My Hypnotherapy Experience

As some of you know, I’m currently enrolled on a Holistic Healing and Coaching diploma in London, which so far has been absolutely incredible. Over the last few months I’ve studied Emotional Awareness, Relationships, Chi Kung (a gentle and healing martial-art inspired practice which I brought a little piece of to my yoga classes) and last weekend, Hypnotherapy. Before booking onto the course I remember looking at the syllabus feeling excited but nervous and a little out of my depth, but I felt such a strong pull to do it that I had to go with it. And all I know is that I feel at home every time I’m there, surrounded by a group of like-minded individuals who don’t look at you like you’ve just tried to lick your elbow when you talk about chakras and crystals…

So I thought I’d write a short blog about the weekend just gone. I wasn’t sure what to expect on this module as I’d never been hypnotised or heard too much about it, so I was really excited when Blue, our teacher (LOVE that our teacher is called Blue by the way), opened the day by telling us he was going to perform a group Hypnotherapy session. Yes! (And the phrase ‘look into my eyyyyyyyes’ did not once feature, I’m sorry to say.)

Blue asked us to close our eyes and relax. He led us through what felt like a sort of guided meditation, using the imagery of a bright white light melting down over our bodies from head to toe, before we walked through a door and down some steps, at which point he began to count from one to ten. I could feel myself sinking deeper and deeper into a state of complete relaxation. I have to admit, I didn’t think I would be able to let myself go in a room full of 26 other students, and I don’t know if I really believed anyone could send me into any kind of trance! But as the Hypnotherapy continued, as my whole body became really heavy and tingly, I realised that I didn’t know where I was anymore, but on some conscious level I decided to trust and continue to follow Blue’s voice as he repeated some positive affirmations to us. ‘You are enough. You are worthy. You are strong.’ He told us afterwards that repeating affirmations in a relaxed state is really effective in rewiring the subconscious mind and programming it to react differently when back in the ‘real world’. At the end of what felt like five minutes (but apparently was closer to twenty), Blue counted from one to five and brought everyone back into the room. I found that I was so at peace I didn’t want to open my eyes! An amazing experience.

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Hypnotherapy is a way of literally tapping into or speaking to the subconscious mind whilst in a deeply relaxed state or trance, re-jiggling some wires that have tripped us up in our daily lives, causing addictions, phobias, or negative core beliefs, and setting us on the path to recovery. I still think it’s crazy how our subconscious mind holds around 90% more wisdom than our conscious minds – there’s a lot of shit going on down there, and sometimes we need help shovelling it out!

I enrolled on the course with the forward vision of eventually being able to help and heal others, but the most important thing I’ve taken from it so far is that you can’t do that until you learn to heal yourself. I’m going on a real journey with it and I’ll continue to share my experiences, even if I don’t quite know where I’m heading with it! But this is the thing – I think we spend so much time and energy trying to work out the direction of our life, where it’s leading to, what’s going to happen… But all we can do is act on our gut instincts, listen to our intuition and trust that it’s guiding us safely forward.

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My next module in October is called ‘Soul Plan’ – all to do with finding your life purpose – so guinea pigs, make yourselves known!

Have a great week x

 

 

 

Feeling Stuck? Here’s What I’ve Learnt…

Why do I feel like I’m playing ‘Stuck in the Mud’ way more times at age 29 than I ever did at 9? And it’s not fun this time around either. It’s not fun feeling stuck. I don’t know why that was ever invented as a game. Kids are weird.

I wanted to write about this topic because I reckon we all walk around thinking that everyone else’s life is totally sorted out and crease-free. But here’s a secret… It’s not true! We can probably blame social media for that. Who ever posts pictures of themselves during their darker hours? But we all have them – the not-so-happy-snappy moments – and we keep them hidden most of the time, because we live in an age of rejecting our shadow, denying that part of ourselves that exists when if we were to just actually embrace it and bring it to the forefront, we could not only be not happier, but we could be whole… And we could encourage others to do the same. Equals a happier generation. If we were to just be okay with our shadow, the light that we all crave could move in easier.

Though I’ve been working on it, I’m still guilty of running from the ‘baddies’. And it may not completely look it from the outside, but feeling stuck has been a big f**k-off shadow for me over the last few years that I admittedly have been trying to get as far the hell away from as possible! I’ve lacked clarity and focus, and driven myself crazy wondering what the next steps are, what I should be doing, how I should be doing it, why I’m still standing on the ground over here when that person is flying all the way up there… So then I try to jumpstart my arse into gear by doing everything at once in the hope that it will all magically fall into place, thinking IT HAS TO BE NOW, worrying that I’m missing some kind of boat… Because of course I have to do something… But the more I try to unstick myself and pull my feet from the mud, the more stuck I become. Ahh life, you little shit, you.

And it’s a killer. Knowing you have so much inside you, knowing you’re not reaching your potential, knowing you could do so much more… But having no idea how to get there or move forward. S.T.U.C.K.

If you relate to any of the above, here are a few nuggets of wisdom I’ve picked up along my road of personal development that have helped me to put down my laptop before I throw it across the room and breathe a little deeper:

Maybe you’re stuck for a reason! Timing is everything:

I went to see an astrologer on my yoga teacher training in Thailand last January who told me that sometimes we are supposed to feel blocked and can’t always see the next steps. We have to let go and trust that everything will happen for us at the right time. In the mean time, it’s about finding balance – not forcing or rushing anything, just generally following what feels right. I read an article the other day which confidently asserted that you should force yourself into action. I have to disagree. For me, if it’s forced, it’s not going to give you the results you want. At the same time, I’m not saying to lie on the sofa eating pizza watching Friends until inspiration hits. Keep taking baby steps forward in the direction of your goals and dreams (listen to your gut, not your ego), keep yourself happy and healthy, meditate, practice yoga, and find ways to connect with yourself so that ideas can flow to you more freely when the time is right. I made my mind up the other day to give myself a whole day off of thinking about anything career-related, because I’d been trying to force ideas that weren’t coming. Results from the lab: by consciously giving myself that break, ideas naturally floated in.

