Get Turned Off: How I learnt to switch off the TV!

One of the great things about the Mind on Music travelling is that it has left me with a lot less time for idly watching random TV. My mind is much clearer and happier for it!

As a nation, we watch too much television. There’s no arguing with the statistics that tell us the average person watches five to eight hours per day in front of the TV. That’s almost a third of our lives! Before the 1930s though, television wasn’t even available to the public and during the Second World War, broadcasts were suspended. Afterwards, the schedule only contained three hours of broadcasting per day and obviously no catch up TV! Even during the 1950s when television started to become more widely used by the general public, it was upheld as special occasion. We can look to these past ways of living in order to enhance our present!

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Break the TV Cycle!!

Here are some simple ways from the past to break the TV cycle;

  1. Visit friends and family! This has the added bonus of helping others watch less TV too. The evenings are still light and even in Winter instead of spending your Sunday on the sofa, go for a walk with the family in Nature.  Decades ago, visiting others was a more regular occurrence as there was no Facebook to keep in touch with people!
  2. Cook. If you cook a meal with several ingredients, by the time you’ve made and eaten it, a few hours may have passed. The key is to enjoy the process of cooking for itself, not to rush through it and then hurry through the meal.This has the added bonus that you’ll know exactly what’s in your food, just as our grandparents did.
  3. Craft. Learn a new craft skill or re-engage with an old pastime you used to enjoy such as crochet, or playing an instrument. Hours used to be spent darning and mending old clothes but this is something we don’t have to do as much now. However this is a useful skill which has largely been lost and helped keep waste down so re-learning it will save you some pennies!
  4. Read.  There are also whole realms of imagination and information ready for you to dive into. You don’t need to read classics, pick up whatever you’re drawn to and get lost in another world.
  5. Rest Finally, know that it’s ok to sit in silence with your own thoughts! We feel we must be constantly entertained but this isn’t true. Some of our best ideas come to us when we’re resting quietly. Keep a notebook handy for these times so you can quickly jot ideas down. Years ago, people often daydreamed for hours, just wistfully sitting at a river bank, but in our ‘notification generation’ we feel a constant need to check our emails, social media, what’s on TV later…always doing instead of just being! Stop and remind yourself of this once in a while.

 

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Get Outside!!

Sometimes we get stuck in cycles, especially in the darkest months of the year but Summer hasn’t left us yet so we can get outside and switch the TV off, just as we used to do in years gone by!

 

Best Wishes,

Bexi

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Month One of My Mind on Music Travels!

Wow, well the first month of my travels with charity Mind on Music is complete! To read more about what I’m doing with the travel challenge see here and here! 

It’s been an incredible journey so far! I focused the first month on the North West of England, and here I’ve met many amazing people on the sessions. I’ve also met such brilliant staff across many hospitals and venues and seen the great work they’re doing for people.

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In Huyton, Merseyside

It’s certainly been a mix of emotions. Some sessions were extremely challenging, with several having abusive and violent patients. I know this was not their essential nature, but the frustrations of their circumstances so I wasn’t personally hurt but I felt for them and their families who have to deal with the different illnesses everyday.

One of the most amazing and emotional moments for me this month, was being asked to sing whilst a lady lay dying, her family there to watch her going. They wanted to create a jolly and peaceful atmosphere for her which I hope I helped with. It was an honour to be asked and I really hope I did help that lady and her family.

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In Warrington, Cheshire

Something I’ve learnt from this first month is definitely to slow the pace for the next eleven ahead! Some days I was doing three gigs a day which was do-able at the time through adrenaline and many banana smoothies haha but really not sustainable for a year long tour. I know I said I was doing a challenge but…! Seriously though, we all need balance in our lives and working so hard you’re exhausted and feeling ill at the end of the day is not helpful for long term health or for being able to help others. We all must look after ourselves as well!

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In Manchester!

