mental health

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




Mindfulness and Meditation

”Most of our conscious brain is dedicated to focusing on the outside world: getting along with others and making plans for the future. However, that does not help us manage ourselves. Neuroscience research shows that the only way we can change the way we feel is by becoming aware of our inner experience and learning to befriend what is going on inside ourselves” -The Body Keeps the Score

I have noticed a lack of clarity in describing the difference between mindfulness and meditation, especially because I have heard them combined as Mindful Meditation - which I didn’t realize was confusing until I tried to describe what it is and how it is different than traditional meditation. This blog post serves as an exploration to define the boundaries of both and what it means when you combine Mindfulness and Meditation together.

Mindfulness:

"Just let yourself feel what you feel in the present moment, without fearing it, without making it mean something about your worth or value, without making it wrong, and witness the peace appear. "Daniel Siegal

Mindfulness is a practice of bringing compassionate attention to experiences, movements, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment. Mindfulness is the antidote to our human tendency to get lost in doing, stuck in auto-pilot, which directs us towards an unsatisfying cycle of needing more of everything and anything to feel good. Mindfulness is waking up and taking the steering wheel with our loving attention. We can practice mindfulness by maintaining a moment by moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings bodily sensations and surrounding environment. Any routine activity can be made into a mindful practice if you bring your full attention to it. A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Get into your body and into your experience.  Observe without judgement. Notice your patterns of thought and action without falling into shame or the illusion that you “should” be somewhere or someone that you are not.

“When we are not taken over by our thoughts and feelings, we can become clearer in our internal world as well as more receptive to the inner world of another" Daniel Siegal

Meditation:

“Consciousness has the ability to do what is called “focus”...The essence of consciousness is awareness, and awareness has the ability to become more aware of one thing and less aware of something else” Micheal Singer

It is my understanding that meditation is what comes after the practice of mindfulness. You get to a point where you have trained your mind to focus, and to be able to stay with sensation and notice thoughts without jumping into reaction. It is from this sense of control, a sense of separation from emotions and the human desires and aversions, that we are able to access a deep peace and contentment that is an outcome of meditation. Meditation connects us with our expansiveness. It is a state of acceptance and flow, where our thoughts become distant and we are enveloped with stillness and, eventually, silence.

"Just let yourself feel what you feel in the present moment, without fearing it, without making it mean something about your worth or value, without making it wrong, and witness the peace appear. "Daniel Siegal

Mindful Meditation:

Is this term even necessary in our vernacular? To meditate is already a mindful practice, as it takes focus and the light of your awareness shining on the object of your meditation; whether that be your breath, a mantra, or any other curiosity or healing focus you have.

For me, an even more clear path here is developing the practice described as Mindful Embodiment. A process of being with sensation, tracking it, witnessing it rise and fall, while holding loving space in your body and limiting distraction and conserving energy by being still and focusing your gaze inwards.

If you are new to the world of mindfulness and meditation, start with some mindfulness practices. Develop your ability to focus. Shift into 30 seconds of meditation per day, with a focus on breath and noticing what it feels like as your Nervous System calms and your mind expands. A slow build, with consistent effort, and you will soon have a new habit that will support you mental health, your physical health, and give you access to the depths of who you are.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this inquiry, and any insights or resources that have served your own curiosity on this topic.

Bye for now xo

What you can expect from me this year

Here we are, a couple days into 2019 and full of possibility. I have spent the past few days in Palm Springs with my dad and step-mom, and their two lovely friends. It has been an opportunity for me to slow down, engage in thoughtful, fun, and intelligent conversation, and ultimately, spend quality time with my dad.

When I was an athlete in my teens, my dad and I spent countless hours together on road-trips and in the gym, prepping and debriefing games and practices, and diving deep into philosophy, psychology and anything else he was curious about and learning. I cherished that time with him. And now, 15 years later, we have had that quality time again, meaning just him and I for a full day or two, getting into the 2.0 version of those same conversations. It has been extremely beneficial for me to have such a strong and insightful sounding board to hear my ideas and inquiries and add his vast knowledge into the mix.

