I remember my first ever hot yoga class. I passed out from not breathing, and they had to drag me out, red-faced (literally) like a limp rag doll.
If there were ever a reminder of just how vital the breath is, this would be it. Which to me, is one of the reasons why I connect so deeply with aromatherapy.
We can get disconnect from our bodies and breath, becoming so hyper-aware of what’s going on around us, that we literally forget to take a moment to breathe. To nourish ourselves. To come back to our breath.
Lululemon Feelgood Giving
I’m fresh off the Lululemon retreat and I still can’t put into words how healing, (at times terrifying), and empowering the encounter was.
We learned about the magic of possibility on the first day, and our facilitators, Mohana, Cheryl and Stephanie helped us unlearn or rephrase ‘fixed language’ to overcome negative beliefs that you believe are immutable… ideas like, “I’ll always be broke” or “I don’t have enough time.”
It all begins with identifying what that fixed belief is, and writing down some proactive steps you can take to undo that mindset. So if you are always broke, you could ask your boss for a raise, take on a side hustle etc. You have the power to change, starting with your thoughts.
The Real Journey Inward Begins
The next day, we went into a silent meditation (which broke after breakfast) and allowed the silence to reveal and bring up things we would have otherwise overlooked in the busyness of daily life. We were told to put our phones aside, go inward, and not even make eye contact with anyone — not even our roommates who we were bunking in with. Not for anything, save a fire.
I didn’t realise how much of a gift silence would be to me. As I rose in the morning I found that I didn’t miss the not talking. It was a license to just Be. It was freeing to go about tasks in silence, marinating in your own thoughts instead of checking emails or catching up on social media. Isn’t it funny how we get anxious when we don’t check our phones, but similarly anxious when we do? There’s no happy medium. It was a gift to not even communicate with eye contact. The practice made me realise just how much we perform for the sake of it. How we exchange pleasantries because it’s polite, for face, for ego. How many times do we ask a cursory, “How are you?” and actually mean it? I kept my head down and walked to morning yoga by the pool, led by Stephanie.
During the practice, she talked about each of us having a light and shadow side. I tried hard as I could to keep up with all the incredible yogini, barre, fitness, and spinning experts around me.
We also spent a lot of time discovering our core values and pin-pointing our purpose or gift that we were here to share with the world. The values of freedom, compassion, integrity and legacy are intrinsic to who I am, which as an empath, explains why it pains me to see others suffering, being oppressed or forgotten.
Let Yourself Be Seen
We went deeper on the final day and were asked to project ourselves into the future. We had to imagine ourselves at our 100th birthday, with our loved one giving a toast for us. Even after meditation, it was hard for me to write my own toast – so much of life is unknown and I decided to pick the best case scenario and go for it.
Little did I know we were then to share our journals with each other and someone else would read our toast out loud, resulting in our group dissolving in tears. It was a revelatory experience, coming to terms with our heart’s desires whether we recognised it or not. Beyond fame and wealth, everyone wants to be appreciated, loved, and make a difference.
Was it absolutely embarrassing to have a stranger read your most innermost yearnings? Without a doubt. Did you have to be at your most raw and vulnerable for the exercise to work? Absolutely. But now that it’s out in the universe, you can lean into that.
You have allowed yourself to be seen and potentially judged as you truly are, and now there’s nothing to hide. There’s no downplaying dreams or fears. You are free to be.
Thank you to the truly inspiring team at Lululemon Singapore and its ambassadors for this incredible journey x Alli
“Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for what you ate.”
T-minus two hours till the Lululemon retreat in Sentosa begins. I am so excited (and honoured) to be invited and find a three day yoga-wellness retreat secretly thrilling.
As delighted as I am, I have to admit the idea of a getaway with hardcore fitness experts and yoga enthusiasts fills me with trepidation. If ever imposter syndrome were a real thing, I’m living it right now.
You see, it was only four months ago that I made the conscious decision to do a 180 on my fitness and health. I grew tired of growing tired (imagine walking up a flight of stairs and feeling like you’re going to die – lol). Tired of always falling ill, feeling lethargic, and unable to keep up with everything.
