FF 15: Balanced with Meg Linton

Meg Linton from MegHQ talks about how to meet life’s challenges with a present and balanced mind and body.

Typically, in our feverish goal to get fit and healthy, we rush around madly working hard to tick off exercise on our ‘to do list’.  However, in our rush, we often forget the importance of connecting to what we holistically need in this moment.  Being mindful of what our bodies need, and slowing our movements down so we can control  them and create balance will greatly enhance the results our efforts. Meg mixes primal movements with yoga and breathing practice, and shares with us some pearls we can bring to our own efforts of creating better health.


Dorte Bladt: So Welcome to Meg Linton. I’m really excited to be with Meg today. She’s from Redhead Wellness Sanctuary and she’s come here to share some amazing information about the body. Welcome. Thank you.

Meg Linton: Amazing. Thank you so much for having me. I’m really pumped to be here. I’m super excited. When you mentioned it, I just had this like little buzzy feeling, so I’m super, super grateful.

Dorte Bladt: Excellent. Well, tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you?

Meg Linton: Goodness. I teach yoga. I teach mindfulness. And I teach kids and adults how to speak differently and speak better to themselves.

Dorte Bladt: That sounds interesting.

Meg Linton: Yeah. It’s just something I’m so passionate about. When we change the way we speak to ourselves, when we become aware of that, we can then change the direction and therefore we can actually be in a happier state. We can have more energy and vitality. So I’m so passionate about that.

Dorte Bladt: Sounds really, really interesting. So you say you’re doing yoga, you teach yoga?

Meg Linton: I do. I teach yoga at Redhead Wellness and a few other places around Newcastle. I speak in schools on body language and bullying and self-sabotage. I am writing a book at the moment as well.

Dorte Bladt: You are busy.

Meg Linton: Yeah. It’s good. It’s my passion and I love it.

Dorte Bladt: So I want to just hit you on the yoga for a little while because yoga seems to be, that’s what we have to do in 2019.

Meg Linton: Yeah. It’s become like a bit of a trend, isn’t it?

Dorte Bladt: Totally. You have your yoga mat wherever you go. What type of yoga, if I say, do you do but also do you find is useful for families?

Meg Linton: Beautiful. Great question. I do many types of yoga, I suppose. I think it all comes in handy. I think it’s a mixture of balance, kind of getting that equilibrium between that yin and yang.

For families, I think just getting on the mat, having a play and not being so serious. It’s about just moving the body and breathing. It’s not yoga without the breath and the breath is what brings us back into that beautiful parasympathetic state. It’s a way to find this delicious kind of flow within the body.

I know that every time I get to my mat I feel so much calmer after that. I feel really relaxed and I can actually function a lot more. I’m a lot more kind when I get to my mat. I try to get to my mat every day.

For kids, even if it’s just finding 20 minutes, some animal movements, even some animal sounds, we do that at Redhead, that’s super cute, it’s having fun and allowing ourselves to get lost in our practice and be mindful and be present because, in the present, we have peace.

If we are stuck in our past or if we are looking too far ahead in our future, we are going to be in states that are going to alter us. We’re not going to feel calm. We’re not going to feel that beautiful, nice state that we should be operating in.

Dorte Bladt: Or are definitely better when we are.

Meg Linton: Totally.

Dorte Bladt: You mentioned, and I just grabbed on that, the parasympathetic state. But can you explain to people what that’s like?

Meg Linton: Absolutely. It’s a state where I really never knew it for quite a while. I went through many eating disorders and body image issues, self-sabotage, orthorexia for so many years, over 20 years. I was constantly in fight-or-flight, so I was constantly in my stressed state, which you’d be well aware of as well.

I never knew how to slow down. Everything was go, go, go. I was constantly trying to fill my cup with things. I mentioned it before. I call them space fillers, so shopping. You know, coffee, going out, whatever it might have been, alcohol, anything else and things like that to find and to fix this feeling of just too much fast. So I didn’t know how to be slow.

I like to say yoga found me when I went to Bali. Firstly, I learned how to stop. I learned how to pause. And I discovered this beautiful state of mind where I found peace, and then I’d shift out of it 100%.

So with practice, I then started to find a way to bring myself into the present moment by shifting myself into this parasympathetic nerve system, which is our rest and digest. When I found I was in that system, I found that I could concentrate better. I could take in information, because I was so full in my mind that I couldn’t even read a page of a book at the age of 34. Nothing was going in and I was so down on myself and my language was so terrible to myself. So finding this state gave me peace. I wanted more of that.

