As the old Yiddish proverb goes, “We plan, God laughs”.
Eight weeks ago I wrote an article on the benefits of cold water swimming and how much I was hoping it would help me manage through the cold winter months of uncertainty. My last swim was on the 4th of Jan and as of the 5th of Jan England went into a deep sleep of yet another pandemic, back to confinement, back to homeschooling. All travel was forbidden out of town, lidos, ponds closed so the prospect of cold swimming was reduced to the option of cold showers which I inwardly declined.
By end of week six, I reached the inevitable burnout and yet through this time I had developed a series of small rituals which had helped me tremendously to feel grounded.
Burning sage. California white sage has been used for centuries in healing ceremonies to clear energy of the space and self. Throughout day, I will go around the whole house with a quiet chant inviting positive energy to enter our space and let all negativity that’s built up evaporate into smoke.
Burning candles. Similar to sage, candles help soften and cleanse the energy of your home. There’s something primal and soothing in watching the tiny flame flicker, the soft light calms the mind, as opposed to arousing it with harsher overhead lighting.
Intuitive movement. Intuitive movement refers to unchoreographed free dancing which helps restore fluidity in the spine and shifts stagnant energy. Letting your body move the way it wants to. Quieten your mind, close your eyes, open them if you want, and move freely to music you feel most in the moment.
Moon cycles. For a couple of years, I have been following the moon cycle in order to help me feel grounded and more connected to larger forces around us. Every new moon I create a quiet space around me and write down what I would like to manifest for the new moon cycle. I also isolate one word which I would like to daily internalise and meditate on – i.e joy, equilibrium, tenderness, playfulness… By the full moon, I check back in with my journal to reflect on how life has unfolded through the lens of what I have manifested. The best way to start this practice is simply to observe yourself, your moods, your energy levels around the time of the new moon and the full moon and make little notes in your journal. Gradually you can extend this ritual to writing down your manifestations and contemplating on how it makes you feel.
Exercise. Over the last ten years exercise has become a paramount tool to maintain a clear mind and a strong body. During the past three lockdowns, exercise has become as essential as air and water for me. I couldn’t run very often so I turned to Nick Brewer’s animal flow, which I now follow daily in the morning. A combination of yoga, calisthenics, animal flow, a lot of spinal work with a backdrop of stunning Tulum and Ibiza. It has become such an integral part of my every day, that on harder days, I know that once I’ve done the flow, harmony of the mind will follow.
Intermittent fasting and giving up certain foods which I know have a negative effect on me. For me gluten, dairy and sugar pose the most problems with both bloating and mood swings so giving them up for periods of time helps me restore balance and feel much lighter and calmer. With intermittent fasting it is best to read up more about it to make sure you’re able to safely do this. But essentially it is about extending the time of food intake, for example 16 hours of fasting, followed by 8 hours of feeding. Apart from weight loss, what you gain is a sense of clarity of the mind, the body lighter, more responsive, more fluid.
Lastly, my most simple daily practice to harmonise with self and my kids is to get out on long walks in nature. Since we are bound to London, we daily go to all the green spaces around our house and walk for 1-2 hours. I find that in those times we often also have the best and most honest conversations.
What are your techniques to heal and look after yourself?