Notes from my journal – March 2020

Hello fine readers and welcome to my Monthly review! Every day I ask myself the question – What did I learn? – and write some thoughts in response. The following is a collection of my favourites.

I should say most of these thoughts and/or ideas are heavily influenced by what I’ve been reading and the people I’ve been talking to. In some cases they are simply quotes by others. I hope you enjoy.

Setting your intention matters a great deal. An intention to be mindful in all that you do. ‘Unitasking’ is key. Concentrate on the one thing you are doing and give it your undivided attention! You will derive much more pleasure in life when acting like this.

Mindfulness is only one part of the puzzle. Compassion is the other. Being compassionate has to start with yourself. Forgiving yourself for feeling tired and disconnected – Recovery from depression and anxiety takes time. You’re doing really well. Look what you managed to achieve today.  Be proud of yourself. 

Scrolling is the new smoking. You need to significantly reduce it. Otherwise it leads to cognitive fatigue. Idea – should aim to have a phone free day every week and keep my phone in another room to the one I’m in while at home (That way I’ll be going to it for a very deliberate reason – not just to mindlessly scroll)!

A good nights sleep starts the minute you wake up. Starting your day is just as important as how you finish it. Don’t look at you phone until out of the bathroom – ie Don’t make it the first thing you look at in the morning! Use it only to log your weight and write in your journal before meditation. Otherwise leave it in the bedroom till you’ve finished exercising and had something to eat.  

It matters that you care. It really matters. Pay attention. Small acts with great love everyday. 

The essence of bravery is refusing to give up on anyone or anything

Forgiveness in this world is really lacking. For me forgiving myself and also other people in this world I believe to be doing very bad things is something to pay more attention to. Every act I make has a positive ripple effect. No matter how small, if done with love and compassion, it will effect the world in a positive way. Keep going. Keep smiling. Remain hopeful. Love yourself and by extension the whole world and everything in it. 

Forgiveness is a natural process. It does not matter if you are able to forgive someone or yourself yet, what matters is the intention to forgive that other person or yourself. That way the door is open for the process – however long – to take place. 

Everything I need and want, I already have. The most important thing for me is to learn how to enjoy it. 

The path of awakening is simply a process of wakeful, profound relaxing. We see what is here right now and we let go into life exactly as it is” – Tara Brach 

Reaching out to friends and family and checking in on them is so important. Especially now during this difficult time. It’s important to let them know we are here and also that we are safe. Family and friends are everything. We are nothing without each other. 

I was wrong about the coronavirus. It’s not been an overreaction – people are dying and medical staff are stretched thin. We must all do our part to help protect the most vulnerable in society. COVID 19 is an opportunity to spend time at home with our family and practise mindfulness. It’s an opportunity to send love out to all our friends and family. To really connect from isolation. We live in an extraordinary time in which we are incredibly lucky to be able to do so. To know so much. To prepare and mobilise behind a common cause so quickly as a result. There is still so much to be grateful for. 

Life is one big lesson in acceptance. Now is the perfect time to practise that. There is so much out of our control but what we can control has the ability to empower us. 

If you see through yourself you will see through everyone. Then you will love them. – Anthony De Mello 

What we react to is self generated and has nothing to do with the outside world. A negative feeling comes from YOU – nothing else. It’s all part of our conditioning – illusions created by our minds – from attachments that we have been conditioned to believe are important despite reality. By remaining truly aware and questioning the tricks of our conditioned mind with both compassion and curiosity, we can began to see the illusions for what they truly are and break down the false identities we all cling to. This will bring you back to life. To the here and now which is, of course, the only reality. 

My emotions are a direct result of my thinking mind – nothing else. To stop negative emotions it’s me who has to change. Not the world. Not anyone else.

Think in terms of others. Helping your self is not selfish. It’s the opposite of selfish. Helping yourself helps others. Fixing your back means you’re no longer distracted by it – which means you can focus your attention on more important matters. Looking after your finances helps build security for your family. 

Good parenting starts with being compassionate towards yourself!

Show up to your children’s emotions with compassion. It’s ok to feel sadness or anger. Ask them what it is that they need?

Life is a long beautiful melody. You have to let it play out. Don’t cling. There will be long low sad bits and high happy ecstatic peaks. Don’t cling to them. Don’t think those parts of the melody define you. If you replay one part of it over and over it’s no longer a melody. It’s ruined. Let it play out. 

Taking to yourself in the third person is an awesome mindfulness David is feeling stressed. David is thinking lots. David is looking at his phone. It helps to unidentify with your thoughts, feelings and emotions. You become the observer of your thoughts without falling into the trap of thinking you are your thoughts. It’s another reminder to wake up!

Everything is a process. All I have to do is observe. Observe with curiosity and compassion. Look at yourself with curiosity and compassion. Remain present and your natural wisdom will guide you. Have faith.