Feeling stuck/resistance means you’re getting closer to having a breakthrough:

This little gem makes me happy! Resistance is… Ok? Mud, my fwend? So try not to fear your resistance – often the more resistance you feel, the closer you are to experiencing a shift! Your resistance is there to test you. It’s your cells growing and pushing you to a new level that you can’t quite see yet. Keep going!

The Saturn Return – for my fellow 29 year olds:

So one of my yoga buddies told me about this recently after I’d been talking to her about how I’ve found age 29 to be quite a difficult year in the sense of not really knowing myself, what I really want from life or where I’m going. I looked it up. The Saturn Return (anyone else think that sounds like a horror film set in space?) occurs at age 29, the bridge between the twenties and thirties, and marks a real transitional stage of life. Lessons that haven’t yet been learnt are often learnt the hard way, difficult events may show up and throw us, and we are, of course, faced with the ‘what the hell have I done with my life so far?’ question. It’s a funny phase where a lot of life re-assessing takes place. Yay! We’re all mental!

See the full article here: https://astrology.richardbrown.com/ast_age29.shtml

You may be blocked energetically:

This one goes a little deeper and could be a whole different blog for another time. Briefly, one or some of your chakras, the energy points in your body, may be blocked and unable to move energy through your body adequately, which could explain or at least be related to why you may be feeling stuck. This will be linked to an emotional problem you’ve suffered, perhaps in your childhood or later. My advice here is to have a Reiki session so that you can identify where you are blocked and how you can move forward. I also highly recommend the book ‘Eastern Body Western Mind’ by Anodea Judith, which has really helped me to identify my blockages and what I need to work on. (I’m enrolled on a Yin yoga and Chakra course for the whole of November so I’ll be able to give more advice on this in a few months.)

Sometimes we feel stuck in life. Most likely, it’s for a reason. Maybe we can allow ourselves to enjoy the mud for a little while longer. Become Mud Lovers. Have a little roll around in it. (I know you want to.) Maybe the kids have got it sussed after all – when the time is right, something will come along to ‘unstick’ us, and then we can pull our feet from the ground and shoot forward at full force. Maybe if we cheat and run ahead before it’s our time, we’ll slip over more than we want to. Keep taking those baby steps, be kind to yourself, honour your resistance… And trust that all is coming.

All Those Little Things

I’ve come to learn, more and more over the years, that it really is the little things in life that count for the most. A smile to a stranger, a chocolate on the pillow, the twenty seconds it takes to write ‘Happy Birthday’ on a friend you haven’t seen in ages Facebook wall.

The little things that are so easy to not bother with, but can make a lasting imprint on someone’s memory. It’s easy to not make the effort to do things you think no one will even notice, and it’s true, they won’t notice you haven’t done them. But going that extra mile and giving that little bit more, can make a world of difference. A small gesture can ripple out and have all sorts of positive effects – then somehow make its way right back to you.

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I admit – at a time when I felt really stuck in life, I fuelled my days with minimum input. I was lazy in my work, feeling little passion for anything, more interested in leaving early and coming home to dinner in front of mind-numbing TV shows than putting my attention into anything really worthwhile. I didn’t know how to move forward with my life. Honestly, I just wanted the money. (Did I just say that out loud…) That’s another blog for another time. But my point is – you get back what you put into life. You can’t expect anything to change if you don’t make any changes. I was putting in nothing, and getting nothing back. I’m crap at maths, but I know that zero + zero = BIG FAT ZERO.

Sometimes it’s scary to make a big change! So start small.

Since I started teaching yoga back in March, I thought about what little touches I could bring to my classes to make my students happy. Some weeks I leave small gifts at the end of the mat. Most weeks I read a poem or a positive quote at the end of the class. Once I started thinking about how I could brighten up other peoples’ lives, feeling passionate about helping others, I started to get back what I was putting in – without that ever being my sole intention. I love this example – a few weeks ago, I brought some chakra-healing tea bags to leave at the end of my students’ mats. Before the class had begun, one lovely girl who was leaving the country gave me a thank you gift. I opened the gift at home, and inside was a beautiful box of tea bags.

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My discovery is this. By switching the focus off of you, and thinking about how you can serve others, even in the smallest of ways, things really do start to change in your life. And they come back to you tenfold. Opportunities arise, doors open, and you are put in touch with all the right people, as the universe recognises you are doing your bit to move it in the right direction. Don’t do it for the purpose of getting anything back in return – do it because you genuinely want to.

What can you do today that will make someone happy? Start small. Because sometimes it’s those little things that make the biggest difference.

x

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Yoga To Help You Befriend Your Anxiety

Inhale. Exhale.

And again. Keep going.

Slow it down.

Good. You are a warrior.

And on the outside, we all like to play warrior. Using our bodies as armour, a shield, a barrier… To what’s really going on underneath.

It’s almost become an inverted new trend that everyone gets sucked into – But… No one actually wants it. Yet most of us have it on some level.

ANXIETY. The millennials’ malady.

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So, how do we deal with it?

On doing a little research, there are literally hundreds of articles out there about ‘top yoga moves to reduce anxiety’. Crazy idea time… What if we stop looking for ways to reduce anxiety, and start working on ways to befriend it? Hear me out.

‘Why would I want to befriend my anxiety?’ I hear you cry.

For the simple fact that, by denying our shadow, or trying to push it away, or treating it like an enemy, it ends up creating lot more shade in our life than it does light.

