I recently spent some time talking to Kat Horrocks on the Put Yourself First podcast. You can listen to the podcast using either of the links below, but I’ll be summarising what we chatted about over a few posts, in case you missed it and don’t have the time to listen, or podcasts aren’t really your thing.
I’m in the process of launching what I’ve called the Champagne Campaign – it’s an idea that was sparked two years ago when I decided to leave South Africa and really tap into my own personal desires. The first pillar of the campaign is celebration and the second is connection. Because while the French are happy to open a good bottle of wine or bubbly over a good meal, it’s always with company. It’s never on your own.
This helps us to drive and build community. Many of live such busy lives that we’re isolated. But when we connect with people that we care about, that we love, that’s very good for us. And a lot of people today don’t even have time to connect with themselves.
When we talk through some practical ideas around bringing pleasure and celebration into our lives, it could be something as simple as when you’ve made a cup of tea, sitting at a window and drinking it, rather than going straight to your computer to answer emails or work on a proposal. Or could you take a luscious bath with some beautiful oils or bubble bath. Or take the time to make a phone call to a friend rather than just WhatsApp-ing, where you actually have a conversation and connect.
Connecting with others is important, but what I feel is even more important, is connecting with ourselves first. And one way that I do that myself is through a daily mindfulness or meditation practice. I try and spend a minimum of 10 minutes every day, usually in the morning, where I sit in stillness. And the rewards have been enormous. For example, sometimes in those 10 minutes creative ideas come up that I know would not have arrived had I just kept myself busy.
Also, it gives me a chance to listen to my body. And there’s a lot of stress that gets held in the body. But when you sit in stillness, feelings that may have been suppressed can come up, and they may not always be easy to process in the moment, but long-term they just help us show up more authentically and less stressed.
I’d highly recommend finding, if you can, 10 minutes (or more!) on as many days of the week as you can to sit in stillness. If you need help, there are some great meditation or mindfulness apps such as Insight Timer, Calm or Headspace.
It doesn’t need to be complicated. Even sitting in stillness and focusing on your breath or listening to a guided visualisation, or doing a body scan where you work up from your feet all the way up your legs and through to your head, and relax different body parts, is great. And you don’t have to go to an ashram in India and spend a long time there – you can literally do 10 minutes in your living room or in your office, and you will start to change your body, your emotional wellbeing and your brain for the better.
Because the brain is neuroplastic, which means that it has the ability to shift and change. When you meditate regularly, you can increase the activation and working of the memory centre of the brain, so the hippocampus becomes more dense and able to not only remember things but also to learn! Your memory, learning ability, creativity, and focus improves and there are other benefits like an increase in empathy and compassion. Plus you reduce the part of the brain that triggers the stress response and find a sense of inner calm.
The art of connection begins with reconnecting to your sense of self, and then reaching out to connect with others – with or without a glass of champagne!