On our road trip to Joshua Tree yesterday, one of the projects I brought to him in discussion was my blogging, and how I want to set that up to ensure it is quality and impactful - for me and whoever decides to read along. This segwayed into my current inquiry around social media, and how - similar to food - balanced and purposeful creation and consumption is an important part of the healthy equation. As I am so aware of my own seemingly addictive relationship to my Instagram app, I do not want to keep that journey to myself and blindly add to the problem that I have heard so many voice about.

In fact, I am on the hunt right now for some kind of “parental control” app that I can use to block myself from getting on social media platforms at certain times in the day. On several occasions, I have set the goal with boundaries and parameters to limit my time mindlessly scrolling, yet, within a few days, am back to the same habit of tapping on that app as soon as I have a moment of stillness.

For me, social media can be an amazing platform for connection and inspiration, and it can also be a tool of distraction and disconnection. I want more of the first and less of the latter. How about you?

So, this is what you can expect from me this year, a series of blog posts detailing my journey of retraining my relationship with social media. And I would love to have you join me in this exploration. I want to hear what works for you! I want to hear where you struggle the most in this disconnected yet vastly over-connected world. Each month I will have a new topic to tackle, as I share what I have been doing and practicing, and invite you to reflect, play and practice, and share your learnings as well.

Let’s get social media in it’s place, an amazing tool of connection.

Step #1: BOUNDARIES

In the human brain, we have a brilliant capacity to think and discern beyond the impulsive reactions of our habits and animalisitic brain. But that animal part of our brain is 1 million times stronger than the part of the brain that makes us human. This is exactly why we can set goals and tell ourselves what is important and needed, yet in the moment we continue to choose what we have declared we no longer want. We need to set up parental control for our brains.

So here is what I am doing to practice.

First of all, as I previously mentioned, I will find an app that supports me in this. An app that literally blocks me from tapping mindlessly and scrolling through unnecessarily.

Second, I know it does not serve me to read through long posts on social media that give me a hit of happy chemicals but then disappear as I continue scrolling without contemplation or reflection. So I intend to lead by example and only post 3-4 times a week with short, succinct and meaningful notes. For those who want more, they can head to my website, join my newsletter, or reach out for one on one connection. Social media is no longer where I will be investing my time and energy as my main source of marketing.

Third, anytime I am on social media, I will comment/connect with at least one person. If I am scrolling through, it is with the purpose of real connection, which means, I reach out and make sure my community knows I see them and love them.

That feels like a great place to start this journey. I would love to hear your ideas and what comes up for you. Let’s keep this conversation going. xoxox

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Window of Tolerance

“Your body is welcoming you home". Read those words, close your eyes, and feel into the sensations that arise. What do you feel? What do you notice?

In the yoga nidra training I was in last week (School of Sankalpa), almost everyday, I heard our wise facilitators say, “the subconscious is always in the present.” This phrase has stuck with me. I keep coming back to it. I have been deeply engaged with the studies on the conscious and subconscious for several years. I have found huge growth by contemplating the complexity of the human system and have taken time to understand how this mind and body works. I hadn’t yet heard that phrase though - “the subconscious is always in the present.”

I had an aha moment a few days ago. The subconscious system doesn’t “learn.” It is a storage system, a recording device, and simply executes from the stimuli it is fed from moment to moment. While the conscious mind isn’t bound by time; it can be fully present, yet it can also wander, and often does. While the conscious mind can wander, and we can be aware of the wandering mind, the subconscious does not discern between reality and fiction, past or present. It simply reacts to what it is fed and feels. The subconscious system is fed stimuli from various directions, and it reacts to protect and prolong survival.

For example, while watching a scary movie, as I was last night for my Halloween celebration, as I jump or squirm or hide my eyes, my conscious mind knows I am watching a movie, but my subconscious mind simply reacts in the moment and is present to stimuli it is fed through my various senses. The subconscious reacts as if that monster is in the room, and gets your system ready to fight, flight or fucking freeze up like a fainting goat.

Our subconscious mind is at the helm approximately 95% of the time. We need to understand how this system works, especially because of its massive influence and power over our daily lives. We are being affected every moment by what has happened in the past, yet the subconscious reacts as if it is all happening right now in the present. We get a cocktail of sensations, emotions, and thoughts that can become really confusing when we get lost in the hamster wheel of reactions. Rather, imagine what’s possible when you detach from the reactive and impulsive subconscious mind and develop a deeper relationship with your pure awareness and consciousness?

