Slowing Down with Meditation // Love Lessons

Welcome back to class sisters!

In case you missed the first class, ‘The Wonderful World of Tea’, catch up here.

What’s this all about? Find out in detail here. Love Lessons is my new series of blog posts all about a love of learning, and learning about things to help you love yourself, or just get inspired. The first lesson was about tea, and this second lesson is about…

Slowing Down with Meditation

What is meditation?

To most people in Europe and America, meditation is the latest health trend, to those in Asia, it is a sacred practice.

As a beginner, I see meditation in two halves. The first is a daily dedicated ritual, the second is a continuous perspective and mindfulness of the present moment.

So meditation can be many things viewed from different perspectives. In the purest sense meditation is simply taking time to pause. It is stopping and saying, “I don’t need to do anything right now. All I need to do is breathe, and be aware of my present self, without changing anything or trying to solve anything.”

How can it help me?

The benefits of meditation are widely documented, from ancient tradition, to modern revelation. It’s important to remember that even though this is a global movement, mediation is personal and can be tailored to you. You can practice almost anywhere, at anytime. You do not need to sit cross-legged, burn incense and chant mantras. But you can if you want to. Don’t worry about all the accessories and stereotypes. If you prefer, you don’t even have to call it meditation. It could simply be your quiet time.

The purpose of meditation is to slow down, to find focus, to observe your mind and your surroundings and to live in the present moment.

Beyond that it can develop into other things with further benefits which you can research in the numerous books, blogs, podcasts and videos on the subject.

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Find your inner calm – a quick illustration by me!

How can I meditate?

Personally, I have found guided meditation most helpful. This can be found in the form of an app, where I would recommend both ‘Headspace’ and ‘Stop, Breathe & Think’ (plus they both have great design!). The first is good as a starting point, with cute and useful videos, but after 10 days you need to subscribe if you want new content. ‘Stop, Breathe & Think’ is great because it asks you to ‘check in’ each day too, so you can track your moods over time. I also recommend reading this article: Meditation for Beginners: 20 Practical Tips for Understanding the Mind, from one of my favourite blogs.

Otherwise you could simply put on relaxing music, or sit in silence, set a timer for between 5-20 minutes, and try the following:

  • Begin by getting comfortable – on a chair or on the floor – closing your eyes, resting your hands on your knees and taking a few deep breaths.
  • Now notice the connection of your body to your surroundings, notice any sounds around you.
  • Then bring your attention inwards and begin to count your breaths up to 10, and begin again at 1, for a few minutes.
  • When thoughts distract you, simply step back and watch them pass, then return to counting your breaths. Don’t become frustrated or try too hard to focus.
  • You could then do a ‘body-scan’ where you go to each part of your body, working from head to toe, and see how you feel. Move your mind around your body.
  • At this point you could also meditate on a certain subject, such as gratitude, or compassion for others. Guided meditations are useful for this.
  • Or you could bring your attention back to your body and surroundings, stretch, open your eyes and continue your day with a refreshed perspective and sense of calm.
  • As an additional step you could write down your thoughts and feelings, plans and dreams in a journal.

 

Homework: This week sit down for just 10 minutes and try meditation, using the advice above. How do you feel now? Do some further research for bonus marks! Report back here, or on social media. I can’t wait to hear how you got on!


Coming soon…

  • This Sunday: Playtime episode 10. A music mix tape from me to you!
  • Wednesday: Venture out into the wild Spring countryside with me in my next YouTube video! Find my most recent video below.
  • Friday: Is it that time already? The end of the month means April Happy Highlights.
  • Next Sunday: My monthly review, reflection and plans to move forward with my creative ideas, business and personal life.

 

Enjoy the weekend sisters, I hope it brings you love and learning!

 

Peace and love,

Rachel x

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Mother’s Day Playlist // Sunray Sister Playtime 9

Happy Sunday sisters! 

I have had the most beautiful weekend: reconnecting with nature, soaking up the sunshine and getting creative; sharing stories, enjoying food and spending time with my lovely parents! I feel renewed and energised, with a new enthusiasm for my creative projects. Spring is here! What have you been up to?

Today I would like to share a new playlist with you. Seeing as it’s Mother’s Day, I have picked some awesome songs which mention mothers/mamas/strong women! Turn up the volume and have a boogie!!!

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What tunes would be on your Mother’s Day playlist? Let me know in the comments or on social media.


See you again this Wednesday for my next YouTube video, which will feature some of my outdoors adventures from the weekend. In the meantime remember to catch up on all my other videos and enjoy the sunshine while it’s here!

 

Peace and love,

Rachel x

Creative Mother’s Day Ideas! // Sunray Sister

Good evening sisters! How has your weekend been? I have been busy at my part-time job, but I’ve also had fun, and now I’ve got a few days off to focus on some Sunray Sister goals and personal projects too. What are your plans?

