This past weekend I pulled three of my angel oracle cards and here's what they told me..Read More
In my 26 years on this planet there is nothing more important that I’ve learnt than to feel healthy. It’s not an easy feat to constantly and consistently put your health, both physical, mental and emotional, ahead of other aspects like relationships, work, friendships and family but I always have to remind myself and others that without your own health how can you be a colleague, friend, relative or partner to anyone else?
What’s incredible however is that as a human race we tend to want to be ‘healthy’ but always struggle to truly listen to what we need from within and explore the truths to what our psyche (spirit) and our soma (body) are actually telling us. I learnt this truth the hard way in April and May 2015 when I really started to tune in and realise that the stomach and digestion problems I was constantly battling with should not have been something I had to live with.
Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t life threatening, I was not diseased or ill in the sense that I couldn’t live my everyday ‘normal’ life, although sometimes I wanted it to be that simple, something easily diagnosed. The fact I had to face was that I was stressed. Utterly, deeply stressed.
There was so much happening in my life, so many big decisions, I felt on the edge constantly and my reprieve, yoga, only lasted so long. Back to reality I went, my stomach growling at me, my belly feeling constantly bloated and gassy, even when I hadn’t eaten in 5 or more hours and my mind and body without any energy. I know this is not a great place to be, I felt inspired to be better, I wanted to feel healthy, I knew what it felt like to be healthy (my version anyway) and this certainly wasn’t it. But what could I do? I tried to clear my mind, keep focussing on what I loved, I let stuff go because it didn’t’ serve me, I focussed on the things and people that made me happy and I tried to give myself a little bit of me time (I was definitely unsuccessful at that). And for all of my ‘trying’, I still felt exhausted. Maybe I was trying too hard.
The signs of stress are often mixed up with or end up in mental ill health. If untreated, our body can start to shut down, or speed up from the constant state of being on edge, or in fight / flight mode, we can then start to enter the spectrum of anxiety.
For some of us it doesn’t take much, it’s not that we’re any weaker than anyone else, it’s simply who we are and our lesson in life is to listen to that and to make sure we look after ourselves, even more so than those who don’t find themselves that close to the edge. Stress and ‘busyness’ is quite common, and it’s something that a lot of people in this world are open to owning, but it’s when it starts verging on anxiety that we shut down, we pretend it’s not the case – but what’s the difference? If anything, admitting that something needs to change can bring a huge amount of relief, and when you realise exactly what’s happening and that you are most definitely NOT alone you open up a world of possibilities to support you to move back towards the well side of the scale.
So when I found myself on the verge of my anxiety, my stress levels peaking, and my main physical signs being a lack of energy, constantly irritated and bloated bowels and a lack of lustre for the day to day and those around me I decided to tackle the physical realm and see what happened.
Various tests didn’t really show too much, well not the clear-cut diagnosis I was hoping for anyways, the merely picked up that I was severely B12 deficient which indicates a potential auto-immune disease amongst other things, but nothing formally confirmed. Finally, after a couple of months and being inspired by meridians and chi in my Yin Teacher Training (Joe Barnett is amazing by the way), I decided acupuncture what was I needed, I needed to get my chi in order and figure out what was going on.
I don’t know what worked better, the needles themselves or the 30 minutes each session where I couldn’t move (well I tried not to, I know you probably can), which forced me to face my demons and truly quieten my mind. The time was bliss. In the first session I realised just how much I really struggled to not create to do lists in my mind, the second session I actually chose to catch the train part way and walk from the station for some added movement and found it a little easier to relax, the third time I finally started to find some true peace, stillness and as each session came and went I found that my mind was slower, my decisions more rational, my demeanour more lively.
Yes, all of this coincided with the final stages of planning and putting together my work and play trip overseas for my yoga career, it was a trying time making things fit, starting to transition towards my passion and walking away from what I had always known, so you could say I had a light at the end of the tunnel. But it wasn’t the light that I needed, it was the time to get my head space right. Because what kind of yogi would I be if I couldn’t be still and allow myself to find a place of calm and peace from within?
But I am real, I face the same ups and downs inside out and one thing that I often tell people at yoga and in my ‘day’ job is that it’s how we choose to look at our situation, and the choices we then make that matter. I chose to listen to what was happening within, and within a few months I was feeling relatively normal again. But the damage I had done in being too ‘busy’ had taken its toll and it took me around 4 months to feel ‘normal’ again, and I’m still working on it.
The truth of the matter is that I didn’t listen, I wanted to be strong, to not let ‘it’, whatever it was, get on top of me and what I really needed to do was stop.
It’s time that we all start to listen, that we don’t underestimate what our bodies and minds are telling us, that we take the time to be mindful and to find out what healthy actually is for us.
