#218 – Matrescence as a Practice with Fleur Chambers

ATK - Podcast Branding V02-02

I am continued to be surprised at how much I can learn within every single conversation each week for the Podcast. I already believe with every essence that the conversations around matresence are powerful and transformational, yet I am blown away at how much more expansion there is within ourselves, and this week was no different. Fleur Chambers is an authour, meditation teacher and mama of three boys. The conversation moved me, allowed me to hear a fresh perspective, a different tool, new insights and also reflection on the process of matresence that really brought new light to it for me. Listen as Amy and Fleur discuss:

  • The deep responsibility we feel for our children's health, happiness and wellbeing, alongside high expectations and loneliness which, at the end of the day, are signals about how we have lose our way and need to come home to ourselves.
  • Offering ourselves compassion by dipping into and lingering within our sensate world, one moment at a time.
  • How we judge what we don't understand and what we are not yet able to open our heart to.
  • Chronic pain, fibromyalgia and exploring mindfulness and meditation within motherhood to build our awareness and increase our presence.
  • Trying to heal when we are almost at our maximum breaking point. How getting curious when we are feeling safe and less triggered and how that can only benefit our own journey.

The conversation with Fleur is an unforgettable one. She brings such a beautiful and accepting insight into how matresence can be a daily practice and how it allows us to explore and move through all our days as mothers. To find out more about Fleur, including her book Ten Pathways: A Framework for Redefining Happiness please visit www.thehappyhabit.com.au and follow Fleur on Instagram @thehappyhabitwithfleurchambers

Within these conversations we change the way mothers are valued and seen in our society and spread the whispers of matrescence together.

Find out more and receive your matrescence map here https://www.amytaylorkabbaz.com/matrescence/

Transcript
Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

Welcome to the Happy Mama Movement Podcast.

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I'm Amy Taylor-Kabbaz.

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I would like to start by acknowledging the Gadigal people of the Aura nation

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on which this podcast is recorded, as the traditional custodians of this land.

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And pay my respects to the elders past, present and emerging.

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And, as this podcast is dedicated to the wisdom and knowledge of motherhood, I

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would like to acknowledge the mothers of this land, the elders, their wisdom, their

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knowing and my own elders and teachers.

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Welcome back mamas.

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I have to be honest, sometimes I wonder how many different perspectives can

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I bring to this conversation around motherhood, matresence and the women that

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we are and become through this process.

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After all, this is the 218th episode of the podcast.

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And before this podcast, I also had a previous podcast that had over 200

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episodes, so we're now talking about 400 episodes, talking about motherhood,

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matresence and how it changes us as women.

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And yet, every single time I sit down to talk to someone about

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this topic, I learn something new.

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I hear a new perspective.

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I hear a different tool, a different insight.

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I look at my own matresence experience differently.

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It deepens, it widens, and once again, I'm left at the end of the

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conversation thinking, Ugh, this is just the most powerful conversation.

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When we can talk about how we evolve and change through this experience.

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It puts a lens onto everything in our life, all the ways that we change

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and evolve, not just in motherhood.

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That's how I felt at the end of the conversation with Fleur

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Chambers, who's today's guest.

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Fleur is a meditation teacher, an author, a mama of three boys,

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and a beautiful friend of mine.

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Fleur brought to this conversation a reflection on the process

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of matresence that really brought new light to it for me.

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She really looked at it as matresence as a practice for our future self.

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As a daily practice of checking in and seeing what story we're telling

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ourselves, how we're responding to the changes around us, how we're

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looking after ourselves, how we are accepting, forgiving, and releasing.

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Matresence in other words, as a daily practice.

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Uh, I loved this insight and I'm sure you will too.

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Enjoy.

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Fleur welcome to the podcast.

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Thank you so much for having me.

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I'm really excited to be here.

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Me too.

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What I really am excited about with our conversation is that I know your

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story a little obviously because I've known you for a few years and how it has

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evolved over the years of being a mama.

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From those early days of really struggling with three boys really close together.

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And now in this beautiful place of authour and meditation teacher.

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But the path that that has taken is what we are really here to discuss.

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So thank you.

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Let's start at the very beginning.

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Uh, let's talk about your first experiences of becoming a mama.

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So they were pretty filled with fear.

