Growing older and aging gracefully (hopefully)

 

Growing old and aging has been swirling around in my thoughts and head on and off for the past number of months now. I found myself sitting in cafes, restaurants, hair salons, standing in line and just simply people watching, listening, taking in and contemplating the various ways people approach old age.

Today, the 19th August, I celebrate a landmark birthday as I turn the BIG 50 and the lead up to this is the main reason for my moments of contemplation and observation. What intrigued me the most was observing how some women looked far more elegant than others as they aged.  Sorry guys, but you all seem to age gracefully,naturally, so it was the women who had me intrigued.  As I sat and pondered why, I wondered was it the clothes that they wore, their makeup, or was it that they dressed trendy? After a lot of observation I realised it had nothing at all to do with any of that but more to do with the inner power these women had by embracing age and just accepting that they were growing older.  There was no resistance.

In stark contrast others cling desperately to looking like they did in their 20’s and 30’s, surgery, botox, implants all in a bid to prevent age from creeping in. It’s made me wonder, WHY?  What is so dreadful about growing old?

I have a daughter who turns 21 in a couple of weeks and a son who turned 19 a few short months ago. If I tried to stay looking young it would mean I was trying to compete with my kids. That felt all wrong on many levels to me. Seriously would you really want to go back to being a twenty year old? I wouldn’t!  I’ve been there, done that, and I have worn the T-Shirt.

The thing is there is nothing wrong with growing older.  What’s more is that it is completely in vogue right now.  Like hello!! Every single person you meet is doing it.  They / we are all aging.

I’ve known people who have freaked out, had meltdowns and refused to celebrate or mark the occasion, all because of reaching the dreaded 5 O !!!  I know people who lie over their actual age.  Why?

I, as a woman can still pull off being elegant and sexy without looking like a joint of mutton dressed up as lamb. I can still take care of myself, live a healthy, balanced lifestyle.  I can still dance, have fun and I fully intend to enjoy life and live.

Why are we so afraid of wrinkles? If you have laughed a lot it means you have a lot of laughter lines, would you prefer to show off grumpy frowns?  Silver glints in our hair? These catch the light and lift the tone of our skin especially around our faces, often they are more flattering than the effect of hair dye.  So why do we fight it so much?

I am transitioning and I have decided to embrace it and see if I can be a silver long white/grey haired vixen.  I’ve always loved how my grandmother looked with her snow white hair and I also wanted to be a member of the blue rinse brigade. Even though I always told my kids I’ll go purple and get a tattoo.

Some of you have already seen the result of this transition and I’ve been quite amused by people’s reactions. Women in particular are so afraid of growing old.  It has me amazed.

  • I have been told “grey hair will age you”.   Newsflash, I am already aged!
  • “You’ll need to cut your hair into a pixie cut”. Why? Why can’t it be long? BUT, I will be honest for a while I did toy with the idea of shaving it off, thankfully. I didn’t.
  • “You’ll need to go blonde to pull it off”. HELLO!!! Have you seen my hair? I’m a brunette and bleaching my hair blonde will certainly deliver a mandarin orange head that would make any M & M proud!
  • “It won’t suit your skin tone”. Well if I was born a brunette and that suited my skin tone, then aging naturally will also suit my skin tone. As we age we also naturally loose pigmentation in our skin which some people forget as they continue to dye their hair dark.
  • I’ve had jaws dropping in front of me. I’ve been asked “what the hell are you doing with your hair?”  I’ve also had the silent nod and observation, where I can energetically feel she is losing it, having a meltdown vibe.
  • I’ve also been told astrologically Chiron will be returning and I’ve yet to figure out if that is a good or a bad thing for me, time will tell.

You’ll be glad to hear, I’m not having a meltdown or a breakdown.

Life has a great way of putting things in perspective and as I’ve aged I found that I am getting more and more secure in myself with regard to who I am, what floats my boat and what doesn’t.

Age brought with it a reality of understanding that youth lacked.

I always see birthdays as a celebration of a miracle.  For me it is the day I was graced in this world with my existence, the day I started the journey to who I am today. The day I started touching other people’s lives, made a difference, be it for better or worse.

I see each birthday as an honour, a landmark, a blessing, and a gift of life to be grateful for. I have been fortunate to make another one, some unfortunately haven’t been as lucky.

So putting things in perspective, brunette or blonde, grey or white, whatever I’m gifted with it is just a colour.  It is part of me and who I am if I am being authentic and real. So, right now, I am going to embrace it and see where it leads.  I’m in transition right now and what’s more is I am loving it.  I plan to rock my 50’s, free of the shackles, armour and masks of my youth. This is me, this is who I am, the real me and right now in this moment as mentioned I am loving it.

Happy 50th birthday to me, let the fun begin, let the adventure continue.  Forever grateful for the gift of this moment.

Om shanti

When is pushing destructive and allowing beneficial in sport?

Back in 2007 when I started out in college studying yoga, my focus was on developing my yoga and me.  Even back then I instinctively knew the benefits of yoga and so I chose to do this for me and I poured all my energy into something I loved which gave me huge satisfaction.  Yoga.

I placed my focus squarely on developing my personal yoga journey.  My emphasis back then was on doing (to keep my mind occupied), pushing through (kept me moving forward), evolving into a fitter leaner machine.

As part of our college course we had to attend various different types of yoga classes so we had first-hand experience of what they felt like. It made logical sense plus at all the workshops I had gained valuable pieces of insights and information which I had been able to apply to my own personal practice.

I loved it, every single moment of it. I just loved it.  I loved how my muscles sometimes ached and shook, how sweat would form on my brow, the challenge to see if I could stay with the pace of the class.  I had set a challenge to myself to do better and to become more flexible.  My aim was to master difficult poses and contort myself basically inside out.  Everything I desired was everything that is NOT yoga.  Back then I knew no wiser.

I remember one particular workshop we were required to attend was on Yin Yoga.  I was all geared up, enthusiastic and ready to soak up more knowledge, ideas and hints and tips.  What unfolded was like a dose of slow Chinese torture.  We were encouraged to slow down, allow the body settle, breathe, and relax, and practice santosha (contentment) and ahimsa (non-violence) in the pose. WHAT???!!!!   Omg!  Two poses in I wanted to run from the room with yoga mat flying in the wind.  I thought I was going to combust on my mat as everything in me resisted to great reverance.  I hated every second of it and made a pledge that no matter what I did in the future Yin Yoga wasn’t going to be in the picture.

