What gave you the idea for Sleep Meditations?
Actually, this was the brainchild of my editor Kate! She shared her vision of a book of Sleep Meditations and we sat and talked about it over coffee. I asked lots questions and remember scribbling in my notebook as the concept became clear in my mind. By the end of our conversation we had the complete structure of the book ready to write. I love it when creativity flows like that. Writing the book was pure joy, because I moved away from delivering a big message and stepped into creative play. I really enjoyed using my imagination in this way and course the end result with the illustrations makes it a gorgeous gift for friends (or yourself!)
What’s one tip you would give yourself for slowing down a busy mind at night?
The simplest tip I can give is breathing. A busy mind is usually linked to feeling overwhelmed and anxious and so calming anxiety naturally relaxes the mind. Taking long, slow deep breaths for at least five minutes can really help to reduce anxiety. If you have lavender essential oil you can add 2 or 3 drops into your palms and inhale that as you breathe, it has a deeply calming effect. I share lots of lovely rituals in Sleep Mediations that will also support slowing down a busy mind.
Tell us about Pause Global
Pause is a global movement and we’re on a mission to awaken consciousness through the simple power of pausing. Our speciality is running Pause retreats which we do both on and offline. The Pause method is based on my bestselling book, Pause (of course!), and we’ve been running retreats in beautiful locations around the world since 2012. We know that Pausing is in essence a really simple idea, in fact it’s the simplicity that makes it so powerful, but because the pace of life is so fast today people find it difficult to slow down and Pause. Even when we find ourselves in this ‘enforced pause’, we recognise people often understand what it is they need to do but shifting and giving themselves permission to Pause rarely happens. Our philosophy is simple, in a world that’s speeding up, sometimes, you need to slow down.
Can meditation help you to feel energised as well as calm?
Absolutely. Meditation is generally considered as the practice of redirecting your thoughts in order to calm your mind. However, it is possible to use meditation as a tool to increase awareness of yourself and your surroundings, which can leave you feeling both energised and inspired. Meditation draws you closer to your inner world by quietening the noise of the outside world, enabling more clarity and focus in daily tasks and conversations. Alongside this, as meditation can help to silence some of the internal chatter that is constant in our minds, it can also leave you feeling peaceful and ready for sleep. It really depends on two things, both the nature of the meditation practices or rituals you engage with, as well as the time of day. My new book Sleep Meditations is full of rituals that evoke the calming benefits of meditation in order to help you drift off to sleep, and I’m working on something with a more energising focus to start your day (watch this space!).
Why is it important to practice gratitude?
When I am coaching people, I often notice that there are many subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) ways in which our minds can be critical on ourselves. When there’s a lot of noise going on in our heads, we’re less aware of these judgements. So, as we slow our busy minds down and start to listen more closely to our thoughts, we might be surprised about some of the inner dialogue we can hear. Gratitude allows us to counterbalance any critism and come back to a place of truth inside ourselves. During our retreats in Bali the local Balinese priest reminds us to have kind thoughts, words and deeds. This is a great philosophy because if we’re going to be kind to other people and do good deeds, yet we’re not being kind to ourselves, something is out of balance. So gratitude, kindness, and compassion are all roots to finding a place of alignment and truth inside our selves. When we can do that, we flow more easily with life. The good news is that anybody can practice gratitude. One way you could do this is to set up a quiet space for yourself for a few minutes and spend some time writing down some thoughts about what you’re grateful for. You could also do this as a reflective exercise when you’re walking or even talking into your smartphone. Simply write ‘I am grateful for’ and follow this with a stream of conscious writing. These exercises become easier over time and enable us to practice kindness towards both our selves and others.
What daily habits have helped you through this challenging year?
The foundational habit for me has been meditation. My daily practice has evolved over time and I now use aroma and sound to deepen my meditation. Lighting my favourite Frankincense incense signals to my body that it’s time to meditate and I inhale a blend of essential oils at the start of my practice which calms the central nervous system and also keeps me alert. I play the same chant every day which creates connection to meditation that my body recognises whenever I hear it. Finally, I chime C&G tuning forks and hold them by ears before I begin my practice with has a beautifully balancing effect on the body.