The Window of Tolerance is a term and tool introduced by Daniel Siegal in his amazing book, Mindsight. We see the nature of our animal mind to avoid what is uncomfortable and push or pull us towards instant gratification, which can lead us to numb out, to get distracted, or to try to make meaning out of all the uncertainty in life. When we know this system, we can sense into it as we get activated (hyperaroused) or lethargic and depleted (hyoparoused), and rather than act out from that state, we can soften, open, and become receptive as we acknowledge the subconscious workings of the mind while honoring the wisdom of breath and surrender.

From there we can hold space for our emotions. We can be with sensations as they arise like a wave and move to their completion; giving us access to the depths of our being rather than always acting out from the surface of simple pleasure or displeasure.

From being in this practice for several months now, I have witnessed my habits and patterns change drastically. I am no longer uncomfortable in my own body. I no longer sit in judgement or dis-ease and force my mind into positivity. I am living from a depth and connection to the many layers of who I am rather than simply being on the surface of the physical body and its aesthetics. I can feel when I get uncomfortable and now stay open to receive the wave and allow it to move, bringing me in touch with my intuition and pure state of consciousness on a daily basis. I no longer fear my emotions or get confused in my feelings. the house of my being is lit up, the windows are open, the doors are unlocked, and the air of breath and joy of music flows freely without restraint or fear.

I am so inspired to be in this work and to guide and teach others how to get back into the wisdom of their body. The process is simple, not easy. And I promise, it is worth it. Get curious and open yourself up, your body is waiting to welcome you home.

xoxo

Learning from my shadows.....again

I received a heartfelt message from a soon-to-be friend on instagram a couple of days ago. This friend opened up about her struggle with weight, divorce, motivation, and the desire to develop a better self talk habit through daily journal writing yet a resistance to it in the form of lacking a deeper understanding of the purpose and the HOW.

Quite honestly, this message came to me at the perfect time, because I also needed the reminder. For me to stop and do a little bit of reflection and digging in to find the answer I could share and inspire for another, was the healing I needed at the time too. 

My response to her is threaded throughout the paragraphs below, however, I wanted to take some time to write it out in a way that speaks to me and speaks to anyone else who reads these words. 

The purpose of daily writing is to rewire your thought patterns. It’s not about writing the negative or the positive stuff - it’s about choosing thoughts that create space for you to be who and where you are now, which then provides you with the energy and motivation for action. It's hard to make progress or find contentment when consumed by what you don't like in yourself or what you lack. There are so many other things to think about, and there are many perspectives to try on that allows you to be honest with where you lack yet in a way that provides compassion and inspiration.

Definitely be honest about where you’re at and what you’re noticing, and then shift into how you are embracing it, what you’re learning from it, and what you’ll do to practice this shift in perspective. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves and practice our way into letting go, forgiving, accepting, and setting up action steps to move onward.

Most importantly, it’s okay to not feel okay. It’s okay to struggle and to feel as though you are retreating into yourself. It's okay to have habits and patterns that get in your way. We all do! The main difference in those who are still productive and perhaps even happy or content in their struggle, is their perspective. I try really hard to remind myself daily to embrace my imperfections, love my shadows, learn from my missteps, and just keep trying! It certainly feels better when you are engaging in life in a disciplined and internally directed way. And it feels better when you get the sleep you need and the nourishment you require.

We are human, we are imperfect, and we can be content with discontentment because it means you are alive and you have the opportunity to shift as soon as you’re ready or are forced to make a change due to life circumstances. Either way, you’ll do it eventually, and I’m right here with you. 

Every morning I wake up and look at my body in the mirror, and too often my mood is determined by the shape I see. How much did I eat yesterday? How much did I move yesterday? How did I treat myself yesterday? It becomes completely ego-centric when I allow my morning trajectory to be determined by my mind's judgment of my body's current state. There is so much more to me than the shell of my body. I have depth, and I am grateful for the opportunity this life and this body affords me. I want to step into each day with love and compassion in my heart as I embrace my shape and make healthy and mindful decisions moment to moment because that is how I navigate life with the fuel I need. 