Next Sunday it is Mother’s Day! In my opinion celebrations like these are much more important than Easter and Christmas, as they encourage gratitude for special people in our lives.

So next week how will you show your mum you love her? A box of chocolates? A bunch of flowers? Come on, get creative! Here are my ideas…

  1. Cook a healthy meal for your mum, and do the dishes too!
  2. Go for a long countryside walk, and take some nice photos to remember the little moments.
  3. Give your mum a potted plant that will keep on growing.
  4. Write a poem listing all the lovely things about your mum!
  5. Draw or paint a picture of her. Or ask your favourite artist to do it for you, most artists love taking portrait commissions.
  6. Book a spa date! Self-love, care and relaxation are so important for our well-being.
  7. Buy some pretty beads and make a simple necklace, bracelet or pair of earrings.
  8. Take your mum to watch a film or performance.
  9. Bake some cute cupcakes or other tasty treats.
  10. Print some old photos and put them in a little handmade photo album to remember the good ol’ days!

 

What is the best thing about your mum? How will you be spending mother’s day? Share your stories and ideas in the comments or find me on social media!

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Coming up this week will be another YouTube video, followed by the very first edition of Love Lessons. This new post series will be starting with the subject of tea! In the meantime, remember to watch my latest YouTube video (below!) and subscribe to my channel.

I hope your week is filled with joy, love and success! I believe in you!

 

Peace and love,

Rachel x

An Introduction: Love Lessons by Sunray Sister

Hello lovely sisters!

Today I want to introduce the first of two new series which I will be starting on my blog this month. These two new series are going to focus on more in-depth, and slightly more ‘serious’ content. More on that later. So, the first series is going to be called:

Love Lessons

I have decided to create this new series to celebrate a love of learning; I am obsessed with learning about awesome things!

Each post will cover a new topic which I am interested in (or one that you recommend!), and share some basic knowledge about that subject. Some topics may also be spread across multiple posts. Love Lessons will be published every other Friday (except the last Friday of each month).

Some ideas for love lesson subjects:

  • Tea! The many, many different types and their stories
  • Natural fabric dyes
  • Plants/flowers/herbs in general, and their healing properties and benefits
  • House plants
  • Astrology and witch-y stuff
  • Buddhism
  • Meditation, yoga and mindful movement
  • Crystals and chakras
  • Seasonal living
  • Zero-waste living (more on this in my second new series, which I will introduce next Friday)

 

Structure for love lessons:

  • An image/drawing/collage to illustrate the topic
  • History/background/overview
  • Focus on one area (if multiple areas, come back to this in a new post)
  • Further reading/resources
  • Homework!

e.g., for tea:

  • Image of tea plant and cup of tea
  • The story of tea
  • Overview of the types of tea, and what affects their flavours and names
  • Provide some links for further reading
  • Homework: go and try a new tea that you’ve never had before, report back
  • Additional posts: focus on black tea, then green tea etc.

 


What do you think sisters? Would you enjoy reading this kind of content? Are there any subjects that you would love to learn more about? Let me know in the comments or on social media.

This Sunday is the final day of my first ever exhibition, so I will share a reflection of the experience, and thoughts on where to go next. On Wednesday I shared a tour of the exhibition on my YouTube channel, which you can find below…

Hope you have a lovely weekend!

 

Peace and love,

Rachel x

Day 12: How to Love Others // Sunray Sister’s 14 Days of Love

Happy Sunday sisters! Now that you feel more at peace with yourself, you will be more able to connect with and respect other living beings. So today’s post is about how to love others…

“You cannot love others unless you love yourself first; how can you give away what you don’t have?” – Swami Prem Priyadha

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Smile at strangers

Smiling makes you feel good, even if you are grumpy. Smiling connects you with other people, even if you don’t know them, even if you don’t speak the same language. A smile is universal, and opens up a welcoming world.

Hug often

Physical connection brings us positive emotions and improves wellbeing, so just give someone a hug!

Be kind

Let someone go first, open doors, give compliments… just be there for others, and leave the rudeness in the bin.

Show respect

Treat all creatures as equal. This is partly why I decided to become vegetarian, and explore veganism at the start of the year. I no longer want to harm another living being. Of course this is not what everyone wants, so find a way to show love to all beings. Acknowledge their lives and be grateful.

Be patient

We all have our own pace. Remember that everyone is experiencing their own separate lives, and sometimes we need to change our pace to accommodate others; to go faster or to slow down.

Be interested in others

Always be curious, always ask interesting questions. Skip the small talk. Skip the gossip. It’s boring! When you show interest in another person, they will feel more at ease, and you will get to know them better. We love to talk about ourselves!

