Take what you need and leave the rest

“From all the things you read and from all the people you meet, take what is good – what you own ‘Inner Teacher’ tells you is for you – and leave the rest. For guidance and for truth, it is much better to look to the Source through your own ‘Inner Teacher’ than to look to people or books. Books and people can merely inspire you. Unless they awaken something within you, nothing worthwhile has been accomplished.” The Peace Pilgrim

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What can we learn from a penniless pilgrim who walked for 28 years across America?

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Peace Pilgrim in the late 1970s. She had walked 25,000 miles by 1964, and continued for almost two more decades. She carried only a pen, a comb, a toothbrush and a map.

Recently I was at my local library looking for a good read, perhaps something to escape the weight of pending bills and a prolonged sense of penny pinching … when I overheard this conversation.

I’ve just come from a lecture about Peace Pilgrim, I’m so inspired .. have you heard of her? 

No, who is the peace pilgrim? 

She walked across America for 28 years promoting peace… she renounced money and material positions and simply walked until offered shelter and fasted until offered food. Between 1951 and 1964 she walked 25,000 miles and gave lectures about peace along the way.

After hearing this curious dialogue I found myself looking up The Peace Pilgrim rather than a light escape novel as originally planed. What I found was nothing short of fascinating and her teachings couldn’t have reached me at a better time.

The Peace Pilgrim, was a an American non-denominational spiritual teacher, mystic, pacifist and peace activist. At the age of 45 she she set of on a walking pilgrimage across America to promote inner and outer peace. Her only possessions were the clothes on her back and the few items she carried in the pockets of her tunic which read “Peace Pilgrim” on the front and “25,000 Miles on foot for peace” on the back. She vowed to “remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walk until given shelter and fast until given food.”

Whilst some may see this as freeloading off the generosity and charity of others, the Peace Pilgrim saw her mission as “work” as she explains in her book Steps Towards Inner Peace

“I work for my living in an unusual way. I give what I can through thoughts and words and deeds to those whose lives I touch and to humanity. In return I accept what people want to give, but I do not ask. They are blessed by their giving and I am blessed by my giving.”

Part of her work included giving lectures at universities (see talk below at California State), and often people would offer her food or a place to stay in exchange for experiencing her teachings or good deeds. For those times where people didn’t offer her food or accommodation she said she trained herself to sleep rough, in parks or at bus stops and just went without food for days at a time. However she said she never went more than 3 days without someone offering her food and that in the end God always took care of her.

So what can we learn from this curious and eccentric character? Although I don’t plan on renouncing my material possessions or sleeping rough in parks any time soon her story challenged a few of my limited beliefs about basic needs and happiness.

What you will quickly see if you watch her videos or read her material is that she’s exuberant; brimming with vitality and zest. For many of us the risk of homelessness might be a terrifying thought, something to be avoided at all costs but for The Peace Pilgrim it was part of her unique mission and purpose.

This is one of the greatest exercises in “trust” and pushing the boundaries that I’ve ever come across. To give up everything and put your faith in the goodness and generosity of others requires a level of trust that most of us simply don’t have.

But what would happen if we took a leaf out of the peace pilgrim’s book and trusted a little more in living our own version an inspired life?.. even if that looked a bit unusual? If she was happy with essentially nothing but a toothbrush then what are we waiting for? What’s stopping us from having that same inner peace? What are we using as an excuse to not be happy?

Perhaps the answers to those questions might be found in her book, which is of course available at no charge here.

 

 

How your big dreams start with an adventurefest mindset

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Ainsley Micallef, Life Reinvention Mentor 

What if achieving those big and ridiculous dreams begins with a simple shift in mindset?… What if realising your slightly crazy aspirations starts with an adventurefest inside your head?

Meet Ainsley Micallef, a Life Reinvention Mentor and creator of The Adventurefest Method, who says changing your mindset is the key to achieving any goal, big or small.

Yesterday I interviewed Ainsley to get a sneak peak into her intrepid approach to lifestyle design, which found her overcoming depression, adventuring around the world and reinventing her brain.

“You’ve got to make peace with the inner monsters,” she says and then “all it takes is one step ONE MOVE FORWARDS”.

