108 On The Beach for Earth Day

yoga on the beach 2

“We’re all in this together!”

This was us last year, doing 108 Sun Salutations on Exmouth Beach, where we raised over £800 for Open Door Exmouth.

 

2019’s challenge will be in aid of Home Start Exeter and East Devonand I’m setting myself a “stretch target” of getting 108 people doing 108 on the beach, which (according to Google) , will be a world first!

 

The theme this year will be “We’re all in this together!”, celebrating people coming together in their to support each other in their time of need.
We share  the same Earth, the same sky, sun, water and air, and surely a world where collaboration is encouraged over competition would lead to a happier, more secure place for us all.
In the spirit of coming together and supporting each other, I am inviting other local yoga teachers to help in leading the Yoga Mala, so you will get the chance to meet and experience lots of different styles of teacher. I believe we are all equal but different, and we each have something unique to bring, but most of all, we will be bringing our own light to share.
Exmouth Beach is the perfect place for this to take place on Earth Day. Having your feet in the sand, breathing in the sea air, drinking in the landscape, and soaking up the rays from the sun – there’s nothing like it. It’s where yoga should be done, out in nature, and trust me, you will feel increased energy from being outside.

To sign up go to http://www.bookeo.com/behappyfit and click on Special Events.

 

You can get in training by following the video on the Facebook page :

 

So, what are we supporting this year?

Home-Start Exeter and East Devon – supporting local families in need

Home-Start makes perfect sense. It’s about one person supporting another, making things a little easier, making a difference that will have a life-long effect. Sometimes the simplest idea is the best and that is how the magic of Home-Start works, by matching one person to another with no strings attached.

Established since June 1986 in Exeter, Home-Start commenced family support throughout East Devon in 2009. We continue, though, to need more supporters as demand for Home-Start support in Exeter and East Devon continues to exceed available resources.  Year on year we support more families; 125 families with 299 children received our support in the year 2014/15.  92% of those families expressed a positive difference in having Home-Start support, thus demonstrating the real benefit Home-Start can bring to family life.

 

The Facebook page is also here for you to follow and share with your friends.

 

Even if you’re not taking part, please come down and support us. There will be collection buckets on the day for you to donate, and of course a fantastic atmosphere of people joining together to celebrate that…

“We’re all in this together!”.

 

Love and light

 

Gillie xx

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Nature’s Jigsaws

 

 

 

 

There’s a Zen proverb I’ve heard before, but it’s meaning is just starting to sink in.
“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water”.
I know, it takes a while to get your head around it. Some Zen proverbs I’m sure are intentionally
obscure, so they challenge us and it takes time to figure out what they mean. Like a cryptic
crossword clue, we are forced to give it our full attention to figure it out, it’s not a quick-fix, no
instant gratification, but a slow, steady process to get to the answer.

 

This is the whole essence of Zen, which is a Buddhist practise, which really needs to be experienced
to understand it. You can’t read a book on Zen and think you’ve mastered it, you can’t try to use
your mind even to intellectualise it and think you’ve got it.
Zen is not a theory, an idea, a piece of knowledge, or even a belief. It’s a path to enlightenment
which is actually very simple, but almost impossible to describe. But I’m going to try, as ever to
explain it in stories.

 

Last weekend, I set off to Port Isaac with a busy mind and an overactive nervous system. In my head
I was problem solving, and my body was responding to perceived threats in a not altogether
pleasant way. Not very Zen at all.

 

Yet walking the South West Coast Path for a few hours, just focusing on putting one foot in front of
the other, taking time to enjoy the views and some interesting chats, my head is starting to clear,
and I feel loads better.

 
One of my favourite parts of the hike was climbing over the rocks on Port Quin, trying not to fall in.
All I could think about was where to place my foot next, calculating my next move, and using my
instinct to tackle this natural jigsaw.

 

My mind was distracted from all the worries from back home, I had to concentrate fully, and be
completely in the moment, connecting the pieces of the puddle so I could cross to the other side
without getting wet. This was starting to feel a lot more zen-like. I was at one with nature, and
completely in my element.

 
The walk back felt lighter and I started collecting flowers and noticing the birds more. The colours
were appearing brighter, and my breathing was deeper, more effective. We talked about Ancient
Yogic theory that we only have so many breaths for the length of our life, which is why we practise
taking long and slow breaths in yoga.
Our breath is an indicator of our mood and our mood is an indicator of our breath (another Zen
puzzle for you there).

