5 Steps to Creating Your Own Sadhana

Mercedes Aspland
By Mercedes Aspland / June 29, 2016

Let's start with a bit of explanation of what a Sadhana is. According to Wikipedia it is "an ego-transcending spiritual practice" which is a reasonable definition but really what does that actually mean?

I have my own Sadhana and it is something I do everyday and for me it is about a connection with myself. It is taking the time to learn who the real you is, behind all the crap and all the layers we put on for everyone else. It is a way to help you live an authentic life and get more of what you want. It is all about learning the difference between your ego and your inner being. When you do this it allows you to make the decisions that will help you create a fulfilling life.

It has taken me many years to get something that works for me and it is an ever changing process and something that I need to adapt to fit into my life. As my situation and goals change so does my Sadhana. The most important thing is that I do something everyday and never ignore my soul. These are the steps I recommend to setting up your own soulful daily practice:

1. Create Some Time

This might seem like the hardest step but it is vital. We all lead busy lives and so fitting in time to connect with yourself can seem a challenge but it is probably the most important thing you can do. The amount of time you dedicate to your Sadhana will vary from person to person but making sure you have a small amount everyday is vital so whether you decide to get up a bit earlier, stay up a bit later or use your lunch hour will depend on you and will change as your life changes.

2. Work Out What Time of Day is Best for You

Working out when you will get the most of your practice is vital. If you are the type of person that cannot get up in the morning then deciding to meditate in the morning is just setting yourself up for failure. This is the beginning of a connection with yourself and your inner being as you start to learn what works for you.

3. Start Small

I am a yoga teacher and I have been involved in a spiritual practice for many years and so yes of course I now meditate daily, write a journal and have a daily yoga practice but it has taken a while to get there. The more pressure you put on yourself the harder it is to stick to something. So start with a daily 10 minute meditation or start a journal. As you add this to your routine you will gradually expand and change your practice.

4. Create a Habit

This is what will keep your growth going. It actually takes about 3 months to create a lasting habit although it can take as little as 2 weeks for something to become part of your routine. This is really important as you need to start something and then do it everyday to seal it as a habit. You might not do the same thing everyday but you need to dedicate some time everyday to self exploration.

5. Develop Your Practice

Once you have a regular practice now is the time for the hard work. Start to study how you respond to different practices and different techniques and see where you are getting progress. Start to make changes to your practice so that you actually have the opportunity to grow and do this all with the knowledge that you know what is best for you and be guided by your inner light. For example with my yoga practice I will often change how I approach this, sometimes I need a dynamic practice to fire myself up or if I am finding my life demanding I may do more restorative yoga and rest my body. The only way I can know this is to listen to my body and how it is responding.

The above steps are just my advice and what works for me but it is important to remember that the whole point is you develop a personal practice and grow the connection with yourself. As you learn more and more about you then your inner self will be guiding you and you will know just what to do.

Let me know what your daily spiritual practice is like and what works for you.​

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Answering Hate With Love

This post has really been inspired by the EU referendum and the things that I have been reading on Facebook and other social media sites.

I have to be honest, the way I voted is irrelevant but I was surprised that the vote was to leave. What I would say surprised me more was the pure hate that came from the people who voted remain.

I have been subjected to the abuse that people have written, calling all leave voters, idiots, racists and people that clearly have no knowledge of politics or are out dated and just don't know what they are talking about.

The way I see it, prejudice is prejudice and the remain campaign cannot be exempt from that.

The truth about the referendum vote is that everyone that voted is a person and they all have a view, mostly ego lead.

If we are all completely honest, everyone that voted did so based on how they thought it would affect their life and it was not some higher purpose that lead us to our decision. Some people were concerned about how they could travel, some were worried about their house prices, others about trade such as people working in Billingsgate who want more control of our waters and there were the people running Indian restaurants that want to be able to bring in the best chefs but can't because of immigration quotas.

All of these concerns are personal to each person that voted. There were people with strong well thought out reasons on both sides and those with flimsy reasons on both sides also, that is the nature of people.

When I was reading all of the abhorrent comments from both sides I not only found myself disgusted but also felt it was my job to put everyone in their place and correct them.

But what, why? What is their opinion to do with me?

Then a memory came to me....

When I was at school a dear friend of mine Duncan made a point of telling me I was opinionated and I thought that was a great thing, after all if you don't have an opinion then what is the point?

Some 18 years later I now get it, there is a difference between having an opinion and being opinionated.

"There is a difference between having an opinion and being opinionated"

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Yes I have an opinion but so does everyone else. If I try and prove my point and get others to agree with me then it is just my ego taking over and needing to be right.

The truth is that honest and open debate is great and hearing others opinions is of interest to me. When it strays into force, insults and name calling it is just everyone going to the extreme of having to be right above all else.

At this time I am so glad that I take spiritualist awareness classes because my amazing teacher Joan always tells us we are all unique and we are all special and that is the same for everyone that voted in the referendum. That is what makes life so fantastic. If we all thought the same then where would the fun be and what would be the point in talking to anyone?

