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Resilience - the Authentic Tea podcast with Emma

Resilience is a topic that Emma is passionate about. Her love of yoga, mindfulness, and breathwork has led her to create offerings to improve workplace wellbeing. Emma is the founder of Halycon Wellness and Regional Director of the British Society of Lifestyle Medicine. The word halcyon means happiness, great success and prosperity. Emma provides content to help you thrive at home and at work.

Episode 12 of the Authentic Tea podcast features Rach's chat with Emma:

Rach (00:00):

For our episode today, we have the lovely Emma joining us. Emma is passionate about holistic health and is the founder of Halcyon wellness by combining her passions of lifestyle medicine and wellbeing, techniques of breath, work, yoga and meditation. Emma is creating wellness education offers for individuals, employers, and those people working on the front line. Emma is also regional director of the British society of lifestyle medicine, a breath coach, and a yoga teacher. Welcome Emma.

Emma (00:28):

Hello. Thanks for having me.

Rach (00:30):

It's great to have you here today, and it's so wonderful to see all the fabulous things that you're doing, your wellness, education courses support improved wellbeing in the workplace. Was there a moment where you identified that this was something that was a need and can you reflect on how workplace wellness has impacted your own work environment?

Emma (00:53):

Yeah, so I think there wasn't a specific moment, but I think my junior doctor years, I definitely felt the strain of sort of working on my emotional, physical sort of mental wellbeing as a whole. I think the environment didn't really suit me as a person. Anyway, you kind of, you, when you're training as a doctor, you have to do some jobs that you don't necessarily want to do long-term and I think the hospital environment, I don't thrive in that situation. I'm kind of, I prefer being out in the community where I am now. And I think there is this feeling that I think quite a lot of junior doctors have of just sort of being a cog in a wheel and sort of you're a bum on a seat to do a job. And actually they don't really value you as a human being. It's more, as long as there's someone in that rota gap, we're fine. And I think I really felt that at times, particularly when I wasn't enjoying things and I was trying to be proactive about how about, could I try and do maybe this job or that job to really like, and talking to supervisors about that? And it's sort of like, well, no, it's really service provision. You've just got to do it. And you're like, you don't feel valued as a person. And I think looking at surveys on wellbeing, particularly in the frontline in the workforce, in the NHS, whenever you're talking about workplace stress or burnout, anywhere along those spectrums, it's always the feeling of being valued sort of by your employers, by your peers and by patients themselves actually always comes up as one of the most important things for wellbeing. And when they're not there, one of the most important reasons for burnout and distress in work. So I think it was really interesting. I think learning that whole experience made me realize how important well workplace was workplace wellbeing was for your whole wellbeing as a whole, and actually how feeling distressed and just one aspect of your life in work in particular, when you work so many hours in a week actually can affect your whole wellbeing. So I think that's what really kind of stemmed my interest in it.

Rach (02:44):

Like you say we spent so much of our time at work and quite a lot of us as the pandemic is still going on, us finding ourselves, spending that time at home. Can you offer some, maybe some tips for the audience in terms of thinking about their own workplace wellbeing, but actually bringing that into their own environments at home?

Emma (03:04):

I think I heard recently that you can think you're working from home or you're living at work. I thought that was a brilliant way of thinking about it. And I just think for me, there's a few things that can really help. I think keeping a routine is really important and I think you don't have the commute anymore. And some people are just tempted to just to press the snooze button and literally get out of bed and go straight into the laptop working. And I think that's not we're creatures of habit. And I think our bodies like that routine, so actually try and keep that, that sleep wake cycle, it'll be really good for your circadian rhythm and sleep hygiene just to try and set that alarm clock still, but then use that commute time that you wouldn't have. And I think this can be more challenging if you're trying to, you know, get food on table for kids and breakfast and, you know, organize, you know, dressing your kids and getting them ready for the day.

