Creativity &…food? Introducing: The Muse Diet


We are what we eat.

Literally. Our cells our made up of whatever we put into our bodies.

We all know that our food choices affect us physically.

But what’s less obvious is how food can affect the invisible aspects of our selves and our lives; 

• our energy levels,

• our emotions

• our powers of concentration

• our access to inspiration.

And these invisible aspects greatly impact our creative output, not to mention our lives in general.

So, is there a way to eat that can support our creative dreams?

Are there foods that can help us be more inspired?

Is there… a Muse-friendly diet? 

Yes, yes and yes!

But here in The Muse Spa, there are no recipes, shopping lists or food plans.

Here, we focus on just two ingredients:

Intention and awareness.

Intention

Making positive changes to what you eat can change your life.

Eating well is undoubtedly a vital ingredient of living well.

So one powerful way to improve the quality of your diet is simply to declare an intention to eat well.

Make a decision, or rather develop the habit of remaking this decision, as the habits of a lifetime may take a while to replace.

Of course, this is quite a challenge. But fortunately, there is help available in the shape of…. Your muse.

Your muse is cheering for the healthy, vital and beautifully nourished version of you.

It’s the You she most wants to work and play with, so she’s ready and willing to be your internal support system.

Once you decide to set this course – just this simple intention to eat well – your intuition and subconscious mind will be on the look out for the perfect resources.

• The books you need will find you.

• The perfect expert will ‘just happen’ to be on TV when you’re watching.

• Relevant emails will just pop up in your inbox.

• Chance comments with friends will lead you new cooking ideas, places to eat and foods to try.

In declaring your intention, your radar will shift to notice the things that support it.

This is your muse in action.

No willpower required.

Expect inspired new attitudes towards what and how you eat.

Don’t be surprised if your tastes begin to change, as you naturally begin to prefer quality food and purer, more natural ingredients.

You may become fired up with enthusiasm for a new eating regime, or changes may be more subtle; gradual improvements to daily choices.

Of course, there may be lapses – allow for them, forgive them and then begin afresh.

Remind yourself of the benefits of looking after your body:

• vibrant life energy

• glowing skin

• formidable powers of concentration, memory and focus,

• quality sleep

If possible, surround yourself with visual reminders of the glorious side-effects of a nurturing diet.

Choosing to eat well is a lifelong affair.

Even though rapid change can feel like a breakthrough, a more gentle pace could prove to be the most sustainable.

Either way, be kind to yourself and stay calmly focused on your intention.

And, as always, stay tuned into the messages from your body.

Which brings us nicely onto our second Muse Diet ingredient…

Awareness

The feast of dietary advice available today is bewildering.

So many systems and regimes.

So much conflicting advice or outdated information.

So many experts and celebrity endorsements and scientific discoveries.

How on earth are we supposed to know which one is right for us?

Luckily, there is one source which has your optimum health at heart, knows you intimately and is available for consultation 24 hours a day.

Your body.

Your body knows.

Your body has an intelligence and it communicates its needs to you – or at least it tries.

In modern life, many of us have lost touch with this inner source of dietary wisdom, but we can tune back in.

And not only will listening to your body’s signals help you find the right eating regime for you, it is also good practice at tuning inward.

The source of your body’s wisdom is also where your Muse lives.

Further in the course, we’ll explore how the Muse may be speaking to you via your physical body, so any steps you take to listen more closely will help you strengthen that line of communication.

• • •

So, how to begin?

Easy; just watch, listen, notice.

No need to make any changes at first, this is just an observational exercise.

Become conscious of your eating habits.

Be more aware of any cravings or unusual appetites.

Ask questions.

After a meal, assess how you feel.

Play food detective; if you notice a stomach ache or bloating, ask yourself what you ate recently; how you ate it – rushed, standing up, angry?

Monitor your bodily functions. Is there any pattern to certain problems?

Do you have energy dips at certain times of the day?

Do certain foods effect your concentration?

Are you more focussed before you eat?

Do you eat because you’re hungry? Emotional? Stressed? Bored?

Are you actually enjoying each mouthful?

Do you notice when you’re full?

orange chocolate fruit face

If you’re going to indulge in a ‘guilty pleasure’ – try to taste every mouthful and either savour the experience or learn exactly what need it fulfils. (Or doesn’t).

