Influences

The following reflects the lens through which I view my world. The things that shape my days — my personal and professional life…

Applying elemental knowledge to create balance

Being a herbalist, I use what nature offers in the form of plants in several ways to optimise mine and others wellbeing. Reflecting on the qualities of herbal medicine has helped influence my view of other aspects to life. The ebb and flow of heat/cold, dry/damp, toned or untoned (think of this as degrees of function or dysfunction); how these impact myself and others, and how we can work with this knowledge to bring balance to our daily life experience.

These concepts also crossover into the elemental theories foundational in many traditional medicine practices, including the Chinese and Ayurvedic systems – as elements affect the energetic flow of all things. Herbalism also extends into the kitchen – for example, how we can adapt our culinary choices to respond to a physical need. This may include selecting a more pungently spiced dish with fresh ginger to aid sluggish digestion; taking a bitter tonic to help offset a fatty meal by increasing bile flow temporarily, or avoiding certain food that may create inflammation in myself, so I do not trigger any undesirable symptoms either short-term or in my future. Which leads me to the next point…

Using my food as medicine

You are what you eat — quite literally. As Hippocrates said over 2000 years ago, “Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. It’s not a new concept – you can affect your physical self, vitality, mental health and overall wellbeing with the foods you choose to consume regularly. You also connect to the wider environment via your food choices. Eating and drinking are not passive, nor always benign, acts. Your food becomes a source of information that you bring into your body, and which it subsequently responds to. As food is digested, the particulate matter is ‘seen’ and understood by your body at a chemical level as useful, or not, or even toxic. Because of this, I am mindful that I am nourishing myself, rather than choosing to burden my body with anything that could be viewed as toxic, particularly regarding dose.

I know that every choice matters and that ‘moderation’ is a myth so aim to only consume foods in forms as they occur close to nature, which offer nutrients my body or the beneficial microbial life within my gut can use. I choose not to be a pawn of the food industry and food marketers – so steer clear of heavily processed, refined and chemically-laden pseudo-foods. Food is medicine or poison — be mindful of this and how your food choices are impacting your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. This concept also applies to the yogic view of nutrition; that food can be sattvic, rajasic or tamasic and influence your inner state, and your physical practice. Developing a more mindful way of living brings me to my next influence…

Practicing mind-body awareness

The mind-body-spirit-environment interconnectivity is something I am personally aware of as I make an effort to observe both my inner and outer worlds – that which is seen, or unseen. Taking time daily to pause and tune into any bodily sensations gives me insight into how I am physically, emotionally and spiritually each day; and offers an opportunity to reflect upon these and change course if what I am doing is detrimental. For example, I may note some excessive muscle stiffness and opt for a more gentle yoga practice that day, or take some magnesium to help speed up my recovery. Learning how to listen to myself and respond appropriately has taken time and practice, but is how I live more authentically and fine-tune how I flow through the world each day.

I have learned it’s most important to observe my mental processes, as the mind can be harder to manage; so if not paid attention to it can run wild and not serve my highest good. It is equally important to me that I regularly flow beyond the limitations of my physical body using more expansive awareness techniques and allow my consciousness to connect to the wider universe — this helps me see a different perspective. These practices increase my awareness and are a form of personalised mind-body medicine; allowing me to respond rather than react as much as possible. It also helps increase my resilience to everyday stressors.

Though being mindful means I am aware of all that is uncomfortable, as well as all that is going well, many of these practices can induce the relaxation response, which leads to greater wellbeing. As building awareness has been a lifelong process, I have discovered several tools with which to do so, including meditation, yoga, art-making, personal journaling and reflection, regular reiki practice, and spending time in nature. However, becoming more aware is not always enough or fully realised without a method with which to express yourself…

Embracing creative expression

Authentic self-expression is fundamental to wellbeing, so finding a creative outlet is important. Art can take many forms and is an expressive language without boundaries. My creativity expresses itself through my writing primarily, but also through painting, culinary arts, blending herbs and essences, gardening, dancing and yoga.

When art is used as therapy, it offers healing and growth opportunities. For me, creating art projects or expressing myself via my written projects, or through visual journaling has allowed me the opportunity to delve into everyday life challenges, or into transpersonal realms, to reaffirm my values and explore future possibilities. When I have a written project I am naturally spending time thinking about it — and over the years I have learned that in order to be able to patiently sit and do this, I also need regular time spent in my physical body — to move and not allow my mind to roam unnecessarily. I get this experience from walking in nature, and from my regular physical yoga practice…

Yoga as a method of enquiry 

From memory, my first experience on the yoga mat came in early 1997. A time when to practise yoga was less about physical asana (postures) and more about seated meditation in spaces filled with incense and chanting. Since then I have come and gone from the mat over the years but have always returned, and along the way I learned that yoga is a journey of ongoing self-enquiry.

I typically practice six days a week for at least an hour each time, sometimes two. It’s a highly variable practice — often challenging, but always filled with growth potential and interest. Some days I flow with strength and other days I face some physical or mental challenge on the mat. Maybe I have pain, am stiff, tired, it’s an unfamiliar posture, the room is too cold, or I have some other obstacle to overcome. Yoga to me is more than physical asana, extending to my regular meditation practice and pranayama. That said, my physical asana are extremely valuable to me as this commitment to practise helps build my strength and balance, and improves my mobility.

Even a brief practice leaves me with something worthwhile despite not always being easy — in fact, it is rarely, if ever, easy – but that’s the path I take, regardless. Through observing my evolving yoga practice I have learned that even though I have a tendency to push myself too hard (not only on the mat but elsewhere in life) it is possible to focus and work hard, but still be kind to myself, and that to do otherwise is incongruent. This is why my commitment and ongoing persistence, even when it’s difficult, has benefitted many other areas of my life. Being on the mat helps me explore what’s going on in my body each day, and showing up to classes in various parts of the world has led to the additional bonus of connecting me to a global community I wouldn’t have met otherwise…

Exploring with an open mind and heart

People and places, travelling and exploring – these are passions of mine since I first poured over world maps as a child – then became part of my life once I took my first hikes and camping trips. Explorations to Europe and SE Asia followed these in my teens and ultimately led to opportunities to travel to, live and work in a number of different countries. During this time, my many explorations have made me open my eyes to the new and unexpected, to learn how well I travel alone, and how I manage with company; taught me new levels of patience, and how little is under our control. This life has also given me many opportunities to connect with many interesting and inspiring people. Even better, I have gotten to experience so many new food cultures — who doesn’t love culinary adventures?

What I  have learned from my travels as a visitor, and from the opportunities to live long-term in several countries, is that:

  • the majority of people the world over are good and have the same needs and desires as one another – we are more alike than different;
  • it’s wise to remain open to new perspectives as there are many ways to view even the most seemingly simple things, and who’s to say what is ‘correct’ when the truth can be relative;
  • it’s important we all take steps to protect this incredible planet we are a part of, and that if you are not actively taking part in or pursuing a solution, you are probably part of the problem – we are all responsible and can all make a difference;
  • even when life seems hard or unfair, it’s still good – and we are fortunate to be experiencing it;
  • making memories and forming connections with a global community is worth so much more than accumulating material possessions in one place; and
  • it’s important to remain mindful of all you have to be grateful for and simply be in the moment you have right now; you never know what will make for a great story in the future, or what you will learn from.

More about me

Learn more about my journey to this point, and view my qualifications

Herbs and spices

Practice

I am currently available to work with clients in Hong Kong. Read more about my areas of practice and services available here.

Writing & Editing

My other area of specialty and platform to share my knowledge is via writing and editing. See examples of my portfolio and experience here.