2021 the year of unity danielle van de velde

The Maiden Archetype and the Magic of Today’s Young Women

The Season of the Maiden

The Maiden Archetype and the Magic of Today’s Young Women

 

My mum’s favourite nursery rhyme for me growing up was:

Mary Mary, Quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?

With Silver Bells, And Cockle Shells,

And so my garden grows.

And it was a great fit for me for several reasons. I was, and still am, quite contrary. My wild curly hair could not – and still can’t be tamed. I questioned everything (still do), which would often get in the way of the schedules of a busy home with four very active children.  

But the nursery rhyme also speaks of an otherworldliness and a connection with nature that I felt deeply. I would spend a lot of time dwelling upon this – whether that be out on the grass, cloud-gazing, or up a tree, away from others or in the quiet safety of my room, drawing, writing, crafting. Every year my school reports from grade one through to high school made some mention of my tendency to daydream. My bedroom shelves were full of shells, feathers, special sticks and stones. I had an irresistible urge for making healing potions out of available honey, herbs, and anything else I could get my hands on. I was indeed a girl of ‘silver bells and cockle shells’. My dreaming was always strong – and what I later found out to be lucid, that is, I was aware that I was dreaming in my dreams and could direct the action and outcomes of the dreams. And the diaries…many many journals over the years! 

I felt deeply connected to the shifts in the wild field of seasons, storms and moons, the creatures, earth and the sensations within my own body. I knew there was information there, an intelligence. This too has remained with me as an adult.

The drive to create beauty, with meaning, was a constant. Being an artist, my mum generously indulged this, with journals and materials always in full supply. She also encouraged me with time in the holidays and weekends to simply create. She very patiently sat and listened to the recitations of every poem and short story I penned and made sure each new artistic creation occupied a place of pride somewhere in the house for a time. Thank you, mum!

the season of the maiden 2 danielle van de velde

In my teens I had an insatiable appetite for systems and frameworks and world views that could answer my questions about my own nature, the sensations I felt within and in nature itself. 

Perhaps because the answers were not readily available, and very much to deal with my contrary nature, I was moved into excellent and strict education, groomed for a life of business and success, and the behaviours and ‘magical’ leanings were gently dismissed as the whimsical nature of a little girl who ‘needed to grow up in the real world’. But they didn’t go…these leanings, they couldn’t be dismissed as they were intrinsic to my being…they just went deep underground. They were nurtured quietly through my ponderings, reading and experimentation and then later, by wonderful teachers and guides who taught me how to tend to my spiritual garden, prune it, water it, weed out what didn’t serve me, to love it and make it sacred, powerful and prioritised.

Fast track years later, after many years of teaching girls and young women in community workshops and in meditation courses and becoming the mother of a vibrant, creative and magically-inclined teenage girl, I have come to understand two significant realities.

That all girls have these leanings towards the sacred, meaningful creativity, deep ‘felt-sense’ or clairsentience, and, 

that these ‘whimsical leanings’ are not ‘just girly nonsense’. They are the first wild expressions of the dazzling spiritual nature of the Feminine, the archetype of ‘The Maiden’.

the season of the maiden 3 danielle van de velde

The Maiden archetype has been acknowledged around the world in various ways since ancient times. It is in the first of the Celtic Triple Goddess, through the New Moon to First Quarter Moon in Lunar Magic; in the fairy tales of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White; in Greek mythology’s Persephone, and in the Sanskrit epic poem Ramayana. 

Far from a compliant, virginal wisp, The Maiden represents the burgeoning feminine power, aching for expression, with all the glory and power of the awakened woman enfolded within it, much like a rose is enfolded in the rosebud. No less striking nor impactful, in its promise, beauty and potential.

the season of the maiden 4 danielle van de velde

In the wilderness, The Maiden corresponds with the seasonal turn from Imbolc to Spring Equinox, when there’s a stirring of life within the earth. There’s a subtle and beautiful tilt in light, vibration, and the palpable and highly magical state of potential and promise.  

As we near the first two days of February, we enter the first turn of the Wheel of the Year, a cross-quarter point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox (in the northern hemisphere). This is the Feast of Imbolc, the season of The Maiden. 

The sunlight changes in the sky to a brighter and perceivably longer day. Water currents in the oceans and river systems shift, and deep beneath our busy cities and busy lives, the Earth is stirring into spring. Just like young women, the early spring is subtle under the surface. For most northern countries, the land is still veiled in ice and snow, but the signs of the shift become evident at this time. Snow drifts start to shrink and the slight increase in the light stirs seeds into germination and animals from hibernation. Whether we are conscious of it or not, we are all affected by these shifts, because we come from, and dwell in, the same wild-field which enters into a wholesale ‘gear-up for growth’. 

In my observation and personal experience, young women embody this ‘under the surface’ gear-up for growth, expansion and expression. It comes through us in impulses, like the impulse to write, draw, craft; or to clear out disused clothes and items from cupboards and shelves; the impulse to take new directions, learn new skills, create new habits (or shed old ones). 