I struggled with body image, severe depression and eating disorders for many many years. I wrote a book about my journey and my overcoming. And still, I am not immune to this very real human condition of self-doubt and depression. I struggle to stay motivated to engage with life. Sometimes I want to just sleep, and it feels difficult and consuming to engage with other people. I experience anxiety and worry that I’m not interesting. I judge myself harshly and become consumed mentally when I overeat. 

Yet, I know that being thin is not what makes me happier. It’s the pursuit of health and longevity that will invite in happiness. It’s the act of getting sweaty or taking time to meditate that brings about good feelings - at any size. I started this morning with a simple and short meditation - as I sat on a stool facing out the balcony window to take in the light and the buzz of the wind and the few cars on the road. I reminded myself - don't just do something, sit there. I noticed my mind wander to a few situations in the recent past that irked me, that disturbed me, and I can see now that there are a few things I am carrying around with me that are contributing to my low state. So often there is something real in life that has bothered me, and instead of dealing with it, I try to just let it go, yet the low vibration feeling stays with me and manifests in other ways. Our brain likes order and meaning, so it will attach to anything as a way to explain the low vibration feelings that are present. 

Focusing on needing to be thinner to be happy is just attaching to something tangible as a reason for your feelings of lack. To heal the hurt of your relationships that need mending or dissolving, and to reclaim your life with passion and purpose, you need to change the glasses that you perceive your life through. Retraining your self talk patterns is a great place to practice.

I call it being pragmatically optimistic. When I’m writing to rewire my thoughts, I start with what I notice I am feeling. I then ask myself questions about what else could be contributing, and what are some other perspectives to try on, and what’s something I can do today to learn, grow and let go. The process of asking and answering high quality questions is where the shift awaits! So, the questions I am sitting with today, and I invite you to do so as well....

  • What is one thing I can do today to mend the hurt from a past conversation or relationship that seems to be nagging on my psyche?
  • What is my self-loving and compassionate mantra to land on and repeat when I find myself engaging in a habit or pattern today that I am committed to shifting or removing from my life?
  • What am I giving myself permission to feel today?

To close, I have a beautiful quote to share from Angi Fletcher. She is a model, mother, and vulnerable advocate for body image and self-love practices. I stumbled across this and felt immediately hugged by her words. Enjoy ;) 

"There are seasons for everything. Happiness doesn't come in a body shape; health and vitality does; having more energy does; being able to move easier does; not being as depressed does. But all these things comes from what you put in your body and what thoughts you choose to believe, not just in the shape or size of your body. When I was in my thinnest body measurement wise, I was also at my thinnest capacity for love, patience, strength, adventure and happiness. Your body is your body. It is changeable, moldable, flexible and more capable than you can imagine. But it is just a shell. You are in control of your mind and what you put into your body to either make it a machine or a prison" Angi Fletcher

With acceptance and peace, space is created to shift

I have been deeply engaged and curious about a hazardous pattern I am noticing in myself. I know it is vital to take time to relax and restore my energy in between bouts of effort, intensity and growth. Yet, when I gift myself a day to relax, in comes the self-talk around being lazy, being not enough, followed by irrational fear-riddled self-talk about my lack of discipline and potential to get fat if I eat one more snack. It also pulls me away from connection, and I step out of integrity as I become the person who bails on plans and chooses to stew in loneliness and dis-ease. I find it a lot easier to not pay attention to my ego when it is inflated - or at least to not be as effected. The deflated ego rides along with pain and suffering and darkness, a much heavier cocktail to swim through.

I am face to face with this pattern every time my schedule opens up and I have space for some much need R & R. I don't want to keep myself busy out of fear of what my idle mind concocts. And I know that the more I run from something, the stronger the impulse becomes. I want to enjoy my down-time and embrace the spaciousness in my schedule when I have it.

I have two weeks off in July around my birthday, and as a gift to myself, I am taking some time now to contemplate what I have learned in this process of noticing, what I need to be aware of and what I need to practice, in order to step into spaciousness whole-heartedly, and even to give my deflated ego some space to have its pity-party but then move on. 