 

At this point in time, both my breath and my mood were feeling in pretty good
shape.

 
By the end of our walk, although ready for a nice, big roast, my mind is clear. I haven’t really got a
worry in the world. We sit outside the Port Gaverne Inn, enjoying a well-deserved Cornish Rattler,
and I’m thinking life is pretty good. I don’t care that we’re too late for lunch and they’re not serving
food.

 

I’m living in the moment, and I’m going with the flow, accepting what is, and trusting what is to
come.

 

For me, this is Zen, and back at home later, chopping wood, I realise I now have the true
understanding of the proverb: “before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water”.

 
Whether it’s cooking dinner, doing a jigsaw, climbing a tree, or painting mandala stones, when we
engage ourselves fully in what we are doing in that moment, we free ourselves from the mental
processes that have been weighing us down, and start to feel a lot closer to enlightenment.

hot choc port quim

 

 

Love Is In The Air

 

 

Love is in the air…

Much as I’d love to be able to plan my creative work, planning doesn’t come naturally to me, and I find I have to wait until the day to know what to do.

After a week that was hi-jacked by the reappearance of an annoying pest from last year, I hadn’t really been able to focus properly on my work all week. But needs must, I had an important event to run, and the show has to go on.

So I cleared my whole day of everything else to put to preparing for it, and when I woke up, it was the first thing I thought about.

What was the key message?
What am I going to teach?
How is it all going to work?

I realised before I even got out of bed I was overwhelmed and didn’t have any clarity. So I did what I always do in these situations, I took to the beach.

As I sat down to enjoy my chai halfway through my walk, it came to me what tonight was all about.

It was Valentine’s Day, it was a special event at the castle involving yoga and live music, and I didn’t want it to have anything to do with having a partner or not. I wanted it to be about love in all it’s forms.

Looking out to the sea, I just knew what my message was:

“Love is in the air”.

It really is, it’s in the air that we breathe, the Earth we walk upon, the sky above, it’s in the waters, and it’s in the space around us.

We were blessed to have the most love-filled space I could have dreamed of, thanks to our hosts Charlie and AJ, the space was filled with this special energy – they’ve brought the love to the castle. They have the most beautiful love story, a fairytale, which just adds to the magic of the castle.

Jo Hooper our cello player was married here and , and Viv has worked at the castle for 7 years as a guide and she was able to tell us all about the history of the previous Earls. My colleague Jennifer has been coming here from the start, as a Kenton local, and she’s one of the army of angels I have around me, whom I am blessed to have.

For me, and I guess many others, no matter what is happening in the outside world I drive up to the castle and I feel safe, and I feel loved.

The places we spent time in have the ability to bring joy or bring pain. As do the people we spend time with. So we need to be aware of this, and choose carefully.

We are being conditioned to think it’s a big bad scary world out there, and of course there are a few monsters and dragons that we could do without, but there’s also something magical happening…. there is a rising up of people being led by love.

Love is in the air… can you feel it?

An Army of Angels

army of angels

An Army of Angels

 

You know how sometimes you find yourself reading a book and you just know it was exactly what you needed to read at that time?

This has happened to me a lot; to the point, it’s literally been a case of the right book jumping off the shelf.

Which is why I was completely baffled by my recent holiday read, right up until halfway through. I have been a fan of the work of Gabrielle Bernstein for the last few years, and when I heard that she had written her latest book whilst going through the hardest year of her life last year, I knew I had to read it.

It’s called “The Universe Has Your Back”. The tagline is “How To Feel Safe and Trust Your Life No Matter What”.

I took it away with me when I had taken a short trip to Gozo for a recharge with my friend Jax. All I wanted to do was walk, be in nature, and get some space to read and do something for myself, and a good book always helps me do this.

Halfway through, I’m starting to question why exactly I was reading this book right now. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great book, which will help anyone, but I was thinking it may have been more useful for someone going through big changes or facing a crisis. I had been stable for months, I didn’t have any dramas going on, and things were running pretty smoothly.

Then, of course, it happens, the “tower” moment. I receive some news from home, news I was relieved to be out of the country for, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was one of those curveballs that life hits you with out of the blue some Tuesday afternoon when you didn’t see it coming.

