Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

If This Was to Stay

Posted on: May 23rd, 2022 by Domante No Comments

“When [blank] happens, then I’ll be able to [blank]” – does this sound familiar? Everyone I’ve ever met is running this monologue in their heads pretty much on daily basis. We especially tend to go there when we find ourselves in discomfort. In other words, when we don’t like our current circumstances.

When I find a partner, I’ll be loved and happy.
When I have more money, I’ll be able to go on holiday.
When I get rid of this huge pile of work, I’ll start looking after my health.
When I lose weight, I’ll start dressing nicely.

What if your current circumstances were here to stay? Be it extra weight, lack of money, no significant other or huge workload. What would you need to birth in yourself in order to be ok with what is? Discomfort invites us to grow internally into new ways of being and thinking. It is our friend, not the enemy to be resisted and ‘waited out’.

It doesn’t mean staying forever single, broke, buried under a pile of work or overweight. It simply means accepting the present moment as it is and starting to live today instead of waiting for the time ‘when [blank] happens’.

Can you learn to appreciate being single? It is a wonderful opportunity to get to know you. How do you like your eggs cooked? Remember the film Runaway Bride with Julia Roberts? Well, she liked her eggs scrambled when she was with John, hard boiled with Harry and poached with James (names and ways of egg-preparation are not accurate).

Instead of going on a far-away holiday, could you explore the countryside nearby, do a digital detox or treat yourself to a massage in order to rewind a little? Change of scenery and novel experiences work magic.

Could you start taking small steps towards healthier living today? Perhaps 15minutes meditation before bed or ditching processed foods? Seemingly small changes yield big results long term. There is no point to work yourself to exhaustion and then shock your body with a week on juice cleanse programme. Only to…repeat the same cycle over again. Small sustainable changes will bring better results and, effectively, will give you energy to tackle tasks with more oomph.

Perhaps you could start dressing nicely even if you still carry that excess weight. Make a little effort, so you feel better about yourself looking in the mirror. Show yourself that you care about you. You will be surprised how such simple things can alter your self-image long term.

Truth is, [blank] may never happen. In fact, it is more likely to happen when we loosen our tight grip on it and stop resisting the present. Otherwise, we are at risk of spending a great deal of time waiting and not living.

Bring Heart into the Matter

Posted on: May 10th, 2022 by Domante No Comments

Goethe famously said that we murder to dissect. This applies to the current Western culture like never before. We are overvaluing the left side of the brain where logic lives. There is a huge emphasis on things being scientifically proven, backed up by evidence and carefully analysed. We have ‘a strategy’ for things like inspiration, creativity and love. We dissect sentences in the conversation only to have a problem with individual words.

We have to murder (metaphorically) something first before we can dissect it. To murder is to take its life away – the vibrancy, the mystery, the heart. Unknowingly we murder our conversations, the moments of intimacy, our creative endeavours and even ourselves. It all becomes dry and lifeless.

What if…

You saw yourself as a mystical creature that you are. Not too fat, too thin, complying/not complying with beauty standards, smart or not smart enough, etc.

You engaged your heart in every conversation, you employed compassion and understanding as if your life depended on it.

You were so present in the moment that you could hear the Universe talking to you because it talks to us all the time, we are just too busy in our heads to notice it. It speaks through that small silent voice within, through events, through other people, through seemingly insignificant things that grasp our attention for no apparent reason.

You followed a creative urge, be it drawing, playing music or making your home into a sanctuary.

You dropped the notion that you know everything and allowed life to show you what it means. Instead of you telling life what it is supposed to mean.

Living with curiosity, seeing people as if for the first time, opening ourselves to different experiences and surrendering the idea that we know it all makes us vibrant with life and possibility.

Your Journey

Posted on: November 27th, 2021 by Domante No Comments

Joseph Campbell spoke about a journey that we all take in life, a hero’s journey. It starts when a hero is called to adventure. Although, initially the hero may resist the calling, eventually s/he leaves the zone of comfort and steps into the unknown. There are many challenges the hero must face. Somewhere along the way after overcoming all the trials and tribulations the hero is transformed. The journey always ends with homecoming of some sorts.

This journey is reflected in mythology, folklore, fairy tales and even movies. In the story The Ugly Duckling, the tiny ugly creature is abused by other ducks and rejected by his own mother. He wanders into the unknown in search for belonging, but one challenge follows another. Bruised and battered he finds himself spending the winter in a cave next to a frozen lake. When the spring arrives, the flock of swans descends to the lake. The ugly duckling finds these white birds so beautiful, yet he is afraid. Despite his fear, he decides to take a risk of being killed by the beautiful birds as he can’t stand the life of solitude and ugliness any longer. To the ugly duckling’s surprise, the swans accept him. Furthermore, when he sees his own reflection in the water, he realises that he was a swan all along. The ugly duckling found his flock. Homecoming.