Emma (03:48):

I appreciate that can be a lot harder, but actually think about what you can use your commute time for whether you love reading and just say, I'll read a few pages of my book or what I love doing and what actually we started in lockdown and it's definitely going to continue with my partner, is we go for a morning walk. And actually we, you know, it's even just 20 to twenty-five minutes just across the fields and back, but it's the best way to start the day. And actually getting that morning light will also help your circadian rhythm. You get that fresh air, you get that bit of movement and you also get that social engagement and having a nice chat and you just feel so much ready to start the day when you get back compared to if you just got out of bed and then, andthen you have that positive way of starting the day as well. It just sets the whole day up in a different light and you just feel really good. So I think that's the one first thing that I'd really recommend. I also think boundaries are so important and there's lots of different types of boundaries. One for example, is putting some different clothes on than your pajamas. I think it's very tempting to just go and work in your pajamas, but it's amazing how much your mindset can shift if you just like put on a different pair of clothes and you think, okay, I'm now at work and trying to create that boundary between your work and home like even if there is not that physical boundary. So if you're lucky enough to have a separate room within the house you can use for work, I think I'd really recommend doing that. And then sort of shutting down your laptop at the end of the day, closing the door and kind of exiting the workplace. If you don't have that space, just have a dedicated workspace in a room that is there for your work from now on. And actually you don't use that, that full relaxation activities, just so your mind can kind of work out where you are in the day. And another thing is if you're working at home and you have other people at home, I think having some really non-confrontational compassionate communication between each other about what you might need, because what someone might think would be really lovely and being every half hour an hour, bringing someone a cup of coffee or something, actually, if they're in a state of flow, it actually could be really disruptive. Or if they're in a meeting, it could be quite embarrassing. So just kind of work out what each other needs. And I think that those are sort of just a few tips I think can really help.

Rach (05:50):

They are great tips. And I think that's a really nice way to look at how we can create our own space. Like you say, that balance of the work life and the home life now for so many of us becomes in the same environment. Like you, I've also found walking with my husband as well, has been a really useful tool for me to do on a, on a daily basis and have that time to connect to nature is that connection to nature, something that you have actively sought through your own wellbeing practices and, and what are your other favorite ways of getting that connection from the world around us?

Emma (06:28):

Yeah, I think connection with nature is just so important. I mean, I live in a forest, so I love it. That was one of my priorities. And I think, you know, living in a city has so much excitement and facilities that you might not get when you're living rurally, but it's always been intrinsic to me, that feeling with nature and how it supports my well-being. So I've obviously prioritize that by where I live, but actually if you don't live in a, in a forest, you can still engage with nature. And I think there's a sense of all you get when you go into nature. And I think, you know, you being in the mountains, you'll probably get that even more because you get that amazing scenery. It helps with thing into perspective. It's like, you know, actually you kind of realize in a humble way how small you are, and I think that's quite helpful.

Emma (07:11):

And there's, I think I always was passionate about nature of health because I did some students selected modules in public health in my final year of med school. And you could do self-directed ones where you kind of made up your own project. And I did a literature review on how the New Forest, which is where I live as the national park could be used as a health resource and kind of delving into the literature. There was really fascinating, but sort of since then, I've come across the concept of Shinrin Yuku, which I'm sure, you know, it's like forest bathing and a Japanese concept and read a book about that. And it's fascinating that they've shown that immersing yourself in nature with using all your senses and really being present in nature. So not like looking at a phone or going for a walk in the forest, but really taking it all in it's shown to lower blood pressure.

Emma (07:58):

Reduce your stress, improve blood sugar control? So, you know, if you're thinking of pre-diabetic or diabetic, you know, the effects of that increases your energy and even increases weight loss and pain threshold. So I don't think necessarily we've understand all the physiological processes behind these, but those, the research done to show that these sort of markers of wellbeing are impacted by being in nature. And you don't necessarily have to do a walk. You can do whatever you like in nature. So that can be, you know, practicing yoga or Tai Chi at nature, or having a picnic in nature, or doing an art class in nature was going to like hot Springs. So I think you don't, if you're not a walker, you don't need to feel like you're limited by these benefits, which I really like.

