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Showing Up for Yourself

It’s time for us to acknowledge how far we have come from the days of needing to sacrifice our needs to finally being able to focus on them. We have had a long history of focusing on the various roles we play towards others and putting them before our needs. You may have diligently shown up as a good child, spouse, parent, societal role model, and breadwinner. What have you done to show up for your own needs? For some people, even thinking about this is a foreign concept.

The biggest mental barriers that prevent us from showing up for ourselves are:

  1. We are scared to be seen. It can be extremely uncomfortable for us to be seen and face judgment of others.
  2. We are scared to fail. We can’t face the fact that we won’t be good at something straight away.
  3. We are scared to move past old conditioning. We have bought into the notion that it makes us a good person to ignore ourselves and do things for others.

Here are some tips to counteract these barriers:

  1. Accept that there is an equilibrium of support and challenge in your life. For as much admiration and support you will get, there will also be criticism. The only choice you have is to hide from the critics or face them! If you expect both admiration and criticism as a natural part of life, it will give you more courage to face the critics.
  2. Take baby steps. There will be times where it will be easy and times where it will be hard, all you need to do is focus on the immediate next step to ensure you are growing. “Mistakes” are an inevitable part of learning something new, and they bring valuable lessons too!
  3. Make time to focus on your needs. Know that it’s OKAY to focus on yourself. In our endeavour to give to people, sometimes we forget that we are a part of “people” too.

I invite you to think of one thing that you have been wanting to do for you, and before the end of the year take 3 baby steps to move in that direction and show up for yourself this month!

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Embrace Your Shadow

We all have a light and dark side. There is a tendency for us to judge the light as good and dark as bad. Hence, our dark side has often been referred to as our ‘shadow’, representing a part of ourselves that we have rejected.

Lurking in our shadows are all those parts of us that we have labelled as wrong, stupid, useless, and basically not good enough. We’ve all experienced judging ourselves, however we may not be aware of the impact; this can turn into a self-defeating postulate that can follow us around for our whole lives. For instance, if you want more money, the part of you who feels not good enough may stop you from even asking or receiving it because you haven’t proven your worth.

It’s difficult to face the pain of self-rejection and to even admit that we have judged ourselves this way. Hence, when our shadow creeps up, we develop defense mechanisms to avoid confronting our own self-inflicting judgments such as rationalizing or keeping ourselves so busy that we don’t have to face it.

As a result, we disown that part of ourselves further and it hangs over us like a shadow that we are constantly trying to avoid. If you have the courage to face it, you will notice that in the shadow is a vulnerable part of you that is just craving for your acceptance and to feel good enough. The only way to truly move beyond this is to face our shadow and accept ALL parts of us; the good, the bad and the ugly!

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Collapsing Your Inner Polarity

All things on Earth are binary, and it is through the experience of opposites that we begin to understand our world. As babies, we first learned to separate ourselves from our mother and that was our first experience of two opposing states. We had “me” and “not me”. After that we have spent our whole lives learning through the process of identification and association, where we understand something by comparing it to something else and associating it with an idea. E.g. We know that white is light and not the same as black. Yet if we didn’t have the comparison of black, then white would lose its meaning.

If we look at Earth as a school, then part of our curriculum is to learn about life and grow through the experience of duality. We only know pleasure because we’ve experienced pain, and we only know achievement if we have overcome a challenge. If we accept the idea that duality exists for our own evolution, then perhaps we can accept the idea that darkness and lightness will always exist, and there is a balance of both in our lives.

The problem happens when we begin to judge the dark side of life and think that ‘darkness and pain should not exist’. As much as we judge the calamities of earth and the dark behaviour of people, we cannot remove their existence. Each one of us also has a dark and light side within us. The way I look at it is that we don’t have a choice about whether or not we want to experience duality because it’s a fundamental law of the planet. The only choice we have is to accept it or not.

We have had a few examples of beings on earth who have cracked the game such as Jesus Christ. He has shown us that when we truly give love and acceptance to all, then both dark and light lose their meaning, and we tap into a different consciousness of oneness. The ultimate freedom comes when we can look at both the light and dark through the lens of acceptance and be at peace with both.