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In Lancaster, Lancashire

I’ve also had some really lovely private gigs, so thank you to all who’ve booked me as they help me continue the charity work as the donations we receive don’t cover most of the travel and session costs.

The month in summary…

People reached: 115

Counties visited: Lancashire, Merseyside, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Cumbria.

Important personal moment: Being asked to perform during someone’s final hours here on Earth.

Lessons learnt: Slow down!

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On the Wirral, Merseyside

Next month I’ll be heading to the North East, please do get in touch if you’d like us to visit or know of any venues we could be helpful in!

Best Wishes,

Bexi

Mind on Music: Why I’m doing this travel challenge!

Hi all!

Apologies for lack of posts this month, I’ve been planning away for the Mind on Music UK journey I’m starting next month. I thought this blog would be a good place to explain why I’m doing it and what I hope to achieve through it all.

Firstly, it’s not a challenge I’m taking lightly. I know it will be emotionally and physically demanding but I feel it’s the right time to do this. I need to stretch myself even further than I have in order to grow and learn more about myself and those I’m sharing this earth with.

The main aim of the tour is, of course, to help as many people as I can using the skills I have. I believe so passionately in the health benefits of music, sound and their associated practice that I want to take these techniques to people and places who may not have considered them previously.

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I want to raise awareness and stand for those facing chronic illness as they have voices too that are often ignored. Those living with dementia, chronic pain, mental health concerns and other conditions are often forgotten about and left, along with family, to just get on with things. This is not right. And it’s not the society I want to live in, and in order to change, change must come from us.

The famous (but actually misquoted) Ghandi phrase “be the change you want to see in the world” is a powerful one but the truth is, we are that change everyday. We are that change whether we sit and do nothing, actively do bad or actively create goodness. ALL of our thoughts and subsequent actions create change and we must decide what we want that change to be.

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Personally, I hope to gain more understanding of our true humanity and the lessons we’re here to learn. By connecting with more people, and particularly those I may be of service to, I really want to share more love and compassion so that others can feed from this and lift themselves up somewhat, however small from that connection.

I’ve felt the pull for some time now that I’m meant to be getting out there more, to be with people who need healing and love, which is why my singing seems to be taking me in a completely different direction than when I began as fully professional five years ago. That isn’t meant to sound patronising though I suppose it does in a way!  I still enjoy doing the fun private parties and celebrations and will continue to do these, I just feel as though my focus needs to be on using my voice to help others at this present time. I apologise if it does sound condescending, I’m doing my best and make mistakes like anyone but my intentions are pure I promise that!

I hope this explains a little of why I want to embark on such a journey. Or it could truly be for none of those reasons really and I may find the real reason somewhere along the way….

 

Best Wishes,

Bexi

…And Breathe! How Breathing Can Help our Health

Part of the work I do at Mind on Music is encouraging people to enhance their well-being with different exercises they can do themselves such as singing for health techniques. Before we even start to make a sound though, one of the simplest yet most effective (and probably my favourite) is working with our breath.

Across the world in different cultures, focusing on our breath is held as highly important. In Hindu culture, and so in yoga, the breath is called Prana and the focus on it- Pranayama. A lot of the exercises I do with the groups I work with are inspired by and based on yogic traditions. I am not a trained yoga teacher and do not claim to be able to teach yoga. However, we all learn from our daily lives and because I do so much yoga, I incorporate the things I’m inspired by along the way into my self-practice and also into the activities I bring to the groups.19398978_10155394488934414_355127316_n.jpg

One of the best methods of breathing work I’ve found is simply to count our in and out breaths, aiming to increase the length of time we can breath in and then exhale for.

Start with four beats in and four out, with a little pause in between and gradually increase this as you feel ready to. This will slow the breath down, in turn slowing your heart rate and bringing you into a calmer, more peaceful feeling. This is a very old and well-known way of stilling ourselves, yet in our busy lives we forget even how to breathe properly!

