Morning Pages & Creative Liberation

I recently picked up a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron – I had seen it reviewed by a fellow WordPress blogger (wish I could remember who!) and decided to pick it up after a very obvious (to my brilliant subscribers) creative rut.

This week I decided to start what the author describes as a twelve week intensive course aimed at ‘recovering your creative self’. Let’s be honest, it all sounds a bit wishy-washy and hippy but isn’t the whole point of creativity to be open to new insights and ideas? So I shoved aside my doubts and self-consciousness and decided to give myself permission to be more creative (Julia talks about a negative consciousness called the censor that acts against all things spiritual and creative and I have to say my censor came out writing that last sentence!).

Clearly, I have not yet been completely bowled over by the book. The part I have been hopelessly charmed by however is the concept of Morning Pages, which she describes on her website as:

…three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.

Cameron abundantly prevails on the reader the importance of these Morning Pages, whether you be a writer, painter, poet, sculptor, musician, photographer… or whether you aren’t any of these things but find yourself wanting to be. For me, coming from the stance of a writer who doesn’t seem to write enough they have been so useful, in just one week, in getting my mind and my pen going first thing in the morning.

My Morning Pages

My Morning Pages

The author regularly refers back to the benefits of Morning Pages but for me two stand out the most:

  1. As a 90s child, the majority of my education in the last 6 years has been dominated by computers and typing but there is so much to be said for putting pen to paper and actually writing longhand. The content here is not important, and so with that out of the realm of conscious attention you can focus on the feel and the rhythm of writing and just letting the words flow on to the page. The difference between writing on paper and writing on a screen is that you actually see the words appearing underneath your hand, whereas on a computer the words just seem to pop up on the screen as your fingers dash across a keyboard, a process that can sometimes seem utterly disconnected. The purists will love it.
  2. Writing first thing in the morning, and I mean literally reaching across from your bed and grabbing your notebook and pen and then seeing your hand scribble across a page with the tinted blur that comes from a good night’s sleep, is therapeutic in such a way as it enables you to get out all your anxious thoughts and expectations of the day and nightmares you may have dreamt in order to get on with your day with your focus on what matters. Since doing the Morning Pages I’ve noticed that worrying about trivial matters occurs less when I’m focused on writing because in my mind, by writing down my worries and preoccupations that morning, I have already dealt with them and can move on. There’s some psychology behind that that’s for sure.

I’m not sure how well this will work in all areas of creativity, such as painting or music. It seems to me pretty straightforward that it should benefit other writers, but other than Cameron’s own examples in the book I have yet to talk to any other type of artist who has experienced the same – but I would definitely say it’s worth a try!

Meditation 101: A Great Introductory Video on Mediation for Beginners

I stumbled on a great video today which I thought I’d share with you all!

YogaVibes is a great website that offers full length yoga classes online – and you can trial these for free for 15 days!

They also offer short introductory videos on different poses and mediation and the image below links to a great Meditation introduction! If you are unsure about where to start with mediation this video is only 4 minutes long and can help you find your feet… or your lotus pose!

yogavibes mediation

Wrist Mala Giveaway!

Hi guys!

I have just launched my first Instagram giveaway!

To win six handmade wrist malas all you need to do is go to @imeditiationbead and share the image below, with #imeditate & ‘follow @imeditationbead’ in the comments below:

meditation bead

You can see more details about each mala by visiting my shop: iMeditate. If you need a few tips on how to use meditation beads feel free to check out my previous post: How to Meditate Using Mala Beads.

For those of you without instagram… I am also offering a second bundle over twitter. Just follow me at @imediationbead and share the tweet below:

twitter meditation beads

Winners will be picked at random so good luck everyone!

Yoga Bursts: Tips for Home Practice

Hello fellow yogis!

This post is dedicated to all those too busy to fit in a weekly yoga class! I’m a big believer in yoga classes – the instructor is usually a fountain of knowledge on all things technique such as breathing and bending. Without regular classes, especially as a beginner, you may find yourself less confident in your poses, and confidence really can make the difference between holding a pose for 2 breaths or 5!