In Ayurveda, the ancient science of holistic health, the theory is that all health – or ill-health – can be traced back to the quality of digestion.

So it can help to also be mindful of how and when you eat, as these factors can have a bearing on digestion and, as a result nutrition and the after effects of food.

For example, eating when stressed compromises digestion.

As does eating while walking. Or jumping straight into another activity immediately after a meal.

Eating late at night or just before exercise can also cause problems.

See if you can pin-point any eating habits that are causing you unnecessary issues.

Keeping a food diary can be enlightening.

It may be a time-consuming practice but if this is a potent issue for you, the results can be surprising and may help to make simple changes that will last a lifetime.

Even doing this for a short time can train you to notice what you eat, and its effects.

A habit of awareness will recalibrate your relationship with your food and your body. 

It will also move you closer to your intuition and internal wisdom, aka; your muse.

This attention to what you eat is less about fitting a certain dress size and more about how you feel in your body.

It’s a journey towards increased health and wellbeing and the myriad life-enhancing results that naturally follow.

The Secret Ingredient

There are actually 3 ingredients to the Muse Diet…

Whilst the above information is vital if we are to stay healthy and live a life where we are poised to reach our potential, there is one vital element that will not only keep your dining habits muse-friendly, it will also ensure that your life retains an essential pleasure that’s meant to be a part of the human diet:

Joy.

The joy of food.

The sensual indulgence of good food – food that nourishes us, body and soul.

The pleasure of eating, and eating well.

What’s the point of losing weight and looking great if we have to remove all the things from our life that give us pleasure?

Could stressing about your diet actually be worse for you than poor nutrition?

And how good can we look or feel when living a life of deprivation?

Yes, nutrition matters but stress can make us gain weight, whereas happiness can help us lose it.

The key is balance, to follow a nutritious diet we can enjoy, without stress.

How we feel about what we eat – our thoughts and emotions – these are important for our enjoyment of life.

But did you know that they can also effect us on a deeper level – even on a cellular level?

(I was blown away by this idea – that what we think and feel about the food we eat, can influence its cellular breakdown in our bodies. See The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton if you’re interested in how this works).

So don’t forget that as much as your body craves good health, it also thrives on joy and pleasure.

Aim for a healthy balance of quality nutrition, mindful awareness and the delicious enjoyment of eating well.

You may find that the more you pursue foods that support you, and the more you tune into what you actually want and need, you’ll begin to savour and relish your food more.

This level of mindfulness usually results in getting more satisfaction from less food, as opposed to what popular health coach Brook Castillo calls ‘fog eating’.

And waking up from the fog of unconscious living is a powerful step on the road to inspired living – the route to your muse.

The Muse Diet

So with a starter of intention, a main course of awareness and a sweet serving of pleasure to finish – et voila! 

A recipe for a healthy, balanced, emotionally-satisfied you.

Which just happens to be the version your muse most likes to visit.

And when you’re working with your body, rather than against it, you’ll need less time for ill-health, excessive exercise or time-consuming food plans.

Which just might open up a little breathing space in your timetable to focus on the new creative ideas that are beginning to flow…

• • • 

Obligatory Disclaimer

Though I can’t imagine there is a doctor in the world that would advise against eating well, it may be the case that you need medical advice on exactly what that means for you.

If you have any health concerns that require a professional to supervise any dietary changes, make sure you seek the support and guidance you need.

However important your creative goals, your basic health and wellbeing always take top priority.

 

• • •  

The Muse Spa Recommendation: Eat well.

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This post is an extract from The Muse Spa – a 6-week ecourse for creatives with a focus on health & wellbeing.

The Muse Diet is just one of a series of digital ‘treatments’ – articles, workbooks and exercises designed to help you rediscover to your innate wellness and reconnect to your creative spark.

If you’d like the workbook that supports this post, just let me know – I’d be happy to email it to you. 🙂

 

 • • • 

Discover the life-enhancing connection between creativity and wellness…

Subscriber Showcase – Meet Dana!

Welcome to a new Subscriber Showcase!

And to align with all the New Year New You energy, I’d like to introduce you to a beautiful soul who is pouring her heart and creativity into an inspiring message of health and wellness.

