Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The time I went to a yoga class and it ended up being a cult


There was once a time, not too long ago where I was searching for a yoga class to join. It had to meet the following criteria: be near work, start after work and be near home. A free taster class going to hurt either.

I struggled to commit to classes that were slap bang in the middle of a Saturday or twenty minutes after work. I didn't want to rush like a mad women to my first ever class. I wanted to float into the my first ever yoga class with ease. Ease, man.

So when I found one that started at 6pm, in the city centre and was free!, I thought I had won the jackpot. I book the class and ring to confirm with the lady what to wear. To which she replied, "comfortable clothing that wont distract you".

No alarm bells had rung yet. That advice was extremely sensible.

I arrived at the class, dressed in my finest (only proper pair of) yoga pants and comfy top. I was met saw a few other people in the foyer/reception of the building. When I look back on it, some of them did look a bit bewildered and confused. I had put that down to nerves. I was also reassured by a girl holding on to her yoga mat.  So as we climbed the stairs I assumed that we were heading to a small yoga studio.

Instead we entered a simply decorated room with chairs lined up in a semi circle, facing forward, as if you were being seated for a lecture. And that is exactly what it turned out to be. It was nothing sinister, the host was an elderly lady dressed all in white, she discussed with us topics that are easy to resonate with. However alarms rang when she spoke very rigidly about karma, stating that if you are a victim in this life, be it in a natural disaster, freak accident, robbery or rape. Then you have done something bad is this life or a past life, that is deserving of this bad karma. It is a repercussion of your bad self. This was something I could not agree with morally and from past experience.

After a few more words it became very apparent: BAM! I was at a "religious" introduction class.


I agreed with being a good person, with playing your part in the world. I did not however feel comfortable with the amount of dictation that was deemed necessary to succeed in life. I'm not going to name the organisation, however after much research, disturbingly I have found it to be a cult. A cult that takes your money, removes you from society and dictates how you live your life every second of the day. With the promise of being a goodness or god in the next life.

What was even more worrying was that I could see how you could easily get caught up in it all. The meditation at the end of the talk was both calming and energising. I enjoyed it. That kind of euphoric stillness would tempt anyone to go back for more. Except you would not get that all the time. You would be expected to pay obscene amounts of money and volunteer all you time to an organisation that uses you like a cog in their wheel.

I did not return and have since found a great yoga class.

If you are seeking guidance, go to a counsellor or even life coach. If you need an open ear, carve out some time with a friend. If you are looking for a new class to join, do a proper google search beforehand. I wish I had. The problem is this, everyone is going to feel lost and unsettled at some point in their life. That is normal. Just don't let that feeling make you prey to someone's else greed or prerogative.

Keep well. Stay safe. Rock on.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Project Pan: Why my transition to green products will never be perfect


*This post was inspired by someone asking me what was the point in my pursuit of choosing "green" products.

First off what you decide to put on and in your own body should always be your choice.
It should always be if possible, a well educated and informed choice.
Sometimes these choices will be formed by feeling and based on someone's own moral compass.

As long as it is your decision and you know what your are eating, drinking, washing with and putting on your body that's fine by me. What I don't understand is when people get upset with your choices without even asking why. Some people can't see past what is seen a different. Different is wrong , different is scary. Different is just trying to be alternative and be part of a fad.

Do you know what? If you want to be part of what you think is a fad, fine. But once you actually read into why some companies produce beautiful products without irritating ingredients that's the eye opener.

Also there really is room for everyone's opinion.
If you are happy with using products that are tested on animals go a head
If you want to use shampoo that uses palm oil that has destroyed some of the rainforest during it's production be my guest.
If you don't want to read up on what is in your products that is your call.

Even some natural ingredients will irritate and not everyone can use them. I don't see that as a terrible thing. Of course there isn't one specific thing that will work for everyone, every time. So what if you have an intolerance or you are irritated by something? Don't use that as an excuse to dislike "alternative" beauty products go back to synthetics. Again some synthetics are better then others. Again if you prefer staying "safe" with synthetics, rather then trying something different that's okay, for you. It doesn't mean that natural products don't work. It just might take time to find what fits. Just like it took time to find your favourite foundation or eyeliner, it will take time to find another product that fits the bill.