Rach (08:38):

And so much of what you've just mentioned. There is all LinkedIn to maintaining our own wellbeing, to try and think about how we can prevent both our any physical illness progressing and also mental illness and maintaining our own mental wellbeing. I love, love, love the, that you did some public health modules at university. That's a big thumbs up for me, but was there a point, do you think that you realized where you could understand the value of preventive medicine and was that key to you then developing your passion in lifestyle medicine, which you're now combining with clinical practice?

Emma (09:17):

Yeah, so I think I've always quite liked sort of the public health modules we did at uni. And I've always loved the bigger picture thinking you kind of get with the public health as you're taking a step back and looking at a population, whether that's a small community or whether the whole world in a health context and wellbeing. And I think it kind of does this actually combine lifestyle medicine and sort of what I think is sort of the halfway point between public health and like traditional clinical medicine. And you kind of combine them, it's more of the preventative at the individual level and looking at the root cause, whereas public health, more like the root cause or the root cause. So, yeah and yeah, so I did that and then I started GP training less than full time.

Emma (10:02):

And I actually did a public health Master's alongside my training. So that really made me understand the power of preventative measures medicine some more, but all the nuanced different approaches that can take and, you know, the different styles of public health. And I think, I think prevention is just so important and it things that really can be so impactful. So for example, in the UK, the smoking ban in public places has just revolutionized wellbeing for so many people, whether that's actually the fact that they don't smoke because it's not sociable anymore. So they have less risk of lung cancer and all the other negative consequences of smoking. But actually whether it's just that society, people who didn't like going to the pubs, cause they will smoky, you actually can enjoy them more. And actually that's sort of an untangible that hasn't really been considered in the analysis, but I think it could be quite beneficial.

Emma (10:50):

So I think there's so many exciting possibilities for public health, I think. Yeah, it's really, we have a really nice where I work in public health body called live well Dorset. I live in the new forest, but work in Dorset and they're really, it's amazing to be able to actually refer patients to that cause they can get the time you can't in a 10 minute consultation and address things. I think having that resource as a condition is actually really beneficial as well. So I've kind of seen it from both sides, how powerful preventative measure medicine can be

Rach (11:21):

Well, and that sounds like an amazing body to have there so that you can really work with them in partnership as well. And I suppose so much of what we do particularly in clinical work, but also in public health is around behavior change and shifting behaviors and thinking about how you can move people and support people through cycles of change. So do you have any top tips for people who are out there looking to add some more healthy behaviors into their daily life?

Emma (11:48):

I think, yeah. Behavior change can seem really daunting. And I think I really love reading a book by BJ Fogg and he's got a book called tiny habits. So if you aren't interested in behavior change, I really recommend that book and basically his approach is just make things really tiny. So I think start small. And I think you can see all these crash diets to this 30 day program. So, you know, be ripped and beach body ready, and actually it's not sustainable. What's going to make radical changes over a long term is really small, consistent changes that you can make on a daily basis. And yes, it might take time for you to get them more than that 30 day, you know, shred or whatever, but actually it will become part of your lifestyle, become a daily habit. You'll enjoy it. You're not going to feel restricted or deprived.

Emma (12:34):

And actually you might really enjoy your habits and you will feel the success of winning and actually doing that daily habit. And that that feeling of success will motivate you to do more. So I think actually trying to start small is one the best things I could recommend. So for example, it could just be doing five squats when you're boiling the kettle. And that's going to the boiling the kettle, piggy back it your new habit onto a habit that you do in your daily life. I think it's amazing how much we do in our everyday life. That the fact you're on autopilot from like brushing your teeth, having a cup of coffee and going for your morning walk or whatever it is. And actually if you want to create a new habit, just piggy back that on to another habit you've already got ingrained and it'll become much easier to integrate into your daily life. And as I was saying about that motivation for success, celebrate it. So whether that's, you're using an app and you get those streak days and you just don't want to break it, or you have a star chart, which is great for kids, whatever you do actually celebrate it. So you can see that progression.

