Know Your Space

We hear a lot about finding our “place” in the world. The way I like to think, is that we are actually taking our space within the world.

What I mean is, the sentiment of finding one’s place assumes we are on the outside from the beginning and that we must do something to fit in. Whereas if we assert our own space, we already take up space literally with our physical mass from the moment we’re born. And we can also make our space energetically with the volume of creativity we put out.

(By creativity, I do not mean traditional forms of being creative such as music, art, craft etc. We are ALL creative beings, just in different ways. I spoke more about this here.)

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Take your space!

The word place also has several negative connotations. We use it to denote the outcome of competitions…1st place, last place etc. So it could be seen that life as a whole is a competition when it absolutely is not! We are not here to compete with each other, but to build one another up.

“Place” also has bad historical associations for women and the working class, “A woman’s place” “know your place” “Your place is in the kitchen” so it can become entwined with identity and a form of prison, not an expansion. The word “space” is completely the opposite! Space suggests infinity and limitless possibilities. It suggests an abundance of room in which we can all fit. Not a restricted area where there may not be provisions for us all to exist.

My own personal relationship with the word place is born from that competitive aspect. I always needed to be first place, top, the best. Of course I very often wasn’t and that was hard to deal with because I’d taken on so much pressure.  These feelings exist in our society to keep people looking sideways, suspicious of others. It’s good to strive to grow and improve, but we can do this together through supporting one another and being happy for others’ achievements. There is enough space for everyone!

 

So go forth beautiful souls and find your SPACE in the world!

 

Best Wishes,

Bexi

xx

 

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Playing Around!

As adults, we are often made to feel that “playing” is not something we should be doing. It is only reserved for young children. Even teenagers are encouraged not to be playful and to become serious. Ever told to “stop messing around” when you weren’t being harmful, just laughing?

This also extends to our imaginations and the play worlds we create in our minds. When I was a teenager I was discouraged from reading fantasy novels by a teacher I respected and so started studying “the classics”. This served me well in ways but I should have been shown (or realised myself) that I could read both! We don’t have to leave joy behind when we become adults. The two ideas can exist in the same universe!

We are also made to confuse being playful with being sexual as we become adults, particularly as women. If someone is described as playful, it often means flirtatious. This shouldn’t be the case. Anyone of any age should be encouraged to bring more traditional play into their lives, just as we would have as children.

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The energy of children is so… well energising!!

Ways to bring more playfulness into your life;

1.Play like a child, literally! At what point do children’s pastimes become a no-go? When you start secondary school? When we leave school? I think it’s the moment we become more self conscious and that can happen at any age, even during childhood. Or rather, we are made to be self conscious by the world around us. Well I say no thank you to this, carry on playing like a child! Play on the park (don’t scare any actual children though!), skip around, use colouring in books, anything that seems fun- do it!

2.Leading on, play with children. Spending time with little folk is so energising, even if  at the time they tire you out with their games. I have a young brother and sister and am so grateful to have them to remind me the playful fun that can be had in childhood and beyond.

3. Use your imagination. This is the biggest difference between having a sense of play and not. If we are able to use our imaginations, we can build a more colourful world for ourselves. We can turn a simple trip to the supermarket into a grand adventure. Or a walk in the woods into an expedition. This helps us see the wonder in the ordinary. It might take practice. We have our imaginations pushed aside as we grow  to make room for facts and figures but with repeated exercises such as pretending a simple boat trip is an exploration of a new world (which it can be, even if you have seen the place a thousand times, find the unknown) our ability to imagine will strengthen and a whole new life might just unfold. Remember, if we don’t have imagination, we also can’t picture a better way for our lives to be. So if you’re in a situation you don’t like, the best way to begin to leave it behind is by creating that new life in your mind first, just as children do with make believe lands!

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Never stop playing, it’s the base for how we can create the life we truly wish for ourselves!

Are you already playful? Feel free to share your tips below and we can start a playful revolution!

Best Wishes,

Bexi

xx

Ageing Shamelessly!

As you know, I work a lot with our elders and so of course I listen to them and what they have to say. I have met thousands of elders now through my projects and all of them have been inspirational in their own way.  Much of what they tell me is positive and a lot of people have great attitudes, even if they are facing huge challenges to them such as mobility issues or even dementia.

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Wonderful Betty, 96 and makes a croissant for breakfast every morning- she is still a true french lady!

I also meet a lot of people who are not so positive. This piece is not to tell those who are feeling low that they must change and “cheer up”, far from it. What I’m trying to explore is how potentially our attitudes towards ageing are contributing to the negative experiences of many of our older society.

“I hate old age”

“Pain? It’s just ageing isn’t it”

“Don’t get old”

“I’m too old for that now”

“I’m too old to try”

These are just a handful of comments I’ve had from some really lovely older people who aren’t wholly negative about their lives but it’s clear they hold an entire belief system around their age that is telling them what they can and can’t be.

And I’m certain this didn’t suddenly enter their minds when they turned 65. It’s drummed into us so early. Our whole society is set up to value youth above all and discount the wisdom of our elders.

We are shown representations of elders in television and film that make fun of old age. They use lazy writing tropes such as deafness or memory loss and so these become a template for what we think we will encounter.

We treat older people as though they are stupid. We speak louder and more slowly to them whether or not they have hearing problems. We laugh behind their backs, roll eyes, give knowing glances and generally dismiss their presence.

So is it any wonder that people become ill and depressed as they reach their older years?

Surely it makes sense that if we expect to have illness and reduced mobility as we get older, then this will come to pass? Just as if we tell ourselves we are less attractive as we age, then it will be so as we’ll see ourselves as such and then project that to the world.