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I remember when I gave birth to my first child, Tom, um,

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it was mainly a flood of fear.

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I didn't get the flood of love and the first thoughts that went through my

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head were, I can't take my eyes off this child for the rest of their lives.

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So that felt pretty heavy.

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There was also love as well, but there was a real burden, a sense of

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responsibility, earnest responsibility.

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And then fast forward, I think to four years later, I'd had

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three children and I was really noticing things coming up for me.

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One was this deep feeling of responsibility for my children's

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health and happiness and wellbeing.

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The second was these high expectations and the amount of time I was

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spending in my head ruminating about things I hadn't gotten right.

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Micro planning for tomorrow.

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This real sense that I had to get things perfect in order to accept who I was.

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And then the third thing, that was going on, it was a growing sense of loneliness.

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Which was really bizarre considering I was actually never alone, so I'd have

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to take someone with me to the bathroom.

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There was always someone with me when I showered, so whilst I was never alone, I

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was lonely and I was actually talking to my mum and she saw a moment, a way in.

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And she said, Darl, you really need to start practicing mindfulness and

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meditation for the benefit of your three gorgeous kids and yourself.

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And so really I look back on that, it was, uh, 11 or 12 years ago, and

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I really understand that loneliness as an indication that I'd strayed so

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far from who I was deep down inside these high expectations, this pull

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to be responsible for other people.

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It was really it just meant I'd lost my way.

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And so mainly the journey over the past 11 years has been a

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journey of coming home to myself.

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Oh, it's so beautifully described.

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It brings emotions to me.

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This idea of straying so far from yourself.

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But when you hear you tell that story, you stray far from yourself because

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of that sense of responsibility.

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It's like you stray away from yourself and towards the role of mother, but there

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has to be, you know, a path in between.

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There has to be a place in between where we of course take on this

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beautiful responsibility, but we don't lose ourselves in it.

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Yeah, and I think we can take it

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on without it feeling so heavy.

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I think when it has this real heaviness, and for me, heaviness

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sits very much on my body.

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Um, that's the part that feels unnecessary.

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I think we can want what's best for our children.

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We can have wise action around keeping them safe and healthy and well.

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But it doesn't need to come from a position of not feeling enough.

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And I think when it comes from that position of lack, that's

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when it really feels heavy.

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Looking back on it now, do you

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understand why the fear was there right from the beginning and that

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it was such a heavy responsibility?

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Can you see through today's eyes a little differently at what was happening there?

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I can just offer that person,

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that version of me, compassion.

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I think there's probably no answer.

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Digging for an answer, um, I don't think is fruitful because

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you'll never get to one.

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Instead, what naturally bubbles up is just this compassion for this 30

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year old woman whose body had been through a lot, who'd probably outsource

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some of the choices around her birth.

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Who probably felt underqualified for this big job.

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Um, and I just offer her compassion.

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But if I had to think about where that fear came from, who knows

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generational, it could have been my mum, my grandma, my tendency to want to

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please people, to want to be perfect.

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Who knows?

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I'm sure it's been there for a long time.

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And it just came up right after the birth of my first son.

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I think that's a really powerful

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answer for us all to hear.

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Because what I heard, in your answer was, there's no point digging too deep into it.

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But there was an acknowledgement of lots of things in play, you know,

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generational, uh, that we don't talk about matresence and become mother,

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how we mother in the right way.

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Um, choice in birth.

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The, extreme way we all need to mother at the moment.

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Like there was layers of understanding, but in the end, it is just this

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compassion for this woman who was doing the best she could.

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Yeah.

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Trying, trying hard.

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Yeah.

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Trying so hard.

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So how did mindfulness and meditation begin to shift that

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feeling of needing to take this all on and get it right and perfect?

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Still a work in progress, um,

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but certainly those small things.

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Dipping into my sensate world, feeling the touch of my children's hands,

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looking at their eyelashes, touching their little toes, being in nature,

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taking my shoes off, smelling the food, touching the warm cup of coffee or tea.

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Really lingering in that sensate world was by far the most powerful

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thing I could have done back then.

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It got me out of my hyper critical hypervigilant mind, deep into my

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body, and slowly moment by moment opening to this idea that we

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don't need to hold on so tight.

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Hmm.

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And of course it's a work in progress.

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Right.