First of all, it's okay to struggle. And it's perfectly okay to find yourself in a pattern that is not serving you. Celebrate your awareness! Celebrate your healthy and able mind that just noticed something that carries immense possibility for growth. There will always be something that needs time and attention, so the point is not to attain perfection but to stay in the practice of noticing, accepting, creating space, and shifting in your chosen direction. I am not upset about this pattern I am observing in myself. I find it to be fascinating. What an interesting reaction to such a life-affirming practice of restoring and regenerating energy. And I know that my own suffering can be shifted into compassion in one breath. There is always a way to expand your perspective and see the light and dark at the same time - neither one being better or worse than the other - just different aspects of the human experience. I am neither the dark nor the light, I am the space that holds it all. 

Like most things, as Micheal Singer reminds us, "the problem is not the problem, it is your relationship to the problem that is the problem."

With that in mind, how is my relationship to self-care/relaxing getting in my way? 

I feed off of the feeling of progress. I absolutely LOVE being in the creative process and seeing my hard work manifest into action or results for myself and for others. While I do need to honor my downtime, there is opportunity for me to shift my relationship and actions in my self-care so that I actually feel recovered and energized from my downtime. 

I am a believer in a strong beginning and a strong ending, while allowing the middle to be flexible, adaptable and focused on finding the flow. As I gear down in July, here are the steps I will (re)invite into my day to ensure that I am honoring my self-care and not finding the need to recover from my days off.

# 1: start my day with movement that sparks some fire (fire breath, arm movements connected to breath, a walk around the block, etc.)

# 2: 30 seconds - 6 minutes of meditation (connect with the space between thoughts and breath, outdoors whenever possible) 

# 3: Pen to paper (set a timer for 10 minutes, get my creative juices flowing by free-writing or working on a project)

#4: In the evening, engage in another 30 seconds - 6 minutes meditation (give myself permission to feel whatever I am feeling, giving it space to be released as I open back up to the moment)

I know that if I follow through on these simple daily steps, I will cultivate the energy I desire. I am excited to step into the 32nd year of my life knowing that I am a bit wiser, stronger, and braver than the year before. Always growing. Always learning. Always practicing my love for life. 

Compassion requires that we get in touch with what hurts. It’s the pain, the suffering itself, that invites compassion to manifest. The intelligence of compassion brings forward a kindness that is not trying to get rid of suffering. This goes counter to the ego’s wishes. Ego only wants to be protected from pain. Compassion opens to pain.

When compassion is present, our defensiveness can relax. When our defenses are down, we can look objectively at our situations and see the true origins of our suffering. Then we can intervene skillfully to address the real causes and not just the symptoms. SO another aspect of compassion is the capacity to be with suffering as a means of coming to, and experiencing, more truth and greater freedom.

- From the Five Invitations by Frank Ostaseski

 

Make today a good one ;)

Marin McCue

xoxox

Mindfulness Practice

We have everything we need to live full and happy lives. When you understand how your "machine" works, it is a whole lot easier to navigate. Your body is smart. It has to be in order to live this life, to function with the ongoing chaos inside and outside your own physical boundaries, and to continue growing from infancy until you unfold into death's grasp.

Your brain wants to heal you. It’s main job is to keep you alive. But one of the fucked up ways that it does that is to be on the lookout for danger at all times, and it is overly sensitive to little things that could potentially be dangerous. Like an unmet glance, an unmet expectation, and something as simple as déjà vu that reminds you of something that was uncomfortable in your past. We are triggered 50 to 300 times a day to feel as though we are unsafe, and in that state digestion stops, healing stops, and we lose access to higher levels of thinking. A little bit of stress is good for you but too much of anything is no longer a good thing. This is why mindfulness is so important. With mindfulness we become aware of how we are feeling and what we are thinking about. From this awareness we are able to calm down and redirect our mind towards what we want more of rather than focusing on what we do not have or where we lack.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is mono tasking. It is fully investing in this present moment as it is, even when it is terribly uncomfortable. With practice we start to realize that we are not just our emotions or our thoughts or our body or our actions. We are all of those things and none of those things. If you can witness something then you are more than the thing you are witnessing. When we develop a stronger relationship with the witness we are no longer attached to the emotional pendulum swing of our day and rather find a calm and steady state where we are witnessing our emotions and able to efficiently calm ourselves down so we can be problem solver’s rather than sitting in the energy of the problem.