Through our yoga practice, here are my five ways that we can become chums with our anxiety first, which might just result in paving its exit route:

  • Set an intention before you begin that will bring your anxiety to the forefront. Rather than use your practice to escape from negative feelings, use your practice to get to know them better. Put anxiety in the spotlight. Say ‘it is my intention to embrace my anxiety and allow my shadow to become my light’. Watch and feel what happens.
  • Forward folds. Yoga classes feature a lot of forward folds, which are not only great for aiding digestion and toning your abs (woohoo!), but they’re a great opportunity to revisit your intention and go inside. Use this time to close your eyes, block out the external world and bring your focus back to the feelings you’re scared of. Start an internal conversation with your anxiety. Say hello to it. Invite it to silently sit there with you as you breathe with it. Treat it like your friend, and feel it calmly dissolve with each breath.

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  • Inversions are scary! Like anxiety is scary. It’s about learning to find comfort in the fear. Get upside down, fall over as many times as you can, and learn to love it each time, knowing that every single one is making you stronger and better. Look at the world from a different perspective, literally. Similarly, try to see your anxiety as an ally, a partner, a sword helping you through the battle. On the physical side, inversions also help to calm the nervous system, sending the blood flow the opposite direction, allowing us to focus more upon our breathing than our thoughts. Handstands, headstands, pincha, you pick… Just get upside down and after a while, you might just start to see straight.
  • Child’s pose. This is a safety position. When you need a break, come into child’s pose and start to connect with your inner child. Visualise a time in your childhood when you felt safe and happy. Remember that you can choose to feel that way whenever you like – anxiety might have weaved its way into your adulthood, but ultimately, you are always in control of how you feel. Anxiety is just your adult invisible friend. Just let it know that you’re the one holding the reins.

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  • Lastly, breathe. Anxiety causes shallow breathing from the chest, so breathe into your abdomen and notice the difference. Take deep, conscious breaths right into your belly, feeling your sides and back expand with each inhale. Connect with your breath rather than your thoughts. Go one step further – on an inhale say to yourself ‘thank you anxiety’ and on an exhale: ‘for helping me grow’. Because pain is growth, and us humans are all about the growth.

Despite how awful it can feel, perhaps we shouldn’t be looking at anxiety as the enemy. Maybe it’s not something that needs to be conquered. It could be about time we take the higher road, put down our defenses and shake its hand. By pushing things we don’t want away, we really only draw them closer. Practice yoga to offer new perspectives. Inhale, exhale. Learn to embrace the shadows of your inner warrior, not just the light, and feel the shifts start to happen.

You got this!

 

Article featured in Elle Magazine, July 2016: http://www.elleuk.com/life-and-culture/elle-fit/articles/a31163/yoga-for-anxiety/

 

Not Everything You Lose Is Bound To Be A Loss

Without fail, on a weekly basis I always have someone shuffle up to me at the beginning of a class telling me, in some form, that they’re going to be shit. ‘I have no co-ordination!’ ‘I’m so unflexible!’ ‘My face goes like a tomato!’ I always wonder why they feel the need to tell me this, as if not saying anything would result in me stopping the class so everyone could point and laugh. Guys, I ain’t here to judge. We’re all in this together.

So last week, I themed the first few of my outdoor summer yoga classes around the subject of letting go. I set a group intention at the start for everyone to let go of something they were holding on to that wasn’t serving them – be it physical, emotional, psychological – an injury they were guarding, a judgment they were making, an ex they were hung up on, guilt over leaving, frustration over staying… Whatever the thing was (and we all have a thing), I asked them to imagine it as a ball in their stomach (where we store emotions), to feel it, then take it out and throw it away. At least for the next hour on the mat.

On Wednesday evening in Battersea by the breezy river, with a red-orange sun dipping below the bridge, a row of downward dogs streaking the skyline and the soul-stroking tones of Passenger singing out, ‘you only need the light when it’s burning low, only miss the sun when it starts to snow, only know you love her when you let her go’, life felt really rather special.

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The evening before was a different story. I’d been on my phone scrolling through photos of the #yogisofinstagram. DANGER ZONE. Ten minutes in, and I felt like shit. I’m nervous to share this, but I’m going to because I’m pretty sure every girl reading this will have had similar thoughts, and it might help to know we’re all just as insane as each other. ‘She’s so much better than me!’ ‘She has way more followers – I’m obviously not as popular.’ ‘People don’t like what I’m putting up.’ ‘Everyone is racing ahead of me!’ Why did this picture not get many likes? Do people think I’m full of it putting that one up?’ ‘What if this doesn’t work?’ ‘What if I fail?’ Oh my GOD! Breathe, woman! Sometimes yoga – yes YOGA – stresses me out!

Staying true to its magical self, the universe once again blew my mind and delivered me a huge helping hand the following morning, first class via my daily affirmation calendar:

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Clearly, I needed to take my own advice. After having a little logic stamped back into my overloaded brain, I reassessed. Here’s what I reminded myself of:

  • Life is not a competition or a race. In fact, I’d rather stay clear of the finish line for as long as I can.
  • My intention. I’m here to help others become healthier, happier versions of themselves, from the inside out, and if people like what I have to offer, then I am spreading good vibes, contributing positivity to the ripple effect and helping to shift the world in the right direction. And if there are others doing the same, well, even better!
  • What we see in others, we already have in ourselves. What we do to help others, helps us too. Our external world is a reflection of our internal world, so if it’s beautiful out there, it’s beautiful inside. Life is just one big old mirror!
  • We’re all connected in this giant field of energy. There’s just no point in comparing. Sing it – we’re all in this together!

As a result of putting myself in a better vibration and letting my shit go, my class that evening really couldn’t have gone any better. There we were, upside down, inside out, and letting go… A group of people who were different but the same, holding on but with a loosening grip, some disconnected but reconnecting.

