How I added Meditation into my Toolkit…and why you should too!

How I added Meditation into my Toolkit…and why you should too!

Anyone that knows me knows that I am quite an organised person and I try to plan my time so that I can have a good balance for things. I set aside time for work, time for blogging, time for the gym, time for friends, family, even the “telly” time is all scheduled neatly on my sky planner.

However lately I was feeling that ‘my mind’ was always the last thing that I had time for. I was always jumping from one task to the next, not actually thinking about what I was doing but already thinking about the next thing I had to do.

So when I got an email from “Mind Body Green” inviting me to a try their 14 Day Meditation challenge with meditation teacher and all round guru Light Watkins I was intrigued. Could I really learn to slow down my mind? Could I learn to mediate correctly and let my thoughts be still?

It sounds simple, to set aside 10 minutes a day to sit in silence doesn’t it? Here’s how I got on.

Light talked through how to establish the right time of the day to mediate, the ‘tools’ you need to help you through it (clock, blanket, water at the ready), figuring out the best position to be in for the meditation.  (Surprisingly this doesn’t have to be crossed legged and hands in the air pose).  Being comfortable is very important because the state of our body has a huge influence on the state of our mind , for example if I’m not on a comfortable position I won’t be comfortable for the meditation and will be distracted by that.

He explained how to handle and manage thoughts during meditation by just letting them come and go,  using the mantra ‘I don’t know and I don’t care’. This is great as thoughts are meant to come into your mind as you meditate and it’s important that we don’t judge them or question why they have presented themselves now, just let it go in and out of your mind.  Tip here is to think of it as a cleaning out session, your mind is detoxing itself.

A good mediation can help rest the body and the mind as it begins to heal the mind it will then help release stress from the body, so thoughts might be busier than normal as it releases these stresses. It is seen as a corrective measure for imbalances in the body.

As the days went on I learned about using breathe as an anchor point and I found this great as I could always come back to it if I felt like my mind and thoughts were running away.

I always like to add an intention at the end of each session too as this would help me visualise where I want to be after the mediation.

So how do I know it was working successfully? Light stated at the start of the challenge that it doesn’t matter what you are thinking about as long as you allow your mind to get lost and that the less you expect from the session the better it will be.

For me I realised that after a few days I begin to look forward to my 10 minutes mediation time, I looked forward to sitting in silence and letting my mind wander and see where it would go and not judge it. I’m not gonna lie and say my world changed dramatically in those 14 days but I found that I was calmer afterwards, that my mind and decisions were clearer and that I felt like the world had slowed down a bit . (Even for a little while).

I have continued my daily mediation since this challenge and each day is different, some days it’s 5 minutes and some days it’s 10 but I don’t judge my mind. It knows what it wants and I allow it that time to just be, to detox, to reset, to just breathe.

Who knows where it will bring me.

Stay holistic


Unplug yourself!

Unplug yourself!

Ever feel like you are running around after your tail all the time? That you are doing chore after chore? That you are always organising things? Kids? Food? Washing? work etc. ?

That even when you do get to sit down or lie down at night, that you are running through lists in your head about what’s to be done in the morning?

You mind is on over drive and you don’t know when to stop?

In this fast paced, coffee fueled, social media driven, Pokémon  chasing,  Netflix bingeing world that we live in it (and I’m just describing myself) it can be easy to forget that it’s ok to stop for a while and just breathe.

It’s ok not to be ‘available/ or on’ all the time. It’s ok not to answer that text or email straight away. It’s ok not to wait up all night and deprive yourself of sleep just so that you can finish the ‘latest season of whatever’ all at once.  The social media world isn’t going any where and it will be all the better to enjoy if you unplug for a little while every once in a while.


Below are 5 things that I do to help ‘reset’ my mind when I’m feel like my head is spinning and my adrenal is pumping (and not in a good way!)

  1. Nature – One of my favourite quotes from the great film – The Power of One has stuck with me for years.

‘Any question you ever have the answer you will find in nature’.

Put into simple terms, if you are having one of those days and need time just to think. Go outside, go to the local park, walk among some trees, look out to sea. Let the wind blow through your hair, let the sand or grass go between your toes ( if you are brave enough) and I bet when you are finished your mind will be that little be clearer to handle your woes.

  1. Children – (I’m speaking about my own nieces and nephew here) are a great stress buster.  They don’t care about your work targets or if what you got in your latest exam/review. They don’t care if you have the latest designer items, what car you drive, what weights you lift in the gym. Children don’t care if your house (or life) is a mess or how many likes you got on your last selfie. They will shower you will smiles and hugs and you can’t help but feel great after a few hours with them. Who doesn’t feel great after an hour with the kids on a trampoline?! (go on, try it!).

