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Yoga, Lifestyle and Travel Blog

Monday 26th June, 2017

How real is social media?

I would like to ask your opinion. How real is social media?

 

Have you ever wasted 2, 3, maybe even 4 hours deep in Instagram or another social media platform looking at other peoples lives and wondering how they got so lucky? How can they constantly be on holiday? How can they be out partying until 6am and still look flawless? How can they afford all of those expensive clothes? How did they land that dream job? and my personal favourite- why don't they have any fat rolls, cellulite or spots?? grrrr....

I know I have.

 

The lifestyle illusions that social media can create makes you question yourself and your life. I'm sure this is true of men and boys aswell but being a woman I can only speak for the gender that I am. A lot of women (if not all of us, if we are honest) compare ourselves and our lives to other women. It's crazy, we have so many pressures in our lives already and now we have social media. With the rise of social media, we literally have access to a weapon of mass destruction to our self esteem 24/7.   

When I started my Instagram account (@edenhotyoga) in 2014, I vowed to be authentic and real. Being a sufferer of clinical depression it's not always easy to articulate exactly how I feel and I imagined that it would be an uncomfortable read for some, so until last year I decided not to open up about my struggles. This was mostly to do with social media. I would see other girls profiles and just think "is that how I'm supposed to look" or "is that how I'm supposed to feel?" "Wow, I can't look like that, I don't feel like that". Instead, i'll keep quiet about how I actually feel and fit the mould. Although I never airbrushed any of my photos (I don't own photoshop and I have never used it), sometimes I would change the light and add a filter to make the picture look more appealing. I conformed to the pressures.

So why is it that we feel these insecurities in the first place? At school I can't remember a time when I felt life changingly insecure. I didn't grow up with social media, I think I was 15 or 16  when I first set up my Facebook account. But from this point, I have become conditioned to believe that my successfulness and happiness would be highly depenedant on my attractiveness. I've seen endless magazines celebrating drastic weight-loss that is actually unhealthy, and I have been around people who have been nipped and tucked to look 20 years younger. Truth is- if we are insecure, we become a motivated consumer. We can be sold an anti-wrinkle cream at the age of 15. We find ourselves suddenly wanting a new foundation that promises to make us look airbrushed. I could go on. In essence, some brands want us to feel insecure to help sell their products to us.

I felt more freedom when I excepted the fact that I was never going to fit into the narrow mould that social media and society wanted me to fit in. I was never going to fit into an industry that demands perfection form the outside- in and I no longer want to keep quiet about my struggles with mental illness and how Yoga has helped change my life. Here's how we can educate ourselves and the people we love to practice self care. Initially by realising that social media has its benefits but sometimes it's not real. Sometimes the profiles that you see are just an illusion of happiness, a filtered, often airbrushed, fictional highlight of somebody's 'perfected' life. Everyday, we should speak to our bodies with respect, learn to love it and embrace the things that make us unique. It's the only body you have and it's your home. Watch your life positively grow when you give up the pursuit of happiness, because the real beauty ideal, is being imperfectly you. 

Love and light, 

Rachel 

Monday 3rd July, 2017

Self Care- Learning how to let go

of negativity

"You are fat. You are ugly. You have too many wrinkles. Your cellulite is taking over your lower body. You are disgusting. You have stretch marks. You are not worthy."

That's what millions and millions of people say to themselves in the mirror everyday (or words to that effect.) That’s what I used to say to myself every day before I realised that my body is not an ornament and it deserved more. 


We have a global issue right now and that is Body Loathing. I, like so many women, have struggled to love who I am. I too have stood in front of a mirror and picked out all of my 'flaws'. I too have compared myself to other people, wishing I were a little more like them. This is wrong. We need to be changing the conversations that we are having with ourselves. Instead, we should be saying " You are bold, You are beautiful, You are courageous, You are loving"....  but how? 

October 2016, I wrote my gratitude list.

 

A gratitude list is a list of everything that is good about your life. Everything that you are thankful for. Health, Family, Friends, Career, Hobbies etc. Every time I start to feel disconnected, insecure or judgemental about myself and how I look, I will take a look at my gratitude list to help remind me of the good things that I have in my life. It's easy to let negative demons take over your mind and manifest if you allow them to, so if you can, try to realise what it is that makes you go from feeling 'positive' to feeling 'negative' and stop it before it manifests. I urge you to invest in yourself right now. If you can learn self care you can teach self care. You can inspire others around you to start to love themselves too. 