Sometime however, classes just aren’t practical. No matter how guilty we feel that the single mum down the road with 4 kids, her own business to run, and an elderly father to look after still has time to go to the gym every night, not all of us have such superpowers. Myself included. In the last couple of months I’ve been sleeping when tired, eating when hungry and in all other spare time writing my dissertation; the only way I could view yoga classes during that time were as an hour when I wouldn’t be able to work on my final deadlines and I just knew I wouldn’t be able to relax. If I’d allowed myself more time to prepare, I would have meditated on this. I suggest those of you who know you have a busy schedule coming should reflect on the time spent in yoga class so that instead of associating it with time lost, you can associate it with energy gained, and time spent profitably as opposed to wasted on nonprofitable procrastination (which is often the case with revision or deadlines!).

During this time however I began to appreciate the value of short yoga breaks… or yoga bursts as I like to call them!

Morning Sun Salutation

Morning Sun Salutation

I realised that instead of going to class I would need to incorporate at least an hour and a half in to my week. It turns out I ended up doing almost twice as much as this without feeling like any time had been wasted! The wonder of yoga bursts is that they are flexible, you can do them whenever you feel the need or whenever you have the time.

I began by setting my morning alarm half an hour early; instead of waking at 8am I would get up at 7.30am and do 15 minutes of sun salutation, slowly increasing the pace as my body warmed up so that I finished energised. One of the most daunting prospects of home practice is that often we think that we need to force ourselves through a full-length yoga class without the help of an instructor. I don’t think this is necessary, especially not at the start of your home practice routine. It is enough that you have dedicated 15 minutes of your day just to get started. If you find that you need or want to spend more time practising then you can – that is the wonderful flexible nature of home practice!

This is exactly what I found. I was getting to the middle of the day, after 5 or so hours sat hunched over my laptop, and already my back was starting to ache and my energy dwindling. The thought of spending the rest of the day in the same position writing on the same subject did nothing to motivate me and so I looked up a short motivating yoga sequence to incorporate in to the middle of my day. The one I used most days can be found here, but I suggest scrawling youtube or your favourite yoga websites for one that suits you (just don’t spend too long on this part if you have revision to be getting on with!).

There are also loads of great websites out there that offer support for home, or even office(!) yoga practice! I’ve linked a few below just to get you started:

Below I have listed some of my favourite energising yoga videos, which can all be found on youtube and are less than 15 minutes long:

I hope I’ve encouraged some of you to start incorporating yoga practice into your daily home life instead of just waiting until your weekly class!

Dalai Lama

Be kind wherever possible… It is always possible.

This quote from Dalai Lama is my all time favourite saying! It links in beautifully with a passage I recently read in The Tibetan Book Of Living & Dying

Do I remember at every moment that I am dying, and everyone and everything is, and so treat all beings at all times with compassion?

Slightly morbid but makes so much sense! If you got hit by a bus tomorrow would you have any regrets for the ways you treated people today?

Update: I originally thought this was a quote from Buddha but Chico nicely pointed out that I was very much wrong! Sorry guys! :)

Creative Explosion!

So I went a bit mad with my beads yesterday. I decided to give myself the day off dissertation writing (time will tell if this was a mistake!) and made a huge mess in my room trying out different mala bead patterns and styles. Which left me with these beauties below! I’m especially sad to let go of the purple one… it’s so pretty! Let’s just hope others think so too and buy them!

£22.50 + p&p

£22.50 + p&p

£5.00 + p&p

£5.00 + p&p

£7.50 + p&p

£7.50 + p&p

Help! I’ve Fallen in Love With My Blender…

Yesterday I bought my very first hand blender – and I haven’t been able to put it down since!