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But compared to where you were, um, I mean, it's just, it's mind

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blowing to see how these small things transform into big things.

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I think so often we think, you and I are both in the meditation space and we both

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talk to women about this all the time, and we think when we hear others talk

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about these big practices they have or this completely different way of living

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compared to how they used to live.

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We think it's unattainable.

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It's this huge life shift.

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But I love the way that you've just reminded us it's about noticing the

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eyelashes and when you drink your cup of tea, feeling the warmth,

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it's about feet in the grass.

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And sometimes that can feel too simple when you're in such a negative head

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space, but it does shift, doesn't it?

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Oh, absolutely.

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And so what started for me about engaging my senses in my natural environment

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has over the years, transformed into me being able to communicate with animals

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and receive messages from nature.

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So you start simply, you start with a willingness to receive, and you

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never know where it'll take you.

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Hmm, That's right,

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I didn't

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Be careful

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talking to animals.

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That's right.

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Can I actually, I love that it's, you know, I love laughing about it, but

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can we talk about that for a second?

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Because I actually do think that there is a little bit of fear in some of us,

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in some women that if I start down this path, I'm gonna end up as some woo woo

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hippie that cleanses her chakras and connects with her angels every morning.

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And I do think that I mean, I believe we've really shifted the belief

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around spirituality and meditation.

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However, you've got a hugely successful app.

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You're a very, very popular and well known meditation teacher.

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I wonder when you talk to people, how do we overcome that?

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Because, um, there is this fear of it might change my whole life.

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Even though we want it to change our whole life.

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I think we judge what we

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don't understand, don't we?

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So, and I'm sure you are finding that as a dog owner.

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I know for me, before I had a dog and people would bring the dog to the cafe

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or buy it clothes or Christmas presents.

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You'd be like, what?

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And now you've got a dog.

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You've probably got like all the little toys and it comes to the cafe.

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So we judge what we're not yet willing to open our heart to.

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So I think that's what we remember when we notice people talking to animals or

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with their taro cards, that judgment is just a little part of us that's possibly

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yearning for that, but not quite ready.

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Oh, I love that answer so much.

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That's such a beautiful perspective.

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And a hundred percent my partner and I took the puppy to the bar

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on a Friday night the other night.

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And I literally took a photo and shared it on Instagram, like,

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how did I become this person?

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I used to mock people like me.

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But on that point, I actually sent my sister a message who's had dogs for a lot

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longer than I have, and the message was, I'm sorry, I actually didn't understand.

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I didn't realise how much this little creature becomes not just

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a part of your family, but like, another kid like holy moly.

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And it's the same with all of these experiences, whether it's the positive

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or the parts that are really hard, like health struggles or anxiety

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or dealing with the sick kid.

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Until we're in it, it's very hard to really hold an understanding, isn't it?

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Oh, absolutely.

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And I'm now there with menopause.

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I remember 10 years ago people would talk to me about menopause and

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I'd be like, Ooh, don't go there.

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And now I'm like, anyone got any stories to tell me about menopause?

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I'm ready to listen.

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So

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No.

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it's, it's how.

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How can you be engaged and open to people's life experiences

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when you are not there?

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Yeah.

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Can we talk a little bit about your experience with your health?

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Because this is also a lot of what you share and you talk about in your new

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book and, you've been through so much.

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Again, not having that myself, I can only partly understand, but I think for many

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of the listeners, whether it is exactly what you struggle with or some other

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ongoing health issue, it is its own, it's its own right of passage, isn't it?

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Yeah, so what's interesting is when

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I had the chronic pain diagnosis of fibromyalgia, um, which is

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when your body sends you pain and danger signals even when there's

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nothing there to be worried about.

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So it's, it's neuro pain.

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It starts in the brain and then it lands in the body.

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So there's nothing wrong, there's no ligaments that are torn.

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When that was happening for me was also when you and I were in the Mastermind

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together and you were introducing me to the idea of matresence.

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So when we think back to the first time, I started to explore

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mindfulness and meditation.

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That was me trying to explore where I was in life, but without

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an awareness of matresence.

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And then probably six or seven years later, the same themes were emerging

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around enoughness, perfectionism, holding on so tight, wanting to control life.

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And you, by introducing me to matresence really opened the door

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for me to explore my chronic pain in the context of motherhood.