  1. Books– I’m all for the new phone app that let’s your download your library books straight to your phone (Borrow box). But nothing beats a physical paper book. Put the screen away an hour before you go to bed and enjoy a good book  (even better if it’s non work related) and let the story take your mind away to another world.

Research has proven that you will also get better nights sleep too. Yipphhee!

  1. Handstands – very random you might think but I bet if you some time practising handstand, you will soon realise that you can’t be thinking of anything else at the same time. Handstands are a skill and involve 100% concatenation and attention.  You can’t be upside down and be thinking about anything else but ‘how am I going to great down again’ (without hurting myself). Try it and see how it goes!

5. Reflexology. – is a great holistic therapy that works on the mind, body and soul. It will work on  releasing stress from the body and balance the hormones while settling the nervous system. As a reflexologist I can work on the bodies systems, for example the Endocrine and Nervous systems and help restore any  imbalances the body has.

These are just some of the things that I do to help me unplug for a little while. Please feel free to try any of these tips and let me know how you get on.

Stay holistic 🙂
Catherine x


P.s. If you enjoyed this blog please feel free to have a read of some of my other blogs and don’t forget to spread the word to friends who might enjoy it.

My Smile Challenge ..

My Smile Challenge ..

On the June 16th I met Hannah Lilly at the launch of the Irish Health hour.Com in The Skeff and she shared with us her Joyhunt quest. You can read about that meeting here and from that day I set myself a little challenge for the next 30 days to pick 3 different things that make me smile each day.


So how did it go?!?
Honestly I thought it wouldn’t  be too hard. As generally I’m not an unhappy person and I do try and stay positive most of the time. I’m not saying I’m perfect by any means for example, I get road rage in traffic like most people and slow people on the footpath really increase my blood pressure 😦 .

But I do try and say hello to my work colleagues, smile at children ( not in the creepy way!)and ask people in the gym how their day is going and genuinely care 🙂
So how hard could it be to identify 3 different things in the day that stood out and made me smile.
Day 1 was a normal enough day. It involved chocolate ( a new bar for me), a lovely compliment from a holistic client and a Deadlift improvement. All good 🙂

The next few days were similar, work, holistic treatments , gym workouts etc .

The days went fast and add in some exciting Euros matches the whole country seemed to be smiling 🙂 🙂 .
The main thing I was happily realising was that life is good. It reaffirmed that while I’m busy running from one job to the next and trying to schedule my CrossFit training around my holistic appointments and making ‘date nights’ with himself. I was also taking a little extra time out to look in the mirror at myself.

I realised I have my health, a wonderful boyfriend, family and friends, a good job and a holistic company that I love and every day this was making me smile. Aww!!

These things are all priceless :).  While money is always good, you need to be happy with what you have first and foremost before you can be happy with anything else. (Maternal or maternal all not!).

Thank you Hannah for giving me this idea for this challenge. I’m really glad I did it.

We all lead busy lives and can sometimes rush through it without taking a pause every now and then to take it all in.

So my challenge to you is before you go to sleep at night, simply think back ( you don’t need to document if you don’t want to ) and ask yourself what made you smile today?!? You might even be surprised by the answer.

Stay holistic 🙂

Catherine x


P.s If this blog made you smile today, please share with someone else to make them smile too. x


What made you smile today? 

What made you smile today? 

Last Thursday I attended the launch of the in The Skeff.
‘Irish Health Hour is a networking community for those involved in the health and wellness area and for those who wish to interact or find an expert in a particular health and wellness field’.
I have followed Dolores Andrew-Gavin’s work for the few months or so and love how she incorporates holistic, wellness, motherhood, spiritual elements to name but a few into her daily life,work and blogs.

There was a great turn out for this event, faces from the wellness and health industry, fellows bloggers as well as Dolores’ own friends and family and even the Mayor of Galway was there to support this great launch.

Dolores had guest speaker, co author and and blogger Hannah Lilly to make the official launch. 

Hannah shared her own very personal story and her struggle with her eating disorder and to be body confident over the years. She openly spoke about her moments of deep sadness and dissatisfaction towards herself and her body image and the point in her life when she knew it all had to change. 

She then also shared with us the #joyhunt quest, where she would make herself identify little moments in her day which brought her joy.