We as women are programmed to tell each other that we are 'not fat' because to many people (men and women) society has turned the word 'fat' into a synonym for ugly. That is not true. We all have something about ourselves that society would define as 'imperfect' and tells us we should feel shame about. We think that we somehow have to magically become confident to be able to change something but really this is backward thinking. Confidence is a product of action. If I had to wait to have the confidence to do something, I would never be able to get out of bed in the morning. Confidence will come as a reward, as a building block of our actions. We often think that being confident and being happy should be as easy as switching on a light. "Just do it, just love yourself, just be happy." But its not that easy- its not like switching on a light. It's more like stumbling towards a motion sensor light, in the dark. You have to advance forward to a target that you can't see but trust that you will ultimately get there. The universe is ironic because the only thing that will turn that light on is your movement and your actions. Every time you are stumbling, scrambling and spinning you are actually doing the hard part, you are making a difference even if you can't pin point your progress - you are. If you make a commitment to live a shame-free life and if you are deliberate in choosing this, you will find yourself illuminated. 

 

What I'm saying in this blog is not a break through, it's things that you've heard before I'm sure but we need to work together to redefine the global vision of beauty and it starts by becoming your own role model, by being kind to yourself and respecting the body that you are in. True beauty comes from within and validation and self worth must also come from within. In my lowest moments of insecurity this is when I realised that I had to reclaim my body and its image as my own. I believe that beauty is beyond size and the physical appearance and with so much emphasis on size and the external it's no wonder that we are struggling inside. It is incredibly important that both men and women create a body positive environment for ourselves and each other. 

 

Being beautiful is a decision you make. Most of us sit around waiting for permission, affirmation or some significant other to swoop in and tell us that we are worthy and that we are beautiful. It doesn't have to be that way. It shouldn't be that way. It is always, always your decision. 

Love and light, 

Rachel 

Monday 10th July, 2017

Time management-how to gain control of your free time

Firstly, just because I'm writing this blog about time management, doesn't mean that I'm always on time for everything. I'm not. I've noticed this recently, so I've started reading hints and tips on how to save time here and there. The idea is that we can shave bits of time off everyday activities, add it all up so we have time for the good stuff. Here are a few of the tips I've read so far...

1.) Do errands in a way that you only have to make left hand turns. 

2.) If a microwave meal says 4 - 4 1/2 minutes, always go for the lower time.

3.) Record all of your favourite shows so you can fast forward through all the adverts (which makes sense on some level).

The ideas above and many more will indeed save bits of time here and there but after doing more research and looking into how successful people manage their time, I think we might have this backwards. 

I remember a story I was told a few months ago when I went to a business seminar in London. There was a lady (I cant remember her name now) who ran a study or rather a time diary project, that looked into the lives of extremely busy women (children, demanding jobs, own business, community commitments etc). She had them all keep track of their time over a certain amount of weeks so she could add up how many hours they worked and slept etc. One of the women she studied went to work one day and came home to find her boiler was broken and water all over the lower level floor in her house. She dealt with the immediate aftermath that night and then for the next few days she had professional cleaners and plumbers in to fix the problem. This was recorded on her time log and showed that the whole incident ended up taking 6 hours of her week. Before this happened, I'm sure if you would have asked her if she could find 6 hours to train for a 10k run or 6 hours to mentor 4 worthy people, she would have said what most us would have said; "No, I'm too busy". Yet when she had to find 6 hours because there was water all over the floor in her house, she found 6 hours. What this shows us is that time is highly elastic. We cannot make more time but time can stretch to accommodate what we put into it. The key to time management is treating our priorities as the equivalent of that broken boiler. 

For instance, everything you do, every minute you spend is your choice. Rather than saying "you don't have time for something " you could say, "Im not doing it because its not a priority." Sounds harsh but when you say "I don't have time" this often means its not a priority. I could tell you that I dont have time to clean out the cupboard under the stairs but if you offered me £20,000 to do it I would get to it rather quickly but since that isn't going to happen its not a matter of lacking time, its more I don't want to do it. There may be consequences for making different choices- granted but we are smart people and certainly over the long run we have the power to fill our lives with the things that deserve to be there. 

