Fads sweep through the “wellness” industry like nobody’s business. If you paid attention to all the spruikers, you’d be drinking your shake while squirting water up your bum, popping some pills, sweating it out in a sauna, wrapping yourself in plastic…oh no wait, plastic’s toxic, let’s try clay instead, juice fasting (or if you’re really hardcore…water fasting!), meditating, practicing mindfulness, acupuncture, chiropractic, detox tea, yoga, pilates, running (it’s good for you), not running (it’s bad for your joints)…you get the gist. The thing is, there’s validity in every single one of these things for someone, at some point in their life but does that mean any one of these things is THE thing? Hell, of course not! For some reason though, the wellness industry turns some people (you know the ones, we all have ‘that friend’ ;-)) into evangelistic fanatics who so strongly believe that their way is the only way that it literally becomes the only thing they talk about!

Me? I’m a bit of a trier. I’ll try pretty much anything! No, I’m not looking for a magic pill or the one thing that will solve all my worldly problems…  it’s more that I’m curious. I have this strange philosophy that I’m not really entitled to an opinion on something unless I’ve tried it. Strange, I know! So, with that in mind, when the latest resurging fad: Sensory Deprivation Floatation Tanks started hitting my Facebook newsfeed with a vengeance, well, I figured I’d give it a try!

If you haven’t heard of Float Tanks, give it a little google time. This is a little excerpt from the website of the float centre that I went to, www.beyondrest.com.au (HIGHLY recommend if you’re in Melbourne or Perth!!)

“The tank was created by neurophysicist Dr John C Lilly 60 year ago when he was doing research on brain waves and altered states of consciousness. The float tanks look like a large, enclosed bathtub. They are usually built from fibreglass and are designed to block out all external distractions, such as sights, sounds, tactile sensations and gravity. The floatation tank contains a super-saturated Epsom salt solution, which is about 25cm deep. This creates an environment similar to that of the Dead Sea, letting you float effortlessly on the surface of the water and enjoy a feeling of weightlessness! Once you are settled, it is almost impossible to tell which parts of your body are in the water and which aren’t. This will trick your brain into thinking that you’re floating in the air. The buoyancy created by the Epsom salt solution effectively removes the effects of gravity on the body. This will make you feel weightless, letting every single muscle in your body fully relax. With earplugs in and (if you choose) the tank’s interior lights switched off, the quietness and darkness will allow your mind to drift into a deep state of relaxation, creating a disconnection from today’s busy environment. Outside distractions such as sight, sound, tactile sensations, and gravity fade away, so you feel like you’re floating in space, losing track of where your body ends and the water begins. Noise from the outside doesn’t get to you. This is achieved by water and air being heated to your body temperature so you cannot distinguish between the air and water thus giving you the floating feeling.

“We had a Zen master who visited my lab once, and he asked to go in the tank for an hour. Most of his life he had meditated every day for four or five hours or more. And he thought the depth of meditation he reached in the tank was on par with a level he reached maybe once a year in his normal meditation environment—which was not exactly the middle of Times Square. He was amazed.” – Peter Suedfeld PHD

The reduced stimulation encountered in the floatation tank refocuses the your attention to internal stimuli. At first this includes the novel sensations of floating effortlessly in darkness and quiet. The sensations of the body become more salient, making the flotation tank a walk-in biofeedback device. This natural biofeedback initiates a self-regulation process that encourages relaxation. This relaxation is augmented by the full body absorption of magnesium that elicits the release of muscle tension. As physical sensations become less noticeable, mental activity can come to the fore. For those not used to being alone with their thoughts this can be difficult. However, even unpleasant thoughts become more pleasant as the body descends into a more deeply relaxed state. Eventually even the parade of thoughts subsides and the mind enters a meditative state. Flotation therapy has been academically studied in the USA and in Sweden with published results showing reduction of both pain and stress. At the moment there have been 80+ studies done on the benefits of floating.”

