…Creating a sacred space at home…

Guidance

When I meditate, I usually just sit on a chair, the floor or the bed and go into practice. But occasionally, I set up a sacred space. What does this mean?

For me, I don’t have much space in my small flat to dedicate a somewhere permanently, so I create a makeshift altar using my coffee table. I clear it of everything, and empty the room of clutter as much as possible. I bring a few items which hold significance for me personally: –

  • a candle, which represents the light I carry inside me;
  • some crystals and a plant, which for me, represent the beauty and power of the earth. Two of the crystals are gifts from my brother and my sister, so those remind me of the love of family;
  • some incense or essential oil, which can help to engage my senses and release emotion;
  • my small Buddha statue, this little figure sitting in cross legged posture reminds me of my intention to cultivate a peaceful state …
  • Tibetan bells, which again engage my senses, and create a beginning and an end to a meditation;
  • Reiki symbols, these are symbols I paint in the air with my hand, to bring in the healing energy of Reiki (yes that Reiki post is on its way…!). Some of the symbols are of Buddhist origin and some are of Shinto origin;
  • a cushion or 3 so my bum doesn’t get sore!

Whether you are meditating or praying, you can set up a sacred space to help you gain focus and clarity to your practice. Other items could include photos of loved ones, a beautiful landscape, an image or representation of a goal you would like to achieve (a miniature car for example if your goal is to pass your driving test), flowers or even play a piece of music which holds meaning for you. Small water fountains or a piece of fruit can also be useful. Sometimes I also use Post-it notes with words written on them to help make my intentions more tangible (patience, forgiveness, acceptance etc.)

Your meditation space does not have to be at home if you don’t feel comfortable there. You can take your items to a park, or to a friends place where you feel comfortable and welcome. The woods is one of my favourite places, which might be obvious from the amount of tree pictures on here!

Once you have your space ready, the only thing left to do is decide what you will pray for, meditate on, give gratitude for or begin manifesting!

…Volunteering…

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volunteering loveyourself

volunteering jennikaargent loveyourself

My first experience with volunteering was on 1st January this year at the Whitechapel Mission. Slightly hungover and very tired from the New Year celebrations, myself and a few friends drove in the dark at 6am to begin the morning kitchen shift. We cooked porridge, eggs and other breakfast foods in a hot, sweaty kitchen, then served up the goodies to the customers, most of whom are homeless.

This was the spark that led me to finding a more regular volunteering role. I decided that I would like to offer something more specific than my cooking and cleaning skills. I had recently gained a Level 2 Reiki Healing certificate and thought it would be a great way to put it into practice. So I searched the internet for ‘reiki volunteer’. I wasn’t sure I would find anything, but 2 vacancies came up. I promptly got in touch and, to my surprise, I was called in for an interview at the Royal Trinity Hospice.

As with any interview, I was extremely nervous. I had no experience whatsoever of hospices or of giving reiki to anyone other than friends and family, let alone bereaved or terminally ill patients, but something had pulled me to apply. To my surprise, I received a phone call a week after the interview to say I had been offered a volunteer position on the Complimentary Therapy team! I really had no idea what kind of commitment I was making; hours and hours of training, meetings, online NHS occupational health training, shadowing other therapists, cancer awareness training (provided by Macmillan), Sage & Thyme (how to deal with emotional distress), passing CNHC verification, getting DBS checked, arranging insurance. From the interview in January, I was fully up and running with regular sessions by April. A process which took 4 months!!

So what’s it like volunteering? I’m sure it varies depending on where and how you volunteer, but the Royal Trinity team have been very supportive and welcoming, yet at the same time given me the space and trust to let me get on with my role independently. I’ve been given the opportunity to get involved with the relaxation/meditation groups and lead them from time to time. In this way I got to know some of my patients, interact, build trust and rapport before offering treatments. It has also given me the chance to learn new skills related to relaxation, meditation, communication and observation, as well as being allowed to hear very personal accounts of what it’s like dealing with terminal illness and death, which is something I have very little personal experience of, so it’s really important for me to tune in and listen to what my patients are feeling in order to better understand what it is they are going through. Witnessing someone going through a struggle and helping them get through the other side of a dark tunnel with a new found inner strength is a really rewarding and inspiring process to be a part of.

My office at the hospice! 