As with all the ‘hinges‘ of the Wheel of the Year, this time has been marked for thousands of years with beautiful rituals across many different traditions that help the seeker connect consciously with the immense wild-field of energy that is stirring, and to put it to use. The ancient Celtic festival is known as Imbolc (pronounced EE-molc) which derives from the meaning, ‘in the belly’. Perhaps this is in reference to pregnant or milking sheep of the season. It could also refer to spring, stirring but still remaining within the belly of the Earth and within the heart of The Maiden. In Pagan Europe, this time was closely associated with the pre-Christian goddess Brighid and the three-fold goddess transforming from The Crone (winter) into The Maiden (spring). Festivals to mark this juncture were known as Feast of Torches, Oimelc, Lupercalia, Feast of Pan, Snowdrop Festival, Feast of the Waxing Light, and no doubt, many others that are now lost in time. 

Later, Imbolc was celebrated by Christians as St Brigid’s feast day (the pagan goddess and Christian saint sharing many attributes and features). The vibration of this time also refracts through the festivals of Candlemas and Groundhog Day. 

What is beautiful about the many evolutions of the rituals that connect us with the early vibration of spring, is that over the ages, certain archetypal symbols and rituals have repeated over and over again across traditions. It is these threads that intrigue me and that I put to use in my own practice. These symbols and traditions link us to the wider field of energy that is available, because they have been charged with the awareness of many, many people before us through time, just as our churches, temples, sacred sites and the wilderness are energetic bridges too. It is their role in the human story. They are gateways. 

the season of the maiden 5 danielle van de velde

I’m grateful that my teenage years were spared from the pressures of the Internet, social media, augmented representations of the female body, attributes and messaging, that our girls today need to navigate. Now more than ever before, our young women require inner stability and strength, and access to their truth and voice, a deeply rooted inner garden. 

Of all the world’s refractions of The Maiden archetype, it’s the Nordic Shield Maiden that appeals to me the most, as a useful archetype for our modern young women. 

The ‘Shield Maiden’ in ancient Nordic cultures was a highly revered and respected member of the tribe. She was a warrior who wielded extraordinary power, strength, presence and magical ability. She held her place in the armies of men. She was young, unwed and schooled by the tribal Mages. She had the power and blessings of the Valkyries at her command. She stood for the archetype of ‘The Maiden’ in her full power.

Her shield represented her Spirit, not one of attack or defence, but rather a protector, counsel and tactical adept. She had the lore of magic at her disposal and was consulted by the great councils. She advised on strategic direction and she and her sisters unleashed precise and effective victories. It was not her physical strength that gained her a place in the Halls of Valhalla, as impressive as that was, but her alignment to and embodiment of spiritual power. 

In our modern times, the days of physical battles and raids dwell within myth and legend. However, now more than ever, the attributes of the Shield Maiden are calling and stirring in young women. Modern pop culture, music and images, peer and societal pressure, augmented stereotypes and media have our modern maidens seeking answers and reconnection to their inner ground and their magic which is deeply felt and a source of great strength.

Since my daughter arrived 13 years ago I have pondered how I can offer support for the reclamation and reconnection for girls and young women with their innate spiritual garden bed. Recently, after receiving the 13th request from the mother of a maiden to support her daughter’s spiritual leanings, I have finally done something about it.

I am delighted to open up the Shield Maiden series this Imbolc, January 31st. It is a series of workshops to enable that reconnection and equip young women with the wisdom, practical know-how and spiritual life-skills that Modern Magic offers. Each workshop includes guidance and instruction, materials, meditation techniques, creative magic, spell casting and downloadable reminder notes.

the season of the maiden 6 danielle van de velde

Welcome to The Season of the Maiden, in 2021. And if you have a maiden in your home who has these beautiful energies emerging through her, and you’re based in Singapore, you can check out the Shield Maiden series details here. To generate some inner stillness and connect with your own inner garden, meditation and self-enquiry are proven to open this space up and enable you to come to know yourself more deeply. You can find my online meditation resources here.

Blessed Imbolc, everyone!

If you have any questions or thoughts about the Maiden Archetype and the Shield Maiden series, do get in touch. You can also visit my website to explore courses and useful content to guide you on your path to healing, self-discovery and mindful living. 

If you enjoyed this post and would like to share it, I request that you please credit Danielle Van de Velde as the author. I do not authorise repurposing or republishing without my written permission. You may email me for the same.

2021 the year of unity danielle van de velde

2021: The Year of Unity

2021: The Year of Unity

Happy New Year everyone, and welcome to a brand-new, squeaky-clean year!

I like to think of a whole new zipped-up year that’s before us, as one big swirling living field of POTENTIAL. All possibilities exist in there. And what brings them to bear within our experienced reality is…US! Yes, it’s what we intend, what we desire and what we choose.

Intent, Desire and Choice are our three biggest spiritual superpowers. The energy from each ripples out from our largest emanating centres of the energy body, and when those emanating vibrations are in accord, unified, and felt vibrantly, we create realities. This is the vision, magnetism and raw fuel of our spiritual design. We are Creatives! When we are unified within, we heal. When we are unified with life and each other, we live magically.

In my usual process over the last month, I dipped into ‘the field’ to intuit the direction for me, my family and my offerings for my community going forward. It’s a beautiful process, which involves deep gratitude for the unexpected blessings of – let’s face it – the weirdest and most challenging year to date, settling into deep stillness, and watching my inner ground and outer experiences for the direction.