I booked an introductory special of 3 x 1 hour floats. I chose to do my floats on Friday evenings, at the end of the work week…kind of an extreme wind down theory! It definitely worked. The centre in Prahran is beautifully designed with a sacred geometry theme. I was led to a private room with the tank and a shower etc and left to prepare and enter the tank. Once showered and prepped with earplugs in, I stepped into the tank and pulled the lid closed behind me. The light stays on in the tank for about 5 minutes, giving you time to adjust and settle yourself before you are in complete darkness. Soft, meditative-style music plays, seemingly through the water for the first 10 minutes. So, essentially, it’s in the tank with lights and music, then dark and music, then dark and silence. For the next 45 minutes I was alone with my thoughts and enhanced awareness of my body. Initially, I became very aware of the twitching in my body as it settled into the magnesium saturated water where you float quite saliently, the magnesium making the water almost solid feeling. It seemed to highlight any injuries I was nursing, drawing the mind’s attention to these areas in almost an alerting manner. As my mind quieted and I slipped into a meditative state, I found myself moving through various states. Initially my thoughts were of recent events and challenges, then they deftly moved to specific areas of life. Health. Relationships. Family. Whilst I wasn’t consciously focusing on any particular thing, it was almost like watching a movie moving from one area to the next. At about the 3/4 mark, I felt a rush of endorphins and found myself giggling to myself in the tank. Not at anything in particular either. Weirdo. Before I knew it, the music started back up, signalling the last 10 minutes of tank time, then the lights were on and it was time to get out! Carefully extracting myself from the tank so as not to get any water in my eyes (this is the most crucial part…it stings like a mofo!!), I hopped back in the shower and stood under the warm water in a dazed state of bliss. Once out, I found my way to the designated chill out space where there was warm herbal tea and friendly conversation waiting for me. This was a really important part of the experience…the opportunity to debrief, ask a few questions and just generally sit with your post-float glow for a bit before heading back out into reality was amazing.

I have to say, once home, I was out cold almost as soon as I hit the pillow and had one of the best sleeps of my life! Seriously vivid dreams! I’m naturally an early riser too so to wake up and look at the clock the next day and see 11am was a serious shock! But I felt amazing. I think I had that post-float glow for the next 2 or 3 days :)

Of all the wellness fads I’ve tried, this one is definitely up there as a ‘must do’. My subsequent 2 floats only got better and I’m definitely going back for more! You do need to be prepared to be alone with your own thoughts though and, if you’re someone that doesn’t spend much time with yourself, it can be quite confronting! Lucky I think I’m pretty good company 😉

You know those memories that Facebook likes to flash up for you now and then? Sometimes it’s good, you think awwww yeah, I remember that, THANKS Facebook 😀 and you hit share as you basque in the glow of your fabulous memory.  Then there’s the ones that slap you in the face, the ones you look at and think grrrrr THANKS Facebook :( and promptly click the “do not show me this memory” button, silently cussing an algorithm in a website as if it were a person for reminding you of ‘the thing’.

So, today was a grrrr day. It actually spun me into a day of reflection. My memory? The day I shared with my friends pictures of the house I was about to move into with my then partner, 7 years ago. We’d been living together for a bit over a year in the house I owned at the time. The first few months were great, then things went rapidly downhill. I guess I’d been lucky in the past, the worst confrontational behaviour I’d ever had to deal with was when my Dad came home grumpy from work and was a little short-tempered. A few gruff words here and there didn’t really prepare me for what I experienced with my ex. I remember the feeling the first time he blew up at me, like every part of me was frozen in time and I couldn’t do anything, couldn’t say anything. I describe that feeling, that has unfortunately become quite familiar over time, as ‘losing my words’. If you know me at, you’ll know I’m not one to be at a loss for words, like, EVER buuuuut there’s something about in-your-face confrontation that just freezes me up on the inside. Arguing I’m totally cool with… hey, we all have differences of opinion! But when someone is in my face, yelling, calling me every name under the sun, getting themselves into such a state that I actually think they’re going to make themselves vomit, spewing vile, viscous venom at me, well… I lose my words! I would actually LOVE to hear from anyone who has experienced this behaviour from someone close to them because I’ve had it in my life for around 10 years from 2 different people, though I am ecstatic to say that this behaviour is absolutely not welcomed in my life anymore!

I have always experienced life in a fairly calm state. Sure, I get aggravated, annoyed, angry, pissed off, even vile in my own way but I have learnt that I have an incredibly long fuse and it takes some pretty outrageous behaviour to really upset or anger me. There’s a couple of things that will rile me up very quickly: cruelty to animals is definitely one, intentionally causing harm or going out of your way to hurt someone is another. When I think about the 2 people who have been in my life over the past 10 years, both exhibiting the same behaviour, I think about where it stems from, what their intent is or was and I absolutely think about how I contributed or led them to think that was an acceptable way to treat me.