This way of breathing has us concentrate so that we can also begin to breathe fully, as many of us live taking in shallow, half-breaths. To breathe deeply, expand your whole abdomen so that your diaphragm (the muscle just at the base of our lungs) contracts and pushes your stomach forward.

It can take some time to strengthen our diaphragms as it is a muscle so just like we wouldn’t expect to lift heavy weight immediately, it can be an ongoing process before we can breathe in this way. But by focusing on it for a few minutes each day, this will be a great start towards making your respiratory system stronger and more resistant to illness, so hopefully avoiding the many colds that go round!

Breathing techniques are great for those with Asthma, COPD, and other cardiovascular problems too. They can also be very helpful for those with chronic pain as the slowing of heart rate can reduce pain as well as the attention being diverted for a time too.

Give the above technique a go this evening and see how you feel. You might want to go out in nature or create a healing space in your home with your favourite, relaxing things around you such as having a bath or a natural candle. That said though, you need no special equipment, only the space that you currently occupy and you don’t even need a quiet room, though to begin with you may prefer to be alone.

I would just say that if you do have any illness, please consult your doctor if you feel the need to do so before trying anything new and if you begin to feel dizzy or out of breath whilst undertaking the work, then do take a break or stop.

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Create Your Own Healing Space!

To recap:

  • Start with an in-breath for four counts, pause then an exhalation for four beats also.
  • Build this up slowly, adding a beat at a time until you feel you’ve reached your limit. With regular attention, you’ll notice this number rise over time!
  • To breathe fully, expand your stomach as you breathe so you’re using your diaphragm. Again, in time this will be easier!
  • You can begin this practice anywhere, but either outside in nature, or in a healing space you create can be extra special.

Thank you for reading, I’ll be sharing more techniques very soon so please do pop back!

Best Wishes,

Bexi

Mind on Music Travel Challenge!

Sorry for my quietness this month so far! The reason is I’ve been squirrelling away at home, planning some very exciting things for the charity I recently set up- Mind on Music!

Mind on Music aims to promote health and well-being through the use of music and sound. We work with people who have a range of dis-eases such as chronic pain, mental health issues, dementia and POCD, in order to help them discover ways they may be able to cope with their challenges and even overcome them.

From August this year, I’ve decided to take this work around the WHOLE UK for ONE FULL YEAR! I’ll be spending each month for the next year travelling around a different area of the UK, visiting hospitals, community centres, schools, projects, anywhere the charity can help. I’ll perform for those who just want to be cheered up, I’ll run workshops for those who’d like to get involved and create and I’ll speak for those who wish to listen and learn about how music and sound can benefit them.

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With lovely Elsie, smiles like her’s are why I do this!!

I need to learn a lot more too so I’ll be taking lots of training sessions along the way as I still have so much to discover about the power of music and sound and other therapies and I’m so excited about this.

It’s going to be a huge challenge both professionally and personally but I know that I’m ready for it and that this is what I need to be doing right now to help others and connect with as many people as I can.

I know some of you feel as though the world is becoming more hateful and whether this is the truth or whether it’s fear inducing media, it doesn’t change the fact that we need love and hope more than ever. If I can give this is in any small way to people along this journey then that will make it worthwhile and it’s the underlying reason for undertaking such a task.

I’ll be documenting it all on here, my facebook, insta and twitter in videos, blogs and pics so you can all come on this journey with me! Well you’ll feel like you are the amount I like to post haha!! I’ll still have lots of other posts though too, all the usual health, travel, spiritual, life posts so don’t worry (Oh you weren’t?! 😉 )

Thanks for all your support so far, I’m so thrilled to be sharing this next step with you all!

Best Wishes,

Bexi

 

How To Be The Most Energetic You Can Be!

A few people have asked me where I get so much energy from to be travelling, singing, speaking at events so much and all with no coffee haha! So I thought I’d share the ways I gather my energy so it might help you. We are all different but by sharing our practices, we can take what we find helpful and leave the rest, so please have a read and let me know if you have any ways you increase your energy!

