The Void

by Kristine Enger

The fourth instalment in a series of blogs on “Starting Over” – read the others here, here and here.

Most life changes are seemingly brought upon us by external forces. Whether we initiated the changes or not, certain circumstances either became intolerable to us, or life itself decided to put us through the grinder. Either way, we are forced to act and, sometimes begrudgingly, redefine our lives.

As the idea of the new is taking hold in our awareness, but before it slowly starts to manifest, there is a period of being in what feels like a void, a holding pen, where there is nothing. We are literally staring into a blank future.

To fully inhabit the space of ‘nothing’, being in it and breathing it, is frightening at the best of times. This is the phase where all that was safe and familiar is becoming a distant dream, and the new has not yet materialised.

This phase is crucial to the creation process, although to most it feels so uncomfortable and unsettling that we do whatever we can to avoid being there.

“It’s not fair!” “What have I done to deserve this?” “How did I end up here!” “Am I depressed?” Yet, if we allow ourselves to accept that nothing new can be created from a crowded cluttered space, and that to cultivate the seed of the new, we need to weed and clear an empty patch.

To learn to accept and recognise when you are in the void is greatly helpful for the creation of the new. In fact, the more you accept and inhabit the void as a natural part of evolution, you see that the terrifying void was all along the portal through which the new can emerge.

The Motion of Emotions

What you resist, persists. When you avoid and deny your pain and internal discomfort you are neglecting and abandoning yourself.
Self-care is not only about going on holidays or taking hot water baths. To take care of myself means that I’m in touch with the totality of who I am at any given time. I care, and therefore I listen to myself and I take responsibility for my wellbeing in any area of my life: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
We are wired to avoid pain. We can escape from it in multiple ways, from the most obvious- entering a new relationship, finding a new job or moving countries- to the more subtle ones like distracting ourselves with work, sex, food or alcohol.
When we consciously choose to sit with the pain and we endure the discomfort and the fear, keeping the presence and the connection with what is arising, we are fighting against our natural instinct of survival and reshaping our minds. When we train ourselves, through meditation and mindfulness to remain aware and fully present, without dissociating from the emotion or running away, the so-called ‘’negative’’ emotions become our allies, instead of toxic influences that poison our lives.
My emotions put me in motion. My anger, experienced mindfully helps me set proper boundaries. Today I am tired and cannot give you more. My sadness helps me grieve the many losses we encounter, losing a friend or a lover, a job, an opportunity. Healthy emotions are happening here and now, and they are energy expressing itself through ourselves.
That is why our awareness is so fundamental. We need to discern between the aliveness of the fresh, raw emotion related to the present time and serving a purpose, and the narrative I tell myself based on past experiences, which makes me get stuck in it. The narrative feeds the idea of inadequacy and separateness while the raw emotion is the messenger that tells me what is necessary and important in order to take care of myself. You choose!
Isabel works with individuals and couple’s in consciously expressing and exploring their emotions, stories, and here and now. To make an appointment with Isabel contact us. 

Know Where You Are

by Kristine Enger

A continuation in a series of posts “On Starting Over”

We cannot really go anywhere before we know where we are right now.

A lot of the time, we have no idea where we are. We feel lost.

Sometimes a period of not only introspection but also a very practical investigation is required. To adopt a Sherlock Holmes-like attitude to your current situation can be very helpful, and sometimes very revealing, surprising even.

Adopt the observer’s mind, as if you are establishing a neutral, independent survey of your life. Be methodical about it. Do you have all the facts? ‘Interview’ the people involved in the situation. This could be your children, a friend or colleague, a neighbour, your doctor, a financial advisor. Take extensive notes, make lists before you examine all the ‘evidence’. Take time to come and speak with a consultant who can help guide you through this observation in a safe and non-judgemental way – and in doing so help you do the same. This is a critical step and I find it very helpful for my clients to begin our conversations here.

