Scrolling through Jay Shetty’s Instagram with one hand & Chopra’s ‘The Shadow Effect’ in the other, I tried to give my hungover head the impression that I was super zen and had my shit together. If I’m showing up to meditate, I must have my thoughts under control & they are surely going to be clear as I move forward, correct?
Eh, no. Meditation is not a miracle for your negative thoughts, worries or indeed, anxiety. It is however an opportunity to sit & figure out the space between this busy life & your mind. During Covid times, it’s well, more important than ever.
In 2016, a lady called Hilda Carroll gave me the opportunity to ‘Come om’ with her as she launched an online course. I tried it out & was sporadic with how I applied it & partook in the meditation. I did however dip my toe & introduce my blog readers & instagram fam to this practice.
Fast forward to 2020 & I’ve become a more consistent meditator. As I’ve navigated through the Pandemic, lock down & other challenges this year, it’s been a practice that has helped me so much to make sense of happenings & relax my mind. Not to mention – processing some emotions I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Moreover, Chopra’s 20 day abundance challenge meant that I had to hold myself accountable so I could pass forward the meditation via WhatsApp to another group. Paying it forward got me into the habit that was meditation.
During 2020, we’ve been forced to face our vices. Let’s be realistic, we (all) have them & they give us a short-term dopamine fix throughout our weeks. Whether that’s 20 Benson a day, a bottle of Pinot Grigio or binging on Ben & Jerrys’ – such fixes become crutches to lean on as ‘a treat’ or a ‘sure, it’s lockdown & we deserve it’. There’s no judgement here (I had a few glasses of vino with my dinner last night & it was divine). What I’m saying is that we have options when we’re reaching for these during moments of stress & anxiety.
The idea of meditation is about sitting with our thoughts (what thoughts they may be & whether we want them to exist or not). Meanwhile, the temptation when those thoughts get rather too hot (or tricky) to handle, is to reach for those ‘treats’. We self-medicate with a bit of vino, smoke a few cigarettes for a reprieve or stuff our faces with chocolate so we can get a hit of sugar as we watch a movie.
This week, take a look at what you’re consuming. As always, it has an impact on who you are & how you navigate through your life. The substances, food & hits feel good in the short-term, sure. But what about the medium to long-term?
Take one of those temptations and replace with some deep breathing time, a Chopra meditation or sitting in silence for ten minutes. I promise you’ll learn something new about yourself.
Here are some examples of resources (check out my Instagram for more).
Moving swiftly through Autumn & into Winter, buzzwords that usually emanate are ‘Hygge’, ‘Hot chocolate’ & talk of New year’s plans after a family Christmas are commonplace. Navigating through 2020 & it’s unlikely that we’ll have the usual shindigs, wearing sparkly tops down to the local night clubs on Christmas eve or certainly, getting together with as many friends as we’d like. We’ll perhaps buy a few extra tins of roses & will ensure the Zoom calls are scheduled to catch up with far flung family. Oh indeed, it will be one to remember.
Navigating through this colder weather, shorter evenings & a seasonal change, our habits will need to change. We’re not likely to spend our winter on the balcony as much as we did during the summer & we’ll likely be seeking out indoor hobbies that we started in July and forgot about. That scarf you started knitting mid quarantine? Yeah, you’re going to need that.
Chatting to my sister last week, her advice of stocking up on the highest dose of vitamin D was a good one. I had this fear of lack of sun & being hit with a bout of sadness due to a deficit in this sunshine. Meanwhile, I stopped into Ikea to stock up on lamps, blankets & candles that like the Snow Patrol song goes, we can ‘light up light up as if we have the choice’ (you get the gist, right?).
Being a winter fan, I’ll have Frank Sinatra on full blast while making a beautiful stew and cuddling my sister’s adopted cat. I’ll keep the smile bright & connect with friends each day.
It’s normal to anticipate that well, we may find this winter a bit trickier than previous ones & so, we can prepare to a point so we know we’re doing all we can to mind ourselves & our beautiful minds.
Mind your diets, always. We are what we eat. I know we know this & know we need to re-highlight this especially in this climate. My ex boyfriend used to laugh as I popped cloves of garlic coated in honey when feeling run down but well, it has been shown to help with colds ( in spite of its gross taste). Filling up on vegetables, stews, herbal teas & comfort foods are as important for our bodies as well as our souls. Start thinking ahead so you stay fed people.
Be cosy in your environment. It’s absolutely fine to make your home more winter-friendly. Have some cosy blankets ready to snuggle into, brighten the place up & ensure you’ve got the heating working to the max. This seems obvious but is necessary. Something as simple as a scented candle can make a cold winter evening feel so lovely.
Know your mind & what your needs & triggers are. Yes it’s true, if your mood is lower, you may feel more easily triggered by what’s happening around you. Do you know yourself & what works for you? Be tuned into the rituals you need to partake in as you move through the winter & how those vary for the remainder of the year. Are you less likely to meditate because you need to sleep more? Are you more likely to make more excuses as you’re fond of hot whiskey?