Dorte Bladt: So you achieved that through yoga, you say?

Meg Linton: Yeah, and breath.

Dorte Bladt: Okay. That’s what I wanted to ask you. What in yoga specifically? You’re talking breath. What is it about the breath?

Meg Linton: The breath, when we breathe deep, most of us breathe so much through our chest. We are limiting ourselves of prana, of energy through our mind and our bodies. And it’s been scientifically proven too that when we breathe longer and deeper, we actually live longer. I think all of us, probably, want that at the end of the day.

Dorte Bladt: When you’re young you might not.

Meg Linton: No, but it was just discovering techniques on how to breathe. It just felt different. I started to breathe through my diaphragm and I felt this calm sensation through not only my body but also my mind. I felt my stress just completely disappear within even three minutes of breath.

And a simple technique of just doing a box breath, four counts in, four-count pause, four counts out.

Dorte Bladt: So do you mean one-two-three-four [inhales], one-two-three-four, one-two-three-four?

Meg Linton: Yes. We start with that. However it is, it doesn’t matter how it is. You feel like you’re drawing a box, and then you can elaborate. I think I actually started on two. To be honest, I was like in-in, pause for two, exhale for two and then pause for two.

Dorte Bladt: So is that something that our listeners, for example, could use as a tool when they’re in a situation where things are getting a little bit much?

Meg Linton: One hundred percent. It’s the first thing I teach to kids if ever I go in a school.

I actually walk in and I sit everyone down and I say, “Lie down on the floor. We’re going to breathe.” They look at me like I’m sort of alien. Like they all know how to breathe.

I’m like, “Just let’s take five minutes.”

And they sort of wake up and it’s like whoa. Some of them are like, “I’ve never felt that before,” this space and time to pause.

So whenever we feel stress or anxiety or things are just going too fast, and that’s what’s happening in our world these days, there’s a lot of air and movement going on. Sit down, take three minutes and just breathe ten deep breaths and I guarantee you’ll feel amazing.

Dorte Bladt: That’s something I actually talk about in my Switched-on Kids book. We use a little helper with putting a toy, or a rock or something on your tummy.

Meg Linton: That’s so good. So they can feel it.

Dorte Bladt: Yes, because sometimes you get a little bit like, “Where am I breathing? I’m breathing through my tummy.” Well, I’m not actually because I’m just so busy breathing through my chest.

Meg Linton: I love that idea.

Dorte Bladt: Now, having done a class or two with you, I know that you often talk about the grounding. What do you mean by grounding?

Meg Linton: As you know, I’m in bare feet at the moment. Connecting ourselves to the earth. To put it very simply, when I learned about yoga, I also learned about Ayurveda which is eastern medicine. In that sense, as I said, we’re governed by the five elements, so earth, air, fire, water and ether space. In the world we’re in, there’s a lot of movement going on. There’s a lot of vast energy which means everything is going really, really fast.

So to feel better, to bring ourselves back to a state of calm, we have to do the opposite of what’s going on. You mentioned about grounding, so it’s about finding some space to possibly be outside and just be still, pop our feet in the sand or the water and just pause, stop and not do anything at all. It’s about eating really nice, warm, nourishing vegetables, root vegetables. It’s like a big, warm hug and that will bring a sense of calm back to us.

But, obviously, it’s winter here at the moment where we are. If we eat cold and dry foods or icy, it’s actually going to make us feel more un-grounded as well, does it make sense?

Dorte Bladt: Totally.

Meg Linton: So it’s about listening in to what’s going on with the weather, listening into our mind. Is it moving really fast?

And in Ayurveda like increases like, so if we have a coffee and we’re feeling anxious or stressed, then what’s going to happen there? We’re going to be more wired. We’re not going to be able to sleep and, therefore, we’re not going to be able to recover. We wake up in a state of stress the next day.

Dorte Bladt: In your yoga practice, you often say about concentrating on the sensation of your feet and you want us to place our feet in a particular way.

Meg Linton: Yeah.

Dorte Bladt: What’s the reasoning? Can you explain what that position is and what the reasoning is for that?

Meg Linton: Sure. I’ll do my best to explain it.

Dorte Bladt: It’s easier to show it.