Now, having gathered as many facts about the situation as possible, it is time for some introspection. We learn through contrast, so instead of being stuck in what you don’t want, what do you want?

What makes your heart sing? To be closer to family? A different career? A loving relationship?

This can bring about frustration, grief, despair and sorrow because where you are now may seem to be miles apart from where you want to be. In fact, the divide may seem too great and overwhelming.

The good news is that this is perfectly okay, and it is possible to traverse this divide.

In fact, just looking at your life in this way, you have already taken the first and most difficult step.


Kristine has lived in Dubai for more than 25 years and has started over many times in her life. Kristine knows particularly well what it entails to start over as an expat, far from home, without the safety net of family, friends and in certain situations social services to catch us. Kristine’s deeply grounded, practical, yet highly creative approach to life, makes her an excellent consultant to guide and inspire you if you find yourself going through the challenging time of starting over.


Things As They Are

Mindfulness Insights

“Coming to terms with things as they are is my definition of healing”
Jon Kabat-Zinn

What are your thoughts about this quote?  What kind of meaning do you attach to the notion “coming to terms with things as they are”?

Things as they are.

Simply meditating on these words can bring peace and meaning when we focus on the feelings they engender.

Things as they are. No need to struggle, no need to alter, change, fix, mend, undo, create or meddle.  No need to escape avoid, deny – just accept how it is, what is happening, and let it be.

Just allowing yourself to experience these phrases changes your perspective.  In very simple terms, much healing of our physical bodies, our aching hearts, and our worrying minds can take place if we can understand and live our lives from this place of non struggle.

Mindfulness is about discovering HOW to do this – how to change the struggling.

Our Mindful Living community offers a safe place with like minded people to explore and discover practical ways to discover and apply these learnings to our daily life.

3 Practical Ways to Create a Mindful Workspace

Mindfulness is an internal practice and is non-reliant (and indeed non-judgemental) of the environment around us. We can practice mindful awareness and curiosity in any situation, although some make it easier than others! Workspaces can inspire or fill with dread – depending on how you approach them. I find that actively engaging in creating a mindful workspace can actually help remind you of your practice when you find yourself drifting into a chaotic cycle or even impact others as they enter your space. You may have absolute control over your desk, share a desk or have no desk at all; but with a few simple techniques you can create a space that enables and encourages you to approach your work from an inspired and mindful state.

Here are 3 ways that I like to curate my workspace – may they move you to consider and then create your own…

(1) a mindful anchor

This can be so unique to your practice – it may be a quote, or perhaps a plant, an image, a candle, a snowglobe, anything that when you see it draws your attention back to the present moment and encourages you to take a slow breath before returning to your task. I change mine regularly to ensure that it doesn’t just blend into the fuzziness of the background.


(2) acknowledge the space

Before I begin my workday (whether it is behind a desk, in a café or in a training room) I like to really sit in awareness of the space and consciously choose to set an intention for the day. A short 2 or 3 minute pause can really set the tone for the space for the day. Try it out – before you touch your keyboard, start prepping or start working – do 3 or 4 deep breaths with closed eyes and then for a minute with open eyes observe your workspace. Look up, look around, become aware of the environment. Then set an intention of how you want to work that day and begin your tasks. On my best days the first task I do is set up my to-do list, but even on days where I find myself jumping straight in – devoting a short time to consciously becoming present helps me connect to my own creative and productive energy.

(3) a clean virtual desk

I save everything to my desktop. It’s not tidy or organised I admit – but somehow this doesn’t distract me (although I feel fabulously organised during my bi-annual desktop cleanout). What does distract me though is opening a new tab in my browser (which I see more often than my desktop anyway). Those super convenient “recent” tabs that prompt me to open up facebook, pinterest, youtube or any other regularly visited sites are often too tempting to the procrastinator in me. I know I am not alone in this! I recently discovered a great extension for Chrome called Momentum that connects me again instead back to my daily intention and to-do list, all with a beautiful visual and daily quote.