Your Peak State is a practice, not a privilege

When I first developed my morning routine, it served me well to stick to a disciplined and structured format that was the same day after day. After a few months, I noticed that the simple and predictable steps no longer felt like nourishment, they felt like a chore to get through.

What serve’s you at one point is not what will necessarily serve you forever

My mental health was no longer in a dire condition, and I had more space and energy available to see options and to explore emotions outside the realm of depression and desperation. I realized that each day calls for something different, and while my "routine" now varies based on my current state and desires, the goal is the same....tap into my ideal STATE of mind. 

Here are 5 simple steps for you to start practicing Your Ideal State:

1. Deep Belly Breaths

It is a common issue to not know how to breathe deep into the belly. Many of us have spent most of our life sucking our belly in, thinking that holding it tight all the time will make our muscles stronger and leaner. Well, turns out the opposite is true. If you hold your belly in all day long, your core muscles are exhausted and will not develop properly, in balance. So let that belly hang! Put your hand on your belly, and breathe deep. Feel your belly button expand away from your body, your sides and back too. Pause at the peak of your inhale, relax around the sensation of fullness. Slowly exhale, and assist your belly button in towards your spine, hollowing out until there is nothing left. Now, let go of tension and allow your belly to inflate like a balloon. Continue for five deep belly breaths. 

When we breathe like this, our mind and body tap into natural relaxation and release. Our habitually fearful or anxious mind will calm down when our breath leads the way. Let your breath be your greatest teacher.

 

2. Get to know Your Higher-Self

I struggled a lot as a teenager. My mood swings and emotional fixations took me on a wild roller coaster ride on a daily basis. I recall frustration and anger when I would attempt to get to know “the real me” through IQ tests or personality exams or potential career surveys, because how I showed up in life was not really who I believed or knew myself to be. I was lost, sick, and confused. I would read a question and my answer would be, "sometimes yes, sometimes no," or "it depends," or "when I am in a good mood yes but when I am in a bad mood, hell no." These exams made it more clear that I had a community of characteristics or qualities within my own mind and body.

Your Higher-Self is the you you strive to be. We all have a best-self state, and you get access to him/her when you have had a good sleep, you are nourished with food and inspiration, you have taken time to connect with others, connect with yourself, and you feel you are making progress. That is who you are at your core. Get to know that core. What does it feel like? How do you respond when you are in that state? What external conditions support you in tapping into that state? What internal conditions are necessary for you to tap into that state? This is the most important relationship you will ever foster, you between you.  

 

3. See your Progress

We are biologically hardwired to crave and love progress. We get a boost of dopamine when our mind and body assess a situation as promoting our survival. Progress feels good. Begin your day by completing something on your to-do list. Whether you begin with the biggest or top priority item, or just follow the mantra of "Just Start," our mind reacts with dopamine which will motivate you to keep going. 

 

4. Don’t judge your impulse to Compare

We are biologically programmed to notice others and compare ourselves in terms of status. The problem is not that we compare ourselves, the problem is we believe these thoughts to be fact and pure truth, and allow ourselves to feel bad or do crazy things to get attention. We can fill this gap by taking time daily to think and write out what we are grateful for. You can take time daily to reflect on how far you have come and what you are proud of. And, take time to acknowledge the beauty and the benefits of where and who you are in this moment. There are always ways we can negatively compare ourselves, and others, but we can reverse that habit and learn to retrain our thoughts to absolutely love and appreciate what is. While you can’t control the impulse to compare, you can control whether you feed that thought or re-direct towards something more expansive and nourishing.

 

5. Conserve and Create high quality energy 

We have a certain amount of energy to use on a daily basis. There are ways to create a bit more and conserve what we have. But overall, the best plan of action is to limit the amount of ways you waste or drain your own energy. When you have a tank full of fuel, you are able to step back from a situation and consciously choose how to respond versus getting caught up in your auto-pilot reactions.

When you notice you are replaying a past event, over and over in your mind, remind yourself that you are not fixing anything and are wasting energy you could use for something productive. Redirect your thoughts to gratitude, growth, and do-overs. When you notice you are fantasizing about the future, in worry or in excitement, remind yourself that happiness can only be found right now, with a deep belly breath, and a content smile on your face. Know that this is not about being perfect or training your mind to be always focused and in the present moment. The practice is in noticing what isn't serving you well, choosing love and compassion, and returning to your breath and contentment in the now.

The practice is in returning, not staying. The beauty is in growth, not perfection. 

 

Find time each day to tap into this ideal State. Each time you do, it becomes easier and more accessible. It is not a race, and it is not about getting the most done each day. Allow this to be journey, a lifestyle, and a long-game. Over time, with persistence and consistency, you are going to create the epic shift and be who you truly desire to be. 

The Fascial System - how to embrace your innate complexity

**Hey readers! Here is another excerpt from my second book. I would love to hear your thoughts, questions and insights. xoxox

I was a bully when I was younger, and I was also bullied. I was sweet and empathetic, and I loved telling jokes, playing tricks, and making others laugh or cry. I was sentimental, caring, and loved a good cuddle, and I was also determined, competitive, and obsessive compulsive when it came to practicing basketball. I had bouts of self-love, hope and positivity, and I fell into stints of negative self-talk cycles and would get stuck in feeling ugly or not good enough. I would have a few days of eating to live, a few days of living to eat, and would go for weeks in a cycle of starving myself all day and binging for hours in the evening. I developed a habit of craving the rush I would feel from taking what wasn’t mine, lying, or cheating, just because, perhaps just to feel something other than numbness or despair. One day I could feel so open, loving and generous, and the next day I would close down and push everyone away. I spent years feeling lost, treading water in a sense of lack, convinced I was broken, and impulsively harming myself just to feel something other than confusing depression and lethargy. 


So, who or what is the “real” me? Growing up in a religion as I did, I was taught that there is “good” and there is “bad.” There is “godliness” and there is “evil.” Naturally, I was confused as to which side I fit into.  

What if we are all a complex mix of good and evil? What if we are a mosaic, everything and nothing all at once? A matrix of all possibilities, and a new expression unfolding moment to moment. I now see the importance in the lessons we learn as children - the boundaries, the separatism, what is mine and what is yours, what is black and what is white, etc. We need to learn the parts that make the whole, just as we need to learn the various systems of human anatomy to understand basic function. However, if that is where we stop, we are missing out on the most important lesson of all...we are all one. We are whole and complete as a complex structure that is so much more than the sum of its parts. When we do not come back to wholeness - as integrated humans - we become fragmented, traumatized, delusional, and lost.  

Among the many trainings, workshops, books and conversations that have lit my fire in the past few years, learning about the Fascial System has been one of the most groundbreaking additions to my daily inquiry and fascination. I have enrolled in a myofascial yoga teacher training with Christine Wushke, and have had several moments and days that left me in a transcendental state due to the curriculum and experiences I have encountered. 

Fascia - health - mindbodyconnection - fascial system.jpg

In a nutshell, fascia refers to the connective tissue that surrounds every layer of every organ, cell, and structure in your body. It is composed of elastin (which allows the body to move in every dynamic plane possible), collagen (which provides the strength and structure of the human form), and a gel-like substance referred to as ground-substance (which is the fluid that fills all the space in the extracellular matrix; i.e. the space outside the cell). Our body is so wise, because the fascia is a wise system that works like an organ in and of itself. It has become more clear in recent years that traumatic memories, implicit memories, habits, and our general history is stored within the body. And when we address the body, rather than simply the thinking or language ability of the mind, we can heal and transform at a much more successful and efficient rate. 

The Fascial System surrounds, interweaves, and interpenetrates everything in the body and allows all body systems to be integrated. The fascial system is the membrane that everything in the body arises out of. Fascia is fibre-optic and is the pre-sensing organ, before the Nervous System. The Nervous System is embedded in the Fascia, and highjacks the entire body anytime is receives a signal of “danger” (which is far more often than necessary nowadays). The Nervous System reacts to posture, movement, thoughts, ad chemicals of our inner-pharmacy. It’s job is survival, so it is extremely sensitive and animalistic in nature.  

Biotensegrity refers to the balance of tension within the body that allows movement in one area of the body to ripple appropriately through the web-like matrix and impact every corner of the body. When the fascia is tight, it lacks healthy mobility. Overtime, if the localized tension is not released, this puts undue pressure on nerves and blood vessels, which creates adhesions in the fascia that will spread like a run in a nylon stocking, wreaking havoc on the body. When lack of mobility is sustained, the gel-like substance that fills the space between the collagen and elsatin strands hardens, making movement even more difficult and restrains the assimilation of vital nutrients and communication channels through the body. One of our vital roles in this wise human body is to keep it mobile and ensure we redistribute localized tension so that the whole body is working together, and not creating black holes in the universe of the fascial system. 

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From this perspective, we can understand tension in a new way. Tension is good. Tension is necessary. If the body had no tension, we would be a pile of mush. We need tension, and what we want is for that tension to be in integrity, balanced and distributed appropriately for desired movement.

My transcedental states have been brought on by the conversation and contemplation of the embryo, and how the creation of life parallels that creation of the universe as we know it. The first 6-8 weeks of the embryo, it is composed entirely of fascia, and there is no “brain” at this point of development. A really fascinating part of embryology is the order in which organs arrive. The first on the scene? The heart. It is formed on the back and moves up and over the head to land in the chest. The brain follows that same path and lands in the head as the heart settles in the chest. The fascia folds, twists, coalesces and fuses to form the various organs, structures, and parts that make up the human form. These parts come from the same substance. The human body is born from fascia. Even our skeletal system is created from crystalized fascia. Upon relaying this information to the students in the myofascial yoga teacher training, Christine then went in the direction of describing what she finds mind-blowing. She said that if you think of the “big bang” in similar terms, you can see that before there were these separate entities of planets and solar systems, there was nothing or everything as a single entity. Then there was an immense amount of power and energy that exploded out and expanded into the birth of stars, planets, galaxies, solar systems, and energetic systems that create the Universe. We look up now and can see the many different parts, the uniqueness, the separateness, yet, it all came from the same “stuff” - just like the human body all comes from fascia. “We are all one” took on a vastly new meaning as soon as this insight sunk in.

Every decision and action and thought is connecting and folding in together to create current reality as we know it. All possibilities are there, and exist in the Quantum Field (containing all possibilities outside of linear time and space). Your current reality unfolds, solidifies, grows, and becomes a unique expression moment to moment, just as a Human Fascial System.

To take this a step further, Christine introduced me to the work of Jaap Van Der Wal, PHD, a phenomenology embryologist from Holland. I listened to a podcast he was interviewed on (The Liberated Body), and was equally touched by his words and the passion behind his words. He says,

“It is not that first the body is formed and then we start to live in it, or start to be awake or aware of it. No, I think from the very beginning on, you can see that your body is a performance, that your body is a process, that it is a lifelong performance. And the entity that is shaping that is me, and me is, not only this body, but also the shaper, the realizer, the performer.”

