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A good friend once told me to “Stop Should-ing on myself”.

It was brilliant advice and I thought I would share it with you today, World mental Health Day.

 

I had been feeling glum and complaining: “Oh I should do this, I shouldn’t have done that”, to which my friend replied, in her own laconic way:

“Stop Should-ing on yourself”.

It made so much sense. So much of suffering is caused by beliefs such as:

 

I should be this…

I should be that…

I should do this…

I should do that…

I should be more…

I should be less…

I should have…

I should feel…

I should, I should, I should…

Plus an equal list of “I shouldn’ts” to match.

 

‘Should’ is defined as: used to indicate obligation, duty or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions.

 

So what we are doing when we ‘Should’ on ourselves is piling on self-criticism; probably with a good old dollop of guilt as well. ‘Should’ is not so much a call to action but a means of berating oneself. ‘Should’ can make a person feel rotten, especially in terms mental health and well-being

An example being: “I should feel happy but I don’t” Where we have both criticism and guilt in one simple sentence.

So what could we use instead of ‘should’?

The first challenge is being aware of the times when you are ‘Should-ing’ on yourself and dwelling on self-criticism. (I like to recall my friend’s voice when I find myself falling into that trap).

The second is acknowledging the present situation for what it is, warts and all. View it as dispassionately as possible, like an impartial witness (this is a practice in mindfulness). Remove ‘should’ from that thought along with its associated guilt and shame. So, in the example of “I should feel happy but I don’t” can be replaced with: “I am not happy at the moment but that’s OK, this feeling will pass”

The third is to replace ‘Should’ with ‘I Can…’ Transform thoughts away from negative self-criticism towards what is achievable and positive. This is a way of opening up possibilities rather than shutting down in the shame of “I should”.

 

I hope that you find this useful. Wishing you all a good World Mental Health Day and remember:

“Stop Should-ing on yourself” .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a short guided relaxation for busy people; known as ‘Yoga Nidra’, or yoga-sleep.

 

It is mental health awareness week so I decided to share this yoga nidra. I hope that you find it relaxing.

The purpose of this yoga nidra is to let your body fall into a deep state of relaxation but for your mind to remain awake. It aids a deeper state of relaxation than just sleep alone.

I have been giving guided yoga nidra relaxations and meditations for well over a decade now. This recording is from the early days, however, many people have enjoyed it, so I hope you will too! I will add different relaxations and meditations to my You Tube channel from now on, so please subscribe if you want to access more yoga tips and stress-relieving techniques.

Happy relaxing!

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‏I have a confession: Sometimes I rebel against  yoga ….

We have all been there: we want to practice yoga but there is something stopping us. “I’ll practice tonight” we tell ourselves, or: “Maybe not tonight, maybe I’ll get up early tomorrow morning and practice before breakfast” –  and then we lie in. Why do we rebel against yoga, time and time again? This is a question that is close to my heart as recently I had found myself rebelling against yoga.

Misunderstanding yoga

I believe one of the reasons that people rebel against practicing yoga is the desire for perfection and the fear of falling short before they even start. There is a perception (often perpetrated by yogis themselves), that yoga practitioners glide through life on a rainbow cloud of bliss: somehow immune to everyday human experiences and emotions; never to get sick or injured, sad or upset, angry, proud, jealous, lazy, or any of the other Seven Deadly Sins.

‏It is a fallacy. Yogis, like everyone else on the planet, have all of these experiences. Let’s face it, if you are in excellent health and are naturally enlightened, then you have no need for yoga. Does that apply to anyone you know? Not me, that’s for sure. Everyone finds yoga for a reason.

‏Recently, I saw a yoga meme that read:

“I don’t know why people think yogis are together, we are all here because we’re mad”.

‏That made me laugh.

‏Yoga is not just my passion but it is also my business, which in itself causes conflict. I have been making changes to my business to incorporate major changes in my life, (including a new found love of the ocean and the therapeutic benefits of being with the sea through surfing).

‏And then I stopped.

I rebelled against yoga.

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Yoga Therapy: How can the breath relieve stress?

A very dedicated student of mine contacted me recently; she said she would be unable to make yoga for a few weeks as she was sitting with a family member in hospital whom she feared would not pull through. I could sense that she needed some reassurance …

I thought about how to respond for a long while…

In the end I opted for simplicity: “Just breathe….”

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