Of course, it was never this way. After a few bouts of walking pneumonia, asthma, misdiagnosed illness and all the steroids and antihistamines that came with it, my metabolism and mental health just ground to a halt. When you feel so terrible about yourself, you tend to want to self-soothe (via black truffle tagliatelle and spa sessions) instead of confronting the root issue.
As Elizabeth Gilbert says, “I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit.”
It was and is still hard. There are days where the only things motivating me are:
a) cute outfits from Lululemon (I know, I’m shallow but they keep it fresh)
b) the feeling that I need to close the rings on my Apple Watch I have to say, having this super machine on your wrist where you have real data in real time about how active you are is an eye-opener.#facts
Some days I am literally astounded by how many steps I get in, how full of energy I am. Other days, I pull out the yoga mat and get some mountain climbers in just to edge the ring a bit closer to close. Mr Mmerci will tell you I have been spotted on my back, waving my limbs about like an overturned ladybug just to get my Moves in (Again, I know right. Who am I?!)
c) the idea that training costs a bomb and I hate the idea of wasting money. There’s a whole level of accountability when a trainer is thrown into the mix
And every time I get in my tights, put on my watch, I think: you showed up. You’re here. You showed up. Even if this is as fast as you get, as strong as you get for today, you showed up.
Yesterday I managed to walk 3km in 30 minutes, a record for me. If only the me of 6 months ago could see me now. Sia sung, healing is difficult.
So, to the Alli of tomorrow and three days from now: now matter how uncomfortable (or amazing) it gets: show up. This is true self-care.
Right now there are Tibetan Buddhist monks in a temple in the Himalayas endlessly reciting mantras for the cessation of your suffering and for the flourishing of your happiness.
Someone you haven’t met yet is already dreaming of adoring you.
Someone is writing a book that you will read in the next two years that will change how you look at life.
Nuns in the Alps are in endless vigil, praying for the Holy Spirit to alight the hearts of all of God’s children.
A farmer is looking at his organic crops and whispering, “nourish them.”
Someone wants to kiss you, to hold you, to make tea for you.
Someone is willing to lend you money, wants to know what your favorite food is, and treat you to a movie.
Someone in your orbit has something immensely valuable to give you — for free.
Something is being invented this year that will change how your generation lives, communicates, heals and passes on.
The next great song is being rehearsed.
Thousands of people are in yoga classes right now intentionally sending light out from their heart chakras and wrapping it around the earth.
Millions of children are assuming that everything is amazing and will always be that way.
Someone is in profound pain, and a few months from now, they’ll be thriving like never before. From where they are, they just can’t see it .
Someone who is craving to be partnered, to be acknowledged, to arrive, will get precisely what they want — and even more. And because that gift will be so fantastical in it’s reach and sweetness, it will quite magically alter their memory of angsty longing and render it all “So worth the wait.”
Someone has recently cracked open their joyous, genuine nature because they did the hard work of hauling years of oppression off of their psyche — this luminous juju is floating in the ether, and is accessible to you.
Someone just this second wished for world peace, in earnest.
Some civil servant is making sure that you get your mail, and your garbage is picked up, that the trains are running on time, and that you are generally safe.
Someone is dedicating their days to protecting your civil liberties and clean drinking water.
Someone is regaining their sanity.
Someone is coming back from the dead.
Someone is genuinely forgiving the seemingly unforgivable.
Someone is curing the incurable.
You. Me. Some. One. Now.
— Mary Standing Otter
We’re thrilled to share that for the month of October 2018, you’ll be able to find Mmerci Encore at the following locations in Singapore:
Lululemon – 79 Duxton Road, Level 4
Dancevault – 20 Cecil St, Level 4
Our sensorial delights have popped up at Lululemon and Dancevault, and you’re welcome to visit these spaces to try, sniff and sample our artisanal aromatherapy treats to your heart’s content!
When I started 2018, I made it a personal goal to get healthier, fitter, and importantly, stronger. Strong not skinny has been my mantra in this health journey and it was made all the more better with the arrival of my Applewatch Series 4. It enables me to daily track & hit my exercise and movement goals (aka my rings), has reminders to stand and ‘Breathe’… it also monitors glucose levels, the UV reading at any time of the day (helpful as I actually like walking around my neighbourhood a lot), and alerts emergency services if you have a fall.