Why do we hold on to things that don’t serve us? Guilt, resentment, pain, denial, anger… All of these toxic emotions that invade and pollute our naturally functioning systems. By holding on, we don’t allow ourselves permission to move forward. It’s as if we feel that by letting go, something worse might happen. To let go is to lose control. But maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. Life will happen anyway, and probably in a way that we prefer. You know the saying ‘go with the flow’? Yeah, exactly that. Be fluid, be water, let go and go with the FLOW. Why struggle to paddle upstream when you can release the oars and float peacefully downstream?

For me, it all comes back to trusting our deep inner selves to know the way. We breathe thousands of breaths a day, without ever stopping to question whether the next one will begin as the last one stops. Our bodies and our souls hold infinite intelligence that we, as a society, neglect to acknowledge. Instead, the mind seems to steal the top trump card. Our body and our soul are always on our side, but the mind can be our best friend or our worst enemy. In losing our minds, maybe we can finally come to our senses. To let go is to let in. To let go is to return home to our true selves.

I’m not saying I’m completely free of resistance – far from it. There are things I still hold on to… Some things I haven’t figured out how to let go of, or even if I want to. I’m still working on that one. I believe some difficult emotions are there for a time to teach us lessons or help us grow, and we’ll know when the time is right to release them. I think it’s all about learning to listen deeper than your thoughts and feel your way forward.

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If you resonate with any of the above, please feel free to join me for Sunset Riverside Flow yoga, which is back on again tomorrow (Wednesday) evening, 8-9pm in Battersea. Same place, same time, every week. Book on via this link: https://goteamup.com/p/710865-holly-lois-inside-out/ If it’s your first class, use discount code TASTER5 to receive half off (£5). I’ll also be at Trinity Gardens Square in Brixton on Thursdays, 7-8pm, Clapham Common on Saturdays, 10:45-11:45am, and Clapham Common again on Mondays, 7-8pm. See my website for exact locations and other info: https://hollyloisinsideout.com/class-schedule/

One rule: Don’t come and tell me you’re rubbish at the start because 1) you’re not and 2) you’re not. Let that shit go, just come and flow.

To conclude, I leave you with a little poem I shared with my students at the end of my classes last week:

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Peace and love,

Holly x

Let’s Talk Anxiety

Being self-employed suits me. But it does mean I have to generate a huge dosage of self motivation. When you’re employed, you generally do sort of have to get out of bed and go to work five out of seven mornings in a row. When you employ yourself, I don’t know about anyone else but for me, there’s often an internal struggle that takes place about 7:30am, which sounds a bit like a chipmunk princess in your ear singing ‘Disney duvet day?’ Five days out of seven I manage to knock that furry bitch down.

Some of those days, I want to take over the world. On others, I really can’t be bothered. With anything. What is the deal with female hormones? I can literally go from jumping out of bed one morning smiling from the inside out, with beaming intentions of productivity and creativity, and then before I’ve even put my hand on the bathroom door I feel like my life is over and that I might as well just give up now. Bit dramatic. But I am a girl and that is allowed.

Well, it’s definitely an improvement on a few months ago, when even getting out of bed to go to the bathroom was mission impossible. I couldn’t put it down to hormones then. On the whole, I consider myself seriously lucky to have been wired up from birth to be a Positive Polly – the settings switch in my brain in the end always somehow pings back to ‘Default: Happy’. But I haven’t totally escaped it. That thing that’s pervading more and more of society these days. The A word. (Not arsehole.) ANXIETY. And anxiety is such an arsehole. So I’m going to bring it to the front here, because once you face an arsehole head on, it’s possible to see that perhaps you haven’t quite been standing at the best angle.

So let’s talk about it. Feels nice to know we can all just be one giant mess together, right?!

I’m not an expert in this field by any means, and I can’t claim to be a long-term sufferer of anxiety. But what I did experience intermittently over a period of a few months is this: a feeling of dread churning at the pit of my stomach. Clammy hands. Inner trembles. Voices saying ‘you’re not good enough for that – who do you think you are?! She does it so much better than you! Might as well just quit now!’ Shortness of breath. Lack of drive. PANIC PANIC PANIC. I’m pretty confident that everyone reading this has experienced it on some scale. Perhaps some of you on a regular basis. When waking up every single morning with a dark cloud over your head is the norm… Well, it’s not the best is it? No one should have to live like that.

Hands up if you’re fine? (Reeeeeally?) Who actually ever means they’re fine when they say they’re fine? The word ‘fine’ is like secret code word for ‘well I feel like shit actually!’, but we all say we’re fine, because on some level we feel like we should just be getting on with it. Thankfully, it does seem that society is slowly becoming more and more sensitive to and aware of mental illness, the stigma is finally dissolving, and people are seeing that it’s okay to not be okay all the time. Actually, I reckon the more acceptable it is to not be okay, the more okay we all will be.

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Anxiety can hold you a prisoner inside your own mind. For me, I felt as though someone else had been held prisoner inside my mind; as if voices, thoughts and feelings were trapped within the confines of my mental walls that didn’t belong to me. I needed to find a way to get back to me. Getting motivated to do anything was like trying to push a car up a hill. But rather than waiting for motivation to kick in, I found that you just gotta find a way to kick-start it yourself – make one small achievable change – put the key in the engine and feel those wheels start to roll, baby.

I’m not saying that every case is the same, or that this is a ‘one-size fits all’ cure. But below are five things that, practiced regularly, personally changed my life, and still are, in some pretty special ways. These things have shifted my perspective, instilled a decent amount of inner peace and conjured up an instinctive knowing that everything is going to be okay. It might not be any new information for some of you. I’m not going for a particularly creative angle here – sometimes the simple things are the most effective. And if it’s stuff that’s been repeated over and over again, well maybe that’s for a reason… I mean it might actually work! Here we go:

1) Yoga. The obvious one, given that I teach yoga and bang on about it a fair amount. At first, I didn’t understand how yoga could change anyone’s life. How can trembling awkwardly in a headstand bloody well calm my nervous system and positively affect my state of being? The more regularly you practice, committing to presence and tuning in to yourself, the more good little changes will creep up on you. Apparently, sometimes you just gotta get upside down to see straight. So find a class you like (there are so many different styles, but ultimately the goal is the same), and give yourself the time to just be with you. Put yourself at the top of your to-do list.

