Winter Well-being!

Winter can be a challenging time to keep our well-being up and our health balanced, here are the best ways I find to stay healthy and happy during the darker months of the year! 

  1. Stay hydrated. Even though it’s not as warm as Summer, we still need to keep our water levels up. I aim for 2-3 litres a day, but mainly drink this in herbal teas which have the added benefit of keeping you cosy too. You can find water in lots of great foods too, so plenty of soups and warming gravy dishes are great if you’re struggling to drink as much as you need.
  2. Get outside! Obviously we have less sunshine hours and overall daylight in winter so it’s even more important to make time to spend time outdoors to top up our vitamin D levels and boost our happiness. Make it a double well-being boost by taking a walk in the woods or on the beach- any time immersed in nature will make you feel better. 
  3. Following on from that, a walk is good exercise too and it’s vital to keep up exercising in Winter too. It’s definitely more difficult as we often want to stay wrapped up indoors rather than heading to a gym class or a run in the rain, but if we want to stay fit all year round we should aim for at least 30 minutes a day!  
  4. Keeping in touch with people. It’s easy in Winter to fall into a cycle of staying in and not seeing anyone. Darker evenings make us feel it’s later than it is and the cold can discourage us from venturing out. Turn your mind against this thought pattern though and aim to stay connected with others and to keep attending any events, groups, meet ups that you would in summer.
  5. Saying that though, any extra time spent indoors is a great opportunity for re-organising your living space. Having a good clear out will translate to a good shake up mentally as when our surroundings become cluttered this can be a reflection of mind clutter. So getting rid of what we no longer need can be so helpful for our mental health. It seems like a chore at first but once you get going it feels great and you can donate lots of things to charity shops too!

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Hope these tips help keep you feeling good over the winter months! Come back soon for updates on my Mind on Music Travels!

Best Wishes,

Bexi

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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

…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

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

A Colourful Life!

Earlier this week I talked about a simple life, but now I want to share thoughts about a colour life with you! Something that brings me so much joy when experiencing other cultures, is how much colour there is and … Continue reading

A Simple Life!

I’ve been so lucky to have been travelling a lot more the past year and one thing wandering around a lot shows you is how little you need to live and be contented. I believe a simple life is a freer one. One where material possessions don’t tie us down into working just to have something new. One where we can be more present in our decisions and in our focus.

Being able to carry everything you need for weeks in one bag on your back certainly humbles you into realising most of the extras we surround ourselves with are not essential to our living a good life.

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Backpack Bexi!

Growing up, I was as materialistic as you could imagine. Constantly asking my Mum for something else. Always wanting to spend Saturdays shopping. I don’t regret this as it’s shown me how futile the pursuit of “stuff” is because I was only happy until the newness had worn off, then I was in desperate search for the next thing. I was lucky my parents did also encourage me to read a lot, and supported my singing and other creative pastimes which at least helped to balance out the consuming monster that lurked within my teenage self so I look back with no self-reproach and see that these experiences helped me understand the money orientated society we reside in today.

The last few years though I’ve found myself needing less and less to be happy. This has been both through choice and also necessity as I’ve chosen to work less to free up my time to travel but obviously this means less money to spend on disposable entertainment items that we’re all encouraged to buy. I find much more fun in the beauty of life and in connecting with other people than I ever did in new clothes and shoes.

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I’m certainly not at the end of this journey. I don’t currently live completely waste free, though that’s definitely my aim. I still find myself coveting certain things and have to keep reminding myself to ask whether I really need it or just desire it for some unknown reason. I’ll get there though, I know it and feel happier and more peaceful each day! Being self-aware and observing your actions as you go through them will help to make sure you are living consciously and not being swayed by advertising or your peers.

Here’s how I’m breaking free of the consuming cycle and living on my terms…

  1. Firstly have a clear out. Try and find homes for unwanted items that no longer serve you. They may stop someone else from buying new if they can repair your broken laptop or have been looking for a table you’re wanting rid of. Charity shops always want clothes and overseas refugee programmes also need bedding and such items. This has the added bonus of clearing your mind at the same time so in turn you feel lighter in yourself as well as your home.
  2. Find inspiration from others who are living with less.  Take tips from others who’ve tried things already and found great ways to help you too.
  3. Go back to basics with food. When I became vegan, a lot of things clicked into place for me. I realised how much food production is harming our planet and this coupled with waste made me want to live more simply. Eating home made food is more kind to our bodies as well as the environment.
  4.  Find free things to do! A lot of our money goes on keeping ourselves entertained. But this doesn’t have to be a complicated process either. Time in nature walking, swimming, meeting with friends for a chat, all simple ways to enjoy our free time but without the burden of a new games console!
  5. To be self-aware, start by trying to be a conscious observer of your actions. Don’t judge, just watch. So for example if you find yourself wandering into a shop and about to buy something “for fun” don’t feel bad for it, but do be active in the moment of buying it. You may decide you don’t truly want it after all, as so many of our purchases are quick and made under distraction.

 

I learnt a lot of these things whilst travelling, but they are all something we can practise whilst going about our lives, whatever we do!

You can’t buy your way to freedom, but maybe you can give things away to attain it. Living more simply will leave you feeling free and able to concentrate on the true things that matter in your life.

Best Wishes,

Bexi

“So, What Do you Do?”

I’ve been to a few networking events in the past and I’ve always cringed as the inevitable question, “what do you do?” is asked. I don’t avoid the question because I don’t want to tell people how I make a living. More so because the phrase is too often used as a way to define and dissect an entire person’s being in a matter of minutes.

Most of the time, what is really being asked is “How can you help me?” And this is not how we should be relating to our fellow humans here. We should be genuinely interested in people just to know more about how they think and therefore how we think ourselves!

Whilst I’m always interested in hearing about someone’s dreams and what they love doing, I never ask what their job is unless they want to offer that information. I’m more interested in what they do when they’re not in their job- where they spend their time, what they like to read, films they like…this is the person I want to know.

Organic connections are so much more solid and real. Obviously if you attend a Networking event and really do get on with someone, that’s fantastic and I’m sure many great friendships and working relationships have begun from these types of groups.

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One great way to make real connections is to get involved in your community. This could be volunteering for a local charity, joining a befriending service or simply getting to know your neighbours. Once you connect with your surrounding world, you feel more grounded and part of something. You truly never know who you may meet and by good fortune they may be able to enhance your other goals in life, and in return you may help theirs.

This is the way to gain true meaning in our acquaintances, not through artificial means. Just because successful business people achieved money and recognition this way through cliquey clubs, doesn’t mean that should be the model to aspire to. We need to change that system and start making friends just to make friends, and if our intentions are good then I’m sure the rest will follow.

Choose a community project that is close to your heart. Don’t go with what is a popular trend or fashionable. This happens when the media picks up on certain causes and illnesses and suddenly they become popular, which is great for raising awareness but can mean that smaller projects are left unrecognised.

To recap, here are a few ways to become more connected with others.

  1. Join a local group for fun. Choose what your most drawn to, this will often be something you enjoyed in your childhood. Find a local choir, netball team or reading club.
  2. Get to know your neighbours. City living doesn’t create a community feel unless we get to know the people who live alongside us, at least to say hello to in passing. If you live somewhere with a communal space, why not have a Barbecue in the summer or organise a street clean up if needed with tea and cake after.
  3. Get involved. Give your time to a charity rather than writing a cheque and forgetting about it afterwards.
  4. Call your friends and family more often. Better still, go to see them in person more frequently. We are more disbursed these days, but making the effort to visit someone will brighten up both your lives.

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Don’t just network, connect, make genuine soul connections.

Best Wishes,

Bexi