Now I’ve caught you up to speed, one of the things I love the most about it (and I never thought I would), is the fact that you can sync your Applewatch to your friends watches and view their fitness updates as well.
The old me would have totally shut down the thought, but in the spirit of being accountable and finding new ways to stay motivated, I added a few super healthy, super fit friends on my watch.
Let’s be clear: you should want to exercise for yourself. This is not about proving yourself to anyone else, or competing with others. For me, it’s a way to train my brain and body to keep showing up for myself. However, there is something really great about having people encourage you when you’ve finished a workout or blitzed your Move (calorie burning) goal for the day.
Image: David Karnezos Photography
A few words to help inspire and get you moving if you’re more inclined to veg out or give up:
- “Tell yourself you are strong.” At the very start of my journey, I’d get horrible migraines and headaches every time I worked out. After every workout, I’d have some mystery sniffles or feel like absolute death. I hopped on YouTube and was stretching to an episode of Yoga with Adriene and I had just about had my limit when she said, “Tell yourself you are strong.” Wow. Why had it, in over 30 years, never occured to me to tell myself I was strong? I had told myself plenty of times that I didn’t have the energy or that I was sick and therefore, excused. But never that I was strong. Something in me shifted in that moment, and I try to replace my doubts with this mantra whenever I feel like I want to throw the towel in. Maybe the reality is that right now, you aren’t strong. Maybe you’re fighting chronic illness, or an exhausted parent, or battling so much at work. I encourage you to do this one crazy thing and think yourself strong. Don’t wait to feel strong to tell this to yourself. Just keep repeating it, even when you aren’t totally convinced yourself. Push and see what happens.
- “Just trust yourself.” My personal trainer said this to me as I balked at the idea of doing something without barfing (believe me, it’s happened before)… I think it was lifting 30kgs or something. Just try, and trust yourself.
- “I’m moving for my mental health.” You have a choice: stay still and glum, or go for a walk and clear your head. At the risk of sounding into a fitness blogger (of which, I am not), countless studies and experts encourage you to get moving in order to balancing your mood, counteracting the effects of anxiety and depression, helping to alleviate stress and boosting self-confidence all round.
- “You don’t have to be beautiful like them, you can be beautiful like you.” I watched Amy Schumer’s I Feel Pretty on the plane from New York twice. The scene of her SoulCycle Soho surrounded my models is something that resonates with me as a thiccc girl. But as we all know, you’re not going to find more motivation by hating on yourself so be proud you’re there – and showed up for yourself.
- “Move because you love your body, not because you hate it.” You are not here to punish or get revenge on yourself.
- “Honour your pace.” I love this quote so much, I put it on Mmerci Encore inspiration cards and randomly with our clients. Slow is still better than sitting down and scrolling through Instagram for an hour…
And if you need essential oils to help you feel enlivened and motivated pre or post sweat session, opt for:
These oils are great for helping you up and go. Aside from some of them helping to detox and aid in digestion, they also with intention setting and help boost willpower. Diffuse these in your workout space (if working out at home), or sniff them from the bottle when cravings arise and replace that need for junk food with something equally as peppy but guilt-free. Hopefully that pause as you inhale the essential oils helps you reframe and remember your health goals – I’m trying to remember the same too, as I have zero willpower when it comes to sweet treats and tend to indulge more when overwhelmed or stressed. As with everything if you have medical concerns, please see your physician first and don’t ingest essential oils – regardless of how clean and organic they are.
To read some other things that help me feel great about myself, check out what I shared at Her World and read about my wellness and lifestyle tips that have worked for me so far.
“New York is just 3 hours ahead of California, but that doesn’t make California slow. Someone graduated at the age of 22, but waited 5 years before securing a good job. Someone became a CEO at 25, and died at 50. While another became a CEO at 50, and lived to 90 years. Someone is still single, while someone else got married. Obama retired at 55 and Trump started at 70. Everyone in this world works based on their time zone. People around you might seem to be ahead of you. But everyone is running their own race, in their own time. Do not envy them and do not mock them. They are in their time zone, and you are in yours. Life is about waiting for the right moment to act. So, relax. You are not late. You’re not early. You are very much on time.”