All of a sudden it made sense. This book, and the strategies it offered for dealing with such moments, was preparing me for what was to come. So I started committing 100% to “the work” in the book, and I am pleased to say it helped enormously.

I wrote myself a “faith statement”, one of the exercises that Gabi recommended to help you stay on track. I’ve used it every morning since, and it has helped me to surrender to the fact that the Universe will take care of things, without my needing to know how. I just need to take care of myself and trust it will all be ok.

Another funny thing happened throughout this process. I went to see my therapist to get some guidance and clarity on how to deal with this situation, and we did my favourite work in the sand tray, accessing the subconscious fears I had, and re-framing them into something more useful.

My re-frame, basically where I try to create a more positive story with the characters in the tray, ended up with a circle of angels around me. “Look”, I said excitedly, “I have an army of angels around me”.

From that moment I was able to visualise this, both earthly and ethereal beings who had my back and were protecting me.

In the last couple of days, this has become more and more evident in my every day life. From my first-class, gold-plated girlfriends I call my “soul sisters”, the rays of sunshine that are Otis and Arlo aged 6 and 3, the cats – Lucky, Tiggy, and Poppy, the dogs – Dudley and Diesel, my lovely neighbour who takes me off on adventures, to my kind students who shower me with love and hugs, I have an “army of angels” around me.

As well as those here on this physical plane, I also have a faith that there is something, whether it’s angels, Mother Earth, God, or just the Universe, taking care of me at the moment, and that is a lovely feeling to hold onto no matter what is going on.

There’s work still to do, I know that, but this is a good start – the right book, the right people, and the right thoughts.

 

 

 

Imbolc

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Until last week, I hadn’t even heard of the Pagan festival of Imbolc.

It seems I wasn’t the only one. “Inbulk” my fellow adventurer asks me, “as in “buying in bulk”, stocking up in case we’re snowed in?”.

“No”, I answer, deciding to spell it out letter by letter. This could take a while…

Anyway, Imbolc, February 2nd 2019, will be a day I will never forget. It was the day another little light went on inside me.

I’d been reading about it in my Almanac just a couple of days before, and I’d learned that it was halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. In the Celtic calendar it marked the beginning of the lambing season.

It all made perfect sense. We’re releasing Winter and we’re welcoming Spring. Even if it’s not visible above the ground yet, we can sense that something down below is stirring, like the beginnings of new life.

When I wake up to a clear blue sky, I can feel it, and by the buzz on the seafront that beautiful morning , I think everyone else can too.

It’s happening in nature, so of course, it’s happening in us too.

There’s this little flutter of anticipation and excitement, a sense of coming out of the darkness, renewal, and rebirth.

The festival’s name actually comes from the word “Imbolg”, which means “in the belly”. It refers to being pregnant, where the new life is only just visible, if at all. But we know it’s coming, and that expectancy is as much part of the process as the birth itself.

I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Imbolc than making our way up Haytor in the fresh powder to catch the sunset. I’ll never forget it.

There’s a thick covering of snow, the sky is a mixture of pinks and blues, and the air is as crisp and fresh as the snow beneath my feet.

In amongst snowball fights, dodging the sledges, hugging a tree or too, and making snow angels, I also have some quiet moments of reflection.

I realise everything looks different. I’ve been to Haytor many times, but I’ve never seen it look like this before. It’s fresh, it’s new, everything looks brighter, including the future. I guess we need the darkness of winter to appreciate the return of the light when it comes in Spring.

Everything in nature is cyclical, but it’s also constantly re-birthing, which means that some things have to die in order for there to be new growth. It’s all just part of the process, and every season plays it’s part.

As I read this Imbolc blessing I think that February may not be too bad after all.

May the life stirring underground stir new dreams within you
May the flames of inspiration and passion be ignited within you.

Happy Imbolc everyone 🙏

You Got This!

you got this

Perhaps my favourite phrase I heard last year, the three words that helped me the most in my darkest hour, came from a complete stranger, someone that I will be forever thankful to.

She was getting married and moving to Thailand days afterwards, but we’ve stayed in touch and I hope to visit her one day and thank her properly.

She saw me on the edge, my life felt like it had fallen to pieces, I couldn’t make sense of any of it. It was all too much.