We go through the hero’s journey in order to get purified, to remove the layers and layers of conditioning, the disempowering stories that we told ourselves enough times to think they depict who we really are, the beliefs that aren’t even our own, the attachments to people, to things, to our identities, all the ‘shoulds’, ‘could haves’ and ‘if onlies’. We venture into the unknown in order to undo all that doing, so we can discover who we truly are. And then…be that, because it is the only way to attain the freedom. Furthermore, it gives the permission to other people to be themselves too.

“The journey of the hero is about the courage to seek the depths; the image of creative rebirth; the eternal cycle of change within us; the uncanny discovery that the seeker is the mystery which the seeker seeks to know. The hero’s journey is a symbol that binds, in the original sense of the word, two distant ideas, the spiritual quest of the ancients with the modern search for identity, “always the one, shape-shifting yet marvelously constant story that we find.” – Joseph Campbell

All the grief and suffering in our life seen in this manner instantly has grace. It is no longer purposeless. It takes a shift in perception and a shift in identity from a victim to a hero for us to be able to experience the journey in all its beauty and richness, to accept what is, whether it is joyful or incredibly sad. Suddenly all the armour drops and something very fragile yet incredibly powerful emerges – the open heart. Living with the open heart gives us a glimpse of that grandeur that we truly are, it changes the way we relate to others and to ourselves. This is a true homecoming.

I believe it is so important to understand where we are on our journey. This makes us more peaceful, acceptant and effective in life.

Call to adventure. It can be anything that leads us to venture out, to explore, to open ourselves to new possibilities. It may start as a nagging voice inside telling us go into the wild, it may be a personal tragedy: loss of a loved one, a job, a status or a scary diagnose. It might come in a form of inspiration, an idea, a desire to do things differently. Anything that pushes us out of the familiar. We know when we are called because it seems like something out of this world is sending us help in the form of serendipities, coincidences, etc.

Crossing the threshold. This is where life usually tests our commitment. We receive the temptation of sorts that invites us to behave in the ways we always did, to make another loop of the ‘same old same old’ in our life story, a temptation to go blind to our own inner depths and treasures. Our only chance to cross the threshold is by saying “No, I am not stepping on the same rake over again, however tempting it may be”. It is committing to something that carries no promise. The ultimate trust.

Challenges and temptations. When we enter into the unknown, there will be challenges to overcome. We will be presented with situations and feelings we haven’t experienced before. In every instant when the discomfort arises, we will be given a choice whether to fall for another temptation and go blind again or to commit even stronger to our growth.

Death and rebirth. At the point where we would have been tested enough times and overcome the old ways of being and thinking, the shift occurs. Something that is no longer serving dies in us and makes room for a new depth and more wisdom. At that point we stop relating to the person that we were before embarking on the journey. We are reborn.

Transformation. This can be very visible or very discrete. We may suddenly become more observant, stop talking as much, need more silence and solitude. With every transformation the focus shifts from the outside a little bit more inward.

Atonement. It is owning our part of the story, clearly seeing the part we played in the unfoldment of our own lives and taking responsibility for it. It is about saying to ourselves “I know, I wasn’t forgiving there/ I lacked understanding/ I didn’t appreciate enough what I had/ I was selfish/ I lacked compassion/I failed to see their point of view/ who do I own an apology to?”. This isn’t about beating ourselves up or trying to correct the wrong that we’ve done, so we can then have back what he had before. It is about taking responsibility for our part of the story. Atoning means genuinely feeling the healthy remorse. It teaches us to do better next time.

Return. We come back home carrying the gift – a deeper insight, a piece of wisdom, new outlook, new perception, stronger connection to who we truly are. That intangible something that most often can’t be seen by others but can be strongly felt.

Where are you on your hero’s journey?

Are you resisting the calling?

Are you facing the dark night of the soul (going through challenges) at the moment?

Or perhaps you are on your way back home bruised and battered yet victorious?

Walking Each Other Home

Posted on: October 14th, 2021 by Domante No Comments

What do we all crave the most? To be loved and accepted for who we are. It is just that simple. Yet so few of us even allow ourselves to have that expectation. Somewhere down the line in our childhood we were showed that we have to be a certain way in order to be loved and accepted. Perhaps we had to swallow our feelings, stop showing affection, ‘man up’, ‘cheer up’, be quiet… Where our basic safety was threatened, we learned to lie and to manipulate in order to survive. These coping mechanisms are so deeply ingrained in us that they become our highway to getting our needs met.

We grew up but the craving hasn’t changed – we are desperate to be loved and accepted for who we truly are, to be able to relax in another’s presence. Me, you, everybody we know has this craving. What can we do with this knowledge? There is a choice here. We can either wait until somebody drops their armour down (essentially, becomes perfect) in order to start loving and accepting them fully or we can start loving and accepting them now with all their imperfections. If we look at the recovery journeys of most addicts, we’ll find out that their lives were turned around just because somebody truly believed in them, accepted them with the addiction, didn’t dehumanise them for their weakness, didn’t make the identity for them based on the addiction. The existence of such support is actually a key factor in recovery. One person is enough to facilitate the change, whether it is an addiction psychologist, a coach or an aunt, who saw them beyond the addiction, who listened to them and showed them that they are valued for who they are fully and completely.