We should not accept or live with mediocre, we should feel great, at least 90% of the time, and the other 10% we are allowed to wallow, to slow down to contemplate and to consider what’s truly happening within and around us because if we don’t stop every now and then to do this we might miss our opportunity for wellness. There should be no disappointment, disapproval or discontentment from owning up to how you are feeling, we are human beings, we are not made to be perfect but we have sophisticated brains and bodies that we can learn from.
I read a great article tonight, written by James Bailey and it said, “…as unpleasant as they may seem, you were meant to have difficult experiences so that you can grow. The challenges do not go away when we change our name or who we think we are. They just dig in deeper. The greatest form of yoga is a life lived in balance. Should you run into your shadow along the way, know that you’re definitely on the right path. Work with the shadow fearlessly and compassionately; with your eyes wide open. The only faith required is in yourself, for the divine is only as beautiful as you feel you are...”
So find yourself, accept this life as an opportunity and choose wisely in how you treat yourself. You do not have to live every day in stress, or fear or anxiety, you can seek help in conventional and unconventional ways and the only thing that you truly need to understand is the needs from deep within you. The rest of the world can wait.
Stay tuned to my social media or my newsletter for the rest of my #RealWomen blog series... I'll be sharing a REAL story with you, that hopefully you can relate to from people who I've met along my travels both in Australia and overseas.
If you need more support in living with mental ill health, please make sure to contact lifeline if you’re in Australia on 13 11 14.
You know those days when you just feel like shit? Where you look at yourself and wonder where the old and better you went? Or you think about how much better you could be? Or how you wish you hadn’t eaten that extra slice of pizza last night…
I know those days, because I’m not perfect, and I don’t want to be perfect but equally I don’t want to feel the way that I do on those days, heavy, shoulders slouched, eyebrows creased, the lethargy the lack of energy or zest for anything and everything.
Being out of my routine during my travels has taken a toll, I’m so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be exploring and delving further into my yoga and different cultures but am equally feeling out of sorts in my body and my mind. The copious amounts of tapas, rice, pizza, pasta and potatoes that I’m eating is also not doing any favours to my waistline or my mindset and is definitely not giving me the nutrients I need to feel energized and healthy. And you know what? That’s my choice to make, and I choose to experience these wonderful cultures and cuisines while I can.
What I do have a choice in however is how I choose to think about myself in order to feel balanced, courageous and happy. All of these things are directly affected by my ability to love myself – which I’m learning to do, day by day, and which copious amounts of pasta should not affect.
When we were in Spain I pulled out my gorgeous wrap-around thigh split dress (which I had been waiting to wear out properly for a while), which would usually make me feel really sexy and happy. But when I started to tie it up and feel the way that my body fit into the dress I immediately started thinking about how much I’d eaten that day, how tired I was and how very un-sexy I felt in that dress at that very moment.
My thoughts were violent, and not in the traditional sense of violence but they were self-harming, unhappy and unhelpful and they certainly didn’t put me in the right mindset that I needed to go out and have a wonderful time enjoying the local cuisine and exploring the dimly lit streets of the stunning town we were in.
You may think that my statement above is harsh, or too strong, particularly because I used the word ‘violent’ but I’ve been reading The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele and the section on Ahimsa (non-violence) has asked me to consider whether I can be the best version of myself if I am continually beating myself up about all of my flaws or perceived flaws? No I can’t. And if I can’t love myself and treat myself with respect and dignity then how can I possibly treat others that way?
The Yamas & Niyamas by Deborah Adele quotes “Our ability to stay balanced and courageous has much to do with how we feel about ourselves.”
In order to achieve whatever perceived success we believe we ought to in this life it first starts with mastering the art of loving ourselves. Because only when we truly love ourselves can we begin to love our lives and others around us. And when we feel great about ourselves – as the quote says above, our ability to tackle all obstacles in life in a calm, balanced and courageous will enable to be truly happy with everything that we achieve.
I’ll admit the practicalities of non-violence or ahimsa are hard to master, particularly the art of non-violence towards yourself but is something that we need to be so conscious of.
So how can we practice non-violence towards ourselves? Well the first step I took on that fateful night as I walked out the door feeling horrible was I looked down at myself with no mirrors in front of me and I suddenly realised that the only reason the dress didn’t fit me properly was because my mind was telling me to feel uncomfortable in it. The dress covered everything it needed too, it wrapped around my body the way it always had, and when I stopped playing around with it every step that I took I realised that I actually looked quite sexy with my thigh showing with each step and reminded myself that it was meant to fit that way. Sure the models whose pictures I see in the dress wear it well, but that’s because they OWN IT!
