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Light and Shade

Jan 272013

A number of my friends are going through some intense personal troubles and hardship at the moment. From relationship breakups to health scares, financial stresses and emotional turbulence, it’s as if we’re being called on to throw some light into our dark corners and take a long, hard look at the dark recesses of our psyches.

If this is a challenging time for you too, don’t be afraid. We live in powerful times, and as we approach the Chinese New Year and move into the year of the Water Snake (appropriately enough, given the torrential rain!), we’ll all be shedding some layers of skin and releasing old ways of thinking that might be blocking our progress and growth.

The key to life is maintaining a balance between those dark and light sides. It’s a brave person that can examine the influences of our childhoods and backgrounds – but if we can openly explore our polarities, we become more aware of the beliefs and patterns we’ve carried with us into adulthood. Acceptance leads to peace, as we step into our power and live authentic lives, where we can love, forgive, laugh and be more ‘real’ with ourselves and others.

The world is not respectable,” wrote the philosopher George Santayana. “It is mortal, tormented, confused, deluded for ever, but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter.”

By recognising this, we’re set free. And in embracing life’s challenges, and accepting that the world, other people, and our own lives can’t always be perfect, we gain strength.

There’s a certain type wine produced in parts of Provence, whose grapes grow in extremely rocky soil – and it’s said that the struggle of their vines against the rocky ground makes the wine taste richer and fruitier. Just like with those vines, our own battles make us who we are, giving us the depth and courage and feeling to live life authentically and with passion.

So let’s embrace our shadow aspects and grow stronger into the light.


Go Ahead, Touch Yourself!

Jan 202013

I’m always amazed to witness how something as simple as loving, focused touch can transform the health and wellbeing of my clients. Quite simply, being touched is good for you! But don’t just take my word for it – just the other day I read a study about how volunteers were brought in to gently stroke the skin of premature babies for 10 minutes a day, while another group were left untouched. The stroked babies gained weight and strength faster, and were released from hospital earlier than the babies who weren’t touched. That’s living proof of how touch transforms lives.

Strong responsiveness to touch is normal in human beings – but for many cultures, we often grow up with a fear or a dislike of it. Think how we choose a quick peck in the cheek, a brief handshake or even a formal bow, instead of a heartfelt embrace or other such sign of loving connection. Yet if we had more safe, acceptable ways to touch each other, there might be a lot less illness, sadness, isolation and violence in the world.

Touching releases powerful endorphins and other feel-good chemicals that help to heal physical and emotional aches and pains, relieve tension and calm both mind and body. The benefits are many and varied, and even science backs this idea up.

It’s not always possible to receive loving touch from another – but it can be just as effective to touch yourself! Sounds a bit odd perhaps, but why not try it out and see how it makes you feel.

The key to this exercise is to touch yourself with a real sense of caring for yourself. Don’t just go through the motions – tap into your emotional nature and honour yourself with this ritual, the same as you would if you were touching anyone else you love and care for.

Start by gently massaging your own scalp, rubbing it with your fingertips all over, paying particular attention to the spots that are a little sore, especially around the temples, or at the back of the head in that hollow where the skull meets the top of the spine. Tug at your hair, gently or strongly, and use the heel of your hand to rub and stimulate every part of your head. We store an incredible amount of tension in our heads, so this can feel amazing.

Next give your face a few strokes, working from the centre of your forehead/middle of your nose/lips outwards, then massage and squeeze your ears and press in at each side of your cheeks where your jawbone pivots.

Run your hands gently and lovingly over the entire front of your body (you can be lightly clothed or naked for this), before using a towel to rub the entire backside of your body from head to feet.

Lastly give your feet a rub, however it feels good for you, and finish by wrapping your arms around your own body and giving yourself a good hug!

Notice how different you feel afterwards. Hopefully you’re more energised, calmer and your heart feels more open. This is a great quick fix if there’s no-one around to give you that hug you’re craving – and remember, I’m here to serve, anytime you’d like to experience some extended loving touch from another.

In love and light,

Gut Feelings.