He goes on, 

“Your body is not producing a brain, and then your brain is producing you. No, it is reversed. You are producing from day 1 to day last, you are performing your body. It is the primary thing you do. Every morning you wake up with a new body. It is not a machine. A machine is built up from parts. A computer is built from bytes and chips, and starts to function. But that is not what you do. You are constantly performing, shaping your body. You do not have a computer in your head. It’s an organ that might function as a computer, which is a poor model and comparison. It is not a computer, it is an organ that can function as a computer...Your body is a behaviour and your brain is just an organ of it.... 

The body does not have a soul, the body is the soul...Soul and body are not separate entities or separate domains, they are one...Therefore, it is not a body producing a soul or a soul producing a body, it is constantly in dialogue between the two dimensions. So we do not have a body, we are a body. And when you are a body, you are a soul that is a body. We are one, not two. We are of course a duality, but we are a non-dual duality, or a nondual polarity.”  

What a mind-blowing concept…”the body does not have a soul, the body is the soul.” Sit with that and notice how this perspective may shift the way you show up and move your body on a daily basis.

Intrigued to learn more?? I am hosting an 8 week online program called: The Four Pillars of Stress Resiliency, and learning how to use the information about the fascial system in your daily life is Pillar #4. Check out this link and reach out if you are interested in participating ;).


Why an immersive retreat experience?

Beth and I are healers. We are experts in our own healing. And we believe and witness healing as the responsibility for each one of us to own.

I can’t heal you, and I can’t do the healing for you, but I can teach you how to heal yourself. Healing is an innate quality that resides in the calm - the space beyond an overactive nervous system. Healing is not a priority when we are activated in the fight or flight response, safety is the priority. And healing happens once we have landed in a safe environment to feel, breathe and steep in restful awareness.

I will never have enough information about you to know if you should break up with your partner, or which job you should pursue, or what you passion or purpose in life is, or what city you should move to, etc. What I can do is hold space for you while you sit with the discomfort of uncertainty and learn to listen to the peace and presence within.

Your intuition, inner-guru and higher power resides in the space behind your mindchatter - it’s always there. It’s quiet and subtle and does not scream for attention. It does not respond to fear or control tactics and it can not be manipulated. It is a pure and a soft knowing. It is comfort in discomfort. It is contentment with discontentment. It is acceptance and peace within the eye of the storm. The more we learn to slow down, be in awe of what is happening inside our body, witness the fluctuations of the mind, and hold space for the silent pulse between breath and thoughts, the stronger our ability to heal becomes.

Do the inner work and watch the world around you change!

“It is not fear that stops you from doing the brave and true thing in your daily life. Rather, the problem is avoidance. You want to feel comfortable, so you avoid doing or saying the thing that will evoke fear and other difficult emotions. Avoidance will make you feel less vulnerable in the short run, but it will never make you less afraid.”

Harriet Lerner, The Dance of Fear

This retreat is for those who want to learn how to be their own healer xoxoxox

Re-Parent Yourself

I have been working on letting go of some deeply ingrained through patterns that leave me in judgement and anger towards my family. To step out of the trauma of childhood, we need to embrace re-parenting ourselves as adults. It’s no one else’s job to heal you. It’s your duty to create the life you desire, and there is no one to blame. As I have made some major progress in this area this summer, this blog post is my healing journey from reiki table to real life.

I recall laying on Christine Wushke’s table in her basement studio/clinic space in Okotoks on July 10. I was there for a reiki session, intrigued by her expertise in the fascial system and how that would influence her take on facilitating a reiki session. I had reached out to set up this appointment because of my reoccurring struggle with anger and frustration towards some family members. I desperately wanted to show love and compassion and patience, and I knew I needed to accept and allow others to be who and where they are, yet this “knowing” was not enough to effect my repetitive reactions and thoughts. For my own sake, and for others, I knew I needed to heal whatever was blocking me from pure love, compassion and acceptance.

The session started with me laying on my back, eyes closed, and focusing on my breath. I was asked what it is I came in for, and I explained my above confusion and struggle. I added that I am not happy with judging others for not being “strong enough” to find health and happiness.

She repeated back what she heard, and then put it into a phrase of “I accept others as they are.” She repeated that phrase softly a few times, and asked me what, if anything, I noticed in my body as I heard those words.

I recall feeling my energy build in my throat and jaw, and a sensation of my teeth slightly clenched and my jaw lifting up. I explained this to Christine, and she then assisted me in exaggerating the movement slightly while repeating the phrase a few times. While allowing this movement to happen and being so open and curious to what would arise, I suddenly had a visual of little Marin, at age 4 or 5, putting up her dukes ready to fight.

I shared this visual with Christine, along with the memory of being a feisty child who literally put my fists up on several occasions ready to fight for what I wanted and for those I loved. On one occasion, at age 4, I saw my older brother (age 10) being picked on, and I ran over and stood in between him and his peers, fists up and ready to rumble.

Through insightful questions and empathetic acknowledgement of what I said, Christine guided me into a scene in my childhood, and a recollection of feeling like I was needed to protect my siblings and mother. As the adult now, I tapped into a feeling of hurt, loneliness, sadness and dis-ease in the belief that I didn’t have the role models and support that I needed and wanted when I was young.

Christine asked me to imagine the role models I would have appreciated as a young girl, and to invite them into my imagined childhood scenario. In that moment, I pictured myself as an adult, my hubby Andrew as an adult, and my step-mom Karen. I placed us in the scene in my Port Coquitlam home. The wise and calm energy we would bring into the otherwise chaotic environment. The ability to make my dad laugh and keep him grounded, to support my mom and inspire her to make positive changes for her health and well-being, and the ability to connect with little me and gift her the guidance and heartfelt mentorship she so badly desired from a young age.

I watched this imaginary scene play out, and witnessed little Marin put down her fists and open her heart. She would have been so excited and thrilled to travel time and see who she became as an adult. I was filled with joy and peace.

Christine asked me where little Marin would like to rest in my body now, and I said “my heart.” I watched little Marin, with a smile on her face, curl up into my heart, fully supported, no need to fight anymore. She then asked me what word would describe what I am feeling now, and I responded “integrated.”

Since that session, I have felt an overwhelming sense of peace and acceptance. I still have habits and triggers but they don’t feel as strong as they did before. My inner-child is at rest, no longer angry and fighting, no longer waiting for others to be stronger or for someone to show up and lead by example.

We all have wounds and thorns from growing up, and it is our duty as adults to reflect and hold space for ourselves to heal and integrate these various parts of who we are back into the wholeness of our being. While body work, therapy and a coaching program is a vital and efficient way to support this process, we can also be doing things on a daily basis.

Dr. Nicole is a holistic psychologist, and she says; “Re-parenting is giving ourselves what we didn't receive in childhood. These are the things parents are supposed to model for their children. Most parents are unaware that these are part of the parenting process or did not receive these themselves. As adults, it is now our responsibility to teach them to ourselves.”

She then goes through a list of basic tools and skills that parents can be teaching to their children, yet when these skills are missed, it is our duty as adults to teach to ourselves. This list includes:

Accountability

Discipline

Emotional Regulation and Connection

Self Awareness

Self Reflection

Ability to be Present

Of course parents aren’t perfect. Parents are simply imperfect humans who had children. There is no special skill bestowed upon them because they get pregnant. And to make matters even more complex, these imperfect humans also become sleep deprived and overwhelmed with the increase in responsibility. It is not easy!! I have absolutely no anger towards my parents for raising me the way they did. While I can see the ways that my parents influenced my mental health struggles, I can also see how they did the best that they could with the information they had, and there was so much that was amazing about my upbringing. I am not going to ignore or pretend everything was perfect, and I am also not going to blame anyone or take on the role of the victim.

Re-parenting ourselves is a process of choosing one habit at a time, and creating an action plan around a daily practice to ensure we are doing what we can to shift.

If you want further support in your re-parenting process, reach out! Whether we work together one on one, or you jump in on an online program, or you simply get a few tools and resources to practice, we all deserve the right to live this life to the best of our ability, and I would be honored to play a role in your health and well-being.

And big thanks to Christine Wushke for being one of my mentors and support during this gift of life. xo

Book #2 - the "shitty first draft"

I am officially in my “summer sabbatical” as I have been calling it, and am so grateful for the privilege to take time off from teaching and coaching so that I can focus on my own expansion through retreats, play time, hiking, reading, creating, and putting massive time and energy into book #2! I do not intend to be done this book before the end of the summer, but my goal is to have the bulk of it done so that I can get back into a more full schedule and utilize my small blocks of free time more efficiently.

Inspired by Brene Brown, I have decided to use my blog space to post my shitty first drafts of various sections. Any great project goes through an evolution of its own, and I would love to share this process with any of you who are interested and inspired by this work.

Here is my introduction…so far. I would love to hear what you think!!

Introduction

 

In my first book, Be the Change, I tell my story of my intense - often crippling - mental health struggles and what it took to retrain my self-talk patterns, my habits, and ultimately begin the journey to healing. I faced my toxic relationship with food, my self-loathing that led me to various forms of self-harm, my turmoil with being raised in a religion, and my sudden and confusing debilitating relationship with death. Be the Change is an autobiography and self-help book, as I pave the way with insights, stories, and tools to practice your way out of darkness and into reframing your life’s story as you step into the light.

We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health, and it can be in great shape and it can be in a dire state. Bottom line: Mental Health affects us all. Why? Because we all have a brilliant mind-body-soul system that requires certain forms of nourishment to function at an optimal level, and few of us are taught these important lessons as children. 

I have experienced, time and time again, that when I share from my heart and create a conversation around meaning, purpose, freedom, tools, and how to practice, everyone benefits. This is how I have sustained my individual evolution as well as the collective evolution towards the best version of ourselves. While my first book served as inspiration and hope for those in immense struggle, it also details how to reframe your story to ensure it is the strong foundation beneath your feet versus the heavy weight on your back. This book serves as the next step in my own evolution, a guide to depth and embodiment, a reclaiming of spirituality and a step by step process on how to be physically and mentally FIT for your unique contribution in the world.

 

My mission in life is to teach people how (and why) to get back into their bodies; because that is what saved my life and continues to be the catalyst for further awakenings, unravelings, and an overall sense of peace and contentment on a daily basis. We live in a time of disembodiment. There is an epidemic of people who are so disconnected from their bodies that they can't feel sensation (or are terrified to feel sensation) or discern between present, real-time feelings versus the feelings of another, feelings recycled from the past, or feelings from thoughts about the future - and I was one of these people! We see the effects of disembodiment, separatism, and lack of meaning/purpose as depression and mental health struggles continue to rise. It can be terrifying to re-enter your body after years of being disconnected. But I know from experience, while it can seem scary at first to practice embodiment (for some), it is far worse to continue the pattern of disengaging from your body - and from the moment - as that takes us further away from the growth and connection we seek.

