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Becoming a Modern Day Valkyrie

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Becoming A Modern Day Valkyrie

Are you like me sometimes? Have you ever felt that life is just one huge war, a battlefield you can’t escape from no matter how hard you try? Whether it’s throwing up the white flag and fleeing, or digging in for the next fight, life at times can feel full of ongoing trials and enemies coming at you from every corner.

As a survivor of childhood trauma, I used to feel this way a lot. I believe a result of past traumatic experiences has made me a reactive person by nature, and I react instead of using emotional intelligence. And that leads to being triggered – a lot.

One thing that has helped me greatly is envisioning myself as a warrior, a shieldmaiden, or better yet – a Modern Day Valkyrie and practicing these 3 easy ways to get started on the path to Valhalla (a life off the battlefield).

 What Is A Modern Day Valkyrie?

Simply put, a Modern Day Valkyrie is a woman who is an everyday warrior. Whether it’s battling demons in the past, in the mind, or life events and stress, she’s a Shieldmaiden through and through. Strong and vulnerable, she’s been wounded, yet she lives and thrives. Imagine a Valkyrie who comes down from the heavens extending her hand to others who are struggling in battle.

That’s you.

The literal Old Norse translation of Valkyrie is “Chooser of the Slain”. She chooses to slay her demons, her battles and lifts her sword and shield to help others who need it.


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1. By Helping Others, We Help Ourselves.

I know, it’s an obvious statement, one we have most likely heard a million times. Yet, it’s one of the easiest, most immediate things we can do to feel stronger when we feel weak.

Modern Day Valkyrie: Thich Nhat Hanh Quote

Just a simple act of kindness, like letting someone into our lane when the traffic is bad, or doing something for your spouse instead of getting angry they didn’t, can make a world of difference. You don’t have to go to great lengths to help someone, to feel the benefits.

By practicing empathy for others – even when we sometimes feel they don’t deserve it, is empowering.

It’s a practice we can then do to ourselves. The kinder we are to ourselves, the better we feel. Check out this article by how kindness helps us physically and mentally.

 2. Practise Visualization

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One of the most effective ways to make a change, whether it’s stopping a bad habit, learning a new skill, achieving a new goal, or just changing how you feel about yourself, is to visualize it. Mel Robbins, a motivational speaker and self-help guru explains this in her video “Why visualization is THE secret to success” (skip to about 19:00 for the meat of it). According to Mel, and science!, our brains have what is known as a “Reticular Activating System” which acts as a filter to allow certain information into our brains.

If we didn’t have this, our brains would overload – and we’d go crazy. We can’t have every single bit of data going into our brains at the same time and at equal value. It filters out what isn’t important and what it is.

If you have taught your brain to believe the bad things about yourself – guess what – it’s going to look for proof to affirm those beliefs every day.

How visualization can help us

Our brains do not know the difference between real memories and imagined ones.
Modern Day Valkyrie: Brain Electric

Yes, you read that right. By practicing visualization, you can reprogram your brain. Studies have shown that people can develop skills by imagining themselves doing the skill for even just 30 seconds a day, every day. You can do this with what you believe too. Mel suggests 2 steps in the process.

  1. Close your eyes, and develop a specific picture of you doing whatever it is you want to do or need to believe.
  2. Consciously think of positive emotions you feel while doing this. Don’t worry, it may take a while to fully feel it.

For me, sometimes that’s me visualizing myself as a strong woman warrior like Lagertha from the TV show Vikings or Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill. It might sound silly, but it works. I mean, would either of these two women sit around and feel sorry for themselves and not change anything? When I ask myself that question, the answer is always no. So I get up off my ass and get moving.

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Science has proven that simply visualizing yourself doing things actually develops the skill and helps you improve your skills, just as if you were actually doing it. And that applies to how you view and feel about yourself. If you think you’re the worst, your brain is going to be looking for information to confirm that belief. Therefore, do the opposite. Believe the absolute best of yourself, in the same way you admire others who inspire you.

Believe you are worthy of love and success. For 30 seconds a day, visualize you telling yourself this, or visualize yourself doing something you want to do! Science says we can truly reprogram our brain.

And I have felt that to be true.

 3. Get Outside and Take a Forest Bath

“The enjoyment of scenery employs the mind without fatigue and yet exercises it; tranquilizes it and yet enlivens it; and thus, through the influence of the mind over the body gives the effect of refreshing rest and reinvigoration to the whole system.”

Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of American landscape architecture
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Learn Shinrin Yoku, or the art of forest bathing

According to the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, Forest Therapy, also known as “Shinrin-yoku,” refers to the practice of spending time in forested areas for the purpose of enhancing health, wellness, and happiness.  Forest bathing is walking in the woods, or in nature, and being mindful of your environment. It’s not about taking an exhaustive hike or walking through a park with the noise of the city all around, nor is it about the length of the walk, or how many calories you burn. It’s about connecting with the forest, and opening yourself up emotionally and spiritually in a way that can enhance your health and well-being.

What forest bathing, or shinrin yoku can do for you

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Numerous studies have shown that Shinrin Yoku has actual health benefits. Not only can it combat depression, but studies show that phytoncides, the chemical plants and trees emit into the air can combat stress, lower blood pressure, and boost immunity.

Dr. Qing Li, wrote a wonderful book on Forest Therapy, called “Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness” which details the therapeutic Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku. In it, he details how “how forest bathing can reduce your stress levels and blood pressure, strengthen your immune and cardiovascular systems, boost your energy, mood, creativity, and concentration, and even help you lose weight and live longer.”

Check out some of these helpful videos to get to know and how to practice Shinrin Yoku:

You can find guided walks near you on the ANFT website.

Living with a traumatic past can be helped and eased by practicing these methods of loving and being kinder to ourselves and our bodies.

  1. Help others
  2. Visualization
  3. Shinrin Yoku (forest bathing)

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