Part of this process for me is to pull up from detailed planning and look at the synchronous themes, the ones that keep repeating. Within a day of setting up our Christmas tree at home, a sweet little spider wove its web just under the top angel’s feet. On the Solstice, another little spider had moved into my sacred space. Every day when I went to meditate and light my candles, it would pop out to say hello from a crystal, seashell or flower. This beautiful ‘spider-medicine’ was inviting me to get weaving. So first, I gathered the threads I was to work with.

It was in the writings I published throughout 2020, the themes within my private sessions and my own inner enquiry that held them.   

From the start of the year, I have written consistently around the knowing that every twist and turn of 2020, from the Australian fires to the dynamics of the pandemic, to BLM, to politics, and everything in between has been,

 

“a simulation in Oneness Consciousness.” 

 

So, what does that mean?

2020 didn’t operate along the lines of ‘separation’ like the human race does. It didn’t discriminate. It had us gagged (AKA masked), separated from contact, touch, rituals that mark our lives, loved ones, and travel. It radically and equally affected the kings and queens and the poor and vulnerable. We were forced ‘in’. We all realised, to some degree, how important the freedom of breath, the spoken word, face to face contact, touch, family and tribe and community are, to our wellbeing and our spirits.

It is abundantly clear that the countries that have a positive bias toward community responsibility, clear and regular communications, collusion between leaders and trusting communities, flattened their pandemic curves faster and established a degree of stability. It was and is the ‘united fronts’ that are faring the best.

The BLM movement revealed the ugliness of systemic racism in the United States and it rippled around the world, waking many of us up to white privilege, and the insidious acculturation of racism, within our language, expressions, street names, product branding and pop culture. And it led many of us to make very different choices. There’s so much more to be done around police brutality, and equal access to opportunity and care for everyone. However, in the scheme of the year, and certainly for me, BLM shifted my compass to zero-tolerance for discrimination of any kind, and it did so by showing me my blind spots to it. The political turbulence globally invited all of us to choose what it is we personally stand for, and to put that choice into action.

In my day-to-day, it has been the requests and feedback from my community, which has also illuminated the same theme of UNITY. Calls for in-person meditation circles again, calls from parents asking for guidance in connecting their children to modern spiritual arts, calls for connection to and expression of life purpose, calls for deeper diving into spiritual frameworks, calls for healing, calls for empowerment.

I scanned my library of debrief recordings from healing sessions and realised that I had delivered just shy of a thousand intuitive healing sessions in 2020, a jump in numbers by hundreds. Partly because my annual pilgrimages didn’t happen, I had around two months more than usual in the healing rooms, but mostly due to the crucible of 2020 waking people up…via dissonance, illness, anxiety, depression, cancer, relationship splits, and a whole raft of uncomfortable, unignorable, kick-in-the-pants messaging. And all of the healing happened through connecting with healing energy and connecting with perspectives of Oneness…with the self, with life, with purpose, with Spirit.

oneness conciousness daniellevandevelde

‘Oneness Consciousness’ is not a thought. It’s an embodied, felt, mode of operation, outlook and perception. We all have experienced snippets of ‘felt unity’. Usually, for me, through the wilderness, but also through a random act of kindness, a dream of someone and then through contact received from that person afterwards, or the palpable joy felt by everyone I know as 2020 drew to a close and we passed into this new year, for example.

We all have had flashes of the feeling that we are interconnected in far more mysterious and invisible ways than we logically understand. It’s not a thought. It’s not a concept or abstraction. It’s not the stuff of social media. It’s a knowing. It’s a felt, lived, vibrational, non-personal, empowered, ‘place-taking in the hologram of life’. Oneness consciousness is an experienced reality. It is freedom. Freedom from need, fear or shame. This freedom comes from an expanded perspective of self and life and recontextualization of intense sensation. In other words, a spiritual enquiry.

So back to my process of ‘leaning into…welcoming…uniting with…2021’. How can I weave these threads into offerings of the highest support to UNITY?

To enable and empower UNITY we need re-connection and re-membering between the parts of us that have been dis-membered, between ourselves and the Earth, between our magical and mundane and between each other. And this is what I’m focussing on for 2021 – courses, workshops and experiences that create connection, enable remembering and empower UNITY.

In this weave, it feels fitting that the first new online meditation experience to open this year is Heart Light. Heart Light is a series of eight beautiful meditations that are specifically engaged with to serve others. Each comes with a mini audio lesson that explains the origins and dynamics of the meditation and a beautiful unique guided track. The intent for Heart Light is to help us raise our focus to the collective, and in doing so, expand our hearts in service and love, and in their capacity to generate and hold spiritual energy.

In addition, in the first few months of 2021, some fabulous new offerings will open alongside the favourites. The focus is on:

–  Uniting with self-healing and intuitive abilities

–  Connecting with deeper esoteric processes and other practitioners of Magical Arts

–  Connecting minds and hearts, with some of the world’s greatest teachers and spiritual writing

–  Uniting with the wilderness and our next generation of spirit-seekers

–  Connecting wealth and abundance to those without

For regular updates on all 2021 programs and registration windows, please subscribe at https://daniellevandevelde.com/subscribe/

My January newsletter is out next week with some fabulous new offerings.

I am hoping, willing, with all of my might, to head off on pilgrimage later this year and also to cycle back to Oz for some time on my land and with family. But like you, I am playing the wait-and-see game. So, all of my focus is on providing unique, inspirational and life-changing experiences in the first half of the year, and then we’ll see.

Welcome to 2021. Let’s do this together!