 

As I have continued to connect with people and get the honest and vulnerable picture of where they are and what they struggle with, I have discovered what I refer to as “awareness limbo.” This is the space between awareness and actual change. We know “better,” but there’s a gap between knowing and doing. I knew certain foods were not sitting well in my body, yet I continued to eat them. I knew my relationship with cannabis had turned into a coping mechanism and an excuse to stay in a depressive state or activate a creative state without being honest and real with where I was at, yet I avoided change for years. I knew connection, creation, movement, fresh air, yoga, meditation, adventure, trying new things, going to bed between 9-10pm, etc., was what my body needed, yet I - time and time again - would do the opposite. 

It is one thing to heal from past traumas, to develop the ability to broaden your awareness, to see your own patterns and habits, and to observe yourself without judgement, yet there is a crevasse between this necessary awareness and the actual steps to create sustainable change. And I have come to believe - through personal experience, coaching, conversations and lots of research - that this gap is based on the function or dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. (More on this later on).

What holds you back? What makes you hesitate before you speak your truth, show up in your truth, or make bold leaps towards what your heart desires? When was the last time you felt truly free? I am here to remind you, and show you, that you have everything you need already inside of you, and when you learn how to cultivate space and energy in your mind and body, and calm and soothe your own nervous system, you get access to your innate wisdom and the discipline you need to create change. 

Anything that I have discovered and felt, can be discovered and felt by you. Any power or skill you see others exude, you also can cultivate and step into. There is no “guru” out there that can give you what you don’t already have within. There is no Master Leader of any kind that has magical abilities that you don’t also have access to. There is no religion that can grant you eternal life or forgiveness that you cannot grant or earn for yourself. There is no perfect diet that we all should ascribe to. There is not one type or style of movement that trumps all others. There is not a treasure chest at the end of the rainbow with the secret sauce or chalice that gifts you the secret to life. This is not to say that we can’t learn from each other or that it is wrong to lean on others occasionally or seek support. In fact, I would encourage anyone and everyone to find a community of people who are living in the way you desire to live. We are relational beings and connection is a basic biological imperative. What I am saying is that there is a big difference between seeking support versus bowing down to someone as if they have the magic wand.

 

We are complex, we are each unique, and dare I say it, we are each special. How can we not be? The process of creation and birth and upbringing and life experiences are what carves each one of us into the beings that we are. So much in common, yet vastly different. Who we are is so much more than what we do, how we feel, or what we think or say. We have depths and layers of our being, and when we integrate and connect with our wholeness, we have everything we need to step into our own personal and full power.

 

It is a common human experience to search outside of ourselves for something or someone that will “fill the void” or remedy our sense of lack. What you seek is inside of you, right now, always has been and always will be. And when we all can learn to cultivate a sense of groundedness, practice mindful embodiment, capture insights as they arise, take care of your “machine” with knowledge of your basic needs, live with compassion and radical acceptance, deliberately focus the arrow of our awareness, and align in our own purpose in this life, we create a revolution of people who are physically and mentally FIT for their unique contribution in this world.


Are you ready?


xoxox

WHY and WHAT is not enough......it's all about the HOW

Hello sweet readers ;)

I have been diving deep into the Poly Vagal Theory and the Fascial System to understand more about why we don’t do what we know we need to do. I will share more on both the Vagus Nerve and the Fascial System in my next two blog posts, but for now, just know that these are tangible and physiological systems that bridge the gap between woo-woo magic and factual science. “Your body is so wise” and “Take a deep belly breath to calm your system” - these are two sayings that make a lot more sense when you truly understand how your mind and body works.

Before I get nerdy and dive into what I have been learning and practicing, what I hope for you right now is to give you a bit of insight into why discipline is not simply a matter of will-power or just doing what you say you’re going to do. We are far more complex than that.

Direction is important. Setting goals is necessary. Implementing an accountability system improves your chances of success and a sustainable path for practice and growth. Yet, if it were that simple and easy, everyone would be achieving their goals and living the life they desire.

I have learned from experience that a clear direction is only half of the equation. We also need to understand how our mind and body works so that we can create more space and energy, notice the patterns and habits that get in the way of progress, and work with the complexities of our system. If clear direction and know-how is Top-Down or cognitive, then knowing HOW to calm and soothe your Nervous System, develop new patterns of thoughts and action, and develop the motivation to stay the course towards delayed-gratification is Bottom-Up (or from the subconscious system).

While it is vital to learn and expand by ingesting new experiences and new information, real change sets in when we get our WHOLE system on board so that we can truly see our patterns, love them and include them into our identity and release the grip from which they came from. We can then witness our pain or dis-ease and observe how we cling even when we know the destruction of these habits. Ultimately, we discover that we can be with ourselves during roadblocks, triggers or self-sabotage moments, and when we cultivate space to pause here, we can truly learn and release the “thorns” that keep us shackled to the stunted parts of ourselves.

And you know what it takes to do this work?? Space for self-inquiry and a skillful muscle of being your own Nervous System whisperer. By taking time each day to sit with yourself and notice your thoughts, you begin to build a new habit of cultivating space. That space can then creep in when you notice yourself have an impulsive reaction or get stuck in a mood or state that is not serving you.

It is not enough to have a thinking mind that KNOWS BETTER or that understands that what happened to you as a child was not your fault. It is your BODY that needs to understand this! And the body (fascial system) does not speak in words, it speaks in chemicals and feelings. Over-riding and thinking through the feelings in your body can only take you so far. Body-work, mindful embodiment, and practicing being with sensation, that is the work of truly healing the body and stepping more fully into who you desire to be.

There are so many ways to get access to that kind of healing, and in our day and age there are more and more people getting trained and waking up to this simple truth about the mind-body connection.

If you are curious to learn more and would like support in the process, please reach out. I create personalized coaching programs for individuals, host workshops for small groups and businesses, and have some group coaching programs coming up that will start in the Fall and New Year. Let’s keep growing and healing together xoxo

Hello Stress my old friend

Oh stress, my old friend. The unwanted visitor that used to live like a permanent squatter in my proverbial basement. Who used to wreck havoc in every room of my proverbial house, and leave me feeling completely out of control and disenchanted with my experience of life.

While I am rarely overtaken by stress anymore, I’m still human and I definitely get the occasional bouts of overwhelm that force me to slow down and really put my work into practice. This week I have been in the thick of overwhelm. I know why, as I have let some very basic needs slip from my priority list, and am now back-pedalling to recommit and get myself back into a grounded and balanced state. It happens. And I figured, while I am putting the pieces back together, I would share my key steps with you. Keep in mind that these are steps that need to be revisited on a fairly regular basis. And each time, I learn more, I become stronger and more resilient, and I experience expansiveness on a more regular occurrence. We must be okay with losing our way, because it means we can edit, adjust, and get to know “our way” that much better.

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Step 1: Check your self talk. Stress breeds more stress. When your body is in distress, your self talk will match that vibration. Taking time to pause throughout the day to check in,

“What am I thinking about?”

“Is that necessary right now?”

“Is there a different perspective I could try on here?”

“What can I control right now, and what do I need to let go of?”

“What am I grateful for?”

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Step #2: create space by embracing where you are. I always start feeling better as soon as I stop blaming or being angry about my predicament. So here I am, a bit stressed and overwhelmed, that’s okay. It’s perfectly normal to struggle. But I definitely don’t need to struggle because I’m struggling and then struggle some more. 

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Step #3: check in on your basic biological needs. Stress is a sign of lacking balance, which could be from lacking or over-exerting in an important category of your health.

How’s my sleep patterns been lately?

What has my diet looked like the past few days?

Where do I notice bouts of high energy and where are my patterns of low energy throughout the day?

What do I need more of?

What do I need less of?

Who are the people I can reach out to for support or connection?

What places and environments will put me in the energy I want more of?

What activities can I engage in today to get my engine revving or support my ability to slow the F down?

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Step #4: Don’t just do something, sit there. Once I have become clear on what needs to be tightened up, what needs to shift, what conversations need to be had, what habits need to be attentively cared for, I know I need the space and energy to start making small steps from a place of peace and contentment rather than from fear or desperation. More time with my hand on my heart, my eyes closed, and nothing but focused breathing. Get behind your mind chatter and tap back into the expansiveness that is always there.

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Now all you have to do is get started! Write out reminders, share with the people you love, and prioritize you well-being. No one can do this for you.

If you are looking for further support and inspiration, register for the dope(a)me discipline 21 day challenge. A simple and low-cost program that will pay off in a substantial return on investment. You’re not alone. And you definitely do not need to fight through your stress solo. Let’s do it together.

xoxo

1 on 1 coaching reflection questions

Hey there ;)

I want you to live every moment of your life with depth, gratitude, and a sense of contentment. For some of us, that seems ultimately impossible. For 20 years of my life, I felt like I was locked inside a shell and didn’t know how to break out. I wanted to feel good but it seemed so far out of reach. I now do what I do, because I have experienced the low lows, the darkness, the defeat, and the complete overwhelm of lacking control and watching myself make one terrible decision after another. I survived. And I choose to make the most of everyday because I know how precious and fragile life truly is. I came out the other side completely inspired to share what I had learned so that fewer people would experience despair unnecessarily.

If you are curious about where to start, WELCOME! I am happy to engage in anyway that allows you to gain clarity in what you need to practice and what nourishment you need to keep your engine revving and your mind open.

For any client I work with, it starts with a process of getting to know each other through a series of reflection questions. Here are a few I like to use. Try them out and if you feel compelled to share your responses, I would love to receive a message from you. xo

1. What gets you up in the morning?

2. What is your morning routine to tap into your ideal mindset? Don’t have one yet? What are you willing to try tomorrow?

3. What have you experienced that you could say was a “big failure,” yet after the fact you realized it was the best thing that could have happened? What did you learn from it?

4. What are three things most people don't know about you?

5. What are your goals this year?

6. What is your current struggle?

7. What reminder do YOU need to keep yourself motivated this week?

High quality questions get high quality answers ;). Have fun xox

p.s. If these questions got your creative juices flowing and you want another step to get started with. Head to the 21 day challenge and set yourself up with three weeks of daily inspiration and guided instruction to support your pathway towards a healthier mind and body.

21 Day Challenge - the dope(a)me discipline

One of the most fascinating (and considerably frustrating) things about the mind is that we can KNOW what we need but that does not necessarily correlate with actually making any changes towards that KNOWING. If all we needed to do was know what we need or want, then there would not be an epidemic of depression, disillusion, self-harm, and mental health afflictions in the general population.