Why?  What happened?  It was simple.  I had been so used to pushing my body to extremes, under various different disguises, varying levels that I was unable to slow down.  I was unable to give my body the one thing it needed most -rest and recovery to repair, heal and strengthen.  In my head I needed to get fit, I needed to get stronger, I needed to succeed, I needed to hold for longer…. When in actual fact all I really needed to do was be, and allow.  This turned out to be even more powerful a challenge than any power yoga workout.

In slowing down I was being shown by my body just exactly what my body needed, where exactly it needed attention as to strengthening, lengthening, release.  The care the nurturing it craved so badly.  Yet I continued to induce a gentle kind of violent damage to it by not listening and instead ploughing ahead at full speed.  Instead of sitting and relaxing and just being with myself I was doing everything and anything bar that.  I would amp up the workout.  Force myself to push through rather than stop. Suppress and basically avoid.  Elements of that still exist in me today and I would up the anti in a bid to flush out issues I chose not to deal with.  It seemed like a great coping mechanism except out bodies can only endure so much from us before eventually, saying – woah! Hold on just one minute, I’ve had ENOUGH!

I was afraid, stupid I know, but I was afraid to stop in case life caught up with me. Afraid that if I did stop I would be unable to pick up and take off again. I still carry those same fears in me but now I am a little bit more aware of my actions and I try to allow.  TRY being the operative word here.

Age is an amazing educator.   Here I am now 11 years down the road.  My whole life changed for the better because of yoga and my whole yoga practice has completely evolved.  The drive and stamina of constantly pushing and forcing of my younger days has started to subside and give way to true yoga.  I now do yoga with the intention of being non-violent towards myself.  I never thought that would happen but it has as my own personal yoga is becoming more and more yin.  I am beginning to allow rather than force, soften rather than harden, sit with rather than run.  Who would ever have guessed that that would be possible, back then I would have laughed the idea would be so ludicrous.  I would see it as being weak.

Youth, drive, stamina.  Brilliant aspects in their own right if we listen to our bodies and give it time, but it also has a shadow disastrous consequences in later life if we don’t listen to our bodies.  Arthritis, bursitis, frozen / tight shoulders, discs & back ache, inflammation all start to kick in if we fail to listen to our bodies.

I maintained I was invincible. I would have an endless supply of energy and drive to keep me moving, driving forward.    That is the beauty of youth you feel invincible.  Dreams are for realising and goals are to be reached.  It never enters our head that as we age so does our body.  Our bodies get tired of the constant draw we put on its resources and it lets us know by ailments, the silent consequence that slowly creeps up on us.  So silently that we don’t pay them any great heed.  A gentle ache which we swallow a pill for, suddenly it doesn’t go away and then slowly becomes a steady constant pain.  A joint which used to move so freely becomes inflamed and angry and suddenly always appears to be sore.  A back with used to be strong and supportive now cripples us and sometimes floors us quite literally.  It may even be a tightened or thorn muscles in the legs which seems to now become a recurring ordeal at the slightest stretch.  Body pains are the awards for the dynamic stamina which herald us relentlessly forward constantly pushing our bodies to extreme.

How much further do we plan to push before our bodies eventually say, ENOUGH!

Yoga has always been a journey and it will continue to be so. I am discovering right now the joy and bliss in just simply allowing, not forcing but simply allowing.  What I am noticing is that by doing so my body responds in a much greater capacity than it ever did by being forced or presurised.

Yoga, it is like a flower slowly opening into the magnificent crescendo of full bloom.  The work is slow, but steady, creating strength but with softness that allows flexibility in both poses and life.  It turns furiousness and haste into a pleasant acceptance of slowing down and enjoying.

Slowing down has an added benefit also, especially in sports yoga.  Slowing down allows the muscles to lengthen and eases the tension that severe training can cause.  Where it is important at times to push ourselves to do better and to succeed it is also vitally important to recognise when to ease up and allow the muscles time to gain flexibility.

If you are into sports, be it GAA, Soccer, Rugby, Running whatever your sport, tightening muscles are going to hold you back both in performance and sustainability.  This is where yoga has enormous benefits it brings strength with flexibility, it brings durability to your performance on the pitch or the road.  It brings clarity to your mind so that your focused attention is exactly where it needs to be and not holding you back through fear of injury or renewed injury.

If you have been injured you need to protect the wound, you need to build strength around it to help prevent it from reoccurring.  It is all very fine pushing yourself endeavouring to reach goals, but what is you back up plan if your body lets you down and suddenly says… I’ve had ENOUGH!

I provide a back-up plan, learn to stretch your muscles, help prevent injuries, help strengthen old injuries and ensure your sports performance has a long and rewarding time span.

If any of this resonates with you, come along to our yoga class.  Monday night at 7pm you will stretch, you will release but you will also ensure your body endures.

Om shanti

Noreen  

Manta Point, Nusa Penida, Bali

 

Video by Rick Horner on Youtube.

I’m crying as I write this because it has brought back so many mixed memories for me and I can’t believe how bad things have become in such a short space of time.

I got tagged this morning on facebook by a beautiful person I met and and now have the pleasure of calling a friend when I travelled to Bali a little over a year ago – Emmie Phelan.   Bali as you know was one destination I wanted to travel to for most of my life, it was top of my bucket list.  I wrote about some of my experiences but others I kept close to my heart.  It didn’t feel right writing about my experiences when my sister Antonia had been diagnosed with Cancer just two days before I departed.  It was the longed for trip of a lifetime that very nearly didn’t happen.  Bali left an impact that I still feel to this day and she helped me in ways I never dreamed possible, especially in coping with the sadness and pain that lay a few months ahead.  There were many tears shed on that journey.  It was the most heart breaking trip I had ever set off on, alone.

Bali has unbelievable beauty, both of the landscape and in its people but Bali also has a troubled side brought about mainly by the tourists that visit.  Plastic.

