How to create an Altar without becoming a wierdo.

Altar

My Mum tries her best to keep open minded with me.  It would never have been her first choice for her daughter to become a wondering yoga teacher, dragging her children around the world in a most unconventional way, but she has embraced it whole heartedly; proof if ever it were needed that a mothers love knows no bounds.  

So I know that when she takes me to one side with a look of concern on her face, I’ve probably crossed a boundary that the majority of middle class British people would struggle with. That was how it was the day she over heard me on the phone, discussing my altar.

There was real fear in her eyes when she told me how happy she was that I was so happy at the moment, “but please, darling, don’t go too weird.”

I know that almost all of my non-yoga friends with agree with her.  There is something about the creation of an altar that takes you over a line into full on wierdo territory.  If my altar didn’t bring me so much joy and support, I wouldn’t bother writing this.  But it does, and I think it has been fundamental in changing the quality of my sleep, my day and my head space.

I set up my altar at a time when I was feeling lost.  Isn’t it always at those times you get pushed into trying something you would scorn at any other moment?  I went to a Catholic Convent boarding school, so the word altar has all the residual baggage of fake piety and hypocrisy that the Convent experience had filled me with. But, I wanted to do something to demonstrate that I was taking hold of my life and making a commitment to being truthful, transparent and focused on who I was and what I wanted my life to be.

No more keeping everyone happy by watering myself down into an easy to accept version of myself.  

Like a cat peeing around the boarders of the garden, I flung out anything in my home that I felt wasn’t connected to the REAL ME and brought to light everything that made me feel stronger, braver, connected.

And I reclaimed my bedroom. Previously, my bedroom was everyones bedroom. I never quite got the hang of disciplining the children to sleep in their own beds, even from newborn.  Secretly, I like them sleeping with me.  So, at any point in time, you could find most of the family plus piles of clean washing, toys and books from the children’s bedroom, papers from work, piles of books I intended to read, my yoga mat, even half drunk cups of tea lying around in my bedroom.  It wasn’t pretty.

I was taking part in a Shiva Rea online course, and part of it included creating an altar.  Initially I thought I’d just skip that part.  However, on the Facebook group forum, people were sharing photos of their altars which were really beautiful.  They included any items that the creator found joy from – old photos, shells, flowers, art work, essential oils, textiles.  It got me inspired.

So, I tidied up my bedroom and created space on top of my chest of drawers.  I selected photos of the important women in my life and placed them there.  Then I added as essential oil burner with ylang ylang burning which induces a restful state of mind.  And then I bought a small rose quartz crystal and added it.

Over the coming days I started to see things that I added – some beautiful wild flowers in a little vase, a goddess card that I’d picked and resonated with me, a love note from a friend, and drawing from my daughter. I was hooked.

There are many things going on here, and all of them good.  Let me summarise why I think it all felt so good.

1. Creating something as a statement of who you are feels really really great.  Its not for anyone else’s benefit, so you have carte blanche to do as you wish.  This is fun, energising, creative and utterly feminine (in the essence of the word, rather than the high heeled lip stick wearing version).

2. Reclaiming your space makes you physically determine your boundary, which helps you mentally, emotionally and spiritually identify your boundaries and stick to them.  For example, the children still come into my bed, but only in the morning at the weekends, and I’m getting so much more sleep.

3. Relaxing in bed at night with the flickering of candle light through  crystals, beautiful bits & bobs and the scent of ylang ylang filling the room is extremely peaceful, decadent, self loving and supporting. What better way to go to sleep?

4. Waking up in the morning and seeing your intention in physical manifestation reminds you and supports you to take another day to realise your dream.

So I urge you to give it a try.  If you think you could improve on your bedtime ritual, or you need to reinforce where you want your life to be going, or you just want an avenue for creating a wonderful creative space, try making yourself an altar.  You don’t even need to tell anyone… but I bet you soon do.

For more accessible, easy tips on how to stay connected to your better Self, please take a moment to look at my website http://www.happysexymama.com.

I hope you’ll join me so that you can kick back, thrive in motherhood, and be your Happy Sexy Mama self.