“We’re all just walking each other home” – Ram Dass

According to A Course in Miracles, to give and to receive are one in truth. This means that we only get to keep what we give. When we blame (doesn’t matter how ‘right’ we are and how many people agree with us), we feel guilty – we have an emotional hangover. Blame, anger, rejection will never bring us peace and joy. We give peace and joy in order to have it.

On this occasion, the mentioned principle in the Course would mean we need to start loving and accepting those closest to us fully for who they are, stop making our love conditional, start rejecting bad behaviour, not the people. When we give the unconditional love and acceptance to others and allow them to truly relax in our presence, we ultimately extend it to ourselves. The notion of us needing to love ourselves first so that then we can love others is truly ridiculous, because our understanding and perception of ourselves from a very early age is formed through the interactions with other people. I hear you, it is incredibly difficult to see the innocence in people who hurt us but it is a choice. A choice to either dwell in bitterness or to embark on a journey to forgiveness. When we choose the latter, the heavy burden is lifted off our shoulders and the whole universe starts conspiring to help us. Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean staying in the company of the people who hurt us, it means regaining our peace and, if we need to, leaving with love and grace.

When we choose to love and accept others for who they are fully and completely, we no longer have to work so hard on healing our own wounds. They are addressed in the process as we raise our awareness, commit to being the light/the blessing onto the world and surrender to the inner guidance. We truly start seeing that everyone we meet acts as a mirror to reflect either our own light or our own darkness.

Our happiness directly depends on the choice we make, whether to be judges, prosecutors or the healers in the world.

Transform Your Pain

Posted on: May 20th, 2021 by Domante No Comments

If you woke up with a little heartache this morning over something or someone, don’t worry we’ve got this.

Our pain actually has a purpose. On the physical level when we break a bone or strain a muscle, we experience pain. It is body’s way to draw our attention to the part that needs to be healed. Otherwise we wouldn’t know. The same applies to emotional pain. We could say that it is our spirit’s way to draw attention to unhealthy patterns that we are running.

As soon as we find ourselves in some sort of emotional turbulence, we tend to look for the cause on the outside. We point fingers, we blame, our mind focuses narrowly on the subject or on the object that presumably is responsible for the way we feel. This approach is not serving us, instead it is creating even more havoc.

I came across a rather liberating concept when reading the Tao many years ago that changed my perception. The emotional pain is showing us where we hold an unhealthy attachment to someone or something. It is pointing us in the direction of that very thing that we need to let go of in a sense of being OK in the presence of it and in the absence of it.

We can have preferences, such as ‘I would rather be with this person than not’, ‘I would rather live in this city than in that city’, ‘I would rather have this much money than this little money’, etc. However, as soon as a preference becomes an attachment we are bound to suffer. Even some of the language that is commonly used shows how strong the attachments are, i.e. ‘I would die if s/he leaves me’, ‘I’d rather die than live in the countryside’, ‘I’ll kill myself if I don’t get this job’, ‘I can only be happy if x, y, z’. Of course, we don’t mean it literally but using this language just reaffirms again and again the attachments we have.

By sticking to our attachments, we are not only causing our own suffering, but we also significantly limit our possibilities. How many times did you think that you rehearsed every possible outcome, yet life presented you with a big surprise? Being free of attachments means being free of pain whilst opening ourselves to the unknown – to the infinite possibilities.

What’s causing you pain?

Is it your intimate relationship or the absence of it?

Is it your financial situation?

Is it your career or the absence of it?

Is it the particular outcome of any situation?

The true painkiller is the acceptance of what is. It is the realisation that whatever situation we are in is perfect, it is the way it should be. When we surrender to the unknown and suddenly become OK with what is and what might be, the things start shifting. We remove the resistance that otherwise would have kept us stuck.

Where to begin?

All roads lead to gratitude. However horrible the situation that you find yourself in is, start looking for the things to appreciate. Drop the expectations and make ‘thank you’ into a daily prayer. The pain will ease immediately as gratitude is such an antidote to any negative emotion. I promise you, in time when the resistance dissipates the things in your life will start shifting too. You will stand there in awe of that what is unfolding with no grasping or pushing and pulling in all directions on your part.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor E. Frankl

Your Most Important Relationship

Posted on: March 25th, 2021 by Domante No Comments

It is impossible to explain to someone what mango tastes like. Yet for somebody who actually tasted it, just hearing a word ‘mango’ creates a very sensory experience. For a long time, the notion of the most important relationship being the one with yourself was like that mango to me. I kept on hearing how amazingly sweet and juicy it is. I understood it intellectually.