She said that this wasn’t always easy but that she made “joy hunting” rules for herself that she would stick to this for a certain length of time and ‘faked it’ until it became a habit. She would look at herself in the mirror and find one thing that she liked about herself and say it out loud. 

At first this wasn’t easy but it got easier once she realised that she needed to be her own friend first and foremost and speak to herself like a kind friend would.

Hannah’s story is inspiring and I don’t think there was any one there that would disagree. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter or indeed read her story in this book or find her on

Hannah’s and Dolores words make me think though. We are sometimes our own worst enemy and we all think things and say things to ourselves that we would never in a million years say to a friend . Why do we do that?!? This needs to change.
We need to be our own friend first and foremost. This might involve small things like buying that new lipstick or top that we like but we feel ‘guilty’ that we are not spending the money on our family or our businesses or putting the feet up for an hour in the evening or Saturday and reading your favourite book or watching telly and not feeling guilty because you could be /should be tidying the house or making dinner. 

It all can wait.. Honestly 🙂 because if we don’t put our selves first and mind our own bodies (and minds) eventually we won’t be any good to mind our families/kids/friends.
We need to also get into the habit of looking in that mirror and start to love whats looking back (lumps, bumps, scars and all). I don’t mean we need to be cocky about it but start with one thing that you like.. Identify what your favourite body part is and work on that!

So my challenge to myself for the next 30 days (to start with ) is at the end of the day to pick 3 things that made me smile that day. Small things? big things? any things?. 

We all have stresses, worries and pressures in our life’s but I can bet that if we sit down and pick 3 things each day.We will all become a little been more positive and feel more confidence in ourselves and that’s always a good thing.

I’m going to take photos and upload them on my Instagram and Facebook.
Why not join me and share your experiences in the comments below!
Stay holistic 🙂
Catherine x

Hot Yoga!! 

Hot Yoga!! 

As spring is a busy season for me working, volunteering and blogging. I can find it hard to get my gym work in as much as I would like so when I was asked to try out the Hot Yoga at French Vanoli I only jumped at the chance.

I do Crossfit there during the week and have enjoyed their Yogalates classes over the last few months so I was very intrigued by what happens in the the room that glows!! 🙂

So what is Hot Yoga? This is basically any yoga exercise performed under hotter or humid conditions than normal yoga.

French Vanoli don’t offer Bikram Yoga. But rather advertise it as ‘a comfortable space to practice Hot Yoga. It’s not so hot that you are drained and dehydrated but warm enough that your muscles get nice and warm and lengthen with ease’ (French Vanoli Facebook)

I was a little hesitant at first (like I am with all new exercise and classes) due to my replaced hip and on the first night I made sure I was there early to talk to the instructor and explain about my arthritis and my flexibility issues (or lack of). I need not of worried, she was lovely and explained that I can do what I can do and that each time you come to the yoga mat, you should have no expectations of what you body can do as each practice is different and that I might even surprise myself. I really liked that idea and knew I would enjoy it.

They hold 2 classes a week (Monday at 8.30pm and Thursday at 7.15pm) both last for 75 minutes and they make sure that they aren’t over booked so there is plenty of room for everyone. I choose the Monday classes for the 4 weeks.

I’ve never practiced yoga before so at the start I’m sure some of my poses were interesting to say the least 🙂

I imagined that I looked more like Bridget Jones than Kathryn Budig (google her) with all the bends and steps and poses but once I focused and listened to my body I really got into the rhythm of it. 

The biggest thing for me was the yoga breathing. In all other classes I’ve done, I breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Yoga breathing is different, it’s out through the nose and in through the nose and with the heat as well it encourages you to breathe deeper.

My tip here is to concentrate on your breathing and let it guide you. This did wonders for my mind as I really couldn’t concentrate on anything else when I was in there but my breathing. Whatever woes, issues, problems I was having those days completely disappeared during these classes and I felt so relaxed and lighter leaving there. Thankfully it was also time for bed when class was finished and I had the most wonderful deep sleeps those nights I was ready for my busy world again.

French Vanoli say that their Yoga can ‘help improve a persons performance in so many ways, increase flexibility, develop agility and strength, and sharpen mental focus’.

I say go for the heat, go for the stillness and peace, go for the stretching or go for all 3.  Which ever is your reason I highly recommend this class for all. It really is good for your mind, body and soul.
Stay holistic 😀

Catherine.  X


“I worked on this blogger collaboration via my association with Into The West Blogger Network – Ireland’s leading network for bloggers. Find them at or on social media at ITWBN”

For more information on the French Vanoli classes visit

Mindfulness in the City that never sleeps..

