Adults Blog Life Skills Skills for life

How Stretching Can Help

Do you have a window? If so, get stretching!

Before we begin, do you have a window to stretch? Yes a window and I don’t mean a ‘window in your diary’ by the way! I wonder have you had the chance to soak up the sun today or felt the breeze on your face ? I know it can be hard to work outside with laptops, and YES there is just so much TO DO! But did you try opening the window? I have found I can position myself so that I get the benefits of a breeze and sunbath and yet I can still see my screen. How could that work for you? I’d love to see YOUR windows into your world. Perhaps you have young ones to get ready for the day and you can brush their hair outside or have your breakfast there. Not only will you feel refreshed by this ‘sun and breeze bath’ but you will sleep better too. We are fundamentally animals after all and need to synchronize our systems with nature’s rhythms. The rain refreshes too and by the way, can you hear some birds today? 

So if you do have a window, and are lucky enough to have all your senses, use all that you have to help you to slow down. Is there a breeze, a smell,  a taste, some sounds, the feel of your clothes on your body, the beat of your heart, the movement of your breath? Perhaps you notice holding in your neck or back. Make this a game if you like and give yourself a ‘speeding ticket’ when you find yourself nearly tripping up trying to do everything at once! If you are a parent with a young family there is nothing more important than slowing down and seeing our little ones and those we love as though for the first time. 

So what about stretching?

When we feel compressed and tight it impacts every part of us and it may not be until we start to stretch that we notice underlying restrictions. Do you have A window to stretch and  remember? When I say stretch nowadays I often get asked what exercise when, which app, which guru? We have gotten so used to looking out there at the latest exercise guru or yoga video that we have forgotten the simplicity of listening to our body and stretching and moving in ways that refresh and revive. For inspir-ation, ( key word!), we can look to the elements and even to our pets. Which stretches help you breathe deeper and easier, enhancing your circulation and joy? 

Did you know?

We have been moving and folding and giving shape to ourselves from our very beginnings in utero. Did you know that at 4 weeks gestation the beginnings of our heart is actually forming on our face? It is through a gesture of folding and stretching over that ‘our primal face’ makes contact with the area that becomes our heart.  Yes, that is right our heart begins to form on our faces first! In other blogs, I will write more about  how our cranial nerves innervate our face and neck as that helps to explain why babies long to gaze at our faces and nearly demand  us to connect! 

And So

So back to this primal stretching or enfolding gesture. This movement actually causes our heart to begin beating.  In Craniosacral language we speak about the ignition of the heart. Our heart is the first organ of the body to form and it all starts with a folding and a stretching. So next time  you take a bow, a salute, a stretch at your window see how it feels. Can you engage your heart a little more? What happens if you drop the push, the doing and  use your senses instead? As you slow down ‘re-member’ your original nature, your body,  your inner stretching.  Know  that each one of us stretched and folded and shaped ourselves. Take yourself to that moment right now with the simplest of stretches, with a breath at a window!

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Adults Blog Life Skills Skills for life

Saying No


When we are exhausted our whole body feels like it wants to shout NO! We get tight and irritable. We might want to shut down and shut out the world. Sometimes saying no is saying yes to yourself! A yes that could simply mean yes to extra rest, to an extra breath or  yes to music as you wash the dishes. Breaking the patterns initiates change. Every cell will benefit from YES. You could even coax your YES into a smile! You don’t have to smile at anyone, you can even imagine a smile and it will begin the  re-set. How about imagining this smile floating down your spine and landing somewhere in your pelvis? We get so used to driving ourselves and pushing ourselves beyond exhaustion.  See what happens when you smile? 

Catch yourself in the middle of your habitual muddle if you can and let it  bring a new perspective and perhaps more self-compassion. The needs of others easily becomes a priority for caring types so lets use that perspective to our advantage and do what we do for others as well as ourselves. Use it as a motivator as ultimately wouldn’t we just love to live in a world where each one of us matters.

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Adults Blog Life Skills Skills for life

Manufacturing Time vs Maintaining Control


Overwhelm? “Isn’t that something we should be able to control with our mind? Surely we should be able to override stressful feelings and maintain control at all costs. Stress is seen as a weakness that strong humans do not and WILL NOT succumb to. Getting on with things was my father’s central philosophy. Unfortunately for him and countless others, his approach contributed to his untimely death. 