Last weekend though in the intensity of kundalini yoga teacher’s training I ‘got it’. It became evident to me that our relationship with the Higher Self/ Universe/ God/ Spirit/ Grace/ Unified Field (pick a name that resonates with you) supersedes any other relationship in our life. There is a hole deep inside each one of us that I am sure you have experienced the feeling of at some point. That hole typically feels like a lack, longing or loneliness. It takes us out on the quest to find the perfect intimate relationship, to build friendships, to strive for recognition, for significance, to become rich and famous. What we don’t account for is that all of these things will fail us at some point, none of them can fill the hole for a long time. There is nothing wrong with beautiful relationship, significance or being rich and famous, these just aren’t the right ‘filling’.

The relationship that supersedes any other is the alignment with our deeper truth, it is the stillness and the quiet knowing that we are a part of something bigger, just like the wave is a part of the ocean. Maintaining this relationship then means finding and fostering the connection with our deeper truth. A Course in Miracles says that 5 minutes in the morning spent with god ensure that he is in charge of our thought forms throughout the day. In other words, if we spent five minutes in the morning to realign with our deeper truth, we’d live the rest of our day more authentically. It would impact the quality of our decisions, how we show up for the people in our life, how we react in challenging situations and whether we are moving in the direction of our fulfilment.

There are many ways to connect to our deeper truth, to nurture the most important relationship we have. Kundalini yoga, meditation and gratitude do the magic for me. I know that if I start my day with either one of these practices (or all of them as they are so intertwined), it will be somewhat different. It doesn’t mean that nothing unpleasant will happen and the day will be just a pure bliss, however, my alignment will completely change how I respond because my response will be coming from a place of wholeness rather than lack.

When we take care of the most important relationship in our life (that with ourselves), our cup is overflowing and we show up more giving, more compassionate and more understanding in every other relationship we have.

What Is Controlling Your Life?

Posted on: March 18th, 2021 by Domante No Comments

For as long as I remember I’ve been told that I am weak, that I am too emotional, too sensitive, too fragile. I’ve been told that something was inherently wrong with me. Why can’t I just suck it up and be like normal people?!

The older I get, the more I realise that I am not weak, I am strong and beautiful – I allow myself to feel so much. It takes courage to stand still in the face of a difficult emotion, not to cover it up, not to run away from it, not to eat it up or drown it in a glass of wine, not to gamble it away, not to make it somebody else’s fault, not to sedate it with medication, just surrender to it. Have you ever tried it? What I learned recently is that very few of us actually ever had.

Uncomfortable emotions are like messengers, they are telling us that deeper enquiry is needed, they are offering us an opportunity to overcome and grow. Allowing ourselves to feel doesn’t mean going into full-blown drama. Drama is self-imposed, it is nothing but a story we made out of the initial emotion. We can save a great deal of time and energy by refusing to go there. The initial emotion (the pain) though is something we have to face and enquire into.

What happens to the most of us when we have that initial emotion, when discomfort arises, we launch right into our default coping mechanism. This is a self-soothing behaviour that we have adopted fairly early in life. Some of us reach for food, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, others have an urge to buy something, to open social media feed, to bury themselves in work, to have a conversation with someone, to start cleaning the house, to watch TV, to play video games… You name it. Some of the coping mechanisms are healthier than others, however, the key is in recognition why we do what we do. There is nothing inherently wrong with a glass of wine or with shopping when we choose to do it consciously. Otherwise, it is doing us – we are no longer in control of our spending, smoking, gambling, alcohol or food intake…

It is very difficult to suddenly start noticing and facing our emotions, because it literally is a fraction of a second between the moment an emotion arises and the moment we launch into our coping mechanism. However, we can do this backwards, because, if we are honest with ourselves, we know exactly what our coping mechanisms are (Do you eat crap, although, you know it is not good for you? Do you drink too much, overspend, etc.? What’s your poison of choice?).

A friend of mine, who wanted to quit smoking, went to see the addiction psychologist. She advised him to have a journal, and every time before he picks up a cigarette, to answer a simple question “What’s the reason behind his desire to smoke a cigarette at this moment?” In other words, what is going on for him right now? She said he could smoke after answering the question if he still felt like it. However, every time he would answer the question, he’d lose his interest in smoking and he’d put the cigarette down. He actually hasn’t been smoking for over three years now.

Answering one simple question helps us enquire into the uncomfortable emotion that has arisen and, effectively, to face it. Once it is faced, we no longer need to self-soothe. It doesn’t mean that it will never arise again. It most certainly will, but it will no longer be in control of our life.

Remember, the pain (that sudden difficult emotion) doesn’t last, it passes very quickly if we allow it. Drama, on the contrary, is something we feed, indulge in and foster. If we suppress that pain or make a drama out of it, it can last for years on end. The only difference between suppression and drama is that one is an explosion on the inside, the other one – on the outside.

So, how could you apply this in your everyday life?

You know exactly the behaviours that don’t serve you. Keep an eye on them. You want to be slim and healthy but keep on reaching for a packet of naughty biscuits or a piece of rich fatty sugary cake?

