practice

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

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

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

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

 

"I deserve to be heard"

The first time I heard the mantra "I deserve to be heard" was several years ago when I was introduced to the Chakra system. The throat chakra is one of seven main energetic centers in our being, and it is the home of expression, non-violent communication and generous listening. The reminder we receive when in contemplation of the throat chakra is that we each have a unique contribution and a unique perception of reality. It takes conscious communication to bridge the gaps between our-self and the other, to create and foster our boundaries, and to speak our truth, to ourselves and to others.

In a yoga teacher training a few weeks ago, I was invited to repeat "I deserve to be heard" while in a guided meditation. While this was not my first time repeating these words, there was something different in the experience this time. This was the first time that it truly landed. Tears formed in my eyes. A wave of love, peace, acceptance and power washed over me. It was like I had one hand tied behind my back unknowingly and someone just gave me permission and the tools to untie myself. It was an extremely cathartic experience.

As I have sat with this for a few weeks now, I am getting more clear on what makes this mantra so powerful. First of all, mantras are an amazing way to shift your self-talk patterns efficiently. 95% of what you say today you also said yesterday. We are creatures of habit. When you bring in new thoughts, and repeat empowering words or phrases (i.e. mantras), you feed your brain new energy and are more likely to repeat these words and phrases later on. Your words cast spells, and overtime, you will believe whatever you say about yourself. With any great power comes responsibility. Mantras are only one piece of the holistic puzzle of self development. We need to be face to face with what makes us uncomfortable and continue harnessing our awareness of our own patterns and habits that are not serving who we desire to be. From this awareness, we can edit as we go, shift our patterns and habits with self-talk, reminders, support and accountability. 

Every voice deserves to be heard. This doesn't mean you deserve to be heard more than others. It also doesn't mean you have the right to talk over others or that what you say is more true than what others say. It simply means, you have a voice and you deserve to use it and be heard. That's it, simple. This is not projecting a rule of any kind, it is offering up a tool for your inquiry and discernment. 

For me, what was so powerful was that I had been struggling with my ability to effectively communicate with my husband. My monkey mind can jump in wild directions, and sometimes I will begin sharing something without context or back-story to bridge the gap between his perception of reality, our physical environment, and where my mind has gone. In fact, this becomes a point of conflict for us as he pushes back on my share with questions like "what are you talking about? why are you telling me this?" Rather than keeping calm and walking back through the process of how I got from A to Z, I had a pattern of feeling sad that I wasn't understood, hurt that he wasn't more curious about what I had to share, and upset that I was creating a limiting belief and story that my husband is not someone I can share my raw and unfiltered thoughts or ideas with. 

I am not one to get stuck and allow limiting beliefs to take over, so I chose to get curious and inquisitive with myself to get more clear on this pattern and what shifts I could make to grow through this obstacle. 

When I repeated, "I deserve to be heard" in my mind, I realized that I had been holding on to a belief that I share too much and that I need to keep things to myself until they are polished and ready to be delivered efficiently and profoundly. While there is some truth in that, it is also not complex enough to embody the full truth. It is not a hard and fast rule that I want to abide by. I love the freedom of speech! I love that my mind is creative and thoughtful and that I can come up with wild ideas and put them into action. My goal is not to stifle my voice, it is to become more deliberate in how I communicate and to share more context so that the conversation is co-created rather than me talking at my husband (or anyone else). 

Like most things in life, too much of anything is no longer a good thing. And rather than swinging from one extreme to the other (i.e. from over-sharing to not sharing at all), I wanted to find the healthy balance. For me, "I deserve to be heard" is now the reminder I need to repeat daily to honor my voice and contribution. It reminds me to slow down and think through what I want to share so that I honor the power and influence I can have. It reminds me to allow unfiltered and raw conversations to flow, and not be too caught up in thinking that everything needs to be manicured and polished. Sometimes yes it does, and other times, raw and unfiltered is exactly what is needed. Each moment is a new opportunity and I strive to be present and engaged with what the moment calls for, and to do that, I need to remind myself that "I deserve to be heard."

And guess what?? So do you!

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

A Mental Model to Serve Your Monkey Mind

photo by Mark Derry 

photo by Mark Derry 

We are programmed to compare and take notice when we perceive someone as bigger, bolder, or more of what we strive to be. This deeply ingrained impulse is an overactive survival mechanism. At one point in time it was extremely beneficial to get a surge of neurochemicals warning us when someone else did something that furthered their importance above our own. This status dance would motivate individuals to make themselves indispensable in the tribe to improve the chances of safety and procreation.  

