Making room for yourself

I’ve had to take a few steps back in the last few weeks from the blog. Not because I don’t have anything to say, but because there’s too much to say and I’ve needed to collect myself.

My passion is yoga and to share that in whatever form that takes. So in teaching regular classes I’ve come back to my rhythm. We all have a rhythm when we’re doing what we love. Some people like to call it flow.

For me, it’s a connection to words and images weaving together into a dance of postures. I love talking about the benefits of the poses, the power of the breath and the magic of stillness. What I love most about teaching is for most of that time I forget about diabetes. Sure I check my levels midway through class or sometimes take an injection, but mostly it’s not my focus.

Dance it out - The Photo Forest

Whenever we are doing something we love and completely immersed in that it’s YOGA. Yoga means wholeness, completeness. In reality, this is our natural state we just don’t know it.  Capturing that flow state when living with chronic illness, especially diabetes is a challenge. There is way too much micromanagement involved. I’m definitely guilty of that and to be honest sometimes even doing lots of yoga doesn’t help. It can just end up being another form of escape, control, whatever!

This is where receptivity comes in. Learning to just sit, be quiet and to receive what’s actually happening in that moment. To receive the simplicity of yourself warts and all.

There is a beautiful exercise I often share in class to allow the noise of the outside world to drop away and it relates to the 5 elements, Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space.

Click the image below and join me for this simple 5-minute practice to stop, breathe and receive the beauty of yourself and the moment simply as it is.

With great respect…

rachel

feeling down with diabetes

Being Down with Diabetes

I’m done, finished. Over feeling like I have to stay positive with diabetes! I don’t like being permanently sick. And no matter how much I love yoga and my yoga practice. No matter how strictly I count carbs and manage my diet . Diabetes is hard. Hard on me and hard on my friends and family. No one likes to see their child suffer, their beloved racked with fear or their friend having to have one more rant about the unfairness of it all. And no one can stand in my shoes. Even a fellow diabetic doesn’t have the same conditions to deal with.

But its no use being angry all the time, in fact not one emotion is useful when it comes to the facts. Diabetes requires nerves of steel. And I mean literally. It takes bravery to face the endless injections, the finger pricks and what ever else comes along.

This week my challenge has come in the form of a cold. I haven’t been sick since going on Insulin. I’ve had some challenges, yes, a kidney stone operation, the 24 hour vomiting bug but it never really affected my blood sugar levels more than a day or two. It’s been days now and my levels keep climbing and that’s in spite of increasing my dose of long acting insulin, and resting and keeping up my yoga practice.

the mystery of Yoga

In spiritual circles they say its good to “live in the mystery” or to “be the mystery” But stuff that!

My partner John sees it differently and so do I. After spending years in India studying traditional teachings and understanding the mechanics and subtleties of human nature and creation, he says that nothing can ever be a mystery once we understand ourselves. Even disease and its complexities can be put in it’s correct place.

In a nutshell we can’t change the creation, its plan or purpose. We can’t know on our own why we were born into creation and what creation is. Our teachers name everything for us, objects, people, places, situations. We are given beliefs, ideas and ideologies. We have our afflictions labeled, categorised and managed but still nothing in our experience of creation shows us the nature of creation or reveals the nature of ourselves. In other words who is tasting, touching, feeling, hearing and seeing in the creation? Who is the one having the disease?

We are constantly living the mystery. It’s a given. But thinking that’s the solution? That’s the “mystake”

Yoga and diabetes

So what am I actually trying to say here? Can I ever come to terms with my diagnosis? When will I stop being angry, sad and overwhelmed? Will I ever feel like I’m on top of this disease?

Maybe….but perhaps that’s not the issue

I’ll always have days like today. Where I make the disease bigger then me. Feeling like diabetes stands in the way of freedom, happiness and contentment.