Rach (13:35):

They're really great tips. And I really believe in that piggybacking and adding in trying to think about how we can add in. So I think so much of what we try to do sometimes, particularly at the beginning of the year is like take away everybody's trys to sort of withhold things to their life, but actually trying to think about what we can add to our lives is really great. So let's talk about some of your things that you add to your life. Let's have a talk about yoga. So I know that you also did your yoga teacher training and maybe you could share a bit of your story with yoga, how you started to add yoga to your life. What you found from doing your yoga teacher training. Did it change your relationship with yoga and what advice would you have for people who are exploring yoga and want to add more of it into their lives?

Emma (14:22):

So I think I wanted to try yoga for some time. And I think I used to be a person who was, you know, if you're not short of breath and you're not sweating, then movement doesn't count sort of thing and very type A and what really helped me getting into yoga was actually finding the right teacher. I think I tried different styles. So I bought a book about yoga and looking at the poses and I thought, well, actually trying to do a nice flow looking at poses and, and it kind of, it just didn't work. And then I looked online and found some teachers. And I think just one thing I would, if you're new to yoga is really try and explore and try different styles and try different teachers because you're going to find a style that some styles just won't suit you and that's fine.

Emma (15:03):

And it might be that you liked them later on in your life, but that where you are, that moment, that style of yoga doesn't resonate with you. So I think try a few different styles and try a few different teachers because teachers can be, there's so many different teachers, they all have different approaches to yoga. And again, you'll have to find one that really resonates with you. And some are particularly more sort of philosophical and some are more really alignment focused with the asanas and actually gets me anatomy, right? So wherever you are in that spectrum, maybe find ones that resonate with you. And I think that helped me get into the yoga practice. And then I practiced for a while and I just felt, I really was enjoying learning more about yoga. And I think I started off as a very physical practice as it is for many people, but then as I slowed down and I did the movement connected to the breath, I actually became more interested in the philosophy of it.

Emma (15:52):

And then the more mindful practices such as the pranayama and the meditation, and I found them so valuable. And I think what I've learned is that as I've become more comfortable being with myself and with my own mind and slowing down, I've actually really enjoyed the slower postures and the slower practices more. So I initially trained in Vinyasa, but actually I've done my add on Yin training cause I actually love Yin now. And actually I love combining it with my breath coaching. So I do poses whilst practicing specific types of breath work. And actually I find that it's really meditative in a way, because you're already absorbed in the practice. And instead of being in this Yin practice going, when's this pose going to end or this is hurting. You are actually really intune with your breath, what you're doing it. So I think I've become much more sort of internal and able to sit with myself instead of it being quite a yang practice.

Emma (16:46):

And the Vinyasa actually being really comfortable with the more meditation, the breath work and the Yin practices. And I think that's what I need in my life. And there's quite a lot of sympathetic yang out there with the medicine, the running around, you know, like doing lots of different things and actually having that time to bring the parasympathetic and the yin style of practice into my life. It's just, there's that moment of real calmness and stillness, which I think balances everything out. So that's how my yoga sort of journey has changed. And I think that's what I mean with finding a teacher that resonates with you and being open-minded with coming to a practice of yoga is if one style doesn't suit you don't rule out all of yoga just cause it might not be where you need now. But I think when I started yoga, Yin was just like, well, I couldn't have done that, but actually like you do change open to the change and just see where the journey takes you.

Emma (17:40):

And actually if you stay in the physical practice and that's what you enjoy, that's great, but explore all the different styles, have a look at teachers. I think one thing, the pandemic as bought, if you're looking for silver linings, it's actually, there's so much more yoga now online that actually, if you are living where there's not many yoga studios or there's any certain styles, there's so much online these days from YouTube, which is free to sort different apps and platforms and membership sites, the world is your oyster in exploring yoga from your own home at the moment. So I'd really like take advantage of that.