Well, next time you catch yourself craving naughty stuff, pause, open your journal (or Notes on your phone) and answer the question. “What is the reason behind this desire? What’s going on right now inside of me?” The answer might be “I’m just hungry”. Great – make a healthier choice (you might have actually skipped a meal, haven’t slept enough or haven’t had enough water). In this case, the reason might be purely physiological. However, the answer might also be “I’m anxious right now” or “I feel a hole inside of me that I need to fill” or “I feel deeply sad”. Really allow yourself to experience the emotion and to pinpoint it as accurately as you can. This will do as a starting point. It will help you to take back the control of your health, finances and just overall life.

In time, you can enquire further by asking yourself “What triggered this emotion?”, “What is the message – what needs to shift/to be healed in me?”. Change happens one good enquiry at a time.

We are so fascinated with exploring the cosmos, different planets, galaxies, yet we forget that there is a whole universe inside each one of us.

Rise Above the Drama

Posted on: March 4th, 2021 by Domante No Comments

I have spoken to a friend recently who was undermined and harshly judged at work despite her obvious competence and remarkable work ethic. These things hurt especially when you know that you sacrificed the time with your family, your hobbies and your health in order to deliver projects in good time.

When we find ourselves in a situation like this, we immediately want to react whether that is by defending, attacking or retracting. If we jump to one of these knee-jerk reactions, we take ourselves down to the level of those people who caused the perceived injustice. We are now a part of a drama triangle, effectively becoming a victim with those ‘wrong-doers’ being the persecutors. Soon we start looking for so-called rescuers (people who would affirm our innocence in the situation) to fight our corner. Often, people get stuck in the drama triangle for weeks and months on end.

There is no solution to be found when we are in a drama triangle. We can’t see the situation clearly because we are busy playing our role. Furthermore, we are stripped of our true power.

In any conflict resolution, it is absolutely a must for at least one of the people involved to rise above the situation. Otherwise, everyone is just boiling in the same soup.

I want this person to be you!

So, how could you?

Respect yourself. You don’t need to respond immediately. Often the immediate response makes us feel emotionally hungover few hours later. Be a little bit like Mark Darcy from the Bridget Jones series. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, his normal response to any type of insult would be “Alright then, I see”. Joking aside, leave the room, breathe deeply and give yourself time to digest what just happened. If you can’t just walk out, ask for a 15-minute break.

Rise above the situation. Remember, hurt people hurt others. Whatever has been said is not coming from a happy place. Putting yourself in another person’s shoes for a moment can do a magic trick – quickest way to change our perception. What’s going on in this person’s life? What’s going on in their intimate relationship? What is happening for them at work? Any form of attack is usually a call for love. The best question you can ask yourself here is “How can I see this situation differently?”. It shifts our focus from being a victim to gaining much broader perspective.

Communicate non-violently. You can and you probably should still call them out, address the behaviour but with compassion instead of anger and judgement. Explain how what they did/said made you feel without the blame. Ask direct questions but from the place of curiosity, not judgement. “Have I done anything to upset you?” / “Please tell me honestly what aspects of my work are not satisfying to you? I need to know in order to be able to improve”. The preceding steps help to get to this point where you are actually able to communicate in this manner. In my own experience, when I spoke to anyone in this way, people got very humble and 100% of the time they told me that it wasn’t about me, that they were facing some challenging situation either at home or with their health.

Set the example. Don’t tell people, instead show them how to treat you. Remember, you always set the example to people on how to treat you. People will only treat you as well as you treat yourself. Good questions to ask yourself in order to shift this are: “Do I truly value and respect myself?” / “Do I truly value my contribution to this project at work?” / “Do I truly feel like I am giving my 100% or am I feeling a little bit guilty (even if for no apparent reason)?”. People pick up the energy, therefore, on a subconscious level they know how you feel, whether that is justified or unjustified. People pick up when you are feeling ‘not good enough’ and, again subconsciously, they will be treating you this way. Effectively, the conflict on the outside (in what we call the ‘real world’) points right at the conflict inside of us. That conflict is between the deeply ingrained limiting beliefs that we hold about ourselves and about the world without even realising it, and what we think and believe on the conscious level.

Every tricky situation that upsets us is usually a call to have a really good look at ourselves and adjust the relationship that we have with ourselves first and foremost. When all we want to do is to point the finger at others, it takes some practice and stamina to come back to our centre and to turn this ‘pain’ into a gift, but we can do it – we can do hard things.

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

Posted on: January 28th, 2021 by Domante No Comments

Topic for this week is sleep. Why? Because it is the most undervalued asset in the area of human performance and wellbeing.

According to a study, sleeping 4 hours (or less) “ages” brain performance by close to a decade (Boom!). That’s serious cognitive impairment stemming from a single night of poor sleep. Lack of sleep also lowers the body’s production of human growth hormone, which helps slow the body’s ageing process and affects everything from the ageing of our organs to the number of wrinkles we have. Furthermore, poor sleep accelerates the ageing of the immune system and makes us more prone to chronic, age-related diseases including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Lack of sleep increases levels of the damaging brain proteins that are linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Scary!