I am going off on a bit of a tangent here, and this is an area that I will likely explore quite a bit here because, not only do I think it’s important to talk about abuse for our own therapeutic release but I also think that by writing it out in a stream of consciousness manner, I learn things about myself that help me ensure I don’t repeat the same scenario ever, ever again!

So, this Facebook memory, this house, really took me back to a time where I made a decision that went totally against my intuition, my gut and fundamentally shaped the next 7 years of my life.

I had been living with this man, this violent, abusive, controlling, narcissistic man. I had actually asked this man to move out of my house (and my life) when I recognised where he was at in his life and how mismatched we were energetically BUT I had then allowed him to talk his way back into my world and we’d been living in a ‘walking on eggshells’ type space where I was so careful and cautious about what I said and did for fear of tipping him over the edge and unleashing his inner monster (it’s a fucking awful space to live in by the way – almost worse than the yelling, screaming and violence!). When my circumstances changed at work and I needed to move, I made the decision to sell my house, where he had been living with me without contributing financially (mistake #583737). Given he didn’t work and moving would mean paying rent, I actually thought this was going to be my ‘get out of jail free’ card. I told him if he moved with me, it would be a 50/50 arrangement financially and I was SO SURE that he would bail in that moment. He didn’t. Somehow, he found a way to make it work and so, there we were, 7 years ago on this day, sharing pictures of the new house we were moving into with our Facebook peeps.

Every single part of me knew it was a mistake. Knew I was signing on for 1 or more years extra misery than was actually necessary yet, I did it. I went against my knowing. I discarded my innate guidance system that intrinsically leads me AWAY from harm and I told my instinct to go fuck itself as I waltzed cheerfully into hell. I put on a facade for all my friends and family and silently let myself rot away on the inside as I shared my life with someone who reminded me daily that I was worthless, useless and a fucking idiot (his words, not mine ;-)).

It took me another 2 years to finally call bullshit on myself and get the hell away from that relationship. I can look back and wish I’d trusted my gut, listened to my instinct, let my innate guide me buuuuut, clearly I had a lesson or 2 to learn before I chose that option! Most of us kick ourselves a little bit on a regular basis for not trusting that gut instinct, but it’s usually with the little stuff. I absolutely walk away from that (and the subsequent ‘friendship’ that I walked straight into that was pretty much an exact replica of this relationship, only a little bit worse) now knowing that when that little voice sends me a warning, pay attention. No, really, fucking pay attention!!!

Now, I’m a pretty friggin’ tough chick. I can withstand a LOT. Hell, I’ve dealt with being gang raped at 18, I kicked cancer’s fucking ARSE at 21 and navigated life’s usual twists and turns pretty independently and with fucking awesome moral character. My friends and family know I would turn the world upside down for each and every one of them. So, my biggest question to myself (and one I will explore outwardly on this blog – feel free to chime in with your thoughts!) is why the hell did I let someone like this diminish my essence. How did I allow one, actually, 2 if I count his successor (we’ll chat about her in another blog ;-)) people to whittle away my self worth? To cause me to doubt everything I KNOW to be true about myself and even start to behave in the way they told me I actually was. WHY did I go against my knowing and give these two people permission to chip away at my being until I was so broken that I had to scrape around for the bits and pieces to start to put me back together again.

I’m actually going to leave this one there. I don’t know if you can identify with pieces of this but I really do welcome your comments. I feel like this blog is a little bit scattered and, admittedly, it’s somewhat emotionally charged. I haven’t quite collapsed it all just yet. Whilst I will continue to look deep inside myself (as I keep putting the pieces of me back together) and share my thoughts here, I also invite you to share your experiences, thoughts, wisdom, whatever feels right for you. The more we share, the more we grow :) Much love xxxxxxx

 

I’ve had several random conversations with different people lately about language, how we use it, how we interpret it, and the challenges people face when they are bi or multi-lingual. I was delving into this topic with a friend of mine who spent his childhood in Greece and moved to Australia at the age of 10, not knowing a single word of English. You absolutely would not know that English was his second language now, he is ridiculously fluent. However, I was curious if it was still a challenge at times. For example, when he’s in his head, is it in Greek or in English? When he dreams, is it in Greek or English? I truly thought the subconscious would revert to the mother-tongue but, according to him, 90% of his thoughts are in English as that’s what he’s now constantly surrounded by and communicates in. The exception was interesting though. He pointed out that there are times of frustration when an English word doesn’t actually exist to describe / explain a thought or feeling, but the word does exist in Greek. My brain does like to go off on tangents when I get thinking about things like this and this one conversation took my mind into a bit of a rabbit hole…words / language and the interpretation of them. How is it that one word can mean so many different things depending on context, inflection, facial expression, tone…I could go on! When I say the word, it means one thing to me but something completely different to the recipient. Our words are one of our primary methods of communicating, yet they’re so open to interpretation, particularly in the age of ‘texting not talking’!