The goal is not to protect ourselves perfectly because then you will not grow and you will not build the resilience, through experiential learning, that you need. Let yourself be imperfect. Let yourself be messy. Embrace yourself as a work in progress and a masterpiece right now as you are. A non-dualistic approach to life and growth that allows you to love and accept who and where you are right now while still striving and working towards your goals and your ideal future. It is when we embrace the space between where we are now and where we desire to be that we get access to a reservoir of high-quality energy and tap into the magical flow of life.

Allow every day to be a new adventure and experience, and trust that you can navigate with a clear mind and open heart by taking time each morning to ground yourself, to notice where your mind is going and how you are feeling in your body, and then create action steps and reminders that will serve who and where you are now and where you desire to be. An intimate relationship and conversation and connection with yourself in order to honour the balance between remaining unattached to the moment and fully invested in what the moment has to offer. 

Mental Health Awareness Week

2018 came in with a bang and I am reminded this week (being Mental Health Awareness Week) that I have not taken time yet to slow down and do a solid reflection and self-inquiry session with myself. This is my process of tending to my own mental health and ensuring I am listening to my body and noticing the patterns that are arising - to send more energy to what is working and redirect where I am feeling stuck or stagnant. 2018 has been one big project after another, at least a couple of events each month, and a roster full with clients, and while I am in awe of the growth and momentum that I have cultivated, I still need to remind myself to slow down, reflect, and edit my direction mindfully. 

I was fighting off a cold last week (I think I won) and to me that is a clear sign that my body needs and wants some time to feel where I am and engage in more gentle movements and self-care. My meditation habit has been slipping more occasionally, and every time I recommit to that simple five minutes of stillness, breath and presence in the morning, I notice a huge difference in my energy all day long (truth be told: I meditated for two minutes this morning and I felt amazing about that). So, to truly honor the signals I am getting and my desire to lead by example, here I am...reflecting, asking and answering high-quality questions, and recommitting to the course that will serve the sustainable growth I desire to flow through. 

What's the reminder I need today?

  • Take in quiet and peaceful moments as often as I can. Sit in gratitude and enjoy exactly who and where I am right now. 

 

What would I tell/remind a client if they were in my position right now?

  • Your body wants to heal you. It’s main job is to keep you alive. But one of the fucked up ways that it does that is that it is on lookout for danger at all times and it is overly sensitive to little things that could potentially be dangerous. Like an unmet glance, and unmet expectation, and something as simple as déjà vu that reminds you of something that was uncomfortable in your past. We are triggered 50 to 300 times a day to feel as though we are unsafe and in that state digestion stops, healing stops, and we lose access to higher levels of thinking. Little bit of stress is good for you but too much of anything is no longer a good thing. This is why mindfulness is so important. With Mindfulness we become aware of how we are feeling and what we are thinking about. From this awareness we are able to calm him down and redirect her mind towards what we want more of rather than focusing on what we do not have or where we lack. Continue calming your system down by recommitting to your morning meditation. That simple few minutes in the morning primes your system for the rest of your day!

 

What is Mindfulness?

  • Mindfulness is mono tasking. It is fully investing in this present moment as it is, even when it is terribly uncomfortable. With practice we start to realize that we are not just our emotions or our thoughts or our body or our actions. We are all of those things and none of those things. If you can witness something and you are more than the thing you are witnessing. When we develop a stronger relationship with the witness we are no longer attached to the emotional pendulum swing of our day and rather find a calm and steady state where we are witnessing our emotions and able to efficiently calm her self down so we can be problem solver’s rather than sitting in the energy of the problem. The goal is not to protect ourselves perfectly because then you will not grow and you will not build the resilience through experiential learning that you need. Let yourself be imperfect. Let yourself be messy. Embrace yourself as a work in progress and a masterpiece right now as you are. A non-dualistic approach to life and growth that allows you to love and except who and where you are right now will still striving and working towards your goals and your ideal future. It is when we embrace the space between where we are now and where we desire to be that we get access to a reservoir of high-quality energy And tap into the magical flow of life.

