Take a breath. Go on. Breathe in. Hold it. Breathe out. Completely. Put your foot on the brake. Open your eyes. Like, really. Beyond the trappings of busy, modern life…Who. Are. You? Can you feel that excitement in your chest? Can you sense an insistent rapping of knuckles from the inside of your heart? That’s you. That. Listen up.
Quote by Luisa Skinner, The Yoga PT
As I type, we are in Week 9 (I think? Who knows!) of lockdown, and now semi-lockdown, here in the UK.
We have moved through the anxious fight-or-flight initial weeks, progressed into the ultra-efficient middle weeks of baking, new fitness regimes, enthused family and work video calls brought about by an enforced, patriarchal pause, and are now in some weird, dazed and confused no-mans-land where ‘the peasants are revolting’, nearby beaches are heaving with traffic, and it feels as though mass riots could break out at any moment.
We can go to supermarkets and be within two metres of a complete stranger…yet we still aren’t allowed to see our parents, or our parents to see their grandchildren – our children to see their grandparents.
You may know I have two wonderful wildlings…aged eight and six…and last week we suffered the loss of a closest family member. And though unrelated to Covid-19, you find us now making funeral plans for ten. Sitting apart at the crematorium. Grown grandchildren not able to pay their attend. Lifelong friends unable to pay their respects. No hugs. No ‘celebratory’ get-together after to ease the pain. Unable to take our wildlings to visit, to say goodbye, to offer comfort. What will this do for the grief process, I wonder? Heartbreaking.
But, know that ‘this too shall pass’ (author unknown, I reckon it was a woman though, hey?!) and for those of us who are healthy, well, and only indirectly affected by this silent beast that is working its way across our planet, our time will come to reunite. And it will be epic.
So, what have these global restrictions brought up for you?
Have you been nudged towards working through some shadows from your past?
Some concerns… or maybe ambitions… for your future?
When asked “How are you?” by friends and family in recent weeks, my reply has nearly always been “it’s a rollercoaster, isn’t it”, accompanied with a nervous laugh and a non-committal shrug of my shoulders. When I ask the question of others, I’ve found myself wording the question, instead, as “How are you coping?” This is a subtle but helpful implication and acknowledgement that this is a bloody hard situation to stomach.
If you are ‘blessed’ (*cursed!) with being particularly empathic, then the constant, 1984-like, apocalyptic news broadcasts of incredibly serious, suited men (mostly), decreeing what you may and may not do, and when, and where, combined with real-life horror stories of key workers conditions, weeping doctors, terrifying symptoms, emergency broadcasts, vastness of spread, a life-threatened prime minister, and a call to lock-up your grandparents for twelve weeks minimum if you value them in your life, will get all your triggers going.
Know that this is a normal reaction, to a totally abnormal event. This is like nothing we have ever seen before in our lifetimes and you should gift yourself the acknowledgement of this.
So can we possibly pull some positives from this situation? If you are lucky to not have yours or your family’s health, or long-term financial future, affected by this pandemic, if you find yourself kicking your heels in a safe home for probably the longest stretch of t i m e you ever have, if you have been enduring/enjoying a slower pace of life from which to view your potential future, have you found yourself questioning “How do I want my new life to look?”
As I’ve worked through this question in my own way-too-busy mind (several times a day, every day of the week!), along with thinking back over my experience as a Personal Trainer and Yoga teacher, working with hundreds of women from across the UK, these past five years, I’ve boiled the key to finding a little joy and a little happiness down to this.
Live. Your. Life. With. More. Soul.
You need to get out of your head, out of your thinking brain, away from the nonsensical, panicked self-chatter, out of that mind-space that calculates and controls and adjusts and strives to plan every detail. Imagining that if these plans are made, they will be safe and they will happen. Because they may not.
Get into your heart.
Get into your soul.
It is there that you will find your light. And there that you will rediscover your joy.
