Elisabeth Grover
07794351958

Tag: calm

My Life in Journals

I’ve been looking through my old journals recently and feeling amazed at the amount of history contained in all these little books. The image above is just a small collection of my writing as I have many Moleskine extra large journals on my shelf that I use for my Morning Pages.

Journaling Outside

It’s been a beautiful sunny week in the UK and the pleasure of being outside and writing my thoughts on paper. I have kept a journal since I was a teenager, making lists, enjoying stationery shops and creating en plein air.

 

I  remember my diaries from those days, the aspects of my life that I used to journal about and all the history those books contained. I was utterly devastated when my mum threw my books out during a house move. I don’t think she recognised the importance of those little books and how I would have enjoyed looking through them now.

30 years on..

I am still keeping a journal but it’s moved on a little since then. I write my Morning Pages as soon as I get up. One page of an extra large blank Moleskine and sometimes it’s a struggle to know what to write. It may be stream of consciousness stuff but putting it all down on paper, and the routine of making it part of my early morning, is very therapeutic. I light a candle or burn incense and write…and write…and write……

Different Types of Journal

I get back from my dog walk at around 7.30 and I go into the garden with one of my faithful friends, sit in my hammock with a cup of herbal tea and I paint. I have different types of journal depending on how I am feeling that day.

Scribbles that Matter

An A5 dotted grid journal that I use for watercolouring in and journaling over the paint. I also create my daily spreads in my Scribbles journal.

I have been really impressed with the engagement of the company letting me know when the new Scribbles journals are back in stock and replying to queries on social media. Out of the three ‘Big Hitters’ – Moleskine, Leuchturm and Scribbles, the latter is my favourite.

My Travellers Company ‘Travelers Notebook’ (or TN for short).

I have looked at these TN’s for a while and not been convinced that they fit my needs but recently I have become rather hooked. They come in different sizes and are made by companies other than Travellers Company, and are rather beautiful.

I have the passport sized, which is tiny but fits in my bag and is ready to go. I create a basic weekly spread so that I have my week in front of me when I’m out and about, and I have a notes page too. I love the size and the flexibility of this cute little journal.

My Chic Sparrow Outlander

This is a brand from the States which I found by accident but I can see what all the fuss is about. Beautiful leather with pockets for all sorts of ephemera and is a good size. Mine is a pocket which fits the little Moleskine Cahier pads that you can buy in Waterstones. That makes it handy when I don’t have time to check out the amazing range of inserts on Etsy.

I use this one for taking out and about and writing notes in coffee shops using this. It’s such a pleasure to keep in my bag and bring it out when inspiration strikes.

I bought mine nearly new in the UK as the shipping is high. There is a FB group where you can buy the American planners second hand or nearly new and it’s been a godsend for me (and my budget!).

Journal’s Creed A5 size

I’m waiting for my new journal from Journal’s Creed to arrive so I’ll let you know what I think when I get it. I loved the look of it online as I could customise and choose the colours that resonate with me. Of course, I chose purple!

I’ve got some pretty inserts from Citridori which I am looking forward to using. I’ll use this one journal for painting and creating pretty lists of meaningful things.

Filofax A5 Malden

This is my business planner so all my appointments go into this diary and I take it out to appointments with me. I have had a custom made cover for my business and I am thrilled with the beautiful felting with a picture of Bumble, my therapy room on it.

 

Earthworks Journals

I have been a fan of Earthworks Journals for many years and the featured image shows my collection of different sizes and types. Beautiful leather and perfect for my ‘Dear Diary’ type entries.

Art Journals

These aren’t strictly journals as I don’t write in them, but I still find them therapeutic to use. I have a collection of different sizes and use each one dependent on how I’m feeling that day. I tend to use acrylic and gesso in my art journals and paint abstracts but I have been leaning towards watercolours recently.

I have spent a lot of time over the years creating a collection of journals that I love spending time with. There’s something wonderfully calming about looking at all of the journals on my shelf and thinking that each one is filled with episodes from my life. I liken it to my bookshelf where I look at each book and know that I have read it at sometimes in my life (apart from the big pile of non-fiction books by my desk clambering for my attention!).

I hope you have a great week with your journals, please let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to write about. My next post, which is almost ready to publish, looks at the subject of comparison in the journal community. I hope to see you there.

 

 

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The Power of Silence

I’m delighted to introduce you to our special guest and Mindfulness teacher Ruth Farenga who has written about a subject that is close to my heart, the power of silence. I have really enjoyed reading her reflective piece and I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments below.  

Ruth is Mindfulness teacher and Founder of Mindful Pathway – providing Mindfulness courses for the public in St Albans at the Albany Centre and onsite courses for businesses in the UK.

As I peer into my teacup, I contemplate what silence is. Is it rich or nothingness? Is it the absence of words or total sound around us? Thich Nhat Hahn describes real silence as the cessation of talking of both the mouth and the mind. It is an opportunity to truly stop without the clutter or noise of society.

As an only child, I disliked silence. I experienced the loneliness of long summers with few people to play with – the absence of company to entertain. It was dull and I was bored. Indeed, in my twenties, I always felt the need for company. If I had nothing to do for an evening, I would go through a list of 5-10 people to call or fill the time with a series of records, not enjoying the potential quiet time.

I needed to fill the void.

So how do we experience silence? In the 19th Century, Thoreau retreated from society for two years into the woods of New England – to discover the depths of solitude, inform deep states of consciousness and his subsequent writing.

But such extreme measures may not be possible, or even needed.