A strategy that could help you to realise what priorities you have is something called a three category priority list. Career, Relationship, Self. Making a three category list reminds us that there should be something in all three columns. It's easy to prioritise career and relationships but sometimes harder to priorities something for our selves. This can be done weekly or monthly to suit and maybe just a few things to start with. Where you plan your priorities in is up to you and I know this may be harder for some people (I don't want to minimise anybodies struggle) but there are 168 hours in a week. That is a lot of time. 

What I do believe is that there is time. Even if we are busy, we still have time for what matters and if we focus on what matters we can build the lives we want with the time we have. 

Love and light,

Rachel xx

Monday 17th July, 2017

Me and Yoga-

my personal journey

I've been really open with my struggles with mental health and depression recently on social media. Put bluntly depression is the real reason I started my Yoga Journey 12 years ago. It's surreal to think of depression in a positive light, but for me it has played a huge part in shaping the person I am today. However, I've decided that I would prefer to dedicate more time to mental health in another blog (or 10). It is something that is so close to my heart and such a delicate issue that I feel it deserves more than just a brief mention. In this blog I would like to share with you my personal experience and my relationship with Yoga.

I was familiar with the word 'Yoga' from very young age. Without really understanding what it was, I just knew my mom was 'off to Yoga' and she couldn't live without it. When I was 16 I began working in a Leisure Centre close to my home. At that time the Centre didn't have any Yoga classes on the timetable but it was something that was requested by their members daily. I often overheard management talking about 'Yoga' and how they knew of nobody who could teach it so I started researching and convinced myself that I could be the person they wanted. I enrolled for the first course that I found, which ended up being a 2 day "Fitness Yoga" course. I started teaching immediately after the course and numbers started to increase steadily but my heart was not in it. I was not teaching these people because I loved Yoga or because I understood what Yoga was or because I was knowledgeable and experienced. I guess I just wanted to get away from the front desk and please management. I was not a Yoga teacher in any way shape or form - this was not a Yoga course that I had attended. It actually makes me cringe now thinking back. I remember a lady asking me what style of yoga I was teaching - I just said "Normal Yoga, isn't it all the same?" The lady politely smiled at me as though she knew I was just bluffing my way through these classes. When I was diagnosed with Clinical Depression at the age of 18 I had no idea that it would be Yoga that changed my whole existence. That was when Yoga started to mean something to me. 

 

Fast forward 6 years and I'm 24 years old. I had recovered from bouts of depression and invested a lot of time educating myself about the intricate studies of Yoga and spirituality. I had also completed my first 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) course. I had continued teaching Yoga classes once, maybe twice a week in other gyms and community centres from 17-24. In all honesty during that stage I had an on and off self-practice with very little meditation (mostly when I felt like I needed it). I was a Personal Trainer so a lot of my time was spent in a gym and also studying at University (I used to convince myself I was too busy to do yoga everyday). I finished my University degree and was given a £10,000 bursary to continue studying. I decided to do a PGCE in Secondary School Physical Education which I completed but in doing this was stretched to my absolute max (mentally and physically). I knew I wanted something different for myself. At the time, I remember thinking I was slipping back into depression. This was my turning point. I decided to catapult myself into Yoga in a way I never thought was possible. I knew Yoga had given me freedom from my overly active mind and saved me once before and at this point my gut was telling me to listen again. Yoga became my whole life. I gave up my job (personal training and massage therapist) and opened my first Yoga Studio. I didn't care about making money, I wanted to help people who had experienced similar things to me because I knew I could make a difference to their lives too. I never wanted the studio to be 'just another yoga studio'. I have always visualised creating a community where like minded people could come together to connect on a deeper level. When I opened the studio, classes were sold out instantly. I had to turn people away from almost every class, everyday. The studio had been open for one month before I closed it for 4 days, expanded and re-opened allowing me to teach 52 people in one class. I wanted to be successful, I dreamt of it, I was completely driven by it but not in the way you would imagine. I measured my success by how many people left my classes feeling happy and how many people I could connect with with the potential of igniting their Yoga journey's. Most people in my classes knew absolutely nothing about Yoga but had just heard of it. Most had never done Yoga before and like me at the start, thought of Yoga as another form of exercise. I think that Yoga is like a light which once lit will never go out. The better your practice, the brighter the flame. It took me years to create a deep connection with it. I would come and go from the practice until one point I realised I needed it in my life and It's not another form of exercise. It might not click straight away, but once you ignite the light it will remain with you. 

