Transformation

A collection of bones wrapped in skin

when’s the last time I came here?

Movement comes naturally

a limb thrown up to the sky

a finger pressing into the earth

               upside down

my spine spirals in circles

as muscles carry weight through air.

 

The Snake shed its skin

I dance around the paper thin case

             left behind. Toes tingle

blood bursts with fresh oxygen.

                                  Yes!

The toad waits at the door

a moth is drawn to the light.

And we know

         We know that they are us

& we are them.

                     Leap, it’s time

the leaves are beginning to fall.

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Dancing in the Wilderness sketch

 

(All this time alone has got me feeling creative!)

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Changing the Story

“All illness starts in the electromagnetic field surrounding us– and that field is comprised of our thoughts, beliefs, and emotions– and those of our families and communities. Until you understand and work on this level, all healthcare is merely symptom relief!”  DR. CHRISTIANE NORTHRUP, Women’s Health Expert, Visionary Health Pioneer, Wellness Speaker, and New York Times Best-Selling Author. (I strongly recommend her book ‘Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom’ for female readers)

“You have the power to heal your life, and you need to know that. We think so often that we are helpless, but we’re not. We always have the power of our minds…Claim and consciously use your power.”  LOUISE L HAY, author of ‘You Can Heal Your Life’

***

Morning movement, the sun makes its way up into the sky and we stand beneath with our feet planted on the earth. Dina asks us to move from our sacrum, with feet firmly connected to the floor and jaw loose, sternum high. We sway like this, bringing awareness to our bodies, arriving into this collection of bones and flesh to say hello to a new day.

Dina tells us how we can prevent the physical body from healing by being attached to thoughts in our mind that hold the belief we cannot heal, that tell us we are doomed to live with pain or illness. I notice a reaction to her words. I feel annoyed at this suggestion, it makes sense to me on one level and presses my buttons on another.

“But I’ve been living with neck pain and digestive problems for at least 6 years” I tell her “I’ve tried everything and although I feel positive about what I’m doing, nothing seems to actually fix it once and for all. How am I supposed to believe it can be truly healed? I can’t.”

She asks me to repeat this sentence, I do. It sticks in my throat, which I can feel closing up as my eyes begin to water.

“How does it feel in your body when you say these words?” She asks me,

“My body feels stressed, tense, rigid and like there’s something sticking to my insides.” I reply.

So, she gets me to breathe out as I bend my knees and sink into the floor then breathe in right down into my belly as I rise up again to having relaxed straight legs. I do this for some time, really focusing on the breath. After a while she asks me how my body feels now,

“Relaxed, free, much more comfortable.” I reply.

“Are you still in pain?” She asks,

“No”

“See, when you are thinking about a belief that you can’t heal, which is just a story you tell yourself, the body gets stressed. When you let go of this belief, the body can relax and be free from pain or be in less pain. Remember this.” She smiles at me reassuringly and I wipe my eyes.

I’m working on letting go of this belief, it’s not going to happen overnight but I’m really starting to feel empowered. I am not defined by any pain or ill health in the physical body and I can change the story.

Bach Flower Remedy for feelings of hopelessness about healing from illness: Gorse. Take drops under the tongue as directed on the bottle and can aslo put 2 drops into olive oil in the palm of the hand to massage into areas of pain. Do this after washing.

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Spaghetti Squash Stir Fry

I have just discovered spaghetti squash – amazing! Perfect replacement for pasta. I’ll pop the quick and easy method for making spaghetti squash spaghetti here in case you just want to know that bit without the stir-fry recipe.

Boil the spaghetti squash by filling a big pan with about 2/3 boiling water. On a low boil put the squash in whole and cook for about 30-40 mins. Need to wait for it to be soft to touch. When it’s done, slice it down the middle and scoop out all the seeds and pulpy bits. Seperate the strands with a fork and voila, you have your spaghetti!
 
spaghettisquash

For my first experiment with it I used it as noodles for stir fry, but I was also really hungry so had it with brown rice noodles too, you can pick and choose whether you add in something extra or not.

So, for this recipe you’ll need:

-Fresh tomatoes

-Spaghetti squash

-Courgette

-Grated Beetroot

-Grated carrot

-Coconut Milk

-Fresh ginger

-Tamari sauce

-Olive oil

-Onions

-Garlic

-Rice noodles

-Sunflower seeds and almonds

Wow, that’s a long list. Okay so prepare the spaghetti squash as above.

Grate the fresh ginger and slice the courguette into thin strips with a peeler.

Chop onions and garlic, cook in olive oil. Then add the courguette and spaghetti squash, until the veg is all starting to cook. Pour in coconut milk, enough to just cover the veg. With your hand squeeze juice into the pan out of the grated ginger. Add a generous splash of Tamari, stir it all up and leave to simmer for about ten or fifteen mins.