I love all of my friends and am so grateful to them for the horrible things they have been writing recently. Why?

Well firstly it taught me a lot about myself, especially the fact that I feel the need to respond.

I also had the opportunity to answer the hate with love to grow and to experience the real joy that comes when I see how each person is not their ego or the life they lead.

In my heart I know that everyone has an inner life force and that is the same for each and everyone of us. This is the bit of each of you that I love because I have to as it is the same as I am.

Ok, I don't agree with your opinions and don't even like what you have to say but I accept that it is just your ego, a mind constructed opinion and not what your true essence is.

So next time you want to join a debate or comment on something, try asking yourself, are you adding to the debate or are you just saying something to prove your ego is right?

5 Things To Do When You Can’t Sleep

Mercedes Aspland
By Mercedes Aspland / June 20, 2016

This is not another post on ways to prevent insomnia. I think we all know that advice, dark room, lavender, warm bath blah blah.

As someone who has suffered from insomnia in spells for almost my whole life I know all the advice out there and even if you follow every step sometimes nothing works and you just lie in your bed wide awake wishing that sleep would come.

At the moment I am going through a good spell of sleep and rarely remember falling asleep.

The concept of remembering falling asleep has to be something only an insomniac would understand, it is stupid really, no one remembers falling asleep but if you suffer from insomnia what you mean is went to bed and in the morning you don't remember being awake in bed.

So let's go back to the days when insomnia strikes and your mind is super active, you are too hot, too cold, uncomfortable, need the toilet, what do you do then?

These 5 steps are just some ideas and things I have done. Some will work for you, some won't, that's the beauty of being human, we are all different.

1. Accept Being Awake

Ok, so I am starting with a big one but this is always the first thing I go for and it works a lot of the time.

If you are struggling to sleep accept the fact you might be awake all night and just be comfortable that you are getting rest anyway.

This does not mean saying to yourself, "ok I am happy to be awake all night but I really, really want to get to sleep". This is not accepting the situation this is pretending to accept it and a totally different thing.

You have to be totally prepared to stay awake all night and be done with it. So just remind yourself firstly that no one has ever died from lack of sleep and secondly that sleep is not something you can cling to or force to happen.

You would not believe how many times I have truly accepted being awake to turn around and wake up in the morning with no memorable time in between. It really is the key to sleep.

2. Get Up

If being awake in bed is starting to irritate you and bring about negative emotions get up and do something. It can be anything you like, I would say I recommend something repetitive and easy but I have actually got up at 3am and started writing blog posts.

Whatever you need to do to clear your mind is a good thing as usually we are awake because our minds are too active and so anything that brings you back to the present moment, quietens down the ramblings of the mind is ideal.

Take yourself away from trying to sleep and know that you will be ok, it just might mean going to bed at 7pm the next night!

3. Deal With Your Issues

Maybe not all of them but the ones that are keeping you awake.

I usually find that the thing that is keeping me awake is totally insignificant and just a waste of my time and energy.

So now is the time to try a bit of presence and accept your apparent problems, whatever they may be.

Remember that while you are lying in bed there is nothing you can do about them so you can just let them go. On the other hand if there is something you can do then do it. If there is a bill that needs paying or an email you need to write get it done.

One of the biggest impacts on our health is the constant worrying about things and running scenarios over and over in our heads. When this happens to me I just tell myself that I will cross that bridge if I come to it.

4. Count Your Breaths

This is a bit like counting sheep but a lot more effective. Remember that it is normally some mental issue that keeps you awake and when you worry your whole body is affected, as well as its functions, including the breath.

Count the breaths up to 10 and then start from 1 again. You should just let the breath flow naturally and as you count start to become aware of the quality of your breath and if it is ragged or smooth. What temperature is the breath? Is it different on the way out compared to the way in?

This exercise has a number of effects but the main one is it takes you out of your mind and puts you in the observer mode. You will likely find that as you observe your breath it starts to slow and become smoother and in fact your whole body relaxes.You might find that you fall asleep mid count as a clear, present mind always finds it easy to sleep.

5. Do Nothing

Just put up with it. Leave all of your technology alone, put down the phone! Leave your book on the side, leave the lights off and stay in bed.

What does it actually mean to do nothing, do you even know. I'm not sure I have been able to master this one. We are always doing something and so this is actually a far harder task than it sounds.

But seriously just put up with it, who cares that you cannot sleep, I don't. Do you think it is having an effect on anyone you know? No they are probably fast asleep and not giving you a moments thought.

Ok, this last one is a bit harsh but seriously I have been one of those insomnia bores, I talk about it, discuss it with friends and family and the truth is they are not all that interested. The more attention you give to your lack of sleep the more lack you will attract.

If you have a bad night, then you had a bad night. That is not an indication of how you will sleep tomorrow or any other night.

Let me know what you do when you cannot sleep and your tricks for nodding off.

Image courtesy of saphatthachat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5 Steps to Staying Heart-Centred and Present on Facebook

I have just started to un-friend people on Facebook.

I know, I know, you are all thinking that this is not very heart-centred and in a way it is not but let me tell you how I got there.