Furthermore, several studies have indicated that sleep deprivation affects food preferences and is linked to increased appetite. When we don’t get enough sleep, we crave the ‘bad stuff’. In other words, we need fast fuel and the fastest fuel available is glucose that we get from carbohydrates.

Due to sleep deprivation many of us end up relying on caffeine and sugar to go through the day. It is not sustainable, and it is truly harming us. Are you ready? Once you know, you can’t ‘unknow’ it…

Routinely getting 7-8 hours sleep is one way to ensure we’re able to perform at our best in all the thinking, planning, decision-making (including our food choices!) and communicating we do throughout our day.

“How on earth do I get 7-8 hours of good night’s sleep?! Have you not seen the news recently?!” I hear you.

If a good night’s sleep doesn’t come naturally to you, you need to be proactive and go after it. Yes, more work to do, but it is all for the more productive and healthier YOU.

Ventilate the bedroom 30mins before going to bed (or sleep with an open window if possible). Studies have shown that the dioxide level in the bedroom goes up fast if we sleep with a closed window. However, sleeping with an open window is not always possible due to noise or cold. Make sure you at least ventilate your bedroom well before going to sleep.

Switch off the heating in the bedroom for the night (or reduce to a minimum). According to science, the most comfortable room temperature for us to sleep is between 15 and 19 degrees Celsius.

Use relaxing scents. Get an essential oil diffuser and stock up on a good quality relaxing scents such as lavender, rose, clary sage, chamomile or frankincense. These scents have so many more wonderful properties other than just relaxing the body.

No screens at least 30mins before bed. I spoke about this in the previous post. Blue light tricks brain into thinking it’s a daytime. Therefore, our pineal gland doesn’t release melatonin that prepares body for sleep. If you absolutely have to use your phone before going to bed, activate the Night Shift setting (Display & Brightness on iPhone and iPad).

Dim the lighting in your bedroom. Research has shown that being in a fully lit room prior to going to sleep results in delayed and shortened production of melatonin compared to dim lighting.

Have a set bedtime and wake up time. Light, time, and melatonin are the main factors that impact the circadian rhythm. Therefore, inconsistent bedtimes may disrupt our circadian rhythm, which may lead to obesity, hypertension, and elevated blood sugar, and the higher risk of developing heart disease.

Establish a ritual to relax the body and the mind. Chamomile tea with your favourite book could do the trick. It was reported that even 6 minutes of reading a (paper) book can ease tension of stress in our body. If you were thinking “What am I going to do 30mins before bed without any screens!?”, here is your answer. You may also consider the last two tips for a good night’s sleep.

Avoid caffeine after 2pm. Caffeine stays long in our body. Therefore, if we consume caffeinated beverage after 2pm, there is a great chance of us having trouble falling asleep or not being able to move into the deeper phase of sleep called REM which benefits learning, memory and mood.

Avoid alcoholic beverages. Consuming alcohol before bed reduces the amount of REM sleep we get. The more alcohol we consume, the more REM sleep is impacted. A study on rats has shown that just 4 days of REM sleep deprivation affects cell proliferation in the part of the brain that contributes to long-term memory. Lack of REM sleep is also linked to reduced coping skills, migraines and obesity.

Have an intense exercising routine. It increases the slow-wave sleep (delta sleep). During the stage 3 of NREM sleep our body consolidates the memories and repairs itself. Our brain has a chance to get a proper rest from activity and recharge.

Take a hot bath. Body heating offers similar benefits to going through an intense exercising routine in terms of our ability to experience more slow-wave sleep afterwards.

Welcome to the Culture of Burnout

Posted on: January 21st, 2021 by Domante No Comments

“I want to curl up in the corner and cry” – says to me one of the strongest women I know. She is a gorgeous looking lady with a beautiful family, fascinating career and a very positive outlook. Normally, our conversations end up in giggles no matter what’s the problem. Not this time… She is absolutely exhausted, yet you could never tell because she holds herself as if she was a Wonder Woman (actually, she is one but they are not immune to burnouts too!).

The study into Google’s search data revealed a 24% spike in 2020 in searches online for terms such as ‘signs of burnout’, compared to 2019. Experts believe that this month (January 2021) we will see a record high burnout spike due to COVID-19.

According to the survey, initiated by The Office Group in September 2020, among millennials, the top three causes of burnout are working longer hours (59%), inability to separate work and personal life (42%) and an uncertain job market (33%). Among workers 50 and older, 48% reported not being able to take “a proper break” since the beginning of lockdown.

Why are the statistics so important? They show exactly where we stand as a society. Living in survival became part of the norm. We think it’s normal because the majority of the people we know are feeling the same. We must understand the implications of living in this ‘norm’ and be proactive about our own wellbeing rather than just wait for the circumstances to change.