Tell me a little bit about yourself, your career path, lifestyle and interests.

I’m a Life Reinvention Mentor which means I help people get out of a rut and create a new future for themselves. My main objective is to get them starting a business so they’ve got freedom to travel … but it covers all areas of their lives.

I predominantly do mindset work with them, because how they think is the starting point to creating those big ridiculous dreams. And then I teach a framework I call The Adventurefest Method which is a 6 step method to achieving any goal.

My interests include travel, I’m a nomad by nature so have spent the last 20+ years working, living and travelling around Australia and the world. I’m a HUGE animal & food lover … and my big ridiculous dream is to have my own tour company as well as an elephant sanctuary in Thailand or Vietnam.

What do you love about being a teacher and mentor? What are the greatest challenges when it comes to facilitating personal development?

I love the results people get. One of my former date coaching clients got engaged the other day. I also get a kick out of blowing their brains out with what’s possible if they allow themselves to think that big.

The greatest challenge is that I’m a rescuer by nature … so I have to remind myself to step back and let them figure it out instead of trying to solve it for them.

You mentioned in your mentoring blogs that you have experienced boats of depression in the past. What was it like, what were the circumstances and how did you overcome it?

I did a lot of drugs and alcohol from age 14 until my mid 30’s.

So the depression was definitely a result of that, but it was also a result of feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere and trying to figure out my own identity … and being ok that I’m not ‘traditional’ by nature. I’m a free spirit so the picket fence, marriage and babies thing wasn’t something I pursued with a lot of interest.

I’ve had many emotional ups and downs … and I never wanted to take medication for it. Instead I used personal development and mindset work on myself to overcome the obstacles in my head.

It’s not as fast acting … but it’s more sustainable and has mountains of benefits that will last me a lifetime.

In the personal development and self-help world we often hear about the Law of Attraction and the idea that we can manifest our goals via the power of positive expectations, thoughts and feelings. Do you think this process works? Are there any essential truths left out of this way of thinking?

One thing I get frustrated with in a lot of LOA teachings is they avoid the fact that obstacles and facing them are a part of life and learning.

A lot of LOA stuff glosses over problems with ‘just think yourself happy’ which leads to a lot of people feeling like failures because they’re not projecting positive vibes all the time.

You need to deal with the monster first … make peace with it. And you need to do a lot of mindset training to become this ‘perfect beacon of light’.

But I also think obstacles make you stronger. So make yourself a problem solver.

When you have that mindset it makes you curious about fixing things. It becomes a fun little game where you get to say to yourself, ‘I wonder what’d happen if I did this’.

Want to start your adventurefest today? You can read more about Ainsley’s awesome work below.

https://ainsleym.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ainsleymadventurefest

5 holistic health hacks that won’t cost the earth

(This cheesy 80s aerobics video will get you pumped!)

Lets face it, cultivating health can be REALLY expensive. Mind boggling, heart attack-inducing, paralysingly pricey. In fact so much so that sometimes it defeats its own purpose.

Fortunately with doctor google, a discerning eye, some cheesy videos and a bit of common sense there are ways to implement our own more affordable holistic health regime without breaking the bank.

On my journey of healing chronic gut pain, I’ve tried many different holistic health products and services, many of which were a great waste of money. However eventually I found the tools that did serve me, and now I live mainly without any pain. Naturally my mood is a lot brighter too when my physical health is good.

So here are 5 tools that helped me navigate the holistic health world on a tight budget… and some happen to be good for the planet too!

1. Find a holistic physician/ GP who has additional qualifications in nutrition (or who is at least knowledgeable/ interested in nutrition)

Seeing a medical doctor with a good understanding of nutrition is like receiving two services for the price of one. They might be a bit more expensive but overall it’s great value. I see an awesome integrative GP/nutritionist and her tips and advice on adjusting my diet reduces the risk of future ailments and potential pharma expenses down the track.

If you can’t afford such a practitioner consider writing a letter to your preferred health professional to explain your financial situation and offer to barter services, volunteer at the clinic or pay it forward later when you’re in a better position. I’ve don’t this a couple of times now and it worked out really well.

