November 1st, 2013

Do you consider yourself enough?

I haven’t written for a while, have I?  Where does the time go? And even though I haven’t written to you all I have be thinking about you, my faithful readers so, here I am sat on a balcony in the French Alps surrounded by snow capped mountains and blue sky.  I am away skiing and have been on the slopes until 2pm and am now taking a break and enjoying the peace that comes from this place.  There is a tall pine tree in front of me, and the snow comes right up to the lower branches.  Every roof I can see is covered with snow and the mountains in the background are all in black and white with the sun making amazing shadow patterns across the crags and ravines.  All I can hear is birdsong from the little birds as they fly from tree to tree and the drip, drip of the water as it runs from the snow covered roofs and down the gutter to join the streams that are appearing on the mountainside as the snow transforms to water in the sunshine. The tapping of my keyboard is the only other noise which tells me that I have things to share and hopefully some of this will resonate especially with those of you who are HSP’s [highly sensitive people] and working out how to make sense of your lives. Sitting here allows to me to consider the ways in which I hide my sensitivity and I wonder how many ways you do too?

I skied for many years with the same group of lovely people,  our kids all grew up together and enjoyed fun in the snow.  We used to be up early and out to catch the first lifts up the mountan and skied till we dropped, and then would stay up chatting in the evening and then up again the next day to ski again etc etc.  I used to get home after the holiday and feel completely exhausted and I didn’t understand why, I used to want another holiday to recover! What I realise today is how I made myself keep up with everyone else, I couldn’t ‘let the side down’. I wanted to fit in, wanted to be the same and yet every holiday I would get back home so very tired.  Today I realised just how I put my own needs on hold back then, I didn’t listen to my inner voice, and I didn’t listen to my body, I really hid my own needs in order to be liked and included. Actually it was all a little too much and I would have liked to have taken some time for me at some point during the day.  Do you ever do that?  Do you find that you can be a chameleon and you fit in with a situation and or people, even when you know that deep inside its not ok for you?

So let’s do a little experiment, a little self hypnosis……

Just take a moment, close your eyes…… take a deep breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Feel your shoulders drop down…. Feel your body begin to let go……Allow the out breath to be twice as long as in the in breath and exhale really slowly, blowing slowly, slowly out …. And repeat several times…..  and then just ask yourself these questions….

Where do I feel most the comfortable?

Think of a situation where you were really happy, contented, peaceful, in touch with yourself… for some of you it may be on a beach, for others, it may be in your bed, in a forest, on a mountain, by a waterfall  or you could even make a place up… but here’s the important piece… really get in touch with what’s happening on the inside, deep inside, notice how you feel, be curious, be aware, what does this feeling feel like, realy take your attention al the way down, on the inside….. and now give it a name… it could be ‘peaceful’, it could be ‘warm’, it could be ‘calm’, could be ‘in touch’, joy, ME, whatever it is will be perfectly right just for you and sit with that and get to know it, really get to know it well.

Now think of a situation where you found yourself somewhere or with someone and wished you weren’t there.

What does that feel like?  The same as the above situation or different?  What does that feeling feel like, do you want more of it?  I didn’t think you would!  So what would happen if you had an invitation and noticed  ‘this feeling’ on the inside and it meant you didn’t want to go or the situation just wasn’t compelling enough.  Would that change the way you respond?’  If you felt that feeling even for a fleeting moment would you hesitate before you said ‘yes please’’? Would that give you enough time to ask yourself, ‘Do I really want this’?  Could I say ‘no’, or ‘I would rather not’. Could you say something that honoured you and the other person?  How would that go?   It might go like this… ‘I really appreciate you asking me to …. and on this occasion it doesn’t feel right for me, and please ask me again’.  Getting in touch with what’s right for you and also gets you a win win situation creates a lot more comfort than being dishonest to yourself and others.  And doing this is a little like exercising a muscle, the more you use it the easier and stronger it becomes.