Plastic has become such a huge issue all over the world but never in my life was I faced with such blatantly obvious destruction as I was in Bali.  It was everywhere most especially in the ocean.  Here in Ireland if I dip my toes into the sea I am normally concerned about not stepping on a jelly fish, in Bali the concern was not to get wrapped up in plastic.  There is a conscious effort being made to clean up in Bali but its out further in the depths of the ocean, where years of refuse and disregard from humans that the enormity of the damage can really be seen.

This video is of Manta Point, Nusa Penida, Bali.  This is where I dropped into the ocean for the first time off a boat filled with people who were all 1) able to swim 2) able to snorkel or 3) able to dive.  Whereas I, couldn’t do any of the three!   Our first stop was Manta Point.  I had only ever seen Manta’s on TV or in the Aquariums so I was a little excited about the prospect of seeing one for real, so fear of not being able to swim didn’t even come into it as I was not missing out on an opportunity of a life time.

Except when I jumped in, I had hoped to see Manta’s swimming in the deep in their natural habitat.  I was anticipating beauty of an enormous magnitude, instead the reality was human waste, plastic. Plastic bags, plastic cups, plastic wrappers, plastic forks, knives, spoons and plastic bottles floating on the surface and beneath.  I got such a shock I actually gulped ocean water.  This video shows you what I saw that day except when I was there it was to a lesser degree.  This is the same area a litte over a year on and it is totally heartbreaking to see that the matter has escalated not resolved.

We didn’t get to see Manta’s. The sea was too choppy and when a lot of the experienced people started going green and getting sick, a collective decision was made to get back on the boat and travel to a quieter bay.  I wrote about my experience and the beauty I did see at the quieter bay but this video this morning was like being back down there all over again and it is just harrowing to witness.

Like anywhere there is enormous beauty in Bali but there is also the problem side.  I have every intention of returning to this place that captured my heart from the very first moment.  Here are a few pictures of what looks like rocks on the beach but in fact are the remants of the damged coral reef.  You will spot the odd glimer of colour in a couple of photos, a reminder of a healthier reef.

We are doing this people, we are ALL doing this.  We are destroying our planet and its eco system.  Watch the video.  This is real I have experienced it.  This problem isn’t just in Bali it is also a problem in Irish waters.  Bali has started  major clean-up projects as have a lot of other locations around the world.  But we need to do the same.  Placing your plastic bottle into a recycle bin is not the solution, you need to start cutting down altogether on the use of plastic, find another way.   Richard’s Little Farm in Mallow, is finding another way, he is buying organic produce in canvas bags and he will fill containers for you.  Reuse…  Reclaim this planet we live on before we destroy it beyond repair, lets not lose the beauty we have on this planet.

Om shanti

Noreen   

Dragonfly Yoga News

It is hard to believe that we are in our new abode for well over a month.  What a month it has been.  Extra classes have been added, old and new faces crossed the threshold into the dragonfly hub and we had our first weekend daily workshop presented by Vesco Bondov.  I still find it hard to believe that this is all real and truly happening and not just the creative vision of my mind.

What yoga and energy has given me outside of major healing was a serious passion to share these amazing modalities and tools of support with people.  It was my dream to create a studio where the atmosphere alone was peaceful, healing, nurturing and supportive to everyone who crosses the threshold into my world of yoga and energy. The option to just sit and be in the space is always available to people and I find that I myself often just sit in the space to absorb the peace contained therein and I love it.

Whilst renovations were taking place within the building, I had healing crystals placed within the walls and on occasions I can actually feel them pulsating in the room.  All the crystals were chosen to support, heal and lift a person’s energy.   Interestingly enough rose quartz became the main crystal for the studio.

For those of you who may not be into crystals, crystals come from the earth and have an extremely high vibration which brings healing.  Rose Quartz e.g. is a gentle pink coloured crystal, with a soft delicate opaque look to it.  It is the crystal associated with the heart as its energy is that of unconditional love.  It attunes or speaks directly to the charkra of the heart.  This crystal carries a soft feminine energy of infinite peace, tenderness, compassion and it radiates healing nourishment, contentment and comfort.  It is an excellent crystal to use in trauma or crisis.

This crystal definitely called me as it was in my head on a number of occasions to go and find a crystal that I could put into the studio. The day I purchased this crystal I won’t forget in a hurray.  That was the day I ended up in the sea pool in Liscannor pulling seaweed out of my ugg boots and hair when I ended up ass first in the sea pool.  I had obviously missed the subtle hints the universe had been sending me.  Whilst drying myself out in the Rock Shop the penny finally dropped and the light bulb lit up.  I returned back to that same sea pool and cleansed the crystals I had bought in it.  It seemed only fitting seeing as I had been cleansed in it only a short while before.  The Rose Quartz now sits overlooking our Studio space being cleansed and charged by the natural energy of the moon outside the window.  It will be super charged in the next few days when we have the Super Moon, Blue Moon and eclipse all happening in one major event.

Rose Quartz would have been used years ago as a love token as it attracts new love, romance and intimacy.  It reawakens the heart to its own love allowing a person the capacity to give and receive love from others.  It is also a great crystal for developing self-love and a beautiful crystal for children.

I had been wondering what type of energy would come through the studio and love it appears won out.   The thought had been forming in my head and as if to confirm what I was surmising I was given the gift of a most beautiful painting by a local artist.  The centre of the painting contains the silhouette of a yoga pose.  Deep in the centre of the silhouette is a simple white heart.  I loved it instantly and it just made my day.  I took this as another sign from the universe, things were moving in the right direction.

Moving forward, the schedule of classes will remain the same for the moment, things may change in the future with extra or alternative classes being added but we will move with the flow in relation to this one and see where the sands of time take us.

In the coming weeks ahead, I will be holding a Saturday morning workshop for people suffering from both arthritis and a separate workshop for osteoporosis. These workshops will run from 10am to 12.30pm on the relevant date.  Further details in relation to these will be made available closer to the time, so please keep an eye on either my web page or my facebook face if you are interested in either of these events.

Vesco I am delighted to report will return with his Mindfulness and Wellbeing programme and I have a few other little surprises up my sleeve for you also, so please do keep an eye on the page for further details in relation to all these up-coming events over the next couple of weeks and months.