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So that was really interesting.

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So I, I had gone from a big lens of spirituality and presence, and

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then you offered me it sort of like a micro lens to reflect upon.

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And so what I have learned over the years is that pain is there

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to guide you home once more.

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Our challenges are always there to guide you home.

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So for me, my pain lets me know when I've lost my way, when I've gotten

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caught up in trying to be something for someone else when I've gotten too busy.

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Uh, all of these things and a lot of that can be to do with motherhood, especially

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when we are primary caregivers, when all our children still live at home.

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Um, so yeah, I feel really grateful to you for giving me the permission to really

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honor how being a mum could have had a huge impact on my chronic pain experience.

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Wow, I didn't know that until

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this time, so thank you.

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Thank you for saying that.

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So how Do you manage this other than, Okay, so you recognise there's

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pain in your body, you recognise, as you beautifully said, you've lost

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your way away from yourself again.

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What are the steps there?

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So when I was given the diagnosis, I

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was secretly hoping that this man would give me a pill and I'd take this pill

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and then I'd go back to who I used to be a lot like when we did birth,

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give a pill and give my old life.

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That's it.

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And he said to me, Fleur there's no

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cure, there's no pill you can take.

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All you can do is change your response to the pain.

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Now I wanted to punch him when he said that, but over time I was able to actually

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use those words as a guiding light.

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And so I learned to respond differently to my pain and it

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took about four or five years.

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But the pain really has subsided.

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I'm sure a lot of people know when you're at an eight or a nine with

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something, with inflammation, with anxiety, with stress, with chronic pain,

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it's very hard to work out which piece of the puzzle is making a difference.

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So you need to be patient and allow the pain, whatever challenge you're

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going through, to sort of sit at a three or a four, and that's

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when you get curious about the things that make the pain go away.

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The things that make the pain appear.

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I can get pain now when I go to be vulnerable and my body says, you're

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not safe to share with people.

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If I go to write a new course that allows me to be a bit more

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bold, I get pain in my wrist.

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If I go to speak more about my purpose and the philanthropic work

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that I do, I get a pain in my neck.

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My body's saying, you are not safe to share your real purpose.

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So it's about getting to know the way your body, your ego, your inner

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child speaks to you, and trying to be discerning with which voices to

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listen to and which voices to let go.

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Wow.

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Changing your response to the pain is the only thing that we can do.

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That is relevant for all pain, whether it's physical, mental, heart,

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circumstantial, what's happening in the world, what your kid's doing,

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whatever it is, that we can't just take a pill, this isn't gonna

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go away by itself kind of idea.

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There is no cure in that sense.

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All we can do is change our response to it.

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And what I love about the example

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of physical pain and why I was so excited to write the book is

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physical pain is very easy to sense.

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You know, if your arm's sore or not.

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Whereas emotional pain, it's more nuanced, uh, psychological pain,

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spiritual pain, financial pain.

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So there's this amazing evidence out there that says, when you have

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negative thoughts about your pain, for example, what did I do wrong?

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It's my fault.

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Will it be there tomorrow?

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I'm not brave enough.

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I'm not strong enough.

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All of these thoughts, they actually make physical pain worse because they

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activate the fear response in us.

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So if you take that to, uh, emotional pain, let's say you've

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got heartache and then you add to it, I should be braver than this.

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Other people have it worse than me.

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Uh, I'm not strong enough to do this thing I need to do next week.

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All of that makes the emotional pain worse.

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Same with spiritual pain.

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If we avoid, uh, grief or loss or sadness with all these busy thoughts,

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the pain just gets stronger.

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So I feel so grateful to have had physical pain as a really clear uh,

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like base for me to explore what happens when we resist versus what

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happens to sensation when we allow.

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And that can be used for any challenges in our lives.

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Wow.

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I also think it's important to point out how you said when it's at an eight

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or a nine out of 10, it's very hard to see what's working and what's not and

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to figure out where it's coming from in that sense of what's the trigger here?

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And it feels like to me in those eight or nine moments, it's just, you know, smash

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glass in case of emergency, do what you need to do to be able to get it lower.

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And then at three or four is when we can start being curious about it.

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Share with us what, how that works in the emotional and spiritual version of pain

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as just like in the physical version.

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What does that look like?