I thoroughly recommend reading Light Is The New Black by Rebecca Campbell, to give you the most awesome leap off the diving board of self-discovery, if you think there’s any chance your soul could be shouting at you to seize this opportunity. You can start to rewrite your future, if you wish, right now.
Okay…take a deep breath! Hold. Breathe out slow…start reading again…
And so, over the coming year, throughout this ‘A Year to Heal’ blog series, I’m planning to dive deep into the ways that I feel, as a busy, modern woman, you can really start to turn your thinking around, to instead originate, at least some of the time, from your very heart and your very soul. I call this ‘living a soul-led life’.
It is here that you will find the true you. It is here that you will remember what used to light you up as a child…because those things will undoubtedly still light you up now. You just need a little nudge in the right direction to help you remember.
As a women’s Personal Trainer and Yoga Teacher I’ve always been told I’m like an angel on my clients’ shoulder. Oftentimes, women have come to me simply as that reliable form of accountability. That is probably the most important word when you’re looking to make any kind of significant life changes, be they body, mind, or soul. Accountability. Think of me as a whisper when you really need it. Feel a gentle breath in your ear and let that be the reminder you need to reach back inside yourself, and come back to what truly matters. Let there be a connection between your thinking brain and your gut instinct (I literally feel this as a lump in my solar plexus that cannot be ignored, there’s your intuition right there!)
Decide what kind of life you actually want. Then, say no to everything that isn’t that.
You don’t need to wait a year, because here are my top 11 hints to get you started! Picked by me, devoured by me even, in these recent times. But learned over my entire lifetime so far, from my own soul whispers, and from relationships, conversations and communication with the women around me. These very themes will each form my once-monthly blogs, over the coming year. Get a feel for these 11 soul-led hints now…and delve just a little deeper with me, month by month, over the year to come.
Remember, you can (and should) take baby steps down this path of soul-led living. There is no rush. You are enough as you are. But you could feel your way through a little more consciously, perhaps. Yep, we’re going super s l o w , people. Part of the process. All part of the deal. Slow down. The fact that you are reading this means your soul has nudged you gently in this direction. And so you owe it to your true self to at least be…curious.
Here are my 11 hints to living a more soulful life, and beginning to heal after lockdown:
1.Establish a magical, morning ritual…that you can stick to, with ease and minimal effort. Find the things that bring you joy and set you up for a glorious day. And repeat..and repeat…and repeat.
2. Start to re-wild your family…for me, this is where the magic has really started to happen for us. Over recent years, with my eight and six year old, and my incredible husband, I’ve built a whole toolkit of tips to re-wild your relationship with your partner, with your parents, with your wildling children. Do you feel the pull to live more naturally as a family? Do you long for your children to grow up with mud in their fingernails and a deep compassion for wildlife? Oh, do I feel you. You can begin, today.
3. Nourish yourself with some true soul food…Isn’t the joy of food just one of the most wonderful experiences. As a Personal Trainer, with additional qualifications in using nutrition to fuel athletes for sport, food is never far from my personal(!) or professional thoughts. The harshness of restriction and limitation however, for the ‘regular’ person, for the regular woman, as a cyclical being by our very nature as women, has waned over the years. Whilst certain people and professions will still demand the need to restrict and limit, monitor and control, the majority of us, do not. More on this to come.
4. Discover some journalling love. Remember that utter exhilaration of buying new stationery, ready to start a new school year each September? (No? Just me, then?!) There is such joy to be had in beautiful items of stationery…pencils, fountain pens, gorgeous notebooks. And then the joy that spills over, that bountiful joy, to be uncovered in the pages of your journal by simply allowing your mind to babble onto crisp paper. My love for writing started many, many moons ago, as a child, but while listening to my own soul (because the best teachers are lifelong students, right) in recent years I’ve realised that journalling reveals such nuggets of gold that can be turned into valuable support for others, in the form of writing. Because my writing almost certainly doesn’t come from my thinking brain. It comes from a place far deeper, and far more knowledgeable.