The conscious mind is at the helm 5% of the time - which is where we say things like “I want to be more healthy,” “I want to practice meditation and movement,” or “I want to show up more grounded for those I love most.” Yet, the majority of our day (95%) is spent in our programming - the subconscious realms of the mind and the unconscious strength of the body.

This 21 day challenge was created to support YOU in creating the foundation you need for the change you desire. It is grounded in the science of habits and provides instruction on how to meditate, how to listen and follow sensation in your body, and ultimately, how to clear and create space in your mind and body so you have what you need to do something different than what you did yesterday.

Too often we get bogged down by how far we have to go, or we get overwhelmed by looking at all the variables and changes needed, and our energy is drained before we even begin. I have learned many times over that by setting the bar low and committing to small steps, massive change becomes simple.

By working with the animalistic nature of our human-ness, and understanding how to trick our mind and body to make the changes we desire, we can create new habits of thought and action that seem impossible from where we are standing right now.

This challenge is focused on a simple morning and evening routine. When we learn how to slow down, hold space and notice what we are feeling, we get access to the depths of our programming. We have to get beyond the analytical mind through practice. When we slow our brain waves down, we enter the operating system of the unconscious program and that is where we can create real and sustainable change. It is not will-power that you need, it is SPACE.

The WHY

You know what you need or want more of. When you stop to think about the habits or patterns that are getting in the way of your progress, you can list them out no problem. When asked what gets in your way, 9 times out of 10 you respond with “myself.” There is no shortage of information out there detailing what a healthy and balanced lifestyle looks like. Yet, if change were easy and if we actually did what we know we needed to do, you would be feeling content, grounded and full of inspiration on a daily basis, and the shame, guilt and exhaustion you currently deal with would be a tale of your past.

This 21 day challenge is for YOU! This is a simple formula to follow in order to create and conserve the high quality energy you desire for your life. This program serves to support you in staying focused on what you truly want for yourself and others, while building the foundational habits and knowledge to sustain the trajectory towards the success and growth you seek.

The PATH

This challenge is simple. Everyday, you carve out two minutes in your morning and two minutes in your evening, dedicated to connecting, moving, and writing. Just TWO MINUTES! I also offer several resources, videos and invitations to explore reflection questions throughout the process. While two minutes is the minimum requirement, you can add more time and learning if that is what lights you up.

The HOW

We can feel motivated and inspired one moment and yet lose our steam within minutes, especially when we are in a habit of draining our own energy with negative self talk, over-analyzing, and the deflating mindset that appears when we start and stop more than we successfully complete what we set out to do. Don’t hate your monkey mind, don’t berate your inner-child for throwing tantrums, and definitely do not fall into shame or guilt when you see that you are not perfect. Embrace who and where you are, and focus on creating space, because that is where healing and sustainable change occurs.

We need to love ourselves up and work with our animalistic mind that happens to be at the wheel more than our more pragmatic and delayed-gratification seeking conscious mind.

Join me for this 21 day challenge and you will have the foundational building blocks in place for any goal and direction you desire!

First step, ensure you are registered on my mailing list!

Second step, purchase the 21 day program!

Let’s have some fun xoxo

Le'go your Ego

I am in the midst of a curious pursuit of understanding our cultural fixation on the EGO. While I have heard now from several people that it’s not a big deal, it’s just semantics, I have seen and experienced that what starts with semantics can often spiral into something much more restricting and unhealthy.

What starts as simple language to describe the impulse for things we “know” are not what we truly want for ourselves, becomes an image of this little gremlin sitting on our shoulders that we need to retrain, or kill off, or learn how to live with. It can become a scapegoat for emotions and actions that make us uncomfortable. And it has become a way of demonizing and criticizing others, as we quickly label “too much confidence” as someone with an ego-problem.

Above and beyond the impulse, we have also labeled certain self-talk patterns as stemming from the ego. So, not only does this “ego” try to seduce us towards instant-gratification - albeit as a self-preserving quality and intention - it can also be a narrator in our mind that pumps our own tires or deflates them.

I don’t necessarily see anything wrong with this caricature that serves to defend and prevent self harm, but eventually we have to stop and ask, “where did this ego-vernacular come from?” AND “Is there a better or more expansive way of understanding how the mind and body works?”

These are the questions I have been deeply invested in for the past few months. And these are the questions I am going to leave you with to ponder. I am not here to tell you what to think or what is “right” and what is “wrong.” I am here to teach you how to pause and check-in and question what you may have always believed or what you have learned to believe.

For me, being in deep inquiry about the ego was something that lit me up for years. I have loved the self-inquiry and insights I have received from trying to understand the ego and see it in action. I wrote extensively about it in my book Be The Change. What I would love for us all to do now is recognize that what served you to get to this point is not necessarily what will serve you to get to the next level. And I have experienced that relying on the “ego” to understand my ever-expanding connection to my mind and body, began to restrict my expansion and the puzzle pieces were not fitting together.

I would love to hear your thoughts and questions as I continue this path and develop my next post that can serve as an exploration away from “ego” and towards a much more expansive and helpful model.

xo

Social Media Awareness Challenge update

It is no secret that social media sheds light on a fascinating paradox. These tools of connection, used for extended periods of time, tend to leave people more lonely and depressed, whether they are consciously aware of it or not. The good-feeling boosts we get from our online status become addictive, yet they pale in comparison to the deeper and more complex good-vibes we get from face to face interaction.

I have been paying close attention to my own addiction to my handheld device, and at the beginning of 2019 I made a commitment to retrain my relationship with social media. {for my previous blog post on this challenge, read here}.

To be completely honest, my social media self-imposed boundaries have slipped a bit in the past few weeks. Initially this challenge began due to my realization (over many weeks) that I was/am addicted to my phone. Every moment of pause - standing in line, at a red light, walking to and from places, or on the couch at night, I aimlessly scroll through my social media. I knew this was not a habit I wanted to continue with.

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At first I tried to consciously limit my time on my phone, using will-power and discipline alone. But of course, habits are strong, and even when I knew I didn’t want to scroll through instagram, I would find myself doing it anyways.

So, boundaries. I decided to delete the instagram app immediately after using it, and would not re-install it until once home at the end of the day when I had an intentional post/message to share. I also made an effort to ensure that anytime I went onto a social media platform, I would comment/connect with at least one person.

This shift in my routine was exactly what I needed. I retrained my mind to use social media as a tool for connection and to stop wasting energy and time scrolling as a distraction or avoidance of my current reality.

For two weeks now, I have stopped deleting the app. I rarely ever find myself scrolling mindlessly now, but it does happen occasionally. Although I catch myself quickly and I now have more energy available to remind myself to close the app and re-connect with what is actually around me at that time, I know I still have some learning and retraining to do with social media.

I run a business and of course I need/want social media to support my marketing efforts. And I am mindful that I want to be extremely conscious and deliberate in what I choose to share and how my sharing can impact others in their relationship with social media.

While reading the latest edition of Psychology Today, I stumbled across an inspiring article that spoke directly to what I have been experiencing. A short review of a new book called Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport.

It starts with:

“Newport, a computer science professor at Georgetown committed to helping people carve out a focused life in a culture rife with distraction, has consumed the data on just how hooked many of us have become on handheld social media delivery systems. For him, the problem with smartphones is essentially one of control. “Few want to spend so much time online,” he writes, “but these tools have a way of cultivating behavioral addictions,” and subsequently generating mental, spiritual, and even physical exhaustion. “

His proposed cure? DIGITAL MINIMALISM. {For full article, read here}.

The article continues with some interesting and predictable results from testing a digital minimalism challenge with a group of volunteers. While, for some, it was quite literally a detox from a deeply addictive habit, in the end, the “…participants found themselves in the enviable position of having a blank-slate digital life to rewrite any way they pleased, but ideally with intentionality and limits.”

Another beautiful insight form Newport’s work is that while technology has expanded what is possible for our lives, it has also created a feasible result of potentially eradicating any and all free space and time for self-reflection or simply being with our own thoughts. Without self-study, witnessing, or being in the practice of noticing our thoughts and patterns, we will remain in habits that don’t serve us, our growth trajectory will plateau, and our busy-minds will get busier and louder until a breaking point.

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So, here I am again, ready to commit and play with the boundaries in my relationship with social media to ensure I use it as a tool and not as an escape. I do not open any apps in the morning until I have moved through my morning routine. I do not open social media unless I have a purpose and plan. I plug my phone in by 9pm at the latest each night, and give my mind and body space to be and space to breathe.

Let’s do it together :)

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Dear Little Me

Inner-Child Work

I believe there is a young, naive, scarred and scared inner-child within us all. One of the activities I support clients through is writing a letter to their inner child. Not only is it a healing process to move through as an exercise, it also offers depth and ideas of ways to talk to your inner child when you feel his/her grip as an impulse or compulsive reaction. What we deny, avoid or run from, ends up controlling us. When you shine your loving light and attention on the various subconscious characters that take the wheel, you give them space to move and release on their own. If you have the intention of releasing or removing these characters, they can get stronger instead of weaker. When your intention is simply holding loving space, meeting the sensations and emotions, you allow your wise system to do the work for you.

I highly recommend you carve out 20 minutes to write a love letter to little-you. Tell him or her what you needed to hear when you were young. Send thanks, love, appreciation, praise, gratitude, forgiveness, a warm embrace, and full acceptance.

As an example, here is my letter ;)

Dear Mare Bear,

I love you. I love your sass, your strength, and your humor. I love your tenacity. I love that you would walk into the room as a five year old and fully believe you are the strongest person in the room. I love how you never shy away from conflict and are willing to literally step in with your fists up when it means protecting those you love.

I am sorry for every time I let you believe that you weren’t enough. I am sorry for letting you compare and judge your body on a daily basis, and for allowing you to think for years that your size was a testament to how worthy you are of love. I am sorry that you heard and saw so many examples of poor nutrition, toxic self-talk and unhealthy relationships with food. It’s not your fault. You were young, impressionable. You knew you were destined for great things in this life and you did everything you could with the information and support you had. You are perfectly imperfect.

I know you were doing the best that you could.

I know that your heart is pure and full of love.

I know that even when you showed up as a bully, it wasn’t intended to be malicious and you didn’t know the long term impacts such actions could have.

I forgive you for every temper tantrum, every lie you told, every dollar you stole, and every cruel comment you expressed. I forgive you, and I give you full permission to forgive and love yourself.

I love you and am so grateful for who you are and who you have grown into being.

From now on, anytime I feel you creep to the surface needing attention, I promise to slow down and listen. I see you. You don’t have to hide or pretend to be something that you are not. I hear you. You don’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing, being left out, being made fun of, or trying to impress anyone. I love you, for who you are, for who you wanted to be before you were ready, for who you knew you could be, for who you needed to be, and for who you have allowed me to become.

