Living Authentically: The Courage to be Yourself

happy-woman-beach-wide

I recently had a conversation with a woman who ‘didn’t want to end up like me’. The context to this statement was based on the fact that I am not a homeowner or in a position to be one anytime soon and by societies standards I don’t appear to have a ‘career’.

At first I was hurt and obviously offended by her statement, however this exchange got me to thinking about how women in particular are pulled away from their authentic selves by the expectations of society, by models of success and our careers and a world that teaches us that ‘doing’ is better than being and that we have to hustle to have any sort of value and all that messaging becomes internalized for 20 – 30 something women like myself until they have a catalysing experience.

For many of the women I talk to or work with motherhood is a catalyst but there are many other experiences like the loss of a loved one, a breakdown of a marriage or a change in health or just feeling unhappy. It’s this catalysing experience were you think ‘this is not me, this does not feel like me or I feel like I am living someone else’s life’. It’s a sense of not living in alignment with who you truly are.

For me the catalyst has been my health and my ongoing battle to manage chronic conditions. That’s when I transitioned into alignment with my more authentic self and went from all the societal expectations of what I should be to the point of authenticity, being true to my authentic self.

In my work I am a Meditation Teacher, Crystal Healer, Spiritual Book Group facilitator and a Holistic Living Blogger. The theme that pulls of all these together is helping others to feel good and sharing experiences and information with others, particularly women, that inspires their personal growth.

It did take me a while to realise that maybe I could create a career that feels more aligned and better to me. I am still slowly nudging towards this as I do have a ‘day’ job as a receptionist in an organic spa, which I feel is also important to mention as a lot of the time people neglect to mention the realities of transitioning particularly from a financial point of view.

I also think that its good to have patience and an understanding that it might take longer than you might like to find the right way to pull everything together, I think as a multi passionate woman when you do find a way to pull everything together it becomes more sustainable. Because you are using different skills and knowledge and you’re constantly learning new things. It is also easier to sustain excitement when you’re not just picking one interest and going full speed with that. Which I have done many times before, I didn’t want to fall down the rabbit hole of one thing and then deciding it’s not for me and another thing and so on. For some people that works very well but it didn’t work for me. I didn’t want a career focusing on just one thing until it’s over.

It takes a lot of courage to create your own career and to live authentically, but when you do find a way to pull everything together it feels very exciting. So if you are currently dabbling or perhaps you are looking to create a more authentic life for yourself here are my my four top tips to help you get started:

  1. Redefine your values. It’s hard to behave in an authentic way if you do not know what you value and desire. Often, we hold tight to the same values we grew up with, when we need to re-evaluate what feels right to us now and align our actions around those things. Get clear on what you care about and authenticity will take root.
  2. Develop an open mind. Authenticity flourishes when we experience the world wholly, from every perspective. Rigid, good/bad thinking keeps us trapped in judgment and limitation, which causes us to shut down our vulnerable, authentic self. Challenge yourself to look at all sides of the situation. Be open.
  3. Notice when you are being inauthentic. Pay attention to those times when you are insincere in your speech, or when you are acting in a way that doesn’t align with your core values. Then explore the fears and beliefs that may create those barriers to your authenticity.
  4. Trust your intuition. Often, we feel out of sync when we are acting inauthentic. Things just don’t feel right. Pay attention to those hunches, physical sensations, and impressions. They can be your instincts telling you that you are not being genuine. When you are on track and authentic, you’ll feel that too.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and your stories!

Rachel x

How to practise mindfulness

The practice of mindfulness has the capacity to enrich and transform your life. But how do you actually do it?

o-MINDFULNESS-facebook

What is mindfulness? How can it be useful to me? 

Long practised by Buddhists, and the bedrock of Eastern psychology, mindfulness is now growing in the West. Perhaps you’ve seen books on the theme, or read about it in the papers. It’s both challenging and exciting those who desire psychological or spiritual change in their lives; or seek to promote it in the lives of others.

Advocates believe this practice can help alleviate a variety of mental and physical conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and anxiety.

But it is not just a medicine for hard times. More profoundly, it’s a way of living for all, enriching every moment of our lives, whether at work, on holiday or in the shower.

It was Hafiz, the Sufi poet who said: “If you would help me, do not shine a torch on my life – but place in my hands a candle.” So let us see if we can find a candle for ourselves.

Stop thinking

Surprisingly, mindfulness encourages us to stop taking our thoughts seriously. It invites us to stop wandering off into the past or the future.

Instead, we stop thinking and focus on our breathing. We’re quiet, present and watch our thoughts as they arise. Soon, we become aware of the mad restlessness and capricious nature of our minds; and, in time, we begin to take our thoughts less seriously.

This is liberating, as we have been their unquestioning slave for too long. Our thoughts do not always offer us the ‘reality’ we imagine.

Become an explorer

Mindfulness makes explorers of us, and like all explorers we will have to be brave if we wish to discover new lands.

Mindfulness asks a hard question of us: are you willing to experience openly what makes you unhappy?

We tend to shy away from this because the thought of it scares us. And, of course, this is why we became unhappy in the first place, because we were scared. But if we are willing to face things, we will discover a fresh knowing; virgin territory, which restores happiness. If we are not willing to face things, then, sadly, we continue to walk the same mental circles we have always walked. There is a great courage in mindfulness.

Seize the moment

Mindfulness is concerned with the present; with keeping your consciousness alive to the present moment.

This may appear a simple task, but is harder than it sounds. Most of the time, our minds are either taking us back into the past or into the imaginary future. To help us to engage with the present moment, breath work is a great help; this is so because unlike our mind, our breathing is always in the present. So becoming aware of your breathing is a wonderful start to becoming present.