This then led me to pondering one of my all time favourite words: judgement. Not to forget its various forms: judge, judging, judgemental etc. I could almost guarantee that if you hear one of these words, particularly if it’s being used to describe you or someone else, you will attach a negative emotion to it. But why? The dictionary defines judgement as: the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions. There is absolutely nothing negative in that. Human beings, by their very nature, judge! All day, every day, we are taking in information and making it mean something ie: judging! It’s one of those crazy words though, and I wish there was another word for what most people make judgement mean that more accurately described it. Perhaps there is in Greek – I should ask my friend!

So, the usual interpretation of judgement is: to form a negative opinion of someone or something or to look down upon (condescending). Something I hear people say about themselves quite often is “I don’t judge” and it never fails to make me laugh (because I just judged their comment about themselves as being ludicrous!). Of course you judge! You judge CONSTANTLY and…it’s perfectly ok! How else would you make decisions, determine if you like or don’t like something. Where I judge judgement to be not ok is when you believe your opinion is “it”. That your acceptable standards should apply to the whole world and the whole world should comply. When you decide another person should behave in a way you deem to be acceptable, based on your judgement or when you form an opinion that a person is below you or less than because of their behaviour or choices, that, to me, is (insert appropriate Greek word that describes this action and doesn’t exist in English but is what people term as judgemental). One of my favourite expressions ever is “LIVE AND LET LIVE” and I am so grateful for the diverse, challenging and interesting experiences I have had in my life that have led me to be an incredibly open minded and accepting person.

I love the plights for equality but I am of the firm belief that, until we get to a stage where we no longer have to discuss it, we have not achieved it. This is another topic for another day – and one I’ll get equally passionate over but my point really was that acceptance is king. My blanket rule is: live your life however you choose. Unless you’re intentionally hurting other living beings, your choices are your choices and, quite frankly, fuck those that condemn you because you’ve made a choice they wouldn’t make themselves. I only ever want people in my life that I can be 100% truthful with. Friends that I can tell ANYTHING to and, whether they would make those choices themselves or not, they will not love me any less for mine. Our diversity is what makes us a complete society. When we learn to love each other for our very essence, our differences become fascinating, and things to learn from, not “good or bad”. When we do away with the condemnation, the belief that our thinking should be everyone’s thinking, and get back to just loving each other, the fight goes away.

Language really is interesting. Judgement is a fun word to play with, I wonder when it got such a bad rap?

So here I am with my very own space on the big wide world of the interwebs. Blogging is something I’ve thought about doing for a really long time, for a number of different reasons. What made me bite the bullet and actually do it? One of my best friends and someone I admire enormously is a hardcore blogger….she’s raw, real and lets it all hang out – the good, the bad and the UGLY! This is actually something that’s somewhat of an anomaly in today’s world of what I call social media personality disorder: where everybody is putting their best foot forward, showcasing their bright, shiny moments and hiding away when times are tough. The biggest difference between this and what my friend does, for me, is that when I read her stuff… I relate – on many different levels! I don’t judge her, I respect her and sometimes, I have those moments where I think “oh my god, it’s not just me!!”. When she puts it all out there, even if she only does it for her, someone, somewhere reads it, identifies with it and it has an impact that she may never even see or feel. How awesome is that? When we only share the bright shiny moments, we paint such an unrealistic picture of ourselves that we then feel the pressure to live up to in real life and, inadvertently, we actually put pressure on other people who may feel inadequate or less than. Not for one minute am I intimating that anyone should feel responsible for how another person feels when they read something you’ve written. I just think we could all take a leaf out of my friends’ book and keep it real because, in doing so, we actually come together, relate and support each other through the amazing times as well as the down times.