Little me, I love you.

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For more activities like this one, reach out to inquire about one on one coaching, group workshops, team building, or my upcoming online program. Head here to register your email and receive the first two chapters of my book for free (which has lots of exercises and resources to play with as well).

I am gathering emails of people who want to be a part of some test-piloting for a couple programs I am creating. If you’re intrigued, hit me up ;)

marinmccue@gmail.com

A little about me

My Philosophy:

I am deeply influenced by the work of many big thinkers, philosophers, authors, facilitators and entrepreneurs who have come before me and who are currently making waves in the world. While I have created a unique system that aligns with my experience and wisdom, I continue to learn, adapt and evolve as a coach.

My coaching philosophy is rooted in connection, empowerment, physical movement and co-created support. I have many tools and ideas to share and teach, but I also know that each client has their own knowing and wisdom that needs to be uncovered and trusted.

My goal is to always work myself out of the job. I want my clients to walk away with the skills needed to be a life-long goal setter, a coach in their own life, and a resilient and powerful individual who stands tall in alignment with their own core values, essence and purpose.  

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My background:

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I would like to say I have always felt this strong, this comfortable, and this resilient to the turbulent ride life can be, but that's not true. Looking back, I see strength, I see resilience, I see growth and learning, I see passion and a deep-rooted desire to be someone that makes a difference, but that's not how I felt while going through it. Life is fucking hard. We live moving forward, but we learn and grow by reflecting back. My past has many chapters, as does yours. My story picks up pace once I graduated from High School in 2004 and played division 1 basketball at San Diego State on a full ride scholarship. It was at this point in my life that I realized that having outward goals is not enough to create the happiness I was striving for. I had everything I had worked for, yet I hit the lowest point in my life. 

I came back to Canada and graduated from the University of Alberta in 2009 as a Philosophy Major (U of A being the fourth University I attended before I finally settled). While studying philosophy I developed a love for intentional introspection and playing with "formulas" that show how to create happiness, how to live a full life, how to change your mindset, and any other internal struggle (or curiosity) that sparked passionate interest. 

I began working at lululemon athletica a month after graduating and instantly loved the support system and the free access to any studio or gym anywhere in the world. This was the catalyst for my love of yoga, which I now teach and have embedded yoga philosophy roots in my coaching services. As a manager I became fascinated by the philosophy and psychology of leadership and how closely connected it is to what I learned as a leader on my sports teams. I began to study, practice, and implement these tools I was learning. 

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I was intrigued and drawn to the process of goal setting and goal coaching others, and soon became the go-to person for goal coaching. During my 6 years at lululemon, I conducted over 100 goal setting sessions, either 1 on 1 or in small groups. I began branching out and leading goal coaching for small businesses, sports teams, and clubs and loved my ability to get creative and build something unique that catered to each individual or group's needs and curiosities. What started as an intriguing opportunity at work had become my passion. I finally had an answer to this question that I had sat with for years: "If I could do anything all day and somehow make a living off of it, what would it be?" I had my 'fuck yes'. My answer: inspire people to reach their goals and live the life they want to lead. 

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That huge first step of finally knowing what I wanted to do with my life and having the tools and know-how to make it happen was such an exciting and motivating feeling. But it is only the first of many big leaps and learning's along this intentional and self-motivated path. It was February 2015 when I took the leap to start dope(a)me as a business and set out to create something new and adventurous as an entrepreneur. It has been a whirlwind and everyday I am grateful and excited about the life that I am leading.

Since the launch of my business, I have moved through countless workshops, seminars, courses and trainings to deepen my own healing and offerings to clients. And I don’t plan on stopping that learning trajectory anytime soon.

For more information about who I am or what I offer, continue perusing through my website, check out my book, or simply reach out (marinmccue@gmail.com).

I would love to connect. xox

Know your Machine


Know your Machine

Join me for this exploration of the complexity of your machine, how to navigate, and what verbiage shifts will support the process.

There is a lot more to our actions than what appears on the surface. We are driven by our habits, experience, intentions, assumptions, beliefs, and chemical makeup. I can easily confuse myself when I allow my wheels to wildly spin, second-guessing, and playing devil's advocate as I decide what actions to take and what direction to head in. And when I act from emotions, or react to stress, or make decisions when I am unsettled, I witness the dysfunction that arises when I operate from impulse rather than respond with deliberate and conscious discernment.

I struggled for years trying to learn how to trust my "gut." I still need to pause and test out whether I am being driven by fear or am being guided by something bigger than the habitual buzz of mind-chatter. 

What is intuition? Do we have a connection to a higher power or higher self that offers hints, feelings, or guidance? How is this different from our mind-chatter? Which voice do we listen to?

I have struggled with these questions for a while now. I grew up with a self-sabotage self-talk habit, and often was drawn to act and speak in ways that harmed myself or others. My intuition, if there is such a thing, was lost behind the loud chaos in my mind. I went from being a confident and courageous girl into a fearful and depressed teenager. My un-becoming into adulthood has been a process of re-finding my voice, and learning how to harness my power, passion, and trust, to create a direction of intention and purpose. 

What began as strategic goals and challenges, morphed into intentional living with a flow and trust in my own inner-knowing. But how did I get to this place? What have I learned? How can you find your unique intuitive knowing versus getting trapped in the mind-chatter?

A good place to start

Heuristics

In Daniel Kahneman’s book "Thinking, Fast and Slow", he educates us on the power of heuristics. Heuristics are short-cuts in our mental search for understanding, and can often be misunderstood as intuition, or objective truth. Kahneman says, “the technical definition of a heuristic is a simple procedure that helps find adequate, though often imperfect, answers to difficult questions. The word comes from the same root as ‘eureka’.”

One of the most common is the Availability Heuristic, which is the reliance on information that comes to mind with ease when contemplating a topic or decision. Because of a recent experience, strongly charged past experience or a story you have heard, the way you perceive things will be colored and filtered through what examples come readily to your mind.

For example, as you think about what to eat for lunch, your mind will generate ideas based on what you have eaten recently and what is readily available in the fridge. Or, when you are deciding whether to sign up for a self-development course that will be an investment of time and money, part of your decision process will be based on your most recent experience with investments, time commitments, and registered courses. Although these experiences might have nothing to do with what your mind and body actually needs, it will skew your perception of what you consider to be important and relevant facts. Basically, we learn from our limited experience, so the examples we come up with will be aligned with what we know, which is not always the same as what is "true" or what is needed. Common sense right?

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Kahneman says, “My intuitive impression could be due entirely to journalists’ choices of topics and to my reliance on the availability heuristic…The situation has provided a cue; this cue has given the expert access to information stored in memory, and the information provides the answer. Intuition is nothing more and nothing less than recognition.”

There are also Affect Heuristics, “…where judgements and decisions are guided directly by feelings of liking and disliking, with little deliberation or reasoning” (Kahneman). How often have you made a decision based on a feeling of repulsion or attraction without a reasonable explanation either way? I know I have. We don’t like feeling uncomfortable or uncertain. But the reality of our existence is that there is a lot of uncertainty.

For example, a few days ago I was invited to go to the movie theater with some of my siblings and my mom. I became overwhelmed with anxiety when I considered meeting up for this movie date. Had I simply reacted from that sensation, I would have either refused the invitation and struggled with guilt and confusion, or I would have shown up steeped in anxiety and surely would have experienced a stressful situation. But I have learned that my physiology is constantly reacting to various stimuli, and my basic affect is not necessarily aligned with reality. So I sat with the sensation. I tracked the anxiety and noticed the fluttering in my chest. It then began to increase and rise up into my throat, and I had a few moments of noticing extreme tension in my throat. I stayed with it and kept breathing, holding space for the sensation. And within a few moments, it completely subsided, leaving me in an open and neutral state. It was at that point that I was able to check in with myself and make a decision aligned with what I truly desire rather than what I have been habituated into feeling based on past experiences.

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What I truly want is connection, healthy relationships with my family members, and the ability to lead by example in positive and powerful ways. So I accepted the invitation and was able to show up and be with my family with presence and acceptance. Had I ignored, avoided, or made that initial sensation of anxiety mean something more than simple physiological reactions based on my past, I would have missed out on a beautiful opportunity to continue retraining my relationship with those I love most.

We are inundated with sensation and stimuli every second. And while some things feel good as they come with bursts of happy chemicals, as soon as our happy chemicals simmer down, we are back into a state of searching for threats to our existence. Although this is not happening consciously, we feel the uneasiness that this search creates and we often look to explain it by our immediate surroundings or upcoming decisions or use the “ego” as an immediate scapegoat (more on that below).

Another shortcut in our thinking comes in the form of Intuitive Heuristics, which occur “…when faced with a difficult question, we often answer an easier one instead, usually without noticing the substitution” (Kahneman). For example, how often have you broken down a big decision into a list of pros and cons? We look to the parts that make up the big decision as a way to avoid the enormity of the decision as it is. We try so hard to make the “right choice” and will do everything within our power to analyze and look at the many factors. At the end of the day, the “right choice” is the one that provides more space, energy and opportunity, and that really is a matter of perspective and mindset.

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My understanding of intuition is that it is guidance from what we have learned in past experiences, which is why it can lead us astray. Here is an anecdotal example: perhaps when you were younger your house was broken into while you were home. You saw the burglar, dressed all in black and face covered with a ski mask. Perhaps they saw you and ran off, leaving you terrified and scarred from this alarming experience. Whether you consciously realize or not, you may have "learned" that when you are alone, you are not safe. Or, perhaps people dressed all in black, or someone wearing a ski mask, is not to be trusted. So let’s say, ten years later, you meet a new potential business partner and not only are they dressed all in black, but you see a framed picture on the wall of this person at the ski hill wearing - you guessed it - a ski mask. Now, alarms might go off in your head, and because you don't remember the burglar incident - or you never consciously made the connection - your gut will do a flip and you might assume this is your intuition telling you to beware of this person. After more investigation, perhaps this person does end up being a poor choice for collaboration. So, do we call this a coincidence, serendipity, intuition, or a self-fulfilling prophecy? It’s all a matter of perspective and you will believe whatever aligns with your perspective on life.

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As you can see, we are complex creatures with complex minds. What I suggest, and personally subscribe to, "don't believe everything you think." Acknowledge your thoughts and emotions, but be wary of attaching or being swept away by the moment at hand. I view these intuitive musings and feelings as tools for exploration and discovery. It is a whisper to dig deeper, to stay open, to dance with the moment and play with possibilities. Intuition feels like flow, rhythm, and trust. It is not a magical flashlight that shines only on facts and objective truths. Nothing of value is that simple or stagnant. Intuition shines on the questions we should be asking, not the answers.