Busy bees keep pushing themselves through tasks and overriding natural inclinations to rest. When faced with piles of work, some of us find ourselves loading even more tasks on our shoulders! When planning for a trip for example, do you sometimes feel as though everything has to done NOW and then a bit more?! Challenging ourselves and setting some deadlines is vital for our overall well being and personal satisfaction, but there is an edge to everything.  

So what do we mean by ‘mind’ anyway? In our Western culture we have been told that we are our brains in some ways. We think therefore we are! We have been told a story that our brain reigns supreme over our bodies, protecting us from our less predictable emotional and ‘instinctual’ natures’. Our mind is often compared to a computer that can be programmed. This idea of being able to programme or control our mind is appealing. Having a mind like a captain of a ship has lead to all sorts of common phrases in our culture. Author and International Embodiment practitioner Phillip Shepherd, who I have had the privilege of meeting,  writes of how we speak of the head of organizations and how import it is to get ahead or get to the top! 

Our understanding of what our mind is and who we are is a cultural thing. In Tibetan culture they speak of heartmind and the idea of the all important ‘brain’ doesnt feature. Remarkably this ancient way of understanding our nature has now been backed up by science. Researchers from The Heartmath institute demonstrate that there are more messages coming from our body, heart and gut to our brains  than from our brains to our hearts! It seems after all that it is not our brains but our hearts that are the the guiding captains. So if our posture is slumped, breathing is shallow and our digestion is tight, our brain will release stressful hormonal messages. Messages of lack, fear or anxiety are commonly triggered. So in simple terms this means that physical ailments like tension pains in our digestive system can be partly triggered by our emotional states. Complementary medical practitioners have called these tensions conflicts of the ‘heartmind’. 

So the next time that you find yourself grimming holding on to old habits of control at all costs, remember your intelligent heart.


Part One: Manufacturing Time

Part Two: Practical Tips to Manufacture Time

Part Three: Manufacturing Time vs Maintaining Control

Adults Blog Life Skills Skills for life

Manufacturing Time: Practical Tips


What to do when you feel overwhelmed?

  • See can you welcome your breath into your belly.

( Notice any resistance or irritation and do it anyway, some of us just hate to be told what to do!)

  • Welcome your breath into your belly 

(Again dont push away the judgements the ‘this wont work’ thoughts, they are all old habits)

  • Take another breath

(More thoughts might come, more pings and beeps and to do thoughts… Welcome them like a pesky child and rather than shunting them away, create space with another breath and tell them you will be with them in a moment.)

  • How is your body?  Are you are feeling speedy or tight? 
  • How is your facial expression? Around your eyes your mouth?
  • How is lower back and your jaw?
  • Before the comparison thoughts or floods of inadequacy arise, remember to shower yourself with  kindness.  YOU have never done ‘THIS moment’ before and these old taunting self critical comments aren’t YOU at all. 
  • Let any sense you may have of your body show you that you have CHOICES.
  • Right in the moment YOU HAVE LOADS OF CHOICES.
  • Ask yourself: Where did I learn that pushing myself to exhaustion was the only option and did others teach me this approach?
  • Where did I learn that seeking help was admitting defeat, lazy or somehow wrong and that I must ALWAYS put the needs of others in front of my own?
  • Where did my unique set of SHOULDs come from? Or the notion that parenting, work or life is hard work? 

YOU have just manufactured time amidst the whirlwind of a thousand things! Nature and pets are a great way to step off the treadmill too. In any moment we can ask ourselves what is the most compassionate, joyful or even humorous action I can take now, one that benefits me as well as those around me. 

For those that like the SCIENCE, there is a lot of research that confirms that deepening our breath, slowing down, singing, plunging into cold water and other feel good activities directly benefit the vagus nerve that is a key part of  our nervous system.


Part One: Manufacturing Time

Part Two: Practical Tips to Manufacture Time

Part Three: Manufacturing Time vs Maintaining Control

Adults Blog Skills for life

How to Manufacture Time

What to do when you are feeling overwhelmed? When we are feeling overwhelmed don’t we long to get out of the rut of time altogether? As humans, we aren’t built for a switched on lifestyle, endless bleeps, pings and deadlines. How would it be if we could actually manufacture time?

