Monday, 26 March 2018


                  Image result for kaizen

What is Kaizen?

Kaizen is a Japanese word meaning "change for the better"

It is a philosophy of continuous improvement. The idea is to:
  • look at whatever one is trying to improve
  • then do small changes towards achieving that improvement
  • do these small changes, continuously
  • these changes should be effective

An easy way to do Kaizen

For me, I like to do this in approximately 5% increments. Little, easy to achieve, changes. I've found this way of making changes, easy to maintain. I read a book many years ago, about this. I can't remember the name of the book, but I liked the method, and have methodically used it whenever I needed to improve, or even just change, various aspects of my life.

A 5% change gives a 20% result, according to The Book. That's a big number for a change. I think that it's a bit of a fantasy to always think that we will just change things 100% and then it will work out perfectly. But now and then making a 5% change giving a 20% result each time, this adds up dramatically, over time.

And usually, when we make changes, we do want them to last. Well, I do, so I assume that others do so, too.

I asked my sister, and new flatmate, if she could change anything in her life, that just involved her, what would she change? The answer was: happiness. What a beautiful answer. For you, it could be something different, like:
  • be healthier
  • lose weight
  • take up running
  • walk for a particular length of time each day
  • write a book
  • look better
  • do your taxes

The list is endless. If it is a daunting task, then little changes, or little amounts of time allocated to doing something (write a book, do those darn taxes, etc), means that we can gradually get things done.

So, what little changes can you do:
  • that you can actually get done
  • are easy to do
  • and will be effective in getting to your goal

Why does Kaizen matter?

We can relate it to an area of the brain, called the amygdala. The amygdala is quite small, but it has a big role. It integrates our emotions, emotional behaviour, and emotions. But, more importantly, it is to do with fear, and the fears that we may have with things outside of our control. These fear things, of course, are frequently different for each of us. The amygdala also controls our emotional reactions towards those fears. All this from such a tiny part of our brain!

Applying kaizen, small, effective, easy to apply changes to anything that usually causes you to have a fear response, is an easy way to sidestep, or even just minimise, our fear reactions. If 5% is too much - then make the changes smaller. A 2% or 1% change is just great, too.

But how do we make these tiny changes?

Personally, I am totally uninterested in mathematically working out what a 5%, 2%, or 1%, change is. To me, that's a wee bit nutty. What I do, is to make a wee change. That's it! For example, when I aim to do long walks after having, say, the flu... I get real and just do a wee sortie around the neighbourhood. A little one. Then when I'm up to it... I do another one a day or two after.

When I wanted to drink more water, and none of my radical, fancy plans were working (they were in the too-hard basket!), I had a small glass of water with each meal, when I actually remembered, that is! And, guess what? It worked. I now, mostly, get a small drink of water to put next to my meal. Just by doing a very small change, whenever I remembered.

Friday, 16 March 2018

The Weight Loss Chronicles

                         Related image

This photo is about exercise, but hey! It also is about Just Keep Going, in regards to anything to do with weight loss.
week 1

I’ve been overweight for a while

I have been trying to lose weight for some years now. It packs on with me, when I am under incredible prolonged stress with not enough sleep. Right on my middle, which is definitely stress weight loss. After a while, it decides to spread to other parts of my body. And then, it will be damned if it will leave me. Like being its own determined little entity.

weight loss and stress

You may wonder: what, a yoga teacher being stressed? Yes, us too. We do not all spend hours standing on our heads, nor hours in deep meditation, because, like everyone else, we too have families, have to pay the rent, and other important things, and there just isn’t the time for self-indulgence. However, I have, mostly, for decades, done meditation each morning. Not a great marathon of a meditation, but meditation nevertheless. Short and sweet.

And I do think that this is the way to go, with meditation. Short, sweet, and just do it. I feel that when people try to do long meditations on a regular basis, it ends up becoming like some scary lurgy awaiting oneself each morning. It can become a real trial, and then, often, morning meditation stops. And, some months later, the same overkill effort starts again. I have seen this cycle go on and on, especially with some yoga teachers. I would always say, make it less, and just do it.

Sometimes meditation just doesn’t cut it, on its own, with reducing stress. Sacrilege to say, but this is just my own personal observation. So, I let go of meditation for a wee while. I’m back into it now, but… I took a break! Whenever I sat for meditation, my angst and worries were right in my face, so to speak. I could not relax into the joy and peace of meditation.

reducing stress

Sometimes we just have to reduce any stress that we are able, in our situation, to reduce. And this is just what I did. I won’t mention any personal “stuff”, just the practical.

For about five months I worked at reducing stress. One of my stressors is that I have a permanently bad foot, and trooping up and down hilly terrain, like where I was living, is just not good for it. Of course, I was doing this to lose weight. Ha! It didn’t work.

I have moved to where it is a bit flatter so now I am able to resume walks, my foot is a lot better. But for five months I canned the stress and foot pain of determinedly marching up and down (actually it was limping up and down) those dreaded hills.

What I did do instead, was just to get up and move more during the day. In short spurts, briskly and with purpose. My foot was so happy!!

the dreaded set-point

I have veered between four kilos for quite a while. I would lose up to four kilos, my body would protest, and back up it would go. I believe that this is called a set-point. The point, or weight, that one’s body is “set” at. I have never, ever, believed in this. I have always felt that when one’s set-point is high, that there is an underlying reason. Maybe medical, like an hormonal issue, or it’s the awful food one is consuming, or, most importantly, there is an underlying emotional issue/s and our body responds by causing a weight gain and subsequent overweight “set-point”.