If you enjoyed this post and would like to share it, I request that you please credit Danielle Van de Velde as the author. I do not authorise repurposing or republishing without my written permission. You may email me for the same.

the spirit of giving danielle van de velde

How The Spirit of Giving Generates Flow

The Spirit of Giving
How the act of Giving generates Flow

I don’t know about you, but this time of year can be quite fraught for me. There’s the end of year whirlwind with work, accounts, school activities, and reminders of all the things I didn’t get to, through the year (gulp!). Then finally, when we make it through the December crush, the preparations (and spend) for time at home, with family and friends and the mad scramble to organise gifts, sets in. In the Season of Giving, we can so easily lose our connection with the Spirit of Giving itself.

The true Spirit of Giving doesn’t require a big budget or lots of preparation time.

The Spirit of Giving is actually a lens through which to view our life and our connection to it, and it is one of the most potent forces we have at our disposal to generate flow.

Flow is when our bodies, minds, hearts and spirits are aligned and connected with our life field, consciously. When we are in a state of flow, we are happy and in my observation, people who operate in flow are well, vital, grateful, successful and fulfilled.  

Being in flow doesn’t mean we don’t experience challenges; this is simply the nature of life. But it does mean that we move through them quite differently – with presence and grace. Flow allows a momentum, which steers us into higher possibilities because flow brings the realisation that we, our life field, our relationships and all that we experience, are inextricably linked. Flow also enables greater flow. Just like how a healthy flowing river shapes and widens its banks, flow expands our awareness and capacity and vastly changes our inner landscape and connection with life.

People come to my meditation classes and healing sessions for all sorts of reasons. But if I were to distil those reasons down, I could say that most of them are related to a disconnection with flow. This disconnection may be presenting as a physical illness, or low vitality, or a feeling of lack in love and abundance, or a lack of sense of purpose. These seem to be the big four and when we are out of flow we see these aspects as separate from us, as things to be attained and held on to, as things that we lack. And, we sense our life is blocked or stagnant in some way. When we are disconnected from flow, we are disconnected from life.

the art of giving 2 danielle van de velde

Vitality, love, abundance and fulfilment are aspects of flow and giving them unconditionally and consciously triggers their movement into and through our life experience, and it has a multiplier effect.  

It generates the flow of these energies not only through us, but also through those we engage with, in the Spirit of Giving. When others experience giving, they are more likely to give. Just like how rivers flow, join with other rivers and all converge in the sea.

Here are some simple ways to connect with the Spirit of Giving and generate flow. 

Remember, this is energy work and so it’s not the size or expense of the gift itself, but the conscious expression of the Spirit of Giving that holds all the power. When we view vitality, abundance, love and purpose as fields of energy, rather than states of being, then we can become empowered to bring their influence and presence into our lives, by giving them to others. We are, in essence, generators.

If you are feeling a lack of love or acknowledgment:

  • Send a message or make a call to someone you love when they pop through your mind or when you dream of them.
  • Say ‘I Love you’ to loved ones when they say or do something that stirs your heart. Just say it more anyway.
  • Consciously express gratitude when you are touched by someone else or given a gift. Don’t leave it till too late – return that energy in full.
  • Once a week, do something caring for someone without any reason, fanfare, or expectation of reciprocation.
  • Practice Brahmavihara Cultivation. This is one of the beautiful meditations covered in my online meditation course Return.

If you are feeling a lack of abundance in your life:

  • Nurture gratitude for the things you have and enjoy what’s around you. A gratitude journal is great for this.
  • Be generous whenever you can. Shout your friend that coffee. Invite friends to share a meal at your table.
  • Recycle unused items in your home. Even if it is your favourite dress, but you haven’t worn it in two years, give it to someone who will.
  • Regularly encourage your children to do the same with outgrown toys and books.
  • Volunteer your time to people in need. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, but the action itself will trigger the flow of abundance. Just try it and see!
  • Practice heart-centered meditations like gratitude contemplation, for example. Gratitude Cultivation is covered in my online meditation course Discovery. And eight beautiful heart-centered meditations are coming your way soon in my next online meditation series Heart Light. 

If you are feeling a lack of vitality or illness in your life:

  • Give your body the rest, nutrients and sunshine it needs.
  • Give your sound-scape positive energy. Stop complaining and use the mantra: “I am healthy and vital by design and sovereign right.”
  • Nurture a positive attitude towards your body and your body will start to express it.
  • Recognize the health and vitality in others around you and express it to them.
  • Gift your home with symbols of vitality. Bring in fresh flowers, herbs and fruits.
  • Make one small change to your daily habit that improves the health of the Earth. Recycle, take your cloth bags for grocery shopping, switch from plastics to biodegradables where possible. Our vitality is linked directly to the vitality of the Earth.
  • Give vitality-related gifts to your friends. Bake an organic cake. If you see some beautiful mangoes at the market, buy an extra for your work colleague.
  • Practice body-based meditations like Yoga Nidra. See my online meditation course Return for this.

If you are feeling a lack of purpose

  • Give yourself time to pursue activities that make your heart sing; that you love. The clues to your soul-purpose lie in what inspires you and makes you vibrate.
  • Practice meditation to draw into presence and to know yourself and your design and talents. This is what Discovery is all about.
  • Give your attention to other purpose-led people around you and acknowledge that aspect in them.

the ripples of the heart are endless danielle van de velde

And remember, when you choose any one of my offerings, you are contributing to a much larger river of goodwill that supports many others and the environment. You can find out more about my goodwill focus here, which is an essential energetic aspect of my business and personal life, which I know generates flow. I wrote about giving and business in my blog post How Cultivating a Spirit of Giving is Good for Business.

