SELF CARE

From our Director

CULTIVATING PRESENCE AND RITUAL FOR SELF CARE

At this week’s Mystic Women’s Circle, we spoke of the Virgo Full Moon calling us to enhance the rituals and the routines we have, and the idea of being in meditation, grounded and present in our activities.


Presence is that rare and remarkable feeling of being simultaneously relaxed and aware — being totally ‘in the moment’. Some people call it flow, and it’s the kind of high-performance state that is needed to achieve mastery — of tasks, and of your self. Being present is being “attuned” and “mindful” to what is being experienced by yourself and others, with acceptance and non-judgment — letting things come and go with compassion and understanding. It’s like an eyes-open meditation.

We can cultivate presence in our daily lives by engaging in activities that promote moment-to-moment awareness, such as art, creativity, music, meditation, breath work, yoga, or being in nature, which help to release the natural presence within. 

“As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love — even the most simple action.” –Eckhart Tolle

Rituals have been used since the beginning of humankind, from self care routines to major life ceremonies. Differing from “habits”, rituals involve the execution of conscious and deliberate actions. They are mindful acts, generally with repeatable sequences, with focused energy, intention, and full attention.

The power of ritual is that it allow us to shut off the endless chatter around and within us, and be here now, so we can access a state of presence and fully enjoy life. Ritual turns an everyday or ordinary practice into something sacred. It is through intention that an act becomes a ritual — when you add reverence, elegance, sanctity and meaning, you elevate it to a moment of devotion, and divine connection to something greater, within and without.

“A ritual is the enactment of a myth. And, by participating in the ritual, you are participating in the myth. And since myth is a projection of the depth wisdom of the psyche, by participating in a ritual, participating in the myth, you are being, as it were, put in accord with that wisdom, which is the wisdom that is inherent within you anyhow. Your consciousness is being re-minded of the wisdom of your own life. I think ritual is terribly important.” – Joseph Campbell

There is no better way to cultivate a relationship with yourself than through ritual. The power of self care and grooming is that it becomes a ritual offering to yourself. Whether you choose to have your nails manicured, your brows shaped, or you feet massaged — by you or someone else — you are making an offering of time, energy and space to yourself. It’s like putting fruits and precious gold on the altar or your soul, but perhaps more relevant for todays’ modern world.

Ritual can be created in all parts of your life, from the way you start your day, to the way prepare food, to the way you put yourself to bed. Every time you choose to honour yourself and the present moment, you show the world how much you believe in your worth and value. Think of all the time that you might be wasting in worrying about the future, following other people’s lives, or unconsciously rushing through tasks and routines. Imagine how life might be different if you changed the way you used your time, and the intention behind your activities.

Presence and ritual allow us to fully immerse and enjoy the beauty of our human experience, as well as the unexplainable, and remind us that we have a choice with how, when, where and why we expend and dedicate our precious energy.

Here are my top tips for cultivating presence and ritual:

  • Pausing and Slowing Down : Slowing down to create space around an experience. Noticing more of the subtle aspects of each experience . 

  • Walking Slowly: Helping you to be open to what is present inside of you and to notice what is present in your environment. 

  • Breathing deeply into the moment: Taking deep and slow breaths to create a calmer, healthier environment in the body, for a more alert and attuned state of being in each moment.

  • Setting an Intention for presence: Prime the brain by setting an intention to be present upon waking in the morning, or before an act eg. inhale and say “I arrive into the present moment” and on the exhale say “I let go of the busy-ness”

  • Pay attention to thoughts: Instead of worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, focus on the present moment. Instead of focusing on what isn’t, have gratitude for what is. Instead of seeing the negative, be optimistic and ready to see the good.

  • Love your work: Find something that you appreciate about your current career, your industry, the current task at hand, the person in front of you. Cultivate a loving connection with every action.

  • Listen: Pay attention to what is happening around you. Listen to the sounds, and observe the people. Really listen to what people are saying, and respond with authenticity and love. Avoid small talk, embrace conversation.

  • Give yourself the best you can: Honour yourself by giving yourself the best choice you can. Do not scrimp, do not shortchange yourself, give yourself the very best.

  • Make the ordinary extraordinary: Find a way to add specialness to the things you do. It might be using a beautiful cup, adding flowers to your space or lighting a candle. Start small, it all counts,

  • Smile: Appreciate the beauty of life. 

RITUAL

From our Director

SELF CARE IN THE WINTER

SELF CARE MELBOURNE DAY SPA

There's plenty of things to love about Winter -- cozying up by the heater or fire, roasted goods (potatoes, marshmallows and everything in between), listening to the calming sound of the rain and channelling your inner-Russian spy with luxe long coats and boots.

Grey, cold, wet and dark days can also be trying at times. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a condition of having less energy and motivation, sleeping more, eating more (especially carbs..) and ultimately feeling depressed each year during the same season, affects 6% of the population, while another 14% of people experience a milder form of SAD, the “winter blues.” Even if you don’t fall into those categories, right about this time of year most of us can’t wait for Spring to arrive as we deal with colds and just feeling, well, cold.

So, how do we navigate this terrain? Eating a packet of Timtams or binging on online shopping might make you feel better in the moment, but can result in a deeper mood-slump later.