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2) Meditation. People make the mistake of thinking that yoga is just a physical practice. The physical practice is only a small part of a much bigger picture, which acts to prepare our bodies for what’s to come – the union of the mind, body and soul, the connection to our true selves. Yoga is effectively a moving mediation. I also like to spend fifteen minutes a day completely still in meditation. Meditation has been scientifically proven to not only physically change the shape of our brains, but to mentally mould us into happier beings, reducing anxiety, connecting us to our souls that hide beneath our intrusive egos, awakening our intuition, and so much more. The benefits are actually quite unbelievable. In a world where everyone tries to shout over one another to be heard, meditation, I believe, helps us to see that silence often speaks louder than noise.

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3) Gratitude. Make a mental list of all the things you are grateful for. This is a powerful exercise, especially when you’re finding it really hard to get out of the ‘FMLiiiiiiiife!’ mindset. The Universe loves gratitude. When we’re grateful, we’re given more things to be grateful for – it’s all part of the Universal law of what you put out, you get back. Gratitude can change your perspective pretty quickly. Spend 5-10 minutes on the train or walking to work or wherever suits you – but don’t just say the words as if it’s a chore; make the effort to really feel the gratitude if you want to feel the effects. It’s all about the feelings.

4) Get outside. Being immersed in nature raises our vibration, ie makes us naturally happier. That’s because when we’re close to nature we’re closer to truth. Every morning for about six months I went for a walk to my local woods. I would just stand amongst the trees and consciously breathe, watching them watching me, connecting to something that felt bigger than me, surrendering and allowing myself to be happy ‘right here, right now, knowing that this is exactly where I need to be’. Yes, I’m a weirdo who loves all the trees. Works for me.

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5) Positive audios. This is the first thing I do every morning for 20-30 minutes while I’m snoozing. It could be anything from motivational speaker Tony Robbins, to my personal hero, Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer, Les Brown… Anything that’s going to fill my subconscious with positive messages. I guess I see it the same way as eating a decent breakfast: I start the day off right feeding my body with some organic porridge oats, almond milk, nuts and banana, which sets me up for the day and keeps me feeling full, healthy and satisfied. If I ate fried eggs and bacon I would feel sluggish, unfocused, and a bit gross to be honest. Positive audios are my mind porridge. The news headlines, on the other hand, equals a fried (eggs and bacon) mind. Feed your subconscious with daily morning positivity, and feel the changes over the next few months.

See the above as natural pills. They might not ‘solve’ any real deep-rooted problems you might have – that might take some further digging – but they will certainly help to improve your life, whoever you are. The changes you will experience will be subtle at first. It’s about perseverance, faith and commitment. If you can’t tackle them all at once, perhaps just try one thing at a time and then introduce another when you’re ready. They work for me, but it’s all about finding things that feel right to you. I’m not here to give anyone any answers – you already have all the answers inside you. These are just ways of helping you access them, unlock some doors, blow away some brain fog.

I still definitely have off days! But I feel well-equipped to deal with life and my feelings now. I’m mostly calm and at peace – I trust that I’m being taken care of, and I trust myself, because I’ve worked to connect with and meet my real Self. I’m learning to release the ‘ego-talk’, knowing that it’s not really me. And I’m not the only Positive Polly in the world – every single one of us is. Our natural state is joy, believe it or not. It’s just about finding ways to get back there.

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If you’d like to start, or continue your journey with me combining most of the above ‘happy pills’, I am running outdoor yoga sessions over the summer from next Monday 6th June in southwest London, starting on Clapham Common! I’m really excited to have been asked to be a part of the charity ‘Happy Space’, which focuses on bringing awareness to mental illness, specifically anxiety and depression, so in the act of giving, your first class for the first week will be half price at £5, with £2 of each fiver going to Happy Space charity. To register and book on, click here, using the discount code FIVER. I’ll also be running Happy Space’s first fitness fundraiser on Saturday 9th July from 12:30-4:30pm at the Coffee Co Cafe in Clapham Common; a fun afternoon consisting of Zumba, Barre, Yoga, a positive mindset workshop and a guided meditation. Tickets are limited, so get yours here before they go!

I hope you’ll join me on my mission to make the world a happier, healthier place, from the inside out.

Have a great week x

How Being Single Can Make You Complete

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Relationship hopscotch.

Phrase:

Hopping from one relationship straight into another, before you’ve even had a chance to land both feet safely on the ground.

Hands up if you’ve played that game? Me.

I watch friends who are doing it now. And I’m not about to tell them not to because it’s their lesson to learn, their journey to make and their heart to break… Aaaaand here comes my opinion anyway.

Time alone is important. And I don’t just mean alone as in let’s run a bath and have some real candlelit ‘me-time’ alone (although that is very nice too)… I mean, ALONE, as in, without partner, boyfriend, girlfriend. Single. I can only speak from experience, and coming from a girl who has just spent eight months being single after thirteen years of playing relationship hopscotch, I can tell you now – time alone is important.

So here are my three top nuggets of wisdom I’ve accumulated during my ‘alone time’:

1) Being selfish is not actually selfish. It’s a necessity.