These small simple expressions of the Spirit of Giving generate flow and engage us consciously with life and others.

Let the Season of Giving begin!

 

If you have any questions or thoughts about the spirit of giving and how it can benefit your life, do get in touch. You can also visit my website to explore courses and useful content to guide you on your path to healing, self-discovery and mindful living. 

If you enjoyed this post and would like to share it, I request that you please credit Danielle Van de Velde as the author. I do not authorise repurposing or republishing without my written permission. You may email me for the same.

why believing in luck can be bad for business daniellevandevelde

Why believing in ‘LUCK’ can be bad for business

The family that lived across the street from me when growing up in Sydney, Australia, was highly prosperous. From a Greek immigrant father, they were hardworking, industrious entrepreneurs. They owned several booming businesses, were a tight-knit family, and everyone in the home contributed in their own way to the family’s success. And even though their kids were older than me and my siblings, we’d often enjoy meals together. 

I remember even at a young age, the father grinning and telling us how yet another person had called him ‘lucky’. Lucky to have such great fortune in business; lucky to have a closely-bonded family; just lucky. This was his running joke. Every time he heard this from a well-meaning observer, he had the same response: 

“Yep…the harder I work, the ‘luckier’ I get!”

I have been remembering this amazing, happy and highly successful man recently, as I have also heard the same observations made of me and my business this year. It’s true it has been a tricky year for any form of planning or growth, and for me it has required a big step out of my comfort zone and into the world of online courses, digital content development and optimisation, and intellectual property, to name a few. But as the year is now rounding out, I am looking back and feel so satisfied with what I have achieved. 

For a girl who had never even heard of ‘Zoom’ or had a clue about ‘SEO’, ‘mechanical and performance rights’ or ‘website plugs-ins’ at the beginning of the year, I am now confidently operating in these fields and have some very simple but effective processes in place to navigate this new brave world. I have worked hard. 

So, when I hear the well-meaning comment ‘You’re so lucky” or when I hear a mentoring client say ‘It’s easy for you because you’re lucky…’, I call it! I call it because believing in ‘luck’ is one of the most disempowering tickets to bypassing personal responsibility there is. And without complete personal responsibility for everything we experience, we are out of alignment with our innate creative power.

‘Luck’ by definition means, ‘success or failure brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions. A force that causes good or bad things to happen.’ When we believe in luck, we are firmly establishing our awareness in the paradigm that life and experiences are happening ‘to us’. This is counter to a spiritually-oriented perspective, that is, that life and experience is happening for us and issuing from us

I don’t believe in ‘luck’. What I know to be true is that what generates events that appear ‘lucky’ is a felt and known certainty in my creative power to generate opportunities, pathways and experiences that align with my intention.

So how do we find that certainty in our creative power? 

The first and most essential step is to get crystal clear on our intention for the business activity and to align fully with it. While this may seem pretty obvious to most, it’s often the first item to tackle with my mentoring clients. With high uncertainty and the ‘pressure to pivot’ business focus and activities, a lot of people have found themselves chasing what they hope might be the best repositioning ‘out there’, rather than turning attention ‘in here’, back to what they’re good at, what they’re passionate about, their uniqueness. And it’s these aspects that hold the voltage, the energy that creates. I have written about this in more detail in my blog post, Spirit Biz

Certainty in our creative power is highly magnetic too. It is what potential clients sense on initial contact, it is what is felt in content and communications, it is what draws in potential collaborators and enablers. When the business environment is highly uncertain, an inner certainty becomes a high-value attribute that others are drawn to. 

This clever little graphic pretty much describes what most of us have been through this year, either personally or in our businesses…and at warp speed! The big enablers for me in moving from a highly comfortable zone, to a high growth zone, (yes highest growth in my business has been this year of all years), have been:

embracing change as a possibility daniellevandevelde

Embracing change as a possibility

At the outset of the year, I had my game plan all set. The first retreats for the year were fully booked, my monthly spiritual networking events, the New Moon Lodges had a full year of fabulous speakers booked, courses and private sessions were in train early. 

When COVID hit, I had to release all attachment to the plans, change my mind and planning, and embrace it. In effect, the disruption required me to take my second horizon ideas, and make them immediate priorities. To do that well and smoothly I had to change my perspective from disappointment to excitement for the new opportunities and accelerated change of my business model.

Regular meditation practice is key for our ability to change our minds and outlook; to choose positive emotional engagement. I have written about this in more detail in my blog post, Five ways meditation can help ease emotional stress. With positive emotional engagement comes a sense of possibility, and this is far more conducive to creativity. Your system needs to feel it’s possible, to generate the ideas to make it possible. 

Investing in clever assistance from aligned providers

Another major shift in my approach this year has been to ask for help. I like running my business solo. I prefer it this way. Yet, to shift quickly into the Learning Zone, I needed to access some smarts, especially in digital marketing, IP and website functionality. I put the word out in the online business forums here in Singapore and reviewed all suggested providers in these areas. Once I had the most highly recommended list, I spoke with each provider. The ones I went with were those who asked me A LOT of questions about my business and were able to explain my purpose, goals and values back to me with clarity. I went with the people who got me, what I was trying to achieve, my purpose. They weren’t necessarily the cheapest, but I was determined to build a family of aligned collaborators, rather than delegate activities to a disparate group of providers. 