Winter is a season for solitude, hibernating, self-care, rest, healing and hot chocolate. How do we nurture ourselves to prepare for change? How do we prepare ourselves to welcome the new? These are the spiritual questions of winter. ‘Getting ready’ is Winter’s work. I’ve found that embracing a slower, sleepier pace can reveal and rejuvenate in ways we might not expect. Give yourself some grace, and permission to do less. Take time to take notes and prepare. Instead of chastising yourself for not getting everything done on your list, be kind to yourself. What you’re experiencing is normal and understandable for the season. In fact, it's essential.

This is where self-care comes in. I've found that treating myself kindly tends to get better results in the long run, rather than trying to work against nature by keeping up my normal pace. I made a list of ways to be kinder to myself in Winter, so if you struggle with this like I do, I hope you’ll find at least a few things that you can partake in:

  1. Pour a cup of tea, get cozy, and sip it in silence. Put your phone on airplane mode, and just be still.

  2. Make a Vision Board. Start to dream up what your best life looks like for you and create a visual reminder to keep you on track and in an inspired, positive frame of mind.

  3. Read a book. Put aside the laptop and turn off the TV, and just unplug with a good old fashioned book of your choice, whether thats a romance novel, or sci-fi. What did you enjoy reading as a kid? Read that.

  4. Make art or a craft project. Painting, drawing, knitting (yes, its cool again, but even if it wasn't, who cares!), sewing, or any type of DIY project for a few hours is so refreshing for your creativity and state of mind.

  5. Take a nap. This is one of my favorite ways to recharge :)

  6. Get your nails done. New nails make me feel like a new woman. A bright, springy colour might inspire, but I like to luxuriate in the dark greens, blues, plums and reds of Winter.

  7. Take a bubble bath. It always feels like a lot of effort, and yet I always love it when I do.

  8. Watch a movie by yourself. "The Last Unicorn" is a childhood fave that my partner wont watch with me, and even though I’ve seen it so many times it never gets old. I love the documentaries on gaia.com too for something more spiritual. Don't forget the popcorn.

  9. Go for a walk. If the weather isn’t too wild, some fresh air will do wonders for your mood.

  10. Clean, or de-clutter something small. Outer order equals inner calm. Tackle a shelf or a drawer, and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment afterwards. This really works.

  11. Light Therapy. I love our LightStim LED treatment as it mimics the sun's rays indoors (with no UV). We even have handheld versions you can purchase for home!

  12. Have a Play date. Some human interaction will boost your mood, and lift both of your spirits. Perhaps do something active together like trampolining or a salsa class. Whaaat? Yes!

  13. Get some fresh flowers or a plant. Adding some greenery and life to your environment in the winter will do wonders.

  14. Dance. Put on some music and groove yourself to a new mood.

I encourage you to embrace the Winter and be your own healer during this special time of the year. What are your favorite ways to give yourself some care during these Winter days? Share your ideas with us in the comments below

With love,

Victoria Fox

Health & Wellbeing

SELF CARE IN THE AGE OF SOCIAL MEDIA: BY BROOKE CEFAI

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It has become evident that many women (adolescents and young girls) are feeling significant pressure to be seen to be living a perfect existence. This I believe is due, in part, to the rise and rise of all things social media, where it has become commonplace to see the 'good highly stylised life' rather than the 'mundane & unedited real life'. What concerns me further, is this influence is all many of the new generation of young women know, and live by.  

I certainly understand this pressure. I recall some years back when social media became the new thing, trying to follow the glitzy articles, blogs or posts. Getting dragged into a new form of meditation, venturing to the gym to experience some new yoga craze, jumping on the gluten-free, vegan-free, life-free bandwagon. Just kidding myself that I was actually achieving something - anything - motivational by watching self help documentaries on youtube all day... And yet all of this did not budge that miserable space, a space that saw me comparing everything I had 'not' achieved to the photos and blogs of all those amazing tanned and stylish women who 'had'.

To add insult to injury I often felt even more hopeless given I had all these amazing tools literally at my finger tips that I should be drawing upon and learning from, (and lets not forget the bling bling photos of everyone else getting it right in wondrous parts of the world) and i just could not.  Worse still, I suffered in this space (behind my screen) all alone.

After some honest reflection it finally occurred to me that most of what we see and read on social media is not real, and over the years since then it has remained mostly the same, only now we are bombarded with way more content, way more 'paid' influencers and way more subtle advertising! For all the blessings that technology has provided us, it has also left us feeling, ironically,  less connected, more detached and way more self-critical than ever before.  

A further irony is the most important tool I had overlooked throughout my soul searching was the act of actually reaching out to another human being, to genuinely and physically connect with someone on a tangible level (the old-school way I like to call it).  And to be honest with them (and myself) about how I was feeling and/or struggling. What followed allowed me to learn more about self compassion, the power of being me and to never compare who I am with another.   

I also decided that it was OK to leave my phone and all its distractions at home and to choose who \I follow based more on shared values and vision than anything else.  

 

Brooke Cefai is a Counsellor & Wellbeing Facilitator who specialises in strengthening and empowering women's emotional and spiritual health. Brooke is extremely passionate about helping women re-connect with themselves & individual life stories, stories that are too often kept silenced. Brooke offers counselling and healing services at MISS FOX and online. To read more about Brooke's services, and to make a booking visit her page.