Mindfulness in the City that never sleeps..

New York,  The Big Apple, NYC, Gotham City, The Melting Pot, The city that never sleeps…Which ever name it’s known by, this city is one of the most beautiful and busiest cities in America and maybe even the world. With its busy shopping avenues, crowded but fun Times Square, musicial  Broadway, professional financial distinct to name but a few places. No matter which way you go there are plenty of lights, people, noise and yellow cabs. It’s fun, it’s fast and at times it mesmerising. But where do you go when you want some chill out, mindfulness time?!?

While I was there I found two places that were great when you needed to just step out of the hustle and bustle of it all for a little while.
The first one happened, on my second morning there, I was awake from 5.30 am (body clock still on Irish time) and met up with a few of the group I was with and went in search of the sun rise. One of the lads had found a lovely spot the morning before while out jogging so we walked across to 1st Avenue and over looking the East River and Queens we waited for the sun to rise.

It was 7.02am and it was lovely to take the city in at this time. The streets and cafe diners are only starting to wake up and there is a great sense of excitement and anticipation in the air.

The sun rise itself only takes s few minutes and it was beautiful to watch.

All bright and colourful, you can’t help but feel alive and renewed after watching it. Something I would definitely recommend which part of the world you are in.

The second little piece of tranquil heaven was found on a cycle around Central Park. Amongst all the skyspapers, the iconic  upper east side and upper west side and just beside The Met museum lies 843 acres of urban park that is Central Park.

There is loads to do in this park, from visiting the zoo, feeding the ducks in the many parks, taking a trip on one of the many horse and carriage rides or just take a picnic and a book and just laze in this glorious beautiful green park. A group of us, rented some bikes and took a gentle cycle through the park. There are dedicated bike lanes so it’s great not to have to worry about getting run over by a yellow cab. We cycled at our own pace and separated into groups so that one could stop and just take in the fresh air and beautiful sights of the park. It’s hard to believe this is a stones throw away from the shopping district of 5th avenue and the craziness of Times Square. I got to take it all in and even spotted a few of the many iconic sights that are in many films.

We spent only a couple of hours there but again I felt refreshed, relaxed and the batteries were definitely recharged to face the ‘madness’ that 4 days in New York will bring.

But like everything in New York I could of spent more time there. I loved every minute of it and would highly recommend it to anyone that is planning a trip to NYC.
Stay holistic 🙂

Catherine x
Ps. that’s my 3rd and final blog about my trip to New York. Thank you for reading them and please share with anyone that might be interested. New York you’ve been amazing. Until next time. X

Guided Imagery… I love it :)

Guided Imagery… I love it :)

Nowadays everywhere you look you will hear about ‘mindfulness’ and ‘living in the moment’ and ‘mediation’ and all the benefits that these can bring to us.

Many clients ask me, ‘what does this all mean?’ ‘How can I start?”Will it help me relax/de stress?’.

However they also usually say that they don’t have time to mediate, do mindfulness classes or read  ‘live in the moment’ books about it. In this ever changing, increasingly stressful and hugely social media fuelled world that we all live in, there never seems to be time to STOP and take it all in, to smell the roses so to speak before we are off again.(Always racing to work, collecting kids, running to the gym, ironing, washing, tidying the house etc)
Take it from me, I know what they mean, I work full time in a target driven sales environment, I blog and I run The Holistic Toolkit part time. I also volunteer with Arthritis Ireland and train in Crossfit Galway at least 3 times a week. This is all before I take in my commute to work, pencil in time for friends and family and enjoy some time with himself. Life can be hectic to say the least. (And a lot of my clients have kids to add to the mix).

It can all be busy and stressful and my mind is always ON and thinking about more than one thing at once. It helps that I make lists and keep reminders in my phone about what I have for the days/ weeks ahead and I have become quite good at compartmentalising things and only focus on the activity at hand. I found this really works.

However a few years a go I was introduced to guided imaginary in my Arthritis course (see previous blog about that course) and I simply love it. It’s a very simple technique that can help with many things including relaxation, de stressing, anixiety, quieting the mind, relaxing tense muscles and helping getting to sleep and is also a great pain distraction technique.

The greatest thing is the simplistic of it all. Guided imagery is like a guided daydream, where you transport yourself to another time and place. All you need is a smart phone with YouTube on it and some ear phones (if you are in a public place and want to avoid some staring I’d recommend these 🙂 ). YouTube has loads of different guided talks that range from 5 minutes to 1 hour so you choose which ever suits you. You can listen to it, in bed, the car, on the bus, a quick 5 minutes at lunch whenever or wherever you need ‘to get away for a little while’.
Here is my favourite one..