– I wish I knew who wrote this!
Goals are great. We need to be constantly stretched in order to grow. And change, as I learn almost every season, is not always a bad thing.
But we put so much pressure on ourselves for things to happen now. Microwaved happiness, microwaved connections, microwaved success or healing even.
Hardly anything is that tenuous slow-burn anymore.
I for one, can get so either mired in the past and what I would change, or live so far off in the future its borderline La La Land… which is the thing psychiatrists and life coaches tell you not to do if you want anxiety attacks and the feeling of being overwhelmed all the time.
It also doesn’t help when others conveniently assume that you’re on society’s great unwritten timetable. You’re in your teens and it’s, What are you going to do after high school? In your 20s it’s, What are you going to do after graduation? Have you gotten that dream job yet?
In your 30s, it’s When are you getting married? When are you having kids? Where is your career going? How much are you saving? When’s the investment property happening? questions.
And then finally one day, you’re standing in your kitchen, interrogated (ok–in a friendly, motherly way) by your dear cleaning lady whom you consider family, justifying why you want to leave your corporate job and why you don’t necessarily want kids. And to Please. Stop. Asking.
My point is to not let yourself be rushed by others. And worse still, to not feel like you’re wrong or weird if you don’t want any of the things that you’re ‘meant’ to have. If you don’t want kids at all, that’s cool. If you want to focus solely on your career, you do you. And it’s ok to change your mind in between. Nobody has to tell men these things.
Side note on mothers: I look at mums with a mixture of worship and amazement at how they beautifully, imperfectly, fervently live their lives. Mothers of all ages and life stages inspire me daily. They’ll tell you it takes a village and indeed, some are a little more fortunate than others in terms of support. But that doesn’t diminish my awe for them (and how intimidated I’d be in their shoes).
This whole timing thing applies to the idea of success and ‘making it’ too. Who wouldn’t want to be an overnight success.
It can be so tempting as an [insert your job here] to look at your peers and feel like you’re lagging behind. Like, Why hasn’t my business taken off yet? Why was I overlooked for that promotion? Why is my art not as impactful or recognised as XYZ’s yet?
Sadly I don’t have answers for you. But I do have a theory that hustle and heart will set you apart. I tell myself on less than Instagram-worthy days to work hard, have faith, keep swimming in your own lane without feeling like you need to pop your head up out of the water to check where the competition are. Something good is coming around the corner. (And P.S. the grass is not greener. They used a filter, as I once read).
But coming back to why we’re here. If you’re waiting for that perfect something to happen to you in order to be happy, feel complete, finally feel fulfilled… you could be waiting a long time.
- Be here now.
- Be here now.
- The past is not where you live.
- The future is going to happen anyway.
- Just enjoy being here, now. This pain, happiness, joy is teaching you something.
Before I start spiralling, I often remind myself to come back to this moment. And tell myself it’ll happen when it happens. And that’s ok.
It can seem laughable in these moments to think of things like beauty or art, or even aromatherapy. But it’s these sensorial elements of what we smell, touch, feel—which help us anchor us back to this moment.
- Do a body scan from top to toe. Observe how you feel in this moment, without judgment.
- Write it down.
- Get still and very quiet. Apply or diffuse your favourite meditative essential oils (we love Recovery Mode – though it may seem dark and low in energy at first whiff thanks to its super calming sandalwood, think of it is a blanket encouraging you to pause. Mmerci Encore’s Nightshade Sleep Mode blend also works like a treat and needn’t only be saved for exclusively sleep. Picking wood-based essential oils is a great and easy way to help calm, restore, and slow down those racing thoughts).
- Put away all devices for at least 16 minutes and just think. Acknowledge that you feel rushed or overwhelmed. Perhaps admit that how you’ve been surviving but not exactly thriving. Then think of what you really want and what truly makes you feel alive. Be still. Rewire those pathways in the brain.
Image by Choe Minjung