You may be in your office or in the middle of getting supper for the children and  the idea of manufacturing time may seem ridiculous. You tell yourself  you just need to push through and then there will be a few moments for yourself…On and on we go with this delusion.

So how about it… Just for a moment, right now as you read this, as though Tinker Bell has arrived at your window,  Step out of time and let’s Step into nature.

John O’ Donoghue’s  poetry draws us back to our hearts and our connection with nature: 

“When the mind is festering with trouble or the heart torn, we can find healing among the silence of mountains or fields, or listen to the simple, steadying rhythm of waves. The slowness and stillness gradually takes us over. Our breathing deepens and our hearts calm. This invitation to friendship with nature does of course entail a willingness to be alone out there. Yet this aloneness is anything but lonely. Solitude gradually clarifies the heart until a true tranquility is reached. The irony is that at the heart of that aloneness you feel intimately connected with the world. Indeed, the beauty of nature is often the wisest balm for it gently relieves and releases the caged mind.”

– John O’Donohue

(from Beauty: The Invisible Embrace)

Of course we have heard it all before. We may live far from the countryside, with long working hours, a huge commute and the idea of slowing down and ‘manufacturing time’  seems irritating, impossible, ridiculous or even scary.   

We all have times when it feels as though there is NO time. A demanding job, the children, the kitchen sink, a partner working away, being a taxi service to teenagers? Yes you are right, stepping out of time and creating a ‘friendship with nature’ is a monumental ask!

Hauling ourselves back to a more centred way of living will look different for each one of us. I am not saying it is easy. We all have our habits of pushing ourselves to the point of exhaustion. Trying to DO it all! Hands up Mumas that have found themselves preparing an elaborate meal for the family when they are ‘beyond’ exhausted! 

Creating a friendship with nature may be as hard as opening up to help of any kind. We barricade ourselves in with thoughts that we “should be able to do all this alone.”  Looking up from our tasks or seeking help may seem like a defeat. Yet our whole nervous system is wired to come into balance in relation to others.  

It is a huge step in itself to come for a Craniosacral session.  Our bodies are an expression of our mind and  clients often come to me feeling compressed and tight in their bodies. Over a series of sessions we discover unique ways for you to manufacture time and support your whole system to unwind.

Learn More


Part One: Manufacturing Time

Part Two: Practical Tips to Manufacture Time

Part Three: Manufacturing Time vs Maintaining Control

Blog Pre-natal and pregnancy

Connection not Perfection!

It is never too early to connect with our little ones. They feel all we feel as they grow and develop in pregnancy. It is natures way to prepare them for the world. We are in the most intimate relationship way before we can see or hold them. 

When parents discover how conscious babies are from conception onwards, there can be some mixed reactions! Maybe the pregnancy was a surprise, or a much wanted one that came at a time of grief or financial or professional pressure. Parents may feel ‘guilty’ that they are stressed or anxious or that their body isn’t ‘the perfect peaceful temple’ for their baby. There are so many demands in people’s lives and connecting with a baby, especially if this isn’t the first-born, can seem overwhelming.      

Parents may feel that conversations with baby is on their terms. For the baby though, continuous communication isn’t an optional extra;  They are literally plugged into mum and they receive all of her unfiltered! Babies  FEEL us, and their nervous system is shaped accordingly.

This isn’t intended as a guilt trip but to tell Parents loud and clear that babies are crying out for CONNECTION not PERFECTION! 

As vital to them as free flowing milk, truthful, heartfelt communication creates unshakeable bonds. Partners play a key role by supporting and nurturing mum through the highs and lows. This will be experienced as a supportive buffer for both mum and baby, bringing less fear and greater ease and security.

So how are you feeling today Muma? 

How would it be to gently open your heart, shed a tear if you need to and tell your little one how you are feeling?

Are you adapting to the idea of being a mum?

Excited but worried about some aspects?

Not confident in your abilities to love THAT much?

Fearful that you wont get somethings right? 

It is powerful to remember that regardless of any of your own misgivings or feelings of inadequacy  you are the very best parent for YOUR baby, you can learn together and they are totally open to connection with YOU…with all of YOU!