 

What are my priorities this week?

  • Be mindful of my tendency to overexert myself when I am already feeling low on fuel. Choose more gentle movements, and when I am creating my own workouts, commit to 20-30 minutes rather than a full hour. Bring more diversity into my diet and slow down my eating process by being mindful with each bite. Connect with the people in my life who are creating and loving life and feed off their energy as we create together and celebrate struggles and successes. Take time each night to reflect on my day with high quality questions, and organize my to-dos for tomorrow. And, block off at least one full afternoon to just be and allow myself to engage with whatever feels appropriate and nourishing at that time. 

 

I am committed this week to getting back into a rhythm of writing and pursuing my balance and contentment by being in conversation and creation around mental health awareness. So I will be posting on my blog a few times this week, and sharing more of my journey (struggles and successes) through the many platforms I am grateful to have at this point in my life. 

I am here for you if you need someone to chat with or if you want more direction in how to be in the practice of tending to your own mental health. We are stronger together. Bye for now xoxox

 

Growth Mindset to learn from - rather than stay victim to - your Triggers

What are triggers? They are strong emotional reactions that arise suddenly as a result of some stimulus, and it is the mark of a deep wound or limiting belief.

How do we learn and grow so that we do not get triggered? The answer is found in the pause between the stimulus and the impulsive reaction. Like a thorn in your side that you have spent years concealing, protecting, and avoiding in hopes that it will never be touched again, the only way to remove the trigger is to find the thorn and do the work to learn, release and heal. This takes patience, curiosity, and a growth mindset.

We all carry emotional baggage. Whether we are reacting to things in the moment that are less than ideal, or holding onto judgement, resentment, guilt, or sadness from past events that rocked us to our core; this emotional baggage weighs us down. Where does this come from? Why are we so hard on ourselves? Why is it easier to pass judgement and compare ourselves to what we are not, versus loving ourselves whole-heartedly and choose forgiveness and compassion as our first instinct?

Like most things I am discovering, the secret sauce to shift into a new direction and create new habits starts with a change in perspective. First of all, your triggered state is not happening because of the person in front of you or because of who you are, it is the sign of a trauma or un-digested experience from years ago.

“No one situation or person is fully responsible for the magnitude of our emotional charge. That person or situation has usually caused an emotion to surface that was already there, connected to some hurt that occurred in the past. One of the consequences of our habit of ignoring emotions is that they tend to pile up. So most of us have backlog of emotional wounds connected to situations that we never dealt with or resolved” (Conscious Communication by Miles Sherts).

Triggers are not something you can just “let go” of. That’s like having a fracture in your femur and expecting that you can just will it away. I don’t think so 😉.

Once you are aware that you are in a triggered state, try this…..

1. Take a few moments to gather yourself by creating a sense of grounding. Connect with your breath and tune into 5-8 seconds for an inhale, a pause at the top, and 5-6 seconds for the exhale, a pause at the bottom. Get out of your fight or flight state!

2. Then, ask yourself, what do I really want here? What do I want for this relationship? How do I need to show up here to move through this with grace, vulnerability and authenticity?

3. Once you can remove yourself from the situation, find some time to put pen to paper and write about your experience. What did you notice as the trigger arrived? What did it feel like? What “need” was not being met in that situation? 

4. What follow-up is needed (perhaps a do-over to share more context into what state you were in?) What reminder do you need next time you find yourself in that triggered state?

 

Trauma is generally a multitude of layers. Expect that this process will take some time and exploration. Use the wisdom of the Growth Mindset to bring in high quality energy and focus more on the process versus the destination. A Growth Mindset points at the joy of continually getting better at something rather than being fixated on not being enough right now. It is about being in the process of improving and developing skills rather than trying to prove your worth and demonstrate your skills. This mindset is ideal for the personal development journey because you will be face to face with parts of yourself that make you uncomfortable (to say the least). Your relationship with growth, yourself, and this life will dictate how much energy you can cultivate in that pause before you decide what direction you truly want to go in. The skills you cultivate in self-inquiry will serve you for a lifetime. They are tools that will allow you to move through difficult conversations and emotions with greater efficacy and empowerment each time.

You got this xoxo