Over our lives we collect Facebook friends, some you are really close to and some are people you met briefly, others are people you knew a long time ago.

The problem with this "friend collecting" is that many of those people are not really friends, in fact their lives are at total odds with yours and yet we keep them as our virtual friends.

As I have been going through my spiritual journey, one of the things I have been finding tricky is the emotional reaction I have to many people on Facebook and their posts. To them they are probably just flippant comments, but I get this urge to tell them what I think about them.

These strong feelings are causing energy blockages in my life and are something I need to deal with and not the person who placed the comment. Because of this I have put together my own action plan on how to deal with these situations.

Feel free to act on these steps or ignore them, whichever one resonates with you.

1. Notice the Reaction

This is the first and most important step because if you are unaware you are having a reaction then you cannot change it. When you read things on Facebook tune into your body and do it mindfully.

If someone writes something that is not congruent with your life and it just does not work for you notice the tension in your body. You might be aware of the fact your heart beats a bit faster and your mind immediately jumps to a response you want to give. You are reacting.

I won't tell you the things that really get to me because then I am just reacting and moving into unconscious name calling.

2. Let The Reaction Go (If You Can)

This sounds obvious but it is something we rarely do. I have often found myself moving on to reading other posts or doing something off Facebook and then coming back to the response I would like to give.

This is not letting go of the reaction but dwelling on it and moving yourself away from present moment living.

At this stage I thought I would share a story with you that I have read many times and it is a good example of how the weight of our emotional reaction is far greater than the reality of the situation.

Two monks are walking in silent contemplation when they come to a river and see a young woman near the bank. She asks the monks for help in crossing and the older of the 2 monks picks her up, carries her to the other side and puts her down. The two monks then continue on their walk. Some time later the younger of the two monks says, "Brother, I cannot understand what you have done. We took a vow and yet you carried that woman across the river." To which the older monk responds, "Brother, I put her down some time ago, it is you who is still carrying her."

This is the same with Facebook, when someone posts something usually they type it and forget it. If you read it and then keep going over it in your head it is you that is carrying it and the person who wrote it is happily getting on with their life.

So what if you can't let it go?

3. Accept Your Reaction

So you have read your friend's comment/post and you don't like it or it irritates you in some way and despite wanting to drop the reaction it is still there what can you do?

The answer is very simple accept your reaction.

This does not mean get all caught up in the possible response but observe it and how it affects you.

Start to look at the reaction in detail without labels. Notice the physical changes, the emotional changes, the way others treat you when you are in the middle of the reaction and be ok with it.

Don't try to change it. This is vital as this will create a deep resistance in you and make more problems and blockages. Know that whatever you are feeling will eventually pass and that is fine too.

You will be surprised when you accept your reaction how quickly it passes.

4. Accept The Other Person

So this is where it becomes even more difficult but now you have accepted your reaction transfer these feelings to the other person.

Ask yourself this: "So what if they think something I don't agree with?"

Really think about it, what difference to your life, chances are it is someone you rarely talk to and they don't even figure on your radar.

So then what is it that they have offended so much? Could it be your ego? The bit of you that has to be right. Are your urges to tell them what you think of them just in fact your ego trying to prove to them and everyone on Facebook that you know better?

What if you don't respond in anyway? What if you just look at the person and see them for the wonderful energy they are and accept that their ego may have different views to yours?

Will any of these actions in anyway diminish who you are? I mean who you really are, the energy within that connects you to the universe.

I would like to hope that after going through these steps you feel at peace and have nothing but love for your Facebook friends but if this is not the case there is one other step.

5. Change the Situation

This is really the final option to you and there are a number of ways to do this. For example if the friend is someone you know quite well try talking to them, like an adult, about your differences. Remember no blame just discussion and see if you can understand where they are coming from.

The other alternative is one I have taken recently and that is to un-friend them. This really is last resort but I had one friend who I barely knew but every single one of their posts irritated me. When I found this was something that was actually affecting how I was feeling I thought the best thing to do was to move away from the person whose ego my ego was at odds with.

So if I un-friend you or someone else does, don't take it personally it just means that maybe you are going in a different direction. Each and everyone of us has our own unique path to follow and some people will enhance it and others will show you places that you still have work to do.

In some ways the people that I un-friend are the most important to me because they are shining a light on the areas where I struggle with presence and helping me to go deeper into conscious living. So I thank them dearly for the reactions they provoke and know that I am one step closer to eternal awareness.

If you know someone on Facebook that is bringing negative reactions from your ego try these steps out and let me know how they go for you.

Image courtesy of smarnad at FreeDigitalPhotos.net​

It’s The Journey, Not The Destination

Mercedes Aspland
By Mercedes Aspland / June 15, 2016

Let's start this off by saying I believe in angels.

I know I am going totally off the point when I am supposed to be writing a post about yoga but I wanted to let you know how this post came about today.

The phrase "It's the journey, not the destination" is something I say in virtually every yoga class I teach and so I knew I wanted to write a post on this topic but was not sure where to start.