Sonja Lockyer writes for http://www.happysexymama.com, and is commited to looking after the Mummies who are busy looking after the rest of us.

Join us on Facebook to stay supported, inspired and connected throughout motherhood. http://www.facebook.com/happysexymama

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Mindfullness Magic , words of wisdom from Alison Prideaux

As a mindfulness teacher I take my hat off to young mothers who manage to meditate. If anyone else in the class says they have no time to “sit” I refer them to the single working mothers who have put time into the spaces (that don’t exist ) for their own formal mindfulness practice.

I know it seems like an insult to ask a busy mother to take time out for herself but the benefits are so great that it is worth the effort as many students have testified;

” I have more time” ,
” I no longer shout at the kids”,
” when everyone is off school with gastro I ring the mindfulness bell and we all feel calmer”,
” I can cope when before it was pure overwhelm”.

These are some of the comments from mothers who have set aside meditation time over a period of 8 weeks and are now reaping the benefits.

It is no easy task to prize open a space to meditate every day but soon it becomes a habit and then the world starts to look more friendly.  Even the ex seems more agreeable!  With practice, women start to look forward to that breathing space and making the time becomes more and more natural.

It is an opportunity to recharge batteries and exist in one’s own eyes.

With the recorded meditations guiding us to lovingly observe our own breath and our thoughts we soon feel “seen” and accepted. It is an act of loving kindness and it feels good. No matter that we are the ones watching, accepting and loving ourselves ! It still feels validating and positive.

The simple act of connecting with the physical breathing sensations in our bodies rewires the brain and we come out of fight and flight anxiety into a place of coping and calm.

MRI scans show centres of compassion lighting up as one focuses on the breath and science now validates what the monks have been saying for 2,000 years; it’s good for us.

 

Science has a lot more to say about it; it’s good for preventing depressive relapse, boosting immunity, slowing the aging process, managing pain, sleeping well, treating anxiety and above all when someone pushes ahead of you at the checkout you may be so centred that you don’t even entertain the fantasy of taking out their ankles with your trolley!

 

Here are 2 books for parenting mindfully:

Everyday Blessings – The Inner Work Of Mindful Parenting Myla Kabat-Zinn and jon Kabat-ZinnSitting Still Like a Frog – Mindful Exercises for Kids (and their parents) – Eline Snell

Mindfullness brings benefit to mothers, and that filters down through the whole family – as far as I can see, a happy Mum makes for a happy family!  Another way of introducing mindfulness into the family are my personalised meditation recordings which children love; 

http://omindfulness.com/personalised-recordings/

 

Pregnancy is the ideal time to start building a mindfulness practice, in preparation for the birth and postnatal life.

 

 

These are incredibly powerful and of huge benefit to pregnant mothers too.  Pregnancy is the ideal time to start building a mindfulness practice, in preparation for the birth and postnatal life.  It is a natural period of self nurture, and there is no greater way to care for your wellbeing than to introduce a mindfulness practice.  Imagine how good the baby will feel as it feeds off your mental and emotional state!

One last word – in my experience,  pregnant ladies who have used their meditation in childbirth have found that they are more accepting of the whole process of birthing, and even believed that they experienced was less pain as a result.

And so, I can not sing the praise more highly of introducing mindfulness into your life, wether you are pregnant, postnatal or  just wanting to make the most out of every moment in your life.

 

Alison Prideaux teaches Mindfullness on the Cote D’Azur, France and has courses starting in September in Mouans Sartoux and Beausoleil.  She can be found on www.omindfulness.com and you can keep in touch via Facebook

 

Happy Sexy Mama is a website dedicated to supporting, inspiring and keeping Mums connected to their Higher Selves through the early years of motherhood.

 

Women’s Wisdom from homeopathic healer and wonderful woman, Julia Edgley

When I meet with Julia Edgley, homeopath, she has just returned from her native Ireland and is full of natural cheer and infectious positivity. But then, Julia always is. I’ve been lucky to know Julia since I moved to France 4 years ago, and I’ve been to see her for my own well being, as well as that of my children. Her guidance to me has been entirely holistic, touching on nutrition, lifestyle, the ingredients and their effects of household products and always homeopathy.