We don’t realise just how much energy we give to our partners. Even when we’re not physically together, they occupy a lot of brain and heart space, which doesn’t always leave much for us, and can mean we end up neglecting ourselves. Having time alone allows us the chance to be selfish, work out who we are and what we want from life. Selfishness is generally seen in society as a negative – all this ‘put others before yourself’ business – no. Just, no. Being selfish is The One. Totally necessary. I’m not saying ‘f*** you, the last Rolo’s mine’ kind of selfish, I’m just saying it’s so important to make decisions based on what’s best for you, not because you think it’s what’s best for them. Only they know what’s best for them. We didn’t come here to live other people’s lives. Looking after number one first means you can look after number two better. Putting them first doesn’t make you a better partner… In fact, that shit actually ends up boomeranging right back on you both. Be selfish, work on yourself, and fill your space up with you.

2) It’s not their responsibility to make us happy. That’s our job.

Chances are, if we jump straight from one relationship to another, it could be because we’re looking to someone else to make us happy, unconsciously searching outside of ourselves. We place responsibility on our partners to make us happy, and it ends up just making us sad. It’s no one other than our responsibility to make us happy, and it all starts with self love. Cheese on toast, but a simple truth. Having time by ourselves throws up a lot of surprises that would probably take a lot longer to realise being in a relationship, and a really big one for me was learning that I didn’t completely love or believe in myself. If you don’t love yourself, how can you love another person the way they deserve? The best advice I can give here is, don’t use someone else to fill a hole – learn to be content by yourself, and then the right person will just enhance your happiness, not be responsible for it.

3) We attract what we are.

Probably one of the biggest and hardest relationship lessons I’ve had to learn since becoming single is that we attract to us what we are. This can be a difficult one to get your head around. Do you find yourself blaming them? Trying to change them? Wishing they’d act or behave in a way that suited you better? Time to take a look in the mirror. Or rather, just look at your partner, because every piece of good and bad we see in them is a reflection of what we already have inside of us. This can be a hard thing to accept – at first, I didn’t want to believe that the ‘negative’ things I noticed in others existed in me. But whether we like it or not, the external world is always a reflection of our internal world. When you’re faced with qualities you don’t like, see it as an opportunity to look at yourself. In the words of Jim Rohn, ‘don’t wish it could be easier, wish that you could be better.’ Which is a whole separate topic for another time. So for now, look to change yourself before you can expect to see a change in someone else. Being on our own gives us the time to become the best version of ourselves, so that we can attract the same person towards us. Become the person you want to attract. If we move on immediately to another relationship without any breathing space, unknowingly discontent in our own company, chances are, our next partner will be exactly the same. And that rarely leads to a happy ever after situation.

Yes, it can be hard and lonely and scary being alone after a relationship ends, and it’s pretty natural to want to look to someone else to help soften the blow! Being on my own filled me with anxiety for months, but I knew it was necessary if I was to ever be truly happy. The relationship hopscotch pattern needed to be broken. And getting to the other side is incredibly empowering. We need breathing space between partners to turn the focus inside and work on the most important relationship we could ever possibly have – the one with ourselves – which is so often forgotten about. Once you’re in a good place with yourself and the internal work is being done, the right person will appear at the right time. Someone who loves themselves too, and is able to love you right back, the way you deserve. Someone who sees the greatness in you because they’ve worked to be great themselves. And someone who doesn’t call you their ‘other half’, because they know you’re already complete by yourself.

Holly x

 

Sorry Sugar, It’s Just Not Working Out Anymore

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One of the biggest benefits of this yogic path I’ve chosen to walk on is that it seems to have given me an internal camera, inward eyes if you like, that not only allows me to get more in touch with myself on a spiritual level, but helps me to really see and feel the affects of the food I’m putting in my body. More than ever before. And the more steps I take along the path, the clearer the lens gets. But what makes it blurry again is when I eat shit. I can’t give many concrete facts around this topic because I’m not a Deliciously Ella-fied nutritionist (watch this space), but what I do know for sure is that not only does a poor diet eventually show itself on the outside, it also massively affects our mind and our mood; a link that I’m growing increasingly sensitive to.

Yes, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am a sugar fiend. Ok addict. BUT. I’ve admitted it, I’m fully aware of it, and now I’m doing something about it. After Easter a few weeks ago, with the whole week having been underlined with chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate, I felt repulsed by the amount I’d consumed and the new wobbles I’d inherited. You know that feeling when you jog up the stairs after a few indulgent days… Uh uh. Not cool. But not only did I feel physically bleurgh the following week, I felt blocked, unfocused, lethargic and moody; trying to get anything done was a sticky, uphill struggle. Ok I’m gonna be honest – Easter aside, this is a pattern of mine that generally shows up on Saturdays and Sundays. Most used phrase: ‘Start Monday!’ Anyone relate? I’m not gonna lie, I ate two chocolate brownies, a piece of banana cake and half a family-sized slab of Green and Black’s white chocolate last night, with a sugar-coated devil on my shoulder whispering “it’s okay, we’re starting tomorrow!”. Urgh. SORT. IT. OUT.

 

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It’s not normal.

So! I met another Sugarholic at my friend’s hen do this weekend, who had last month gone cold turkey and cut out all refined sugar for 21 days. I decided on the spot to follow her example and take on the challenge – STARTING TODAY. She warned me of the withdrawal symptoms – the headaches, low energy for the first week and a high risk of Moody Bitch Syndrome – and I was up for it all. My plan was to declare my ‘21 day sugar-free challenge’, document it and put it out there for people to read and maybe try out for themselves. But it was literally until I started writing this blog that the whole thing suddenly didn’t feel right to me… Firstly, if I know me, I know that completely cutting out something I enjoy will result in a mega-binge, probably sometime over the next seven days. And secondly, if I’m trying to practice and encourage generally not taking short cuts in life, slowly and surely feels like the right way for me. I used to be all or nothing. (All of the cake. None of the vegetables.) I still kinda am. I want to change. But not drastically; just steadily. The tortoise wins the race, right? (Is she still going on about the bloody tortoise…)

We all know that sugar is the new fat. It’s just not good for us, physically or mentally. Not only does it pile on the pounds, it gives us foggy brain goggles, messes with our metabolism and wreaks havoc with our insides. Saying that, I do also believe that if eating something indulgent once in a while makes us happy, then on some level it’s good for our soul, and surely there’s some kind of balancing act going on there… Balance being the definitive word! So to all of my fellow Cookie Monsters reading this, I invite you to join me in abandoning the ‘quick-fixes’ that normally lead to longer-term disappointment, and instead focus on making small, achievable changes over time, to clean up from the inside out. All of these little daily dietary decisions, good or bad, that we don’t think make any difference, all in fact add up, and one day ultimately determine how healthy and happy we really are.