But does it really? Inspite of my feelings creation just keeps happily going along. And in reality regardless of what my body does, I do to. Being alive and being able to enjoy the creation is a prescious gift. Having friends and family to share it with another huge bonus. I often find inspiration from the words of chronically ill people or people with disabilities. Who hasn’t been touched by someone who survives against all odds.

It takes a lot for this body to stop working, and we have the miracle of medicine to keep it alive. Maybe it doesn’t have to be about staying positive to accept our fate. What if positivity has nothing to do with it? Perhaps it’s about understanding that creation is there to facilitate us. It enables everything, our breath, heartbeat and our will to survive

with great respect….Rachel

Yoga for diabetes

Catching a Moment of Grace

I spent my life equating value with effort. I always thought I had to put in 110%. Thats why, when I kept reading 18 mmol/L on my glucometer, I felt like a royal failure.

I tried everything, I mean EVERYTHING. I’d rationed my food, walked up and down hills. Ingested chromium and cinnamon. Swallowed mountains of bitter gourd, had acupuncture and kineseology. I even tapped my chakras for a whole year. I cried a river, searched my childhood for wounds, visualised my pancreas as a big pink love heart regrowing cells “ compassionately”.

I prayed, man did I pray!

yoga for diabetes blog

I even tried giving up for a while, my version being; pigging out on a bag of almonds. No matter what I did, the effort I put in did not equal a healthy pancreas.

Being an innovative person I tried a multitude of approaches. But nothing worked because I was missing the key ingredient.

I’d been misdiagnosed.

Imagine… You’re in Prague. You don’t speak the language and can’t read the signs. How do you get to your destination? The most essential information in this equation is to know where you are. Are you at the train station? The tram stop? The airport? Once you know where you can ask someone, google map search, whatever. But if you don’t know the WHERE it’s going to be hopeless.

That’s what it’s like when you have the wrong diagnosis. I knew there was a problem. I knew I had diabetes. But all the information about what I thought I had was wrong. I kept treating type 1 as if it were type 2. I kept telling everyone, “My cells are resisting the abundant insulin I produce. I just need to open up my cells again. That’s why you see me eating blah blah blah and doing these Yoga practices and having those treatments.” I can remember my ex trying to counsel me, explaining that my big issue was fear. If I could just stop being afraid maybe I’d heal. In hindsight I can only giggle at the ridiculousness of it all.

Knowledge is power.

yoga for diabetes blog

Ok, so to get anywhere you need to know where you are. But knowing about something is very different than actually experiencing something. I knew all about Type 1- but to be honest only what I’d remembered from my friend’s son injecting in front of me once. Why should I learn about something I couldn’t possibly have. And when my doctor told me I had an autoimmune condition which was attacking my beta cells, the penny still didn’t drop! “Can I regrow the little buggers?” I asked hopefully. The Doc only shook his head and apologised encouraging me to get my A1c down or we’d have to start ‘medication’.

I’d never taken a pill in my life, I was terrified!

So I put in even more effort. And that’s when the shit hit the fan. I tanked. We were on retreat at a beautiful resort on a hill in the middle of the tropics. I was teaching at dawn, inhaling avocados and trudging my way up and down hills in a last ditch effort to get my levels back down. Deep down I knew it wouldn’t work. My self-assuredness was gone. My motivation exhausted. I couldn’t see the point.

I’ve often heard or read that its at the point where you truly give up that grace steps in. I don’t think I’ve ever truly understood what grace means. People talk about in lofty terms. Like… and then such and such happened and I was showered by grace.

yoga for diabetes blog

Understanding grace was about getting real with myself. It happened when the Doctor told me I was a type 1 diabetic and that my only option was Insulin. I felt it when my diabetes educator said that being diabetic couldn’t possibly be my fault. And I still feel the presence of grace every single night when the needle hits my skin and the insulin seeps into the soft folds of my belly.