How "extreme" in what you do or don't cut out of your skincare/beauty regime is always going to be up to you, don't discourage people who make different choices or seem like a contradiction.

Using myself as an example:

I have maintained a nutritious diet for over three years and have reaped the benefits. Eating healthy is my choice. It's my lifestyle.

I also eat the occasional bit of crap.

I know what is in the occasional piece of crap, it is my choice to eat it.

I try to use skincare and haircare products that meet my own green standards, not anyone else's.

My opinion is going to be different when compared to another. My comfortable factor with an ingredient maybe be completely different to theirs. That still means we can be friends. There is no need to judge.

Sometimes I will have to use standard products when stuck with no other option. For example I used regular suncream when I forgot mine and used Carmex on my lips when my natural rosehip lip balm was doing NOTHING for me in the desert sun. I was burning and wasn't going to suffer and my lips where shredded to oblivion and I needed some SPF to save them.

And while we are at it, I used my sisters "greenwashed" nowhere near organic, SLS laden shampoo when I didn't want to be a grease ball.

It's all about being happy and knowledgeable in the choices you make.

I know I use products that others would say are dubious as to whether they are green enough, for example, my Josie Maran products.

Green products are not perfect. No one is saying that they are.

I'm vain enough to say that when it comes makeup I am still finding it hard to find good green makeup alternatives. But I'm getting there. It is also a chance to change the perception of what makeup should be doing when it is on my face in the first place. I'm currently using up  my YSL mascara which is amazing. However it is not cruelty free, which is where I want to be heading in the future. I will continue to use it and then find a cruelty free option later on. I also included my favorite MAC blush. I'm going to continue to use it, whilst looking for the perfect coral blush that isn't as toxic etc.

Am I going solely use just green products for the rest of my life? That would be the end goal. But life gets in the way and I will make exceptions. I will use a toxic eyeliner when I want, I know what is in it, I know the risk. I will probably use it right after I apply my rosehip oil and mineral foundation powder! I'm not perfect and that's okay with me.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

The Mind Body Spirit Festival London and lots of food.


I was so excited when I was offered a free ticket to The Mind Body Spirit Festival in London this weekend.

I was hoping for a space filled with open, approachable, engaging people.

It was hectic, cramped and disorganised. It felt like the complete opposite of what a wellbeing festival should be.

It felt more like a Sunday market where everything was on sale and everyone wanted a piece of the pie. I'm not going to get into too much about why it was a bit meh.  I will say that I was so glad to make it to the live stage (not as grand as it sounds) to hear Ruby Wax talk to the audience about her take on mindfulness and how she uses it in her daily life. This had been scheduled to be 30 minutes long, for the 15 minutes she spoke, it was comedic and engaging. However I don't think she was comfortable with the background noise and was worried that the audience could not hear. So that was that, over in what felt like a flash.


By this point I was hungry, not scrap that I was HANGRY! So off I went in search of food. I went in the wrong direction (my fault) and ended up at the Earls Court canteen area and I asked the dreaded question that the poor cafe guy had been asked a million times over before I even got there "is anything dairy free?". There wasn't, nothing was dairy free. What was annoying was that he couldn't even say it nicely, it wasn't helping my bad mood. Thankfully someone whispered in my ear that there was a raw salad bar right in the middle of the exhibition space. So I went to find this mysterious food offering.

By the time I got there I was almost crying. I was trying to get myself out of this funk but nothing was working. I had been pushed, shoved and barged past. I tried to ask a stall holder about his fruit bars and I was completely dismissed for my louder, much more abrasive peer. It's just not in my nature to talk over someone to be heard and I'm not naturally competitive. I thought it was, to be frank shit customer service. I continued my search in finding the SACRED SALAD.

Redeeming quality number one:
The raw food bar was none other than inSpiral. A mecca for all things raw food in Camden town. I had arrived! There was smoothies, treats and salads galore. However I did have two people push infront of me. With one looking at me so angrily as he did so, there was no point in me saying anything.


I ordered the Green Queen smoothie and the Raw Gourmet Pizza and mixed salad. it was delicious and totally what I needed. The smoothie was a blend of Mint, Avocado, Chia Seeds, Almonds, Spinach, and Date syrup. There was also some Chlorophyll and Spirulina in there for good measure. It has to be the most uplifting and decadent smoothie I have ever tasted! The Pizza was so tasty the Cashew Cheese was perfect and the olives where zingy against the tomatoe topping that was spread over the pizza base.