Homeopathy is Julia’s absolute passion. She is a waterfall of information, knowledge, experience and her passion to share with the world has led her to create her blog; http://juliahomeopath.wordpress.com/.  Over 2000 people connect to Julia over social media where she shares tips on natural make up, health, culture and a holistic lifestyle.

We sit on the lawn of the beautiful Mas Candille Hotel in Mougins, over looking the mountains and the olive groves of Grasse, and as the sun starts to set, we begin.

What is it that attracts you so intensely to homeopathy?

I think homeopathy is really empowering. Our well being comes with no instruction manual, its so much more than not having an illness. Its about living life to the full, with energy and vitality.

“Through the process of homeopathic consultations, the patient learns to listen to their body.”

They  start recognising the signs and symptoms that are guiding us to what we need to do to get them back to full health.   My patients and I tune in to their holistic health and slowly the patient learns to listen to their body. That’s what I love about homeopathy – its so empowering to take control of your own health.

Can homeopathy help a Mother stay strong and connected to her Self?

Yes!   Motherhood is an incredible healing opportunity.  A woman travels through the life stages of maiden / mother / chrone. Each is a powerful transition. With motherhood your inner child comes out screaming, it can be overwhelming and we make powerful projections onto our children. I think is important to know that there are therapies out there to help at every transition in life, and that you don’t have to walk this path on your own.

Being aware that other mothers go through the same path is reassuring and hearing stories of mums who have come out the other side after those charged first few months or years, is encouraging, so being part of a like minded community is an important support system. 

Have you ever dealt with a patient suffering from postnatal depression?

Absolutely.  There are so many faces of postpartum depression, which is why it can be easily missed.  Well meaning family members and even doctors can miss the signs, its a complex state, and people are still scared of the association with mental illness.  What I have seen through my patients is that there are 3 main faces of postpartum depression.

The first is best described as a blatant chemical imbalance, where the woman feels waves of despair, which pass. This is the classic idea of postpartum depression, where the mother can be cold, detached, weepy.  In an appointment, when describing symptoms, the mother can be completely in the moment, aware and sometimes has to convince the health practitioner that at home, they have symtoms of depression.

The second face can be the result of a trauma around the pregnancy or birth, and the symptoms can be similar to those of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome; recounting the incident many times, not being able to forget its tiny details and reliving the event in one’s mind.

The third can often be referred to as Postantal Anxiety Disorder.  The mother presents with feelings of extreme disappointment and frustration.   Often the mother finds she is extremely argumentative, because deep down she is angry towards a situation that is not her ideal.

I often see this situation in mums who, even before pregnancy, had extrememly high expectations of themselves. The birth or entire pregancy did not work out as they had planned or there was a difficulty breastfeeding.

The mum feels extreme guilt over the resulting outcome.  Her high expectations are not being met; expectations of herself, the child, her partner, life.. these are all learned behaviours which can be changed.

The problem with these high expectations is that when the are not met, the mother feels overwhelming guilt. The perfect example is breast feeding; most of my patients want to breast feed, and sometimes, when that is not possible, they feel guilt that they have failed and are not giving their child the best.

Sometimes this situation can be a result of previous learned behaviour or ideals. This behaviour pattern “worked” in your pre-baby days but becoming a new mum means this behaviour pattern doesnt “fit” into the new routine.  Mums can go through an identitiy issue, it can be hard to find your feet again.

How can homeopathy help?

Homeopathy turns everything on its head.  Treatment can help mums distance themselves from the symptoms, so they are not as overwhelming.  Over time, the frequency and intensity of symptoms can be reduced.

 

This has been described to me as if the clouds have cleared or a mother’s head has come above the water; the fog has lifted.  Mums can see thier situation clearer and without the emotional haze that can be distracting.  

 

During the appointment, we do an initial analysis after which I prescribe remedies to be taken for 2 weeks. The patient then comes back and we assess what the effect has been, what changes have taken place, and how she is feeling.  This process helps the patient to distance herself from her situation and look at it with a calmer, cooler energy.  All 3 postpartum characteristics need to have cortizol levels managed – cortizal is the stress hormone – but in homeopathy we try to look at the trigger and treat the whole picture, not just the symptom.

