Embracing the messy turmoil of transformation
If the last few weeks of October reaching into November appeared like an intensely wild and stormy ride to you, then let me assure you, it’s not just you. I really really struggled to keep my head above water, feeling downright disorientated and lost.
Maybe the change of season feels more dramatic in Ibiza. Precisely one week ago I had my last swim in the sea. A few thunderstorms later and suddenly we’re in winter. No gentle transitioning. One day bikini and flip flops - next day hoodie, scarf and wellies.
All throughout the summer Ibiza is buzzing in every possible way. Intense heat, intense work, intense joy. Basically intense everything. That’s why most islanders prefer to escape the month of August. But I actually LOVE it.
Then with the blink of an eye comes November and suddenly everything shuts down. Port de Sant Miquel (where I live) resembles a ghost town.
My private yoga clients have gone back home - see you in April 2019. And all the magnificent Ibiza boutique hotels where I teach have shut for the winter.
That’s it for this year, we’re done.
I suppose it’s pretty self-explanatory that my head started spinning. When it gets quiet on the outside, it gets loud on the inside.
Autumn is a time of transition and transformation, known as a Vata season in Ayurveda.
The trees are slowly undressing in preparation for the winter. There is a subtle browning of the earth. Temperatures, which, just a few weeks ago were raging with the intense heat of summer, are beginning to hint at the telltale crispness of autumn. And then there is the wind: slowly gathering strength, carrying the cool air of winter on its breath.
As we are intrinsically connected to nature it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we’re feeling this sense of transformation too, even more profoundly when you’re a sensitive soul.
Simply accepting this fact,
feels like a relief.
No you’re not going crazy, the stormy weather will not blow your head off, you’re just part of nature.
Autumn harbors a certain emptiness that can leave us feeling exposed and a little raw, but it is also filled with possibility - a time when we can strip down to a quieter essence of being and savor simplicity.
Easier said than done, I surely know.
Over the past few weeks my anxiety levels went off the roof. On some days my brain felt manic, on others fuzzy and foggy. Everything I did was with a frantic state of mind.
Feeling restless, overwhelmed and lost, I had to press the pause button and hide in my hoodie for a few days in order to quiet my mind, and figure out what the hell is going on with me.
I needed to find some PRACTICAL solutions to ground myself during this change of season - and the many transformative changes that are happening in my life right now.
I needed to establish structure in my totally unstructured life.
Embrace the unknowing, and trust.
Whether you’re moving house, moving country, new job, new baby, ending a relationship, beginning a new relationship… If your life feels messy and unstable on the outside, you can create this much needed stability on the inside.
So let’s get practical.
Here’s what I have established for myself over the past few weeks. Finally I surrendered to the rocky ride I’m experiencing at present. I even started to enjoy this wild roller coaster journey - most of the time. That isn’t to say that I don’t have bad (really bad) days anymore.
But if I do, these are my little helpers through tricky times of transformation:
Let go of your “perfect” routine
Routines and rituals are everything, including, if you’re not careful, a dangerous weakness. As a recovering routine junkie I can tell you, if your routine gets messed up during turbulent times, you get even more anxious, frustrated and disorientated.
Routines and rituals need to be adjusted according to your circumstances. It’s ok to let things go if they don’t serve you right here, right now. No need to add more pressure to an already overwhelming situation by desperately clinging to your perfect routine.
If you can’t do a full yoga practice in the morning, maybe just do 15 minutes. There’s no quiet space anywhere to meditate because you’re crashing at your friends place who has three supercharged kids? Maybe just open the door, close your eyes, and take three deep breaths.
You moved to a new city, started a new job, and at the moment it’s impossible to stick to your super healthy diet? That’s ok, let it go and do the best you can. Don’t add stress, your body will forgive you.
That too is yoga - be flexible. Don’t let perfect let get in the way of good (note to self that is).
Instead, develop STRATEGIC FLEXIBILITY: Improvise while still maintaining a base you can return to and derive confidence and comfort in.
Life is change.
Swim with the current, not against it.
I’m totally into my essential oils, small but mighty these precious oils are. When you inhale the aroma, it immediately kicks your body into action as its molecules travel through the olfactory system and into our brain. From there, it can directly affect the many bodily reactions and systems, including emotions, memory, blood pressure, heart rate and hormones.
One simple inhale of a concentrated essential oil can almost instantaneously trigger your body into action, causing the production of feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.
Bergamot, wild orange and lavender are my favourites when I’m feeling anxious. For an instant fix I rub the oil into my palms and inhale deeply, then apply it onto my neck and shoulders.
In the evenings I use my oil diffuser with lavender essential oil. It smells divine, soothes my restless mind, and makes me sleep like a baby.
Instead of mindlessly scrolling Instagram, shut down your devices and find a few moments of peace and quiet.