Introducing…

Dana Dinnawi  

 

Tell us about yourself, Dana. 

 

dana-dinnawiHi, I’m Dana Dinnawi.

As a Health Coach certified by the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, I’m in the business of showing strong, smart, independent women how to take back control of their lives from what they eat and how they look, to what they do and how they feel.

I help them break out of the cycle of yo-yo dieting so they can shed the last stubborn kilos, and learn how to eat for life so they can regain their energy and self-confidence to refocus on themselves and create a guilt-free lifestyle that fills them up daily.

As the founder of Empowered Wellness and Living, I’m passionate about helping women discover what serves, energizes and fuels them.

Because once they realize that it’s the choices they make that hold them back or fuel them forward, the possibilities are limitless.

I am half-Egyptian, half Lebanese. I have lived in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, England, Canada and now Egypt. I’ve been happily married for 22 years and have 3 kids; Malak, 20; Nour 18 and Youssef 9.

I love good food; eating out; shopping and travelling whenever I can?)

• • •
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Tell us a little about your creative life, and why it’s important to you.

Growing up, creativity was a part of my life in a very big and natural way. I played piano and flute and was on the school band; I loved acting and was in every play through university; I did tap and jazz dance and drew and painted for fun constantly.

Life, however, as it does, got in the way and since university, I haven’t nurtured a single one of those creative outlets at all as I got married and had my children and then went back to do my MA and then went to work and so on.

It was only in the past few years, when I discovered my passion for health coaching and really re-tapping into my true self, that a need for self-expression and creativity made itself abundantly clear to me, although I had no idea how.

Last year, I launched my online Empowered Wellness and Living Magazine as a way to infuse my business with creativity and give myself something work-related that wasn’t monetized and wasn’t about getting clients, but simply a beautiful way of communication. And I have loved it.

 

• • •

Tell us more about your current creative adventure…

And so my big creative dream NOW is re-launching, rebranding and creating the best version of this magazine that I can.

Although I loved creating it this past year, intuitively I knew that it needed to grow and evolve. My vision for it is an online global wellness magazine for the strong, smart, independent woman who wants to create a guilt-free, vibrant life that fills her up daily.

empowered-wellness-magazine

And in order to do that, I am creating a team of international women to create this vision with me—women who are just as passionate about holistic health as I am, and who are on a fierce mission to transform women’s lives.

If you’d love to get the magazine – please sign up here.

• • • 

Thank you, Dana!

And I am honoured to be a part of Dana’s new labour of love as the magazine’s Creativity Editor.

I’ll be sharing monthly tips for enjoying more creativity, inspiration and wellbeing – you can catch my first post here; A Creative Route To Wellness.

My obsession with the the creative power of self care feels very at home in an Empowered Wellness movement.

And since health and wellness are always high on my agenda, I look forward to following Dana’s inspiring journey over the year ahead. 🙂

• • •

So I hope you enjoyed meeting Dana and learning more about her creative dream and empowering message. You can find more about her here.

And if you’d like me to feature you and your creative projects in a future Subscriber Showcase – please just let me know.

Here’s to health, happiness and a wonderfully creative 2017.

 

Danielle

The All-Year Resolution: Intention vs Force

The All-Year Resolution: Intention vs Force

All Year resolution

 

It’s New Year time again.

I love the energy and optimism of this time of year. We’re so hopeful for the future, we’re determined to improve things, to live better, to be better, to finally do those things we’ve been saying we will do.

It’s the perfect time to resolve to actually make it happen this year.

And yet…

New Year Resolutions don’t have a great success rate.

Instead of an inspiring opportunity to harness the wonderful New Year energy, they’re more often associated with forced denial, failed attempts and fractured self-esteem.

But I don’t believe the New Year resolve is to blame for the high incidence of abandoned hopes and dreams. I believe there’s another culprit that can be an insidious saboteur of the human spirit:

The All-Or-Nothing mindset.

When our New Year Resolutions fail, often it’s not because we’re weak-willed, or ‘just not meant to do it’, but simply because we’re humans, not machines – when making powerful changes, it may take many, many attempts and re-attempts before these new practices become established.