Rach (18:11):

Thank you for sharing that. Cause it's, it's really wonderful to hear how your practice has changed. And it resonates so much with me because I've also gone through a very similar experience where I've tried several different types of yoga and found what really works for me. And I think so much of that. It's about connecting with yourself, isn't it and understanding what you need at that point in time. And that can often change day to day basis. Let's talk about breath because obviously both being yoga teachers, a lot of what we probably teach to our students is about moving and connecting to the breath. And you've gone on to train as a breathwork teacher as well, so that you can now share that. So how have you found that that has changed your life? Is it something that you started to do after the yoga and now you practice it or do you practice it with the yoga and what do you think the benefits for other people could be?

Emma (19:06):

So I think looking back and reflecting back, I think I kind of understood the power of breath intrinsically quite early on like thinking about it. I remember before my A-level exams, just sitting there just taking slow deep breaths and like really getting into like the zone, but trying to calm myself down. And I think looking back on, that was an intrinsic thing, which I had no understanding of the power of the breath at that moment. So I think I've been doing it quite a lot, sort of in the past, but, and I remember doing some pretty stressful on calls and your bleeps just going in the hospital. And I was, and I remember just doing like box breathing down the wards and what I love about it is no one knows you are doing it. It's free, you've got it with you whenever you need it.

Emma (19:47):

And it's just there. And like, I think it's so subtle but so powerful that actually no one needs to know that you're in that moment, doing some breath work, calming yourself down, but it's actually really powerful and effective and in such a short space of time. And I think looking back, I think that, and then coming into the yoga journey made me really consciously aware of the breath and the power of the breath. So I had those moments in the past where it was just intrinsically aware of things and the power of it. Whereas then I think it wasjust before my yoga teacher training, actually that I did my breathwork training. So I did that beforehand, but I've been practicing yoga quite a lot by that point and become aware of, you know, the, the mindful movement with the breath and the power of the breath at that point. And it was really interesting, like just learning a bit more, combining the science with that intrinsic feeling and learning, you know, how changing the breath affects your physiology and how it kind of brings about its effects, whether that's calming or energizing depending on what breath, what you're using.

Rach (20:50):

And when you share your breathwork with other people, are there things that you find that people notice when they start practicing breathwork?

Emma (20:59):

I think they realize how neglected, they literally just don't think about that breath. You know what I mean? They don't realize it. And one of the things I talk about is email apnea and people are like, Oh my God, is that, know. Like they, they you know, when you open your emails and you just hold your breath because it's so stressful and it's this innate sort of hold your breath when you're scared moment. And people and then don't realize that having it, but when you actually bring their awareness to their breath and let them associate sort of where, what they're feeling with their breath. So say it was just going through a normal day, just be conscious. So I'm feeling stressed right now. What's my breathing like I'm feeling really calm now, what's my breathing like. I can actually understand that when you're stressed, you're often taking far shallower breath. And actually when you're calm, it's more sort of diaphragmatic breathing, calm, longer slower breath rate. And I think people are really fascinated by that because it's just been so overlooked for so long.

Rach (21:54):

Yeah. Now, as we were saying earlier, when we were having our little pre-chat, you know, there's so much more now where people are actually connecting the science of the breath work to the, what the traditional yogis have been doing for years. And so really putting them together and seeing the benefit in so many different ways.

Emma (22:11):

Yeah. I think people are more fascinated by it now because there's people like Wim Hoff who are great in sort of making it interesting and bring it to people's attention and, you know, doing quite a lot of the crazy stuff he does with it, which kind of makes it more intriguing for some. But I think actually some people like the fact that it can be much more subtle and not so intense as that, and they can still get benefits, but then that sort of has brought breath to the forefront by him sort of demonstrating. He basically uses a style of old Tummo meditation and Tummo breath. And he's very open that it's like, he's not, he's not reinventing the wheel. He's just bringing new old practices. But I think he does it in a way that people resonate with and then become fascinated by it. And it's sort of in that quite a lot of people are using for breathwork,

Rach (22:58):

Just chatting to you. You clearly have a love of learning different things. And like you say, staying open, which has probably allowed you to find all these different opportunities and to seek out your own path. What does that sort of learning mean to you? Is it something that you've always been really keen on lifelong learning and sharing that learning with other people?