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The smash glass at eight and nine.

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And then how to get curious at three and four.

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Hmm, that's a great question.

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So, I think emotional or spiritual pain let's take the example of anxiety.

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When your anxiety is at an eight or a nine and your body really thinks it's

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in danger, that's probably not the best time to be doing the deep spiritual, uh,

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especially if there's kids around and puppies and, and you know, whatever else.

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So when we're at the eight or the nine, we just really care for ourselves in

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whatever way we maybe cancel some plans.

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We take some breaths.

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We do some massage.

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We call a friend.

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We breathe deeply.

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And then when it's at a three or a four, what we usually do is we ignore it.

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We go, Okay, it's at a three or a four, it's not so pressing.

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I'll just do all the things I used to do, like extend myself, uh, outsource

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my happiness, attend to other people.

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So the trick really is to continue to inquire when you're at a three or a

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four, because then you can journal.

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Perhaps, then you could meditate with the deep intention to explore the

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anxiety that was there yesterday.

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And I think that's the hardest thing.

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Most of us, when our pain, our suffering is at a three

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or a four, we just ignore it.

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Yeah.

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Um, I'm going to share something very honest and vulnerable here that I

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haven't really spoken about before, but in the heartbreak of the ending of

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my marriage over the last few years.

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It got to the point this year, you know, cause it takes a while from

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these things to rise to the surface.

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It got to the point where my heartbreak and sadness was at an eight and a

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nine and I was trying to be curious.

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I was trying to do the healing work, but I couldn't.

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Because it was just too extreme.

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And what I hear with what you just said, was, I didn't realise it at the time,

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but I had to stop all of the inner work cause it was just exacerbating it so much.

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Step back and just let my system begin to reset and get myself down to the

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three and the four in different ways.

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A lot of body work, a lot of that kind of thing.

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Like let's not analyze this anymore.

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Let's just let the body start realising it's safe.

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And I'm back at a three and a four.

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And I'm so in a great space to go and do that work now to look at

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how to heal and how to forgive and how to love again and all of that.

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I hadn't seen it so clearly until you just, um, described

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it that way, so thank you.

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That's really powerful.

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Because I think often we think, when we are up at that level, we have to get

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into it like, Oh my God, I dunno what this means and maybe I should meditate

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and maybe I should do that course and maybe I should go and see this person.

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And sometimes we need to feel safer first, and then we can do the curious work.

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Absolutely.

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And so when you are at an eight or a nine, often that's when we spend money on

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crazy healers, people we don't even know.

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We go and do a $200 Reiki thing and wonder why that didn't make us feel any better.

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So not only do we try and do the deep work, we pay someone

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else to do it on our bodies.

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That is so true.

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And it reminds me of something you just said that I wrote down when you said, I

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recognise I was outsourcing my happiness.

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Oh, that is a great description.

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Talk to me about what that means.

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Well, just trusting that other people

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can help you with what's going on.

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And sure they can.

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People listening with openness and curiosity, nature,

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listening and talking to you.

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But paying a stranger is not always the way.

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And trusting that a stranger who is more qualified than you in spiritual

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work or health and wellbeing or diet or Pilates or whatever.

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That's just sort of not a great dynamic thinking that someone else

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knows more than you about you.

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That doesn't mean we shouldn't seek help, but we need to be empowered around that.

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Yes.

-::

The help needs to be, well it's not even really help, it's, it's someone who guides

-::

and supports you to find your own answers.

-::

That's what it is.

-::

Yeah.

-::

And shares their skills and knowledge, but it's about you listening to you.

-::

Yeah.

-::

So one of the other things that you have said to me that I would love

-::

to just explore before we finish up.

-::

Is this idea of being able to recognise what's happening for you in motherhood

-::

when your little ones are still little.

-::

Really, in other words, understanding matresence is a gift to your future self.

-::

Because everything you've been sharing about the last 11, 14

-::

years is really, if I could, you know, give your life story a theme.

-::

It really has been about, um, outsourcing and, uh, giving yourself to others

-::

and losing yourself along the way.

-::

And so you really see this understanding of matresence as a gift to your

-::

future self as your kids grow older.

-::

Can you explain what that means, A gift to your future self?

-::

Yeah, absolutely.