2. Only take vitamins if your dietary intake is inadequate, and if it is change your diet. 

Many holistic doctors will encourage you to take supplements, which is fair enough since so many of us have inadequate diets and are too lazy to make changes. However, some doctors get huge commissions from vitamin companies and have a vested interest in pushing certain brands and regimes onto their patients. My doctor told me upfront she doesn’t take commissions and as such I find her advice more balanced and trustworthy in this area. Each to their own but supplements can be crazy expensive. I personally would rather prioritize my spending on better quality food.

There’s a disclaimer on many vitamin pill bottles which goes something like “vitamins may only be of assistance if your dietary intake is inadequate.”… so you have a choice here, you can either work towards a diet that IS adequate or take expensive supplements.

Having said that there are all sorts of arguments out there about why supplementation might be helpful/ necessary even when your diet is great. You can always give supplements a go and see if they help you, (they never helped me) but if you’d rather explore other options here are a few ways to “up your vitamin intake” naturally.

  • Consider buying organic or biodynamic produce where soil enrichment practices are often implemented. If it taste good that’s a good sign that the produce is nutrient dense.
  • If you can’t afford the above consider buying at least some things organic or growing your own veggies. Even just a few plants can make a huge difference.
  • Eat veggies or salad for breakfast. Most people eat bland cereals for breakfast which aren’t particularly nutrient dense. I’ve grown to love eating a non-traditional breakfast such as tufu, nuts and veggies or fish and veggies with a liver cleansing Asian lemon dressing. Try it before you knock it, I swear it’s awesome!!

2. Exercise 

Intuitively most of us know that exercise is good for us. But if you need further convincing Google “scientific studies on exercise” and you can find endless research on the topic. Exercise is particularly awesome for mental health as it releases powerful feel good chemicals in the brain.

Exercise doesn’t need to be expensive. Simply walking, especially briskly or around hilly areas delivers great returns. I used to do Ashtanga hot yoga (at $17 per class) which was very challenging and used to hurt my knees for some reason. As hard as I tried I found it stretched me beyond my limits.

So I gave myself a more realistic challenge: if I could achieve simply walking most days for over a year then I was ready for hot yoga or something else more intense. And I did it .. one year of walking almost every day. After that year I found I really enjoyed walking and wanted to keep going with it..rather than going back to yoga. I also really enjoyed how it’s free! So to up the challenge from there I decided to continue walking and add aerobics videos to the mix (and an occasional $17 fitness class).

I got a cheesy workout DVD set from a thrift store (go captain planet!) , which I did religiously for 5 years! I even used to do the videos in the back yard with my housemates. We’d play a video on a lap top hooked up to speakers and get the benefits of the sun at the same time. It probably seemed a bit crazy to our neighbours but it was so cheesy fun!!! (weirdly the song “Let’s get physical” just came on in the cafe where I’m writing this.. ha love the timing!)

3. Go to student clinics for muscular skeletal or alternative therapy 

Muscular skeletal therapies like osteopathy and massage can be $100 + per session! That’s more than my food budget for the whole week. You can often find student clinics housed within universities which offer these services and much lower rates. For example, I went to a student Osteopathy clinic when I sprained my ankle earlier in the year and it cost $20 for a session.

You get a 4th year student supervised by an experienced clinician/ teacher. They always come in to check what’s going on and make sure the therapy is correct. These guys have literally saved the day for me a number of times over the years.

4. Explore free meditation online or at buddhist centres

There is growing scientific research demonstrating the benefits of meditation. Yesterday I posted a few introductory videos on the benefits, which offer a good place to start if you’ve never tried it before.

Mindfulness meditation is the term you will hear most often as it’s found its way into standard psychological therapy. I’ve really enjoyed Jon Kabat-Zinn’s guided sessions such as this body scan.

If you prefer to go somewhere and mediate with a group of people there are often free or low cost sessions at community centres, buddhist centres or temples. Be careful of cults though, some groups might appear like traditional religious centres but are actually destructive cults. If in doubt look them up on the Cult Education Institute forum to see what other people are saying or enter at your own risk!

5. Channel your own health guru then write a contract to yourself… and sign it!

Many of us already know what we need to do to achieve better health. We all have an inner health guru that’s loaded with sound advice. Much of it is common sense, such as the ideas explored above but often we don’t actually DO what we know will help.