When I sit down to write I just let the inspiration flow and it is the same with the topic, I effectively let the angels pick it for me, going with my inner direction but today was different. I had much more obvious guidance.

This is where we come back to angels and the fact that for some reason the first thing I did this morning was watch an angel card reading from Kyle Gray on Facebook. Normally I would meditate when I get up but I had an urge to watch this video even before I got out of bed.

Just as an aside Kyle Gray is one of the most inspirational light workers around and offers amazing guidance. If you want to learn more about how to connect with the angels around you then go check him out.

Ok so back to the video of the reading which I feel an instant connection to. Then somewhere near the end Kyle reminds us that it is the journey not the destination and then I knew, I have to write this post and possibly take the idea a lot further. But anyway here is the post and why it is so important to your yoga practice and beyond.

As a yoga teacher one of the courses I have done is a how to teach yoga to athletes and although I learned a lot about the body I was left feeling cold as it seemed to strip all of the spiritual elements of yoga out of what I was teaching. But like so many this was actually a vital step in my spiritual journey.

When you work with athletes you realise how difficult many of them find the physical element of yoga, both flexibility and strength. The thing with teaching athletes is they are a bit more vocal than other class attendees and so you actually know how they are finding things and what they think.

Because athletes are all about achievement they are constantly thinking about what they are trying to achieve in the class and comparing themselves to each other and to you as a teacher so it becomes vital to get them thinking about the journey.

The most interesting thing for me was that it actually shone a light on how I was more focused on the destination.

I was always looking at my teachers, other students, famous yogis and wishing I was there or could do what they could. So to have a large number of students wishing they could do what I could made me so much more aware.

It was like something clicked into place and I started to love the difficult poses, not because I was trying to get anywhere, just because they made me more aware and connected.

Your yoga practice is really just a stepping stone to awareness in the rest of your life and if you are looking forward you are not enjoying the now.

Your yoga practice is just a stepping stone to awareness

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So next time you are on the mat, forget what the person next to you is doing, forget what the teacher is doing and focus on you.

Actually go inside your body, feel how the pose feels for you at that moment, you might be able to go further at another time or you might not, that is not the important thing.

The only thing that matters is accepting where you are, accepting what is and just being with it.

Every single person in the world is unique and we are all at different places and this will be reflected in our practice.

If I wanted to put a marker down I have to be honest and say my body has totally changed since practicing yoga but I still have tight areas and sticking points and places where I just seem to stay the same.

As a person I have a choice to either resist where my body is and so create more tension or to accept it and just be happy with what is. I know which one I prefer.

So the next time you find yourself wishing you were somewhere else remember you are where you are where you are supposed to be.

I would love to know how your yoga practice changes if you accept what is more, just add your comments below as I read them all.

Image courtesy of bplanet at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dates – Superfood or Super Villain?

I was recently watching the French Open Men's Final when then commentator started discussing how Novak Djokovic was fuelling himself on dates rather than the bananas that you usually see. And I don't think you can argue on how well he performs!

This slightly piqued my interest because dates are one of those foods that I have always debated whether to eat or not.

When I was training for the marathon I ate a lot of dates and would take them on my runs to keep myself fuelled and I personally found them great for that purpose but are they all that good for you?

Where I have a problem with dates is the amount of sugar contained in them, 100g will give you an enormous 63g of sugar however the glycemic index of dates comes in at somewhere between 30 and 50, depending on the variety, it is actually a low GI food. Plus studies have shown that dates may be useful in glycemic and lipid control and so could actually be useful for a low GI diet and type-2 diabetes prevention which to me seems totally counter intuitive.

What other benefits are there to eating dates?

The obvious one is they taste great. They are perfect to add to smoothies and to use as a sweetener in your baking.

They are completely natural. The problem with some many sugars we come across is they are either heavily processed, artificial of are high GI. Dates are none of these things and so are a little bit wonderful.

There are also some fantastic nutritional benefits to dates, for example they are high in potassium and magnesium. If you are doing physical exercise then these are 2 essential nutrients for your muscles.

As dates are not broken down into sugar all in one go they will gradually be broken down leading to a slower release of energy than many other foods with the same amount of sugar.

How Should I Deal With Eating Dates?

In my view dates can be a good addition to any diet but they need to be used in the correct way and like any food not abused, which is very easy to do when you get addicted to their sweetness.

Dates are brilliant food for fuel and are sure to keep you powered for longer than anything artificial.

When I was training for the marathon I was advised to eat all sorts of things containing glucose which I avoided. On the day of the race I bought some date based bars, honestly these were not as good as real dates and I was disappointed I did not have the dates I used in training.

The unfortunate thing is that during the race people were handing out sweets, really kind of them but not really the best for your body. But that is not the biggest problem, that comes from the organisers who hand out energy drinks and gels during the race.

I could not bring myself to try the gels, they were far too artificial to even go near but at one point during the race I got so tired I went for an energy drink. This was a massive mistake as not only did it taste disgusting it just made me feel sick. I am thinking about starting a campaign to get dates handed out!

What Is Best For YOU?