I thought to myself “I am sexy, and I am lucky to have a body that is healthy and can heal and actually, my body is pretty damn good considering the change in diet and exercise I’ve had.” I couldn’t help but smile, my small little pep talk was just what I needed to shake my bad mood and remember that I AM sexy, and there are plenty of people in this world who I’m sure think so as well (starting with my partner).
So this spring summer season – don’t beat yourself up. Don’t let the thoughts of the impending ‘bikini weather’ or guilt or self-consciousness take over.
As soon as I started owning it, it felt so much more comfortable not only in the dress I was wearing but in my own body – this is what we should be like every damn day. Our bodies are constantly changing, and they will never stay the same so go with the flow of life, as long as you feel healthy and happy that is the best that you can ask for right?
Owning the way you look and either a) making a positive lifestyle change to FEEL healthy (looking healthy does not make you feel any better) or b) stop beating yourself up about the way that you are meant to be and look is the first step to making a change. It takes time and confidence to believe that you are beautiful just the way you are but it also takes dedication to the art of thinking great things about yourself, because let’s face it – it doesn’t come naturally to a lot of us.
The benefits you will see and feel immediately – every single time you think ‘I look amazing in this’ or ‘I love the way I look and feel today’ you will start to believe it and those beautiful thoughts will soon start to become things like ‘I am the right person for this job, I will get it’ or ‘I will take that leap and be successful at something I’ve always wanted’. These self-affirmations are the difference between a confident, happy and energized person and an unhappy, self-conscious, guilt ridden person. Practicing positivity every single day and banning the ‘violent’ thoughts from your mind and your life (and that includes anyone who puts those thoughts in your head) is the best thing that you can do to change the life that you are living.
So go on and give it a go – it’s perfect timing for summer.
Sometimes you meet someone in life who you instantly click with and can spend hours chatting away without a care in the world about anything and everything until you realise you're 2 hours late for an appointment you have... Well that someone for me is Nicole De Valter of Mint + Magik who has become a soul sister for me in so many different ways and I am so lucky to have met her for a number of reasons.
1. She is absolutely stunning inside and out and is the best friend a girl could ask for.
2. She helps me be the best version of me and is a wealth of knowledge on health and wellness that I can tap into.
3. She brings me and everyone around her back to centre with her cool, calm, collected ways; and
4. She supports my candle addiction with her decadent and delicious smelling hand-poured-made-with-love candles through her business Mint + Magik which I can't get enough of!
I am so excited to share this Q&A with you all because not only does Nicole have an incredible wealth of knowledge on health and wellness from her studies and experiences in the industry but she has taken a completely different perspective to helping others find an avenue to be healthy and feel great... Keep reading for how ...
What inspired you to start Mint + Magik?
I have a real passion for holistic health and wellness which lead me down the path to study to become a holistic health coach. During my studies, I was really drawn to the ancient healing science of Ayurveda. Throughout the course I became overwhelmed with the sheer volume of “diets” and different ways of eating, that I wanted to come up with a different focus to help restore balance and health. Aromatherapy can relay fragrances through your sense of smell to the brain, in order to bring healing energy to the mind and body.
Tell us about the things that you are passionate about?
I’m am a passionate about all things health and wellness. Over time I have come to realise that you need to balance the good things with the bad. Wellness comes from within by finding balance between the physical, mental and spiritual. I feel you can’t shine on the outside unless you are healthy on the inside. It’s hard for your eyes to sparkle, your hair to shine, or your skin to glow if you are not truly healthy in mind, body and spirit. It’s not just about food; it’s about finding balance between everything you put in and take out. It’s giving and receiving equally.
What’s the best way to burn a candle to get the most amazing scent filled room?
I have 2 simple tricks that will ensure you have a long lasting, full fragranced soy candle:
- Create a Burn Memory - When lighting your soy candle for the first time, allow the wax to melt all the way to the sides of the container. The first burn of the candle should last as long as it takes to reach all the way to the edges of the container. This will give you maximum fragrance and an even burn. If you do not allow the wax to pool on the first burn you may get wax remaining along the sides of your container.
- Trim the Wick - Soy wax does not burn as hot as paraffin wax, so soy wax candles require a thicker wick, which does not burn 100% and needs to be trimmed regularly. Always trim your wick to about 6-8mm before you re-light your candle. This will ensure a long lasting candle, minimise soot and remove any mushrooming of the wick left from the previous burn. But be sure not to over trim your wick as you may not be able to re-light your candle. If you do not trim the wick regularly, if the candle is in a draft or is left to burn too long you may get a “mushroom” of carbon on the end of the wick. This may cause some soot to collect on the inside of the container. If this happens, extinguish your candle, wait for it to cool, wipe off the carbon marks with a clean damp cloth and re-light.
What’s the difference between soy candles and other wax?