I cannot express deeply enough to all of you my enormous thanks and gratitude for coming into this space, enhancing its energy and creating the vibe that exists there.  I am so grateful to you all and look forward to sharing many more wonderful moments on the mat, huge thank you.

Om shanti

Noreen   

The day after the workshop.

I feel amazing today and I know it is down to the healing benefits of the workshop yesterday.  Vesco Bondov created the most amazing Mindfulness and Energy Re-balancing day and for me personally it was badly needed as life has been a tad on the hectic side for the past few weeks.

Some of you expressed your disappointment over not being able to make the day but Vesco has assured me he will come back to the dragonfly hub again for another day in the near future.  I am looking forward to it already.

Speaking with some of my own friends who are not into yoga or mindfulness they mentioned that they didn’t have a clue as to what we were up to for the day.  So I appreciate some of your out there may be wondering the exact same thing and perhaps feel it is not for you.  It is, this kind of day is meant for everyone, young and old and I am just offering my experience of yesterday to help give you a better understanding and insight to the day.

Vesco held an opening circle where we introduced ourselves and briefly mentioned what brought us to the workshop.  This can be as long or as short as you chose it to be.  As I was listening to the others giving their reasons for being there, I was wondering why I was attending it, apart from the obvious, truthfully I didn’t really have to be there, so why did I chose to be there? I realised that in the hectic busyness of what is going on in my life right now my energy feels clear, light, I have been having good moments.  However, there are other moments, secluded moments when I don’t feel so good when my energy is lower.  A level that I am afraid of visiting at the moment, a level that I am running from as I don’t want to lose the lightness the studio has brought to me.  I am afraid of feeling what I need to feel in order to process the heavy, sticky energy of losing Antonia, I am afraid of facing my grief.

Grief brings its own supply of emotions and the studio brings the conflicting balance which means that I am a conundrum of different emotions at the moment and the highs and lows from this battle have been affecting my energy I knew that and that was why I was at the workshop.  I needed to ground and find balance in a way that was supportive and comfortable to me.  All this was internalised and of all people there I think I had the shortest explanation for being there in the opening ceremony.

Immediately Vesco picked up on what I was NOT saying and put me at ease.  Telling me to just be mindful of where I am right now and to stay with what I was feeling and comfortable with, and accepting of that.  This immediately put me at ease as I knew I could relax and just be with myself and how I was feeling in those moments.  I was feeling light and I was hoping I would stay there during the day and just nurture myself a little bit to bring me back to strength.

On completion of the circle Vesco then brought us gently into what I would call a moving meditation, but with our thoughts focused on what was happening for us within our bodies.  We were being mindful in a completely different way.  I discovered a tightness, fullness and heaviness in my legs and lower back which disappeared as the exercise progressed.   Following Vesco’s gentle and clear instructions I could feel the heat and energy start to move within my body and the sense of peace and calm that filled me was mind blowing.

There are situations in life where there is noise, drama, high intensity situations which can throw us off kilter and out of sorts.  Yesterday reminded me that by just coming back to my breath, doing the exercises shown by Vesco, that I can still my mind to such a degree that I can actually cocoon myself in a haven of peace and calm.

I always struggled with traditional meditation practices in trying to achieve this sense of tranquility, normally when sitting in lotus my “to do” lists start kicking in or the things I forgot to do and if the lists are missing the inevitable pins and needles kick in to completely distract me!  Yesterday showed me that by gentle movement I can completely still my mind, I don’t need to be a part of situations outside of myself if I chose not to.  By just being mindful to my breath and body, I can cocoon myself, protect myself and create a safe haven for me personally.  This was hugely powerful for me and the feeling in my body was that of feeling completely safe, nurtured and at peace.  It was exactly what I needed as presently I am just not physically able for anything harsh.  I am looking for softness, gentleness which supports me, nurtures me, protects me.

During lunch break, I met a fabulous man who I had never spoken to before. He told me he passed the studio daily and he wondered about the type of person who would open that kind of business.  He figured that it was for one or two reasons, 1) to make money 2) because the person didn’t care what other people thought.  I told him it was for neither of those reasons it was for 3) Passion and love of the healing power of yoga and energy.  We ended up discussing the ducks, rain, springers, yoga and God and it turned out that this man knew my dad and granddad.  A coincidence?  I don’t think so.  We conversed at the side of the street for a few moments reminiscing.  I took this as a sign that both my boys were very much with me yesterday watching from another dimension and as I parted ways with this gentleman I was smiling from ear to ear, grateful for the power of a smile and the magic in the simple word – hi.

Back in the studio we spent more time bringing awareness inside of ourselves.  Vesco’s instructions are clear, concise and simple.  Anyone including a child could follow his techniques.   When you travel to this space of awareness, it really highlights just how manic and obscene our lives have become with rushing here, there and everywhere, being busy doing this, that and the other.  It depletes us of vital energy that our bodies need to heal and repair.  It really highlighted again to me the importance of self-care.  We spend our lives caring for others if we only invested a fraction of that time on ourselves what we could achieve would be unreal.

Vesco then talked us through a more traditional type of mindfulness meditation and I don’t know about anyone else present but I absolutely loved the sequence to ground and recharge my energy.  My inner child definitely came out for this one and I personally found the technique uplifting and valuable as I soared to great heights with this one.

I walked away from yesterday with tools of support for my tool box.  I now know how to make myself feel safe, secure and cocooned when I am just not physically able to face the harsher energies of other people and situations around me.  I got reminded of the power of acceptance and I also learnt a lot of valuable techniques about dealing with energies around me.  My personal favourite surprisingly from yesterday was how to lift and balance my energy to give me a much needed boost when needed and I discovered a new way of letting free my inner child so that I may experience joy.

Today I am still cocooned.  I feel amazingly fulfilled, content, peaceful, safe and harmonised.  I feel great and I feel acceptance that it is perfectly ok for me to feel that right now.  There is no need for guilt in this moment.

I am truly grateful to Vesco for a most wonderful day and I am really grateful to all of you who came, brought your amazing energy and shared the space within the studio.  Vesco I am looking forward with anticipation for the next wonderful occasion that you will be our guest.