A few healthier ‘sweet tooth curb balls’ for when you’re gagging for the cake:

  • A teaspoon of ‘Meridian’ or ‘Whole Earth’ peanut butter – no added sugar, and fills you up!
  • Raw cacao – try ‘Ombar’ (WholeFoods or Planet Organic) – a great alternative to chocolate, and full of extra benefits (high in magnesium, iron and vitamins)
  • A piece of fresh fruit – berries are the best option, with high fibre and low sugar
  • Vegetables such as sweet potato and parsnips with your meal
  • Honey or agave syrup in your tea over sugar – yes it’s still not ideal, but it’s au natural
  • Greek yoghurt with honey/agave syrup rather than ‘low fat’ yoghurts (which are often high in sugar)

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Well, it’s a start! It’s all about taking small steps in the right direction, without beating ourselves up if we stray from the path from time to time – every day is a new chance to try again. I know I’m a sugar addict but I also know that I really want to change that, and that’s the first step right there. I want to be in control, I want to look and feel good, and I want my body and brain to function at their best. My revelation is that my spots won’t fade with cream, my cellulite won’t disappear with a body brush (apparently not even the Body Shop’s finest), and my unfocused mind won’t sharpen if I’m not giving it the right fuel to work with – at the end of the day, WE ARE WHAT WE EAT. As always, life is a mirror, and our outside will only ever be a reflection of our inside. It all comes down to what we really want for ourselves. (Ahem, summer body.)

Wishing you health, happiness and willpower,

Holly x

Chill, You’re Already Perfect

Have you ever looked at a snowflake? I mean, really looked at one? Have you ever stopped to think how something that falls from the sky could be formed with such perfection? Ok I sound like I’m about to break into a Disney song. Which definitely did happen in the mountains of Austria last week. I was skiing, I was surrounded by snow, I had a blonde side plait (totally unplanned, honest) – let’s face it, I was Queen Elsa from Frozen. Singing ‘Let It Go’ was not optional in that moment, and I was really trying not to let the cold bother me anyway. In all seriousness though, the snowflake situation got me thinking. That tiny flawlessly formed creation started me questioning life, and if this thing we’re all in together is actually just one giant snowflake – perfectly designed, perfectly created, all imperfectly perfect without us even realising. I know – deep as snow.

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Totally unplanned.

 

In the car on the way to the airport at the end of the short but incredible trip, I’d started feeling pangs of anxiety about leaving and going ‘back to reality’, as we like to say. I started thinking about the things I needed to do, the people I needed to please, the desserts I needed to stay very far away from after all the Apfle Strudels ja, oh the apple strudels… I could feel myself heading down that slippery slope of self-depricating mind gabble. It happened again after teaching my third ever yoga class the other night – I noticed everything that went wrong and nothing that went right, and started beating myself up about it on my drive home. I had to force myself to stop, told my ego-in-training to shut the hell up and tuned right into Soul FM. The best frequency there is, the station of silence. The place where the real you resides – in stillness, not noise; inside, not out.

It does feel like we’re in an age where we’re living outside ourselves, all striving for this flawed concept of perfection. We’ve been conditioned throughout our lives to feel like we’re never quite good enough, that we should be earning this much by then and have 2.36 kids by the time we’re blah blah blah… I think we all feel like we’re in some warped version of Big Brother with a secret camera on us all, individually scrutinising us to be more, be better… ‘They’ say this, ‘they’ say that. Enter Nikki Grahame. Who ARE THEY? So much of the time we’re making choices based on what we think ‘they’ will be most pleased with, or what will look best on paper. The value of people seems to correlate with their bank balance. It’s backward. It’s outside in. Who are we living our lives for? What if we’re all already perfect the way we are? And even when we fall, fail, go a little off-piste in life… Could it all be part of a grander design to help us move along our paths? Science has proven we’re all formed of the same stuff, the same matter, the very same particles of energy as what the entire universe is made of! (Don’t know about you but that totally blows my mind.) So if nature falls perfectly, why wouldn’t we? The rain falls so the plants can grow. Our perceived ‘failures’, I believe, are helping us to do just that – grow, towards the light that we’re all reaching for.

What I’m trying to get at in this short and sweet blog is, it’s all about the way we look at life. We can go on beating ourselves up about how many Skittles we ate or how much money we drank through last weekend, or we can choose to see the hailstones as snowflakes, our imperfections perfectly. The good, the bad and the ugly; it’s all necessary, and we’re all going to be okay, because everything is happening the way it’s meant to. I’m not saying to just sit and wait for things to happen – keep going, stay true to yourself, and have faith that life’s got your back. It’s helping us to win, even if we do trip over a few times before the finish line. To be honest, I’ve probably read this post over a hundred times now trying to make it perfect but it’s nowhere near, it might not even make sense, so I’m just going to stop here and choose to trust that it’s just another small jagged piece of the whole perfect puzzle.

Have a wonderful week, and try tasting the raindrops like you taste the rainbow 😉 x

Forgetting to Forgive: Could it be Blocking You?