The problem is, we now live in a society where the lives and successes of others are displayed second by second at our fingertips. We see others paving their way through life and we see a lot more of what is good rather than the not-so-good that we all struggle with yet few of us are open and willing to share.

As I continue to make bold moves and brave leaps to grow my business and create a larger platform for my message of mental health vulnerability and best practices to find balance, I see and feel the effects of comparison every single day. Whether in my own self-talk or in the struggles of my clients, we all have a tendency to lose track of the big picture and get fixated on the small-minded comparison of ourselves to the other.

I am here to remind you that although you can’t control your instinctual animalistic reactions, you do have control and power in your response after the fact. Know your mind, understand where your effort is best invested, and carve a new path of least resistance in your brain that brings you to gratitude and motivation for action. How? Keep reading.

One of my favorite reminders lately comes from a book titled, The Honeymoon Effect by Bruce Lipton. He says “there are four brains in every relationship.” We have our best-self, which comes out in the beginning of a new relationship as we are excited and we don’t have assumptions or baggage already attached to what the other person says or does. Over time, we get comfortable and our triggered state begins to show itself. The impulsive reactions, the emotional assumptions, the unfair expectations, the cruel jabs at the other. Where did that person come from?

We are programmed to seek safety, to seek companionship and a tribe that feeds our soul, and to carve out a unique impact and purpose that will leave a legacy. Along with these beautiful human wants comes the tendency to compare, judge, and constantly strive for more. We find pleasure in progress, and we feel pain at any sign of rejection or not being seen by someone we want attention from. We need to feel safe, connected, and purposeful, and until we do, there is a constant flow of energy being invested in searching for ways to meet these needs. Imagine a faucet attached to the back of your body, and while these basic primal needs are unmet, it is as though your tap is turned on and flowing energy out of your system until there is nothing left, leaving you exhausted and wondering why. There’s not much we can do about this deeply rooted operating system, other than notice when it is there and respond with words and actions that ground, support, and release the old patterns.

We tend to avoid our feelings out of confusion and shame. We tend to judge ourselves and make ourselves feel wrong for having the feelings in the first place. Yet our good intentions can lead us astray, because what you resist, persists. You think you are being wise by brushing that problem under the rug, or avoiding the nagging feeling that something is wrong, or shaming yourself for not being able to “snap out of it.” Sorry to tell you my friends, you are sending more energy down that pathway that you are trying to avoid, strengthening it’s power and building a superhighway towards the very thing you are “ignoring.”

The only way through this internal struggle, is to get to know it, love it, embrace it, get curious about it, notice your reactions and try out new responses. Open yourself up to the beauty and connections that arise from being a vulnerable and proud imperfectly perfect human being.

This is not the type of work you can rush. This is the epitome of slowing down to speed up. We need to reset our foundation and build strong roots so that we can grow and handle the waves of life with grace and resilience.

A "mental model" is a great way to begin the process of excavating and cultivating. Mental models are our unique perceptions and understanding of life. They generally help us navigate uncertainty by projecting past learnings and experiences onto the situation at hand. They provide a proven pathway towards success or a learned pattern to avoid pain or failure. We can’t do the same thing over and over and expect to get new results. We are all growing and learning in phases, and we need to continue the principle of self-study to ensure we are updating our belief system and feeding our mind and body the nourishment it needs.

So I ask you, What seeds are you planting? Consider the mental model that your mind is a garden and your thoughts and actions culminate as the gardener. Before you create the garden of your dreams, you must dig deep and remove the weeds and roots that suck the nutrients out of the dirt or strangle the progress of new growth. While we plant new seeds, we develop a rhythm of care to ensure time and attention are spent to tend to the young and vulnerable plants. We need patience and mindfulness to allow the garden to manifest and to notice issues that could halt progress and take action to create a remedy. We need the resilience and trust in the process, so even if the garden is destroyed or is not in great shape, you know no failure is a final failure and every moment is practice for the next moment. It is important to find joy and develop a passion for the work so that it doesn’t become another mindless chore to check off your list. Surround yourself with other passionate gardeners and continue opening yourself up to new ideas and tips that could serve your journey.

 

Reflection Questions:

What change challenge are you facing in your life right now?

What is your mental model to approach this challenge with as much empowerment and trust in your ability as possible?

What are the key steps to take on this challenge?

What is your motivating reason WHY to take on this challenge?

What reminder do you need to repeat when the going gets tough?

A well timed and thought-provoking question can be the difference between standing proud in the face of your challenge rather than avoiding or hiding yourself from the possible pain of rejection. Know your mind. Know what you truly want. And set yourself up with the support, thoughts, mental models, and motivation you need to make the change. You are so much more capable than you realize. Tell yourself what you need to hear.