Again, don’t put pressure on yourself having the “perfect” morning and evening journal. IT DOES NOT NEED TO BE PRETTY! In fact, it shouldn’t be. Leave your pretty life for the outside, this is your time to be brutally honest.
Notice your feelings and separate from the incessant chatter of the mind. Notice what makes you angry, what you’re scared off, what brings you joy, and where are you holding back. Basically take an honest (and possibly painful) look at yourself. Write down anything that bothers you, it doesn’t matter how small and silly it may appear.
Just get it out of your system.
I don’t have the perfect journaling routine, and that’s ok. Sometimes I write in the morning, sometimes at night. It depends if and when deep realisations and insights hit me, or when I’m just really f...ing furious. Better to get it onto paper than carry it with you, right?
Eat The Season
During this unsettling phase into early winter it’s only natural to be craving warm, nourishing foods. Mother nature knows best, so go with SEASONAL ingredients that are on offer at your local farmers market (if you’re lucky to have one).
Root vegetables are particularly grounding during autumn and winter. Delicious roasted beetroot, sweet potato, and pumpkin soup with warming spices. I like to add some kale and broccoli to get my greens.
Anything that soothes body and mind. I’m totally into roasted potatoes with freshly picked, wild rosemary at the moment, going back to my German/Polish roots. I make sure I get sufficient protein with every meal, giving body and soul incredibly grounding and stabilising nutrients.
Keep your phone off
Anybody out there who’s not (at least mildly) addicted to their phone?
During winter, while my work in Ibiza is quiet and I don’t have to be on call nonstop, I’m unconditioning my addicted brain by keeping my phone off until 11am in the morning, and from 9pm in the evening.
I feel so much calmer, centered and focused when I don’t get distracted during my most precious hours.
If I don’t let my mind run away by checking email, the weather forecast, looking for flights, and mindlessly scrolling social media, I can actually be with myself and see clearly. This is when journaling comes in very handy.
One day a week I have a digitial detox where my phone remains off. Try it, you become painfully aware of all the times you unconsciously pass out by using that seemingly harmless device.
Structure your day
As I’m my own boss I used to work from home a lot, thinking it’ll save me time and make me more productive. Yeah right!
It’s a recipe for distraction and procrastination. And being in a tracksuit all day, with messy hair and no make-up, certainly did not lift my mood.
Finally I found a cafe that provides a quiet and undisturbing space, whilst still having human beings around me. I’m in my “office” at 10am every morning. Not in my pyjamas, and not looking like a mad cave woman.
I write down my structure for the following day before I go to bed, and the most important things I’d like to get done. This at least gives me a rough guide. I LOVE list making and ticking things off.
Clear your wardrobe
This is pretty self-explanatory: Out with the old, in with the new. You’re literally releasing baggage you don’t need anymore and clearing space for new beginnings.
Turn off your phone, turn on great music, and have a smashing clear-out on a rainy Sunday. It’s like therapy, you will feel so much lighter.
There is so much wisdom out there, so many great authors. Whether you want to dig deep into the self-help section, or fancy some dreamy fiction. Getting out of your own mind and into a different story is unbelievably soothing.
Check out my favourite books, maybe you’ll find something that inspires you.
Take your yoga practice off the mat and apply it to your life.
Stretching beyond your comfort zone is a good thing. Play with your edge. It is so much easier to remain stuck in your old ways - better the devil you know. But what we think we WANT in life is not always what we NEED.
Explore this unfolding of yourself, be open and excited. If you can’t see the wood for the trees right now, find quiet time. A long hike in nature, deep breathing. Create a clearing. Use this energy to extend your horizon. Let it take you further.
Be excepionally kind to yourself.
In times of transformation find that little space within to retreat yourself and gather strength.
An early night in bed, with a great book and lavender essential oil on your pillow, a few candles burning, munching on cinnamon spiced, roasted sweet potatoes…
Keep it simple. You’ve got enough going on.
To end this article, below is a beautiful quote on transformation which I heard on the German Prana Up Your Life podcast recently, and which inspired me to write about my “little” struggles through this season of change.
P.S. as always, if there’s anything you’d like to add then please do not hesitate to comment. Sharing is caring :)
Life is constantly changing. Cycles repeat themselves continuously. The Mayan people recognised a pattern that always moves from initiation to refinement, to transformation, to completion. Right now you’re in the phase of transformation. In this phase you can let go of all things that no longer serve you. What remains is who you really are. It might appear as if you’re going through a crisis, stuck in the old with the new yet to come. But remember that any crisis is basically a transitioning period. It can be painful to let go of well-known patterns or people, even when they bring you stress and negativity. But it is needed to clear space for something new. Allow all difficult feelings that might come up. As soon as you accept them, the sky will be clearer. If you surrender yourself to the energy of transformation, everything will change along with you. So seize this opportunity to get closer to yourself, and surround yourself with all the things that make your life so valuable.
Love from Ibiza!