I think it is important to remember that everyone is different and will respond in different ways to food.

I have rigidly followed a low Glycaemic Load diet in the past and I have eaten badly. I now have more balance and eat what works for me and dates are definitely one of these foods.

It is important to learn how your body works and if dates are good for your normal functioning then make them part of your diet, don't go overboard like some do and stick them in everything, too much of a good thing can be bad for you too!

Do I Think Dates Are a Superfood?

Not really?!! Dates are a food, they have some great nutritional benefits and are one of the best ways to add sweetness to your diet. But, if you are someone who has an addiction to sweet food and blood sugar issues then they could still cause a problem.

Not a Super Villain Either?

No they are definitely not. If eaten in moderation they are good for you and will not cause any long term health issues.

It is one of my bug bears that so much of what we eat needs to be classified as good or bad rather than just being food. We can eat whatever we want as long as we do it in moderation.

The best advice I can give to anyone who is concerned about their diet is to learn what works for your body and keep it natural. The more whole foods you eat the better you will feel and dates are one of these natural foods that can definitely be part of any diet.

Do you eat dates and what are your thoughts on them?

Image courtesy of khumthong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net​

Guess What? Your Life Purpose Might Change

Controversial or not the fact your life purpose might change is not only a possibility but almost inevitable.

But How Can The Purpose Of Your Life Change?

If you are asking yourself this then you I would say the question you should be asking yourself is how can it not change?

Over my life I have read a lot of self help books, everything from Dale Carnegie to Louise Hay and then some. The interesting thing is that many of these authors never really discuss your life purpose that much and it is more about finding deep acceptance and happiness in the life you have.

But I then see things all over the internet about finding your life purpose and how for many this has become a source of stress.The way I see it, if something is causing you stress then it is taking you away from your life purpose not towards it and who exactly is it that is looking?

The only part of you that will be searching for a life purpose is your ego, all the rubbish you put on top of you true presence, your eternal light.

Your eternal light is the bit of you that cannot be dampened, cannot feel stress, that automatically follows their life purpose, it just naturally flows.

I recently finished reading I Can See Clearly Now by Dr. Wayne Dyer and one thing that struck me was that over his life his purpose seemed to change direction on more than one occasion.

If a great man like this can change direction in his life then why do you think things would be different for you?

I have considered this concept quite a lot in my life and I think the best thing to do is to forget all about it. The more you focus on finding your life purpose the further away from you it will get.

Having said that I do think we all have a purpose but it is more that everything we experience is for a reason and our job is to respond in a way that shines light on the situation and so opens us up to everything that is possible.

"everything we experience is for a reason and our job is to respond in a way that shines light on the situation"

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It is also vital that when life happens to us the decisions we make take us in a direction that feeds our soul and our inner being. This does not mean that we make a decision about our lives and then stick to it rigidly, it means we be prepared to change when it feels right or stick to something if our gut tells us to.

So as you go through life how do you know if your decision is right and taking you in the direction of growth?

The answer to this question is always to consider your motivation for a choice, life direction etc.

If you are making a decision in your life always step back and go into your body, feel what you feel. If the emotion that appears is fear then think again, if it is love then you are on the right track.

Another way to look at it is: Will your choice be made in order to gain something for yourself or to serve others? This is really important as it can be the difference between fear and love.

When we are out in the world trying to gain more and more we are never satisfied and the desires go on, so if we start chasing happiness through attainment we will never get there. If we work towards service it will lead you to a road of inner peace and your life purpose.

For me I consider my younger days when a number of signs in my life led me to be working at a top investment bank. At that time it was right for me but not because I needed to make money but because I needed to learn. I was not yet ready for moving into the spiritual world but I needed to be surrounded by the real lack of spirituality to be able to know I was going the wrong way and to understand the difference.

I left this world 4 years after I joined and after experiencing the death of my father. At the time of leaving, when I had no real idea where I was going with my life I remember so many people that I worked with telling me how brave they thought I was. The funny thing was at the time I felt no fear, I knew I had to move away from that world. It did not matter where I was going or what I was going to do I just knew my soul could not be fulfilled doing what I was doing where the only aim was making money.

As I write this it is now 8 years since I left that world and I have often considered the day I made the decision to leave, almost on a whim because I knew I needed to follow a different path and realised I was being guided by an unseen force.

I now write this blog, teach yoga, am developing my spiritual awareness everyday and love what I do. If you had asked me 10 years ago where I saw myself in 10 years it would not have been here and I have no idea where I will be in 10 years time.

The truth is it doesn't matter!

The only important thing is where you are right now and the choices you are making right now. As you start to see this and accept it, you stop looking for your life purpose which is some distant concept that is actually devoid of presence and start living for the now.

There is so much joy in every moment and each moment offers you the opportunity to start again. Try getting off the plan and doing something that feels right, even if there is no long term goal.

"Try getting off the plan and doing something that feels right, even if there is no long term goal"

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The more we think about where we are going the less we experience where we are. As you start to be aware of the present moment you can be more connected to the signs that are being sent to you by the Divine spirit and then you will be living your life purpose without any searching or trying you are just BEING.