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Stay holistic 🙂
Catherine x

My Wellfest 2015

My Wellfest 2015

The date was the 19th of September 2015. The venue was Herbert Park, Dublin. The time was 6.15am!!!! And the reason why I was up so early was to drive up to Ireland’s first health and fitness festival called Wellfest!

We arrived in plenty of time and even bagged ourselves some free stuff from ‘Yelp’!!.  First impressions looked good with people bussing about and the Insanity fit zone in full swing on the main well stage.

The sun was out at this stage and so were the guns.. Dominic Munnellys guns that is and his ‘Ultimate guide to looking good and feeling awesome ‘ was funny and easy to listen to as well as informative. Who knew macros and calories could be so easy to understand.. (Look up Dominic’s website for more information. Definately worth a look).

I skipped off to the ‘well being’ tent for some Pilates and as I haven’t done this since my hip replacement it was a nice gentle intro back into that world which i thoroughly enjoyed.

My next workshop was a Q and A session about Crossfit with Dara O Boyle and Lucy Keneflick.. While I attend crossfit regularly myself these guys are great coaches and also worth spending time listening to. The Happy Pear started a cookery demo and that’s when my stomach reminded me that I hadn’t eaten in a while and off i went in search of some good food.

There was a good variety to choose from, paleo snacks, BBQ spicy food, yoghurt pots, noodles, juices, protein stands etc and queues for most so always a good sign. Meanwhile Heather Gordon and her Piloxing class was on the main stage and the crowd were giving it socks, 100 or so people stomping all over the grass… Looked like so much fun!

Sarah Doyle’s of the Better life project gave a talk about Body Image and Self Love which got a lot of heads nodding in agreement from the ladies in the crowd about how we need to treat ourselves more positively and love our bodies and be happy in our own skin.

I was off to the ‘well being’ tent for Mari Kenndys meditation. I loved this body scan method and could of happily lay there for another 20 minutes.I was very zen like afterwards, However Crossfit 353 challenges were calling us ..’Highest double Unders in 30 seconds’ !! 46 is my highest ever but today wasnt the day and I couldn’t get over 30!!.. (The record was 61) I blame my shoes, my glasses, my got very close so I’m very proud 🙂

The queue for the coffee seemed the shortest it had been all day and I needed a caffeine top up and the bulletproof coffee was recommended. However here lies my only disappointing  part of the day. With all the great stalls, food stands and amazing workshops there was only one coffee vendor. The vendor himself wasn’t at fault, he was truly run off his feet. There was hundreds of people there and I’m sure most of them drank coffee so had to queue at some point and this didn’t add value to anyone’s day 😦 ps the coffee was good! Well done Cocobrew!!

Off then to the last talk off the day – the much anticapted Bressie and his very open talk about mental health. The tent was full and silent and he didn’t disappoint. He spoke about personal experiences and gave us tips about building a more resilient Ireland. He recommends that we all start by doing these 5 things for 10 days and see what differences it makes:

  1. Move  away from toxic environments- people, situations etc.
  2. Have more self compassion – pick one nice/good thing you did or felt today and remember it just before you fall asleep.
  3. Be grateful (for everything) say 30 thank you’s in the morning.
  4. Be more mindful – pick 30 moments and really feel them, taste them etc.
  5. Stop judging others. This does nothing for you and your health.

These seems like all doable things and I recommend that we all try them and see what difference it makes. Bressie also spoke about the Headspace App and I love this meditation app. Try their 10 minutes for 10 days challenge and I bet you will love it. Bressies talk was a great end to a great day.

Wellfest was a great festival(coffee aside!) . It had a bit of everything and for everyone, from the beginners to the advanced, in fitness, dance, TRX, Pilates, yoga, roam rolling, meditation, mindfullness , crossfit as well as some wonderful and inspiring speakers.

Maybe next year, you could have a relaxation tent. Massage, Reflexology, Indian Head Massage… Just an idea maybe?!? 😉

Until then, well done Wellfest and hope to see you next year.

Stay Holistic!!

Catherine x

ps I’ve photos up on my Facebook and Instagram 🙂

#wellfest #theholistictoolkit #crossfit #dominicmunnelly #crossfit353 #sarahdoyle #bressie #meditation #marikennedy #cocobrew.