I have a friend who is deliciously positive. Simple things that I take for granted are miracles to her. What I love about my friend is that she’s happy with what is. It shows she doesn’t equate her value with any of her achievements. She doesn’t have to do anything to accept who she is. She lives her life through the potency of GRACE.

So what does it mean to live a life filled with grace?

I’d love to know what you think!

with great respect….Rachel

Express Yourself

What sort of things do you feel help you to let go, lighten up and relax? Do you get physical? get cooking? Love being creative? Watch a movie? Head out for drinks? Everyone is so different went it comes to letting off steam.

Being a self reflective person, dare I say “ self “ centric (I just made that up) it’s hard to imagine that some people just don’t find creative pursuits relaxing. If you cringe when you put pen to paper, feel embarrassed on the dance floor or run and hide on karaoke night, I dare you…

Keep reading!

Growing up as a kid had its challenges and its not what you think. Imagine a big rambling house, a basement filled with barbie dolls, sequins and glass sculptures, musicians playing quartets in the living room, late night pizza sessions with the likes of Yo Yo Ma.

Living with my Dad was a non-stop music fest. What was normal for me was eccentric to my friends. I was actually the odd one out in my family because I chose dance over piano. Even still I was encouraged to do my best. My mother also loved the arts. My grandfather had some of her art works proudly displayed on his walls. As we walked by a painting he’d stop and reflect on the work, a splash of dark greens and blues under a smouldering sky,

“It’s quite moody… like your mother,” he’d muse

I don’t remember her that way. What I remember most was our attic playroom filled with chalkboards, crayons, paints and play dough. When we were bored my mum would declare, “ Go forth and create!” and so we did. My brother and I not only made art, we made up plays, songs, musicals and dances. We lived in worlds where crates became spaceships and shows like the bionic man became a super 8 film where I did fancy things like lift cars with my bare hands and knock down doors.

Ah those were the days!

Art therapy for stress management

Those heady times of creative free play were soon replaced by goals of “making” it as a dancer. I spent hours in training with little time for anything else and forgetting how much fun it actually was to just make stuff for no reason. I even started to feel like I was kind of bad at art.

When my son was four, I decided its was time to express myself again creatively. Something about getting out of that whole mommy and me thing. I enrolled in a writing intensive, joined a painting class and taught myself guitar. I didn’t think I could really do any of these things well but I didn’t care. I just needed some me time. My inspiration was a book by Julia Cameron called the Artist’s Way-daily explorations, writing exercises and ways to remember the inner artist. It was super pleasurable and relaxing and the best part was I didn’t have to share it with anyone. The process and the actual act of making something was more important then the end result.

Yoga and art for stress management

Those days of just making stuff for no reason were super supportive when I was diagnosed. I was too weak to do Yoga and in too much denial to reach out, so heading to my yoga room to decorate my altar, paint and draw pictures and make yantras ( sacred mandalas) with flowers soothed my grieving heart. Making art again became a powerful touchstone and I was surprised at how my simple childlike drawings and flower creations not only facilitated my own healing but somehow reached out and touched others. What started as a relaxation tool turned into something I could share as part of my Yoga workshops and trainings. And this was before social media took off.

I’ve always seen yoga as art. The body, the perfect canvas, the breath as sculptor and the postures, splashes of colour illuminating the inner landscape. But making art with the body and getting your emotions down on the canvas really are two different things. When I’m feeling challenged, stressed, bored, even frustrated I get out my art stuff and go to town. Before I know it I’m feeling relaxed again, stimulated and ready to tackle the next moment. You may not feel like you have have the time , inclination or talent to pick up a paintbrush. So don’t…

Dream big!

Art therapy for stress management

If you were a creative person what’s the one creative art you’ve always wanted to explore?

Dance? Drama? Writing? Cookery? Craft? Sculpture?

Whatever it is do it!

Get a book, sign up for a class, get a tutorial

and let me know how it goes…. with great respect Rachel

And below’s a peek at what grew out of my own exploration with art for relaxation…