Put your phone away

You knew it was coming, but how could it not be on this list? Disconnect in order to connect. When you’re not around others, phones and the internet are great (ahem, she says, writing a blog, and sharing it on social media…), for spreading your message to others, and for staying in touch. When you are around others, enjoy the moment together, absorb the atmosphere. I get such a rush when I’m in a crowd with a shared purpose: all hypnotised by a bonfire, or listening to incredible live music. (If it’s a normal crowd of people rushing and being their boring busy selves, then I freak out.)

Say thank-you

Literally say thank-you more, say sorry less. Show gratitude, show appreciation. Recognise the effort someone has taken for you, and feel special.


How do you show love and respect for other people and creatures? What changes are you making? Do you already follow my tips above? Let me know what you think in the comments or via social media!

I’d love to see you again tomorrow for the penultimate day of Sunray Sister’s 14 Days of Love. I will round off this little trio of ‘How To’s’ by showing you how to love the planet. See you tomorrow sisters!

 

Peace and love,

Rachel x

 

Day 8: When Love is Misused // Sunray Sister’s 14 Days of Love

Welcome back sisters! Wednesday is here, and it is day 8 of my fortnight of blogging about love. So far I have covered mainly positive and fun stuff, but today I want to look at love from another angle.

This is most likely going to be a topic to return to in the near future, as it will be hard to get all my thoughts into one comprehensive blog post. It might come across as a little negative, but I want to represent the other side of my message of positivity. Basically I aim to adress the problem of too much love and not enough love. The lack of balance. The lack of authenticity.

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Sometimes love can be misused. Often we say we ‘love’ something, when really it is not love at all. Let’s try to change our thinking…

When we love people too much, we become idolisers, fanatics, stalkers, extremists. We call it love but it turns into obsession. I am thinking of celebrities in particular, and the extreme focus put on their personal lives and every little thing that they do. They are just humans like you and me! Stop looking up to others in this way. Stop wanting to be like others. Love yourself first, spread love to those around you.

When we love food too much, we can become unhealthy, obese, lazy. Food is so necessary to our wellbeing. When we stuff our bodies with poison, we feel terrible and look terrible, and a vicious circle of self-destruction begins. Respect your body like a temple, worship it and bring it healthy, wholesome offerings. This is a lesson I am still learning.

When we love material things too much, we become suffocated, and damage the people and planet around us. This creates not only the direct result of more stress, less money, and less time to enjoy ourselves, but also unseen and indirect results. This includes harming the environment and the lives of people who have to deal with the results, especially in less developed countries. Respect what you have, consider where your possessions come from, and where they might end up. Give up the devotion to new and disposable things! Use your voice and your skills instead, influence and teach others to do good.

When we think we love, we can become blind and patronising. When we think we are looking out for others, we are not actually listening, we are only making ourselves feel better. The number of times some random person has said to me “sorry love”, or “are you alright love?“, is endless and drives me crazy. The fact that they couldn’t care less about how I am, or are not truly sorry at all is bad enough, but then they have to add love in the most un-loving, highly patronising way possible. When someone uses love to suggest they are superior, that is their weakness. True strength will always come from vulnerability and kindness.

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Balance is crucial to life. Life and death, past and future, joy and pain; these are all the extremes of life that must be accepted. Balance can be found in the moment; no comparisons, no worries, no obsessions.

Love people you know, get to know new people, find good teachers.

Enjoy food and learn what is best for you.

Have only the useful things that you need and the small treasures that bring you joy.

Only ever love truly, and wholly. Be your authentic self.


In the final few posts of Sunray Sister’s 14 Days of Love I will be digging deeper into these subjects, as well as a couple of fun things. For tomorrow’s post I will be sharing a list of some amazing influencers and teachers that are helping me; I think they will help you to progress on your self-love journey too. I hope you can join me!

 

Peace and true love,

Rachel x

Day 6: Send a Handmade Card to your Valentine // Sunray Sister’s 14 Days of Love

Happy Monday sisters! It is the start of a brand new week, and a new chance to give yourself and others even more love than before.

So this Valentine’s, why not send a card to your loved one(s) to tell them how much you love them?! Just make sure it’s handmade; by yourself or an awesome independent designer. The featured image above is a card by Re:made. Below are a few more of my favourites for day 6 of Sunray Sister’s 14 Days of Love.


Simple and quirky, with a fun pun. What could be better? Real Simple have lots of similar ideas on their website, including ‘we just fit’ with two jigsaw pieces!

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Image from www.realsimple.com

Place is everything, so find a map of the location that is important to you and your loved ones, cut it into a heart and put it on a card. Just like Swoon Studio did.

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Image from www.swoonstudio.blogspot.co.uk

Instead of maps, try cutting up old books and include your loved one’s name, like this card from Re:made. An alternative colour combination is shown in the featured image at the top of the blog, which just happens to use my name!