Fast forward another 4 and a half years, I'm now 29. I have just completed my 500 hour Senior Yoga Teacher Training, I have two successful Yoga studios, I've recently ran my first 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training programme and I have 16 instructors, receptionists and admin staff who help and support me create this community. Without them I would have nothing. Yoga is thoroughly ingrained in my life in many aspects and I will be eternally grateful for all that it has given me. I personally teach Yoga to hundreds of people every week and I am able to connect with almost 12,000 people everyday via Instagram alone. I didn't even know this was my dream. Genuinely. I didn't even know this was what I wanted to do as a career. If you would have asked me at 16 what I wanted to be it was an Interior Designer but somehow I am here in this place writing to you about my journey hoping to inspire you to start or continue yours. That feels surreal. 

My everyday practice varies. Even though I own two Yoga studios, I mostly practice at home in my sacred space. In all honesty, I personally love to practice Yoga with a teacher leading. I practice usually between 30 mins to two hours per day with a heavy focus on meditation. There are many things that can affect my practice (usually life situations and emotions) so I sit in meditation at the start and make observations about how my mind and my physical body is feeling. I allow this to initiate how I move (or sit). Having practiced Yoga for a long time now, I feel more conscious and I have a developed a deeper understanding of myself so I can tailor my practice to fit the ever evolving needs of my mind, body and spirit. If I had to pick one style, I guess my favourite right now is Vinyasa Flow which integrates alignment and core work but also allowing space for me to move freely into all the tight corners of my body. It's pretty obvious from my Instagram posts that I also enjoy the challenge of handstands too!

If you're new to Yoga there are lots of different styles to try. If you prefer a gentler, softer paced class I would recommend to try either Yin Yoga, Hatha Yoga or maybe even a beginner's Yoga class. If you're looking for something a little more challenging you could try styles like a dynamic Vinyasa, Power Yoga or Rocket Yoga. In the beginning don't worry about doing everything right. Yoga is about getting out of your head not worrying about what you look like and if you're doing things correctly. If there isn't a studio near you or you aren't ready for the group setting, there are plenty of online yoga platforms that you could try. I would highly recommend www.oneoeight.com - It's a online platform for Yoga, Meditation and Healing.

So what is Meditation, why is it so powerful? I'll leave that question for my next blog. See you next week!

Love and light,

Rachel 

Monday 24th July, 2017

What is meditation?

a beginners guide

Starting a meditation practice can sometimes be more daunting than starting a physical Yoga practice. If you were to ask me what meditation meant to me four years ago I would be giving a very different answer to what I do today. Essentially, Yoga (the physical Asana (posture) practice) is the preparation for meditation. Moving with the breath, focusing intently and working hard to take our bodies into places we possibly have never been to before, forces us to become present- we have no choice but to become present. The present moment is the only place when life exists. When you’re in a balancing posture for instance, staying focused on what you are doing is not very difficult because you have to, right? or else you'll lose balance. But meditation? finding a quiet space, sitting comfortably without moving (not even scratching an itch), closing your eyes and spending just a few minutes alone with yourself? Terrifying. I know. Through this blog, I'd like share with you this important part of my daily practice.

 

So what is Meditation?

 

Well, meditation is essentially, paying attention to the present moment, on purpose, without judgement. Meditation is not about 'switching your mind off' because that is impossible. Even when you're sleeping you're still dreaming. Instead, it's really about finding stillness in the mind and being in control of what you think about. Which for most people may feel like trying to tame a wild tiger.

 

Let me ask you a question. Is your mind busy? and by that I mean do you experience 'noise' in your mind day in, day out, without fail? If you're saying 'yes' right now, your mind is exactly the same as mine was and you need to meditate. If you're unsure, take a while to observe your mind- maybe just 10 minutes. Acknowledge where your mind goes to and if it switches from thought to thought, opinion to opinion, past to future etc..  Then you'll realise that you too need to meditate. We are all the same. 

 

I'd like to ask you just one more question. Have you ever tried sitting in stillness for a full hour? If you have, you'll appreciate that physically, it’s extremely demanding. With a tight, tense body the hips and lower back will start to bother you in no time at all, and it’s distracting. As I've previously said, the physical asana practice sprouted as a way to prepare our bodies for sitting in silence and complete stillness. The asana itself is not the goal. Becoming flexible is not the goal. Doing a handstand is not the goal. Touching your toes is not the goal. Stillness is the goal! Learning how to truly be at peace with yourself is the goal! 