The final part is this, there may be situations that require a ‘maybe’ answer.. they are not a ‘I would rather not’ and not a ‘yes’ they are a ‘maybe’, can you feel what’s that’s like?

Can you think of a situation where you are just not sure of what to answer.  You don’t get the ‘happy’ feeling on the inside and you don’t get the ‘no’ feeling either it’s kind of in between.. well, that’s a call for more information so start to ask some really good questions, in fact brilliant questions.. first of all think ‘what do I need to know about this situation that will allow me to make a good decision’?
Imagine that you have been asked to go on holiday with a friend, the place seems interesting but you have a ‘don’t know’ going on… ask yourself what needs to happen for me to have a good time?   Your brilliant questions may be ‘ will I have my own room’?, ‘Will I have space in the evening for myself’’? ‘Will  we be go out to eat in the evening’? ‘How does the week need to work out’? ‘What would happen on your ideal holiday if you were to go away with this friend’?

Each question you ask, gives you more information, keep asking both yourself and your friend until you have enough information so that you can either answer ‘yes’ or ‘I would rather not’..

So begin to consider…..How valuable and honest is your ‘yes ‘if you don’t say ‘no’?

Do you adapt to situations and put your own needs at risk?  And when you do that, what happens to you on the inside, to your spirit to your heart, to your very own self?

If you say yes when you really want to say no, are there certain circumstances when this happens, or with certain people, or do you do it most of the time?  What can you notice and learn about that?

Keep increasing your awareness about yourself and you will find you are also increasing your awareness around others.  Keep being curious, its like life blood, it leads to wonder, it leads to new possibilities……

Till next time, take care
Love Ali

Ali Plowright


November 1st, 2013

Overwhelm and tension and self-awareness…

Hi Everyone

I hope February, is a good start for the year for you. The weather seems to be as unpredictable as our feelings can sometimes be.  I’ve just returned from an amazing month away and want to share some of it with you… there were lots of lessons and learnings that came out of this particular trip and I will share these with you over a several blogs, and here goes with the first one…

Overwhelm and tension and self-awareness…

My reasons for travelling were two fold, to spend time with my son in Delhi and to do some voluntary work in Bhutan. My son Adam lives and works in New Delhi, India. He is a journalist and moved there at the end of July. I also have a colleague who invited me to go to Bhutan to do some voluntary work and the two seemed to fit nicely together so I formed a plan : ) and a great plan it was. I stayed in India for 12 days, then 10 days in Bhutan and a further 4 days in India, the breakdown was perfect and gave me, an HSP, time to get used to where I was, to learn how things worked in a different environment and had some amazing experiences!

Travelling gave me the luxury of time, to become even more aware of myself and others and to notice when my overwhelm kicked in and how to coach and manage myself.

I arrived in Delhi on Christmas Eve at 6.30am. The flight was fine, I had flown in via Helsinki and because of the cold snowy weather my time in Helsinki was slightly longer than planned. I came out of baggage collection in Delhi a bit bleary eyed and tired and was greeted by so many faces and so much colour and noise that I just didn’t know where to look. It was fascinating and I was also pinching myself to make sure I was really there, my body was but I have learned that it takes my mind a while to catch up, and it was probably still in Youlgrave packing my case.

Now for those of you who have read Elaine Aran’s book ‘The Highly Sensitive Person’ you will know that there is a type of HSP who loves sensation, well that’s me, always up for a new experience, food, people, cultures, I love it… so here I am at Delhi airport and its amazingly fascinating and I just don’t know where to look next… the level of noise was incredible, the hooting of horns, shouting, loud conversation, and all the different faces, they all held my attention, different colours, some with turbans some without, the different coloured turbans, the bright sari’s.. it was amazing and amongst that sea of faces was a piece of cardboard with my name on it.. ‘Ali’ written in black ink, that was all it said and I don’t think I have ever been so happy to see my name written on a piece of cardboard ever before. What luxury, it was so wonderful to be collected, to be one of those people who have a name on a piece of cardboard… I usually fantasise about those names and wonder what it is like to be collected and not have the worry finding the train, or the bus, and here I was being one of those people, being collected and whisked away from so muchsensory overload into the quiet car where I could watch and gasp… I watched from the safety of my bubble without the overwhelm.. and what struck me was this…
Because I love new sensations and things happening I am immersed and while I was immersed in the situation I wasn’t aware of any overwhelm or how that situation affected me, it was only in the car, as I allowed myself to sink into the back of the comfortable seat, that I felt my tiredness, the fog in my head and the tension in my body… funny what we learn isn’t it? I’m amazed that I didn’t know this before about myself… well in truth I didn’t ever check before, I was too busy taking everything in and going ‘wow this is amazing’ …. awareness is just so important, moment by moment, day by day…