 As you can see I really liked my smoothie!

I ate it while trying to calm down and thought to myself "come on, you are here now. Try to make the most of it". So I did a teeny bit of incognito meditation to bring me back to myself and with a smile on my face I went for a look around the stalls.

There was a mix of everything, seriously everything. A mix of spiritual healing, jewellery, food, massage and book authors and beauty products. It was overwhelming. At one stall I couldn't even get the owners attention to buy something so I left it and continued on. There was always something going on at live stage. I got to see a Harpist and some Belly Dancing.


Redeeming quality number two:
I brought some lovely gemstone bracelets from a stall that turned out to run by one of my favorite stalls based in Greenwich Market, London. That really cheered me up. I also brought some Yogi Tea and a few nutritional bits that I will talk about another time.

Redeeming quality number three:
After much deliberation I decided that as I was here I should try something new. I'd never had a massage of any kind before and found a lovely looking treatment booth called Blissful Wings. I booked an Indian head massage. I'm so glad I did. It was so relaxing and well, blissful. The lady that runs Blissful Wings is called Fiona and she was a pleasure to be around. I left the "festival"  much more relaxed and calm compared with how I was feeling at the beginning. Thank you Fiona!

Waiting for my train at Kings Cross I treated myself to a White Peach Tea and a very naughty for my tummy but extremely delicious Lemon Ginger slice from Leon. Yummy!


Whilst on the train back home, the boyfriend and I decided that we would eat out for dinner. Dinner was to be a burger at Gourmet Burger Kitchen. Falafel for me and something called "The Don" (he wishes") for him. They were accompanied by their lovely friends, onion rings and chunky chips!

It was delicious and I loved that the "burger" was actually three large, perfectly cooked falafel balls, not a pattie for a change! And if you love onion rings, deffinatley try these ones. Of course there is going to be a bit a grease but they are dryer and crispier in texture and scummier then any other onion rings I've tried. Promise.

The lessons I have learned are:
I need to grow some sort of a back bone.
Not everything will turn out how you expected.
You have to make the most of it.
Burgers will fix anything and everything. EVERYTHING!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

What to do when you are comparing yourself to others


Sometimes we compare ourselves with others and we don't like what we see in comparison. Most people's advice would be, just stop it.

However, when you are in the depths of comparing yourself to others, it isn't as easy as that. Often comparisons come from admiration and if your not careful it can quickly turn into jealously. Which if left to stew can turn into pure dislike and hate.

No one wants that kind of negativity and you certainly don't want that in your head.

So, what do you do when you are comparing yourself with others?

When I catch myself comparing myself to others I let it go through the motions and then try to figure out why I'm feeling the need to compare myself, a unique individual to another. We can't be the same as everyone else, for one that would be boring and two you are not giving yourself the space to discover your true self.

If you are constantly hiding behind some copycat persona, it is going to get old really quickly. So ask yourself this;

What has sparked this comparison, why is it making you feel so bad?
Is it their appearance? success? confidence, or "wonderful" relationship?
Many of the things we compare to, are things we can cultivate for ourselves, just in different ways. If you admire someones style for example, take that as inspiration and make it your own.

If someone is already looking successful in a vocation similar to your passions and dreams or you're just envious of something completely different, that seem unattainable. Acknowledge it and feel good for them, they are working hard to pursue their own dreams. There is no reason why you can't be doing the same. Whether it be fashion advice, beauty tips, fitness information or carer development. Ask them how they have got to where they are and perhaps you could apply those steps to your situation.

At the end of the day we only see what people want us to see. We cannot guess what is going on in the background and how hard they have worked to get to where they are. Or maybe they are struggling and you have no idea. You never know, they may be secretly comparing themselves to you. Focus on your "good bits" and work on the "bad bits".

You are you and their are them. And that is exactly how it should be.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

when you forget to live



Sometimes life get's in the way and you forget to live. You are going to miss life's awesome little details.

This is something that I have had to think about recently. I started this blog as a way to motivate my journey into living a better life for myself and others around me.

