Listen to your body! Liz Daffen for The Key to it All
After a redundancy from her corporate career Liz was keen to introduce more movement and exercise, and embarked on a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training. She has gone on to study more movement specialising in: Mat Pilates, pre-and post-natal Yoga and Pilates, Baby Yoga, older clients, GP referral, The Art of Sacred Sound and most recently Trance Dance Yoga!
Having experienced first-hand the benefits of yoga and Pilates for physical and mental health she enjoys sharing this with others. Working with many people with different abilities. The most important thing is: Breathing. Movement. Mindfulness.
I often hear myself say this in class, and it’s always much easier to say than do. Sometimes we have the capacity to listen and sometimes we ignore it. Taking part in a holistic class like Yoga really gives you the space to listen and tune into what you’re your body is saying. If you’ve spent years ignoring it, it may take a while to get to know it. How many times have you ignored those little niggles or warning signs and they have accumulated into something else? I’m guilty of this and I end up suffering from exhaustion. I’m much better now at building in time into my week to rest and do something creative. (2020 was an exception!) Building in rest to your weekly schedule is important, and rest can take many forms. Maybe it’s watching T.V, reading a book, going for a walk, sitting in the garden. There is an art to doing nothing. The best way to achieve it is to set an intention and book it in the diary.
Trust Your Gut.
It’s one thing to listen to your body, but do you also listen to your gut? Do you get a gut feeling about situations? The older I get the better I feel I can tune into my gut as a guide, but I need to give myself the space to do that. I often like to sleep on things and see how I feel in the morning, or go for a walk and/or meditate. Giving yourself space to think things through assists your brain in sorting and problem solving. Many scientists have come up with solutions whilst they haven’t been focussed on the task in hand. Probably the most famous ones are; Eureka! Archimedes in the bath, Sir Isaac Newton and the apple.
It demonstrates the importance of rest and play, by taking time away from a problem giving your brain chance to process things, often the answer will present itself like a bolt out of the blue. Eureka!
How many of you have had a life plan and it’s gone well? I’d say I only know a couple of people who’ve had a life plan that’s gone to plan, most of the time ‘Best laid plans of mice and men often go awry’ I’ve never been one to have a life plan as such, I’ve generally gone with the flow, which can mean you end up having some amazing experiences along the way, if you allow yourself to be open to opportunities. This approach might seem a bit too care free to those who know exactly what they want to do and how they’d like to get there but, if you combine it with intention setting it can be incredibly powerful.
When I took the very scary leap of going full time self-employed I decided I wanted to do a podcast, I didn’t get chance in 2019 as I was getting my head around how I wanted to work. I created a monthly review of what I wanted to achieve, reviewed it at the end of the month to track progress, and took note of what I wanted change. I really enjoyed this process and treated it like a monthly review in a corporate job. At the beginning of 2020 I set the intention of creating the podcast and started to form a solid idea for what it would be about. When the pandemic hit, I was given the gift of time to start delving into it more. If I’d not already set the intention and started thinking about how it would happen, this process would have taken a lot longer, but I’d given it time and energy. The same is true of any task you wish to achieve. Write it down, visualise what it will look like, and who it will appeal too. I really wish I’d been more aware of the power of intention setting when I was younger. I guess I’ve always been aware of setting goals, but in the last few years I believed the intentions, and that has been the game changer for me. Believe the intentions. Fears can often accompany intentions, be open to them and explore what those fears are. Are they rational or is it your confidence? Explore and play with your intentions. Dream big and write down how you’ll get there.
Fight or flight?
When the pandemic hit I very much acted in ‘fight’ mode rather than flight. I knew I needed to get online, and so I offered free online classes for the first two weeks, whilst we all figured out this new world together. I think I continued at that pace for quite a while, by the time October came around I realised I’d only taken 1 week off in Feb, and a long weekend in June. I was ready for a break. We booked a little weekend break away, sadly that coincided with another lockdown, so I booked myself in to an online retreat instead. It was pretty incredible, the fact that I’d given myself permission to stop and rest was just as good as having been on retreat in person.