First steps

My first experience was a silent Mindfulness day in Oxford in 2012. I had taken the 8 week Mindfulness course and the silent day was an opportunity to ‘deepen our practice’, whatever that meant, but I was both curious and apprehensive. There were 30 of us in the room and we had signed up for jobs to assist with the flow of the day and sat down.

I was not fully prepared for the rollercoaster of emotions that day. The teaching was tender and gentle. We explored sitting meditations, mindful walking and movement. It was a day of paradoxical feelings – as it progressed, I felt more and more lonely but yet rested at the same time. I felt a relief to not having to talk to anyone, but at the same time, I felt shunned at not being acknowledged by my fellow participants. The lunchtime brought a new wave of isolation as mealtime conjured up expectations for me as a social experience. Meanwhile, I studied the variety on my plate with a new mindful affection.

At the end of the day, we were asked to reflect on our day. For many, including me, it was a rush of emotions and we spoke through tears to explain how we felt. Loneliness, peace, agitation, being sidelined, awareness, sadness, pain, happiness – the lot. I was relieved that the others felt the depth of emotion as I thought I was the only one.

It was the start of a fruitful relationship with silence.

On Retreat

I’ve now experienced and taught many Mindfulness days and retreats but perhaps the most memorable so far was a 5 night silent retreat at the secular Buddhist retreat centre, Gaia House in Devon. It felt like a challenge I was ready for.

Again, waves of emotion came, not as extreme as in the past but still notable. The first 2 days were the most difficult. What hit me most was, despite all that I’ve learnt, I was playing a narrative – ‘by now I should be able to maintain a still mind’. Our teacher talked in depth about how expectation and striving for something can limit us. We can’t go on retreat to expect a still mind because ‘it knows’! The hidden agenda of the ego will trip us up and, therefore, we need to be without agenda, to allow and welcome whatever may come.

By the second half of the retreat, I had, to a large extent, allowed the experience to be what it is. The edges of ‘suffering’ had softened. Despite our lack of words, I developed warmth for my fellow ‘retreatants’ and respected how many don’t make eye contact. They no longer needed to fill my void. It is true that being in silence with other people can create an intimacy. There was often a dance of movement and communication in the corridors, we didn’t need to speak, we could show compassion without speaking or even looking at each other.

Taking silence into everyday life

Last Christmas (2016), the Pope advised us amid the rush of daily life to make time for silence. His example is to use a nativity scene but for the non-religious, other ways can be found to take a pause from the hustle and bustle. It could be a tree that you visit, a view or a simple meditation that allows you some silence.

Silence is very personal. It can cause us to stare inwardly, introspectively, and ‘suffer’ as if obsessed about how silence affects us personally. However, silence and stillness is something you can always access, yet you need to allow it in, to become its friend. To start listening to yourself and to appreciate its depth and richness by spending time in dedicated silence with others. This is a journey that is worth embarking on.

It turns out that this only child learned to appreciate (and need) silence, the space, the depth and the openness it brings.

A Little Space

IMG_2542 As a holistic practitioner, I felt that my first blog post ought to be about living my values. You’ll hear me talking about values in my posts as I find that the words that represent values, and what those words mean, really inspire me and make me who I am.

This morning, I wrote about making time for yourself for a feature in my forthcoming newsletter and it prompted me to start here.  It’s hard to give to others when you are tired and feeling over burdened with no space to think. So I thought I would start my blog by taking a picture of me having time to myself in The Garden Sanctuary before my children get up. You can see ‘Bumble’ my therapy space in the background.

A little about my morning ritual. Although my four children are older now, I have been prioritising this space for a long time, even when they were little. The only thing that changes is the venue. Inside V Out. I’m not keen enough to sit outside in the winter even though I would like to! I am a morning person so this is the ideal time for me to mentally create my day. Evening’s may work better for you, or during the day, and that’s great too. As long as you are building that time in and prioritising it daily as you would any other diary event, it doesn’t really matter when it is.

I get up out of bed as soon as I wake and I make myself a large cup of herbal tea. On a lovely day like this, I’ll take it out into the garden to sit and reflect on the day ahead.  I have a lovely little water feature which gently flows in the background so it helps to clear my head before the day begins. I use a journal idea which I have adapted from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way  called The Morning Pages. She advises hand writing three pages of A4 a day which I haven’t been able to achieve ( I am human after all!) so I adapted the idea and cut it down to one page of extra large moleskine journal. That way it’s achievable and I do it daily. I’ll be writing more about this in subsequent blog posts as I think it’s been a real help in getting all my ‘stuff’ out before I start my day.

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I have a separate Moleskine book for a list of 20 affirmations that I’m currently working on. When I’m writing, I think about how great I will feel when I am achieving them. One of my affirmations is to be a certain weight again. As I’m writing the affirmation down on paper, I think about what it’s like to wear size 10 jeans and I embrace that wonderful feeling. I do the same with the other 19  affirmations so this does take some time. I don’t do it daily, maybe three times a week but in between those times, I am thinking about the feelings I will get when the affirmations come true.

In the following blog posts, I will talk about journal writing, affirmations and making time for yourself in a busy life as well as posts about alternative health, aromatherapy, mindfulness, creating calm in your day, meditation and visualisation.

Before I go, I will leave you with an image of my mindfulness trainer, Coco the Dog. As soon as I sat down to create this post, she decided to dig up the garden in search of buried treasure (those lovely ants). Yes, it was a good lesson for me as I felt the stress levels rise whilst chasing her unsuccessfully around the garden.

Note to self: In order to do one thing really well, I  can only do one thing at a time.

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