The first thing to do is to let go of expectation (and ego). Do not expect to be able to sit in meditation for a full hour in complete stillness straight away. You won't be able to. Instead try the exercise below. It only requires five minutes of your time which is more than enough to start you off. Practicing meditation works the same way as the physical asana practice in that we need to practice and practice and practice. Remember the first time you took your body into a downward facing dog and how difficult it was? Do you remember your first ever Yoga class where you didn't have to rest in child's pose for 20 minutes just to catch your breath? Well, sitting in silence works in exactly the same way. It will be difficult at first (it definitely was for me), but the more you practice, the easier it will get, and the easier it gets the more you'll want to do it. Meditation helps to create space between you and the life situations you find yourself in. Meditation brings stillness by calming the central nervous system. It helps to improve focus, wisdom, strength and much more. It's all about practice, honestly it is.

Find a quiet place to be where you won't be disturbed. No children, no animals, no tv, no phone- nothing. They say that sitting either crossed legged, legs stretched out or sitting in a chair is the best way to meditate because when you lie down there can be a temptation to drift off to sleep. I feel like you should do what works for you. Sitting doesn't suit everybody. I usually meditate lying down and when I teach a class i'll allow my students to lie down too. If you are seated though, I would recommend to place a small pillow or a folded blanket beneath your sit bones – if you are in a seated position for a while, the most comfortable way to sit is by having the creases of your hips slightly higher than your knees. If your are lying down, ensure that you are comfortable. Allow your feet to roll out to the sides. Relax your hips, shoulders, arms, muscles in your face, jaw- everything. I usually wrap a blanket around myself and wear socks because I get cold easy. Set a timer for five minutes (or how ever long you'd like) – having a set time frame helps your mind settle. Let your hands rest onto the knees, palms up or palms down what ever you like. Lengthen your spine and draw the shoulders down your back. Now, close your eyes.

 

Focus on the flow of the natural breath. Try not to hold onto it or change it in any way. Start to notice the gentle expansion and contraction of the low belly - swelling as you inhale and softening as your exhale. Feel the flow of air through your nostrils and observe any subtle changes to the body. Begin to direct your awareness to the small space that you have between the two sides of the breath; the pause between the inhale and the exhale, and the gap between the exhale and the inhale. Stay very, very present with your breath. When thoughts arise and your mind drifts away, don’t judge. Allow them to be there without resistance. Guide your mind back to your breath. Don’t identify yourself with what comes and goes through your head. Be the watcher of your thoughts instead. See if you can, through conscious awareness of the breath, create more space in between each thought. Stay here. Breathe. Be present. When your five minutes have finished remember to bring your hands together at your hearts centre and extend gratitude to everyone and everything you have to be grateful for in life. Open your eyes and round the corners of your mouth into a smile. You deserve it. 

I often journal after I have meditated. I write down how I felt whilst I meditating (it's a good idea to write how you felt before and also how you feel after you've meditated too). I make a note of any movements I made, if I became distracted by anything, if any re-occuring thoughts entered my mind and anything else that happened which felt significant.  

Set aside time every day to do this. Make it a priority! Gradually increase the time you sit in silence until you’re comfortable meditating for 20 minutes each day. The key is consistency. If you practice meditation you will be rewarded in many ways. 

Love and light,

Rachel

x

Wednesday 3rd January, 2018

Setting your New Years 

resolutions and sticking to them.

First of all Happy New Year! I hope you've all had a wonderful festive period filled with happiness and love. I spent Christmas and New Year at home this year with my family but last minute decided to escape to my family home in Lanzarote for a few days of winter sun before the studio opens fully again on Saturday the 6th of January. I've been travelling to Lanzarote every year since I was 13. My parents loved it so much they decided to design and build their own home here. So whenever we can, we escape the madness and the cold weather and spend a few days around the pool and basking in the year round sunshine. I'm never too far away from my laptop so this morning I decided to wake up early practice Yoga and write a blog about how to stick to your New Years resolutions. I spent a while deciding on my personal resolutions this year. I often like to make resolutions by categories. Personal life, Wellbeing, Relationships and Business. This Blog is specific to practicing Yoga but you can apply the theory to whatever your intentions are. If you come from a place of abundance, you will be rewarded with more abundance.