So, long story short, that’s kind of what put the bullet up my arse to start blogging. My friend made a comment on her blog about how journalling keeps her grounded, on path, and moving forward. I totally get that and it’s exactly what I need to be doing! I could journal privately but I get so much out of reading other people’s thoughts, who knows, maybe someone, somewhere will get something out of reading mine :) One thing I promise is that it will be real, it will be raw and you’ll probably judge me at some point! Haha…..but you know what? That bit’s on you 😛

I have a confession to make…my body is completely whacked!! At times I find it  amusing, sometimes annoying, mostly intriguing. Ok, maybe time for a little context…I have made some TERRIBLE choices over the past 10 or so years! Yes, everything happens for a reason and yes, our past shapes our present but, I think it’s also important sometimes to look back, acknowledge and learn!! What I mean by terrible choices is, I chose not to put myself first, I chose to let other people dictate how I felt about me, I chose to give my power away, I chose to let the people pleaser in me take over (to my absolute detriment), I chose to doubt myself, I chose to let the negative voices take over and, for the longest time, I chose not to do a damn thing about it!

How does this relate to my whacked out body? Oh my goodness, in every possible conceivable way! The above choices led to my internal environment being an incredibly stressful place to live. I didn’t actually want to spend time with me, I didn’t want to hear my own thoughts and, I kind of checked out. I detached and started floating through life. Existing but not living. It’s not a fun place to be. This is something I think almost everyone can relate to at some point in their life. I’ve definitely checked back in, and am now riding the wave of what happens when you start to reconnect with your body. Absolute fucking turmoil!!!

I’m talking 3 outbreaks of shingles, severe adverse reactions to the anti-viral medication prescribed for shingles, massive weight fluctuations, fluid retention like you wouldn’t even believe, digestive issues, fatigue…..ahh I could go on but really, what’s the point? The point really is that my body is currently teaching me a massive lesson. It’s saying ‘please don’t ignore me, please put me first, take care of me, nurture me, strengthen me and love me’ and I’m inclined to listen right now!

I do feel like I’m rambling a little but I also promised myself that I would just be real on here and this is where I’m at right now. My body’s currently in a hyper-reactive state where everything has an instant positive or negative effect! Acupuncture has been fabulous…the chinese herbs the acupuncturist gives me – eek! Well, the last lot instantly did the complete opposite to what they were supposed to do…but it’s a learning game, and if you don’t try, you don’t know! I’m loving spending time with my own thoughts hanging out in a sauna, hot yoga has become a regular part of my regime. I used to just smash out my angst in the gym but lately, my body flares up every time I work out so I’m listening and giving the weights a rest (as hard as it is!) and focussing on things that help me reconnect with my body. Meditation, yoga, even the acupuncture helps with this. This is what’s important. When was the last time you really listened to your body? Paid attention to the little signs it’s giving you? You know that little twinge we call a gut feeling? That’s the one I should have paid attention to in the past and the one I trust with everything now. We know more than we realise…we just have to trust it.

I am constantly fascinated by the crazy. Not just my crazy, EVERYONE’S crazy! I know you know the crazy I’m talking about, it’s that thing that happens when you choose something you know is going to have the complete opposite effect of whatever it is you’re working towards – in any area of life!

I’m going to use a really common example to explain “the crazy”. I like to feel good. I like it when my body is calm, happy, stress free. I like it when my skin is clear, I have endless amounts of energy and I feel vibrant and healthy. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, when I eat sugar or processed crappy foods, I feel the OPPOSITE of all of these things. So, why on earth would I choose to do it? The crazy!!! I actually laugh out loud when I hear other people talk out their crazy because it just sounds so goddamn ridiculous. The lengths we go to in order to justify the crazy is, well, it’s crazy!

I recognise my crazy when I procrastinate on doing things like housework, cleaning the car, writing out a schedule, keeping a “to do” list, preparing my meals…ahhh, I could go on and on. All of these things, when they’re done, help me to feel amazing, in control, on top of things, calm, happy, you get the point. All of these things, when they’re not done, mean I’m in chaos, stressed and out of control. So, how and why does the crazy win out?

I believe we all have areas where the crazy takes over at different times in our life. I don’t know about you, but I think when I get the crazy in one area sorted out, it seems to pop up in another area. I’m all for challenge but, come on! Surely, at some point, you can just have it all together, even if it’s just for a little while. I honestly cannot think of one time in my life where the crazy hasn’t existed and had its wicked way in some area of my life.

Maybe there’s meant to be a little of the crazy in our life at all times, just to keep us on our toes 😉