A note from Natalie
It’s here. This week peaks in the middle with the winter solstice, a time to reflect, to dig deep, to go inwards… and crescendos with Christmas at the weekend. So this week’s top tips are all about appreciating time and creating a space for yourself!
Photo by Pavan Trikutam
1. Dig deep
Winter may be the darkest months of the year, but that needn’t be a bad thing. Just as Spring bursts forth with energy and growth and activity above-ground, winter is the essential time for gathering energy and sorting the essential from the unnecessary. What you put into it now is what will come forth later.
Few things in nature show their work on the surface in these magical months, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on underneath. Take the long nights to make a space for yourself, sit beneath the coloured lights of the festivities, or look up and see that in the dark and frosty-clear skies, the stars shine all the brighter.
Reflect on your year, on your situation and on the energy you put out into the world. Think about where it’s going and where you wish it was going instead. Think of the instances where you have gone against your instincts.
Perhaps the clearest way to reflect is to ask yourself how much of your daily life aligns with what you believe and what you feel strongly about. If the two are not aligned, that’s often where inner conflict comes from. Exploring this question can be a great source of energy – either to change, or to feel empowered by being on the right track.
2. Centre Yourself
There’ll be plenty of external chaos around you this week, and it circles fast enough around your immediate circle, but the outer chaos of the world can gather overwhelming momentum. A great gift in staying centred is to find a reference point to return to so that you don’t get blown off course and caught up in the storm.
Photo by Thomas Brault
Centring isn’t about ignoring the world’s problems, it is about securing a strong footing so that you can rationally and expertly make decisions. Avoid emotional reactions and rash decisions, avoid getting misled by what others are saying and doing, and achieve a much greater sense of your own sense amid the hurricane.
A centring practice that’s easy for all: Counting breaths.
This couldn’t be simpler: you only ever count to ten to avoid that pesky competitive spirit that sometimes makes us more focussed on hitting big numbers than what we’re supposed to be doing, which has nothing to do with recording or competing!
- Find a place that is quiet and comfortable and either sit or lie down – whichever is the most comfortable for you to hold for a while.
- Take a deep breath in. This is breath number 1.
- Slowly release that breath until you feel your lungs are empty. This is breath 2.
- From now on, breathe naturally – a little deeper than normal, but with no attempt to excessively fill or empty your lungs. Your next breath in is breath 3. Your next breath out is breath 4. Continue until you reach ten and start again.
Remember there’s no technique to it other than gently inviting oxygen to get around your body at a relaxed and regular rate. There’s no goal other than being calm and quiet. By counting, you are focussing your mind enough that even if thoughts intrude – which they may – there is no problem at all in returning to your count or starting again.
This is a peaceful, gentle gift to give yourself whenever you can, and personally I’m sure it helps keep me present and more comfortable in my daily life. It is especially gratifying when everyone else is in a maelstrom, as it removes me just enough that I remember an emotional reaction rarely constitutes a meaningful contribution to a problem!
Photo by Kelly Sikkema
This week should have many pleasures in them, but sometimes you have to actively choose to enjoy things – it doesn’t always happen magically or spontaneously.
When the family are gathered, take a moment to appreciate them. Don’t focus on annoying habits or stressful aspects, focus for a moment on love. Be glad they’re there – even if you’re desperate for a breather – give yourself this.
Take twenty minutes –and be strict about this, even if you have to wait until everyone else has gone to bed, or in your car while you’re driving. Just take a full twenty minutes to go through some of your favourite things about this week. What are you most looking forward to? What are you most happy about? What would you most like to see happen in 2017? What gives you a rush to think about starting or finishing?
It’s not always easy to be peaceful or even happy in a given period, but choosing to focus on goodness, possibility, new starts, new adventures rather than focussing on things which bring bad feeling, you give yourself the gift of hope and a more loving experience.
Our Christmas wish to everyone this week is that we all give ourselves a little room to be ourselves, and to be peaceful.
May you all have a wonderful Christmas, and a very magical New Year.
Join us again in 2017 for brand new series and some exciting ideas to keeping well and discovering more about your closest companion: you!
This Week’s Recipe: Something unusual to give a boost over the Christmas period!
PEACH & AVOCADO PORRIDGE
From Honestly Healthy Food
Important: Debbie is selecting recipes with combinations of ingredients to inspire your cooking regimes, but while they are healthier choices in general, they will not address individual issues. You MUST make sure that all ingredients you use are compatible with your own individual medical conditions, medications, allergies and goals.
1 ripe peach
120g gluten free porridge oats
3tbsp desiccated coconut
2 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 an avocado, finely sliced
Bee pollen, flaked almonds, linseeds or other superfoods (optional)
- Chop the peach in half and remove the stone. Chop 3/4 of the flesh into 2cm cubes and place into a pan, saving the remaining 1/4 for the topping.
- Add the gluten free oats, desiccated coconut, chia seeds and half of the water to the pan and bring to a gentle simmer on a medium heat. The peach should start to break down, providing some lovely natural sweetness to your porridge. When the mixture starts to thicken, add the remaining water, and continue to cook until the porridge is cooked.
- While the porridge cooks, chop the avocado in half, remove the stone, and peel. Finely chop one half into thin half moon shapes and set aside, chopping the remainder of the peach into thin slices at the same time.
- Divide the porridge into two bowls and top with the remaining peach and avocado. Sprinkle over some crunchy toppings of your choice and add a little coconut or almond milk too, if you like. The porridge should have been naturally sweetened by the peach, but if you need a bit more of a sweet fix, a drizzle of agave or date syrup will do the trick.