Emma (23:21):

I think I've always loved learning and I've always been a nerd and I loved school, the learning aspect, because nerds are cool now. So I can say that, but I think I only realized how much I had a lifelong love of learning kind of after school when it was more self-directed. And it's not like here, you have to learn this because it's in the syllabus. It's actually, I'm just intrinsically love learning new things. I think about that openness. That is one of the things I have loved learning about myself. And actually, I think I probably was a bit more close-minded you go through the education system as you learn this and you go through med school and it's all like science, science, science, and I think that's great. You know, you have to learn that, but I think it does teach us to be a little less open about, you know, the woo woo, or the things you can't explain.

Emma (24:06):

Whereas actually reading books has taught me to being more open-minded and that's something I love about myself, how that's changed from being quite closed-minded to open-minded. And I'm much more willing to explore things that I might not have considered before, because actually understanding and being compassionate about other people's views. And then actually you can learn so much about, you know, you can learn so much about yourself and about the world just by not having your blinkers on. And I think so. Yeah. I read more books about things that I wouldn't necessarily have been drawn to before, and it's actually really opened my horizons and broadened my view. And then I love being able to, like we were saying kind of bring back the science for some of the things and how modern science is kind of catching up with these ancient practices now. So I can kind of combine the two, which I really love.

Rach (24:50):

And you have an amazing section on your website with lots of book reviews. So we'll make sure we put some of these links underneath the podcast so people can see because like you, I'm a massive nerd. And I think most of us are, but, you know, books apart of being that nerdiness aren't they, and the other thing that I think is really interesting is also where the science is catching up is around nutrition. And obviously that brings in your lifestyle medicine. Do you find that in your own life, nutrition is something that you have noticed has given you a different sense of wellbeing and how do you share that with some of your patients?

Emma (25:26):

Yeah, so I think nutrition is really important for overall wellbeing. Obviously, I think nutrition is actually quite a contentious issue because there's lots of people there's camps and there's still people who think this diet is the best and this diet the best. And I think there's probably not one diet that is best for everyone. And actually, you know, everybody is unique and let's say that's every body in terms of what they enjoy, but also everybody in terms of, you know, what they need physiologically. And I think actually people would thrive off different diets. So I'm not sort of someone who sort of prescribes a certain diet and also I'm not a nutritionist. So I think I've got to acknowledge my own limitations with my knowledge there, but actually I find personally I love having a more plant-centric diet. So I really love having loads of veg and I feel great on that.

Emma (26:10):

And I think that includes quite a lot of fiber in that way. And I think we're learning so much more about sort of the gut microbiome and the gut-brain axis at the moment, which is fascinating. And so I think I thrive off that sort of diet. And I think it depends in clinical practice about sort of what issues a persons presenting with and also what current diet they're on in terms of, you know, what I might advise. But I think there's so much knowledge out there about nutrition now and how, what we eat. It's important for my personal perspective. I'm quite fascinated about that, you know, food mood connection. That's like, you know, this a nutritional psychiatry and actually how, what you eat affects your mood and it's, it's so true. And I think also how your mood affects what you eat.

Emma (26:54):

So I remember when I was doing night shifts and like we had this in elderly care. Remember we did this week where you were basically on long days, short day, long day, short day for a whole week and the short days weren't that short. And by the end of it, I remember eating, like I was just eating all the stuff that we tell people not to eat, just cause you want that sugar rush to get you going. But I felt so sluggish, my tummy was like all churning and I just felt really like not great from a sleep-deprived perspective and I'm eating stuff that my body doesn't thrive off to get me through it. And I think, you know, it's just shows how interlinked at all it is.