-::

Well, I was thinking that when we first explore matresence or experience that

-::

our children are often small and it's around letting go of who you used to be,

-::

of the ideas you have around motherhood, of how your life should look and feel.

-::

There's loss around old identity things you can no longer do,

-::

feel, experience, and there's this exploration about responsibility burden.

-::

Um, and being happy for others.

-::

And I think, um, being responsible for others' happiness.

-::

And I think what matresence gives us is an ability to let go, to trust that

-::

life is holding us, to trust that we can reconnect with our own wisdom, our

-::

own intuition at any time, and that we are not responsible for our children.

-::

And so what I know now with an 11, 12, and 14 year old, it is not possible for

-::

me to be responsible for their happiness.

-::

They're on social media, they're at school, they're going to

-::

the movies, they're on public transport, they're on bikes.

-::

How could I actually be responsible for all of that when I'm not even there?

-::

So having already practiced, letting go of responsibility means I'm better

-::

equipped to do that now, and I hear of people I support who have 30 year old

-::

kids, 50 year old kids, 60 year old kids who are still practicing this stuff.

-::

This idea of equanimity that we can want what's best for someone, that we can wish

-::

someone well, that in all our heart we can desire for our children to be happy.

-::

But ultimately we can't control that.

-::

And so if that's one element of matresence that we learn when our

-::

kids are young, what a beautiful gift to offer that to the mother that has

-::

teenagers, the mother who has a 30 year old who's going through divorce.

-::

The mother who has a 60 year old, child who has lost their job.

-::

And the other one is around loss.

-::

So the loss of our old identity.

-::

As we first experience matresence.

-::

Well, for me, there's a lot of loss now as my teenage children

-::

naturally gravitate towards their dad.

-::

I have three boys and so there's loss for me there.

-::

There's loss as your children get married and you are no longer as

-::

important as they shape their own family.

-::

So all of these themes that I think matresence allows us to explore

-::

just will carry with us as we move through all our days as mothers.

-::

Oh, amen.

-::

Absolutely.

-::

Hallelujah.

-::

I couldn't agree more.

-::

I often say there is no way in hell I would've been able to go through what I've

-::

been through last year with my daughter if I hadn't have started this work all

-::

those years ago because that dynamic, that understanding of my role, that

-::

space that I allow myself, the grieving, the healing, the strength, all of it.

-::

Ugh, Fleur spectacular.

-::

Thank you so much.

-::

Thank you.

-::

I'm gonna put all the details in

-::

the show notes about your work, how people can connect with you.

-::

Read your new book, listen to your meditations.

-::

Thank you for, um, sharing this with the world because it has so much

-::

within it, this understanding of both what you've been through and the

-::

path for all of us to take to be in such a happier, more healed place.

-::

So thank you.

-::

Thanks so much for having me

-::

and for all the light that you spread in your communities.

-::

Thanks so much, Amy.

-::

Thank you.

-::

As I said at the start of this episode, it constantly surprises me how deep this

-::

conversation continues to go for me.

-::

How every single week, every single conversation, and every

-::

single insight I discover and hear about this beautiful process of

-::

matresence, I continue to learn more.

-::

I hope you feel the same.

-::

What it shows me, is that within this isolated but powerful transformation

-::

of motherhood, we have the chance to learn how to deal with all

-::

transformations, all challenges, whether it's health, relationship, the world.

-::

Because if we can be kind to ourselves in this process,

-::

change our response to the pain.

-::

Really look at how we stop outsourcing our happiness and instead find it from within.

-::

Then we can do that no matter what the challenge is.

-::

You can read Fleur's new book, The 10 Pathways, A Framework for Redefining

-::

Happiness, and it is out now.

-::

You can also listen to her phenomenal meditations and all of her other

-::

work at thehappyhabit.com.au

-::

Please as always, share this far and wide, especially if you know

-::

someone who is in that process of trying to really understand how

-::

to get through the day by day.

-::

Perhaps they're up at the seven and eight right now, and when they come

-::

down to the three or the four, this is something they are ready to listen to.

-::

And please leave a review and let both Fleur and I know how

-::

this episode landed for you.

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Hello!

I'm Amy.

I'm a matrescence activist - here to revolutionise the way you feel about yourself as a mama, and transform the way the world values and supports all mothers, everywhere.

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