I started writing posts and was constantly using my own past experiences to discuss my thoughts and ideas, sharing them with who ever stopped by my blog. The problem that arose was that I started to think about this blog almost constantly and although it was still fun to write I was becoming too focused on always having a current post in the making and was concerning myself with why has someone added me on twitter and then decided to unfollow me a few days later.

No offense to anyone but, it doesn't matter. It is not real. Of course most of what I write about is from real experience and feeling. But the blog isn't tangible, that person who I think "doesn't like" me and decides to unfollow doesn't matter.

What matters is living. I went on holiday recently I decided to simply not worry about what would be on my blog for while I was away and I didn't post anything on twitter. It felt really good.

I'm not trying to compete with anyone, I'm writing from my heart and if that speaks out to someone then that is amazing and makes me extremely happy. What will make me even happier will be actually living and then taking a few moments here and there to write about it. So some weeks I may post a lot and other weeks posts may dwindle. This is my space and I'm now understanding that I should not have been putting a schedule on myself. I don't need it to be stressful. This blog should be my release. I love everything that has come out of starting this blog.

From now on I'm not taking it too seriously, because where's the fun in that?

Monday, 19 May 2014

Birthday Vegan Eats


I'm not vegan, but I have a major dairy intolerance so sometimes it's really nice to go eat out at a restaurant where I'm not seen as the difficult one for asking for the special diet menu or when I double check that there is no dairy in that sobert......it's happened people! So for my birthday last month I headed to a little vegetarian restaurant tucked away in the back streets of town. First I had the Moroccan soup, tasty but not photo worthy and then came the treat. A slice or birthday heaven (that I shared with my Mum because I'm nice like that!).

Behold the tofu cheesecake of dreams!


This was light in texture, not too sweet and the raspberry was perfectly complemented by some delicate rose water. I'm glad that I shared it as the rose water did become slightly too "perfumey" towards the end. Other then that (which isn't really a complaint) it was delicious. They also have a chocolate orange cheesecake on offer, I'm already planning my next trip back for that one!



As dusk turned into evening, it was time for my birthday dinner. Keeping the vegan thing rolling I had deliberately booked Pizza Express in order to try their new pizza. Which so it happens, to be dairy free.

The Pianta, as described by Pizza Express:

Spinach, chestnut mushrooms, pine kernels and artichoke on a spicy arrabbiata base, finished with rocket and extra virgin olive oil (no cheese)

When it says spicy, (for me at least) it was spicy. It had a medium heat which built up as you ate it. It was very tasty but for my taste, I think it needed more of the toppings and less of the rocket that came piled on top. And that is saying something because I love spinach! I would try it again, although I have had nicer pizzas when I have simply said "hold the cheese". Either way it's great to start seeing proper vegan options in mainstream restaurants.
High fives all round!


Friday, 16 May 2014

Learning that you are sweet enough


 Sometimes you can't be polite enough, nice enough or sweet enough to the people you meet. Often, it gets you no where fast and results in a sticky mess that leaves behind a bad taste and not much else. Or you could be too sweet in demeanor because you think that that is want is wanted of you and this becomes the sweet expectation, leaving you with a sweet factor you have to meet every time when in certain social situations to be seen as your "normal" self. What do you get? A massive headache from your sugar binge overload!

Let me tell you something. I have a natural resting bitch face. I can also go for half an hour or longer with out saying a word and be totally content and happy. Quite often I may not really have an opinion about where we eat or what direction we walk in or what we do. It doesn't mean I'm moody or that I don't care, I'm just being me.

Being too sweet is just not me. I think of myself as a nice, kind-hearted person but I'm not going to go out of my way to make myself nicer or friendlier to you to make you happy. The thing is, we all too often make up in our own heads how we think others want us to behave.

Why don't we just all just do what feels naturally authentic and see how that goes? It breaks down expectations and builds real relationships based on honest behavior.

Try it. You are sweet enough already!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

There is always time for an adventure


No matter where you go, the amount of time you have or whether it be big or small. There is always time to for an adventure. It could be somewhere new or even fondly familiar, it is important to take some time out and have some fun.