The symptom may be physical, but usually that us a manifestation from an emotional state.  All symptoms to a homeopath are important. We look at the physical, but equally important are the emotional and mental states.  Usually, the physical and emotional states are a reflection of one another.

If someone is interested in trying homeopathy, where would you recommend they start?

I would start with a home kit, which you can buy from Ainsworth, Helios or Nelson.  They do specific sets for birthing and mother&child.  The sets give you a selection of basic remedies and a little book to guide you.   Start here and then see a hoemoapth to help analyse the reaction.

Otherwise, go and see a local homeopath. The key is to find someone who gets you, each practitioner has their own way, so you need to find the relationship that works for you.  Speak to the nearest college to get a recommendation, or find a professional register.

What advice would you give someone pregnant and wanting to prepare for the journey ahead?

Pregnancy is like a magnifying glass, it manifests emotional blockages lying dormant which need to be addressed. That is why it is such an incredible opportunity for learning and growth.

During pregnancy is the perfect time to focus on your nutrition, sleep patterns, and letting go of a lot of stuff.  New Mums often suffer an identity crisis after birth, as the layers of their ego-life are stripped away. This is all good stuff, but it can be uncomfortable, so time spent preparing for that, reassessing what is important to you, is time well spent.

And advice to new Mums?

I would recommend every new Mum make an appointment with a Cranial Sacral Osteopath for their baby as soon as they are able – the effects are just incredible and can often stop much of the crying, cholic, reflux, breast feeding and sleep issues.

I would also say to them, don’t be in such a rush.  It takes at least 6 – 8 weeks to recover from the birth.  Take time to settle in to this new role and sleep.  Sleep is the most over looked healing system in the world, and just for a while, your sleep pattern will not fit in with the rest of society, so embrace that, and sleep, guilt free, whenever and wherever you can.

 

Which homeopathic remedies for stress and emotional support would you recommend to get started with?

There are a classic set of 4 remedies for after birth;

aconite – helps with feelings of panic and ultimately fear of death.
gelsemium – helps with anxiety and panic attacks
pulsitila – helps with hormone imbalances, when a Mum desperately needs support, does;t want to be left alone & feels weepy for o reason
sepia – helps with anger and hate towards life and the world.

So, in summary, where does homeopathy fit into being a Happy Sexy Mama?

Homeopathy can lead you through the layers of behavioural patterns. Every body can heal, and if it isn’t healing, then it could be because the body doesn’t have enough energy or that there is a insurmountable blockage. Homeopathy, like most holistic health systems, helps you to strengthen your energy and remove blockages, allowing you to survive, heal and then thrive.

Julia Edgely practices homeopathy in Mouans Sartoux, France.  Here are her links to social media where you can read more and keep in touch with her incredible stream of wisdom.

http://www.vie4vitality.com/index.htm
http://juliahomeopath.wordpress.com/
https://www.facebook.com/JuliaHomeopath
https://twitter.com/vie4vitality
http://instagram.com/juliahomeopath
http://www.pinterest.com/juliahomeopath/

Happy Sexy Mama is a website designed to support Mums through the early years of motherhood by keeping them inspired, supported and connected.  Sign up for blog posts and free simple yoga tips.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The simple art of Self Love.

all you need is love love love...

all you need is love love love…

Now, I KNOW the basic tenant of self help and conscious living is to love yourself.  In all the glorious wisdom of self help legends Louise Hay, Marianne Williamson, Wayne Dyer, Deepak et al, their message is clear and simple.  Love your self.   This is the starting point, the foundation.  Without loving yourself, you are a ship without a rudder and each of your best intentions will go awry creating havoc and chaos in your life.  

And I get it, I really do.  But the question i keep pondering is this… what if I just don’t really feel like I love myself?

Its pretty easy to look at my child or my partner and see their perfection in their imperfection.  Loving another is child’s play compared to loving myself.  How do I start to build my ‘Loving Myself’ muscle if, when I look in the mirror with the affirmation “I love you Sonja” my toes curl, I cringe, I want to vomit and I feel like a fraud?

This is a question I have been asked time and time again, so I’ve been thinking it through.  Here are my thoughts.