What would happen to our success rate, if we removed the pressure to enforce our New Year changes without fail every day, from January 1st?

 

What if we accepted that it may take time to adjust to these changes, it may take weeks, perhaps months for new habits to form?

After all, humans have limited supplies of will-power, we have finite reserves of discipline. There’s only so much force and steely-willed determination we can summon before we become exhausted, disillusioned or unpleasant to be around.

Is this really the best way to craft our dream life?

If our New Year changes are meant to increase our success and happiness, how does being miserable and set up for failure support that goal?

And isn’t the quality of life en route to our goals just as precious and important as the (fleeting) moments at the Finish Line?

Whilst it’s true that 100% commitment can work brilliantly for some, (at least for a while), for the rest of us, there’s a more spirit-friendly alternative to the strait-jacket of All-or-Nothing Resolutions…

 

Christmas candles

The Power of Intention.

Intention is powerful.

Intention is a fuel that will never run out. No matter how many times we may lose our way, if we hold fast to our intention to get to where we want to be, the odds are good that we will get there. Eventually.

There may be detours, but if our intention is strong, we will soon recover our path.

There may be failures, but if we ditch the pesky and unhelpful All-Or-Nothing Mindset, we’ll find it so much easier to simply try again.

Intentions don’t require deadlines; they allow you time to just begin playing with these ideas, they allow you space to gradually incorporate these changes into your life.

Intentions are lighter and less demanding than the Must Do mentality, meaning you’re far more likely to shrug off any slips or blips and have another go.

So if a day or two or more goes by, and you’ve missed or forgotten your new practices – your intention is still there, as strong as ever, ready to shore up your resolve.

You can tap back into your intention, revisit your reasons for making these changes, and begin again.

This approach to creating anything will carry you much further toward your vision than any number of failed All-or-Nothing attempts.

New Year ‘Intentions’ are undoubtedly a less dramatic, less aggressive route to ‘getting results’, but for many of us, they can be so much more enjoyable, not to mention easier to stick with. And when the journey is easy and fun, that way success lies.


So this New Year, instead of giving up on resolutions altogether, perhaps try the gentler, subtler tactic of The All Year Resolution.

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CLICK TO TWEET

 

Simply intend to create the fabulous New You that’s calling you.

No unrealistic deadlines. No forcing of will. Just an intention to devote this new year to working towards your vision.

And when you’re not chasing a fixed result by fixed time, there’s no failure. You’re just making changes, gathering feedback, adjusting and re-adjusting.

Less urgency = Less stress. (A significant health bonus even before you start.)

Even if it takes all year, you’ll still be closer to your vision than if you go all-out for a few miserable weeks in January, then abandon it for another year – or even worse, never attempt those life-enhancing changes at all.

And imagine how lovely life could be this time next year, if you make your resolutions an all-year focus.

 

Cambridge tree

 

So this year, why not play with the idea of The All-Year Resolution. It’s a kinder, more sustainable route to the improvement, success and happiness that you’d love to create in the year ahead.

As an added incentive, the more your reaffirm your intention to do something, the more you’ll find it ‘mysteriously’ popping into your head, or occurring at the perfect place or time. (This is the muse’s handiwork. 😉 )

It becomes ever-easier to live and act in line with your intended goals.

So I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the promise and potential of a fresh and sparkling New Year, with a yearlong intention to make the most of it.

No struggle. No force. Just a resolve to evolve.

Allow the phenomenal power of intention to fuel your hopes and dreams, and make this new year the magical success it’s waiting to be.

 

Wishing you health, wealth, peace and joy – in the New Year and beyond,

Danielle

 

 

• • • 

 

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Yoga workout DVD Review | Maya Fiennes Journey Through The Chakras

In the domestic battle, three formidable forces are health, energy and inner calm. With these on your side, you are well-placed to conquer those housework demons and make peace with the demands of your home. 

So, in my bid to cultivate these allies, I regularly join forces with the beautiful Maya Fiennes via her suite of yoga DVDs. I highly recommend enlisting Maya and her troop of fun, relaxing yet subtely powerful workouts – which have improved the state of body and soul, as well as the state of my home.

If this sounds like your kind of solution – here’s my review of Maya’s Journey Through The Chakras series. 