For many small businesses like mine, the decision to invest in professional help can be a difficult one when revenues are small. That tricky decision of investing in growth platforms for the business can see a lot of us deferring, or worse still, cobbling together inferior solutions that cannot withstand serious growth surges down the track.

In some ways, the uncertainty and massive disruption in the year made this decision a bit easier for me. My revenue streams were diverse enough, small, but consistent. I took on a ‘now or never’ attitude, defined very clear budgetary limits, got very clear on the briefs and regular communications, and my goodness has it paid off!

Maintaining a rock-solid work ethic

In my observation of the clever businesses in my field that have thrived this year, the other stand-out characteristic of the operators is a solid work ethic. What I mean by work ethic is that they stick to what they have committed to until completion. They tactically and fluidly move with redirections to achieve the goal. They do what they say they’re going to do. They have fabulous business etiquette. They treat every interaction as a seed of possibility. These are the people I am following on social media and these are the types of leaders who have inspired me this year. Call it old school, but work ethic is a key stand-out feature that claims success back from ‘luck’.

“Until you make the unconscious, conscious, it will rule your life, and you will call it fate.”

— Carl Jung

Following the fabulous dialogue in this year’s 2020 online Spectacular Business Symposium amongst some very savvy female entrepreneurs, and a substantial increase in enquiries for spiritual business coaching, I am developing a Generative Magic MasterClass for 2021. A step-by-step collusive process to employ the empowering mindset and esoteric principles to super-charge business success.

No luck. No chance. No fate. Let’s make 2021 the year for self-mastery in business!

If you would like to be notified of the masterclass enrolment window in 2021, get in touch here.

If you have any questions or thoughts about business success in these trying times or about luck in business, do get in touch. You can also visit my website to explore courses and useful content to guide you on your path to healing, self-discovery and mindful living. 

If you enjoyed this post and would like to share it, I request that you please credit Danielle Van de Velde as the author. I do not authorise repurposing or republishing without my written permission. You may email me for the same.

performance and work life balance danielle van de velde meditation for corporate

Blitzing through the blur

5 effective strategies for maintaining wellness and performance through a work-life balance

I think we can all agree that life, opportunities and outlook have all become extremely blurry this year. It’s not only business outlook that has been thrown into the mist, but also the way we do business and how we ‘turn up’ fully to work with the physical workplace suspended or intermittently accessible.

There’s a definite repeating pattern occurring in my private one-to-one sessions. More and more people, while grateful for their jobs and work activities, are booking-in with ongoing mental tension, neck pain, disrupted sleep, strained relationships at home, digestive issues and perhaps most apparent, wavering self-confidence at work.

The augmented work connections via online platforms, voice calls, different communication processes and access to leadership have deprived many of the ‘soft comms’, the body language, spontaneous conversations and feedback that the physical workplace allows. In addition, for most of us, working from home has blurred the boundaries between work and private life. Wellness habits, natural breaks from work-related space and content, and accessing the outdoors have disappeared – unless we consciously reclaim them.

In many ways, this blurring of boundaries, as with so many aspects of this disruptive, disquieting year, has put the focus right back on how each of us can change and take charge of our wellbeing and responsiveness to the current situation. 

It appears that ‘the blur’ is reinstating self-mastery as the new superpower of the virtual work dynamic.

Here are my top tips for blitzing through ‘the blur’. They are small, micro-adjustments to self and process that yield incredibly powerful results.

1. Avoid the temptation to HUSTLE

I wrote about ‘The Hustle’ last year when a small business advocate posted this on his thread:

It’s an archaic notion that working into the wee hours defines your worth, value-creation abilities or even defines you as a creative entrepreneur. Much worse, it endorses a vicious cycle of imbalance. This is, without doubt, the mantra of the Dumb Hustler, and it just doesn’t inspire a growing number of people in business who have mastered the art of the Smart Hustle.

It has been a few years since I moved from roles within the corporate world into supporting people within it through wellbeing programs. These programs enable the maximum performance of a balanced, vital, human system through meditation and energy work. I know the hustle. Sometimes, depending on your sector and client time zone, you need to deliver at 3am. And in the year of ‘the blur’, you may be tempted to return to being available 24/7 and replying within a nano-second to all requests. I did it for years. But it’s not a sustainable operating mode.

Here’s the thing…if you’re up at 3am over-thinking,

you’re not well – and you’re a train wreck in the making.

There is now a plethora of research and deepening understanding of the human nervous system, about how the brain and body chemistry works best. Also, about how we can master dazzling performance by developing the skills to know and grow our inner landscapes, our minds, our awareness.

Let’s start with sleep.

There are many amazing sleep studies, all reporting slightly different requirements for vitality and top performance. The ones that I pay attention to come from the military and airline industries because there’s a greater impetus to get it right. There’s nothing more unsettling than the thought of a sub-optimal, fully armed soldier or commercial pilot. John Medina’s bestseller, Brain Rules, lays it out with startling clarity.