When we are stressed, our body is in a ‘fight or flight’ mode: all the blood pumped into arms and legs, all the non-essential for survival systems (such as metabolism, tissue repair, reproduction) are suppressed and operating at a minimum capacity. In other words, our body is deprived of its natural ability to heal and repair, to absorb nutrients, to rest. Furthermore, we are not resourceful or creative. Although, adrenalin running through our bodies may be giving us quite the opposite impression by keeping us alert and active. Remember, it is the quality of work done that truly matters, not the quantity. In survival, we tend to make mistakes.

Human body can sustain short periods of stress, however, prolonged stress can literally kill us. The essential thing to understand is that the most of the madness is in our head, stress is mostly self-induced. Imagine an antelope, it is peacefully grazing on the grass when it sees a predator. Immediately animal’s survival instinct kicks in and it starts running for its life. Once the predator is outrun, the antelope stops and starts peacefully grazing on the grass again. Antelope, quite opposite to us, humans, stays in survival mode only for as long as there is a real danger to its life. We, humans, are able to activate body’s stress response by thought alone. Our brain doesn’t make a distinction between a perceived danger (a fear of missing a deadline) and a life-threatening danger (a stranger with a knife coming towards us).

Let’s get back to burnout.

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. We might be feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, frustrated, lacking in motivation, negative or unable to concentrate. Our work performance might have dropped, the quality of the interpersonal relationship diminished, bad habits creeped in (comforting ourselves with alcohol at the end of the working day, eating junk, smoking etc.) or we actually might have physical health problems.

How to get out of this ‘culture’?

Set relaxation time and treat it like a meeting with a very important client. Put it in your diary.

Unplug. Technology enables work stress to creep into our relaxation time. Impose a ‘no phone at the table’ rule during your family dinners and weekend activities, avoid looking at screens at least half an hour before bedtime. Blue light tricks brain into thinking it’s a daytime. Therefore, your pineal gland doesn’t release melatonin that prepares body for sleep. If you absolutely have to use your phone before going to bed, activate the Night Shift setting (Display & Brightness on iPhone and iPad).

Have a life outside your work. If it means finding a hobby or a like-minded community, do so.

Learn to say ‘no’. Take your wellbeing seriously. You do not have to work overtime every day and every weekend. It is not sustainable.

Get enough sleep. Unless you belong to the 3% of the population that can thrive on less than 6 hours of sleep per night, you should aim for 7-8 hours. Our cortisol (stress hormone) levels are lowest around midnight and highest about an hour after we wake up. Make sure you are fast asleep before midnight, so you can get the benefit of it.

Organise yourself. Part of the stress comes from keeping endless to-do lists in the head. Spill it all out onto a piece of paper and organise it into blocks (whether that’s by project, by type of activity or by completion date).

Stay in touch with your body. Your body signals you when something is not right. Let the body speak for you. Become aware of your shoulders – are they up or down, is there any tension? Place awareness on your jaw – are your teeth clenched tight? Your breath – are you breathing into the top of your lungs (chest expanding)? That’s a stress breath. Take at least a few deep breaths into the bottom of your lungs (your belly expands on the inhale) when you notice any tension in the body.

Get your body moving. Exercise has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression, to relieve stress, to improve mood, self-esteem and cognitive function.

Practice mindfulness. Simply be aware of what you are sensing and feeling – be present whether through meditation, visualisation practice, breathing or prayer. It helps to relax the body and reduce the stress.

Hydrate sufficiently. Being well-hydrated improves sleep quality, cognition and mood. No, a can of fizzy drink does not count as water.

COVID-19 added to our already stressful lives  immensely. Being bombarded with negativity and triggered into survival 24/7 means that we need to take responsibility for our own wellbeing and be proactive in seeking solutions that work for us. Switching to body’s parasympathetic nervous system, so we are able to rest, repair and digest, will come as a result of a conscious effort.

The First Step to Living a Happy Life

Posted on: December 4th, 2020 by Domante No Comments

According to A Course in Miracles, we pay a very heavy price for not taking responsibility for our own life. That is – we can’t change it.

For some of us this might mean letting go of the blame and having a really good look in the mirror. The truth is, while we blame others for our misery, circumstances, particular situation we are stuck. This attitude can only breathe more conflict and suffering.

Bad things do happen. Betrayal of trust, thievery of time or money, words hurting deeply being spoken, heart break, physical or emotional violence and even the most horrible things that are beyond comprehension. Sometimes there is a serious trauma that needs to be dealt with before we even start considering reclaiming the responsibility for our lives. However, most of us get hung up on pretty minor things such as “s/he said” stories, “s/he broke my heart” stories, “s/he is mean to me” stories, “everyone around me is stupid” stories or “I don’t feel appreciated enough” stories.

What all these stories do to us is they deprive us of our own power to change our lives.

Remember, if you give something or somebody the power to make you miserable, you grant them the power to make you happy too. What are the chances?