It is my one wish for the studio that people may find harmony and balance there, that they may find healing and support.  So thank you to each and every one of you for enhancing this dream.

Om shanti

Noreen.

 

 

The “Rebel Buddha”

 

Well you’ve met the ”Bali Buddha” so now let me introduce you to the “Rebel Buddha”.

Not to be out done by the Bali Buddha who got shipped half way around the world, the Rebel Buddha got transported from Cork on an artic truck as he was just a tad too big for the dragonfly jeep.   As his original final destination on the Cork side didn’t come to fruition he ended up at the front of our house.  After careful manoeuvring and some pretty skilful artic driving skills he landed.    Now this is no light weight Corkoian. This is some serious Cork brawn resulting in several trees being cut down in anticipation of his arrival over the Limerick border.   Mighty discussions were had, walks taken, angles viewed, locations sussed as the debacle of where this hefty rebel was going to be placed.   However it transpired that this was wasted energy as he was having none of it and it soon became apparent that his stay on the Limerick side was going to be short lived.  This Rebel was returning to his roots.

The drivers of the lorry who escorted the Rebel to the Limerick side refused to place him in the middle of a flower bed and also refused to remove him from the truck pallet upon which he was presently residing upon.  His size was an issue and they didn’t want to take the responsibility of anything happening to this big bloke.  They were actually quite willing to let him sit gracefully in the middle of the driveway.  A lot of my personal Zen disappeared that day before a compromise was eventually reached and he was placed outside the office window. Here he has gracefully remained sitting proudly in lotus position on his humble throne of the wooden pallet since.   There is sits looking longingly out the driveway as if he is ready to make a run for the Cork border at any given moment.  Jackie Chan he has been called by some of my neighbours but I personally prefer “The Rebel”.

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and a couple of months later our new studio space was secured.  There was only one problem, this Rebel was moving back to Cork and was a bit larger than life for the public foot path.  Hmmm…. What to do?  A simple solution evolved, move the original door and create a porch.  Sorted!!  So we have.

The rebel from Cork is a hardy tough cookie, able for the harsh weather as he is solid concrete and so will sit at our entrance ready to meet and greet you on your arrival to class.  The Bali Buddha is from warmer climates so shall remain safe and cosy in the warm confines of indoors.

You will have an opportunity to see both Buddha’s real soon as I am delighted to report that the place is only a day or so away for being fully completed with all works in the final tidy up stages and we are now down to the cleaning and polishing phase.   I can’t wait.   All classes will be in full swing there from the 8th January which I am really excited about and the New Year will see new classes added to the already existing schedule of classes together with various workshops and morning yoga.  I have loads of ideas for this healing space and can’t wait to share them with you over the next coming months.  I will also share pictures of the amazing transformation which has taken place within the building itself under the care of Derek Curtin Construction but I will do this at another time.

I am keen to open the energy into the space before the New Year so there will be a class with a difference there on Thursday night the 21st December, at 7pm.  Cost is €10.  Everyone is welcome to come along, and please bring your mat and blanket.  This is the night of the winter solstice and will be symbolic for me as a time of moving from darkness into light.  So on the night we will also be doing a meditation led by Vesco Bondov.  I am so grateful to Vesco for taking time out of his own schedule to be with us to raise the vibration.  I look forward to sharing this special space with you all on the night.

Om shanti

Noreen.

My Bali Buddha

 

Some of you may not know but those of you who know me well, know I inherited a great love for wood, especially mahogany or teak from my dad. My house has teak doors, teak kitchen, coffee tables etc. It’s everywhere basically as I love the warmth, comfort of it, the richness of its grain, the beauty held in each unique piece as it surrendered to the craftsmanship of various creative hands. I love trying to figure out its story.

I just love wood even in its alive form – the forest. I love the feeling of walking through a forest and being revitalised by its energy, being in its majestic presence as trees of all shapes and forms often tower many feet above me. I have occasionally given into the inner child and climbed many an inviting tree and relish just sitting on one of its powerful branches.

I feel energy off trees and sometimes I can pick up the energy of the female over the male, my first experience of this was on the Hill of Tara standing in amongst the wishing trees. It was an amazing experience.

Trees have a life force, an energy, this I was always aware of and often contemplated. What I never stopped to think about was the energy of the creative hands that turn or carve the wood and how that energy passes onto us as we bring these pieces into our homes.

I learnt so many valuable insights in Bali last year and this was one valuable lesson.

You all know at this point how much this amazing country impacted on me. What a lot of you don’t know was two days before travelling my sister was diagnosed with cancer. So the trip on my own to face my fears became even more powerfully symbolic. My first few days in Bali were spent in isolation as fear gripped me on many levels.  Bali, however, welcomed me with open arms, embraced me in my journey, helped me face so many fears and helped me come to terms with my sisters illness.  So I wanted to bring a piece of her home with me as the impact of this beautiful country and it’s amazing people was so profound. So, my journey to find my Bali Buddha commenced.

Bali is renowned for its amazing carvings. The Balinese are simply gifted, this craft is passed down from generation to generation with love and passion. I got to see items being carved from a lump of wood with no physical blueprint just a mental vision. It was astounding and humbling to observe each stoke, twist and turn, engraved into the wood. Each piece is unique in so many ways, ingrained with each chisel of wood is the energy of the creative carver.

So I spent days travelling around various studios and show rooms looking for the Buddha that I was going to bring home to Ireland.  This is where the realisation of pride in your work really impacted and the attitude you bring to that work even more.

Dewa was my driver and an absolute angel whilst I was staying in Bali he carried me to various points of interest around the island. He also brought me to various amazing studios and showrooms in search of my Buddha. Fortunately Dewa was well aware of energy so he didn’t even blink when minutes after entering a studio I’d say “no, I don’t like the energy here and would do a U-turn and head back out onto the street.

You may laugh, but I’m serious some of those Buddha’s had the air of “I’m carving another bloody Buddha” radiating off them!  I swear!!  I saw cross buddha’s, moody buddha’s and stern Buddha’s. I saw buddha’s that would make your hair stand on edge and one’s that would give you the chills.  Buddha’s that would make you burst out laughing. It was a hoot but I was just beginning to lose faith when I found him!!! My Buddha, sitting serene and calm amongst a deluge of other carvings. I knew the moment I saw him he was on a one way trip to Ireland.