Enjoy & Namaste!

 

Maya Fiennes – A Journey Though The Chakras (DVD sets)*

Kundaline yoga maya fiennes 123kundalini yoga 6 7kundalini yoga maya fiennes 3 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Journey Through The Chakras is a set of 7 DVDs in which Maya Fiennes focuses on the body’s main chakras using her signature Kundalini yoga practice (This series has also been featured on Body in Balance TV)

In these DVDs, Maya briefly explains the characteristics of each chakra, for example, how we behave when the chakra is open and the disadvantages of it being blocked. The yoga sessions that follow are designed to target (ie, strengthen/open) each particular chakra. All the sessions follow the same format, beginning with a 15 minute warm-up followed by approx 15 mins of kriyas (yoga poses/techniques) and a 15(ish) minutes of meditation.

Why I love them

I have tried all sorts of exercise regimes. I’ve gone to aerobics classes (never again). I’ve been a gym member (so not me). I’ve done Body Combat (too aggressive). And I’ve tried the stairs workout (effective but soon got fed up of running up and down my stairs). None have lasted for more than a few months. I’ve cycled, run, walked, jogged, swum etc but nothing inspired me to do it again on a regular basis. And given that I’m the least competitive person you will ever meet, team sports are a non-starter. I have also dabbled with yoga over the last 10 years but even that has been a sporadic and half-hearted interest.

And then I found Maya. (more…)

How to keep a (sort of) gratitude journal…

…without the stress.

 

10 hour sleep - gratitude journalHappy New Year! 

I hope the new year finds you full of health, and hopeful for the year ahead. 

I am a big big fan of the new year vibe. This year, though, I’m not going to talk about resolutions (you can see my thoughts on those here).

But I do have a suggestion for you if you’ve recently (or ever) had the intention to keep a Gratitude Journal.

Unless you’ve been asleep for the last few years, you will no doubt have heard about the health and happiness benefits of focusing on what we’re grateful for.

I wrote a little bit about it in my first book but if it’s a theory that interests you, there are many books that go deeper on the subject.

In my own life, I’ve learned that turning my attention to what’s going well can be a humbling-yet-comforting reminder to focus less on the woes (as attention-grabbing as they may seem.)

So, when it comes to the benefits of gratitude, I’m a convert. 

However….

The gratitude journal.

I do love the idea of it. And for a number of years I’ve tried to keep one. Each new year, I’ve bought a beautiful new diary and declared it My Home for Grateful Thoughts. And every year, I start off well… and last till about February. I have a drawerful of mostly-empty journals, abandoned as the whole Must Write Down Grateful Feelings thing became too much of a chore.

For something that was supposed to help me feel better, it was feeling more like yet another job to do. I began to dread my scheduled gratitude-journaling time. Then I would feel guilty for failing to keep up with it.

I loved the idea behind it but, in practice, well, it just wasn’t working. At least, for me. (Please note, anyone who loves theirs and feels it has changed their life, I applaud and respect you, and would love to know your secret for sticking with it.)

For those of us who would like the benefits but struggle with the practicalities, I have an alternative….

Actually, I have two…

• • •

A Gratitude Journal Alternative – Part I

The following tip is very simple, yet the effects can be surprisingly powerful. It tunes into the same vibe as the gratitude journal (ie pausing to notice the good stuff) but without the potential angst of journal-entry-pressure.

It is…. drumroll, please…. the humble smiley face. 🙂

Stay with me.

What if, when jotting down your To Dos in your diary, daytime, schedule, timetable (whatever you use to track and plan your life) – you adorn your favourite activities with a little smiley?

It takes seconds. But, I believe, this ease and familiarity belies its greatness. Firstly, can you draw a smiley face without smiling? Well, it’s possible, but I imagine that whatever causes you to create one on paper will also cause one to sneak onto your face too.

Secondly, by adorning your planner with this symbol of positivity and happiness, you’re acknowledging something fun or joyful in your life. This focus is the root of many of the benefits of gratitude. You don’t necessarily need to give thanks to anyone or anything –  appreciation is an aspect of gratitude.

In pausing to appreciate the thing that makes you smile, you are beaming in (pardon the pun) more of the same. (If this sounds a bit unlikely, cellular biologistsquantum physicists and neuroscientists back me up here.)