Here are some snippets:

  • Sleep is critical to wellbeing (obviously); however, recent research shows just how critical. In fact, advice on the amount of sleep required for healthy brain function has been revised upwards again to seven to nine hours.
  • One night’s loss of sleep results in about a 30% loss in overall cognitive skill. Bump that up to two nights, and the figure becomes 60%.
  • With 6 hours of sleep or less, per night, for just five nights, cognitive performance matches that of a person suffering from 48 hours of continuous sleep deprivation.
  • If a top-performing student gets just under 7 hours of sleep during weekdays, and about 40 minutes more on weekends, they will begin to perform in the bottom 9% of non-sleep deprived individuals. Cumulative losses during the week add to cumulative deficits during the weekend and, if not caught up, carry over to the following week.

Unless the Dumb Hustlers are getting to bed at 7pm each night, then they are perpetuating a cycle of lowering cognitive function and illness. Besides, seven to nine hours of sleep per night not only allows our active neurons to rest, but it also has a direct effect on the body’s ability to ‘clean’ the brain.

The glial cells are crucial for cleaning up the neurotoxins that build up in our brains throughout the day. When we don’t get enough sleep, these glial cells can’t do their job, and we end up with impaired memories and attention spans. Good sleep also allows the nervous system to ‘recalibrate’ and restore connectivity.

The impact of insufficient and poor-quality sleep makes attention falter, impairs memory and our ability to think through problems. It adds to the stress/overwhelm/stress cycle, making it harder to ‘bring the system down’.

When the Dumb Hustler switches on the lights at 3am including digital devices, they send a stream of photons into their system that tells the brain not to secrete melatonin, which is regulated via our circadian rhythm, that in turn is directly affected by light. With significantly increased screen time during ‘the blur’, understanding this and creating time off-screen is imperative.

We all know the frustration and emotional discharge of being tired. Fuses shorten, reactive patterns rise, all of which vastly affect our relationships and attractiveness as a business operator. Relationship and connection are the currencies of entrepreneurial businesses, and cognitive efficiency is the conduit.

Yet, even more alarming are the effects on long-term health. For the smarts on this, I asked one of the brightest natural medicine minds I know, International Naturopath, Kate Powe, what happens chemically in the body when we’re in the Dumb-Hustle-Cycle. Here’s Kate’s response:

“Sleep has a profound effect on metabolism, thyroid and immune function, mood and appetite regulation and subsequent development of chronic diseases such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and T2 diabetes. Sleep deprivation can lead to higher levels of the hormones dopamine (wakefulness) and cortisol (stress and fat storage) and lower levels of hormones serotonin and melatonin (mood and sleep). This hormone dysregulation not only encourages a perpetuating cycle of wakefulness, but also promotes disruption to the appetite-regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin, increasing calorie intake, fat storage and insulin resistance. And with up to 21% of Australian women already suffering from insulin-related PCOS, along with the prevalence of cardiovascular disease and mental health disorders, downplaying the importance of sleep is not just unwise but irresponsible in the face of some of our greatest health challenges to date.”

The Smart Hustle is not ‘out there’ but ‘in here’. 

There now exists a large body of research that evidences the physiological and psychological benefits of nurturing mindfulness through meditation. The return to ‘mindfulness’ as an enabler for success and happiness is becoming a must-have for navigating ‘the blur’.

Regular meditation as part of employee wellbeing and organisational culture enables a specific set of benefits that are critical to organisational success. These benefits are generated through increased activity and structural changes in certain parts of the brain and nervous system. They include:

  • Adapting to change
  • Learning and assimilating new processes and information quickly
  • Lateral thinking, problem solving and innovation
  • Greater cognitive function generally
  • Better interpersonal relations, communications, and collusion
  • Improved resilience and calm emotional responses to stress and anger triggers

Mindfulness meditation creates a circuit-breaker to the pace of modern life and overtaxing of the adrenal system. Regular practice is also proven to:

  • Increase attention and presence
  • Increase performance and productivity
  • Improve sleep patterns
  • Reduce stress and burnout
  • Improve heart health and reduce blood pressure
  • Assist with overcoming addictions

In other words, a life-ward Smart-Hustle-Cycle.

Perhaps the most exciting development I am seeing is the increased awareness and utilisation of energy work with busy executives. My private sessions, especially the remote sessions, are also being booked up by the Smart Hustlers. They know that by connecting with vital life force and channelling it through their central nervous system, they harmonise the physical systems, heal dissonance in the mind and body, and are better equipped to switch to a smarter hustle.

2. Employ small disciplines

Employing small disciplines to maintain standards has a significant effect on our state of mind and sense of self-mastery. In ‘the blur’, it’s so easy to forgo these opportunities to generate psychological boundaries and bring a lifeward routine into the working-from-home day. Every day, make your bed, clear the dishes, clean surfaces, put items back in their place, establish a new filing system for home and work documentation, and respond to bills and taxes promptly.

During the COVID lockdown, I committed to waking early and exercising well before the working day. It has become a small discipline that has kept me clear and productive. The actions are secondary to the impact of determination, effort and a sense of completion. That’s where the gold is. And staying home, when everything is orderly, clean and visually appealing, impacts how others perceive you across the screen and the way you order your work responses.