What’s your default position when it comes to life’s challenges?
Looking back on previous experiences I often go into fight mode and this is my weak spot as I don’t then build time in time for resting and put myself at risk of burnout. Challenging times can mean it is hard to stop and rest, but think of it like a ‘fire breaker’ in a forest. The rest you take might still be something active, but it can help to reduce the cortisol levels in the system and reduce the stress on the body.
A change is as good as a rest.
Since the pandemic I’ve become more aware of my cycle of energy, it’s been interesting to observe. It’s worth trying this so you can track patterns and be more aware of why you perhaps have energy peaks and troughs. Is it linked to your cycle, or is it linked to lifestyle elements? I’ve probably always been aware of my energy cycles, but we are taught at school and in the work place that we need to be consistent. By trying to be consistent we perhaps ignore signs of how we need to look after ourselves.
The cycle of energy.For someone whose cycle is never consistent I can’t imagine trying to plan my calendar 6 months ahead to tie in with my cycle, so I have a consistent weekly plan of what I like to do and allow adjustments to be made according to my energy levels. I often advise people to listen to their bodies in Yoga and Pilates and do what feels right for them at that moment in time, not based on yesterday or last week, do what is right now. If I’m set to record content for my website and my energy is low, it just feels wrong, so I’ll postpone it to the following week or change the style I’d like to record. As soon as I change what I’m doing to match my energy, I feel a weight lifted and I feel much happier.
How to build in rest throughout the day.
I appreciate not everyone feels like they have this luxury of time, so how can you create rest during your day? Breathing. Movement. Mindfulness. Using these 3 pillars, which happen to be my core principles, build a list for each of these, for example…
Breathing – block out 5 minutes 1 to 3 times a day to focus just on the breath. Really just tuning into to the quality of the breath and seeing if you can use all of your lungs. Notice the effect it has on your body and mind.
Movement – plan a little bit of movement each day. I have a list in my diary of regular action I like to achieve each week: gym, walking, Yoga, Pilates, dance and ropes (The Way of the Rope) I like to mix up what I do and tailor it to something I want to work on, for example, at the moment I’d like to work on my upper body strength and improving my shoulder flexibility. I decided to learn the ropes in April to assist this goal, it’s fun, it gets me outdoors and it helps improve, strength, agility and flexibility. I love learning new things.
Mindfulness – this can be achieved in so many ways, from mindfully eating, drinking a coffee, exercising, listening to music, and being still. I’m not consistent in the activity of how I achieve this. This month I tried a little bit of embroidery and loved it, and I really felt the benefit of this mindful task. I like to tune into a guided meditation too, it’s always nice to have someone else talk you through, and sometimes I just like to be in the garden and sit and listen to the birds singing.
Book in time with yourself.
It’s all about building in time for you so you can get to know your own body and mind and work with it instead of against it. This will help you tune into your ‘gut feelings’, become aware of your cycles, and it can assist with sleep and problem solving.
Set your intentions of what you would like to achieve. You might already have a ritual to accompany this, you might do it by the new moon, you might do it at the start of each month. Note how your intention setting works for you and be aware of how it makes you feel. Does the intention make your heart sing? If you have a solid plan, allow it to be flexible. All the best plans change and adapt as time goes on.
Book an appointment with yourself – I like to book out time on a Friday afternoon for 3 hours. I can do whatever I want in this time. This works even if you’re in an office. Block out the time so no one else can book you.
You can go and have a coffee, book in a phone call with someone, take some time to breath, move and be mindful, plan something creative, you might even just want to finish off a piece of work to complete a deadline. Knowing that you have this ‘free creative time’ is great for the mindset. I find my mind is just happy knowing it has playtime ahead and to do and be whatever feels right at that time.
How will you carve out time for yourself today or this week?
You can find Liz here:-