first, clearing out clothes and I'm trying with a one in, one out policy. And mentally, continuing with my 'morning mind dump' is another great practice to start the day on a lighter note.
I do have aims for the new year so I'm not suggesting we do nothing, but maybe take time to think about the things we'd really like and make a plan instead of setting vague and nebulous goals. Learning guitar is high on my list, as is continuing to learn more around Natural Hygiene (the science of living according to our biological heritage), as well as studying and learning around whole food, plant based living and mindfulness. I've my big triathlon coming up, some amazing speakers I want to travel to see - and we're also off to WOMAD again. And I plan to do my first half marathon. All things that fit in with where I'm at at this point in my life - and that make sense to me. But if I do fancy having a go at burlesque for example - I'll make sure I get out there and try it.
Do try different things, have a laugh - don't do everything because it makes sense as sometimes the best things make no sense at all. Jump in with both feet and don't look back. We really have no idea how long we're here for and can sit on the sidelines waiting for a sign, waiting to start. Do it. Now!
So I guess I'm advocating reflection, thought and seeing where you want to be, how you want to be and moving towards that. Not thinking too much and getting trapped in a worry about doing it right, but a learning to accept and love yourself. Go do fun things for no reason, go jump in a river (with adequate preparation, people around you and an ability to swim of course), love, laugh and live for the moment and life to the full. We may come back (and I accept we all have different beliefs on this one), we may not, but it's unlikely we'll be here in this moment, in this body ever again. So let go of the self limiting beliefs, love it and be you. Because you can do that better than anyone else out there.
'History will surely judge us harshly if we do not respond with all the energy and resources that we can bring to bear in the fight against HIV/AIDS' Nelson Mandela
Not sure what it is at the moment but I'm incredibly conscious of what we can do as humans, people and empathetic beings. And it is so, so much. Really. I was sat knitting today whilst watching the nativity (my dad always laughs at me and says it reminds him of the women at hangings stood about knitting - he's a joyful soul!) and realised the enormity of it all. I'm creating a jumper for a friend which has a front, a back, two sleeves and a hood. As indeed many jumpers do. However being that I'm knitting this one it grows just one stitch at a time. There will be thousands already done and with just 17cm still to knit I reckon I've got approximately 2600 stitches to go. It would be easy to think I needed to do millions of stitches to create this garment and decide it was too much, and yet it's easy to do it too. Just one stitch at a time and now I'm so nearly there.
And so with AIDS - although I sit here wishing it were quite as simple as my jumper example. However it would be easy to be overwhelmed and decide that there was too much to do so do nothing. And yet people see there is far too much to do and still do something. A friend from my Dynamis course, Sandy, is out in Tanzania as I type, Jeremy and Camilla Sherr set up and run Homeopathy for Health in Africa - with an absolute awareness of the enormity of the task, and yet still do their stitch at a time, patient after patient, gradually helping more and more people. Other friends have visited the project, other friends regularly support the project. A little at a time, a stitch at a time, a patient at a time. We can help. We can start to create change. Even, and especially perhaps, if the task is enormous.
Thank you for reading,
1st December. World AIDS Day since 1991 when a group of 12 individuals brainstormed and came up with a simple idea. The red ribbon bow - a symbol of passion, a heart and love. 12 artists. One huge movement.
I was thinking this morning about how many of us can feel too small to do anything worthwhile. And so we do nothing. But how about the flip side - do something even though it may amount to nothing? How about giving the big issue seller a spare £1 even if you haven't time to read the magazine? Or 'dropping' a couple of 20ps on a street to be discovered by excited children. A kind word to someone you've never met before? My daughter has complimented a train conductor on his tie and it was lovely to watch his face light up. A tiny act that can do so much.
So today being World AIDS Day I'd love to suggest, well I'm going to suggest, that you help out a small but powerful organisation, working with tiny doses of life changing medicine. Life saving, life changing, status altering medication. I was so heartened to read the following from co-founder of Homeopathy for Health in Africa just recently:
'Aids prostitute for 15 years and a patient of ours since 2010, she just phoned me with the news that she has gone negative!! My weekend is fixed. And probably next week too — feeling wonderful.'
Working against huge disadvantages, Jeremy and Camilla Sherr and their team of volunteers in Tanzania are doing phenomenal work. We as homeopaths, I believe, have a duty to get behind them and support it. The boundaries of possibilities are being tested and pushed back and a new day is dawning. Donations can be one offs, monthly direct debits, gifts are available to purchase for elements of the project, our fabulous 2014 calendar is available to brighten up your months with some gorgeous calendar girls (and guys). Even if you just sponsor us £1 right now for our Santa Fun Run we're about to head out and do (you can do this by texting RYJQ35 £2/£5/£10 or other required amount to 70070 or online here) then we'd love it. It's so easy to make a little difference. Or not to.
With love and gratitude,
I'm a Homeopath working in the Skipton (North Yorkshire) area. I am also able to offer food intolerance testing using Kinesiology and advice around diet and lifestyle.
Em Colley MARH, Practitioner of Classical Homeopathy
BSc(Hons) Psychology and Neuroscience
Laughter Yoga Leader
Focussed Mindfulness Practitioner
Dip (SNHS) Kinesiology
Dip (SNHS) Holistic Nutrition
Certificate in Whole Food, Plant Based Nutrition