Image courtesy of jk1991 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How Others Affect Your Vibrational Energy

I have recently been taking a course in spiritual awareness and during my training I have seen some amazing things happen and it has also made me more aware of the things going on around me.

One of the major things I have learned is about the energy we all have within us and how we can use it to impact other people and in the same way how others can affect our energy.

We have all experienced the negative energy of a work colleague or loved one that is having a bad day. Sometimes they can walk into a room and literally suck the energy out of it, leaving you feeling below par and generally out of sorts.

By the same token think back to that close friend who turned up one day full of joy and happiness and left you feeling wonderful, even if you were a bit blue. It is like they gave you a little bit of their energy to boost you up.

If we are honest we have all had times where we are either the giver or taker of energy. I hate it when I sap others energy but I know I have done it and work hard to do it as little as possible. I have also found myself in a really bad mood just from the stresses of other people around me which I hate equally as much.

The first time I became aware of just how significant another person's energy could be was about 17 years ago, although I was completely unaware that it was down to energies at the time. I was only 17 years old and my mum was a foster carer when one day 2 children arrived that appeared to be happy on the outside. They had been their less than 2 hours when I was suddenly taken over with rage, like I wanted to throw something and cry at the same time.

It was very clear to me in that moment that what I was feeling was not my emotion but that of the children who had just moved into our home. Now whether you put this done to just being in tune with them, energy transfer or the collective consciousness is irrelevant, it happened and it happens to people all of the time.

Once we know this there are then 2 ways in which we can use it:

1. To Protect Our Own Energy, ensuring we remain strong

2. To Give only uplifting energy to other people.

Neither of these things are easy to do and take time to learn, not to mention the fact that even if you know how to do it there will be times when you slip. I have put together my guide for how to take care your energy but still be able to share the love.

1. Learn to Feel Your Energy

In some ways this first step is the most vital and also the hardest to do. We spend so much of our lives in our minds we forget about feelings and senses. The best way to become familiar with your inner energy is to develop a regular meditation practice. When in a place of stillness start to feel the vibrations within the body. Everybody will feel their inner energy in a different way but you may find it vibrates more slowly when your mood is low and faster when you are feeling happy. The most important thing is to learn how you work.

2. Regularly Check In With Your Inner Energy

Once you have learned how to feel your energy in a meditation begin to develop your skills so you can do this at any time. Just take a few deep breaths and feel what is going on inside you. This is really just a matter of practice, the more you do it the easier it becomes.

3. Learn to Move Your Energy

Once you can identify your energy you can begin to work with it. This means you can learn to expand it away from you and also pull it in and hold your energy at your centre. This is an essential step as it will allow you to develop all the tools you need. Once you can control your energy you can bring it in around energy vampires and give it out to others when you want to. At this stage you are not worrying about others just learning your own personal control.

4. Practice with Uplifting Friends

Now is where you try your techniques out on others and not only lift their mood and your own but also learn to protect yourself. When you are in the company of someone you are close to and your energy is high, become aware of it. Focus on spreading your energy to take them in and watch their mood. This will be even more effective if they are a little low. Like with the other steps the more you practice the better you will become.

5. Develop You Protection

When you first start practicing with friends you might find that as you give out energy you feel depleted because you have not yet learned the art of protection. Now is the time to start working with people you don't know or people that you know drain your energy. The next time you are in an energy draining situation, notice it and being to draw your energy into your core and hold it there. When the person has left the room or the situation has passed expand your energy back to take in your whole body. See how much better you feel.

6. Put it All Together

Now you know how to give out energy and protect energy practice putting it all together. So when you have a friend who needs support work on giving them a small amount of energy but keeping enough protected at your core so you stay feeling great. This may take some time to master but once you get it you will find yourself on a much more even keel most of the time.

As you work through the above steps and develop your skills I recommend keeping a journal and recording any of the work you do. This is not only great for the way in which you will feel about yourself but it will also show you the progress you are making and aid in your skills for developing a much more heart-centred life.

I am always working on my energy control and learning new things so I would love to hear your thoughts and ways in which you control your energy and how this impacts your life.

Image courtesy of sattva at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

15 Things You Can Make Vegan with Aquafaba

Mercedes Aspland
By Mercedes Aspland / June 6, 2016

I've been planning on bringing you this post ever since I discovered aquafaba but I'm so glad I waited to make sure I had some amazing things to choose from.

If you have not heard of aquafaba then don't worry it is still a relatively new discovery as an egg replacer but it is revolutionising the way vegans cook and what they can make.

So what is aquafaba?

Basically it is the water from chickpeas (or any tinned beans). When you buy a tin of chickpeas make sure they are stored only in water, then drain the liquid into a bowl and this is your egg white replacer. It will vary slightly but I have found that 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas will give you the equivalent of 2 medium egg whites.

For a long time now vegans have been looking for something that actually performed like eggs and could get you the lightness and this seems to be the answer and don't worry it tastes nothing like eggs.