I am an energy ball addict. I’ve said it. (Unfortunately I’ve checked Gumtree and there are no local Professional Energy Ball Sampler positions going.) Today it’s ‘Refuel’ from Giro cycling café in Esher – homemade, sugar free. Which is for the best I suppose, because I’m also a sugar addict, currently looking for a Sugar Rehab Centre… (I am open to an intervention.)

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So the scene has been set; let’s pull back the curtains on today’s topic of…

Forgiveness. Ouch. It’s something I feel compelled to write about it after a pretty huge revelation a few weeks ago.

Just after my ex and I broke up back in September, I was pointed in the direction of a Yoga and Spirit show in Surrey, not really knowing what to expect but feeling instinctively that this was my next baby step away from the old and into the new, wherever that was. I felt strange and sad that I had no one to message throughout the day, no one to send totally pointless What’s Apps to with Emoticons expressing what words simply cannot… I was alone in this new Kingdom of Singledom, but as painful as it was, I knew that’s exactly where I needed to be. Since the age of sixteen, I haven’t been single for more than a grand total of two months! I’ve tallied four different relationships with four completely different men, scaling from the recent soul mate I let go of to the Devil’s identical twin. Time with myself was long overdue, and a lot more than I realised.

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After wondering around the crystal-sprinkled stalls and listening to some uplifting talks and participating in a rather odd yoga taster session to Punk Rock music, I noticed an older lady sitting by herself at a table. Our eyes met, and I felt instantly drawn to her. A cardboard sign confirmed that she was a medium… Duh duh duhn. I’d never had a reading or anything like that before, but I was curious, and if I was going to do it, now was the time! I was a combination of apprehensive and open-minded as I sat opposite her, and I noticed her eyes flicker from hard to soft as she looked at me, or through me, or whatever it is that they do… I felt like translucent jelly under a microscope, but I was weirdly at ease.

My old housemate once labeled me ‘a robber’s dream’. Yes, I have a trusting nature, and yes, it’s definitely gotten me into trouble before… So naturally, I chose to believe what the ensorcelled lady was telling me – it was hard not to! She focused a lot on my granddad (my ‘Papa’; the biggest legend I’ve ever had the pleasure to know and love, who had died almost a year before). She told me he had sent the robin I’d been having a whistle-off with in the garden the other day. She told me (after asking if it ‘was my birthday this month?’ – Er, yes!) that he was making a cake for me up there with a black Labrador. He loved what I’d done to my recently re-decorated room, even though it hurt him to see me cry in it so often over the question ‘do I stay or go?’, and he was proud of me for all that I was doing. Ok, I hear you – lucky guesses? But then she asked who Bob was, and said that he had an item of clothing that belonged to my Papa. The only Bob I knew was my Dad’s friend, so I asked my Dad what she could’ve meant by that when I saw him later that afternoon, and he said in amazement, ‘I gave Bob Papa’s jacket after he died and he wears it every day’. And, Papa had had a black Labrador called Jason. You can close your jaw now.

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Towards the end of the short ten-minute session, she picked up on something else. She told me I needed to let go of the anger that was inside me over someone that had hurt me long ago, otherwise it would continue to block me. Eh? This was the first piece of information that didn’t ring true but did ring alarm bells. Damn, lady, you really had me for a while then. I thanked her and made my way back to my car, feeling pretty overwhelmed.

A few weeks before the yoga show, I’d received a message from my first boyfriend’s mother, asking me to contact her. This was seriously out of the blue after having split from him over seven years ago, and I had no idea what she wanted. I chose not to reply. Why bring up the pain of the past? It was my friend Kayleigh who noticed after I told her about it, that when I spoke about him, I spoke from a place of real bitterness. My initial thoughts were, well obviously – after years of lies and deceit, who wouldn’t feel that way?! Our relationship had been toxic for sure. But I hadn’t ever registered that the shallow scratches I thought had scabbed over and faded were actually deep white scars that had been in need of some serious Bio-oiling all along. I’d finally left him after years of mental abuse, and had just moved onto the next man with no time alone to let myself process what had happened, and everyone commenting on how ‘okay’ I’d seemed afterwards. That should’ve rung warning bells. This is another story for another time… The point is, I’d been wearing an invisible backpack of anger for years without knowing it. Perhaps the whole reason for the message, and the whole reason I met the medium that day, was so that I could learn the lesson of forgiveness and finally move forward. After all that time, it hit me – I had never forgiven him.

Now that I was alone and already feeling horrendous from finishing with my ex, I decided to go all out, lock myself in my room and completely immerse myself in the feelings I’d buried from my first relationship. I explored every nook and cranny of the dark corners of my brain, recalled as many screaming fights, countless tears and heart-breaking lies that I could and absolutely forced myself back to those dark days, now knowing that it was absolutely necessary if I was to heal myself. It was hard, but that wasn’t the hardest bit – I found his profile picture on Facebook, took a long look at it and finally said out loud ‘I forgive you, and I send you love’. I didn’t expect to feel the way I did. I thought I’d feel sick and disgusted at myself for letting him off the hook, setting him free… But actually, I’d just set myself free. I literally felt a physical and mental shift inside me, and in that moment, I knew I’d shattered an obstacle that had been blocking me for all that time.

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What I’ve learnt is that there is strength in surrender, power in forgiveness. Holding something against someone doesn’t hurt them, it hurts you. It eats you up inside and chips away at your heart and soul. It taints your present and weakens your momentum. By forgiving and letting go, you grow, you become bigger, you transcend. I went the extra mile and dedicated my yoga practice to him the other day – and I felt myself grow stronger for it. It sounds crazy but my practice in that hour was noticeably physically and mentally much lighter, as if a burden had been lifted off me. It did seem insane that someone I once hated I was now sending positive energy to. I’m not saying I think his actions were right or okay. But what I’ve worked out is that the ‘giving’ part of ‘forgiving’ doesn’t mean you are handing over any power to the person who hurt you – you are taking it back for yourself.

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Have a wonderful week x