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Coming to Grips with Darkness

Now more so than ever, we are seeing people’s darkness, prejudices and judgments being brought to light. This is a part of the world around us, and so is the lightness, generosity, love and humor that is also present. I would like to say a little something to those who are getting emotionally charged about all the darkness that is coming to the surface: It’s okay to acknowledge and feel your feelings, however if you have a hidden agenda of wanting to change the world by doing things that are driven by your anger, it’s probably not going to change what is happening.

If you view what is happening through a filter of ‘this is wrong’ it will evoke anger, and any action that is taken from there will only reinforce your angry state and won’t really change the other person. Creating long-term change in the world doesn’t happen if you are shouting out from your personal pains or fueled by anger. People generally make real shifts only when they are understood and inspired to do something different. The best thing we can do is understand that any action that is intended to hurt another comes from one’s own pain and a lack of awareness. Instead, if we seek to understand others and raise awareness, we are far more likely to see a shift in the world than by perpetuating judgment.

Here are some principles for living that can help to shift our approach:

  1. It’s okay to feel your emotions.
  2. Life is not about being on top all the time, it’s about understanding that we will face all types of up’s and down’s, and being at peace with that.
  3. When we are shown darkness, judging it as ‘wrong’ will only create more darkness. Moving away from judging it at all (neither as good nor bad), and just getting that it’s there will create more light around you.

Here’s to creating shifts through raising awareness!

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Your Perception Determines Your Well-being

As I reflect back on Mental Health Awareness Month in May, allow me to share my thoughts to you through this video:

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Grieving During Coronavirus

Life is different and things have shifted. A few people have embraced the current changes and are thriving in the new normal, while some are still in disbelief about how life has changed, or struggling to adjust to the new conditions. If you are not 100% at peace, a great starting point is to be okay with what you are feeling now. Accepting where you are at takes away judgment and allows you to move from there. If you are struggling, you are probably facing a sense of loss over what used to be; this loss may include work, your lifestyle, time to yourselves, finances, and the list could go on. With any loss, there is a grieving process, and you will go through the various stages of grief to get to the other side where you can be at peace with how things are. Here’s a quick way to identify what stage you are at and some suggestions to move forward:

Denial – Refusing to believe that the pandemic is true. This could show up as pretending that nothing has happened and trying to force the old routine on yourself and others. Or shutting yourself off from the world because you can’t face the changes. What’s needed: The ability to face the situation. You can do this by journaling all the changes that have happened and acknowledge what has changed.

Anger – Blaming people for how bad things are for you. This could be blaming your country, another country, the government, or your partner for not putting better contingency plans in place. What’s needed: Catharsis for your emotions. Acknowledge that you have anger and allow yourself to release it through breath-work or cardio exercise. It’s okay to feel and release your emotions.

Depression – Focusing on what’s not there and behaving like a victim. This can lead to feeling like the world has stopped and you are helpless and empty. What’s needed: Action and movement. If you are only focusing on what has stopped, you will feel helpless and stuck. The reverse of that is to keep moving, in any direction. If something has stopped, something else would be there in place of it, look for what is there instead. Then start taking some action to do things you like; any action will create a shift of energy.

Once you move through these stages, you would probably reach a place where you can intellectually accept the loss. And finally, after processing your intellectual understanding, you would be at a place where you can accept that what was is now over, and you are continuously moving forward.

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The New Normal

What a month it has been! With the entrance of COVID-19 into our lives, we have seen changes on so many levels; our communication methods, work, and family life all look different. It is evident that we are an incredibly adaptable species; we have implemented changes in our routine and made life work!

My message this month is simple: Acknowledge yourselves for moving forward, and get that there is no going ‘back to normal’ because normal has changed. By the time our planet discovers a treatment for the virus, we would have all adapted to a new way of life, which would probably be more efficient and involve seeing ourselves as part of a global community. For those who think you are doing ‘crisis management’ for now until things return to normal, I encourage you to see this situation as an opportunity to adapt new behaviours that you will continue even when it’s over. In reality, time only moves forward and not backwards. It’s our minds that can get stuck in the past. Just like nature has shown us rainbows after a storm, and history has shown us more liberation after each revolution, I believe something magical will be available for us after this period.

Invitation for the month: Instead of ‘regenerating back’, focus on moving forward towards new ways of maintaining health, relationships, and business that are here to stay.