Meg Linton: Yeah. So when we stand, so many of us are in shoes these days and it actually restricts our movement through our metatarsals, our toes, our feet, through the connective tissue on the fascia, on the underside of our feet. What’s happening, as you know, is that our hips and glutes and our back are all paying the consequence for that.

So we have a space on the bottom of our foot. We have the two balls of our feet and our heel. And if you were to visualize a little bit, drawing like a triangle from the two balls of feet down to the heel, you make… I’m drawing like a little triangle with my feet and I realize it’s completely irrelevant.

But that space there, if we… even if you take off your shoes now for a moment and just feel the earth underneath your feet and you sort of lift your toes a little bit, you can really find that the underside of the foot, the muscles fire and turn on. In turn, you’re actually going to feel your VMO in your inner thighs really engage as well.

Dorte Bladt: VMO being?

Meg Linton: The inside of your knee, so the inner quad. Sorry, guys. So VMO, inside of your quadriceps, basically, and that helps protect the knee joint as well. You’ll also feel your glute medius, on the side of your glute, turn on.

A lot of us these days in the world we’re in, we are either on our phone or, when we’re standing, we’re not being still, we’re not being present. We’re finding a distraction, aren’t we? We’re generally tipping our hips somehow or we’re leaning forward so we’re not being connected as to how we’re standing.

The more that you practice being aware of this sensation through the feet, standing on the tripod of both feet, of course, but it’s really important to also practice standing on one foot as much. I know I do that a lot with you guys in class. That will also help improve your balance. You’re stabilizing around the knee joint and become stronger through the hips and the glutes as well.

Dorte Bladt: Great. So to translate what you’re talking about, the position of your feet, the breathing, what you’re doing is creating a focus for your mind that will then create that grounding and calming effect that is increasing the parasympathetic response.

Meg Linton: Absolutely, yeah.

Dorte Bladt: So, really, what you’re doing is getting more balance in the way your brain and your body communicates.

Meg Linton: Absolutely bang on. And that’s the thing. Say that coffee shop example, let’s sort of expand onto that. So if you’re on your phone in the coffee shop, you’re in somebody else’s world, generally. Say we’re scrolling on our phones, or whatever it might be, we are in a state where we’re not being present. We’re not being here.

So many of us are just human doing without human being. We forget to just stop. And when we do, when we come to that sense of grounding, we just feel here. And when we stand up nice and tall, we have three, what’s called Bandhas, in our bodies. We actually have four into our wrists as well, but we have our Mula Bandha, which is our pelvic floor area, Uddiyana Bandha, which is our belly lock, and then we have our Jalandhara, which is our throat lock. When these three are on, we actually sit and stand really nice and tall.

When you put the awareness into your feet, guess what’s going to happen with your spine? You start to notice how you are standing and you get energy from the earth as well. You come into a state of prana which is just feeling in flow. And when we are in flow, as what you say, we feel balanced, we feel calm, we make decisions better, we concentrate better, things are not so hard.

Dorte Bladt: You get the two sides of the brain to actually connect.

Meg Linton: We get the stuff done, yeah. Because in a state of stress, in fight-or-flight, we actually can’t learn. We’re not in that state where we can learn new information. We have to be in a bit more calmer state to take on board new information and to feel our best self.

At the end of the day, that’s what the universe wants for all of us, to be vibrant and energetic and feeling good and not tired and exhausted and stressed.

Dorte Bladt: It’s a long life, isn’t it? If that’s the state you’re in.

Meg Linton: Yes. I heard somewhere, and I think it was Dr. Bruce Lipton on one of his YouTube videos or podcasts that 150 times a day we are now getting ourselves into a state of stress.

Dorte Bladt: 150?

Meg Linton: That’s a lot. And our concentration is less than efficient. It’s seven seconds where a goldfish is eight. What the?

Dorte Bladt: Shocking.

Meg Linton: It is. And it can all be changed, 100%.

Dorte Bladt: You mentioned earlier about sabotaging. Obviously, standing well and being aware of your posture and breathing through your diaphragm, physical to-do lists, so what happens with the mind and the effect that our thinking has on that calmness?

Meg Linton: Goodness. You’re opening a Pandora’s Box for me here, but I’m going to keep… this is my passion. I love to talk about this because it’s shifted me out of where I was. I used to talk to my body and my mind and my state in a pretty poor way for over 20 years, as I was talking before. That created a very strong neural pathway in my brain that that was how I spoke to my mind and my body.