Blog Pre-natal and pregnancy

Pain Relief in Pregnancy

Is our own birth influencing our attitude to pain relief in pregnancy?

When I work with mums to be or those trying to conceive I take time to explore their own birth story.  Our own entrance into the world can leave lasting impressions that set a tone or mood around birth. Do we have an inherent belief in our capacity to birth or do we assume interventions will be needed? Perhaps there have been miscarriages or other challenges in the family and it is important for us to differentiate our story from what happened  to others.  

Women need all the encouragement they can get in the birthing arena. Time and time again I hear of mums who assume that they will need the epidural and are surprised when their body takes over.  Looking at the statistics though  it seems as though women do not have the self-belief, support or wish to attempt to have a natural physiological birth. In the US over 73% of mothers choose an epidural and around 68% of first-time mothers in Ireland. Although an epidural may be presented as a more comfortable and pain free way to give birth, it also comes with risks  and a need for continuous monitoring. It also tends to lengthen labour by up to an hour and a half. 

Epidurals were first introduced in the 1980’s for those wishing to avoid a full anesthetic for a c-section delivery. They have since become increasingly popular as the paradigm of “pain relief” has won popularity over the “working with pain” paradigm, writes Rhea Dempsey in her article ‘Pain is My Friend’.

The cascade of intervention is a term used to point to how early routine interventions may have unintended and unpredictable consequences.  Seemingly small interventions  will need to be “solved” with further interventions, which may in turn create even more problems.  

The introduction of an Oxytocin drip for example may sound innocent enough as after all Oxytocin is naturally present in our bodies and is  commonly known as ‘the hormone of love.’ What women may not know is that the artificial version inhibits the release of endorphins that can help us tolerate labour pains. Pitocin can also interfere with our own naturally arising Oxytocin which is critical for the post-natal bonding and the production of breast milk.

natural oxytocin helps with pain during birth
Let Oxytocin help!

The implications of interventions, if not deemed medically necessary, need to be thoroughly understood and evaluated. Pains are likely to rapidly escalate when interventions are used in ways that are a lot harder to tolerate than pains that come on gradually:  

  • When waters are broken pre or during labour. 
  • When Synthetic Oxytocin or (“Pitocin”) is used to strengthen or induce contractions, this can accentuate pain as well as distress for baby. 
  • Static monitoring is hard for most to tolerate.
  • Sudden drops in blood pressure are possible with interventions
  • A longer labour is likely 
  • Urination and pushing baby out may be difficult. A catheter may be needed to empty the bladder.
  • Electronic fetal monitoring and intravenous fluids may also be required to  monitor, prevent or treat these effects. 
  • Vacuum extraction or forceps may be needed to help move the baby out. If these are ineffective, a c-section may be needed.

I hope you are all breathing easily…

It may be hard to read all of this at once and for many thousands of women there are other ways. Exploring the physiological purpose of pain in labour opens joyful possibilities.

Babies Blog Pre-natal and pregnancy

Being with Pain in Childbirth Part Two : Birth Recovery

When women come to see me post-natally for birth recovery sessions or to settle their baby, they often speak about how they felt out of control. “It all happened so quickly”, “ I felt afraid and had no choice but to do what I was told.” Common stressors include being left alone for periods of time, not knowing what was happening, having to birth without a loved one, being treated dismissively, not being shown how to do something,  not being believed or acknowledged in some way.  

Simply put women may feel that despite their beautiful baby they were cheated of an empowering birth. Many want to move on and not talk about it and it is not until they become pregnant again that they realise their first birth is still impacting them. 

So how did healthy mums end up having such a disempowering experience? Some of this is because we are not birthing in ways that recognize the subtle needs of our nervous system. it is only natural to contract and become overwhelmed as the pain seems to escalate. We just don’t know if we will be able to manage it, if it will ever end or intensify. 

When I speak to mums they often tell me they were feeling ok up to a point and then they lost connection. Perhaps the midwife that they connected with changed shift or their partner became fearful… there was some ripple that disturbed them.  