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The Happiness Formula

Let’s take a few minutes to talk about happiness this month, to contrast all the emotions of fear and anger floating around with the current virus situation. Happiness, just like any other emotion, is a transient experience of life. This means that it’s not a permanent state of being; all emotions have a beginning, middle and end, which is why we call them “energy-in-motion”. However, because most people think it’s possible to cling to emotions, happiness has become that one emotion that people crave for most, thinking it’s possible to “always be happy”.

In light of this I’d like to offer two takeaways:

      1. The best way to look at happiness is to allow it when it comes and experience it to its fullest, knowing that it is a moving energy that will transform to something else. Peace is a state of mind that we can have permanent access to, happiness is something we can welcome and watch as it comes and goes.
      2. To have more experiences of happiness in our lives, we can break it down to a formula to see what we need to do in order to increase the frequency of this emotion.

Our body releases four types of happiness hormones:

      • Endorphins: This gets produced when you are doing what you enjoy, exercising and having a hearty laugh.
      • Dopamine: This gets produced when you feel a sense of accomplishment and achievement.
      • Serotonin: This is produced from a sense of contribution and giving back to the world.
      • Oxytocin: This is generated from feeling a sense of connection in your relationship with other beings.

Hence to have more happiness in your lives, you simply need to keep your body moving with exercise, cultivate close relationships where you feel a sense of love & connection, learn things to keep your mind growing and accomplishing, and do something to contribute back to our planet.

I was just in San Francisco with a few dear friends where we created opportunities for all hormones, from connecting to the silence of the trees in Muir Woods, to inspiring our minds at Oprah Winfrey’s show, lots of exercise, hearty laughs and taking care of each other. I wish you all a lot more experiences of happiness this month.

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Your Thoughts: The Body’s Best Antivirus Program

With the recent pandemic hitting China & Hong Kong our collective focus is moving more towards wellness than before. However, are we being precautious because we are feeling fearful of getting sick, or are we feeling inspired to be well? Although it sounds subtle, our intentions make a big difference to our well-being. Hence whilst it is imperative to take action towards our health and safety, it’s even more crucial to maintain a healthy state of mind.

Please take a moment to reflect on your current state of mind and observe your thoughts towards the virus; are you fearful and negative, or are you feeling in-charge? I’m not suggesting to be in denial about the gravity of the situation, rather to acknowledge the situation and focus on moving towards health than away from sickness. Your thoughts are the primary food that you are feeding your body and are more powerful than any action you take. This means that any person who has ever gotten sick or even gotten into an accident has only been susceptible to it because their thoughts would have been stressful at the time. So even if you think are unwell because you ate something wrong or fell down the stairs, when you play your thoughts in slow-motion just before the accident you would most likely notice that you were not feeling content at the time, which made you less present and more vulnerable to falling sick.

In light of all this, I invite you all to move towards your well-being by focusing on getting what you want, rather than focusing on avoiding what you don’t want. Taking actions towards your health from a place of inspiration will naturally make you feel strong and in-charge of your body. Trust in your body’s natural ability to keep you healthy and know that you have the resources to handle what comes your way. Let’s not forget that wellness starts with the mind!

Wishing you all a healthy start to the year of the Metal Rat!

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What is the year 2020 going to be about for you?

And just like that we are in the year 2020! Let’s take the New Year as an opportunity to appreciate where we are, and create a vision of where we would like to be. I invite you to take a few mindful moments to acknowledge yourself for 3 things you are proud about in 2019. Then, think about what you want 2020 to be about? If you had to give it a theme, what would that be? Here are a few tips to help you create your goals for the year:

1) Make sure your goals are 100% under your control. Setting goals that are about “making others happy” are pretty much guaranteed to fail because we cannot control anyone else’s responses. Even goals about getting a certain job or passing an interview may not be fully in your control, because it depends on others too. What you can control fully is your thoughts, choices, and actions. The more your goal is about you, the more likely you are to achieve it.

2) Schedule your actions towards it. One of the biggest reasons we don’t achieve things is simply because we haven’t made space for it! If you really want something, spend a few minutes to plan for it and schedule it in your diary. You are far more likely to do something you have planned for because it means you have already thought about it, imagined it, and created time for it, even if it’s months in advance!

3) Check-in on yourself regularly. Defining what you want doesn’t need to be a yearly activity, it could be a regular exercise. You are not the same person as you were last year, so what you want can shift as you evolve. Adding mindfulness and time for self-reflection keeps you conscious of your own evolution.

Wishing you all a beautiful start to the New Year!

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