 

Did you know that over 80% of New Year’s resolutions never see the light of February? That’s because they tend to be a bit abstract. It’s great to set big goals and have an abundance of intentions, but you need to define concrete steps that’ll help you reach them. Making a list of what you want to accomplish this year and breaking them down into achievable steps is a great way to set yourself up for success. If practicing more Yoga and mindfulness is one of your goals, I'm here to get you started. 

Step 1
If you're serious about this, invest in yourself. If you buy yourself a 3 month pass at Eden Hot Yoga  (or see what offers your local Yoga studio has on right now) you'll not only be saving yourself a lot of money but you'll also have a commitment so you'll feel more inclined to come to class. 

Step 2
Instead of racing like a bull at at gate and booking onto every single class on the schedule, sit down with your personal timetable and be realistic about what you can commit to. When you've decided what classes you can attend, book onto them (for our studio you can easily book on through our website or through the mind body app) and think of them like really important meetings at work that you can't cancel. Write them in your planner in advance if it helps so you don't forget. 

Step 3 
If you haven't already, invest in a really decent Yoga mat. There are lots of really good Yoga mats on the market but most are not designed for Warm or Hot Yoga. I suggest the Liforme Yoga Mat. Our teachers and most of our regular clients will practice on one of these mats. We sell them at the studio and right now (until January 14th) , we have 10% off. Initially it may seem like a lot of money for a Yoga mat but this mat will completely change your practice- you'll never want to go back to a standard mat or towel again. If you practice on a specialised Liforme Yoga mat, you won't be distracted by slipping once the sweat arrives and you won't have to constantly re-adjust your towel because its moved. You can also get more out of your practice by using the carefully designed alignment lines printed onto this eco mat (our teachers, or your yoga studios teachers can show you how to correctly use your mat). It's an investment that will keep on giving. 

Step 4
Get your things ready for class early. You'll need to prepare suitable clothes for the class, a bottle of water, your yoga mat and a towel. Keep them in your car if you have to.

Step 5
Even with the best of intentions, there will come a day when you don't feel motivated to go to class. Maybe you've had a really tiring day at work, your boss has been in your ear all day or the children have been driving you crazy and all you feel like doing is drinking a glass (or bottle) of wine once the madness has gone. You may not realise this, but those are actually the days that you need to practice Yoga more. You'll feel a lot better for making the effort to practice and for keeping the commitment to yourself. Lets be honest, have you ever left a Yoga class thinking... I really wish I hadn't have done that, I feel worse now??. NO. You only ever feel more relaxed, more connected with yourself and with the present moment and like you can take on the World (whatever your world throws at you). 

Step 6 
Use the power of social media to stay more focused and inspired. There are so many amazing influencers in the world who can help you stay focused (especially on those days that your own strength simply isn't enough). My personal Instagram account (edenhotyoga) is dedicated to practicing Yoga and writing blogs about how to enhance your life and there are many more just like mine (ill link mine below). Spend a little more time finding people who you can resonate with and feel inspired by.  

Step 7
Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. You're worth it. Stay in touch with me and let me know how you're getting on. This is the beginning of anything you want. 

 

 

 


 

Love and light, 

Rachel 

xx

Thursday 22nd February, 2018

Feeling fear and doing it anyways.

How I reduce anxiety when I'm travelling (alone).

 

Here I am again. Sitting in a breakfast bar in Lower East Side, New York, Alone. I arrived early last night and immediately went to Central Park because the sun was still shining.  Afterwards, I took a Y7 Yoga class (which was a totally different experience in itself) and walked back to where I am staying (via a pizza place) and started to write this blog about how I’ve cured my anxiety for travelling around the world by myself. Travelling alone is something I love to do now. I never used to. I avoided it. Seriously, I never used to even like to go to the shops alone. I was so bad that I used to beg somebody to come with me to the toilet with me if I was at a restaurant or bar with a group of people. My anxiety used to be through the roof in ANY social setting. The thought of travelling alone TERRIFIED me. Being truthful, the thought of being alone anywhere frightened me. Iroically, as soon as I got home all I wanted to do was be by myself. I was easily irritated by everybody around me. Depression had consumed me and controlled every part of my life. Until a few years ago. 