I hadn't gone to the botanical gardens near me for a very long time. I spent a few hours there with my boyfriend taking in the sights and smells of the flowers and spectacular scenery.  One of the best moments was just sitting on a bench in front of a fountain listening to the water falling. There where a few people sitting around the fountain as well, they all looked peaceful and that was nice to see.


I think it is easy to forget that there are lots of quiet, beautiful places everywhere, just waiting to be explored.


Finding spaces that excite, inspire and relax me, grounds me. I almost feel restored. Refreshed, for another day in real life. It's a bit of welcomed escapism. 


 I'm already plotting my next adventure!

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Wellbeing // What does wellbeing mean to you?


This second addition to the series "what does wellbeing mean to you?", has been answered by Dana. She gives a wonderful insight in to how your perception of wellbeing grows and change, as you adapt and seek change in life. Enjoy!

Wellbeing, for me, changes as we grow and adapts to the life that we live. For example, when I was younger, it was about getting better (after being very ill), going to college and proving to myself that I was well enough to achieve, just like everybody else.

Throughout my twenties, it was about proving that I could hold down a job and I constantly worked a ridiculous number of hours, beyond what my body could manage. I always gave to other people without receiving, and my pride got in the way of being holistically happy. I felt that self-care was essentially selfish. I learned that this wasn't a good plan. If you give and give, but never receive, you will eventually strip yourself bare until you have nothing left to give anymore.

  "If you give and give, but never receive, you will eventually strip yourself bare until you have nothing left to give anymore"


After having my little girl, life changed. I couldn't be all those things to all people, work silly hours, deal with thyroid disease and look after my daughter. There just wasn't enough hours in the day, or enough energy in my life-force, and eventually, my body gave up on me. The saying, 'you don't see the woods for the trees' is so true, but then again, hindsight is a wonderful thing. 

Wellbeing, for me, is currently about being holistically happy, and keeping my energy levels balanced. I don't feel that I have to prove myself to anyone anymore. Self care isn't a selfish thing, and I'm not talking about going shopping or painting my nails. I'm talking about standing up for my rights and what I believe in, accepting what my body can cope with, not pushing my limits, learning to say no (but also learning to say yes to the right things), and spending time with people that make me laugh.

 "wellbeing, for me, is currently about being holistically happy, and keeping my energy levels balanced"

When I'm tired or stressed, it has a knock on effect on those around me. It makes it harder to deal with family life and  work. The more tired I am, the more tired I become, and enter vicious circle.

Good food, good sleep + a few hearty laughs during the day = happy me. Simple as that!

 You can find Dana over at heartyhabits.com and you can tweet her here .Hearty Habits is where Dana discusses topics such as wellbeing, holistic health care and living a non toxic lifestyle. Make sure you check her out.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Wellbeing at home: Diffusing essential oils for wellbeing



I find scents exceptionally helpful in all sorts of situations. Essential oils can uplift, calm and energise you, they can even help you with a horrid cold or offer wonderful variety as perfume oils. Wanting to know more about how to use essential oils for wellbeing at home, I asked a professional. That professional happens to be the lovely Katharine over at Poppy KB who kindly wrote this wonderful guide, enjoy.

Diffusing essential oils at home can be a brilliant way to enjoy, and benefit from, essential oils’ therapeutic properties. I think it’s one of the most effective and pleasurable ways to use essential oils - I highly recommend you give it a try if you’re not already diffusing essential oils!

The benefits of using an essential oil diffuser? 

When you diffuse an essential oil, or perhaps a blend of different essential oils, the beauty is that you are not only creating an aromatic atmosphere that can help improve your mood. If you choose to diffuse essential oils that have strong antimicrobial, antiseptic or antiviral properties, for example, the oils will be purifying the air as their molecules are gently dispersed into the air by the diffuser. It’s an excellent way to help support your physical wellbeing! 