When we can create a state of calm, openness, and receptivity to our surroundings, we foster an inner-environment that can calculate decisions with ease, grounded in our direction of choice. This is why I find it so helpful to have clear goals, an intention for the day, and questions that I am curious to investigate. I view this as fuel for my intuitive heuristic power. I know I have insight and inspiration within me, and when I get out of my own way and embrace the uncertainty of life, these moments of creative genius seem to flow in with much greater consistency. And the more I clear out past traumas and see the patterns that are obstructing my growth, the more pure (and grounded in what I desire versus what I have experienced) my intuition becomes.

Elizabeth Gilbert speaks to our creative powers in her book Big Magic. She says, “we are all walking repositories of buried treasure.” When we can live our life driven by curiosity, rather than fear, we embody openness and discovery versus stagnancy and resistance. Intuition is found when we let go of our need for perfection. When we let the mess of trial and error be an important part of the process, we have more energy and awareness to notice opportunities.

I believe that to tap into a fluidity and inspiration of intuition, we must acknowledge how our habits and fear try to rule us. I do not trust the first thought that comes into my mind. I play with it. I converse with it. I ask myself questions that help me understand where I have been and what I am working towards. I talk it through with people I trust. I write about it. And after all of that, then I am ready to have an opinion or make a big decision. But when there is no time for investigation, I let my heuristical power take the lead and I acknowledge it for what it is. In the end, I am doing the best that I can, and that is all that matters. 

System 1 and System 2

Relying on heuristics is not necessarily a bad way to operate. On the contrary, we save a lot of energy as heuristics are efficient in their problem solving skills. However, we also have the option to slow down and think things through more pragmatically and thoughtfully. Kahneman refers to these two Thinking Systems as System 1 and System 2. Upon further evaluation, it becomes clear that these two systems line up nicely with Jonathan Haidt’s Elephant and Rider metaphor, from his book "The Happiness Hypothesis".

System 1 is like the Elephant, also known as the reptilian brain and emotional brain. This system behaves instinctively, pulling information from experience and immediate surroundings to make decisions based on habit, survival and emotion. This system is always the first to react and houses enough strength to gain your attention regardless of whatever else is going on.

System 1 is the combination of the brainstem and the limbic system. The brainstem is the first to develop in our evolution, and it is where we gain our basic life functioning. As well, it is where we house the traumas too painful to be stored and remembered - not remembered but still in our system and effecting our body-budget (energy). This is also the home of the Autonomic Nervous System (Sympathetic NS - Fight or Flight; and Parasympathetic NS - Rest & Digest), which is our survival mechanisms. The cerebellum is part of the unconscious system, and is referred to as a "cook" because it takes in stimuli from above (conscious thought and deliberate action) or below (impulses and instinctive reactions) and discerns what is the relevant information to protect and prolong your survival - and discards the rest.

Second to develop after the brainstem, is the limbic system; the chemical and emotional brain. It is here that emotion is mediated, feelings surface, memory is stored, and habits are kept. While a lot is happening in the subconscious - approximately 40 million nerve impulses per second - there is no language here. It is all chemicals and feelings.

Our emotions are produced through the amygdala which works with the hippocampus, deciphering the cocktail of chemicals, predictions, and past experiences through external perceptions and internal thoughts.

System 2 is like the Rider; the Neocortex. It is deeply influenced by System 1 (the Elephant), but it also has the ability to slow down, assess the situation, and make a decision based on goals, delayed gratification and reason.

Sweet sweet consciousness. It is here we develop our SELF TALK; which is the breeding ground for our perceived identity, the inner-judge, the analyzer, our ability to express ourselves out loud as well as narrate our daily living. The neocortex is what makes us human above all other animals - the ability to plan, make decisions outside of habit, pay attention with discernment, express our creativity, and see choice and purpose beyond instant gratification.

All self-talk comes from our current programming. Our narrator is constantly assessing, telling stories and making meaning through aversions and pleasure, prediction and prediction-error, experience, family history, expectations and beliefs, attitudes, habits, needs, desires, and subconscious characters. This narrator works like a human Rider on top of a 6-ton Elephant.

Kahneman says, “When System 2 is otherwise engaged, we will believe almost anything. System 1 is gullible and biased to believe, System 2 is in charge of doubting and unbelieving, but System 2 is sometimes busy, and often lazy.” And a side note here, “lazy” is more a sign of disembodiment and brain shutdown due to overwhelm and exhaustion.

“Mental activity creates brain firing as much as brain firing creates mental activity”. 

The first time I read this quote by Daniel Siegal (Mindsight), I stopped and re-read it about a dozen times. Siegal’s quote highlights the complex and intriguing nature of the brain: we are not simply reacting to our environment and we are not simply reacting to what we feed our brain through thoughts and actions. We are influenced top-down and bottom-up.

A new approach without the EGO

All of this prelude is to set us up for a new understanding and relationship with the all-too-common and outdated concept of the EGO.

“Knots untie once you detach from the stories, assumptions, and ego-panic that our compulsions or sensations bring to the surface” Daniel Siegal, Mindsight

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What is this elusive “ego” that has been in stories in my mind for so many years? I hear about it daily in the way others describe their own and others behavior. Sometimes alter-ego, or the sneaky ego, or the spiritualized ego, ego dissolution, or the finger-pointing at the egostiscital person…we use “ego” to describe certain behavior - or perhaps blame - our own and others deviant, self-indulgent, boastful or “selfish” [another term that needs re-thinking and reclaiming] character traits.

But what does it do to us when we use this ego-concept in so much of our analysis of patterns and habits? What is a more complex yet aligned way of thinking? I’ll tell you what I am discovering.

Rather than pointing at or blaming the ego in ourselves or in others, or claiming the ego as real in general, I invite you to instead see the natural impulses of self-gratification or the aversion to what makes you uncomfortable as the Elephant seeking happy chemicals. This is not some archetypal character that you must overcome or be wary of, it is simply a malnourished “Elephant” seeking what feels good and avoiding what feels “bad”. And the more you nourish your mind and body, take care of your nervous system, and practice slowing down to cultivate that pause between reaction and response, the more control you have in how you show up and how you consistently feel. By alluding to this “ego” we are personifying our lack of balance as something we can’t control. You have way more power and control than you realize.

I hope this process has illuminated the complex and powerful machine you have the privilege of exploring and navigating. And next time someone says, “let go of the ego", I invite you to offer instead “there is no such thing as an ego, that is a cultural echo that is outdated. What you are noticing is a malnourished Elephant that needs love and attention.”

While it is vital that you focus on feeding your mind and body the nourishment it needs, it is just as vital to take time daily to calm your nervous system, unravel the habits and knots that you have inherited or repeated into habits, and create space for the pause so you can witness your impulsive and compulsive nature as a practice field for learning and growing into who you truly desire to be.

I leave you with these wise words from @samarakate on instagram:


"When the mind rapidly fluctuates it causes us to disconnect from the beat of our inner rhythm. A distortion of our inner hum. A disconnection from the rhythm of the cosmos. The channel between the heart and mind becomes twisted and we live from the static fuzziness of the mind where nothing is clear. Anxiety, stress, fear, holds over your way of being and creates a distorted life. Your rhythm is found in the present moment, within the waves of your breath, mindful movement, creativity, and the dance of balance.”

Keep up the bountiful work of cultivating the pause. Future you is applauding present you. It’s worth it. xoxox

How to overcome obsessive thoughts

How to overcome obsessive thoughts

February is Psychology Month, and it kicks of with Eating Disorder Awareness Week. What better way to highlight this focus than to shine the light of our awareness on what gets in the way of our progress: our habits of self-talk.

What do you need to know?

We can only talk to ourselves from our current programming, which is why it’s nearly impossible to talk ourselves out of a mental struggle: we’re using the same framework that caused the problem in the first place. As Michael Singer says, “the problem is not the problem, it is our relationship to the problem that is the problem.” Whether you are stuck in self-sabotage, self-defeat, lethargy, self-harm, or a toxic relationship with food, the first step to overcoming is to slow down and listen to how you’re communicating with yourself.

Self-Observation versus Self-Analyzing

Get curious about how your body is reacting and what happens right before the obsessive thoughts take over. When your body is in distress, your thoughts will often match that state. Get off that emotional roller coaster: take a few deep breaths and think back to when and where you feel dis-ease and ease in your mind and body. Develop language to describe it; in other words, “name it to tame it.”

Once you’ve created some space and conserved some energy by quietly witnessing your reactions rather than jumping into problem-solving or self-defeat, you can take steps to calm your nervous system down.

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Some reflection questions:

What changes do you notice in your body as you experience obsessive thoughts?

What sensations accompany these thoughts?

What are you making these thoughts mean?

What is a new perspective to try on here?

Acknowledge that your thoughts are habits and not objective truth

Here’s one of my most effective go-to reminders: 95% of what you think today, you also thought yesterday. Just because your thoughts are familiar and habitual, it doesn’t mean they’re true. Maybe they have little bits of truth to them, but they don’t reflect the whole, complex, expansive truth.

Bring some non-duality into your thoughts by reflecting on past struggles and acknowledging how the darkness has brought you more light. Look at the ways your toughest moments taught you strength and resilience. When we teach ourselves to find purpose and growth in our struggles, we can learn to accept and even welcome where we are, rather than shaming ourselves for being there.

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Reflection questions:

What am I learning from this experience?

What have my darkest moments taught me?

What are some new thoughts and reminders I can repeat until they become new habits?

Nourish your whole self

Sometimes, our racing thoughts signal that we are lacking some basic nourishment that our mind and body need to function at their best. Imagine that your habits are a 6-ton Elephant, and you’re trying to direct where the Elephant’s going. A malnourished (or hangry) elephant is not an easy partner to work with.

We all know that it’s vital to nourish our body with sleep, movement, fresh air, balanced nutrition and intuitive eating. It’s just as vital to tend to your mental and emotional body with self-inquiry, playfulness, and peace. Obsessive thoughts don't have much space to grow and flourish when you’re focused on feeding your mind and body what they need.

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In conclusion, what you resist, persists, and what you love and embrace, can heal and release. To give your thinking mind a break, get into your body and track sensation. And remember, any self-talk that plays out while you are in a “low-vibration” state is not worth listening to. There is nothing you can say to yourself to talk yourself out of the darkness. The space and healing resides outside the thinking mind, so get into your breath, into your body, into nature, and out of the routines that are not serving you.

I would love to hear your thoughts once you give this a try xoxo

dope(a)me turns 4

February 1 marks the end of year three, and the stepping into year four of my business. It’s been a wild ride with lots of learning, falling, growing, adapting and evolving. Just pause here while I do a quick fist pump.

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For the past few weeks, knowing this milestone is approaching, I have been contemplating what fun and creative ways I can celebrate. I have landed on what feels like the perfect way for me to express my gratitude for this life, this business, and all of the people that have supported me along the way. The gift of giving back!