For the raw part of the stir-fry (for extra nutrition and health benefits) mix the grated beetroot and carrot together in a bowl and add in toasted sunflower seeds and toasted almonds. You can toast these in a dry pan on a low heat. Cook some noodles if you like and when the coconut sauce with veg is ready toss it together with the salad and noodles, no heat is needed. Serve in a bowl with chopped fresh tomatoes.

Raw salad
Raw salad

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Releasing Emotions

So, I mentioned in my previous blog post that coeliac (and other digestive problems) and neck pain can be linked to the emotion guilt, which is comprised of Fear, Anger and Sorrow. I highlighted the need to express rather than repress these emotions, so that they are released from the body rather than stored. But how does one actually go about this?

Here are some ideas; each example can be used and adapted for any and all emotions. With thanks to the guidance of Dina Mouton who shared the below teachings with me.

FEAR

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Firstly, simply acknowledging the emotion is a great step. Repeating “I am afraid” or “I have fear” until something comes to you about what exactly it is you are scared of. This may come in a symbol or a feeling in the body or words, it doesn’t matter which. If nothing comes then it is also enough to just acknowledge the fear. So, next visualise the thing that has come to you, or if there was nothing, then visualise the fear itself. You can visualise it as little caterpillars crawling, or a knotted rope or perhaps a chain – whatever works for you.

Notice how it feels in the body to have this fear present. Are you tense or relaxed? Are there any feelings of tightness? Breathe into the body, paying particular attention to where you can feel the fear. Then visualise the caterpillars turning into butterflies and flying away, or the knots unravelling and falling away or the chains breaking and falling off the body.

Repeat to yourself “Let Go, Let Go, Let Go.” Rest in awareness for as long as you need to.

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ANGER

My danseyoga teacher, Dina says that anger connects us to our innermost strength and to deny or repress anger is to weaken ourselves. She made it clear that we must not put anger onto others or direct it at ourselves, but to feel it until we can actually enjoy it. Usually anger scares me and makes me very uncomfortable. Other peoples and my own but now I realise I was always hiding from it rather than connecting with it to allow it to transform. So, to let it out what can we do?

Well, one day I found myself hitting the floor, with all my force, repeatedly with a big drum stick whilst laughing. Ever punched a pillow whilst smiling at the same time? That is finding joy in the frustration of anger until it is no longer the destructive force of anger but is transformed into a source of laughter, of play.

SORROW

Every time we stop ourselves from feeling sorrow and push it down, without allowing it to come up, we create stress and tension in the body which can lead to illness and pain. There is nothing wrong with crying, or with sorrow. Crying actually releases toxins and also endorphins which is why we tend to feel cleansed after a good old weep.

Movement of the body is also a fantastic way to release emotions. On the farm I am staying at the minute, there is a huge space dedicated to yoga, dance and music. Perfect! So, I have been exploring movement through dance. I’ve found this to be so helpful because it takes me out of my head and into my body, rather than telling myself stories, I just feel whatever comes and express it. Ways to feel sorrow through the body could be to explore how it feels to “cry” with different parts of the body. Taking some time and a space to move through the air in whichever way feels right for you. Music can be used too, for example drumming as though our hands are weeping into the skin of the drum. Or head banging to heavy metal if that’s your style, there are many ways!

me dancing

Kahlil Gibran wrote a beautiful poem on Joy and Sorrow which you can read here.

If you are really struggling, remember there is always support out there. Visit the Samaritans site here.

And please comment below if you have any useful ways of releasing emotions or if you just want to share your own experiences 🙂

 

Je suis arrivé!

Where I scribbled this blog post
Where I scribbled this blog post

“What do you really need?” my aunt asked me a few months back when I was sad and tired of still feeling so low on energy and sick most of the time despite being gluten-free for over 2 years. Working my socks off to get my second dissertation in to complete my last year of university, I thought “REST! Somewhere I can go to simply be, somewhere with space for yoga and meditation, in amongst nature, with good organic food grown on the land that I can harvest myself and prepare fresh each day. Somewhere with a community feel, where I can make a positive contribution.”

From the tips of my toes to the crown of my head, I craved this place so deeply. I made a pact to myself at the start of this summer to honour my needs, so that I can bring myself fully to the world, to be able to do what needs to be done. To look after myself so that I can look after others. I visualised this place I felt I needed and rested in the peace of it. I’ve heard the power of intention is a very strong thing, and voila, here I am. I am in the place I imagined.

The Farm
The Farm

I arrived in France to a table full of smiles and a big gluten-free and vegan dinner. The farm has a profoundly peaceful atmosphere and I felt instantly at home, welcome. Each morning we begin the day with the danseyoga practice, becoming aware of our bodies and the ways in which we can release stress, emotion and learn to enjoy the way these limbs can twist and turn and stretch. Next we have a delicious gluten-free and vegan breakfast, recipe here. Work begins after, with a range of tasks to complete, from working in the garden to renovating the house to getting involved with art projects. At the minute we’re making a film, Dina, who lives on the farm and leads the danseyoga, is shooting it. Every evening we do a different activity in the temple which is a big studio space where we can dance, make music with drums, singing, different types of improvisation. Last night we did family constellations.