For me I sometimes think I won’t stick to a goal and get sucked into pessimistic ideas based on previous failures. To overcome this I created a note book where I list a goal/ intention and then if I achieve it later I write about it on the opposite page. This reminds me, every time I set an intention that I have previously succeeded many times before.

I have also found the simple process of writing a contract to myself and signing it quite helpful. Some people suggest making yourself accountable to others such as publicly announcing a goal and asking others to hold you to it.  If you can find people who truly will hold you accountable then great but I have found this process backfired when people were a bit half assed about checking in and seeing if I actually was doing what I set out to. At the end of the day you’ve got to find that spirit within that wants you to succeed and be accountable to it. (note to self!)

If you’ve read this far then well done! I hope some of it has been helpful and wish you the best of luck on your health journey 🙂

Body scan meditation

I’m in the process of writing a few posts which are taking a bit longer than expected… some interesting topics coming soon though including an inspiring recovery interview and an article about holistic health hacks on a budget!

Yesterday I sent these three videos over to a friend who’s never tried meditation and was considering giving it a go. If you’re in the same boat and wondering about the potential benefits of meditation and where to start here’s a few interesting videos worth exploring.

The first video from Beyond Blue, explains meditation and how it can rewire the brain and lead to better overall welbeing. The second is a TED talk by a neuroscientist who lead some studies on how meditation changes the grey matter in the brain. The third is an actual meditation session lead by Jon Kabat-zinn, who was instrumental in bringing mindfulness meditation to mainstream western psychology.

Coincidence or a sign? 

Yesterday I was driving to the local shops and contemplating the idea of “positive energy.”  I was was literally thinking the thought “could I be choosing to put out more positive energy right now?” when suddenly an electrical service van pulled out of a driveway in front of me with this branding down the side:

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Positive energy, electrical company logo

I was so taken aback as it seemed to almost magically appear, like a visual echo of my thought. I laughed and said out loud, “thanks universe I guess I’ll take that as a sign?”

Later in the day, I was walking in a completely different area when the earlier incident popped into my head. Once again I contemplated the idea of positive energy and wondered if seeing the van was indeed a sign, a gentle nudge from a above suggesting I could work on generating more positive energy.

Then the same van drove past. AGAIN!

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Now I was really taken aback.

Maybe I could dismiss the first occurrence as a mere coincidence but the second? The timing was just too crazy weird.. almost twilight zone level spooky. I stopped in my tracks and laughed again. “Okay universe, I’ve got to be positive. I get it.”

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I should add that Positive Energy, is not a large company that you see around everywhere. In fact I’d never heard of them until yesterday.  So it did really feel like a strange occurrence.

What do you think? A coincidence or a sign? Some people call this confirmation bias but that just spoils the fun (or positive energy) now doesn’t it?

 

 

Is too much screen time making us miserable?

An interesting TED talk presented by Psychologist Adam Alter who has studied the rise of screen time and its effect on our wellbeing. Interestingly health related screen time reading makes us feel happier than social media. A win for this blog! ha ha.

But seriously we may need to do some honest self-reflection about how much time we spend hooked on apps that don’t actually contribute to us positively. It could be time to hit the second hand bookshop and stock up for some some old school “print on paper” time.

Wanted: your recovery story

I just watched this amazing recovery story, featured on the Council for Evidence Based Psychiatry site. Wow so awesome. I’ve never heard voices before but I imagine it would be terrifying.. what a brave chick to embrace this part of her and manage her health holistically..  (and nice name too ha ha same as mine .. Rach’s rock)!

Have you recovered from mental illness or substance abuse? Could your story also help others rise up from rock bottom and better manage the challenges of life?

I’m looking for people to interview for this blog who have recovered or are recovering from mental health issues or substance abuse. In particular I’m looking for people who have taken a holistic road to healing: those who have explored therapies such as counselling, exercise, alternative medicine, herbs, yoga, spirituality, support groups or other health modalities.

If you’re interested in participating or would like to know more comment below and I’ll reply shortly. What if your story was exactly what someone else needed to hear?

I look forward to hearing from you!