However, I am no medical person, nor dietitian, I am just a long term yoga teacher and healer who has worked with, and observed, hundreds of people. And these all are just my observations. A wonderful web site to go on is Jon Gabriel, who lost an incredible amount of weight, has kept it off, and who personally understands the whole stress and emotional issue of weight.

healing and weight loss

So, for over five months I also underwent a healing process with a Tohunga (Maori spiritual teacher, and in this case, also a healer). A proper one. I sobbed out the deep and painful hidden emotional issues of my entire life over those months, in those healings. I am so grateful to Mr Tohunga to have done this.

You would think that all that meditation would have done the process for me. Decades of faithful meditation. It did do a lot in reducing “stuff”, but not completely, and not enough. Meditation is not for healing, it is for something else. Visualisation is what people are usually doing, to do the healing thing in a meditative way. And, frequently others do the visualising thing to induce a meditative state. I don’t do this. I do good, old-fashioned, yoga meditation.

I’ve lost – how much? (wow!)

I have been doing some other things, food wise, etc, to lose weight. Nothing too full on, because I am very mindful of the stress thing. Hopefully I will be able to report, now and then, about my weight loss progress: six kilos so far. That’s almost a clothes size.  Not that you would notice it yet.

I had been hoping, for some time, to lose five kilos, and maintain that loss, because it would mean (to me), that I had broken the set-point barrier, because I had been unable to get past the see-saw between four kilos routine. It was completely by mistake that I realised the loss. I had completely stopped weighing myself. Why? Because in some bizarre, illogical, and completely not understandable way, I decided it was bringing me bad luck, weighing myself each week or so. So I put away the scales for a while.

Then, a sister whom I hadn’t seen for a while, told me that I’d lost weight. Of course I believed I hadn’t. So I checked. I weighed myself. My avoidance of that scary little scale must have worked. Obviously. I decided to ignore the weight loss, so that it wouldn’t curse me by returning.

But, a few weeks on, I even believed that it had actually returned with me eating a different diet by having a new flatmate who eats different food than I. I couldn’t bear to look at said scary scale. But I finally did. And, yes, I had not only maintained, but was down another kilo, making six kilos gone.

weight loss blogs

So, I decided to blog about my very own weight loss, and may that loss continue until I am back to being slender.  And, maybe there will be some hints for you in there, too.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

A Beautiful Home

                  Related image                                            
True confession

I admit it. I am not a great homemaker, putting cushions and flowers and nice things around the home. I don’t decorate it to look a particular way. And, this is just the way that I am. I am a minimalist. I like space to move in and I really don’t like having to always clean clutter.

New home, new flatmate

When a sister was coming to live with me, in a “new” house, I panicked. I berated myself for having so much “stuff”. I thought that maybe I had (selfishly) taken up all of the available space with my belongings. So, I hastily packed up even more of my “stuff” to go to a market. I was in full-on panic mode.

Ha! It turned out that I didn’t have many belongings, after all. I realised this when she turned up with a small removal truck. It was chocker full. Yes. Really. In came all of the boxes and furniture. I watched, in fascination, as more and more stuff appeared.

The decorating begins

And the next day, she got busy. Before the crack of dawn. It was so exhausting to watch……

Boxes after boxes were emptied. Things were put away, put up, and just generally decorated. Giant plants, cushions, pictures, statues, mirrors, knick knacks. I have barely ever knick knacked in my life. I was bedazzled watching it all. Actually my sister is an artist, so in reality, it was our abode which was being bedazzled. I was fascinated, and amazed, at the whole process.

What makes a house a home?

At the end of the night, most of it was done. At least, that’s how it looked to me. (No, it turned out that there was more to come). After a chat, I realised that all of these bits and pieces mattered to her, and that they made where she lived, feel like home.

I have tons of books. I seldom read fiction, but I have books on the deeper esoteric aspects of yoga. Now, I should add that I seldom ever read them, but hey, I might want to. One day. And I have some priceless old yoga books, which I do love. And some beauty books, and some vintage health books, which I also love. All of these books matter to me. As do my yoga statues, esoteric paintings, and photos of my family. These all make where I live, be my home.

The key to making your home beautiful

I think that what matters in decorating one’s abode, is in realising what matters to you. For some people it’s their garden, or having a kitchen which they love. I love having a pet live with me. That is so special, but is not a feature in my life at the moment. A friend has lots of crystals and flowers throughout her home. If she hasn’t got many flowers growing, she just goes for a walk, and comes home with some that she has picked from the wayside. Another friend has plants, crystals, flowers, candles, posters and paintings everywhere.

I feel that to have a beautiful home, it is worthwhile to putting some thought and feeling into:

What matters to me that can be reflected in my home, or garden? Giving you emotional satisfaction and pleasure.

What matters to my family, that can be included in the home?

What can I let go off, to make way for this?

My contribution to our home is that I am having my beloved books put up on shelves. Mysteriously, lots of shelves arrived in the aforementioned removal truck. And we are getting some more. Already I was full of satisfaction at the thought of it. 


the chic files

sigh where has my chicness gone? lockdown clothes blues Most days of the lockdown, I have been making a point of not desce...