3. Keep up appearances

Most of us are familiar with the sub-liminal yet high impact of appearances, both of the person and the space in which they dwell. In ‘the blur’, this is one aspect of self-management that can so easily slip. The simple act of getting dressed for work, even if you are just walking into a different part of the house to start work, creates an excellent psychic demarcation that allows a mental and emotional shift into work-mode. 

The advantage of online meetings is that it’s just the waist up that requires attention. However, also ensure that your background, desk, lighting and audio are clear, clean and visually appealing. The screen can fool us into thinking that we are somehow less exposed to those on the other side. Yet, in many ways, the opposite is true. Turn up fully, neatly clad to each meeting or call, as if you were walking into your boardroom at work. This shifts your sense of self, inspires others, and emanates the impression of mastery, on the inner and the outer, also maintaining performance through your work-life balance. 

4. Bring balance with sensory stimulus

The current work patterns in ‘the blur’ have us very much dwelling in our mental aspect. Critical thinking, scheduling (again), the increased screen time and less time outdoors have us cooped up in the world of thought. An excellent hack, that stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which governs our rest, digestion and sensuality, is to increase sensory stimulus into our homes and home workspaces consciously. Natural light, open windows, colour and scent, and if possible soothing sounds, have an enormous impact on our sense of wellbeing. 

I have been busy recently, recording audio lectures for my next online meditation course in a small corner of my spare room that I have ambitiously dubbed ‘the recording studio’. It’s away from the windows to minimise ambient noise. Yet, despite all the content being written and ready to go, I found myself swerving the recording work. I realised it was the feel of the space – clinical, hard lines, a corner, no colour. I started placing a single stem of tiger lilies in a long-stem vase every week in the space and the effect was immediate. The natural perfume, colour and beauty drew me like a magnet and helped me feel into the content I was recording. So simple, and so effective. Indoor plants not only provide this sensory stimulus but have the added benefit of cleansing and reoxygenating the air overnight. 

Another well-known counteraction to too much time in the head, is exposure to nature. While we may not have been aware of it, the workplace allowed us time outside. The dash for the lunchtime sandwich, the movement between offices for meetings, the transit to and from the office, all provided a hit of natural light, feet to earth movement and fresh air. Getting out is key, even if it is for a ten-minute breathing practice or to take sunshine to your face. Better still is to start and end each day walking somewhere green. This break in critical thinking drops you back into your body and allows solutions and creative ideas to ripen. It opens access to subtle connective fields that we are deprived of when working and dwelling in isolation.

5. Carve clear boundaries for yourself and communicate them

In ‘the blur’, the boundaries between ‘work time’ and ‘personal time’ seem to have vanished for many who are good at what they do and they appear to be always accessible. Late night and weekend client requests, global team meetings scheduled for the wee hours, and ever-tightening turn-around times are all part of the game now. However, what I am observing with my private clients is that managing this comes down to personal management and clear communications. 

Here are some examples of how you can enforce boundary clarity at home:

  • Maintain a designated workspace and don’t allow work activities to ‘leak’ into bedrooms, living areas and especially shared family spaces.
  • Prioritise tasks for the week and at the start of every day, and complete them. The sense of completion is one of our most underrated mental health boosters. Be clear on what you will achieve each day, complete it and let teams and colleagues know what you will be focusing on for the week.
  • Maintain content boundaries. Another temptation once we finally switch out of work mode for the day/evening is to scroll social media or flick through Netflix mindlessly. Content affects us very deeply, and it’s a great strategy to consciously choose something inspiring and uplifting to balance the work content. Absorbing this content through mediums other than a screen is also a great tip. I have taken to listening to inspiring podcasts twice a week on my morning bike rides. Within that two-hour ride, new worlds have opened in my mind and heart, which in turn play into my sense of possibility and ingenuity at work. 
  • Set your auto-response messages for the weekend and for any time during the week you do not want to be disturbed. If your clients and colleagues understand your priority for undisturbed time, generally, they will respect it. Make sure your auto-response requests that they get back in contact when stated. This way, you’re not adding to your mental load of remembering which calls to reply to later. 
  • Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’. I have had to learn this in my work. The nature of my work in mentoring and teaching is that sometimes a client will hit a patch and rather than think through possibilities, will instinctively call for guidance. In my earlier years, I would take the call, talk them through, and follow-up, regardless of the time of day or night. Of course, if it is a serious crisis, I will respond. However, I have learnt that it is almost always beneficial for both myself and the client that I say ‘no’, if the call is quite clearly within my personal time, like late at night or over the weekend. The demonstration of boundaries and prioritisation of myself and family can help others regain some perspective, pause, breathe and sense into the reality of what they are experiencing without the drama. 
  • Switch off your phone when with your family or on a break. Better still, leave it on your desk. The world won’t unravel within an hour, and you will be amazed at how much mental and sensory space opens up without that tiny gadget on your person for a spell. Try it and see!

Small conscious shifts such as these generate a felt sense and appearance of self-mastery – the essential state for current times.

You can also bolster your efforts in finding calm, balance and self through Return, a meditation course that influences health, emotions, perceptions, and the way you live your life. Or explore self-enquiry through meditation and journaling in Discovery.

If you have any questions about maintaining wellness and performance through a work-life balance in these trying times, do get in touch. You can also visit my website to explore courses and useful content to guide you on your path to healing, self-discovery and mindful living.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to share it, I request that you please credit Danielle Van de Velde as the author. I do not authorise repurposing or republishing without my written permission. You may email me for the same.