So, the smiley face – a surprisingly powerful device.

Digital or hand drawn – opt for whichever method you prefer. Then at the end of the day/week/year, you can spot – at a glance – all the best bits of your life. You can instantly see which were good days  – any page with multiple smilies can’t be bad!

Plus, this practice may well encourage you to plan more activities that warrant the smiley-stamp. (Some days I put something in my diary that I know I’ll love, just so I can add another Smiley Item.)

On days when you’re feeling the drudgery of your not-so-happy To Dos, a simple reminder of any fun stuff can go a long way to nipping those blues in the proverbial bud. 🙂

• • •

A Gratitude Journal Alternative – Part II

I also have a second alternative to the added pressure of keeping an additional journal – again, using your existing diary or daytimer. (After all, these are usually the tools that dictate our hours and days, ie our lives).

This time, instead of the in-the-moment-of-entry addition of a smiley face, this tip is more of a reflect-and-review kind of activity.

Unlike the conventional gratitude journal, though, you’re not required to dredge up memories of your busy day from a tired and frazzled brain. You have your day in front of you, on paper (or screen).

All you need to do is take a look at where you spent your time and decide which were the best bits. Then, at the bottom of that page, scribble a few notes – your Daily Highlights.

The more you do this, the more easily they will come to mind – plus you have your planner to jog your memory. Even if you’ve had a bad day, there are usually one or two blips of good stuff.

And the gratitude experts tell us that eking out these highlights and giving them some recognition can work wonders for our mental, emotional and physical health. (Particularly if you do it just before you retire for the day.)

Although this is, in essence, a log of things to be grateful for, it removes a couple of the worksteps which will a) make it a more enjoyable habit and thus b) make us more likely to do it.

Plus – no blank pages and subsequent guilt! In fact, you may find that the short scribbles at the end of the day begin to increase in both size and frequency. (I’ve had to go for an A4-size diary this year.)

And before long, you will have kept a substantial (sort of) gratitude journal – without really trying.  You will also have transformed your daily planner into a great tool for mood-boosting – both on a daily basis and whenever you feel the urge to review it. 

• • • 

So there you have it:

twitter aquahow to enjoy the uplifting benefits of the gratitude journal, with less of the effort.

(CLICK TO TWEET)

 

(By the way, this is not laziness, it’s efficiency. And on the bumpy creative path, efficiency is undoubtedly our friend.) 

Let me know what you think –  worth a try?

 

Danielle

PS Thanks for reading! 🙂

PPS I promise to not use any more smilies in my blog posts. 😉

 

• • • 

 

Begin a New Year love affair with your muse…

 

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A Message From Your Muse – Daily Prompts for Creatives

 A sequence of short and very sweet nudges on behalf of your muse.

> > > CLICK FOR DETAILS. 

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Book review: Yoga for Real Life – Maya Fiennes

About the book

This beautiful full-colour book is Maya Fiennes’ guide to a healthy, happy life – Kundalini style.

The sections are loosely based on the body’s seven main energy centres (chakras). They are:

• Be Here, Now (Root chakra)

• Detox & De-Stress (Sacral chakra)

• Yes, I can! (Navel chakra)

• Love & Relationships (Heart chakra)

• Staying Youthful (Throat chakra)

• Children (Third Eye chakra)

• Finding Joy (Crown chakra)

Each section features the relevant yoga poses, breathing techniques, Sanskrit chants and meditation. Maya explains how the body is designed to heal many of our modern ailments and includes remedies for issues such as panic, stress, insomnia, heartache, unlocking creativity, coping with children, family harmony, deeper relationships, energy and vitality, anti-ageing , time management, inner peace and more fun!

Offering a total workout for mind, body and spirit, Yoga for Real Life provides a route to a more flexible body and a more flexible attitude to life. This is a holistic handbook for building the physical and mental strength required to live life to the fullest.

Why I loved it

I love this book. But then, I’m a big fan of all things Maya Fiennes. And I’m not alone: Deepak Chopra calls her ‘one of the true pioneers of yoga’. Whilst Elle McPherson says, “Doing yoga with Maya is inspirational, energising, sexy and it gives me joy.”

(more…)

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