You may remember from some of my posts last year that I had travelled during monsoon season. I loved how the streets got deserted when the deluge fell from the skies, and I’ve already recounted how people offered me umbrellas to shelter from the rain. I ran through these deluges giggling and laughing like a four year old playing in the puddles. Getting soaked to the skin, cleansed by nature and feeling freer than I had felt in years.

All this was major confirmation to me that this guy was the right Buddha for me.  It was compounded when the shop owner told me he was made from Suar Wood. Suar wood is known as ….

THE MAJESTIC “RAIN TREE”

Bingo!!!!

The Suar wood tree, is a large tropical rain tree that can grow up to heights of 25m. This tree is characterised by its canopy which is shaped like an umbrella.  This leafy shape canopy naturally creates an insulated, cool climate underneath its thick, leafy branches. I just got a visual of being held protected within the range of branches of this tree and saw this Buddha enhancing and protecting the space of my studio.

Because it has crisscrossed interlocking grains, Suar wood is resistant to cracking from wood movement and is much sought-after for its robustness. It is moderately heavy but extremely strong. Somehow, I saw my heavy but fighting heart in this piece.  I was informed that Suar wood is highly resistant to decay and dry-wood termites, because of this Suar wood is highly favourable in fine furniture making compared to other woods in Indonesia. Another bonus for me it has the look of mahogany so, I knew he was going to feel right at home in Charleville!

So this is just a little insight to my Bali Buddha whom you will get an opportunity to see in the new Yoga Studio which will be opening in a couple of weeks. I will also introduce you in a little while to my “Rebel Buddha” which you will also have an opportunity to see at the studio.

In the meantime, classes are running to normal schedule this week.  So I’m looking forward to seeing you guys on the mat during this coming week.

Om shanti

Noreen 💜

The Thai Vedic Yoga Massage journey continues….

Last week I completed five more days in the incredible Art of Thai Vedic Yoga Massage.

I am left feeling so grateful in so many ways after these five days.   Anyone that knows me, knows the love I have for yoga and its healing benefits. This course is allowing me to expand and explore to a greater depth the amazing healing ability of yoga combined with the equally healing modality of massage. It simply takes you to a new level of ahhhh, even more satisfying than sinking into a bath full of bubbles 😛.  Muscles release, facia breaks down and the body opens to a whole new level of blissful state.  It seriously doesn’t get any better than this, in my opinion 😉

On this path of working with the body and energy healing you meet the most amazing people and this course was no different. Bonds were formed with new people and deepened with those whose paths I have crossed before and magic was created.

Last week this group of people brought with them amazing energy which created such a safe, fun filled, healing open space. Huge gratitude to each and everyone of you for that amazing space which was a tonic for me personally especially on our trips of exploration to locations both familiar and new.

A huge thanks to Mukti Michael Buck for the fun memories, morning jaunts, generosity of his time even in his personal down time, his advice, support and healing. I feel blessed to have crossed paths with this amazing person with his spirit of light.

I am already looking forward to the next leg of the journey with this course and I am so looking forward to sharing this beautiful healing art of Thai Vedic Yoga Massage with you in the very near future.

I will be looking for case studies and people to practice on so please do get in touch if same tickles your curiosity / fancy.  Let’s create magic within the body so healing may take place in the cocoon of a safe, fun filled space.

💜 Om shanti.

A pot of dreams and a leap of faith

 

https://www.facebook.com/pg/azibugift/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1220300421323733#
https://www.facebook.com/pg/azibugift

Two years ago a friend of mine gave me a present of a little pamper saving pot for Christmas and she told me to save for something special.  If you know me, you know that my savings skills goes something like this, €10 saved today and €12 withdrawn tomorrow!  This pot didn’t have a plug so if I was to withdraw I had to physically smash the pot!  Clever friend!!   The pot claimed that if you saved only €2 coins you would have in around €1,000 when the pot was full.  I broke that pot open this summer and almost fainted – €1,518 came out of it.  It was time to book a flight.

For about 15 years now, I have been dreaming of going to Bali.   Don’t ask! I have absolutely no idea why!, but it has been the number one place in the world for me to see.  Maybe it’s because I read Eat, Pray, Love, maybe it is the romantic in me, I just know Bali has been calling me and I’ve heard the call.

For years I kept a photo of an ornate pillared gate which a friend sent me.  Local custom he told me recommends that you take a leap of faith and run through the gates not knowing what is on the other side.  I kept the photo and made a promise to myself that one day I would stand between the two gates and have my photograph taken, symbolising that I had indeed taken that leap of faith.

A couple of weeks ago I decided that it probably would be a good idea if I actually knew where it was I was looking to go!  With the best intentions I imagine all the hand signals in the world, my unique language dialect and disclosing to locals that I was looking to leap through ornate gate pillars would most certainly lead me into all types of interesting scenarios but miles away from Heavens Gates.

So I asked my trusted friend – Mr. Google.  The gates are located in an area of Bali that is home to seven temples and reading up on it sent the adrenaline pumping through my veins.  Oooh, yes, I’m definitely going there!!  The name of the gates – “Heavens Gates”.  I reckoned that was as good an omen as any to start off with.  The fact that there is also a place called “Dragonfly Village” became the second good omen.

heavens-gates

The funny thing was, FINALLY, the one thing I always wanted to do for so many years was now within my grasp and yet, I delayed booking the flights and paying for my ticket.  Why? Because I suddenly got filled with enormous fear and I felt extremely vulnerable.  I already mentioned in a previous blog how these emotional issues surfaced energetically for me over the summer, I attributed them mainly to the grieving process but I managed to even surprise myself at just how strong they were in relation to this trip, it was unreal!  I couldn’t believe how at every turn I began to manipulate myself from fulfilling a dream.  I was in actual fact sabotaging myself with all kinds of pathetic excuses!!

I’d take off at a moment’s notice anywhere around Ireland or England on my own, and I have done so, but Bali was on the other side of the world and I was travelling alone for weeks on the wind, with no prepared plan.  I was following a hunch, a gut feeling that the time was right to do this.  Yet an internal dialogue led by fear prevented me from booking the ticket.  A great friend rang me from abroad and told me as only he can “book the F-ing ticket you could be dead tomorrow”.  It was the kick up the ass I needed.  The ticket was booked and paid for the following day.