Here is a brief summary of the benefits volunteering has given me:

  • the opportunity to practice my chosen skill (reiki)
  • the opportunity to learn and develop new skills (meditation, experience with emotionally vulnerable individuals)
  • the feeling of giving something back to my community (if you believe in Karma, this one’s for you)
  • helping others in need has helped me develop a sense of personal empowerment
  • I’ve made new friends and been inspired by both therapists and patients alike
  • Building self-confidence.

If you are interested in volunteering, there are so many ways you can get involved, from befriending, to gardening, to web design, to teaching, hairdressing etc.. Whatever skill you have, it’s likely something you can offer. How often you offer it is really up to you. I visit the hospice on a weekly basis, since Reiki is usually given as a course of treatments over a few weeks, but I also attend ‘feel good’ days where I offer mini taster treatments for those who have never experienced Reiki before. You could start with a one off like I did and see how you go!

And if you are wondering what Reiki is… well that’s a whole other post. Which is coming soon! Watch this space…

 

Yoga vs Exercise

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LoveYourself Jennika Argent

Mermaid Pose Yoga

I’m by no means an expert in yoga… far from it. But I have been practicing basic yoga for many years alongside other forms of exercise, and in my experience, there is a fair difference between how I feel during and after yoga, compared to during and after ‘exercise‘ (note, I am not talking about playing a sport here, but pure exercise).

Yoga, generally starts with a short meditation and sun salutations… so looking inside and outside of one’s self, to give thanks to the life-giving sun. Each sun salutation begins and ends with hands in prayer position over the heart, where our truth lies. The salutations repeat in a flowing movement, using the whole body. The movements help us open ourselves to receive higher wisdom and knowledge. The only way in which this is similar to exercise, is that it is a warm up.

Exercise, by contrast, can have a different intention, and although most of us do it to stay fit and healthy, it can sometimes compartmentalise our bodies into separate areas (legs day / legs, bums and tums), which are targeted/judged for improvement, almost bringing about a feeling of dissatisfaction and non-acceptance of our bodies as a whole.

Whilst practicing yoga, I feel as if I am giving thanks for my body… like an expression of gratitude, a bit like a dance… whereas with exercise, it can sometimes feel like a bit of a chore, something I have to slog my way through.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy many different forms of exercise, as well as jogging, swimming, cycling and using weights. Sometimes, my body really just wants to jump around aerobic-style to loud music, to shake off the stress of the day. No doubt whichever form of exercise we choose, it will likely be of benefit to our health… but its important to connect with how it affects our minds, thoughts, self-perception and emotions.

I would encourage you, next time you do exercise, in whichever form it might be, to take note of how you feel before, during and after. Just become aware of what thoughts are going through your mind – are you loving and accepting your body with gratitude, or are you annoyed at it and wishing it were different?

…Space to Change…

Guidance

You know the old sayings ‘a leopard never changes its spots’ and ‘old habits die hard’ when referring to a person never being able to change? Well scrap that because PEOPLE CHANGE ALL THE TIME… I have changed so many times I have lost count, even over the past year, I carry on changing my mind about stuff, learning and growing in small but significant ways.  Even stuff I wrote last year on this blog, I cringe at parts because I have already changed since writing it.

“A thug changes, and love changes, and best friends become strangers” NAS

The biggest change I ever experienced came about when I went travelling for a year. I went alone. I left everything behind me, my job, my friends, my family, my ex, my flat, my phone, my ipod – even my identity and old behaviours. I was free to experiment with a NEW ME. I changed the scenery, the environment, the people I was hanging out with, the music I was listening to, the food I was eating. I changed EVERYTHING. The main reason I was able to change was because these new people had no expectations of me to be the OLD ME.

The problem sometimes is that we don’t allow ourselves and others the SPACE TO CHANGE. We have expectations of our friends and when our friends don’t act as we expect, it can really throw us off and make us feel uncomfortable. How many times have we said one of the below phrases to a friend:

“but that’s not like you…”

“you would never do that”

“since when do you [insert new behaviour]”

When we say stuff like this, we reinforce an idea of that person not being able to change, and one of the most important things in life which has enabled us to adapt and survive, is that we are able to change. Being able to change our minds on an issue for instance. Check out this video of a reformed racist. That’s a massive change of heart he had!!

Having a ‘big, soft, open mind‘ allows us to be flexible and adaptable to change our thoughts and ideas about ourselves, and gives us space to discover new aspects of ourselves, and the world around us.

I would invite you today to notice change in yourself and others, and when you see it, perhaps try and welcome it with a friendly curiosity. Is there anything you would like to change about yourself? If so, how might you go about changing it?

 

 

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