Notice what is now

We are also helped into the present by noticing things. If we’re turning a key in a lock, we notice we are turning a key in a lock; if we’re walking down the street, we notice the shifting cloud formations or the negative feelings arising in us towards a car driver.

It’s about noticing what’s happening now. When we make a cup of tea or do the washing-up without thinking of what we are going to do next, then we are mindful. We are happier when we notice the present and let the future take care of itself.

Protect the space

Add a tablespoon of salt to a glass of water and it makes a significant difference. Add the same spoon of salt to a jug of water and it makes some difference to the taste. Add it to a lake, however, and it hardly affects anything.

Mindfulness makes us larger containers. This happens as we remove from ourselves all the clutter of past and future concerns.

In the present, we have endless inner space, which is a great step towards happiness.

Difficult emotions, like salt, may remain, but their power to affect us is diffused. Previously they could ruin our day, but now they can barely ruin five minutes.

Judge by results

Our judgments of others arise in direct proportion to our self-judgment. But as we allow ourselves to notice self-judgment, we also allow ourselves to be free of it.

People at peace are those who both see and accept the truth of who they are, rather than avoiding it and blaming someone else. Such people are less likely to find fault with others, which diminishes us and them and is always a waste of our time.

Question the negative

We are shaped by what we do with our negative experiences. Depression, for instance, is a turning away from experience in order to avoid emotional pain. Mindfulness doesn’t stop negative thoughts or feelings, but does help us to question their believability. Are these negative feelings quite as solid as they appear? Life is all in the perception; how we perceive events.

Mindfulness practice creates in us a sense of water flowing, things passing through, rather than hard blocks of ice inside us, solid and immovable.

It’s your work

No one can eat lunch for you, and no one can be mindful for you. It’s your work, and your wonder.

Give up your opinions

You cannot be mindful while holding on to your opinions. That’s like trying to keep dry by jumping into the sea.

Don’t censor yourself — accept yourself

As you get in touch with your breathing, thoughts will arise in you, unbidden. Don’t censor them, whatever their nature, but rather allow them all.

In accepting them, you accept yourself. If you censor emotions as they appear, they will bury themselves even deeper within you and you’ll never discover anything you didn’t know already.

If you allow everything, it may well be that you meet what is making you unhappy, but this is good.

How can you say ‘goodbye’ to it until you’ve said ‘hello’?

Rachel x

Vegan Lemon Cake

My absolute favourite vegan lemon cake recipe, it’s so quick and simple but tastes amazing!

khbtXM1UQSWmQl55v3i5_DSC_0144

Ingredients

100ml Vegetable oil, plus extra for the tin

257g Self-Raising Flour

200g Golden Caster Sugar

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 lemon Zested, 1/2 juice

For the Icing

15g Icing Sugar

1/2 Lemon juiced

Method

  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Oil a 1lb loaf tin and line it with baking parchment. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and lemon zest in a bowl. Add the oil, lemon juice and 170ml cold water, then mix until smooth.Pour the mixture into the tin. Bake for 30 mins or until a skewer comes out clean.
  2. Cool in the tin for 10 mins, then remove and transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool fully.
  3. For the icing, sieve the icing sugar into a bowl. Mix in just enough lemon juice to make an icing thick enough to pour over the loaf (if you make the icing too thin, it will just run off the cake).

 

Rachel x

 

Recipe from Good Food magazine January 2018, no copyright infringement intended.

 

Fatigue Fighting Foods

Do you often find yourself crashing out halfway through the day and struggling to keep your eyes open? A lot of the time those feelings of extreme tiredness and fatigue are down to diet so I’ve rounded up 8 foods you should try to boost your energy levels.

Oats

oats-in-wooden-bowl-and-on-wooden-spoon-facebook

Seriously filling and packed with protein and fibre, oats are great for people who experience blood sugar spikes and drops. Choosing plain versions is best as they have less sugar and you can then get creative and add fruit, honey and milk as you wish.

Pumpkin seeds

A handful of these can help give you an energy surge in the middle of the day. A source of protein, healthy fats, fibre and essential minerals, they can be eaten plain or sprinkled over salads and cereal.

Eggs

If these aren’t part of your morning routine, they should be. They’re an excellent way to enjoy sustained levels of energy without the insulin spikes or sugar crashes that eating a lot of sweet breakfasts like cereal and pastries can result in.

Spinach

GettyImages-126372288-58308da43df78c6f6a637ebb

Popeye had the right idea getting his muscle power from my favourite green. Rich in iron, which improves mitochondrial efficiency, these greens make it easier for cells to convert the food you’re eating into usable energy.

Sweet potatoes

Keep your carbohydrate cravings at bay by bringing more of this under-rated vegetable into your diet. The slowly digested starch can help you feel full and the vitamin C will help fight colds and illnesses which naturally make you feel more tired.

Crimini mushrooms

These are a source of vitamin B6 which is a must for energy production. It protects the mitochondria from damage and in times of stress, supports adrenal glands and niacin which help to convert foods into usable energy.

 

Nuts

mixed-nuts-on-rustic-table-large

Great for replenishing and boosting energy post workout, these are perfect for putting electrolytes back into your body that are lost during exercise. They’re filled with protein, fibre and magnesium which keeps your energy levels high and stable too.

Water

If you aren’t getting eight glasses a day, you really need to start! Dehydration is one of the main causes of tiredness, slowing down your metabolism and making your brain run slower.

Rachel x