I was approaching a full blown full panic attack after seeing someone I hoped I’d never see again for the rest of my life. It triggered so many negative emotions and I literally wanted to throw myself in the quay to get away from it.

She said these 3 words, and I felt all of her compassion and empathy as she looked at me with big beautiful eyes. She said “you’ve got this!”.

She proceeded to make small talk, and compliment me on how I looked, and I could tell she was being genuine, and at the same time diffusing my panic.

As she told me her story of heading out to Thailand to embark on her new adventure, I was struck by how I hadn’t said much, but she just knew. She didn’t need to know why I was freaking out, she didn’t try to assess whether I was right or wrong to he panicking, she was just “there”.

Compassionate, non-judgemental, and reassuring, and everything you would want from a person in this situation. In fact, everything you’d want from a friend; she was also funny, smart and very cool.

I was a little disappointed she was leaving the country, but the power of social media means the connection isn’t lost, and maybe I’ll send her this so she knows how much it meant to me.

Under tonight’s beautiful full moon, shining a light in the dark, I think of how just a moment of kindness, from a beautiful soul, can mean the world.

These words helped me so much as I remembered that “random act of kindness” and I hope it will help you if you feel it’s just all gotten too much…

“You’ve got this”…

You’re stronger than you think you are, the universe has your back, and when you look for them, the slivers of light are everywhere .

Reflections On Super-Magic Monday AKA Blue Monday

 

So today is meant to be Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year. With this awareness I take to my church and see how I can re-frame it.

It’s also a rather special day when it comes to astrology. My first choice is I decide not to listen to the media, but to look to nature for the answers. It’s Supermoon Blood Mon Lunar Eclipse, and whether you believe in it or not, if you saw it either in the early hours or like me, this morning on Exmouth beach, there was something rather special.

I’m thinking of how far I’ve come since “slivers of light” entered my life. I know I still need them, and like today, they can be a game changer.

I’m reminded that “life is magic” and where I place my focus counts.

This is where I am right now.

 

 

 

So what inspired me to write “Slivers of Light”?

I’m a great believer that “we live, we learn, we pass it on”, and this has literally been the story of my career.

Everything I have learned in my 28 years in wellbeing has been through study, of myself and of others, and how we heal.

This year, I found I had to use pretty much everything I had ever learned into practice to help me get through a particularly dark time.

What I found helped me most was “walking the beach” every day, and looking out to nature and seeing all that is magical around us. It helped me make sense of what was going on around me, and I also knew the only control I really had was where to place my focus and how I took care of myself.

It was the light on the water, the rays of sunshine through the trees, the sunsets over the Exe – the Slivers of Light – moments of magic-  that got me through…. and the more I focused on the “slivers”, the more I noticed.

I decided to turn my pain into purpose. I decided to take some of my articles I had written for the Express and Echo, the ones that related to the subject of looking for the light and the magic, and put them into a 21 chapter book.

So the book became a process, a process I used myself as I read it all again.

People had kept telling me “you need to listen to your own words”… so I did. I followed my own advice, and as I did, I edited the articles, I put them in order, I lived and breathed the principles, and I managed to get it out to print.

It was such a nourishing and rewarding way to spend my healing time. I had to take time off work after surgery and this book gave me a sense of purpose, a reason to keep going. I knew that in healing myself, and in sharing my story, I would be helping others to heal.

That is one of the main points I wanted to get across in the book. By sharing our stories, who we truly are, warts and all, we make it feel safe for others to do the same. Our story may just hold the key that unlocks someone else’s pain. When we heal ourselves, we help heal the world.

When we find some light again, we help someone else find some.

We live, we learn, we pass it on.

This is what I learned….and here it is….from my heart to yours

light heals everything

 

As a Blue Monday Supermoon Eclispe special I am offering to post your book for free if you order this week….before 25th January 2019… you can also get your book signed if you so wish!!

 

 

Slivers of Light THE BOOK

*LIMITED EDITION! 50 copies with personal message from Gillie * Get your own bookshelf copy, or the perfect Christmas gift for £14.99. Available to be sent or collected from November 23rd 2018. Now available in hard copy, as an easy-to-carry A5 paperback, that you can also make notes in. NB For your copy to be posted within the UK there will be an additional £2.99 charge. Arrange P and P by emailing gilliesutherland@me.com

£14.99