5. Re-think your movement practice to be body-positive. After a couple decades of thoroughly battering my body into submission, with intense gym workouts, super-heavy weights, often combined with teaching up to twelve high-energy fitness classes a week, entering races, competitions and punishing challenges, I’ve finally, finally, realised that the way forward, for health…for true health…is such a softer path. And alongside that softer body movement, there’s a softness to your self-talk, too. Now, my own practice, my own daily workouts, still include plenty of movement (I only sit still when I’m writing, though I nearly always have my best ideas when out walking on the beach or in the woods) but it’s hiking, gentle trail runs, and yoga, for me, now. Positive, uplifting, fulfilling. I can’t ‘fail’ at them, and so the self-talk is always upbeat. So if the idea of ‘exercise’ fills you with dread at the notion of working yourself until sore and bruised, mentally and physically, know that this is no longer the only way forward. It never has been. But we have been conditioned to forget the other ways. Let’s remember, together.
6. How much alone time have you managed to salvage in recent weeks? Chances are, if you’ve had too much you’re now totally over being alone. And if you’ve had very little, your soul is undoubtedly crying out for it. Time alone is so vital to allow our brains to rest, and our energetic systems to reboot without the influence of others. But equally, too much alone time can be lonely, scary, and hard to get past the mind chatter. So, scheduling, clever and flexible timetables, and creating little pockets of time, just for you, is my speciality. Stick with me. I’ve got you.
7. Do you have a cause worth fighting for? The value of finding your mission can be a moment of magic. When we are caught up in the woes of our own lives, warranted or not, one of the easiest and swiftest ways to get yourself out of that mindset is to turn your attention to that of someone else. Find a charity, a vocation, a charitable pursuit, on which to aim just a little of your passion. Those universal laws of attraction, of energy-exchange, may mean that any positive output you give out to the world, comes back in a positive way to land in your own life. Try it.
8. Is there a yearning, a sense of adventure, a desire to take your dreams into the great outdoors more often, on the tip of your tongue? I’ve some beautiful suggestions for locations and places for you to tick off your wanderlust list, and some awesome activities to embrace the natural world, for all ages, from 0 to 90. Being outside, in nature, is so deeply healing. I don’t believe there is one soul in the world that doesn’t sing when it’s by water or in the woods. Gorgeous.
9. Do you realise what a magical creature you really are? As a women you are an incredible, cyclical being. You should embody that. Learn to love and embrace your divine feminine. Get to know her. Live by the seasons. Gaze at the moon. Rescue bees from puddles. Tread lightly on the earth. “We live on a blue planet, that circles around a ball of fire, next to a moon that moves the sea, and you don’t believe in miracles?” (Author unknown).
10. To help develop love for yourself, I’ve found developing your own knowledge, your own wisdom, in any direction, aligned to any passion you have, Become an expert in your field. Create a heartfelt love for learning. Personally, I’ve been studying something, alongside working and mum-ing, almost constantly, for over 20 years. Set yourself that goal. Why the heck not? What’s stopping you?
11. Mental wellness has never been more important than now, in our overly-busy, perfection-driven lives, and we have also never had so many readily-available resources. That availability though can be overwhelming. There is such a thing as too much information. My own continuing journey through the fog of anxiety and my incredibly littered family experience with mental health has given me strength and resilience to know how to help myself. And I can teach you, too. This final chapter will be about celebrating the good days.
Don’t fear, each of these 11 hints will be fully-expanded upon in my coming blogs. I’d love to hear your thoughts, so far, in the ‘Comments’ below. I really cherish your support.
And remember I’m here. The angel on your shoulder. Using my years of experience as a women’s coach…a personal trainer…a passionate yoga teacher…and a lover of communication. Taking you on a slow and mindful journey. Listen for the whispers!
(and I’d totally love you to subscribe to my emails, no more than twice monthly, to make sure you don’t miss out on how to live a more soul-led life. Please pop your details below!)
Subscribe to emails from Luisa The Yoga PT