Do you notice if this happens to you? Do you have moments where you are so wrapped up in what is happening on the outside that you don’t notice what is happening to you on the inside? Do you notice the tension that creeps up your back and into your shoulders, and how your head becomes tense and for me everything somehow goes into slow motion and I’m there but in another way I’m not there… does that happen to you? HSP‘s in particular have this happen to them, do you get swept up and then feel you have been spat out?

Things to do when you find yourself in this kind of situation:

In the Taxi I pulled my shoulders up as close as I could to my ears, it kind of scrunches your neck up too, and then let them drop sharply downwards, do this 3 times! It releases the tension and feels great.

Then pull your shoulders up again and this time take a big breath in, a big breath from down in your belly while you are pulling your shoulders up. As you let your shoulders down, breathe out through your mouth, slowly exhaling, blowing gently out until your lungs are empty… can you imagine a balloon slowly deflating as you do this, breathe every bit of air out and repeat, do this 2 times… On the 3rd time imagine that the breath is draining out of your head, so your head is relaxing, you may notice that your eyes gently close, you may notice that you actually feel the changes happening on the inside of your head, the relaxation, little popping noises, cracks… take your attention to where you feel the tension and let it go as you slowly exhale and blow gently out, exhale your tension, wow what a great exercise to do, I’m doing it as I write this and loving it. Repeat until your head feels different and you really feel more relaxed, calm, in control….

The next step is to drink water, as you let go of tension you are quite possibly also letting go of toxins, so drinking water will help to flush them away…

Now, check on the inside, be curious as to what’s happening. For me I suddenly realised how tired I was and began to run my own experience… instead of the amazing outside running me… I said to myself ‘everything will be there the next day, and the next’ and so on, I relaxed, enjoyed the journey and even closed my eyes. The letting go was wonderful, I was back in control and aware of what was happening to me…

So how many times do you let the outside determine what happens to you on the inside instead of the other way around? My challenge was to keep checking in with myself, all through the holiday, to see where I was on my overwhelm scale and when I realised I needed to take back control I just sat and did some shoulder shifts and breathing and it made such a difference. What about you, can you begin to check in with yourself, especially in situations that at some level you just love but also have the ability to overwhelm you?

Just to re-cap:

1. What’s happening on the inside, are you relaxed and peaceful? If not, move to step 2..

2. Pull your shoulders upwards to your ears and let them drop sharply downwards. Repeat 3 times.

3. At the same time as lifting your shoulders towards your ears, take a deep breath in. Then exhale slowly blowing out through your mouth at the same time as your shoulders gently move downwards and keep them doing down as far as you can while you are exhaling. Imagine a balloon deflating in your minds eye.. Repeat this 2 times.

4. On the 3rd time imagine all the breathe draining out of your head as your slowly exhale through your mouth, feel your head relaxing, feel the tension being breathed out through your mouth slowly and easily, notice what you notice. Repeat until your head feels clear and comfortable. You could also imagine that the breathe leaving your head has a colour, once that particular colour has all drained away you could choose to fill up those spaces, in your head, with a different colour. Notice how good you feel once you have relaxed and feel so much more comfortable..

5. Drink lots of water !

Until next time…

Have fun and release that tension that you didn’t know you had !

Ali xx