At every twist and turn if a mum is surrounded by health care workers who feel that pain should be avoided and taken away that will make it a lot harder for a mum to work through the intense moments. At these critical moments of self-doubt,  I believe women don’t necessarily need pain relief; instead they need deep human connection. Mums need to be surrounded by those that believe in them and be reminded  that  her body is designed to birth. Positive human contact helps us stay expansive and connected whilst fearful states makes us contract.  

Moments a mother never forgets.

For those wishing to labour as naturally as possible attention should be given to the support team and make sure that the mum has a birth advocate who is clear on the birth plan. Engaging a Doula, a birth companion to reinforce your choices throughout the process has been shown to give excellent outcomes. From the outset it is helpful to opt for the care provider who is most suited to your desired outcome. In order to limit the impact of  ‘the cascade of intervention’, (see next blog Is our own birth influencing our attitude to pain relief in pregnancy?),  it is worth weighing up all possible scenarios ahead of time and knowing what the options might be. Being well informed about your choices and the impact upon your baby is vital.

Blog Pre-natal and pregnancy

Being with Pain in Childbirth Part One : Connection

For many of us sweating, stretching and defining ourselves through exercise and sports is crucial for our emotional and mental well-being.   Jane Fonda coined the term ‘going for the burn’, to point to the release of endorphins, the after-glow, the feel good factor of a satisfying work-out. 

When it comes to childbirth, there doesn’t seem to be the same cultural encouragement to do what our bodies are designed to do. There is an assumption that being with pain in childbirth is something to be avoided. The question is not “will you use pain relief?” but “which one and when”. Choosing to birth without pain relief could be seen as extreme as opting for dental work without anesthetic. 

Mums may decide ‘to wait and see’ or ‘give it a go’ but if they are with a team who believe it is their job to offer pain-relief,  it will take a strong person to resist.   

Being with pain in childbirth is very different from being with any other  type of pain. Reading the standard definitions below it is a wonder that it is called pain at all:

“Highly unpleasant physical sensation caused by illness or injury.”

Or again

“Pain is an unpleasant sensation and emotional experience that links to tissue damage.”  


“Pain is an uncomfortable feeling that tells you that something is going wrong.”

‘Illness, Injury’, ‘tissue damage’, ‘something going wrong’… those are not the sensations that women speak about in normal labour. 

Independent birth educator and author Rhea Dempsey reminds us that a growing number of women want to experience natural physiological childbirth. They don’t want to by-pass, avoid or be saved from pain they want to engage with it.  Rhea reminds mums that there will be a series of “predictable low times of self-doubt where they may lose all belief in their bodies capacity to birth naturally.”  If there is a map drawn out and these crises of confidence are discussed ahead of time, it will make it so much easier for a woman to ride the waves.  

“In many cultures across time”, Rhea writes, “the challenging journey of pregnancy and birth, was celebrated and honored as a transformational process, ‘ a rite of passage’.”  

Each birth is unique and I am not suggesting that we should all bite down on our sticks and tolerate unendurable pain. My wish is simply for families not to miss out on the joy and power of birth. 

Developing trust with your health care provider brings great support.

Normal physiological pains of childbirth are accompanied by the release of powerful hormones. For women who have the right support, they will find that as they meet the pain, (call it a wave if you like!), they will experience the release of endorphins and oxytocin. High levels of oxytocin drive the contractions, the resulting sensations or pains are progressive and useful. For the birthing woman who has the chance to stay in her ‘zone’ she will discover that her body will enable her to birth from a much more instinctual place. Remembering too that she will soon meet her baby.

For those that choose or need medical interventions, there are many ways to engage more fully with the process. Birthing in a way that includes the baby’s experience of birth as well.

Blog Pre-natal and pregnancy

How a birth can become a healing; a personal story.

In 1999, when I gave birth to my first child who was inconveniently posterior I pushed myself  through a 36hr labour with zealous determination. If anyone has ever experienced a posterior labour they will know that the pains are relentless, often not the kind that feel productive.

From the outside looking in, I had the birth that I wished for, a ‘natural birth’ at home, with excellent care from my partner and the midwives involved.  From the inside though I took months to recover.  I drove myself so hard. I forgot that there was even a baby coming at all, that it was about love, about my partner, and becoming a mother. With the intensity of the pain, I lost my softness and galvanized myself like steel. As long as my son’s heart-beat was traceable, I just had to see this through. I heard people whispering in the kitchen, wondering about my stamina which enraged me enough to fight on!

