Making a date to meditate …

By Jacqui Cooper

Meet Ellie – personal trainer, coach, blogger and influencer

We love the messages Ellie delivers through her Instagram account, she writes with depth and substance about real issues us women have in our life, as well as our emotions, thoughts, fears and the unrealistic expectation in society about how our bodies ‘should’ look. I’m sure, like me, you’ve experienced the comparison trap on Instagram. Seeing what you know to be unrealistic images of the perfect body, the pout, lash extensions, nail extensions, breast and bottom implants, the list is endless, yet you still get hooked in.

It still amazes me how many ‘likes’ are awarded to pouting females with breasts or bottoms being their only asset and contribution to the world. This sidesteps far more important content from people who want to make a difference in the world, whether it’s about sharing experiences and feelings, education or inspiration. If I appear cynical, perhaps I am, I just don’t get it.

Ellie’s a refreshing change, especially being a young female amidst a generation of the image-conscious – she’s a personal trainer with a difference. She gets you to think inside the ‘box’. Like me, she believes that when making the best of who we are we feel good and do good, and that makes the world a better place.

Ellie is a regular at our Saturday morning Kundalini Yoga & Meditation session and I  thought we’d share her experience she recently wrote on her blog.

For those of you unaware of this ancient technology, it’s often referred to as the ‘mother of all yoga’. It covers movement, mantra, meditation and breathwork. And for those self-conscious of starting any yoga class, the beauty of this is the majority of the session is practised with the eyes closed. This evokes a deeper inner experience.

I hope you enjoy hearing about Ellie’s experience. Jacqui x

Ellie’s thoughts on Kundalini Yoga & Meditation

I have very briefly mentioned meditation on my social media previously. A new and often still unfamiliar topic. I first tried this millennia-age-old practice a few months ago by attending Kundalini Yoga & Meditation at Beachyjax with Jacqui Cooper. And so far I haven’t looked back since. So take a read of what put me off, the few things I have learnt and where I hope to go with it moving forward …

A few years ago, if someone had suggested a meditation class I would have laughed in their face. I am far too energetic, busy and I like to move about too much to just sit in one place.

Towards the end of this year my headspace has shifted. Taking control of EllieActive full time left me stressed and with frayed nerves. I had endless sleepless nights that left me feeling exhausted and often unable to get out of my own head. Your mind and body are united, what affects one is bound to affect the other. So, it’s safe to say going to the gym, a run or any form of exercise was out of the window. But really, I was a bit confused about where I was going, who was with me and where I was meant to be.

Could meditation and yoga help?

It had been suggested several times to try a meditation class and if I’m honest my expectations were characteristically low. Right then nothing seemed to help shift my mindset and I sure as hell didn’t believe forcing myself to try to relax for over an hour was going to help either.

I was also incredibly scared and felt a little fragile. I was worried about being stuck in my own head for the period of time I was there and what it was going to force me to address. I was unsure if I was ready to feel certain emotions, and confront certain things head on.

I’m a total control freak, so the thought of being in a position where I felt emotions out of my control was slightly scary.

I have jumped out of planes, taken long journeys alone, lasted 24 hours on a bike and always been so incredibly independent. So why the hell was I bricking walking into a yoga studio so much?

I have always been a glass half full kind of girl. Managed to seek the positives out of most situations but also became very good at bottling things up. I preferred to make others happy which was often at my own expense. I had a fear of people leaving me, and therefore if everyone was happy no one would … right? But this often left me on edge, and my understanding quickly became that if I expected the worst it was a sure way of preventing it from happening. (Which by the way doesn’t work).

I was scared of being a failure. And often sit and wonder if I am in the right place and doing the right things.

In the beginning

So I put on my big girl pants and dragged myself along to a class. In the beginning it took ages for me to switch off. I was thinking about the email I forgot to send, or the mountain of jobs that needed to get done. And for the first few classes I almost felt guilty for trying to make myself relax and switch off. It was hard for me not to be focussed on others in the room or what was going on around me.

But slowly I have become less aware and it takes me less and less time to “tune out”. Now I look forward to those little pockets of moments where I don’t need to rush anywhere or get anything done. I can just collect my thoughts and become aware of them in a safe and relaxed state.

I originally thought meditating would be all peace and quiet, and I’d always be in a calm state once I got ‘good enough’ at it … I was wrong. Because of the constant cycle of ever-changing thoughts and emotions that come up, I sometimes have to sit through a tornado of ugly emotions and feelings. I used to either avoid or mask these. I suppose you have to lean into uncomfortable feelings. For me it wasn’t about emptying my mind of thoughts, but about being present. Observing any thoughts and acknowledging them without having to engage in them. Whether good, bad or neutral. I guess this way you are present, savouring the moment without shoving anything under the carpet. Something I had gotten so used to doing previously.

Meditation isn’t about “finding yourself”, because that would imply you are lost. And I don’t think anyone is lost so to speak. Diverted off-track yes maybe, but I guess I believe where you are currently is exactly where you need to be.

You get back what you put in

But instead it’s changed my perspective in many ways. I am less reactive, and I have learnt that emotions and feelings are only ever temporary. They ebb and they flow but are all there to be both noticed and learned from. Confronting our own personal demons can be scary, but you truly get out of practice what you put in.

I look at it like I do all my other training. How can I run marathons if I don’t train? So how can I be relaxed, less stressed and positive if I don’t train my mind too?

It’s helping me manage my stress (something that I never thought would happen). And yes, things still anger or frustrate me, but I feel like I can make better and more accountable decisions on how to handle situations. I guess learning how to relax and indulge in some “me time” without feeling guilty is also doing me the world of good.

So why is this blog post important now? Well, this can can often be a hectic time of year, leaving us all reflective on both the year we have had and the one we have started. One thing that I hope to carry on with this year is to expand my knowledge on myself. Yes, it’s great to know all there is about the world, but the importance of learning often starts at home.

Everyone begins to meditate from a different starting point, depending on factors like experience, or stress they have either been subjected to or over time have accumulated. There’s no right or wrong way to go about things, or how you feel. I am lucky to have found it young and get frustrated over my previous years where the word “meditation” was clouded with ignorance. There’s so much scientific research that supports the idea that meditation actually changes the way our brain functions.

I’m sure I’m going to learn so much more. Not just about the practice but about myself in general.

A work in progress

Right now I’m in a really good headspace. And I have meditation to thank for a lot of that. Do not get me wrong, I’m in no way perfect and there are still some days when things get a bit too much. I still feel I have some more things to both address, assess and work on. But when I feel dazed, stressed, or confused I go along to a weekly class or use a meditation app to try and salvage a few minutes to myself.

It’s about the discovery, listening to your heart and following wherever it chooses to go. Being kinder to yourself and embracing the person you are becoming. Learning how to live with yourself and not allowing your happiness to be in the hands of others. This whole process and the act of meditation is always about you. And why you are there.

I am hoping to carry on this year and I’m also hoping to adapt my knowledge and general understanding of the practice itself. I invite you to start your own practice, whether you attend a class, or just start by sitting for a few minutes a day. Let me know how you get on.

Ellie x

You can find Ellie at www.ellieactive.co.uk and if you’d like to find out more about Kundalini Yoga & Meditation or the class timetable visit our book a class page.

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