There are so many reasons that we use soy wax instead of “regular” paraffin wax. Firstly, soy wax is non-toxic, while traditional wax is actually a bi-product of petrol! I couldn’t believe that when I read it doing my research at the beginning of this journey, and I’m pretty sure that you can imagine that burning petrol leftovers isn’t great for your health.
Secondly, soy wax comes from 100% sustainable soy bean plantations, which is a lot better for the environment than the alternative. Soy wax is biodegradable, vegan and washes easily with soap and water (you can even pop your empty glass in the dishwasher, providing you’ve removed the leftover wick).
Lastly, soy candles have a lower burn temperature than other candles, meaning that they burn slower and last a lot longer. It may seem to melt very quickly but rest assured that it will re-harden giving you hours with your favourite fragrance.
Tell us a little bit more about Ayurvedic principles?
Ayurveda is the science of life, it teaches an art of healthy living that encompasses all phases of life; body, mind and spirit. To understand our bodies make up Ayurveda explains that we are a combination of three doshas - Vata, Pitta and Kapha. When in balance, the three doshas create health, generate noble qualities such as understanding, compassion and love. When their balance is disturbed by stress, improper diet, environmental conditions or other factors, they can give rise to negative emotions such as anger fear and greed. These three doshas are responsible for the huge variety of individual differences and preferences, and they influence all we are and all we do, from our choices of food to our modes of relating to others.
What inspired you to create dosha balancing candle?
Using my understanding of the Ayurvedic principles, I wanted to create a candle that could influence your environmental conditions to help restore balance and health. Each of these candles will assist in restoring a state of balance, but essentially it is your own moment-to-moment awareness and self-observation, your sensitivity to your own constitution and your own unique requirements for health and perhaps most importantly your willingness to act on your knowledge, that will make all the difference between poor health and a vital, happy, healthy, long life.
Can you give a brief explanation of each dosha?
Our pure aromatherapy Kapha Dosha Balancing Candle assists if you are feeling a lack of inspiration, feel sluggish or a little slow. Our carefully crafted combination of Ayurvedic essential oils include Basil, Thyme and Rosemary to invigorate and revitalise your mind.
Our pure aromatherapy Pitta Balancing Candle assists if you are feeling a touch frustrated, are quick to anger or feel out of rhythm and impatient. Our carefully crafted combination of Ayurvedic essential oils include Lemongrass, Sandalwood and Jasmine to help soothe and comfort your mind.
Our pure aromatherapy Vata Balancing Candle assists if you are feeling anxious or flighty, have irregular moods, tire easily or have rapid, racing thoughts. Our carefully crafted combination of Ayurvedic essential oils include Musk, Orange and Lavender to help you relax, calm your mind and ground your body.
What’s your favourite way to spend a lazy Sunday?
I know you’ve probable heard the quote “A Sunday well spent, brings a week of content” and I completely believe that’s true. I like to start my Sundays a bit slower, have breakfast with my hubby then head out for a long walk around Burleigh Hill. If the weather is perfect I’ll generally make sure that I get in some quality beach time and play around on our SUP board. Then the afternoons are reserved for watching a movie, reading a book, or whipping up some clean treats for the week ahead.
What’s your normal evening routine?
I love this question! There is so much focus on the perfect morning routine that we can forget that equally important is an evening routine. The way you set up the hours before bed can influence the quality of sleep you have at night. I like to keep my evening routine pretty simple, I just keep to a couple of non-negotiables.
- I stick to a rule of putting my phone down and shutting off technology at least 30mins before I plan on heading to bed.
- I also think that it’s important to not shower just before you head to bed, because being in the water will stimulate you and wake you up not prep you for sleep.
- I like to get an idea of what I need to achieve for the next day down on a piece of paper so that I'm not thinking about it when I’m trying to get to sleep. It really helps me to start my day with a clear intention of what I need to get done.
- Lastly, a cup of chamomile is the ultimate for relaxing before bed.
What’s your number one wellness tip?
Educate yourself about your body, I believe it is one of the most important things you can do - YOUR BODY IS AMAZING! Right now, whatever shape you are in, your body is an amazing machine that does so many incredible things, from using the air in our environment to keep your brain alive to turning food you eat into an explosion of energy that allows you to move through the day. It is the same body you’ve had since you were a baby and is the body you will inhabit when you are 80 years old. Along the way it has changed and it will continue to change, but it is still yours. No matter what shape it is, how much you love or hate it - learn how to love your body and learn how to look after yourself.
What’s next for Mint + Magik?
I have a few ideas in the pipeline, think a weekend retreat self care box... but for now the next move is to run a few workshops to explain the benefits of the dosha balancing candles and keep expanding awareness.
Where can we buy your decadent candles?
ps. go to my SHOP page to find out more about how you can get a discount when you buy any Mint + Magik candles!