But why the battle though?  I see now that this ‘ battle’ was about  triumphing over my own birth. Proving to the world, that I could birth MYSELF naturally. Whatever it took, I was NOT going to falter. On and on to the same music while everyone was collapsing. I was a lone warrioress. As well as forgiving myself, as I totally depleted myself in the process, I have to fully forgive and embrace some others as well. 

I was sixteen when my mother first told me how I was born. She looked away from me as she told me that she had had to have an emergency c-section with my brother. The longitudinal incision was life-saving as he was overdue and the waters had broken a week before. Eighteen months later when it was my turn, it was decided that it would be safer to open up the same scar. As a theatre sister and doctor’s wife, my mother told me she felt ashamed and humiliated about the way the ‘babies had to be born.’  She would have known the nurses and doctors, as friends and colleagues, which would have added to her embarrassment. She spoke of feeling a ‘failure as a woman’. I was angry and disturbed that my birth was linked to such feelings. We fell silent and as she turned up the volume on the television,  I felt as though I was drowning in failure and shame.  Sadly at this time, I wasn’t mature enough to offer her any comfort; I became the baby who was lost and disconnected. 

Many years later in 1990 when I began exploring the lasting impressions that our own births can have on us, I began to see how my early birth impressions were influencing my life, relationship with my mother and others (see this blog post). It was nearly as though I was wearing my birth story on my t-shirt and I wanted the world to rescue me! 

So although I am very proud of my son’s birth, there is a piece missing. I wasn’t even holding my son when I called my mother straight after the birth…I just wanted her to hear that women’s bodies can give birth naturally, that they are strong and designed for this. In that conversation I felt as though I was helping her heal some of her unresolved feelings.

As with all of these things there are layers and little did I know at this point that I would have to face an even bigger challenge in the postpartum phase. Back then I thought it was all about the birth, the event, the achievement. *See my blog on Post-partum care.*

So thank you fellow warriors for reading thus far and yes, of course I need to fully honour how transformative my son’s entry into the world really was. To complete the story, I want to firstly pick up my son and reclaim my softness as I hold him tight. I’m sorry I had to be so steely hard but we did it together! I want to fully honour my mother too and forgive myself for rejecting her when I heard about her feelings of failure. 

My mother and my first born

It can be a wonderful thing for birthing  parents to write their mothers a letter. This is mine.

Dear Mum, (Geraldine)

Today I want to celebrate your bravery. You told me so many times how you hated to be on ‘the receiving end’ of  hospitals, even though by all accounts you were an incredible theatre sister!  You lived through the death of your young brother, a war, an emergency c-section and a thousand challenges. I can only imagine how terrified you must have felt during my brother’s birth and then having to face into mine too. The big scar once again, feeling so on show, it must have been your worst nightmare. 

I am so sorry that you had no one to listen to you and help you after you gave birth.  Carrying those feelings alone must have been so painful for you, no wonder it felt so hard for us to laugh and fully connect. I see now that it was your feelings of failure and shame that I wanted to push away; not YOU. 

I am sorry too that when I cried so hard and so long as a baby, that you thought I didn’t want your milk.  That must have been soul-destroying especially when you were feeling so vulnerable. I know now that I was  angry that I was dragged out when I wasn’t ready and I didn’t understand why it had to be like this. It wasn’t about you at all. I know now that I was crying and crying to build connection with you. I am so sorry that I must have added to your feelings of inadequacy.

Today I thank you for doing your very best with the support that you had. We lived though that birth together and because of that you will always be by my side in my work with mums and babies. You were always brilliant with babies so calm and strong. I know that those feelings of shame and inadequacy didn’t start with you and not one bit of it was your fault. I am strangely proud of all that happened between us and when I picture your scar, I feel it on my own body too, as a badge of honour. I have even imagined that scar to be like a gorgeous amethyst crystal cave, a magical portal I had to come through in order to discover my own calling in life.

I am flooded with gratitude, I will never turn away from you again. Thank you for showing me the bridge back to you and for helping me soften more and more as a mum with my own growing family!

Your loving daughter, Sara