Jan 132013

Following the excesses of our recent Christmas and New Year festivities, many of us are probably (rightly or wrongly) focusing on our bellies right now! But whether it’s looking as rippled and taut as your grandmother’s washboard, or you’re doing a passable impression of the Buddha himself, there’s a lot more to the belly region than just how it looks. So while our awareness is down there, I’d like to take this opportunity to raise your awareness of this important area.

Our bellies are the seat of our power. In Hawaiian philosophy, for instance, the belly is where all our strength or ‘mana’ comes from. In Eastern traditions, it’s where the solar plexus chakra is found, relating to issues of personal power and self esteem. When our bellies and our solar plexus chakras are healthy, this area helps to bring us drive, discipline, enthusiasm, organisation and effectiveness. But if it’s out of balance, we can feel insecure, needy and depressed.

The belly is also the home of our emotions – and if you’ve ever felt butterflies in your stomach, you’ll know how easy it is to store emotional upset in this area.

One of the best ways to clear this region is through deep belly breathing. When we belly breathe, we not only breathe oxygen into the neglected bottom portion of our lungs (the healthiest way to breathe), but we also free any emotions stored in the belly. Just a few minutes of deep breathing a day will teach your body to breathe more deeply, even when you’re asleep.

It might seem awkward or contrived to breathe into our bellies at first – especially if like so many, you’re a ‘shallow breather’. But remember that we’re actually supposed to breathe like this all the time. If you observe a baby asleep on its back, it’s belly rises and falls with each breath, just as nature intended. Yet somewhere along the way, as adults, we’ve forgotten to breathe this way. We get stressed, exhausted or fearful, and our breathing changes accordingly. But practise belly breathing, and over time it will become second nature once again.

To belly breathe, simply inhale through your nose, allowing your lower abdomen to expand so that your navel bulges outwards. You should also feel your diaphragm drop slightly downwards. You can also try exhaling through the nose with a little force, pulling your belly in a little to help push out the stale air, as if you were trying to connect it with the spine.

Advanced breathing techniques (called ‘breathwork’) are a component of many tantric practices, including tantric massage. By breathing in a conscious, structured way, we can release stored stress, pain and trauma, and it can be a powerful and cathartic experience.

Whether you practice by yourself, or in a session with a tantra practitioner like me, deep breathing can be one of the best ways to release stuck emotions, energise the body and regulate the belly. So whether it’s a six-pack or a barrel, breathe in and out through your belly with pride, and enjoy the benefits!

In love and light,


What Is It You Really, Really Want?

Jan 052013

A brand new year is upon us, ripe with possibilities… and it couldn’t be a better time to let go of the old, to make some resolutions for the year ahead and to reinvent ourselves as we welcome in the new.

So why not begin 2013 by thinking about what it is you’d like to manifest in your life this year – because if you don’t know what you want, it’s impossible to create it! And if you don’t have clear goals, life will just ‘happen to you’.

If you haven’t done much intention-setting before, you might be surprised by how powerful it can be to take the time to reprogram your life by shooting an arrow of clear intent into the future. The more precise, and clear your aim, the more chance you have of hitting your target.

If you want to be the artist and creator of your own life, ask yourself some key questions, starting with ‘what is it that I really, really want?’ What do you want your personal life, your work life, your relationships, and your health and wellbeing to look like, and to feel like?

Whether it’s your desire to create more abundance in your career, to open yourself up to a more loving relationship, or to dramatically change any aspect your lifestyle, setting your sights on a goal calls in that potential future and brings your dream ever closer to being made real.

Write your goals down on a piece of paper. Get them clear in your mind and then state them as clearly and simply as you can. Use ‘positive framing’ to state your intentions – so instead of saying “I will not eat sugar’, say “I intend a healthy, nurtured and sugar-free body.” In this way, you’ll affirm positive action, rather than focusing on a ‘lack’, or a feeling of guilt or deprivation.

Most importantly, don’t worry about all of life’s what-ifs and maybes. Energy flows where attention goes – so worrying is actually an act of prayer for what you don’t want! Instead repeat positive, helpful statements of intent in your mind and take this opportunity to re-program your mind to work for you, not against you.

You don’t even need to wait for a new year to take action. Get into the habit of setting clear intentions throughout your life, even on a daily basis, and notice how much more focused and powerful you begin to feel as your attention rests on all the amazing possibilities for the year ahead.

In love and light,