Dorte Bladt: How did you speak? What would you say?

Meg Linton: I would wake up first thing in the morning and possibly look straight at my phone. I would then judge and I would criticise.

Dorte Bladt: Sorry, I’m interrupting. You listeners out there, how many of you… is that the first thing you do and the last thing that you do?

Meg Linton: Yes.

Dorte Bladt: I’m sorry I interrupted but it’s just like, “Wake up. Go!”

Meg Linton: 100%, and I’m going to share some steps to help change that because that’s what started to change me. I started my day with comparison and judgement and fear and anxiety and I didn’t have the tools to know any different. I would look in the mirror and I would literally, I just wrote about it the other day in my book, I would grab bits of like fat which wasn’t evened out on my body, I would just literally want it away.

That was how I started my day, sometimes half an hour. And then my whole day was spent judging myself, ‘I’m not enough’. ‘I’m not smart enough’, ‘How can I do this?’, ‘My life will never get better’.

So I was constantly dragging in negative energy and negative vibrations, but I didn’t know it at the time. I had no idea. I thought this was the way it was going to be. I blamed everything around me.

Yoga taught me to pause and when we pause we interrupt the pattern. That’s all it is. So I had to practice, and it’s a practice, every single day for nearly 100 times a day, if I had to, to interrupt the pattern and go, “You know what? Thank you but I choose not to take that on board.”

Those words were massive for me and I still come back to them. If I feel anxious or stressed, I’m like, “Okay, I understand that you’re here. I recognize that,” and I’m coming from a place of kindness and compassion rather than a place of judgement and criticism.

For me, I think that is key in my experience, of coming at these feelings with kindness. Because, to be honest, and, as we know, being unkind to ourselves, doesn’t lift anyone up. And people around us see it, so our kids see it, right?

I saw, back when I was growing up, many patterns of language that was not confident or, ‘I can’t have this’, ‘I don’t deserve this kind of thing’. And it’s so important. “The words we speak become the house we live in.” That’s from Rumi [Correction: quote is by Hafiz].

Dorte Bladt: The interesting thing I find is how often we neglect to even hear it. As in, we think, “Oh, I don’t speak, I don’t talk badly to myself”.

But I was given an exercise, this was probably 10 years ago, by a mentor of mine and he said, “What I want you to do is just pick a time of day, 10 minutes, and in that 10 minutes you sit down and you don’t do anything but just pay attention to the voice. The voice that will say, “I’m sitting here. I’m doing nothing. I really should…”with ‘should’ being the word.

And, “Oh, I never get it done,” “I will never finish it,” “The others will do…” So you’re talking about comparison. You’re talking about not being good enough. That’s the one side of it.

Of course there’s the other side of it. “I don’t look as good as,” or “I’m not as smart as,” but those little thoughts they sit in the back of… I think they are in everyone’s heads.

Meg Linton: Absolutely.

Dorte Bladt: But being aware of them is the first step. Then, like you were saying, be really kind. Don’t just say, “Go away”.

Meg Linton: No.

Dorte Bladt: Just say, “Okay, well, thank you. I heard you.”

Meg Linton: Yeah, totally. Allow yourself to sit with it and be in a place of just allowing. Exactly what you said, be aware that the thought pattern is there. Like take that on board and go, “Okay, I recognize that this is here.” Call it out for what it is. Call out the BS. Because if we don’t say it out loud, if we don’t be vulnerable about it, we can’t move through it and past it.

Investigate why it’s come up. Spend the time with it, but spend the time with it in a place of love and kindness because that is the only way.

Dorte Bladt: So that might be easier for, I shouldn’t call us older, but adults to do. It may be a little bit difficult in children. What do you suggest children do?

Meg Linton: Beautiful. I find with kids, actually, they tend to… because their minds aren’t as developed as ours, or the neural pathways. So whether or not… and what I find even with young kids, it’s their own bullying to themselves. It’s very much on these expectations and comparison.

I say, to the kids, I’m like, “You’re never going to be like anybody else. You are the best version of yourself. You’re going to own that. You just have to believe it.”

And again I say that phrase to kids, it’s, “Thank you, but I choose not to take that on board,” when any of this comes up.