Travelling to Bali has been something I have longed and dreamed of for such a long time and finally when I was able to realise it and bring it into fruition, fear of actually doing it was preventing me from living it out and ticking another item off my bucket list.  How stupid was that?!!!  How cunning and manipulative was I being!

When I became aware of this, I got to wondering, how many other occasions in my life have I not lived or experienced situations / experiences / moments, because of FEAR? Irrational fear at that!  It was a sobering conversation with myself and my ego got a major denting.   Being truthful, there were quite a few occasion’s that I could remember over the years.

However, this summer, I learnt to sit with my fear, with the help of my great guru and diamond treasure of a friend.  It wasn’t pleasant and I was grateful for his support throughout the experience.  Working my way through the energy I managed to suck every ounce of energy out of a room, shut down, and revert to sullen child, became stubbornly mute and refused to discuss what I was feeling, which was anxiety and downright panic.  The fear immobilized me and it was amazing to observe from an energy stance how it unfolded over the period of a couple of weeks.  All our adult behaviors are direct results of experiences in our childhood, be they good or bad.

Working with the energy I was allowed to see a situation in my early years where I literally had the fear of God put into me by an innocent situation from an adult perspective but when viewed from the perspective of a child took on a completely different vibe.  Allowing myself to feel this, acknowledge it and experience the energy at that time which I had stored for years within my body, allowed me to free and cleanse my energy field with enormous positive changes occurring on a weekly basis since.  Truthfully, it has all been surprisingly blissful and mind blowing!

This is not something that is unique to me, so my question to you is this.   What are you afraid of?   What fears hold you rooted in the same spot, wishing, longing and dreaming of a better way or situation?  What are your vulnerabilities and are they justified or are they irrational fear based mind stuff like mine were? Can you face that fear?  Step out of the comfort zone?  It can happen, take it one step at a time.

Today I am stepping out of my comfort zone and taking a leap into the unknown, not through the ornate stone gates of Heaven Gates but through the Departure gates at Shannon.

Even in the highs of excitement curve balls still get thrown.  Others energy still affect us, just yesterday, my excitement levels reached summit highs and then crushing lows as I felt my world crumble under personal events. Doubts set in regarding travelling.  My mind whispered, this was a sign, I am not meant to travel.   Questions arose, should I go?  Should I stay?  FEAR ….  It feels like a vice, slowing griping my heart tight, pressure filled and heavy laden.  This energy is quiet difficult to shake off and if left unchecked can easily turn into a fear frenzy as I learnt weeks back.  Yet the fact of the matter remains, if I stay or if I go is irrelevant.  I cannot change certain circumstances or events.  What is relevant is that life unfolds as life is meant to unfold.  The difference is the experience and what we allow ourselves to feel and experience in the now.  I know that if I do not go, I will forever regret the decision.  So, like an elephant I am charging forward into the unknown.  Time will tell what unfolds.

Life reminded me within the last twelve months and yet again yesterday that it is so precious.  We are all only on borrowed time.  Tomorrow is not promised to anyone.  You can either live today as an adventure or just endure it as existence. I chose adventure.

I love the saying…  “Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, “holy shit, what a ride…”

Let the adventure begin. Let life and destiny unfold…. Om shanti Noreen.

 

Surviving Grief

stages-of-griefI received one of those phone calls, you know the one that makes you stop in your tracks and think.  A few years ago, a lady phoned me.  Her father had been diagnosed with Cancer and she was struggling to cope with everything she was going through.  She had read “my story”.  She asked me how I had managed to get through my own father’s death so bravely and strongly.  I answered her to the best of my ability, yet, long after I hung up, her words still lingered in my heart and I felt like a fraud.

The truth was I didn’t cope with my dad’s passing.  I was battered by it, wounded in a big way and drowned in it.  It resulted in me suppressing a lot of the pain I was suffering.  I guess it’s an Irish thing we learn to endure, pick up and move on but maybe it’s worldwide – I pulled my socks up and I struggled forward.  Step after step, putting one foot in front of another.  I kept myself busy.  I filled my life with movement, projects, plans, anything bar sit down quietly in the pain of grief.  I faltered and fell on many occasions and I struggled to get back up and continue.  I kept my life busy, so busy I hadn’t time to stop or think.  I slowly burnt my body out.  Truth is I did everything and anything bar deal with the grief.

I found yoga and energy as outlined in my story and spent years in college training.  Travelling, learning and completing assignments meant there was little time for anything else to formulate within my mind so I continued to hide the true depth of my feelings from everyone, but mostly from myself.

Grief floors you, it crushes you and pins you under its weight.  On occasions the pressure on my chest was so bad I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  It felt like a tonne weight had been dropped on my chest and pinned me down. I was trapped, unable to move.  I struggled, the pain was so bad.

The greater the love you feel for a person, the greater the pain you suffer at their loss.  Grief for me personally is like an invisible tattoo etched on your heart, hidden, deep, and dark, it never goes away.  I always said it remains with you like a scar, camouflaged and hidden away.  I smiled to the world, put on a mask and headed out with head held high. But the wounds of grief are deep, they crust over, scars form and may in time fade but the imprint is forever lodged deep within you’re tissues like an imprint of DNA.

There were occasions I felt I had survived and lived to tell the tale.  It is then that something will trigger you and it all comes rushing back, just like it was yesterday.  Those are the days it feels like someone has taken hold of the scab on your wound and pulled it clean off with no mercy.

When Mum passed away I was very fortunate to have friends who supported me greatly, they kept encouraging me to feel my pain.  I learnt from Dad’s passing that suppressed emotions sooner or later make their presence known as an illness or dis-ease within the body and suppressing does affect your life and your relationships.  I was suppressing how I felt and it resulted in me temporarily becoming an asthmatic.  Fitting as suppressing the pain of grief meant I physically could not breathe.