Exercise, exercise & exercise some more. You know this, I know this & it’s so important for mental & physical well-being. It can be tempting once Summer ends, to stop exercising so much. Don’t fall into this trap. Plan your exercise routine for this winter. Don’t want to run outside? Order some gear you can use inside. Know that you’re likely to feel more stiff & bail from your exercise this winter? Awareness & preparation are key.
Occupy your mind. What do you do with your days? Know what you enjoy & if you’re not sure, go on the search. Whether you’re working or not, have multiple hobbies or are a Netflix fan, there’s something you can focus your mind on. My books are lined up, I’ll be blogging & have a subscription to yoga on a daily basis so I know I’ll be able to occupy my mind. That’s not to say it’s all figured you & don’t expect that either. What I’m saying is that having an idea of what you want to use your time for is a step in the right direction.
There isn’t a one size fits all for any routine in or out of quarantine. What I will say on the subject is that this time will feel tricky at times so giving yourself a head start of getting that figured out is part of the world of self-care.
Sitting at home as we embarked on another weekend at home during lock-down, I reached out to Aisling from Paint Club for a catch up & to talk through her business venture I had learned about during pre-covid times. Girlfriends of mine had posted some photos of beautiful starry nights on their Instagram, of quality paintings they had produced while sipping on prosecco in a bar in Limerick. It sounded like an adventure to me & such a great idea so I kept it wandering through my newsfeeds.
In a world where we are more and more focused on our screens, stepping away and doing something that flexes that creative muscle is well needed. Equally, it’s good for morale. A dopamine hit that’s focused on colours on a page rather than likes popping up in the corner of our screen sounded well, wonderfully enticing.
Fast forward to 2020, still browsing on Instagram & I learn that Aisling & team are doing virtual Paint Club sessions on a weekly basis. They’re covering a range of paintings with different artists to suit various tastes. The term Paint Club Fairies is one that I immediately fall in love with & with a focus on Irish businesses needed now more than ever, Paint Club continued to have my curiosities rising. Naturally, as I had been eyeing up businesses on Instagram that have been inspiring & crushing it during such a weird time, I was keen to talk to her.
Zooming on a random Wednesday evening, I wanted to learn as much as possible from this lady. Not only has she been running a business started herself, she’s managed to have it thriving during a Pandemic. Pretty epic, right?
Aisling is an absolute lady to speak to. Greeted by her with a wonderful smile, sense of humour and approximately 1 million paintings in the background, Aisling lifted my spirits from the moment we engaged. She was clearly excited about what was to come & gave so much insight into her business & the art industry as a whole.
It was interesting to hear that, during this pandemic, there has been a global shortage when it comes to art supplies. This means that well, more & more people have been turning to art to get their juices flowing and/or to rekindle their love of once practiced talents. It has equaled to longer wait times for orders made online & suppliers are needing to work even faster to meet demand.
It’s not a surprise that this is the case when you understand the turn-outs for Paint Club’s sessions & the boom of art posts trending on Instagram. People have been exchanging swipes on Tinder for swipes of a paintbrush. Meanwhile, using art to rejig their minds while they try to make sense of what’s happening in this Narnia that is 2020.
‘I can’t believe I painted that’ is a common response from PaintClub artists. As they ascertain their skillset while staring lovingly at their paintings & how they moved from having a blank canvas to a wonderful art piece they can hang in their living room, it’s hard to not feel great about yourself. Multiply that painting by 3-4 if you’ve decided to engage in the online session with your family or housemates & you’ve got yourself an art collection.
Since taking part in PaintClub in June, walking into our living room here in Dundrum is quite the adventure. My house mate & I keenly ask every visitor ‘guess who did which painting’ as we proudly point to our ‘In the Deep’ jelly fish leaning against the bookshelf. We had sat on a Sunday afternoon creating them with a friend as we pulled string across canvases, speckled acrylic colour for an ocean effect & compared our different styles with the exact same instruction.
As Aisling taught me during our chat, art is like hand-writing – everyone’s is different. Like our minds, personalities & ways of life, variety is the spice that makes it. This is what renders these Paintclub classes extra wonderful – each is made your own. Visit Paint Club’s Instagram here.
Paint Club sessions are run on a weekly basis up to 4 times with a mixture of paintings to choose from. With the original paintings inspired by Irish culture & geographical landmarks, browsing through the options is recommended. You’ll also get access to a Facebook group that will allow you to rewatch the recording & get support as you navigate your best painting.
More recently, Aisling & co have introduced a new pricing structure with Bronze, Silver & Gold tickets which determines access level for you. Learn more here.
A massive thanks to Aisling for her time & for sharing insight on her business, the art world & herself. Be sure to pop by & see what’s happening.