Dina is very knowledgeable, I love to listen to her stories and feel the wisdom within her words. Coincidently, a fellow gluten-free traveller arrived on the same day as me so we have been able to compare stories and not be the odd one out at the dinner table, as well as learn some new things alongside one another. Dina has been helping us to delve into the causes of this gluten intolerance and discover the intrinsic link between the emotional body and the physical body. This is something I’ve already been exploring a little, particularly since last October when I started doing TM mediation twice a day every day, in order to allow my body the deep rest it needs to heal. Alongside this I practice Reiki and regular yoga, the benefits of which have been wonderful.

But as well as rest, I need to start getting to the bottom of the problem. I don’t want to treat the symptom, I want to treat the cause, because this is logically more effective. Dina says digestive problems can be very strongly linked with the emotion guilt, which itself has 3 parts: Anger, Fear and Sorrow. To be intolerant to a food can highlight intolerance to these emotions, i.e. not allowing oneself to express them fully or really feel them and therefore creating a blockage in the gut, the core of one’s body. Without being able to ‘digest’ one’s emotions so-to-speak then the physical digestive of food can be effected. As the mind battles with itself, so does the body; coeliac disease is often described as the body attacking itself when gluten is ingested.

This too can be linked to the neck, which is a place where stress is stored when we don’t let emotions out properly and therefore tense up to keep them in. I’ve had neck pain for 6 years, about the same amount of time as I’ve had problems with gluten. Many different paths have been leading me towards this basic realisation, that to really heal my physical problems, I must be prepared to delve deep within and tackle the root. This can be daunting but as with most challenges, the rewards are boundless.

So, I signed myself up to house sit on the farm, completely alone for one week. Given my intense fear of the dark (it gets very dark here at night!) and need to be around people, this felt like a brave decision. Rather than the hectic adventure of travelling, I decided that before my next steps, I want to invite myself to really take the time to enjoy the company I keep on my own. To let myself feel whatever it is I need to feel, to be empty or full, to ground and connect before embarking on the solo journey ahead. After all, I’m going to need plenty of energy to meet lots of new people, go to many new places and drink in the anticipation and excitement of travelling.

Deep breath in. Deep breath out. How good it feels to simply be, to breathe, to rest.

Aaaaaaah
Aaaaaaah
Weaving a fence
Weaving a fence
Finished heartshaped hole surround by a heartshaped fence!
Finished heartshaped hole surround by a heartshaped fence!
Meditation spot in the woods
Meditation spot in the woods

Creamy Vegan Rice Breakfast

Vegan & Gluten-Free and full of goodness!

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Cook some white rice, (one cup rice to 2 cups boiling water), when the rice is soft and has absorbed all the water then stir in some coconut milk. Can also add almond milk or other if you like. Then add in some cranberries, raisins, chopped dried figs or apricots – whatever you fancy! Alongside some fresh fruit and some toasted sunflower seeds and almonds (can just toast in a frying pan, no oil needed) this makes for a very filling breakfast and a great start to the day.

Hit The Road!

Community work in the gardens at Embercombe, Devon
Community work in the gardens at Embercombe, Devon

WOOF (Willing Worker on Organic Farms) backpack – What Do I Need?

Taylored for a coeliac traveller!

Travelling as a coeliac can be daunting, but it needn’t put us off. Here’s a little list of what I’ve got in my backpack for adventures as a WOOFer/Workaway-er:

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Work Boots & Clothes Stuff you don’t mind getting muddy, dirty and even covered in paint. Strong shoes for working in and some strong trousers like jeans (in cases of clearing brambles etc) Also weather appropriate clothing for all eventualities

Raincoat, mac in a pack, something lightweight in cases of watery weather

Coeliac phrases printed in the language(s) of the place(s) you’re going too. These are available from Coeliac UK alongside guides for different countries, visit: https://www.coeliac.org.uk/gluten-free-diet-and-lifestyle/holidays-and-travel/country-guides/

Notebook for writing/recording info/recipes etc. Fittingly, there is a picture of vegetables on the front cover of mine, I will certainly be writing a lot about vegetables!

Emergency snacks being well stocked with GF snack bars, nuts, dried fruit etc is essential for all those times travelling between hosts and even for when WOOFing in case there isn’t many gluten-free snacks available when you first arrive

Swimming costume for seaside, lakes, pools, you name it

Camera there’ll be so much to capture

Travel Towel

Books Fiction, essays, dictionaries, biograghies – whatever floats ya boat. Old copies that you don’t mind letting go of are good then you can do book swaps along the way

Eye mask & Ear Plugs if you’re a high maintenance sleeper (like me)

Adapter plug if you have any electrics that need charging

Teddy by no means essential, but it’s kinda nice to have a little cuddly something…

And I’m off! Goodbye, watch this space, I will let you all know how it goes!

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