I came across Goodpin a couple of years ago when my good friend Lucy Dunne shared with me that one of her goals is to donate 1 million dollars to charity. Completely amazed and enthralled by her passion for giving back, I was intrigued to hear about the ease at which she was making this happen through the platform called Goodpin. Lucy set up a system where she could send money to clients with a link that made it easy for anyone to choose a charity of their choice and send that money with one click of a button.

As I sat with my own interest in participating in this platform, I started thinking about my own history of imperfections and the many times in my youth and adolescence where I took what wasn’t mine. I had an epiphany: I think Heaven and Hell are a self-made experience that is the accumulation of all choices and actions in your life. As I think about how I want to feel on my death-bed, what kind of life do I want to have the privilege of reflecting upon, what kind of memories and connections do I want to foster for myself, who do I want to be…I know that giving back to others and encouraging generosity and thoughtfulness are traits that I want more of.

So as I head into year four of dope(a)me, I have registered for Goodpin, and I am so excited for the ease at which I can donate money to people around me so that they can donate to the charities that matter the most to them. Goodpin is helping me strengthen the muscles of giving back, the neural pathways towards generosity, and the habits of community support. When I am on my deathbed reflecting on my life, I will not be jaded by the few instances of poor judgement and greed, because I will have many many more memories of good-will, heart-felt connections, and generosity, and I will have Goodpin to thank for making it fun and easy to do so.

Each month, I will announce a different class or workshop on my schedule that I will randomly choose one participant to donate $50 to. That person will be sent an email with $50 and a link through Goodpin to donate to a charity of their own choosing.

This month, I am donating twice as my way of kicking off year four! One participant at the Flow + Arrow retreat will be selected, as well as one participant in my Yoga Nidra class on Thursday (at 12:10pm) February 7 at Yoga Nova Studio.

Year four here we go!!

Reach out with questions or comments. I would love to hear your favorite creative ways of celebrating your milestones ;).

xo Marin

How to Shift your Mental Health in ONE DAY!

5 tips to strengthen your Mental Health today!

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I heard recently, we get as much stimulation in one week as a caveman - or cave woman - would take in during their entire life span. Stop and think about that for a moment. Whether you are an outlier or not, this startling statistic highlights the insane amount of stimulation we are ingesting on a daily basis in a brain that was built and evolved from the cavemen days.

Noise in the brain is like stress in the body - and too much of anything is not a good thing. I am fascinated with the pursuit of finding more ways to let go of distraction so that I can enjoy being still, rest in the space between thoughts and breath, be with myself and with the moment, and ultimately, be with the way things are. Otherwise we are just running from one thing to the next, distracting ourselves, and falling for the misconception that the happiness we seek or the peace we desire is waiting at some destination down our path. When we are constantly riding the surface-level chemical high, we never really get to our depth. You get external validation, you feel good today and then all-of-a-sudden, you’re down in the depths of despair the next moment. That is exhausting and that is how most of us live.


In honor of Bell Let’s Talk and the many mental health campaigns and events [Flow + Arrow Day Retreat] & [Evolve - yoga nidra + cello] at this time of year, let’s press pause on the roller coaster and land on some simple ideas of how we can strengthen our mental health today.

1 - Connect with yourself

It only takes 6 mindful full body breaths to completely shift your state from anxious or (on the other end of the spectrum) lethargic, into a state of groundedness and flow. Our “tunnel vision” or narrowed perspective is generally connected to Beta Brain waves - which are a bit frantic. When we slow down, get into our bodies by noticing our breath and following the expansion of the inhale and deflation of the exhale, we change our brain waves, which calms our heart rhythm, which expands our perspective and allows us to see bigger picture once again. This simple act of slowing down to truly connect with who you are now, is the most powerful thing you can do to shift your state in a moment.

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2 - Get your body moving

We are built to move. Don’t get stuck on the idea that you need to workout in the gym everyday for an hour or that your movement needs to include a pool of sweat on the floor. Sure that is great for you, but even more so, we need to honor our bodies need to move as a lifestyle. Throughout your day, listen to what you body needs and offer yourself movement that feels good. Simple stretches, neck rolls, lunges, a few squats here and there, posture check-ins, spine twists, forward folds, get outside and go for a walk, stand on your sidewalk or porch and do a few sun salutations with your breath leading your movements, take the stairs, and sit on the floor to encourage yourself to keep moving rather than melting into the couch.

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3 - Before you eat...stop, breathe, take a big sniff, then eat

Mindful Eating is one of the most powerful practices I have incorporated into my daily routine. Growing up as the middle child of seven kids, I developed a habit of eating fast and not slowing down until there was no food left on the table. I also had an eating disorder for many years and used food to escape, numb, mimic pleasure, celebrate, console…to name a few angles to my unhealthy relationship with food. These habits started well-intentioned, comforting me in a time of need, but clearly does not serve me as an adult who would love time and energy for other things.

What I learned? The simple pause to smell my food before I take a sip of my yummy coffee or take the first bite of my food is all it takes to change my food experience. Pause, take a deep breath in and out, then take a big smell of your food and notice your salivary glands light up. The process of digestion and absorption is now ready, so dig in! Put down your fork or spoon occasionally, and just chew and enjoy. Notice how the food feels in your body.

Intuitive and mindful eating will direct you towards the foods that feel good and you will notice more readily when you eat something that might not be what your body needs or wants at this phase of your life.

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4 - Do something for someone else
One of the best ways we can get out of our head or struggles, is to focus on serving others. Big or small; these are random acts of kindness, compassionate gestures, love letters, positive feedback, celebratory acknowledgements, offers of support, a high five, a big hug, a patient listening ear, or a shoulder to cry on. Simply put, see love in others. When we focus our attention on others and look for ways to lighten the load or brighten someone’s day, suddenly our own struggles don’t feel as big. You’re system is built to respond positively to social bonds and loving companionship: we get a juicy boost of happy chemicals when we foster loving connections to those around us.

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“It is our hypocrisy and self-focus that drains us. When we become purpose-centered, internally directed, other-focused, and externally open, we discover energy we didn’t know we had.” - Robert E Quinn

5 - Develop an evening routine to support your sleep hygiene
One of our basic needs is sleep - I know, easier said than done. While it may take a few tries to land on an evening routine that supports your sleep habits, it is definitely worth the time and effort. Here are some simple things to try tonight….

  • Decide what time you will plug in your phone and keep it out of your hands for the rest of the evening

  • Before you shut down and head to bed, get down on the floor (with the tv on or your family nearby) and move slowly through some hip and shoulder stretches while consciously slowing and deepening your breath

  • Have a warm shower or bath

  • Pull out a notebook and write out three things you’re grateful for, three things you’re proud of, and what you need to release and allow tomorrow-you to handle

  • Once in bed, oscillate your head slowly side to side - as if you are rocking your brain in the cradle of the fluid in your skull

  • If/when your thoughts about the day begin to roll through your mind, rest easy knowing this is an important part of your brain hygiene. Your mind naturally reflects and integrates the day so that it can begin the long and short term storage process that happens over night. So don’t fight it, just notice it. Keep guiding your attention back to your breath and the feeling of you body laying in bed

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I hope you take some time to implement and practice these steps. Your mental health is a product of what you do and think about all day long. Change up some patterns and routines and you will notice a huge change in your mental health strength.

Interested in learning more and experiencing mental health strength training in person??

Check out the Evolve Retreat Co day of wellness on February 2 & the Yoga Nidra & Cello evening practice

Join Lucy Dunne and I at Flow + Arrow day retreat, on February 9

Movement & Motivation with Marin and Tommy Europe on May 28

Thanks for reading! Reach out if you have questions or requests for resources or support xox

Two inquiries that can expand your Consciousness - Death and Cannabis

In honor of Mental Health Awareness, I am compelled to continue sharing openly and honestly about where I have been, but even more so, what I did to practice my way into a healthy and balanced state. A huge part of recovering from mental health struggles is a practice of getting out of your thinking mind and finding ways to expand your consciousness; see new perspectives; find rest and pause rather than being consumed by thoughts; and learning to redirect your mind when it gets stuck in a pattern that isn’t serving your highest good.

Two of the most expansive practices I have cultivated are: Daily inquiry on Death and the intentional use of Cannabis.

Below is a short snippet from an interview I had with Stephanie Nygren. I met Steph in yoga training and she now works for the Inspired Yoga Institute. IYI is absolutely amazing, which is why I took my 200 and 300 hour yoga teacher training with them. I am now a part of their faculty as I provide a workshop for each training focused on goal setting and how to cultivate the mindset that allows you to achieve your goals while also landing in contentment and peace right now. In other words, how to embrace where you are now while also working for what you desire.

I will add the link to the full interview once it is published on the IYI website.



Marin shares her University experience dealing with depression as a Philosophy major…

Being at UofA and struggling with self-harm and depression, you know I had everything I thought I needed but I was still in the same state {of depression} and it really sent me in a dark direction. I had my existential crisis at that point and philosophy is part of what pushed me into an existential crisis, but it also is what saved me. I just connected so deeply with a few philosophers, I envisioned in my head that they went through the same thing. I started to really relate to these philosophers who were so driven to understand life and wanted to dive into what is happiness. When I had that existential crisis, I felt like I flat-lined and I couldn’t rebuild my life; everything I believed in one moment was gone. I then saw it as a beautiful opportunity to rebuild the structure. I was completely raw and naked and exposed, and I used it as an opportunity to rebuild my belief system and philosophy was the perfect thing.

I remember the first few times I ventured out to walk around, I just couldn’t stop thinking about death. Death was all-consuming, it didn’t leave my mind for at least a week. I just felt like a bug that could be smooshed at any moment, I felt so insignificant. I went from feeling like I was the centre of the universe to, I do not matter. I had to reshape my relationship with death.

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It also opened me up to this realization that it’s about your relationship with something that causes problem, it’s not the thing itself. I read the Untethered Soul around the same time or soon after and one of the things he {Michael A. Singer} says is ‘the problem is not the problem, it’s your relationship to the problem that’s the problem’ and I come back to that all the time. Any time I feel stuck or stagnant or something’s not working, I so quickly shift into, how does my perspective need to change here? As soon as I land on a new perspective that creates space, then I have everything I need to be able to problem solve or let it go or just look at it differently. I look at everything now as a relationship, no matter what I’m working on it’s what is the relationship between me and this thing?


That being said, what is your relationship to death now? How would you reframe that?

Now I think about death every single day and it makes me feel more alive. I take more chances, I don’t hold back from being on stage or being a beginner. I don’t worry about messing up. I embrace failure as something to learn from and grow from and I often will think in the moment, is this something I’m going to care about on my death-bed? If I say no, well then fuck-it, just do it. Like, why am I even going to stew in worry or in wondering? I use it all the time and it’s something I am so grateful for and curious about and I have so much humility around. I’m not cautious but I’m very conscious about what I’m doing and what I’m saying and who it’s affecting because I don’t take life for granted. I want to be on my death-bed and be like, I fucking did everything I could to make this life something.