I understand for those with chronic illness, it’s not as simple as some of the below tips sound, but they’re still worth a go because even if you think they won’t work, you’ve made a positive step towards loving and caring for yourself!

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  • Food! If you’re on my Instagram, then you’ll know I follow a vegan diet. The reason I started was for ethical reasons concerning animals and environment, but the health benefits have been incredible! My skin cleared up, my head feels lighter too and I no longer need coffee to keep me going throughout the day. I eat a lot of fruit and veg and I love smoothies. Find me on instagram to see some of my food postings. I’m not here to judge, I was twenty years old before I went vegetarian and then another several years before veganism so only speak from my experience that switching to a plant based diet has worked wonders for my energy and health. It’s really important to ensure with any way you eat that your nutrient levels are all in tune with your own body. Tiredness can be caused by deficiencies in B12, calcium, Vit D and magnesium amongst other things so it’s a good idea to get these in order if you’re feeling low on energy.
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Smoothies replaced my super strong coffee and I love them!!

  • Nurture yourself with Nature. Being in nature, for me, is one of my top energisers. A walk in the forest or on the beach can pick me up when I’m needing a boost and whatever energy I spend whilst walking is returned with more to spare.  It’s proven that the ions produced by water having a restorative effect on our health so anywhere near flowing water such as waterfalls or the beach is great to be, but of course anywhere outside and in a natural setting is going to do you good! Sunshine will boost your Vit D levels too which can help with tiredness, but of course wear sun protection where appropriate especially if you’re like me- a super pale red-head who needs factor 50!!
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Beautiful beach times from a recent trip to Ibiza.

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Swimming in the sea feels so natural and always boosts my energy!

  • Sort your sleep! We all know sleep is important for our bodies to restore and for our minds to wander into our dreamlands, but so many of us worry about it to the point that this worry stops us sleeping! For a time, I was waking about 4am every night, full of energy and excited for the day ahead. I would struggle to return to sleep and work my self up when I couldn’t. I decided to change my sleep pattern to stop myself worrying. I now sleep 5-7 hours during the night and have an extended nap in the afternoon. I later found this is called Bi-phasic sleep, and has been found to be a very healthful way to split our sleeping times as our 9-5 society way of living is not entirely natural to our bodies and minds. It is a challenge to achieve sometimes if I have to do a lot of daytime activities but it has improved my energy and sleeping as I no longer worry about being tired because I know I have a second sleep to follow!

 

  • Resting. This is different to sleep. People think they only need to rest when they are in bed but this isn’t so. Being still and quiet is vital to our health and to keep us connected with our body so we are aware of everything that’s going on and know to make adjustments if necessary. Paradoxically, you can rest whilst being active. For me, Yoga is a very restoring practise and even though I work hard and the postures are often physically demanding, I find it a very restful, peaceful thing to do too.

 

  • Avoid energy drainers! These come in a variety of forms, from too much time on the internet, to being around people who are always negative. Comparing yourself to others on social media is one of the biggest wastes of energy there is. It leaves you feeling lethargic and low. Limit your internet use to basic email checking for a while and see how you feel. When I do this my head is less foggy, my spirit brighter and I feel so much happier. Don’t worry about what others are doing. They are on their path and you are following yours.

 

  • Be creative. Singing, writing, getting my ideas out, all feed my soul and so increase my energy levels.  Using our natural talents (and we all have different innate ones) makes us feel purposeful and happy which feeds our spirit to increase our energy. I adore singing so much that I often turn up to a gig feeling tired and leave with an enormous buzz and feeling elated! Even singing on my own at home can do this, so try whatever creative pursuit you want to do and see if it does the same for you. Being creative with your environment can help too. Colours can energise or drain you, so my living areas are all bright, beautiful tangerines and decorated with all sorts of my favourite shades!
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Singing always gives me more energy!