Everything is always now. It can’t be any other way. The past and the future come from the mind only. They are illusions that distract awareness of the present moment. Everything you need is available to you in the present. Stay there. 

Showing up on the bad days matters more so than on the good days. Remember your’e saying something to yourself every time you show up about who you are and who you want to become. The same is true when you don’t.

Am I making this decision because of love or fear? – Dr Vivek Murthy  – Such an insightful way of asking yourself why or why not you should do something.

A Pilot’s Guide to Self-Managing Back pain – Lifestyle and Sleep

“It’s not the job of sports medicine professionals to look after your tissues and joints, whether you hydrate or whether you actively work toward improving and maintaining healthy positions and range of movement throughout the day. It’s up to you. Spend 10 minutes minimum per day. No days off. No excuses.”


In my attempts to nurse my back to full strength, I have spent a great deal of time researching how to manage my pain, while also looking at the best home remedies/exercises to help fix my injury and prevent similar ones from happening again in the future. 

As a result I have decided to compile my research into this comprehensive guide regarding all the things I’ve found particularly useful for managing my back pain day to day, including some important what-not-to-dos!

Following on from my previous posts – Sitting, Standing, Swimming – and core strengthening and flexibility this post will look at some lifestyle tips and how to sleep properly. A final post will look at the use of drugs/other treatments plus some final thoughts. 

It goes without saying I’m not a medical professional in any way, shape or form, so please, please, don’t take what I’m saying as gospel. I’m simply relaying what has helped me in managing my pain. 

Back pain is a complex issue that I believe requires a complex approach from a number of different angles. Trial and error is necessary in figuring out what works best for youand your condition. 

Hopefully this guide will help you as well in some way, shape or form. As always seek advice from a professional (added advice – seek more than one opinion) and do your own research. 

I’ve left links to a number of articles throughout that I found useful/helped support my own findings. I should add I am in no way affiliated with any of the organisations mentioned or products that I recommend. 


A study looking into Psychological Treatment Strategy for Chronic Low Back Pain concludes that many “people with chronic pain usually suffer from not only pain but also overlapping problems, such as depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, working with disabilities, drug overuse, and low quality of life.”

While I think it’s likely normal for someone to catastrophize the pain of an injury or illness, from personal experience I can say depression and anxiety make its extent far worse. 

One of the tools I use to help stop myself from falling down the rabbit hole is MEDITATION. I’ve found it invaluable for dealing with difficult emotions and negative thought patterns,  reducing stress and improving sleep. This has been especially important for me following this recent injury.

It’s helped me maintain a positive mindset – accepting how things are today and being grateful for the everyday things I can still do, such being able to walk!!! At the same time it’s prevented me from feeling sorry for myself/blowing the issue out of proportion while remaining proactive about trying to solve it (by writing this article for example). Some useful apps that I love include headspace and Insight Timer. 

For those, like me, who are battling the ugly demons of depression and anxiety, on top of chronic back pain, I can highly recommend a course in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). One study found, “people who attended MBSR classes were more than 40 percent likely to show “meaningful” improvements in their pain and daily activities compared to people who sought conventional care for their aching backs.” Worth a shot no?

Of course other lifestyle factors are equally important including maintaining a healthy diet, finding to time to relax, having some fun and getting quality sleep (more on that below). Ultimately finding ways to live a happier, healthier life are only gonna mean good things for your back and general outlook.


SLEEPING ON YOUR STOMACH IS ONE OF THE WORST POSITIONS for your back and especially your neck. Guess what? I sleep on my stomach. Oh, and I also have problems with stiffness in the neck. One of the major reasons for this is ‘because the head is usually turned to one side. This twists the spine and places additional stress on the neck, shoulders, and back.’ The truth is, almost any other position is better for your back.

SLEEPING ON YOUR BACK WITH A SMALL PILLOW UNDER THE KNEES IS BEST, “as this keeps your body in the utmost neutral position, therefore not adding any additional stresses to your discs or joints, and not putting your muscles in constant stretch or compressed positions.” It’s no wonder my pain is worse in the morning. 

With that in mind there is one thing I’d like to say – It can’t be understated just how important getting adequate sleep is so don’t force it. If you find yourself in a state of despair for your inability to change a lifetime of sleeping on your stomach, then roll back over. Excuse the pun, but it’s not going to be an overnight thing. I’m currently in the process of trying to change the position I sleep in. As it stands I start by meditating for 20-30mins on my back. Sometimes I drift off and sometimes I don’t. If I don’t manage it, I flip over. Sleep is just too important.

If you sleep on your stomach and struggle to sleep other ways, I’ve read that placing a slim pillow under your stomach and hips can help improve spinal alignment. This is something I do if I fail to fall asleep on my back. Whatever helps. One other method you might consider is to work your way around by moving to sleeping on your side with the support of additional pillows. I tired this but found that sleeping on my left side made my pain worse for some reason. As always listen to your body, do your own research and talk to an expert.