And I teach kids to breathe. In that moment, stop a moment, can you make a better choice. So breathe through the moment, pause the pattern and then ask yourself the question, “How can I say something that lifts me up here instead of something that puts me down?” That’s what I say to kids.

So I’m like find something that is a brighter light than that darker gray kind of colour that doesn’t make us feel good.

Dorte Bladt: What example would you give them? What would be a good way to think?

Meg Linton: For kids, like younger kids or teens or any…?

Dorte Bladt: Let’s do a 12-year-old.

Meg Linton: Beautiful. I actually had some 13-year-olds at Redhead the other day and what is coming up for those guys is anxiety. So a lot of social expectations and pressures just from the world around them of how we should be as a female, which is a tough world. It’s tough for females and males. These girls were just, “I feel anxiety,” “I feel pressure all the time”.

I was like, “Okay, pressure to do what?”

And it’s like, “To perform, to be better, to fit in, to get people’s likes and validation”.

So I asked them a question. I said, “So do you feel like you’re people-pleasing?”

They said, “Yeah, all the time,” and I find that very common so we share that.

So I said to these girls, like, okay, we wrote down a few exercises. What is the common language that’s coming out? It was very much the ‘I’m not enough’, ‘I don’t feel smart enough’ or ‘I’ll never achieve that’.

And I said, “Okay, so how can you word that better?”

We started to write down some mantras in that kind of sense. They were like, okay, this is what I’ll be doing one day. Listen to your heart, and we started to just write down the way that it would fit in with them and the way that it would settle.

So with the girls I just said, “Look, how can we say it better?”

And it was like, “I am kind to myself, I do believe in myself, I know that the universe will show me the way so long as I surrender the control.”

So it’s writing down mantras and whatever floats the boat in the kids as well. But I definitely recommend journaling it down, writing things out like you’re writing a letter, forgiving ourselves and then finding a way to move forward.Dorte Bladt: Take the pressure off.

Meg Linton: Totally.

Dorte Bladt: Okay. So we’re getting close to the end of our podcast.

Meg Linton: Goes quick, doesn’t it?

Dorte Bladt: Yes, it does. But I’m just thinking if you were to be standing in front of the people that are listening to you now, do you have a particular advice or maybe three bits of advice? I’m just saying one or three, whatever you prefer, but something that made the biggest difference for you and that something that people can do straightaway.

Meg Linton: 100% number one, have a morning and a night routine. Not negotiable, and that’s not being on the phone. So the first thing when you get up in the morning, try to throw your hands up in the air and say thank you. Have gratitude because you’ve just got given another breath.

At the end of the day, it is a massive, massive gift and I forgot that for many years. It was all about me. But I wake up and I’d literally put my hands in the air and I’m like, “Thank you.” The moment your head leaves the pillow you have all you need.

Secondly, I sit down and I set my intention. I take a moment and I breathe deep. So have your morning routine of just waking up, say thank you, do some box breath, which is four counts in, four-count pause, four-count exhale and then a four-count pause again, which we discussed.

And then really be mindful of how you fill your day, how much time you spend on Facebook or Instagram and things like that as well, and finish your day again with gratitude. Be off your phone. First 30 minutes in the morning, off the phone, the last 30 minutes in the night, off the phone.

Set yourself for feminine energy at night so that you can chill out and feel relaxed and allow yourself to be kind in that sense. Don’t go over your day on the shoulds, coulds and would’ves. That is the one thing that will keep you in a stressed state and you will not sleep.

So be kind, journal if you’ve got to, that’s what I do, take some space in every single day to be completely still.

I don’t know if that was three sets or a recap. So have a morning and a night routine, off your phone first 30 minutes and last 30 minutes, say thank you. Secondly, be mindful of how you fill your space in your day. We cannot pour from an empty cup.

Dorte Bladt: So Meg, this was fantastic. I really appreciate your time.

Meg Linton: Thank you.

Dorte Bladt: You’ve got some really good advice. How can people learn more?

Meg Linton: Beautiful. All my details are on Instagram and Facebook, both under Meg Linton. I share a lot of content there as to the how-tos, when we feel this way, what to do.

But also Redhead Wellness Sanctuary, so generally found at Redhead Wellness Sanctuary which is redheadwellness.com.

Dorte Bladt: Perfect.

Meg Linton: Amazing.

Dorte Bladt: Thank you so much.

Meg Linton: Thank you very much for having me here.