Rach (27:30):

I'm going to admit something now that I, I just laughing as you're telling me the story of your, you know, horrific weeks that I was someone who used to grab a sausage white bag with an egg, you know, fried egg in it and that was my go to after every shift I look back on it now it's like you say so much mood-driven, eating that it's not really conscious. We're not really activating any consciousness of our food and we're not really in those moments, we're not really thinking about what is actually nourishing us, nourishing our bodies and also thinking about what is nourishing our mind, because then you just get into this habit. I think there's, there's a lot of people doing that.

Emma (28:08):

So true. I think one thing I would, if I said prescribe anything, I would say look into meal prepping because I think for that exact reason, when you're in that stress stressed out, don't have time state, you can only grab the things that sometimes you don't want to like, you know, you just grab anything and actually you can make so much that sort of nutritious meals, put it in a Tupperware, take it to work. And you have, there's often a lot cheaper as well, and you have something ready there to take. And it kind of takes that subconscious emotional grabbing the wrong food, so, or the wrong food for you and what you need in that moment. And then actually having something that you feel will actually fulfill you more ready there to grab.

Rach (28:44):

Yeah. That's a really good tip. I would definitely recommend that for everybody. Pulling some of these things together. I think there's so much that we're saying about being conscious. Do you think that your meditation and adding meditation to your life has helped you to be more conscious, be more in the present kind of focus on what's going on right here right now, whether that's comfortable or uncomfortable?

Emma (29:05):

I think it's a, definitely a work in progress, but absolutely. Yeah, definitely being able to be more present, come back to the moment. And really what I think it's really taught me is I was quite reactive and I think it's taught me to find that pause between the stimulus and the response and actually contemplate what will serve me better instead of just reacting, responding to an event. And whether that means I just take a couple of deep breaths and breathe and just react and actually be like, and just be okay. So what's my innate reaction. Is that actually going to serve me or do I need to adapt to what I was going to actually react to this with? And I think that's really helped in that way. And I think I tried so many different styles of meditation and I think I've dabbled in many.

Emma (29:52):

I think I was using apps and I was using the calm app to start, and that was a great into it. And then I used it every day about the muse headband, which is basically this app, which you put a head band on, and its got an EEG on it. And it's quite good for that instantaneous biofeedback. Cause I think what some people find really hard with meditation is that you feel you're meant to clear your mind, which is total myth as well, because you can't clear your mind, but you know, it's more about having that focus and it's that bringing yourself back from the mind, wandering to a point of focus, which is that true mindfulness. And then that's what I love about it is that you can't have a bad practice because actually if your mind wonders, but then you're able to come back to the breath.

Emma (30:29):

That's the, and that's the sort of impactful bit that you're training your mind and it's a practice and you're practicing coming back to that point of focus. And that's what Muse was quite good at is that it has sort of escape on. So I had like what used to be kind of rain or whatever. And it's kind of lapping ways if you're really like focused on your breath, whereas if your mind wanders, it can't become stormy. So you kind of get the, Oh, and a cue. I really like, is there extra cue of my mind's wondering, and then if you're really focused on the breath for over five seconds, birds stop tweeting. And it's really humbling because it's the first time that happens. You're like, well, the birds are tweeting and then obviously your mind wonders. So that's quite good if you feel like you need that biofeedback.

