When was the last time you prioritised yourself and did something totally and completely just for you? Something as radical as signing up for a transformational self-love programme? One mum shares her experience.
As women we’re often very good at taking care of others – our children, our partners, our family, our friends – but usually not quite so great at caring for ourselves. We regularly place our needs at the bottom of a long list, and then wonder why we sometimes feel burned out and uninspired.
Only by investing in ourselves – giving ourselves space and time to recharge our batteries and really listen to our thoughts and feelings, can we stay energised, positive and be truly successful.
One mum shares her experience of doing what is to many of us, almost unthinkable – signing up to a transformational personal development course that involved spending a whole day devoted just to herself in a luxury spa.
How I found myself standing around a cauldron!
When the three of us stand around a cauldron in the rain literally burning the pages of our rage, all we lack is the thunder and lightening.
Our location however, could not be further from a witch’s windy heath. Instead, we are in the gardens of a sumptuous day-spa in the beautiful Sussex countryside. And while we are certainly gathered to summon some magic, it is not of the occult kind.
In fact, darkness could not be further from the truth – we are actually in the middle of a three-month coaching programme designed to foster our own self-love affairs and connect us with our authentic selves.
This is the first of three contact days over the three-month period. Is it therapy? Of a sort. Is it fun and useful? Absolutely. Will it be life-changing? Let’s wait and see, but right now my money is on yes.
I was nervous when I signed up
When I signed on to the women-only programme, I was more than a little wary of the fact that I would be undertaking this coaching with two others (a photographer and a lawyer, as it turns out) – neither of whom I knew.
I understood that in embarking on this journey I would be uncovering some self-limiting beliefs and blocks and I would be laying myself dauntingly bare. I need not have worried though, as we were all there for the same stuff – to release fear, to let go of old patterns of thinking and their attached emotions, and to develop greater self-confidence and self esteem.
We soon shared personal experiences
It’s surprising how easy it is when we give ourselves permission to talk and do a little self-reflection, how quickly comfortable we can become with revealing our own stuff. We all brought our own baggage to the table, and some of it was quite heavy, but sometimes trauma can be a major catalyst for profound transformation.
Interestingly, sometimes it wasn’t the stuff that we placed directly upon that table that were the things we ended up addressing. The lawyer saw her own anger at the breakdown of her marriage as her major limiting behaviour, but it was her perfectionism that she explored.
The photographer, meanwhile, held her depression and lack of confidence to the light but actually surprised herself by allowing herself to reveal a troubling sexual incident that she had never told anyone, and through this recognised that perhaps the incident required some further therapy.
How we learned how to let go of the past
Through forgiveness exercises and letting go of the past (hence the burnt pages) we all began to move on in changing our patterns of thinking and our relationship to ourselves. We could then begin a mental shift to nurture ourselves as worthy of our own love.
In this recognition, we all had differing aims – to have more fulfilling relationships, to experience deeper joy in life, to self-nurture without guilt, to improve our self-image and body image and to generally live lives that are more authentic.
Later on, as we sit in the sumptuously upholstered room around a round highly polished table listening to guided meditations and watching candles flicker, I have a guilty moment. This all feels rather self-indulgent and extravagant! Today is all about me – and for once I’m not giving my energies to work deadlines, demanding children, or my husband.
Why it’s vital to put ourselves first
Taking time out for self-development is so often at rock-bottom or it doesn’t even feature our list of priorities but we need to put it first. As Katie Phillips, the facilitator of this programme explains, too often our culture teaches women to over-give and they end up depleted and anxious.
It’s vital to ask ourselves how well we serve our nearest and dearest. Do we give to ourselves first so that we are overflowing with juicy loving goodness to share with them? Or, do they get a shrivelled, exhausted version of us?
Self-love is a term that is used with relish by Katie, which is why she chooses to run her workshops in day spas. The whole experience is designed to nurture but a spa alone is often not enough. Time-poor people want more than a relaxing massage and then a return to their busy everyday lives. Women want transformation – they want their investment to matter and to make genuine change within themselves.
I was worried it would be too new age
I was worried that the programme would be too new age for me, but it is not all woo woo. We undertake mindfulness meditations and guided relaxation and learn how to integrate the use of affirmations to increase our ability to be calm and relaxed in situations.
We write our own affirmations and these culminate in a list of our own top values and non-negotiables in life. We work on letting go of resistance, at looking at blocks to our own behaviours, examine our internal operating systems and where they might have come from, and undertake the forgiveness necessary to move on.
The most exciting part of the course are the visualisation and manifesting exercises where you really dream big and get to imagine how your life will really look if it was an authentic reflection of your true desires. We journalled about this and the vibration shift in the room was amazing when we shared our visions.
I left feeling energised and excited
I left the workshop energised and uplifted. I smelt gorgeous thanks to the bespoke transformation oil we were given to inhale or wear while undergoing the programme (juniper berry for cleansing and letting go, cypress for strength during a time of change, frankincense for helping to move forward while being nurturing at the same time, and rose oil to help let go).
Getting home, I feel more connected and spiritual than I have in a long while and am so excited about this opportunity for growth and change. I feel truly connected with something even bigger than myself.
Katie Phillips is now taking bookings for her MIGHTYMIND 2014 course. It starts 16 September and there are only six spaces available (you can find out more here). She’s also doing a free live call on Wednesday 16 July.Hannah Martin