I invite you to exercise this idea for a moment – to experience the power of designing your own life. Let’s change something unpleasant in your life right now. I promise you – it is a fun exercise and it works like magic!

There are two parts to it: not so fun part called “Pointing the finger at myself” and the fun part where you get to actually design the chosen area of your life into something beautiful.

Let’s start with “Pointing the finger at myself”:

Name the problematic area of your life you’re going to work on (i.e. relationship, health & vitality, new business/project, motherhood, work, etc.)

What is the story you keep on telling yourself? The story you are looking for is not a fairy tale but rather something along the lines of… “I am miserable because s/he did this to me…”, “I’m unhappy because they are treating me this way…”, “Poor me – nobody likes/loves me”.

Claim the responsibility. Where did you fall from grace in this area of your life? Where are you not giving something you wish to receive (i.e. love, compassion, non-judgement, understanding, etc.)? Even if somebody seems to be more guilty in one situation or the other, there is still some part you play – even if it’s just 5% of the total. Be humble.

Now it is time to do the fun part – to design this specific area of your life that you just took responsibility for!

There are 7 points to define (let the imagination run wild – get emotional!) on one A4 piece of paper. This is not an essay, so please be concise but ‘punchy’.

Vision. What does this area of my life ideally look like? Make it inspiring.

Purpose. Why is it important to me for this area of my life to change for the better? Why does it matter? Why do I want what I want?

Roles I Play. What roles do I play in this area of my life? Based on my vision, is there another role I could introduce?

3 Changes. What are the three things I must change in this area of my life in order to get it closer to my vision?

Resources. What resources do I have access to already that could help me to make these changes?

3-Month Commitment. What am I committed to achieving in this area of my life in the next three months? What is my 3-month outcome? Make it realistic.

3 Actions. What three actions can I take today that would get me closer to my vision?

Images. Find some images that would represent your vision – the end result – and add them on to your journal/piece of paper you are writing the answers on. 

Keep this one pager on your desk, on your bedside table, in the kitchen or wherever else appropriate, so you see it all the time.

Below you can see an example of the work done already for some clarity and inspiration.

I invite you to put your whole heart into it in order to experience all this little exercise has to offer.

To truly know something takes to experience it. And once we truly know something, we can’t ‘unknow’ it. Taking responsibility for your own experience will gradually become natural to you, not only in the area of life you just did the work on but in every other area too.

Don’t forget that we change one step at a time.

Decisions That Shape Our Lives

Posted on: October 27th, 2020 by Domante No Comments

When we look back at our lives we always remember the ‘big’ stuff – the move from London to Paris, the wedding, the birth of a child, the promotion that took our career to the next level, the diagnosis that pushed us to reconsider our lifestyle, the purchase of the house, the painful divorce that led us to start living our own life more fully etc. These were the monumental changes. However, how many of those grandiose decisions do we make every year? On a flipside, we make hundreds of the smallest decisions daily. Yet, we find them seemingly unimportant – sort of ‘autonomic’.

By focusing only on the ‘big’ stuff we miss out on life. We push and pull in all directions waiting for that big deal to come through and moaning about the daily admin work, anticipating and planning our wedding for a year, yet not showing up fully for our partner on daily basis, desperately trying to make sure that our children will grow into successful human beings without even asking what it is that truly makes their hearts sing.

The small daily decisions eventually lead to the big ones. Think about it. If I make a decision to show up fully for my work today, with integrity, with energy, passion and responsibility, this in time will lead to promotion. If I make a decision today to ask my partner how he is doing, to genuinely listen and be willing to understand, this decision to nurture a relationship in time will lead to a happy marriage. On the contrary, if I make a decision today to spend my time at work scrolling through Instagram, in time it might lead to dismissal. If I make a decision today to be consumed by my own stuff rather than giving my partner time and presence to voice his fears and worries, in time this may lead to the loss of connection and, ultimately, to the end of the relationship.

Those small decisions we make daily accumulate. If we gave a numeric expression to them, perhaps our ‘performance’ here would be easier to measure. Let’s say a decision to show up for work with integrity, energy, passion and responsibility is +1, a decision to scroll through Instagram and ‘push time’ until 5pm instead of being productive is -1. Each day we would get either +1 or -1. For as long as our result is with a ‘+’ in front of it, when we add it all up say weekly or monthly, we are doing ok or even great. There will be good days and bad days but the result with ‘+’ will mean that at least we are trying.

Life is made out of the smallest decisions we make every moment – to be kind or not, to react or not, to ask somebody how they are doing or not to bother, to tell somebody we love them or not to, to dedicate half an hour of our day to our children or not to, to spend fifteen minutes in the morning making a green juice or not to, to pick an apple or a doughnut for a snack – these decisions we make daily shape our health, career, the quality of our relationships and of our life.

What decision are you making right now? To procrastinate or to actually learn something new? To read articles like this one for the sake of intellectual entertainment or to become better at orchestrating your own life?