For months now I’ve been seeing fellow yogis & health nuts posting pics of their green/brown mushy drinks and thinking why on earth would anyone drink that? But in the spirit of giving everything a go at least once I popped down to Asda this morning and picked up some ingredients! Unfortunately they don’t sell kale – which seems to be the most popular ingredient in the land of green smoothies – so I got some spinach and mint… and hey presto I was drinking my very first green smoothie!

spinach mint smoothie

Did I enjoy it? It was AMAZING! I gave it to all my housemates who also loved it (turns out you can feed boys green, healthy mush!) and what was great was that it was also filling! The perfect breakfast! Especially for someone like me who can never seem to stomach a proper breakfast in the morning (see my post on overnight oats)…

So what did I put in it?

  • 1 cup of almond Alpro soya milk
  • 5-10 leaves of spinach
  • few leaves of mint
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup of frozen blackberries

I can’t be too sure how healthy all of that is – especially the almond flavoured soya milk – but now that I have my trusty hand blender I can keep experimenting and hopefully provide my lovely readers with some more gorgeous treats!

I also popped to Holland & Barrat this morning and stocked up on my Yogi Teas so I am a very healthy, happy bunny today! The tea below is my all time favourite…

Women's Energy

5 Reasons Why You Should Join In On A Yoga Challenge!

Whilst I’ve been more than happy posting pictures of my hands all over the internet to promote my wrist malas, sharing my yoga poses with the world wasn’t something I was looking forward to doing!

But here we are, on a blog about meditation and yoga. With absolutely no pictures to prove to any of you that I do any yoga whatsoever. Thankfully, you have all been kind enough to take my word for it… until now!

If you are a yogi on instagram you will have seen all the monthly challenges circulating – it seems every pose picture is hash-tagged with a different challenge! For months now I have been following and admiring (getting jealous over) the amazing poses snapped by yogis all over the world, and wondering if I could ever do it? I have managed to get in to a daily routine (yay!) but mostly this consists of varying sequences of the sun salutation and the odd yoga video I find on youtube. The brilliant thing about these challenges is that they push you to practice poses you normally wouldn’t go near in a sequence. Downward dog to scorpion? I don’t think so. But when practising each pose alone you are able to focus your mind completely on where the strength needs to be in your body, by imagining yourself in it and feeling your way in to it. All of this I realised today whilst trying to pull off a variation of the waterfall pose. Ready for it…

YogaFools Day1

So there I am… doing yoga! And now that I have started this 30-day challenge it looks like I’ll be posting daily so if you need more proof you can find me on Instagram @imeditationbead :)

Don’t get me wrong, joining a challenge is scary; there are so many amazing yogis out there that you don’t feel you can compete! But the best thing about these challenges is that they’re not competitions at all! So below are my 5 reasons why you should join in on a yoga challenge!

  1. Face your fears – if you’re like me, the thought of strangers seeing you in your Primark leggings might strike fear in to you! But one of my favourite mottos in life is “Do something you’re scared of every day” so what could be better for this than to practice a pose you may be scared of, or upload a picture that you might be terrified of everyone hating when in fact you could end up with more likes that you’ve ever had before!
  2. You are not alone – home practice can often seem lonely, especially if you’re used to going to classes once or twice a week! Challenges are a great way to connect with people after your session. By seeing others peoples photos each day, you can also see those who may not be able to hold a pose as well as you can right now, as well as those who are far more advanced – both of which offer solidarity and motivation!
  3. You have the opportunity to learn something new every day – if you are a beginner, or stuck in a bit of a rut, challenges are a great way to learn! The #yogafools challenge that I have joined in with is run by three experienced yogis (@laurasykora, @masumi_g, @gypsetgoddess) who give great step-by-step instructions under each daily pose.
  4. You are forced to make your yoga practice a habit – there is no better way to make a habit out of your yoga practice than through daily practice, and what better way to make sure this happens than through the pressure of needing to upload a photo daily to prove you’ve kept up with the challenge!
  5. You can track your progress – the final great thing about joining an Instagram challenge is that by taking photos every day you are able to keep a clear record of your improvement – what better motivation is there than seeing the ways in which you yourself can succeed?

I hope my 5 reasons have convinced you! Don’t be afraid to give it a go – you never know how much you could improve in just 30 days!