Start with the body, then move on to the mind.

Our physical bodies are a powerhouse of communication, working as a fundamental team member of the body/mind/spirit alliance that carries us through life.  Each of our 52trillion cells houses ancient wisdom, the ability to communicate what it needs within the body, and to store memory and emotion.  The miracle of our working body is enough to make you fall in love with your self when you really think about it, and the PRACTICE of taking care of your body is the first step to loving your self.

Because of the interconnectedness of our body/mind/spirit alliance, by starting to care for your physical body you cannot help but become more careful towards your mind and spirit.

4 easy steps to care for your body.

Loving yourself is a state of being, but we can access it in the much easier to reach state of doing.  Here is a to do list to get into caring for your physical body.

1. Care for what you put in and on your body.

  • Eat food that has grown in nature rather than through the aid of chemical fertilizers.  Eat organic where you can afford to, and stay away from processed, packaged, canned food.  A good rule of thumb is if it has a marketing campaign its probably not that great for you.
  • Use body creams and products that stay away from science and instead use the enormous wealth of ingredients nature provides. Dr Haushcka, Neals Yard Remedies and Weleda are a good place to start.
  • Drink to keep hydrated.  Don’t wait until you’re dying of thirst, keep a routine of drinking to hydrate, especially when breastfeeding. Find your treat – coconut water, lemon & ginger, lime water or a glorious glass of iced water with cucumber and fresh mint.

2. Get some sleep.

Put some energy into turning your bedroom int a calm and peaceful haven for you.

  • De-clutter, only keeping things in your bedroom that make you feel good.  Think about textures, lighting, imagery, music, photos, crystals, and set a glorious self indulgent loving yourself tone.
  • Remove all electrical devices especially those with the little red light on when on standby.
  • Burn some essential oils; lavender, yang yang and neroli are wonderfully relaxing.  Send the message to world out loud and clear – this is My place to SLEEP.
  • Make it so that you are looking forward to getting into bed, and try to do so at 10 or earlier if you need it.

3. Move & create.  

Everyone has something they love to do aside from being a grown up (working, parenting, planning…), but I think it is easy to forget what hobbies we enjoyed when we were young.  Which is sad, because as we get older we need to move and create more than ever before to keep alive and inspired.

  • Find a sport that you like.  I’m not talking about olympic level exercise (although feel free if that’s your thing). This can be anything from walking through the park for 30 minutes every day, to free diving at the weekends.  There is NO LIMIT to what you can do to keep your body moving, and there are infinite ways to have fun doing so.  Your body needs to move to stay working properly, but with the right attitude, doing your thing will be the highlight of the week, rather than another job on your list.  Take responsibility and find your thing.
  • Create.  As a woman, your Divine Feminine Energy is all about creation.  You’ve already done the ultimate by creating your life and the life of your child.  Now its time to create just for the fun of it.  Not for the resale value.  Not necessarily for anyone else’s eyes.  For you.  Need to bake a cake?  Set about it with your most creative flare, losing fear of getting it wrong.  Get your sewing machine out, or some knitting needles, or some paint & pencils, or an instrument you used to play.  Get a pen and note pad and write a poem.  Write anything.  Just create, and know that in doing so, you are loving you self.

4. Meditate.

If you REALLY went to start caring for yourself, take 5 – 20 minutes a day to meditate.  Find somewhere quiet, sit with your spine straight, breath deeply and choose a mantra to repeat inside your head.  I’m currently using ‘Peace starts with me’.   When your mind drifts off the mantra, smile, and repeat again, ‘Peace starts with me’.  Do that for anything from 5 minutes upwards.  It’s that simple.

It takes 21 days to create a practice, so set yourself the challenge.

Once you’ve practiced these simple things for 21 days, see if you can feel the difference.  When we are in the space of practicing a ritual of care for our physical bodies, the mind will naturally move to a more loving state towards your whole self – body, mind and spirit.  In this space, it becomes a lot easier to look at yourself in the mirror, and with a smile and genuine belief, say to yourself  “I love you”.

Sonja Lockyer is author of the website http://www.happysexymama.com and is driven by the desire to share tips on self care to new Mums.