In the past egg replacers like flaxseed and banana where great for binding and holding together a cake or pancakes but it lacked the lightness of egg and so you often ended up with something that was quite stodgy and put many non-vegans off.

Then, entering from stage left cam aquafaba. This really simple thing performs just like egg whites allowing vegans to create light and airy cakes along with things that were not really possible unless heavily processed, like meringue. With chickpea water all of these problems go away as you can use them for a direct replacement for egg whites. Now we can make absolutely anything we want!

I have put together a collection of different things that can now be made vegan and you would never know the difference

2. Vegan French Macarons

You can make these in absolutely any flavour you want, like you would with non-vegan ones but this recipe is for Earl Grey & Lemon flavour, yum. If you want to give these a go remember there is no short cut the only difference between these and regular French Macarons is the fact you replace egg whites with aquafaba.

4. Vegan Swiss Buttercream from Gretchen's Bakery

If you want to have a classic buttery topping for your cupcakes then this recipe will get you there. I have to be honest I think it is possible to get this type of topping without aquafaba but this is another option you have to get this really yummy sweetness into your vegan diet.

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6. Aquafaba French Toast from Vegan Mother Hubbard

This is another website I would recommend to any vegan and this is a brilliant breakfast alternative. This is probably not something I would personally choose to eat for breakfast, too many carbs for me, I would be asleep all day but if this is your thing and your body responds well to carbs then get making this it is super tasty.

8. Eggless Pasta from Vegan Dad

This is a great website for learning how to make a lot of kitchen staples vegan. This recipe uses aquafaba to bind the flour in the pasta as an alternative to eggs and you can continue to enjoy this great food and barely know the difference.

10. Vegan S'mores Pie from The Baking Fairy

I included this because it is just so amazing. Like with eggs you can make all sorts of different meringue and the one that is needed for the top of this pie looks just like it was made using eggs. When you look at this pie you can see just how far vegan cooking has come and shows why it is so many people are eating a plant based diet now.

12. Aquafaba Mayo from Learning to Eat Allergy Free

Now I have been able to get vegan mayo before but the problem I had when I looked at the ingredients was it was full of all sorts of things that I didn't even know what they were, never mind wanting to eat them. This recipe has only 5 ingredients all of which I use regularly and would happily eat. So next time I fancy a sandwich I will be following in some of this stuff!

14. Vegan Minty Cotton Candy Ice Cream from Elephantastic Vegan

I currently have my ice cream maker in the loft at a family members, I was decluttering and now I really wish it wasn't there. I can do this recipe without it but it would be so much easier with it. When I go through recipes like this it makes me realise how much I have missed cooking, now to fit it in!

1. Butter - yes your heard right, butter.

I found this great recipe on Plante Pusherne (it's Danish) but the recipe is in English and really easy to make. This one is perfect for me as butter is something I really miss and the great thing about this is you get the health benefits of coconut oil!

3. Fluffy Vegan Chocolate Mousse

This is one of my favourite recipes from Lazy Cat Kitchen (which is also one of my favourite blogs). It is so simple and the best way to get a genuine mousse effect. Before this discovery vegan mousse was always made with avocado and banana and while this is a really tasty pudding it is just that and not really a mousse as there was no lightness at all. Now that problem is solved and there is no need to ever use eggs again!

5. Mozzarella Aquafaba Cheese from Avocado and Ales

Living without cheese as a vegan is a serious challenge but this is such a great recipe and it melts too which means you get a proper cheese effect. One note on the recipe is that it recommends lactic acid which is not actually vegan so just sub it for the lemon juice as recommended and you have a perfect vegan, meltable mozzarella cheese.

7. Sugar-Free Vegan Whipped Cream from Happy Food, Healthy Life

I love this recipe, it is all natural and there are no nasties in there or high levels of sugar. Just imagine this on a bowl of fresh berries, it would be the perfect healthy vegan treat. If I wasn't full up now I would be off to the kitchen right now.

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9. Homemade Vegan Marshmallows from Seitan in my Motor

When I was not vegan I can't say I was rushing out to buy marshmallows but they are nice when you fancy a treat and think of my joy when I realised I could make a good quality vegan alternative. Whether you decide to make these marshmallows will really depend on how much you think you can't live without them or how much you want to impress.

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11. Hazelnut & Cranberry Vegan Nougat from Sweet Paul Mag

This is just another amazing thing you can do with Aquafaba that you would have had real problems with before. I am really tempted by this recipe and I might save making it until a celebration time.

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13. Vegan Meringue from It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken

It was in the making of meringue that I first came across aquafaba and I have to be honest I am still trying to perfect it myself but I know I will get there. I absolutely love meringue but obviously there is the egg issue so with this recipe that just goes away. Yummy, crunchy, chewing meringue and it is totally cruelty free. What more could I want?

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15. Lemon Meringue Pie from The Pancake Princess

I know that this is the same type of meringue as on the s'mores pie but a list of this type would not be complete without a lemon meringue pie. I have been looking at this and thinking that I might be making this for my mum's birthday, she loves meringue and lemons and so now I have something to perfect before the end of July.

