What cultivating a daily practice did for me…

The concept of a daily practice is not a new one and I expect many to be familiar with it. But how many of us actually have a daily practice? Why should you have one? Well, if you are curious about it and are considering it but don’t know where or how to start, read on; I will tell you what it did for me and how it has become such a fundamental part of my day that it is like breathing.

What is a daily practice?
For me it is taking time each day to be still, to bring yourself back to your true self and listen. It can be anything that works for you: a spiritual practice, a yoga practice, a meditation practice, a “press the stop button for 5 minutes and rest practice”, a gratitude practice, a “smile at yourself in the mirror” practice; the important thing is that it is just for you and you can be still while you do it.

How did I come to a daily practice?
I grew up an only child in Italy, in a loving but somewhat always emotionally charged household. I was very loved. I had lots of friends, freedom and fun, but somehow, I never felt I fully fitted in or was fully accepted. I spent most of my younger life looking for something. I became a people pleaser, trying to fit in, to make people happy, to be liked and to be accepted, often literally hiding my own light under a bushel.

Eventually I settled in the UK. It was only after my first divorce that I lived on my own for the first time and got to know myself better. I then married my second husband, had a child and made a life together, but it did not work out and we parted ways. It was a painful divorce that could have broken me had I not, by then, developed tools to keep steady and balanced, the main one being my daily practice.

You see, despite having learned some important things about myself whilst on my own, the moment I was in this new relationship, I quickly reverted to type. I got back into a pattern of putting myself at the bottom of the priority pile and soon I was running on fumes; my tank was so empty that I could barely function, but I soldiered on, hoping for the best, totally unaware that it was up to me.

Then something changed. One morning, I looked in the mirror and truly saw myself for the first time in years and said “Hello, how are you?”… The door was locked, I could not be disturbed, and I talked to the woman in the mirror. I asked her questions, I listened to the answers, I smiled at her, she smiled back, I told her she was loved, I watched her cry, I felt her relief when she was able to verbalise and say out loud what she had not dared to admit even to herself.
That was to become my first, conscious daily practice. Every morning, I would brush my teeth, lock the bathroom door and have a chat with the woman in the mirror. It brought me back to myself and it was a catalyst for huge change, all for the best, including the painful divorce. In the couple of years that followed I embarked on a journey of discovery that has led me to who and where I am today. My natural interest in spiritual practices drew me to learning and studying Reiki Healing, holistic practices and becoming a Kundalini Yoga Teacher. My daily practice has hugely evolved from that 5 minute chat with me in the mirror.
These days, I wake early, take my first conscious breath of the day and practice yoga and meditation, and I keep it flexible, so it fits in with my very changeable daily schedule, but it is always done consciously and with intention and gratitude. It has changed my life. And this is the point of this story.

DEVELOPING A DAILY PRACTICE of being, listening, reflecting, accepting, forgiving, compassion and becoming comfortable in my own skin HAS CHANGED MY LIFE. It kept me steady and afloat when I thought I would sink, it gave me enormous strength and insight, freedom, peace, joy and purpose. But most importantly it gave me POWER and RESPONSIBILITY.

The penny dropped that the only person responsible for my happiness and fulfilment was me. And it was mind-blowing. Because I had made it my mission to make others happy so they would love me, I had the same expectation of them. Often unspoken. Needless to say these expectations were rarely fulfilled.

It was like a thunderbolt. If I took responsibility for myself, I also had the power to make things happen. Simple, right? In theory it is, but it took consistent daily practice to accept the whole of me, to treat myself with compassion and forgiveness and start again. I developed courage, compassion, awareness, clarity, confidence, balance and honesty. I had lots of false starts to get to a point where the theory became practice and it remains a work in progress, but my life could not be more different, I could not be more different from the person I was 10 years ago.

I have morphed from a deeply unhappy, negative and angry person into a joyful, peaceful, happy butterfly and if I can do it, so can you. It is never too late; we are never too old and set in our ways. And you don’t have to do it alone, you don’t have to do it in one giant leap. It takes time to develop a daily practice and process the learnings that come up as you go along and that is fine, you move at your own speed. I cannot walk your path for you, but if you want me to, I can walk alongside you every step of the way, until you are ready to go it alone. It is not always an easy journey, but it is a beautiful one!