Emma (31:11):

And I then tried unguided meditation. I also as my yoga sort of evolved. I was more open to sort of more mantras and I find actually it's really interesting. There's sort of sound vibration and how that affects your body. And I think so I've dabbled in lots and again, a bit like the yoga, I think kind of explore what works for you. I think apps are a great into to meditation and can be presented at a very accessible level. And I, my favorite at the moment Insight Timer, I find that's great. And I think it's got 0.1 of the most wide-ranging free content out there, which is obviously very, you know appealing. So that's not sort of my go-to, but I think, yeah, the being more present it's definitely taught me to try and enjoy the moment more or be not to say enjoyment, but just be in the moment in the war. And that non-reactivity, I think those are probably the two things I've got out of meditation most,

Rach (32:04):

And those skills are so important, particularly when life, as it is at the moment is so challenging, just bringing ourselves back to that moment. And in trying to be in the press, it's just giving us space from the thoughts from before and after amazing skills to keep working on out there. And like you say, it's always a work in progress. I think anyone who's meditating is always doing that. Like you, I'm a massive fan of Insight Timer. And I suppose one of the great things, like you said with Yoga is now we have such access to so many different things online that it really can be such a benefit to explore. You can explore so many different types of yoga, so many different types of meditation that you really can find something that's going to work for you. And I know you've got, and you've built up a really great presence online by the all the different things you're doing. And part of that is about creating communities. Is there anything you'd like to share about how you value community and particularly online communities? Now, a lot of us are working more remotely.

Emma (32:59):

So I think one thing that I learned probably when I was about 20 was that it was the people in my life that were going to bring me the most happiness. And I think I'm really lucky that I learned that about myself that early really, because then I can kind of frame my life around that. And I think there's so much evidence now that human connection is so important for our wellbeing and being able to thrive. And if you, if you think about it from an evolutionary perspective, we did evolve as a social animal and actually it is important for our wellbeing to be able to connect with others. And there was a study done by the BBC, I think last year, maybe the year before that was doing a loneliness survey. And it was surprising to me how actually it was still the younger population that demonstrated the greatest level of loneliness.

Emma (33:43):

And I think we do associate it with maybe older ones, you know, your loved ones have passed. And that sort of thing was actually, it's really prevalent in our younger generations. And I think seeing this pandemic not making this any easier, and I think, you know, there's evidence now that loneliness is, is harmful to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. And actually it's, it's just so profound how important social communication and social connection is. I think in this time we're really lucky to have the online world and actually if we didn't have it, when we're having to socially distant and being in lockdown, it would be like far worse. But I think, yeah, I think it's nice to develop that online presence. And I think what I've loved the most out of the online community from a personal perspective is actually meeting like-minded individuals almost like yourself and other people in the sort of lifestyle medicine sphere and yoga sphere. And I think you kind of, when I started this journey, I felt a little bit isolated in my way of thinking. And my approach was actually online. I've met so many like minded people and it's been great to sort of build that community.

Rach (34:52):

Yeah I totally agree. It's a really wonderful way to make connections with people who are all around the world doing really similar things. It kind of gives you a boost that you've got your like tribe somewhere that, so everyone's got a tribe somewhere. It's just finding them, where can people go if they want to connect with you and share some of the offers that you're doing and be part of your community

Emma (35:16):

Simplest place at the moment, if you want to sort of maintain part of my community would be Instagram. That's my social media platform that I'm most active on. And that's at Dr. Emmathurston all just one word and is our website. If you're looking into the courses and then I've got a bit of a blog there as well. So that's sort of the main two, but yeah, feel free to reach out on social media and I'm happy to say hi,

Rach (35:40):

Great. And we'll make sure that, that all the links in, on the podcast as well, so that people can have a look and explore your courses and see all the great things that you're doing and sharing. It's been amazing having you on today. And I could talk to you for ages. So one last question, this podcast is called Authentic Tea, and I would love to ask you where and with who would you choose to have your most authentic cup of tea?

Emma (36:05):

So I think if you ask me right now in this moment, I would say by the fire, in my parents' house with my mom, my dad, my sister and my brother, and just have like a really nice family cup of tea because even though they live just down the road, I haven't seen them for months. So that would be really lovely.

Rach (36:22):

That's wonderful. That's such a lovely vision and I really hope that it won't be too long before you can do that with your family.

Emma (36:29):

Well, thank you. And thank you for having me.

Rach (36:31):

Yeah. Thanks for coming on. It's been great. Thank you.

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