If we expect people to not want to listen to us, we will stop speaking. Stop going out because we are not wanted anyway, which in turn leads younger people to believe that older people become dull and lifeless. And so you can see how the attitudes are self perpetuating.

I think this will be individual to each person as to how much they hold these views and how it impacts on their health but I would love us to change our views surrounding old age and death also.

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Beautiful Elsie, who had such a smile despite challenges

I’d like to add that I do not hold these views at all. I can see how they manifest and also some of the reasons why, but I always challenge them, in the kindest ways I can, when I come across them being held. I offer suggestions, try and spark as much joy as I can with music and make sure I see smiles and hear laughter as much as I can.

A change needs to happen though if we are to tackle these issues.

I would like to call for a shift in how we view old age. I am only in my thirties so I cannot be a true ambassador for that (yet) by showing through how I live but I intend to be as I grow older. And I implore you to do the same, to defy the conventions set for us.

Do not “grow old gracefully” because that is synonymous with accepting all of the nonsensical narratives we hold about age- that you must retire even if it’s from what you love, that you need to slow down (I aim to live beautifully slowly anyway) that we have less of a voice, that old age brings suffering and pain.

This is NOT how it needs to be. I’m not saying a long life will not bring challenges. Of course it will, but we can decide how we face them and how we tell our stories.

Grow old shamelessly! Carry on doing what you love, know it’s ok to make changes, don’t accept ill health as being part of old age, we can still stay well and healthy and live a life of joy right up until our time here is at an end.

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Wonderful Beatrice, 100 years on this Earth and still dancing!

Change starts within ourselves but as we’re working on that, let’s change our communities too. Place value on conversations with our elders. Don’t see popping into an isolated older neighbour’s house as a charitable act but as a gift for you both in what you may learn from each other. Make elders feel included and loved, so that when your time to become their age arrives you will find yourself in a beautiful, loving community also.

I know that I’m going to work very hard on changing my own beliefs surrounding age right now so I’m as happy and healthy as I can be for the rest of my life and I wish for you all the same!

Best Wishes,

Bexi

xx

 

 

A New Way to do the New Year!

I will wish you all a Happy New Year now! I also want to share some thoughts on an alternative way of living the New Year. Let’s have a kinder New Year. No more broken resolutions, no more guilt, no more feelings of failure. We don’t have to treat ourselves like that, we are worth so much more!

This post is a revisit of one I made last year as I feel it’s a message that still needs discussion and I want you all to have a beautiful start to the year. I want people to know  that they can break the resolution tradition. I broke out of it only a few years ago as I hadn’t realised how it was affecting me and certainly wasn’t setting me up for creative and happy year ahead.

The way we treat ourselves this time of year is often very unkind. We push ourselves to the limit in December- a time that is full of magic and joy and yet it often passes us by in the hectic haze. We berate ourselves for not buying all we can for our loved ones when our time together is more than enough.

And then comes the New Year. We see it as a time for renewal and hope and indeed it can be a wonderful time for rest and rebirth. This is not how we act it out. Rather, it becomes a punishment for over indulgence or a desperate attempt to balance out the excess of Christmas.

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Let’s be kinder to ourselves this winter

Here is some of what I wrote last year which I hope will help…

If we look to nature, we see that this time of year is generally not the time of new beginnings. In January, Squirrels are still squirrelling their food away and focusing on warmth, hedgehogs are hibernating and other animals are slowing down. Most flowers are still in waiting for their bloom to come in a few months time and the trees have yet to re-grow their leaves. All of this points to a time of nurturing ourselves restfully, yet we are told to speed up, this seems a little confusing doesn’t it?!

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Be like a squirrel!

Here are my 5 tips to renew yourself more gently…

  1. Certainly start eating more healthily and naturally if you feel you don’t already, but unless you have a few stone to lose for medical reasons, don’t bow to pressure of New Year marketing saying you must lose 10 pounds in a few days, this is not healthy and not necessary! If you need to, you’ll lose weight and keep it off with a few smaller changes.
  2. Gym memberships up the advertising this time of year and whilst there are better deals to be had now than at other times, ask yourself if you really need the gym and that power pumping exercise style? As we saw earlier, nature likes to slow down this time of year and be more restful…perhaps pilates, yoga or dance would more helpful as well as winter walks outside on frosty sunny days?
  3. I applaud all who want to learn new skills and better themselves, but we don’t have to master two languages, go on a cookery course, write a novel, learn flower arranging and knit a jumper all this month though! Choose the new activity that truly calls out to you. It may be the thing you thought you’d end up working as when you were a child…dance or gardening for example and then focus on that with all your heart instead of rushing between several things half-heartedly.
  4. Know that it’s ok to be quiet and restful. Christmas is viewed as a very social time which can be overwhelming for introverted or sensitive souls. Take this time of the year to reflect and restore the balance. Learn to like being in your own company, treat yourself well- make yourself your favourite dinner, make time to read a book you’ve wanted to for a while, and have lots of early nights.
  5. Remember that change can happen all the time. That’s the magic that we have within us, we have the power to make changes all the year round, not just in the mythologised January 1st or on a Monday! Saturdays at 3pm can work very well for making changes too if you have the right mindset!

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Finally, keep in mind that the New Year is only our New Year because some people in Rome decided it should be a long time ago. Ask if that feels right to your body and soul? Or whether you would prefer to tune in to another time of year that is truly about renewal and revitalising? I know I’ll be resting for a while longer before emerging restored and rebalanced ready for a beautifully active Spring and Summer!

To me, January is still a time for being more restful and nourishing and that’s how I intend to start my year. Being loving and kind to myself, not in guilt or punishment as I have in the past but finding balance and a different kind of motivation to start a new year of possibilities

Lots of love for the year ahead!

Best Wishes,

Bexi

xx

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

…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