 

  • Self healing. As well as creating more energy within ourselves, I fully believe we have the power to heal ourselves too and prevent our health from going too far down. This creates good health and so in turn more energy. Explore the alternative side to healing that medicine doesn’t offer… gentle therapies that can help if you open up to them. Music and Sound therapies, Acupuncture, Meditation- explore and find what you enjoy the most and go with it. Even if you find they don’t work for you, they are relaxing and enjoyable at the very least. Stress is a big energy drainer and the cause for so many health problems but it is something we have control over. Slowing breathing rate is the first step to overcoming it, breathing in for 5, pausing then out for 5 and repeat until you feel calmer.

 

I hope these little tips that I use have been helpful and healthful for you! Let me know how you get on, with a message or a comment, wishing you lots of energy!

 

Best Wishes,

Bexi

 

How to Keep Smiling!

With everything we’re surrounded with in our modern world, it can be a challenge sometimes to keep smiling through it all. I love to laugh and smile (often to people’s annoyance but who cares!) and this leads people to assume I never get sad or I’ve never had anything bad happen in my life or seen anything bad.

Of course this isn’t true, just like for most of us! On my travels and in daily life I’ve seen animal abuse, been treated horribly by a few people with closed hearts, had loved ones die, family dramas and had years of past personal depression- things a lot of us go through- but I always see that the good always outweighs the bad. And that’s what I really do believe- that the goodness here is always stronger than any badness.

 

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Singing always makes me smile!

Here are a few ways I keep smiling…

 

  1. Avoid the News. This isn’t saying be ignorant to current events, just choose how much you are surrounded with images of death and hopelessness which is the mood those who script the News programmes and publish papers seek to create. Avoiding biased, fear-based programming is the first step to clearing your head of the fog that keeps us from being happy.
  2. Nature! It’ll be a running joke soon that I suggest nature as the answer to most challenges, but it is true that immersing yourself in a natural setting gives a perspective that is hard to find otherwise. Using the calm of nature to still your own anxieties and running commentary really helps if you find it difficult to switch off at home. With practice, you’ll be able to bring this peace with you anywhere. Take deep breaths and focus on the birdsong, letting your own thoughts drift away as you listen to the music of nature.
  3. Connect with others. My recent blog post on this shows ways to become involved in your community to help others which in turn will help yourself. Volunteer, see family, support local shows and music and art scenes and a beautiful community spirit will grow, one you’ll be very much a part of.
  4. Travel. See the truth in the world before believing everything the media tells us. Meet people from different cultures and decide for yourself where you think people’s hearts lie and who they truly are. This again will connect you to the truth in the world, that we are not so different from each other at our core.
  5.  Create! Feeling you’re making a contribution to the world will increase feelings of happiness. This is closely related to the connecting with others idea, that by creating something others find useful or beautiful, you’ll be helping to make the world better and. Music, crafts, art, poetry- anything that you feel drawn to. It’s probably something you enjoyed doing as a child and once you pick it back up, it’ll be like you never stopped and you were meant to do it! This is how music was to me after a long break which left me very down, but once I came back to it I realised how much I love using music to make others (and myself!) happy.
  6. Get off the Internet!! I do realise the irony of saying this whilst writing a blog, that I’d like people to read- on the internet. Too much though is soul destructive as it drags us down into a world of frantic notifications and comparisons to people we barely know or people we think we know but don’t really because everything is edited beyond any meaningful reality! So spending time away, doing the above can be so beneficial. A lot of us use social media for work now so I know it’s not always easy to cut ties completely but limiting use is a great start!

 

There’s a reason smiling is also called “beaming” and that’s because it’s like a ray of sunshine beaming across all those who encounter it! Smiling really is infectious and if you share your smile with others, it’ll spread across all those you connect with and beyond so share your beautiful smile today!

Best Wishes,

Bexi