 

It’s a strange thing really, we go on holiday or we often travel as a way of relaxing and yet on our way, we encounter so many different places of stress and different situations that create anxiety. Whether its waiting at the airport, travelling on a plane or somewhere else on our journey, there are so many ways in which you can experience stress. Some of it is inevitable but most of we can avoid because so much of it has to do with how we are approaching it in our minds. If you’re on plane (or another mode of transport) for many, many hours your anxiety has time to really latch on and intensify. Theres a sense of ‘waiting’ and theres an idea that our relaxation, or our trip doesn’t actually begin until we finally reach our destination and we make it to our hotel room or wherever else we are staying. Almost like the journey itself is a huge inconvenience. So by the time we get to the other end, we are almost desperate just to get off the plane and to actually get ‘there’ that we rush and begin to panic. That desperation has come from no where else but our own minds. In essence, we have done that to ourselves. We can avoid this when were travelling simply by recognising that you’ve already began your holiday from the moment you leave your house. It is not something that will happen in the future, it is something that is already happening right here, right now. By acknowledging that, it can really take away some of the intensity that comes with the ‘waiting’. We spend so much of our lives on the move and yet here we have an opportunity to be still, for a moment. Maybe were not making the most of that opportunity, maybe were not taking full advantage of it? I know it's tempting to think, ‘I just need to get through it’, ‘I just need to get there’, but we can’t speed this process up. So why not try to enjoy it.

 

Coming back to the rhythm of the breath in the body or what ever else helps you to direct your focus on the present moment will help you. 

 

 

In simple terms, getting the most from travelling (and life) is all about being present. Realising this was the changing point for me. Even just focusing on the breath and the physical body as a way of feeling a little more grounded, a little more present helps too. Bring your attention to the present moment. Whether you are sitting on a plane, a bus, taxi, walking or sitting in a breakfast bar it doesn’t matter. If we bring our attention to that moment, we will see things that open our eyes, things that interest us, things that are new.  By bringing a sense of curiosity and enquiry to these situations theres something that happens to the mind. Everything just feels so different when you travel that the experience cuts through the everyday chatter in the mind. If we bring that same kind of idea, that same sort of experience to everything that we do we really have the opportunity to transform our experiences altogether. Another import thing to recognise is that we can’t control everything that goes on around us. That's part of the stress of travelling, especially when you travel alone. There's so much that we can’t control, we are relying heavily on everybody else around us and even though there are set periods of time where we have to be in certain places, most of travelling is out of our hands. So even though we can't control everything that goes on around us, what we can do, is change the way we perceive things. In changing that, we can change everything. It's a choice that we have in many ways. When we get stressed or anxious travelling, it's so often because we are trying to get to a place in the future rather than taking in the space around us, noticing the subtalities, the differences, the things that are going on right in this moment, in this present moment here.  

 

If I feel my anxiety building, what I personally like to do is to bring my attention to the sensation of my feet on the floor as way of achoring and grounding myself. There's something really solid and comforting about it. It's the sense of coming out of the mind and being transported into the environment that I am in. I find that to be a really useful skill to have. 

 

When I travel, I like to take my comfort items with me to help ease any anxiety. In my hand luggage I always take a blanket (even if I’m going to a hot country), my white heart pillow ( I use it every night at home), an eye mask, a bottle of water, my laptop, ear phones, a book, pre- made sandwiches (plane food isn’t always great), my tooth brush, antibacterial gel, wipes and some sweets for take off and landing (my mom once told me the movement of chewing helps to equalise when the altitude is changing, I don’t know if that true or not but I love anything sweet so they’re coming with me regardless). If you're anxious about travelling alone, I would suggest travelling to somewhere close by initially, maybe just over night. Take little steps. When that starts to feel comfortable, try going some where further afield. It's important that you build your confidence up slowly so rather than planning a world round trip for a year, make a list of all the places you would like to visit and start small.  Also, be okay with staying in your hotel room one night if you really want to. Don't feel like you have to do something every second of everyday. Try to listen to your body as much as you can an honour it. allow yourself permission to stay in one night,  watch a film and order take away if you want to and be okay with that. Also, grant yourself permission to make plans and cancel them. That's okay too. Fear will try to consume you at some points but try bringing yourself back to the present rather than extending your mind into the 'what if's' of the future. Try to find security in the present moment in anyway that you can. Carrying with us this idea of being present has the ability to not only dissolve stress and anxiety but to also opens our minds so that travelling becomes and exciting, enjoyable, fullfuilable experience. The same way it did when we were children. We somehow lose the ability to feel carefree as we get older, mainly because we're living in our minds rather than living in our physical bodies and the environment around us. 

The world is your lobster. Go for it! 

Love and light, 

Rachel 

xx