What would your students be surprised to find out about you?


I am a daily cannabis user. It’s not a negative thing. Anything can be overdone and underdone. We can die by chugging water and we can die by not having any water. It’s about being mindful and really listening to your body and noticing when you’re using something as a distraction or as a crutch or as a numbing tool versus using it as a pure experience or as a medicinal tool so that it is actually giving you access to something instead of pulling you away from it. Yes, I have gone too far with cannabis before but I learned from it and I know it doesn’t feel good when I’m overusing it so I don’t do that.

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Do you use it as a tool for creativity or relaxation?


All of the above. I can use it simply for creativity, I can use it for de-stressing or to help me fall asleep or relax. I’ve also been experimenting with micro-dosing. It’s very common when it comes to Psilocybin or LSD. It’s been used for people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or severe anxiety disorders and even depression. If you have a micro-dose, it doesn’t have psychedelic results but what they’ve discovered through different research, when people micro-dose, their brain lights up. Parts of their brain that have been dormant, suddenly there’s electrical impulses happening, like your brain comes online. It’s actually healing people from severe trauma, waking their brain up, giving them new perspective, giving them a new chance at life, new pathways. That’s the way I look at cannabis. I micro-dose so that my brain starts firing in different ways. It’s not to make me zone out or disconnect because that doesn’t feel good. I want to be engaging in things that bring me more intimately into my experience and connect more with people.


Thoughts? Questions? Inquiries? Hit me up! xoxox

Social Media Challenge for 2019 - update

My Social Media Challenge for 2019 - Retrain the Relationship

It has been an interesting month playing with my new habits and relationship with social media. I am determined to find the balance where I utilize social media for connection. I want social media to feel like a service and a support, not a hindrance or an addiction.

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What is this about?

If you read my last social media post, you know that I am exploring my habits and finding ways to set boundaries and support myself into a healthier relationship - specifically with instagram. SO what have I done? I delete the instagram app right after I use it. I only install it if I have something purposeful and intentional to share, and then I must connect with at least one person before I delete it again. This prevents me from scrolling aimlessly or thinking throughout the day about the perfect picture or what I could say about anything happening throughout the day.

One of the most fascinating - and frightening - realizations is that when my mind wanders, it often wanders into a visual of scrolling through instagram! I recall pictures and posts that I have seen in the past. Hilarious and scary all at once. I also have noticed that I often still pause when something is striking and I think about the perfect angle for the picture or a caption that would go with it. Basically, my mind is trained for instagram.

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On the Bright Side

On the bright side, I am noticing a huge shift in my energy all ready. By letting go of the possibility to post or scroll or upload pictures throughout my day, I am left with ample space to focus on real-time connection and soak up each moment with more presence. I am noticing that I am being more thoughtful and strategic with what I want to post and when, and that is opening my mind to pay attention to my other streams of connecting and advertising my business (programs, coaching, workshops and events). For now, I am very happy with this new boundary.

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What’s Next?

Heading into February, I am committed to continue on this track, plus - the next step - I am creating a consistent weekly schedule for my social media that will allow me even more space as I get into a rhythm and template to follow rather than making things up as I go.

Let’s Connect

I would love to hear from any of you about what schedule or template or rhythm you follow with your social media connections and advertising. What works for you? What have you tried? What are you noticing in your own relationship with social media? How does that make you feel?

Anything we do can be overdone or underdone. I invite you to truly check in with yourself and ask, is social media serving me or am I serving it?

Keep up the self-inquiry and self-love my friends. xoxox




There is NO EGO

For more than a decade, I have referred to the ego, thought about the ego, looked for my own ego and pointed out various of my attributes as ego. All I can say now is that that process of self-inquiry served me for a time, but it no longer serves me. I am here to suggest that we pause and take in the possibility of removing the ego from our vocabulary.

In a Nutshell

For those interested in the bottom line, here it comes! The path I took to get there is explored after that.

We are complex. In fact, too complex for the outdated and short-sighted concept of an ego. What serves you at one point will not serve you forever. This post is my journey from important insights brought about by my ego-inquiry and how I outgrew the boundaries and restrictions the ego imposes. Perhaps you are someone who uses the term ‘ego’ in your self-observations and judgments of others, and I hope you will read through and open up to the possibility that there is a better way to understand who we truly are.

Where it all started

Over the past year I have been consistently hitting a roadblock in my ego inquiry. How do I make it fit into my ever-increasing and ever-expanding understanding of the conscious and subconscious and the greater mind and body as a whole? I found myself trying to jam the ego into other models of how the brain works that I have found to be helpful, and couldn’t make it fit.

It hadn’t occurred to me to remove the ego from my vernacular, and why would it? I am surrounded by people in the yoga and “personal development” community who - teachers, leaders and students alike - refer to the ego on a daily basis.

While in Palm Springs for New Years, in deep philosophical conversation on the relationship between consciousness and subconscious with my dad, I mentioned my struggle with defining the ego clearly and how to make it fit into my developing coaching structures. Without hesitation, my dad responded with something like: “the ego was debunked by science decades ago. Most people who continue to use the term don’t understand that; and don’t use ‘ego’ as Freud did in any event. You are hearing a cultural echo.”

Mind-blown! In an instant I felt a massive shift; a release, as I opened to a possibility that I had not considered until then. I felt a weight lifted from my shoulders and a calm feeling of truth rung deep within me. It just made so much sense. I mentioned this “new” contemplation and realization to a past client and she remarked that she actually brought this up in one of our sessions a couple of years ago and I didn’t seem open to exploring it. We both equated my resistance to the fact that at that time I was in the process of publishing my book and couldn’t hold space for that unraveling in the midst of sharing my story and my ego-contemplation with the world. I found that to be fascinating! Here I am now, ready to dig in and remove some beliefs that no longer serve me.


Retrain your EGO?

I had gone from perceiving my ego as the impulse to sabotage, compare, judge or put others down as a way to make myself feel more “right” or better-than. I had seen it as being deflated when I was hard on myself or in struggle around my own self-worth. I saw it as something that takes over when I have the urge to be boastful in any “look at me” kind of way. It was a successful point of inquiry as it supported me in cultivating the pause; that choice-point moment between impulsive reaction and deliberate response. I saw it fitting in the structure of the mind as a venn diagram; an overlap between subconscious and conscious, because it housed strong impulsive feelings, as well as manifesting in self-talk.

A balanced EGO?

I then began contemplating what a healthy and balanced ego looks like. Nothing is all bad or all good, and shaming the ego as the uncontrollable animal or over-protective body-guard within us did not leave room for growth. As the ego is described, it seemed to be necessary for our human experience, which means it is not to be killed off or destroyed, but rather it was in need of a tune-up and a shift in relationship.

And so along that route I went for a while, contemplating a healthy and balanced ego. But what does that look like? What does that mean? A healthy and balanced ego, I thought, could be a state where impulse for indulgent desire or instant gratification no longer ran the show. Perhaps a relationship with self that is so grounded and loving that the “ego” still rattled with desire yet also got on board with higher levels of living and being. For example, I thought, an ego could feel rewarded and satisfied when impulse and compulsions quieted and a clear path towards good-choices became the yellow brick road. This line of thinking felt like a worthwhile pursuit for a while.

Too complex for the EGO

However, I ran into problems with referring to the ego as if it is a character within us, separate from all other characters we tend to notice. What started as a simple way to be with and retrain my impulsive reactions, became the roadblock in understanding how to practice my way into balance in my mind and body.

So, consider the idea of letting go of “the ego” as an entity to be feared, shamed, or retrained in our system. Our subconscious generates our self-protection impulse. This aspect of our basic life functioning, evolved to make us feels good around whatever promotes survival and reproduction, and to shy away from anything that could potentially get in the way of the same things.

Our subconscious system works like a recording device, holding on to “life-lessons” in the form of memory that has dissolved into instinct, which keep us alive and make us attractive mates and social companions. This system is often misguided because what serves you at one point in time is not necessarily what is best or what will serve you in the future, and we are all subject to many cognitive biases.

Ideally, our conscious mind will learn about our subconscious blind spots, so that it can help us pause, and create space between reaction and response, so that our subconscious can develop new and more functional instincts. This happens as we continue to slow down, pay attention, and behave in new ways. Shaky, tentative, new thoughts and actions – imagine Bambi learning to walk - eventually stabilize into smooth, powerful behaviors as new neural pathways form that are consistent with our expanding consciousness. In this way, as we become more self-aware and better understand how the world around us works, our brains literally change and we become new beings. I believe that the many powerful religious and cultural representations of personal rebirth refer to nothing more, or less, than this real miracle of self-renewal.

One of the things that I find most fascinating about this process starts with the observation that what served to protect us at the age of 4 is not what will necessarily be in our best interest at age 40. However, until the tedious brain re-wiring project I just described has played out to a successful conclusion, our subconscious will continue to urge us to do what we’ve always done regardless of your conscious mind knowing better.

Try on a New Perspective

So it’s not EGO that urges us to be boastful. This is a deeply ingrained impulse connected to our need to be seen and positively acknowledged, as while our brains evolved, this was essential to our survival and propagation. And it is not your deflated EGO that pulls us into cowering or holding back from opportunity. Rather, this is our subconscious system that has either dipped into hypoarousal or has built a habit of holding back. It’s all habit. It’s all programming.

There is no ego. There is no fragmented version of us that fits the ego mold. Scientific research that became possible long after Freud did his work has made it clear that we are far more complex than Freud’s ego based model of how our minds work. It is fair to say that brains work like small social groups, in which a network of vastly different characters argue, debate and cajole each other to behave as they wish the group (metaphorically, the individual within which this is occurring) to behave. Our genes, history and beliefs all show up in these characters - the judge; the critic; the child; the saboteur; the victim; the prostitute; the fear mongerer; the calm sage; the believer in magic; the bully – to name a few of the possibilities.

Conclusion

So what? Why does this matter? My hope is that you will use this as an opportunity to slow down and check in with how you use the concept of the EGO to understand your - and others - behavior. Without blaming the ego or shaming the ego, we are left with a possibility to see what is habit, what is fear, and what subconscious character is taking the wheel. Perhaps it will support you in pausing and looking at where you are lacking nourishment rather than falling into shame or frustration. When we are nourished and grounded, we have the space and energy to show up as we truly desire, rather than being steered towards habit or the various actions our subconscious has learned as protecting and prolonging our survival. It’s all habit, and with awareness, effort and surrender, we can change what no longer serves us. Happy trail blazing ;).