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So this is my top 15 picks of things you can make with aquafaba but it is not limited to this. Anything that you can use egg whites for then you can use aquafaba. It would also be the perfect edition to pancakes as a binding agent and if you are making a cake and want it to be nice and light and fluffy then substitutes your eggs for aquafaba and get the perfect vegan alternative.

You Are Where You Are Supposed to Be!

This is something my current spiritual teacher is always telling me and there was a time when I would have heard that and thought it was complete nonsense. Now I get it my life just seems to be falling into place.

Throughout my life I have read loads of self help and definitely read the main most influential writers like Dale Carnegie, Norman Vincent Peale, Louise Hay, Ester & Jerry Hicks, Dr Wayne Dyer and the list goes on. The problem I have always found is that I read these books but I felt I was not making many changes then one day I read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and not only did I feel like I made massive changes in my life but I realised the changes I had made throughout my life.

The major difference was I started to see the difference between the inner me and my ego and I realised that it was my ego that was expecting to read a book and then have a totally different life. It was unaware of the small changes, the little steps I was making to as Dr Wayne Dyer puts it a self-actualised life. I'm still learning and working to get there but I've started to realise that where I am right now is where I am supposed to be.

As soon as I became aware of being comfortable on where I was I started to also open up to the signs that were being sent to me and showing me where I needed to be. Recently I have completely relocated from London to Devon and when deciding to me there were so many things that led me to choosing Devon and I was not even aware of the guidance I was being given until I reached my current location.

So I have been thinking about leaving London and setting up a yoga retreat for at least a couple of years and I have found a couple of places before both in France and just before I was about to go ahead something stopped me. The first place was this amazing property but on getting the reports through it was full of lead and asbestos and I got this gut instinct that the house was going to sink me and so I pulled out.

The second place was also in France and I was ready to sign the contracts but the seller had some delays and it took longer to get them to me. Then the day before I was due to sign I spoke to a friend who has a massive property portfolio and he told me that buying a property in France was the worst thing I could do and I would only lose my money. My ego would have ignored the advice and ploughed on regardless but the inner me listened, I did not go ahead and I help back to think about things.

So my mum recommended the south west of England, anywhere from Cornwall, Devon, Somerset or Dorset and we started our investigations. After taking a weekend in Devon and Dorset we decided we liked the area and we would look for somewhere to rent before we bought. This is where things got really weird and it was like something else was helping me find the right place.

We started by booking a holiday home in Cornwall for a couple of weeks and we would drive around and look at places. We arrived and it was desolate and totally isolated plus it took at least a couple of hours to drive to a lot of the places we liked. After just a couple of days it was clear we did not like where we were staying and so we left and found somewhere in Torquay to rent. It was this lovely 2 bedroomed terraced house that was really comfortable and close to all the amenities.We then looked at properties within an hour of here and we found a great property with a pool and a sea view (well estuary but close enough). The day we went for a second viewing of the property we were not sure if it was right but decided to go out to dinner and think about it. We looked for an Indian restaurant in Torquay but did not know where we were driving but we did know there was a great Thai in Paignton and so we drove there. On the way we stopped outside the Paignton Spiritualist Church and noticed a sign that said there was a demonstration of mediumship at 7:30pm, perfect timing.

After a great meal we attended this demonstration and from the moment we stepped through the door the atmosphere was uplifting and welcoming and we just knew we were doing the right thing. The next day we accepted the offer to move into the property and moved in 9 days later.

I can see now that I was led at every stage to find this place and having now found a house in Torquay that is perfect for my yoga retreats and classes I know I am where I am supposed to be. Every time I drive to Torquay it is like I am coming home and instead of thinking it is right I know it is right and I know I was guided by something to be here right now.

To you this probably just sounds like a great story but you can see no relation to your life but believe me it is important for everyone. We all get these gut feelings, these signs and we chose to either ignore them and listen to them. What I didn't realise is that if you act from the ego then you will ignore them because the ego always thinks it knows best, if you act from the inner you, your soul, your God essence, whatever you call it then you will listen and act.

If you take some time to analyse your life, every time you have listened to this inner voice and the followed the signs you have been sent it has always led you to somewhere great and every time you ignore them it causes you turmoil. The hardest thing for me is knowing whether your decisions are coming from the inner you or your ego and this is where you need to put in the work.

Whenever you need to make a decision, take your time and get to a quiet space and take a step back. I was reading a book recently and it talked about how when you act from the ego you are serving yourself and if you act from the inner you then you are serving others around you. One is selfishness and one is kindness. So really it is about honesty are you doing something to grow or to protect, is it fear or love?

Answering these questions are the most important thing and this is why I make time for meditation everyday as well as writing in a journal. The more you interact with yourself then more you know what is you and what is your ego. To me it is listening to the feeling I get in my stomach, when it is the ego I get churning in my stomach and I feel fear rising. When the decision is from my inner me it causes no anxiety and it just flows and feels natural. It is something that everyone has experienced and so taking time to feel these feelings will really help you.

If you would like more tips and advice on this issue then please add your questions and comments below and I will answer them all.