So exactly what is an essential oil? 
An essential oil is a natural extract from an aromatic plant. Essential oils occur widely in the plant kingdom, for example in plants’ flowers, leaves and fruits, and also in stems, roots and other parts of plants. However not all plants contain essential oils.
Extracted from a single botanical source, essential oils are highly complex substances. An essential oil can contain over 100 different naturally occurring chemical constituents (such as aldehydes, ketones, esters...). It is the combination of these different constituents which give an essential oil its unique therapeutic properties and odour.
 And did you know that despite being called essential ‘oils’ their consistency is more like water than oil? They are also volatile - they easily evaporate


"instantly create a lovely mood-boosting atmosphere, whilst also improving the quality of air in your home"
 
 





 





My top 5 essential oils for diffusing at home to support wellbeing
So. What oils to use if you want to purify and freshen the air in your home to support your wellbeing? I recommend the following oils:
  1. Lemon (Citrus limonum) - a brilliant antiseptic, antimicrobial oil (excellent to diffuse at the first symptoms of a cold. Also highly uplifting & energising. Lemon oil is obtained from the peel of lemons by a process known as ‘cold expression’)
Lemon is a highly uplifting and cleansing oil, with a fresh, sweet and citrussy aroma. It blends well with many other essential oils, especially all citrus oils. 
  1. Peppermint (Mentha piperita) - another great antiseptic, antibacterial essential oil (with a refreshing & revitalising effect. The essential oil is steam-distilled from the herb of Mentha piperita)
Peppermint is an incredibly revitalising and stimulating oil, with a fresh, pungent and minty aroma. An excellent choice of oil to refresh, focus concentration and help you feel re-invigorated. 
  1. Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) - antiviral, antiseptic, antifungal (an excellent oil to diffuse to purify air. Tea tree oil is steam or water-distilled from the leaves and twigs of Melaleuca alternifolia)
Tea tree is a stimulating oil with a fresh, strong aroma - an excellent, revitalising oil to diffuse which also blends well with other strongly antiseptic oils such as lemon and eucalyptus. 
  1. Eucalyptus radiata (Eucalyptus radiata) - this has antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral properties (the oil is steam-distilled from the fresh or partially dried leaves of Eucalyptus radiata)
With a fresh, gently herbaceous and woody undertone, Eucalyptus Radiata is refreshing and has a softer and warmer aroma than 'Eucalyptus globulus' - the variety of eucalyptus that is most commonly used. 
  1. Ravensara (Ravensara aromatica) - antiseptic, antimicrobial, antiviral (also an excellent oil to diffuse, especially at the first symptoms of a cold. The oil is distilled from the leaves and twigs of the ravensara tree)
Ravensara is a stimulating and warming oil with a fresh, warm aroma - an excellent tonic. A great, revitalising oil to diffuse whenever you feel in need of a pick me up. 

Choosing a diffuser:
TIP:
 If you’re wanting to start diffusing essential oils at home, I highly recommend investing in a diffuser that has a speed functionality. With this, you will be able to control the speed and strength at which the essential oil(s) are diffused.

How to use a diffuser:
Wanting a gentle, soft effect? Diffuse the oils at a low speed.
Want a strong, powerful effect? Turn the diffuser up to full speed! 

There are many different types of essential oil diffusers on the market. A quick search on Google will bring up hundreds of hits. As an aromatherapist, I have tried quite a few! My particular favourite one to use is called an Aroma Stream (pictured). Why? It’s highly effective and super-simple to use. You just need to sprinkle a few drops of your favourite essential oil(s) onto a pad (pictured), twist it into the base of the unit, and switch ‘on’ (I tend to leave my diffuser on for 20-25 minutes max). And that’s it! You’ll instantly create a lovely mood-boosting atmosphere, whilst also improving the quality of air in your home. 

Do you diffuse essential oils at home? Do you have an all-time favourite essential oil whose aroma you absolutely love?

 
About the author: super-passionate about the therapeutic properties of essential oils, Katharine Buckley is a Member of the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists and co-founder of Poppy KB - a small, independent aromatherapy & wellbeing business founded in 2013. She was trained in aromatherapy & essential oil science by the brilliant tutors at Neal’s Yard Remedies School of Natural Health. Follow Katharine on Twitter (@PoppyKB_London) + on her blog! (blog.poppykb.com)

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Feeling Silly by Vanessa Locke

Tweet her here

“There are times in life when people must know when not to let go. Balloons are designed to teach small children this.” Terry Pratchett

Don't let go of the silliness!

Pictures can speak a thousand words, I want to share ones with you that inspire, delight and intrigue. If you would like to share your artwork or photography on wellmeaningbeing, let me know.