Because of that phone call, I had a greater awareness dealing with grief.  I am by no means saying I coped better this time but I did keep track of what I did to help me deal with the trauma of my grief.  This is why I am writing this blog, for those of you who have asked me over the last few months as to what I did and continue to do.  This is raw and it is very real for me.  It is my personal experience and in some way I guess it is my way of acknowledging that I am in pain.  I am still hurting under the burden of grief.  I am not looking for sympathy or support.  This is something I need and will cope with on my own, this is my life lesson.  I just hope it may assist you or others to cope with your healing journey and perhaps give some ideas of outlets to try to ease that grief.  We all deal with grief in our own unique way there is NO right way or wrong way to deal with it.  It is as unique as each of us. The important thing as a wise friend told me is not to suppress it just try, as best you can to survive and cope with it.

I listened to bi-aural beats.  If you look it up on YouTube you will find numerous recordings.  I chose the option to deal with grief.  I played the beats night after night for weeks often falling into a restless sleep with the earphones still in my ears.  Bi-aural beats for grief are a deep low vibration designed to aid the healing process after a tragedy or loss.  The frequencies are designed to help meet your emotional and healing needs to help you cope with grief and to start your healing journey back.  I listened night after night in the hope that my subconscious would start to release and begin to heal.

A friend posted on his time line an article about Wailer’s, people who came specifically to a funeral with the sole purpose of wailing to help those in grief to freely cry and release their grief.  This put me thinking and I turned to yoga once more.  A breathing exercise caught my attention – Humming breath.  This breathing technique uses vibration to help clear out the heart, throat and middle eye chakra.  It is a very simple technique; you breathe in and gently hum on the exhalation.  This was difficult, on occasions as I broke down and I cried sometimes unable to continue as sobs left me on my knees.  It helped me to release the energy of grief locked deep within my heart and when I couldn’t continue I would start again the following day.  Months later I still use this practice as grief comes in waves and can strike when you least expect it.

I dug out my knitting needles and crochet hook and found huge solace in creating beautiful blankets, scarves, poncho’s, tea cosies, coasters anything really that didn’t involve a large attention span as that is one thing I did become aware of, I couldn’t concentrate and I found I had no patience for reading.  Knitting and crochet offered me an outlet of peace and creativity.

I turned to natural remedies to help me face fear, cope with feelings of being over whelmed.  Rescue remedy got taken by the bottle full.  I took Ivy Thyme, Tissue salts anything that would benefit my system.  Seek professional advice on this.

I kept a diary of how I was feeling, I wrote and acknowledged exactly how I felt on each passing day.  Some days all I felt was numbness and this was ok too.  I knew shock had played a part in this.  Some days all I could write was a simple word. In this small way I was acknowledging how I felt to me at least.

Anger arises also, and on one particular occasion I stood facing an empty bed screaming all the hurt and anger that was in me to someone who was no longer there.   It needed to come out and I expressed and let it out.  I spent three days with no voice, but better out than in.  Anger also comes in waves.  I projected anger, I suppressed anger, I even felt angry that I wasn’t coping.

One thing that became very obvious months after Mum passed was my inability to be around people.  I sought solitude over company, peace over noise.  I felt the energy of groups over whelmed me and I was unable to cope. Again I honored that need and this year I spent a week alone with myself, my thoughts, and my emotions.  There is nothing like the wild Atlantic Ocean to help clear out.   This for me personally was the greatest healing I got and I did return back home a different person.

Something which caused me great upset was my inability to enjoy being on my yoga mat.  Yoga has pulled me out of the depths of despair on numerous occasions, when I couldn’t bring myself to get on my mat I got really concerned and this was acknowledgement to me that something was not right. There was a period of months where I felt I wanted to give it up and not teach anymore and this was very real at the time.  It led me to finishing up classes early for the summer and I ended up taking the longest break I had ever taken off from yoga.  I needed this though and found it very beneficial to me.

I put my back out a couple of months after mum passed, so I was getting help to ease the pain of that, my therapist described all of my body as being super toned but my lower back she described as “soft”.  I spent time wondering why.   I’ve learnt that my stomach and back are my emotional centre, the place I send everything I do not wish to deal with.  It became nicely padded over the months and I would easily have passed for a pregnant woman of five months.  In an attempt to start dealing with these emotions I returned to yoga and plank has been the theme of our classes these past couple of weeks.

Sometimes, it is difficult to cope with grief on your own and if you feel the need to seek help you should do so.

In recent months I now find myself in a vulnerable and fearful state a lot of the time.  It is obviously something I need to work through.  It is challenging and it is difficult as when in these states my instinct is to shut down and close off for fear I will allow myself to be hurt.   I don’t know if I will manage to work through this one as the need to feel safe and not get hurt rules me presently.  Playing safe though doesn’t allow you to live life to the fullest, so an internal battle takes place.

Death made me re-evaluate my life and Mums sudden passing made me realise how precious and short life can be.  Mum went to bed, knowing that we had a family party planned to celebrate her 70th birthday. She fell into slumber wondering what gifts would be bestowed on her the following day not realising she would never wake up.

I may not make it in an energetic sense, I have too much growing up to do and self negativity to battle but I can make it in a life sense.  My bucket list got pulled out and I am ticking another item off the list. So, this winter I am travelling to Bali for three weeks on my own.  I am travelling on the wind and going where the wind takes me.  It is my way of learning to trust a force bigger than myself.  I shall meet those I am meant to meet, will experience what I am meant to experience and I shall see what I am meant to see.

This is a huge chapter for me and I know it will change my life forever.  Death changes you forever anyway.  The flights are booked and in five weeks’ time I will commence the first leg of my journey by spending a week in Quatar with my sister before heading onto Bali for three full weeks of adventure.  Am I nuts?  Yes.  Am I avoiding issues here rather than facing them? Absolutely! But I need time out and I am honoring that need in me right now.

Grief floors you without a shadow of a doubt, but life will pull you back up, if you allow it too.

Whether or not I allow life to lift me fully back up remains to be seen, time will tell.  I need to work through my fear and my safety issues, I need to change my mode of thinking to that of more positivity,  I need to learn to believe in myself and grow greater self esteem.  Healing starts within, so remember, whatever you are going through right now, it is ok, cut yourself some slack, nurture and care for yourself and honor what feels right for you in this moment. Then find something that will make your heart sing and follow it.

Om shanti, Noreen.