 

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Image from www.notonthehighstreet.com/remade

For the more statistically minded, try a pie chart of your heart. This card by Connie Clementine can be personalised with your own text.

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Image from etsy.com/uk/shop/ConnieClementine

 

These notecards are super sweet and easy to make with this tutorial by Little Birdie Secrets. There are ideas for other shapes for other occasions as well.

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Image from littlebirdiesecrets.blogspot.co.uk

Get stitching to show someone you really care with this DIY kit by Stitch Kits.

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Image from etsy.com/uk/shop/StitchKits

Artist Brittany Davies has some awesome anti-Valentine’s cards! Her drawings are incredible too.

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Image from etsy.com/uk/shop/BrittanyDaviesArt

For similar humorous yet beautifully designed cards, try Fiona Clabon’s clever collage creations.

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Image from www.notonthehighstreet.com/fionaclabonillustration

If you make your own cute card, why not try this heart envelope to put your creation into?!

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Image from thecraftyblogstalker.com

One final recommendation, check out this book on the art of sending beautiful letters and cards by Michelle Mackintosh.

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Image from amazon.co.uk

I hope that’s given you some cool ideas to spread some love this Valentine’s, and not just in a romantic way; send them to your friends and family too! Maybe even give some out to strangers!!!

Come back tomorrow for day 7 of Sunray Sister’s 14 Days of Love, where I will be talking about handmade and alternative gifts to give at Valentine’s and all year round.

 

Peace and love,

Rachel x

Day 5: Happy Birthday Fraz! // Sunray Sister’s 14 Days of Love

It’s day 5 of Sunray Sister’s 14 days of love! I have a short and sweet post for you today to say Happy Birthday to the most caring and silly man I have ever met!

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY FRAZ!!!

These photos are a few years apart; he is still just as awesome and silly, just a little more hairy! I love birthdays as they are a chance to reflect on how far you’ve come in a year, or two years, or five or ten years. Plus they are a great excuse to make someone feel extra special and spoilt, and have even more fun than usual!!!


If you like, come back tomorrow for day 6 of Sunray Sister’s 14 Days of Love, where we will be celebrating handmade and the beauty of snail-mail!

Peace and love,

Rachel x

Day 3: Music Playlist Celebrating Love // Sunray Sister’s 14 Days of Love

Welcome to day three of Sunray Sister’s 14 Days of Love!

Music is a big love of mine, and I’ve already been sharing this with you in my playlist feature, Playtime. So today in episode 7 of Playtime, let’s take a moment for some damn fine tunes all about love. Find the songs in a YouTube playlist below, accompanied by my sketchbook page with details of all artists and song titles, plus some collage fun!

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What songs about love, do you love?! Let me know, and also send me any other musical recommendations; I’m always on the lookout for beautiful new music.

Come back tomorrow for day 5 of my 14 day celebration of love, where I’ve got a bit of a confession for you.

 

Peace and love to all,

Rachel x

Day 2: My Love Story // Sunray Sister’s 14 Days of Love

Welcome back to Sunray Sister’s 14 Days of Love, a two-week daily love celebration. Today I want to share my personal story of love!

It turns out writing about your own experience of love is quite hard, so I’m going to address this to Fraz, like a little letter…

My first memory of you is your smile. A huge smile. I thought you were a bit too smiley and silly. But I was shy and a bit lost. Behind that smile I found the most caring and curious man. So I let my guard down and four years later I’m never far from your warm cuddles.

I like to think we balance each other out, and also reflect each other. You are extroverted, I’m introverted; you plays games, I make art; you play drums, I sing songs; you are messy, I’m tidy. We teach each other from our point of view: I try to get you to clean up, and you show me how to play video games! I recently became vegetarian, and you love cooking, so we’ve been able to try some amazing new meals, and I feel like my eyes (and taste buds) have been opened.

After university we moved in together! To me this was a much bigger step than moving to Bristol, because we were finally out on our own. No student finance, no lectures, no parties. It has been really, really, REALLY difficult. But you are always there, and I always need you.

Last year we went on our first holiday, which was beyond words. I absolutely adore exploring and visiting new places. And I really needed a break! Being able to share it with you was so much fun. I want to travel around the whole world with you!

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For now we are in rainy Bristol: working away, paying our bills, cooking nice meals and creating endless piles of washing-up. Reading, playing, making, laughing, listening, watching, and mostly having fun together. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Thank you Fraz for four years together, I hope this lasts forever.


 

What is your experience of love sisters? Tell me something sweet in the comments. Come back tomorrow for day 3 of Sunray Sister’s 14 Days of Love, when it will be Playtime!

 

Peace and love,

Rachel x